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Matilda The Musical review: The cinema version is bigger and ­better than the stage show


MATILDA THE MUSICAL

(PG) 117mins

★★★★★

FORGET jungle crocs and snakes – the scariest thing you can see this weekend is Emma Thompson’s turn as Miss Trunchbull.

The headmistress of Crunchem Hall is a child-hurling monster who insists on “no snivelling” from the pupils she calls “maggots”.

Alamy

This film understands that what made Roald Dahl such a great children’s author was him being on the side of our youth and against mean-spirited grown-ups[/caption]

Alamy

Forget jungle crocs and snakes – the scariest thing you can see this weekend is Emma Thompson’s turn as Miss Trunchbull[/caption]

Under piles of prosthetics and shoulder padding, Thompson throws herself and the students full-throttle into the comic role.

In the current woke ­environment it’s a surprise Matilda The Musical doesn’t come with a trigger warning. But it’s the triggering that is part of the joy of this musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel.

This film brought back the mirth and misery of attempts at discipline at my school that were roundly ignored by the pupils.

Although, no pupil I knew was anything like Matilda.

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Unwilling to accept the injustice of Trunchbull’s cruel regime, she inspires the other students to stand up to the headmistress.

Matilda, excellently played by newcomer Alisha Weir, has supernatural powers that confound Crunchem Hall’s leader.

This film understands that what made Dahl such a great children’s author was him being on the side of our youth and against mean-spirited grown-ups.

Also being sent up are Matilda’s self-obsessed parents, Mr and Mrs Wormwood, portrayed with satirical glee by Stephen Graham and Andrea Riseborough. 


Not all the adults are baddies, though. There are Matilda’s kindly teacher Miss Honey (Lashana Lynch) and mobile librarian Mrs Phelps (Sindhu Vee).

It’s to Phelps that the talented youngster tells the tale of a circus act that proves to be a spectacular subplot.

Fans of the award-winning musical written by Tim Minchin will be keen to know whether the movie lives up to the stage play. 

While a couple of songs and minor characters have been cut, the cinema version is bigger and ­better.

The sight of kids ­flying planes and riding motorbikes to When I Grow Up captures dreams of youth in a way that was impossible on stage.

And the children dancing, singing and leaping across fields and along corridors will have audiences standing to applaud.

By the end you will have even forgiven the film’s long-winded full title, Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical.

  • Grant Rollings

SHE SAID

(15) 123mins

★★★★☆

A PREDATORY man who is both rich and powerful is a terrifying combination.

They can be scarier than any ghost. 

Alamy

Carey Mulligan’s powerful portrayal outshines all the other performances[/caption]

Harvey Weinstein was just that, and as this film shows, it took an army to take the monster down.

This is the true story of Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) and Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan), who spent months trying to persuade actresses, former em­ploy­ees of Miramax and others to speak on the record about Weinstein’s abuse. 

And to reveal how he had been protected by money, legal contracts forced on victims, and threats on their livelihoods.

She Said is filled with punchy perform­ances and offers a fascinating insight into the work it took these two fearless journalists to reveal the horrifying extent of Wein­stein’s abuse.

Mulligan’s powerful portrayal outshines all the other performances, including an intense scene featuring Samantha Morton.

Directed by Maria Schrader, this is a story many of us think we know – but watching it, you soon realise a 23-year prison sentence was never enough for the monster that is Harvey Weinstein.

PINOCCHIO

(PG) 125mins

★★★★☆

IT’S hard to top the 1940 Disney version of Pinocchio – at least 20 other films have tried, including two this year. 

But director Guillermo del Toro breathes fresh life into the petulant puppet, with a dark take featuring stunning stop-motion animation.

© 2022 Netflix, Inc.

It hits the nail on the head with spectacular visuals and performances, but misfires with its timing and odd musical numbers.[/caption]

Here, our hero is no polished and perfect toy, but an unsightly wooden creation with visible nails and spindly joints.

Set during fascism’s rise in Italy after World War One, the boisterous boy is sought by those eager to exploit his disobedience and naivety. 

Opportunistic showman Count Volpe (skillfully voiced by Christoph Waltz) plans to cash in on his “ultimate performer” in a travelling circus.

And fascist enforcer Podesta (Ron Perlman) sees Pinocchio as the “ultimate soldier” because he can’t die due to a magical spell.

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Soon toymaker-dad Geppetto is forced on a rescue mission. Del Toro has carved out a perfectly imperfect adaptation.

It hits the nail on the head with spectacular visuals and performances, but misfires with its timing and odd musical numbers.

  • Joshua Saunders
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