Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)

Happily, this film is not a disappointing sequel to the first Scooby-Doo movie; it is still up to the standard of the classic Mystery Inc. ‘Scooby-Doo 2’ is by the same director as the first movie, Raja Gosnell, and also has the same actors, thankfully, as they were all so great in the first movie.

Mystery Inc are back and full of fame, fans copying them and screaming their names. Or so it seems that way at the beginning… Things take a turn pretty quickly. The mystery? Someone is creating real monsters out of costumes of the unmasked villains in Mystery Inc’s past. This film is hilarious and full of parts to get children laughing. Although, I’m not restricting it to children, I still find it hilarious, I laugh at parts I used to when I was younger. Scooby-Doo and Shaggy are the best! Matthew Lillard plays Shaggy perfectly, I can’t imagine anyone else that could have portrayed his character so excellently. He is hilarious, but also he is heart-warming for the audience, that he just wants to be seen as a hero and help the gang on purpose instead of making mistakes all the time. Both Shaggy and Scooby spend this movie feeling like they’re “screw ups” and that they are not needed in the gang; with the way that things turn out, it gives a nice moral to the film for children to understand.

Scooby Doo 2 - Shaggy and Scooby

From Shaggy having a crush in the first movie, ‘Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed’ portrays that it is Velma’s turn to have a crush. This being Patrick Wisely (Seth Green). Velma (Linda Cardellini) feels she is not good enough for Patrick and hesitates to go on a date with him as she feels he doesn’t like her. It’s a classic relationship plot, which is obvious where it heads, however one that tells the younger audience to have faith in themselves. To say the least, Velma makes me feel dumb, I know she’s supposed to be the smart one, but sometimes in this movie, I have no idea what she’s saying… Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar) are of course back as well, both in their relationship even if it’s never stated. I like how Daphne’s character links from the first movie as she is much more active in fighting the monsters and isn’t taken as the damsel in distress anymore.

Scooby-Doo 2 - Velma, Fred, Daphne

I would recommend watching this film, it’s another great Scooby-Doo film which doesn’t let the audience down. Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby face a dilemma none like any others, one that puts their city in severe danger. There is a large range of monsters to enjoy, some of them are even comical for the audience. The music is great, really fits in well with all the scenes at the right moments. Watch this film for a good laugh and a mystery for you to try and solve yourself. It’s a brilliant family film that the whole household will love. But I advise for you to watch the first movie first if you haven’t already. So join the gang and search for clues, alike to all Scooby-Doo’s.

The Holiday (2006)

Nancy Meyer’s 2006 film ‘The Holiday’ jumps from L.A. in America to Surrey in England, jumping from different characters, in a Britain meets America and America meets Britain film. Two women running away from their lives over the Christmas vacation decide on a house swap. Iris (Kate Winslet) from Surrey moves to L.A., while Amanda (Cameron Diaz) visits Iris’ home in Surrey. This film is original with great actors and very enjoyable to watch.

The actors are great in this film, with the likes of Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law and Jack Black. What’s not to love?! They truly are great in this film, but that’s a given. My favourite having to be Jude Law, but the rest are equally as brilliant. First thing to mention is that if you’re not a fan of the romantic and lovey-dovey films, then I would suggest to stay clear of this one. This film covers all sorts of love, narrated at the beginning by Kate Winslet’s character, which I really like in the film to just exaggerate what her character is feeling. Kate Winslet plays a hung up woman, Iris, who’s been in love with the same man, Jaspar (Rufus Sewell), for three years. Even though he treated her dreadfully by cheating on her when they were dating. But they stayed friends, and she is unable to move on from this unrequited love as he is always around. Kate Winslet plays Iris brilliantly, someone who is desperate to get over this love that is controlling her. We see a completely different side of her when she is away from Jaspar, when she is able to be herself in L.A., as she glorifies in Amanda’s massive house. Cameron Diaz plays someone rather different to Iris. Nevertheless, the character is great also. Her character, Amanda, is work driven and is unable to let herself fall in love fully. After Amanda finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her, she kicks him out of her house, and doesn’t shed one tear. When she vacates to Iris’ cottage, she meets Iris’ brother, Graham, introducing Jude Law. A romance begins between the two, which is heavily focussed on in this film. One that is actually adorable and just gets the audience gushing for them.

