With It Chapter 2 coming out September 6th I decided to rewatch the first chapter. But I never like doing regular reviews, so instead of singing this movie’s praises, how about we take a look at the flaws? Now to preface this, I say you should absolutely watch It Chapter 1 since it is a great horror film and just a great film in general.
But you can’t love something truly until you understand and accepts its faults….at least that’s what I’ve been told.
With that said, let’s start with a small point that drives me up a wall every time I watch this movie: the bullies.
It — Bullies
More specifically, how they’re introduced. When the camera pans to them, we see Patrick (the tall scrawny dark haired bully) first, and he waves to the boys walking down the hall. This gives the impression that he is the big bad bully, especially considering you can see Henry (the actual big bad bully) just sitting there. It’s not that big of a deal, but whenever I watch this movie I can’t help but initially think Patrick is the villain, when I know he isn’t.
It — Character Development
Next I want to talk about character development. These characters are so defined and well done you know about their house life, their own struggles, and what scares them the most. But two characters don’t really get this treatment. Those two are Stanley and Mike. If you know the story of It, then you can probably figure out why Stanley isn’t so developed. And I can’t say why, because then we get into spoiler territory, and I want to avoid that.
Either way though, Stanley shouldn’t be pushed to the side just because of his arc.
And then we have Mike, who once again I kind of understand why isn’t as developed as the others — considering more of his development will happen in Chapter 2. Mike is nowhere near as bad as Stanley, though.
But Mike also has a weird entrance into the loser club. Mike is being pummeled by Henry and his gang when the rest of the loser club shows up to help him.
While it is an inspiring moment of them standing up for someone they barely know, it is just one out of three (I think) moments that feel tonally out of place.
It — Tonal Whiplash
And speaking of tonally out of place, let’s talk about the scene that has the kids cleaning a bathroom. This scene has the 80’s montage of bonding all over it with the music, the way its edited, and the fact that it really doesn’t belong in that tone.
The time, leading up to that scene we were in that classic horror movie tone, where it’s unsettling and creepy — and then in the middle of that we have The Cure playing, while the kids clean a bathroom. It feels like it supposed to be a comic relief scene that’s not necessary, since you have a comic relief character constantly cracking jokes. Of course, the scene still does have a purpose of irony, but your average movie-goer isn’t going to spot that on a first watch.
It — The Stutter
Alright, let’s go back to some minor things like Bills’ stutter.
If I remember correctly, in the book Bill got his stutter after Georgie died due to a form of trauma, but in the movie Bill has it before Georgie even dies. Now it’s a small thing, but it still makes much more sense that he developed the stutter after the extreme trauma of his brother dying.
This is even reflected at the end of the movie, with Pennywise stuttering in fear of the kids.
Minor Nits to Pick With It
And the last point I want to make is that this movie feels like it abuses the Dutch angle. This is something very small, but it stuck out to me how much they used it. If you don’t know: the Dutch angle is when you have the camera at a 45 degree angle, giving the shot a eerie feeling. Obviously this is something no one will really notice, but it stuck out to me and I couldn’t help but mention it.
Now there are plenty of other tiny little things here and there I could mention, but that just more nitpicking. I think I already feel we’re well into that category.
It is truly a great horror film, and possibly the best Stephen King adaptation yet. I can’t recommend enough that you should watch this and the sequel.
Pennywise is coming back, but is he coming in full force?
My name is Nick and I got an undying love for movies and the process of making them. I love horror, comedy, action, and all movies in between. If you have any questions you can reach me @LightCameraNick on twitter.
Tarantino just released his ninth film, Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood. The movie follows the lives of fictional characters actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), and real life actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), in the days before the Manson Family murders. The movie debuted in second place behind The Lion King, and is receiving rave reviews. Now is the perfect time to review the director’s catalog and suss out the essential Tarantino films.
Tarantino’s first film premiered at Sundance in 1992, and was picked up by Miramax. The film also played at Cannes. The story concerns a group of bank robbers reconvening after a bank heist gone wrong, to figure out what happened. The movie introduced several staples of Tarantino’s work, including pop culture references (the Madonna debate in the opening scene), long scenes of dialogue (including the opening scene), profanity, extreme violence, a story told out of chronological order, and a hip soundtrack.
The movie features three actors Tarantino is fond of working with: Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen, and Tim Roth. The title doesn’t have a specific meaning. It just sounds cool.
