MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN

Director
Ol Parker

(NOW IS GOOD, IMAGINE ME & YOU)

Stars
Lily James, Amanda Seyfried, Jeremy Irvine, Pierce Brosnan, Josh Dylan, Stellan Skarsgård, Hugh Skinner, Colin Firth, Christine Baranski and Julie Walters

And here we go again, we know the start, we know the end.
We’ve done it all before and now we’re back to get some more.

Those lyrics from one of the many famous and catchy songs sung by ABBA are indeed in tune to this sequel (and prequel) to the smash-hit musical romantic comedy MAMMA MIA. My my, can you believe it’s already been ten years since its release? Well then, now is our chance to show these ensemble of characters “just how much we’ve missed them”.

MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN begins with Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) completing the final preparations for a party to celebrate the impending opening of her hotel on the Island of Kalokairi, which is her mother’s lifelong dream. This milestone event leads Sophie to learning more about Donna’s youth, shown via extended flashback sequences set back to 1979. During these scenes, a younger and carefree Donna (now played by Lily James) has separate encounters with the men, Sam, Bill and Harry (Jeremy Irvine, Josh Dylan and Hugh Skinner, respectively) who are all potential candidates of being Sophie’s father, whom Donna meets during her travels to the idyllic Greek Island that becomes her home. 

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The feel-good fever being spread from the screen in MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN is totally infectious and will be embraced by many, yet I seem to be one of very few who were more immune to its outbreak of joy and fun, and could only feel minor symptoms.

Make no mistake, you will be having the time of your life throughout this musical film. Even if like myself, you find the dancing choreography rather standard and its songs to sing performed quite reasonably only, there is still much more to become fond of. The beginning of this sequel takes place five years on from where the 2008 film left off. Not long after we are whisked back to 1979, the screenplay makes smart use of its locations and commonalities in its narrative to connect the two timelines and its female protagonists. It’s a move that is not only creatively and nicely presented but also adds further laughter and some poignancy to the picture. The highly anticipated appearance of Cher (who turned down the role occupied by Christine Baranski in the first MAMMA MIA!) more than meets expectations. It will have her fans in a state of jubilation and is well worth the wait. Speaking of Christine Baranski, she absolutely steals every scene her character makes a remark in! It might be expected, but it never ages or tires. But don’t be holding your breath for the very brief visit of another favourite. Unlike before, Meryl Streep plays an extremely minor role in MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN and is only cast in just a few scenes. Nevertheless, she’s bound to gain her 22nd Oscar Nomination at the next Academy Awards!

So, even though MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN may not be able to make the magical music of ABBA flourish, as the original could, this shouldn’t be a preventative from enjoying and liking the sequel. Either way, your money money money will be well spent and MAMMA MIA: HERE WE GO AGAIN will be the winner that takes it all!

3 stars

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Viewer Discretion
PG
(Mild sexual references)

Trailer
MAMMA MIA: HERE WE GO AGAIN

Moviedoc thanks Universal Pictures for the invite to the screening of this film

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
Follow on Twitter – Moviedoc / LIKE on Facebook – @moviedoc13

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SKYSCRAPER

Writer & Director
Rawson Marshall Thurber

(DODGEBALL: A TRUE UNDERDOG STORY, WE’RE THE MILLERS, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE)

Stars
Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Roland Møller, Chin Han and Noah Taylor

Right now, there is arguably no male action movie star that is in greater demand (see end of review!) or in hotter form than the cool and charismatic Dwayne Johnson. No matter how extreme or challenging the obstacle ahead may be, Johnson continually surmounts them while keeping his audience fully engaged along the way. Only recently, he’s had to deal with an over-sized and very angry gorilla in RAMPAGE, survive the dangers of the jungle in the JUMANJI sequel, and even rescue his family from the earthquakes in 2015’s SAN ANDREAS. In fact, only the tidal waves of stupidity in the BAYWATCH movie succeeded at sinking the ever-reliable efforts of this mighty leading man.

In SKYSCRAPER, Johnson (who also produces the film) plays Will Sawyer, a former FBI agent who has relocated himself and his family, wife Sarah (Neve Campbell) and their two children, to Hong Kong after a work incident ended his career. Together, they reside in the world’s tallest skyscraper, known as The Pearl, where Will also works as an assessor of the building’s security system before its residential upper-levels can be officially opened. While he is offsite, a group of ruthless criminals set fire to one of the floors of the building, instantly placing the lives of Will’s family in jeopardy. When Will discovers The Pearl ablaze, he races against time and is forced to go to extreme lengths to break inside the burning building and rescue his loved ones.

5 Reasons Why ‘SKYSCRAPER’ Will Be This Year’s Biggest Action Movie

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock (and not the actor variety spoken of here!), you will know SKYSCRAPER courtesy of a particular set-piece sequence (pictured above) in which the resulting trajectory of the film’s hero during this outrageous stunt has been playfully debated, firmly discredited, and proven to be physically doubtful. This scene happens to be one of several edge-of-your-seat set-piece thrills that occupy this pure guilt-pleasure, popcorn entertainment blockbuster movie that is so much fun to watch, no one will care about physics!

SKYSCRAPER delivers exactly what it should — a consistent output of exciting action sequences, occasional doses of appropriately-timed self-parody, entertainment that is sky-high and a satisfactory climax, all at a rapid pace. Writer and director Rawson Marshall Thurber (who previously worked with Dwayne Johnson in CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE) has done a really neat job in combining a serviceable plot that attracts formidable villains with Will’s selfless and admirable mission, which leads to most of the physical combat scenes we see. Full utilisation has also been made from the hair-raising heights that the world’s tallest construction provides, so do be warned if elevated views make you a little wobbly at the knees!

A job well done indeed. So it should be, with a budget of approximately $125M! We only have to wait two years until Rawson Marshall Thurber and Dwayne Johnson reunite again for action film RED NOTICE. In the meantime, there’s a towering inferno of movies to come from Johnson that include spin-offs of THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS and SHAZAM! titled HOBBS AND SHAW and BLACK ADAM, respectively, sequels to JUMANJI, SUICIDE SQUAD, and SAN ANDREAS, his own DOC SAVAGE film and biographical comedy/drama FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY all on the go!

3 ½ stars

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Viewer Discretion

M (Action violence and coarse language)

Trailer
SKYSCRAPER

Moviedoc thanks Universal Pictures for the invite to the screening of this film

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
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WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? (HVA VIL FOLK SI)

Writer & Director
Iram Haq
(I AM YOURS)

Stars
Maria Mozhdah, Adil Hussain, Ekavali Khanna and Sheeba Chaddha

Writer and director Iram Haq‘s semi-autobiographical drama WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? is about a sixteen year-old girl named Nisha (feature film debut of lead actor Maria Mozhdah, pictured below) who is forced to live a double life. At her family home in Norway, she reluctantly honours the traditional values of her Pakistani emigrant parents, father Mirza (Adil Hussain from LIFE OF PI) and mother, Najma (VEERE DI WEDDING actress Ekavali Khanna). Socially, Nisha is herself, a regular Norwegian teen who enjoys the contemporary westernised lifestyle and the company of her friends, one of whom is showing an interest of a more intimate nature towards her. Nisha welcomes the advances of the young man, with the mutual flirtation soon leading to the chance of their first physical encounter. When Nisha’s father sees them together, his instant disapproval and exaggerated assumptions lead to drastic actions that will tragically change Nisha’s life forever.

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A co-production of Norway, Sweden and Germany and spoken in Norwegian and Urdu, WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? has something itself to powerfully say about people who forcibly trap and aim to control the actions of others, and the person they want them to be, yet will never become. And it’s not subtle in its representation of just that happening either! Taking into account the fact that this is a very personal film for writer & director Iram Haq to make, there is undoubtedly an inspirational story behind the heavy and heartbreaking one we see in WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? that ultimately could have led to this good film being a great one. Nonetheless, many who do watch this movie will have their own connecting personal experience and be immediately drawn into this mightily absorbing story and profoundly resonate with its lead character.

