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!

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Into The Woods (2014) Review

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Into The Woods (2014)

Directed by Rob Marshall

Based on Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine

Starring:
Meryl Streep
Emily Blunt
James Corden
Anna Kendrick
Chris Pine
Tracey Ullman
Christine Baranski
Johnny Depp

Running time: 124 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Inspired by the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales of “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Cinderella”, “Jack and the Beanstalk”, and “Rapunzel”, the film is a fantasy genre crossover centered on a childless couple, who set out to end a curse placed on them by a vengeful witch. Ultimately though, the characters are forced to rectify the consequences of their actions.

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My Opinion:

I hated Into The Woods. I don’t want to do one of my bitchy reviews, though, so I’ll keep this short because I don’t need some crazy person telling me I’m on drugs for hating something (this happened recently on my review of Oz The Great And Powerful – gotta love those trolls). 😉

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I know nothing whatsoever of the Into The Woods musical. I didn’t know the story in the slightest or any of the songs before watching the movie. And, after seeing the movie, I STILL don’t know any of the songs. Why? Because they’re boring! Usually you get at least one song stuck in your head after a musical. Honestly – I couldn’t tell you how even one of them goes now & I only saw this two days ago. At least a couple of the songs in Les Misérables were catchy even if I just wanted that damn movie to end (and for Anne Hathaway’s character to just shut up and die).

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Speaking of just wanting a movie to end, I felt that way through the second half of Into The Woods. It’s just over 2 hours long but it really did feel like I’d been sitting there twice that long. For anyone who knows the story, there’s an “end” about three quarters of the way through. I was SO happy it seemed to be ending. But then it just went on. And on. And on. Then, when it finally ended, I didn’t feel like we actually got a good resolution for anyone. The story seemed to have no clear point. What was the “moral” of the whole thing?? Some people learned their lessons (sort of) and some didn’t. So many loose ends were left. I just felt like the whole story was messy, confusing and, well, quite stupid. THAT’S the best they could do with a bunch of Grimms’ fairy tales?! It’s pretty bad when Shrek kicks your sorry fairy tale ass and is far more clever (and I’m not really a fan of Shrek – I think those movies are highly overrated).

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Did I say this would be short & non-bitchy? Damn. Well, a few things weren’t bad. James Corden, Anna Kendrick & especially Emily Blunt were all pretty good & felt right for their roles. They almost made up for how much Johnny Depp & Chris Pine sucked, I suppose. Meryl Streep was fine, but, come on – an Oscar nomination for THAT? What a joke. (I’m writing this before the Oscars – hopefully she didn’t win). I like her, though – it’s just funny how the Academy feels the need to nominate her every year for whatever she happened to be in. God I hated that Little Red Riding Hood bitch! And Jack (of Beanstalk fame) felt about as pointless as Little Red Riding Hood’s character. The Big Bad Wolf pedophile thing went a little too far over the line and, seriously – who were we meant to actually care about in this movie as the characters are all pretty hateful? I guess the baker & his wife, which makes the ending even more ridiculous. Shit – this was meant to be the paragraph where I wasn’t bitchy. I suppose the costumes were nice? What we could see of them, at least, as it’s so dark in those stupid woods.

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Summary:

Unlike Into The Woods, I know it’s time to finish as I’m just going on & on in the same way the film did. I didn’t go into this with high or low expectations so it can’t be blamed on that and I’m also not anti-musical as there are plenty that I do like. However, when it’s a musical I do expect at least a couple good songs that I’ll be humming afterwards. Being a movie fan first, though, I’d have at least liked a story & characters that I cared about since the songs were so bland. I wasn’t expecting to not like either element of Into The Woods.

My Rating: 4.5/10

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Toy Story That Time Forgot (2014) Review

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Toy Story That Time Forgot (2014)

Directed by Steve Purcell

Starring:
Tom Hanks
Tim Allen
Wallace Shawn
Kristen Schaal
Kevin McKidd
Emma Hudak

Running time: 22 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
It’s a post Christmas play date and the toys have to go up against the fearsome and aggressive new dino toys.

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My Opinion:

Yes! Another Toy Story short! This aired in the UK on Saturday and I couldn’t wait to see it as I’ve loved all the shorts so far (Hawaiian Vacation, Small Fry, Partysaurus Rex and of course Toy Story Of Terror, which was a longer TV special like this one). It’s hard to pick a favorite, but… I think it’s probably this one now. And Angel Kitty RULES. 🙂

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I’ll say that, yes, this sort of uses the same idea from the first Toy Story film in the same way Toy Story Of Terror was similar to Toy Story 2. I thought this one worked better than Terror, though, and I found myself giggling at funny moments a lot more often this time. I really liked the new characters that are introduced, especially Reptillus Maximus and Angel Kitty with her profound statements said in an adorable child’s voice.

