Tuesday, 30 December 2014

The Boy in the Dress Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
David Walliams
Kevin Cecil
Andy Riley

Based On
'The Boy in the Dress' by David Walliams

Directed By
Matt Lipsey

A British Broadcasting Corporation, King Bert Film

Genre
Drama, Comedy, Family

Cast

Billy Kennedy as Dennis
Meera Syal as Jaspreet
Temi Orelaja sa Lisa
Tim McInnerny as Mr. Hawthorn
Harish Patel as Raj
James Buckley as Mr. Norris
David Walliams as Referee
Kate Moss as Herself
Jennifer Saunders as Miss Windsor

Year Released
2014

Synopsis

Dennis is an ordinary boy but he feels different. He creates a whole new persona and puts it to the ultimate test - can a boy wear a dress?
Review

A lot of the time, television channels go the safe route with their Christmas period programming.  They either show reruns or family viewing fare that is so syrupy sweet that it can sometimes be hard work to get through it.
The Boy in the Dress is very different.
The thing that I liked the most about this adaptation of David Walliams' debut novel is that not only is it a very funny story but it's also a very heart warming one without feeling the need to over simplify things for the viewers.
The message that runs through the movie that everybody is human no matter what is a good one.  While that may not seem like the most original story in the world, the execution of the story is so well thought out and paced that it's absolutely gripping.
A lot of that is down to the superb cast.  You have some great cameo appearances from people such as the football player Gary Lineker, Kate Moss and even David Walliams himself as a hilariously camp football referee.  You also have Jennifer Saunders as the French teacher as well but with such big names as these, you were always going to need a great actor to play the title role.  Here that role is filled with style by the young Billy Kennedy.  Not only does he play the part with such an air of sympathy but he also does it with a knowing wink and acts as if the things that are happening are completely normal.  I loved that they went that route with it instead of making it a big deal because if they had have gone the opposite way, I don't think the adaptation would have worked as well.
There were some parts that didn't gel as much as I would have hoped but that was mainly down to the time restraints of the television movie being an hour long.  I would have liked to have seen a little bit more of how Dennis dealt with his mother leaving or maybe even  a little more of the father himself but that's a minor complaint with how entertaining and heart warming the story was.
All in all, if you get a chance to catch this one then I really urge that you do.  The story is sweet without being over the top and there are some absolutely brilliant hilarious moments as well.  I honestly think that this will definitely be a breakout role for the young Billy Kennedy.
Movie 8/10


Monday, 29 December 2014

Get Santa Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written and Directed By
Christopher Smith

A Film I Vaast, Scott Free Productions Film

Genre
Comedy, Family

Cast

Jim Broadbent as Santa Claus
Warwick Davis as Sally
Rafe Spall as Steve
Jodie Whittaker as Alison
Kit Connor as Tom
Joanna Scanlan as Parole Officer

Year Released
2014

Certificate
U

Synopsis

It's days before Christmas and reindeer are found running loose through the streets of London. Meanwhile an astonished 9 year-old Tom discovers Santa in the garden shed. 

He has crash landed while test driving his new sleigh and enlists Tom and his father Steve to help him get back to Lapland. But what happens when Santa is arrested and thrown into prison? Will Steve and Tom be able to break him out in time for Christmas?

Review

When I read that Jim Broadbent was going to be Santa in a movie again, after voicing the role in Arthur Christmas, I was really excited.

That said, the idea of a father and son trying to save Christmas isn't a very new one at all.  In fact, there were quite a few movies recently with similar story lines but when my little lad saw the trailer and was excited enough to ask to go then I figured I'd give it a go.

The movie itself didn't exactly set my world on fire so to speak.  The pacing was well thought out, the performances heart felt but for some reason, the movie itself just didn't gel as much as I was hoping it would.

Story wise, it wasn't the most original Christmas movie I've ever seen but the thing that made it worth watching were the performances from Jim Broadbent as Santa and Rafe Spall as Steve.  The way Spall played the father as one full of regret and just wanting to make up the time he has lost with his son was very well acted and really gave the movie an emotional and heart warming feel.  There were quite a few scenes where the interplay between Spall and his son, played by Kit Connor, feel completely realistic and I couldn't take my eyes from the screen.

Jim Broadbent plays Santa with an almost forgetful yet kind slant.  The playful nature of the performance really brings a lot of fun and laughs but there is a beautiful scene set in the prison where Santa tells some of the inmates what they wanted for Christmas when they were younger.  I know that sounds like a bog standard scene but it really sets the kind tone that runs through the movie.

The younger children will love the scenes where the reindeer are involved.  There are a lot of fart jokes pretty much any time they are on screen but for me, the jokes there felt like they were just being repeated for the sake of filling some time.

