Ellon Cinema Day reviews

Cinema Day at the Victoria Hall recently screened a trio of films received by good audience figures.

Ellon Cinema’s Vicki Morgan was there to review two of the films.

Tinkerbell and the Legend of the Neverbeast

Disney once more takes us to Pixie Hollow where the fairy in focus this time is Fawn, the Animal Talent fairy.

Fawn has a heart of gold and wants to help any injured animal, no matter what the consequence. We meet her at the start of the film nurturing an injured baby hawk (a natural predator to fairies) and all chaos is let loose when she attempts to release it back to the wild, resulting in fully-grown hawks attacking the fairy world. Luckily, in this instance, no one is hurt and the hawks fly away with their tail between their legs (literally). Fawn’s next animal interest, however, is a little more unique and potentially a threat to the whole of Pixie Hollow.

The Neverbeast is discovered moaning loudly due to a thorn in its paw and after bravely pulling the thorn out, Fawn develops a bond between the beast. Trust and friendship develop between the two, however, the rest of Pixie Hollow, bar Fawns friends (Tinkerbell et al) are determined to get rid of the creature due to an ancient prophesy which predicts the beast will play a part in the destruction of their world. What follows is an adventure where friendships and trust are tested and perceptions and prejudices are challenged. Will the Neverbeast destroy Pixie Hollow and be the monster that the prophesy predicts?

This is another great Tinkerbell film, Disney can add another feather to its cap as it had the children in the audience laughing and captivated throughout. I am a massive Tinkerbell fan and its always a pleasure to take my daughter to see a Tinkerbell film and this one was no exception. Pixie Hollow is a stunning world of make believe where you are really taken away for an hour or two into the land of Never Never. The animation is top notch, the characters are each believable and entertaining and the Neverbeast endearing. The ending is a little sad but the kids I was with didn’t seem to be that bothered and it was the adults who were wiping away a few tears rather than the younger ones in the audience!

Lovely film, recommended - 8/10

Unbroken

Directed by Angelina Jolie, Unbroken is based on the true story of US Olympian and Japanese POW Louie Zamperini. Louie begins his life as a drop-out youth, stealing and drinking alcohol and only rescued by his brother when his talent for running is spotted and finally encouraged by his sibling. As he grows, this talent develops, finding him at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games and he continues training even as a bombardier in the US Air Force during WW2. Tragedy seems to follow Louie as he initially escapes unscathed from a crash landing, only to end up in another air crash over sea and left floating in a dinghy with two companions in the middle of the ocean. The trio amazingly survive afloat by eating raw fish and drinking rainwater and even narrowly escape hungry sharks.

They are then gunned down by a Japanese plane yet incredibly survive even this by patching up their dinghy with an emergency puncture repair kit. Their luck finally runs out, however, after 47 days, when the surviving duo (one of the chaps eventually died of exhaustion), is picked up by a Japanese boat and they find themselves flung into separate POW camps. What follows is the story of the endless torture and brutality endured by Louie at the hands of the Japanese and his defiance in the face of his enemies, eventually surviving the war, marrying and even running in the Olympics in Japan at the ripe old age of 80. He died in 2014 aged 97.

This film left me exhausted. I found the endless portrayal of torture and re-enactment of beyond comprehensible physical punishment just harrowing and to be honest, a little extreme. I’ve known a couple of grown-up children of some men who had been in Japanese POW camps, and what little snippets of stories these men allowed themselves to recount of their time in the camps is enough to appreciate the daily hell they lived through, let alone the stories they would not tell. We have a fair idea what went on in the camps without the need for such prolonged, graphic details, and this, I felt, damaged what was otherwise a very good film.

I found the duality of Louie and his nemesis Mutsuhiro “Bird” Watanabe, the Japanese POW corporal, interesting in that they were both determined to not be broken. Ironically, it is Watanabe that is broken in the end as he realises that he cannot crush his foes determination, whilst Louie, despite being horrifically physically damaged, remains mentally fit. A highly detailed film, perhaps dwelling too long on the torture scenes as it left me wondering how Zamperini survived with an intact face and body if such scenes were accurate – could a man survive being punched in the face by around 100 men and come out still looking human? I’m not so sure.

Harrowing – 6/10