Kung Fu Panda 3, The House Of Magic, Rio 2 & Muppets Most Wanted Movie Reviews

I have four quickie kids’ film reviews for you today! I promise they’ll be quick. Why? Because I barely remember three of them.

I’ve just seen Kung Fu Panda 3 so that review will be a little longer than the rest. You see, I get a little annoyed when I look at the pages on my blog & see that I still have some movies that I watched but never reviewed on the 2014 page & the 2015 page (never mind the 2016 page! I’m way behind). It’s especially annoying that the only movies that I actually went to the cinema to see but then didn’t review were these three 2014 kids’ movies. They were so “meh” that I guess I couldn’t be bothered.

So, here we go! I’ll finally say something about them two years later. I’m limiting myself to one paragraph each for the three older ones (plus my kid’s opinion on each). But let’s start with the longer review for the most current film (and by far the best of the four)…

Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)

Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson & Alessandro Carloni

Starring: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, J. K. Simmons, James Hong, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Bryan Cranston, Kate Hudson

From: DreamWorks Animation

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Continuing his “legendary adventures of awesomeness”, Po must face two hugely epic, but different threats: one supernatural and the other a little closer to his home.

My Opinion:

I actually thought this movie was really good. As far as DreamWorks movies go, at least. I’ve stated here before how I see DreamWorks movies as strictly kids’ films while I view Pixar & most Disney ones as just being great films overall for every age group. Like, I wouldn’t feel weird discussing both WALL-E & Citizen Kane in the same breath. Except, I’ve not seen Citizen Kane… Never mind.

What I liked about Kung Fu Panda 3 is that, while it has a message as does every kids’ movie, it didn’t let the message get in the way of the movie being fun and actually making kids laugh. The previous movie we went to as a family was Disney’s Zootropolis (aka Zootopia) & I did NOT expect to think a DreamWorks film was far better than a Disney one! But that’s the case this time.

Kung Fu Panda 3 hasn’t forgotten that, first & foremost, it’s meant to be aimed at kids. I felt that Zootropolis completely forgot this while trying to drive its message home with a convoluted plot and uninteresting characters. But Kung Fu Panda 3 isn’t dumbed down for kids, either, which is a big pet peeve of mine. Kids aren’t stupid & shouldn’t be treated that way. The jokes were all age-appropriate without being dumb but also not being too grown-up like things such as the Godfather references in Zootropolis.

I have to admit that Kung Fu Panda 3 was even enjoyable to me as an adult who probably wouldn’t watch many animated films not made by Disney or Pixar if I didn’t have a kid. I do love Jack Black (I don’t care about the haters!) and think he’s been perfect as Po in all these films. I think all the characters are strong & really like the setting and the look. In this one, the baby pandas are adorable & even had grumpy me going “aww”. The baddie in this one was also pretty cool, as were his storyline & all the chi stuff. Plus I’m a sucker for the color green. Here’s the baddie:

I’d even go so far as to say that I like the Kung Fu Panda movies the most out of all the ones made by DreamWorks. I find Shrek a little overrated and I’d say that the How To Train Your Dragon films are possibly their “best” work but they’ve never really clicked with me at all (or the kid). But all three of us have enjoyed each of the three Kung Fu Panda movies.

My Rating: 7/10

My Kid’s Opinion: She liked this movie a lot & giggled through the whole thing. She was far more enthusiastic about this one than she was after walking out of Zootropolis, which she called “not very good”. Her favorite part was Po doing his “chitty chitty chat chat” thing that she’s been annoying us with ever since (thanks a lot, Jack Black!). She also loved the baby pandas, especially when they ate everything in sight. She’s not watched the first two films since we went to see them but this one has renewed her interest (and mine!) in watching those again. I’d happily pick them up on DVD now – I think this is a very solid trilogy from DreamWorks.

The House Of Magic (2013) (US Title: Thunder And The House Of Magic)

Directed by Jeremy Degruson & Ben Stassen

Starring: Cinda Adams, George Babbit, Murray Blue, Kathleen Browers, Joey Camen, Grant George, Shanelle Gray, Nina Grillo, Kyle Hebert

From: nWave Pictures, StudioCanal

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The House of Magic is a 2013 3D Belgian-French computer-animated fantasy-comedy film. The film focuses on an abandoned young cat who seeks shelter in the home of an old, retired magician with his automatons and gizmos.

My Opinion:

I admit to not fully remembering the plot of this strange little Belgian/French film (which was in English but I assume originally in French?) two years later. But I clearly remember the kind old magician, the cat he adopts, and the man’s REALLY cool magical toys (automatons and gizmos) such as that adorable lightbulb dude in the photo at the very top of this post. I also remember some great songs being used quite prominently (The Lovecats by The Cure & the always catchy House Of Fun by Madness). It’s not some big Disney, DreamWorks, etc production and that does show but I still thought that the characters, the music, and especially those inventive toys were pretty damn good! I wonder if those who made this have gone on to do more animated films? I’d like to see this sort of thing with a bigger budget. It’s a very sweet & charming film from what I remember. I wouldn’t complain at being made to watch it again.

My Rating: 6/10

My Kid’s Opinion: She doesn’t now remember much of this but does remember all those really cool toys that I mentioned above. She said she’d like to watch it again too (fine with me – I’ll pick up the DVD if I see it).

Rio 2 (2014)

Directed by Carlos Saldanha

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Andy García, Bruno Mars, Jemaine Clement, Kristin Chenoweth, George Lopez, Tracy Morgan, will.i.am, Jamie Foxx

From: Blue Sky Studios

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
It’s a jungle out there for Blu, Jewel and their three kids after they’re hurtled from Rio de Janeiro to the wilds of the Amazon. As Blu tries to fit in, he goes beak-to-beak with the vengeful Nigel, and meets his father-in-law.

My Opinion:

Wow. I really remember very little of this except that I think it was about saving the rainforest, right? I don’t remember the first one either – I only know that these Rio movies are very bright & colorful and have some big musical numbers that are okay. This is from Blue Sky, whose movies are quite similar to DreamWorks in that I see them strictly as films aimed at kids and only truly enjoyed by kids. The only Blue Sky one I really liked was The Peanuts Movie but that’s because I’m obsessed with Peanuts & the movie stayed very true to its spirit. Don’t get me wrong – these Rio movies aren’t bad. They’re very pretty to look at & not the worst way to spend a couple of hours with your kid but I don’t think they’re very memorable. I’d have to say that the Ice Age films are a stronger series from this studio as the characters are better. Also, could they get a more annoying set of voice actors for Rio? Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Leslie Mann & Kristin Chenoweth(!!)?? Ugh. I think I remember Eisenberg’s bird kids in this being quite cute, though…

My Rating: 5.5/10

My Kid’s Opinion: She says she liked this although she couldn’t remember the specifics of it now. She said “I liked the pink frog!” (Ugh. Kristin Chenoweth.) I think it’s proof that the Rio films are pretty & enjoyable enough while being watched but are ultimately forgettable.

Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

Directed by James Bobin

Starring: Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey, The Muppets

From: Walt Disney Pictures

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
While on a grand world tour, The Muppets find themselves wrapped into an European jewel-heist caper headed by a Kermit the Frog look-alike and his dastardly sidekick.

My Opinion:

I grew up with The Muppet Show so I of course love The Muppets. Who doesn’t?! The Muppets movie in 2011 (2012 here) was pretty good. It was fun and managed to kind of capture the spirit of the original show (plus I like Amy Adams). But I found Muppets Most Wanted really disappointing even though it was great, as always, to see these beloved characters. The problem was the messy, boring story and the fact that I really didn’t like the main real-life stars. Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell & Tina Fey? How do you go from Amy Adams to some TV stars? Never been a fan of any of them (in fact, who is Ty Burrell anyway? That prick in Dawn Of The Dead??). I just think they made a real mess of this movie – I’ll stick to watching my DVDs of the original show.

My Rating: 5.5/10

My Kid’s Opinion: She remembers this one more than I thought she would! She remembers the plot & the evil Kermit with the mole. She likes The Muppets & says she liked this movie. Maybe I should give it another try…

This is her favorite Muppet-related thing. I agree:

**I’d like to finally take this opportunity to draw attention to a favorite blogger of mine here who does fantastic paintings of The Muppets (and loads of other awesome artwork with a focus on pop culture – but I first started following him because of The Muppets). Please have a look at Scott’s site at Mojoswork.com. You can see all his Muppets artwork HERE.

Scott – I’m sorry it took me two years to finally get around to doing this review! Let me know if you want me to add any more info or if you want me to include a specific Muppets image you’ve done. 🙂 Oh! Scott does a lot of wrestling & sports stuff as well and I thought his History Of The WWF was absolutely amazing despite knowing nothing of that sort of thing myself (MIB – you should really check this out).

I figure I should end this with some Madness since I have House Of Fun in my head after talking about The House Of Magic. I miss this era of music!

Advertisements

Exam, Paul Williams Still Alive & The To Do List Movie Reviews

Happy Bank Holiday Monday to those in the UK who won’t be reading this since you’re not at work pretending to work while actually reading blogs! Then I think you Americans have next Monday off? So, since no one will be around the next couple of weeks, I figured it was time to do a few more mini-reviews of movies that I didn’t give enough of a shit about to review when I watched them a year ago. Sounds like fun, right?! 😉 Here we go…

IMG_9874

Exam (2009)

Directed by Stuart Hazeldine

Starring: Adar Beck, Chris Carey, Gemma Chan, Nathalie Cox, John Lloyd Fillingham, Chuk Iwuji, Luke Mably, Pollyanna McIntosh, Jimi Mistry, Colin Salmon

My Opinion:

Exam is the best of these three movies, which doesn’t say much for the other two. I’ll say that Exam had a brilliant concept and I did appreciate that. It started out pretty great but got too far-fetched & silly by the end, which was disappointing since it had a lot of potential. I’m feeling lazy today so I’ll let Wikipedia give you the set-up:

The film is set in present-time United Kingdom in an alternate history. Eight candidates dress for what appears to be an employment assessment exam; they enter a room and sit down at individual desks. Each desk contains a question paper with the word “candidate”, followed by a number, from one to eight. The Invigilator, a representative of the company named DATAPREV, explains that the exam is 80 minutes and consists of only one question, but there are three rules: they must not talk to the Invigilator or the armed guard at the door, spoil their paper, or leave the room. If they do, they will be disqualified.

That sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? And it is – it’s why I watched this movie. And it gets even more interesting when the exam starts and the candidates discover the one question. The state of the world in this alternate history, which we learn a little about as the movie progresses, does help to explain the lengths that these eight candidates are willing to go to in order to get this job. But not quite… As to be expected, there are a couple of pricks who you’re meant to immediately dislike but none of the characters are very well developed and you don’t care enough about any of them to really care who will get the job at the end.

Had the characters been better instead of so one-dimensional and had the story been less far-fetched by the end, I’d have liked this one a lot more. I did really enjoy the mystery involved with the whole thing. It was fun seeing the candidates trying various ways to figure out what the hell was going on with the bizarre exam. In a world (shit, did I just use the “in a world” phrase?) where times are desperate, as in the story’s alternate history, you can almost believe that these candidates will do anything to get this very important job. However, the movie doesn’t manage to make us believe that “this could really happen”, which sucks as I think it could. Exam reminded me a lot of The Purge, which is another movie that I thought had a brilliant concept & so many ideas to be explored but never were. Like The Purge, Exam feels like a wasted opportunity (although I really liked The Purge and find myself always sticking up for it).

Don’t let my negativity discourage you if you like the sound of this movie. I think I may just be too picky in always expecting movies to have some deeper sort of meaning. If you don’t think about it too hard & are able to suspend disbelief, you may get some enjoyment out of Exam.

My Rating: 6/10

Paul Williams Still Alive (2011)

Directed by Stephen Kessler

Starring: Well, mainly just Paul Williams, his wife, and the director but there’s plenty of old footage with famous celebrities to watch. 

My Opinion:

What a shitty documentary. Hell, I think I could make a better documentary. The trouble isn’t the subject as I think Paul Williams is fascinating enough to make for an interesting documentary. But god the director, Stephen Kessler, is annoying! This reminded me a bit of the John Hughes documentary, Don’t You Forget About Me (which I reviewed HERE). In both films, the makers almost feel more like stalkers than like proper filmmakers.

I’ll say that Paul Williams comes across a bit grumpy in the documentary but that’s probably understandable as the director pretty much spends the whole film talking about how Paul Williams used to be a pretty big star but now he’s nothing (which isn’t true at all, especially since Daft Punk soon after declared their love for him & worked with him on their amazing Random Access Memories album). It’s ridiculous as Paul Williams has had a longer and FAR more successful career than Kessler (his only other movie you’ll have heard of is the crappy National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation).

As for Paul Williams, I know some people here probably know nothing about him although you may recognize his face. He was (well, still is) mainly a singer-songwriter but also an actor whose most famous work was in the Seventies. He wrote songs for people such as Barbara Streisand (Evergreen) and The Carpenters (We’ve Only Just Begun & Rainy Days And Mondays). Perhaps his most famous song, though, is The Rainbow Connection from The Muppet Movie (it’s certainly my favorite & in my list of My Top Ten Happy Songs). He was also in Smokey And The Bandit and the spectacularly mad Brian De Palma film Phantom Of The Paradise, which I reviewed HERE. Williams plays an evil record executive in Phantom, which is a mental “horror musical” that I enjoyed so much that I decided to watch this documentary soon after. Bah! Rubbish. Watch Phantom instead.