My only other minor complaint is the fight scene in the prison.  It seemed out of place with the rest of the movie.  Plus, for a movie like this, it felt a little bit too over the top.

All in all, the movie itself was a good slice of Christmas entertainment with a couple of minor flaws but for the most part, it was a fun ride with a nice, heartfelt tone thanks to the performances from Spall and Broadbent.

Movie 6/10 

The Squickerwonkers Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Evangeline Lilly

Illustrated By
Johnny Fraser-Allen

Foreword By
Peter Jackson
Fran Walsh
Philippa Boyens

Published By
Titan Books

Synopsis

Meet Selma of the Rin-Run Royals, a clever little girl who is spoiled to the core.  One day Selma stumbles upon a band of colorful marionettes, and gets more than she bargained for.

The remarkable Squickerwonkers of the fabulous Squickershow are about to teach Selma that she'll not always get her way.

Review

You will have noticed these days that I don't really review half as many children's books and movies as I used to.  That's for a very simple reason.  They've become way too safe and come across as sounding and looking exactly the same.  I remember growing up with people like Spike Milligan and Roald Dahl giving us tales that would excite us, make us laugh and even scare us witless sometimes.  Here, in the foreword, they point out that the world has stopped wanting to scare little children and instead have become too clinical with their stories.  That is a very well made point and one that I agree with totally.

Then this book came along.  Written by the actress, Evangeline Lilly, this book is the complete opposite of the books I have just mentioned.  In fact, it takes an almost devilish glee in the fact that the story has a dark side, that it comes across as a little off kilter and that it has a deep morality tale beneath the surface.

The thing that struck me the most were the nods to the Roald Dahl stories of old but also the little darkly comic moments that Spike Milligan was famous for.  It has both of those influences yet retains an utterly unique voice of its own.  That's one of the things that I loved about the story itself.  It pushes the morality tale of selfishness and mean spirited behaviour but in a way that it feels like it could possibly be an animated tale by Tim Burton or even a Neil Gaiman project such as Coraline.  When I was reading this to my five year old son, Cyrus, he was enthralled for the entire length of the story then even wanted me to read it for a second time as soon as the story was finished.

As well as the supremely entertaining story by Lilly, you have some very darkly beautiful artwork by Johnny Fraser-Allen.  I wasn't all that familiar with his work before I read this book but I'm definitely going to take a look for more by Fraser-Allen if this is anything to go by.  His use of sharp angles, darkness and the gorgeous settings really bring the story to life in a big way.

If you are a parent longing for the darker tales that your parents told you growing up, the ones that scared you yet you wanted more of, then this is definitely one well worth picking up to read to your little ones.  With a gripping story that has a great sting in the tail as well as some truly beautiful art work then I can't recommend this high enough.

Story 9/10
Characters 8/10
Cover 9/10
Recommended 9/10
Overall 35/40

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Perfect Intentions: Patrick Scattergood Chats To Leona Turner



We here at COASM are proud to have the talented Leona Turner, author of ‘Perfect Intentions’, in for a chat with Patrick Scattergood about her influences, her novel and more!
PS: Firstly, welcome to our little part of the internet.

LT: Thank you very much for the invite- nice to have an excuse to be away from the Christmas chores for a bit.

PS: What would you say was the biggest influence in you making the leap in to the world of being an author with your novel ‘Perfect Intentions’?

LT: I’ve always loved reading and been a big fan of the horror/thriller genre for as long as I can remember. Stephen King, Martina Cole etc, but it was the e-publishing revolution that finally prompted me into trying it myself. E-publishing finally allowed all writers a voice and a showcase for their work. I discovered authors such as Iain Rob Wright and Brian Moreland, both of whom are superb ambassadors for the thriller/horror genre and both have inspirational self- publishing success stories.

I realised then that indie publishing was gaining real ground and offering something the big publishing houses couldn’t, for both authors and their readers.

PS: How would you describe the novel to someone that may not be familiar with your writing style?

LT: My writing style is quite down to earth and yes, a little rough around the edges. Its supposed to be. I like to think of it as more akin to telling a friend a story than a classically trained actor reading a soliloquy. I never wanted pretence, I don’t want to win awards for my writing, I want to win readers. When a reader gets to the end of my book, puts it down, looks at the clock and thinks; “Where did the last two days go?” that’s when I know I’ve done my job right.

PS: The thing that struck me as a reader with the novel was that you had influences of the classic crime thrillers from people such as Kathy Reichs and Patricia Cornwell but you also had a sense of horror running through the story itself.  Where did the inspiration for the story come from?

LT: The original inspiration for the story came from noticing a pattern with other thrillers, whether in books, film or TV. I wanted to try a different tack and see if I could make it work.

