Believing the Fantastical

After spending Easter Sunday Dinner with my Grandparents I’ve come up with a new idea for a Bucket list item.

Arrived to start chatting about the latest family developments. Since I brought Oscar I took him for a walk along the creek to recheck his stomping grounds. Returned to a cup of tea which lead into fixing a computer and installing some software. Bit of heavily lifting later and concluded with dinner made for a welcome rest. Following dinner, sitting in the lounge chatting, listening to their stories and checking BBC News we flicked over to watch Loch Ness (1996).

As a boy I toured Scotland camping and caravaning seeing bits and pieces with the family but never seen or stayed near enough to see Loch Ness. During the film when a familiar scene showed we’d diverge onto anecdotes regarding their visits including mentions about their dog Tinker.

With a little after thought I’ve decided I want to stay at one of the (probably ridiculously overpriced) Bed & Breakfasts in the area (ideally the Moffat Arms). This is a typical reaction to seeing the movie I’d reason but a followup thought to this, unique to me and this visit are the stories I’ve heard during.

In addition to this visit I’d like ask the locals about their stories, not really to hear the vastly over exaggerated tourist tales but to see the expression on the faces of the people telling the story. I’m hoping that eventually someone will tell earnest stories with wonder of the magic and mystery of the loch.

Sure we live in the Age of Information where rational thought and empirical data rules but there must still be some fellow daydreamers, imagineers or fantasists up there who whilst accept that a Nessie or Kelpy probably doesn’t exist it would be rekindle that childhood belief of extraordinary possibility that so many have forgot.

Film Review: Zathura

Would you like to play a game? Ordinarily a harmless request but this is an extraordinary game. Zathura takes you into the Jumanji universe where board games aren’t just pieces being moved around a board, they’re adventures beyond your wildest imagination.

Although a film targeted at children I found this thoroughly enjoyable; there are plenty of jokes for all ages and a deeper story about how hard it can be for children after a divorce.

The story starts with a father and his 2 sons enjoying their weekend together playing games, intermittent with him finishing preparations for a presentation at work. Typically the boys compete for their father’s attention and in the process raise some minor havoc which leads to one of them being tricked into the basement and discovering a cool looking game.

The discoverer opens it up and starts playing; a card is ejected but being so young he can barely read and asks his slightly perturbed brother what it says. Upon reading, a meteor strikes, devastating the living room. Looking out of the window they are stranded in space with no parents and an apathetic sleeping teenager – what are they going to do?

I thoroughly enjoyed Zathura. Usually there’s an obvious formula to children’s movies meaning you can almost predict what’s going to happen next, but Zathura certainly kept it interesting for me. You expect a big hoohah seeing aliens immediately and then getting back at them but Zathura takes a different approach, withhold seeing them until absolutely necessary. Get the kids thinking of the most disgusting and scary monster alien they can imagine, and just when they can’t bare it any longer they show you and it’s pretty intimidating but nothing a 5 year old can’t handle.
A good film to go and see if you’re looking for some easy entertainment, firm acting from the cast, thoughtful plot and respectable CG effects. Certainly worth the price of a cinema ticket.

Rating: 82%

Film Review: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Large Aslan (Lion) head overlooking cast members in a snowy atmosphere

If like me, you’re old enough to remember the 80’s television series of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe you can remember that it used what was considered at the time the cutting edge of technology, every week you would tune in to see a television masterpiece which captivated your imagination. This film to had me suspense, I had been anticipating it for over a year and my expectations were not let down in the slightest. I watched in wonderment as I was gradually introduced to the o-so familiar characters and their situation. The story progresses smoothly as their lives are up heaved from their home sending them on a long journey to a country home little so they know that his is only their first step on an epic journey from this world to another and back again.

For those that don’t know this story you should be asking yourself 2 things; Why have you not read the books, for they are a marvellous pieces of literature that feature prominently in most lists of the top 100 books for the 20th Century.

The other must be why do you not know the story? Three inconceivably linked things; a lion, big scary and linked intuitively with nobleness, A Witch, spells, mischief (whether good or evil) and fantasy, and to make things that little more curious a Wardrobe, which for those that have no idea will be thinking “what?” a wardrobe and will be instantly bewildered and want to know more.

Never the less here is a brief non-spoiler version of the story. Four children loved by their family living in central London during the World War II bombings are sent to a Professors residence in the country for their protection. As they adapt to their new surroundings, which quickly lose all interest to the four making their lives dull and boring.

One day during a rather risky game of hide and seek Lucy the youngest of the four stumbles upon a wardrobe, which she promptly hides in. Of all the hiding places one could find this was possible the best for she found that the Wardrobe is a doorway to the Land of Narnia, though it does look ordinary at first but soon starts speaking to a Faun (think merman but instead of a half fish/half human think half goat/half human) called Mr. Tumnus and listens to stories about the magical world of Narnia with its talking animals and ancient myths. Throughout their tea and biscuits Lucy learns that Narnia has fallen under dark times due to the reign of an evil witch. Mr Tumnus not wanting Lucy to suffer to the same fate soon sends her on her way back home.

Back in the countryside home Lucy tells her siblings of Narnia and they, of course don’t believe her. Sometime later the children are trouble with the house keeper and it turns out that Edmund, the second youngest, had actually been to Narnia as well using this knowledge they flee to Narnia to escape their punishment.

Upon arriving they start exploring discover further the peril that Narnia, and they, are now involved in. Being just children they are scared and do not want to get involved, Edmund however had unwittingly been talking to the Witch and after being offered as much Turkish Delight as he could eat willingly agrees to ‘introduce’ his brother and sisters to her. So the children are divided one tricked by evil to betray his family and the others intending to somehow rescue him.

Personally I think using a relatively unknown cast is a benefit, we as an audience do not have any preconceptions about them, and it adds to the sanity-questioning concept that the film is in fact real. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s a film but think about an 8 year old seeing this film they might think its real and will go home wanting to be a knight or king and go around the house saving people.

Awe inspiring visuals, hair raising orchestral audio, pristine effects a fantastic film well suited to any and everyone. Definitely a worthwhile watch and certainly a film to rent or buy.

Rating: 92%