Big Game (2014) Review

IMG_0062

Big Game (2014)

Directed by Jalmari Helander

Starring:
Samuel L. Jackson
Onni Tommila
Felicity Huffman
Victor Garber
Ted Levine
Jim Broadbent
Ray Stevenson

Running time: 90 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A young teenager camping in the woods helps rescue the President of the United States when Air Force One is shot down near his campsite.

IMG_0182

My Opinion:

I watched this last week but then I watched Mad Max: Fury Road which is a billion trillion times better than Big Game so I of course had to review that first (review HERE). Then I watched Pitch Perfect 2 yesterday which is also better than Big Game but, well, I had this review partly ready to go so let’s get this silly Samuel L Jackson movie out of the way.

IMG_0178

I saw a trailer for this a while ago & thought it looked silly but fun. The trailer kind of made it look like Escape From New York but set in the wilderness in Finland with Samuel L Jackson playing the Donald Pleasence role & a little kid playing Kurt Russell. Ha! Well, that would have been kind of cool but Big Game isn’t quite as much fun as I was hoping. Silly, yes! Not very good. Kind of fun, I suppose. It’s not like it ruined my day or anything but it’s certainly not one you need to go to the cinema to see. Watch it at home if you’re a Jackson fan.

IMG_0179

What I liked is that this movie said “screw it!” and just did all kinds of stupid & cliché things (oh! it’s the Secret Service guy’s final assignment before retiring? no way!) but the director & actors are clearly just enjoying making an almost “family friendly” film that’s almost done 80’s-action-movie-style. Almost. The silly side of 80’s action movies, at least. Things like Commando. Will I be in trouble for calling Commando silly? That’s the one with Alyssa Milano, right? I remember when I wanted to be cool like Alyssa Milano back in the Who’s The Boss days! Anyway – I have nothing against movies like that. Those were great! Not GREAT like in a Predator or Terminator way but, you know – more fun than most shit that gets made today. Hmm. Maybe Commando was actually awesome. I don’t remember. I should watch it again sometime. But I’m pretty sure it didn’t have the American President and a 13-year-old boy from Finland flying around all over the place in a freezer. Spoiler warning? Oops. Doesn’t matter. The flying freezer pisses all over the Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull fridge nuking! But it’s meant to be ridiculous. I think? I wouldn’t quite say this is a “so bad it’s good” movie because it’s really not that bad. If you just go into it with an open mind & in the right kind of mood, you might get a few good laughs out of it.

IMG_0181

Summary:

I kind of had fun with Big Game. It’s ridiculous but it’s not like you’re meant to take it seriously. Remember the good old days (yeah, the Eighties) when we weren’t so judgmental & snobby about movies and just had fun with silly action movies that were violent but actually really tame and didn’t have blood & guts flying all over the place and we watched them even though we weren’t really meant to because we were a little too young? Big Game is like that. But who the hell cares now that MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is out?!?! THAT’S a great action movie just like the old days! Go to that! Don’t go to Big Game. Don’t go to Pitch Perfect 2 (did that seriously do better at the box office than Fury Road? seriously???). Go to Fury Road!

My Rating: 6/10

IMG_0180

For those who don’t know it, there’s something called the Eurovision Song Contest every year where a bunch of countries perform an original song & try to win the contest and the songs are CRAP and everyone makes fun of the whole thing. Anyway, my favorite moment from it was the year that Finland’s entry by the band Lordi won. So I kept thinking of Lordi while watching Big Game since that’s pretty much the only thing I know about Finland. Because I’m American & Finland is outside of America. ;-) Here’s Lordi’s winning song Hard Rock Hallelujah! Lol

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Review

IMG_0082

***SPOILER FREE REVIEW***

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Directed by George Miller

Starring:
Tom Hardy
Charlize Theron
Nicholas Hoult
Hugh Keays-Byrne
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
Riley Keough
Zoë Kravitz
Abbey Lee
Courtney Eaton

Running time: 120 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, two rebels just might be able to restore order: Max, a man of action and of few words, and Furiosa, a woman of action who is looking to make it back to her childhood homeland.

IMG_0104

My Opinion:

YES! This is what movies are meant to be like! I’ve been moaning for years that they can’t make a decent action blockbuster anymore. It’s all CGI bullshit now with shitty scripts and crappy characters. Oh how I’ve longed for the days of The Terminator & Alien/Aliens. Well, I’m happy to say that Mad Max: Fury Road is a return to the good old days of action-packed blockbusters. And, as a HUGE added bonus, we have ourselves another Ellen Ripley with Charlize Theron’s kick-ass Imperator Furiosa. That’s right, ladies! This is a totally bonkers, violent, non-stop adrenaline-fueled extravaganza that has its female audience in mind just as much as its male audience! YES!!!! The female characters don’t take a backseat in Fury Road – they’re driving this bastard!

IMG_0110

I’m now kind of regretting my post from two days ago (HERE) in which I re-rated several movies I thought I’d given either too high or too low of a rating. I said that I think I sometimes rate new releases too highly due partly to hype & partly to my enjoyment of the experience of going to a movie in the cinema. So now I’ve gone to the best movie I’ve seen in a very long time & I’m still on a high as I’m writing this just after seeing it and I know I’m going to just rave about it like an idiot and end up giving it a really high rating. Well, you can trust me on this – Fury Road is not a movie that will need re-rating because I’ve rated it too highly in my excitement. In fact, I’m afraid I won’t do it justice & may rate it slightly too low as I want to be more cautious with my ratings now. Damn. We’ll see… I still don’t know at this point what rating I’ll give it.

IMG_0108

I always try to stay as spoiler free as possible in my reviews and I want to be especially careful with this one as I think knowing as little as possible before seeing Fury Road may add to your enjoyment (I know it did for me as I didn’t know quite what to expect beyond the one trailer I’d seen). So, I’m not going to get very specific about things that happen in the movie as I’m not sure what is common knowledge & what isn’t. I think people will like this one whether they’ve seen the Mel Gibson films or not. My experience is this: I saw the first two but I admit that, although I did really like them at the time, I only watched them once sooo many years ago that I don’t remember them as well as I’d like. Sorry Mad Max fans – I’d wanted to re-watch them before seeing Fury Road but haven’t had the time. I’ll definitely make time for them again at some point now but Fury Road works just fine as a film on its own.

IMG_0113

IMG_0111

What I loved about Fury Road (besides the kick-ass female characters that I just can’t rave about enough) was, well… Everything. I loved the look & feel of the post-apocalyptic world and its insane inhabitants. I loved the action that never ever let up – the stunts they pulled off were amazing! My eyes couldn’t actually keep up with the amount of action going on – it was nuts! But in a good way – I want to watch this again as I know I missed things. The writing was very good – we got decent character development (for an action movie) as well as sympathetic characters we cared about and who cared about each other (so many action movies barely bother with this!). The baddies are over the top and outrageous in the most awesome way possible. Hell, the whole movie is over the top and outrageous but it’s so much damn FUN. George Miller really went to town with Fury Road & it all works perfectly. It reminds me in a way of how Tarantino makes his films – you can tell there’s a real love of what he does. It feels like he really put his heart into making this film. I wish every director would do the same.

IMG_0107

Summary:

Mad Max: Fury Road is totally bonkers. Its fast pace may have you leaving the cinema wondering what the hell just hit you but, hey – that’s what action movies should be like. Fury Road gives us Imperator Furiosa, a new badass female who deserves a place among the likes of Ellen Ripley and The Bride. As a female who is often frustrated by the sexism and misogyny in movies, I couldn’t be more happy about that (and the movie sure as shit passes the Bechdel test!). I think those who aren’t fans of the other Mad Max films should like this just as much as those who are but those who are may be a little disappointed that this movie should almost be titled Furiosa & Mad Max: Fury Road. That title sounds damn good to me, though – maybe we can get the female character’s name in the title of the next one.

My Rating: 9/10

IMG_0105

IMG_0116

Re-Rated: Movie Reviews I May Have Gotten Wrong

IMG_0074

I know a couple of people here have in the past picked on my “rating system” when it comes to my movie reviews. I admit I’ve made mistakes… I have a tendency to rate new releases too highly, probably partly due to hype & partly due to my enjoyment of seeing a new film in the cinema/theater. However, there are also times when a movie goes up in my estimation after I’ve reviewed it. I love it when that actually happens!

I’ve never really explained my rating system here (which is on a scale of one to ten, ten being the best). I think it’s really simple – it’s based almost entirely on MY own personal enjoyment but I do take “worthiness” into consideration somewhat if reviewing a classic for something like my IMDB project. Hence, something like Adventures In Babysitting gets a 9/10 from me while On The Waterfront, which I found boring, will get a much lower rating than that when I eventually get around to reviewing it. I’m not saying that Adventures In Babysitting is the better film – I’m just saying that I like it more. Makes sense, right??? :-)

Below are some films I watched for the first time since starting this blog two & a half years ago which I feel I either gave too high or too low of a rating. None have changed too drastically. I’m extremely opinionated when it comes to movies I like or dislike so I’d never change my mind completely. Let’s start with the ones I think I rated too highly:

IMG_0073

Godzilla (2014)
Original Rating: 7/10
New Rating: 6/10

This damn movie! I think I ended up liking it even less after a few of you picked on me for trashing it in my review then giving it a 7/10. I don’t know… I think I try to be nice with my ratings sometimes as it’s not like I’ve ever made a movie. This wasn’t the worst thing ever plus Godzilla looked great (when you finally got to see him after watching a bunch of idiots you didn’t care about for the first hour). It needed a better script & characters, though.

Pacific Rim
Original Rating: 7.5/10
New Rating: 6.5/10

WHAT?! 7.5? What was I smoking??? Here’s where I’m going to get in trouble – I gave this a higher rating than Godzilla when it was far more guilty of having a godawful script. However, I’m still giving it a higher rating than Godzilla since I did actually enjoy it slightly more, even if it was dumb as hell. Sorry! At least the first half wasn’t boring as shit.

