Trio of films mark Ellon Cinema Day anniversary

Ellon Cinema Day recently celebrate its second anniversary. Three films were screened to appeal to a varied audience and Vicki and John Morgan were there to review them all.

Penguins of Madagascar - Vicki Morgan

Dreamworks offers us a spin-off of the Madagascar films where the four penguins, Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private have a fun-fuelled spy adventure of their very own.

We initially see three of the penguins as babies in Antarctica, who, after saving an escapee egg (from which emerges the talent-lacking but very cute Private), are set-adrift on an iceberg.

From this eggciting (sorry) start in life, the formidable penguin team are now formed. 10 years later and we are flung forward to the gang celebrating Privates birthday by breaking into Fort Knox to get his favourite but discontinued crisp snack from an old vending machine. Unfortunately, evil Octopus Dave kidnaps the team in his bid to capture all penguins and turn them into monsters.

Dave has a massive chip on his shoulder after years of neglect by humans in various aquariums who wanted to see cute penguins instead of mildly amusing Octopus. T

The psychotic sea creature has created the “Medusa Serum” which can turn anything cute into something hideous and he plans to attack all penguins with it. With skill and ninja moves, the penguin team escape and are rescued by North Wind an elite, under-cover multi-species group whose aim is to thwart Dave.

The plot then follows the teams attempts to stop Dave and destroy the Medusa Serum.

This film is very silly. The penguin characters are brilliant, taking themselves very seriously whilst behaving in ridiculous ways, all set to a James Bond theme.

The first of three appearances of Benedict Cumberbatch at Ellon Cinema today was made in this film, with him providing the voice of Classified, the gray wolf, which he did marvellously. A particularly funny moment was the Cheesy Dibbles munching scene with Classified and Skipper which you’ll have to see.

The film has a happy ending, with an unlikely hero (I won’t spoil it for you) and our kids both really enjoyed it. Molly gave it a 9/10 but as I’m quite stingy with my ratings it gets a 6/10 from me.

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies – Vicki Morgan

Right, here we go again, for the third (and thankfully) last time, the final part of The Hobbit trilogy by Lord of the Rings Director Peter Jackson.

The first part of the trilogy was eagerly anticipated by all Tolkien fans (and I include myself in this group), and was, in my opinion, pretty disappointing. The second part, again, not as good as expected, so could the final part do any better and Jackson redeem himself?

The final film begins where the last ended, with the village of Laketown being obliterated by Smaug the gold-obsessed dragon and Bard finally kills the beast with the fabled black arrow.

The story then continues to stay true to the book with Thorin the dwarf and his men settling into their new Lonely Mountain home. I won’t go into too much detail about the rest of the story, if you’ve read the book then you’ll know what happens. The scenes, settings, costumes, soundtrack and acting are the same as the Lord of the Rings films, as they should be and, as you’d expect, the stunning New Zealand landscape is put to good use alongside incredibly realistic computer-generated images. All in all it was a decent film, but now, having sat through all 13 odd hours of The Hobbit trilogy, can I say this final offering, along with its predecessors, was as good as it could have been?

The Hobbit films, in my opinion, really should have echoed the number of their book, just one. Spectacular effects and best out of the three but I’d have liked it to have been amazing and shorter – 7/10

The Imitation Game – John Morgan

“The Imitation Game”, starred the now ubiquitous Benedict Cumberbatch as the pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing, and Kiera Knightly as his colleague and one-time fiancée Joan Clarke. The ‘imitation game’ of the title, also known as the Turing test, is a device of theoretical computer science originally postulated by Turing in 1950 in which a machine is programmed to respond to interrogations put to it by a human in such a way that the human thinks he or she is interacting with an actual human.

If this is successful, then the machine is said to have passed the Turing test. The premise of this film is that Turing himself is simply a calculating machine, displaying little in the way of normal social interaction and effectively having to break a secret code every time he has a conversation.

The film flips between three key periods of Turing’s life, namely his school days at Sherbourne School, his work at Bletchley Park during the war, and his arrest and prosecution for homosexuality in the early fifties.

Turing and his team certainly did not withhold the fact that they had broken the code from the Admiralty and interact directly with MI6 as suggested in the film. Further it is not certain that Turing actually committed suicide. He certainly died as a result of cyanide poisoning, but it is likely that this was a result of accidental inhalation rather than deliberate ingestion.

It is also suggested in the film that Turing was in the same team as the Soviet spy Cairncross. Cairncross was at Bletchley Park but in a different department, and it is unlikely they ever met.

Dr Turing certainly did not harbour a Soviet spy in his team out of fear of Cairncross exposing his homosexuality, and to suggest so is something of a slur on the great man’s character.

Turing was a great unsung hero of the war, and his story can stand by itself without the unnecessary use of over-dramatisation, so I am giving this film only 7/10.