Pan’s Labyrinth: Inside the Creation of a Modern Fairytale

pans-labyrinthTitle: Pan’s Labyrinth: Inside the Creation of a Modern Fairytale

Authors: Mark Cotta Vaz, Nick Nunziata, foreword by Guillermo Del Toro

Themes: Fairytale, Horror, Film, Cinema

Rating: 4/5

Apologies for the delay with this review. I’ve been really busy with work and travelling for Christmas, but here we are finally in 2017! There are plenty of books I’m looking forward to this year, namely The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon which is published next month, so look out for my review!

I have yet to meet someone who has seen Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and disliked it. Over the years, I have introduced many people to this gem of a film, and it’s always received rave reviews. The Spanish film ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’, written, directed and produced by Del Toro, is a fantasy/sci-fi film released in 2006.

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In honour of it’s tenth anniversary, I have been asked to review this spectacular book which allows readers to step behind the scenes for the first time, and explore the making of the film.

It is beautifully illustrated with shots from the movie, pull out sketches and drawings and plenty of behind-the-scenes information on the casting, costume and set design. This would also be a fantastic book for anyone studying film at college or university, looking at film production. It goes into detail about the funding and process of idea to script to film.20161030_162149

This beautiful book is a great gift idea for any fan of the film, or anyone interested in media.Packed full of trade secrets, stunning photography and notes from the director, Pan’s Labyrinth: Inside the Creation of a Modern Fairytale is not to be missed.

 

 

 

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AMAZING French drama, ‘The Disappearance’

disparue-image-une‘The Disappearance’, or ‘Disparue’ as it is known in it’s native France, is an excellent drama series recommended to me by my sister (who gives me most of the recommenations I come by, actually). I’ve never minded subtitles, and if the content is right, you should hardly notice them. I’ve also always had an interest in foreign drama series, like the massively popular films, ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ and more recently, ‘Top of the Lake‘ (of which the second season is currently being filmed. Yay!) So this series is something that caught my attention immediately.

 

The Plot

It’s Léa Morel’s seventeenth birthday, and the night of a festival in Lyon, France. She she dresses up, meets her friends and heads out for a great night on the town. Her mum expects her back home by 3 a.m. Time drags on, 3 a.m comes and goes, but no Léa. She calls her phone, but it’s off. 4 o’clock. 5 o’clock. 6 o’clock passes but still no Léa.

The Suspects

It soon becomes clear that Léa isn’t coming home any time soon, and her parents are certain she wouldn’t just run away. So, what’s happened? A detective (commandant) is assigned to the case, and as soon as he starts digging into the alibis of Léa’s family and friends, it’s clear this won’t be a straight forward case. Her own family are lying, but each for their own reason. Her dad, did he really come straight home after his poker game? Why didn’t her brother, Thomas, collect Léa from town like he’d promised? And what about her secret boyfriend?

The Details 

‘Disparue’ is an eight part series, originally aired in France between April and May 2015. It has now been played on BBC4 in the UK, and you can find a few episodes still on iPlayer is you’re quick! This is really an intriguing mystery, with a fantastic film noir feel to it, which brings back the audience suspense I experienced in ‘Thirteen’, the BBC3 drama. The acting, setting and film technique are superb.

I’ve not search for much information online for fear of spoiling future episodes for myself, but so far I’m immersed in this show for an hour every evening, and I don’t want it to end! If you’ve watched this, let me know what you thought!

 

 

 

 

 

James Bond Spectre Review

CN_YqmzWEAEExOx.jpg-largeTitle: James Bond: Spectre

Running Time: 2h 30m

Starring: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux

Rating: 3/5

It’s taken me a while to get around to seeing this, due to starting a new job and moving to London. However, after hearing many good things from family and friends, I finally watched ‘Spectre’ last night.

Although I’ve seen a few interviews with Daniel Craig not speaking particularly fondly of his job playing James Bond (to put it mildly) I tried not to let this cloud my judgement of the film, and the character he plays.

I loved the previous film ‘Skyfall’ which saw the death of Dame Judi Dench’s much-loved M, but her spirit lives on in ‘Spectre’. The general plot is that Bond has taken it upon himself to hunt down and kill a man, on order given by M from the grave. Well, kind of. In doing so, Bond uncovers a web full of mysteries tangled with the faces of his past.

The film opens with fantastic scenes of Bond seducing a woman in Rome, during the festival of death. The costumes are excellent and it’s smoothly filmed. The action is never-ending and the effects are, as always, brilliant. However, the main let down for me was the amount of women Bond seduces. Of course, Bond goes hand-in-hand with sex and having beautiful Bond girls. But in this film in particular, it wasn’t as believable.