I’m also aware that there seems to be something of a prevailing belief about female authors and that they lack the conviction of their male counterparts when it comes to gritty aspects of thriller writing- I like to think I’ve challenged that somewhat.

PS: With some of the crime scenes and the reasoning behind the deaths being of the hard hitting variety, how much time did you have to dedicate to making the scenes and twists feel as authentic as possible?

LT: Thank you- that’s a hell of a compliment.

In honesty I think it comes down to the fact that we’re all individuals and our ability to deal with pressure can vary wildly from one person and the next. We’ve all got our own parameters for ‘normal’ and how much stress we can cope with is just a measure of degrees away from that ‘normal’. So for a scene and a reaction to remain authentic and true to the character the reader needs to have already have established what that characters ‘normal’ is, and will ultimately result in whether the scene feels natural or laboured.

PS: What would you say makes ‘Perfect Intentions’ stand above other novels in the genre?

LT: It challenges the well-worn path of the traditional thriller.

PS: The crime genre recently seems to be having a bit of a rebirth, especially with new releases from Kathy Reichs and other such authors.  What do you feel you add to that rebirth of the genre?

LT: I’d like to think it offers the reader a different prospective on the antagonist and protagonist roles in the genre.

PS: If you could give advice to someone wanting to enter the world of writing, what advice would you pass on?

LT: Find your story and stick with it. Others might try and offer suggestions, but remember, its your story and the first person who has got to love it is you. If you don’t then how will you convince others to?

Let your characters develop legs (trust me- they will) and then they’ll merrily wander off, leaving you scribbling away in their wake. That’s a good sign, may seem like a pain at the time and will inevitably lead to numerous rewrites, but the story will thank you for it.

Listen to indie authors, because they’ve done it all before and you can buoyed by their successes and take valuable advice from them. We know how difficult all aspects of writing can be so get to know other authors and quite often you can end up helping each other.

Most important of all though- don’t give up. It’s the simplest piece of advice given and the most overlooked. Yes, it’s a cliché, but clichés become clichés for a reason.

PS: Do you see yourself returning to these characters or going a different route for the next novel?

LT: Perfect Intentions was always written as the first of two parts, so there will definitely be a return to these characters, there’s quite a lot of set up in Perfect Intentions with that in mind.

PS: What can fans expect from you next?

LT: I have been quietly working away on a dark comedy, although I feel I may end up working on that in tandem with the next instalment of Perfect Intentions.

PS: Thank you very much for taking the time to take to us here at COASM, it’s been a complete pleasure.

LT: Thank you very much, its been most enjoyable.

Now I suppose I really ought to get back to present wrapping.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

How About You Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Jean Pasley

Based On
'How About You' by Maeve Binchy

Directed By
Anthony Byrne

A Beyond Films, Ferndale Films, Head Gear Films, Irish Film Board, Lipsync Productions, Prescience Film Fund Film

Genre
Comedy, Drama

Cast

Joss Ackland as Donald Vanston
Hayley Atwell as Ellie Harris
Orla Brady as Kate Harris
Brenda Fricker as Heather Nightingale
Joan O'Hara as Alice Peterson
Vanessa Redgrave as Georgia Platts
Imelda Staunton as Hazel Nightingale

Year Released
2007

Certificate
15

Synopsis

How About You tells the story of Ellie, a young woman left in charge of the residential home run by her older sister, over the Christmas period. 

 Whilst most of the residents have left to spend the festive period with their families, four residents, known as 'the hardcore' remain. Their behavior is so terrible that the home faces closure as potential new residents are put off by their appalling antics. 

Review

I have to admit that I bought this movie on a whim after seeing the cast listing on the back.  How could a movie with a cast that includes such wonderfully talented performers such as Joss Ackland, Vanessa Redgrave and Imelda Staunton be anything other than good?

Well, now that I've finally gotten around to watching it, I was absolutely blown away by the movie itself.

On paper, the story doesn't seem all that original but with the cast that includes such amazing names, they completely make the movie fly off the screen in so many different ways.

Ireland is well known for their hard hitting and impressive movies but here, this movie takes a little bit of a different slant by being a softer yet emotionally engaging movie that will not only have you laughing like a crazy hyena but will also have you crying too.  A lot of that has to do with the amazing performances by one of the strongest casts that I have seen in a movie for a long time.

The one thing that worried me about the movie itself was that would the younger cast with such names as Orla Brady, who Doctor Who fans will recognise as Tasha Lem in The Time of the Doctor,  and Hayley Atwell, that they would maybe get lost in the shuffle so to speak.  That said, they more than hold up their own but also really fit in to the cast superbly well.  That's most true with Atwell, especially during her scenes with Vanessa Redgrave.  Their relationship really comes across as completely genuine and touching.

