The Incredibles 2 ~ Review

Star rating: *****

It’s been a long time coming, and following the success of the first Incredibles film, I’m surprised it’s taken so long to be reunited with the family of superheroes and my personal favourite, Edna the costume designer (played by Brad Bird who also directs the movie). We re-join the madcap life of the Mr Incredible (Craig T Nelson), Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner) and Jack-Jack at a time when non-superhumans have turned against them.

Time has not moved on much since the close of the original film, baby Jack-Jack is still a baby. At the close of the first movie, we knew that Jack-Jack had powers, so did his babysitter, she understandably freaked out and wasn’t inclined to give notice of her intention to leave… hurriedly.

So, with almost everybody within an immediate radius and beyond against them, the five-some are moved into a motel and laying low. Violet’s teenage love-life is still an ongoing ‘issue’ revisited too. However, fortunes take a sudden turn for the better when Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) bumps into a Super Hero fanatic hell-bent on finding a more positive place for them in the modern world. Winston Deaver (Bob Odenkirk) and his somewhat reluctant sister, Evelyn (Catherine Keener) are responsible for offering an opportunity to be seen as the heroes they are and along with that comes a very stylish gadget-laden home.

With the spotlight on Elastigirl as the super heroes are thrown back into the spotlight, and Mr Incredible holed up at home as a gloomy house-husband – we are left wondering who ‘Screenslaver’ is, the arch enemy whom Elastigirl finds herself up against. Meanwhile, Dash is struggling with Maths homework, Violet is nursing a broken heart and Jack-Jack’s powers are discovered. He has many powers, which make him attractive to super hero costume designer, the quirky and theatrical Edna Mode.

The storyline appears to be more engaging than in the original movie and the characters have lost none of their appeal – so this is a win/win in every way. Disney at its best, go see!


DC Exhibition: Dawn of the Superheroes

Batman, Superman, The Joker, Wonder Woman and a selection of characters from The Suicide Squad have broken into London’s O2 and they’re running amok!

That’s what I like to think anyway, however in reality there’s a kick-ass exhibition at the O2 which will appeal to the DC super hero fans and indeed any movie buff or comic book aficionado.

Have you ever compared the Superman costumes through the ages? Have you wondered what it would be like to come face to face with Batman’s arch enemies? Are you familiar with the popular characters who’ve stood the test of time and the journey they’ve taken from pencil and paper to digital age? Then this exhibition should not be missed.

Audio commentary is provided in the form of your own hand-held device as the flow of the curation leads a fascinating journey into the world of super heroes. I found it interesting to consider the height of such actors as Christopher Reeve as I admired his Superman costume, compared to that of Jack Nicholson in the Batman section of the exhibition. A full scale model of Jack Nicholson as the Joker and Danny DeVito as the Penguin were two of the highlights for me, personally. Both slightly unnerving to be faced with, yet so intricately replicated. It was also awe-inspiring to view one of Batman’s modes of transport, his motorbike was a work of art to behold.

Suicide Squad is one of my favourite present-day films and the section showcasing the characters from the movie including the transformation of personalities such as Harley Quinn, over the years, drew my attention.

There was plenty to keep all age groups entertained, from our four year old son to us big kids. There’s still time to book tickets to see this spectacle, and it’s an event that can be combined with a visit to the O2 and indeed the Greenwich area, as depending on the pace you choose to take – the length of time taken to complete the full tour is approximately one hour. Don’t forget to check out the merchandise too!

DC Exhibition: Dawn of the Super Heroes will stay at the O2 until 9 September 2018. 

Book your tickets here: DC Exhibition: Dawn of the Super Heroes Tickets

Entertainment Views Interview: Versailles Star, Catherine Walker

BBC Two’s Versailles has recently enjoyed a third series, did you catch it? Based on the life and times of Louis XIV it stars the inimitable Catherine Walker in the role of Madame de Maintenon. Catherine chatted to Entertainment Views about the recent series and the extraordinary character she plays (wonderfully, in our humble opinion!).

Thanks for talking to Entertainment Views, Catherine. Tell me about the latest series of Versailles and how you feel your character has grown.

