Tag Archives: Julie Walters

Wild Rose (2019) Review

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Wild Rose

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Jessie Buckley as Rose-Lynn Harlan
Julie Walters as Marion
Sophie Okonedo as Susannah
Director: Tom Harper

Fresh out of prison, a Scottish woman (Jessie Buckley) juggles her job and two children while pursuing her dream of becoming a country music star. She soon gets her chance when she travels to Nashville, Tenn., on a life-changing journey to discover her true voice.

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I only heard of Wild Rose very recently. The main reason I came to hear of it was that the most recent BAFTAs nominated and then awarded Best Actress to the movie’s lead actress Jessie Buckley. Looking into the movie, I heard that it was pretty good and so I decided to go see it for myself. It’s a decent movie for sure, with Buckley’s performance elevating it immensely.

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First and foremost, the story isn’t anything that you haven’t seen before. There’s nothing really bad about the movie but it does hit many cliché plot beats, and that could annoy some people who were hoping for something more fresh. It is quite enjoyable to watch though, and there is a heart behind it all as it also touches upon the idea of pursuing one’s ambitions, and the cost that comes with that. I will say that even if you’re not into country music, that won’t be a problem at all, you’ll be fine with it for this movie at least. At an hour and 40 minutes it goes for as long as it needs to be, although there are some times where the pacing drags and maybe it could’ve cut down up to 10 minutes from the runtime.

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Jessie Buckley is really the star of the whole movie and she does a fantastic job. Looking at the character of Rose-Lynn on paper, she needed to be played by someone who could’ve pulled her off. Rose-Lynn is very flawed to say the least and maybe even unlikable and unsympathetic, but Buckley still somehow manages to make you tolerate and even root for her at points, as she tries to achieve her dream. She goes on a standard character arc, but Buckley’s performance really elevated so much of the character and the movie. Her vocal performances of the music are fantastic as well, and it definitely makes sense knowing that she’s actually a professional singer too. Definitely expect her to be in a lot more movies after this. Julie Walters also does well in a supporting role as Rose’s mother, and she also gets some moments of her own to shine, especially with the scenes between her and Jessie. There’s also Sophie Okonedo who plays her role well as a rich woman that Rose-Lynn begins works for early on, and then has a friend in. There’s not much to say about the rest of the cast but they all play their parts well too.

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Wild Rose is directed reasonably well by Tom Harper, it’s shot and edited well and all that. It’s not directed badly or even blandly, but it’s nothing special really, it feels like there could’ve been something a little more than what was given here. With that said, the cinematography during some of the performance scenes particularly stands out as being really good. The music was pretty good too, and it certainly helps when a lot of the songs are performed by Jessie Buckley, who as I said has a very strong and powerful voice.

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On its own, Wild Rose is a pretty decent movie. It’s directed pretty well, the script is good (if familiar), and features a couple solid supporting performances. However, it’s Jessie Buckley’s excellent star making lead performance that makes it one to definitely check out. It may not be something you haven’t seen before but it’s crowd pleaser, it’s got a lot of good things to it, and is worth seeing.

Mary Poppins Returns (2018) Review

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating:
Cast:
Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins
Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack
Ben Whishaw as Michael Banks
Emily Mortimer as Jane Banks
Pixie Davies as Annabel Banks
Nathanael Saleh as John Banks
Joel Dawson as Georgie Banks
Julie Walters as Ellen
Dick Van Dyke as Mr. Dawes Jr.
Angela Lansbury as The Balloon Lady
Colin Firth as William “Weatherall” Wilkins
Meryl Streep as Topsy
Director: Rob Marshall

Now an adult with three children, bank teller Michael Banks (Ben Wishaw) learns that his house will be repossessed in five days unless he can pay back a loan. His only hope is to find a missing certificate that shows proof of valuable shares that his father left him years earlier. Just as all seems lost, Michael and his sister (Emily Mortimer) receive the surprise of a lifetime when Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) — the beloved nanny from their childhood — arrives to save the day and take the Banks family on a magical, fun-filled adventure.

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Although I didn’t really grow up with it and really only first saw it when I was 13/14 years old, I really do like Mary Poppins, it’s a classic for a reason. When I heard about there being another Mary Poppins movie, I didn’t really think much of it. The director was Rob Marshall, who made Chicago (which is apparently good, I haven’t seen it yet) but also Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Into the Woods, both movies I wasn’t huge fans of. Not to mention I just didn’t feel the need for another Mary Poppins movie, thankfully it’s a sequel instead of yet another Disney remake. The only thing that somewhat interested me was Emily Blunt playing Mary Poppins, with Blunt being one of the best actresses working today. Mary Poppins Returns didn’t all completely work and was a bit of a mixed bag, with some elements working alright and others not working at all. Despite this, I do maintain that it is more than worth watching for Emily Blunt’s wonderful performance as Mary Poppins alone.

I’m going to get this out of the way: if you don’t like the original Mary Poppins, there’s pretty much no reason to watch this movie, because its very unlikely that you’ll like this one either. The movie is very derivative of the original, following somewhat similar story beats extremely closely, way too closely. I’ll just say that if you had problems with The Force Awakens being similar to A New Hope, you are probably going to have a field day with Mary Poppins Returns. At times it does similar things to the original but doesn’t do it as well oddly enough. For example, the original movie did have moments where Mary Poppins and the kids would go into different worlds or be part of a song and it would work seamlessly with the story and with what is going on. While Mary Poppins Returns have some moments like that, other moments feel really out of place and don’t work seamlessly with the story, some of them even feel like they could’ve been cut from the movie entirely. The biggest example is the Meryl Streep section which was basically a song routine that really didn’t need to be in the movie. To be fair to the movie, they do make nods to the first Mary Poppins movie but none of them were cringe worthy like they could’ve easily been. It’s rather odd that despite the movie being too similar to the original, every time it tried to do something different (which is something that I wished they did more), they really didn’t work. For example there’s a long sequence in a different world that was pretty good but it ends with this darkly lit carriage chase scene. While I get what that last bit is supposed to represent, I’m sure they could’ve found a way to illustrate that without this really intense chase scene which didn’t belong in the rest of the movie. That’s just one scene though, one of the long term problems was the fact that this movie has a villain played by Colin Firth. While I get given the story there’s a need for an antagonistic presence, instead of giving him like one or two scenes and not focussing much on him, they made him a full on character that’s in like 5 scenes. Honestly its like they couldn’t decide whether to be a minor part or a full on present antagonist and just settled for somewhere in between, which was honestly the worst decision to go with. There really was no reason for a villain, but even if it could’ve worked, they didn’t exactly give him much reason to be there. Although I was following the movie fine enough, I wasn’t really drawn into the magic or the world, or even much cared about the characters or the story. I just really wasn’t that all invested in what was going on.

