Film Review: The Lion King (2019)

The Disney trend of live action remakes continues here, although given that this is almost all CGI it doesn’t really count as live action. I’ve found the results a bit mixed, with some adding new depths or twists to the original films. But of all the movies this is easily the most pointless.

And disappointing.

Here’s the thing, The Lion King is one of my favourite Disney movies, in fact it may be one of my favourite films. It’s a beautifully crafted animation film with a superb soundtrack, a host of memorable characters and profoundly moving. This remake falls down on pretty much every level.

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The major problem is that everything that works here comes from the original film and everything that doesn’t is something that’s added or a result of the change in style. The Elton John songs from the first movie are fantastic, and their reworkings are decent cover versions. And the plot, aside from a few minor tweaks, is pretty much the same.

The problem is that while the animators of the original film looked at real animals for inspiration they then gave them a cartoony spin that allowed more expression and character to shine through, but Jon Favreau’s approach towards realistic creature design robs them of that.

It made sense in The Jungle Book to make the animals look as realistic as possible as they were interacting with a human performer. But there are no humans in this film, and so the realistic approach just hampers things. It would have been better to have added a more artistic aspect that would make them more memorable and distinctive, and helped the voice actors who face an uphill battle to breathe personality into characters without any strong visuals to help.

The character worst effected by this is Scar, voiced by Chiwitel Ejiofor, who becomes a painfully dull antagonist. Ejiofor does the voice well enough, capturing the scheming, cowardly and sarcastic aspects of the character even if he never matches the stellar work of Jeremy Irons. The problem is that Irons also had a character who could make a variety of gestures and facial expressions to craft one of Disney’s most memorable villains. The 2019 Scar is far more forgettable.

Other characters suffer too, Rafiki (John Kani) is nowhere near as entertaining or interesting as he was, and the hyenas aren’t as fun either.

Nala and Serabi are hard to tell apart in some scenes, as one lioness looks pretty much like another. And even the lions aren’t as distinct as they could have been. When Scar and Simba (Donald Glover) get their big throw down it’s difficult at times to tell which lion is which.

On the whole the film just feels like a waste of everyone’s time. There are a few laughs along the way and a few of the cast do well to bring some charm to proceedings, particularly John Oliver (Zazu), Seth Rogen (Pumbaa) and Billy Eichner (Timon). And it’s hard to mess up the Tim Rice and Elton John songs, which are still solid. There are two new songs “Spirit” by Beyonce who voices Nala, and “Never to Late” by John which plays over the end credits. I found “Spirit” a bit meh, but “Never to Late” is joyous and upbeat.

There’s an admirable commitment to the original, with shots being recreated and the opening sequence is beautiful, but the skill of the animation isn’t enough to carry it off. And after a while as realistic as the animals look it leaves the whole film a drabber and less captivating place.

I doubt this will inspire the love the original did or ever be the first choice. And those fancy effects will probably date quicker too.

Save your money, just watch the 1994 version again.

Verdict: 5/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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Film Review: Toy Story 4

I’m not afraid to admit when I’m wrong. Back in 2014 when Pixar announced that they were making a film to follow Toy Story 3, a movie I absolutely loved, I thought it was a mistake. The first three Toy Story movies existed as one of those rare trilogies without any missteps. There was no Temple of Doom drop in quality, there were just three amazing movies, culminating in a heartbreaking finale which seemed like the perfect send off.

When Andy gives Bonnie his toys it was the end of an era, it was the end of a childhood. Woody (Tom Hanks) let go, realised he had done all he could for Andy and that while he still loved his kid, Andy was going places he couldn’t follow him. He’d found a new purpose and home for himself and his friends. With such an emotional and satisfying ending, we were in the perfect place to bid farewell to a group of beloved characters.

The follow up shorts worked for me, they were funny little extras. But I worried that going for a fourth feature length adventure would diminish the trilogy, that a weaker new ending could undo Pixar’s triumph. Fortunately, they manage to produce a funny, warm and satisfying addition to the series.

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Woody and co. are happy at Bonnie’s, but having been the favourite toy and leader at Andy’s Woody finds himself at a loss. Bonnie has other toys she prefers, and Woody is regularly left in the closet while she plays with others. Dolly (Bonnie Hunt) is the toybox chief here, and Woody occasionally steps on her toes as he forgets that he’s not in charge anymore. When Bonnie starts kindergarten Woody thinks a toy should go with her, but Dolly follows the lead of the parents, worried that taking a toy where they’re not allowed may get Bonnie in trouble.