The latest series of Versailles looks at the path to absolute power. France is expanding its empire and Louis is unstoppable in his ambition. however he comes up against the church and the growing unrest of the protestants and the people of France who are suffering economically as a result of these ambitions. Maintenon is integral to this as she guides Louis on the path of Absolutism with her unwavering and zealot like belief in the divine right of Kings. There is also at the heart of the series the mystery of the man in the iron mask a secret which could unravel the very bedrock of the throne

What was your opinion of your character back when you first read the script?

When I first read the scripts I was fascinated by this women, who when we first meet her is nothing more than a nanny to the kings children, during season 3 she becomes the most powerful women in Europe. Its a fascinating trajectory. She was not of nobility but there’s was a very true love, a meeting of minds and of equals. She was the great strength behind the throne.

Why do you think Versailles has picked up such a strong following?

I think Versailles has picked up a strong following because it is such a rich story with brilliant well drawn characters. When you are working on actual historical figures they are so far beyond what could be imagined fictionally. It is also such an aesthetically beautiful and sumptuous period. It is a visual feat for the audience and the attention to detail is unparalleled.

What are the challenges of your role?

The challenges of my role was getting into the mind-set of someone who is so zealot like in their beliefs. She is a devout catholic and absolutely believes that Louis is in direct line to God. It was important to get to the root of that because all her decision making comes from there and that can lead to some very dark places as you will see in the series.

What would you say to current viewers to encourage them to stick with it?

For current viewers, I would say the series will keep surprising you.  This is the ultimate series and the conclusions for all the characters won’t disappoint. There is much still to come!

What would you say to potential new viewers to entice them to start watching it?

For new viewers I would say it’s a world that has to be seen to be believed, and much of it is based on truth. It is a rich story, beautifully told, with a great cast of characters,  filled with intrigue and darkness – but there was also much fun to be had at Versailles – they knew how to party!

Finally, if you could play any other character in the series, who would it be and why?

If I could play another character in the series it would have to be the Chevalier. Maintenon is so strict in her beliefs she doesn’t get to let her hair down and go to the party…so that would be fun.

Huge thanks to Catherine for a superb interview!

Versailles series 3 and 1-3 box set arrive on DVD 13 August


Photo Credits: BBC Pictures

Our Girl: Nigeria, Belize and Bangladesh Tour ~ BBC One

Star rating: *****

Unusually, I’m going to start this review with the season finale – ‘Our Girl‘ offers Michelle Keegan an opportunity to shine in a role I wouldn’t necessarily associate her with. It’s testament to the casting directors that she was sought after for the character of Georgie and she should surely be in line for an award following the latest ‘tour’. Episode eight is such an action packed instalment that I was gripped by the sheer drama, terror and wonder of the top class camera work. There’s a mass shoot out, Georgie is caught in the middle of it, injured and she still has time to consider a relationship with Captain James (Ben Aldridge). As facetious as that may sound, it’s handled so brilliantly and dropped into the context of the episode with subtlety. Add to the mix that the chemistry between Aldridge and Keegan is simmering to boiling point, almost as heated as the shooting! The finale is not disappointing in the slightest.

The danger encountered by Georgie in episode one is horrific enough, with focused medic throwing herself headlong into training the Nigerians. My heart was in my mouth on more than one occasion and it set the pace and overall tone for the series.

Episode four is one of my favourite episodes, I could feel every ounce of fear from both Georgie and Captain James as they awaited rescue and it was also the turning point for their relationship, with their professional relationship in jeopardy. It’s also clear by this episode that a mere training exercise has become an unexpected mission. They’re helped by a teenager called Ezra (James Baller) and I will be keeping my eyes peeled for this young actor in the future, what an engaging character and an outstanding performance.

Episode five was a notable one as we have moved on six months following an incident involving Captain James (no spoilers!). John Michie’s performance as the Brigadier stepped up gear in this episode, meanwhile Inspector Chowdhrey (Navin Chowdhrey) is a target for assassination. Therefore the Brigadier’s gala is not quite the celebration its designed to be!

The locations used for the series are incredible, I often feel as though I’m in Georgie’s shoes seeing the action through her eyes, so innovative is the filming. If you missed the series on BBC One, then don’t hesitate to buy a copy on DVD, you won’t regret it and if you binge watch, guaranteed you’ll feel like you’re watching a movie.


Walking With Dinosaurs Live ~ Arena Birmingham

Star rating: *****

Dinosaurs were on the loose in Birmingham last week and they were humongous, ferocious and hungry for an arena packed full of dino enthusiasts at Arena Birmingham.

