Toy Story 4 ~ Malvern Cinemas

Star rating: *****

In my humble opinion this is one of the best Toy Story movies in the franchise – and I love the first three so I’m sticking my neck out here! There are so many new characters that entertained me combined with the originals and of course a number of them who joined the cast in the third film. My little boy loves Forky, and his antics are the making of this story.

We catch up with the gang when Bonnie is getting ready to go to kindergarten and Woody is no longer in favour, he’s been relegated to the closet. However, regardless of Bonnie’s disinterest, he’s hell-bent on making her kindergarten orientation day go without a hitch. It’s here we meet Forky – he thinks he’s trash and Woody is making it his mission to keep Forky out of the bin and in Bonnie’s clutches as her toy.

The other main storyline follows a previously unknown backstory which clears up the mysterious disappearance of Bo Peep from the third film. When Woody happens upon the antiques store which has been her home, there’s danger, adventure, chaos and a lot of laughs along the way. We meet Bunny and Ducky, carnival game prizes waiting for a kid to take them home, Gabby Gabby – a rather tapped doll who’s really just trying to find a kid to form a bond with and Duke Caboom, he was rejected by a kid and now he’s stuck in the antiques store, posing!

It’s a race against time for Woody, Buzz, Bo Peep and co. to rescue Forky from the clutches of Gabby Gabby and her creepy ventriloquist dummy accomplices. Considering it’s an animation I find myself getting emotionally invested in the characters and the story, I definitely shed a tear or two along the way.

Tom Hanks is back as Woody with Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear, Joan Cusack as Jessie and Annie Potts as Bo Peep. Tony Hale plays Forky, he gets funnier as the movie progresses, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are a hilarious double act as Ducky and Bunny, while Keanu Reeves is superb as Duke Caboom. Buttercup the Unicorn (Jeff Garlin) deserves a mention too for constantly suggesting that they try and get Bonnie’s dad arrested.

I want a fifth film please – I haven’t finished with the toys yet!

Malvern Cinemas is one of our favourite cinemas, if you want to experience it too: www.malvern-theatres.co.uk

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The Queen’s Corgi ~ Malvern Cinemas

Star rating: *****

The Queen’s Corgi has it all as far as family films go – it’s a fast-paced animation with a story my five year old could easily follow. There’s plenty of comedy for the adults plus many well-known voices playing the characters too.

The storyline revolves around Rex, he’s a Corgi puppy purchased as a gift by Prince Phillip for the Queen. Rex quickly becomes the Queen’s pride and joy, overtaking the other three Corgis in Her Majesty’s affections. Charlie, a particularly pompous Corgi at the palace spies an opportunity to take his rival’s place. He makes a grand show of being Rex’s best friend while simultaneously plotting his downfall. When Donald and Melania Trump visit the Palace with their precocious pampered pooch, Mitzi – Rex is happy to take Charlie’s suggestion of doing a runner when his disastrous ‘date’ with Mitzi ends in him biting the President. Charlie’s malicious actions leave Rex for dead, however little does Charlie know that the Queen’s top dog is alive and trying to survive in a dog pound. It’s there that he falls in love, faces a bully and makes lifelong friends.

It’s a wonderfully watchable movie with heart, humour and superb characterisation. Julie Walters is remarkable as the Queen, she sounds just like her the majority of the time and the moments where it’s obvious it’s Walters playing the role add an extra dimension to the character. Tom Courtenay is a fine choice for the Duke of Edinburgh. Jack Whitehall gives energy and verve to the role of Rex, while Sheridan Smith is instantly recognisable as Wanda – the love interest from the pound, she even has the opportunity to sing! Ray Winstone couldn’t be more perfect as Tyson the bully boy of the pound who organises fight club (that nobody talks about!). Sarah Hadland is on point as Mitzi the glamour dog who’s on the look out for a mate on the presidential visit. Matt Lucas is exceptional as Charlie, I had no idea I was him voicing the character! If you’re looking for mimics of course you come to Jon Culshaw and Debra Stephenson to play the Trumps and indeed they voice two of the dogs too.

It’s a fantastic way of getting the kids out the house and keeping the entertained at the cinema. I could watch it again and again and it certainly kept my school holidaying child happy!

To visit Malvern Cinemas click here: https://www.malvern-theatres.co.uk/venue/cinema/

Entertainment Views Interview: Phil Walker ~ Presenter of The Story of Guitar Heroes

The Story of Guitar Heroes is an awe-inspiring, dynamic show which transports you through time: from the 1950’s with artistes such as Chuck Berry and Hank Marvin from The Shadows, including gifted legends such as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, through to modern day players such as the great Brian May and the electrifying Steve Vai, to name but a few!

Presented by guitar virtuoso Phil Walker – this show’s extraordinarily talented band uses over 30 guitars to recreate and accurately reproduce the sound and ambiance of each guitar hero. Featuring video footage of historical moments, with state-of-the-art lighting and delivered with a light-hearted vibe – this makes for a truly sensational and enjoyable evening.

Now in its 5th year, The Story of Guitar Heroes has become increasingly popular not only with many guitar players and musicians, but with people and families of all ages.

I caught up with Phil to find out more about this fantastic show….

Tell me about the show and the concept

The show is what I would call a live ‘rockumentary.’ We pay homepage to some of the greatest guitar heroes of all time. Rather than a lool-a-like show, what we do is recreate the sound and ambience of around 30 guitar heroes as accurately as we can. We have really focused on the detail in recreating their sounds, to the extent that we even use the same model of guitar as the particular guitar hero used (hence needing so many guitars to do the Show!). 

What can the audience expect from the production? 

There is a full live band on stage, video screens (with some really interesting footage) of guitar heroes and their stories, as well as a fantastic light show. We use over 30 guitars to recreate the sound of each hero we pay homage to.
The show runs on a timeline so we start in the 1950’s with people like Chuck Berry and Hank Marvin and make our way through time to guitar heroes of today such as Brian May, Slash and Steve Vai. 

When did you first become interested in the guitar?
My Dad was a guitar player in the sixties and he decided to pick the guitar up again, after having a break from it, when I was around six years old.  My Dad always had The Shadows and Eddie Cochran records on, and when I saw the guitar that was it – I was hooked!

Who are your guitar heroes? 

I grew up listening to The Shadows so Hank Marvin was a big guitar hero to me (and still is). 
I’m also a fan of Albert Lee and Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits, as well as a country player called Brad Paisley. This list could go on….haha!

Have you any favourite venues on tour?

I quite like playing in some of the really old style theatres. It makes you wonder who has actually stood where I’m standing. 

What is your all-time favourite riff and why?

I really like playing the fast part of the end solo in Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits. You don’t use a plectrum so you have to be so accurate or it just doesn’t sound the same.  

If you could go to a gig with any five guitar heroes who would they be and why?

Hank Marvin because I have so many questions from when I was growing up. 
Mark Knoplfer because he just seems so down to earth. 
Brad Paisley because he has a great sense of humour and he wears a cowboy hat. I would also wear a cowboy if I was with him. I wouldn’t if I was on my own, I’d feel silly!! Haha
David Gilmour. I would ask him if he misses any of the guitars he has just recently sold. 
Jimi Hendrix because he is just the coolest looking guitar player that has ever been and who wouldn’t want to be seen with Jimi Hendrix!

What are your ambitions for the show in the future?

We are hopefully going to be playing some festivals in the not too distant future so that will be something to look forward to. 
I would also love to take the show overseas, possibly America then I could go and visit the Fender factory!

Book your tickets here: http://www.storyofguitarheroes.com

The Lion King ~ Live Action Movie (Malvern Cinemas)

Star rating: *****

The Lion King has long been one of my best loved Disney movie. It’s jam packed with action, tragedy, comedy and with an overriding theme of love conquering all. The beauty of the animated version never fails to amaze me. However, the live action incarnation wowed and impressed me beyond measure. It follows the same storyline and the same well-loved Disney songs are peppered throughout which it was difficult not to sing along to but they’re sung by what looks like real animals!