Woody, however, stows away in her bag, so that he can look after her and help if needs be. Seeing a nervous and shy Bonnie he intervenes, and Bonnie enjoys the craft portion of the day. She makes a crude figure out of a spork and other bits of rubbish and craft equipment, dubbing him Forky, Bonnie enjoys the rest of her day.

Woody is happy, but in the bag on the way home Forky (Tony Hale) comes to life as Bonnie views him as a toy. Forky is less thrilled about this and sees himself as trash, constantly trying to throw himself away. Woody, eager to find meaning and purpose, devotes himself to keeping Forky safe and with the child.

With their family on a road trip in an RV this task becomes harder and eventually Woody and Forky are stranded and have to get back to Bonnie. Woody begins to explain to Forky the important role and duty he has a toy, and all the good things he can do for Bonnie, winning the homemade toy around. However, when they arrive at the town where Bonnie’s family is staying, Woody leads Forky into an antique store after seeing the night light which was home to Bo (Annie Potts), a porcelain figure that belonged to Andy’s little sister before being given away.

The store is also home to Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks), a vintage talking doll who’s voicebox is broken. She realises Woody has a working one and wants it for herself, taking Forky as a hostage.

Woody winds up at a nearby park and carnival, where a group of lost toys eagerly wait for the day’s visitors to play with them. Here he finds Bo, who helps the other toys by fixing them up and who enjoys the freedom of her new life without a kid. Woody is overjoyed to see her, and their bond remains strong, although Woody wants to get back to Bonnie.

Can Woody save Forky and get back to Bonnie? Will he pick life in the closet over freedom with Bo? Can Buzz (Tim Allen) track down his lost friend and get him home safely? How far will Gabby go to get her voicebox?

I loved this movie because even more than the others we see Woody front and centre here. In each of the earlier films Woody has been the major hero, but one of his defining qualities was a fierce loyalty and faith in Andy. The other toys feared that Andy had thrown them out, but Woody knew it was an accident, and so his decision to donate them to Bonnie was a big deal. Here, we see Woody at a loss, not able to fulfil the job he did for Andy and fearing that he is useless now.

It’s sad to see a character we love in hard times, and I found myself irrationally annoyed with Bonnie for not playing with the sheriff. It’s completely understandable that Woody becomes obsessed with keeping Forky safe, barely resting and exhausting himself as he finds something which makes him feel needed and useful once again.

Reuiniting with Bo we get to see him struggle with a difficult choice, the choice of staying with the toy he loves and lost once before clashing with his loyalty and belief that helping a kid is what he was made for and the best thing a toy can do. It’s handled well, with our hero conflicted over his desire for his own happiness against his sense of duty.

It makes for an engaging central story, and is framed by an action packed and consistently entertaining movie. There’s a real sense of fun here, with thrills and laughs coming fast and some nice touches. Gabby Gabby, the movie’s major antagonist is a fantastic creation, with a slightly creepy vibe and a backstory which adds depth. The story goes in directions I didn’t expect and highlights the major theme, present throughout the series, that toys derive joy from being played with.

Her ventriloquist dummy henchmen are utterly terrifying too.

There are quite a few new characters introduced, and they all work well, adding to the story. There’s a pair of aggressive, loud mouthed carnival prizes Ducky and Bunny (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) who add lots of humour particularly in a section where they try to come up with a plan to get a key from a  human.

Forky is entertaining too, managing to be annoying in an amusing way and slowly becoming more likeable as the film progresses and his character develops.

The standout for me was Duke Caboom, a Canadian stuntman toy haunted by being rejected after failing to live up to the advert’s hype. Voiced by Keanu Reeves, Duke is a wonderful creation, a posing, swaggering toy who’s not the brightest and has to face his demons and fears. I loved the ’70s styling and Reeves’ voice work is top notch.

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It’s cool to see that Bo gets a bit more development, and her fresh perspective and independent spirit makes her an interesting character. We see her reasons for striking out on her own and the attractiveness of her new life, and why Woody would be drawn to her.

Unfortunately some of the other established characters get short shrift- Jessie (Joan Cusack) is barely present but still a likeable presence, stepping up to the sheriff role when Woody is indisposed. The rest of Andy’s toys don’t get much to do, but it’s still nice to be reunited with some old friends.

