Cinderella (2021) | What If Ella was like Belle?

This modern interpretation of Charles Perrault’s classic fairytale by Kay Cannon is a comedy musical featuring well-known pop and rock hits, in addition to several original songs. Camila Cabello stars as the title character in her acting debut, alongside Nicholas Galitzine (The Craft: Legacy, Handsome Devil) as the prince, Billy Porter (Pose) as the fairy Godmother, Idina Menzel (Frozen) as the Stepmother, and Pierce Brosnan (A Long Way Down, The November Man) & Minnie Driver (About a Boy) as the king and queen.

Premise:  Ella is an ambitious young woman who has big dreams for her future that are thwarted by her patriarchal society. With the help of her Fab Godmother, she perseveres to make them come true.

Review: Going in I didn’t know this movie was a Jukebox Musical, which is not a problem for me since I loved Moulin Rouge, but it’s important to note that it is one because that helps a lot in the enjoyment of the movie. The song choices are great, they work well with the story, modernizing it just enough and making it fresh.

Even knowing this was a musical, I was still shocked at the talent involved. For one I recognized a lot of British comedians and actors, but I kind of expected just a few cast members to sing. Here most of them have a musical number or/and participate in one. There are also many clever little changed to the story that shift things a bit without them being a total reboot of the story and characters. In this version some characters have more to do while others were added to the story. For example, Menzel’s stepmother is more mean than straight up evil and her motivations make some sense, the king and queen have more to do, and changes have been made to the prince that matches with the ones made to Ella.
Ella has more agency, she’s driven, and not exactly waiting to be saved. She’s more like Belle than the classic Cinderella. I also like that Cinderella wasn’t supposed to be considered ugly, just unkempt, her stepsisters even acknowledges that she is beautiful at one point. I always found it weird in other versions that everyone seem to act like she’s ugly until she puts on sparkling dress.

The movie also has a lot of comedy in it, and the cast does a great job with it. Cabello being the least experienced here doesn’t embarrass herself in her performance, she does a good job. Porter as the fairy godmother fits in so well that it doesn’t distract from the movie at all. Music aside, the plot has a whole is what that fairytale would be like if it was written nowadays. it’s not perfect but it entertains.

Cinderella is a fun movie, with a nice song selection, and changes that brings a nice spin to the classic fairytale.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

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Rebecca (2020) | It Takes a Turn

When the first trailer was released, I had no idea there was a 1940 black & white movie by Alfred Hitchcock no less. What drew my attention to this project was the cast Armie Hammer (Call Me by Your Name, The Social Network), Lily James (Cinderella) & Kristin Scott Thomas (Fleabag, Suite Française) but mostly Jane Goldman (Kingsman, Stardust) who adaptated a lot of movies I like.
This Rebecca is directed by Ben Wheatley (High-Rise) and rounding the cast we have Sam Riley (Radioactive, Maleficent), Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale), Keeley Hawes (Bodyguard), Mark Lewis Jones (Gangs of London, The Third Day), Tom Goodman-Hill (Everest, The Imitation Game), and Ben Compton (GoT, Before I Go to Sleep).
Both the Hitchcock and Wheatley movies are based on Daphne Du Maurier‘ novel “Rebecca”

Premise: A young newlywed arrives at her husband’s imposing family estate on a windswept English coast and finds herself battling the shadow of his first wife, Rebecca, whose legacy lives on in the house long after her death.

Rebecca: Kristin Scott Thomas as Mrs. Danvers

Review: It might be a combination of the vibe from the trailer and the mention of the Hitchcock version – which I’ve never seen – that made me think that Rebecca would have been scarier. It is a Dark-ish thriller but much lighter than what the premise and trailer suggested.