It’s hard to know what to rate this as it IS worth checking out if you’re interested in Paul Williams and don’t know much about him. There are plenty of old clips with lots of famous celebrities & the film is almost worth watching for that alone. Don’t expect the most in-depth documentary ever, though, and be prepared to feel as annoyed by the director as Williams sometimes clearly is. I’m glad I watched it but would like to see a better documentary about Paul Williams.

My Rating: 6/10

(okay rating more for the fact that Williams is an interesting character than for the quality of the documentary)

The To Do List (2013)

Directed by Maggie Carey

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Rachel Bilson, Johnny Simmons, Bill Hader, Alia Shawkat, Sarah Steele, Andy Samberg, Scott Porter, Connie Britton

My Opinion:

How can a totally filthy sex comedy be so BORING and completely unfunny in any way? What a load of shit.

I’m thinking that maybe I truly don’t like Aubrey Plaza. I don’t have much experience with her (she’s in that Parks & Recreation thing, right? Never seen it). I didn’t mind her in the slightly pretentious Safety Not Guaranteed but then she mostly just got on my nerves in the disappointing Life After Beth. Well, I’d have to say I pretty much hated her in this. I don’t know if that’s entirely her fault, though, as I can’t say I liked anyone in this plus the movie is just plain bad. I honestly can’t think of a less funny “comedy” that I’ve seen in recent years. It’s almost as bad as a Jason Friedberg/Aaron Seltzer “parody” movie.

(Just go play with yourself instead of watching this movie – you’ll have way more fun)

So, in this movie, perfect student Plaza decides she wants to lose her virginity & do every sexual thing that she can before heading off to college. Or something like that – I don’t remember much of this movie now. Anyway, here’s her sexual “to do” list:

I wouldn’t call myself a prude so my issues with the movie have nothing at all to do with the subject matter. I do enjoy the occasional sex comedy. But what I require is for them to actually be funny. I mean, WTF is this shit?:

Aubrey Plaza’s character is beyond annoying in this movie & I can’t imagine anyone wanting to do any of the things on that above “to do list” with her. The only funny thing, looking at that list, is how it says “British?” next to “teabagging“. lol. Okay – that’s kind of funny. But the rest of this movie is NOT. This movie can go do all of the above things to itself. Yeah… Go fuck yourself, movie!

My Rating: 3/10

Now here’s the rather epic, totally 70’s prog rock-y Touch, Paul Williams’ song with Daft Punk on Random Access Memories:

Odd Thomas (2013) Review

IMG_7720.JPG

Odd Thomas (2013)

Directed by Stephen Sommers

Based on Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

Starring:
Anton Yelchin
Willem Dafoe
Addison Timlin
Nico Tortorella

Running time: 93 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In a California desert town, a short-order cook with clairvoyant abilities encounters a mysterious man with a link to dark, threatening forces.

IMG_7760.JPG

My Opinion:

Well, I have to use the word: This movie is certainly “odd”. It’s also not exactly “good”. However, I kind of liked it and am going to have some affection for it since I read A LOT of Dean Koontz books. Odd Thomas is one of his better books and certainly one of the best characters he’s created. Which is why I suppose there’s a load of Odd Thomas books now… When did that happen?! I only knew of three. I read the first two and bought the third (which I then lost and still can’t find anywhere – I need to find it so I can continue!). Anyway, the first book IS really good and this movie doesn’t capture how great the characters are but I appreciate that they made the effort. At least it sucks less than most the other truly awful Koontz adaptations.

IMG_7747.JPG

I’ll be honest – if you’ve not read Odd Thomas, I don’t recommend this movie. If you’ve read it, I think you’ll at least enjoy seeing Odd Thomas (the character – it’s his actual name) onscreen and I did really like Anton Yelchin as Odd even though he’s not exactly what I’d pictured. I’ve liked Yelchin since the underrated Charlie Bartlett & think he has the right sort of quirkiness to play Odd. Addison Timlin was also good as his girlfriend Stormy Llewellyn and they had a very nice chemistry together, although they came nowhere near capturing the relationship as well as in the book (through no fault of their own – you’re just never going to get as much character development in a movie). The humor in the movie feels a little out of place and just doesn’t work the way it worked so well in the book. And then there’s the strange “supernatural” stuff… Well, it comes across as quite cheesy in the movie and, if you’ve not read the book, I think you might laugh at those bits. To be fair, I think it’s probably very hard to get a Dean Koontz movie “right” onscreen. Well, they’ve managed to make some Stephen King stories into excellent films but I suppose he’s more well known and those movies probably have a bigger budget. Odd Thomas feels like a made-for-TV Stephen King movie, basically. I watch EVERYTHING Stephen King-related and know there’s been some truly dodgy adaptations of his work but I still enjoy watching them. I felt exactly the same way watching Koontz’s Odd Thomas. By the way – I think the girl playing Odd’s girlfriend was truly adorable:

IMG_7754.JPG

But I’m not sure how necessary THIS shot was:

IMG_7757.JPG

Summary:

First of all, I highly recommend reading Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz if you at all like supernatural fiction with a bit of horror. He’s Stephen-King-lite. I have a strange relationship with Dean Koontz – his books are an “easy read” and I devour them then totally forget about them but, occasionally, I love one. My favorites are Twilight Eyes & Watchers but Odd Thomas would be close to the top of the list as well, especially as I think it’s one of Koontz’s finest endings for a story as well as one of the best characters he’s created. The movie handles the ending fairly well, which I was worried about them getting right. I think there are some changes from what I remember of the book but nothing that bothered me too much as it was more important to get the characters right and I think the movie did a decent enough job of achieving this. You’ll like it okay if you’ve read the book but you probably won’t if you haven’t (unless you’re not bothered by a low-budget sort of feel). Read the book. THEN watch the movie. Then read a few more Dean Koontz books. Then watch Charlie Bartlett.

My Rating: 6/10

IMG_7749.JPG

I did it! I’ve managed to review movies based on books all week! I’ll attempt to do another tomorrow but at this point don’t have anything written yet. I may do Paperhouse – that was an “odd” film as well! Either that or The Spectacular Now… So far I’ve reviewed The Maze Runner & The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I & of course Odd Thomas. 🙂

In A World… (2013) Review

IMG_7405.JPG

I’ve done a review for the lovely Cara over at Silver Screen Serenade for her NOOOOvember Series. The idea of this series is to talk about movies we expected to love (or at least like in my case) but that ended up leaving us very disappointed.

