Two jungle-themed films kicked off the latest Ellon Cinema event and ended the day with a biblical apocalypse. Vicki and John Morgan reviewed the films with a little help from daughter Molly.
A bright, loud and dazzling film offered by “Ice Age” creators, BlueSky, in true musical Rio fashion. Blu, a domesticated Macaw, travels with his family in searkh of an endangered flock of rare Spix Macaws. On his tracks is Blu’s enemy Nigel the cockatoo who has a vendetta to pay and his side-kicks Gabi a poisonous dart frog and Charlie the anteater. Alongside this story line, we see an illegal logging industry steadily wiping out the Amazon habitat, led by evil “Big Boss” who orders his men to find Blu’s human companions and rainforest ornithologists Linda and Tulio and get “rid” of them as they are seen as opposition to the loggers. All ends well, although I won’t give out any spoilers, lets just say there is a happy ending for all the good characters, especially for a very hungry snake.
Both my daughter and I loved this film, the effects were stunning with beautiful rainforest scenes and spectacular aerial views of key Brazilian cities. My favourite character was budding thespian Nigel, who was gloriously evil and had one of the best sinister cackles I’ve heard in a long time. The timing of the release of the film was perfect for the start of the World Cup and it was apt that a bit of football, or “brazilnutball” had a scene in the film. My daughter managed to “get” the football link and so the film has helped with her geography too which is a bonus. One of the over-riding themes of the film was clearly an environmental one, with the illegal loggers seen destroying the rainforest at an alarming rate. This was noted too by my 6 year old and I’m pleased that such a film has been made to get such an important message across to the kids. Spectacular animation as seems to be the norm now with stunning effects, great music, comedy and an important message. Even if you want to escape the football madness that will be here for a good few weeks, don’t let the title“Rio” put you off, it’s a brilliant film. 8/10
The second film of the day showed to a sparse audience comprising a dozen children and a smattering of parents who had obviously drawn the short straw for this one.
“Tarzan – The Legend Starts Here” is a disappointing adaption of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic by German animation director Reinhard Klooss. The plot, containing more holes than a net crocheted by a blind baboon, is a mish-mash of “Walking with Dinosaurs”, “Gorillas in the Mist”, “Tremors” and “Blood Diamond”. The story begins 70 million years ago, with a meteor seen passing over the north American continent (which didn’t exist 70 million years ago) and crashing into equatorial Africa. This meteorite apparently can be used as a power source, as only a small fist-sized piece of it is able to power the “whole eastern sea-board for three months”. It is for this reason the founder of “Greystoke Energy” has moved his New York family into the west African jungle to searkh for it, which is how the young John Greystoke Junior happens to be the sole survivor of a helicopter crash in the jungle and ends up being brought up by mountain gorillas. I must have fallen asleep because suddenly it is years later and the young boy has turned into Tarzan, the “ape with no fur”, who somehow, in the deepest jungles of the Dark Continent, keeps on managing to bump into and rescue “Jane”, the well bosomed daughter of a bearded eco-warrior scientist. Unfortunately there is an evil industrialist who will stop at nothing to find the meteorite, but thanks to Tarzan, it all turns out ok in the end. Apparently. I had to ask my daughter as I must have fallen asleep again.
This is a good film for a six year old. She loved it. I asked her what the best bit was, she replied “The end, because it was a happy ending”. Well I was certainly happy to see the end of this abomination.
My daughter gave this 100 out of 10, I give it minus 98, so we’ll split the difference. 2/10.
I’ve been reviewing films for Ellon Cinema for over a year now and never have I sat at the end of a film and be dumb-struck and not certain how I felt about it or what to write, until now. Noah attempts to tell the Old Testament story that we all know of Noah, the ark and the animals going in two by two. However, if you sit down expecting a film set in biblical times with the images of happy elephants and kangaroos markhing merrily into the big boat before the storm, prepare to be surprised. I suppose you could say this version is more real in the moral angst we see Noah suffer and the brutality of the fighting and destruction of mankind, although the director has certainly taken liberties with biblical interpretation and there was lot in there that you won’t find in the Bible.
I’m not entirely certain what time this story was set in as there was a lot of industrial waste scattered around the land and not the typical olive groves, camels and loin clothes that you would expect. Perhaps this was deliberate to make the point that an apocalypse to cleanse the earth of our race could happen at any time. I found the portrayal of “The Watchers”, or the fallen angels (most people are familiar with the most famous one with the pointy horns) unique and never imagined them to be seen as moving stone monsters, although I have to admit, their animation and voices were very reminiscent of the “Ents” in Lord of the Rings and weren’t really convincing. Russell Crowe has his usual quiet, husky voice and so I had to strain to hear what he was saying, however, his nemesis Tubal-Cain (Ray Winston) more than made up for Crowes’ quietness with his loud, bawdy drawl. The world in which Tubal-Cain is king is one of barbarity, rape, violence and cannibalism, basically humanity has hit an all-time low and it’s time to get rid – you know the story. As the animals start to arrive in their 1000s I couldn’t help but think the phrase “We’re going to need a bigger boat” should be fitted in somewhere. Tubal-Cain did a good job of eating some of the precious animal cargo though as he stowed away on the ark and it makes you wonder what species met extinction due to his appetite.
Ila (Emma Watson) has twin girls onboard and this heralds a turning point in Noahs’ inner moral torment as he decides to allow humanity to continue as he sees innocence in the babies and realises that not all of mankind is that bad. Pity he didn’t realise that several months beforehand and made some more life rafts then. Once more on dry land we see the story become more faithful to the Old Testament where Noah becomes a bit of a drunkard by growing grapes and making his own wine. But to be honest, if I’d seen most of mankind drown and not save anyone apart from close family I’d be feeling pretty rubbish too and would hit the prosecco. No wonder his son Ham gave up and wandered off alone. The end scene sees the famous rainbow span over the island and I think this was a beautiful portrayal of this section of the story and shows that there was hope for mankind after all. Well we’re still here, for now. Like the other two previous films of the day, Noah has a message for us all, on the environmental level we’ve got to stop mucking up the planet and on a humanity level we’ve just got to stop being so nasty to each other.
Watch if you’ve seen enough of the news and have given up on the human race, then you’ll feel better, Otherwise I wouldn’t bother. 4/10