Tag Archives: Benicio Del Toro

The Little Prince – Review

I was excited a few months back when I saw the preview of The Little Prince. Netflix is bringing great art to the world of entertainment and I thought that it was a Netflix original feature, perhaps one of their next big ideas. Imagine being able to watch the latest that Hollywood (and independent filmmakers everywhere) have to offer in the comfort of your living room (or home cinema) on the same day as their release in the theaters. Actually, Sean Parker of Napster fame is working on this right now with a project called Screening Room.

I honestly think that if they could figure out a way to partner with distributors to bring new films to the small screen that they could charge any amount they wished for a subscription and people would pay it, and they would have their own distribution platform for their own productions. I know they would have me hooked. I would even consider it if the movies didn’t hit Netflix until a week after they hit theaters. Unfortunately, that was not what happened with The Little Prince.

Apparently, back in March around a week before the film’s US theatrical release Paramount decided not to release the film after all. The film originally appeared premiered out of competition at Cannes in 2015 and it has been released in theaters around the globe and has made almost $100 million. It was even awarded France’s Cesar Award for best animated film. The Director Mark Osborne (Kung Fu Panda) seemed melancholy yet hopeful when he tweeted about Paramount’s decision back in March.

Many thanks to everyone for the outpouring of love and support in these strange times. …  As it turns out, the much anticipated U.S. release of this special and unique film will have to be anticipated just a little bit more. … All I can say is #thelittleprince will in fact be released by another distributor later this year. … Until then, head to Canada! The film opens there in wide release this weekend!

Then, about a week later, it was announced that Netflix had bought the rights to the film Pictures’ domestic rights to The Little Prince. This book of the same title, upon which the movie draws its inspiration, was published in 1943 by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. There have been several attempts to adapt it to the screen, but its brevity, childish whimsy, and intangible qualities have proven difficult for adaptation even for the likes of Orson Welles and Gene Wilder.

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I believe that Mark Osborne was successful here because he didn’t try to adapt the book alone. He has given us a story surrounding the creation of and inspiration for this nearly mythical text. Something so dear to millions of people is unable to be adapted without controversy, so he kept the images and text from the original as close as he could and framed the story to emphasize the same messages that have been treasured for these past 73 years and gave it a form that will allow it to be emblazoned on the mind of countless generations to come.

I’m sure that no changes were made to the final release of the film, but going back and watching the original theatrical trailer from last year and the new one released by Netflix a few months ago (above) you can see the difference in tone. The first felt like a more traditional animated film with its frenetic pace and quick cuts. But the new trailer takes its time and lingers quietly on iconic images and phrases from the book. In the end, I’m just happy that this film has found an American audience. It is mesmerizingly beautiful and so emotionally poignant yet funny. It really is brilliant and the voice cast is amazing.

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Think of the movie What Dreams May Come or The Fountain with their beautiful imagery and breathtaking visuals. The Little Prince has more in common with these films than your common animated fare like Secret Life of Pets or the latest Ice Age sequel. Animated films are generally associated with the comedy genre, especially when the main character is a child. However, even though this film has comedic elements, it is not a comedy. It is an amazingly deep and moving drama appropriate for all ages. Kids should see the importance of their childhood and hopefully some adults can remember what it is like to be a kid again.

Since I had next to no knowledge of the original story going into this film besides knowing that it is a beloved french children’s book, I have watched the movie again to soak it in and I have plans to read the book. However, I don’t think I will be able to read the book without hearing Jeff Bridges voice in my head. He functions here as the perfect narrator. I’m not sure how the 106 minute runtime can speed by as quickly as it seems to, because the film is not in a rush at all, even during the more action oriented 3rd act, it is still playfully artistic. It reminds me of a Roald Dahl or Dr. Seuss story.

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Like one of those tales, the story happens on what might be called an exaggerated Earth where we walk a tightrope between reality and fantasy. In this world, our protagonist and by extension all children are forced by their parents to focus all of their attention on studying to be essential functional members of society. This leads to an almost mechanical life where children don’t play or make up their own fictional worlds with their toys. Essentially, everyone is grown-up. That is everyone except the Aviator who teaches us that, “Growing up is not the problem. Forgetting is.’