It’s presented and narrated by popular television personality, Michaela Strachan who appears as the palaeontologist introducing and giving facts about all of the extraordinary replicas of these amazing beasts. The factual information is fascinating to listen to and the dinosaurs who wander around the arena, which is paved with bright coloured plant-life are a vision to behold. My son was astounded, even from the upper circle, it felt as though some of the larger specimens could reach out and touch us – they were so life-like.

As we are taken on a journey through the decades, we meet dinosaurs from a variety of periods of time – there’s the Allosaurus, Plateosaurus, Stegosaurus, Torosaurus, Utahraptor, Ankylosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Lilensternus and Ornithocheirus. Each dino has its own behaviour pattern, position in the food chain and unique sound too. Watch out for the T-Rex too, both mother and baby are on the prowl!

I personally found it to be a moving experience, life-affirming in its own way and Strachan was a perfect choice to take the helm. My little boy was convinced that the dinosaurs were real. If you’ve seen the BBC One Television programme of the same title, you’ll already know how the recreation of a wide range of Dinosaurs is quite a sight to behold. When you see them live you’ll not believe your eyes.

Go and see Walking With Dinosaurs on its arena tour, miss it and you’ll miss out – book here: Walking With Dinosaurs Live

Shrek the Musical ~ Milton Keynes Theatre

Star rating: *****

Shrek is one of my all-time favourite animated films, the sheer hilarity of the fairy-tale mickey taking ticks the box and the musical stage version is no different. With a few tongue-in-cheek nods to other musicals such as ‘Gypsy’, ‘Wicked’ and ‘Les Miserables‘ for good measure, this show has it all – outrageous comedy moments, catchy songs and a cast de force. It comes as no surprise that Nigel Harman, (who created the role of Lord Farquaad in the show’s west end debut) has directed this hit, what a superb job he’s done!

The stage incarnation doesn’t differ to widely from the movie, in fact it offers some of Shrek’s back-story which synchronises with Princess Fiona’s in a back-handed destiny kind of way! All of the jaded fairy tale characters are there too, from the Big Bad Wolf dressed as Grandma to a depressed Pinocchio to the Gingerbread Man. They’ve been kicked out of their homes by the dastardly Lord Farquaad and they’re heading in the direction of Shrek’s swamp. Outraged at the idea of sharing his home, Shrek embarks upon a journey to seek out Lord Farquaad and re-home the fairy tale rejects. Along the way he meets the talking Donkey, who becomes his insistent side-kick throughout. Subsequently, Shrek becomes a reluctant hero when he rescues the secretive Princess Fiona from a tower guarded by a love-struck Dragon (a sight to behold).

Steffan Harri plays the over-sized green loveable Ogre and he is outstanding in the role, from the Scottish accent to amazing vocal ability. The chemistry with Laura Main as Princess Fiona is also palpable and in case any ‘Call The Midwife‘ fans are wondering, Laura Main is an exceptional Princess Fiona. Her singing voice is pitch perfect and she showcases herself wonderfully as a triple threat. Marcus Ayton shines as Donkey, he gives Eddie Murphy (who voices the character in the movie) a run for his money. Samuel Holmes as Lord Farquaad steals all of the scenes he appears in, he’s on his knees for a start off – to achieve the under-sized stature. Add a bit of razzmatazz and his musical numbers are comedy gold. Lucinda Shaw was awe-inspiring as the Dragon, the sheer power of her vocals continues to resonate. Comic timing is one of the many strengths of the multi-talented cast and I include the brilliant ensemble in that. Every performer is going above and beyond to recreate a well loved movie and they should all be proud of the ‘job’ they’re doing.

The songs in the show punctuate the story brilliantly, ‘I Know It’s Today’ was one of my favourite numbers performed by Princess Fiona, together with a selection of Princess puppets. She also has a show-stopping scene with the song ‘Morning Person’. ‘Big Bright Beautiful World’ epitomises the heart of the tale and ‘Freak Flag’ provides the ensemble with a fantastic opportunity to take the helm. The whole soundtrack is toe-tapping, engaging and memorable though.

The set captures the essence of the film and moves seamlessly with the action. The choreography is also notable, it’s fairly uncomplicated to allow for cumbersome (and stunning!) costumes, yet it’s effective and eye-catching. Congratulations to Choreographer, Josh Prince and Assistant Choreographer, Jacqui Sanchez.