The attention to detail is remarkable and the setting for the movie is absolutely breath-taking. Disney are renowned for perfection and this is not exception.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story, we follow the adventures Simba, a lion cub who’s next in line to the throne and the apple of his mum and dad’s eye. His Uncle Scar, who’s not a lion in favour with the pride lurks in the shadows and has been pushed further down the line of ascension courtesy of Simba’s birth. Feeling wronged, Scar is on a mission to dispose of Mufasa, his brother and his young nephew to leave the path clear for him to seize the crown. He’s relying on the help of hungry hyenas to assist with his plan. Meanwhile Simba is oblivious to his relative’s devious plot and comes a cropper at his paws a couple of times, until a stampede created by the devilish hyenas is the catalyst for Mufasa’s devastating downfall. Simba is not only bereft but also carrying the guilt that he caused his father’s death as Mufasa was trying to save him from the stampede which Scar had all but pushed his nephew into. As Simba grows in exile – he has the company of a meerkat called Timon and his bestie Pumbaa, a warthog. Scar has his ill-gotten place on the throne as King, and his hyena sidekicks are feasting like royalty beside him. Will Simba return to save the day? Nala, the lioness who was a childhood friend and his betrothed according to law, is certainly not going to sit back and let chaos reign supreme.

The unmistakable velvet voice of James Earl Jones features as Mufasa, who else could have brought such wisdom, knowledge and authority to the King of the Jungle? He is joined by the talents of Chitiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, he was just as demonic as Jeremy Irons was in the role. There’s also Beyonce Knowles-Carter as Nala, JD McCrary as young Simba, Donald Glover as the adult Simba, Billy Eichner as Timon alongside the fantastic Seth Rogen as Pumbaa. Florence Kasumba as Shenzi the Hyena was a menacing presence for sure. John Oliver gave a memorable performance as Zazu.

My highlights of the film revolved around the numerous moments of laugh out loud comedy – from Timon and Pumbaa’s interactions and the addition of other animals in their fabulous rendition of ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’! The hyenas also provided much entertainment as they bantered between themselves. Zazu was also as comedic as in the original animation, John Oliver has put his own stamp on it.

The sound department have done a superb job and the entire creative team should be proud of a wonderful achievement, as a live action movie so far it’s my favourite.

Malvern Cinemas is an amazing setting to watch a movie in – why not check out their listings and book to see a film there: Malvern Cinemas

In the Night Garden… Live

Star rating: *****

My five year old boy has been brought up on Cbeebies’ In the Night Garden, Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy, Makka Pakka and the Pontipines as well as the Tombliboos and Haahoos have all be regular features in our living rom over the years. My boy is no stranger to that particular television show and also no stranger to the theatre, so although he’s on the cusp of beginning year one at primary school, this combination of an old favourite appearing on stage delighted him.

The packed house were equally delighted it seems as children of varying pre-school ages took in what might have been their first theatrical experience. What better place to start a child off with experiences of live shows than with their TV heroes.

The show could well have jumped out of the television screen and onto the stage at the Birmingham Rep, it was that well done. All the popular characters are there either as large as life or in puppet form. The little boat starts us off with Igglepiggle on board and the story we follow takes the same format as an episode takes. Igglepiggle meets Uspy Daisy, Makka Pakka is on hand to wash Igglepiggle’s face and the Pontipines and Tombliboos are going about their business as usual. All of the action is played out against a fantastically versatile set which recreates all the well-known scenery from the TV show. The puppeteers do a superb job and their engaging, smiley and expressionful faces lend themselves brilliantly to the genre of the production. They work as a tight knit team and it’s a like watching a well oiled machine in progress.

The magic of theatre is all around, never more so than when both the Ninky Nonk and Pinky Ponk make their respective appearances, the latter in a spectacular way!

Joy on the faces of young children in a theatre is one of the best things ever and if you have a youngster you’re thinking of bringing to the theatre – if they live this show already they will adore seeing it live. Book now: in-the-night-garden-live

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