As much as I bag on this movie for some of the things it does, Emily Blunt’s performance is ‘practically perfect in every way’. Everything from the voice, accent, acting, dancing and singing were absolutely on point every single scene she’s in. Blunt’s performance and the way that she’s portrayed is in line with the character but it doesn’t feel like its trying to be like Julie Andrews’s version. It’s a bit of an updated version of the character that works extremely well. Every time she was on screen, everything lit up and you forget the problems that are present. When she’s not present in the scene, you really start to notice the quality of the movie dipping and then pick right back up when she re-appears. The rest of the cast are actually alright but aren’t able to hold the movie up without Blunt. To be fair to Lin-Manuel Miranda, he does add quite a bit of energy to this movie. His character of Jack basically plays the stand in for Dick van Dyke’s Bert from the original, except instead of being a chimney sweep he’s a lamp lighter with a slightly better Cockney accent. He doesn’t quite equal the same amount of boundless energy that van Dyke brought but he was good. Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer are reasonably good as Michael and Jane Banks but don’t really leave that much of a lasting impression. Jane is present throughout the movie but its weird how they use her. There’s some mentions of her as a labour organiser quite frequently but it doesn’t really have any payoff by the end. There’s also some hints at a romance between her and Jack but that’s only shown in a few scenes and doesn’t really amount to anything. Her inclusion in the movie almost just felt obligatory since she was in the first movie. The kids played by Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh and Joel Dawson were good, they were at about the level of actors who played Michael and Jane in the original movie. Meryl Streep has one scene here and is basically the star of the aforementioned unnecessary song routine. Despite my problems with the scene being there, Streep gives a lot of energy in her one scene, so I guess credits should go to her for that. The problem wasn’t her, it was more the fact that the scene even exists. Colin Firth as I said plays the villain and you know how I feel about the use of a villain in the movie. It is nice seeing him in a more villainous role and does partially ham it up but unfortunately wasn’t even memorable. If his character was featured more, went more hammy or even had his own song routine (yes I know, Colin Firth doing a song routine doesn’t sound that appealing), he might’ve given a lasting impression given that the movie wants the antagonistic presence to be a character and have the audience to somewhat remember him given that they cast an A list actor in the part.

As I said earlier, wasn’t a huge fan of Rob Marshall or his Into the Woods, but his direction of the movie was actually pretty good. His direction of Mary Poppins Returns was also quite good. Mary Poppins Returns has a mix of modern day visual effects along with some classic looking animation ripped straight from the Julie Andrews original movie, giving it that nostalgic feeling that actually worked quite well. Now a big part of Mary Poppins is the music. I don’t envy anyone having to create the music for a sequel to a movie with some incredibly iconic songs. So I don’t exactly blame them for creating songs that weren’t all that memorable. All that said, while I don’t remember all the songs, I at least remember the set up, location and the visuals of the scene. The choreography and some of the creativity done were really strong. The most memorable song was ‘The Cover is Not the Book’, and there are some other songs which I could remember parts of. The ‘Trip a Little Light Fantastic’ section was really too long though and dragged on.

Mary Poppins Returns really doesn’t all work and I feel like it might’ve worked a little more if it was released maybe 2 decades or 3 after the original movie. While the cast is generally alright and there are aspects of the direction which work well, there’s a lot which don’t work and just wasn’t all that memorable. With all that said, there are some alright bits to it and you pretty much need to watch it for Emily Blunt, who is the saving grace of the movie and holds everything together. Again though if you don’t like Mary Poppins, you aren’t going to like this one either.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011) Review

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Supernatural themes & violence.
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Warwick Davis as Filius Flitwick
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
John Hurt as Mr. Ollivander
Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy
Kelly Macdonald as Helena Ravenclaw
Gary Oldman as Sirius Black
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Julie Walters as Molly Weasley
Director: David Yates

A clash between good and evil awaits as young Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) prepare for a final battle against Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Harry has grown into a steely lad on a mission to rid the world of evil. The friends must search for the Horcruxes that keep the dastardly wizard immortal. Harry and Voldemort meet at Hogwarts Castle for an epic showdown where the forces of darkness may finally meet their match.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 had to deliver a satisfying conclusion to the Harry Potter series. With it being the 8th film in the series and with a huge fanbase behind it (both from the book and the movie), there was a lot of hype behind it, thankfully it really delivered. Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a fantastic and emotionally satisfying ending to the series.

Deathly Hallows Part 2 had a somewhat easy task, outside of the Gringotts Bank scene, most of the movie is one big final battle. But it still had the task of bringing everything together to deliver a fantastic conclusion, and I think it was effective in how they did that. It took just about all of the main plot points and characters and concluded them in a conclusive and satisfying way. As all Harry Potter films are like, things are different from the books. Some things like the final fight between Harry and Voldemort, I didn’t mind even though I know it was criticised from being different from the book. The book didn’t have much of a fight and was mostly a long conversation, so this version works better for a movie (though I agree that it would’ve been nice if there was more dialogue between the two). However the way it ends for Voldemort was a little underwhelming and cliché, and there should’ve been more of a transition between that scene and the next scene. There are some changes that I don’t think were great, like what happened with the Elder Wand at the end of the film. However there wasn’t really anything too much that ruined the experience. Deathly Hallows Part 2 is the shortest of the Harry Potter movies at 2 hours and 10 minutes long and it was the right length. It is long enough but it also gets to the point and main points of the story.