Pretty Much Every Superhero Movie Other Than Guardians Of The Galaxy:

I won’t list them all since I think I’ve reviewed every superhero movie that has been released since I started this blog. I still really hate Man Of Steel – I gave that a 6/10 but I’d like to change that to 5/10. I admit I rated The Amazing Spider-Man 2 too highly since I like Andrew Garfield more than Tobey Maguire but, still – I haven’t exactly loved any of the Spider-Man films. X-Men: Days Of Future Past was a mess so I’d probably knock at least half a point off of that now. Actually, to be on the safe side, just take half a point off every rating I give superhero movies from now on. ;-) They’re such fun popcorn movies that I kind of get caught up in the moment when I review them right after seeing them. I’d even already lower my Avengers: Age Of Ultron & maybe even my Big Hero 6 ratings. However, Guardians Of The Galaxy remains a firm 8.5 & I was considering raising it to a 9. We’ll see if any future films taint things or not.

American Hustle
Original Rating: 7/10
New Rating: 6/10

Why did I give this a 7?! I must have been blinded by the fact that I love the 70s. This should never have been up for a Best Picture nomination & wasn’t worthy of the hype. It wasn’t awful but it wasn’t anything that special. I also think Silver Linings Playbook is overrated – knock half a point off of that too! Maybe I’m just not a David O Russell fan.

Interstellar
Original Rating: 6.5/10
New Rating: 6/10

Screw this movie. I was going to give it a 6 in the first place but got too scared of the Nolanites.

Now onto the movies I think I rated too lowly:

IMG_0068

The Warriors
Original Rating: 8.5/10
New Rating: 9.5/10

Yes, 9.5 is very high. I think I’ve only given that twice on this blog (to The Breakfast Club & WALL-E) plus a 10 only once (to The Shawshank Redemption). Those three are all movies I already loved from my pre-blog days, though (there would be more 9 & up but I’ve given up on reviewing old all-time favorites for now as I just don’t have the time). My two favorite things about having a movie blog are 1) chatting with like-minded movie fans and 2) discovering new (well, mostly old) movies that I now love. I’ve forced myself to watch movies I’d probably still be putting off watching if I didn’t have this blog making me feel like it’s almost my job to watch things that have been on my “To Watch” list for years. I can thank this blog for my new love of Charlie Chaplin and probably also Studio Ghibli as I may have not watched the fabulous Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind or some of the other great Ghiblis beyond My Neighbor Totoro otherwise. But Chaplin & Studio Ghibli are highly regarded & I gave them all very high ratings when I reviewed them. However, if I’m completely honest, The Warriors is my very favorite CPD “new discovery” that had been on my To Watch list for years and, along with a John Carpenter film I watched for the very first time recently, it would now be up there as an all-time favorite film of mine. I’ve given an 8.5 to some very good recent films such as Her & Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. Those will never be all-time favorites, though, so I think The Warriors deserves a much higher rating than 8.5. It deserves a place among the the likes of Adventures In Babysitting! (And while I’m at it, I’d like to up the ratings by half a point for two other pre-blog favorites: Dawn Of The Dead (2004) & Hardware. Yes, Hardware. Deal with it!) ;-)

Hobo With A Shotgun
Original Rating: 6.5/10
New Rating: 7.5/10

I won’t go into this one much as I still have no clue why I like it. In fact, please don’t go read my review because it’s embarrassingly shit! I’m still as clueless now as I was then as to why I enjoyed this thing but it’s one of the movies I saw in the past few years that I think of most often. There’s just something about it & I don’t know why it’s not a bit of a cult classic yet (or is it? I have no idea). I really want to re-watch this now…

The Man Who Fell To Earth
Original Rating: 7/10
New Rating: 8/10

This was a hard movie to rate in the first place as it’s, well, not exactly good. But I like it. I LOVE David Bowie, though, so I’m going to like it much more than someone who doesn’t. It’s a very odd film but, like Hobo With A Shotgun, it’s one of the movies I’ve thought about the most since seeing it. It’s very artistic & iconic. Bowie is far from the best actor ever but I like this beautiful, weird ass movie a lot.

The Great Escape
Original Rating: 8.5/10
New Rating: 9/10

Not a huge difference in the rating but this was one of my favorite IMDB Top 250 movies I’ve watched & I think it deserves a 9/10 just as much as The Bridge On The River Kwai, which I did give a 9/10. Both are true classics & made me realize that maybe some war films actually ARE really bloody good after all.

A Lot Of Horror Movies:

I’m always a little harsh on horror movies here at CPD. Horror has never exactly been a favorite genre of mine but when good horror films actually do get made, I absolutely love them. Stuff like The Shining, The Omen, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Romero’s zombie films… Love them! The problem is that there are SO many bad ones these days that I probably don’t give the few decent ones the credit they deserve. I tend to rate them in comparison to non-horror movies when I should be comparing them to other movies in the horror genre to be more fair. These are all horror movies I’ve really enjoyed since starting this blog & I’d up all their ratings by half a point:

It Follows
Tucker And Dale Vs Evil
Grabbers
The Babadook

Also, I thought The Descent was pretty damn good but I think I gave it a fair rating of 8/10 – I just feel it’s worth another mention.

IMG_0080

Hmm. I did this as I wanted a quick thing to post but it ended up taking ages with all those links. I should have just reviewed Big Game instead (FYI – I’m thinking I’ll give it a 6/10 but it probably doesn’t deserve it because it’s pretty bad!). Sorry I’ve not been around much lately. I have a lot of real life things to deal with & my weekends have been too busy, which is when I usually try to catch up on reading other blogs. The blogging thing will have to go on hold for a little bit but I’ll do my best to write more of my high quality reviews that I squeeze into my 30 minute lunch breaks. ;-)

The Maltese Falcon (1941) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

IMG_9848

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Damien of Flashback/Backslide. Thanks for all the reviews, Damien! :-) Now let’s see what he thinks of The Maltese Falcon, IMDB rank 121 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

IMG_9846

The Maltese Falcon

IMG_9841

Reviewing a classic like The Maltese Falcon reveals the absurdity of online film reviews. The endeavor asks us to focus our gaze on a film created before most of us were born, before many of our parents were born in fact, not to mention before countless cultural shifts, artistic fads and genrefication. And of course before the invention of the internet which allows vast hordes of people to weigh in on old classics. What I say here, positive or negative, will have little bearing on the fact that The Maltese Falcon is and always will be one of the greatest films ever made. But reviewing the greats, which is the spirit of the IMDB Challenge that inspired this review, provides the perspective needed to judge new releases.

And without a doubt, The Maltese Falcon is one of the greats; it is listed at #31 in the updated AFI Top 100 Films rankings (down from #23 on the original rankings), #6 on the AFI Top 10 Mystery films, and widely considered to be the first major film noir made. Five other noirs released between 1941 and 1954 would land on the AFI Top 100 rankings (See Footnote) but The Maltese Falcon helped open the doors for the genre and inspire later films. This is especially notable since films released at that time were generally more upbeat and include several classic musicals. To be sure, the genre’s momentum was already trending up by 1941. Just one year prior Strangers on the Third Floor and They Drive By Night hit theaters and showcased Peter Lorre and Humphrey Bogart respectively, both of whom star in The Maltese Falcon. What helps the film stand out from those predecessors is its early use of the so-called “hard-boiled detective” character already found in pulp magazines for years. Bogart’s portrayal of private investigator Sam Spade would become the standard for all noir leading men and helped propel his career forward after his breakout role in High Sierra, a film co-written by John Huston. Huston served as the writer/director of The Maltese Falcon and would team up with Bogart again in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) and Key Largo (1948).

IMG_9842

Our film starts like many other noirs. Spade and his partner Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan) are hired by the beautiful Ruth Wonderly (Mary Astor) to find her missing sister who left home and traveled across the country with a suspicious character. Archer takes the case and by morning Spade finds himself in the center of two murder investigations and a decades-long search for a mysterious statue. As the story unfolds each character works to outmaneuver the others either by charm, violence or the occasional poisoning, all culminating in an extended confrontation by all involved. Unlike most modern films, the film revolves not around plot but character development. Each plot reveal deals more with unraveling the intentions of the characters than it does with propelling the film forward. This development is made possible by excellent acting, strong writing, and precise direction. As we’ve already learned, Bogart’s role not only pushed him to another level of notoriety but his wry smiles, misleading outbursts and redirections will become the stuff that noir dreams are made of. Spade’s ploys allow him to keep a seat at the table with other characters who inevitably hold more cards. Lorre provides the antithesis to Bogart’s slick Spade with awkward exchanges and ill-advised shows of force. Spade’s tactics are more in line with the shrewd Kasper Gutman, played by Syndey Greenstreet in his remarkable first role which earned him a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the 14th Academy Awards. It will come as no surprise at this point that Greenstreet would join Bogart and Lorre again on the cast of Casablanca. In an interesting film history side note, Mary Astor would be honored in those same 14th Academy Awards in which Greenstreet earned a nomination. Astor won the Best Supporting Actress award that year, not for The Maltese Falcon but for her work in the Edmund Goulding directed film The Great Lie. Goulding later directed the film noir classic Nightmare Alley in 1947. Looking back we remember Astor less for her award-winning work in The Great Lie than we do for her role in The Maltese Falcon. Just as Bogart’s work defined the film noir lead, Astor’s portrayal of Brigid O’Shaughnessy shaped the image of noir’s femme fatales, balancing cunning with feigned weakness.

With over seventy years spent appreciating The Maltese Falcon and the genre it helped prop up, it is odd to think that the film was nearly never produced. Huston was not the first director to adapt Dashiell Hammett’s 1929 detective novel. He wasn’t the second either. Two other adaptations had already been made, one in 1931 under the same name along with 1936’s Satan Met a Lady. Transitioning from Warner Brothers writer to Warner Brothers director, Huston chose Hammett’s novel for his directorial debut even with those two other adaptations. Huston believed he could properly bring the novel to the screen and improve on the poorly received predecessors. With hindsight we know Huston was correct and his meticulous direction not only surpassed the earlier films but was met with resounding applause. Accolades continue to be collected for the film, not the least of which is inclusion in the IMDB Top 250 challenged and the praise of internet bloggers.

