JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: The Santa Clause 2 (2002)

Directed by: Michael Lembeck
Starring: Tim Allen, Eric Lloyd, Elizabeth Mitchell, Wendy Crewson, Judge Reinhold, David Krumholtz, Spencer Breslin

Written by Chris Gelderd

This 2002 American festive comedy is the sequel to 1994’s ‘The Santa Clause’ and is directed by Michael Lembeck and stars Tim Allen, Eric Lloyd, Elizabeth Mitchell, Wendy Crewson, Judge Reinhold, David Krumholtz and Spencer Breslin.

Eight years after taking on the role of Santa Claus, Scott Calvin (Allen) is finding it difficult to split time between his North Pole festive duties with elves Bernard (Krumholtz) and Curtis (Breslin), and being a father to Charlie (Lloyd) who is rebelling at school and finds his way onto Santa’s naughty list. To make things worse, Curtis reveals another clause overlooked in the original contract; the Mrs. Clause, in which Santa needs to find a wife before Christmas Day or he will stop being Santa and Christmas will be lost.

To help Santa spend time with his family and try to find a wife, Curtis and Bernard create a clone of Santa out of a plastic toy who takes over the running of the North Pole. Meanwhile, Scott starts to form a bond with Charlie’s principal, Carol Newman (Mitchell) and uses his magic to woo her as the two gradually fall for each other.

But when Toy Santa (Allen) takes the rules of Christmas too literally, he imprisons Bernard, creates an army of toy soldiers and puts every child on the naughty list to receive lumps of coal on Christmas Day. Facing a deadline to convince Carol who he really is and win her hand, Scott must also stop Toy Santa from destroying the magic of Christmas, all before it is too late for everyone…

A worthy sequel to the 1994 original, this time heaping on cartoonish comedy and slapstick, and featuring more fantasy and magic than the first time around. We have the manic, comical mishaps at the North Pole featuring an over-zealous Toy Santa taking over Santa’s workshop coupled with a more heartfelt setting in Chicago as Scott tries to win over a frosty school principal and fix his family.

This film works best with heart, and the segments with Scott and his family trying to repair the stress of keeping a secret like “My Dad is Santa”, and as he has fun with the likeable Elizabeth Mitchell to woo her over, are great to watch. They are witty, but humane and focus on just what you’d want from a Christmas film; heart and family and relationships, sprinkled with discovering the real meaning of Christmas.

It falls flat cut with the North Pole chaos, with an over-acting Tim Allen as a dastardly Toy Santa who takes over the workshop to effectively cancel Christmas. These moments are a little TOO silly with the overall story, and it detracts from the grounding of things. When both stories come together, it provides a few entertaining moments as the elves battle the toy soldiers, and a mini-revolution takes place. The added danger and confrontation to stand it apart from the first is welcome, it’s just handled a little sloppy.

Added with very irritating reindeer who now talk (with a god-awful Jar Jar Binks-esque voice) and fart, this makes me cringe also as it seems to lower the standard set in the first for something a little more stupid, and it doesn’t really need to do that to be effective, as we see in moments here.

Still, it does the job and continues the story with all the main cast returning for a decent sequel that tries its best and offers a good twist on things.

 

JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: The Santa Clause (1994)

Directed by: John Pasquin
StarringTim Allen, Eric Lloyd, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson and David Krumholtz.

Written by Chris Gelderd

38-year-old Scott Calvin (Allen) is spending Christmas Eve with his young son Charlie (Lloyd), splitting time equally between his ex-wife Laura (Crewson) and her new partner Neil (Reinhold). While the celebration doesn’t go according to plan thanks to Scott’s dismissal of the season, that night they are woken by noise on the roof of their house. Investigating, Scott disturbs Santa Claus, causing him to fall and disappear into thin air, leaving only a set of instructions and the red suit behind.

To satisfy Charlie’s excitement, Scott goes along with wearing the suit and following the instructions which lead to the reindeer and sleigh. Once he takes a seat, Scott is magically whisked away on a journey to deliver presents around the world before he is taken to the North Pole and briefed on the situation by Head Elf Bernard (Krumholtz).