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Trixie the dinosaur is the star of this one and I don’t have a problem with that at all – I love it when they focus on characters other than just Buzz, Woody & Jessie. Although Jessie is sadly almost completely absent from this one, the other main characters are still in it enough to keep fans happy. In this story, Trixie wants the chance to play at being a dinosaur for a change and is finally given the chance when Bonnie takes her along for a play date at her friend Mason’s house. It’s a couple of days after Christmas and he’s just received what appears to be the entire set of toys called “Battlesaurs”. I won’t go into the story much more in order to avoid spoilers but it of course has an obvious but simple message that once again fits in with the overall themes in the Toy Story universe. They don’t hammer you over the head with the message or anything like that, unlike in most of my favorite Christmas specials (Charlie Brown, The Grinch… Not that I’m complaining as I loooooove those). My only complaint would possibly be that it didn’t really feel at all like a “Christmas” special but it makes it one you can easily watch year round, I guess.

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Summary:

A worthy addition to the Toy Story franchise, Toy Story That Time Forgot is packed full of the humor we’ve come to expect. I think I laughed even more than the kid I watched this with so, once again, I think they got the balance right with the adults liking it as well as their kids. Bonnie is still as sweet and wildly imaginative as in Toy Story 3 and we get a lot of Rex and especially Trixie, two characters I really like, as well as some great new toys. Plus a cute ending and scene during the credits. Oh, and watch out for the hilarious theme tune! I really had fun with this one. And… Everyone needs an apartment shaped like their own head! 🙂

My Rating: 8/10

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Btw – I’m posting a review on Wednesday for Brian De Palma’s Phantom Of The Paradise and I’m hoping at least a couple of people will check it out as it’s the type of movie I enjoy reviewing here. But people only want to read about things like Interstellar… 😦 (which I kind of trashed HERE…). Lol 😉

The Maze Runner (2014) Review

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The Maze Runner (2014)

Directed by Wes Ball

Based on The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Starring:
Dylan O’Brien
Kaya Scodelario
Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Will Poulter
Ki Hong Lee

Running time: 113 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Maze Runner is a science fiction dystopian action thriller film. The story follows sixteen-year-old Thomas, portrayed by O’Brien, who awakens in a rusty elevator with no memory of who he is, only to learn he’s been delivered to the middle of an intricate maze, along with a slew of other boys, who have been trying to find their way out of the ever-changing labyrinth — all while establishing a functioning society in what they call the Glade.

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My Opinion:

I actually quite liked this movie. As I said in my review for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I, I do love my “YA post-apocalyptic dystopian sci-fi books” but I’ve not read The Maze Runner or Divergent. Of those two movies, I definitely enjoyed The Maze Runner more than Divergent and will possibly read the books now. So, obviously, this review won’t be comparing the movie to the book (which will be a relief as I can get pretty picky if I’ve read the book first, as you can see in my review of The Giver. Not too happy with that adaptation!).

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I liked that this was some sort of sci-fi Lord Of The Flies. I liked the mystery of the maze & not knowing who had put these kids there and why. If I had any complaints, they’d probably be that I’d liked to have seen even more of the maze and its mysteries (I’m assuming it’s even more complex in the book?) and that I’d have liked more character development of the girl, who doesn’t seem to have much to do in this film. Other than that, I liked the relationships that formed between the characters and that they each had very distinct personalities. There’s a pretty generic “bad guy” but that’s to be expected as you need two different groups wanting to deal with their predicament in different ways. It just seemed to work as a movie much more than Divergent but I’m not sure why.

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Summary:

I actually enjoyed The Maze Runner a bit more than Mockingjay even though I think Mockingjay is the superior film. I assume the following books & films will suffer from the same problems as The Hunger Games in that the first book has a great and original idea that you can’t exactly repeat in book 2 (well, except for The Hunger Games having yet another Hunger Games in book 2…). 😉 I mean, I’d assume there’s not a second maze, which is the cool thing about this first movie. But instead it’ll turn into this big fight against the evil powers in control and blah blah blah. Right?? Well, it’s the only direction these sort of stories can ever really take so I’m not really complaining – I’m just hoping it’s a more satisfying conclusion than in Mockingjay. I’m at least intrigued enough to probably read this series.