Rating: 10/10

Classic Film Scale: 7/10

IMG_9843

Bottomline: The prototypical film noir classic featuring early roles by now legendary actors, The Maltese Falcon will continue to be remembered for many years to come. It seems a bit unfair to rank a classic film like The Maltese Falcon on the same scale as The Hunger Games and American Hustle so I’ll use a more appropriate scale with only the all-time greats earning a 10/10.

Footnote: The six films released between 1941 and 1954 which are generally considered examples of film noirs and earned a spot on the AFI Top 100 rankings are as follows: The Maltese Falcon (1941), Double Indemnity (1944), A Place in the Sun (1951), The Third Man (1949), On the Waterfront (1954).

Thanks for reading!

Flashback/Backslide

Attack The Block (2011) Review

IMG_9829

Attack The Block (2011)

Directed & Written by Joe Cornish

Starring:
Jodie Whittaker
John Boyega
Alex Esmail
Franz Drameh
Leeon Jones
Simon Howard
Luke Treadaway
Jumayn Hunter
Nick Frost

Music by Basement Jaxx & Steven Price

Running time: 88 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Attack the Block is set on a council estate in South London on Guy Fawkes Night, and, with some coming of age themes, the plot centres on a teenage street gang who have to defend themselves from predatory alien invaders.

IMG_0008-0

My Opinion:

I watched this months ago & I’m still not really sure why I did. A movie about a bunch of teenage thugs? A group of people everyone hates?! The UK has enough of a problem with teenagers who engage in intimidating, anti-social, and sometimes criminal behavior while wearing hooded sweatshirts over their heads to hide their faces. They’re a very unsympathetic group so I think a lot of people were a bit “Really?” when a movie came out about teenage thugs fighting aliens. In fact, this movie starts out with our group of teen “heroes” mugging a woman at knifepoint. So how could I possibly like this movie?? I don’t know but I really did! Attack The Block falls into a category I’m always happy to be able to add to: Pleasant Surprise.

IMG_0022

I should first address the fact that John Boyega stars in this film. I’m sure all movie bloggers know his name but, come December, the general public will as well since he has a large role in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. He’s been in very little so far so I’m sure Attack The Block has gotten more attention since he got the Episode VII role as people will now be curious to see what he’s like. Well, I’d say Attack The Block is well worth the watch if you’re at all curious. Boyega was very good in this (actually the best thing about it besides the pretty cool aliens) & I can’t wait to see how he does in his Star Wars role now. Oh, and I of course still also highly recommend Ex Machina to see an excellent sci-fi film starring TWO Episode VII actors: Domhnall Gleeson & Oscar Isaac. Actually, these two films would make a cool sci-fi double feature! It would also go very well with another action packed & violent film in which a London street kid becomes the “hero” – Kingsman: The Secret Service. Yeah! These two would be great fun to watch together…

IMG_0012

Just so you know, in case you do watch this, I didn’t exactly hate teenagers any less after watching this. The woman they mug at the beginning has to team up with them later against the alien invaders and most of the teens continue to be disrespectful little pricks. Apart from Boyega’s character, no one exactly “sees the light” & decides to no longer be a teenage criminal or some shit like that. But, hey – this isn’t a Disney movie! It’s a rather violent sci-fi action movie and it’s just meant to be fun. Not every movie needs a moral. There are lots of angry reviews on IMDB from people who hate the behavior of the kids in this but, seriously – lighten up, people! Teenagers are horrible. Always have been, always will be. At least a movie actually portrays modern day teens accurately for a change.

IMG_0011

Now that I’ve made this movie sound horrible, I should try to explain why it’s not. Actually, I’m not sure why I enjoyed this so much, to be honest! Part of the reason is probably because I thought the aliens were pretty cool & effective. For the budget, I think they got the right balance in making what appears to be actors in furry gorilla suits look surprisingly good. I’m old school so I hate the overuse of CGI. I mean, look at Alien & Aliens! NOTHING has ever again looked as cool as those films do. And look at original trilogy Star Wars compared to CGI-bullshit prequel Star Wars! Give me puppet Yoda & get your CGI out of my face. Okay – one of the coolest things about these aliens is that they have these scary, glowing jaws & teeth that may have involved a little CGI? I’m not entirely sure but a little is fine! I know I read the filmmakers used as little CGI as they could get away with in this film. They kept the alien design very simple & I liked that a lot and think it worked really well for this film. I’ll keep the look of them a surprise for anyone who hasn’t seen this but it kind of sucks that all I then have to post is a bunch of pictures of hooded teens, making this look like some London gang film instead of a cool alien sci-fi movie. Hmm. Here’s a picture of the lady they mug. And Nick Frost, who plays the council estate’s weed dealer.

IMG_0020

IMG_0015

Summary:

Attack The Block is a really fun alien invasion movie with a lot of action (and quite a bit of violence – I wouldn’t actually let the youngest teens who starred in this watch it!). The aliens had a great look to them and I found the setting of a South London council estate to be a very original idea for a sci-fi film. While some of the teenage thugs are unlikeable, there are a few who aren’t and they did a good job giving all the characters their own personalities considering that it’s a fairly large cast. I’m a fan of Basement Jaxx, who did the score, and they threw one of my very favorite rap songs in here (Sound Of Da Police by KRS-One). I’m interested in seeing what will happen with Joe Cornish’s career as he’s co-written Ant-Man & will be making the Snow Crash film. Attack The Block is from the producers of other British films such as Shaun Of The Dead & Hot Fuzz and, although it’s not a “comedy” in the same way those are (even though it’s labeled as action, comedy & sci-fi), I think you may like it if you liked those. It’s certainly not as good as Shaun Of The Dead but I’d have to say I preferred it to Hot Fuzz. It’s more my kind of thing, though – I love a good alien invasion movie.

My Rating: 7.5/10

IMG_0010

The Deer Hunter (1978) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

IMG_9833

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Mark of Marked Movies. Thanks for all the reviews, Mark! :-) Now let’s hear what he has to say about The Deer Hunter, IMDB rank 134 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

IMG_9832

Director: Michael Cimino.
Screenplay: Deric Washburn.
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep, John Cazale, John Savage, George Dzundza, Chuck Aspegren, Rutanya Alda, Shirley Stoler, Pierre Segui, Joe Grifasi, Somsak Sengvilai.

Released in 1978, only three years after the official end of the Vietnam war, Michael Cimino’s “The Deer Hunter” seemed as if it may have been too soon for the American psyche. It was a surprising box-office hit but was also one of the most controversial, major theatrical releases about America’s involvement in the war. It went on to receive 9 Academy Award nominations (winning 5 – including Best Picture and Best Director). Despite this, the backlash was pretty vehement. It received criticism from the likes of Jane Fonda and John Wayne – who in his last public appearance had to present it with it’s Best Picture award even though he wasn’t fond of the film. These criticisms came in many forms but for as many critics as it had, there were also a great number who considered it to be another American classic.

IMG_9562

Michael (Robert DeNiro), Stevie (John Savage) and Nick (Christopher Walken) are among a group of friends who live and work in the steel mill town of Clairton, Pennsylvania. They spend their time getting drunk and going deer hunting before they are enlisted in the airborne infantry of Vietnam. What was once a slow-paced and fun-filled life is shoved into the stark reality of warfare and how their experiences change their lives forever.

IMG_9563

Clocking in at just over three hours, “The Deer Hunter” is a film of length. However, it’s one that never overstays it’s welcome as Cimino wisely works within a three act structure – book-ending the war with marriage and death. He may take his time and linger long on shots but it never gets boring. To view it as simply another Vietnam film is to entirely miss the point also. If it is to be viewed in any way, it should be as a commentary on American disillusionment and it’s loss of innocence at this time. It’s intention is not to focus on the war itself but on the aftermath and the impact war can have on the lives of ordinary working people. In fact, the scenes that take place in Vietnam only amount to a very small portion of the film, overall. Ultimately, it’s a character study that’s only heightened by the 50 minute wedding sequence at the beginning of the film. Many grumble about this being too indulgent but it’s integral that we get to know these characters in order to fully understand them. It’s during the wedding reception that they come across a Green Beret who has just finished his Tour of Duty; they buy him a drink and take offence when all he has to tell them about the war is… “Fuck it!“. This perfectly sums up the naïveté of these young men as they seem to have a romanticised idea of war and have absolutely no idea of what is to become them.

IMG_9564

Following this, a bunch of them go on a deer hunting trip where we again see the dynamic of the group and get to know each of them more personally. Suddenly, we are thrust into the chaos of Vietnam and it’s not before long that the films iconic and controversial Russian roulette scene takes place. This is a scene that has received much criticism in not only being claimed as inaccurate – as there was no evidence to suggest that any such atrocities took place during the conflict – but for being racist in it’s sadistic stereotype of the Viet Cong captors. These criticisms are justifiable to an extent but, personally, I think the critics have taken it far too literally. If viewed as a metaphor for the senselessness of war and the inhumanity of man during wartime struggles then it’s entirety fitting to the films themes and says more about an initiation into manhood. It was literally minutes before this powerful scene that DeNiro’s Michael and Walken’s Nick were discussing how a deer should be killed with “one shot” and now (ironically) they must face a similar fate. This game of chance is the catalyst that changes the dynamic of the three principle characters (the other being John Savage’s Stevie) and further adds to the character development that was so playfully and innocently displayed in the opening wedding sequence or the camaraderie of the deer hunt. It’s purpose is not to be racist but to capture the extreme pressure that soldiers face in conflict. In the film’s final act, some of them return home only to realise that they’re traumatised as they struggle to fit back into society. There have been claims that it doesn’t take an overly pro or anti stance towards the conflict but I struggle to see how. This was one was of the first films to challenge the perspective on Vietnam. The likes of Oliver Stone’s “Platoon” and Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” were praised for such honesty and I believe this deserves the same credibility.