When Tarantino returned to Cannes in 1994, he was a star. He had a following, and anticipation was high for his new film Pulp Fiction. Inspired by pulp novels, the movie weaved together the tales of several criminal figures, including two hitmen (John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson), a corrupt boxer and his girlfriend (Bruce Willis and Maria de Medeirios), a gangster’s girlfriend (Uma Thurman), and two robbers (Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer)….among others.
Pulp Fiction took Cannes by storm and won the Palme d’Or. It revived Travolta’s career! The movie was nominated for Best Picture, and Travolta, Jackson, and Thurman were all nominated for Oscars. Tarantino was nominated for Best Director. Tarantino and Roger Avary won Best Original Screenplay. The film also received a nomination for Best Editing.
This is the director’s most essential work, and the film against which all his other movies are judged.
The last quarter of Four Rooms
Four Rooms is kind of a “throw away” film. It was a fun anthology where four directors each got to direct a quarter of the flick. To illustrate how forgettable the movie is, I can only remember three of the four sections of the movie.
Tim Roth plays a bell boy who will break all of his mentor’s rules by the time one fateful New Year’s Eve is over. Tarantino directs the end of the flick — the last room that Roth has to deal with. This section of the movie is a remake of a classic “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” episode that originally featured Peter Lorre.
Bruce Willis, Quentin Tarantino, Jennifer Beals, and Paul Calderon play a game of poker, where the stakes go beyond money. This section of the movie is wicked fun…and if I were programming a QT film festival, I’d definitely include it.
Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2
Volume 1 is Tarantino’s martial arts film. And Volume 2 is his first western. But together, they’re a compelling drama about revenge and its consequences. (Tarantino has gone on record saying that he recently talked to star Uma Thurman about making a part 3 featuring Vernita Green’s adult daughter seeking vengeance against her character.)
The House of Blue Leaves sequence in Volume One is probably one of the longest action scenes ever filmed.
The change of tone in Volume Two is daring. Thurman gives a tour de force performance as The Bride. These movies came out during a period in my twenties when I felt a lot of anger. There was something about them that was very special to me. A catharsis. Waiting for Volume Two to start was like waiting for The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King to begin.
I’ve only seen this one once, so it’s hard for me to speak of it eloquently or at length. There is something quite satisfying in Tarantino’s rewriting of history. Violence and revenge are major themes of this film as well. Christoph Waltz won his Oscar for this movie and he as cold blooded and terrifying here as he is lovable in Django. The tense opening scene is a breathtaking highlight. Our review is here.
Tarantino crossed the Western and the Blaxploitation film to create this controversial picture. Say what you will about it, but the image of the slaves’ abused ankles alone at the beginning of the film drove home the horror of slavery to me, in a way few things ever have. I have never forgotten it. The inhumanity of it. Whatever other parts of the movie may be over the top, that stuff really happened. Christoph Waltz’s retelling of the Broomhilda legend is a highlight.
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Hey, #Tarantino fans, are you ready for #OnceUponATimeInHollywood? #GoldenMan takes a look at QT’s #filmography with The Essential Tarantino. #ReservoirDogs #PulpFiction #Uma #TimRoth #Travolta #SamJackson #ChristophWaltz
The preview for Hobbs & Shaw looks like an exciting action comedy, but these two characters have a long backstory from the Fast and The Furious franchise. If you haven’t seen all, or any, of the F&F movies, then you’re probably wondering what you need to know about Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson/The Rock) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) to make sense of this spinoff.
Hobbs and Shaw, in a nutshell
Hobbs, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, is a government agent tasked with capturing the worst of the worst. He was originally hunting Vin Diesel, who plays Dominic “Dom” Toretto, but in due course they become allies.
Shaw, played by Jason Statham, was a British Secret Agent – think James Bond with a bad attitude — but was “retired” by the agency six years ago, and now works freelance. Statham’s character is introduced in the end credit scene of F&F6 as a man out for revenge for what Dom’s team did to his brother. Of course, over time, he also becomes an ally.
We get to see Hobbs and Shaw fight a few times, but more often than not they simply fire epic and comical insults at each other.
Basically, Hobbs & Shaw is a action comedy version of The Odd Couple. That’s all you need to know before seeing their movie.
However, if you want to get caught up on the entire Fast and The Furious franchise, then read on.
