It's a pretty light week at the movies, and many people's Spring Break is coming to an end. If you need to detox this weekend and rest up before going back to school or work, here are some great films and a TV series for you to enjoy.
Spring Break happened for some last week but is happening for others this week. Whether you're off this week or sad to be back in school this week, there are plenty of great movie events to get you through the dull of March.
In the wake of Christopher Nolan's Batman reboot, we've faced a nonstop deluge of characters from our youth being thrown into adult, and often violent, situations.
Dark and gritty updates? Yeah, they've been the big trend in Hollywood for a minute. And not even Disney's been immune to it: Its live-action updates of ALICE IN WONDERLAND and MALEFICENT both went this way, with the latter even containing some rape allegories. Fairy tales be damned, shit's been getting pretty real in the theaters lately.
So it's rather refreshing, then, that CINDERELLA bucks this trend. Much like its protagonist, it's a movie full of hope and humor -- one that kids and adults can appreciate alike.
This is not to say, however, that this incarnation falls right in line with the 65-year-old animated film of the same name. It doesn't. Actually, this new version is better written, especially when it comes to character development and motivation. Of course, it's still fantastical: A lot of scenes -- from Cinderella's mice friends to her stepsisters' garish dresses -- look like they were taken right out of the cartoon. But whereas Cinderella, her stepmother and her prince were all blank slates who served the plot for no real reason before, they're all three more fleshed out and believable this time around.
Cinderella, the character, is ultimately defined by the mantra given to her by her dying birth mother: "Have courage and be kind," our lead is told in this early scene. It's a strong, positive message -- and it's the attitude she develops in kind that, despite her beauty, ends up truly captivating the prince.
Lily James shines in this title role. She steals the movie with her charisma and her facial expressions carry the film. As her Cinderella searches for the best in every situation, her face clearly shows that her stepmother's abuse is getting to her.
There's in fact plenty for James to play with in this take: Richard Madden -- playing a named prince (Kit) this time through -- is basically channeling hisGAME OF THRONES character Robb Stark here with his portrayal of a prince whose responsibilities to his father and the kingdom very much clash with those of his heart, but that doesn't mean he's phoning it in. He's solid in the role, and even better when collaborating with James. Cate Blanchett's stepmother too is improved, and finally given a satisfying source for her cruelty was towards Cinderella. There are even times early on in the film when you could sympathize with her character's plight, and Blanchett just brings a real pain to the role.
Overall, though, it's an upbeat film -- almost too much so, in some regards. One of the integral parts of Cinderella's story is all of the suffering and degradation that she must endure at the hands of her stepmother and stepsisters. Here, however, it all feels fairly glossed-over. Most of this tragic part of the story is told via montage, with only a few extended scenes here and there. The same can be said of Prince Kit's slightly more political problems, each of which is resolved in minutes or with relative ease. Combined, these plot leaps are a little problematic; the conflict in this film could certainly be greater.
Another area of restraint can be found through the use of both the fairy godmother character and Cinderella's mice companions. Here, though, it's effective. Helena Bonham Carter's fairy godmother cracks a lot of jokes and is a hilarious presence in the few minutes that she appears on the screen, and the mice add a levity to the film's darker scenes even when relegated to background shenanigans. They don't dominate the story as they do in other tellings. In this version, they just support it -- and quite well, at that.
On the whole, this CINDERELLA fits the bill of a well-known story told in an exciting way. There's depth and dimension in both the plot and the characters here.
With today being Friday the 13th, it would be totes easy to just recommend a bunch of rad or underseen horror movies. Instead, today I'll recommend three fun picks devoid of big dudes with machetes. Check them out below!
DANGER 5 SEASON 2
Yeah, yeah. I've talked about this show before and with high praise. But I'm highlighting Australian comedy DANGER 5 again is because Netflix has the second season now! This is a huge deal because back when S2 made its US debut, there was still fear that the last few episodes would be delayed indefinitely due to the terrorist attacks in Australia at the time. Thankfully, we have all of them now so sit down and binge watch them while you sip on the Perfect Beyond Chunderdome.
I almost feel bad Jonesy isn't talking about this movie, but whatevs. I'll be honest, it's a bit of a shame that this came out the same year as THE LEGO MOVIE because it's such a good standalone story and a great sequel to the original. The world has now had dragons for a while and we get to see new designs which are all delightful. This is a must-see.
With all of the jibba jabba surrounding Spider-Man's "return" to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's easy to forget that there's already an awesome Spider-Man working within an MCU-esque setting. This cartoon shows a high-school aged Peter Parker being trained by S.H.I.E.L.D's Nick Fury to be an even better hero. Spidey leads a team of young heroes, Iron Fist, Nova, Power Man and White Panther. The animation is great, the show is hilarious and each episode is great on its own and adds to the overall story. And to top it off, it has Spidey interacting with all of the Avengers AND Phil Coulson (voiced by Clark Gregg himself) is his principal! Who needs live action when you have this?
Now that Dallas is not a winter wasteland, you're able to go out and go see some rad movies! Or maybe go out for a walk or drink at a patio. I'd recommend some movies myself, but that's just me! Check out some special screenings after the break.