Miss this show and you’ll miss out, it’s the ultimate feel-good musical and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It was also the first full length musical we had taken our junior reviewer to, and at just 4 years of age it was a risk, however it was a risk worth taking as he was captivated. Therefore, I say with confidence that Shrek the Musical is a show for all the family.

Book your tickets here: Shrek The Musical Tickets

Photo credits: Shrek the Musical website

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again ~ Malvern Cinemas

Star rating: ***

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again was either going to sink or swim, here at Entertainment Views HQ we are huge fans of the original stage show and didn’t easily take to the first Mamma Mia! movie. In fact, given the choice I would still prefer to head to the West End to catch a live performance of the show inspired by the hits of Abba.

The movie grabbed my attention from the start and I couldn’t help smiling as we were transported back to Donna’s (Lily James played the younger version of the character) graduation. “I Kissed The Teacher” was the big opening number and aside from the energy and cheery vibes exuding from the screen, I was mostly delighted with Celia Imrie’s contribution as Vice Chancellor. There were plenty of exceptional comedy moments akin to Ms Imrie’s cameo appearance throughout the movie. Omid Djalili had some corking quips as a Greek Official at the port. Naturally there was also an abundance of comedy from Julie Walters as Rosie and Christine Baranski as Tanya.

The story picks up a year after the death of Donna (we don’t find out why she passed away, Streep’s absence from the movie was palpable, though) and Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) has completed the hotel build (Donna’s dream), with the help of Sam (Pierce Brosnan) and Sky (Dominic Cooper). There’s a gala opening planned and Sophie’s not only nervous about it, she’s also missing her mum terribly and Sky is in New York learning hotel management. Plus he’s been offered a job over there he’s keen to take. Harry (Colin Firth) and Bill (Stellan Skargard) are both unable to attend the opening, although Rosie and Tanya are en route – hooray! The movie shows a series of flashbacks leading up to the conception of Sophie and synchronises beautifully with Sophie’s own life as she discovers she’s expecting a baby. She feels closer to her mum due to her having fallen pregnant on the same island. Although her mother is sadly missing from her life, her previously AWOL grandmother (Cher) makes an unannounced appearance on the island just in time for the party.

Unfortunately, the initial impact made by James when she sang and danced with her cohorts, young Tanya (Jessica Keenan Wynn) and young Rosie (Alexa Davies) diminished quickly. Her vocals were not strong enough to handle the notoriously technically difficult Abba numbers and I had trouble buying into her as a younger version of Streep. Whereas Wynn and Davies were a perfect match for Baranski and Walters and captured my imagination at every turn. The scene featuring a young Harry (Hugh Skinner) in a restaurant with young Donna which featured the hit song ‘Waterloo’ was cringe-worthy. Skinner appeared awkward as young Harry, throughout – of course the character has gawky tendencies anyway. However, for me it felt as though this role was not the right fit for Skinner.

On the positive side, Amanda Seyfried shone as Sophie, her vocals have improved in my humble opinion and she was by far one of the strongest singers. Walters and Baranski have lost none of their original chemistry and their rendition of ‘Angel Eyes’ is the highlight of the film, for me. It has to be seen to be believed! Dominic Cooper was also superb as Sky, the onscreen relationship with Seyfried is key and their romance is at the heart of the story, as before. Cher also adds some verve to proceedings, although her version of ‘Fernando’ was rather off-kilter.

I didn’t love this sequel, I missed Streep far too much and the fact that Donna has died didn’t sit right with me. It gave the opportunity for life after Donna to be explored and for her legacy to be continued, however she is an integral character in the Mamma Mia! story and the flashbacks failed to plug that notable gap. There was too little Streep (she does make an appearance, which makes her absence all the more difficult to bear), and too many songs repeated from the first movie, a selection of new ones would have been preferable. There are also a few plot holes, the flashbacks don’t always accurately match the story told in Donna’s diary. 

If you are looking for a feel-good film to take at face value and a good unashamed sing along – Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again fits that bill. There are also many laugh-out-loud moments and you might spot one or two members of Abba, keep your eyes peeled!

Malvern Cinemas are showing Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again until Thursday 2 August 2018, book here: Malvern Cinemas

Get your hands on the soundtrack to the movie, here:

Photo credits: Mamma Mia Movie website 

Dinosaur World Live! ~ Milton Keynes Theatre

Star rating: *****

The stage at Milton Keynes Theatre was stormed by dinosaurs last week! From the plant-eating Triceratops to the terrifying T-Rex, all Dino life could be found, in the capable hands of Explorer, Miranda (Elizabeth Mary Williams).

