Bonnie Arnold

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How To Train Your Dragon 2 Review


Essential

Bigger and even richer than the terrific 2010 hit animation, this sequel is also quite possibly the best action-adventure movie of the year. Not only are its big set-pieces thrillingly rendered with first-rate special effects, but the characters are complex and involving. And the script effortlessly combines jagged wit, youthful exuberance, heart-stopping romance and even some rather bleak emotions.

Five years have passed since Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) discovered his ability to interact with dragons, specifically his inseparable pal Toothless, bringing a new era of dragon-related fun to the small Viking island of Berk. But now his father Stoick (Gerard Butler) is talking about passing on the mantel of chief to Hiccup, and he's not sure he's ready for that. He'd much rather be out zooming over the ocean exploring uncharted lands. Then on one of his trips he encounters a group of dragon hunters led by Eret (Kit Harington), who is helping the notorious villain Drago (Djimon Hounsou) build an army. But this leads Hiccup to an even more startling discovery: his mother Valka (Cate Blanchett) turns out to be alive and running a secret sanctuary for dragons. Can they team up to stop Drago?

It's a rare film that manages to work equally well in the quiet moments as in the massive spectacle, but writer-director Dean DeBlois never wobbles at all. Without ever manipulating the audience, he seamlessly shifts from tear-inducing happiness to soaringly thrilling battle action to agonising emotional pain. The coming-of-age plot may feel familiar, but it's packed with fresh touches, hilarious observations and some surprising twists and turns along the way.

Continue reading: How To Train Your Dragon 2 Review

The Last Station Review


Good
A double love story based on real events from the life of Leo Tolstoy, this period film combines comedy and emotion in a way that's always entertaining, even if it sometimes feels camp and contrived.

Valentin (McAvoy) is a young Tolstoyan in 1910 assigned by the movement's leader Chertkov (Giamatti) to keep an eye on Leo Tolstoy (Plummer) and his sceptical wife Sofya (Mirren). But what Valentin finds is a lively, loving marriage that's strong enough to include opposing views. This isn't good enough for Chertkov, who moves to get Leo to change his will to leave everything to the movement. Which of course enrages Sofya. Meanwhile, Valentin is experiencing his first flush of love with a Tolstoyan commune resident (Condon).

Continue reading: The Last Station Review

Tarzan (1999) Review


Very Good
Tarzan the Ape Man gets the Disney treatment this year. For some classic characters (Snow White, Bambi), the transition has been a positive one. For others (Pocahontas), it's been a disaster. Thankfully, Tarzan is among the former group.

The last time we saw Tarzan, he was saving a Lost City in the worst film of 1998 (shockingly titled Tarzan and the Lost City). The story is a bit more traditional this time, with Tarzan adopted by gorillas after his human parents are killed by a leopard. When he grows up, a group of British explorers stumble upon him, and after the "You Tarzan, me Jane" exchange, the British bad guy, Clayton, decides he's going to take all the gorillas back to Britain for sale. Adventure ensues, along with a love story and singing.

Continue reading: Tarzan (1999) Review

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Bonnie Arnold Movies

How to Train Your Dragon 2 Movie Review

How to Train Your Dragon 2 Movie Review

Bigger and even richer than the terrific 2010 hit animation, this sequel is also quite...

The Last Station Movie Review

The Last Station Movie Review

A double love story based on real events from the life of Leo Tolstoy, this...

Tarzan (1999) Movie Review

Tarzan (1999) Movie Review

Tarzan the Ape Man gets the Disney treatment this year. For some classic characters...

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