The story begins well enough, everything is honky dory before it takes a turn. That shift slowly comes, the movie takes a darker tone but it’s also where it starts to go awry. It’s not a complete shit-show but there’s shift in the story, and in some characters, that kind of come out of nowhere. More could have been done to smooth those transitions, and not have it feel like they sort of botched the end of the second act, and third act. However, the intention is clear, which is why this movie is entertain enough, but knowing what they were going for and see it poorly executed does not help.
By the way, I am not comparing this movie with the book I never read or the Hitchcock version I never watched, but I have to admit Wheatley’s version makes me curious to see the 1940 film.

As for the cast, I don’t have much to say, if you’re not nitpicky about Hammer’s accent, they did a decent job. Was it their best work? No but when the locations, costumes, and striking visuals makes more of an impression on you than the cast you’re in trouble. The movie looks gorgeous at times, particularly when they’re outside, to then look like an episode of a budget period drama, it’s a bit jarring.

Rebecca is a little uneven but still worth your time, it’s on the cusp of being great but doesn’t quite get there.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

If you’re interested in the source material, he’d be a huge help if you get it from the link below:

Enola Holmes | A Great Synergy of Writing, Acting, Directing and Everything in Between

It was only when the movie was annouced that I became aware of Enola Holmes. Although a newer character in the Sherlock Holmes mythology, I wasn’t phased by it because I’ve been pleasantly surprised by many versions of Sherlock, Watson, and Mycroft. Directed by Harry Bradbeer (Fleabag, Dickensian) and adapted by Jack Thorne (His Dark Materials) , this movie stars Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things, Wonderland) as the titular character, Helena Bonham Carter (Cinderella) as Mrs. Holmes, Henry Cavill (The Witcher) as the famous detective Sherlock Holmes and Sam Claflin (Mockingjay, The Riot Club; Love, Rosie) as Mycroft Holmes. The cast also features Fiona Shaw (Killing Eve), Adeel Akhtar (Les Misérables), Frances de la Tour (Outlander, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), Louis Partridge (Paddington 2), Susan Wokoma (Truth Seekers) and Burn Gorman (Game of Thrones, The Expanse).

This offshoot featuring Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle‘s famous character comes from The Enola Holmes Mysteries a series of six books by Nancy Springer. So if this movie goes well there’s chance for film series. This movie is inspired by The Case of the Missing Marquessbook one of the series and it is set in 1884, England like Conan doyle’s Sherlock Holmes works.

Premise: After a free-spirited childhood, Enola Holmes – Sherlock’s teen sister – wakes on the morning of her 16th birthday and discovers her mother has disappeared, leaving behind an odd assortment of gifts but no apparent clue as to where she’s gone or why. Enola suddenly finds herself under the care of her brothers Sherlock and Mycroft, both set on sending her away to a finishing school for “proper” young ladies. Refusing to follow their wishes, Enola escapes to search for her mother in London. But her journey finds her entangled in a mystery surrounding a young runaway Lord. Enola becomes a super-sleuth in her own right, outwitting her famous brother as she unravels a conspiracy that threatens to set back the course of history.

Review: Giving that the books skew a little younger, I was curious to see how this movie would turn out. The ad campaign for Enola Holmes presented a beautiful and somewhat interesting film, and it very much is.

The run time made me flinch but Enola Holmes is delightful. It’s the easiest two hours of entertainment I’ve spent lately. I was engaged the whole time. The story is easy to follow, some might say too easy but since the books are geared toward children it makes sense to me that the mystery, well mysteries, around the film would also be accessible to a younger audience. The movie has good rhythm and gives the great collection of characters is has enough time to shine.

For a period piece, the diversity is better that what I would have guessed, it’s subtle but very effective. It’s not pandering and very much feels like they picked the right actors for these specific roles.

