Valerian And The City of A Thousand Planets (2017) Review

Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets (2017)
French: Valérian et la Cité des mille planètes

Directed by Luc Besson

Based on Valérian and Laureline
by Pierre Christin & Jean-Claude Mézières

Starring: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, Rutger Hauer

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.

My Opinion:

I liked this. I didn’t really expect to. I do think I should just go into every movie with low expectations as I often end up far less disappointed that way. I went into this with low expectations as it looked like it could be a disaster. It’s a fun film.

Believe me, this movie is far from perfect. But if you like Besson’s The Fifth Element, I can’t see why you wouldn’t get some enjoyment out of this one as well. It’s visually impressive and I especially liked the gorgeous planet & alien race at the beginning of the film. I’m not sure if it’s really accurate to compare it to Avatar but I couldn’t help comparing them in my mind & I personally enjoyed this “science fiction movie with funny-looking aliens that some people won’t take seriously” film more than that one. The story itself & the look of the whole thing & even the comic relief all worked just fine for me. As I said, it’s a fun film & it kept me entertained throughout its rather long running time. I actually didn’t think it felt overlong, whereas I did feel that way about the film I watched before this one, Spider-Man: Homecoming.

The only thing I can really fault about this film is its casting. Specifically its main stars: Dane DeHaan & Cara Delevingne as Valérian and Laureline. It’s a shame, as I think the lack of true leading character star power hurts the film. I know nothing whatsoever about the source material but they seem like two pretty cool characters and I imagine that they don’t really do them justice in this film. The surprising thing is I think DeHaan was almost weaker than Delevingne (who I really don’t like), although I’ve thought he was pretty good in the past in things such as The Place Beyond The Pines. Even more surprising is that Rihanna was pretty good in a small role but also as one of the better characters in the film overall. I liked her dance routine, which was pretty unique (but a little saucy if you bring your kids to the movie). Well, it’s no more saucy than her videos. But I may be the only one in my cinema who kept picturing the girl from Home every time she talked (my kid really likes that movie so I’ve seen it several times).

So. Where were we? A fun movie with weak stars that let the film down a little but lovely to look at and filled with wacky characters & some comic relief that you’ll either love or hate. The film is definitely not going to be for everyone but, hey – if you’ve seen The Fifth Element, you should know what to expect. If you like this genre (it’s my favorite) and if you’re happy to just enjoy a movie without overthinking things & being too judge-y, you may like this one just fine.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Directed by Jon Watts

Based on Spider-Man by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Tyne Daly, Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr., Laura Harrier, Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green, Martin Starr

Music by Michael Giacchino

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man when a new threat emerges.

My Opinion:

I saw this a few weeks ago but never reviewed it and now it’s annoying me because I at least try to review the current releases I actually go out to see, so…. I’ll keep this short! I don’t have a lot to say.

I liked this but, as I often say about these sort of movies, I’m getting very superheroed-out. There are some that I truly do enjoy (like Wonder Woman & especially the Guardians Of The Galaxy films) but I’d probably never bother to re-watch half the superhero movies I’ve seen. I think Spider-Man: Homecoming is one of the ones I’m unlikely to watch again. Sorry… It’s not bad! It just feels like, you know, more of the same old thing despite trying to be a little bit different with certain things (like with saucy Aunt May).

The storyline is a pretty standard Marvel storyline so I couldn’t get too excited about that but I did like the John Hughes-esque teen movie thing going on, which worked well instead of feeling forced. Tom Holland & his friends felt like actual teenagers, as they’re meant to be. Which leads me to the very best thing about this movie: Tom Holland is great. He’s easily my favorite Spider-Man between him, Andrew Garfield & Tobey Maguire. I think they finally got the character right (not that I can have a fully informed opinion since it’s not like I read the comics or anything). But, seriously – he’s the most believable as a teenager (he’s 21!) and easily the most likeable.

I also really enjoyed Michael Keaton & Marisa Tomei in this. I like the career revival Michael Keaton has had these past few years (he’s still my favorite Batman, okay??) and I’ve liked Tomei ever since Untamed Heart (that movie rules & I love it). I like saucy Aunt May! I looked up Tomei’s age as well as Holland’s. She’s 52! That’s awesome. I like that Hollywood is actually seeming to be a little less scared lately of using actors & actresses who dare to be over 40. Anyway – Holland, Keaton & Tomei are perfect in these roles and are what make this movie so enjoyable since the story itself is a bit “whatever”.


I can see why people do like this movie and I’m sorry that I think I sound more negative than I actually feel. If I was a teen/early twentysomething, I think I’d probably love it & would see it as “my” Spider-Man (like those who grew up with the Tobey Maguire ones are so fond of those). I think this latest incarnation of Spider-Man is easily the most promising of the last three & the younger generation are lucky to have Holland as “their” Spider-Man. I assume we’ll be getting to see more of Zendaya in a sequel (I was surprised her role was so small in this), which would be good as I want to see more of Peter Parker’s awkward teenage high school life & all of his relationships (even more than his Spider-Man life). But, as for his Spider-Man life, I think he’s the perfect fit to work alongside the other Marvel superheroes. That’s one of the best things about the Marvel films – I think all the actors are pretty much perfect in their superhero roles and also have great chemistry when they’re all brought together. I’m happy to know that this is the Spider-Man we get to see working with them. I think the previous two would have felt out of place with them so Holland clearly has a certain star power to work so well alongside such established actors & actresses.

My Rating: 7/10

My Top Ten Richard Linklater Movies

Happy Belated Birthday to Richard Linklater, who turned 57 yesterday.

I keep meaning to do this top ten because I really love some of Linklater’s films. Then I remember that there are a few I still need to see, such as Tape & Waking Life, which are very likely to knock number ten off this list since I can’t say I liked that one very much.

But time is short these days and I’m unlikely to see my “unseen Linklaters” anytime soon. So I’m doing this list now, which goes like this:

1-3: Love ’em
4-6: Really like ’em
7-9: Like ’em
10: Barely remember it & would rather just watch the original, which is a classic.
11: Ugh.

For now, here are My Top Ten Richard Linklater Movies (that I’ve seen):

11. Slacker (not really a fan of this one)

TOP TEN:

10. Bad News Bears (meh)

9. A Scanner Darkly

8. Everybody Wants Some!!

7. Before Midnight

6. Boyhood

5. Bernie

4. Before Sunset

3. Before Sunrise

2. School Of Rock

1. Dazed And Confused

Not Seen:
SubUrbia, The Newton Boys, Waking Life, Tape, Fast Food Nation, Me And Orson Welles

My Top Ten Sandra Bullock Movies

Happy Birthday to Sandra Bullock, who turns 53 today.

Remember when Sandra Bullock & Julia Roberts were making all that silly rom-com stuff around the same sort of time? I always preferred Bullock. I think most people did… (Am I right??!!). It’s weird how Roberts had a sort of backlash against her that Bullock seemed to escape. Now I’m wondering which of the two has actually been in better films overall. Hmm. I’m pretty sure I like more Bullock films than Roberts films. Guess I should do a Roberts Top Ten sometime… Of which, considering I’m not a huge chick flick lover, Steel Magnolias would be number one. Because it’s awesome, despite being one of the absolute chick flickiest! And Pretty Woman deserves more credit than it gets – it’s mega quotable.

But back to Bullock! I bet British people found her name funny when she became famous. Bollocks! I don’t have a lot to say here. I like Bullock. She seems pretty sweet in real life & has been in a lot of throwaway but enjoyable films. I’m happy she has an Oscar but, I do apologize, I’ve not seen her in that role. That movie looked too pukey feelgood Americana. If you can convince me otherwise, I’ll try to watch it & not be so judge-y. Anyway, everyone likes Bullock! Right?!

Here are My Top Ten Sandra Bullock Movies, ranked from least favorite to favorite movie (not by performance):

**Note: I know it seems like I say this a lot, but… WOW, I barely remember half of these! So don’t take the lower part of this list too seriously. 😉

The Rest That I’ve Seen:

21. Miss Congeniality 2 (a vague memory of this being bad)
20. Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood (barely remember)
19. Speed 2: Cruise Control (yikes)
18. Two Weeks Notice (barely remember)
17. Premonition (barely remember)
16. Murder By Numbers (barely remember)
15. The Net (barely remember)
14. Forces Of Nature (remember-ish)
13. The Vanishing (am aware I should see the original instead)
12. A Time To Kill (too upsetting)
11. Crash (not Oscar-worthy)

10. Hope Floats (remember liking the cute little girl at the time. didn’t know it was Mae Whitman! need to rewatch)

9. Minions

8. 28 Days

7. Miss Congeniality

6. The Thing Called Love

5. While You Were Sleeping

4. Practical Magic (could actually do with re-watching this as well)

3. The Lake House

2. Gravity

1. Speed

I think I still have a secret desire for Bullock & Reeves to marry in real life…

Some I’ve Not Seen:
Demolition Man, Wrestling Ernest Hemingway, In Love And War, The Prince Of Egypt, The Proposal, All About Steve, The Blind Side, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Heat, Our Brand Is Crisis

My Top Ten Willem Dafoe Movies

Happy Birthday to Willem Dafoe, who is 62 tomorrow.