Buzz Lightyear’s story is largely played for laughs as he tries to rescue Woody. Woody tells him that his inner voice tells him he has to keep looking after Forky and from then on, not fully understanding, Buzz turns to his prerecorded speech buttons for advice when facing difficult decisions. It’s a nice gag and works well throughout the movie, but he’s relegated to second fiddle here. As I said, Woody has always been the heart of the series, but it’s even more obvious this time around.

Buzz does however clock on to what Woody needs earlier than his best friend, and his actions in the closing stages lead to an ending which while not as heartbreaking as Toy Story 3 still got me rather choked up. And it’s to Pixar’s credit that they manage to add on a satisfying epilogue to the series and succeed in creating a second satisfying ending. It’s a testament to the innovation, skill and storytelling abilities of the team they have that this is an absolute belter of a movie. It’s not the strongest of the four, but it’s yet another home run for the series and a great watch.

Verdict: 9/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Book Review: Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames

Last year I read and fell in love with Kings of the Wyld, Eames’ novel which created a fantasy world of monsters and magic. In that world the mercenaries who fight the monsters are the rock stars of their world.

The first book dealt with legendary band Saga reforming to save a beseiged city where one of the group’s daughters was fighting. That daughter, Rose and her own band, Fable, take centre stage here.

We see the world through the eyes of Tam, who works at a bar. The daughter of two mercenaries, she has been sheltered by an overprotective father broken by grief for his wife. Her uncle suggests her as a possible bard for Fable and Tam sets off for adventure with a warrior she idolises.

On the road she comes to know Bloody Rose and her band of misfits, and to realise the gulf between the songs and real life. A world of messy, bloody fights that is light on heroism and where the motives are questionable.

Every other band is heading toward a vast, monstrous horde but Rose leads her group the opposite way to fulfil a mysterious contract. What are they going to face? And why does a glory hunter like Rose seem reluctant to join an epic battle?

As with the first book what really works here is the fantastically vivid, amusing and energetic way that Eames writes. It’s a book shot through with wit and humour, but also delivers an emotional punch or two along the way.

The back of the book features comparisons to Terry Pratchett and George R. R. Martin, and they fit. There’s the wit of Pratchett and the idea of creating a fantasy world with parodies or versions of real world trends and phenomena. Similarly, he has Martin’s knack for grounding the fantasy elements with realistic characters, and focuses on life down in the mud. The fights have a brutal edge, a sloppiness at times that is worlds away from the sterile, glory of old school fantasy wars.

The mercs are a mix of chancers, thugs and outcasts. But Eames finds the quiet moments and heroism in their lives.

The plot unfolds nicely, slowly revealing more about the members of Fable and Tam’s shifting perspective. The big bad is held back for much of the book, but is a strong villain, with decent, if warped, motivations and a connection to Kings without stopping this being Rose and Tam’s story.

You can spot a few plot points coming before they arrive, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment. The story is entirely gripping and the characters are engaging and likeable. Fable are very different from the old, tired legends of Saga, but the similarity is that Eames nails the camaraderie of the group.

Eames is a phenomenal writer and I’m already eagerly awaiting a return to this world again. An absolute cracker.

Verdict: 9/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Book Review: Walk Sleep Repeat by Stephen Reynolds

This is the second of Reynolds’ walking books I’ve read, having enjoyed Just Off for a Walk earlier this year, which inspired me to add “walk the entire Wales Coast Path” to my bucket list. This book, as with that, is a memoir of a walking trip, this time the West Highland Way, a 100 mile walk across Scotland, ending at Fort William.

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The journey here is shorter than the previous challenge, but for me this works in the book’s favour. Here Reynolds breaks down the book into daily chunks, which allows him more time on each section and which less rushing to fit all the details in. The first book amused me and was a pleasant read, but this one entertained me far more.

Reynolds seems more comfortable and relaxed here, the writing flowing better and being funnier as a result. He’s a Wodehouse fan, and there’s a touch of Bertie Wooster to his narration, a casual, laid back style which engages.

He captures a sense of the beauty of his surroundings and the joys and challenges of the trail he follows. Reynolds captures that enthusiasm that people have for their hobbies, and his enjoyment and love of walking leaps off the page and is utterly charming. The first book inspired me to want to walk more, and this one had me daydreaming about taking proper walking holidays and expeditions myself.

Builds on the first and surpasses it. A wonderfully warm and enjoyable read.

