Movie Review: Ella Enchanted

I’m going to answer just a couple of questions before I get started: Ella Enchanted was NOT a Disney film when it was released (Miramax was sold by it’s parent company Disney but they still own the rights of the film), nor a musical in my opinion, it is a fairy tale film but it is more than that. Based very loosely on the beloved 1997 book Ella Enchanted was released in 2004 and while I understand why some are more upset the film did not follow the book exactly I still love this film. Spoilers ahead as always. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

There is a narrator to the story (Eric Idle.) Ella (Anne Hathaway) has lived the small town of Frell her whole life. When she was born the was given a gift, more like a curse, by Lucinda (Vivica A. Fox) a well meaning but extremely misguided fairy. Her gift: obedience, Ella has to do what she is told; for example if you tell her hold your tongue she will that’s how bad it is. Ella’s mother (Donna Dent) and house fairy, who is not so great with spells, Mandy (Minnie Driver) are the only ones who know about the gift. Before she dies Ella’s mother has Ella promise not to tell anyone else and gives Ella her necklace. Meanwhile the kingdom Frell is a part of Emir has not improved; after the king was allegedly killed by an ogre his brother, the ambitious and evil Sir Edger (Carey Elwes) forces the kingdom’s magical creatures into new laws such oppressing elves and giants, turning them into entertainers and workers.

Years go by and Ella’s father (Patrick Bergin) remarries, out of money not love. Ella’s stepmother Dame Olga (Joanna Lumley) along with her stepsisters Hattie (Lucy Punch) and Olive (Jennifer Higham) are very cruel to Ella. Figuring out she does what she is told they take full advantage of it, costing Ella her best friend Areida (Parminder Nagra). Fed up Ella decides to find Lucinda and make her take back the curse. Mandy gives Ella her book boyfriend (remember I said she wasn’t great with spells) Benny (Jimi Mistry) to help, but Ella makes a few friends along the way including an elf named Slannen (Aiden McArdle) who wants to be a lawyer, a few giants including one who likes Slannen (Heidi Klum) and the crown prince, the handsome Charmont, or Char for short (Hugh Dancy). Ella opens Char’s eyes to how cruel his uncle is to the creatures and they soon fall in love, much to the dismay of Hattie who is just a little (a lot) obsessed with Char. Seeing how this girl is changing Char and ruining his plans to take over the kingdom Edgar, along with his pet snake Heston (Steve Coogan), decide to use Ella’s gift to their advantage. About as far as I can go without giving away the rest of the film.

I loved this movie when I was younger and I still love it today. Anne Hathaway is one of my favorite actresses of all time and it was actually because of this film. This was my first time watching Anne is a movie and she did not disappoint me (she actually has yet to disappoint me in a movie.) I also did not know at the time that she could sing, but she blew me away with her rendition of Queen’s “Somebody to Love.” It was also my first time watching a few people in the film. Hugh Dancy is not only handsome; he is a great actor. Minnie Driver is fantastic, the actresses who played the step family are so evil as is Carey Elwes. Aiden McArdle was a good sidekick, and has one of my favorite scenes not just in this movie but in film all together (when he has to get Ella out of her cell I die laughing every time). Lastly Vivica Fox is not only stylish but she is so good as Lucinda. This fairy tale rom com is funny, has the right mix of fairy tales and comedic timing and was just perfect. There is a musical number at the end of the film with the cast singing Elton John’s and Kiki Dee’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.”

There is a soundtrack to this film and features some fantastic songs. Anne’s version of “Somebody to Love” is on there, along with her version of “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” while a different version of “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” sung by Anne and singer Jesse McCartney. Other songs included cover versions of “Respect” sung by Kelly Clarkson, “True to Your Heart”, sung by Raven-Symone, “Strange Magic” sung by Darren Hayes, and “Walking on Sunshine” sung by Jump5. Other songs that stick out for me are “It’s Not Just Make Believe” by Kari Kimmel, “Once Upon a Broken Heart” by the Beu Sisters and finally “If You Believe” by Andrea Remanda and Bryan Adams.

If you have not seen Ella Enchanted I would recommend it. It is cute, funny, a fantastic cast and soundtrack, and overall just a good time.