The rest of the cast are beguiling to say the least.  Imelda Staunton plays her character with such innocence yet with an air of mischief that when you get to the heart of her story, the emotion of it all really hits the viewer hard.  That's most true of the Joss Ackland character in that his arc starts slowly but his subtle style of acting really hits home in the more emotional moments.

All in all, this is a heart warming, sweet and very funny movie that is well worth seeing.  In fact, it deserves to have been seen by a lot more people than it has because there are some truly brilliant performances here that are more than worth picking the movie up for.

Movie 8/10


Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever! Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Tim Hill
Jeff Morris

Directed By
Tim Hill

A Lifetime Film

Genre
Comedy, Family, Adventure

Cast

Grumpy Cat as Herself
Megan Charpentier as Chrystal
Daniel Roebuck as George
Aubrey Plaza as Aubrey Plaza, Grumpy Cat
Russell Peters as Santa
David Lewis as Marcus Crabtree
Evan Todd as Zack
Isaac Haig as Donny
Tyler Johnston as Gill Brockman

Year Released
2014

Certificate
U

Synopsis

Grumpy Cat is a lonely cat living in a mall pet shop. Because she never gets chosen by customers, she develops a sour outlook on life...until one day during the holidays, a very special 12-year-old girl named Chyrstal enters the pet store and falls in love with her after realizing she is the only person who can hear this unique cat talk.

As the two develop a close friendship during the holiday rush, Grumpy reluctantly thwarts the kidnapping of an exotic dog she dislikes, and on Christmas Eve rescues Chyrstal after the mall closes. Through her adventures, will Grumpy learn the true meaning of Christmas? Or will it be, in her words, the "Worst. Christmas. Ever?" 

Review

I had no idea what to expect when I had the chance to watch this one.  An internet meme of a cat that has distinctive markings that make her look grumpy all the time being turned in to a movie?  I was convinced that this would be a complete waste of time.

Well, after watching this one, I have to admit that some of the scathing reviews of this one were way off the mark.

This isn't going to be the best movie in the world, that's an obvious fact.  I mean it is about a talking cat that looks grumpy all the time.

What we do have here is a story that is funny for the most part, entertaining and kept my little lad hooked all the way through.  The jokes aimed at the world of internet stardom is well written and there are so many targets for the humor that there are some jokes that fall a bit flat and some that are brilliant.  That said, with this many jokes in a movie, you won't have to go too long before the next one.

The story itself isn't exactly original but there can't be that many more ways to tell stories about talking animals set in the festive period.  The story we do have here is fairly well paced but doesn't really offer any new surprises.  There were quite a few parts where you could guess what was going to happen next fairly easily but the story is at least entertaining.

Cast wise, there's a pretty eclectic collection of people here with the most recognisable being that of Aubrey Plaza.  The performances were a lot better than some of the other Christmas movies I've been watching lately but to be honest, none really stood out for me except for Plaza herself as the Grumpy Cat of the title.  She does well with the dialogue and really does capture the feel of the personality that the internet has given the cat herself.

All in all, the movie isn't the best movie in the world but it doesn't set out to be.  The cast have fun with the story and it shows.  The movie is entertaining for the most part but some of the the jokes are quite hit and miss.  At least it kept my little lad entertained and had him smiling so you can't ask for more than that from a Christmas movie really.

 Movie 6/10

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Vincent Price in Six Gothic Tales Blu-Ray Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Richard Matheson (The Fall of the House of Usher / The Pit and the Pendulum / Tales of Terror / The Raven)
Charles Beaumont (The Haunted Palace)
Robert Towne (The Tomb of Ligeia)

Directed By
Roger Corman

Genre
Horror

Cast

Vincent Price as Roderick Usher (The Fall of the House of Usher), Nicholas Medina (Pit and the Pendulum), Locke, Fortunato Luchresi, Ernest Valdemar (Tales of Terror), Dr. Erasmus Craven (The Raven), Charles Dexter Ward, Joseph Curwen (The Haunted Palace), Verden Fell (The Tomb of Ligeia)
Mark Damon as Philip Winthrop (The Fall of the House of Usher)
Myrna Fahey as Madeline Usher (The Fall of the House of Usher)
John Kerr as Francis Barnard (Pit and the Pendulum)
Barbara Steele as Elizabeth Barnard Medina (Pit and the Pendulum)
Peter Lorre as Montresor (Tales of Terror), Dr. Adolphus Bedlo (The Raven)
Basil Rathbone as Carmichael (Tales of Terror)
Boris Karloff as Dr. Scarabus (The Raven)
Jack Nicholson as Rexford Bedlo (The Raven)
Debra Paget as Helena (Tales of Terror), Ann Ward (The Haunted Palace)
Lon Chaney Jr. as Simon Orne (The Haunted Palace)

Year Released
1960 (The Fall of the House of Usher)
1961 (Pit and the Pendulum)
1962 (Tales of Terror)
1963 (The Raven), (The Haunted Palace)
1964 (The Tomb of Ligeia)

Certificate
12

Synopsis

From the Merchant of Menace, Vincent Price, and the King of the Bs, Roger Corman, come six Gothic tales inspired by the pen of Edgar Allan Poe.