Verdict: 8/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Film Review: Spider-man: Far From Home MILD SPOILERS

As the first MCU movie set in the post-Endgame world, this one is key with setting up how the universe will go from here, and it seems as though Marvel will be fine, as this is one of the best movies so far.

A large part of this is that Tom Holland is the best Spider-man we’ve had so far, he captures perfectly Peter Parker’s nerdy awkwardness, enthusiasm and the sense of a hero trying to find his place in the world. Having returned five years after Thanos’ finger snap, he has to rebuild his life (the movie does this very well, with a quick recap at the start which explains the whole situation in an entertaining way) and faces some tough questions. With several of earth’s mightiest heroes gone, can he continue as a friendly neighbourhood hero, or does he have to step up to the big leagues? And is he even ready for that? And how much will it impact on his personal life.

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Peter is worried about this all, and still grieving the loss of his hero, mentor and friend Tony Stark. Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) is trying to contact him, but Peter just wants to go on his school trip to Europe, have some time with his friends and tell MJ (Zendaya) that he’s into her. When they get to Venice, Fury is waiting and wants to enlist him in the effort to stop giant “elementals”, beings which embody the elements and are a threat to the world.

During his first run in with one Peter is joined in the fight by a mysterious cloaked figure who defeats the water giant. Fury introduces them, and the man, dubbed Mysterio by the press, is revealed to be Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), who has fought the elementals before but was unable to defeat them before they destroyed his earth. The events of Endgame have torn the fabric of the multiverse and the elementals, and Beck have wound up on this earth, and he is determined not to allow the same thing to happen again.

Beck and Peter bond, and the older hero provides him with advice, compassion and guidance, praising his bravery but understanding his desire for a regular life. Fury, however, is less well pleased and manipulates the events of the school trip to ensure that Peter is where he wants him to be, namely Prague, where the next attack will come.

The only quibble I have with this movie, and it’s extremely minor, is that they use Mysterio. Long time Spidey fans know that the fishbowl wearing character is a villain who uses trickery and illusions, which means that the revelation that Beck is a wrong ‘un lacks any surprise, which is fine as it’s not portrayed as a massive twist and occurs about halfway through the movie. My criticism here is that as soon as they introduce Mysterio you know that something isn’t quite right, and the film might have been more interesting had they used a second tier Marvel hero as the character. Picked a lesser known Avenger who’s a hero on the page and had them do the fake hero thing here.

But like I said, the movie works fine despite this. Gyllenhaal should be praised for coming across as fairly likeable, and it’s a nice dramatic irony that we can see the tricks he’s using to exploit Peter into doing what he wants. The little moments, the allusions to Tony Stark, it’s all done extremely well.

While the audience can see the turn coming, it makes sense that Peter falls for it. He’s desperate for someone to fill the shoes of Iron Man, not just on a personal level but for the world. He feels uncomfortable and unprepared to step into the role of earth’s greatest defender himself, so a charismatic, older hero with a sad backstory is exactly who he’d believe would be the right choice.

His decision is dumb, but you can see how he’s manipulated into making it, so it makes sense why he does it.

The cast in general are all on fine form, with Jackson in his comfort zone as Fury, backed up by Cobie Smulders’ Maria Hill, who is still a bit one note but convinces as a capable and cool headed agent. And all of Peter’s fellow students work well, and there is plenty of humour in their interactions, particularly his best friend Ned played with real comic talent by Jacob Batalon. And there’s a nice subplot about Aunt May and Happy getting closer.

And the Peter and MJ relationship is wonderful. Zendaya’s character is a sarcastic, darkly humorous delight, a bit of an oddball but one who sparks well with Peter’s more cheery demeanour. Her confidence and openness in conversation makes her an interesting character and it’s easy to see why Peter is smitten, it also helps that Zendaya has little moments where she allows cracks in the exterior to show. Their relationship is wonderfully sweet and charming, a natural awkwardness to some of their chatting and probably the best Spider-man couple we’ve had so far.

This movie ticks all the boxes for me, it serves to develop Peter as a character and set up what Spidey will have to deal with in the future and it deals with how the world it takes place in has changed. It works as a self contained movie but also feels like the continuation of the whole series, showing the impact of the relationships and events of the previous movies.

It just works and continues to show that the MCU incarnation of Spider-man is the best so far.