classic, film, musical, must see

Movie Review: Quest for Camelot

I bet I know what you are thinking: “What is this Disney Movie and why haven’t I heard of it?” Hate to burst your bubble, but this is not a Disney movie it’s Warner Bros. (though given it was 1998 during Disney renaissance I can understand the confusion.) Unfortunately the film did not do as well as Warner Bros. would have liked, both box office and critically, and the studio ended up loosing $40 million. However the film did develop a bit of a following after the success of the soundtrack and while probably not a must watch for a kid it is still enjoyable. Spoilers ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Kayley (Jessalyn Gilsig as an adult, Sarah Rayne as a child and Andrea Corr singing) wants to be a knight like her father Sir Lionel (Gabriel Byrne), a knight for the Round Table, yes King Arthur’s round table. During a meeting Ruber (Gary Oldman), a knight desiring to be king, tries to kill Arthur (Pierce Brosnan and Steve Perry singing) but Sir Lionel saves Arthur at the cost of his life. Years later Ruber returns to take over by stealing Arthur’s sword Excalibur. Ruber’s griffin (Bronson Pinchot) does steal the sword, but thanks to Merlin (John Gielgud)’s falcon Ayden (Frank Welker) the sword falls into the forbidden forest. Ruber seizes his army, including the comical rooster Bladebeak (Jaleel White) and Kayley’s mother Juliana (Jane Seymour with Celine Dion (yes that Celine Dion) singing) to gain entry into Camelot. Kayley escapes and decides to go after the sword, gaining allies in Garrett (Carey Elwes with Bryan White singing) a blind hermit and a two headed dragon Devon and Cornwall (Eric Idle and Don Rickles) in her quest.

This was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid and I still watch it every now and then. I am a huge fan of the Arthur myth and while I haven’t seen every version this is probably my favorite of the ones I’ve watched; which includes The Sword in the Stone. I get why the story itself gets a lot of grief, but as a kid I didn’t mind.

However the most successful part of the movie is the soundtrack, with spectacular songs. Here are some of my favorites: “On my Father’s Wings” by Kayley as she grieves for her father and how much she wants to keep him alive through her, “I Stand Alone” is Garret’s song about how he doesn’t play well with others, there is a reprise when he doesn’t feel good enough for Kayley and “Looking through Your Eyes” a romantic duet between Kayley and Garret as they fall in love. The most famous song from the soundtrack is Julianna’s number, you may have heard of it, “The Prayer.” That’s right people, the song famously covered by Celine Dion, Andrea Bochelli, Josh Groban and just about everyone doing an opera number on the talent shows came from this little known movie. First time I heard this song outside the movie I thought, “this cannot be the same song I heard” but no it was and I could not have been more gleeful. Whenever someone tells me they haven’t heard of the movie but the song I always say check it out, and I’m telling you the same thing. Regardless if you are a kid or an adult this movie is great and I highly recommend it.

classic, film

Classic/Modern Move Review The Princess Bride

As you guys have read I love recommending films for people to watch. Now obviously people may have different tastes than I do, some would rather watch a movie like Sharknado over a classic like Casablanca (yes I know weird combination there) but I do respect people’s opinions. I cannot force someone to like a movie or TV show I love and vice versa. I always say “If you want me to watch (insert title) I will, doesn’t mean I have to like it. However anyone who knows me will tell you if you have not seen and liked “The Princess Bride” then we cannot talk until you do. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

If for some reason you have not watched this movie, allow me to give a simplified version. At the start and a few times in the film you will see a young Fred Savage being read the story by his grandfather (the late Peter Faulk). Oh yeah there is a book before the movie, but this is one of the few times where the movie is better than the book. Buttercup, played by Robin Wright loved two things in life: riding her horse and tormenting the farm boy Westley (Carey Elwes). All he ever says to he is “As you wish.” One day Buttercup realizes when he says that he is telling her “I love you” and she discovers her love for him as well. Their time together is brief before Westley leaves to earn enough money for marriage. His ship is attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who never leaves anyone alive. Buttercup swears to never love again.

Five years later Buttercup is unwillingly engaged to Prince Humperdink (Chris Sarandon) when she captured by three men, the smart and (no pun intented) short tempered Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), the strong giant Fezzik (the late great Andre the Giant) and the vengeful Spaniard Inigo Montoya, (Mandy Patinkin) whose background I will withhold to remain spoiler free, with the intention of killing her. While I cannot tell you why they kidnapped Buttercup I can say they are not the only ones who have plans for the Princess Bride, sorry need to be spoiler free.

I absolutely LOVE this movie, Robin Wright Carey Elwes, Andre, Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn; everyone plays their parts perfectly. This is one of the movies that should never EVER be remade, and I swear to God if that happens I will not watch it. This is one of the funniest, most quotable movies there is out there. I could see it on TV at any point and know exactly where I am. It airs constantly, so you cannot tell me “I can’t find it.” I also know for a fact Fathom events will have the Princess Bride for an upcoming event in the fall check your local theater and see if they are doing it. I just re-watched this movie with my brother, whom is very hard to please with a not Batman movie and he liked it. I looked over and saw him chuckling at the parts I loved, cringing when necessary, every little action told me he was enjoying the film. Trust me if my brother likes a movie it is REALLY GOOD. Also if again you haven’t watch the film, keep an eye out for there are a few people you may recognize along the way. If this review doesn’t encourage you to watch it, trust me there will be people in your life that will.