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Film Review – The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

The Princess Diaries

Although I was chuffed when Big Hero 6 walked away with the Oscar for Best Animated Feature at this years’ ceremony, my joy was short-lived when I realised  I hadn’t seen any other contender in the category. Yes, not even How to Train Your Dragon 2. One excuse was that The Tale of the Princess Kaguya hadn’t been released in the UK yet, even though it had been floating around cinemas across the world for the past couple of years. Now released and featuring an English-dubbed cast consisting of Chloe Grace Moretz, James Caan, and Lucy Liu, it was time for redemption, and to watch what once slipped through my fingers. Or eyes. You know what I mean.

Once upon time, in a galaxy far, far away, Mr Bamboo cutter, voiced by Sonny Corleone himself, James Caan, finds the tiniest of children hidden in a magical bamboo shoot and decides to take her under his, and his wife’s, wing, raising her like their own and naming her Princess, due to her ability to grow at the speed of knots and develop much quicker than that of a mortal human. One day, Mr Bamboo cutter finds gold and cloth of fine quality in the same place he found his beloved Princess, and decides that she must be moved to the capital in order to fulfill her fate of nobility and become a real-life princess. First off, the film looks beautiful. In terms of effort and sheer elbow-grease the film must have required from the makers, it deserves a standing ovation, and I’m rather glad it got recognised by the Oscars, albeit losing out to the much more mainstream Big Hero 6. Each scene looks like it should be paused, printed out, and shoved in the Louvre for close examination. It is simply a wonder to behold.

Now on to the story. Imagine the wonder of Pans Labyrinth. but set in the delicate world of a U rated movie; that’s what came to mind during the course of Tale’s simply glorious story that deals with all the key subjects of childhood, moving home, arranged marriage, and finally, fulfilling  your destiny. The length of 137 minutes for an animated movie might be questionable, with the film suffering slightly during the half-way mark, but sticking with it results in one of the most heartbreaking, yet inevitable, endings of an animated movie you may ever see. In a nutshell? It’s lovely.

Overall Score: 8/10

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Kickass 2 – Quicky Review – SPOILERS

Kickass 1This part is written solely on what I see and can tell from the trailer…Kickass is a guy dressed up as a superhero with no physical powers to fight crime. Essentially, he is a nerdy, weak and stupid version of batman in a florescent wetsuit and mask. Returning back to his world, we see that more and more people are turning into these “superheroes” since Kickass killed a mob boss in the previous movie. Since then, Red Mist (The mob bosses son) turns into “The Motherfucker” with the intent of becoming the world’s first super villain and have a collection of criminals to match the good guys and wiping kickass off the face of the earth. Aaron Taylor-Johnson decided that he wanted to beef up for this one but he still plays a character that seems inept at any sort of defense or sponging ability. Plus constantly getting his ass handed to him by Hitgirl (Chloë Grace Moretz) never makes this character look tough. I’m hoping that in this follow-up, we should see better fighting, funny jokes and an entertaining script as the previous one just seemed simple and lackluster with a lot of overly used swears. I’m hoping that the added cast of Jim Carrey and Donald Faison (Turk from Scrubs), weshall see a far stronger movie.

So, if you’ve been following my Twitter feed, you shall notice that I really enjoyed this follow up. Kickass 2 is one of the best sequels that I have seen in quite some time. My impression of these heroes have changed substantially since I’ve seen the original and its great to have a varying cast of new players with a collection of screwed up names that are borderline racist, especially in terms of the super villains. Jumping into the story, we follow on from the previous story. Kickass has retired his costume, Hitgirl is being looked after by Detective Williams and ‘in’ high school. It turns out that she is disappearing every day to go to an old outpost of her fathers that is heavily equipped with weaponry and training equipment that she spends everyday in. After convincing Dave (Kickass), Mindy (Hitgirl) starts to train him in the same fashion as her father. For instance, the iconic scene when he shoots her in the chest to form trust in the kevlar vest. Eventually found out, she is forced to back away and the roles switch as Dave tries to convince Mindy. While all this goes on The Motherfucker / Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) kills his mother by accident and plots the death of Kickass by forming an evil army run with his fathers fortunes and Mafia goons. Since Kickass left the game, he has inspired others to do the same and fight crime. Heroes popping up everyday end up forming a team and fighting together, the squad leader, Kickass 3Captain Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey) is a reformed mob enforcer with a dislike to curse words but a fondness for comical violence. In the process of the story, The Motherfucker gets even with Kickass but still wants more and demands his death. While all of this goes on, there are sub-stories of friendship, companionship and the occasional argument between friends and this is just on Dave’s side of the story. Mindy has a very different story. Forced to go back to high school, she is manipulated by the popular kids and is treated like shit to convey the reality of school life which sends a powerful message about how it affects a strong, independent girl. So, as a story it is fairly effective, a little basic but still good. With a few shock twists that really catch you out as they are so obscure, you couldn’t have predicted it.

This time around, the script was a little less loud mouth Chav with Tourette’s. Now it has tamed down the swearing quite substantially and I feel I know why. Jim Carrey is in very little movies with excessive swearing and violence, so he negotiated with the writers to reduced the level so his fan base would be able to attend which also helps to explain his characters dislike to swearing. The captain was quite a strong character and it was brilliant to see that at the time of his death, it sparked up fear and panic in realistic and plausible ways. You may have also heard about Jim Carrey backing away from Kickass with the recent shootings that convinced him to make a stand against it. In terms of the action and violence, it was exciting and fun. I was smiling on my way out of the cinema as it was amazing fun. Lots of blood, adrenaline filled fights with a variety of weapons and actions scenes that became badass in seconds. For instance, Dave is being beaten down at Dr. Gravity runs in blocking a blow and hell breaks loose. Its street fighter on drugs.

Acting wise, it wasn’t going to be incredible but I really think Donald Faison and Jim Carrey dominated it and Dr. Gravity was Turk in a superhero costume, so he didn’t venture to far from one of his best roles. A lot of weight was placed on Carrey and its a huge surprise when he is brutally murdered but they are pretty damn good at keeping the secrets and acting the scenes appropriately. Chole Moretz had to be different in this. She had to play a high school teen with issues alongside a hard girl with a dark past. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is very much the same but he has padded up substantially for this role, yet can’t defend himself. This annoys me to no end. While the Motherfucker is now wearing his mothers gimp outfit swearing and throwing his money about to get more power and destroy Kickass for what he did. The multiple members that he collected were awesome. Mother Russia was massive. The most destructive of the bunch and she kept a straight face all the way through, no loss of character and a lot of focus on the Russian stereotype. The others also have borderline racist names combined with the equally racist outfit for the asian Yakuza.

I feel the whole movie deserves a 8/10. It’s funny, varied, a massive improvement on the original with a great cast. I couldn’t talk much more about it as 1, I’m tired. 2, work. 3, I have other things to do. Enjoy guys! 2 Guns review out later this week!

Kickass