We see the original novel play out in deliciously beautiful stop-motion visuals. We aren’t given everything at once, instead we are told the story with our protagonist a little bit at a time. This framing device is animated in CG and hand drawing. Here we meet a young girl who is on a strict schedule in her studies, preparing for her first day at the prestigious and very seriously grown-up Werth Academy. This leaves her no room for free-time. However, after moving to a new house with her single business minded mother, she takes notice of her eccentric elderly neighbour who we learn to be the Aviator of the original novel. The two become secret friends as her mother insists that she won’t have time for friends until next summer. As they spend time together and she is freed to be a kid, the Aviator tells her the story and she begins to learn the timeless lessons of which we all need to be reminded.

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For a film that will not even touch your cineplex’s screen, this film is packed with superior talent. Mackenzie Foy and Jeff Bridges have the largest parts, but Rachel McAdams, James Franco, Paul Rudd, Paul Giamatti, Marion Cotillard, Benicio del Toro, Albert Brooks, Bud Cort and Ricky Gervais fill out the supporting cast. Even though some of them are only given a handful of lines, they are all superb, and bring a sense that this film was a passion project for a lot of people, the director included. In fact, it is his son Riley Osborne that voices the titular Little Prince.

The Little Prince is currently sitting in very rare company on top of my best of the year list so far. I am recommending it to everyone I can. I mentioned it to someone who told me that they did not have Netflix and I responded by saying, “It is worth the cost of a year’s subscription to Netflix to see this film.” Please don’t ignore it because you have read the book or bypass it because you haven’t. It is a totally different story which uses the enchantment of the source material to tell a new story infused with the same vigor and determination to dream, love, live, and explore.

Suicide Squad – Weekend Outlook

August is coming in like a lion with the release of one of the most highly anticipated films of the summer. It will break the August opening record. Alternatively, somehow Christopher Walken and Kevin Spacey agreed to be in a movie about a man who gets turned into a house cat, and the best movie of the weekend is being released by Netflix and will probably never going to see a theater.

Suicide Squad

In contrast to the dour, happiness sucking waste of time that was Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad at least proves that DC knows how to have a sense of humor (as twisted as it may be) but that still didn’t make for a great movie.

I knew that the bad guys weren’t going to turn good all of a sudden, but I didn’t think that they would let themselves be held captive by a woman that makes Trump look like a bleeding heart liberal. Seriously, Amanda Waller and by extension the United States government is pure evil.

Visually, the film was great. it had a realism to the effects that was appreciated. It was a gritty and mesmerizing film to watch. However, the story just doesn’t work. There are too many characters and the flow of the movie is constantly interrupted to give us some back story on an extraneous character that is only going to get 5 minutes of screen time and is totally superfluous to the plot. These characters make very stretched choices and nothing feels real. However, that has always been my beef with DC vs Marvel.

Don’t get me wrong, I had fun with the movie, I laughed when I was supposed to and the theater seemed energized. Theaters are selling out, riding a wave of publicity and social media buzz, and the film will certainly break Guardians of the Galaxy‘s previous August record of $94.3 million. They are set up for more films in the future, with the Justice league and a Harley Quinn solo film, but I think I’ve been spoiled with Marvel films that seem like more than just vehicles to sell popcorn.

If you’re looking for a PG-13 film that should have gotten an R rating and want to watch a lot of disturbed individuals do a lot I’ve violent things then this is the movie for you. Maybe I’m just looking for a better class of heroes and villains. Take it or leave it, it’s your choice.

Nine Lives

I think you could find a funnier way to spend an hour and a half if you just binge watched cat videos on YouTube. I can’t believe that these serious actors agreed to be in such a dumpster fire. This won’t crack the top 5 this week and will likely be on the top of my worst movies of the year list. Instead, stay in and save your money. Turn on Netflix and watch a good kids movie.

The Little Prince

Kung Fu Panda director Mark Osborne teams up with Netflix to bring us this animated take on Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s beloved novella about a pilot (voiced by Jeff Bridges) who crash lands in the Sahara desert and encounters a mysterious young boy who claims to be an extraterrestrial prince. James Franco, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Benicio Del Toro, and Paul Giamatti also lend their voices to this production.

Weekend Box Office Prediction:

  1. Suicide Squad – $139 million
  2. Jason Bourne – $28 million
  3. Bad Moms – $14 million
  4. Star Trek Beyond – $12 million
  5. The Secret Life of Pets – $10 million

This Week in Trailers: Sing, Space Between Us, Little Prince, Deepwater Horizon, Beauty and the Beast

Each year there are over 600 movies released in the US. About 150 of those are given a wide release. That is about 3 movies a week, every week, not counting those hidden gems that may not even make it to your local movie house. There are so many movies, it is hard to keep track of all of them.