Before Nisha’s two worlds collide, the film importantly establishes the foundations of both lives, granting us an understanding of their stark contrasts so that we also know who the real Nisha is. Once Mirza has become aware of his daughter’s secret life, things are sadly about to go from bad to much worse for our female protagonist. This scene, and the several minutes that follow are absolutely gripping to watch. Now, heed the following as necessary viewing preparation, as this is not intended to deter your interest to this film. Without revealing any specific plot details, the remainder of WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? is harrowing to watch. All of the emphasis is continuously placed onto the horribly oppressive actions of the films perpetrators and the consequential suffering of the victims. Though it is absolutely warranted, there must be a source of strength, discernible resilience and some form of hope present to encourage Nisha’s survival and to also enable viewers those same hopes. Other than the occasional distraction from the hardship endured and the sheer hopelessness that is cast, Iram Haq doesn’t make any of these pivotal characteristics evident. Furthermore, her young protagonist has had significant alterations made to her existence that surely would have a greater psychological affect than what the script contains. More depth and development in these areas could only have strengthened an already powerful story.

Again, without mentioning specifics and to give you necessary advanced awareness, the ending arrives quite abruptly and could definitely have added even just a few additional scenes to leave viewers feeling more assured and lift some of the anger, pity and sadness felt for much of its length. Nevertheless, this is one foreign film with universal themes that ought to appeal to the masses worldwide, and whose story is so convincingly acted and always remains utterly absorbing.

3 stars

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Viewer Discretion
TBA 

Trailer
WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? (HVA VIL FOLK SI)

Moviedoc thanks Palace, the Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival and Asha Holmes Publicity for the invite to the screening of this film

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
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TWO IS A FAMILY (DEMAIN TOUT COMMENCE)

Director
Hugo Gélin

(JUST LIKE BROTHERS)

Stars
Omar Sy, Clémence Poésy, Antoine Bertrand and Gloria Colston

The crowds gathered from all around the world for this French adaptation of the 2013 Mexican film INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED. TWO IS A FAMILY not only sold more than three million tickets at the French box office but was also the most popular French language movie of 2017 worldwide.

Omar Sy (THE INTOUCHABLES) stars as Samuel, a charter boat pilot living and working at the gorgeous Côte d’Azur in the French Riviera. A true ladies’ man who can charm his way both into and out of just about anything, the hedonistic lifestyle of the hard-partying Samuel is given a rude awakening by way of a shock arrival one morning. A past summer fling, Kristin (Clémence Poésy), advises Samuel that he is the father of the baby girl that she is currently holding! Immediately after breaking the news to him, the troubled Kristin gets into a taxi and flees, abandoning her child and leaving the impromptu father to care for their daughter, Gloria.

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This French comedy/drama is a sweet-natured film that has its heart in the right place in spite of its misguided stumble to get to its ultimate message.

As his baptism by fire into fatherhood begins, Samuel is required to leave the clear blue waters and endless days of sunshine behind in pursuit of Kristin, who lives in London. This entire first act of TWO IS A FAMILY doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is fortunate for it is never genuinely convincing. Because he is not able to immediately locate Kristin, Samuel is required to make something of a life for himself in the English capital. The people that he meets here, which includes a French-speaking stranger that will become his friend, and the employment he gains give TWO IS A FAMILY extra comedic punch. Simultaneously, Samuel is becoming quite fond of his growing child and the film growing closer to the heart as a result. These individual elements begin to compliment the rather whimsical trajectory of the plot quite nicely throughout the middle stretches of the film.

While a good number of its unexpected developments to date are mostly a hit, there are more coming that don’t fit quite as comfortably. It eventually becomes obvious that we aren’t to take TWO IS A FAMILY so lightly after all, which poses a few problems. Not only have there been further less convincing developments made since the opening act, but the scale of drama occurring in the latter half has become quite weighty and high in volume. I’m not convinced that every layer added here is absolutely necessary. The only reliable and consistent ingredients of this movie are an engaging lead performance from Omar Sy, the remarkable feature film acting debut of Gloria Colston, and the touching and beautiful on-screen chemistry they share as father and daughter.

On a side note, the price of admission can (almost) be justified alone to see inside a home that is way beyond cool and may very well be every child’s dream house!