All the cast did a great job and served their purpose well. Harry, Ron and Hermione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) are all great again, and all get to do major things in the movie. Like in Part 1, a lot of the supporting characters are pushed to the back and there’s so many of them but they all do great. Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall, Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange, Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy, David Thewlis as Remus Lupin and more all do fantastic in their roles here. We also get to see the full character of Alan Rickman’s Severus Snape. He’s not in a ton of scenes but he is fantastic in them and deliver on some of the best scenes of the movie. Ralph Fiennes is once again great as Voldemort, still throwing himself into a rather pure evil role, but playing it so convincingly and with so much menace that it kind of works. He’s a little over the top at some points, particularly in one scene in the third act before the final confrontation, but I can’t see Voldemort being portrayed any better than how Fiennes did it.

The direction by David Yates is once again great. Deathly Hallows Part 2 has the most action in the series, we see a lot of wizard battles and destruction and it’s all handled really well. The visual effects are outstanding and still 7 years later look pretty good. The action scenes are entertaining and you can feel the weight behind everything that happens. Alexandre Desplat did a great score for Deathly Hallows Part 1 and I’m glad to see him do the score for Deathly Hallows Part 2 as well, elevating so much of the movie over what it already is.

Deathly Hallows Part 2 delivers on what it is supposed to. It’s entertaining, emotionally satisfying and brings the series to a close in the best way possible. It’s biggest flaws are the ending of one of the scenes in the third act and some of the differences between the book and the movie, and the latter is an issue with every single movie in the series, which only speaks to how fantastic of a movie it is.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010) Review

Time: 146 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains violence
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Warwick Davis as Griphook
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
Brendan Gleeson as Alastor ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody
Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dursley
John Hurt as Garrick Ollivander
Rhys Ifans as Xenophilius Lovegood
Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy
Bill Nighy as Rufus Scrimgeour
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Fiona Shaw as Petunia Dursley
Timothy Spall as Peter Pettigrew
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Julie Walters as Molly Weasley
Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley
Director: David Yates

Without the guidance and protection of their professors, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) begin a mission to destroy the Horcruxes, the sources of Voldemort’s immortality. Though they must rely on one another more than ever, dark forces threaten to tear them apart. Voldemort’s Death Eaters have seized control of the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts, and they are searching for Harry — even as he and his friends prepare for the ultimate showdown.

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I’m aware that Deathly Hallows Part 1 gets a bit of a bad rap but I’m not really sure why. Maybe it’s because it’s a part 1 of a story, and is really seen as just setup for the second half. However this might be one of the best films in the long running series. Director David Yates once again does a great job, he takes advantage of having the story in two parts, utilising it well, adding some character development to the main characters. It does drag a bit especially in the second act but most of it really works.

The movie is quite dark, definitely the darkest of the movie series (though it doesn’t have as many depressing moments like in Half-Blood Prince) and you really feel the stakes throughout. There are little spots of brightness, just enough so that the movie isn’t overwhelmingly dark but not too much that you forget what’s at stake in the wizarding world. Splitting the books up into two really was a wise decision, it’s not the longest book in the series but it is a very big story and a whole lot happens, and so the more screentime given to the story, the better. It also allows David Yates and everyone else working on the movie to take their time with telling the story, you couldn’t do the entire Deathly Hallows book in one 4 hour long movie, and if one was to do that it wouldn’t be as good as what they have done here. Splitting the movie into two parts also gives more time to these characters and we get to know them a lot more and see them go through a lot of change. Deathly Hallows Part 1 really does feel like a Part 1 of a story and a setup for a big climax, however it’s not like other YA movies that have their last book split into two parts, it doesn’t feel like it’s padding out time. Yes, the second act does drag a little bit, especially when they are in the forest and not really doing anything, but it doesn’t drag too much, and as I said these moments are often used for character moments. The third act is done really well, very dark and tense and ending it on a pretty good note that sets it up for the last instalment in the franchise. Again, book changes are apparent, most of them don’t bother me. The movie does a good job at simplifying some of the things that happen and cutting out some of the unnecessary bits. With that said, Deathly Hallows Part 1 does have the singularly most obnoxious book to movie change, it’s to do with how Wormtail (Timothy Spall) is dealt with at the end, if you’ve read the books you know exactly what I’m talking about. Had they changed it to how the book did it, it would’ve taken up a minute at most and would’ve been a very dark and impactful scene. However they instead used that moment as a joke. It’s not movie-breaking but it’s nonetheless really irksome. Also a tad glaring is a bit involving a mirror, in the books its established in Order of the Phoenix, but here in the movie it just comes out of nowhere with no explanation for what it is and how it got there.

The acting once again was great. The dynamic between Harry, Ron and Hermione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) was great and they give some of the best performances of their characters in the series. Since the movie is just them focussing on hunting down the Horcruxes we get to see them very prominently throughout the movie; we see them come together and get into conflicts as they struggle to complete this seemingly impossible task. A lot of the side characters are pushed to the background (because of how many they are and the fact that most of the movie is just focussed on the main 3) but they all do great, whether that be Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy, Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, David Thewlis as Remus Lupin, Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange or Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy. One casting decision which wasn’t that great was Rhys Ifans as Xenophilius Lovegood. Ifans is a good actor but he feels a little too over the top, even if he’s only in a couple scenes. Also while it’s a decent casting decision, Bill Nighy as Rufus Scrimgeour (the new Minister of Magic) is really only in a couple scenes here (having about the same screentime as in the book). He was introduced in the Half-Blood Prince book and they should have done the same as with the movie (this is more of a criticism with Half Blood Prince than Deathly Hallows Part 1.

