Archive for Ewan McGregor

Review: Beauty and the Beast

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2017 by Tom Austin-Morgan

What is there to say about Disney’s latest live action remake, other than it’s basically very very faithful to the original 1991 animated classic. And that makes it, disappointingly ordinary for such a magical film.

Don’t get me wrong, This film is a solid gold hit – the box office numbers prove that. But unlike The Jungle Book, which based its plot slightly more on the Rudyard Kipling stories and striped away all but two songs to make it stand apart, Beauty and the Beast doesn’t do enough to differentiate itself, much like Cindarella.

It’s quite possible that a child who has never seen the animated version will adore this version and I’m of a generation that can’t un-see the 1991 original – I was six years old when it came out, prime Disney age – because there’s an awful lot to like.

The  Beast (Dan Stevens) is scary, and in this case has been given a proper back story that makes you understand the curse put upon him and his household, although the facial design is somewhat ‘off’.

Emma Watson turns in a fine performance as Belle, although she has more of a girl-next-door vibe about her, rather than a classic Disney Princess. Also, the autotuning of her voice detracts from her musical numbers somewhat, especially the iconic ‘Provincial Life’.

The supporting cast is incredibly strong, especially Kevin Kline as Belle’s father, Maurice. The voice talents of Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Haydn Gwynne and the unrecognisable Stanley Tucci are perfect as are the animations of each character.

The absolute show-stealers though are Luke Evans and Josh Gadd as Gaston and LeFou. Originally the casting of Evans was a little underwhelming, but he really throws himself into the role of this brash, alpha male ad although much was made in the media about LeFou being Disney’s first overtly gay character, there was only very subtle evidence of this on-screen. Gadd’s comedic chops more than make up for this however. Their slightly-more-than-bromance is a delight to watch.

The songs are largely indestructible and feel required rather than shoe-horned in and the updated compositions and minor changes to some of the lyrics are brilliant, especially the additions to Gaston’s song. Even the added song that the Beast sings is a good addition, as are the scenes added to give a bit more depth to the characters. It all largely works. The problem is that nothing feels like it’s added overall.

If the original didn’t already exist this would be brilliant, but because it does and this adds nothing of substance it just feels ordinary. Still very much worth a watch though.

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Review: T2 Trainspotting

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2017 by Tom Austin-Morgan

trainspotting

Twenty years on from what is widely regarded as a seminal film in both the career of Danny Boyle and the young Scottish cast but also for British film and the 90s in general, we get a sequel. Is it a cash-in, is it needed? I would say ‘no’ and ‘yes’ in that order.

Although not directly a film about drug use and abuse, drugs still play a large part in the story line and it’s still not glamorous. Just wait until Renton (Ewan McGregor) reunites with Spud (Ewen Bremner), you’ll see!

Yes, Renton is back after running off with the ill-gotten-gains at the end of the first film, his life has fallen apart after living for the last two decades in Holland. Upon his return, Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is in prison but, coincidentally, has planned an escape after being looked over for parole, Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller) is a coke addict attempting to set up a brothel above his family’s pub and Spud, as previously mentioned, is still a heroin addict.

Basically, all four of the main characters are still as dysfunctional as they were in the 80s and 90s. Sick Boy and Begbie still hold grudges against Renton for what he did and go about trying to screw him over in different ways: Renton in as violent a way as possible and Sick Boy plans to use his money to front the cash to develop his brothel. Spud is angry at Renton because he left him on his own to succumb to his addictions.

What follows is a brand new story that has very strong echoes from Trainspotting, in some cases some flashbacks to the original film and in others flash backs that predate the film, back to when the four were growing up together before the drugs. One of these even reveals why these films are called Trainspotting.

All the actors are on top form, but the absolute stand-out performance comes from Bremner as Spud who, with some encouragement from Renton, manages to turn his life around by focussing his addictive personality on to other activities, with some surprising results.

Rather than being a cynical cash-grab by the infinitely more famous cast and director who are revelling in nostalgia, T2 Trainspotting is like meeting up with old friends and immediately falling into old habits as if no time has passed at all. This film is not as uncomfortable to watch as the first, but it still retains a jet black tone underneath all the nostalgia and comical situations. If you’re a fan of the original film this is especially unmissable.