The Holiday - Amanda and Graham

When the film jumps to Amanda in Surrey, it is very focussed on romance and the developing relationship between Graham and Amanda. However in L.A., Iris meets an old man, Arthur (Eli Wallach), who helps her get to know the neighbourhood and a friendship grows. She also meets Jack Black’s character, Miles, who is Amanda’s ex’s friend. These two stories are quite different, as Miles is devoted to his girlfriend while Iris is hung up on Jaspar, creating a friendship rather than a romance; whereas Amanda and Graham date and spend a lot of time together, which is a clear romance. I feel like there is more of a focus on Cameron Diaz’s character rather than Iris as the film proceeds; although at the beginning it starts with a narration from Kate Winslet. I like that this is done though, as Amanda struggles with a new relationship she doesn’t quite understand, the audience needs to witness more to understand how her mind works. Also, it spends more time with Jude Law’s character as he isn’t the one-night stand guy he seems to be in the beginning, but something rather more complicated. The characters are all so different but all of them are great in their own way.

The Holiday - Iris and Miles

This film is about a holiday over Christmas vacation, so some may consider it to be a Christmas film. Personally, I don’t see it as the most Christmassy film, but yeah there is talk of Christmas Eve and the occasional Christmas tree. There are some Christmas songs that are played, but then again ‘Mr Brightside’ by the Killers is played… It’s a romcom set around Christmas, as two women feel it’s at their loneliest state.

I would recommend this film if it sounds like something you would enjoy. But keep in mind that even though this film is classed as a romcom, I would most predominantly say it is revolved around romance and love. There are some parts that are slightly funny, but it’s not a laugh out loud film. It’s just a nice feel-good film to watch. Something that I have to mention, is that it is quite a long film, so it might seem like it’s dragging in parts, but I feel this is done well to not feel this so much, especially the first time you’re watching it. So if you love a feel-good film to watch and smile, then I would definitely recommend ‘The Holiday’, to escape with some amazing actors and experience a variety of loves.

Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix (2007)

If you want a good villain that everyone will hate… Introducing Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton). She truly is a character for everyone to dislike. Her high-pitched giggles become iconic for the audience. Her obsession with the colour pink and kittens is creepy. Her essence is mean and controlling. She controls everything, turning Hogwarts into a ‘Ministry-approved’ version, which is a version full of strict rules and only focus on the OWLs examinations. She becomes the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher where she follows a “carefully structured ministry approved course”, ie. meaning they can’t actually use magic. She flaws her way through Hogwarts creating havoc everywhere, changing the once beloved Hogwarts as we know it. And when things go wrong for her, we laugh and we clap joyfully. She should be taken away by the centaurs and have a magical fire-cracker dragon eating her. She should. Sadly, my hatred of this new teacher means that I don’t enjoy the film as much as the others. She truly is a great villain, but just a bit too irritating for me. Perhaps people view this differently however.

Order of Phoenix - Umbridge

Despite this, there is the introduction of another character, Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch), or “Loony Lovegood”. A character who becomes a part of the Harry Potter crew, one Harry is able to connect with on a level he can’t with his other friends; the connection being that Harry and Luna have both seen death. Luna’s misunderstood character is then in all the other films so is key to being introduced here. She’s extremely weird and have beliefs that many don’t understand, she has an interest in magical creatures, many that people don’t believe are real. She is definitely a different character to all the others, to say the least. There is also the introduction of some new places, including the Ministry of Magic and Headquarters.

Order of Phoenix - Luna

As you can guess, things get pretty hectic in Hogwarts during this film. This leads to the invention of Dumbledore’s Army, where the students take it upon themselves to learn how to defend themselves in the outer world of Hogwarts. Their teacher? Harry Potter of course! Although, including this, Harry is getting into the wrath of everything as well. People label him a liar as he claims The Dark Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has once again risen, which of course we know is true as this happened in the end of ‘The Goblet of Fire’. Additionally, Harry becomes more moody in this film, perhaps it’s him going through his moody teenager stage, or perhaps it’s portraying his connections to Voldemort; something which is extremely significant to the Harry Potter films in order to create the depth of Daniel Radcliffe’s character.

Order of Phoenix - Harry, Ron and Hermione

I really like how this film extends some relationships. There is an emphasis on Harry and Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), especially that he’s the only family he’s got left. Sirius becomes more of a fatherly figure for Harry and the audience witnesses this on an emotional level repeatedly throughout the film. Also a romance starts to grow between Ron and Hermione, which is the sweetest thing for the audience to witness.

