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The house with a clock in its walls (2018)

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You can eat cookies till you throw up, for all I care.
You’ll see… things are…quite different here.

Have you seen “Goosebumps” where Jack Black plays the leading role as well? Well, you can expect almost the same thing. A kids-sized horror film. And I had the same feelings about it after a certain amount of time. Namely that it’s all a little bit over the top. Probably it wasn’t the intention to make it too scary. It should all be about magic and mystery. And it sure was the first half. I admit I have a weak spot for such type of movies. “The House with a clock in its walls” reminded me of the wonderful “Harry Potter” movies. Here too it’s about an orphan boy who ends up in a foster family and apparently has magic powers in his DNA. Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) himself looks like Henry from “The book of Henry“. Also an outsider with aviator glasses on. But halfway the movie derailed a bit and felt rather exaggerated, absurd and grotesque.

 

 

Shit, there’s that lion again.

As I mentioned earlier, the first part is highly entertaining. Lewis is being introduced. He meets uncle Jonathan Barnavelt (Jack Black) and his neighbor Florence Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett). And of course, there’s this huge Victorian-looking house with its ghostly contours. As a spectator, you notice there’s something very unusual going on and certain ordinary things come to life (and in normal circumstances they never do). Something that Lewis only discovers afterward. We then see Lewis attending his new school and how he befriends Tarby (Sunny Suljic), the popular boy who briefly raises Lewis’s popularity. All this is brought with the necessary humor and is highly entertaining for young and old. Even the presence of Jack Black was bearable. I’m not really a big fan of Black’s humor. Usually, it’s bland and ridiculously exaggerated. That is why a similar scene with a lion-shaped-bush with stomach problems is being used three times. Bland, trite and exaggerated toilet humor.

 

 

Puking pumpkins? Let’s use the umbrella.

But in general, it was still enjoyable. What amused me the most was the constant bickering between Uncle Barnavelt and Mrs. Zimmerman. That never really got boring. And then suddenly those puking pumpkins (and boy this was bad looking CGI) and a bunch of puppets shows up. Also, you’ll witness the resurrection of the evil Warlock Isaac (Kyle MacLachlan) and his illustrious wife Selena (Renée Elise Goldsberry). And finally, everything revolves around a very well hidden clock somewhere in the house of uncle Barnavelt. Although he’s a talented wizard and Mrs. Zimmerman a famous sorceress, finding this clock seems an impossible task. Even uncle Barnavelt is forced to use other tools to look for it. Like a huge pickaxe, for example, with which he starts to demolish walls in the middle of the night. And the way they handled this clock-problem, in the end, was also an easy solution. Apparently, the scriptwriters were exhausted and a little uninspired.

 

 

Most positive was Cate Blanchett.

No, I wasn’t really impressed. Visually it looked sophisticated and extremely well-taken care of, but it never was as magical as “Harry Potter“. Cate Blanchett was perhaps the only highlight in this fantasy film for kids. It was as if she tried to be the new Mary Poppins with her behavior. Maybe this movie is perfect to stimulate the fantasy of 8-year-olds. Though they must endure the hyperactive behavior of Jack Black. Is it because of the awkward way in which horror director Eli Roth tackled this project? Or is it due to Jack Black’s lackluster humor? Or was it the laser beam-shooting umbrella of Cate Blanchett used?

 

 

No more fantasy-movies for kids.

Anyway, my interest disappeared and made way for annoyance and lots of headshaking. The only thing I was hoping for was that the damn clock that posed a threat to our universe was found as quickly as possible. And that the other books written by John Bellairs aren’t used for a motion picture as well. After “A wrinkle in time” and this movie, I’m going to avoid fantasy films for children. Enough is enough.

 

My rating 4/10
Links: IMDB
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Adventure

Artemis Fowl: Confusing And Chaotic With Good Looking CGI

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Who do you think you are?
I’m the next criminal mastermind.

 

I’m afraid you need to be as intelligent as “Artemis Fowl” to understand and keep up with this movie. What a confusing chaos this was. I get it that they are looking for a sort of Harry Potter successor and already started drooling while thinking of the box-office with every new sequel. But they should have spread this single movie over a number of sequels because now you cannot make heads or tails of it. Let me remind you that I don’t know the book series written by Eoin Colfer, on which this film is based. Let alone read one of them. A kind of introduction of the characters would have been helpful for the uninitiated viewers. And that’s a big difference when you compare (and there will be a lot of comparisons) this Disney film with the Harry Potter films. Even if you hadn’t read one of the Harry Potter books, you were sucked into the wonderful story about this mini wizard from the start. All the leading protagonists were carefully introduced and gradually you got to know them, appreciate them, and quickly one of the leading characters became your favorite. With “Artemis Fowl” you better keep focused because before you know it you have missed a whole storyline and a number of important characters. The amount of facts and things of importance is so immense that it’ll make you dizzy.