My Rating: 7/10

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Interstellar (2014) Review

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****SPOILER-FREE REVIEW (but slightly bitchy…)****

Interstellar (2014)

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Starring:
Matthew McConaughey
Anne Hathaway
Jessica Chastain
Michael Caine
Bill Irwin
Ellen Burstyn

Running time: 169 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A group of explorers make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.

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My Opinion:

I’ve avoided reading the many reviews of Interstellar here on WordPress because I really didn’t want to know a single thing beforehand. As there are so many (much better) reviews out there, I’ll keep this super short and instead go & read all your reviews when I get a chance. Besides – the more I talk about Interstellar, the more annoyed you’ll probably all get with me. So I’ll just say this: I was underwhelmed. I was bored at times. And, by the end, it kind of just left me feeling empty (well, except for my bladder).

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Okay – I’ll say a little more because I’m sure you all want to hear me once again complain about a movie. Right?! 😉 Most who actually read my reviews know by now that I’m of the 70’s & 80’s generation and the majority of my favorite movies are from those two decades. I like plenty of current movies (you can see a ranked list of everything I’ve watched in 2014 HERE and see that I’ve given several movies a rating of 8 or higher). So this isn’t just age talking. No, wait… It IS age talking. I’ve been around a long time now and I’ve seen a lot of truly excellent films. Christopher Nolan is a very good director. I realize that he’s sort of like the “Steven Spielberg” for a generation below mine. For me, though, he’s only made one film so far that I’ve truly loved and it’s not The Dark Knight and certainly not Inception (it’s The Prestige). Other than that one, I wouldn’t watch his films over and over again like the way I have with plenty of Spielberg’s films. I think he’s done a great job with the movies he’s directed but, unfortunately, I think maybe Interstellar was a little too ambitious and comes up very short when compared to sci-fi classics.

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Science fiction! It’s something my little brain never fully understands (WTF is a wormhole anyway?) but I absolutely LOVE the genre above all others when it comes to entertainment so I was of course not going to miss this epic space movie. However, I’m also going to be far more picky than some. We have some TRULY classic sci-fi films and I wanted this to be another one. Maybe my expectations were just too high? However, I really had no issues with Gravity. I even ended up thinking Edge Of Tomorrow was far better than I’d ever expected it to be. I think, more than anything, the “human drama” element to Interstellar didn’t fully work. There were definitely some good performances but, overall, it all felt a little shallow and I never really connected with anyone. The “space stuff” (sorry – I hope I don’t lose anyone with my big technical terms!) was fine although, again, I had even less of a connection with the humans in space than I did with those on Earth. It all looked pretty but I wouldn’t say it’s the most visually stunning film I’ve ever seen. The first half of the film dragged and I just wanted them to get the hell up into space. But then even that didn’t live up to my expectations.

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You know what? I’m going nowhere with this review & these days I get maybe 20 minutes to write them. Plus I said I’d keep it short but as always I just blabbed & blabbed! I’m sorry I’ve not been able to put it into better words but, hey – I was just a little disappointed. That’s all. I like what I like and I’m always completely honest here. Hopefully some of my regulars will know I’ve written enough extremely positive reviews of movies I’ve loved to know that I’m not just trying to be difficult as I know some get a little over sensitive about opinions. The Prestige?? I love it. That’s a 9/10 for me. Interstellar is okay. I know Nolan-worshippers won’t have a bad thing to say about it and I do still recommend it to his fans and, well – to everyone, really. It IS worth a watch on a big screen. It just didn’t quite work for me personally and I’d now rather re-watch a sci-fi classic or something like The Right Stuff, which is one I’ve been meaning to watch for years. Ultimately, Interstellar tries too hard to be Spielberg with the human drama and Kubrick with the rest but never comes close to achieving the greatness those two directors have when they’ve been at their best. I think more focus on either one or the other would have actually made this a better film overall but instead both elements kind of fail.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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***Not that anyone is still reading this now that I’ve given a Christopher Nolan film less than an 8 but these are some great sci-fi films & I’d highly recommend them to fans of the genre (the extremely obvious as well as some that are less so). I’d be happy if at least one person gave one of these movies a shot after watching Interstellar (or, better yet, before!). 🙂 And I’d happily take some recommendations as well as there are still plenty I haven’t seen, such as The Right Stuff & the original Solaris or most things from before the 70’s:

In no particular order:

2001: A Space Odyssey
Silent Running
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
Star Wars (original trilogy)
Alien & Aliens
They Live
The Thing
Enemy Mine
Moon
Sunshine
WALL-E
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
Predator
Planet Of The Apes
Back To The Future
The Last Starfighter
Dark Star
Blade Runner (I’ve just lost Brian!)
The Terminator 1 & 2
Death Race 2000
TRON
Nineteen Eighty-Four
Fahrenheit 451
D.A.R.Y.L. (I’ve just lost the rest of you!)
HARDWARE (I had to include it) 😉
The Man Who Fell To Earth (Because… David Bowie!)