I have to admit that I’m not necessarily a huge fan of Dafoe. I think he’s a decent actor & has been in an interesting range of films but my main reason for even giving him much thought is probably because he’s one of so few actors from my home state. Why are there so few famous people from my state?!

As with all my actor top tens, these are ranked from my least favorite to favorite movie instead of by performance (Although, to be honest, number one is probably my favorite performance as well. He’s awesome in that!). So here are My Top Ten Willem Dafoe Movies:

The Rest That I’ve Seen:

18. The English Patient (screw this movie)
17. Speed 2: Cruise Control
16. American Dreamz
15. American Psycho
14. Cry-Baby
13. Born On The Fourth Of July
12. The Last Temptation Of Christ
11. Clear And Present Danger (barely remember it, to be honest)

Top Ten:

10. TIE: The Fault In Our Stars & Daybreakers

9. Odd Thomas

8. The Spider-Man Movies

7. The Aviator

6. Streets Of Fire

5. Platoon

4. John Wick

3. The Hunger

2. eXistenZ

1. Finding Nemo

Honorable Mention:
Finding Dory, because it’s just a small cameo

Some Of The Many I’ve Not Seen:
To Live And Die In L.A., Mississippi Burning, Wild At Heart, Body Of Evidence, Basquiat, The Boondock Saints, Shadow Of The Vampire, Once Upon A Time In Mexico, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, Manderlay, Inside Man, Tales From Earthsea, Antichrist, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Cirque Du Freak, John Carter, Nymphomaniac Vol II, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Which Movie(s) Should I Review? (Two Polls!)

Hi all! I’m really slacking on writing movie reviews this year. So, when that happens, I decide to make a poll instead. Because I’m a procrastinator!

Below are the movies I’ve watched in the past few years but never got around to/didn’t feel like/couldn’t be bothered reviewing. I’ll probably do them as “quickie threesome” reviews but was curious which ones people would be most interested in hearing about. You can vote for as many choices as you like (if I set this poll up right… Who knows!).

Also, I’d like to do a themed week again (or month). I’ll be honest: If I do, it’ll be in 2018. But I’m wondering which of the choices below sound the most fun/entertaining/not-too-boring.

I do plan to review the below films soon, though, so I’ve not added them to the poll:

The Frame (2014) (fantastic! deserves recognition, which is why I’ll review it)
The Beguiled (1971) (good)
Hell Or High Water (good)
Okja (overrated)

I’ll still be reviewing 5 more Blind Spot films before the end of the year (I’ve watched The Raid & am halfway through Zodiac, which I’m struggling to finish). Also, as usual I’ve not reviewed any horror films I’ve watched in the past year since I’ll try to review them all in October (if I have the energy). But one of my favorite films I’ve seen overall this year is Train To Busan, which will definitely get an October review. Loved it! These are the horror reviews you might see (most of them sucked, which is why I may not have the energy…):

Monster Hunter, The Forest, The Watcher In The Woods, Lifeforce, The Witch, The Gift, The Final Girls, Pontypool, Only Lovers Left Alive, The Wailing, Byzantium, Green Room, Before I Wake, Poltergeist (2015)

So, I do still make plans for this blog even though it feels like I’m abandoning it this year. I should be around a bit more in the next month while life hopefully settles down a little! 🙂

R.I.P. George A. Romero 

I was very sad to hear of George A. Romero’s passing. He’s a true master of horror and his Dead films have never been topped, although many have tried to copy them.

I’ve always wanted to review Night, Dawn & Day Of The Dead but never have as I always struggle to write about my all-time favorite films. Dawn Of The Dead is one of a very small handful of horrors that I consider to be all around favorite films despite being within the horror genre. I’m sad now that the only Romero film I’ve reviewed is Monkey Shines (which was a lot of fun to review!). It’s certainly no Dawn Of The Dead, though, which has topped many top ten lists that I’ve posted (such as My Top Ten Horror Movies & My Top Ten Horror Movie Quotes). Heck, I even managed to review the Dawn Of The Dead remake for Mike over at Screenkicker. Yet no review of the original. The best. I’ve never reviewed Romero’s TRUE ZOMBIE CLASSICS Night Of The Living Dead & Dawn Of The Dead. Or Day Of The Dead! Also love Day. And now we’re stuck watching the inferior The Walking Dead while humanity turns into a Romero mall zombie. The horror legends are dying. It sucks.

Rest in peace George Andrew Romero
February 4, 1940 – July 16, 2017

Oh, here’s an odd recommendation but Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill, has a great short story in his collection 20th Century Ghosts called Bobby Conroy Comes Back From The Dead. It’s a love story, of sorts, between two extras on the set of Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead. Loved it! I highly recommend the entire book – it’s a fantastic short story collection.

**Seriously? I just finish this post then read that Martin Landau has died as well. I must admit that I didn’t know him from much but did love him as Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood. His Oscar for that was well deserved!

Rest in peace Martin Landau
June 20, 1928 – July 15, 2017

Despicable Me 3 (2017) Review

Despicable Me 3 (2017)

Directed by Pierre Coffin & Kyle Balda

Starring: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Nev Scharrel, Steve Coogan, Julie Andrews, Jenny Slate, Chris Renaud

Music by Heitor Pereira & Pharrell Williams

Production company: Illumination Entertainment

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In the film, Gru teams up with his long lost twin Dru in order to defeat a new enemy named Balthazar Bratt, a 1980s child actor who grows up to become a villain.

My Opinion:

Another quickie review today! I’m trying to catch up since I try to review the things I see in the cinema (I managed to finally review Gifted yesterday). At least I missed out on Spider-Man: Homecoming due to a headache so I don’t have to worry about reviewing that! Wait, no – that sucks. I want to see that, dammit. But now I don’t know when it’ll be. Anyone seen it? What did you think? Oops – I’m meant to be reviewing Despicable Me 3…

What can I say? I love those damn minions (one of cinema’s greatest creations, quite frankly). I absolutely adore the three Despicable Me girls (I’d adopt them if you could legally adopt cartoon children) and I love their adorable relationship with Gru. The first Despicable Me film is a favorite of mine, which is extremely rare for an animated movie that wasn’t made by Pixar or Disney. I’m a total Disney/Pixar snob – all other animation production companies can’t even compare. BUT! The first Despicable Me rules. The characters, the soundtrack, the MINIONS…. ! Love it.

As with all money-grabbing animation sequels, though, Despicable Me 2 & 3 obviously pale in comparison to the first. I looked back at my review for Despicable Me 2 (HERE) and I was far too generous with my rating, which I’ve now knocked down slightly to 7.5/10. That’s still probably too high but I think I was buzzing from once again getting to see these characters that I enjoy. I felt the same way while watching number 3 and, when first coming out of the cinema last weekend, probably would’ve rated it slightly too high if I hadn’t waited a week to review it. I at first felt it was a tiny bit better than number 2 but have since changed my mind since watching part of that one with the kid again. 2 & 3 are fairly close but 2 gets half a point more for funnier minion scenes, better use of Pharrell’s brilliant music, and a much stronger opening. Both 2 & 3’s villains are quite weak but, meh – who cares when we get to see Gru, the girls & the minions again? Gru’s long-lost twin brother is probably a love-him-or-hate-him addition but I found him a better character than the lacklustre villains of the last two and slightly less annoying than Lucy (who I’m still unfortunately not crazy about, but that’s not helped by her not being given much to do in number 3).


I think I’m probably going too easy on this film because I love the characters & also love seeing how much my kid enjoys these movies (I think she thinks she IS Agnes sometimes). Despicable Me 3 isn’t a great film but, if you love these characters, I think you’ll get some enjoyment out of it anyway so I would still recommend it to fans. I think reviews have been a bit too harsh since the first movie was so good. But, to be fair, I’ve seen FAR worse animated sequels. And it’s certainly better than the Minions movie, which truly suffered from the lack of the three girls. Oh, and I’ll say I was very worried when seeing the trailer for this one that the girls would barely be in it (why the hell weren’t they in the trailer?!) so I’m happy to say their roles are about as big as they were in the second film. Maybe that’s why I ended up not being disappointed since that horrible trailer gave me very low expectations. But I enjoyed it just fine. It’s watchable. I still adore these characters. But it would be nice if the movies were getting slightly better each time instead of slightly worse…

My Rating: 7/10

Gifted (2017) Review

Gifted (2017)

Directed by Marc Webb

Starring: Chris Evans, Mckenna Grace, Lindsay Duncan, Jenny Slate, Octavia Spencer

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Frank, a single man raising his child prodigy niece Mary, is drawn into a custody battle with his mother.