You can read my entry, a review of In A World…, HERE. Thanks for letting me be a part of this series again, Cara! I’m really not as grumpy as I may appear after writing this review and the one for Interstellar yesterday! 😉

Under The Skin (2013) Review

IMG_6463.JPG

Under The Skin (2013)

Directed by Jonathan Glazer

Starring:
Scarlett Johansson
Jeremy McWilliams
Joe Szula
Kryštof Hádek
Paul Brannigan
Adam Pearson
Michael Moreland
Dave Acton
Jessica Mance

Running time: 108 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Under the Skin is a 2013 British-American science fiction art film directed by Jonathan Glazer, and written by Glazer and Walter Campbell as a loose adaptation of Michel Faber’s 2000 novel of the same name. The film stars Scarlett Johansson as an alien seductress who preys on men in Scotland.

IMG_6470.JPG

My Opinion:

Finally! I finally managed to see this movie after looking everywhere for a cinema actually showing it when it came out and having no luck. I was intrigued because, first of all, it looked like “The Woman Who Fell To Earth“. Being a big David Bowie fan and loving The Man Who Fell To Earth way more than I should, I really wanted to see this. Plus, I found out that the director has made some of my favorite music videos (more about that later). So did Under The Skin live up to all the hype in my head? Yes and no.

IMG_6466.JPG

I mentioned this movie when I reviewed Lucy HERE on Monday and, yes, I think Under The Skin is the superior film of the two although I did really enjoy Lucy. Scarlett Johansson is indeed the true star of both films and, I think, makes both movies far better than they would’ve been with a different actress (and this is coming from someone who has never really been a fan of hers). Under The Skin is a very brave role for her to have taken on and I think, along with Her, it’s paid off and made her a far more respected actress. Under The Skin could have been a massive failure for her and, although there will certainly be plenty of people who hate the film, I think it’s a huge success as far as her professional career is concerned. As for the movie…

IMG_6471.JPG

Yes, it’s weird. Very very weird. It’s exactly what I expected, though, having seen The Man Who Fell To Earth (it does have plenty of similarities so it’s hard to not compare the two). I enjoyed it a lot although I don’t think it’s quite as iconic as the Bowie film (which is NOT a good movie but it’s hard to deny that Bowie is extremely fascinating and certain images from the movie will stay with you). In the same way, there are images from Under The Skin that will never leave my mind. I think that’s a good thing, though. I see that as a sign of a great piece of art. As a coherent and fully rewarding movie-watching experience, however, Under The Skin falls a little short. For as much of a mess as The Man Who Fell To Earth was, we at least had a backstory and knew what Bowie’s alien’s purpose was on Earth. If you’re the type of person who wants a movie with a proper storyline & a satisfying conclusion, Under The Skin may not be for you. If you want a nice piece of art to look at (like, weird & abstract art – not Norman Rockwell or Thomas Kinkade), you MIGHT enjoy Under The Skin.

IMG_6472.JPG

Summary:

Well, I don’t think I really need to say much more than I already have. Basically, Under The Skin is weird and you’ll either love it or you’ll hate it. I found it to be an interesting piece of art and, as the director has made music videos before, perhaps that’s why this feels a little like something in between a music video & a movie. If you want a straightforward movie or even something that has some deep meaning, you won’t get that here (but I may just be too stupid to figure out some “deeper meaning” to this film). You will, however, get a good performance from Johansson and some images that you’ll never get out of your mind. I really enjoyed the film.

My Rating: 7.5/10

IMG_6469.JPG

Here’s a list (thanks Wikipedia) of a few of the music videos made by the director of Under The Skin (Jonathan Glazer). I’ve included two of my favorites (FYI – the UNKLE one isn’t one to watch if there are kids around):

Karmacoma by Massive Attack
The Universal by Blur
Virtual Insanity by Jamiroquai
Karma Police by Radiohead

Plus my two favorites:

Street Spirit (Fade Out) by Radiohead:

Rabbit in Your Headlights by UNKLE ft. Thom Yorke:

**I’ve recently participated in the Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon being hosted by the robust Rob of MovieRob and the zany Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. You can read my contribution, a review of Hitchcock’s 1964 film Marnie, starring Sean Connery & Tippi Hedren, HERE. Thanks, Rob & Zoe, for hosting this blogathon! 🙂

My Top (Eight) Books Read In 2013

Should I even post this?? I only read eight books in 2013. How embarrassing. But, hey – I’m Cinema Parrot, not Book Parrot! Since starting this blog, I’m definitely watching way more movies & reading fewer books. But I ranked all the movies I watched so I guess I might as well do that with the books I read too. You can read my full review for each if you click on the title (except The Good Guy & Miss Peregrine – I’ll try to review those soon). I still have no clue how to go about reviewing books & have to force myself to do them. Movie reviews are easier!

My Top Books Read In 2013 in order from my favorite to least favorite (although none of them were bad):

1. Joyland by Stephen King

20140111-031400 pm.jpg
I know it’s not the BEST book out of these but King is my favorite author and if I’m really honest, I did enjoy this one the most. A simple, easy read unlike his long novels and very light on “horror” but I really liked the characters & the story was fun.

2. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

20140111-031544 pm.jpg
I wasn’t sure where to rank this as it’s hard to think of it separately from the film, which I loved so much that I read the book after seeing it. Since the author also made the movie, it’s the most faithful adaptation I’ve ever seen. Love them both.

3. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

20140111-031710 pm.jpg
Funny & heartbreaking, it’ll be interesting to see what they do with the movie out later this year. Loved the characters in this book even though they seemed wise beyond their years but that’s probably true of those in their situation.

4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

20140111-031856 pm.jpg
I actually gave this a lower rating than the books I’m listing after it but I have to admit that, although the characters were completely unlikeable, it was a great story & very exciting read and has stuck with me longer than the ones below.

5. Wool by Hugh Howey

20140111-040302 pm.jpg
A post-apocalyptic tale where people are forced to live in a large underground silo – This kind of story is very much my type of thing. It’s the first in a trilogy but was a bit overlong & slow in places. However, I’ll definitely be reading the rest as I really want to know what happens & find out more about the story behind why these people have been forced to live this way.

6. Wonder by RJ Palacio

20140111-032150 pm.jpg
The “youngest” book I read, I think this should be (and possibly is?) required reading in schools. It’s the story of a ten-year-old boy with a severe facial deformity who starts school for the first time after years of being home-schooled. We’re told the story from several different viewpoints. It feels very honest being told this way and of course emphasizes the importance of being kind to people.

7. The Good Guy by Dean Koontz

20140111-032252 pm.jpg
I totally forgot that I read this & had to amend my entire post. It also happens to be the last book I read so that’s pretty bad but I’m not surprised – this is how most Dean Koontz books are for me. If I’m going to be totally honest with all of you, I’ll tell you that I’ve read more Koontz books than those by any other author & he’s my big guilty pleasure. I always grab one when I need a “break”, which may not exactly sound like a recommendation. Did I enjoy this one? Yes. Will I remember it in a year? No – it’ll meld together in my mind with 90% of the other Koontz books I’ve read. I better do a full review soon before I have no clue anymore what it was about.

8. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

20140111-035804 pm.jpg
I LOVED the concept of this book. Apparently the author found all these great old, creepy photos & wrote a story around them. The photos are throughout the book & I thought that was pretty awesome. I’m not sure if the story QUITE worked, though, and I was very disappointed at the ending which is clearly left open for another book (or two). I’m not sure if there are more yet but there are so many young adult book series(es? Lol. Seriei!) these days that I really wasn’t interested in starting yet another one – I wanted a one-off book. I’ll review this soon.

Books For 2014:

I only got a few books for Christmas this year (luckily, as I still have some left over from last Christmas). I think my only reading goal this year is to read the ones I already have in the photo below – no new books until those are read! Oh, and Carrie as it’s one of the few Stephen King books I’ve not read and I love the sound of it after reading Smash’s review on her great Stephen King blog The Kingdom. And maybe Divergent as the movie is coming out & Zoe gave it a decent review on The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger.

Any other recommendations from anyone?? Actually, no – I won’t have time for any others! Any recommendations on which of the below books I should read first? I’m currently in the middle of Doctor Sleep – That will probably take me three months. 🙂

20140111-032456 pm.jpg

My Top Ten Movies Of 2013

I’ve been holding off on doing this list as there are still some movies I haven’t seen and I think it’s possible some of them would make the list. Maybe I can amend it after seeing some more. I’ll list a few that I missed at the bottom.

So…. *Drum Roll!* – Here are My Top Ten 2013 Movies (going by UK Release Date & counting down from ten). I’ve also done a full review for each which you can read if you click each title:

10. Warm Bodies

20140107-093617 pm.jpg
9. Thor: The Dark World

20140107-093837 pm.jpg
8. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

20140107-094020 pm.jpg
7. Despicable Me 2

20140107-094155 pm.jpg
6. Django Unchained

20140107-094554 pm.jpg
5. Robot & Frank

20140107-094410 pm.jpg
4. Gravity

20140107-094827 pm.jpg
3. The Way Way Back

20140107-095009 pm.jpg
2. Frozen

20140107-095302 pm.jpg
1. Rush

20140107-095614 pm.jpg

THE NEXT TEN (in ascending order this time just to complicate things!):

11. The Place Beyond The Pines
12. Before Midnight
13. The Conjuring
14. Star Trek Into Darkness
15. Sound City
16. Wreck-It Ralph
17. Monsters University
18. The World’s End
19. Mud
20. Pacific Rim

MOST DISAPPOINTING OF THE YEAR:

Man Of Steel & The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

WORST MOVIE OF THE YEAR:

Oz The Great And Powerful

SOME I MISSED:

Here are a few films I missed. Plus remember I’m in the UK so a lot of those big “worthy” films aren’t even out here yet:

The Spectacular Now
Saving Mr Banks
Captain Phillips
Blue Is The Warmest Color
Short Term 12

And plenty more but I really wanted to see these & The Spectacular Now sounds like my exact type of thing.

Now, if you care, you can see the full (sad) list of every 2013 movie that I saw HERE. I’ve reviewed all but two (Before Midnight & Mud because I’ve only just watched those) and the links are included. And… I may have sort of ranked every single one in order from my favorite to least favorite. Yes, I do that sort of thing. I should seek help…

And tomorrow I’ll be posting My Top Ten (Other) Movies Watched In 2013. I watched a lot of movies other than just ones released in 2013 & they deserve a mention as a lot of them are better than most the 2013 films combined. 🙂

Frozen (2013) Review

20131210-091550 pm.jpg
Frozen (2013)

Directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee

Based on The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen

Starring:
Kristen Bell
Idina Menzel
Jonathan Groff
Josh Gad
Santino Fontana

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Animation Studios

Running time: 102 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
After Elsa accidentally leaves her kingdom of Arendelle in an eternal winter due to her uncontrollable secret powers that create ice & snow, her sister Anna must find where she has gone into hiding to see if they can find a way to save their kingdom.

20131210-091814 pm.jpg
My Opinion:

Finally – a return to the traditional sort of Disney(fied) fairy tale that I grew up on. I loved Frozen! Loved it loved it loved it! 🙂

20131210-091932 pm.jpg
Where do I start? Well, I’m going to try to stay spoiler free so I’ll just talk about some of the things I liked about Frozen. First of all, it’s a great opening. I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high so early in the film but the introduction of the sisters, Anna & Elsa, is fantastic! It’s like all the best classic Disney openings/introductions to the main characters. Sweet, tragic, magical & musical – all that usual good Disney stuff! And the song Anna sings is lovely & really touching. There are some great songs in this. But I’ll come back to the music later…

20131210-092009 pm.jpg
Before we’re introduced to the sisters, however, we actually first meet one of the main male characters (Kristoff) while a bunch of manly men sing a manly song. I know Disney took this same sort of angle with Tangled – they didn’t want it seen as another “Disney Princess” movie so they gave the guy a bigger role and gave it the non-girly name of Tangled instead of Rapunzel. I think this works much better in Frozen, though. The sisters are very much the stars here but there’s PLENTY for boys to like in this one as well whereas I still saw Tangled as just another Princess movie. You can easily take an entire family of all ages to Frozen. Girls will like the sisters, boys will like Kristoff & his reindeer, and ALL kids (and adults!) will LOVE Olaf. Honestly – The adults in the cinema were laughing at Olaf even louder than the kids were. He’s hilarious. I love Olaf! I already loved him before even seeing Frozen as his big musical number (In Summer) was available on YouTube. Check it out if you’re unsure about if you want to see Frozen or not & you may be convinced to go.

20131210-092109 pm.jpg
Going back to the music, Frozen has some instant classics. The songs were written by husband & wife Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. I don’t make it to nearly as many musicals as I’d like to but the only one I’ve WANTED to see in a long time is The Book Of Mormon while one of the only ones I HAVE seen is Avenue Q, which I loved. I was surprised to find out that the guy who wrote the songs for these two musicals had done the songs for Frozen. So, yeah – I guess the guy responsible for “The Internet Is For Porn” wrote the great songs in Frozen. Makes sense – there’s a funny sense of humor in the lyrics of songs such as Olaf’s In Summer & another song called Fixer Upper but the main “numbers” such as For The First Time In Forever and Let It Go are surely Oscar contenders & will long be remembered with other Disney classics.