3 stars 

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Viewer Discretion
(Coarse language)

Trailer
TWO IS A FAMILY (DEMAIN TOUT COMMENCE)

Moviedoc thanks Palace Films for the in-season pass to watch this film

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
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NETFLIX FILM REVIEW – THE BREADWINNER

Director
Nora Twomey

(THE SECRET OF KELLS)

Starring the voices of
Saara Chaudry, Ali Badshah, Laara Sadiq, Shaista Latif, Soma Chhaya and Kawa Ada

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie worked as executive producer for this English language animated drama that is set in 2001 during the Taliban-era in Afghanistan. An international co-production between Canada, Ireland and Luxembourg, THE BREADWINNER is based on the best-selling novel by Deborah Ellis (first published in 2000) and was an Oscar nominee for Best Animated Feature Film at this year’s Academy Awards.

Guru Studio’s first feature film project tells the story of an 11 year-old girl named Parvana (Saara Chaudry), who lives in Kabul with her father, Nurullah (Ali Badshah), mother, Fattema (Laara Sadiq) and three siblings. Like all women living under oppression there, Parvana is prohibited from being outdoors without a man right beside her and must keep almost every part of her skin covered. When Nurullah is wrongfully arrested and taken away to prison by Taliban soldiers, Parvana is forced to dangerously disguise herself as a boy in order to gain work and earn an income to provide for her family.

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I didn’t discover that the THE BREADWINNER is an English-spoken production that is not produced in the country it is set until moments before viewing it on Netflix. In an instant, I had doubts concerning just how authentic its story and factually correct the writing would be. Thankfully, the author of the novel this film is based upon spent several months interviewing women and girls in refugee camps in Pakistan as part of her research and uses these interviews as the basis of her depiction of life in Afghanistan. Though we can’t be certain just how much content documented from these interviews has been purely transitioned across to this film, there is no doubt that THE BREADWINNER is credibly and unsparingly revealing a condemning truth most succinctly to a much broader audience than any film ever before.

As it ought to be, the depiction of life for women and the views of many males towards them that they co-exist with is incisively devised and searingly written. Even though this story is set in a place so foreign to almost everyone who will see this film, the subject and damning fact that inequality and violence/abuse against women that THE BREADWINNER is focusing on, is sadly far from being foreign in our world right now. Despite its M classification, this animated movie can and certainly should be viewed by a younger crowd, albeit with due discretion, parental guidance and the pre-viewing knowledge to expect to see a small handful of confronting and violent scenes (some of which do show animated blood). On the flip side, a sub-plot that involves Parvana telling her youngest sibling fictional stories, which the film often visually demonstrates as a temporary deviation from its heavier content, will help to keep younger audience members engaged to the film throughout.

Recommended viewing. Especially considering its ease of accessibility on Netflix!

3 ½ stars

If THE BREADWINNER interests you (and I hope after reading this that it does!), then be sure to also watch 2003 drama OSAMA, a non-animated rendition of this exact story that is made and set in Afghanistan.

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Viewer Discretion
M (Mature themes, violence)

Trailer
THE BREADWINNER

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
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FOXTROT

Writer & Director
Samuel Maoz
(LEBANON)

Stars
Lior Ashkenazi, Sarah Adler, Yonathan Shiray and Shira Haas

This multi award-winning Hebrew-spoken drama has been described as a philosophical puzzle by its writer & director Samuel Maoz, whose stunning debut film LEBANON (2009) gave a claustrophobic and powerful account of war from within the confines of an army tank. It’s a puzzle in which particular pieces correspond to his very own life.

In modern day Tel Aviv, affluent but troubled married couple Michael and Daphna Feldmann (Lior Ashkenazi and Sarah Adler) receive shocking news that shakes them to their very core. There has been a fatal incident at the distant military post that their son, Jonathan (Yonathan Shiray), an IDF soldier, is stationed at. As the Feldmanns come to terms with their tragic loss and deal with the grief, sadness and anger that follows, the whirlwind of emotions in their home triggers the revelation of long-buried secrets and unsaid feelings.

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When films such as the recently released Russian drama LOVELESS, and the courageous South African movie THE WOUND are subject to some form of public persecution at the hands of government officials, insight worthy of sharing is a guarantee. After it won the coveted Grand Jury Prize at the Venice International Film Festival, FOXTROT was denounced by Israel’s Minister of Culture for its depiction of a single yet shocking event.