My Opinion:

Quickie review! Saw this a good few weeks ago & realized I never reviewed it. Not because I didn’t like it – I’ve just been too busy. I actually quite liked it, as far as family films go. I doubt it’s still in cinemas now but it’s worth a watch at home if you like the sound of it.

I went to Gifted with the hubby and the eight-year-old. I’m enjoying the fact that she’s of the age now where we’re getting to go to more non-animated “family” films. I wish there were more of them! We saw this not long after A Dog’s Purpose (which we all really liked). We all enjoyed this one as well but I think the kid & I slightly preferred A Dog’s Purpose because: Cute dogs. Although Gifted has: Cute Chris Evans. So, they kind of even out.

Chris Evans & Mckenna Grace are the true stars of this and what make the movie work as they’re believable as a single uncle & the niece he has to raise after his sister commits suicide (warning for if you do take a kid, although I don’t remember the topic of suicide exactly being dwelled on & my kid didn’t ask any questions about it). They were great together & my kid really liked Grace & the cheekiness of her character, who is extremely clever beyond her years. Octavia Spencer is also good as the neighbor & friend of Evans & Grace but also very wasted in this small role. Lindsay Duncan plays the mother of Evans, who fights him for custody of her granddaughter once she realizes she has inherited her daughter’s mathematical genius.


What else can I say? There’s not a lot more to this story but the characters were pretty strong and the custody battle was interesting. Evans wants to raise his child prodigy niece as a normal kid in a normal school with a normal life. The grandmother wants to raise her as the child genius that she is, with all the best schooling & training that money can buy (and which the working class Chris Evans can’t afford). So it comes down to which values you believe in (although the majority will be on the uncle’s side because the grandmother is a bitch). I’ll say that the movie has an interesting turn of events & it’s not often that I can’t guess the ending to a pretty simple family film so bonus points for that. I enjoyed the film. All three of us did. Give it a watch with your family on… whatever streaming service(s) to which you subscribe (it was so much easier when you could just say “watch it on home video”). 😉

My Rating: 7/10

Baby Driver (2017) Review

Baby Driver (2017)

Directed & Written by Edgar Wright

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Bernthal, Eiza González, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.

My Opinion:

I’m so behind on movie reviews but don’t want to miss out on writing something about this one. Because it’s good! So this will be a quickie review. I’d love to hear from others who’ve seen it. More than anything, I badly need to catch up on replying to all your comments on my blog! Sorry about that. I’ll catch up on that soon. Now let’s talk a little bit about Baby Driver

I know Edgar Wright has some diehard fans thanks to his Cornetto Trilogy (I reviewed all three films together HERE). Those are great, especially Shaun Of The Dead, so it’s obvious why he has loyal fans. Baby Driver, in my opinion, is actually the best film he’s done so far. I love Shaun & it’s a great horror comedy but Baby Driver feels more timeless. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect but did think it would be a little more similar to Shaun, Hot Fuzz, World’s End, Scott Pilgrim, etc. It’s not. It’s very different. It’s not a comedy, although it does have some humorous moments (which is fine with me, as I’m not a huge fan of most comedies anyway). But it’s a kick ass crime/heist movie with great characters & a fantastic soundtrack. It’s pure entertainment, which is missing from movies far too often nowadays. But it’s not dumb Michael-Bay-Style pure entertainment – it’s pure entertainment that puts time & effort into its script, its characters, its look, and its awesome soundtrack (Did I mention its awesome soundtrack? Oh yes, I believe I did. It has an awesome soundtrack).

Baby Driver feels like it can stand alongside some of the great crime/heist thrillers of the 70s & 80s in that, 20 years from now, I think it will be seen the same way that we see things like The French Connection nowadays (although I’ve never actually seen that – I better add that to Blind Spot 2018!). Or… Perhaps Walter Hill’s The Driver (which I’ve also never seen) since Wright gave Hill a cameo in this film. Oh! Yes, I just checked IMDb trivia to verify. I wanted to know Wright’s influences for Baby Driver:

“This film drew inspiration from The Driver (1978), Raising Arizona (1987), The Blues Brothers (1980), and Riding Bean (1989).”

Well, Walter Hill’s The Warriors easily remains my absolute favorite older film that I watched for the very first time since starting my blog almost five years ago, so… Hill’s The Driver is probably worth a watch as Wright clearly has good taste since he’s made such a good film. Oh – and he also gave Paul Williams a small role in this as well. You know – the Rainbow Connection, Phantom Of The Paradise Paul Williams (you young bloggers don’t know who I’m on about). Wright’s influences are obvious (and similar to the things I like seeing as we’re a similar age, I guess) and his love of films & music really shows in how he’s made Baby Driver. It reminds me of how Tarantino makes his films: as a nerdy superfan. And that’s the way it should be. If you love your job, it’s going to be obvious in the final product that you produce.

I liked Baby Driver a lot and I’d say it’s probably my number one movie of 2017 so far but I’m not sure if I exactly loved it in the same way I loved the insanely fun & action-packed Mad Max: Fury Road a couple of years ago. I compare them as it seems like I should feel similar about two really great action films, which is a genre that often disappoints me. I really liked the characters in Baby Driver and I always adore a good love story. In this case, there are several and the girl/boy love story isn’t necessarily my favorite. Baby’s love for a pretty waitress is nice but we also see his love for his mother, his foster father, driving, and MUSIC. I’m going to connect with any movie that shows as much passion for music as this one does. I can’t think of any other movies that have focused on the love of music so much (without the story actually being about music). It works really well so I’m not sure why the film didn’t quite connect with me as much as I expected it to. I do think it’s a film that will grow on me, though, and I’d happily watch it again sometime to see if my opinion changes at all. I can certainly see why the movie has had so much love already as it feels very unique despite having such obvious influences. As I said, I do believe Baby Driver is a film that will stand the test of time & possibly be even more respected in future years than it is now.

My Rating: 8.5/10

**Hmm. I think Baby Driver would probably make it somewhere onto my list of My Top Ten Movies With Song Title Titles 🙂

Rocky (1976) Blind Spot Review

Happy Birthday to Sylvester Stallone, who turns 71 today! Guess I better review Rocky, which I’ve finally watched for Blind Spot 2017. Finally, right?!

Rocky (1976)

Directed by John G. Avildsen

Written by Sylvester Stallone

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith

Music by Bill Conti

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer, gets a supremely rare chance to fight heavy-weight champion Apollo Creed in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quick list of the Blind Spot films I’ve watched so far this year, from my least favorite to my favorite:

8. The Last Temptation Of Christ
7. The Raid
6. The King & I
5. The Hustler
4. Ghost In The Shell
3. Jackie Brown
2. Watership Down
1. Rocky

So, yeah – I liked Rocky the most (so far). It’s one of those movies that’s so iconic & has been spoofed so often that it felt like I’d seen it already anyway. I suppose that’s why it’s taken me so long to finally get around to watching the whole thing. I’ve seen bits & pieces of it over the years and knew the ending. It was definitely worth sitting down to finally watch it from start to finish, though. About damn time, right?!

Watching Rocky also means I can add another movie seen to my IMDB Top 250 Project (It’s currently at number 218. WTF? Too low). Yay! Another one crossed off my list (I’m never gonna finish watching those 250). Oh, and I can add it to my list of My Top Ten Best Picture Oscar Winners! Okay – I’ve just updated that post so you can go have a look to see where I’ve placed Rocky. Nah, screw getting extra views – I’ve put it at number six. It’s good. It’s worthy of its status. I’m glad it won Best Picture. What did it beat? *Googling now*… All The President’s Men (not seen it), Bound For Glory (wtf is that?), Network (okay but Rocky is better), and Taxi Driver (erm, like Rocky I feel like I’ve seen it but don’t think I’ve ever seen it all the way through. Rocky is better anyway).

Should I get around to reviewing Rocky? I’ll be honest – I don’t really want to. It’s been around forever and has such loyal, diehard fans that you should really just go read reviews done by those who have a strong personal connection to this character and the film’s themes (like Eric of The IPC – this is his review). As the plot synopsis above says, this film is all about “going the distance” and believing in yourself and all that feelgood hoohah that so many movies attempt but very few manage to achieve without feeling phony & contrived. Rocky is genuine.

I was quite surprised when looking Rocky up at IMDB for this review to see that it has quite a low “metascore” (that’s the rating from “professional critics”). This is where professional critics piss me off. How miserable do you have to be in life to not at least be slightly moved by one of the best feelgood movies out there? Admittedly, Rocky is going to feel somewhat dated in its themes nowadays as sooooo many movies have tried to do similar since. But this came out in 1976 and there hadn’t yet really been any movies quite like it (that I can think of, anyway, but I’m probably wrong because I often am). It seems like uplifting, feelgood movies often get slammed by critics. Who wants dreary & depressing all the time?! Just because a movie is depressing, it doesn’t always make it good. And just because a movie is uplifting, it doesn’t always make it bad. Yeah, I’m also one of those lovers of feelgood galore The Shawshank Redemption. It makes me happy. And that’s okay, professional critics! It’s okay to be moved by a film because it makes you feel good! I happen to think that truly good filmmaking is the ability to make an audience love your film because they connect so deeply with your characters and/or your story. I know that Rocky is one of those types of films. Like my Shawshank, I can fully understand why Rocky means so much to some people.

