Movie Review: Saving Mr Banks

Generations of moviegoers have watched Mary Poppins and her famous umbrella soar across the sky, but few viewers are aware of just how much effort it took to bring the literary character to the big screen. “Saving Mr. Banks” remedies that by telling the backstory of the famous movie about a nanny who has magical abilities and a soft spot for children. “Saving Mr. Banks,” named for the father in the Mary Poppins book series, details how Walt Disney worked for more than two decades to turn the books into a motion picture. The film shows how musicians and writers collaborated to produce famous lyrics and groundbreaking animation scenes. Watching the creative process behind this classic work leaves the audience cheering for the project’s success.

At the heart of “Saving Mr. Banks” was P.L. Travers, the Australian author of eight books about the fictional Mary Poppins. The movie depicted how Travers was affected by her father, a dreamer who told elaborate stories but who suffered from a drinking problem. Travers used both the good and bad experiences of her childhood in the Mary Poppins character, and her books have been a favorite read for children around the world. She declined to allow the stories to be made into a film, although Walt Disney personally sought the movie rights for more than 20 years. Facing financial difficulty, Travers finally agreed to discuss the possibility of a movie. “Saving Mr. Banks” is focused on a two-week stretch in 1961 when Travers, played by Emma Thompson, visited California to work with the Disney creative team.

In trying to obtain the movie rights, Walt Disney, played by Tom Hanks, gave Travers more control over the movie than he normally allowed authors. Disney told Travers that she had the ability to veto anything she did not like about the screenplay, and she immediately found much to dislike. “Saving Mr. Banks” derived much of its humor from the conflicts that Travers experiences with the writers and musicians. For instance, the lyricists enjoyed making up whimsical words such as “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” Travers, a prim and proper lady who insisted that no one use her first name, had little patience for such poetic license. Travers required that her work sessions at Disney be taped, and the writers and cast of “Saving Mr. Banks” used those audiotapes to recreate the arguments Travers had with the creative team.

While Travers nearly comes to blows with the writers, the movie shows her developing a sweet and lasting friendship with her chauffeur, a gentleman named Ralph who is played by Paul Giamatti. He is the one character in the movie that does not pressure her about the Mary Poppins character, and she takes refuge in the time she spends with him.

Ralph drives Travers back and forth from her hotel to Walt Disney Studios, where much of the movie was filmed. A scene not to be missed is when Ralph drives Travers through the gates of Disneyland, where Walt Disney awaits by the iconic Mickey Mouse head at the front of the park. Disney shows Travers around his theme park, and the two go for a ride on the carousel, with Disney hoping that some of the park’s magical feelings rub off on Travers.

Part of the charm of “Saving Mr. Banks” was watching a bond develop between Disney and Travers. Both of them endured less-than-perfect childhoods, and both of them used their experiences to create fictional characters that delighted children. Disney understood how difficult it is for Travers to give up control of a character that she considered family. It was touching to watch Travers wrestle with the dilemma of allowing the Disney creative team to bend her stories into a commercially viable movie. She had a specific vision of how everything should look, from the Banks’ home to Mr. Banks’ mustache. Giving her vision over to someone else caused her many sleepless nights, and Thompson’s skillful portrayal made it easy to understand why the decision was so difficult.

Like all historical pieces, the outcome of “Saving Mr. Banks” is a foregone conclusion. Everyone knows that “Mary Poppins” eventually becomes a blockbuster movie, but watching the process of the movie’s creation leaves the audience holding a collective breath, wondering if Travers ever sees eye-to-eye with Disney. It is difficult not to cry right along with Travers when she finally attends the opening night of “Mary Poppins” three years after her visit to California. These are tears of joy, as moviegoers celebrate the creation of the “Mary Poppins” film and realize how close they came to never seeing it at all.

Survival Movies – The Cream of the Crop and Those That Didn’t Shine

Survival Movies, Best to the Worst!

The popularity of survival movies has really grown over the past couple of years. I have rated these movies in three different categories. The categories are: realisticness, survival value and entertainment factor. Each of these is on a A – F Grading Scale with A being best and F being worst. These ratings are all based on my opinion so you may not feel the same.

Waterworld – Realisticness – D Survival Value – D Entertainment factor – C+
The Earth is now filled with water, but some people believe there is still dry land on the earth. This is one of the many survival movies about the fight over resources. As in many movies, this is a fight between the protagonist (Kevin Costner) and the antagonist (Dennis Hopper) and his cronies (called the smokers). This movie is fun to watch but I don’t feel it was realistic or offered much in the way of survival value.