_79509158_spectre1_reutersEarly on, Bond meets a widow, whose husband he has just killed. She know this, yet the same day she falls into bed with Bond. Maybe I’m looking at this through old-fashioned glasses, but it just felt awkward watching it. And then we never see her character again. The next female Bond meets, played by the beautiful Lea Seydoux, the same thing happens.

The films villain, played by Christoph Waltz, is one of my favourite from all the films. If you’ve not seen him playing an SS officer in ‘Inglorious Basterds’ then I highly recommend you give it a watch. His sinister performance makes the film. He knows how to be an excellent baddie.

I don’t regret watching the film, but it wasn’t one of the better Bond for me. Having said that, I know a lot of people who really loved it. I’d watch again, but only if it happened to be on TV.

Rumour has it that this is the last Bond film for Daniel Craig, which I really hope is true. In his own words, he admits he would only do another “for the money,” and I think there are better actors who would not take this role for granted.

How you seen Spectre? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Firefly: A Celebration

Firefly-packshot-861x1024Title: Firefly: A Celebration

Author(s): Joss Whedon

Publisher: Titan Books

Rating: 5/5

“For anyone confused about what ‘Firefly’ is really about, all one needs to do is look past the spaceships and Western attire. Ignore the rag-tag heists and wacky, ethnically fused colloquialisms. Bypass the terrifying Reavers and omnipotent Alliance to get to the actual hearts of the series, which is the story of a dark, world-weary man with an unshakable love and loyalty for his adopted family.” 

I think this quote from the book best sums up Firefly. The man in question is the main character, Captain Malcom Reynolds, or Mal. Mal is played by Nathan Fillion in the TV show, and Fillion, along with the other cast member’s says he knew the show was something special as soon as he stepped on the set that first day back in 2002.

firefly cast 364700Firefly, created by the great Joss Whedon, is a sci-fi TV show produced for FOX in the US. The show, which ran for only two seasons, didn’t draw in quite enough numbers in the ratings, and was cancelled, much to the utter dismay of the fans. Dedicated fans took to social media forums to voice their anger, and created a cult following. The DVD sales of Firefly grew with the fanbase, and eventually a feature film, Serenity, was given the go-ahead. This gave Joss Whedon and the cast a chance to end the series with a little more dignity and tie up a few loose ends.

Ten year after it first came about (actually, it’s twelve now, I’m a little late in reading this!) and here we are with Firefly: A Celebration, a lavish 500+ page, hardback book released as a thank you to fans who have supported the Firefly universe through all the ups-and-downs.

Obviously, if you’re not familiar with Firefly then this book isn’t really for you, but I would recommend the series to fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dollhouse and basically anything Joss Whedon had a hand in. You can’t go wrong with a project he’s involved in. It will also appeal to fans of Farscape, which is similar sci-fi TV show. The book is incredible. It has colour photo’s, pictures of the cast and crew behind the scenes, as well as interviews with the cast about what attracted them to cast-firefly-10360834-600-811the project initially, what they liked about working on Firefly, and they reminisce about memories they have from the set.

My favourite part was the stories the cast retold about the jokes they played on each other, and the pranks they pulled. It is very easy to see they are all good friends, and Fillion says a number of times that they are all still close friends, and keep in touch. It’s a really nice feeling to be a fan of something that the actors are also fans of. There are plenty of pictures of the cast at conventions, telling stories about their experience with the fanbase and their reactions to the cancellation of the show, and then it’s resurrection. Firefly is definitely the best show to be a fan of.

The book even goes into detail about the money the cast and crew have raised to charities, and amount of work that went into each episode, how the writers came up with ideas for each episode, and it even talks about fan-made films. I can’t gush about this book enough. It is pricey at £35 (you can probably find it cheaper online) but for a true fan it’s well worth paying that bit extra for such an amazing keep-sake, and it also comes with nine character posters. Goodbye for now, I’m off to re-watch some Firefly!

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015) Review

RogueNation02Title: Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation (2015)

Starring: Tom Cruise (Ethan Hunt), Jeremy Renner (William Brandt), Simon Pegg (Benji Dunn) and Rebecca Ferguson (Ilsa Faust)

Rating: 4/5

Today resulted in a spontaneous trip to the cinema to see the new Mission: Impossible film. First off, I have a confession to make: I haven’t seen any of the first four films, other than the odd scene here or there when it’s been on TV. Also, I’m not a massive Tom Cruise fan, so I really wasn’t expecting too much from this film. However, as you can see from my 4* rating, I came out with a different opinion.