That took ages. I’ll stop there although I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch. A few of these movies are definitely not as good as Interstellar. However, I enjoyed them all more…

The Book Of Life (2014) Review

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The Book Of Life (2014)

Directed by Jorge Gutierrez

Produced by Aaron Berger, Brad Booker, Guillermo del Toro, Carina Schulze

Starring:
Diego Luna
Zoe Saldana
Channing Tatum
Ron Perlman
Christina Applegate
Ice Cube
Kate del Castillo

Running time: 95 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart, embarks on an adventure that spans three fantastic worlds where he must face his greatest fears.

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My Opinion:

Hmm. I liked this movie and did think it was lovely to look at (but was probably a bit “too much” visually – they could have toned it down). As an adult, it’s not always fun sitting through kids movies but I enjoyed the story well enough in this and didn’t just want to sleep through the whole thing like I pretty much did during the horrible Boxtrolls movie. The problem with this one, though, is that I think adults may almost enjoy it a bit more than really young kids as I think the story is too confusing for those under maybe 8 or so. There’s no reason that younger kids can’t go to it – I just think they won’t like this one as much as it’s very fast paced, the story is too complex, and it’s just very “busy” – you’re constantly bombarded with the visuals, the story, the songs… I found it hard to keep up myself so I doubt a five-year-old really could.

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As I said, I did quite like the story. It’s actually told as a story that’s being told to a group of kids at a museum and I wasn’t sure that would really work at first but it wasn’t too bad – it just made it a bit harder to get into the characters who are in the “story within a story”. I put the very simple plot synopsis at the top but here it is from Wikipedia in much more detail to show you exactly what the central story is about (although, as I said, it’s more complex than this):

The spirits La Muerte, ruler of the Land of the Remembered and Xibalba, ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, appear at the San Angel’s Day of the Dead festival where they set up a wager after seeing two boys, Manolo and Joaquín, competing over a free-spirited girl named María. La Muerte bets that Manolo will marry María, while Xibalba bets on Joaquín. If La Muerte wins, Xibalba can no longer interfere in mortal affairs, but if Xibalba wins, he and La Muerte would switch lands.

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The girl in this is pretty good – she’s feisty and when the boys are fighting over her says something like “I belong to no one!” so I was all for that as too many female characters in kids movies are horrible role models to young girls. Her pet pig was pretty adorable and there weren’t any annoying or unlikable characters.

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The jokes in this are actually somewhat funny, even for the adults (well, one joke was SO dirty that the hubby & I looked at each other in disbelief! Don’t worry, though – your kids would NOT pick up on it. Just don’t laugh at it if you can help yourself. I couldn’t help myself…). There’s also a lot of music in this film which was sometimes fun as they did some popular stuff. Although I wasn’t sure if I should think it’s cool or if I should be pissed off at them doing Radiohead’s Creep… But, hey – it’s the first time I’ve heard Biz Markie’s Just A Friend since 1989!

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Summary:

The Book Of Life is a decent enough film that adults probably won’t mind sitting through as well. I do think it’s too complex for the very young but, aside from one dirty joke they won’t get anyway, I wouldn’t say there’s really anything inappropriate for kids (other than maybe the issue of “death” being discussed but you get that in most Disney movies anyway). Obviously, it’s not Pixar or Disney so it’s still just a kids film to me & I never rate those as highly as I’d rather watch a grown-up movie. I liked this okay, though, and think most kids of at least 7 or 8 probably will too.

My Rating: 6/10

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Here’s some Radiohead for Cara. 😉

Nightcrawler (2014) Review

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Nightcrawler (2014)

Directed by Dan Gilroy

Starring:
Jake Gyllenhaal
Rene Russo
Riz Ahmed
Bill Paxton

Running time: 117 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Nightcrawler tells the story of a driven young man who stumbles upon the underground world of Los Angeles freelance crime journalism.