Direction by David Yates really works once again for the Harry Potter movies. The cinematography is a little brighter than in Half-Blood Prince so you can actually easily see anything, however is dark enough that it fits with the tone of the story. The production design, CGI and other technical aspects are greatly handled as well. There is a storytelling scene close to the third act that is done really well with the visual style and animation. One scene that had some issues with its direction was a chase scene in the forest scene, it was really shaky and it was hard to see what was going on. I know I brought it up in other Harry Potter reviews but it is absolutely jarring how different the time period is, because some of the locations are rather modern looking at times. Not a huge problem but definitely something that stands out. The score for the movie is done by Alexandre Desplat this time and it was truly fantastic, adding a lot to the movie.

I actually really liked Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, it’s a lot better than I remember it being. It is quite bleak at times, and drags in some moments but ultimately it does achieve what it sets out to do, and makes for one of the best movies in the Harry Potter series. The story being in two parts may not be something that a lot of people like, but I think that overall ended up improving the films.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) Review

Time: 153 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains fantasy violence
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange
Jim Broadbent as Horace Slughorn
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Warwick Davis as Filius Flitwick
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
Timothy Spall as Peter Pettigrew
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Julie Walters as Molly Weasley
Director: David Yates

As Death Eaters wreak havoc in both Muggle and Wizard worlds, Hogwarts is no longer a safe haven for students. Though Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) suspects there are new dangers lurking within the castle walls, Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) is more intent than ever on preparing the young wizard for the final battle with Voldemort. Meanwhile, teenage hormones run rampant through Hogwarts, presenting a different sort of danger. Love may be in the air, but tragedy looms, and Hogwarts may never be the same again.

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After The Order of the Phoenix, Warner Bros was dead set on director David Yates doing the rest of the Harry Potter series. Having seen the next movies, I’d say that this was a very good call. The Half Blood Prince is a well balanced, dark and effective movie, and for sure one of the best movies in the series.

Half Blood Prince has a rather dark story and so had a dark tone, this is established in the first scene of the movie. It’s evident throughout. With that said, the movie is not devoid of lighter and humorous moments. A big part of this movie is the characters growing up, with teenage romance all about and more. While on paper it sounds like it could turn out really poorly (especially with it being based on a YA novel), it all feels really natural here. Goblet of Fire delved slightly into that but it came across as being a little annoying, Half Blood Prince handled it much better and it was actually fun to watch. There are some things cut from the movie, but that’s come to be expected with the movie series. What matters is whether the movie still works on its own as a story. Although I will admit that I would’ve liked to have seen more glimpses at Tom Riddle’s past and backstory, as we only see 2/3 moments of that in flashbacks. It would’ve been interesting to see and learn more about Riddle, however it’s wasn’t necessary for the story. Half Blood Prince does have however feature a sequence that wasn’t in the movie, that being the Death Eater’s attack on The Burrow. While it isn’t necessary and the story could’ve worked without it, it did remind us once again about the danger that’s very apparent in the Wizarding World, the movie is better with it. This is a pretty long movie, at about 2 hours and a half long but all around it’s actually really well paced and never really drags.

Acting is all around in this movie is good. Harry, Ron and Hermione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) are played well once again. I feel like Harry doesn’t really get much to do here compared to some of the previous movies, though he does have some great acting moments, especially in the third act. The romance between Harry and Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) is very out of place and just comes out of nowhere. It’s like we missed a storyline with them in between movies, and we are only seeing it for the first time, and it just comes across as being really awkward. I almost feel like Grint and Watson got more chance to shine, a lot of the aforementioned coming of age elements are especially present with them and they have great chemistry. Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy gets to do more here than in any of the other Harry Potter movies, with him receiving a task to kill Dumbledore. We see more sides to him and he’s shown to be more than just one of the more dislikeable characters in the Harry Potter series, and he’s shown to be much more complex. Michael Gambon gives his best performance as Albus Dumbledore, he seems close to the end of his lifespan and he’s particularly focussed on for this story. Jim Broadbent as Horace Slughorn, the new potions teacher who is integral to the story, was played well and was perfectly cast.

David Yates does yet another great job with his direction of the movie. This movie has some great cinematography. One criticism about it however is that its so dark looking (borderline black and white at times) and washed out, that at certain moments its hard to see what’s going on and I can definitely see it. It’s really the only Harry Potter movie that I have problems with regarding the colour and the lighting. I know the movie is supposed to be quite dark but even the next films in the series don’t have a colour pallet as dark as this. Most of the time it’s fine, at times it can be a little distracting. It does well however at giving an off-putting feeling, and in that it does it very well. And the cinematography is among the best in the entire series to be fair. The visual effects are done really well, as to be expected they get better with every film. There is a segment in the third act in particular which was done very well. The score by Nicholas Hooper is once again great and adds a lot to the movie.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince surprised me, it was actually pretty great and one of the best in the series. While there are some additional things I would’ve liked to have seen in the movie and some of the colour pallet is a little too washed out and distracting, almost everything in this movie works greatly. I’m so glad that Warner Bros decided to stick with David Yates, it really paid off.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) Review

Time: 138 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and fantasy horror.
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody
Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dursley
Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy
Gary Oldman as Sirius Black
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Fiona Shaw as Petunia Dursley
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Emma Thompson as Sybill Trelawney
Julie Walters as Molly Weasley
Director: David Yates

Now in his fifth year at Hogwarts, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) learns that many in the wizarding community do not know the truth of his encounter with Lord Voldemort. Cornelius Fudge, minister of Magic, appoints his toady, Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), as Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, for he fears that professor Dumbledore will take his job. But her teaching is deficient and her methods, cruel, so Harry prepares a group of students to defend the school against a rising tide of evil.