The show is aimed and big and small kids alike, with expert puppeteers bringing to life the most ferocious looking beasts and teaching us something about Paleontology along the way. The production is packed with energy to engage the younger audience members, many of whom may have never experienced live theatre before. As Miranda, Elizabeth Mary Williams is spectacularly animated which automatically gave her a command over the packed auditorium. Selecting some of the excited children to meet the dinosaurs and feed them, take them for a walk, seemingly putting themselves in the path of ‘danger’, the character of Miranda was perfect to lead us all into the world of dinosaurs.

I personally enjoyed the arrival of the slumbering baby Triceratops and the anticipation that a baby dinosaur was going to hatch from its egg. In pantomime style, a request was made of the audience to alert Miranda to any movement from the egg.

The puppeteers not only impressed me with their movement, characterisation and sheer strength, the sounds they were replicating were exceptional. So engrossed was I in the appearance of each dinosaur that I was not easily distracted by the puppeteer and forgot they were there operating the creatures.

My four year old son was in awe of the show, desperate to meet the dinos and frightened yet excited to see the humungous T-Rex as it prowled around the stage. This production ticked all of the boxes for my young theatre-goer. Kudos to Max Humphries, the puppet designer and Derek Bond, the Writer and Director. Visually and narratively this creation has tapped into the imagination of a pre-schooler who was already intrigued by dinosaurs.

Whether you’re a dino fan or not particularly inspired by them – you’ll leave the show feeling thoroughly entertained and don’t miss the chance to meet two of the baby dinosaurs!

Book your tickets for one of the tour venues: Dinosaur World Tickets

Ladies Day ~ Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Star rating: ***

A comedy-drama set in Wolverhampton, the perfect choice for Wolverhampton Grand’s own production. Written by Amanda Whittington and directed by Jason Capewell and Alasdair Harvey – notably, Harvey has directed this particular piece before.

The tale revolves around working class ladies who work at a fish processing factory. With the imminent retirement of Pearl (Deena Payne), it’s decided that the gang of workmates will attend Ladies Day at Wolverhampton Racecourse. Each lady has a story to tell, Jan (Cheryl Fergison) was abandoned by her husband, left with a child to raise and has little life to speak of, although she has enjoyed a few clandestine moments with their boss, Joe (Sean McKenzie, who goes on to play all of the male characters). Pearl has spent the past seven years enjoying an extra-marital affair with a Bookie she’d met at her colleague’s wedding reception. Shelley (Emma Rigby) is a wannabe Kardashian and in so much debt she has bailiffs knocking at the door. Linda (Roisin O’Neill) has a fly-by-night mother who turns up like the proverbial wrecking ball to stay with her timid daughter, taking her bed and stealing her money. Her coping mechanism is her obsession with singer, Tony Christie – she’s a member of his fan club and intent on choosing horses in the races who have names reflecting anything related to the man himself.

The gimmick with this production is that Tony Christie appears in person, singing his way through the show. Almost angel-like in his presence as he follows the action at various intervals throughout. The four ladies have a good chemistry between them and there is a feeling of solidarity between the characters. Wolverhampton accents aren’t always sustained though, I often noted a natural accent filtering through. There are also a few moments, particularly in the second half where the ladies’ lives began to unravel, which didn’t resonate as much as I would have expected. It was humorous to feature Sean McKenzie in all of the male roles, especially as one of the roles he played was a jockey who was just over 8 stone in weight. The irony wasn’t lost and McKenzie made the most of it, with the audience instantly in on the joke too.

The set was subtle, giving the ‘feel’ of a racecourse without detracting from the strong performances, although a few sound effects to add atmosphere may have lifted some of the ensemble scenes.

Cheryl Fergison as Jan gave the most memorable performance of the night, coming into her own all the more when she wound up inebriated and talking a mixture of gibberish and sense in the second half. Her physical comedy stole the show and earned an ovation from the enthusiastic audience.

If you’re looking for a local production set locally with live music from Tony Christie (you can’t not sing along to ‘Amarillo’!) then you’ve got until 28 July to get yourself a ticket! Book here: Ladies Day Tickets



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