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My Opinion:

I’m not sure how to go about reviewing this one. I did think it was good but, unfortunately, not quite as good as I was expecting. I’ll say this isn’t necessarily my usual “type” of movie plus I’ve never really been a big fan of Jake Gyllenhaal. I think I was just expecting much more of a hard hitting drama and something even darker? This feels like a “movie”. It’s pretty & glossy just like the news shows in the film. So maybe that was the whole point? I don’t know. We all know the issues raised in this film – people who may be willing to go too far in their pursuit of what they want and sensationalist journalism, etc. It’s not really anything new so the concept was totally believable. However, too many things in the film really weren’t very realistic so it made it feel too much like a “movie” as some of these things wouldn’t actually happen in real life. I can’t get specific as I have to avoid spoilers.

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I know a lot of people have praised Gyllenhaal’s performance. He’s definitely very good at playing the subtle creepiness of his character. I think it’s another case of a performance being better than the film itself. Man, why do I always sound so negative in my reviews? Am I too picky?!

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Here’s what I liked: I loved the look of the film and all the shots of the city at night. I’m a small town girl and big cities stress me out but I do love the look of all the city lights at nighttime. I far prefer London after dark! Like I said, Gyllenhaal is very good in this and it was also nice seeing Rene Russo in a movie again plus I really liked Riz Ahmed’s character. Oh, and Bill Paxton! Who doesn’t love Bill Paxton at least a little bit thanks to Aliens and Weird Science?? I also did really like the story overall and thought they did a good job keeping it interesting the whole time. Even though it’s pretty predictable, I was happy with the conclusion of the film and the final half hour is gripping.

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Summary:

Nightcrawler is a good film and if it looks like your type of thing or if you’re a fan of Gyllenhaal, you should definitely check it out despite my lacklustre review. It’s not a perfect film but I think my expectations were just a little too high. It’s thoroughly entertaining and perhaps it’s meant to be slightly shallow as it’s making a statement on our society being this way. Yeah… I probably just missed the point!

My Rating: 7/10

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The Babadook (2014) Review

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The Babadook (2014)

Directed by Jennifer Kent

Starring:
Essie Davis
Noah Wiseman
Daniel Henshall
Hayley McElhinney
Barbara West
Ben Winspear

Running time: 94 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.

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My Opinion:

Last year I was pretty positive in my review of The Conjuring mostly, I think, because I was SO desperate for a good horror movie to ever actually be made again and that one was about the closest we’ve had to a decent American horror movie in years. It wasn’t perfect but at least it was almost a return to the good ‘ol days of horror movies that didn’t rely solely on cheap jump scares and/or excessive gore. Well, The Babadook is more the sort of horror movie I’ve desperately waited years for. It’s an Australian film so it’s still “foreign” which means that, once again, only foreign countries seem capable of making decent horror films these days. Time to catch up, America! You can do better than Paranormal Activity 12 & inferior remakes of foreign horror films.

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I know The Babadook won’t appeal to the more casual cinemagoer but I highly recommend it to those looking for a good old-fashioned psychological horror. The acting in this is FANTASTIC. Essie Davis is especially great as the mother and you can really feel her pure exhaustion in being a single mother dealing with a six-year-old boy who seems to have some deep psychological issues and is starting to show signs of violent behavior. Noah Wiseman as the boy is also very good, especially considering that it appears this is the only thing he’s really been in. He has a great look and can be terrifying one second and so adorably sweet the next. These two really are brilliant and help to make this such a good film.

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As for the story itself, it’s fairly straightforward stuff and not necessarily something we’ve never ever seen before. However, it’s how a story is presented that can make or break a horror movie. As I mentioned above, this isn’t one of those movies that relies on cheap jump scares and there’s also no gore (a bit of violence and blood, as to be expected, but nothing over the top). Some of the things that happen are pretty disturbing, especially as such a young child is involved. There’s nothing “silly” here – I saw this in a fairly full cinema and there were none of the usual laughs you hear when you watch things like Insidious and something that’s meant to be scary happens but it just ends up looking ridiculous. The slowly building tension is quite intense and the underlying theme is genuinely terrifying. I’m being quite vague as I don’t want to spoil this in any way for those who like the sound of this one. This is psychological terror. It HAS been done before but this film does it all in a very effective way.

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I can’t end this without making mention of the BOOK in this movie. If you’ve read anything about the movie or watched the trailer (which I’m going to include at the end of this review as the film still isn’t that widely known), you’ll know that the Mister Babadook character comes from a children’s book the mother reads to the son. This book is bloody horrifying! I think there may be an actual book made of it?? I’m not sure but, if there is, it will NOT be on my Christmas list. My only complaint when it comes to this film is that I wish we’d seen even more of the book. Or… Maybe not…

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Summary:

THIS is a good psychological horror film. It’s disturbing and terrifying and makes you think instead of jump. I wouldn’t say it’s the scariest horror movie I’ve seen but it’s certainly one that will stay there in the back of your mind and you’ll think about it every now & then as you’re drifting off to sleep and worrying about the things in life that scare you. I do think this is one that older viewers will probably appreciate more than the young, especially those who are parents as it will play on their fears more than anyone else’s. And, once again, I have to say that the two main actors are magnificent – it was wonderful seeing such quality acting in a “horror” movie.