IMG_9565

“The Deer Hunter” is, undoubtedly, epic filmmaking and despite your political interpretation, there’s no denying the power of it’s emotionally devastating narrative. It’s unlikely that Cimino will be able to deliver a work of this magnitude ever again. He tried (and many would say failed) in 1980 with “Heaven’s Gate” (bankrupting United Artists Studios in the process) but his scope and ambition here deserves the utmost respect. So too does the work of cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond for his astounding ability to capture both the expansive landscapes of Pennsylvania and the war ravaged mountainous villages of Vietnam. The actors are also very strong and committed throughout. This would be the last performance of the great John Cazale – before his untimely death to cancer – and the first notable one from Meryl Streep, who brings a touching vulnerability to her supporting role. Walken (who won a Supporting Actor Oscar) is a marvel and deservedly made a name for himself in the process. As good as they are, though, it’s DeNiro who anchors the film in a enigmatic display of stoicism. Another deserved Oscar nomination came his way and even though this is a film that many omit from DeNiro’s plethora of magnificent performances throughout the 70’s and 80’s, it happens to be one of his strongest and most unsung. DeNiro apparently described his role as one of the most physical and exhausting that he’s ever done, and it’s easy to see why; the emotional, physical and mental abuse that he seems to be suffering is perfectly and gruellingly displayed onscreen.

IMG_9566

The 1970’s are well known for producing some of the finest experiences in cinema and “The Deer Hunter” can, proudly, consider itself one of them. It’s marvellously structured, harrowingly vivid and so grand and ambitious that it thoroughly deserves it’s epic status. Truly one of the best of it’s decade.

IMG_9567

Mark Walker

A Galaxy Of Cute

IMG_9938

Aw! SO DAMN CUTE! This piece, entitled “A Galaxy Of Cute” is from artist Jerrod Maruyama. You can check out more of his adorable art (Star Wars as well as plenty of other things) at his website HERE.

I of course also love the below piece of art from him, called “Totoro Garden”. Plus he’s done loads of Disney & Pixar stuff! And lots of anthropomorphic food!!!! It’s like he’s making this stuff specifically for ME! ;-)

IMG_9940

Miyazaki’s Movie Posters Make The Best GIFs

IMG_9860

Check out these great Studio Ghibli movie posters made into GIFs by reddit user podrickforking (podrickforking?? Lol). I’m sharing the two I like the most but you can also see what he’s done for Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Castle In The Sky, Porco Rosso & The Wind Rises HERE. :-)

Spirited Away:

spirited away gif

Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind:

nausicaa gif

Midnight In Paris (2011) Review

IMG_9752

Midnight In Paris (2011)

Directed & Written by Woody Allen

Starring:
Kathy Bates
Adrien Brody
Carla Bruni
Marion Cotillard
Kurt Fuller
Rachel McAdams
Michael Sheen
Owen Wilson

Running time: 94 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in Paris, the film follows Gil Pender, a screenwriter, who is forced to confront the shortcomings of his relationship with his materialistic fiancée and their divergent goals, which become increasingly exaggerated as he travels back in time each night at midnight.

IMG_9810

My Opinion:

This has nothing whatsoever to do with Midnight In Paris but I just have to say this: I think I deserve a payrise for getting the word “Xenomorph” into my company’s newsletter last week.

Now, onto Midnight In Paris: a movie I watched months ago but never reviewed because I don’t really have much to say about it. But, shit – apparently a lot of you like it as it’s in third place in that poll of movies you want me to review. So, damn, I better stay true to my word! :-)

IMG_9809

Here’s my big, embarrassing movie blogger confession: I’ve never watched a Woody Allen film. NONE! So Midnight In Paris was my first & only. Tell me, Woody Allen fans – was this the place to start? I assume not. But, I dunno… I really liked the sound of it plus I’m a big fan of Van Gogh so I was a sucker for that poster up there. ^ I am NOT, however, a fan of Owen Wilson. Probably because he’s been in too many of those annoying Wes Anderson movies. Plus, I’ve always hated his voice. And, you know, that nose. I’m sounding bitchy now but I’m just trying to point out how much I do NOT like Owen Wilson so that you know this may have had an effect on my enjoyment of my first Woody Allen movie. However, it’s definitely a good film & I can understand why some people really like it. It needs to be your type of “thing”, though.

IMG_9805

With this movie, as with Wilson’s character, it really comes alive when it’s in the past. These scenes are so much better than those set in present day with Wilson’s absolute bitch of a fiancée (Rachel McAdams). But that’s the whole point – a viewer may very well end up loving 1920’s Paris just as much as Wilson’s character does. I may not be able to fully relate to a love of 1920’s Paris but I can relate to feeling nostalgic about a certain time. I hate 2015! The world is shit now. I’d probably go back to the 1970s/early 80s. Hmm… I suppose that’s a little unoriginal. I’d probably be happy in any time that’s before the Internet but after indoor plumbing! Oh, and after women stopped being treated like shit. Wait… we’re still treated like shit! Oh cool – I think I’ve written enough now. I can finish this horrible first-ever Woody Allen review I’m making a mess of! :-)

IMG_9806

Summary:

Midnight In Paris is a good film and I would assume those who love Woody Allen films loved this one too (not that I can compare it to another film of his since I’ve not seen any). I’m probably not cultured enough to have fully appreciated all the famous historical figures Wilson’s character meets in the past but I did find this a very fun part of the story as I actually didn’t know beforehand that anyone “special” was going to be in this. I also didn’t mind the romance in this although I’m not the type to usually go for that. Oh yeah! And my favorite “hey, it’s that guy!” guy was in this (Kurt Fuller – never thought to look up his name before now). I can’t say Midnight In Paris is a movie I fell in love with or that I’ll ever watch it again, though. I liked the originality & it was entertaining but I know I probably should have watched an older Woody Allen film first.

My Rating: 6.5/10

IMG_9804

Goodfellas (1990) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

IMG_9814

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from John of Written In Blood. Thanks for the review, John! :-) Now let’s see what he has to say about Goodfellas, IMDB rank 15 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

DISCLAIMER: I have to say that this is the first time “horse cock” has been mentioned in this way on CPD (or, at all). I’m going to get some weird Google search terms now. ;-) Now on to the review of fuckin’ Goodfellas…

IMG_9813

When I first volunteered to write a review of Goodfellas for the IMDb Top 250 challenge I began to wonder if I had bitten off more than I can chew. How do I approach a review of what is arguably the greatest Mob movie ever put to celluloid? Do I summon my inner Ebert and wax poetic in my praise? No. Why? Because it’s fuckin’ Goodfellas, that’s why.

Do I compare the movie to that other great Mob (read also as Mafia) movie, The Godfather? No. Why? Because it’s fuckin’ Goodfellas, that’s why. There’s no Don Corleone stroking a cat and handing out jobs and favors; there’s Paulie (a portly Paul Sorvino) holding court at a backyard cookout with a fat chunk of food in his hands giving the nod to his people as a sign of approval for whatever deal is going down at that particular moment.

There’s no big wedding with Italian songs and Sonny’s horse cock plowing Lucy upstairs in the closet. Granted, there’s a wedding and there are Italians and Sicilians and dancing and food; there’s just no horse cock-or horse’s head, for that matter-anywhere in sight. Why? Because it’s fuckin’ Goodfellas, that’s why. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Comparing Goodfellas to The Godfather is like comparing Elvis to the Beatles; they are the twin sons of different mothers. The Godfather is subtlety and the life of a Mafia family and the rise of its new Don, Michael Corleone.Goodfellas is Henry Hill and his life in the Mob (or as close as he can get to it as he is not “one hundred per cent Sicilian on his mother’s side and his heritage can’t be traced back to the old country”) and there is no guarantee that the particular moment that he is living and breathing will not be his last. If Goodfellas is even remotely about life in a Mafia family then that family is nothing but sharks. Why? Because it’s fuckin’ Goodfellas, that’s why.

With what is quite possibly the greatest opening line in cinematic history (“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.”) Goodfellas begins to unravel the true story of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) and his slow rise and hard fall in the life of a wiseguy. His journey is a violent one filled with angry fathers, towels wasted on gut-shot and bloody men, icepicks and bullets to the heads of unfortunate fools getting too close and fucking it all up; there’s Karen (Lorraine Bracco) his Jewish wife who enters into their marriage wide-eyed and innocent and transforms into a woman just as dirty as himself.

Along the way we meet Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) who loves to steal but is not above killing to protect his investments. Fuck with Jimmy and his haul and you may just find yourself frozen stiff in the back of a meat truck or right beside your wife in the front seat of your new Cadillac with bullets in both of your heads. Why? Because it’s fuckin’ Goodfellas, that’s why.

Then there is Tommy and let me begin by saying this: It is my opinion that for as long as he has a career in movies that Joe Pesci will never be given a role that is as great and-dare I say it-iconic as that of Tommy DeVito. Perhaps Pesci knew this; perhaps that is why he shines (not a good word to use in his presence, may I remind you) in every scene. If it’s not already then the, “How the fuck am I funny, what the fuck is so funny about me?” scene should be taught in film schools as a mandatory course in great acting and direction. Pesci earns his Best Supporting Actor Oscar in every scene that he is in.

Okay, so I’ve just looked over this and I don’t think that what I have written has been so much of a review as it has been a gushing letter to a movie that I have loved since I first saw it on VHS in 1991 and have watched more times than I can count in the past twenty-plus years. I also notice that I have failed to mention one name and I deserve to be whacked for not doing it sooner. Without Martin Scorsese there would be no Goodfellas. The man who makes the world’s greatest movies has shown his mastery of the Mob movie with films as diverse as Mean Streets and The Departed but it is here that his mastery is at the highest zenith of his career. It burns my balls knowing that Goodfellas lost out to Dances with Wolves for Best Picture and that Scorsese lost out to Kevin Costner as Best Director at the 1990 Academy Awards. To paraphrase a quote from Jay Leno: What the hell were they thinking?

So, this is my review cum love letter to Goodfellas and to Martin Scorsese for making it. I have put my entire heart into writing it as I knew that I would. Why? Do I even have to say it again?

When Peanuts Travels to Westeros, We All Win

IMG_9857

A Peanuts & Game Of Thrones mashup? Love it!