The Postman – Realisticness – B Survival Value – C Entertainment factor – B
I feel the reviews of this movie by critics don’t give it justice. In this film, the United States is a very different place with little order. Many people have gone back to a dark ages style of living with no electricity, very little law, and a tyrant thug (Will Patton) trying to gain power. The protagonist (Kevin Costner), a drifter, finds a way to make a difference in the world even though he is originally only worried about his own livelihood and well – being. This was a very long movie, but I really enjoyed it and liked its sense of hope. I thought this movie offered decently realistic insight on what could happen with a breakdown of society and numerous years of lawlessness. It had a few areas that I think gave it some survival value, but overall, it was just one of the entertaining survival movies.

The Road – Realisticness – A Survival Value – B Entertainment factor – C
While I didn’t feel this was one of the survival movies that lived up to my expectations, I feel it accurately portrayed the emotional rollercoaster that an end of the world situation would create. The characters in this movie were not able to trust anyone around them, and they lacked the resources necessary to carry on a normal life, which could be an accurate outcome in a real societal breakdown. I think this movie, while being boring in some spots, felt very realistic and showed the dreary outlook of the main character (Viggo Mortenson) in a post apocalyptic world with no hope. On the survival value front, I thought there were some topics to take away from the story line that would be useful in real life. I felt that this movie allowed me to realize that striving for happiness and wishing to live life to the fullest despite terrible circumstances is key to beating the end.

I am Legend – Realisticness – C Survival Value – B –
Entertainment factor – B This is another of the survival movies that I think showed great emotion. The main character (Will Smith) and his dog attempt to survive throughout this film despite the constant threat of zombies. I will say this movie has one of the saddest scenes in any movie I have ever seen, which makes the whole movie worth watching. This survival movie really shows you how important a companion is when you are lonely. Other than the importance of companionship, there were only a few survival lessons to be learned.

Book of Eli – Realisticness – C Survival Value – C
Entertainment factor – B I felt Book of Eli with Denzel Washington and Mila Kunis was worth the watch. This survival movie showed how important being aware of your surroundings is. Also in a disaster ridden world it shows how there will be people that will take power any way they see fit. The use of religion to control people is what the antagonist (Gary Oldman) uses to gain power. If you are a Christian or are religious this is definitely an important movie to watch because it shows how people can use religion and the Bible for good as well as evil to push their own motives. Even so, in the end, this movie didn’t show the Bible or Christianity in a bad light. I thought the lesson of being aware was the best survival value it gave.

Jeremiah Johnson – Realisticness – A
Survival Value – B Entertainment factor – B Jeremiah Johnson (Robert Redford) is one of the best survival movies. This movie is about a man who wants to live as a hermit living off the land, who wishes to be left alone to do his own thing. This is the oldest movie on my list and also one of the best. I believe it has great survival value and is quite realistic. In one scene, Jeremiah Johnson finds a man who has been dead for a while with a note on him saying, “I, Hatchet Jack, being of sound mind and broke legs, do hereby leaveth my bear rifle to whatever finds it, Lord hope it be a white man. It is a good rifle, and killt the bear that killt me. Anyway, I am dead. Yours truly, Hatchet Jack.” How can you not love this movie with a scene like that? This movie is great at depicting how to live off the land and be self – sufficient.

Castaway – Realisticness – B Survival Value – C Entertainment factor – B
Castaway, starring Tom Hanks, is a family survival movie. There is some survival value to this movie like starting a fire or taking an abscessed tooth out with an ice skate. The main character is involved in a commercial UPS type plane crash that leaves him stranded on an island with no other survivors. It illustrates how ingenious people can be when they do not have the conventional tools for survival.

Into the Wild – Realisticness – A Survival Value – B Entertainment factor – B
Into the wild is the true survival story of Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) who gives up his ordinary life to roam the US and live in Alaska. This is an ultimate adventure movie that shows how Christopher lived all by himself in the Alaskan wilderness with only what he could carry on his back. This film offered good survival value, and it taught me something very important: never eat wild plants unless you know exactly what they are and if they are safe to eat.

Zombieland – Realisticness – D Survival Value – D Entertainment factor – A –
This is really a comedic approach at the survival and zombie genre. While there is really no realisticness or survival value to speak of it, is very funny. This survival movie stars Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, and Emma Stone. During the film, they all come together to help each other survive a zombie infested world. In my opinion, one of the best cameos of all time occurs during this movie. Just watch and see!