My Rating: 8/10

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Official UK trailer:

About that book – Apparently they WILL be releasing it. I’ve just received the below tweets from The Babadook. Nooooooo!!!!!!

Life After Beth (2014) Review

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Life After Beth (2014)

Directed by Jeff Baena

Starring:
Aubrey Plaza
Dane DeHaan
Molly Shannon
Cheryl Hines
Paul Reiser
Matthew Gray Gubler
John C Reilly
Anna Kendrick

Running time: 89 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A young man’s recently deceased girlfriend mysteriously returns from the dead, but he slowly realizes she is not the way he remembered her.

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My Opinion:

I can’t figure out how I feel about Aubrey Plaza. I’ve never seen Parks And Recreation. I first saw her in Safety Not Guaranteed, which I didn’t exactly love but I didn’t mind her. Then I saw her in a couple interviews and thought she was kind of weirdly funny. Then I watched that awful The To Do List and she just got on my nerves. This is my “horror month”, however, so I figured I’d check this movie out as I love a decent zombie movie (even though there are too many of them now).

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This movie had potential even though it’s too much of the same old “been there done that” when it comes to zombie comedy. The title is perfect and it makes you wonder if they came up with the title first then tried to write a movie around it. Some of this movie works but most of it doesn’t. Unfortunately, the weakest thing about the film is its two main characters (played by Aubrey Plaza & Dane DeHaan). I didn’t really like Plaza in this one – she played the role fine, I guess, but it possibly could have been a bit better with a different actress. That funny-looking Dane DeHaan was fine (sorry, Zoe – I think he’s a little funny-looking). 😉 I liked him most in Chronicle but it feels like he plays that same sort of role too much and his role in this one is somewhat similar in that he’s again a “troubled youth with issues”. Oh well – the role suits him. His main issue in this one is that he seems perfectly happy to have sex with a girl who has just returned from the dead and is very likely a zombie. Ew. The ROT…

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I understand the point this movie is trying to make about relationships and how we can sometimes stay in unhealthy ones because we find it hard to let go. It doesn’t work that well in the film, though, as I really didn’t care at all about the two main characters (especially poor Beth, who we don’t get to know at all in “life” – we only see her as a thoroughly unlikable zombie-girl made to represent the stereotypical “crazy bitch” girlfriend, which was almost a little sexist & insulting). It may have been better if we’d seen her as she was before her death. Maybe. I don’t know.

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What DOES work fairly well in this movie are all the lesser characters that provide the comic relief. Both sets of parents (John C Reilly & Molly Shannon as Plaza’s and Cheryl Hines & Paul Reiser as DeHaan’s) were pretty funny and I liked DeHaan’s asshole brother (Matthew Gray Gubler), who was a little bit like Bill Paxton in Weird Science. I wish these characters had had more screen time and that we’d had more of the overall story explained & happening all along (there’s a bit more to it than just “girlfriend comes back from the dead”) but, unfortunately, they chose to pretty much focus ONLY on the relationship between Plaza & DeHaan. This may have worked if their characters had been at all developed so that the audience cared one way or another what would happen to them. Without knowing what their relationship was like before the death, it just seemed a bit pointless.

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Summary:

Pretty pointless zombie-romance-comedy when there are plenty of better ones out there in this day & age of zombie movie obsessiveness. Just watch Zombieland or Shaun Of The Dead if you want a zombie comedy (or the movie I’ll be reviewing tomorrow) or Warm Bodies if you want this weird new genre of zombie romance. Those are good – Life After Beth is not. A waste of a good movie title.

My Rating: 5.5/10

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Gone Girl (2014) Review

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****SPOILER-FREE REVIEW****

Gone Girl (2014)

Directed by David Fincher

Based on Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Starring:
Ben Affleck
Rosamund Pike
Neil Patrick Harris
Tyler Perry
Carrie Coon
Kim Dickens

Running time: 149 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
With his wife’s disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent.

