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IA entertainment editor, John Turnbull, press-gangs his entire family to take a look at a couple of holiday movies in the latest edition of Screen Themes.

BECAUSE HOLIDAY movies are often a family affair, I have taken advantage of the little known "family clause" in the IA editorial policy. Along with my usual sarcastic and half-thought-out jibes, you’ll be treated to the opinions of a trio of real-life cinemagoers; 9 year old Danger, 6 year old Angel and my lovely wife, Katrina.

Cinderella – directed by Kenneth Branagh

The latest re-telling of the Cinderella fable is preceded by a short called Frozen Fever, a teaser for the upcoming Frozen 2 (currently in pre-production). As Angel has watched Frozen at least 30 times and can sing most of the songs at the drop of a hat, odds are that she was going to enjoy it…

"My favourite bit was when Elsa sneezed out a lot of tiny little snowmen. They followed Olaf and Christof to the bad guy’s castle and jumped all over him. It was really funny." (Angel)

Katrina elected to keep her opinion of Frozen Fever to herself. Take from that what you will.

Apparently everyone was happy when the main movie kicked off, almost a full half hour after the advertised start time due to the ads, trailers and Frozen short. Top tip for cinema owners: we pay some of the highest prices in the world because we want to see the movie, not 20 minutes of ads…

While not packed with famous faces, the cast is young and pretty, with Lily James from Downton Abbey shining as Cinderella. Helena Bonham Carter has fun as the Fairy Godmother and Cate Blanchett chews the scenery as the evil Stepmother.

"I liked the bit at the end where they kiss and marry. Cinderella was my favourite character, along with Ella because they’re the same person." (Angel)

"I loved the movie. I thought Cate Blanchett was awesome as the wicked stepmother." (Katrina)

The fact that Cinderella is a relatively faithful retelling of the traditional fairytale means that quite a lot of people die, and not necessarily in a come-back-to-life-later sort of way. Whether this will worry your younger cinema companions will depend on their demeanor.

"Did you think it was sad?" (Katrina)

"No. Did you cry?" (Angel)

"I cried all the way through it." (Katrina)

"The sad bit in the movie is when the queen dies, and then the king dies. But I didn’t cry." (Angel)

Rating – Caitlin: 10/10

Rating – Katrina: 7/10

Fast & Furious 7 – directed by James Wan

Neither Danger nor I have seen all of the previous Fast & Furious movies. I saw 1, 3 and 5 (based on reverse Star Trek logic) and Danger just watched 5 because it has The Rock in it. Nevertheless, it isn’t hard to understand the physics-defying world of fast cars, fast quips and scantily clad women that Fast & Furious presents, and if you have the ability to switch your brain off at the door you may well think this is the best movie you have ever seen.

Featuring characters from all of the previous installments (with the exception of the unfortunate Han, who gets unceremoniously dispatched off screen), F&F7 often feels like a soap opera, cutting between multiple storylines. The upside of this approach is that all of the major characters have their moment to shine, from The Rock’s knock-down, drag out fight with Jason Statham’s villain Deckard Shaw to Michelle Rodruigez’ brawl with MMA prodigy Ronda Rousey.

"It was amazing! Nobody died except for the bad guy, and I suppose a couple of other guys like that guy in the car at the beginning. They jumped a car off a mountain, and the car got crushed but they didn’t die, and also there were a lot of guns in it. I like guns." (Danger)

Fast & Furious 7 is not a movie for those who are concerned with realism. The laws of physics are broken as a matter of course, characters walk away from car accidents that would hospitalize real people for a month, and airbags don’t exist because they’re not cool. At one point, our heroes jump a car between three skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi, which was either the coolest or the stupidest moment of the movie, depending on your perspective…

"At the start there were lots of explosions. I liked the bit where the bad guy was in the helicopter and Dom jumped his car and put a bag of hand grenades on his helicopter and the Rock saw the bag and shot it with his pistol and the whole helicopter exploded." (Danger)

From my perspective, the action sequences were well directed and completely over-the-top, the cast seemed to be having fun with things and director James Wan handled the mid-production death of star Paul Walker with sensitivity. Despite the two hours of ludicrous action that preceded it, the scene where each of the characters says an unspoken goodbye to Walker’s character is surprisingly moving, and may even draw a tear from even the most jaded motorhead…

Rating – Danger: 1,000,000/10

Rating – John: 7/10   

The Verdict

Cinderella is a lovely, traditional holiday movie that is safe to take all but the most sensitive of kids. It has been so successful at the box office that Disney has announced that it will be followed by a series of live action adaptations of animated classics, starting with Dumbo and Mulan.

Fast & Furious 7 has broken box office records around the world, pulling in over $800 million in the first fortnight of release. It will entertain men, boys and those not offended by poorly-written female characters treated almost entirely as eye-candy. Interestingly, it also stars Australian rapper Iggy Azalea in a cameo, which based on the results is not something that should be encouraged.

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