I’ll give you advice on which F&F movies are worth seeing, and a detailed synopsis of the ones you could decide to skip over.
You can see from the table below, the franchise really starts to pick up with Fast And Furious 5. If you don’t have the time, or stomach, to watch all eight movies first, you could just cherry pick from the best of them. Then read my synopsis of what you missed in the ones you skip over.
Note: This article gets long after you view the chart below, but it’s chock full of details you need to be up to speed for Hobbs and Shaw. We helpfully also tell you in the chart if there are extra scenes over the end credits.
Complete list of F&F movies
The Fast and the Furious
Fast 2 Furious
The Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift
Fast And Furious
Fast and Furious 6
The Fate of the Furious
Hobbs & Shaw
Fast & Furious 9 (May 22, 2020)
*Audience score from Rottentomatoes.com user rating.
Fast and The Furious franchise overview:
Every movie in the F&F franchise revolves around stories that create problems that can, seemingly, only be solved with fast cars and wildly fantastic action. This translates into paper-thin plots. They do so many completely impossible things that you don’t blink twice when they do something that’s just insanely improbable.
However, as much as each movie tries to amp up the action, the success of the franchise hinges on likable characters. Vin Diesel as Dominic “Dom” Toretto isn’t a good guy in the classic sense. In the first movie he’s nothing more than a thief with a code: Robin Hood from the hood.
Fortunately, F&F hit gold when they cast Vin Diesel as Dom. Vin has the gravitas, something many actors lack, to become the center of attraction in a franchise.
Dom is similar to the Star Wars character Han Solo. Solo isn’t exactly a good guy. He did in fact shoot first, and he’s only in it for the money. But when push comes to shove, he does the right thing, and he’s always there for his friends.
2001: The Fast and the Furious This is the movie that kicked off the franchise, and perhaps Vin Diesel’s career. (Along with a little-known, now cult favorite science fiction movie that came out the previous year called Pitch Black.) I would recommend watching the 2001 F&F; not because it’s any good, but because it’s the foundation upon which the franchise rests. Better yet, try to watch this movie and the 4th (F&F 2009) back to back. Together they make one complete story and really develop the characters and relationships.
What you need to know if you skip it:
Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) is an undercover FBI agent trying to track down a gang of street racers stealing cargo off moving semi trucks. Brian befriends Dominic’s (Vin Diesel’s) sister, who works at a small cafe. The investigation leads Brian to believe a gang of Japanese bike racers is behind it, but ultimately he discovers that it is in fact Dom’s (Dominic’s) crew. The movie ends with Dom’s crew trying to rob a truck. The trucker has a gun and fights them off. Brian eventually has Dom trapped with the police moving in, but out of respect for Dom, Brian lets Dom get away.
Below is the full end scene of Fast and The Furious
where Brian lets Dom walk away.
Beyond the sloppy plot, the characters are well-defined. Dom commands a great deal of respect from everyone around him, including his adversaries. Brian is an FBI agent with complicated feelings about authority.
2003: Fast 2 Furious
By all means, you can skip this movie. It has no redeeming qualities. Vin Diesel doesn’t have so much as a cameo.
What you need to know if you skip it:
Brian has been kicked out of the FBI for letting Dom get away at the end of the previous movie. He’s in Miami when the FBI and DEA approach him to help with a case, by going undercover and bring down a drug cartel. Brian enlists the help of his longtime friend Roman (Tyrese Gibson). Roman is currently in prison, and blames Brian for it, but Brian convinces the FBI they have to pardon Roman if he helps with the investigation. Blah, blah, blah, car chase in the Florida Keys, and Brian and Roman capture the drug lord…and are BFFs again.
Below is the full “reunion scene/fight”
between Brian and Roman.
2006: The Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift
On advice from my sister, I skipped this movie. This movie is somewhat controversial within the F&F fandom. Apparently the only thing you need to know is that the character Han is introduced, who comes back in F&F 5 and 6.
2009: Fast And Furious
Brian is back with the FBI, and needs Dom’s help to bring down a drug lord… Sorry, I nodded off a little bit there. Seriously, I just watched this movie last week, and I’m struggling to remember exactly what happened.
