Movie reviews: A fairy tale and a franchise for Easter

2015-04-05 09:00

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Director: Kenneth Branagh

Featuring: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter

Rating: 3/5

Splendidly opulent, rich in colour and texture, and with a big shake of fairy tale dust, Cinderella gets the live-action makeover treatment, following in the footsteps of her storybook sisters Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. But that’s where the similarities end.

While Snow White donned armour and fought alongside the huntsman, and Sleeping Beauty was retold giving Maleficent her long-overdue back story, Cinderella is retold faithfully.

The studio doesn’t dare make her a damsel in distress. She’s a put-upon young woman with a mind and opinions of her own.

Cinderella is also more proof that TV leads the big screen these days. Cinderella and the prince are from two of TV’s greatest current hits – Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones.

The highlights of the Cinderella cast are not the bright young things in the lead, but the two women who land the story’s plum roles: Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter.

But if all this and the cute mice, golden carriage and the rest of the $95?million (R1.1?billion) production doesn’t make you go out to get a ticket, the Frozen minifilm at the beginning might.

It’s just the thing to get you in the mood for the sequel to the Disney princess film that has redrawn what happily ever after can be.

Furious 7


Director: James Wan

Featuring: Jason Statham, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker

Rating: 3/5

This is Paul Walker’s final race in the franchise that has banked billions.

The guys who write the scripts decide what cool car-chase sequences they want.

In Fast & Furious 7, there are flying cars – including a scene of car-nage with a $7?million (R85?million) custom-made Ferrari as the victim and a trio of Abu Dhabi skyscrapers – along with some cheesy dialogue between the stunts with a hint of a plot. It has been this way since the first one revved up moviegoers in 2001.

And it works. Even if you don’t know your chassis from your carburettor, you can’t resist the ride.

This time, the gorgeously monosyllabic Jason Statham joins the cast as the big, big baddie, while the rest of the muscles return – and I don’t mean the cars. There’s Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Tyrese Gibson and Dwayne Johnson (who remains shirtless throughout – very thoughtful).

Walker, who described himself as a “total gearhead”, died in a car crash in his Porsche while this film was in production, so the makers had to finish with stunt doubles, archives and Walker’s brother Cody, who looks a lot like him, filling in.

This film is as much fun and nonsense as the others in the series.

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