 

Artemis Fowl

 

The making of “Artemis Fowl” on its own deserves a motion picture.

It also took an awful lot of effort before the film could be released. The film rights were bought in 2001 by Miramax Films (in the middle of the fantasy film period when Potter and Frodo ruled). Next Disney announced in 2013 that they were going to make the film in partnership with The Weinstein Company. The creation of this feature film was very different from what had been expected. First of all, you had the disappearing trick of some directors. Then there was the Weinstein affair with Harvey waving his wand too much apparently. Next came the disgruntled fans and last but not least the Coronavirus. In the end, it was decided to stream the film on the Disney + platform instead of screening in the cinema. For sure this was the best decision they could have ever made. No one would be inclined to watch it in the cinema after reading a few reviews. Unfortunately, the revenue from Disney + platform subscriptions is not enough to bear the price tag of a sloppy $ 125 million.

 

Artemis Fowl

 

The acting wasn’t impressive.

What else went wrong besides the fact it’s a very confusing story? Well, to be honest, I wasn’t really charmed by the characters themselves. Artemis Fowl Jr. (Ferdia Shaw) is an annoying kid without any charisma and totally insensitive (A kind of MIB version of Richie Rich). A deadly serious little brat with an attitude. Admittedly, his intelligence is lightyears beyond normal and he obtained a series of diplomas at a very young age. Plus he comes from a wealthy family and probably took everything for granted during his young life. The magic of a film doesn’t only depend on the magic of the story itself, but also how amiable the main characters come across. No one could resist the charms of Harry Potter (I know. There’s the comparison again.): that poor little fellow living under the stairs, with his roguish smile and lightning bolt on his forehead. I really didn’t find Artemis that charming. And even the more famous actors made little impression. Colin Farrell had a depressed and sulky expression throughout the film as if he already saw the potential for disaster. Judi Dench was actually the only one to stand out in her green leather fairy outfit. But that was more because of the charismatic nature of her character Commandant Root. And Lara McDonell looked adorable as the brave fairy Holly Short. You also had a centaur who could join Milli Vanilli. The dwarf Mulch Diggums (Josh Gad), who also took on the role of narrator at the same time, who’s actually not a dwarf and resembles Rubeus Hagrid. And there was even the suggestion David Bowie was an elf (Talking bout humor). That’s about it what I can remember from all personages. In general, however, the performances were not impressive or grand.

 

Artemis Fowl

 

Visual spectacle.

There’s also something to be said about the footage. They’ve put a lot of energy into it (maybe a little too much) and the film is packed with generally good-looking CGI. But a film about fairies, trolls, and dwarfs, who live in an underground hidden world, must look fairy-like and enchanting to me. They’ve decided to create a futuristic-looking fairy world full of flashy vehicles and modern buildings. And stuffed with a bunch of extras, busy decors, and an infinite number of props that you’ll need an extra pair of eyes to take in all the wonders. But don’t panic. This magical place is soon abandoned. Most of the film is set in the residence of the Fowl family. And there you can expect even more CGI (slightly less well developed). Perhaps it was quite an exaggeration when you consider the number of special effects. The only thing that impressed me was the jaw joints of Mulch Diggums.

 

Artemis Fowl

No sequel needed for me.

No, I’m not a new fan of “Artemis Fowl” and I don’t feel the urge to discover the books. All in all, I found this movie version confusing and chaotic. I sometimes had the feeling that I was watching a new episode of “Kingsman” for young viewers. I didn’t fully understand the principle of the time bubble and was amazed bout how Artemis could unravel everything so quickly (But yes, extremely intelligent. Right?). Maybe me being a grownup has something to do with it. I guess youngsters will like it. Although, I think my two kids, who aren’t real book readers and never heard of Artemis Fowl, will be lost after 20 minutes. A re-watch might help better understanding the whole thing. I imagine fans of the books were very curious how Fowl’s world would look like on the silver screen. Anyway. I won’t wait for the sequels of this vague film. To put it mildly, I think the movie “Artemis Fowl” is a perfect fit for the current summer vacation that has become a disaster due to COVID-19.