Even though this isn’t my favourite Harry Potter film, it is still a good one, it has to be; all of them are! Fred and George (James and Oliver Phelps) are great with their many joke and trick sweets. And my favourite character, Ron, is hilarious in this film. This film is definitely key in creating many things that are important to the finale of Harry Potter. It’s the fifth year at Hogwarts, you have to join them. Even if there is the bitch Umbridge!

Simple Mind (2012)

Phil Newsom’s short drama is very clever. I felt like I knew where the film was going as the camera hinted certain things to make the audience think a particular way; however, this is thrown away at the ending and everything you thought is abandoned and you’re left baffled by how it ends.

It is a very short film, only lasting just above seven minutes, however, it’s not needed to be any longer. It grips in the audience and then leaves them feeling confused. The camera is essential in creating this thriller feel to the film. The camera restricts the audience from seeing a lot of things; it is blurry to create an uncomfortable feel. Also, there are continuous extreme close ups of the mouth or eyes. Additionally, what helps to create this eerie feel for the audience is through the music. There is a continuous use of the heartbeat, something very common in thrillers, to demonstrate what the protagonist is feeling, whether it be stress or that they are frightened. However, in ‘Simple Mind’ it feels like it is portraying excitement but this isn’t known until further in the film. The music is key in another way also, it triggers things in the audience’s mind, to make them think a certain way, to make them feel uncomfortable and that something is not quite right to what we are witnessing; even if we think it’s something that it’s not. The director purposely makes us think a certain way, and this is very clever.

Simple Mind - Bob

The plot is about going into the mind of Bob (Timothy J. Cox). He is sat in a therapist office explaining his issues and what he thinks about them. All throughout this, the audience delves inside his mind and sees what he is saying in the odd camera angles. This is needed to create what the audience needs to see to craft this tension. ‘Simple Mind’ jumps from the past of what he is explaining to him in the present at the therapist office, the audience is tugged to different times, but it doesn’t become confusing, instead slowly gives more pieces for the audience to add together.

I would recommend watching this and just delving into a seven minute production which throws your perspective about. It really is gripping and the mind of Bob is one to get confused by.

The Bourne Identity (2002)

The first Bourne film, ‘The Bourne Identity’ is a good start to the classic Bourne films. However, personally not the best of them, but still a pretty good start and introduction to brilliant Matt Damon’s character, Jason Bourne. Everyone knows Matt Damon is excellent anyway!

After being shot twice in the back and left for dead in the ocean, a boat of fishermen find Jason Bourne, surprisingly still alive, but he can’t remember anything. He has no idea who he is or how he ended up in the sea. The film follows Bourne, trying to piece together who he is. Finding he knows how to defend himself, speak multiple languages, and tie complicated knots. But he struggles on, following every lead, hoping it will eventually take him to the answers he is searching for and discover who he is. But while discovering, he starts to recognise many police officers tracking him and becomes a target by the US government. The audience is brought to Bourne and back to the government agency, therefore the audience knows more than Bourne does. On Bourne’s route he travels from Zurich to Paris, paying a lot of money to a random woman in the street who owns a car, this being Marie (Franka Potente), who is then dragged into the catastrophe that is Bourne’s life.

Bourne Identity - Bourne and Marie

‘The Bourne Identity’ is an action movie and definitely has many scenes of fighting, car chases and assassinations. Some people might consider the film to be a bit slow in some places as it isn’t no stop action, but I personally think the mystery and confusion at why Bourne is constantly targeted is intriguing enough to watch the whole film. Additionally, it can feel like quite a long film. But then again, I don’t feel like this is much of a problem. There are some great action scenes that I really do enjoy, from a confused Jason Bourne able to defend himself against two officers and unsure how he did it, to a hectic crazy, yet quite long, car chase scene. There isn’t action in every second, but then again the film is trying to discover who Bourne is most predominantly; but nevertheless there are some clever action scenes that get the audience able to understand the mind of Bourne and how he is able to escape some situations impressively, whether that be scaling down the side of a building, or avoiding a staircase full of people trying to kill him and not getting shot once. The film is a 12. It isn’t very graphic or gory, just some violence, and the very occasional swear word. So it’s an understandable 12.

Bourne Identity - Bourne with gun

I would recommend this film, even though it isn’t as good as some of the other Bourne films, you have to watch the first one before you watch others as it’s a good introduction to them all and the inner-workings of Bourne himself. Besides Matt Damon is amazing!