20131210-092201 pm.jpg
What else? The story – I loved it. I don’t know the original Hans Christian Andersen story but, hey – this is a Disney adaptation so I’m sure it bears little resemblance to the source material. I really wasn’t quite sure how they’d end it which was nice as kids’ films are always so predictable (and I thought it was a very satisfying ending). The look of the film was beautiful – the colors used & all that frozen snow & ice… I can see this being a film that families watch every winter. And it may sound stupid and girly but Anna & Elsa had the greatest dresses! Anna is often in greens while Elsa is in blue and it was great that it wasn’t all girly pink & purple colors going on in this. And… as I’m mostly of Norwegian heritage, I’ve always loved anything with a Scandinavian look. I mean, a guy in the film even mentioned lutefisk. And look at Anna’s main outfit and her cool boots:

20131210-092241 pm.jpg
Finally, the most important thing in a Disney movie is the characters. They can have a great story and great songs but if they don’t get the characters right, they might as well not bother. Frozen is already nearly perfect in every other way and, luckily, the characters are just as perfect.

20131210-092320 pm.jpg
Kristoff is a loveable oaf and his relationship with his best friend, reindeer Sven, is funny. It was also fun watching Sven constantly trying to eat Olaf’s carrot nose. Speaking of the hilariously entertaining Olaf, you already know how I feel about him but I loved the sisters most of all and their story & their relationship felt quite unique compared to the what we’ve seen in other Disney films. I liked their very different personalities & I can see Anna ending up pretty high on my list of my Top Disney Princesses (if/when she’s officially added). Anna is sweet & little dorky with such a childlike charm that you can’t help but like her.

20131210-092910 pm.jpg
Summary:

After a good couple decades of some very disappointing Disney films (other than The Lion King & Beauty And The Beast & everything made by the brilliant Pixar which Disney can now claim as its own), we’ve finally been given an instant classic that will stand the test of time just like those from Disney’s good old days. Magical & beautiful, a great story, classic songs, strong female characters, lots of genuinely funny humor & hilarious characters – Frozen gets everything so incredibly right. Thank you, Disney! You’re back! 🙂

My Rating: 8.5/10

20131210-092400 pm.jpg

Carrie (2013) Review

20131207-012803 pm.jpg
Carrie (2013)

Directed by Kimberly Peirce

Based on Carrie by Stephen King

Starring:
Chloë Grace Moretz
Judy Greer
Portia Doubleday
Alex Russell
Gabriella Wilde
Julianne Moore

Running time: 99 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Girl gets period, people piss her off, she becomes psychotic. I have days like that too.

20131207-013946 pm.jpg
My Opinion:

First of all, I’m a huge Stephen King fan. Second of all, I have this confession to make: Carrie is one of the only books of his that I’ve not read. Thirdly, I love the original movie – it just makes it into the list of my Top Ten Horror Movies. Fourthly (Thirdly & fourthly are words, right?), REMAKES PISS ME OFF. So what did I think of yet another completely unnecessary remake?

20131207-014132 pm.jpg
There may be a few SPOILERS here if you’ve actually not seen the original Carrie. If you have, you can probably read this whole review as this remake is pretty much EXACTLY the same movie but with added mobile phones (cell phones to you Americans). I don’t think I’ll be spoiling anything for those who’ve seen the original.

20131207-014206 pm.jpg
The Actresses:

I’ve really liked Chloë Grace Moretz in everything I’ve seen her in so far and she does fine as Carrie. Her Carrie does NOT have the same sort of naive innocence yet underlying crazy THING going on behind the eyes that Sissy Spacek had, though. To be fair, I don’t think Moretz had much to work with here as this is just the 1976 movie with YouTube. It’s very hard to not picture Spacek in this role. I suppose it’s also hard to believe that a teenage girl would be as naive & sheltered in 2013 as one may have been in 1976. They show Carrie looking things up on the Internet on school computers in this one – surely she’d be Googling periods & sex & all that stuff her crazy mother tells her is a sin. Moretz is exactly who I’d have also chosen to play Carrie if I’d made this, though – it’s just hard to fully buy into her character if you know the original so well. Same goes for Julianne Moore – SUCH an obvious casting choice (or a lazy choice if you ask Mista Mutant). Yes, she’s good and does exactly what you expect her to do. But, you know… We’ve already seen this role played perfectly by Piper Laurie. Both the 2013 lead actresses are fine & exactly who I’d have chosen. All the other actresses are also fine (especially Gabriella Wilde as Sue Snell & Judy Greer as the gym teacher). But… What’s the point, really?

20131207-014256 pm.jpg
The Movie:

Believe it or not, I actually enjoyed this movie (I know it hasn’t sounded like it so far). Don’t get me wrong – it’s still a completely pointless remake and will never top the original for me. But I’ve always liked the story. “Girl gets picked on by bitchy high school girls then gets sweet revenge!”. Who doesn’t like that? Especially if they’re a girl who lived through the dreadful high school experience. Is it just me? Maybe I have issues. I mean, one of my all-time favorite movies is Heathers. Okay, yeah – I may have issues.

20131207-014332 pm.jpg
So even though I’ve seen this movie before and knew what would happen, I enjoyed seeing the events unfold once again. And I suppose I should mention Portia Doubleday as that bitch Chris Hargensen. I guess she did a good job as I soooo couldn’t wait for her death scene in this one! I’m not a big fan of horror movies, especially in my old age, and have to admit that I have yet to actually watch the more violent scenes in some of my favorite films. Seriously, I’m a wuss about gore and don’t like violence and think we live in a sad world where people freak out over movies that show a tiny bit of sex but don’t bat an eyelid at their kids playing video games & watching movies with excessive violence and blah blah blah. But, oh man, I wanted to watch the bitch get it in Carrie! And it’s a pretty satisfying end. It’s the only thing I’ll say maybe tops the original. (I have issues with bitchy high school girls. Can you tell?) 😉

20131207-014412 pm.jpg
Bitch!

For the boys, I should point out that Gabriella Wilde is REALLY cute. I did like her as Sue Snell.

20131207-014500 pm.jpg
Cute!

Summary:

This remake is completely pointless. But… it’s fun and I did enjoy it. If you go into it knowing that you’re going to be watching a not-as-good version of the 1976 movie all over again and if you like the story and even if you LOVE the original movie (as long as you don’t totally worship it), I think you’ll have fun with the remake. The casting choices are spot on but it all feels very hollow. All the actresses do a good job but certainly don’t top the performances in the original. All the scenes are done well enough but, again, don’t exactly top anything in the original. The prom scene especially doesn’t manage to have the intensity of the original and was probably the most disappointing re-made scene.

I understand why things get remade. I’ll fully admit that the original Carrie has NOT aged well and is precious to only those my age but teenagers nowadays are “all gonna laugh” at the 1976 film. They may like this remake, though, and I’d recommend the remake to a teenager instead of the original because I know I’d be wasting my time trying to get a current teen to love the oh-so-70s Carrie. So, yeah – I do understand why things keep getting remade. To make money. To bring a whole new audience to something as they’d never watch the original. Remakes still piss me off, though. And I still think this remake is as pointless as all the rest.

