Chicago (2002)

When the desire for show business becomes too much, Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart turn to murder. But according to them, “they had it coming”. ‘Chicago’ is based upon these two women, and their desperate pleas to be found not guilty for their actions and make it out of prison and find their way to the stage to be the star of the show.

As you can probably tell (or most likely know already), this film is very much a musical. But something quite different to other musicals is that many of the performances, not all, are actually alongside the narrative instead involved within it. For example, the famous ‘Cell Block Tango’ is a performance within Roxie’s mind, and for the audience to get to know about some other inmates of the prison. You would probably be surprised by how many of these songs you would actually recognise, the first time I watched it, which wasn’t the last, I recognised many of the songs. Many would most likely know ‘All That Jazz’. There’s also ‘Razzle Dazzle’ and ‘Mr Cellophane’. The great thing is all these songs are excellently sung and all made into a brilliant performance. The dance scenes are amazing with clearly great dancers. One that is so different but clever is the puppets and dummy in ‘We Both Reached For The Gun’.  And of course, the dance sequence in ‘Cell Block Tango’ is brilliantly choreographed. Even love the bit of tap dancing during the trial.  Altogether, the film is quite theatrical, the songs are performed on stages in front of audiences, also us as the watchers. I think it’s a really clever way of a musical, especially to portray the obsession the two women have to get upon the stage.

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‘Chicago’ is set in the 1920s, so one of the most important things for this film to be a success would be to create the kind of world these two women want to get themselves into. This means the creation of the scenes needs to be brilliant and the costumes need to represent those of the time. This is something ‘Chicago’ does brilliantly. Although, I have to say, because of the costumes, which are stage dresses, the film would probably be inappropriate for younger ages as they are quite revealing clothes (to say the least, a lot of confidence to needed to wear what they do). But altogether, the film brings alive 1920s Chicago.

‘Chicago’ is a film which has many recognisable actors and actresses. Velma Kelly is played by the brilliant Catherine Zeta-Jones, of course she portrays the character amazingly. Roxie Hart is played by the one and only Renée Zellweger (probably most recognisable as a completely different character Bridget Jones). Then there’s Matron Mama, played by Queen Latifah. There’s also Richard Gere (from ‘Pretty Woman’) as the most wanted lawyer Billy Flynn. Additionally, John C. Reilly (Dale from ‘Step Brothers’) and Christine Baranski (Tanya from ‘Mamma Mia!’) playing Mary Sunshine, the reporter. So like I said, many great and recognisable actors and actresses to appreciate in this film.

Chicago - Velma and Roxie

The film follows the life of Roxie in desperate need for her own stage act, being turned into the “sweetest little jazz killer” to escape her future on death row. Yet in prison finding that Velma is also on death row as they compete for publicity, the lawyer and the number one spot on the front news and eventually the hope back to freedom and being adored for their dancing and singing in the spotlight. I would definitely recommend this film, it is brilliantly done, has enjoyable songs and the performances are excellent. In my opinion, definitely at the top with best musicals.

“And all that jazz”.

Inception (2010)

A Christopher Nolan film and what a good one at that! We know one of Christopher Nolan’s aspects for his films is to mess with time and to create a confusion within the audience, but for the audience to get addicted and to have a need to figure out what is going on. I definitely felt this way at the beginning, extremely confused with the plot, but as the film continues more and more is realised. The film revolves around the aspects of dream and reality. As the audience, you’re not entirely sure whether you are watching a dream or in reality, of course there are parts were you definitely know, but not always throughout the film. The whole film is a build up to one mission, one dream that they plan to give three layers, meaning two other dreams inside that one. And when this part comes it is extremely intense, so cleverly done, especially with the music, it builds up tension to extremes. I spent the whole of this time, gripped into the film and unable to stop watching.