What you need to know if you skip it:
Dom is in hiding in Panama when he gets a call from his sister, Mia, who informs him that Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), who plays Dom’s girlfriend, has been murdered. Dom comes back to LA to help Brian (who’s back working with the FBI) to track down the mysterious drug lord who murdered his girlfriend. During the movie Mia, Dom’s sister, falls in love with Brian. Brian has loved her since the first movie.
The movie ends with Dom in custody. Brian pleads with the judge that Dom should be pardoned because he helped put a dangerous drug lord behind bars. The judge rules that one good deed doesn’t wipe out dozens of bad deeds, and sentences Dom to a minimum of 25 years in prison.
Cut to Dom on a bus, headed for a remote prison. Dom’s crew, including Brian, drive up on the bus. The movie ends.
New character: Gisele (Gal Gadot, who would go on to be cast as Wonder Woman) is introduced to the F&F franchise. She works for the drug lord, but turns out to have a soft spot for Dom.
2011: Fast 5
Hobbs is introduced in F&F5, a.k.a. Fast and Furious: The First Good One. He plays a government/military agent who is in charge of a team tasked with bringing in the worst of the worst criminals: he always gets his man. In F&F5 we get to see Dom (Vin) and Hobbs (Dwayne) go fist to fist. That’s worth the price of admission.
Below: (3:04) clip of the first Dom and Hobbs fight.
Prior to the final climactic action, Hobbs has captured Dom, Brian, and Letty and takes them to to the airport to bring them back to the USA. Suddenly, they are attacked by the antagonist’s men. Hobbs’ entire team is killed. Hobbs is wounded and, of course, Dom rescues him. Thus…setting up their mutual respect for each other in the movies to come.
Below: (4:08) “Dom rescues Hobbs” scene.
At the very end of the movie, Dom’s team has of course emerged victorious over the antagonist, but Hobbs “re-captured” Dom and Brian. Hobbs says, “You know I can’t let you two go. I ain’t made that way. The way I see it, you’ve earned yourself 24 hours… Come tomorrow, I will find you.” Dom smiles, “No, you won’t.”
Below: Hobbs re-captures Dom and Brian, but lets them go.
And thus begins the relationship between Hobbs and Dom. BTW, there’s a MUST see mid-extra credit scene in this movie.
Additionally, the character Elena is introduced in this movie. She is a police officer in Rio who acts as Hobbs’ local translator. She and Dom have a few scenes together that leads to her becoming Dom’s new girlfriend in the following movie. She plays a major role in the plot of The Fate of the Furious.
Below: (0:54) End credits scene in F&F 5.
2013: Fast and Furious 6
The Hobbs and Dom relationship builds in F&F6. Hobbs has a new assignment to bring in an international terrorist: Shaw. (No, not that Shaw. The younger brother of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham)). Hobbs goes to Dom, who’s living in a non-extradition country, for help bringing in Shaw because they have a photo of Letty working for him.
Short aside: Letty “dies” in F&F4, or so we thought. Turns out she had amnesia and doesn’t remember anything about her past. Shaw, the younger, “rescued” her and now she works for him.
By movies’ end, Shaw is in critical condition in a hospital; Dom and Letty are back together, and the entire team has returned home to LA after getting pardoned for their help in bringing down Shaw.
In the extra credit scene we see Han, a member of Dom’s crew, racing in Tokyo. Suddenly, Han gets t-boned by another car, driven by Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). Han’s car flips and lands upside down. Shaw gets out of his car and tosses a silver cross necklace on the street next to Han’s car then makes a phone call and says, ” Dominic Toretto, you don’t know me.” Han’s car explodes in the background. Shaw finishes, “But you’re about to.”
2015: Furious 7 <—-Read for our Review
That brings us to Furious 7 where… a lot of stuff happens. Let me explain… No, there is too much. Let me sum up. 😉 The movie opens with Shaw, the older brother played by Statham, visiting his younger brother in a hospital. Statham gives his comatose brother a speech about loyalty and brotherhood and revenge. Shortly afterward, we get to see a knockdown drag-out fight between Shaw (Statham) and Hobbs (The Rock). That ends with Shaw getting away, and Hobbs in a hospital room with a broken arm — he dove out of a 4th story window to save his partner.
Dom visits Hobbs in the hospital and gets the lowdown about Shaw: he’s a former British Special Agent that the powers that be decided to “retire” six years ago. He’s been a ghost ever since. Dom wants to find him and get revenge for Han, who died in the extra-credit scene of the previous movie. Oh yeah, and Shaw blew up Dom’s house in LA, almost killing the entire family. So yeah, there’s that.
At this point the story gets a little muddled.
Long story short: Dom’s crew ends up doing battle with a terrorist organization in LA, while Dom himself has a car fight with Shaw. During all this action Hobbs sees explosions from his hospital room and rips off his cast to join the fray. Dom nearly dies. Actually, he does die, but they bring him back. Shaw is captured and Hobbs delivers Shaw to a supermax prison.
Paul Walker Tribute
The actor Paul Walker, who plays Brian, tragically died in a car accident during the shooting of this movie — unrelated to the actual filming of the movie.
As far as the franchise is concerned, Brian has retired to family life.
Seriously, you should watch this one. It might be shorter than reading this labyrinthine synopsis. But in case you really can’t, here we go:
How do you turn a “bad guy” into a “good guy”? By introducing an even badder guy, or in this case, badder woman. Fate of the Furious introduces Charlize Theron as Cipher — a super secret pseudo-terrorist who has been behind the scenes, pulling strings, since F&F 2009.
The movie opens with Dom and Letty in Cuba. Cipher tries to recruit Dom to her team, but Dom turns her down. Cipher assures him that one way or another he’ll end up working for her.
Next we see Hobbs coaching his little girl’s soccer team. A government agent interrupts Hobbs, and tells him they have an important mission for him: to get a team together to take back a stolen EMP device that is in Berlin, Germany. But, this is all top-secret, hush hush stuff and if he, or any of his team, is captured, the US government will disavow any knowledge of his mission.
Of course, Hobbs makes a phone call to Dom and asks for his help. Dom says the team will meet him in Berlin. Cut directly to the team getting chased by terrorists, after stealing back the EMP device. Dom has the device strapped down in the back of his car. Everything seems to be going according to script, when Dom runs Hobbs off the road and takes off, alone, with the EMP. Everyone is like, WTF? 🙂
Dom drives his car onto a moving transport plane and delivers the device to Cipher.
Hobbs is captured and gets locked up in the very same prison where he locked Shaw up at the end of the previous movie. Oh, and they’re in neighboring cells, and do nothing but trash talk on how badly they’re going to whoop up on each other.
Of course the cell doors, all of them, open, and Hobbs and Shaw fight their way out of prison, to be met by the shadowy Mr. Nobody — the head of a super secret government agency, sort of like the IMF from Mission Impossible — played by Kurt Russell. (Mr. Nobody was introduced in Fast & Furious 7.)
Next we see Hobbs and Dom’s team in a conference room getting a briefing about Cipher from Mr. Nobody. No one has a clue why Dom double-crossed them in Berlin and stole the EMP, but they know something fishy is up, because that’s not Dom. Then Shaw walks into the room and everyone, especially Hobbs, is on high alert.
We learn Cipher came to Shaw first, to recruit him to her team. When he turned her down, she got his younger brother — and we all know how that turned out — see F&F6. Shaw wants to get revenge. Of course Hobbs and Shaw want nothing to do with each other, but Mr. Nobody reminds them that they are the only two people to ever track down Cipher so, like it or not, they’re going to work together.
There’s a very long blah, blah, blah about tracking down Cipher, when she and Dom blast their way into the building and steal the ultra powerful/secret computer program they used to track her.
Cipher and Dom are back on her plane, and this is where we find out the reason Dom is helping her is because Cipher has Elena: the police officer from Rio introduced back in F&F 5; she was Dom’s temporary love when he thought Letty was dead. Now, it turns out that Cipher not only has Elena but also… duh, Duh, DUH, their baby boy. (Ohhhhh, so that’s why Dom is helping Cipher. That makes sense now.)
The action jumps to New York City. Dom is there, seemingly alone, to steal a briefcase from a Russian ambassador. Dom’s team, plus Hobbs and Shaw, are there to stop him. What follows is a wickedly cool scene where Cipher uses her elite hacking skills to hack every car with automated driving capability in a 2 mile radius, essentially creating a zombified demolition derby.
Prior to the action getting started, Dom sneaks into a restaurant to meet with Shaw’s mother, played by none other than Dame Helen Mirren. Dom is there for help, but we don’t learn the details until later in the movie.
We also get treated to a bonding scene between Hobbs and Shaw, where Hobbs reads off a list of commendations Shaw received while working for British Intelligence, before he became a traitor. Of course their bonding scene ends with Hobbs saying to Shaw, “When this is all over I’m going to knock your teeth so far down your throat you’ll need to stick a toothbrush up your ass to brush ’em.” (This is how real men say to each other, “I love you, bro.”)
After Dom gets the Russian ambassador’s briefcase (Which contains the super secret recipe for an ancient Russian version of Coca Cola; just kidding, it has nuclear launch codes.)
Okay, wait just a second. Why would a Russian ambassador, in NYC, have a briefcase containing nuclear launch codes? Please, don’t ask. I already said, these movies have plots thinner than that cheap, see-through toilet paper you find in truck stops. Just roll with it and remember, these movies are about action and bad ass characters.
In the ensuing mess about 10,000 cars get destroyed. Dom gets away with the briefcase, and in the process kills Shaw. (Of course Shaw isn’t actually dead, but Cipher needs to think he is.)
Now Cipher has the ultimate hacking program and launch codes for nuclear missiles. Now all she needs is the submarine that contains the missiles and total world domination will be hers.
(Okay, we’re almost done here.)
Since Dom hesitated during one of his tasks, Cipher has to punish him by killing Elena right in front of him. Everyone converges on the Russian base where the nuclear sub is docked. Cipher hacks the sub and launches it, because sure, that’s possible.
Next: A chase scene on the ice between the Russian military and Dom’s team. Then the nuclear sub, hacked by Cipher, is able to plow through the ice and catch up with sports cars, because the nuclear sub has been upgraded with a NOX turbo injector. (It wasn’t, but I’m surprised the writers didn’t add that.)
But wait, what’s that? Two men wearing personal jetpacks flying through the air? Who could that be? It’s both Shaw brothers? But of course it is. They catch up to Cipher’s plane, remotely open the rear door, fly in and take over the plane. Elder Shaw goes forward to save Dom’s baby boy, while Younger Shaw goes for the cockpit. There’s a hilarious action scene of Elder Shaw fighting against Cipher’s men while he carries Dom’s baby boy in a basket.
Once Shaw(s) have rescued Dom’s baby, then Dom is able to rejoin his team. Dom saves the day in epic fashion.
Shaw has Cipher trapped, but she grabs a parachute and jumps out of the plane. (She was wearing a light jacket and jumped out of a plane, over the Arctic ice, at 10,000 feet. But I’m sure she’ll be fine. Bad guys/gals are immune to hypothermia.)
If there’s one thing more ubiquitous in a F&F movie than a NOX (Nitrous OXide) booster, it’s a long denouement, usually involving a dinner table. At the end of the movie Mr. Nobody offers Hobbs his old position back, but Hobbs turns him down to stay home with his daughter. Obviously, this will be resolved in the Hobbs & Shaw movie.
Did you follow all this? Maybe print it out and bring it along to see Hobbs & Shaw. 😉
I’m doing a 6-season rewatch of UK period drama Downtown Abbey — and Mary Mother of God — I’ve forgotten how melodramatic this show was. There are entire storylines I fast-forward past as I trudge along. (I refuse to pay any more attention the overwrought Anna/Mr. Bates storyline than I absolutely have to.)
Note: it’s not called Down”town” Abbey — you must mind your Ps and Qs while watching this upstairs/downstairs show about Lord Grantham, his (entirely female) family, and the scheming servants who run the great estate. Granted, not all of them are scheming, but those are the fun ones to watch. The nicer maids and footmen fade into the ornate backgrounds, as a good servant must. 😉
What’s Worth Watching, What to Ignore
Actually, I enjoy the genteel honor esteemed butler Mr. Carson and Head of Household Mrs. Hughes wield — with some insightful, laser-like observations over their younger, fractious downstairs staff. These wiser, older holdovers from a simpler era, who love being “in the service”, are the best part of the show. As are the intrigues of the deliciously barbed tongue of the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith), on whose bad side you do NOT want to get.
Scratch that. You don’t want to get into it with squabbling sisters Mary and Edith either. [Cat fighting screeches ensue.]
In spite of a tremendous amount of paternalist and condescending Nobless Obligue on the part of the gentry, you kind of fall into the rhythm of the lives and loves (and sometimes deaths) happening under the roof of the grand abbey. Whether you are Team Upstairs or Team Downstairs, binging Downton Abbey is like eating bon bons. You know it’s not nutritious, but you can’t stop.
You learn to ignore the character cliches in this show too, or you’ll never make it through. At least everything else associated with the Julian Fellowes opus is top shelf: settings, costuming, music, props, and film style. Weighty events like the sinking of the Titanic, World War 1 , and the Spanish Flu Epidemic are as present and real to these characters as 911 was in America. Will the women get the vote? When will inheritance laws change?
We know how things turned out, but the fun is in being there, watching these people live through such tumultuous times. Even the small touches, like Butler Carson learning to use the brand new telephone, is delightful.
The Importance of Titles in Downton Abbey
You also learn a few things about servants. Did you know the Butler is so far above every other employee in “service” that they all must stand at attention when he walks into the servants’ mess? He’s as far above them as the Lord of the Estate is above him.
It looks like this: Butler > Head of Household > Underbutler > Lord’s Valet > the Ladies’ Maids > First Footman > Second Footman > Housemaids > Skullery Maids. The Cook and Assistant Cook have their own category, as does the Chauffeur and the children’s Nanny. We don’t meet the Grooms or the “Hall Boys” (I think that’s what they’re called).
Honestly, this is all fascinating and hard to figure out. Also, some get called by their first names, some by their surnames, and it’s a badge of rank to get a last name designation.
Don’t ask me why any of this makes sense. There’s a whole weedy garden’s worth of laws for referring to the upstairs Lords and Ladies as well, depending on who you are in relationship to them. Apparently it’s a grievous offense to get it wrong. Thank goodness we have Butler Carson to let everyone know what’s appropriate.
Here’s the trailer to the upcoming Downton Abbey movie (Which looks like it slips right in where things left off)
A surprising amount of original characters are back in the sidesaddle again. And yes: from the looks of the trailer there’s a smack down between UMBRIDGE VS MCGONAGALL. (Be still my geeky harry Potter-loving heart!)
Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)
The new Mary Poppins movie is out. (And now it’s streaming on Netflix!) Disney’s magical, musical nanny has returned to theaters after 54 years, five Oscars, a run on Broadway, and a Tony award. While the new movie keeps several staples of the original (the titular nanny, singing and dancing, a fun animated sequence, and kite flying), there are several significant differences.
1. A new actress has taken on the role of Mary. The most significant difference is that Mary Poppins is played by Emily Blunt instead of Julie Andrews. Mary Poppins Returns takes place 25 years after the original film, meaning both Andrews and Dick Van Dyke have aged out of their iconic roles. Furthermore, Andrews had surgery in 1997 that negatively affected her singing voice, making it impossible for her to tackle the movie’s many songs. The good news is that Blunt makes a worthy successor.
2. The father has a different temperament. The father in Mary Poppins Returns is a more sympathetic figure, being a widower with three children. He even gets the heartbreaking song “A Conversation.” Having been raised by the stern Mr. Banks, Michael is trying not to become his father at his worst, and catches himself when he shouts at the children.
3. Mary has a different companion. Like Doctor Who, the on-screen version of Mary Poppins always seems to have a companion. In the original, Mary spends a lot of time with Bert, a jack-of-all trades (most memorably a chimney sweep). In the new movie, Mary’s companion is a lamplighter and their relationship is more platonic than flirty. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Jack has eyes for Jane Banks instead.
4. There is a thrilling climax. In the original film, the climax is more emotional than physical. The movie’s third act is much more action-oriented this time around. There’s a race against time, an army of lamp lighters, and a famous London landmark involved.
5. Dick Van Dyke does not play Bert. Jack was an apprentice chimney sweep to Bert, who is currently traveling the world. While Bert does not appear in the film, the 93-year-old Dick Van Dyke has a cameo as George Dawes Jr. It may be a smaller part, but Van Dyke still brings the house down when he dances for joy on that desktop.
Two of the numbers from Mary Poppins Returns have made the Oscar shortlist for Best Original Song (“Trip a Little Light Fantastic” and “The Place Where Lost Things Go”). And the movie is eligible in several other categories.
Find out how it fares when the Oscar nominees are announced on January 22nd. Disney is already in early talks for a third film, according to CinemaBlend.
If you do choose to catch up with the new Mary Poppins movie, be sure to use the RunPee app.