These are from artist Philip Hororton – You can check them out here: Neatorama

IMG_9858

I’m loving all my favorite things being mashed up with Game Of Thrones lately! Just in case some of you missed it, I also better share this Sesame Street parody from a couple of weeks ago: Game Of Chairs. Love this so much!!!! :-)

Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015) Review

IMG_9755

***SPOILER FREE REVIEW***

Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015)

Directed by Joss Whedon

Based on The Avengers by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Starring:
Robert Downey Jr.
Chris Hemsworth
Mark Ruffalo
Chris Evans
Scarlett Johansson
Jeremy Renner
Don Cheadle
Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Elizabeth Olsen
Paul Bettany
Cobie Smulders
Anthony Mackie
Hayley Atwell
Idris Elba
Stellan Skarsgård
James Spader
Samuel L Jackson

Running time: 141 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and it is up to the Avengers to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.

IMG_9774

My Opinion:

I enjoy superhero movies. I go to them all (usually as soon as I possibly can after they come out). They’re fun! But then I kind of forget about them… I realized while watching Age Of Ultron that I rarely watch most superhero movies ever again after that first viewing in the cinema/theater. There’ve been a few exceptions – I watched The Dark Knight twice, the first couple X-Men movies at least twice, and of course Superman & Burton’s Batman several times. I really should have re-watched the first Avengers film before going to this one because I barely remember it. I think I’m a little superheroed out. I have a pretty good memory when it comes to movies (I mean, I’m a movie blogger after all) but I know I must not be too into these countless Marvel films when I keep having to ask my hubby questions during them. Things like “who’s THAT?” to which he rolls his eyes & replies “only someone who’s been in most the Marvel films so far!”. Also, as I always have to say in these superhero movie reviews, I ONLY have knowledge of the films. God – I can’t even keep all those straight in my mind! I can’t imagine actually reading the billions of comic books as well.

IMG_9788

So now that we know where I stand on these types of movies (I like them & have a lot of fun with them but wouldn’t say I love most of them), we can move on to what I liked & disliked about Avengers: Age Of Ultron. I did a super-short mini-review of the first Avengers movie HERE when I did a roundup of all the films I’d seen in 2012 (I see I ranked it as the 9th best film that year & gave it a 7.5/10). I’ll say I think Age Of Ultron is the better film overall. It drags a little in the middle but the second half is much better than the first half & I think it’s a better finale than in the first film. It’s close, though – I think people may be pretty evenly divided on which they prefer. Also, I thought they actually did a pretty damn good job on character development in this one considering just how many characters are in this thing. It must have been hard to get the balance right between that & all the kick ass action but I think they did very well. What I really liked is that they spent more time on the characters we don’t know as well from a million other movies (Hawkeye, Black Widow & Hulk) and I enjoyed their stories quite a bit (especially Hawkeye’s). Don’t worry – you still get loads of time with the others as well but we already know a lot about them from their own films. I’d have liked a little more focus on Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver but, like I said, there are so many characters that you can’t expect anything too in-depth with each of them in only 2 hours & 21 minutes.

IMG_9784

IMG_9778

I guess I didn’t really list anything I disliked about this movie. Well, I suppose I didn’t really dislike much. I wasn’t crazy about Ultron’s voice but that’s because I’m old (that asshole in Pretty In Pink?!). It did feel a little overlong plus it didn’t really pick up until (a character who is on one of the posters but I still won’t name in case it’s a spoiler to some of you) showed up (he was great). There’s some light humor between the characters as always, which is fun (especially a bit involving Thor’s mighty Mjölnir). Speaking of Thor & his big Hammer, I was once again very distracted every time his bare arms were on screen. Chris Hemsworth is so insanely beautiful. Too pretty, really. Maybe it’s why my mind goes all loopy during these movies & I never fully know what the hell is going on. I’m just going to wrap this thing up – I’m picturing those arms again now & I can’t think straight.

IMG_9780

Summary:

If you love all the Marvel films & you loved the first Avengers film, you’ll love this one too. It’s, well, the same thing again. Which is fine… It’s a formula that clearly works. But I have to say I kind of prefer some of the individual films as, while it’s loads of fun seeing all the superheroes together, I like seeing & knowing more about each of their individual stories. I probably almost like the first Iron Man movie & maybe even Captain America: The Winter Soldier more. At least, I think they’re probably better films than either of the Avengers movies but they’re not quite as flashy or cool. We’re talking about superheroes, though, not the Oscars – flashy & cool is sometimes okay too. Avengers: Age Of Ultron has proven one thing to me, though – I really did LOVE Guardians Of The Galaxy. That felt unique instead of the same old superhero movie once again. I think it’s time I do a massive update of my Top Ten Superhero Movies because there will be a lot of changes. Age Of Ultron will make the ten but I’m not sure where. However, Guardians Of The Galaxy will be at number one. Sorry, Age Of Ultron! You were loads of fun. Thanks for entertaining me but I won’t remember much of you in a year. You’re still one of the better films in this genre, though.

My Rating: 7.5/10

IMG_9771

Is There A Scene After The Credits? Like, duh. It’s a Marvel film. However, there’s ONLY a mid-credits scene & nothing at the very end. However, do not take my word on this, Americans! We may have gotten this movie a week before you but we’ve been screwed out of end credits scenes in the past (the end credits scene from the first Avengers film wasn’t shown in the UK). There have been rumors & supposedly leaked footage of an end credits scene that wasn’t the one I saw here in the UK.

Does Thor take his shirt off once again? Yes. Yes he does. However, it’s not at all gratuitous like it was in his own films. He is, however, soaking wet while shirtless. But there’s no lingering shots. It’s quick. Too quick. I’ll have to buy the Blu-Ray…

What were we talking about again??

IMG_9790

The Avengers (2012) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

IMG_9713

As we all anxiously await this Thursday’s (UK) release of Avengers: Age Of Ultron, today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review of the first Avengers film comes from Tim of Beermovie.net. Thanks for the review, Tim! :-) Now let’s see what he has to say about The Avengers (aka Avengers Assemble), IMDB rank 129 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

IMG_9712

The Avengers is a huge film in every way – budget, hype, box office, you name it. Plenty of people were doubtful that Marvel could truly pull this off given how high they had raised expectations, even though they had already shown time and time again how good they were at exceeding them. Given the sequel is very close on the horizon, now is a good time to revisit one of the biggest films of all time.

From the very beginning, a portal being opened to another dimension and Loki popping out, it is clear that The Avengers is pretty grand big budget storytelling. The film invokes a little bit of classic Hollywood storytelling as it rounds up the squad, and introduces us to the new characters really succinctly. The introduction of Black Widow, totally schooling a bunch of inept mobsters, is particularly memorable. Unfortunately Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye really misses out on a proper introduction and his character really feels like a bit of an afterthought throughout the film. Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk similarly feels a little short-changed in the intro stakes, but his position in the narrative means that the audience gets to know him a bit better as the film goes along, without ever totally satisfactorily setting up the mythology of the character. The first act of the film manages to function both as a fully formed introduction for viewers new to the MCU and as a charm-filled start for everyone else.

As good as the balance is between the characters, there is no doubting that Robert Downey Jr’s wisecracking Tony Stark occasionally overshadows the film. He is meant to be the funniest, smartest and most powerful of all the Avengers and that on occasions feels like a lessening of the others in the crew. Even more so than some characters getting shortchanged, this obsession with Downey’s Stark is the main aspect of the script that brings down the quality of the film as an ensemble story. It will be interesting to see how Marvel handle this in the forthcoming sequel, a couple of years removed from Iron Man 3 and with Downey Jr’s future in stand-alone films up in the air as far as I understand it.

There are plenty of reasons why Marvel has gotten this whole shared universe thing so right where basically everyone else has faltered in a big way. But casting is perhaps foremost amongst its successes. The choice of Loki for this film, could have been really ho-um, recycling a villain that had already been seen in a stand-alone film. However Hiddleston is so good in the role that you quickly forget you’ve seen him before and come to perceive him as a threat necessitating the entire crew coming together. There is also a pleasant uniqueness in the fact that Loki takes a much more psychological approach rather than simply a ‘raaargh I’m going to crush the world with my huge muscles’ style vibe. Similarly, Scarlett Johansson is perfect as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, capturing a lot of the great attitude that character has in the comics, without needing to delve into dense comic book history (now if only Marvel would get over their strange aversion to a Black Widow stand-alone film).

Plenty of (somewhat justified) criticism has been aimed at Marvel for the sameness of their third acts, so rewatching The Avengers it was nice to be reminded just how well they can pull it off. I noticed this a lot whilst re-watching the film for this review and it was a main reason why I actually enjoyed it more this time than when I saw it in cinemas. Part of what sets this third act apart from some of the others is that the script weaves in occasional pieces of wit and levity to balance out the vibe. Some charming moments break up the huge, long-running battle toward the end, not least of which is Hulk’s hilarious “puny god” interaction with Loki. It’s a hell of a sprawling, choreographed battle that seems to wheel across the whole city. And whilst it’s basically all CGI, it never feels too computerised or like one clump of pixels crashing into another clump of pixels.

It is difficult to overestimate how big an achievement The Avengers is. Not all of that is restricted to the film. Much of it relates to how expertly Marvel crafted their cinematic universe in a way that has ‘inspired’ so many inept imitators that I’m pretty sure none of us ever want to hear the phrase “cinematic universe” ever again. But this film is an exceptional payoff and it both wraps Phase 1 up beautifully and feels like it was something too big for one of the earlier standalone films to handle.

Verdict: 8/10

April Fools 2015: Cinema Parrot Disco

table9mutant:

I wrote about Society (1989) for the lovely Cara over at Silver Screen Serenade last week. (butt)Head on over there now if you missed it. If you dare… ;-) **WARNING: Spoilers & NSFW shunting images**

Originally posted on Silver Screen Serenade:

Today, we are discussing Society, a movie I assume is as sweet and wholesome as Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, and Frank Sinatra singing and dancing. Right, Mutant? Um...right? Today, we are discussing Society, a movie I assume is as sweet and wholesome as Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, and Frank Sinatra singing and dancing. Right, Mutant? Um…right?

TGIF, my friends!! So I’m closing out the week with another April Fools guest review, and, lemme tell ya, this one’s a doozie. Bahaha. I hadn’t even heard of this until the infinitely awesome Miss Table 9 Mutant of Cinema Parrot Disco sent me her write-up, and then…well, let’s just say this makes some of the stuff Eric watches look downright boring.