In The Fall of the House of Usher, a young man learns of a family curse that threatens his happiness with his bride-to-be. In Pit and the Pendulum, a brother investigates the untimely death of sister, played by Barbara Steele. Tales of Terror adapts three Poe classics, Morella, The Black Cat and The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar, each starring a horror icon. The Raven is a comic take on the famous poem concerning three rival magicians. In The Haunted Palace, a newcomer in a New England town is suspected of being a warlock. And in The Tomb of Ligeia, filmed in Norfolk and at Stonehenge, a widower’s upcoming marriage plans are thwarted by his dead first wife.

The six films boast a remarkable cast list: not just Price and Steele (Black Sunday), but also Boris Karloff (Frankenstein), Peter Lorre (M, The Beast with Five Fingers), Lon Chaney Jr (The Wolf Man, Spider Baby), Basil Rathbone (The Black Cat) and a very young Jack Nicholson. Adapted for the screen by Richard Matheson (The Twilight Zone, I Am Legend) and Robert Towne (Chinatown), these Six Gothic Tales now rank as classic examples of sixties horror cinema.

Special Features

The Fall of the House of Usher
  • Audio commentary with director and producer Roger Corman
  • Legend to Legend: An interview with director and former Corman apprentice Joe Dante
  • Interview with author and Gothic horror expert Jonathan Rigby
  • Fragments of the House of Usher: A Specially-commissioned video essay by critic and filmmaker David Cairns examining Corman’s film in relation to Poe’s story
  • Archival interview with Vincent Price
  • Original Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys

Pit and the Pendulum
  • Audio commentary with director and producer Roger Corman
  • Audio commentary by critic Tim Lucas
  • Behind the Swinging Blade – A new documentary on the making of The Pit and the Pendulum featuring Roger Corman, star Barbara Steele, Vincent Price’s daughter Victoria Price and more!
  • Added TV Sequence – Shot in 1968 to pad out the film for the longer TV time slot, this scene features star Luana Anders
  • An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe with Vincent Price [52 mins] – Price reads a selection of Poe’s classic stories before a live audience, including The Tell-Tale Heart, The Sphinx, The Cask of Amontillado and The Pit and the Pendulum (with optional English SDH)
  • Original Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx

Tales of Terror
  • The Directors: Roger Corman, an hour-long documentary on the filmmaker featuring contributions from James Cameron, Martin Scorsese and Ron Howard
  • Cats in Horror Films, critic and novelist Anne Billson discusses the contributions of our feline friends to genre cinema
  • The Black Cat, a 1993 short film adaptation of Poe’s classic tale directed by Rob Green (The Bunker)
  • Kim Newman on Edgar Allan Poe, the novelist and critic looks at Poe’s influence on the big screen
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Dan Mumford

The Raven
  • Peter Lorre: The Double Face, Harun Farocki’s 1984 documentary, subtitled in English for the first time
  • Richard Matheson: Storyteller, an interview with the legendary novelist and screenwriter
  • Corman’s Comedy of Poe, an interview with Roger Corman about making The Raven
  • The Trick, a short film about rival magicians by Rob Green (The Bunker)
  • Promotional Record
  • Stills and Poster Gallery
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Vladimir Zimakov

The Haunted Palace
  •  Audio commentary by Vincent Price’s biographer David Del Valle and Ron Chaney, grandson of Lon Chaney, Jr
  • Kim Newman on H.P. Lovecraft, a look at the relationship between Lovecraft and the cinema, and the challenges of adapting his work
  • A Change of Poe, an interview with Roger Corman
  • Stills and Poster Gallery
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin

The Tomb of Ligeia
  • Audio commentary by director and producer Roger Corman
  • Audio commentary by star Elizabeth Shepherd
  • All-new interviews with cast and crew members including co-writer/production assistant Paul Mayersberg, first assistant director David Tringham, camera assistant Bob Jordan and composer Kenneth V. Jones
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil
  •   Limited edition 200-page collector’s book containing new writing on all films, an interview with Roger Corman, extracts from Vincent Price’s autobiography and full reproductions of tie-in comic books for Tales of Terror, The Raven and The Tomb of Ligeia originally published in the sixties.

Review

Arrow Films is renowned for their reissues of classic movies and here they have presented us with a limited edition collection of six Roger Corman classics all revolving around the classic words penned by Edgar Allan Poe.