Waking up the next morning and dismissing the events as a dream, Scott starts a transformation over the year where he gradually becomes the new Santa Claus, complete with big round belly and thick beard and white hair. With Charlie trying to help him believe in the magic that has happened, Scott soon discovers the fate of Christmas rests on him accepting his new role and convincing those closest to him that what happened was real before it is too late…

One of the better mainstream Christmas films to come our way, now 20 years old and still retaining that schmaltzy festive magic, but with a decent story that relies on character, heart and humour rather than truckloads of slapstick and cheap visuals.

Tim Allen surfing the peak of this TV and movie career comes across, to me, a little over-confident in his ability as being funnier than he actually is. While the script isn’t awful, it’s not that funny, but Allen gurns and quips and groans over his puns and silly actions that I think he feels is laugh out loud funny, but really it’s a little cheesy. Yet with a decent supporting cast with young Eric Lloyd, the always-passionate Judge Reinhold and likeable David Krumholtz as our Head Elf, Allen is in good company.

With most of the story set in the everyday suburbs, it gives us lots of comical moments which see Allen slowly transform into our new Santa – this is fun to see and watch him and the people around him try to find explanations as to the increase in weight and excessive facial hair, yet also tugs on the heartstrings a little when he is seen as nothing more than a liability and neglectful parent.

With nothing offensive, crude or adult, this is easy festive viewing for all the family with plenty of heart-warming moments that focus on family and relationships, rather than just fantasy and adventure.

TV REVIEW: The Durrells (Seasons 1, 2 & 3)

Written by Fiona Underhill

The Durrells is the latest television show to adapt the autobiographical novels of the naturalist Gerald Durell, known as the Corfu Trilogy. The first and best known of the novels is My Family and Other Animals and was made into a TV series of the same name in 1987 (which I was very fond of as a child). The saga tells the story of Durrell’s childhood, specifically a five year period spent on the island of Corfu, which is where the widowed Louisa Durrell moved with her children Leslie, Margo and Gerry. In real life, they went there to join her eldest son Lawrence Durrell, who was already living there with his wife, however, this is changed in the book and the shows (Lawrence’s wife is never mentioned). Whilst on Corfu, Gerry became greatly interested in the local fauna and started collecting animals to study at home, aided by local man Theo Stephanides.

The Durrells stars Keeley Hawes as Louisa Durrell, Josh O’Connor as Larry Durrell (who is about 21 when the series starts), Callum Woodhouse as Leslie (18), Daisy Waterstone as Margo (16) and Milo Parker as Gerry (11). On Corfu, they immediately befriend a local taxi driver Spiros (Alexis Georgoulis) and they hire a helper for the house Lugaretzia (Anna Savva). There is a supporting cast of mostly eccentric local people, including a British Doctor’s wife, Florence (Lucy Black), the booze-soaked Captain Creech (James Cosmo) and a French Countess (Leslie Caron) who hires Margo. In the first season, Larry enthusiastically sets about trying to get his Mother laid (one of the many things I love about this show), with varying degrees of success. Her main love interests in the first two seasons are the Swedish Sven (Ulric von der Esch) and the British Hugh (Daniel Lapaine). Larry is a struggling writer, Leslie is gun-obsessed and Margo is discovering feminism whilst also desperately wanting a boyfriend (relatable).

The Durrells follows in the footsteps of My Family and Other Animals by appearing on the surface to be a light-hearted, heart-warming and cosy Sunday tea-time treat of a show (and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that). I strongly associate the 80s TV series with being in a nightgown in front of the fire after a bath and having a supper of tea and toast. However, The Durrells is not as frivolous as it first appears. Yes, a big part of the appeal is the stunning location. The Durrells move into a huge ramshackle villa directly overlooking the sea, it is white with green shutters and has the peeling wallpaper look which is greatly coveted by hipsters now. Of course, it is absolutely sun-drenched and it is impossible not to be jealous of the cast and crew who got to work in this incredible place with incredible people. However, the show also tackles issues such as homosexuality being illegal at the time, unwanted pregnancy and is generally much sexier and more riské than one might expect. Louisa Durrell (played by a beautiful and sexy actress) is treated as a complex human being, torn between trying to ensure her children are successful and happy and also trying to stave off her own longing and loneliness. It is one of the best depictions of motherhood I have seen on television – Louisa is quite open, honest and frank that at times she finds her children stupid and annoying. The dialogue is incredibly fresh and hilariously funny, with the banter exchanged between this bickering family being sharp, witty and dripping in sarcasm.