View original 835 more words

Society (1989) For April Fools At Silver Screen Serenade

IMG_9672

Cara over at Silver Screen Serenade is running a great guest series this month where fellow bloggers have all written about movie endings “that fooled us“. There have been lots of great write-ups about those twist endings that we just didn’t see coming. Well… I’m not sure if the ending of Society is exactly a “twist” ending but it’s certainly one I didn’t see coming! You can read what I have to say about it HERE. You’ll have a shunting good time!

Thank you for letting me join in, Cara! And, um… I apologize… ;-)

(Warning – SPOILERS & NSFW IMAGES)

IMG_9675

Melancholia (2011) Review

IMG_9236

Melancholia (2011)

Directed by Lars von Trier

Starring:
Kirsten Dunst
Charlotte Gainsbourg
Alexander Skarsgård
Brady Corbet
Cameron Spurr
Charlotte Rampling
Jesper Christensen
John Hurt
Stellan Skarsgård
Udo Kier
Kiefer Sutherland

Running time: 136 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Two sisters find their already strained relationship challenged as a mysterious new planet threatens to collide with Earth.

IMG_9695

My Opinion:

Here’s one of the most-voted-for movies in my recent poll (I already reviewed the top two winners: Spirited Away & Grave Of The Fireflies). I wasn’t sure what to expect from a Lars von Trier film. They’re artsy fartsy & weird, right? I was thinking this was my first von Trier film but, oh yeah!, I actually saw Dancer In The Dark years ago. That was pretty good… I know that probably a good ten years ago I spent quite possibly the most I’ve ever spent on a set of DVDs when I bought something called Riget (The Kingdom – a Lars von Trier TV mini-series from 1994-1997) because I’d read about it & it sounded awesome & I didn’t know who the hell Lars von Trier was. Shit… what did I buy?! I’ve still not watched it all these years later. Has anyone seen it? I’m a little scared now – I hope no one mutilates their genitals in it. Anyway, after all the rambling I’m going to say that I actually liked Melancholia quite a bit! Huh. I was expecting it to be totally pretentious (which I suppose it is) but I also thought it was very beautiful.

IMG_9704

Melancholia is pretentious and artsy fartsy and full of rich wankers with their first world problems & Kirsten Dunst is depressed even though she’s young and rich and beautiful and successful and has an amazing chest. So right away it’s very hard to feel for these people although, as we’re introduced to more of Dunst’s family, we do at least start to feel for her having had to deal with these people in her life (especially her bitch of a mother) and start to understand why she is the way she is. Her sister (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is also very supportive so, as the movie is about the two sisters, it doesn’t get too annoying as these two are bearable. It’s like Frozen with severe depression! Look – shit is shooting from Dunst’s fingers kind of like how ice shoots from Elsa’s!

IMG_9698

This movie is divided into two parts: Part 1 focuses on Dunst & the evening of her wedding while part 2 deals with Gainsbourg’s fear of the strange new planet Melancholia, which she is afraid will collide with Earth. I think a lot of people may struggle with part 1 as you really just watch Dunst in a wedding dress growing more & more depressed but it’s necessary for the character development of the two sisters & seeing what their relationship is like. I have to say I loved the very beginning which was just full of strange & beautiful imagery while classical music played (from Richard Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde. I won’t even pretend I didn’t have to look that up – I like some classical music but I’m more of an Iron Maiden fan). So I liked the first half of this film just fine although I think more will prefer the second half in which we watch Melancholia come closer & closer to Earth and the sisters’ roles are reversed. Basically, part 2 is much better (or is more “exciting”, I suppose) as the characters face their impending doom. Yay! I’ve always wanted to say “impending doom“!

IMG_9703

Summary:

Melancholia isn’t for everyone – you’ll probably love it or you’ll hate it. I suppose it is kind of a part of one of my favorite genres: apocalyptic. I’m obsessed with anything apocalyptic so right away I had an interest in checking out this film. I also don’t mind a bit of artsy fartsy pretentiousness now & then (I love things like Daft Punk’s Electroma) so I had no problem with any of that here. Although, it’s a pretty straightforward story and any symbolism isn’t weird or confusing – it all made sense & I actually thought it was a very interesting way to explore depression. I mean, there’s nothing that makes you go “what the HELL is von Trier smoking?“, which is the impression I get about his other films that I haven’t seen. There’s no genital mutilation here or anything. You know, I’m just assuming everyone knows what I’m on about since we’re all movie bloggers but maybe I should point out that this happens in his film Antichrist so some people don’t think I keep mentioning the mutilation thing out of the blue for no reason. I think I probably prefer watching pretty rich people being a little sad to some of Lars von Trier’s other films from what I’ve read of them but I wouldn’t say no to watching some more of his stuff based on Melancholia.

My Rating: 7.5/10

IMG_9696

Grave Of The Fireflies (1988) Review

IMG_8859

Grave Of The Fireflies (1988)
Hotaru no haka
Japanese: 火垂るの墓

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 104 as of 01/01/2013

Directed by Isao Takahata

Based on Grave of the Fireflies by Akiyuki Nosaka

Starring Voice Actors:
Tsutomu Tatsumi
Ayano Shiraishi
Yoshiko Shinohara
Akemi Yamaguchi

(English dub voice cast: Adam Gibbs, Emily Neves, Shelley Calene-Black, Marcy Bannor)

Running time: 89 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in the city of Kobe, Japan, the film tells the story of two siblings, Seita and Setsuko, and their desperate struggle to survive during the final months of the Second World War.

IMG_9661

My Opinion:

Version watched: Japanese with English subtitles

Okay – here we are with the movie that got second place when I asked you all to vote for which movie I should review next (Spirited Away won – I reviewed that HERE yesterday). Knowing I would be spending January reviewing a bunch of Studio Ghibli films, I actually watched Grave Of The Fireflies late on New Year’s Eve. Do I know how to party or WHAT?!

IMG_9667

And… then I never reviewed it. What can I say about Grave Of The Fireflies that hasn’t been said already? It’s already widely known that it’s one of the saddest & most heartbreaking movies you can watch. I love Studio Ghibli so I knew the time had finally come for me to watch it if I was going to dedicate a bunch of my time to eventually reviewing every Ghibli film on my blog. But I’ve never been one to want to watch a sad movie – I watch movies for their escapism, not to be reminded that humanity sucks. So I had a little bit to drink as it was New Year’s Eve, put on Grave Of The Fireflies, then distracted myself by chatting with a friend through most of it in order to make it a little more bearable (thanks to that person!). It still wasn’t an easy watch although it’s a beautiful film.

IMG_9663

I was happy that Grave Of The Fireflies wasn’t at all political (in my opinion). I wouldn’t even say it’s exactly anti-war – it simply tells the story in a very matter-of-fact manner of a young boy & his little sister in the final months of World War II. I’ve looked but I’m not sure of the ages of the brother & sister – I think she’s around 4 & he’s maybe 14? There are a few times throughout the movie where you start to feel a little frustrated with the brother seeming to not always know the best way to take care of his little sister until you then remember that he’s just a child himself and how difficult it would be to try to survive on your own in a war torn country. These kids have nowhere to go and no one to turn to for help – all they have is each other and the boy does everything he can to take care of his little sister.

IMG_9664

Grave Of The Fireflies is one of those movies that I think everyone should watch at least once (kind of like Schindler’s List – you need to watch it but maybe don’t watch them both on the same night!). There’s just nothing I hate more than seeing little kids suffer, though, and it’s very hard to watch this little girl go through Hell while always maintaining her innocence and joy at life’s little pleasures (like a couple of fruit drop candies or some fireflies) in a way that only the very young can manage. I recommend this to everyone, not just fans of Studio Ghibli as it’s quite unlike the other Ghiblis anyway, but you’ll need to be in the right frame of mind.

My Rating: 8/10

IMG_9668

IMG_9662

Spirited Away (2001) Review

IMG_8855

Spirited Away (2001)
Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi
Japanese: 千と千尋の神隠し

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 43 as of 01/01/2013

Directed & Written by Hayao Miyazaki

Starring Voice Actors:
Rumi Hiiragi
Miyu Irino
Mari Natsuki
Takeshi Naito
Yasuko Sawaguchi
Tsunehiko Kamijō
Takehiko Ono
Bunta Sugawara

(English dub voice cast: Daveigh Chase, Jason Marsden, Suzanne Pleshette, David Ogden Stiers, Susan Egan, Paul Eiding, John Ratzenberger)

Running time: 124 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In the middle of her family’s move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and monsters; where humans are changed into beasts.

IMG_9622

My Opinion:

Version watched: Japanese with English subtitles

I know the people who’ve been with me a while will know that I’ve become a pretty big Studio Ghibli fan in the couple of years that I’ve run this blog. Back in January, I started reviewing as many of these films as I could (you can find the links to all the reviews HERE) but they didn’t get a lot of attention & I wondered if Studio Ghibli was as popular amongst movie bloggers as I’d thought. So when I asked in this poll HERE which movies I should review next of all the ones I watched but never got around to, I was surprised that Spirited Away & Grave Of The Fireflies were the two winners by quite a lot of votes. I know it’s weird that I’ve put off reviewing two of Ghibli’s biggest films but I wasn’t sure what to say about either of them. Fireflies because, well… what can be said about that? :-( And Spirited Away because I KNOW it’s the favorite Ghibli for a lot of people (and the most highly regarded – it won an Oscar for best animated film & is the highest rated Ghibli in the IMDB Top 250 at number 34 currently) but it’s just never quite connected with me in the same way the other films have.

IMG_9609

Spirited Away was actually the very first Ghibli I saw back in 2001 (I think – whenever it was first shown in UK cinemas). I don’t recommend it as your introduction to Studio Ghibli as it’s far more “out there” than most the others. Unless you like “weird”… However, I do recommend it if you’re already a fan of the studio and I can see now why it’s so popular even if it’s not my very favorite. I finally re-watched this again in January to see if my opinion would be different all these years later & I can say that I definitely appreciated it a lot more now that I’ve seen so many other Ghibli films. It’s basically just a coming of age story (Ghibli style – with pigs, witches, Susuwatari soot sprites like in My Neighbor Totoro, dragons, and really large babies) & has a good, strong lead female as is often the case with these movies. I think it may be so popular as it’s from 2001 so a lot of you younger bloggers will have been just the right sort of age for it when it came out (I’m guessing it’s a popular one with those who were preteen girls at the time especially). You’ll either absolutely love this one for its weirdness or you’ll be turned off if that’s not your type of thing but it’s certainly another Miyazaki masterpiece and I want to love it as much as I do Totoro or Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind… I really did try to on the re-watch!