Shit. I’ve still not really talked about Rocky yet in my Rocky “review”. Let’s start by talking about the character of Rocky. Am I a fan of Sylvester Stallone? No, not in the slightest. Is he a good actor? Nope. But that doesn’t matter. As Rocky, he’s perfect. He IS Rocky. I just read this little tidbit at Wikipedia:

“United Artists liked Stallone’s script, and viewed it as a possible vehicle for a well-established star such as Robert Redford, Ryan O’Neal, Burt Reynolds, or James Caan. Stallone appealed to the producers to be given a chance to star in the film. He later said that he would never have forgiven himself if the film became a success with someone else in the lead.”

Seriously?? Those choices would’ve been SO wrong to play Rocky and the movie wouldn’t have achieved so much success without Stallone in the role. I’m glad he fought for the part (and like the fact that the movie itself was an underdog that went on to beat the odds, just like Rocky himself). I think, having written the script, it really shows in Stallone’s performance how the character is a part of him and that we wouldn’t have gotten the same genuine feel from another actor. It’s why Rocky became such a beloved character. I can see why this movie propelled Stallone to fame and why he still has loads of, let’s face it, dude fans. He’ll still never ever be a favorite actor of mine but I certainly have more respect for him now. He makes this movie what it is. So don’t avoid this film if, like me, you don’t necessarily love Stallone.

Also, don’t avoid this movie if you don’t like sports movies or boxing. Yes, those elements are what have made this movie one that has made many manly men freely admit to crying manly man tears over. I f*^king hate sports. All sports. Especially boxing! Rocky isn’t really a sports movie and it has about as much actual boxing in it as British households have on Boxing Day (which is probably a little bit as family get-togethers at Christmastime can be very stressful). Seriously – I decided to torture myself by watching this & Million Dollar Baby over the same weekend back in February. Million Dollar Baby has a million times more boxing in it (but still not loads). However, I ended up loving them both. So, if I can like two “boxing movies” (that aren’t really about boxing), I promise that you can too! And one is a feelgood movie and one is depressing as f*^k but both are good. (But critics probably prefer the depressing one, as I previously bitched about in this review already). Where was I? Rambling, as always. There’s hardly any boxing in Rocky. Just FYI. Who knew??? (But I still don’t like Raging Bull very much. Certainly not a feelgood movie and probably a miserable critic favorite).

Oh! Burgess Meredith! I love Burgess Meredith. He was actually the biggest reason I wanted to finally make myself watch this film. And he’s great in the role of Rocky’s trainer. He’s perfect. I badly want to watch all the Rocky films now (but I’m waiting for hubby to make the time since he says he wants to watch them with me. Hint hint). I’m not stupid and know the rest aren’t meant to be great but I want to see what happens and I’m hoping Meredith has a bigger part in the second film. But….. I’m not sure what happens beyond that (other than finally getting to hear Eye Of The Tiger in, what, number three?). I’ve done my best to avoid the Rocky series spoilers this long but it hasn’t been easy!!! FYI: don’t read the synopsis for Creed if you KNOW NOTHING because I actually didn’t know… Something about someone. Ha. Damn. All I know is that Rocky & Adrian better stay together throughout them all or I’m going to be seriously pissed off (don’t tell me).

You gotta love Rocky & Adrian’s relationship. I loved those two crazy kids and their weird ass romance. It was sweet. And a little nerdy. They’re made for each other. Hollywood nepotism gets on my nerves but these two are such a perfect match that I’ll let that “how many f*^king Coppolas ARE there?!” thing with Talia Shire slide. At least her then-husband didn’t compose the music for the film, as originally planned. Can you imagine having Rocky without Bill Conti’s Gonna Fly Now song? No. You cannot. That song and its montage scene is one of the most iconic moments in movie history. Oh, and Carl Weathers was cool too. I look forward to seeing him in more in this series (He IS in more, right? How many? More than Meredith?? Wait. No. Don’t tell me).

Summary:

Rocky is good. Rocky makes grown men cry for some strange reason. I can’t claim to have gotten at all misty-eyed while watching it and I won’t pretend that I fully connected with it or that it moved me in the way it has moved a lot of (mainly male) viewers. However, it deserves the love it still receives to this day and I can fully understand why some people love it. It’s one that all film lovers should watch at least once if they want to continue calling themselves film lovers. No, it’s not a new all-time favorite of mine personally but I enjoyed it and I especially liked the characters, which is the most important thing to me when it comes to movies. Rocky lives up to its reputation and slightly exceeded my expectations.

My Rating: 8.5/10

*I saw this movie back in February and I’ve only seen it the one time so hopefully all these pictures I used are from the first movie & not the sequels or else some Rocky-loving dude will probably come along & yell at me… 😉

The King And I (1956) Blind Spot Review

The King And I (1956)

Directed by Walter Lang

Based on The King and I by Oscar Hammerstein II

Starring: Deborah Kerr, Yul Brynner, Rita Moreno, Maureen Hingert, Martin Benson, Rex Thompson

Music by Richard Rodgers

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The King and I is a 1956 American musical film based on the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II musical The King and I, based in turn on the novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon. That novel in turn was based on memoirs written by Anna Leonowens, who became school teacher to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s.

My Opinion:

Well, it looks like we’re halfway through the year & I’ve managed to watch 8 of my 12 2017 Blind Spot movies. Not too bad! So, I might as well have a look at where I think I’d rank each of them so far. From least favorite to favorite:

8. The Last Temptation Of Christ
7. The Raid
6. The King & I
5. The Hustler
4. Ghost In The Shell
3. Jackie Brown
2. Watership Down
1. Rocky

I’ve really liked all my movie choices so far other than The Last Temptation Of Christ (which was a bit of a snoozefest). So I have to say this Blind Spot thing is something I really do enjoy & the one thing I’d like to continue while I don’t really have time for much else on this blog at the moment.

There are still quite a few classic musicals that I’ve never seen so I’ll probably try to do one each year as a Blind Spot choice (next year’s will probably be Fiddler On The Roof). I do love a few of them but, overall, musicals aren’t exactly a favorite genre of mine. I’ve now updated My Top Ten Movie Musicals post and The King & I just makes it in at number ten. It’s certainly not up there with the likes of The Sound Of Music or The Wizard Of Oz but it’s a lovely film definitely worth watching and one that I’m happy to have shared with my eight-year-old. I’m also happy to say that it met with her approval as well! She especially liked all the kids that are in the film and still often quotes Yul Brynner’s “Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!”, which I find adorable. I’m loving sharing classic films with my kid & often feel like we don’t get enough of these types of movies nowadays. What are future generations going to share with their kids when it comes to movies? Baywatch???

I know this is one of quite a few films for which Marni Nixon provided the singing voice. I’ll never quite understand when they have a different person provide the singing voice. Surely you can find someone who can act and sing??? Anyway – Kerr was good in this (and I didn’t find her lip syncing obvious) but it was Brynner’s King who really made the film for me. Well, okay – it’s the two characters together which really makes the film work because of their completely different lifestyles & values. Who doesn’t enjoy the whole “opposites attract” thing?? That’s why it’s used so often in stories! But Brynner was especially fun to watch in this and I’d have to say I enjoyed the film more than I expected to after it got off to a fairly slow start.

I think The King & I has probably not aged quite as well as some films due to feeling out of date and due to, in my opinion, not having as many memorable songs as a lot of other famous musicals. The only one I already knew beforehand was Getting To Know You (which I’ve shared at the end of this post). I expected there to be more “Hey, I know this song” moments as I watched this. It’s not a huge complaint, though. I really enjoyed this movie & would happily watch it again. I liked the story, the characters, the costumes, the song & dance numbers, and the fact that The King & I just feels like an all-time classic musical in a way that La La Land just doesn’t feel like something that will be held in quite such high regard 60 years from now.

My Rating: 7.5/10

**This was meant to be my Blind Spot Movie for June but I’ve not had much time to write reviews. So I’ve quickly done two in one go! I’ll be posting the review for my July Blind Spot Movie, Rocky, tomorrow. 🙂

My Top Ten Tom Cruise Movies

Happy Birthday to Tom Cruise, who turns 55 today. Wow… Does he ever age??