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One of the best things about this film is that all the actors are amazing, ‘Inception’ really does have a great stardom. The film revolves around the main protagonist, Cobb (played by the brilliant Leonardo DiCaprio), there is a lot within his story and a lot of the film is trying to discover his past. The other characters you don’t find out much about at all, the only character you’re invested in with his past with his regrets and guilt is Cobb. The other characters are all brilliant as well though. Firstly there is Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays Arthur, who is of course a recognisable actor, excellent as well. Including these previous two, there’s the other people involved with the mission to delve into this deep dream. The first is Ariadne (Ellen Page – ‘Juno’), her character is interesting, yet very curious and nosy to say the least. Next is my favourite, a fabulous actor, Tom Hardy playing Eames. As we know Tom Hardy is a brilliant actor – ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’, ‘Legend’, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, ‘This Means War’, so many! And of course he’s brilliant in this, he’s great in all action films, this one isn’t any different. Then there’s Yusuf (Dileep Rao) and Saito (Ken Watanabe). There’s also Michael Caine, who being one of the best British actors, I don’t really need to mention that he plays his small part well, sadly only a small part.

Like I’ve previously said, ‘Inception’ is one of confusion and mystery, mystery because you, as the audience, don’t understand what is happening all the time. But I would say that this film is predominantly action, within the dreams the subconscious mind tries to fight against to those dreamers who have entered the dreaming mind without permission, this, therefore, being all of our characters. The action is well done and thrilling as risks become higher in the mission they intend on completing. I have to mention the graphics as well, when there was no gravity it was brilliantly done, all of it was cleverly done.

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Overall, I really enjoyed this film. I thought it was cleverly tense and thrilling in moments, it grips in the audience and all the actors are great. Cobb’s back story is one that the audience just wants to know more of. Plus you have to watch the whole film in order to understand everything, even then, the ending isn’t the most conclusive end of them all. If you think this is a film you would think you would enjoy, I would definitely recommend. The beginning is confusing as it throws you in straight away unaware of everything, but soon you’ll be gripped and wanting to know more.

Princess Protection Programme (2009)

This is definitely one of those cheesy chickflicky, very overdramatic films. A TV Disney Channel film, so what do you expect? A film with the likes of ‘Camp Rock’, ‘The Cheetah Girls’, ‘Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure’, ‘Lizzie McGuire The Movie’ – some of those cheesy but great movies, however some just aren’t great and they’re a bit too cheesy to say the least… Saying this, I think ‘Princess Protection Programme’ fits into the former category. I do love it.

A film revolving Selena Gomez as “bait girl”, the sixteen year old girl who is disregarded in school, the girl who believes to be in love with someone who can’t even have the decency to remember her name, this being Donny (Robert Adamson); the girl who doesn’t realise that her best friend, Ed (Nicholas Braun), worships her. But the girl who has the most adorable and best relationship with her father, her “pal” (Tom Verica). Selena Gomez plays Carter, who plans to get out of school and actually make a difference with her life. Her father, Major Mason, does that. Now this is where the film is quite different to a lot of others, his job is to protect Royal Princesses, stay with me, I said it was a bit cheesy. So when Princess Rosalinda of Costa Luna, is under threat and her country is held captive by General Kane (Johnny Ray Rodriguez), she is put into the Princess Protection Programme. Her relocation happens to be in Louisiana, no other than Carter’s home. Princess Rosalinda, now normal teen Rosie as Carter’s cousin. The person who plays this Princess is Demi Lovato. Now I’m not going to lie to you, I love Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato as actresses, having grown up with Alex from ‘Wizards of Waverly Place’ and Sonny in ‘Sonny with a Chance’; plus Demi Lovato’s albums are some of my favourites ever. So I guess, for this film, it helps if you like the actresses.

The two girls are from completely different backgrounds, Rosie has crashed into Carter’s life and everything changes. Rosie struggles to try and fit in, Carter struggles to keep the way things were. They both struggle to relate to each other’s differences. Rosie having everything done for her, Carter doing everything herself. The lives in polar opposite worlds. But this film, excuse the cheesiness, is a film of friendship, and they soon become best friends, pretty quickly I have to admit. They both struggle together at school, normal teenager issues at school.

‘Princess Protection Programme’ does jump from Louisiana with Rosie and Carter, and their struggles with boys at school, with the school dance coming up and with the election for homecoming Queen rising quickly, and most significantly, the struggle with the stereotypical popular yet not nice girls of the school. To Costa Luna and the difficulties rising there as Kane is desperate to locate where the Princess has been taken. This break-away from the school troubles is a nice change in this sort of film. Of course, the film echoes the many films of popular teenage problems during school, but also because of the fact that Rosie is actually Princess Rosalinda, it’s a refreshing change to have that essence in the film, rather than just school school school.

As I’ve already said, I love this film. But of course, it is of a required taste. I appreciate those cheesy, easy to watch films, I find they do have comical moments and the morals in the films are strong. This is definitely what ‘Princess Protection Programme’ is, so it’s completely understandable to easily disregard the film, but there are many films alike to this out there. Not only just the ones I’ve previously mentioned, but there is ‘Bratz’, ‘Hannah Montana The Movie’, ‘Monte Carlo’ – just those cheesy childhood movies that have their own appreciation.

Addams Family Values (1993)

This is definitely one of those comedies that is very different from others, and one which requires a certain taste, it’s definitely not a film for everyone to appreciate or find funny. Everything is very overdramatic, very over the top. This is a gothic comedy of a family very different to the rest of society, a family of a husband and wife with their three children, the Uncle and the Granny (Carol Kane), also with two others in the family, a hand named thing and Lurch (Carel Struycken).

Morticia (Anjelica Huston) and Gomez (Raul Julia) have a new baby in which Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) get insanely jealous. The beginning of the film, their plan being to kill new baby Pubert. However, the new nanny manages to convince the parents, the two eldest want to go to Summer Camp. A place a bit too happy and controversial for the Addams family, but off they go. Alongside this, the new nanny, Debbie (Joan Cusack), has her own plan. Her other name being the ‘Black Widow’, given to her by the news, a gold-digger to the extremes of murder. But Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) has fallen in love. So as you can probably guess, there are different plot lines going on at once, but I think that makes it even better, the film jumps to different places, home with the new born baby, with Uncle Fester and his new love, and finally at the Summer Camp where fun has to be had.

Addams Family Values 1

In a film such as this one, the actors and actresses have to be great and they definitely are. All those part of the Addams family are well suited and play the part extremely well. Although I have to mention, Morticia, the mother, seems to always have a light across her eyes, not sure why they do it, but perhaps it is all for the effects, just something I noticed… Anyway, the relationship between Morticia and Gomez brings in an element of the romantics. They are played and chosen well. But personally, my favourite of the film has to be Wednesday, she is a brilliant aspect to this comedy of the film. Her bluntness and no emotion is definitely a contribution to the gothic Addams family. The only actress I’m not the biggest fan of is Joan Cusack, personally she’s just not my favourite actress in any film. Regardless, she plays the villain well, she is a good actress coming down to it, but a film with her in isn’t really one I want to watch, although she doesn’t make this film bad, far from it, she’s the villain so she’s not supposed to be loved.

Something that needs to be kept in mind is that this was a film made in 1993, so the graphics are not like the films we watch today. Although, I don’t think they’re terrible, they could be considerably worse, although, the baby isn’t the best in parts. Overall, the other parts are not awful, but rather well done and almost add to the aesthetic of the film. Almost add to the gothic aspect that runs all the way through. Some may consider that this film has an essence of horror, I more see this through that it is more gothic than anything, it is not a scary film as they turn this into a different sort of humour. Not a humour you laugh continuously throughout, the film has random aspects or everything is so overdramatic you just have to chuckle, but I like it.

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In conclusion, you can probably tell that is a rather different film from many others and of an acquired taste. However, I enjoy it and if you think this is a film you would appreciate I would definitely recommend it. It’s brilliantly clever and humorous in the barbaric actions and bluntness and overdramatic hatred of normal human emotions. Despite everything, the film has a very catchy theme tune, everyone must know it. *click click*

Legally Blonde (2001)

Personally, I think this is one of the classic chickflicks, one of those cheesy feel-good romcoms. A film about a stereotypical ‘dumb blonde’ but she has a point to prove – that she shouldn’t be stereotyped, that her appearance is not all she has. Yes, she does start this mission because she wants to get her ex back, but nevertheless, Elle Woods joins Harvard Law School in the way just like any other student has and throws herself in the deep end to show she can be serious and clever. I do love this film, I love any romance comedies or chickflicks, it is a genre that is easy to watch and great way to spend time. ‘Legally Blonde’ is not any different.