Israel’s submission for the foreign language film award at the 90th Academy Awards (where it made the December short list but did not receive a nomination) is rendered in three episodes. The first of these is centred on Michael, whose calmer exterior is harbouring signs of an implosion. It is clear that something significant was already on his mind prior to the arrival of military authorities at his home. What could this be? And how does the seemingly distant and cold relationship he has with his mother contribute to the suppression of his emotions? The second episode moves across to Jonathan’s story in the lead up to the incident. As you might expect, there is a near-constant presence of suspense during this passage. However, the humour that is derived during this segment of the film, as the young men who guard this checkpoint seek various avenues of interest and entertainment, is pleasantly unexpected.

These first two episodes, which occupy most of FOXTROT’s 108 minute length, are both strongly acted, well directed and keep its audience genuinely caring for its characters and about its trajectory, despite being slower to progress than necessary. I will not reveal anything at all regarding the third and final episode of FOXTROT, but I will say that this section of the film is where your appreciation for the crafty structure of the screenplay and its deceptively layered story is truly found.

Strongly recommended.

3 ½ stars

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Viewer Discretion
MA15+ (Strong sexualised imagery)

Trailer
FOXTROT

Moviedoc thanks Sharmill Films for the invite to the screening of this film

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
Follow on Twitter – Moviedoc / LIKE on Facebook – @moviedoc13

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JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM

Director
J.A. Bayona
(A MONSTER CALLS, THE IMPOSSIBLE, THE ORPHANAGE)

Stars
Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Daniella Pineda, Justice Smith, Rafe Spall and Isabella Sermon

The arrival of JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM, the second film of the Jurassic World trilogy, coincides with the 25th anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s JURASSIC PARK. Can anyone believe it’s been that long already!?

Taking place three years after the events in JURASSIC WORLD and with Spielberg now serving as executive producer, this action/adventure begins on Isla Nublar, once a wonderland dinosaur theme park that is now abandoned and home to an active volcano that is ready to erupt. The dinosaur population that remains there is in immediate danger of extinction. Their only hope of survival resides with a couple of the park’s former employees, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) who now works as a dinosaur-rights activist for a company she founded, and Owen (Chris Pratt) who’s living a quiet life in his roadside home. They are helped by some new characters including a feisty young doctor, Zia (Daniella Pineda) and geeky IT guru, Franklin (Justice Smith).

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There are more dinosaurs in this film than in any previous JURASSIC PARK/WORLD movie and volcanic action aplenty in JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM, but does this instantly equate to a (dino)soaring film experience you’ll have a hell-lava time with!? I do apologise for my very lame (yet somewhat creative) statement there. But if you intend to have fun in this stomping ground, then allow my flippancy to humour you for there is plenty of far-fetched action and frivolous behaviour going on here.

As over-the-top as it may be, the behind-the-scenes work (a combination of Animatronics and CGI) that’s been invested to create the dinosaur imagery and the film’s set-piece sequences we see never fail to impress. Which is important, because that’s why we’re here, right!? As for JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM’s (arguably) lesser important movie making ingredient of storytelling, the writers disappointingly do not bring anything new to this genre, or even the franchise for that matter. That being said, the film’s theme of human greed and the foul human beings that practice that trait makes for a completely acceptable plot which has some darker moments and plenty of fun times. Especially when it’s the dinosaurs’ turns to bite some bad folk right back! On that note, while parents should heed the M classification for much younger audience members, JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM does ensure that (almost) every attack scene (some of which are rather brutal) and potential scare is made very obvious before it occurs.

Replacing JURASSIC WORLD director Colin Trevorrow (set to return for directing duties in JURASSIC WORLD 3) for this second chapter in the trilogy, Spanish-born filmmaker J.A. Bayona is faithful to the rule book but keeps the pace and entertainment both flowing consistently. And if you’re really keen, remain seated until the very end for a post credits scene.

3 stars

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Viewer Discretion
(Action violence)

Trailer
JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM

Moviedoc thanks Universal Pictures for the invite to the screening of this film

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
Follow on Twitter – Moviedoc / LIKE on Facebook – @moviedoc13

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