Saving Mr. Banks A Surprising and Touching Movie

Saving Mr. Banks Promotional Poster

Saving Mr. Banks Promotional Poster

Saving Mr. Banks Promotional Poster

Saving Mr. Banks
Lead Actor: Tom Hanks
Lead Actress: Emma Thompson
Director: John Lee Hancock

Despite my fondness for Kaiju movies: Godzilla, Rodan, King Ghidorah, Mothra and more recently Pacific Rim and the Jaegers and Kaiju from that fantastic movie; I also enjoy Disney movies. I’ve loved Mary Poppins since I was a young girl and it was one of the few movies my ultra religious parents would allow us to watch. I confess that although I am an avid reader, I have never read the books that the movie came from. In a sense I am glad that I have not.

By now anyone who has read and loved a book then gone with high hopes and expectations to a theater knows that no movie ever lives up to the book. Especially if you’ve read the book first. I was recently reminded of this when after falling in love with Hiccup and Toothless in How To Train Your Dragon, I ran right out and bought the books and read them, only to find they were wholly unlike the movie. Thankfully I’ve encountered this truism often enough to be more philosophical than disappointed any more but I had hoped to read more along the lines of the characters I fell in love with in the movie.

As a complete aside the trailer for How To Train Your Dragon 2 ran before Saving Mr. Banks and it was as breathtaking and amazing as those first flight scenes in the first How To Train Your Dragon. Once again I got goosebumps watching Toothless and Hiccup fly. I am sorry that they did not show the Godzilla trailer. Now you may think that Godzilla doesn’t really belong in front of Saving Mr. Banks but they showed two war movie trailers, including the new Tom Cruise sci-fi thriller Edge of Tomorrow (which smacks of Phillip K. Dick if you ask me). So why not Godzilla?

But I digress. I also like Tom Hanks so I was eager to see Saving Mr. Banks, even if I had to go see it by myself. Thankfully my doting husband went with me. Once again we went to the Swanky Cinetopia, where I had a beer and a delicious turkey club during the movie.

*Warning spoilers ahead*

I find that oftentimes when I really enjoy a book I elevate the author in my mind so that they are good and generous people, the kind of person I would like to get to know. That is probably a conceit on my part but it is something I find myself doing. So to say that I was shocked to discover that Mrs. Travis, the author of the books from whence Mary Poppins came was quite literally a female curmudgeon is a bit of an understatement. I was surprised that she was so disagreeable. Here was an author responsible for a character all but universally beloved by children and she was sour, almost bitter.

Also the format of the movie was surprising. It started with a retrospective, one of her memories and at key points in the film her memories took center stage, weaving a poignant story around a movie about the making of an already poignant story. And Disney studios showed remarkable restraint in that they made the movie about P. L. Travers, keeping Walt Disney’s screen time to a bare minimum–especially having cast such a high powered star in the role.

Emma Thompson was supurb in the role of P. L. Travers. She carried the movie as a tormented author and she brought warmth and humanity to a very distant personality. I never saw the Nanny McPhee movies, had no interest to be honest (strange I know) but I might go back and watch them now.

Everything about Saving Mr. Banks was done with sensitivity, subtlety and a level of storytelling that is rarely seen in movies where being over the top is so often rewarded at the box office. Saving Mr. Banks is truly a companion piece to Mary Poppins, with an epiphany and a touching change of heart that, while perhaps not true to life, makes for a very strong and moving story.

While I, personally, think Pacific Rim is the best movie I’ve seen in many years, Saving Mr. Banks deserves all of the accolades it’s been receiving from fickle and particular critics.

Pacific Rim, How To Train Your Dragon, Godzilla and More!

How To Train Your Dragon Movie Poster

How To Train Your Dragon Movie Poster

How To Train Your Dragon Movie Poster

That’s right, gentle reader, today is a medley of updates, impressions and thoughts. First up I saw a trailer for How To Train Your Dragon 2 and it gave me goosebumps! I got goosebumps watching the first How To Train Your Dragon. The visuals, even though they are stylized CGI are stunning. Yes I know it doesn’t follow the books hardly at all but I enjoyed the movie anyway. Anyway check out the official trailer from Dreamworks:

Fabulous, no?