There are of course predictable moments, but like I’ve said before, this is not a genre to be guessing what is going to happen next, and there is no problem with that, just don’t be expecting twists and turns. Although, there is one particular moment, and if you have seen this movie before you’ll know which part I mean, that is quite shocking and I always forget happens, but regardless of this you can probably guess the plot of the film quite accurately. Anyway, a film of its genre, it is filled with comedy, over-dramatic moments of course, and those classic cheesy moments that is expected in a chickflick.

Legally Blonde - 1

‘Legally Blonde’ does have many recognisable actors and actresses. Elle Wood is played by the brilliant Reese Witherspoon, her ex, Warner, is played by my favourite Alaric from ‘Vampire Diaries’ (Matthew Davis). Other students include Vivian Kensington (Selma Blair) and Emmett (Luke Wilson). There is also the appearance of Velma (Linda Cardellini) from ‘Scooby-Doo The Movie’, looking very different I have to add. There’s also Professor Callahan (Victor Garber – whose name might not be familiar, however many would recognise his face), and also the new friend of Elle’s, Paulette (Jennifer Coolidge – from ‘2 Broke Girls’, ‘American Pie’ and ‘A Cinderella Story’). So from this I conclude a good stardom in the film, which of course adds to the greatness of the film.

So as Elle struggles to come to grips with this new life, discovering it’s completely different from her fashion major or sorority presidency. She is completely stereotyped, therefore giving a moral to the film, one to believe in yourself but also not to stereotype those who could prove so much more than that single thought. The film is one that is just a feel-good film, a heart-warming film, mainly just one to get you routing for the main protagonist, Elle, so she can prove herself to those against her.

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As you can probably tell, I love this film. An easy watch to sit and enjoy. Not much attention is needed at all, but that doesn’t matter. I think it’s a great romcom, one definitely up there with the best. I think if you like films such as ‘Miss Congeniality’, ‘House Bunny’, ‘John Tucker Must Die’ or ‘Clueless’, I think you would appreciate this one too. It’s a different, yet easy plot, well made and enjoyable. Besides, along with Anna Faris and Alicia Silverstone, Reese Witherspoon plays the stereotypical dumb blonde excellently.

The Book Thief (2013)

‘The Book Thief’ is a beautiful drama, a drama based in Nazi Germany from 1938 through World War Two. The story follows the life of a young girl named Liesel (Sophie Nélisse). At the beginning, we discover she is on her way to her new foster family, at the age of twelve being left to a husband and a wife she has never met before. Her new parents are Hans (Geoffrey Rush – recognisable in a completely different film as Captain Barbossa in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’) and Rosa (Emily Watson). Soon she meets a young boy living next door, eager to become friends with the new girl on the street, this is Rudy (Nico Liersch).

The first thing I should mention is that this is not a film you watch for thrilling moments or comedy or fast-paced action; it couldn’t be further from this. The film is rather slow, but not in a bad way, it is clever in the way the film progresses as you need to understand what is happening. Obviously, there are parts of history that are not covered in the fact that this is well-known in your knowledge anyway, so you do not watch a film knowing what is happening even though it covers the history of Nazi Germany. The story of Liesel and her new family is one to get warped into, there is so much emotion in this film and it really does grip you into the two hours.

The Book Thief 2

This film is different to many others of war; this is a story from the side of the Germans in World War Two, those that were living in Germany – of course this is not a true story or based on facts, but it gives a different side to a war we see many films from English or American point of views. We travel years through Liesel’s young life as she tries to come to grips with what is happening in Germany, her growing hatred with what is happening, and even more so her growing love for books and the importance to them in her life. The use of books in this film, is something that means so much more than just something to read, it is so clever in the film to add so much of this depth and detail. Even perhaps to give a love to people watching the film of books and the importance of imagination and seeing and processing the life around.

There is a narrator in this film, voiced by Roger Allam, I don’t want to give much away with this aspect of the movie, but it clever and different to many other narrators in films. The voice is not so much as a character in the film, yet contributes to the lives in ways that are very different. The voiceover is not continuous throughout the film, he is there at the beginning and the end, and other parts in which he is embedded in the storyline. Every actor in this film is brilliant and truly play the part well. Even the growing up of Liesel is recognisable and well done. There are characters to really appreciate and love in this film, for example, my favourite being Hans.