28 Days Later – Realisticness – B Survival Value – C Entertainment factor – B
28 Days Later is a survival movie starring Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins). After a virus wipes out almost everybody on the planet, a few survivors come together to try and find a safe place to live. This was a good movie that portrayed what could happen if an epidemic were to spread very quickly. This survival movie does not have tons of survival value, but it still provides insight on the possibility of a nation or worldwide epidemic.

Mad Max/Road Warrior/Beyond Thunderdome – Realisticness – D Survival Value – D Entertainment factor – B
Mad Max, The Road Warrior, and Beyond Thunderdome are very entertaining and fun survival movies to watch, but they are very unrealistic. Mel Gibson stars as Mad Max, a man who lives in a post apocalyptic world who also tries to improve life for himself and others. There really was not much survival value in these movies, but there are cool vehicles with many types of weapons, which makes them entertaining.

Red Dawn – Realisticness – B – Survival Value – B Entertainment factor – A+
Red Dawn is not just one of my favorite survival movies, but also one of my favorite movies It has quite a few stars before they were household names (Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson and Jennifer Grey). The Russians and Cubans have taken part of Colorado and are rounding people up, whom they believe to be threats, into camps. A group of high schoolers get together and live in the woods. They badge themselves the “Wolverines” and try to take back the land that was previously theirs. This is a great movie that provided survival value in the way of outdoor living, hunting and fishing. The other thing I love about this movie, that others have also expressed, is that when you finish watching this movie, you feel extremely patriotic and proud of the great people that live in the United States.

Rescue Dawn – Realisticness – A Survival Value – B Entertainment factor – C
This survival movie is the true story of Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale), a German American fighter pilot whose plane is shot down over Laos during the Vietnam War and captured. I believe this film gives you a picture of how the living conditions in prisoner camps were. Additionally, it shows how important having a strong – will is when you need to get out of a seemingly dead end situation. There are many scenes in this film that have survival value, especially when they escape from the camp and must live outdoors and survive in the wild.

Alone Across Australia – Realisticness – A Survival Value – B+ Entertainment factor – B+
This is survival documentary is not well known, but still provides pretty great survival value. The only reason I saw this was because I attended a small independent film festival in my town. This is the story of Jon Muir and his dog that set out on a trip across Australia with only him, his dog, and what he could carry on his homemade cart. This is a great look at survival and has the highest survival value out of any of the survival movies I have reviewed. Out of all the movies I’ve ever seen, this film probably has the saddest scene because what happened in the movie was what happened in real life. If you get a chance, definitely watch this documentary. The only problem is it is difficult to find and usually expensive because of its rarity.

Movie Review: A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas

If you haven’t seen the trailer for the movie A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas then it is my pleasure to inform you that this movie shows a lot of fun and antics; however, everyone that has seen this trailer is hoping that the movie can live up to its wonderful promises. By reading this movie review, you will be able to determine if it is a movie that you want to see when it is released in time for the Christmas holiday.
Returning for their third adventure, Harold and Kumar are lighting up the Christmas trees right in front of your face. Created by Hayden Schlossberg and Jon Hurwitz, the character of Harold Lee is created to be a Korean American investment banker that lives in New Jersey. This character is played by John Cho in all the films of Harold and Kumar.

Kumar Patel on the other hand is an Indian student that lives in New Jersey as well. He lives with his family that is made up of his brother Saikat Patel and his father. Created by Hayden Schlossberg and Jon Hurwitz, the character of Kumar is played by ken Penn.

The trailer that has been released of A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas shows these two men up to their usual antics as they go about their day to day lives with Neil Patrick Harris, who plays himself. Looking back at the two’s adventure in Guantanamo Bay, you will remember that the two caused an unforgivable accident when they accidentally burnt down Harold’s father in law’s treasured Christmas tree.
After seeing the first two movies with these two men, you would have already decided if this movie is for you or not and with that decision in mind you will either be looking forward to the new release or not. Everyone that has seen the trailer has a comment on this film and most are saying that the 3D quality is too hollow, and too crisp. However, the two major stars are back in for the third part and they are come stronger than ever.

However, if you want to be able to make an unbiased decision on this movie, it is advised that you wait for the red-band trailer that will show this movie in better quality and give more. The trailer that has been released teases the viewers and leaves them wanting more, which is the idea for every trailer; however, to judge for yourself, watch the trailer and see what you think.

This movie is set to be released on November 4th of this year.