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After Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the next film in the series would have yet another different director, that being David Yates, who would of course go on to direct all the future Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies. Order of the Phoenix does suffer by having a lot of cuts to the story and not having enough of the story from the book, but the movie is nonetheless very solid and rather underrated (at least to me). It’s has some truly great moments, and it does successfully pull off adapting the longest book into one of the shortest movies.

Tonally, this film does feel brighter than the past two movies but it does signify that some things are in the process of changing in the world. Now I hadn’t read Order in the Phoenix for a long time but it’s well known that it’s the longest book in the series, and so there’s no doubt a ton of things that were cut, and you can really feel it watching the movie. It does have one of the problems that Goblet of Fire has, that being that some story points, character depth and development is seemingly not in the movie, and it would’ve really improved this film. There are also some parts which are only shown briefly which it would’ve been nice to go into a little more. The biggest example is that Harry training Dumbledore’s Army is like shown in 2 montages, they are effective in the movie and get the point across, but nonetheless it would’ve been nice to explore it a little more. With that said, the movie does have some effective scenes, an example being the scenes between Harry and Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), which are among the best scenes of the film. Compared to most of the Harry Potter movies, it’s not as long, so another 10 minutes (or maybe a little more) might’ve added to the story a bit. Order of the Phoenix would’ve always had this problem as a movie though, with it being the longest story in the book series, really the only way to encapsulate the stories from the books is to make it a tv series, so credit to the directors is due for trying their best. Thankfully though, unlike Goblet of Fire, the movie doesn’t extend or add a bunch of pointless things to the movie (or at the very least I didn’t notice it). The opening moments of Order of the Phoenix is a little clunky, with it being quite possibly having the worst opening scenes of the movies. The Dursleys are more the top than usual, the dementors had a jarring downgrade in design, it introduces characters that don’t get any development whatsoever, and is just really rushed. After the first 15-20 minutes, things improve from there though. The movie is just under 2 hours and 20 minutes long, making it the second shortest of the Harry Potter movies and while I did wish it was a little longer so that we could’ve gotten more of the plot and characters, it never felt overlong and the pace was always consistent (even if it did at times rush through some things).

Acting is quite good all around. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) are great and all get to do stuff in the movie. Daniel Radcliffe as Harry is particularly great, delivering his strongest performance in the series up to this point, Harry goes through some character development so Radcliffe gets a lot to do here. The returning cast are great as well. Gary Oldman is once again fantastic as Sirius Black, he and Radcliffe share some great scenes together. Though some characters like Mad Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson) are a little underutilised, they are still good in their roles. Michael Gambon with Order of the Phoenix starts to really fully settle into the role of Dumbledore, still different from Richard Harris’s but works nonetheless. Ralph Fiennes as usual is great as Voldemort, he’s not in the movie a lot (mostly just in the third act) but he’s a constant screen presence from start to finish, even when he’s not on screen. There are some good additions to the movie, I liked the casting choices, but some got to do more than others. Out of all the scene stealers in this movie, the most prominent one is Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge, the character was even more hated than Voldemort and Staunton absolutely kills this role, bringing this loathed character to the big screen. She’s essentially the main villain for most of the movie, she is such a big screen presence and invokes such a response from audiences. Pretty much everything about her character in this movie they nailed. Also a new great addition was Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange, who throws herself completely into her insane role. You mostly just see her in the third act, but she makes a great impression.

Director David Yates takes over as the next Harry Potter director, and he was a good pick. So much so that he was given pretty much the rest of the Harry Potter movies and the entirety of the Fantastic Beasts series to direct. The movie does have a good look to it, the production design, the visuals and the whole look of the world is really good. You do get to see quite a lot more magic in this story and it was done really well. This is the first Harry Potter movie where we really get to see Wizard Duels in all of their glory, and it was shown very well. The third act particularly has a ton of magic and battles (Dumbledore vs Voldemort was especially a highlight) and it’s really great to see. One minor thing that stands out is the look of the Dementors early in the movie, who look like skeletons with a bit of cloth and aren’t as effective as the Dementors in Prisoner of Azkaban and look rather goofy instead. Granted they are on screen for less than a minute. The score by Nicholas Hooper is also pretty good.

Order of the Phoenix starts off quite clunky but it really does improve over time and is overall a solid Harry Potter movie. It’s biggest issue is that it is missing some things from the book that would’ve improved the plot had they been included them. With that said, it’s also got a lot of great things, with wizard duels, not feeling overlong and having some really great scenes. I also feel like with Order of the Phoenix, the series got the right setup, tone and portrayal of the world right, which is probably why Warner Bros decided to stick with David Yates to direct all the Harry Potter/Wizarding World movies.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) Review

Time: 161 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Frightening fantasy scenes and violence.
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart
John Cleese as Nearly Headless Nick
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dursley
Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore
Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Fiona Shaw as Petunia Dursley
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
Julie Walters as Molly Weasley
Director: Chris Columbus

It’s Year 2 at Hogwarts, and Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) are back learning, but their year doesn’t go past quietly. Members of the school are turning up petrified and bloody writing are appearing on the walls, revealing to everyone, that someone has opened the chamber of secrets. The attacks continue, bringing the possibility of the closure of Hogwarts. Harry and his friends are now forced to secretly uncover the truth about the chamber before the school closes or any lives are taken.

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was a huge hit for audiences, for both Harry Potter readers and those who weren’t. The next year, Chris Columbus would release the next film in the series, Chamber of Secrets, which is also pretty good, a film which I would consider to be slightly better than the Philosopher’s Stone, despite it feeling a little too long and drawn out at many points in the film.

In my last Harry Potter review, I mentioned how surprised I was at the length of the Philosopher’s Stone, at 2 hours and a half long. I’m even more shocked at the runtime for Chamber of Secrets, at 2 hours and 40 minutes long. I will say though, you can definitely feel the running time this time, some scenes can drag and some scenes can be rushed, and it definitely feels like a long movie this time round. Chamber of Secrets is not complicated but it’s not as simple as Philosopher’s Stone, with much more going on at the same time, and as nice as it was to see a lot of these scenes in the movie, maybe some of them should’ve been cut. The third act however was paced and handled suitably well for the most part. A good thing about this movie is that you can tell that Chamber of Secrets was done by the same director but there is a suitably darker tone that is necessary for the story. This is about a giant creature that petrifies (and sometimes) kills children after all. This also means a lot less of the camp and cheesiness that was present in the first movie (however the ending of the movie can be very cheesy). The movie also sets up and establishes things (unknowingly to audience members) that would come into play for future movies, and that’s something that the Harry Potter series does very well. There are some bits which, as a Harry Potter fan, slightly irked me, and I don’t usually have issues with differences to the books. For example, the disarming spell Expelliarmus is used as a stunning spell, while they aren’t anything really major, that can be very distracting.

The acting from the child actors is still not great but it has noticeably improved over the child acting in Philosopher’s Stone (and also despite the fact it’s just been a year, they all look much older). Also, the chemistry and friend dynamic between the 3 main leads (Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley and Emma Watson as Hermione Granger) is a lot better and more convincing. One issue I might bring up though is not an uncommon criticism, Ron is kind of a whiner and useless a lot of the time, particularly in this movie, Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire. I know that some characters when adapted have to be simplified, but surely Ron could’ve come across as a little better than how he did here. Other returning actors, especially Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid and Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore). We also have some new additions to the series. Kenneth Branagh was a perfect casting choice for Gilderoy Lockhart, he is really cartoonish, useless, over the top and annoying but it’s pretty much a perfect representation of the character (fun fact, Hugh Grant nearly played the role and he would’ve been great as well). Another great new casting choice was Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy, Draco Malfoy’s (Tom Felton) father. He plays the role with such menace and is pretty memorable despite only being in a few scenes in Chamber of Secrets (that voice is pretty great and suits his character well. Also good was another new character Dobby, voiced by Toby Jones, perfect casting.

As I said before, you can tell that Chris Columbus directed Chamber of Secrets but it also has a darker tone to it, and this also extends to the direction. While there are lots of moments with brightness, the colour pallet also uses a lot of darker colours, the entire third act is dark and dark green. The production design is really great once again, the attention to detail was fantastic, especially the Chamber of Secrets. The visual effects are slightly better, it does have some weaker spots but there are a lot of things that still look pretty solid today. John William’s score is once again excellent, and his new additions to the Harry Potter soundtrack really pay off (the Fawkes theme being a standout).

I don’t know what the general reception that Chamber of Secrets has but I think I like it slightly more than Philosopher’s Stone (probably because of the darker story and tone). With that said, it does have some issues, with it feeling overlong and dragging at times. One of the weaker movies in the series but it’s still rather solid.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001) Review

Time: 152 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Contains supernatural theme
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
John Cleese as Nearly Headless Nick
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Warwick Davis as Filius Flitwick
Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dursley
Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore
Ian Hart as Quirinus Quirrell
John Hurt as Mr. Ollivander
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Fiona Shaw as Petunia Dursley
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
Julie Walters as Molly Weasley
Director: Chris Columbus

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is an average bespectacled 11 year old boy who has lived with the Dursley family ever since his parents died in a car crash. For some reason the family has always mistreated him. On his 11th birthday a giant man named Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) hands him a letter telling him that he has been accepted as a student at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry learns that his parents were wizards and were killed by an evil wizard Voldemort, a truth that was hidden from him all these years. He embarks for his new life as a student, gathering two good friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) along the way. They soon learn that something very valuable is hidden somewhere inside the school and Voldemort is very anxious to lay his hands on it.

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With Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald releasing towards the end of the year, I decided to have a look through all of the Harry Potter movies in the lead up to its release. The books were very popular and in the late 90s, Warner Bros were looking to adapt this acclaimed and beloved series (which was still going on) to the big screen. In 2001, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (no it’s not titled the Sorcerer’s Stone here in New Zealand) was released to much love from readers and non readers alike. I grew up with these movies with my family, so no matter some of the flaws that some of them have, I can’t help but love them. As for the Philosopher’s stone, it’s not one of the better movies in the series but I still like it, and watching it more recently, its actually impressive how well it started off the series for both those familiar with the Harry Potter books and those that weren’t.

Out of all the movies, Philosopher’s Stone is the most accurate to the book (you don’t get everything from the book in here though, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, there’s only so much you can put into one movie). However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s automatically a better movie than the rest. Seeing it again recently, Philosopher’s Stone actually does some very impressive things that I didn’t notice before. What actually surprised me the most was the length of the movie, it was 2 hours and 30 minutes because it felt so much shorter. Director Chris Columbus really keeps the movie at a pretty good pace, it never feels like it lingers on things too much and it never feels rushed. Another great thing is when it comes to establishing the world of Harry Potter. When it comes to adapting fantasy or sci fi source material to the big screen, one of the biggest challenges is establishing the fictional world in a strong way to the audience, so that they are immersed and perfectly understand what kind of world they are in. With the Philosopher’s Stone, it’s done greatly, the story is simple but effective enough that you are willing to accept all the crazy magical things that this movie is establishing to you. The movie is very light hearted, especially in contrast with the rest of the series, however it really was the best way to start off the series. The book anyway has a mostly light tone, so the movie brought it to the big screen very well. Though I won’t lie this movie can feel really dated and a little too goofy and over the top at times (too many instances to list).

