The first film in a series is exciting and new. The possibilities are endless. By the time the third or fourth movies comes around, it takes a greater mind to invent news ways of moving the narrative along.
The fourth movie in the the Shrek series is Shrek Forever After. After the events of Shrek (2001), Shrek 2 (2004) and Shrek the Third (2007), Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) are dealing with the challenges of marriage and parenthood. Unable to deal with the stress of it all, he wishes that he was a real ogre. Rumpelstiltskin (Walter Dohrn) grants his wish. At first, he is content with his new life.
Then Shrek realizes that he has been setup. Before he can stop Rumpelstiltskin, he has to first convince Fiona, Donkey (Eddie Murphy), and Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas), who do not know him, to fight against their common enemy.
To say that the creators stretched whatever narrative ideas they had is an understatement. They get an A for effort, but little else.
The third film in a series can travel into narrative territory that is not always clear. It can enhance the narrative and the characters, taking both in new directions. It can also be a disappointment if it lacks what its predecessors special.
Shrek the Third (2007) is the sequel to Shrek (2001) and Shrek 2 (2004). With the death of his father-in-law, Shrek (Mike Myers) is now the new King of Far Far Away. It goes without saying that he is not the right person for the job. The next in line is Artie (Justin Timberlake), but he is not exactly keen on embracing his future role. It is up to Shrek, Donkey (Eddie Murphy), and Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) to convince him to accept his destiny.
Meanwhile, Fiona (Cameron Diaz) is pregnant and dealing with a very angry Prince Charming (Rupert Everett), who is planning to take what he believes was his to begin with.
The spark is somewhat diminished if we are comparing Shrek the Third to the first two movies. It’s almost a stretch, but it could be worse. Though my feminist self asks why Fiona, as the child of the King (John Cleese) and Queen (Julie Andrews), is not the next in line (thank you primogeniture), I appreciated that it was the princesses who saved the day.
In our capitalist, materialist based society, it is easy to forget those who are not as fortunate as we are. Sometimes, it falls upon a fictional hero to remind us of this fact.
Zorro has been a popular character for over a century. His story and his Robin Hood view of the world has inspired more than a few adaptations over the years.
Back in 1998, The Mask of Zorro was a box office hit. Six years later, the film’s sequel, The Legend of Zorro hit theaters. The narrative starts ten years after the previous film ended. Don Alejandro De La Vega (i.e. Zorro) (Antonio Banderas) and his wife Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) are happily married with a young son.
But work and his alter ego is starting to pull Alejandro away from home. Feeling dissatisfied with the status of her marriage, Elena leaves her husband. She finds companionship in the arms of Count Armand (Rufus Sewell). Alejandro is more than jealous of his wife’s new partner. He begins to suspect that Armand is part of a scheme to prevent California from becoming a part of the United States.
Compared to its predecessor, the reviews for this film are not good. In this case, I disagree with the reviewers. The Legend of Zorro is not the most intellectual film, but that’s ok. It is one of those movies that is just fun to watch and the perfect vehicle to step away from reality for a couple of hours.
I loved that Elena’s role in this film is expanded. More than just the pretty love interest, she is as badass as her husband. I also loved the casting of Rufus Sewell. He is one of those actors who has perfected the art of playing a villain.
It is often said, that behind every great man, is a great woman. What happens when that woman decides to step up and stand next to or in front of the man, instead of behind him?
Evita (1996), based on the life of Eva Peron, premiered on stage in 1976. 20 years later, Madonna played the titular role on screen.
Eva’s childhood was not a happy one. Her mother was the mistress of wealthy man who was already married, she and her siblings were illegitimate. Denied the right to see their father one last time during his funeral, Eva turned her back on her past as a young woman and set her sights on the stage.
Meeting her husband, Juan (Jonathan Pryce) during a fundraiser to help the victims of an earthquake, Eva sees the potential in him and their relationship. Eventually, Juan Peron will become president of Argentina. Depending on whom one spoke to, Eva would either be loved or hated.
Narrated by Che (Antonio Banderas), he follows her along in life as she moves from the life of an illegitimate child to the wife of the most powerful man in the country.
A the time, there were many comparisons to the stage production and some were not so positive. Fans of the stage production could argue that Madonna’s performance does not hold a candle to either Elaine Page (West End production) or Patti LuPone (Broadway production). Is Madonna the best actress in Hollywood? I would argue no, but the producers knew what they were doing when they cast Madonna.
Is the movie that bad? No, but that depends on whom you speak to.
Don Diego de la Vera (Anthony Hopkins) is a nobleman living in Spanish controlled California with his wife and young daughter, Elena. Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson) is Diego’s rival, politically and romantically. As Spain concedes California to Santa Anna, Rafael uses this opportunity to strike back at his rival. Diego’s wife is killed, his daughter is taken away and he is thrown in prison.
A generation later, Alejando Murrieta (Antonio Banderas) is a common thief who watched his brother die. Diego sees the promise in Alejandro, but knows that work must be done. While Diego is training Alejandro to wear the mask of Zorro, Rafael and the noblemen are becoming wealthy at the expense of the lower classes. Rafael has also raised Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) as his own. Alejandro will put on the mask of Zorro, but is he ready to avenge his brother and restore justice?
It’s Zorro. Rocket science and Oscar worthy, it’s not. But it is entertaining, even if Elena, like many women in this genre are reduced to love interests and damsels in distress.