My favourite aspect of the show is the relationship between Louisa and her oldest son Larry (played by one of Britain’s best young actors – Josh O’Connor – don’t believe me? Watch God’s Own Country). Larry takes on the role of a confidante of Louisa’s, she seeks advice from him on how to cope with the younger children and their scenes together are incredibly genuine, tender and with fantastic natural chemistry between the two actors. Something else I love about this show is that it handles tonal shifts so skillfully. Clunky American sitcoms such as Scrubs, How I Met Your Mother or Big Bang Theory will spend half an hour trying to make you laugh and then hold up a signpost saying; “now we are going to deliver a heartfelt message, dripping in sentimentality.” The Durrells can go from a biting and caustic wit to heart-wrenching scenes, where the family go from being at each other’s throats to supporting one another in a completely natural and believable way. The writing and acting is incredibly strong for an ITV period drama and it certainly exceeded my expectations.

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The design of the series is very strong, from the opening titles, modelled on 1930’s railway or tourism posters, through to the overall production and costume design. From Larry’s signature Breton stripes or his burnt orange spotted dressing gown paired with boxer shorts, through to the knitted swimsuits, Louisa’s high-waisted trousers and the Countess’ stunning green dress which she gives to Margo (reminiscent of the famous green dress from Atonement) – the costumes are a feast for the eyes. Gerry’s collection of animals is obviously a source of delight, with a particular highlight being the mating pair of otters that he acquires.

The nuanced depiction of motherhood is not just confined to Louisa Durrell. Louisa’s friend Florence becomes pregnant after over a decade of trying, but when the newborn comes, the show portrays the realities of sleep deprivation and her other struggles. She also has an amusingly cavalier attitude to the baby, frequently forgetting about him and mislaying him. Lugaretzia is quite brazen about picking favourite children, which she does with the Durrells and her own. The portrayal of Louisa as a young widow is also extremely moving (my own mother was widowed at the age of 33 with three young children). Louisa is still very much in love with her husband and struggles to move on. There is a heart-breaking episode where they use a medium to try to contact him.

O’Connor’s acting, particularly in scenes with Hawes, is sublime and deserves to be compared to his performance in God’s Own Country. Just because it has humour and charm and dare-I-say, whimsy, does not mean that there is not a lot going on behind it. Firstly, comedic performances are vastly underrated and undervalued to begin with – people underestimate how hard it can be to be funny on screen. But there are scenes where Larry is much more vulnerable and O’Connor emotes with his eyes so well – communicating that there is a lot going on under the surface with Larry. In an interview with Seventh Row, O’Connor notes that his character in God’s Own Country and Larry Durrell are more similar than they first appear: “I think Larry is a really interesting parallel [to Johnny Saxby] – the way he hides it isn’t like Johnny, where Johnny just closes himself off entirely. Larry hides it with abuse and anger. I think there are a lot of similarities between Larry and Johnny, emotionally.”

Daisy Waterstone and Milo Parker both deliver the matter-of-fact, frank and blunt dialogue superbly. Even in the short time the series has been on, Gerry has gone from a little boy to a teenager (his mother throws him a disastrous 13th birthday party) and I believe Parker is closer to 16 now, so you are watching these people drastically change and grow before your eyes. The gun-toting Leslie is also more layered than he first appears – it is obvious that he misses a male role-model the most of the children and Woodhouse’s acting as Leslie tries to cope with getting a girl pregnant is really affecting. You will become heavily invested in these characters and this family – you will be willing for them to succeed in their life on Corfu and for Louisa to find love.

I was expecting to find The Durrells to be a pleasant distraction, but it has ended up being so much more than that. Truth be told, I have ended up binging the three seasons in little more than three days and I plan to go back and watch the whole thing from the start again. It completely drew me in, I became involved with this family and I am now waiting with baited breath for the fourth season. I have been fretful that O’Connor might not carry on with it, but sincerely wish that he will because his Larry Durrell is one of my favourite TV characters now. I highly recommend giving The Durrells a chance, I don’t think you’ll regret it.

You can watch The Durrells on ITV in the UK, and PBS/Amazon Prime in the US

Don’t forget to check out Fiona’s TV reviews for The Night Manager and The People vs OJ Simpson too!