Almost all of the Harry Potter characters were perfectly cast. The main 3 actors with Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson (who play Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger respectively) do have some missteps but they all do good jobs. The child actors in the early films aren’t all the best and are a little rocky (especially with the line delivery), but they do improve over the years. The adult actors are all around well cast. Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore (who does a good job as Dumbledore in his two film appearances for their respective stories), Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid, Alan Rickman as Severus Snape (absolutely perfect and much better than the book version of Snape), Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall, all do excellent jobs. Even some of the one scene actors do quite well, like John Hurt as Ollivander the wandmaker. The only casting choice/character who doesn’t work quite as well is Ian Hart as Professor Quirrell. While not bad or anything, he really wasn’t anything special, was a little over the top and it’s pretty clear the moment he’s on screen that he’s secretly shady (for lack of a better non spoilerish term).

Yes, as you’ll probably get from my thoughts on the later Harry Potter films, I do prefer the darker movies but for what Chris Columbus was going for in the first two Harry Potter movies, it works rather well. It’s also a perfect way to bring the audience, whether they are fans of the books or not, into the world. Chris Columbus does a great job at establishing the Harry Potter world. The production design is really great, especially in Hogwarts, it really does make you feel like you’re in a magical school. The visuals aren’t as impressive as those in the later movies but for its time it worked very well. Some visual effects haven’t aged well (especially the green screen), but you can accept it as it’s a movie from 2001. John Williams’s score as always is iconic and very memorable, adding a lot of ‘magic’ into a movie with already so much magic. It is a little on the nose in a couple scenes when Voldemort is brought up and the score drops to an over the top ominous sound, but otherwise it’s quite good.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is still good, and as I said a perfect adaptation of the book. Even if you think it’s on a significantly lower level compared to the rest of the movies, I think it’s worth acknowledging a lot of the impressive things it did with establishing the world and keeping the long running movie at a pretty fast pace. It’s not my favourite of the Harry Potter movies, it does feel quite dated but it nonetheless did a good job at starting off the series.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018) Review

Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Contains sexual references
Cast:
Amanda Seyfried as Sophie Sheridan
Meryl Streep as Donna Sheridan
Lily James as Young Donna
Dominic Cooper as Sky
Christine Baranski as Tanya Chesham-Leigh
Jessica Keenan Wynn as Young Tanya
Julie Walters as Rosie Mulligan
Alexa Davies as Young Rosie
Pierce Brosnan as Sam Carmichael
Jeremy Irvine as Young Sam
Colin Firth as Harry Bright
Hugh Skinner as Young Harry
Stellan Skarsgård as Bill Anderson
Josh Dylan as Young Bill
Cher as Ruby Sheridan
Andy García as Fernando Cienfuegos
Director: Ol Parker

In 1979 young Donna (Lily James), Tanya (Jessica Keenan Wynn) and Rosie (Alexa Davies) graduate from Oxford University — leaving Donna free to embark on a series of adventures throughout Europe. On her journeys, she makes the acquaintances of Harry (Hugh Skinner), Bill (Josh Dylan) and Sam (Jeremy Irvine) — the latter whom she falls in love with, but he’s also the man who breaks her heart. In the present day, Donna’s pregnant daughter, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), dreams of renovating a taverna while reuniting with her mother’s old friends and boyfriends on the Greek island of Kalokairi.

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I watched the original Mamma Mia about a week ago and although I was entertained by it, I wasn’t a particularly huge fan of it, I didn’t really consider it to be a good movie but I had fun with it. Honestly I didn’t know what to expect from Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, the pre-sequel to the first movie 10 years in the making. So I just expected a dumb and over the top with a bunch of great ABBA songs. However, it actually surprised me quite a lot. Basically all the issues I had with the first movie were fixed here, with a stronger story, better use of songs and some surprising emotion. And like the first movie it is really campy and entertaining.

Something that occurred to me over the course of my viewing was that it seemed that Mamma Mia 2 fixed all my problems with the first movie. First of all, Mamma Mia 2 has more of a story. The first movie felt really like talented actors doing drunk karaoke – ABBA edition. Mamma Mia 2 has much more of a plot, half of it focussing on Amanda Seyfried’s Sophie in present day and the other half on Lily James’s younger Donna in flashbacks. The first movie jammed a whole lot of ABBA songs into moments where they didn’t really need it, and almost felt like padding to extend the movie. With the sequel though, there are enough breathing moments and it didn’t feel like they were just shoving ABBA songs into the movie just for the sake of it and all the song segments seem to work appropriately for the story and movie. Whereas the first movie had some humour which didn’t really land (most of the comedy I found in that movie was unintentional), the sequel is genuinely funny. Last but not least, there are genuinely solid emotional scenes. I wasn’t emotional myself during the movie (most movies don’t really get me to be that way) but the emotional scenes were earned and were well done, and I’m not exaggerating when there were some people in the cinema that I was in that were legit crying in some scenes particularly near the end. The movie like the first is over the top and campy. If you were fine with how absolutely silly the first Mamma Mia was, you’ll have no problem with how silly the sequel can get. Whether it be some of the dialogue, the song transitions and segments, and just some of the goofy things that these characters do, for me it was just really fun to watch. I think I should also mention that you really shouldn’t expect much of Meryl Streep here. The film made a really weird decision considering that she was part of what made the first movie so successful. What I can say that it was a risky move that paid off in the end, the story did actually work well for it.

Most of the original cast returns with Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranaski, Julie Walters, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard and Dominmic Cooper. It is a little jarring how much older all of them are now (10 years older to be exact) but they are good. One of the highlights of the original movie was that everyone there looked like they loved being there and are having a good time, thankfully that’s the same with the sequel. The younger cast also do well, whether it be the younger Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters played by Lily James, Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies, or whether it’s the younger Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard played by Jeremy Irvine, Hugh Skinner and Josh Dylan respectively. They all feel like younger versions of the actors/characters. In terms of stands outs however, it’s really Lily James, she is really believable as a young Meryl/Donna and really leaves an impression. The other people in the cast is also pretty good. Cher is in the movie plays Streep’s mother and Seyfried’s grandmother and while she’s good, she really doesn’t end up living up to the hype that the movie was building her up to be, and no I’m not just referring to the trailers or the fact that they got Cher for the part. The problem is that despite the fact that she was built up from the very first scene, when she finally arrives, she doesn’t really do much or leave that much of an impact. It ultimately feels like they could’ve gotten any half decent singer and actress for the part and so in that aspect it felt a little underwhelming after all that build up (or they could’ve cut the character from the movie). With that said, Cher is good in the role. The singing is also generally good. Once again, the women do fare much better than the men, but the men were okay enough for the most part. And yes, Pierce Brosnan does do some singing in this movie but he is actually somewhat okay, then again most of his singing time is spent with dozens of other singers. The one moment when he did some singing on his own actually worked for the scene.