Rogue Nation sees Ethan Hunt, top IMF agent, on the run from the US government. He must put his trust in Rebecca Ferguson’s elusive character, Ilsa, to help him get the proof he needs. Of course, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Ilsa’s loyalty is in question as she seems to be working each team off against one another, yet helps Ethan out of a deadly situation more than once. The plot isn’t the easiest to explain, and towards the ending it gets particularly sticky, but I am willing to overlook this in favour of some brilliant action sequences.

The highlight of the film was the adrenaline fuelled motorbike chase, which reminded me a little of the Matrix. There was also a tense, edge of your seat moment when Ethan must hold his breath underwater for three minutes, and everything goes horribly wrong. I have a feeling I wasn’t the only one feeling claustrophobic during that scene.

1335ba3e-7b34-4421-8837-317c77afda14Another plus for me was the fact that Ferguson’s female character maintained the ability to be such a powerful woman in an otherwise male dominated film. She is essential to the plot and challenges the relationships between the main characters, and although her fighting in high heels is very questionable, her skills on a motorbike are not.

Knowing that Tom Cruise does many of his own stunts really brings the action to life for viewers. The opening scenes feature Ethan hanging onto the side of a plane, something Cruise actually did himself. The acting is actually not bad at all, and I was too immersed in the story to notice any awkward scenes or mistakes, which is a rare occurrence.

The majority of the action is set in London town, and this gives Rogue Nation a very James Bond feel which I guess would be hard to escape for a film that lives in it’s shadow. There were similarities to the Bourne Identity films too, but in this genre that’s bound to happen.

It’s actually doing very well in the box office, with favourable reviews flooding the internet. So, if you’re looking for an action film and Marvel just doesn’t do it for you, then Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation is the perfect summer blockbuster.

Ant-Man (2015)

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Title: Ant-Man (2015)

Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas

Rating: 4/5

Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is back with it’s twelfth installment, Ant-Man, just in time for the school holidays. The film was released last week, and despite the success of MCU, Ant-Man hasn’t been the big summer blockbuster that everyone expected. Maybe that’s because… ants? I mean, surely I wasn’t the only one who laughed out loud when imagining this superhero. If I had the choice between Spiderman, Thor, Wolverine or Ant-Man to save me from a dire situation, I think we both know who’d be the last on the list.

However, despite my low expectations, and the film not receiving great reviews (it was the second lowest grossing debut of a Marvel film, with The Hulk, 2008, taking first place), I was dragged to see the film by my family, particularly my younger brother – we are all massive Marvel fans.

As with all Marvel films, there was no shortage of big-name actors waiting in the wings to fill the lead roles. Paul Rudd secured himself the starring role as Scott Lang A.K.A Ant-Man, who starts out as a petty criminal being released from prison. He is determined to get his life back on track for the sake of his young daughter, Cassie, but of course this doesn’t quite go to plan. That’s where Michael Douglas comes in. His character, Hank Pym, was the original Ant-Man back in the day, and also the brains behind the suit that transforms the wearer to the size of an ant, but supplies them with super-human strength. A situation arises when his former apprentice, Darren Cross, produces a similar suit which he aims to supply to the military. Hank knows this is more than likely to end badly, and must use his own Ant-Man suit to put a stop to it. The catch? Hank can no longer wear the suit, his years as Ant-Man have taken their toll on him and he needs someone to fill his shoes. But is Scott really the right guy for the job?

The plot is actually pretty straight forward in comparison to the other Marvel films, most of which require prior knowledge of the universe or previous films to be fully understood.With Ant-Man you can just rock up to the cinema and let the story unfold, even if you don’t pick up the Spiderman easter-egg and the numerous references to the Avengers.

However, Marvel fans, Falcon does make an appearance, and it’s a funny, enjoyable scene. As a matter of fact, this is how I felt about much of the film. There are some really funny sequences, particularly when Scott’s criminal friends are describing a job.

There is also a great performance from Evangeline Lilly, star of LOST which just happens to be my favourite show EVER! Lillyevangeline-lilly-micro-tech-contest plays Hank Pym’s feisty daughter, Hope. She is the love interest of Darren, which means she can feed back to her dad on his plans for the ‘new’ suit. I’m pleased to see Lilly’s addition to the Marvel Universe, but I do miss the messy, long curly hair she pulled off in LOST. Maybe when you’re not stranded on a mysterious island in the middle of nowhere, you need to spruce yourself up a little. Of course, there is a possible romance between her and Scott, but this isn’t really explored much and will be a bigger storyline for the second film (which is definitely happening).

As always, stay seated for the two after credit scenes, and the obligatory cameo by Stan Lee at the end. It might not have the wide-spread acclaim of the other Marvel films, but Ant-Man is defiantly one not to be missed. In my opinion, it’s more than earned every good review it gets.