Speaking of actors, the cast is incredible, the movie is well cast. Like I said in my trailer reaction, Helena Bonham Carter tells you everything you need to know about her character with her casting alone. Obviously the movie gives you more, but I felt I understood who Enola’s mom was without needing an excessive amount of backstory. Sam Claflin and Henry Cavill make a great Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes, they work well as a pair and that’s particularly true for Cavill’s Sherlock. Millie Bobby Brown is perfect in the role, from the breaking of the forth wall to the actions scenes. She makes a compelling Enola, who is not afraid to use all the tools at her disposal, privilege included, to help. The movie goes full girl power but there is no role reversal for the love interest and Louis Partridge does a fantastic job, he’s great match with Brown.

The production design, the score, costumes, the directing, writing and acting compliment each other. It makes for a very entertaining movie that I wouldn’t mind rewatching, or see a follow up story, there are six books after all.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

The book:

Get it here

Artemis Fowl: Time To Believe | That Haphazardly Shredded Chunks of Story Does Not Make a Good Movie

Directed by Kenneth Branagh (Cinderella) and based on – not really – inspired by – nop – dressed as the beloved books by Eoin Colfer. The film stars Ferdia Shaw, Lara McDonnell, Tamara Smart, Nonzo Anozie, with Josh Gad, and Judi Dench. The screenplay is by Conor McPherson and Hamish McColl.

Premise: Artemis Fowl II (Ferdia Shaw), a young Irish criminal mastermind, kidnaps the fairy LEPrecon officer Captain Holly Short (Lara McDonnell) for ransom to fund the search for his missing father in order to restore the family fortune. – no that’s book 1, let’s try again – ARTEMIS FOWL: Time To Believe follows 12-year-old genius Artemis Fowl, a descendant of a long line of criminal masterminds, as he finds himself in a battle of strength and cunning against a powerful, hidden race of fairies who may be behind his father’s disappearance – close enough.

Review: The teaser trailer for this film gave me goosebumps because the voice over and some of the scenes showed in it reminded me of that first book. I was excited and really curious to see the film, never did I consider at the time who – the company – was making this film. I guess the first warning sign was with the boy they cast Ferdia Shaw. He’s a sweet faced boy that in hindsight, I could not imagine being an antagonist. Besides between the teaser trailer and the trailer there was extensive delays, which make me think that they changed the story somehow.

It’s evident that they Disney-fied – in all the wrong ways – Artemis’ story. You might ask Disney-fied in what way? First, the mom is dead – because a living mom in a children movie is unthinkable, or a depressed absentee mom is not a good Disney look. Her death makes it unlikely that he’ll have his little twin brothers later on.

They present Artemis as very smart, arrogant and cool headed but barely 15 minutes in he loses his cool letting his emotions run amuck. It became apparent to me then that the boy would be inconsistent. I had to pause, let this wash over me, and then tried to understand what F happened? Was it a previous script that Conor McPherson and Hamish McColl merge with Artemis Fowl, putting an Artemis Fowl coat on it? Because one or bith of them f’d up. I suspect McColl because last I checked, only McPherson was mentioned as screenwriter. I’m trying to point fingers but I want to understand. If you put the book aside it’s a still bad movie with interesting visuals.

I understand that the original story might have made Disney – and their test audiences – sweat. A genius tween, with a vanished father and a mom with crippling depression, that ends up kidnapping a tween-looking fairy girl to get rich might not be a story they’d be 100% comfortable with. Looking at the teaser trailer and the trailer you can tell that a course correction was made. I understand the need for change, in fact there’s a kernel of a decent idea in the mess the movie was.

So what to do? You can cry about how they might have ruined the beloved books for the general public, you can also look at Artemis Fowl: Time To Believe as a case study in movie making. Debating what creative and business decisions lead to the movie we’ve gotten? How a compagny’s image throttle the core idea of a book? The dissertation proposal are plenty.

Or you be like me, comforted by the fact that someone – whether they’ve read the book or not, like the movie or not – might see this film and be encouraged / inspired to be creative. Because for the first time, in a long time, I want to re-write a movie; I’m actually thinking about it.

Rating: 3 out of 10.

I strongly recommend to check out or just get the books here: US | EU | UK