‘Creed II’ Goes For The Title Whilst ‘Ralph Breaks The Internet’ Remains Top In Slow Weekend: Box Office Predictions

Written by Dapo Olowu

As the tumbleweed rolls through this barren Box Office weekend, you may be forgiven for asking why just 1 film is opening wide on Friday (and none 7 days later). The post-Thanksgiving weekend is one of historical dryness – this time last year saw 0 films open in over 600 cinemas, although it did welcome the release of award-fodder ‘The Disaster Artist’ and ‘The Shape of Water’ in a few theatres each.

Why? The mid-December onslaught, which in 2018 includes ‘Aquaman’, ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’, ‘Bumblebee’, and ‘Mary Poppins Returns amongst many others, leaves studios in a difficult scheduling position, where they’re forced to contend with both the Thanksgiving’s leftovers, as well as the upcoming competition.

Leaving this release date alone is almost always preferred – the 2-week theatrical guarantee means that most big films have a fortnight in the cinemas before their screen counts drop. Of course, this would swallow up most releases in the upcoming weekend, leaving Sony’s low-budget horror ‘The Possession of Hannah Grace’ as the only new film to torment cinemagoers from around 2,000 theatres. The film follows the story of an ‘exorcism gone wrong’, and stars Shay Mitchell (‘Pretty Little Liars’), Shana Katic (‘Castle’), and Grey Damon (‘Aquarius’).

Much like 2016s ‘Incarnate’, which opened to $2.5m on its way to a $4.8m domestic finish, ‘The Possession of Hannah Grace’ won’t seriously trouble many in the top ten, and its forecasted $2.6m gross may even be too optimistic, as the strong Thanksgiving weekend holdovers will leave this supernatural thriller needing more than just some holy water.

Ralph Breaks the Internet’, last weekend’s winner, will remain on top, pulling in a solid $30m to bring its domestic total close to $120m. Although its ahead of both ‘Coco’ and ‘Moana’ at the same point in their runs, ‘Ralph 2’ will be lucky to finish close to the latter’s $248.8m total – sequel-itis can be unforgiving. The front-loaded nature of franchises can be seen with ‘Fantastic Beasts 2’, which will struggle to reach a $200m domestic total (while ‘FB1’ hit $234m). The ‘Harry Potter’ spinoff should earn around $15m this weekend for 4th place.

The same can’t be said for ‘Creed II’ however, who after less than 2 weeks of release is just $40m off ‘Creed’s entire domestic gross. The film stands currently bells in as the 10th biggest boxing film in U.S. history, and an $18m this weekend gross will see it leapfrog predecessor ‘Rocky Balboa’ into 9th spot. The fighter student has become the master trainer, it seems, but Michael B. Jordan and co. won’t be stopping here, as its sights are fittingly set on ‘Rocky IV’s record $127.9m total. Whether or not it’ll deliver that knock-out gross, we’ll see.

The DiCaprio-produced ‘Robin Hood’ gets an honourable mention here too, as it grasps to remain in the top ten. A film likely to litter many a ‘Box Office Bombs of 2018’ list (including ours), its $3.9m weekend should see it pass the $20m mark domestically but not much else, with a likely finish of $30m in store.

In a more uneventful Box Office weekend, ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ has the opportunity to extend its stronghold, while ‘Creed II’ has eyes on the title belt. Will the latter make it, and will ‘Ralph 2’ best that of ‘Coco’ and ‘Moana’? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

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REVIEW: The World Before Your Feet (2018)

Directed by: Jeremy Workman
Genre: Documentary

Written by Jessica Peña

For no other reason than curiosity’s sake, Matt Green has embarked on a mission to walk every block of New York City, passing through all five boroughs of the bustling, diverse metropolis. You may think he’s chasing and finding nothing with this project, but in reality, he’s found the infinite wonders of his lovely town and the people and historical places that make the experience rewarding. Director Jeremy Workman begins to follow Matt on his intrinsic voyage and lets us take a peek in this uplifting, vérité story about a man’s journey.  

The World Before Your Feet is sublime in the way it appreciates location and culture that’s just around the corner. Matt Green is one of a kind, although human all the same, and his perspective in life has geared him up for this passion project (which at the time of the film’s release, is still going!). He was working as an engineer when he decided to just quit his job and begin this tiny project that’s brought on a lifetime of discovery. Some will think he’s a bum for living this way, and on his small blog, he invites you to tell him that. It’s not without good intentions and his sense of community and respect is contagious.