IMG_9617

Spirited Away is sort of a Japanese Alice In Wonderland. If you like that, you may also appreciate Spirited Away. It certainly has the magical quality & beauty that most the Ghibli films possess (more so, really – it may be the second biggest feast for your eyes after Howl’s Moving Castle). I do think I made a mistake putting it below Howl’s Moving Castle in my Top TenHowl’s is very pretty but the story is overcomplicated while Spirited Away has a much stronger and more straightforward story & themes.

IMG_9610

With most Ghibli films, there’s usually a small character that I really latch onto. With Princess Mononoke, it was the Kodama. With Castle In The Sky, it was the Laputan robots. With My Neighbor Totoro, it was of course Totoro. While Spirited Away has very rich characters, I didn’t end up loving any of the lesser characters. No-Face was pretty cool, I suppose, but oh so strange. The girl (Chihiro), as I said, is another great female Ghibli character which is a huge part of the reason why I’m such a big fan of the Ghibli films. This is another movie I want my kid to see someday BUT I myself wouldn’t recommend it to those under probably about 10 or 11. For the very young, the witch is too scary as is the entire, cruel spirit world that Chihiro finds herself trapped in plus it’s just far too odd & the themes would be lost on the young. More than anything, they just wouldn’t appreciate this one until they were a little older so I think it’s probably best to wait before introducing them to this one.

IMG_9612

IMG_9605

Summary:

I’m really glad I re-watched this one again after watching more Studio Ghibli films. I wish I could love it in the same way others do and in the same way I love some of the other Ghibli films but I certainly appreciate Spirited Away and think it’s deserving of all the praise & recognition it has received. I’d certainly watch it once (or twice) again and know it’s one that would grow on me. Spirited Away should be seen by all film lovers but I’d recommend testing out a couple other Studio Ghibli films first before delving into this one if you’re new to them.

My Rating: 8/10

IMG_9606

Which Movie Should I Review Next – Poll Winners

IMG_9605

Thanks to everyone who voted in my poll asking which movie I should review next. Sorry – I was too sick last week to make a start on the winners but the top two are written now and ready to post tomorrow & Thursday. There were a lot that tied for third place so I’ll work my way through those next.

I’m happy to see that it turns out more of you like Studio Ghibli than I thought. Um… I’ve already done a bunch of those recently! ;-)

13 votes:
Spirited Away

9 votes:
Grave Of The Fireflies

7 votes:
Attack The Block
Melancholia
Midnight In Paris
Miracle Mile
Primer (oh god. FYI – I really don’t understand this movie! Lol)

6 votes:
Blue Is The Warmest Color

IMG_9644

Oh! I have a load of books I’ve read & never reviewed either. Maybe I should do another poll. Hmm… Anyone want to hear about any of these?

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The Good Guy by Dean Koontz

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

The Martian by Andy Weir

Revival by Stephen King

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Horns by Joe Hill

Chinatown (1974) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

IMG_9640

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Damien of Flashback/Backslide. He also reviewed Sin City here & Memento here. Thanks for the reviews, Damien! :-) Now let’s see what he has to say about Chinatown, IMDB rank 78 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

IMG_9553

CHINATOWN

IMG_9554

Any tour through the film noir landscape will likely stop for a visit with Roman Polansky’s Chinatown. Released in 1974, the film is held up as the quintessential neo-noir, that new batch of films debuting from the 1960’s and onwards which lifted traits from film noir’s Golden Age but branded the genre with elements not seen in the post-war period. Touring through The Maltese Falcon (1941) and The Big Sleep (1946) reveals the habits of those first noirs, filled with tough-guy detectives and Humphrey Bogart’s cold stares and wry smiles. Chinatown uses the mold of these early films then breaks it, adding in elements not fitted for screens twenty years earlier.

Jack Nicholson stars as Jake Gittes, a private investigator in 1937 Los Angeles. Like Spade and Marlowe, Gittes isn’t picky with clients he takes but the weight of the job and the secrets he’s uncovered appear to be more a burden for him than they did for Bogart. The film’s complicated story begins with what appears to be a simple mystery. After dismissing one client, a tired Gittes reenters his office to find a stoic woman sitting across the room. She calls on his services because she believes her husband is seeing another woman. Gittes hears the complaint, sighs then sarcastically responds “No…Really?” By this point he must have seen dozens of these cases and is not eager to jump into another. Gittes quickly disregards her worries: “Mrs. Mulwray do your love your husband? Then go home and forget everything. I’m sure that he loves you too. Do you know the expresion ‘let sleeping dogs lie’? You’re…better off not knowing” But soon he finds the adulterer in question is Hollis Mulwray, an influential Los Angeles city planner. Realizing the money to be made, Gittes signs on and is plunged into a complicated mystery involving nearly a dozen instigators.

Chinatown establishes its film noir chops early and often. Stereotyped film noir elements are found throughout; smoking with exceptionaly long cigarette stems, venetian blinds (Gittes mentions Venetian blinds in the first spoken line), characteristic fashion (namely overly-fancy hats), stereotyped camera angles and the use mirrors and reflections including an interesting reflection off a camera lens showing us Gittes and his point of view simultaneously. Jack Nicholson plays a sadder, more defeated version of Sam Spade. Faye Dunaway, gives an incredible performance as his femme fatale, bringing to life the desperate Evelyn Mulwray. John Huston, legendary director of noir classics like The Maltese Falcon and Key Largo is cast as one of the central characters and gives one of the film’s most memorable performances.

The mystery at the center of Chinatown turns out to be far more complicated than that in The Maltese Falcon or The Third Man and with more sinister dealings at the core. Debuting in 1974 likely factors into the plot. By then audience members would expect a more mysterious mystery and would tolerate more sex and violence along the way. From the very beginning sex is front and center as the opening frames show close-ups of photographs taken of a sex scene. Gittes famously has his nose cut during the film, leaving Jack Nicholson’s bandaged face on most stills. Between those opening frames, a sliced nose, rape and incest, much of the content here wouldn’t have passed censors twenty years earlier.

IMG_9555

Rating:10/10

Classic Film Scale Rating: 8/10

Bottomline: A worthy flag-bearer for the neo-noir genre, Chinatown takes all the best elements of the Golden Age noirs and even improves on the classics.

Thanks for reading!

Flashback/Backslide

Family Film: Cinderella (2015) & Frozen Fever Reviews

IMG_9288

Cinderella (2015)

Directed by Kenneth Branagh

Starring:
Lily James
Cate Blanchett
Richard Madden
Stellan Skarsgård
Holliday Grainger
Derek Jacobi
Ben Chaplin
Sophie McShera
Hayley Atwell
Helena Bonham Carter

Running time: 113 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Don’t be a bitch & you might snag a prince. It helps if you’re really pretty, though.

IMG_9290

Okay – I’m going to review family films in a slightly different way from now on so that you don’t think I’m taking them too seriously. Would I watch as many kids movies if I didn’t have a kid? Of course not! But I’d still watch some, especially from Disney/Pixar. I may be all grown-up (physically, at least) but I do still love the Disney classics & I see Pixar movies such as Toy Story & WALL-E (an all-time favorite movie of mine) as brilliant filmmaking just as worthy of recognition, not just “movies for kids”. So here are my thoughts as well as my daughter’s & husband’s thoughts on the live-action Cinderella remake (and the Frozen Fever short).

IMG_9628

My (Mommy’s) Opinion:

I enjoyed Cinderella much more than I was expecting. I was happy that Branagh kept this very traditional instead of trying to make it more “modern” (the big, puffy blue dress is as fairytale as you can get!) & he stayed quite faithful to the 1950 Disney film. There were only a couple of changes: one involving the slipper, which I think worked better in the 1950 film & one involving the addition of Cinderella’s mother, which I really liked about this adaptation – it was great to see Cinderella’s relationship with her mother as well as with her father.

I’m not going to go much into that whole argument of “are Disney Princess movies damaging to young girls as they’ll think that all that’s important in life is being pretty & snagging a rich guy?”. Absolute bullshit. As long as you teach your kids right from wrong & reality from fantasy, they won’t be forever damaged by watching a harmless Disney film. The original Disney Princess movies are OLD (like me!) and I & other women my age grew up with them and most of us have ended up pretty well adjusted (well, I have my crazy moments but Disney certainly isn’t to blame). Let’s worry more about the boys playing Grand Theft Auto & girls thinking that The Kardashians are “reality” and that that’s the way they should live life. At least Cinderella actually worked. While singing! And making cute outfits for mice. And keeping her ass covered. And not being a superficial bitch even though she was hot. I’m going off on one of my tangents now so, my point is, CHILL. I’d love to live in a world where Disney movies were the biggest thing we had to worry about when it came to raising our kids. Some of their values may be outdated, especially when it comes to the roles of women, but they always tried to teach kids the right sort of morals & had their heart in the right place.

The unfortunate thing with this Cinderella remake is that I think they managed to make Cinderella herself have even less personality than she did in the 1950 film. I know they’re really pushing the “always be kind & brave” thing in this one so I AM glad that she stays kind-hearted & true to herself but, taking out the classic songs from the original (especially the amazing “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo“, one of My Top Ten Disney Songs), leaves this live action remake far inferior as it’s basically the same movie again but without the catchy songs. (FYI – Helena Bonham Carter does at least sing the song through the credits). Oh! And can I just point out that that big, puffy, ostentatious blue dress may get all the attention in this movie but Cinderella’s wedding dress is absolutely stunning! Wow. SPOILER if you’d like the dress to be a surprise but I have to include a picture of it:

IMG_9636

Anything Inappropriate/Scary?:
No. As I said, I’m not one of these “this movie gives girls unrealistic expectations blah blah blah!” moms. Everyone knows this story & it stays very faithful to the original Disney film. Nothing in it will do anyone any harm (in my opinion) but my kid did loudly proclaim “That’s THREE people who died now!” toward the end so, as usual with a typical Disney movie, you may get some “death talk” with your kid but every parent has to deal with death questions from their kids anyway.