To be honest, I’m not a huge Tom Cruise fan. I mean, look at him in that photo up there… How annoying would it be to work with someone who goes around smiling like that? Can you imagine someone so goddamn happy sitting at the desk next to you?! Ugh. However, I have to say that I admire how Cruise treats his fans. He’s always happy to hang around & sign autographs and that’s cool. I hate stars who seem like conceited assholes in real life. He also seems to enjoy making movies and doing his own stunts and all that. So, yeah – I suppose he smiles like that because he does seem to be a pretty happy dude. Which is better than a grumpy famous person. I guess.

Anyway! I figured now would be a good time to finally do a list of My Top Ten Tom Cruise Movies. He’s of course been in loads of films but he does a lot of action dramas, which aren’t really my type of thing. That’s why my number one was a huge surprise… His best movie in years & a genre I love! And number two deserves more credit – It’s a classic. I admit to needing to re-watch some of those outside of the top ten & they’d probably move up the list. How about I shut the hell up & do this list. Is Cruise still smiling like a loon in that photo up there…??

Here are My Top Ten Tom Cruise Movies, counting down to my favorite (ranked by film, not performance):

The Rest That I’ve Seen:

25. Tropic Thunder
24. Cocktail
23. Eyes Wide Shut
22. Born On The Fourth Of July
21. Days Of Thunder
20. Austin Powers In Goldmember
19. War Of The Worlds
18. The Firm
17. Interview With The Vampire
16. The Mission Impossible Films (Think I’ve only seen 1 or 2… Should re-watch & am sure they’d rank higher)
15. Legend (I’m lying. I barely remember this.)
14. Risky Business
13. Endless Love
12. Oblivion
11. Vanilla Sky

Top Ten:

10. A Few Good Men

9. The Color Of Money

8. Collateral

7. Magnolia

6. Jerry Maguire

5. Minority Report

4. The Outsiders

3. Rain Man

2. Top Gun

1. Edge Of Tomorrow

Some I’ve Not Seen:

Taps, Far And Away, The Last Samurai, Lions For Lambs, Valkyrie, Knight And Day, Jack Reacher, Rock Of Ages, The Mummy

(Is he still fucking smiling up there??)

My Top Ten John Cusack Movies

Happy Birthday to John Cusack, who turns 51 today!

I love John Cusack. I’m of the age where I had (and, okay, still have) a massive crush on Cusack’s Lloyd Dobler from Say Anything. Thanks a lot, John Cusack! No boy can ever live up to Lloyd Dobler. You made a generation of girls have expectations that were way too high when it came to teenage boys. Teenage boys are awful. Teenage boys are NOT like Lloyd Dobler! Certainly not any that I knew in 1989, anyway…*sigh*

Anyway – I still love Lloyd & I still love John. It’s funny how he’s tried to never be a big “movie star”, which I respect, yet I have to say that of all these many Actor Top Ten lists that I’ve done, Cusack’s is possibly the best one yet for having so many of my personal favorites in it. The Top Five kick ass! So Cusack has certainly been in some damn enjoyable movies, even though he prefers to not be a huge movie star.

As always, I’m ranking these based on the movie (not the performance). Say Anything would most definitely top the list if it was by performance but no movie can really ever top my number one on this list, which Cusack only had a small role in. So, here are My Top Ten John Cusack Movies:

The Rest That I’ve Seen:

20. Class
19. The Grifters
18. Hot Tub Time Machine
17. Eight Men Out
16. 2012
15. Adaptation
14. Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil
13. The Player
12. Identity
11. Serendipity

TOP TEN:

10. TIE: 1408 & Being John Malkovich

9. High Fidelity

8. Anastasia

7. Grosse Pointe Blank

6. Con Air

5. Better Off Dead

4. The Journey Of Natty Gann

3. Sixteen Candles

2. Say Anything…

1. Stand By Me

Saw But Don’t Remember Well Enough To Include In List Without Re-watching:
One Crazy Summer, Hot Pursuit, The Sure Thing, Tapeheads, America’s Sweethearts

Some I Haven’t Seen At All:
Grandview USA, Broadcast News, True Colors, Bullets Over Broadway, The Road To Wellville, The Thin Red Line, Pushing Tin, Runaway Jury, Must Love Dogs, Martian Child, Igor, The Paperboy, Maps To The Stars, Love & Mercy, Hot Tub Time Machine 2, Chi-Raq, Cell

Oh, Lloyd… *sigh*

My Top Ten Meryl Streep Movies

Happy Birthday to Meryl Streep, who is 68 today.

Okay – I admit to still needing to see some of Streep’s biggest films. I also need to re-watch several. So this will be a “Top Ten For Now” list that I’ll update when I see more of her work. The one I was really hoping to see before making this list was Postcards From The Edge, but… Time is short lately! I’ll get to it someday.

Although Trump thinks she’s overrated, I think the rest of us can agree that Streep is a damn good actress. She’s one who has never been in any films that I’ve truly loved, though. She rarely does films within my favorite sort of genres (Oscar-worthy dramas & lame comedy films aren’t ones I usually love). And she’s been in some right stinkers as well (She-Devil! Bwahaha!). I hate the bottom three on this list & like the top five okay.

However, I’ve always liked Streep as a person (as much as we can ever really know about a celeb, anyway). She seems to have a great sense of humor at the many awards shows she’s always at since she’s always nominated for something. I enjoy her awards show appearances more than most of her films (especially the bottom three). I have a long list at the end of what I have yet to see so you can yell at me for not seeing things like Sophie’s Choice… 😉

So, FOR NOW, here are My Top Ten Meryl Streep Movies (counting down to my favorite movie, not performance):

The Rest That I’ve Seen:

18. She-Devil
17. Into The Woods
16. Mamma Mia!
15. Death Becomes Her
14. Julie & Julia
13. The Hours (could do with re-watching)
12. The River Wild
11. Manhattan

10. Out Of Africa (could do with re-watching)

9. Adaptation (could do with re-watching)

8. The Bridges Of Madison County

7. The Giver

6. Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events

5. Suffragette

4. The Devil Wears Prada

3. Kramer Vs Kramer

2. Silkwood

1. The Deer Hunter

I Saw But Don’t Remember:
One True Thing & A Cry In The Dark

Some I’ve Not Seen:
The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Sophie’s Choice, Heartburn, Postcards From The Edge, Marvin’s Room, Music Of The Heart, The Ant Bully, Lions For Lambs, Doubt, It’s Complicated, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Iron Lady, August: Osage County, Ricki And The Flash, Florence Foster Jenkins

Excluding:
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (she did the voice of “Blue Mecha”)

Dogville (2003) Review

Happy 50th Birthday to Nicole Kidman!

Instead of a birthday Top Ten, I figured I should review Dogville since I watched it recently. Looking at Kidman’s films, there are still a few big ones I need to see before doing a Top Ten anyway so maybe I’ll do that list next year if I’m still blogging. It would be an interesting list as she’s done many different types of films but I’m pretty sure that my current favorites are the underrated To Die For, guilty pleasure Malice, and great ghost story The Others. I’ve never been a huge fan but Kidman has gone up in my estimation in the last few years and I thought she was really good in the Big Little Lies TV series, based on the Liane Moriarty book. I’m looking forward to seeing her in Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled.

Now let’s see what I thought of this three-hour-long Lars von Trier avant-garde play that explores human morality. Woohoo! PARTY! Dogville would make for a fun double feature with The Hateful Eight… 😉

Dogville (2003)

Directed & Written by Lars von Trier

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Lauren Bacall, Chloë Sevigny, Paul Bettany, Stellan Skarsgård, Udo Kier, Ben Gazzara, James Caan

Narrated by John Hurt

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A woman on the run from the mob is reluctantly accepted in a small Colorado town. In exchange, she agrees to work for them. As a search visits town, she finds out that their support has a price. Yet her dangerous secret is never far away…

My Opinion:

This is the third Lars von Trier film I’ve seen after Dancer In The Dark & Melancholia (which I reviewed HERE & which I quite liked. Sort of. I think…). His work is certainly not to everyone’s taste and, in looking up Dogville, critics’ reviews were either “this is a masterpiece” or “what a load of pretentious bollocks” (I’m paraphrasing there but it’s what they meant). I liked Dogville. I preferred Melancholia but both are unique and, so far, I like what I’ve seen of von Trier’s style and think we may have a similar view on people (although I think he seems to have even less faith in humanity than I do).

Dogville’s set up, as a play with very few props and where each house in the small town is shown as an outline from above, took less getting used to than I was expecting. The story & the acting were good enough to not really need props, special effects, etc. If you seriously hate plays I suppose you might not have the patience for this film. However, like with The Hateful Eight, this movie is unnecessarily long. Three hours! It wasn’t needed. I don’t think the extra time really added much depth to the characters – the story could have been told just as well with an hour shaved off. But I’m admittedly getting old & tired & too damn busy to sit through these extra long movies. Then again…. No. It IS too long, dammit. I’m not just being grumpy. When it’s necessary for the story, really great movies don’t feel too long. Seven Samurai doesn’t feel too long. Seven Samurai is a masterpiece.