 

 

My rating 3/10
Links: IMDB

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Warrior Nun | Official Trailer- HD | Netflix

Caught in the middle of an ancient war between good and evil, a young girl wakes up in a morgue with inexplicable powers. Her search for answers brings her to The Order of the Cruciform Sword, a secret society of warrior nuns sworn to protect the world from evil. While juggling her responsibilities as the chosen one with the normal obstacles of a teenage girl, this mysterious fantasy drama is full of mystery, action, adventure, and teenage romance, proving our main character might fight in the name of good, but she’s no angel.

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Genre:

Action, Drama, Fantasy

Release Date:

July 2, 2020 (Netflix)

Director:

Simon Barry

Cast:

Toya Turner, Alba Baptista, Lorena Andrea, Kristina Tonteri-Young, Thekla Reuten, Joaquim de Almeida, Sylvia De Fanti

Plot Summary:

Caught in the middle of an ancient war between good and evil, a young girl wakes up in a morgue with inexplicable powers. Her search for answers brings her to The Order of the Cruciform Sword, a secret society of warrior nuns sworn to protect the world from evil. While juggling her responsibilities as the chosen one with the normal obstacles of a teenage girl, this mysterious fantasy drama is full of mystery, action, adventure, and teenage romance, proving our main character might fight in the name of good, but she’s no angel.

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Gretel & Hansel: A Film For Those Who Love Aesthetically Beautiful Films

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Tell me the fairy tale again.
It’s too scary, you’ll start seeing things that aren’t there.

 

In recent years we have been flooded with live-action versions of well-known Disney fairy tales. These usually follow the fairytale story without deviation. Even the appearance and atmosphere are mostly identical to the original. However, this isn’t the case with “Gretel & Hansel”. Director Osgood Perkins has gone to great lengths to make it an idiosyncratic creation. It largely corresponds to the original story of the Brothers Grimm. But the moral of the story is very different from the original fairy tale. So, no nasty stepmother. No pebbles or bread crumbs. In the original fairy tale, Hans was more inventive. Here he’s a helpless little fellow dependent on his bigger sister. But it’s mainly the role Gretel plays in this story and how this character evolves. Hence probably also the switching of the names in the film title, which indicates Gretel’s part is more important.

 

Gretel & Hansel

 

Damn mushrooms.

The period in which it takes place is comparable to that in “The VVitch” or “Apostle”. Most likely at the time of the great famine in the 14th century, when it was difficult for many to survive. Most lived in shabby houses and had no means to meet their daily needs. Similarly, the mother of Gretel and Hans, who chases the children out of the house with unmistakable words (and a dangerous-looking lumberjack ax). First, they are advised by a friendly man to look for work and join a group of lumberjacks and especially not to deviate from the path. Hunger and the discovery of delicious looking mushroom causes the two children to leave the path and discover a black house in the forest.

 

Gretel & Hansel

 

A dark, eery, and disturbing mood.

The mushroom scene can be called amusing and already suggests that this film is certainly not an accessible version of the known fairy tale. It’s also not recommended to watch this with your kids as you did with “The Lion King”. This film is too dark, gloomy, and perhaps too terrifying for small children. Even though I found the label “horror” a bit exaggerated. “Gretel & Hansel” isn’t really creepy. Don’t expect the typical elements of a horror. No jump scares. No gory scenes or possessed creepy persons. But certainly, you’ll experience an unpleasant and disturbing feeling throughout the whole movie. An intense, eery atmosphere in which you are immersed.

 

Gretel & Hansel

 

Artistic and experimental sort of film.

I also fear that due to its artistic character and experimental production, this morbid fairy tale isn’t for everyone. Many horror fans will be terribly disappointed and rather portray it as a pretentious movie. Evildoers are of course the lack of tension and the slow pace. But for me, it was the unique atmosphere and the imaginative story that made it an exciting experience. The design of the witch house (without gingerbread walls decorated with all kinds of sweetness) will confuse you. A pitch-black, modernist house built with contemporary materials and styles. Not exactly something you will start nibbling on. On the one hand, the interior is characteristic of that specific time. But on the other hand, there are also style features that belong to the present era. And the richly filled table full of delicious stews and pastries is a feast for the eyes.

 

Gretel & Hansel

 

Aesthetically beautiful film.

What appealed to me the most was the excellent cast. Alice Krige as the terrifying and devilish witch in particular was simply fabulous. And Sophia Lillis also plays the role of Gretel convincingly. A young girl with unexpected future prospects. The beautiful music and sound effects together with the used color palette, provided a special atmosphere. Only the denouement I found a bit unfortunate and not appropriate for the slow tempo of the film. I can certainly enjoy a straightforward version of a fairy tale. But this contrary version managed to surprise me. Definitely a film for those who love aesthetically beautiful films.

 

 

My rating 7/10
Links: IMDB

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