Thursday, 23 March 2017

March 23 2017:  
Beauty and the Beast

After a frenzied few weeks, things have quietened down a little (or perhaps I'm giving more films the big miss!) This week's offerings are diametrically opposed - one is a romantic fantasy and the other a gut-wrenching space horror. 

Beauty and the Beast
Director: Bill Condon
Length: 129 min
© Disney - this is romanticism at its best!
Beautiful, romantic, sumptuous, imaginative, heart-warming and beyond my expectations - this is the glorious live action remake of the 1991 animation by Disney studios. It's a cross between a musical (with terrific songs), a Gothic tale, an adventure and an all-out romantic love story. The set design is extraordinary depicting a French provincial village, an enchanted forest, and a sinister castle in which lives a prince, who has been turned into a beast by a spell. Emma Watson (of Harry Potter fame) is a perfect Belle, with Kevin Kline as her eccentric father Maurice. Dan Stevens makes the Beast a compassionate figure, while Luke Evans is a suitably horrid Gaston, suitor for Belle's hand. But the real treat is the royalty of British acting in the roles of those people turned to inanimate objects by the spell - Ian McKellen as Cogsworth the clock, Ewan McGregor as Lumiere the candelabra, and Emma Thompson as Mrs Potts, the teapot. With fabulous special effects, and a strong director (he also helmed Dream Girls and Gods and Monsters), B&B is a total winner. 
4 - wholeheartedly recommended!

Director: Daniel Espinosa
Length: 103 min
© Sony - Jake Gyllenhaal is scared - and rightly so!
A team of six astronauts and scientists are in an International Space Station near Mars. When their space probe brings back samples, they realise they may have the first incontrovertible proof of extra-terrestrial life. As the sample they bring on board the ship begins to grow and show signs of intelligence, not to mention aggression, they realise they may have discovered more than they bargained for! I always enjoy a film with Jake Gyllenhaal, but enjoy is not quite the word for this terrifying, gut-wrenching, blood-filled white knuckle ride. As far as genre films go, Life does what it sets out to do - terrify and repulse you! The setting is claustrophobic, and the sense of horror all too immediate, but this is not everyone's bag, and indeed I find the film's plot too derivative of Alien. I felt at times that I had seen it all before, but I must admit I was suitably entertained in a seat-squirming way. 
3 - recommended (if you like that genre!)  

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