From Flushing, Queens, to Governors Island, the documentary begins and we’re already following Matt on the streets of a beautiful day. He’s observant, friendly, and full of magnificent insight. He sees nature and people mix on a daily basis, sharing the space with them, strolling by every block and corner. He’s even got a keen awareness to it all, even birds. “A lot of times, you don’t hear them ‘cause you’re not listening for them,” he tells the camera as he’s walking along a South Bronx neighborhood. It’s kind of like living in a neighborhood all your life and never noticing the things around you, the cool things just around that corner you never come to pass by. For Matt Green, it comes naturally and Workman makes it so easy to watch and experience it with him.

Influenced greatly by the documentaries from director Werner Herzog, Workman draws out the interesting in people and spotlights that individuality to the big screen. It also helps to have Jesse Eisenberg as an executive producer of the film, seeing as he’s a New York native and fell in love with the film’s rough cut. The most populous city in the U.S. is home to the things that come to dub the country the “melting pot” itself. It’s the people, the culture, the history, the natural elements, and the way they all come together. With the discoveries of culture, Matt stops at a moment’s notice to say hi to kids playing, offer help to others, and check out community gardens all the while documenting his routes by taking pictures and blogging his research onto his site, “I’m Just Walkin.”  

He’s essentially homeless, couch surfing at friends’ homes, house sitting for people, cat sitting regularly as a source of income. It explores parts about him as much as the love for the city. We see how this personal endeavor attracted some into his life and for the same reasons, pushed those relationships away. Of course, he’s a three-dimensional guy and the road to his oddly joyous plan to walk 8,000 miles in New York City has taken its minor hits. Nonetheless, Matt finds joy in learning more about the layers of the city’s history and memorial landmarks. The amount of history in one block alone is remarkable. His pictures of local barber shops, plants, buildings, old tulip trees, and piles of trash bags speak for themselves. He’s finding victories in these moments of appreciation and time frames of the unexpected that he comes by. The film chronicles his project in a multitude of interactions, both the retrospective instances and the curiosities from his bystander audience and background.

The World Before Your Feet is as curious for the intangible as it is reflective of blossoming culture and history. It’s an invitation to simple pleasures. The documentary coasts along for an enjoyable watch as this Virginia man turned New York streetwalker explores and relishes in his findings. Workman’s film is a lovely take on the busy city and finds warm spirits all around, as told through Matt Green’s delightful walking project. It’s us observing a wander-lusting, happy wanderer and it’s kind of absorbing.

 

JESSICA’S VERDICT:

3-5

REVIEW: Ralph Breaks The Internet (2018)

Directed by: Phil Johnston, Rich Moore
Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Alan Tudkyk, Jack McBrayer

Written by Fernando Andrade

After Wreck-It Ralph hit the big screen back in 2012 and introduced us to the arcade world of Ralph and Vanellope, we get the long-awaited sequel which transports our characters to the vast world of the internet. Fully equipped with its product placement, Disney nostalgia, and Easter eggs, Ralph Breaks the Internet delivers much more than just eye candy. It tells a story about friendship, true friendship, one which everyone, young and old, should see.

Ralph Breaks the Internet takes place six years after the events of Wreck-It Ralph. Both Ralph (John C. Rielly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) live rather simple lives in their world, following a pretty strict routine and rarely breaking from it – no pun intended. They see the sunrise, play their game – or as they call it “work”, and then goof off, going into other games, drinking root beer, and then the process repeats. Ralph is more than content doing the same thing over and over again, and so is Vanellope – to an extent. She is vocal about how easy her game has become, shes memorized all the tracks and finds no challenge in it anymore. So when a girl comes into the arcade ready to play her game, Ralph takes it upon himself to make a new track for her to hopefully give her a new sense of joy. When Vanellope starts taking control over the game, the girl playing ends up breaking the steering wheel causing her game to be unplugged. This sets our heroes on a journey through the internet to try and buy the missing part to save Vanellope’s game.

The surprising thing about Ralph Breaks the Internet is how deeply layered it is. The directors Phil Johnston and Rich Moore, along with their entire team, created a very intelligent movie, one which both children and adults can enjoy – which also happens to be a great sequel. Both Ralph and Vanellope develop as characters from the original movie in a very believable and earned way. A lot of that has to do with the incredible voice talents of John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman who bring these characters to life. Its a true testament to how good both of them are when you are able to have such strong emotions watching a giant hobo and candy princess figure out their friendship while inside the world of the internet.