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My Opinion:

Yes, I’ve read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (you can read my review of the book HERE – also spoiler-free). I really will keep this short as it’s a hard movie to discuss without spoilers and, for those who haven’t read the book, I hate the thought of anyone spoiling the story for you. It’s a GREAT story and it’s what I loved the most about the book. I’ll say now that, if you’ve read the book, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the film. If you haven’t read the book, I think you’ll enjoy the film even more as you’ll be getting to watch the story unfold without any knowledge of what’s going to happen next. You’ll be getting to experience the same feeling I had reading the book, which I read very quickly as I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next.

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I had my doubts about Ben Affleck being in this as he wasn’t at all what I pictured and seemed a bit too old. Well, you know what? He’s great in this! I was happier with Rosamund Pike being cast as she did fit my picture of the character. She’s absolutely amazing as Amy! I’m very happy with all the performances but especially Affleck, Pike, and Kim Dickens who does a fantastic job playing the main detective. Carrie Coon is also good as Affleck’s twin sister but her character felt a little less explored than in the book where she was one of my favorite characters.

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As far as movie adaptations of books go, I’m happy to say they’ve done an excellent job with this one. As always, things had to be left out to keep the running time down but I don’t think it was anything that hurt the story in any way. You of course aren’t going to get quite as much character development as you will in a book but they came very close to achieving as much as possible, especially with the main and most important characters. I’d have liked to see more of Rosamund Pike as I didn’t feel they captured her character as well as in the book (through no fault of Pike’s, though – again, this will just be down to time restraints).

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Summary:

This movie is very good. I don’t think many people will find it better than Fincher’s Fight Club or Seven but I think it comes fairly close in some ways. I know some people have been a little disappointed with his more recent efforts but I can’t see many people coming out of Gone Girl and saying they didn’t at least enjoy the story and the performances. In a way, I’m jealous of those who get to watch this without having read the book as I never enjoy a film as much if I’ve read the book (especially this sort of genre) as it loses its impact when you know the outcome. I’m very happy with the adaptation, though. Seriously – I have no complaints there and think they’ve done a pretty damn good job achieving all they did in 149 minutes as it’s a very complex story and set of characters. Well done to all involved! I definitely recommend this one and, if you’ve not read the book, I’d almost say to watch the movie first and then read the book to further flesh out the characters. This is probably the first time I’d EVER say to do things in that order! I just think you’ll have a great time with this movie if you go into it knowing as little as possible.

My Rating: 8/10

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I Origins (2014) Review

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I Origins (2014)

Directed by Mike Cahill

Starring:
Michael Pitt
Brit Marling
Astrid Berges-Frisbey
Steven Yeun
Archie Panjabi
William Mapother
Cara Seymour

Running time: 106 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB):
A molecular biologist and his laboratory partner uncover evidence that may fundamentally change society as we know it.

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My Opinion:

Has anyone else seen this? Has anyone even heard of it?? Well, it showed up at a cinema near me & I liked the sound of it after reading that it was another Brit Marling film (written & directed by the same guy who directed Another Earth & co-wrote the script for that one with her). I quite liked Another Earth so the hubby & I went to this one today and we were the ONLY ones watching it. Don’t you love it when that happens?? 🙂

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As far as Brit Marling films go, I liked I Origins a lot more than Sound Of My Voice (which I reviewed HERE). But did I like it better than Another Earth?? Hmm… I think I actually did. It’s very similar to the style and the sort of themes explored in Another Earth. I think. You know, I’m not one to really think TOO hard about movies and I’m terrible about noticing things like symbolism and all that. Luckily, I had the hubby with me today to point out a lot of things that I’d have otherwise missed in this movie and it helped me to appreciate the film a bit more (but don’t tell him I said that). I especially liked his theories on the lift (elevator to you Americans). Maybe I’ll further explore all that in my mind. First, though, I need some lunch as I haven’t had anything other than popcorn!

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Let’s see… I’m not sure how much to say about this movie as I think it’s really best to not spoil it in any way. As you can tell by the pictures (and the poster), eyes are very important to the plot. Michael Pitt & Brit Marling are scientists who research the evolution of eyes (to put it very basically – there’s a bit more to it but that was all a bit over my head). There’s a lot of talk of God vs Science and all that. This is very “indie”, though, so it won’t be for everyone. It’s a “sci-fi drama” and, just like Another Earth, uses sci-fi more as the backdrop while it’s actually exploring human relations and how we’re so different yet so connected. I’m going to wrap this up now because I probably don’t really know what I’m talking about.