With each of their classic movies seemingly getting better and better with each release, I was wondering just how they would match or even top their previous releases.

Here, not only do they top them, they release one of the best reissues sets that I have seen released by anyone not just Arrow Films.

We have a collection of six movies here that really run the whole gauntlet of the different styles that Corman is so famous for.  Yes you can see the slightly lower budgets in some of them and even the reuse of a set piece or two but that was always one of Corman's strengths.  The man certainly knew how to use a budget to his favor and these movies all tie that together brilliantly.

Cast wise, it's a veritable who's who of the Hollywood world.  You have the legendary Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre and more but you also have the superb Jack Nicholson in an early role as well.  Don't let that make you think the rest of the casts aren't important because they more than hold up their own against the powerhouses of the lead characters.

As well as the brilliant movies here, it's the special features that really make the set an absolutely essential purchase for fans.  The special features here are a treasure trove with so many gems unearthed for not only the Corman and Vincent Price fans out there but also to fans of good movies full stop.  I would even go so far as to say that the things that we are given here are some of the best special features that I have seen Arrow Movies release and when you consider that their past ones have been some of the best movies that cinema has seen, that is high praise.

Movies 9/10
Picture 9/10
Sound 9/10
Special Features 10/10
Overall 37/40

Michael Morpurgo's I Believe in Unicorn's Live Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Based On
I Believe in Unicorns by Michael Morpurgo

Directed By
Dani Parr

Cast

Danyah Miller as The Unicorn Lady

Venue
Brite Centre, Leicester

Genre
Drama, Comedy

Synopsis

Olivier Award nominated Wizard Presents brings best-selling children's author Michael Morpurgo's treasured story to life.

I Believe in Unicorns is set in a library full of books, that hold more than stories within their pages.

It is a tale of the power of books to change lives, and the bravery of a boy called Tomas.

Tomas loves playing in the mountains where he lives, and he hates reading and school; but his life is turned upside down the day he visits the local library and he meets the Unicorn Lady...

Review

As a big fan of Michael Morpurgo's book, I was very excited to hear that I Believe in Unicorns, one of his best I believe, was adapted in to play for children but I couldn't help but wonder just how they were going to be able to adapt such a beautiful yet intelligent story in a way that it would hook the children in.

Well, the end result was not only as beautiful and intelligent as the book but also completely hooked both my five year old son and myself in for the entire length of the play.

A lot of that rests on the utterly mesmerising performance by Danyah Miller as The Unicorn Lady.  She not only gives a beautifully heartfelt performance but one that could make you laugh, cry and then completely lose yourself in the story she was telling.

During the show, the way Miller used the books that created the set was absolutely mind blowing.  Books were transformed in to kites and houses, even at times turned in to parts of the set that would then have images projected on to them to great and emotional effect.  When the story hits the final third and the war comes to affect the village, the projection is fire used to show the village burning but it's handled in such a subtle way that the emotion of the scene even brought me to tears and I'm 32.  Don't get me wrong, that part of the story is still suitable for the younger ones, it's just that the emotion slowly builds throughout the play that it really does get to you.

On an emotional level, the story itself has always touched me because of how I linked with my son when he first came to live with myself and my wife.  We used a lot of story telling and reading to make him feel at home and as a result, the story has always meant a lot to me.  This adaptation is absolutely spot on and really kept not only the feel of the book but also felt utterly unique.  The way they not only built the story of Tomas around the use of the set but also linked it to the war themes that Morpurgo is known for with added audience participation and also the warm humor and love that runs through it made the show essential viewing for both children and adults alike.

If you are a Morpurgo fan then I can't recommend this high enough.  Go see it then go see it again.  It really is that good.

Show 9/10

Thursday, 11 December 2014

I Am Santa Claus Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Directed By
Tommy Avallone

A Double Windsor Films Movie

Genre
Documentary

Cast

Mick Foley as Himself
Russell Spice as Himself
Jim Stevenson as Himself
Bob Gerardi as Himself

Year Released
2014

Certificate
NR

Synopsis

We have documented an entire year in the lives of five real-bearded professional Santa Clauses to find out what the rest of the year is like for a man who perpetually looks like Jolly Saint Nick. In the process, they are shown for who they actually are, flawed, flesh and blood men who feel an overbearing responsibility to protect the integrity of the spotless, untarnished reputation of the 'Red Suit.' 

'I Am Santa Claus' is a documentary that poses a question about a ubiquitous holiday figure that few parents ever ask themselves; 'Whose lap is my child sitting on?'

Review

We've all seen them while out shopping during the Christmas period.  The long lines, the hoards of children waiting with hopeful faces just to be able to sit on the lap of Santa.  It's one of the magic moments of the time of year that can sometimes feel rushed and stressful for most but when you see the happiness in a childs face as they tell jolly ol' Saint Nick what they want for Christmas, it's all forgotten.