Speaking of the internet, the way it is portrayed in this movie is also very intelligent, sometimes even for its own good. Unlike other internet inspired movies like the abomination that is The Emoji Movie, Ralph Breaks The Internet does not prioritize the internet as it’s main engagement tool (that is strictly reserved for the relationship between Ralph and Vanellope). If anything the internet is just used as a vessel to get our characters to there ultimate destination, while along the way providing some great moments of comedy that is also extremely relatable (yes the princess scene is absolutely wonderful). It could be argued that the internet is this movies main selling point, as the trailers highlighted in depth, but once the movie transitions into the world wide web, it sticks with its characters every step of the way. That being said, at times the pacing suffers a little in the second act of the film when our heroes are deep within the internet world. At times some references can be really in your face and take you out of the movie, but the directors went about a clever way of trying to reduce that by creating their own websites where the majority of the movie takes place.

Ralph Breaks The Internet is one of the best animated films of the year, providing a very sincere and important message which everyone should witness. While it is littered with references and nods to familiar things, the relationship of Ralph and Vanellope, one that grows from the original movie, is front and center. We see them grow and change as characters which culminate in a very satisfying ending – one that is capable of causing tears, so you have been warned.

Fernando’s Rating:

4

‘Creed II’ And ‘Ralph Breaks The Internet’ Triumph, But ‘Robin Hood’ Falls On Its Sword In Record Thanksgiving Weekend (Box Office Report)

Written by Dapo Olowu

2018’s Box Office continues to deliver the goods, this time in the form of a record-breaking Thanksgiving holiday led by the impressive performances of ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ and ‘Creed II’.

Both films finished the 5-day holiday weekend with a combined $140m, which contributed heavily to the record $314m total – besting 2013s $294m, which included the still-standing record opening for ‘Frozen’ ($93.6m), and record gross for ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ ($109.9m).

Still, this time around gave us ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’, which warmed the hearts (and wallets) of cinemagoers and earned a smashing $84.8m, including $56.2m from Friday to Sunday. It becomes the second biggest Thanksgiving opening of all time, beating out the likes of Disney companions ‘Coco’ ($72.9m) and ‘Moana’ ($82.1m), and now stands as the 13th time Disney’s topped the charts this year (from only 5 films).

Creed II’ was equally as impressive, with its $56m 5-day gross becoming the 7th biggest Thanksgiving opening ever, and the holiday’s largest live-action release of all time. The records don’t stop, as the film’s Friday to Sunday gross of $35.6m means it’s the biggest ever opening for a sports drama – beating 2009s ‘The Blind Side’ ($34.1m).

It marks Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, and Sylvester Stallone’s (cameos included) 2nd biggest openings ever, considering all 3’s ventures into the high-earning world of the MCU. Produced on a $50m budget, the sequel to 2015s ‘Creed’ sees Adonis Creed (Jordan) face Viktor Drago, son of Ivan, who famously killed his father in ‘Rocky IV’.

Internationally, while ‘Creed II’ only entered the U.S. market this weekend, ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ saw its audiences just as enthusiastic, earning $19.5m from China on its way to a $41.5m start. From just 19 countries, its worldwide total currently stands at a strong $127m.

This year’s Thanksgiving turkey goes to ‘Robin Hood’, which was put to the sword with a paltry $14.3m in its first 5 days. It somehow managed to gross below last year’s bomb ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’s 3-day $15.4m opening, and its $9.2m Friday to Sunday will ensure the film goes down as one of the Box Office flops of the year.

It doesn’t get any better, as its 14% on Rotten Tomatoes should stop any chances of a semi-decent Box Office run dead in its tracks, and its international start consisting of just $1.7m from the U.K. and only $7m from 32 other countries means it hasn’t taken well across the globe. Distributing studio Lionsgate, it seems, have finished the year with a whimper, and not a roar.

The final 2 wide releases this weekend came in the form of ‘Green Book’, a critically-acclaimed biopic starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, and Jason Reitman’s ‘The Front Runner’, starring Hugh Jackman. It was a case of opposite fortunes, as ‘Green Book’ over-delivered on its expectations with $7.5m from just 1,000 cinemas, while ‘The Front Runner’ floundered with a poor $888k, for a total of just $1.1m.

