Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Railway Children (2000)

Title: The Railway Children

Year: 2000

Production Company: PBS Masterpiece Theatre

Summary: Based on E. Nesbit's classic children's book. After their father is mysteriously called away, three children have to move from their lovely house in London to a cottage in the country with their mother and "play at being poor for a bit." While adapting to their new home, they happen upon a railroad station and make many new friends.

Main Characters:
~ Roberta
~ Phyllis
~ Peter

Characters: Each sibling was so different. You have Roberta (or more fondly known as "Bobby") who was attempting to be more mature and responsible for her wild younger sister and brother, while Phyllis (a.k.a. "Phil") was a little more concerned in looking out for her own welfare. The youngest, Peter, felt it his duty to act as the man of the house because Father was away and watch out for his sisters and mother. We love every bit of this film, from Phil's funny complaints to Peter's "manly actions" to help his family. Mr. Perks was favorite character as well as Jim, "the boy in the red jersey," and even the cantankerous station master!

Plot: It all flowed along very well. One scene near the very end of the movie is a favorite among all of us (especially our father). But we won't tell you about it! You must go see for yourself!

Music: Very good! Some parts of the score reminded us of a train speeding down the rails. Ironic, no? ;)

Scenery: The English countryside? Who could not but love it? The rolling green hills, the whimsical train station, and the beautiful country cottage- everything was perfect!

Advisory: None

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Pictures from the movie:

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Life And Adventures Of Nicholas Nickleby

Title: The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby

Series: None

Year: 1839

Author: Charles Dickens

Summary: After the death of his father, Nicholas and his family find themselves penniless and so move to London where they seek out the assistance of Nicholas's uncle, Ralph Nickleby. Ralph gets Nicholas a low-paying job as an assistant to Wackford Squeers, who runs the school, Dotheboys Hall. Nicholas there befriends a simple boy named Smike and eventually makes himself an enemy to the Squeer family. He returns home only to discover that Ralph has been using Nicholas's sister, Kate, as bait to lure wealthy young men into doing business with him. Nicholas breaks all connections with his uncle and sets out with Smike to find his own job. He accepts a position for a while with Mr. Vincent Crummles' traveling troupe and later find employment under the Brothers Cheeryble. Ralph, meanwhile, harbors a hatred for his nephew and is willing to do whatever is necessary to obtain Nicholas's ruin.

Main Characters:
~ Nicholas Nickleby
~ Kate Nickleby
~ Mrs. Nickleby
~ Ralph Nickleby
~ Newman Noggs
~ Madeline Bray
~ Smike
~ Wackford Squeers

Review: I very much enjoyed reading Nicholas Nickleby, and would probably list it as one of my favorite Dickens tales. Nicholas, although far from perfect, was an outstanding hero, just the kind for which you want to root. He does have a temper, but through the course of the novel learns to control it. 

Kate I found to be a sweet girl, and I felt sorry whenever she fell prey to Ralph's evil intentions. Mrs. Nickleby was one of my favorite characters, and her rambling speeches made me giggle every time they appeared on the page. I say one of my favorites as I believe I can truly claim Newman Noggs as my absolute favorite. He is the ultimate unlikely hero, stuck working for a man whom he can never respect, and always doing his best to be a friend to those who need one, namely Nicholas. I laughed heartily at the scene when he tried to trace down Nicholas's love and ended up at the door of the wrong lady! 

John Browdie was another epic character, the rough, crude-mannered country fellow, but he had an excellent heart, always a friend to Nicholas and Smike, even when everyone else seemed determined to hate the two. 

This novel contains some of Dickens most despicable villains: Ralph Nickleby, Wackford Squeers, Sir Mulberry Hawk, etc. The themes involving them get rather dark at times, and their immoral actions are as such that I could never ever condone them. Selfish gain-seekers, all of them, Ralph probably the worst and most selfish of the lot! They were all the sort of villains that you enjoy loathing, but reading about them and learning what they did is enough to make you squirm uncomfortably in your chair. 

I would recommend Nicholas Nickleby as a must-read for any Dickens fan, although I would advise more of a mature reading age as there are some adult themes woven into the context of the novel.

Advisory: Some violence as certain characters get into fights, duels, and suicide; Nicholas's sister, Kate, is exposed to some undesirable circumstances involving unsavory male characters; and profanity.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Click here to buy Nicholas Nickleby on Amazon!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

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

Title: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Year: 2005

Production Company: Disney and Walden Media

Summary: World War II brings air raids to England, so the Pevensie children must journey to the safety of the countryside at an old professor's mansion. While playing a game of hide-and-seek, the youngest Pevensie, Lucy, stumbles upon a magical wardrobe in a spare room and sets foot into a land called Narnia.

Main Characters:  
~ The Pevensie Siblings: Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy
~ Aslan
~ Jadis, the White Witch
~ Mr. Tumnus
~ Mr. and Mrs. Beaver

Characters: We wholeheartedly approved of all the actors they cast for the Pevensie children, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver were perfect for the part of a humorous couple, and the wonderful graphics they used for Aslan were breathtaking! Definitely a win!

Plot: We were a bit disappointed when first viewing the movie as it didn't follow the book's plot line closely, but then again it was pretty good considering all the things they did remember to include from the book. So, who are we to complain?

Music: It was a wonderful music score (check out Jessa's Corner for some of the songs from the film)! Our favorites were "Into the Wardrobe" and "Father Christmas." However, we did not like the last song, "Can't Take It In", as it did not fit into the fantasy/adventure theme of the movie. Epic fail!

Scenery: We thoroughly enjoyed the rich, lush scenery, from the impressive vastness of the battlefield to the intricacy of the Beavers' dam on the river. The vibrant colors for Aslan's camp were perfect in contrasting the foreboding grayness of the White Witch's castle.

Advisory: There are a few scenes when the White Witch violently turns humans and animals into stone with her wand. The battle scene doesn't ever show any actual blood, but you can see Narnians being killed. Don't worry, it's not graphic. The most famous scene from the book was included in the movie when *SPOILER ALERT* the White Witch kills Aslan on the Stone Table. Not the best scene for younger kids to watch. *END SPOILER ALERT*

Rating: 5 Stars

Pictures from the movie:

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Title: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Year: 2010

Production Company: Walden Media and 20th Century Fox

Summary: Lucy and Edmund, with their horrible cousin, Eustace, journey back to Narnia to assist King Caspian on the quest of finding the seven missing lords that Lord Miraz banished during his reign as king.

Main Characters:
~ Edmund and Lucy Pevensie
~ Eustance Clarence Scrubb
~ King Caspian
~ Reepicheep

Characters: Eustace. Was. The. Best. Seriously, we really enjoyed his character immensely and thought they did an excellent job on his casting! Lucy was beautiful as always, but we were a little disappointed in Edmund's character change.

Plot: We were overall impressed on how they were able to incorporate a lot of plot sequences of the book into the film, but we were a little disappointed on how much they left out as well. The pattern of events differed, but were very good nonetheless. The whole "dark island theme" was a little strange and at the same time intriguing.

Music: Not nearly as good as the previous two films, but still had some memorable songs (The Duel, in particular).

Scenery:  Beautiful! The ocean, each island - so many different land elements and culture in the same movie!

Advisory: Several fighting sequences, but no blood is shown. Throughout the film, a "green mist" is shown weaving in and out every time a person is tempted, and at the end of the film there is a battle involving a giant sea serpent.

Rating: 4 Stars

Pictures from the movie: