Spectre  (2015)    65/100

Rating :   65/100                                                                     148 Min        12A

‘Spectre’ couldn’t really be more of a film for our times if it tried. Its shortcomings are frequently noticeable and include such cardinal sins as elements which are boring, flat, cheesy, stupid, and with numerous hammy moments for essentially all the characters. Although expectations were always going to be too high after Bond’s last outing, the wonderful ‘Skyfall‘, became the most successful British film of all time, I can nevertheless see Bond fans being fairly divided over this one.

This was aimed as the crowning jewel in the Daniel Craig (the actor currently playing Bond) era of films, linking the threads of the stories from ‘Casino Royale’ (06), ‘Quantum of Solace’ (08) and ‘Skyfall’ (12) with Bond’s traditional evil arch-enemy Spectre – the sinister organisation that dominated the early films, beginning with the first one in 1962, ‘Dr No.’ (SPECTRE was previously an acronym standing for ‘Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion’), before intellectual property rights issues eventually seen it nosedive into a chimney, if memory serves. Here, there seems to be a reference put in to what must be every single Bond film prior to Spectre’s release, and it kind of feels like when your favourite TV series has a ‘recap’ episode and you feel cheated because you’ve already seen everything in it before.

It all takes a step backward from where the modern films had been correctly heading, with stunts becoming much less believable than before, well executed technically but nobody in their right mind would attempt them in the first place, as Bond shows shades of his ‘too cocky for his own good’ persona of the past, replete with cheesy terrible lines and a hard-on for wafer-thin female characters – in fact, it feels like someone was sitting with a checklist of what should be included in the ‘typical’ Bond film and they just went through it, there’s no real heart to the film, whereas in Skyfall we felt Bond was a real person, fighting real enemies in a reasonably believable manner, with real tension and consequences.

Sam Mendes has returned as director, alas no Roger Deakins as cinematographer this time (Hoyte van Hoytema as his replacement does a god job though), and there was initial praise for giving Monica Bellucci a role, for casting someone a little older than your average Bond girl – but she’s barely in it! You don’t cast Monica Bellucci and then give her a couple of brief moments onscreen during which she essentially just gets banged by the protagonist – indeed, she is expecting assassins to come for her at any second so Bond dutifully takes her clothes off and beds her, next scene she is sitting atop the bed wearing sexy lingerie, as if she thought ‘even though I’m waiting to be killed at any moment, let me change into this sexy outfit I’ve been wanting to show off for ages before you go’, and then Bond tells her not to worry as he’s contacting Felix Leiter for her, who will presumably also take some time in being able to offer her any form of protection.

This ungrounded feeling to the writing continues throughout: we see a bad guy growing a conscience because women and children are involved although we can infer from what we already know that this cannot possibly be a sudden realisation but rather a blasé convenience, ‘The Dark Knight’ (08) references abound with bad guys talking about ‘aggressive expansion’ and something the villains do at the end which seems completely out of the blue as if several scenes are missing as in many other parts of the film, and, most terrible of all, the main villain Franz Oberhauser (played by Christoph Waltz) has been scrubbed and battered with an unhealthy amount of soap-opera, someone that should be terrifying and brilliant, or at least believable, comes across as anything but that, with Waltz miscast in a role that needed a much more intricate and daring treatment to work.

Having said that, the same plot ingredients, including Oberhauser, done in different ways could have worked out, but they needed a much smarter, involving and less self-referential final product. Mendes has his ‘Touch of Evil’ (58) moment with the opening scene all filmed in one continuous shot until the action begins (also likely inspired by last year’s best picture winner ‘Birdman‘) and this section of the film works really well, with the music memorably setting the tone amongst the wonderful backdrop of the ‘Day of the Dead’ festival in Mexico City, and it’s likely this will be the scene most remembered, although stylistically it’s not the only highlight and certainly a fight later on aboard a train also stands out for its bleak and uncompromising brutality.

The movie works far better on IMAX than on a standard screen (IMAX doesn’t always make a big difference) and after three sittings and an initial disappointment it does become easier to appreciate it and also to enjoy the numerous wonderful visuals that Mendes and Hoytema have dotted the film with (there’s even a location very reminiscent of the PC game ‘Riven’ for those familiar with it). Writing this just over a week after the terror attacks on Paris and Beirut (I notice the BBC have barely bothered to report on the latter incidentally) it’s impossible not to see numerous correlations between many of the plot elements and recent events – global intelligence agencies quickly announced they are going to work more closely together and share information, for example, just as they do in the film, indeed you do have to question a strategy from fundamentalists trying to retain physical territory in the Middle East that effectively unites the entire world against them, and notwithstanding the plot of Spectre one hopes that this united spirit will ultimately be a great and defining thing for the twenty-first century, although, ironically, this idea also brings us back to the plot of the film.

Just as 9/11 inspired a more gritty Bond with ‘Casino Royale’, so too will the plot for Bond 25 reflect recent events, and with both Britain and France announcing a recruitment drive for the intelligence services the world really is looking for more real-life Bonds, as well as heroism from the public in situations where help simply isn’t going to arrive on time – such as that displayed by Adel Termos, who sprung on a suicide bomber during the Beirut attacks resulting in an early detonation and preventing the scores or perhaps even hundreds of deaths that would have arisen if the bomber had been allowed to reach his intended target. Watching ‘Spectre’ display its wonderful locations from around the globe: Mexico City, Austria, London, Morocco, Rome, and pondering the reality now that everyone is united against a common enemy – life and creation vs pointless death, one is suddenly struck by just how romantic and hopeful a concept that truly is.

Dave Bautista plays henchman villain Mr Hinx, with Léa Seydoux as primary Bond girl Madeleine Swann in a role that, despite Seydoux having a lot of onscreen presence and being one of the best things in the movie, remains rather in servitude of Bond and his desires. Interestingly, all the best Bond movies for me had, well, good writing generally, but real female characters that were original and existed in their own right rather than as thinly veiled pieces of apparel for the protagonist – for anyone not familiar with the films I’d recommend, in order of their release, ‘Dr No.’, ‘From Russia with Love’, ‘Goldfinger’, ‘Thunderball’, ‘On Her Majesties Secret Service’, ‘Live and Let Die’, ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’, ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’, ‘Goldeneye’ (slight nostalgia for the N64 game on this one), ‘Casino Royale’ and ‘Skyfall’, although some of the others had their moments too.

Curiously, the plot for ‘Spectre’ is also remarkably similar to a certain other big release from earlier this year, it often happens in the industry for one reason or another, although confidential emails relating to ‘Spectre’ were put into the public domain during the Sony hack, did any of them contain plot details? Hmm …

The theme song ‘Writing’s on the Wall’ from Sam Smith kind of sums up the film – you can see what it could have been and what the aim was, but the execution is off in too many important places. ‘Spectre’ works well as an homage to the franchise and as a culturally relevant piece of filmmaking, but as a stand-alone, artful, involving, believable and clever action film in the vein of Skyfall … not so much.


Escape to Victory  (1981)    65/100

Rating :   65/100                                                                     116 Min        PG

This is one of those films that when you learn of it you think to yourself ‘really? That exists?’, and ‘how come I’ve never heard of it before?’. This is a World War II P.O.W. drama in which Michael Caine must train a group of prisoners to form an Allies football team to take on the fully fit German national team in Vichy France. Command in the camp order Caine not to comply but he tells them to stuff it – and guess who’s in goal for the allies? Sylvester Stallone. Oh yes.

Max von Sydow plays the fairly sympathetic Nazi who used to be a professional player in days gone by, and thus he brainchilds the showdown before his superiors hijack it for propaganda. The film is perhaps somewhat light on what living in a Nazi P.O.W. camp was actually like, and when Caine makes the salient point that the set-up is completely unfair given the emaciated state of his players you are in agreement, until you realise the Allies’ team is comprised of Pelé, Bobby Moore, John Wark, Osvaldo Ardiles, Kazimierz Deyna, Paul Van Himst… and the list of international professional football players goes on.

It’s a reworking of the 1962 Hungarian film ‘Two Half Times in Hell’, itself based on the real life death matches played out by Ukrainian teams versus the Nazis, and was directed by the legendary John Huston with a memorable soundtrack highly reminiscent of the ‘Great Escape’ (63) from composer Bill Conti (‘Rocky’ 76), which you may recognise from some of the recent Sky Sports adverts. The sporting moments (some of which were choreographed by Pelé himself) whilst not the most amazing ever filmed are nevertheless continuously engaging, as indeed are the roars and sways of the crowd, and although the camera lingers a little too long here and there, and some of the details feel a little flimsy, this is still a really enjoyable, singularly unique, war sports film.

Mad Max : Fury Road  (2015)    65/100

Rating :   65/100                                                                     120 Min        15

Relentless, sometimes drearily so, but ultimately impressively spectacular. I wouldn’t recommend watching this in 3D as it turns the beginning into a huge mess – what’s meant to be a frantic and high octane intro to the film just looks like it’s playing in fast forward with overly jerky camera action despite the impressive stunts on display, as we are introduced to main character Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) just as he is being introduced to his captors for the immediate future.

This is the fourth time director and writer George Miller (he was joined by Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris for the screenplay) has brought Max to life onscreen, the previous three ventures being with Mel Gibson in ‘Mad Max’ (79), ‘Mad Max 2 : The Road Warrior’ (81) and ‘Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome’ (85), and it’s a series that not only made historic returns at the box office and became a cornerstone of the Australian cinematic boom at the time, but also one that begins in a future dystopia that isn’t visually too removed from our own modern experience and then it heads steadily downward into increasingly archaic and savage distortions of humanity, with disparate tribes living rough in the remaining desert lands of civilisation: all scarce essentials tightly controlled and contested for by gasoline craving heavily armed tribes. This latest instalment continues that downward trajectory and takes it to the nth level with a production scale that is simply mammoth and a central character who’s sanity is constantly prayed upon by his own haunted memories, standing very much as the metaphysical portal to the living hell that surrounds him.

The personal element with Max’s backstory is overplayed and it kind of drags, especially since many will already know what happened from the original film, and although it could anchor a degree of canonical lineage the Max onscreen here is very much a rejuvenation of the character rather than the original a little further down the line from ‘Beyond Thunderdome’. Similarly, it’s the simpler things that detract from the film – the writing in non-action scenarios often feels weak, such as central characters trusting one another too quickly for example, and so too with the direction in these quieter, relatively speaking, moments. The vast majority of the film focuses on a road chase and here the scale of the production is immediately apparent, and indeed it must have been a complete nightmare to film but these sections have been pulled off extremely well, to the extent that they must be a shoe-in for the Oscars, but again it becomes difficult to engage with the same thing happening repeatedly and there is no real grounding for the audience with the characters, as Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa and Nicholas Hoult as Nux join the central fray along with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as The Splendid Angharad in her second role since ‘Transformers : Dark of the Moon’ (11).

All the actors very much look the part and Hoult and Hardy do really well, although there remains something a little too refined and soft about Theron for the setting, but where the film shines is when Max hatches his plan for the finale. You very much share in the other characters’ initial reaction to the idea as although in theory it sounds fine, the execution they have planned sounds more than a little foolhardy – but my goodness do they make a proper go of displaying it on film, and it’s this that really lifts the movie back out of the humdrum desolation it was heading into.

As a bit of an aside, at one point in the film they come across a lone tree in the wilderness, the first they’ve seen, and they end up using it as a harness and uprooting the thing – it’s possible, albeit extremely unlikely, that this could be a nod in the direction of the Arbre du Tenere, a tree which was thought to be one of the most isolated living things on Earth standing in the middle of the desert in Niger as the only one for hundreds of miles in any direction and as such it was used by nomads as a waymarker for centuries. Standing, that is, until a reputedly drunk Libyan truck driver accidentally ploughed it over one day. It must be quite an impressive claim to fame to hit the only obstacle that exists within a several hundred mile radius. It’s in a museum now.

Annie  (2014)    65/100

Rating :   65/100                                                                     118 Min        PG

Having being tortured by the borderline pathological repeat of the original ‘Annie’ (82) by a particularly over zealous family member, and given the overwhelmingly negative reception of the new version, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to this (both are loosely based on the 1977 Broadway musical), but figured why not give it a go – it is always good to remain open minded when it comes to film generally. Surprisingly, it is actually a lot of fun – due in no small measure to the adult parts being well written and delivered by the likes of Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne, Cameron Diaz, Bobby Cannavale and Stephanie Kurtzuba. Annie herself is played by Quvenzhané Wallis and she appears to be significantly better off than her 80’s counterpart, living in what seems to be a fairly warm and safe foster home rather than an orphanage for example.

She does have to put up with Diaz stropping around and being a general bitch to the girls, but it’s not like she’s renting them to the local Catholic priest for smack or anything, and it isn’t long before Foxx’s Will Stacks, who is running for New York City Mayor, has a fateful encounter with the young lass and invites her to come and live with him to increase his rating in the polls, quickly bonding with her and realising what has been missing from his work centric bachelor lifestyle – a young vulnerable homeless girl in his bed. His spare bed that is, though his serpentine public affairs manager (Cannavale) does complicate matters by trying to use her status for his own profit. There are songs aplenty and at least half of them are quite good – a couple from the original musical survive but the rest are newly penned with principal cast members all performing in the recording studio.

Unfortunately, the songs have been produced via heavy use of Auto-Tune, which is effectively cheating and explains why there is an eerie similarity between them all – and it further sheds light on why when we’re given clear indication Cameron Diaz is about to skydive off tune she doesn’t, in reality she probably did exactly that. Diaz is up for a Razzie for this which is a little unfair – she is ironically completely in character here as the sort of pantomime bad guy who’s ultimately not that bad.

In tandem with post production vocal manipulation is the similar falsification of Annie herself – gone is the struggling orphan with the strong sense of what is right and an earnest belief in hope, whose character was formed by, and endured, adversity. This Annie seems all too comfortable with the cushy environment she is thrust into – Wallis received much critical acclaim and a Golden Globe nomination for this but if anything when she’s around her chums at the foster home they all appear to be better performers than she is. I think perhaps being a young girl of eleven and being told how wonderful you are all the time (being the youngest person ever nominated for the best actress Oscar for ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ in 2013 etc.) is not the greatest environment in which to get into the character of supposedly poor and hard up against it Annie, and whilst she has lots of shouty energy this does not in itself make her an acting prodigy, it simply makes her an irate little girl. Could it be Hollywood is busy creating a MONSTER? Time will surely tell, although her singing certainly appears to be very impressive – but with the technique they used it’s very difficult to tell how much is her and how much is being churned out by a machine.

If you aren’t too concerned about the lack of any real emotional depth or anything but the barest scent of a moral lesson to learn then the film is quite fun, and I see no reason that youngsters wouldn’t enjoy it. Rose Byrne in particular delivers exactly the right warm touch, and at one point she sarcastically refers to Foxx as Batman : Jamie Foxx would be a completely awesome Batman, an at least ten times more respectable choice than Batpuss Ben Affleck. Affleck is apparently going to channel his rage into the character, the rage he no doubt feels at the internet calling him a gigantic pussy that will have criminals rolling around laughing in puddles of their own wee – I mean seriously, if you were a hoodlum would you be scared of Ben Affleck growling in a costume? You might surrender out of pity.

Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast  (2014)    65/100

Rating :   65/100                                                                       76 Min        U

The latest in the Tinker Bell series has less going on for adults, and indeed for everyone, than the last outing ‘Tinker Bell and the Pirate Fairy‘, very much focusing on one character, Fawn (Ginnifer Goodwin), this time rather than a group adventure. Her task in Pixie Hollow is to look after the creatures of the area and nature in general (she is an animal fairy). One day, she encounters a strange and hitherto unknown to her beast, or Neverbeast to be more correct, which is thoroughly busied in its somewhat odd practice of erecting stone arcs. Pulling a thorn from its many times larger than her paw the two bond, though she is keen to keep her new animal friend away from the prying eyes of Nyx, leader of the guardians (the Scouts) of Pixie Hollow that may be a little concerned about the Neverbeast’s overt potential for destruction (Incidentally, Nyx is the Greek goddess of the night, born of Chaos, whilst nix is Latin for snow which may suggest a connection to the race discovered in ‘Tinker Bell and the Secret of the Wings‘). When an ancient tome is discovered telling of a mythic creature fitting the Neverbeast’s description that appears every thousand years or so and is depicted calling forth death and destruction, Fawn must question whether aiding her friend is indeed the right thing to do after all. It’s a good film about the importance of not judging a book by its cover (although I religiously buy books based on their cover) and understanding those who may be different to ourselves, it’s just not a tentpole of the franchise, indeed the future of the series sadly appears to be in jeopardy with plans for future film releases abandoned for the time being. Boo.

The Maze Runner  (2014)    65/100

Rating :   65/100                                                                     113 Min        15

Ah mazes! Who doesn’t like a good Labyrinth to get stuck into every now and then – speaking of which, why aren’t there more of them around? The Red Dragon has planned for the future his wedding celebration wherein the unsuspecting and specially chosen guests will find themselves propelled from their seats into a maze from which there is no escape unless they can solve the various riddles and defeat the multitudinous oozing monsters they will encounter, whilst I and my pristine yet equally black hearted bride will watch from a hilltop and record events for posterity. Something which isn’t all that different from the premise of this film, which sees a host of youngsters shoved into the heart of an enormous maze over the period of some years, each with no memory of their lives before this ingress and equally with no apparent way to get out. Their section is fairly large with fertile land to farm, but it is surrounded by enormous walls and outwith the sanctuary they find themselves in the maze harbours dangers which routinely claim the lives of the brave and intrepid amongst them who attempt to find an exit.

It’s based on the 2009 young adult novel by James Dashner, and there is an interesting difference between this and the likes of ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Divergent‘ in that with those two franchises, at least early on, the larger universe is glossed over – The Hunger Games the novel is very weak on explaining in a believable way how North America is now reduced to thirteen disparate districts controlled by a remote hub, for example, and so the film more or less just dispenses with addressing the issue, much as how in Divergent we know nothing about what lies beyond the city borders and yet it seems all but impossible that the residents wouldn’t know themselves. Here there is an attempt to explain the scenario within a larger context, and it’s this revelation that undermines much of the rest of the film as it just seems daft to say the least.

Nor does it seem likely that one of the sprightly young things couldn’t find a way to climb the maze walls, especially since some of them are draped in foliage, and to make matters worse the moment when the hero (played by Dylan O’Brien) really establishes himself is just really flimsy – in terms of the story it works, the sequence of action shots showing it doesn’t though. Despite these faults it’s still reasonably entertaining and has some good visual work to enjoy, as well as some ‘Lord of the Flies’ moments that you’ll never see coming (sarcasm). With Will Poulter and Kaya Scoledario in support along with Particia Clarkson in an identical role to Kate Winslet in Divergent and Meryl Streep in ‘The Giver‘. Look out for legendary effects creator Stan Winston’s name etched into one of the walls too (noted for his work on the Terminator, Jurassic Park and Predator franchises as well as ‘The Thing’ 82, ‘Aliens’ 86, … ).

The House of Magic  (2013)    65/100

Rating :   65/100                                                                       85 Min        U

Animated adventure aimed at younger children and featuring an abandoned ginger cat, later nicknamed ‘Thunder’ for no especially good reason, who ends up taking refuse within a spooky old magician’s house. Once inside, the magician turns out to be able to do real magic, not just conjuring, and has a small devoted retinue of animated trinkets dotted around the house, all de facto led by the performing mouse and rabbit who do not take kindly to the arrival of the newest member of their troupe, the former primarily concerned she is about to become a tasty snack at any moment. Thunder is put upon to prove his worth to the rest of them and try to find a place for himself within this new family, and although it would have been most amusing if he had achieved this and then turned around and ate the mouse anyway, before turning his attentions toward the rabbit, this is not the direction the film goes in.

The primary villain is the magician’s nephew – who once loved magic but has since become a real estate agent and is now only interested in money, tsk tsk, eyeing up the old manor with dollar signs in his eyes. The animation is a little basic and rudimentary, but it is quite likeable, and similarly the automatons in the house initially seem garish and liable to scare little ones but they are quickly humanised and presented as friendly creatures, greatly ameliorating their image. Not a huge deal of magic is performed as the owner of the house ends up spending most of the film in the hospital, leaving the other occupants to fend off the nephew, and although there is nothing in here for adult viewers it should prove to be a pretty decent film for the intended audience. A conspicuously large number of famous names provide small voiceover parts – including Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor, Kiefer Sutherland, Ron Perlman and William Shatner.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes  (2014)    65/100

Rating :   65/100                                                                   130 Min          12A

The sequel to 2011’s very successful, and very good, ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ continues with the story a decade further down the line, with Caesar and his motley bunch of intelligent apes living free in the wild whilst humanity attempts to deal with the deadly ‘Simian Flu’ virus unleashed at the end of the previous film. In a nutshell, this is nowhere near as good (although it is still a country mile better than Tim Burton’s take on the story back in 2001) but it does just about enough to pass mustard as the next chapter in the franchise.

This has a significantly increased action quotient compared to its predecessor, and in terms of the script it’s much more, ahem, primitive – at times it even feels like scenes must have been omitted that were necessary to explain certain things, and at various points the characters feel a little forced and silly. The plot centers on what’s left of the human populace in San Francisco trying to access a hydroelectric dam in the ape controlled forest in order to restore power, which proves to be a diplomatic nightmare for both sides, eventually setting precedent for relations between the two species in the future.

The human protagonists are played by Jason Clarke, Keri Russell and Gary Oldman, with Andy Serkis returning to play Caesar and Toby Kebbell (who’s slated to play Doctor Doom in the Fantastic Four reboot, incidentally) giving a very good performance as the other main monkey, I mean ape, Koba. This has a similar feel to the original series of films which started with the magnificent ‘Planet of the Apes’ (68) and kind of then went steadily downhill with ‘Beneath the Planet of the Apes (70), ‘Escape from the Planet of the Apes’ (71), ‘Conquest of the Planet of the Apes’ (72), ‘Battle for the Planet of the Apes’ (73) and a couple of TV series before the eventual appearance of Burton’s aforementioned attempt which choked and died instantly. Interestingly, the original film is based on a novel by French author Pierre Boulle, who also penned ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’, which of course then inspired another of the most famous movies of all time. This particular outing in the Apes series is reasonably entertaining, but I think it’s best to go in with pretty low expectations …

The Double  (2013)    65/100

Rating :   65/100                                                                       93 Min        15

The second film written and directed by Richard Ayoade (probably best known for playing Moss in ‘The IT Crowd’) and starring Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska in the central roles with many of the cast from his previous film, the wonderful ‘Submarine’ (10), appearing in support. The story is an adaptation of the novella of the same name by Dostoyevsky, first published in 1846, concerning the appearance one day of a man’s exact physical double, here at his place of work, who embodies everything he isn’t – the double is confident, the double is admired, the double is brassy to the point of being criminally indulgent and offensive but people love him for it, and so on.

It’s great to see a new filmmaker experimenting with their own ideas, as is the case here, with plenty of room for personal interpretation opening open as we see the double zero in on the original character’s love interest. Is this imposter what he would become if he were to drastically change his personality to become more of a traditional alpha male? Would such an attempted change result in an almost schizophrenic interim period, or perhaps even a corruptive downward spiral?

Shot within a fairly constrictive local environment of workplace/tower block/diner and with consistent dark hues of yellow and green, the piece has the vibrant ambivalence of feeling both clinical and accessible – largely sold to us by terrific acting from Eisenberg himself, no mean feat when we consider to pull it off he had to do each take twice and continually match the timing with his invisible counterpart to perfection.

Unfortunately, experimenting too wildly can easily go awry, and here Ayoade has admitted that he struggled the most with the ending, which alas comes across onscreen as something which had up until then been interesting and thought provoking descends into a series of fairly nonsensical events and it ends up just being too whimsical and loose. Asides from the final furlong, it shows a lot of promise for the fledgling writer/director though, and it should still prove fairly interesting if you’re looking for something a little bit different.

Rio 2  (2014)    65/100

Rating :   65/100                                                                     101 Min        U

Colourful and bright animation that is actually a slight improvement on its predecessor, although as with that film there is nothing worth watching here for adults other than a light and frothy story with good graphics. Having said that, some of the songs featured are pretty good, and Will I Am (who plays Pedro) has expressed interest in the idea of working with Anne Hathaway (who plays Jewel) on a project outwith the movie industry. The story follows up on the love affair of Blu and Jewel, two rare blue macaws that now have a family of three young chicks to bring up but who are thrown into an adventure in the Amazon jungle when their human buddies get lost there, only to discover Jewel’s family that she had been separated from for many years, and they will have to work together against the evil loggers that threaten their natural habitat. Should be fine for families with young children.