It was a memorable Thanksgiving weekend, with records broken and ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ and ‘Creed II’ impressing. Will both films go onto beat their predecessors, or will sequel-itis strike again? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

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REVIEW: Robin Hood (2018)

Directed by: Otto Bathurst
Cast: Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, Eve Hewson, Tim Minchin, Jamie Dornan

Written by Tom Sheffield

With countless films, books, and TV shows about the legendary outlaw,  we can probably assume almost everyone will have have heard of Robin of Loxely, aka Robin Hood, in some form of media. The last time we saw him on the silver screen was in 2010 played by Russell Crowe in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, and in those 8 years Robin Hood has appeared in multiple TV films and shows, including Doctor Who,  Once Upon A Time, and Alyas Robin Hood (Bow of Justice) and many more.

Hell, there’s even films multiple films in the works focusing on Robin Hood, Maid Marian, and the Merry Men.  Disney are currently developing one under the title Nottingham and the Hood, the Wachowski sister’s have written, and will direct, a modern retelling of Robin’s story in their film Hood, and Sony are developing Marian which currently has Margot Robbie set to star in the titular role and will focus on her character as she mourns the death of Robin. It wouldn’t suprise me at this point if Disney announced a live-action remake of their 1973 animated classic and we see Robin Hood in fox form once again..

After fighting in the crusade for 4 years, Lord Robin of Loxley (Egerton) returns to Nottingham only to learn that the Sheriff of Nottingham (Mendelsohn) has pushed the people of the city to breaking point with his war taxes and tolls and they’re forced to work in the mines and constantly beaten at the hands of the Sheriff’s guards. Robin and John (Foxx), a former Arabian soldier, begin to plan their revenge by restoring hope to the people and hitting the Sheriff where it hurts most… his treasury.

It’s clear that Egerton put a lot of work into this film, even going so far as to train with YouTube archery sensation Lars Andersen. This definitely paid off in the final product because whilst some of the CGI shots were shockingly bad (some sticking out like a sore thumb), I could at least enjoy the fact that (for the most part) Egerton was being an actual badass with a bow. The performances from the rest of the cast are pretty good across the board, despite them not really having all that much to do. Hewson and Minchin were criminally underused and the film as a whole would of benefitted from giving the pair of them more screen time, especially as we start to learn more of what the pair have been up to in Robin’s absence.

The set and costume design is sure to confuse many who find themselves watching this film. The design of the character’s clothes doesn’t quite fit in with the medieval look of Nottingham. Taron Egerton could waltz down the streets of Hollywood in his Robin Hood get up and no one would bat an eyelid. Even the Crusader’s armour at the beginning of the film looks a little too modern for the setting, so much so you could have replaced the bows in their hand with a modern day rifle and it wouldn’t have looked out of place. That’s not to say the costumes don’t look good though. Some of them are really well designed and you’ll catch me wearing the Sheriff of Nottingham’s cloak when it hits the racks in M&S later this month.

The fight choreography was also very hit and miss. In some scenes it felt like their was a bit of creativity in the way Robin fought and sparked a little hope in me that it would build up to something special. Sadly this wasn’t the case and instead the audience is bombarded with pointless slow-motion shots of fists clenching, cloaks twirling, someone drop kicking a shield, and fire.. lots and LOTS of fire. As touched upon a couple paragraphs above, the CGI in some of the scenes is laughably poor. There’s one chase scene in particular that the poor quality is really noticeable on, and it feels like the constant burst of flames they’ve thrown in throughout were there to try and distract you from noticing the poor quality green screen.

As for character development, well, there was none. We know next to nothing about Robin, other than he’s a Lord and before the crusade he loved nothing more than just spending time in his manor with Marian (and doing dramatic kissing spins). Marian and the rest of the unassembled Merry Men may as well have just been another face in the crowd for this story because anyone could have stepped into their shoes. The film relies heavily on you investing in Robin and Marian’s relationship in the opening scenes of the film to add some emotional depth to the story later on but sadly they fall flat due to the  incredibly poor writing and pacing of the film.

