Double Take

So yesterday I did something I haven’t done in ages and that is see 2 films at the cinema in one day. Paul’s and my theory was that if we were going to traipse all the way out to Gateway’s Ster Kinekor we might as well make full use of Half Price Tuesday and see the Warner Bros and Fox films that won’t ever show at the much closer (and cheaper) Ster Kinekor Junction that is Musgrave.

I refuse to give Nu Metro business after they initiated the full price system for Warner Bros and Fox releases, and, as distributors, forced Ster Kinekor to do the same. At the same time Ster Kinekor is shooting themselves in the foot with the R14 Junction approach. They should reserve one cinema at every Junction complex for a full price Warner or Fox film. Believe me, people will pay R35 to see Episode III, and I’m certain that they’ll sell more tickets than they have for Man of the House or Ice Princess or whatever unheard of crap they are forced to show for 6 weeks straight because there is nothing else to release.

With the exception of Madagascar and War of the Worlds, all the big Winter releases have come from Fox and Warner Brothers: Batman Begins, Star Wars: Episode III, Mr and Mrs Smith, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Fantastic Four.

Ster Kinekor needs a rethink…

Anyway, 1 trip, 2 movies.

At 2:30, Paul and I saw The Fantastic Four. Next to Iron Man, and The Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four are probably my most hated comic book heroes. The Group Of Troubled, Struggling Superheroes thing has always been done with more emotional depth and class by the X-Men.

Going in to the cinema, I knew a lot of F4 purists were upset by revamps and reinterpretations of the characters made by the film makers. As a non-fan I was looking forward to the differences as a way to peel away the cheese and stodginess that I associate with the F4.

Now having seen the film I can say that the film makers got the F4 spot-on in every way. Reed ‘Mr Fantastic’ Richards, Sue ‘The Invisible Girl’ Storm, Johnny ‘The Human Torch’ Storm and Ben ‘The Thing’ Grimm were perfectly realised by the actors playing them. (It’s a good thing that Johnny is Sue’s brother because if he wasn’t, you can’t tell me she’d prefer Reed – in absent minded professor mode- over Johnny’s literally hot bod).

All the expected F4 emotional baggage is there – Reed’s guilt over Ben’s transformation, Ben’s rage and self-loathing at his new form, Sue’s pining, Johnny’s cockiness and clashes with Ben.

Still though, the film is far from fantastic. Dr Doom (thankfully revamped from the comic books) appears ultimately as another version of The Green Goblin as depicted in the first Spider-Man film – brilliant billionaire scientist pushed into madness and revenge as he loses his company, love and looks.
While character make-up is superb, the special effects are jarring at times. Mr Fantastic looks horribly fake when elasticated, although such a ‘plastic’ appearance may be intentional.

So that’s it really. The F4 is solid comic book entertainment of the Marvel variety, and demonstrates a healthy sense of humour (a highlight is Sue stripping in public, struggling with her invisibility powers, and Ben crumpling Johnny’s car). F4 certainly sits above Hellboy and Elektra in the comic book inspired movies heap. But it’s pretty forgettable. I don’t know if it has the strength to spawn a full-blooded franchise.

Movie number 2 for the evening (with Paul and myself now accompanied by Mark, G, Shirley and Gareth) was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I was raised on Roald Dahl, have seen all the film adaptations of his work and am a huge Tim Burton fan (minus the unfortunately stiff Planet of the Apes), and I wasn’t disappointed by this new interpretation. So far it is one of my movies of the year.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is superb family cinema to rival the Harry Potter film series (screw all that Spy Kids technology rubbish). I wasn’t bored or distracted once during the entire film, which offers just as much for adults as children. Although I wasn’t entirely happy with the Wonka father-son backstory, or the film’s ending (different to the cliffhanger of the first film, and book), it did at least offer a strong message about the importance of family and its importance in shaping an individual.

Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka is vastly different to Gene Wilder’s interpretation. Totally cut off from reality, his Wonka has warped into a comically antisocial being, undeniably damaged by the childhood without fun, and, later, parental control.

I can’t fault Depp’s performance or any other casting decision in the film. Everything was spot-on, particularly in terms of the children- the spoilt brat Veruka Salt and the chocolate munching Gustav Gloop were my especial favourites, while Charlie was appealingly innocent and the bubblegum chewing Violet was strikingly Dakota Fanning like.

Danny Elfman’s score, the griminess of Charlie’s world as contrasted with the magic and colour of the Chocolate Factory, the special effects – I loved everything about the look and feel of this film.

Highlights in the film include the snippets that introduce the ‘beastly children’, the squirrel sorting sequence, and the Oompa Loompa song for Mike TV.

I’ll be buying this one on DVD when it’s available. It’s a classic for today just as Gene Wilder’s version was back in my childhood.

And speaking of Roahl Dahl, for those of you who haven’t seen the film adaptations of his work, they are all actually brilliant and worth seeing: Danny De Vito’s Mathilda, Angelica Huston in The Witches, the stop-motion James and the Giant Peach and the old musical Gene Wilder version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.


Unknown said…
Nice review Noelle. I'm off to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this weekend, and I have to say, although being a bit of a neurotic fan of the Gene Wilder version, I'm really looking forward to this one.

I hope it's everything it's meant to be.

Thanks for the reviews :D

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