But at least we get to see Carrie get her revenge on those high school bitches once again! That made me happy.

My Rating: 6.5/10

20131207-014606 pm.jpg

The Great Gatsby (2013) Review

20131112-090202 pm.jpg
The Great Gatsby (2013)

Directed by Baz Luhrmann

Starring:
Leonardo DiCaprio
Tobey Maguire
Carey Mulligan
Joel Edgerton
Isla Fisher
Jason Clarke
Amitabh Bachchan

Running time: 142 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Rich people are bastards. Don’t get drawn into their world – Stay a nice Midwesterner!

20131112-090327 pm.jpg
My Opinion:

Okay – I’m trying to catch up on reviewing the 2013 films that I’ve seen. Out of 41, I only have three left to do (The Great Gatsby, Sound City & Gravity, which I’ve just seen). So here we go!

20131112-090555 pm.jpg
I never got around to reviewing Gatsby because I wasn’t sure what to say about it. I went to see it with a friend and she’s the one who chose it – it’s not really my type of thing. I didn’t mind Romeo + Juliet (but that may be due to my slightly weird crush on John Leguizamo). I really didn’t like Moulin Rouge (but that may be due to my slightly weird dislike of Nicole Kidman).

20131112-090654 pm.jpg
Here’s my Great Gatsby knowledge prior to seeing the 2013 film: NOTHING! Never read the book, never saw the Robert Redford film. I think that helped, though, as the only thing I really enjoyed about the film was the story and it was nice not knowing beforehand how it would end. Other than the overall main story going on, I didn’t find the rest of it to be a very good film.

20131112-090808 pm.jpg
Music:

Annoying. I know that’s important in these Baz Luhrmann films like Moulin Rouge but I found it all very distracting in Gatsby. Instead of going “Oh that’s cool & clever how they’ve stuck this modern music in this old timey film” it just felt totally out of place in this one. Okay, and I just didn’t like any of the songs (other than No Church In The Wild) so that didn’t help. I just wanted to find out what was going to happen in the story instead of suddenly having to hear Will.i.am. Yuck. (I’m aware I sound like a grumpy old person).

20131112-090841 pm.jpg
Actors/Characters:

Out of place & jarring music aside, I really did like the story as I said and I liked Leo (usually do – he’s a great actor) and even Tobey Maguire was less annoying than usual. But one thing I was really looking forward to beforehand was seeing Carey Mulligan. I’ve liked her ever since that great Doctor Who episode Blink (which was pretty much all her & barely featured Doctor Who and still managed to be one of the best episodes in recent years). So, unfortunately, I feel really bad having to say that I didn’t like her in Gatsby. I can’t say that she was “wrong for the part” as I don’t know anything about the character. Maybe it’s a poorly written character in this script? No idea. Maybe it’s not her fault but I found it really hard to believe that someone would be so completely in love with a girl who’s soooo damn BORING. She’s adorable & I’ve always thought blonde hair & brown eyes are lovely together and she’s been great in other things so… I don’t know. Just really wasn’t feeling the Daisy Buchanan character! Leo’s Gatsby & Maguire’s Nick were the two best characters by far and the only ones that I cared about – I could take or leave the rest of them. The rest were hateful (but I suppose they were meant to be). Well, Daisy’s friend (Jordan? The golfer…) was a decent character. But… Daisy’s husband – prick! Isla Fisher’s Myrtle – moron! Daisy – vapid! Everyone else – boring, apparently, as I can’t remember anyone else.

20131112-090930 pm.jpg
Summary:

The Great Gatsby wasn’t as bad as I’m making it sound. The story was intriguing (but I don’t think the movie can exactly take credit for this). Leo was good & he was believable as was Tobey Maguire’s relationship with him. It’s just unfortunate that their friendship was far more believable & interesting than the “romance” with Dull Daisy! The film was lovely to look at and the story was good enough to make me mostly forgive the music that felt totally out of place but luckily didn’t take over the entire film (the music was way less prominent than I’d been expecting it to be before seeing the film). Overall, I liked it okay but it’s thanks only to a) The story b) Leo’s Gatsby c) The relationship between Gatsby & Maguire’s Nick. Maybe I should read the book?

My Rating: 6.5/10

20131112-091015 pm.jpg

Rush (2013) Review

20130927-014319 pm.jpg
Rush (2013)

Directed by Ron Howard

Screenplay: Peter Morgan

Starring:
Chris Hemsworth
Daniel Brühl
Olivia Wilde
Alexandra Maria Lara
Pierfrancesco Favino

Music: Hans Zimmer

Running time: 122 minutes

Plot Synopsis (via Wikipedia – I think everyone knows this):

Rush is a biographical action film directed by Ron Howard and written by Peter Morgan about the 1976 Formula One season and the rivalry between drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda.

20130927-124052 pm.jpg
Before I Start The Review:

I’ll start by saying I hate sports. All sports. Racing? Don’t care. James Hunt & Niki Lauda? I’d never even heard of them before this film and knew nothing of this famous rivalry. So do you think I actually liked this film? Oh my god – I absolutely loved it.

20130927-124203 pm.jpg
And now I have to say this – 2013 has been a disappointing year for movies. We’ve either had movies that were lots of fun but had terrible scripts & cliche characters (Pacific Rim) or we’ve had inferior superhero films (Iron Man 3) with over the top action sucking the soul out of something that had the opportunity to be a fresh new start (Man Of Steel). We’ve had a magic film (Now You See Me) already done way better in past films (like The Prestige) and a sci-fi film (Oblivion) already done way better in past films (like the myriad of sci-fi classics Oblivion wanted to be). And never mind all the sequels, remakes, and usual lack of any original ideas from Hollywood. And then there was Oz The Great And Powerful – don’t get me started on that…

20130927-010953 pm.jpg
So that leaves us with “based on a true story” films. Usually a safe bet but quite often lacking in “fun”. Being a movie lover, I hate feeling like I’ve been really negative about films lately (like I was in all the reviews listed above). So it’s with great pleasure that I can FINALLY say this: Rush was the most rewarding cinema-going experience I’ve had in a very long time and you’re now going to read absolutely nothing negative. 🙂

20130927-125301 pm.jpg
My Opinion On Rush:

Obviously I can’t speak of the true story (although I’m certainly interested in knowing more now!) so I’ll only be discussing Rush as a film.

This story, although in many ways quite a simple story about a sports rivalry, is absolutely fascinating. No wonder they based a film on it and how on earth had I never heard a thing about it? (That “I hate all sports” thing, I guess). Clearly by my excitement you can see you don’t need to be a racing fan to enjoy this film – you just need to be human and have at least a little bit of a heart (mine is pretty tiny). If you ARE a racing fan, though, you still won’t be the slightest bit disappointed. Howard gets the perfect balance, I think, between emotional human drama & edge-of-your-seat racing action. In a way I wonder if it was slightly more exciting for someone like me who had no clue how any of the races would end. I’m actually very glad I didn’t read up on any of the true story before the film as it probably made watching it much more intense.