But have you ever really wondered what makes these people dress up as the universal symbol of Christmas each year?  Who are these people?  Why do they want to do this each and every year without fail?

I Am Santa Claus, takes that idea and runs with it in such a fashion that you are absolutely sucked in to their world.  You want to be involved in their lives and their sheer amount of passion for the big red suit really shows through.

I've read that there has been some controversy over one of the Santa's talking about being gay and the documentary showing the relationship between him and his boyfriend.  I liked that part of the movie and really felt that it gave the documentary a real and personal feel to it.  While he was just one of the many people shown portraying Santa, he was one of the most memorable because he was completely honest throughout the entire movie and at times even brought a tear to my eye.

Another part of the movie that really stuck with me was the inclusion of Mick Foley.  Known as a legendary wrestler for WWE, WCW and ECW, here his well known love of Christmas just flows off the screen as does his unadulterated love for his family.  Those two things merge in a beautiful way so many times during his segments that you just can't take your eyes from him.  He begins a quest of sorts to see if that passion is strong enough to enable him to don the famous suit and become a Santa himself.

All in all, if you have even a passing interest in the holiday period and why people are so interested in bringing the spirit of the season to the world then this is an absolute must see.  It's such a personal documentary that it really feels like you are there with them and watching their lives unfold before your very eyes.  There are even moments that will both bring tears to your eyes and a smile to your face.

An essential movie to see an interesting take on just who the people behind the beards are and well worth watching on this Christmas period.  I would even say that this is one of the best Christmas related movies that I have seen for a very long time.

Movie 9/10

The Three Dogateers Save Christmas Review


aka The Three Dogateers

Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Jesse Baget
Lisa Baget

Directed By
Jesse Baget

A Hollywood Media Bridge Movie

Genre
Comedy, Family

Cast

Dean Cain as Matt
Richard Riehle as Santa
Bill Oberst Jr. as Barney Gloat
Andrea Monier as Lisa
Jess Baget as Arfamis / Barkos
Danielle Judovits as Wagos
Sabrina Gomez as Nurse

Year Released
2014

Certificate
PG

Synopsis

Barkos, Wagos, and their fearless leader, Arfamis are left to guard their owner's house on Christmas Eve.  When thieves break in and steal all the presents, decorations and even the Christmas tree, these canine heroes must become valiant Dogateers.

Embarking on a dangerous journey to save Christmas, the trio travel across their sprawling metropolis home in search of Santa Claus, who might just hold the key to solving the perilous quest.

All the while, they must beware of a devious dogcatcher who is hell-bent on capturing the four-legged heroes and spoiling the festive season.  As morning draws closer, can the Dogateers triumph and save Christmas for all?

Special Features
  • Trailer
Review

Well, with the Christmas season upon us and in full flow, the deluge of children's and family movies set during the season is also here and bombarding us with movie after movie.  Most are largely forgettable and others become classics.

The Three Dogateers Save Christmas is one of those movies that is very much in the same vein as the Buddies movies that Disney put out albeit this one is on a much smaller budget.

If you are going in to this movie as an adult wanting a rough and tumble movie that will have loads of jokes for the parents out there to understand as well then you are a little bit out of luck.  However, if you go in to this movie wanting a movie that will be suitable for the little ones and will keep them entertained for 90 minutes then this one fits the bill.

This movie doesn't set out to change the movie world and it knows that so goes on in a funny and light hearted way.

What this movie does have is a sense of fun and doesn't even remotely try to take itself seriously.  The small budget is relatively well used and they do well with the animation of the dogs when they talk.  It may not be as smooth as the dogs in the Buddies movies but they are still very well done considering the limitations.

With the sense of fun and general silliness that runs through this movie, the cast know that it's not a movie to be taken at all seriously and with that you get some really funny moments of both hamming it up and over acting.  Dean Cain, famous for his role as Clark Kent / Superman in Lois and Clark, comes across as genuinely funny as the man rushed off to do a job at the very last minute.  He hams it up brilliantly well in the few scenes he's in and brings a good energy to the movie itself.

One member of the cast that I was surprised at was the king of horror himself, Bill Oberst Jr. as an evil dogcatcher.  He really does look like he is having a whale of a time chasing the intrepid trio of hounds and it shows in his performance.  I'm used to seeing him in all sorts of gory movies so it was a pleasant change to see him in a family movie as well.

All in all, this movie is never going to be one that will go down as one of the all time classic Christmas movies but at the same time, there are much worse ways to spend 90 minutes with the little ones.  It will definitely keep them entertained and in such a busy time of the year, I'm sure all the parents out there will appreciate a few minutes of peace.