Verdict: 9/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Disney Classics #23: The Rescuers

This is one of the Disney movies that never really landed with me as a kid. I definitely remember seeing it, but we didn’t have a VHS copy which was odd as my sisters and I really liked the sequel, 1990’s The Rescuers Down Under. I’ve got to say watching it as an adult I can kinda see why it wasn’t held in such regard by us, or seemingly with audiences in general. While in Florida I only found one Rescuers pin and the cast member I traded with said that a lot of the younger guests had no idea who Bernard was. It has it’s charms, and it’s decent enough, but we’re firmly in second tier Disney movie territory.

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The plot is quite fun, and like with The Great Mouse Detective, it’s set in a mouse world that exists beneath/alongside the human world, only here the mice can talk to humans. The plot revolves around Rescue Aid Society’s Hungarian representative Bianca (Eva Gabor) who teams up with janitor Bernard (Bob Newhart) to go and rescue a young girl kidnapped from New York.

The RAS exists beneath the United Nations but seems dedicated solely to rescuing and helping people, citing the story of the mouse and the lion as their origin. They also have a brilliantly catchy theme song. Seriously, I’ll be singing that to myself for days having just rewatched it.

Bernard, superstitious and a little cowardly, is apprehensive but wants to impress Bianca and is generally a decent sort of bloke, mouse, mouse bloke? They gather some clues about the missing girl and then fly down to Devil’s Bayou where the girl has been taken. But what can two little mice do against a human villainess, her bumbling sidekick and two alligators?

The answer, of course, is a lot, especially as they’re assisted by some local critters and Penny (Michelle Stacy) the girl they’ve gone to save. The movie is quite brief (under 2 hours) and zips along quite nicely. There are a few action sequences, some decent gags and an engaging double act in Bianca and Bernard, with Bianca’s self assured confidence contrasting with his nervousness. The duo are destined to get together, and Bernard shows his worth in stepping up to the challenges ahead.

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The problems are that while the villain Madame Medusa (Geraldine Page) is entertainingly unhinged, she feels at times like a frazzled Cruella De Ville type and has the traditional Disney villain failing of relying on an utterly useless henchman, Mr Snoops. She’s also not entirely scary or much of  a threat, more mad than genuinely dangerous.

Similarly, the music is a bit lacklustre (RAS theme song aside) and the animation, while serviceable isn’t anything special.

The parts that work such as the Bianca and Bernard relationship, a sequence with an organ and two hungry alligaors, and the peril of the cave where Penny has been put to work looking for a lost diamond, are all fine and entertaining, but it never steps it up enough to become more memorable.

Disney Score: 6/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Book Review: Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

I got this as a gift from a friend, and it’s a wonderful read. Haig a talented fiction writer (review of his novel The Humans here), here writes about real life, an account of his own struggles with depression and anxiety. It begins with discussing falling into crisis, of almost ending his life, of the difficulties caused by his mental health conditions.

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Written in short, punchy sections Haig writes openly and honestly about his mental health, capturing the terrible funks of depression and the paralysing fear that comes with anxiety. He writes with the use of painful, evocative metaphors and descriptions, giving a clear image inside his head.

He details how ordinary tasks became terrifying ordeals, of internal arguments with himself, how he questioned how he would survive this turmoil and if he even wanted to. There’s a wonderful insight to his writing, a way of looking at himself with clarity and honesty, facing up to his demons.

Of course, as the title suggests, there is hope.

Haig writes sections where his current self tries to urge his past self to keep going, to keep faith that things can, and will, improve. He talks about the things that helped him, the way he has learned to adapt, to cope with the darkness when it comes.

It’s a magnificent book. The kind of book that makes you marvel at the intelligence of the writer, but never in a smug way. Haig seems a decent bloke, and he conveys his fears, doubts, hopes and coping strategies in a way which is smart but accessible.

A fantastic way to get some greater understanding of what mental health can feel like to the individual.

Verdict: 9/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Fat Boy on a Diet: June 2019 Update: Back on Track

After the birthday indulgences, I was hoping that June would be a chance for me to get back on track. The Couch to 5k training, a few more sensible dietary choices and deciding to push for 175 miles on my Race at Your Pace challenge, I was hoping that this month would help.

I’m feeling healthier as a result of the running. I’m writing this on Saturday and hoping to finish the 6th week of the Couch to the 5k plan on Sunday morning. I’ve found the runs challenging but not impossible, and in week five ran for 20 minutes, which I wouldn’t have been able to get near when I began.