The writing for Ben Mendelsohn’s Sheriff of Nottingham in particular was pretty underwhelming and whilst we know he CAN deliver an intimidating portrayal of a power-hungry villain (Orson Krennic in Rogue One, Sorrento in Ready Player One), the Sheriff of Nottingham just didn’t hit the mark for me here (despite Mendelsohn’s best efforts), and winds up becoming a pretty forgettable villain.

Whilst I left the cinema feeling like I’d just wasted 2 hours of my Saturday morning, my brother had the compete opposite feeling and was pretty damn happy with Robin Hood’s latest outing. My brother is a big fan of all things Robin Hood (and archery) and there probably isn’t a film, TV show, or character cameo that he hasn’t seen. Make of that what you will…

Sadly this is yet another misfire when it comes to telling the story of one of the greatest and most legendary outlaws. Maybe one of the multiple Robin Hood films currently in development might actually deliver? Just don’t tell me it’s not worth fighting for.

 

1

REVIEW: Three Identical Strangers (2018)

Year: 2018
Directed by: Tim Wardle
Genre: Documentary

Written by Bianca Garner

Imagine waking up one day believing you were completely unique, truly one of a kind. Then suddenly realising that you were actually part of identical triplets. And not only do you all look alike, but you also share the same interests, have the same mannerisms and even smoke the same brand of cigarettes. Now, if this sounds like it’s a plot of a crazy larger than life comedy, then think again.

This extraordinary tale actually did happen to three young men and their story is explored in Three Identical Strangers. Directed by Tim Wardle, this extraordinary documentary starts off as a feelgood human interest story, but by the end, it will leave the viewer questioning “what makes you, you?” Wardle’s approach to telling this story is highly imaginative and visual, allowing the images and footage to speak for itself. It is clear that Wardle is interested in the subject matter (or should that be subject matters) and even those who aren’t the biggest fans of documentaries will find this one, very appealing.

Three Identical Strangers begins in 1980, with 19-year-old Bobby Shafran. Bobby attends his first day of university only to find his new classmates greeting him as ‘Eddy’, acting like they’ve known him for years despite it being the first time that they have met. In order to capture how surreal this even must have been, the director decides to tell the first half of the documentary through narration and recreated scenes. The viewer becomes immersed in this moment and is invested in the events that are playing out. Bobby and Eddy are introduced face to face, and there’s no denying that these two young men must be related. However, things take another unexpected turn when Bobby and Eddy meet and are contacted by David, whose adoptive mother noticed a pair of twins in the newspaper who looked exactly like her son.

What followed after the reunion, was a period of (pre-internet) immense fame that took the triplets from the Phil Donahue Show to a cameo alongside Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan. The general public and the media were fascinated by the brothers’ likeness. The triplets played up to this act: they finished each other’s sentences, smoked the same brand of cigarettes, even had the same taste in women (“We prefer older ladies”). When one brother crossed his legs, the others followed. A decade later, the triplets us their fame to open they a steakhouse in Soho, New York, called Triplets (of course!), which was a hit. However, then their tale took an unexpectedly dark turn.

As the narrative unfolds, a shocking discovery is made concerning the truth about why the triplets were separated. It’s best not to give any of these details away, but it is truly disturbing to think how others could get away with meddling in the lives of newborn children. The shift in tone is at first quite a shock at first, and it will take some time to progress all the information that is being provided to you. Perhaps the documentary could have benefitted from a long run-time or being a television mini-series, simply because this story is so vast in scope. This is not a critique of the film, but rather praise. The story and the subjects are so interesting, that you want to see more of them. Wardle’s strong director and eye for detail help keep the viewer on the edge of their seat as they absorb everything that is occurring on screen, soaking in every last snippet of detail. In a year of strong, moving and well-directed documentaries, Wardle’s Three Identical Strangers certainly stands out from the rest with its distinct look and well-crafted use of editing, music, and visuals.

Not only is this a highly enjoyable and entertaining documentary; but is, more importantly, an educational and thought-provoking one. Three Identical Strangers asks the viewer to question and debates ideas (like the idea of nature vs. nurture and how far can the boundaries of human psychologically be tested). Wardle shows his capability as a compassionate director, and never does the documentary feel manipulative or false in order to provoke deep emotional responses from its viewer. This is a genuinely moving documentary, that does this extraordinary tale justice. This story is like nothing else you will see on screen this year, and you have to see it, to believe it.

Three Identical Strangers is truly identical and original in its own right.

BIANCA’S VERDICT:

4