The Book Thief

Overall, it is a beautiful drama, it is a tear-jerker, but I think that is probably expected. Like I’ve already mentioned it isn’t a fast-paced movie, but I was invested in the characters, worried for all of them, emotion filled in every aspect of the film. It’s an eye-opening into Nazi Germany from a young girl’s point of view, a family who risks everything, men at potential of being called to war, but among all just young Liesel growing up wanting to surround herself with books. If you think this is a film for you, I would definitely recommend it, but I understand it is a film of particular taste. A film of bravery and courage in a dangerous place.

Mulan (1998)

This has to be one of my favourite Disney Classics. Number 36. And not to be forgotten or lost in the mass. This is one of the Disney films projecting a strong moral to the story, I know all Disney films send a message, but this one in particular is different to others before it, and should be acknowledged as one of the most important ones.

If you haven’t seen this film or even know the plot, then I will explain now. ‘Mulan’ is set in China, and when China are under attack by the Huns led by Shan Yu, the only thing they can do is to build an army strong enough to defeat them. This brings in Mulan, a young woman who doesn’t quite fit in, she’s not like all the other girls, the ones who put beauty first, that they must be married off to a great man and uphold the family honour. Instead, Mulan values thought and knowledge. When her injured father is called to the army, Mulan does the only thing she can think of, which happens to be high treason… Pretend she is male and fight in the place of her father so he would not have to go. Mulan, now Ping, is transported into a different life, but luckily she has the help of one of her ancestors, guaranteed it is one ancestor that was demoted, but nevertheless he is there every step of the way, this is Mushu (a voice you would probably recognise as Eddie Murphy – even if you only recognise it through Donkey from ‘Shrek’). Mushu is one of the best characters, he is comical, spirited, and definitely an improvement in the film, without him it wouldn’t be as near as great, and yes that does go to Eddie Murphy as he does it so excellently! However, it’s not just Mulan and Mushu, of course she has her horse and the luckiest cricket, because of course it is Disney, there needs to be animals!

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‘Mulan’ is a musical, although not so much as other films, especially newer films. Also, they aren’t the best Disney songs out there, though I do love ‘I’ll Make a Man Out of You’ and of course the most popular of the film, ‘Reflection’. Oh, there’s ‘A Girl Worth Fighting For’, as well! Other than that, I can’t actually remember any other songs, maybe there isn’t many others, or maybe they just don’t stick out as much. I think one of the reasons for this is that the actors that voice the characters, don’t do the singing, they have different singing actors to those speaking. But regardless of this, I don’t think it makes much of a difference, yes it’s less of a musical, but still a classic great film. The film more revolves around the plot of the story, rather than the film being carried by songs.

So the moral of the film, is very gender based. It’s a Disney film of women being able to act the same as men and do the same things as them as well, for them to be taken more seriously than just marriage. Obviously a very important message, this has changed now anyway but it is a film set in the past, being made in 1998. I think this makes ‘Mulan’ a film so different from the older Disney’s, especially if you go back to the beginning. ‘Snow White’ is so different to ‘Mulan’, don’t get me wrong I love ‘Snow White’ being the first Disney Princess, however I definitely prefer ‘Mulan’.

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This is a film with comedy, action and little bit of romance, and I mean like the smallest amount. Because the film is revolved around family honour and ancestors, we are transported to a different life from the other Disney films which is great. There is action in the film, the villain is quite creepy, and could be scary for some children, although he is a great villain to go against Mulan. The film is based in a war, so action and adventure in the film is understandable, although I do think it’s great and again different from other Disney’s. It is done well, it isn’t a film to scare children, obviously, it is a kid’s film. And like I’ve already mentioned, there is comedy, I even find it funny now.

As you can tell, I would definitely recommend ‘Mulan’. One of my favourites. Different from so many, yet enjoyable, comical, action-filled and a strong moral of the story. Watch ‘Mulan’ for an enjoyable hour and a half. Especially if you’re a fan of Disney and haven’t seen it!