Dumbo ~ Malvern Cinemas

Star rating: *****

Dumbo is a classic Disney movie and as a self-confessed Disney-a-holic I’d put the original animated version somewhere in my top ten films of all time. A live action incarnation with a Tim Burton spin sounded appealing and alarming all at once, however it was a joy from beginning to end. Probably not entirely suited to our five year old as he found some of the darker edged scenes to be somewhat disconcerting, however this did not spoil his overall enjoyment and when Dumbo flew, our boy was beside himself.

Dumbo himself and indeed all of the animals were fascinating to watch, such attention to detail added to the exceptional realism and Dumbo’s mother in particular was quite something to behold.

The story stays fairly faithful to the original, there isn’t much of a place for Timothy Mouse in this version although he’s definitely featured, just not as Dumbo’s friend. His friends come in the form of the Farrier family, bereaved following the death of their mother and newly reunited with their father, Holt (Colin Farrell) who has returned from war with an arm missing – Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) are the pals the young elephant with over-sized ears comes to rely upon. The poor young chap has gone from being a laughing stock when he was new born to the sad departure of his mother following her rampage to protect her son. Max Medici (Danny DeVito), owner of the Circus Dumbo belongs to is capitalising on the discovery that Dumbo’s ears can be used as wings. However, with the fame of his top billing act comes a villain set to take the act for himself under false pretences. Enter V. A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton) with his arm-candy, trapeze star Colette Marchant (Eva Green).

With the Farrier children intent upon using money earned from Dumbo’s act in the Coney Island circus to buy back his mother, the truth about Candevere’s intentions catalyses a chain of events which may or may not lead to a happy ending for the much loved elephant and his keepers.

The story from the animation has been expanded upon and has a sinister air on occasion, however that is to be expected with a Tim Burton production – it’s not going to be happy ever after without a number of twists, turns and evil plots along the way. DeVito, Keaton, Farrell and Green shine in the lead roles and the children are superb.

Go and see the elephant fly for yourselves, it’s a heart-warming tale of love, ultimately and I bet you’ll not be able to help yourselves falling in love with delightful little Dumbo! Book your tickets to see the film at Malvern Cinemas, here: www.malvern-theatres.co.uk

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Lady Bird ~ Malvern Cinemas

Star rating: *****

The notably Academy Award and BAFTA nominated movie offered such a fantastic and intriguing trailer that I could barely contain my excitement at finally sitting down to watch it. It didn’t disappoint, in fact the only bafflement is why it failed to collect the awards is was up for, perhaps in a different place and time it would sweep the board.

Seventeen year old Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) has given herself the name Lady Bird and she’s keen to ensure that her chosen given name appears on all relevant lists and documentation. The plot examines the typical relationship between teenage daughter and over-protective, over-worked and opinionated mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf). There are a myriad of exceptionally moving and highly observational moments between the pair, from the opening scenes where Lady Bird throws herself out of their moving car whilst attempting to make a stand, to a shopping trip to search for a dress.

An extraordinary Mother/Daughter Relationship (credit: Vue Cinema)

Ronan and Metcalf’s on-screen relationship is extraordinary and one of the most believable fictional mother/daughter pairings I’ve seen. Lady Bird’s father, Larry (Tracy Letts) appears easier going than her mother, on the surface at least – she’s coercing him into helping her to apply for colleges in New York and they’re keeping the secret from Marion. The fact that it is later revealed that Larry has been battling with depression for many years comes as an interesting plot twist, not least because Marion works in a Psychiatric Unit. It’s also refreshing to see depression in men explored. Larry’s lost his job, meanwhile the son (Miguel – played by Jordan Rodrigues) that he and Marion adopted before they miraculously ‘made’ Lady Bird, is also in need of a better job than at the supermarket checkout. This makes for an awkward yet heart-warming moment later in the film when father and son go for the same job.

Outside of the family circle we meet Lady Bird’s best friend, Julie (Beanie Feldstein) – she’s a bit half-soaked and mooning after the Maths teacher, whilst simultaneously more fragile than her friend would believe. The girl who everyone wants to be friends with (including Lady Bird when the occasion concerns a ‘boy’) is Jenna (Odeya Rush). Julie and Jenna are polar opposites which makes for a fascinating insight into Lady Bird’s life choices when it comes to the friends in her world. First boyfriend, Danny (Lucas Hedges) isn’t as straight forward as he seems and the next one in line, Kyle (Timothee Chalamet) likes to be ironic, although he is actually quite a slippery character full of his own self importance.

Kyle is a complex character (Photo Credit: Vue Cinema)

The subtleties of the story are definitely a few of the films many strengths, the audience are left to make their own assumption about Miguel’s place in the family – his racial orientation making it fairly obvious that he might not be biologically related. So many issues are dealt with in quick succession, too – from homosexuality, to school girl crushes to virginity and there’s a marathon of untruths running alongside. It’s a study of life at it’s most chaotic, most ugly and most beautiful. Lady Bird’s college plans are the tip of the iceberg in a rough sea of torment, revelation and realisation.

With a cast who guide the audience seamlessly through the mire, each of whom embrace their characters as if they were offering a window into real lives – this is a movie not to be missed and one that I’ll be watching again and again. It certainly gets my award for Best Picture.

 

Despicable Me 3 ~ Malvern Theatres

You can book to see Despicable Me 3 at Malvern Theatres Cinema, here: Malvern Theatres Cinema

The Despicable Me franchise has plenty of mileage left in it yet and the third follow-up film goes to prove that and more. Of course there was also the prequel, Minions, which our three year old loves – so we decided to make Despicable Me 3 his first trip to the cinema. It was a hit!

The old faithful minions are back of course, what would Despicable Me be without them? They’re getting rather tired of their boss, Gru, as he has turned to the light side since meeting and marrying Lucy. In fact he’s the devoted father and husband now and his little yellow friends are not on board with it. Their journey to find a new life of villainy leads them to one of the highlights of the film (in my humble opinion, anyway!) where they land in an X Factor-style situation and sing a rousing rendition of Modern Major General. Hilarious!

Gru and Lucy having been sacked from their ‘respectable’ jobs, the main storyline revolves around Gru’s discovery that he has a twin brother, Dru and that his father did not pass away years ago, but more recently. The boys are reunited with laugh a minute consequences, while Lucy is trying to get to grips with motherhood and Agnes is still obsessed with unicorns. The new villain for this story is Balthazar Bratt, a deluded eighties throwback who bears a grudge because he television show from way back when got cancelled. He’s a bonkers mixture of mullet and bubble gum!

I’ve always thought that the Despicable Me films worked on more than just a kids level, this sequel has proved that point and I feel that more of these films wouldn’t go amiss. At just short of 1 hour 30 minutes long, it’s the perfect length of time to hold a toddler’s attention if you want to attempt a cinema excursion with your young breed! The ending certainly left it open for more sequels too and who else wouldn’t mind seeing Gru venture back towards villainy? Hands up!

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