Dogville is decent. I’m glad I sat through it (in three sittings). But it’s not a masterpiece and it’s not as important as it thinks it is. However, to automatically label it pretentious does seem unfair. Von Trier took a gamble on trying something different that certainly wouldn’t appeal to mainstream audiences (well, duh – that seems to describe all his films) but I think it worked pretty well overall for Dogville.

Kidman was very good and I loved John Hurt’s narration (I’ve added Dogville to My Top Ten John Hurt Movies list of all I’ve seen of his but it just misses out on being in the ten). Actually, Hurt’s voice was probably the very best thing about the film – I’m going to keep exploring his work that I missed out on. He was certainly an underrated actor. As for everyone else, they all did a very good job in making us hate the shit out of them. Paul Bettany had an especially interesting role as the only one who seemed to be on Kidman’s side but, although not directly unkind, he ends up the worst of the lot. I wanted to punch him in the damn face. So… Yeah. You’re meant to hate these characters. And you will. So they all succeed in their roles but, of course, it doesn’t make for a pleasant three hours. It’s a film worth a watch but you’ll need to be in the right frame of mind before giving this one a go. I liked the concept and von Trier’s attempt to explore humanity and what could happen if we had the ability to completely take advantage of someone in need. Would we treat them kindly or not? Von Trier obviously thinks not. I wonder why he hates people so much?! But, I must admit to really liking how this film ends so maybe I’m not so different from the residents of Dogville. Which I suppose is von Trier’s obvious point. But, seriously – he could’ve gotten that point across in well under three hours. 😉

My Rating: 7/10

**Just thought I’d add this bit I read at Wikipedia, as I was unaware that this film is meant to be the first part of a trilogy:

The film is the first in von Trier’s projected USA – Land of Opportunities trilogy, which was followed by Manderlay (2005) and is projected to be completed with Washington.

I liked Dogville okay but doubt I can be bothered to watch the rest, unless the final one gets rave reviews when it’s finally made… I think I’ll next check out those Nymphomaniac films instead. Which also look like loads of fun. PARTY! 😉

Wonder Woman (2017) Review

Wonder Woman (2017)

Directed by Patty Jenkins

Based on Wonder Woman by William Moulton Marston

Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Before she was Wonder Woman she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

My Opinion:

I always struggle to write reviews of superhero movies as I don’t read comics & have zero knowledge of anything superhero-related beyond what I’ve seen in all the mainstream Hollywood films. I’ve watched the majority of them but I don’t obsess over them & I’m not some superfan of superheroes. They’re fun entertainment but I see them as popcorn movies. I’ve grown especially tired of the dark and dreary, too-serious types the last several years. Batman V Superman, which I watched last week in preparation for Wonder Woman, was beyond bad. I knew the reviews weren’t good, but… Wow! I still didn’t expect it to suck as much as it did.


I admit to preferring lighthearted superhero films to the serious ones (I love Guardians Of The Galaxy 1 & 2) but do enjoy the balance that current Marvel films seem to manage with serious stories that still have a sense of humor and fun to them. Wonder Woman is finally a DC film with the right balance. There was plenty of kick-ass action as well as funny moments, there were several strong characters who worked really well together, there’s a positive overall message, and Gadot is perfection. Oh! And I had fun watching it. That’s the way it should be.

I don’t want to get into the whole “sexism” debate & female-only screenings of Wonder Woman & some jerk claiming the director was only hired because she’s female & how some have said that maybe the good reviews are just because people are too scared to talk bad about the first true female superhero movie & blah blah BLAH. Who cares?! Why are people so hung up on this? A good movie is a good movie. And this is a really good movie. This is a far better movie than the majority of superhero films in recent years. And, yeah, its star happens to be a woman. Yay! It’s 2017 – it’s about f*^king time. She kicks ass as well as all the male superheroes. And she sure as shit out-acts some of them (I’m looking at those in Batman V Superman & Suicide Squad, although I’m aware that weak scripts & directing will often result in bad performances so the actors may not be 100% to blame).

I’ve not seen Gal Gadot in anything else besides BvS & wasn’t sure what to expect but she’s truly fantastic and I’m not saying that “just because I’m a woman”. I can’t fault her performance in any way. Heck, I even didn’t mind Chris Pine and he sometimes slightly gets on my nerves. I’d have preferred someone unknown in his role but he did a good job with a really likable character. There are several “sidekicks” during the WWI segment that I really enjoyed and I of course loved all the Amazon women and watching a kick-ass Buttercup train Wonder Woman for battle (Robin Wright, as Gadot’s aunt, was another very big highlight of the film).

I’ll wrap this up before I just ramble on for ages. I thoroughly enjoyed Wonder Woman. Is it perfect? No, it has some flaws. It’s definitely a little too long, especially in the middle during the WWI stuff. Other than that, though, I can’t really think of anything much more negative to say. It turns into a pretty typical superhero vs baddie showdown at the end but that’s what we want from these movies. And it’s a great showdown! Plus, with it being a female superhero doing the fighting, it did feel somewhat original this time.

Oh, I guess the only other slight negative is that I’m not sure this version of Wonder Woman will quite connect with young girls as the movie is aimed at a slightly older audience. I took my 8-year-old to it and she liked it & definitely liked the character but I do know she was a bit bored throughout the middle war segment. However, I don’t think it’s too big of a deal as I think it’s a film that young fans will grow into & like even more as they get a bit older. I don’t think it’s inappropriate for young kids (a couple “procreation” jokes will go right over their heads) – younger audiences will just lose interest a bit during certain parts of this 2 hour 21 minute film. Most importantly, though, this is a female character I’m very happy for my daughter to be seeing in a movie. Wonder Woman is strong & independent with values & beliefs she’s willing to fight for. It feels really good to know that the girls of this generation are starting to get more & more positive female role models in films but I do also hope that we can eventually stop focusing so much on gender and just enjoy a movie because it’s good or an actress because she happens to be really great in a role. There’s absolutely no reason to not take your sons to this film as well as your daughters. Surely any boy will want to see one of the best superhero films of recent years.

My Rating: 8/10

Oh! And I love Wonder Woman’s theme… 🙂

My Top Ten Morgan Freeman Movies

Happy Birthday to Morgan Freeman, who is 80 today.

Freeman is easily one of my favorite actors. Who doesn’t love Morgan Freeman??? Plus that VOICE of his! Perfect for God in Bruce Almighty. And just thinking of his Shawshank Redemption narration gives me happy goosebumps.

Looking at this list, he’s only been in one movie that I really love. But I’ve seen quite a few of his films as he’s one of those actors who will make me watch a movie that I might not have watched if it starred someone else. It’s a pretty mixed bag – he doesn’t stick to any one genre. I think he’s fun when in comedies but probably like him most in things such as Shawshank & Million Dollar Baby.

Here are My Top Ten Morgan Freeman Movies (not performances) counting down to my favorite:

The Rest That I’ve Seen:

22. Hard Rain
21. Chain Reaction
20. Nurse Betty
19. Dreamcatcher
18. Wanted
17. Now You See Me
16. Gone Baby Gone
15. War Of The Worlds
14. Bruce Almighty
13. Outbreak
12. Ted 2
11. Lucy

Top Ten:

10. TIE: Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves & Driving Miss Daisy

9. Oblivion

8. Seven

7. Unforgiven

6. The Bucket List

5. Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy

4. Deep Impact

3. Million Dollar Baby

2. The Lego Movie

1. The Shawshank Redemption

Saw But Don’t Remember Well So Can’t Include Them:
Kiss The Girls
Glory
Lean On Me

Some I’ve Not Seen:
Teachers, That Was Then… This Is Now, Clean And Sober, Johnny Handsome, The Bonfire Of The Vanities, Lucky Number Slevin, Evan Almighty, Invictus, Red, Last Vegas, Olympus Has Fallen, London Has Fallen, Transcendence, Now You See Me 2, Ben-Hur, Going In Style

Million Dollar Baby (2004) IMDB Top 250 Review

Happy Birthday to Clint Eastwood, who turns 87 today. This time last year, I did a week of Clint Eastwood reviews (you can see My Top Ten Clint Eastwood Movies HERE, updated to now include Million Dollar Baby).

I still wouldn’t exactly call Eastwood a favorite actor of mine but I’m glad that I finally explored some of his biggest films last year as I liked them a hell of a lot more than I expected to. Million Dollar Baby was still a big omission, however, so I’m glad I’ve finally watched that now as well. And, again, I like another Eastwood movie far more than I was expecting to! And, of course, the awesome Morgan Freeman is in it as well (who I would call a favorite actor & whose birthday is tomorrow – guess what Top Ten List I’ll be doing tomorrow…). 😉 Okay – I’ll shut up & review the movie now.