Movie 6.5/10



Sunday, 7 December 2014

Our Girl: Complete Series One DVD Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Tony Grounds

Directed By
Anthony Philipson
Richard Senior

Genre
War, Drama

Cast

Lacey Turner as Molly Dawes
Arinze Kene Corp. Kinders
Simon Lennon as Brains
Mike Preston as Mansfield Mike
Charley Palmer Rothwell as Baz Vegas
Ben Aldridge as Captain James

Certificate
15

Synopsis

What happens when a young woman is dispatched to an Army base in Afghanistan, swiftly becoming the target of insurgent bullets?

And what happens when everything she thought she knew about herself is tested thousands of miles from home?

Special Features
  • Boots on the Ground: Behind the Scenes with Our Girl
  • Picture Gallery
  • Behind the Scenes Picture Gallery
Review

I have to admit that I wasn't all that sure what to expect from this series when I was sent it to review for this site, mainly because I wasn't at all familiar with a lot of the cast.  In fact, the one name that did pop out to me was Lacey Turner but I'd only seen her in passing in a soap opera called Eastenders.

After watching this one, I was utterly hooked in and wanting to see more of these characters and more of their careers in the military.

That said, the biggest surprise for me was that of Lacey Turner.  As I said earlier, I was only somewhat familiar with her because of seeing the odd snippet of her in a soap opera.  Here you forget about that role and pretty much anything else she has ever been in because of one simple fact.  She completely inhabits the role and becomes the character of Molly.  She plays the character with such a subtle but heartfelt nature that you can't help but be hooked in to seeing just what happen to her next yet it's done in such a down to Earth way that it almost feels like you are seeing a realistic, almost real life film about the military work done in Afghanistan.

The rest of the cast more than hold up their own end of things here too.  I can honestly say, and I mean this in the best way possible, that there weren't any standouts for me because they were all so good that I wanted to know more about each of the characters in the five episodes here.

Special features wise, there isn't a whole load on offer but the little snippets we have here are interesting and really show how much effort went into making the show.  The realism of the scenes and the tribulations that the characters go through is nicely shown here as well so I found that side of things really interesting.

All in all, this is definitely a series well worth picking up and I honestly think that if there's any justice in the television world then this will be a star making performance for Lacey Turner in particular.

Show 8.5/10
Picture 9/10
Sound 9/10
Special Features 6/10
Overall 32.5/40

Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written and Directed By
Debbie Isitt

A Media Pro 6, Mirrorball Films, Moviehouse Entertainment, Premiere Picture Film

Genre
Comedy

Cast

David Tennant as Donald Peterson / Roderick Peterson
Marc Wootton as Mr. Poppy
Jason Watkins as Mr. Shakespeare
Joanna Page as Mrs. Peterson
Ian McNeice as Mr. Peterson's Dad
Jessica Hynes as Angel Matthews
Pam Ferris as Mrs. Bevan

Year Released
2012

Certificate
U

Synopsis

This sequel to the popular British comedy sees a new teacher (David Tennant) take over. When he enters his school in the National 'Song for Christmas' Competition, he and his pregnant wife, and the schoolchildren, embark on an epic road trip that ends up with a birth and a donkey, where he must embrace his fears and become a hero.

Review

I've got to admit that I've not seen the first movie so I wasn't sure if I'd be a bit lost with this one but decided to give it a go after seeing that David Tennant and Jessica Hynes were involved.

One of the things that struck me the most with this movie was the simple fact that it seemed very similar to the Jack Black fronted School of Rock movie but with a choir instead of a rock band but that didn't really put me off.

Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger! is one of those movies that you really can't take at all seriously.  It has a great cast and, in the best Christmas tradition, is utterly silly in places and charming in others.  There were some massively awful reviews for this one but I really don't understand why.  It's not exactly going to win awards but for a seasonal movie you could do a lot worse.

The main cast play off of one another really well.  I loved the touch of Tennant playing both the brothers and the character of Mr Poppy is in equally parts funny and annoying but really pokes at your inner child so to speak.

It was nice to see Jessica Hynes reunited with Tennant after their time in Doctor Who and Pam Ferris was a cynical and sometimes sarcastic delight as always but it's the children here that definitely rule the movie with an iron fist.  They provide some of the movies funniest moments as well as some of the more touching ones too.  The side story of one of them not talking because he'd lost his father was very well done and that led to some really emotional moments with the Mr. Poppy character.

All in all, I wouldn't say that this is a great movie by stretch of the imagination but it's nowhere near as bad as some of the reviews make it out to be.  The cast do a good job of keeping the movie grounded and the children alternate between being adorable and hilarious.  The similarities between this and School of Rock are there but not enough to take away from what is otherwise a fun and silly movie.

Movie 7/10