In this weekly trailer roundup, I want to keep you informed about some of the movies that are coming to theaters soon, and put some others on your radar that are still a good ways off. I will list them and provide links to the trailers if you want to click through, but I will pick out a handful that I’m excited about and provide a synopsis and some color and tell you when you should expect to see it in your local multi-plex.

This week, we got brand new trailers for:

Sing

Synopsis: Set in a world like ours but entirely inhabited by animals, Sing stars Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), a dapper Koala who presides over a once-grand theater that has fallen on hard times. Buster is an eternal optimist—okay, maybe a bit of a scoundrel—who loves his theater above all and will do anything to preserve it. Now facing the crumbling of his life’s ambition, he has one final chance to restore his fading jewel to its former glory by producing the world’s greatest singing competition.

Five lead contestants emerge: A mouse (Seth MacFarlane) who croons as smoothly as he cons, a timid teenage elephant (Tori Kelly) with an enormous case of stage fright, an overtaxed mother (Reese Witherspoon) run ragged tending a litter of 25 piglets, a young gangster gorilla (Taron Egerton) looking to break free of his family’s felonies, and a punk-rock porcupine (Scarlett Johansson) struggling to shed her arrogant boyfriend and go solo. Each animal arrives under Buster’s marquee believing that this is their shot to change the course of their life.

Release Date: December 21st

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton, and Tori Kelly.

The Space Between Us

Synopsis: In this interplanetary adventure, a space shuttle embarks on the first mission to colonize Mars, only to discover after takeoff that one of the astronauts is pregnant. Shortly after landing, she dies from complications while giving birth to the first human born on the red planet – never revealing who the father is. Thus begins the extraordinary life of Gardner Elliot – an inquisitive, highly intelligent boy who reaches the age of 16 having only met 14 people in his very unconventional upbringing.

While searching for clues about his father, and the home planet he’s never known, Gardner begins an online friendship with a street smart girl in Colorado named Tulsa. When he finally gets a chance to go to Earth, he’s eager to experience all of the wonders he could only read about on Mars – from the most simple to the extraordinary. But once his explorations begin, scientists discover that Gardner’s organs can’t withstand Earth’s atmosphere.

Eager to find his father, Gardner escapes the team of scientists and joins with Tulsa on a race against time to unravel the mysteries of how he came to be, and where he belongs in the universe.

Release Date: August 19

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, Gary Oldman, and Carla Gugino.

The Little Prince

Synopsis: A little girl lives in a very grown-up world with her mother, who tries to prepare her for it. Her neighbor, the Aviator, introduces the girl to an extraordinary world where anything is possible, the world of the Little Prince.

Release Date: August 5th (Netflix)

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, Marion Cotillard, James Franco, Benicio Del Toro, Ricky Gervais, Bud Cort, Paul Giamatti, Riley Osborne, Albert Brooks, and Mackenzie Foy.

Deepwater Horizon

Synopsis: On April 20th, 2010, the world’s largest man-made disaster occurred on the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. Directed by Peter Berg (Lone Survivor), this story honors the brave men and women whose heroism would save many on board, and change everyone’s lives forever.

Release Date: September 30th

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Hudson, Dylan O’Brien, Gina Rodriguez, Kurt Russell, and John Malkovich.

Beauty and the Beast

Synopsis: Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is a live-action re-telling of the studio’s animated classic which refashions the classic characters from the tale as old as time for a contemporary audience, staying true to the original music while updating the score with several new songs. “Beauty and the Beast” is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart and soul of the true Prince within. The film stars: Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s eccentric, but lovable father; Josh Gad as Lefou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp; Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, the candelabra; Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord; Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts.

Directed by Oscar® winner Bill Condon from a screenplay based on the 1991 animated film.  Eight-time Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken, who won two Academy Awards® (Best Original Score and Best Song) for the 1991 animated film, is returning to provide the score, which will include new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Howard Ashman, as well as several new songs written by Menken and three-time Oscar winner Tim Rice.

Release Date: March 17, 2017

Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellan, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci, and Emma Thompson.

What do you think? Are you excited about any upcoming movies? Let me know in the comments. Full list of Trailers released this week after the jump. Continue reading This Week in Trailers: Sing, Space Between Us, Little Prince, Deepwater Horizon, Beauty and the Beast