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Based on Rope Burns: Stories from the Corner by F.X. Toole

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman, Jay Baruchel, Mike Colter, Lucia Rijker, Brían F. O’Byrne, Anthony Mackie, Margo Martindale, Riki Lindhome, Michael Peña, Benito Martinez, Grant L. Roberts

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 172 (as of 01/01/13)

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
This film is about an underappreciated boxing trainer, the mistakes that haunt him from his past, and his quest for atonement by helping an underdog amateur boxer achieve her dream of becoming a professional.

My Opinion:

I avoided watching this film for years. I was like “It’s a boxing drama? Pass!”. (Kind of funny that I’ve just watched Rocky for the very first time the same week that I watched this. But I digress). Mainly, though, I avoided this because, when it came out, some annoying assholes decided to spoil the whole damn plot. So I’ve always known exactly how this ends. And that pisses me off. I know it’s not always possible to avoid spoilers but, in the case of this film, there was an uproar since what happens went against the beliefs of some people and they felt the need to warn the public (or something like that) before the film had even been fully released (if I remember correctly). Annoying.

Anyway! This is a great film. I expected to possibly find it contrived (films that try too hard to pull on the heartstrings & just come across as phony piss me off as much as people who spoil films). I expected to not be affected by this film since I knew the whole damn plot already. But it’s a good, heartfelt drama that came across as quite genuine and had fantastic actors playing likeable characters you wanted to see succeed. I sure as shit can’t say I exactly “enjoyed” it (holy hell! I don’t do well with serious dramas). But it’s not the overhyped Oscar bait I had kind of feared it might be.

Come to think of it, I guess this means I should also update My Top Ten Best Picture Oscar Winners list at some point with both this & Rocky. That list includes all 50(ish) Best Pictures that I’ve seen and I have to say that both these damn boxing dramas potentially break into my top ten. Easily top 20 for sure. I’ll have to think about it some more! They’re certainly my favorite boxing movies (Raging Bull didn’t thrill me…). 😉

It’s a shame that Hilary Swank kind of disappeared into bad movie obscurity after this & Boys Don’t Cry (a movie that manages to be even more depressing than this one). Clearly these sort of heart wrenching dramas did suit her but you can’t blame her for trying other things – Starring in nothing but these sort of films would probably mess with your head eventually. I really liked her character in this. Her enthusiasm and single-minded determination are infectious in the same sort of way that made us all like Rocky Balboa and to want him to succeed.

Swank & Eastwood make a great team and their relationship by the end of the film is beautiful & heartbreaking. Million Dollar Baby probably gets somewhat ignored compared to Eastwood’s full-on “guy” movies & bromances but, as great as I think he was in dude movies with the likes of Lee Van Cleef, his mentor/protégée and ultimately father/daughter-like relationship here is a welcome change (and just as good & valid as the bromances). Swank & Eastwood make this film.

But there’s still some male camaraderie for anyone needing that as well. Freeman plays Eastwood’s ex-boxer friend (and… co-owner? or maybe just a trainer living in the gym Eastwood owns. feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). Anyway, I love Freeman and he’s as great as always and another reason why I ended up liking this film much more than I’d been expecting. There’s a story on the side involving skinny little Jay Baruchel wanting to be a boxer & Freeman taking him under his wing. I really liked this story as well (plus that cool confrontation involving Freeman & one of the young boxers). The main story involving Swank is of course the most important but it was good to get a bit more to the movie besides just that.

I just have to end by saying: Oh man – I hated the f*%k out of Swank’s family in this! Which made her character all the more likeable. To put a horrible upbringing behind her & to try to live her dream is the uplifting sort of message people look for in a good story. Which is another reason why I think some people were probably angered by the ending of this film. What IS the ultimate message at the end? But life isn’t always fair & a Hollywood ending in real life is rare. I do watch movies for escapism and do prefer a happy ending but I also can’t get angry at a movie telling a story in a realistic way. I think some people felt cheated by this film. I think we were given a good film with powerful performances & a message of determination and friendship. It’s not an easy watch but it’s a good film I’m glad to have finally seen.

My Rating: 8/10

Ghost In The Shell (1995) Blind Spot Review

Ghost In The Shell (1995)
攻殻機動隊
Gōsuto in za sheru / Kōkaku kidōtai (Ghost in the Shell / Mobile Armored Riot Police)

Directed by Mamoru Oshii

Based on Ghost in the Shell by Masamune Shirow

Starring Voice Actors: Atsuko Tanaka, Akio Ōtsuka, Iemasa Kayumi

Running time: 82 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Ghost in the Shell follows the hunt of the public security agency Section 9 for a mysterious hacker known as the Puppet Master. With the assistance of her team, Motoko Kusanagi tracks and finds their suspect, only to be drawn into a complex sequence of political intrigue and a cover-up as to the identity and goals of the Puppet Master.

My Opinion:

So this was an “alternate” Blind Spot choice of mine (I guess I need to kick one of the main ones off the list now). I decided to watch this because a) the live-action American remake was out recently and b) I noticed the running time of only 82 minutes! Okay – the running time was the biggest reason. Why are so many “worthy” films at least 2.5 hours long? I’m too busy!

I’m glad I did finally get around to watching this. I really enjoyed it. I do want to see the Scarlett Johansson one at some point too just to see how they recreated certain scenes but know that it will of course pale greatly in comparison to the original. I’d be interested to hear from those of you who’ve seen both and from fans of the original.


I’m not going to write a lot about this film as I don’t have much knowledge when it comes to Japanese anime (other than my beloved Studio Ghibli). It’s a genre I’m becoming more & more interested in and want to explore by at least watching some of the most well known stuff. I watched Akira as a Blind Spot choice last year (I decided to dive in at the deep end!). Akira isn’t quite like anything I’d seen before and I loved it (it was my favorite of my twelve 2016 Blind Spot films).

I think Ghost In The Shell is fantastic too and I can understand why it’s so popular but, unfortunately, I wasn’t as blown away as I was with Akira. I think a lot of that is probably thanks to me seeing things like The Matrix and even Ex Machina before seeing Ghost, meaning that Ghost feels almost dated now even though it came beforehand and clearly had a big influence on a lot of later films.

Okay – I don’t think “dated” is at all the right word to use… The animation is beautiful and the story is probably even more relevant now than in 1995. I think anyone who enjoys this type of science fiction would definitely like this film if they haven’t seen it. I suppose it’s just that the themes in Ghost In The Shell have been explored in loads of entertainment over the years (and especially in the years that followed its release), meaning that it doesn’t feel quite as original in 2017 as it will have 22 years ago. But it’s still a damn good science fiction anime & worthy of its status as a classic in this genre. There’s a lot of iconic imagery & an amazing musical montage (I’ve included a clip of this below). I’m happy to say that Ghost In The Shell was well worth my time & a worthy addition to my list of Blind Spot movies.

My Rating: 8/10

Oh, and I love this Mondo poster created by artist Martin Ansin

My Top Ten John C. Reilly Movies 

Happy Belated Birthday to John C. Reilly, who turned 52 on Wednesday.

I dedicate this Top Ten to blogger Tom (aka Thomas J), who has done a lot of reviews of Reilly’s films. I apologize to you all as I’ve not been able to visit your blogs this year while I’ve had to cut way back on blogging but, when I did sometimes manage to comment on Tom’s John C. Reilly reviews (ages ago now), I believe my comment was usually “What? John C. Reilly was in this movie?!?“.

And in making this Top Ten, I realized that I indeed have no memory of Reilly being in half of the films of his that I’ve seen. So, for this list, I’m going to indicate after the title whether or not I remember John C. Reilly being in the film. Hopefully John doesn’t read my blog… It’s probably not much of a compliment to say I hardly ever notice him. Sorry, Mr. Reilly! You ARE Mister Cellophane, you know. 😉

Here are My Top Ten John C. Reilly Movies and whether or not I remember him being in them, counting down to my favorite film. Some of these are uncredited cameos (so you can’t blame me for forgetting him!). Here we go…

The Rest That I’ve Seen:

19. Cyrus – Yes
18. Nightwatch – No
17. Dark Water – No
16. Days Of Thunder – No
15. The Good Girl – Kind Of
14. Tenacious D In The Pick Of Destiny – No
13. Life After Beth – Haha. No, and it’s fairly recent! Shit, he’s even in a picture I used in my review…
12. The River Wild – No
11. Dolores Claiborne – No

TOP TEN:

10. Chicago
Do I remember John C. Reilly In This? Yes

9. Anger Management
Do I remember John C. Reilly In This? No

8. The Perfect Storm
Do I remember John C. Reilly In This? No

7. The Aviator
Do I remember John C. Reilly In This? No

6. Boogie Nights
Do I remember John C. Reilly In This? Yes

5. Magnolia
Do I remember John C. Reilly In This? Yes

4. Never Been Kissed
Do I remember John C. Reilly In This? Kind Of

3. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
Do I remember John C. Reilly In This? Umm. Not really.