Total Performance (2015)

This short film directed by Sean Meehan, was one which I was captivated in even if it only lasted 17 minutes. You were cleverly delved into this unusual life of Cori Sweeney (Tory Berner). Cori is an actress, but while she is auditioning for bigger roles, she witnesses and acts out difficult situations for people, to help them through difficult conversations. However, there is one rule, she cannot give advice. The one time she finds herself being herself and not acting someone else’s friend, or relation or perhaps employee, she discovers she’s needed for something else and is trapped in a situation she didn’t want to be in.

I kind of wish that the short film could have been a bit longer as the ending definitely left the audience unsure what will happen to Cori. However, maybe this is what made it so good and effective. Because even though the audience only witnesses 17 minutes, they feel they’ve learnt a lot about Cori’s life, about how much she wants to become an actress or maybe to be a bit more relaxed after she’s argued for a man about his wife, who she is acting to be. But in the end it helps them out, so she does it and takes it as practicing for when she gets an audition chance.

Total Performance - Cori

This film was really original, not like any other film that I’ve seen before. I feel like this is needed as it is such a short film, that it isn’t repeating longer film plots that are known by a large audience. The camera was also well used, that it cleverly showed the audience the minimal that they needed to know. Less was actual told to you, but you were able to join the dots and figure out what was happening easily. This is clever to give more information within such a short film. The music that was used was to also set the mood for the audience especially in how Cori was feeling; this was also seen in the lighting, especially when she’s in the bathroom. I found that the actors acted well, so the film flowed in that aspect too.

I did enjoy watching ‘Total Performance’ and delving into a life so different to my own. To understand a life of Cori Sweeney for 17 minutes and experience how she handles things, was an escapism for the audience.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (2015)

This film to say the least was not what I expected. First of all, everything that was in the trailer was really misleading. The trailer was definitely successful in creating what looked like a great film with the classic SpongeBob Squarepants crew. But no. The film was nothing like the trailer suggested, and I feel a little let down by this. The majority of what is in the trailer is in the last half hour of the film, this means the first hour is watching something waiting to happen which only does in the last third of the film anyway. Also, the film is called ‘Sponge Out of Water’, when realistically there was only twenty minutes of the film where this was actually true. So even the title is giving false information for the audience.

Don’t get me wrong, it might seem I just have it out for SpongeBob or perhaps animated films. But honestly, animated films are my favourite and this film is just no ‘Kungfu Panda’, ‘Madagascar’ or ‘Shrek’ to say the least. I have to mention though, the graphics were amazing and pretty impressive in this film. With the SpongeBob side, yeah maybe I didn’t enjoy the film so much because I didn’t grow up watching it every day. Or maybe the film was just not up to the standard it could have been…

Spongebob Movie 2 - superheroes

Saying this however, this movie does bring back all the classic characters. SpongeBob (Tom Kenny) teaming up with Plankton (Mr. Lawrence) in order to save the Krabby Patty secret formula; even if they are enemies. The formula being stolen by human Captain Burger Beard (Antonio Banderas). The best character has to be the return of Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke), who definitely adds to the humour of the film, and makes it much better. There is also the great grumpy Squidward (Rodger Bumpass). Which I have to say when a “Squidasaurus Rex” appears, it is just so ridiculous it’s hilarious. Of course, there is the money-driven Mr Krabs (Clancy Brown). And finally, a slightly deranged version of Sandy (Carolyn Lawrence). There were some other characters I had never met before, but I would expect this in the film, or maybe they aren’t new and I’m just not aware of it. But some of these characters were a bit ridiculous and not expected, which some may consider hilarious and unpredictable; I, however, just thought was a bit weird, so much I just had to laugh. Maybe that’s what they intended?

Spongebob Movie 2 - all of them

I wouldn’t really recommend this film, maybe you have to be a massive Spongebob fan to understand what is being witnessed, maybe I don’t understand. I didn’t even think the song that was in it, ‘Teamwork’, was that good; it’s no way near as ‘F U N’ or ‘The Campfire Song’, clearly not reaching the stage it could have got to. I did like that they used the theme tune more than once in the film, obviously it being such a key moment of the TV programme which everyone must know; and I enjoyed the different interpretations of it. But overall, I felt that the trailer was too good and made the film a little underwhelmed, this made the plot feel slow at the beginning. Although, I do have to admit I did laugh, there were some moments that really did make me chuckle, just not near as much as I hoped. But I can’t say it was a completely humourless film, because that would definitely be a lie. Maybe the sad truth is I’m getting too old for animations, but I believe this not to be true.