101 Dalmatians

This 1996 live-action version of the animated classic based on the novel starring Glenn Close as the movie villainess is a brilliant adaptation and a film you can usually find on telly at one point during the year. Starting off as a romantic film about two dog owners, Anita and Roger (played by Joley Richardson and Jeff Daniels), who meet unexpectedly in the park (with a little help from their dogs) they soon get married and their dogs have a litter of puppies. These puppies come to the attention of the villainous Cruella De Vil (Glenn Close), in this version a fashion designer who was Anita’s former boss who wants to make the ultimate spotted coat and use Anita’s puppies for it.

For anyone that hasn’t seen this film, first off – why not? Secondly, you should get your hands on a copy and watch it. It’s a brilliant family film, with some funny moments, adventure and best of all cute dogs and puppies. With this being a live-action version of the story, everything seems more real and realistic. A particular angle regarding the plan to kill the puppies, introducing a character, aptly named Skinner who illegally kills animals for their coats – he’s creepy and sinister and unfortunately a very real threat.

The human actors are each brilliant in their role – particularly Glenn Close as Cruella – she’s perfect in the role. She’s a character that’s used to getting her own way, even if it means breaking the law – she’s cold, calculating and ruthless and Close is perfect at portraying this maniacal villain. Jeff Daniels and Joley Richardson are charged with bringing Roger and Anita to life, and are given more material than the animated movie gives to sink their teeth into. One of my favourite things about this film however, is the double team of Hugh Laurie and Mark Williams as Jasper and Horace. They are both hilarious in their respective roles and have a great chemistry together. They are not afraid to get stuck into physical comedy, but also have a great script filled with some funny moments to back them up.

I don’t think I can end this review without bringing up the animals that were involved in making this film also; even though the film features a lot of dalmatian dogs there is also other breeds of dogs, farm animals, a cat, a horse, a racoon and a skunk. It also amazes me what trainers can get animals to do on screen, and particularly the dog actors; some of the facial expressions that the lead dogs playing Pongo and Perdita pull are beautifully heartbreaking, particularly when the puppies are first stolen. You can almost feel the heartbreak of the dogs as well as their owners.

101 Dalmatians is a brilliant Disney family film, and still a firm favourite with me, albeit I am a dog person, so the film was always going to appeal to me. If you haven’t seen it though, I do recommend it – it’s brilliant for a Sunday afternoon, and it also has a live action sequel (102 Dalmatians) which is also worth a look in too!

 

Cruella (to Jasper, Horace and Skinner: Congratulations, you’ve just won Gold, Silver and Bronze in the ‘Morons Olympics’!

(pause)

Horace: Who won the Gold?

Cruella: SHUT UP! (101 Dalmatians)

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Doctor Who 7.04 “The Power of Three”

The penultimate episode before the series takes a break until Christmas, this story is set on Earth – the first to be set there for a while, and focuses on the Pond’s real life, and how the Doctor manages to fit in with it. The mystery of the small, black cubes that fell from the sky one day is a lighter episode from the previous one, and has a feel for the Russell T Davies era again.

I must confess I wasn’t particularly interested in the cube storyline, although I did find them creepy enough – they way they had adapted slowly and silently into everyday, modern life seems like it could be a potential reality for the future. But this episode primarily focused on the Ponds. As it was based entirely on Earth, we start to see that they have in fact grown up from when we first met them in The Eleventh Hour –they now have each other, but jobs, commitments and lives to lead. I picked up on it other episodes but in the sequence when the Doctor lived in Amy and Rory’s home you definitely start to realise that the Doctor is like a big kid – he needs to be constantly occupied, shouting for Amy to witness him doing kick-me-up’s and playing on the Wii.