2. Wreck-It Ralph
Do I remember John C. Reilly In This? Yes

1. Guardians Of The Galaxy
Do I remember John C. Reilly In This? Yes

Saw But Don’t Remember The Movie, Let Alone Reilly:
Casualties Of War
The Hours

Some Of The Many I’ve Not Seen But Wasn’t Aware That He Was In Anyway Except For That One Where He’s The Only One On The Movie’s Poster & He’s Posing Like Jim Morrison:
We’re Not Angels, Hard Eight, The Thin Red Line, For Love Of The Game, Gangs Of New York, A Prairie Home Companion, Talladega Nights, Year Of The Dog, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, The Promotion, Step Brothers, 9, Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, We Need To Talk About Kevin, The Dictator, Anchorman 2, When Marnie Was There, The Lobster, Sing, Kong: Skull Island

Alien: Covenant (2017) Review

Alien: Covenant (2017)

**Spoiler-free ranting below**

Directed by Ridley Scott

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.

My Opinion:

I’ll keep this brief and of course spoiler-free as I know Alien: Covenant isn’t yet out in America.

I’m a huge fan of the first two Alien films. I’ve never talked about them on this blog because I’m not a good writer and I find it hard to review the films I love the most (I made an attempt to review favorites, which I called CPD Classics, but gave up after a while as it took too long to write those). I can’t find the right words to express the awesomeness of those first two films. The H.R. Giger designs (above all else), the mood, the horror, the mystery, the action of the second film plus a great set of characters, Hicks (hottie), the knife/hand thing and, of course, a kick-ass female. Those first two films are perfection. I suppose that’s why every Alien film since those has been such a huge disappointment. How can you top those? You can’t. And Alien: Covenant is yet another massive disappointment.

I didn’t read any reviews at all before seeing this but the main comment I couldn’t help but see several times on Twitter was that “it starts out okay & almost feels like an Alien film but then turns into Prometheus 2“. That’s exactly right. If you liked Prometheus, you’ll probably like Covenant. If you hated Prometheus, I doubt you’ll like this one. I’m no fan of Prometheus. To be honest, I barely remember it now as I never watched it again after going to the cinema to see it. I wouldn’t say I hated it as I will probably always watch each & every movie that explores the Alien universe as it’s an overall idea that I absolutely love but, man – I wish they’d stop f*^king things up so much!

You know what? I actually think I like Prometheus slightly more now. Compared to Covenant, it’s probably the better of the two. Yikes. It’s like having to choose between two horrible candidates & having to go with the lesser of two evils. Prometheus kept things slightly more simple whereas Scott feels like he’s aimlessly & pointlessly overcomplicating things now. The mystery of the alien race in the first film is a big part of what makes the entire Alien universe so horrifying. Stop trying to explain everything. Stop showing us too much. Stop all the pretentiousness. Make an Alien film. Stop making Prometheus films, dammit. How are so many filmmakers & studios so damn clueless as to what the public actually want?

Okay – maybe it’s time to stop making these films altogether. Or perhaps let someone else take over again (Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 looks fairly promising so far). Either way, I’m pretty good at blocking things out of my mind when I want to and these sequels & prequels have yet to ruin the legacy of the first two films for me. But I grew up with the first two during my early teen film-loving beginnings. How much are these newer films damaging those first ones for the current generation?

I can’t be bothered with this “review”. I’m just annoyed. BUT, I did go in with very low expectations (I’m not stupid). Therefore, I’m not as annoyed as I seem since I got what I pretty much expected. Like with Prometheus, I didn’t exactly hate this film. I just try to think of these films as a separate sort of thing (kind of like with the Star Wars prequels). They mostly suck but there are moments that I enjoy thanks to my love of the original films (the moments that feel like an Alien film & not a Prometheus film and there are a few of these, luckily). Michael Fassbender (hottie) is very good. He steals the show. I just wish they could’ve made us care about this set of characters as much those in Aliens (but that wasn’t Scott). Other than Fassbender, everyone is very one-dimensional & their relationships felt forced for added drama (most of the those on the Covenant are married to someone else on the ship – what’s with all the romantic connections?).

Oops – I was trying to end with only positive comments to help explain why I’m not giving this a lower rating after all my bitching. Um. There’s a Xenomorph. There’s a facehugger. There’s bursting. That’s why the score isn’t lower. God I’m shallow. If they make another one of these movies, I know I’ll still watch the damn thing even though it’s 99% likely that at least 75% of it will suck. 😉 But if I had to rank all these now (not counting those AVP ones), Covenant is probably at the very bottom. That’s so not what I wanted. Why do I continue to live in the hope that there could ever be another good Alien film?

My Rating: 6.5/10*

*I’m being way too generous. Because it’s an Alien film. Sort of. But not really. Damn.

My Top Ten Cate Blanchett Movies

Happy Birthday (soon) to Cate Blanchett, who turns 48 on Sunday.

I like Cate Blanchett (but not as much as Val Kilmer does…). Putting together this top ten, though, I see I’ve missed loads of her biggest starring films! Hmm. Well, I guess I can add to this list if I see some more.

I’m going to be annoying & include an uncredited cameo as well as her doing the voice on an English dub of a foreign film since those are two movies I like. I’ve listed the biggest of the many I’ve not seen so I’ll gladly take recommendations on what to watch of those. 🙂

So here are My Top Ten Cate Blanchett Movies that I’ve seen, ranked from least favorite to favorite (not by performance). She’s a great actress but I probably can’t choose the best performance until I’ve seen more of her films.

The Remainder That I’ve Seen:

Pushing Tin
The Gift
Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull
How To Train Your Dragon 2

TOP TEN:

10. The Talented Mr. Ripley (but I could really do with re-watching this)

9. TIE: Notes On A Scandal & Carol

8. Cinderella

7. Elizabeth

6. Hanna

5. Hot Fuzz

4. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

3. The Aviator

2. Ponyo

1. The Lord Of The Rings & Hobbit Films

Some I’ve Not Seen:
An Ideal Husband, Bandits, Charlotte Gray, The Shipping News, Veronica Guerin, The Missing, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, Babel, The Good German, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, I’m Not There, Robin Hood, Blue Jasmine, The Monuments Men, Truth

One for Val:

A Dog’s Purpose (2017) Review

A Dog’s Purpose (2017)

Directed by Lasse Hallström

Based on A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Britt Robertson, Josh Gad, KJ Apa, Juliet Rylance, John Ortiz, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Peggy Lipton

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A dog looks to discover his purpose in life over the course of several lifetimes and owners.

My Opinion:

So, yeah – I clearly went to this with the family over the weekend. You know what? It’s not bad! For a family movie. Well, it’s actually not bad for a movie in general. Hubby & I often say that they don’t seem to do as many non-animated “family films” nowadays. We had so many growing up in the Eighties! I miss them. And now that I have a young kid, I want more of them again.

My main concern beforehand was that this movie would be overly sentimental or, even WORSE and a massive pet peeve of mine, that it would be preachy. I hate movies that shove their values down your throat! Luckily, A Dog’s Purpose doesn’t do this. It tells the story in a straightforward way and it’s obvious message (of what things are truly the most important in life) isn’t at all heavy-handed. It comes fairly close to being like all my beloved 80’s family films I saw on TV all the time growing up. Plus, of course, it has cute dogs. Who doesn’t love cute wittle doggies?!

I just have to say something that may be spoiler territory if you know nothing at all but is known if you’ve seen the trailer or read the synopsis: There are several dogs (five, I think) because the dog keeps getting reincarnated. It was cool seeing him as different dogs (always voiced by Josh Gad) and with different owners/families. I like the sort of setup where you get several different stories in a movie and it worked really well in this film. Anyway – someone started sobbing the first time the dog died and I was thinking “I do hope they realize this is gonna happen over & over again.” Lol. Not to be cold-hearted but, seriously, you must know what you’re getting into if you go to a movie where a dog keeps getting reincarnated… 😉 (That person cried every time)

A Dog’s Purpose was a pleasant surprise and a nice return to an old-fashioned family friendly film with a positive message that occurs naturally instead of feeling forced. Will you enjoy it even if you don’t have a family? I think any dog lover certainly will. And with several different stories, you’ll find one or two that you connect with the most. I liked the main story focusing on the dog as a golden retriever named Bailey, which is the personality the dog continues to identify with and remember through all his lifetimes, and the story where he’s a corgi named Tino belonging to a lonely college girl. I guarantee you’ll love Bailey, no matter which form he takes. And as an added plus, the human characters are likable as well!

My Rating: 7/10

FYI – I’d heard nothing of the controversy surrounding this film due to a video of alleged animal abuse that made the rounds just as this movie was released in the US (maybe that’s why it has come out so much later in the UK). Anyway, as with most fake news, I’m sure that faked video was spread around far more than the story of the investigation that showed it was re-edited to make it look like animal abuse. Here’s the story (from Los Angeles Daily News). Hopefully no one’s career was ruined. We all care about animals being treated well but I often wish humans cared half as much about other human beings as they do animals.