This first Mamma Mia was directed by Phyllida Lloyd, whereas the sequel is directed by Ol Parker, both movies are actually pretty well directed for what they are. Like with the original movie, Mamma Mia 2 takes advantage of its locations, it’s a really good looking movie. The song segments are all entertaining and wonderfully goofy when it needs to be. It’s also always great hearing ABBA songs.

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again honestly surprised me, it was a little bit better than just being a dumb and goofy movie (though it very much is a dumb and goofy movie). It fixed the issues that I had with the first movie and I was able to enjoy the movie both ironically and unironically. Speaking as someone who was entertained by but wasn’t a massive fan of the first movie, I really think the second movie is a significant improvement. If you love the first movie and haven’t seen this one, you’ll definitely love the sequel, especially in a packed cinema. If you disliked the first movie, I highly doubt that the second movie would change things for you.

Mamma Mia! (2008) Review

Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Contains sexual references
Cast:
Meryl Streep as Donna Sheridan
Amanda Seyfried as Sophie Sheridan
Pierce Brosnan as Sam Carmichael
Colin Firth as Harry Bright
Stellan Skarsgård as Bill Anderson
Dominic Cooper as Sky
Julie Walters as Rosie Mulligan
Christine Baranski as Tanya Chesham-Leigh
Director: Phyllida Lloyd

Donna (Meryl Streep), an independent hotelier in the Greek islands, is preparing for her daughter’s (Amanda Seyfried) wedding with the help of two old friends. Meanwhile Sophie, the spirited bride, has a plan. She secretly invites three men from her mother’s past in hope of meeting her real father and having him escort her down the aisle on her big day.

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Mamma Mia was a movie I heard a lot about every since it’s release in 2008. Although I watched some bits of the movie, I hadn’t ever gotten around to watching it in it’s entirety. With the sequel coming soon, I decided to watch the original movie to see how I felt about it… and I’m not entirely sure how I felt about it. It’s not really that good of a movie, but it’s so campy and over the top that I was entertained by it.

Now I think I should mention I’m not familiar with the musical of the same name (although I’m familiar with a lot of the ABBA songs). There is a plot to Mamma Mia but honestly it feels really quite small, and the only reason it is like an hour and 50 minutes long is because of the songs shoved in. It’s like you get 5 to 10 minutes of the story and then it cuts to another ABBA song. The vast majority of the time, there was no reason for the songs used. Sometimes it has nothing to do with anything, and by removing certain song segments, it wouldn’t feel like any part of the movie was missing. I thought that Moulin Rouge used way too many songs for no reason, but Mamma Mia takes it to a completely different level. It does its fair share of songs that worked in certain moments to be fair, and most of the song segments were entertaining enough. It’s just that when they come out of nowhere they can feel really jarring. Outside of the songs, the reason I was somewhat entertained by the movie was how bizarre it was. A lot of the time I didn’t know what was going on, whether that be the absurdity of some of the singing segments, the sudden song segments that come out of nowhere for no reason, some of the bad singing, some of the insane decisions made by some characters, it felt very strange to me. There was a lot of camp to it as well. I think a lot of the intentional humour didn’t really land with me, and those moments where it did, it’s because of how bizarre the concept was. I think the best way to enjoy Mamma Mia is that if you have an issue with something, try to just go with it. That’s not that strong of a compliment but that’s what I did, and I did have a fun time with it. It doesn’t have a particularly strong plot, characters or anything like that, but it was entertaining, it was an entertaining movie.

This movie has a big cast with Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Julie Walters and others. While they aren’t by any means giving performances that would rank among the best in their careers, they all look like they are having the time of their lives. They don’t seem to be taking it too seriously as well, they sort of know what kind of movie they are in. When it comes to singing, the women fare much better than the men. Pierce Brosnan was infamous in this movie for sounding atrocious, and yes, his singing does in fact sound like a wounded dog. To be fair, props to him, Firth and Skarsgard for at least trying to sing, and Brosnan’s singing was one of the highlights of the film (just not in the way he intended), I’m lowkey hoping it makes a return for the second film. Meryl Streep’s singing wasn’t great (her singing would improve in Into the Woods) but it was actually pretty decent here. In fact most of the singing was fine enough, I don’t really have much to comment about them.

A lot of the musical segments are actually pretty well directed, no matter how crazy it gets a lot of the time. It’s also a pretty good looking movie as well, though most of that is because of the location of the movie, which takes place in the Greek Islands. Also I really like ABBA so I enjoyed the musical segments, and most of the singing was okay enough so I could get into it. Direction-wise, it’s a competently made movie.

I’m still not sure what to say about Mamma Mia. It just seems like a bunch of famous actors and actresses got together to do drunk ABBA karaoke. I can’t say that I was bored. It’s so batshit insane and it does have some entertaining moments (whether it is genuine or just how bizarre everything is). Even though its not good, I had some fun with it (and it feels like everyone involved had fun with it), and not in a ‘so bad it’s good way’. So I guess I might be able to call it okay, I think. If you’re going to watch it for the first time, just know that you can’t take any of it seriously. I’m not expecting much from the sequel, I’m not sure why Mamma Mia is even getting a sequel (especially 10 years after the original) but if it’s at least as half as batshit insane as the first movie, it might be entertaining at the very least.