But he genuinely cares for the Ponds’ we see this when he whisks them off to the past for his version of an anniversary present, and in the emotional and poignant scene between him and Amy at Tower of London. It was a beautifully written speech by Chris Chibnall and acted exquisitely by Karen Gillan and Matt Smith. It’s made all the more poignant because the line “You were the first face this face saw” can also relate to Matt and Karen themselves, as they both started their Doctor Who adventure together. It’s tender and one of the best moments in the episode.


Brian is also back – hurrah! He was my favourite part of Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and he does have some comic moments in this (his cube video diaries are a treat) but the conversation he shares with the Doctor when he realises they’ve been gone for longer than a few hours is heavy, haunting and foreboding.  “Not them, never them Brian” carries the level of importance these characters hold with the Doctor, and also perhaps gives a glimpse to the level of baggage that the Doctor carries-after all, this incarnation has yet to really lose anyone, whereas during David Tennant’s time his Doctor experience many a heartache.

Could this change in the next and final episode of Amy Pond and Rory Williams. We march ever closer to the Ponds exit from the series and I’m looking forward to seeing the tear-jerker of an episode that Moffat has no doubt written.

 

Rory: There are soldiers all over my house and I am in my pants. (The Power of Three)

Doctor Who 7.02 “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”

The second episode of the series promised a much more light-hearted story, filled with fun, frolic and oh a few Dinosaurs. The Doctor is in charge of saving Earth once more when an unmanned ship (filled with Dinosaurs) careers towards Earth: he must get aboard the ship and find a way to steer it away from Earth before it is blown to pieces by Earth missiles. What the Doctor doesn’t count on is Solomon an old, crippled collector of objects that is determined to keep hold of his precious cargo.

My excitement factor was kicked into high-gear for this week’s episode thanks to the appearance of two Harry Potter alumni appearing in one episode – David Bradley (aka Mr Filch) as the villainous Solomon and Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley) as Rory Williams’ Dad – Brian!

Now before I move on, can I just gush about my personal highlight of this episode (and to be honest I don’t know whether it will be topped by anything else this series): Brian Williams. Now I love Mark Williams as an actor, the man has such a comic talent and he puts it to brilliant use here. I fell in love with Brian’s character instantly thank to Williams’ acting and the writing talents of Chris Chibnall. I also loved the double act he created with Arthur Darvill and it certainly reminded me of a Father/Son relationship.  The only word I feel that describes Brian fully is…Legend.

Doctor Who also goes for a new format in terms of the amount of friends the Doctor brings along. As well as the Ponds and Brian, we also see Queen Nefertiti and a hunter named Riddell join creating the Doctor’s self-proclaimed ‘gang’. It certainly works during this episode, although once or twice you are left cringing at Riddell’s macho comments.

 

Other great moments for this week include the Dinosaurs – there’s a nice mixture and I couldn’t help but fall in love with Tricey-it was simply adorable! The two robots were also comedy gold, cleverly voiced by one of the best comedy duos around today Robert Webb and David Mitchell. There is also a great lead performance by Matt Smith in this episode –the Doctor is being seen more and more as like a big kid, believing his life is far more entertaining than ‘normal’ boring life.  We’re seeing that Amy and Rory go back to their normal lives after each episode, perhaps showing that they are getting too old for their adventures with the Doctor. However Matt Smith also gives us a glimpse of the Doctor’s more unforgiving side, something that we will see more of in next week’s episode.

This episode is just a great big ball of fun – entertaining, silly and humorous, reminding me of the days when Russel T Davies was at the head of the Doctor Who ship. Next week’s episode promises to be more serious than this one as we march on. I’d definitely say this episode was close, if not on par with last week’s episode in terms of entertainment factor.

 

Rory: Dig with what?

Brian: Ah! (produces a trowel)

Rory: Did you just have that on you?

Brian: Of course! What sort of a man doesn’t carry a trowel? Put it on our Christmas list.

Rory: Dad, I’m 31. I don’t have a Christmas list any more.

Doctor: (from afar) I do!

(Dinosaurs on a Spaceship)