I’ve also started getting into walking more, enjoying being out in nature and trying to up my steps per day. I was aiming for 150 miles this month, but soon found I was going to pass this and upped the total.

All this exercise has made me feel better, mentally as well as physically and I thought I’d shed a bit of weight.

I haven’t weighed in every week, but have kept track by hopping on the scales now and then. At the start of the year I was hoping to hit about half a stone a month, and while I began well, it has slowed considerably, but I’m happy to report that I was just under that vague target.

We’re reaching the halfway point of the year, and overall, I’m rather happy with the progress I’ve made. Not just with the weight but in my outlook, actions and exercise. How much I weigh bothers me, but it’s not the sole thing that I need to change to feel happier and more comfortable with who I am. I’m working on it, but I’m becoming increasingly aware that I do better when I’m working to improve in more ways than just a number on a scale.

Over the summer I want to keep the running going, do the 5k and also keep walking, making better choices and trying to change my relationship with food to one which is healthier and more sensible.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Book Review: The Inimitable Jeeves by PG Wodehouse

Of course, I’ve heard of Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster series, but I’ve never actually read any. Then a month or so ago I stumbled on a batch of the books at a charity thing and got them. A quick Google revealed this was the earliest of the set and a good place to start.

The book is actually a collection of short stories but are all connected this kinda works as a novel. Most of the stories are based around Bertie Wooster having to deal with awkward situations caused either by his irresponsible cousins Claude and Eustace, or the romantic exploits of his old friend Bingo Little, who is constantly falling in love.

Bertie finds himself drawn into helping Bingo in particular and strives either to find ways to divert him from disastrous pairings or else to help him succeed with suitable partners. This lands him in various tight spots and stressful situations, requiring his valet Jeeves to come to his rescue with his insight, craftiness and clever ploys.

All the stories are wonderfully charming thanks to Wodehouse’s clever, gentle humour. In Bertie we have a warm and likeable narrator who is rather naive and easily led, always talked into helping his friends. As part of the idle rich it should be hard to warm to Bertie, but Wodehouse makes him a decent kind of chap and aware of some of his own failings.

In contrast the artful and reserved Jeeves is far cleverer and more shrewd, noticing things his employer misses and making moves to fix problems subtly. The interplay is finely observed, with Bertie being grateful and appreciative of all Jeeves’ skills even if they occasionally class when his valet disagrees with his flashier fashion choices.

I loved the stories which are warm and witty, and the old fashioned slang and social etiquette are interesting and charming. A great, easy read of humour and character. I’m looking forward to diving into the next book in the near future.

Verdict: 8/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Disney Classics #22: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

I’ve always had a soft spot for Winnie the Pooh, because of an old video we used to have. The video was called Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, and was frequently watched in our house. Pooh, the bear of very little brain, is such a lovable and easy going character that it’s hard not to warm to him, and the rest of the characters in the Hundred Acre Wood won us over too, particularly the morose Eeyore and the bouncing, bundle of energy Tigger.

That video was a short movie made in 1968 which would later become part of this film, which added a few other stories and extended it out.

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Because of this, the film has an episodic feel to it, but for me it works, partly because of the framing device the movie uses. The whole story is presented as being taken from a book and so we get a narrator and turning pages, and some visual gags based on this (the book being turned sideways to help Tigger when he’s stuck in a tree, letters washed away during a rainstorm).

The humour is gentle but quite clever in places, with the world it takes place in coming from the imagination of Christopher Robin, and so there are childish misunderstandings of things and a certain unreality to proceedings. The rambling, free flowing stories feel like exactly the kind of silly make believe games a little boy would come up with and lend the movie a great deal of charm.

And the characters, as I said, are wonderful. The voice actors and the animation gives each one a clear, unique personality and it’s telling that these are the voices that are still associated with the roles, providing the inspiration for their updated versions in Christopher Robin last year. Whenever I watch this movie again it feels like a sort of homecoming, a nostalgic safety blanket which made it perfect for a recent sick day.

I love these characters, I love the silly little stories and the way it’s executed. I love the trippy “Heffalumps and Woozles” sequence which plays the nightmarish and the comical to the right mix, creepy without being too scary for the little ones.

I love this movie, it reminds me of my childhood and it still has enough charm to work on me as an adult. My nibblings have watched it recently, and both were entranced by it, so it shows that Winnie the Pooh is still popular and will endure into future generations, and these movies are a large part of that.

Disney Score: 8/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.