Now as you know I’m totally a fan of Pacific Rim. I love, love, loved that movie. I’m going to see it again next weekend. I might sneak away and see it again mid-week too. We’ll just have to see. That being said, as a nerd, and let’s be honest here, I am a nerd; I’ve been following Pacific Rim’s performance at the box office. I know that if it does well enough, if it grosses enough money there will be a sequel and I really want a sequel. I want Pacific Rim to be a franchise. I want lots of Pacific Rim movies. The pundits say it needs to gross better than $40,000,000.00 domestically over its opening weekend to be on track for consideration for sequels. I’m hoping for it to do far better than that. It’s not quite there as of this morning so I’m kind of hoping that Sunday is a huge movie day for Kaiju fans. It’s an amazing movie. Go see it. Examples of the genre this excellent are few and far between.

Gipsy Danger & Mothra action figures

Gipsy Danger & Mothra action figures

Oh! And I went to Things From Another World and picked up a Gipsy Danger figure for my collection. They had Crimson Typhoon too but I didn’t have the second generation Mothra and she was really nice so I got her instead. Things From Another World is sponsoring the Rose City Comic Con and they have a lot of cool stuff. I was transfixed by the wall o’ Doctor Who collectables and they had several rows of Godzilla figures too. Yes this is a total plug but they’re a good, locally owned business. They have a website at www.tfaw.com where you can order your own cool things rather than always wondering, “Where does he get all those toys?” 😉

Speaking of the Rose City Comic Con, that is coming up in September and I am very excited about it. I couldn’t make it to the San Diego Comic Con this year, sadly but I will be going to the RCCC. Comic Cons are so much fun. I love seeing all of the amazing cosplay costumes and being amongst thousands of geeky, nerdy fans having fun. I also missed G-Fest this year, which is going on right now. One of these days I will make it to G-Fest.

Speaking of G-Fest and the SDCC Godzilla Encounter is still posting teasers and they’re fantastic. Godzilla 2014 will have a discussion panel at the SDCC, those of you going might check it out if you’re fans or looking forward to the new Godzilla movie. K.

The Croods, A Review

The Croods

The CroodsWe went to see the Croods today. I confess to not being all that whoopie about going to this movie. The trailers made it look like something I wouldn’t enjoy. Once again, Dreamworks has surprised me. I really enjoyed the movie. It was so well done. The characters are very well written and I actually got chills at some of the beautiful scenery they created. There is one scene, well one stage setting scene and then the follow up a little later on, that really I think represents how well done these characters are.

Grug’s whole life revolves around keeping his family fed and safe. That’s his life and he likes it that way. They get a giant egg for breakfast and Grug sees to it that his family eats first and as a result there’s only one little drop left for him. But he’s ok with that because his family is fed.

Later on, and I’m trying not to give too many spoilers away here so I’m leaving out a LOT of details, they have a huge roasted bird to eat and being cavemen and women, the Croods fall on it like the mongol hordes and devour it.

Guy, the interloper in their lives, watches them in a bit of horror and finally says to Ep, Grug’s daughter, “I guess there’ll be no leftovers then.”

Ep looks at him and says, “What are leftovers?”

Guy answers, “Leftovers are when you have so much food you have some left over.”

The camera pans to Grug and his face just falls. You can see the thought process, that this stranger has provided for his family better than he ever did (well you can assume it based upon the set up). I found this really touching and I think it really demonstrates how well rounded these characters are.

It’s not so obvious that it detracts from the enjoyment the kids have either. It’s just something that adds richness and depth to the story. All of this and I haven’t said a word about the world of wonder Dreamworks created in The Croods. The colors are so vibrant and the animals are wonderfully whimsical and imaginative. It’s a fantasy world filled with life and danger and a very human story.

With my tongue planted firmly in cheek I will have to add that apparently it’s now a rule that every animated movie has to have an Owl City song on the soundtrack. Which is ok because I love Owl City.

One of these days I’m going to learn to trust Dreamworks. The last movie I wasn’t too whoopie to see of theirs was Kung Fu Panda and I really didn’t like Jack Black so I really didn’t want to see that one but I did and it’s one of my favorites. Well not on the level of How To Train Your Dragon, but still right up there.

Last but not least, previews:

Star Trek: Into Darkness OMG I so want to see that. The little bit I saw indicates that they’ve got the Kirk/Spock banter going on and just right.

No Pacific Rim preview and for the record I would like to say that The Smurfs are more frightening than anything Pacific Rim is going to put up on a preview trailer. This is relevant because there was a Smurfs 2 preview and I’m embarrassed for Neil Patrick Harris that he is in it.

Epic is looking better the more I see of it.

And that is my review of The Croods and the three previews we saw before it. If you can The Croods is an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours with the family. It probably won’t change your life but it’s a good story well told and beautifully animated. K.