20130927-125416 pm.jpg
As for James Hunt and Niki Lauda, at least how they’re portrayed here, what a couple of great characters! As this took place in the 70s and (thankfully) way before the days of Twitter & celebrities airing all their dirty laundry in public and getting on our nerves, I don’t know how much of this rivalry was played out in public & how much was just written about? I don’t know just how intense it got in real life but it was a hell of a lot of fun to watch in this film. I loved how they were so different yet SO similar, especially in their arrogance. I like how this movie made them human and made us truly care about them despite some very big character flaws in both of them. I think one of the biggest things I’ve always hated about sports is the arrogance that you get from some of the sportsmen (and women? Don’t want to sound sexist!). That this movie had me loving two guys like this by the end of the film was quite a feat. Honestly – you have no idea how “unlike me” it is to like guys like these & to enjoy anything related to sports.

20130927-125533 pm.jpg
Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt: Cocky, sexy, ladies man, bad boy all the girls want and all the men want to be, lives life to the fullest and doesn’t care about consequences. He was brilliant. Perfect. I couldn’t take my eyes off him and for once it was based on his performance alone.

Daniel Brühl as Niki Lauda: Cold, arrogant, intense, has no friends, personal lifestyle the exact opposite of ladies man Hunt. Also brilliant. Perfect. Possibly even MORE brilliant and perfect. And by the end I guarantee you’ll love him. And you’ll love Hunt. Even though they’re still the same people they are at the start.

20130927-010042 pm.jpg
Summary:

Heart-pounding human drama that captures all the excitement and fear that are a part of racing & the risk of death those drivers face every time they get into those cars for another race. And what surely must be one of the most fascinating and intense rivalries in the history of sport between two men so different yet so alike that they can’t stand each other? THIS is the stuff of great movies. I fell in love with these men by the end of this film and now want to know more and, hell, may even start watching racing. I can’t emphasize this enough: making ME like these men and admit to MAYBE now watching a sport? Honestly, you don’t know me so you have no idea what that means. This film is THAT good. And I’m going to steal my hubby’s line after the film: “But which one of these guys was truly LIVING life?”. The film seems to ask this & everyone will have a different opinion on that just as the two main characters in the film clearly do. But should a sports movie really be making us question things so deeply? Bravo, Ron Howard! Your movie moved this hater of sports.

My Rating: 9/10

20130927-010206 pm.jpg
And, yes – My list of 2013 Movies Seen has a new first place. As you might suspect. I’d use a racing term here if I knew any.

(Where are you Tim The Film Guy? For once you can’t say my rating is too low…) 🙂

World War Z (2013) Review

20130626-091154 PM.jpg
World War Z

Directed by Marc Forster

Produced by:
Brad Pitt
Dede Gardner
Jeremy Kleiner
Ian Bryce

Based on World War Z by Max Brooks (Supposedly. Like… Extremely LOOSELY based on! Lol.)

Starring:
Brad Pitt
Mireille Enos
Daniella Kertesz
James Badge Dale
Fana Mokoena
Ludi Boeken
Matthew Fox
David Morse
Elyes Gabel

Plot Synopsis:

Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), a former employee of the United Nations, is called upon to leave his family & travel the globe in search of the cause of a worldwide zombie pandemic and in the hope of finding a cure.

20130626-092011 PM.jpg
My Opinion:

So, okay – I read World War Z by Max Brooks (son of Mel!). I LOVED it – I thought it was one of the best books I’d read in years. Then I heard they’d be making it into a movie and I’m usually happy about that – although I rarely like the movies as much as the books, I still enjoy seeing how they adapt them. After all kinds of known problems while trying to make this movie, we finally got to see the first proper trailer. And, like everyone else who read the book, I was like “what the HELL is that?!”. Lol. I don’t need to say more – I think everyone knows by now that, aside from the title, the book and the movie have VERY little in common. So let’s move on…

20130626-092244 PM.jpg
Knowing this was NOT going to be the World War Z I know, I went to this with fairly low expectations and also went to it knowing it was going to be more of a serious “nationwide pandemic” film than some kind of Romero zombie movie. This is more I Am Legend or even Contagion than Night Of The Living Dead. And that’s fine – I ended up enjoying it more than I had expected. Not that the book was a full-on zombie thing anyway – it’s more like a book on war… (Sorry – not going there! I won’t mention the book again). 😉

20130626-092330 PM.jpg
Apocalyptic Movies of any sort are always my type of thing. Don’t know why… And World War Z is a decent enough example of this type of film. We got to see the human side of things through seeing Brad Pitt’s character have to leave his wife and two daughters behind as he travels to try to discover the cause & a cure. We briefly meet some soldiers that we get to know a little bit about – this was one of the better parts of the film (and a small part of this was in the book!!). And Brad helps a female soldier in Israel played by Daniella Kertesz. She’s probably one of the best characters in this and she wasn’t even listed when I looked up the actors’ names on Wikipedia! We meet quite a few characters as Brad travels the globe and I enjoyed that and actually wished they’d been able to spend a little more time with some of these characters.

20130626-092428 PM.jpg
As for the action & “gore” – well, there IS no gore. Honestly. Never seen a zombie movie with pretty much NO blood whatsoever. But that’s fine by me. As I said, this isn’t some zombie horror movie – this is a human drama exploring the effects of a worldwide pandemic. And, aside from a few minor silly things, this movie does the “apocalyptic” thing so much better than a Roland Emmerich movie. Other than some CGI zombies piling on top of each other and looking a little silly, World War Z felt much more realistic than an Emmerich film ever has. And the action seemed just right – just enough but nothing too insane and over-the-top (hello Man Of Steel!).

20130626-092453 PM.jpg
Summary:

If you go to World War Z with an open mind and expecting a human drama about a worldwide pandemic instead of a gory zombie horror movie, you may find that you actually enjoy it. It certainly has some problems and is far from perfect but it isn’t the total disaster we were all expecting after hearing about all the production problems and all the changes that were made. I’d have liked to see a bit more character development of some of the lesser characters but we meet them all too briefly to really achieve this. So, overall, I’d probably recommend this film. But I’d DEFINITELY recommend the brilliant book. You can do both – they’re completely different things…

My Rating: 7/10

20130626-092521 PM.jpg
**I think a lot of people will have by now read about the original World War Z ending and how it was massively changed. If you’re interested, this is a very good article explaining the changes: The Playlist.

I hate the sound of this original ending! I have to say they made the right decision.

See if World War Z has made this list of My Top Ten Apocalyptic Movies. 🙂