IMG_9631

Would I Watch This If I Didn’t Have To?:
Yes. I like all the Disney classics & wanted to see how they’d handle this live adaptation. However, if it wasn’t for the Frozen Fever short before the film, I’d probably have waited to watch it at home instead of in the cinema/theater.

My Rating: 7/10

IMG_9628

The Kid’s Opinion:

My daughter really liked this. Of course she did – she’s six. She loves Disney movies, as to be expected. However, she’s never been too overly crazy about any of the Disney Princess movies until the phenomenon that is FROZEN came along. (Her two favorite movies are Frozen and Star Wars so you can’t accuse me of just raising a Disney Princess). She currently claims to like this live-action version of Cinderella better than the original because she “liked the lizards and the golden carriage” but you know kids – she’s just saying that since it’s more recent in her mind. Trust me – the original is far superior. ;-)

IMG_9634

Favorite Part:
The entire Fairy Godmother “transformation” scene & the bit where Cinderella first meets the prince in the forest.

Least Favorite Part:
Slight Spoiler:
“When the stepmother smashed the glass slipper.”

Overall Attention Level:
85%. She seemed very tired, though, so I think it could have been higher. However, her attention level was at 100% during the Cinderella transformation scene with the Fairy Godmother.

The Kid’s Rating: 8/10

IMG_9628

Daddy’s Opinion:

Did Cinderella’s hair, shoulders and chest REALLY need vajazzling? It would have been more timeless without…

IMG_9292

Frozen Fever (2015)

Directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee

Starring:
Kristen Bell
Idina Menzel
Jonathan Groff
Josh Gad

Running time: 7 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Elsa overcompensates by preparing to throw Anna the best birthday party ever since she was such a cold-hearted bitch for years & didn’t even want to build a snowman with her. But she refuses to invite Hans or John Travolta.

IMG_9628

My (Mommy’s) Opinion:

I loved Frozen Fever! It’s totally adorable plus, of course, I loved seeing how happy it made my daughter which always makes me have extra affection for something. I’m not really going to say anything more about this short, however, as I enjoyed it FAR more not knowing anything about it beforehand. Unfortunately, I think loads of pictures have been released online anyway, spoiling the short’s most adorably sneezy surprise. Avoid knowing anything about this one beforehand if you can. It’s very sweet & maintains the same sense of humor as the original film.

Anything Inappropriate/Scary?:
No. Unless you’re offended by adorable cuteness.

Would I Watch This If I Didn’t Have To?:
YES! I personally really like Frozen & wanted to see this more than I wanted to see Cinderella.

My Rating: 8/10

IMG_9628

The Kid’s Opinion:

She’s a young girl so, duh – she absolutely loved this. Those who don’t have kids may not realize just how crazy little girls are for Frozen. It’s bizarre! They’ve latched onto Frozen in a way far beyond other girl-aimed films of recent years such as Tangled or Brave. Elsa mania is everywhere!!! And I’m okay with that – I think it’s the strongest Disney film in years & more deserving of the hysteria than a lot of other kids films for girls lately. This is just like the movie with all the favorite characters included so there’s no way that kids who love Frozen won’t love Frozen Fever.

Overall Attention Level:
100%.

The Kid’s Rating: 10/10

IMG_9628

Daddy’s Opinion:
“What happens when she sharts?”

IMG_9639

Ex Machina (2015) Review

table9mutant:

Hi all! I thought I’d share my review for Ex Machina again since I’ve been too sick to do anything on the blog this week. I believe this movie is FINALLY coming out in America today? It’s my favorite film of the year so far & I highly recommend it to any sci-fi fans. Let me know what you think if you see it. :-)

Originally posted on Cinema Parrot Disco:

IMG_8593

Ex Machina (2015)

Directed by Alex Garland

Starring:
Domhnall Gleeson
Oscar Isaac
Alicia Vikander

Running time: 108 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I.

IMG_8608

My Opinion:

Ex Machina was one of my most anticipated movies for this year. Sci-fi is my favorite genre and Ex Machina certainly didn’t disappoint in that department. It even makes up for the inferior Interstellar, which I found to be a pretty big disappointment. Ex Machina doesn’t really give us anything new as far as the exploration of artificial intelligence or “the singularity” but it’s a topic I’ve always found fascinating (such as in the obscure Electroma, which I reviewed HERE) and I think it does a decent job with a popular sci-fi concept.

IMG_8615

First of all…

View original 473 more words

The Lion King (1994) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

IMG_9518

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Kim of Tranquil Dreams. Thanks for the review, Kim! :-) Now let’s see what she has to say about The Lion King, IMDB rank 79 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

IMG_9519

The Lion King (1994)

Director: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff

Cast (Voice): Matthew Broderick, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Ernie Sabella, Nathan Lane, Robert Guillaume, Moira Kelly

Young Simba’s destiny is to one day take his father’s place on Pride Rock as King. Not really understanding the full responsibilities of it, he runs around heading into certain troubles. Luckily his father Mufasa is always there for him. When his father dies trying to save him, his Uncle Scar scares him into running away from his past. Its there he learns from a meerkat Timon and warthog called Pumbaa to live life with no worries. Thats until the past catches up with him and he learns about the maltreatment of Pride Rock after Scar has become King. Its his choice whether to go back to face his past, assume his place and save Pride Rock or continue hiding from it.

IMG_9522

I’m a huge fan of Disney animations. MEGA fan! I own a whole lot of the movies and I schedule in when the vault releases are so that I can get the movies when they come out. I haven’t seen all the Disney classics but I’ve seen a good bunch of them. The Lion King was one that came out when I was 8. Its one of the memorable animations that linger on in your mind even if I never owned a copy of my own. To say the least, there isn’t a time when The Lion King would pop up in my head and the word masterpiece doesn’t pop up.

To be honest, if it wasn’t for this review, I probably wouldn’t have gone back to watch it quite so soon. Its not because I don’t love it because I’m sure I do. I guess there’s always a worry that some movies are only good because of nostalgia. The Lion King is definitely not one of those. Sure, there’s nostalgia but The Lion King is a movie experience with a beautiful story full of a roller coaster of emotions.

IMG_9521

The animation itself is mesmerizing with all its sharp colors, stellar landscapes and pretty animals. Its full of catchy songs that will stick in your head for a long time. Trust me, I haven’t seen this in at least 15 years and I knew the words to most of these songs. The whole African beat and chant with Circle of Life with the fun-filled music like I Just Wanna Be King and Hakuna Matata makes this absolutely unforgettable.

IMG_9520

Aside from that, the voice cast is fantastic. You watch them as they bring life to each of the characters. The young and playful Simba, stern and responsible Zazu, brave father figure Mufasa, sly Scar and the hysterical yet stupid hyenas. Of course we can’t forget the inspiring yet slightly weird Rafiki and the hilarious duo, Timon and Pumbaa. Other than how well the actual animation is done, the voice cast is a big contributing factor and The Lion King has got that down as well. Its with this same cast that can make the audiences connect with these animated characters. That is exactly how The Lion King can bring on the feelings of being happy and free then sad and disappointed whenever the story shifted into a different scene.

The Lion King is beautifully animated, has catchy songs and is filled with talented voice performances bringing life to memorable characters. However, the story itself not only brings on a span of different emotions but also some valuable lessons about being responsible and not running away from your past among the many many other themes. The Lion King is definitely a must-watch and a masterpiece in the Disney collection that will give its audience an unforgettable movie experience.

IMG_9523

My Top Ten Paul Rudd Movies

IMG_9488

Happy Birthday to Paul Rudd, who is 46 today. :-)

I’ve had a crush on Paul Rudd ever since he was in Clueless (and his character made my list of My Top Ten Movie Crushes while his gorgeous eyes made THIS Top Ten list). He’s funny as well as cute so what’s not to love?

FYI – I’m putting this post together at 4:00am because I’m really sick & can’t stop coughing so this will be one of my lazy top tens where I only list my ten favorites without providing an explanation. So feel free to discuss them with me in the comments! However, I’m tired & grumpy so I won’t take any shit over hating Anchorman. ;-)

So here are My Top Ten Paul Rudd Movies counting down from ten:

10. The Shape Of Things

IMG_9506

9. This Is 40

IMG_9508

8. This Is The End

IMG_9509

7. Monsters Vs Aliens

IMG_9510

6. The 40 Year-Old Virgin

IMG_9511

5. Romeo + Juliet

IMG_9512

4. Night At The Museum (I’ve not reviewed the first one but did review the 3rd one HERE after a trip to the actual museum)

IMG_9517

3. Role Models

IMG_9513

2. Clueless

IMG_9514

1. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

IMG_9515

And here he is on one of my all-time Top Ten TV Shows. Love it!

**This Is 40 is in my recent poll asking you which movie I should review next (but only has one or two votes – the current leader is Spirited Away). You can still vote in that poll HERE if you want. I won’t start reviewing the winners until next week (especially as I’m sick now). I feel awful. I need a hug. :-(

Mondo’s Back To The Future Part II Poster Art By Matt Taylor

IMG_9322

Hi all! I have nothing ready to post for today (but I suppose no one will be around anyway since it’s Good Friday) so here’s another one of my movie poster posts! I always love the Mondo posters & this Back To The Future Part II one is from artist Matt Taylor (see it at GeekTyrant HERE). He also did the below poster for the first film a few months ago:

IMG_9320

Thanks to everyone who has voted in my Which movie should I review next? poll. So far, Spirited Away looks like it’ll be the winner (hey – I DID do a bunch of Studio Ghibli reviews through all of January…). ;-) I’m on vacation at the moment so won’t be reviewing any of those quite yet (plus I have a review of the new Cinderella that’s 90% written which I’ll post first) but I’ll review the ones with the most votes as soon as I can. I’m leaving the poll open so you can still keep voting through next week – I’ll probably start posting the winners the week after. You can vote HERE.

I hope you all have a lovely Easter! :-)