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Summary:

If you’re a patient person who likes an intriguing story that takes its time exploring the characters and throwing a lot of symbolism out there before getting a bit more in-depth as to what the movie is REALLY about, you might like this. If you hate indie films and you weren’t a fan of Another Earth, it’s unlikely that you’d enjoy this movie. It’s very slow-paced, yes. But, as much as I love having a cinema to myself, I’m sad to see movies like these go so unnoticed. I KNEW we’d be the only ones watching this film today. Yet I dread to think how many people will be at that same cinema watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when it finally comes out here. It’s a sad world we live in…

I recommend this to fans of Another Earth for sure. Overall, I think I even preferred I Origins to that film as I liked the story and characters a bit more. Hopefully you’ll have the opportunity to see it as I believe it’s a pretty limited release in the UK right now as well as in America back in July.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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**Edit to add: Oh! I forgot! There IS a scene at the very end after all the credits that you should probably stay for….

October HORROR FEST starting tomorrow at Cinema Parrot Disco!

Okay – it won’t be much of a “fest” but it’ll hopefully be a bit of fun for the few people who occasionally stop by on this blog. 🙂 Last year I did this whole “Halloween Horror Fest” where I reviewed several horror movies based on other bloggers’ reviews that I’d liked. This year I’ll just be doing random horror movie reviews but I’ll try to review as many as possible for all of October. So, other than reviewing new releases that I go to in the cinema in October (I’m hoping to see Gone Girl Thursday & post a review for it Friday), it’ll be ALL HORROR, baby! Well, except for maybe one that’s more of a thriller, one that’s a dark fantasy, and one that’s more of an “alien invasion comedy” that my hubby insists I can’t post during my horror month. But, hey – my blog, my rules!

Here’s a little bit about what’s in store for this month:

IMDB Top 250 Reviews: I’m starting these up again next week but will only be posting one each Tuesday. For October, I have four Top 250 reviews of films that should fit in okay during my month of scary movies.

CPD Classics: Remember these? I used to sometimes review all-time favorites of mine or favorites that I just felt needed highlighting as they aren’t that well known. Several of these will be popping up throughout this month so I can talk about some of my favorite horror films (including my top two). But only some – I need to leave some for me to do next October just in case I’m actually still blogging then.

Zombie Fridays: Starting next week, I’ll post a review of a zombie movie every Friday for the rest of the month. Two are classics and two are their remakes – I thought it would be fun to compare them.

That’s it, folks! Nothing too special planned but I hope you enjoy my horror reviews and perhaps discover one you’d never heard of and would like to check out. I know that’s one of the things I love most about blogging – discovering new movies through the reviews posted on all the great blogs here. 🙂

The Giver (2014) Review

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The Giver (2014)

Directed by Phillip Noyce

Based on The Giver by Lois Lowry

Starring:
Jeff Bridges
Meryl Streep
Brenton Thwaites
Alexander Skarsgård
Odeya Rush
Katie Holmes
Taylor Swift

Running time: 97 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Jonas is an 11 (soon to be 12) year old boy in a future where there is no war, suffering or pain. He and his family unit follow strict rules within their community including things such as the precision of language and the sharing of feelings and dreams. Everyone is assigned a role in life at the Ceremony of Twelve and no one is more surprised than Jonas when, at his ceremony, he’s selected as the next Receiver of Memory. During his training, he starts to discover that his community may not be as perfect as it seems.

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My Opinion:

I’ve just read & reviewed this book HERE (and was lazy & used my same plot synopsis). As always, THE BOOK IS BETTER! I mean, sometimes the film adaptations are okay. However, I was really disappointed with this one so, seriously – please read the book if you have any interest in this story! It’s a quick read. They changed A LOT of details for the movie & made a fairly simple story too over complicated.

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As yet another teenage dystopian film, The Giver is okay. It will probably seem boring to teens, though, as it’s not exactly as exciting or action packed as The Hunger Games. I knew they’d do this but it still pissed me off – they added loads of action that wasn’t in the book and gave small characters WAY bigger and more important roles (Meryl Streep’s character has a small part at the start of the book then you never hear from her again plus the two friends aren’t all that significant). It annoyed me as it’s so obvious they’re trying to compete with Divergent, etc, but the book is a lot more subtle and I think the story works much better without all the movie’s added drama (and romance that every teen film seems to require).

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Okay – Focus! Just talk about the movie…

Let’s see – I did like the Pleasantville black & white thing with added bits of color as the story went on. Don’t think that’s a spoiler as it’s obvious from the trailers (yes, it’s that way in the book too). I was looking forward to that aspect (I did love that in Pleasantville) but I didn’t think the movie handled it quite right all the time. The boy isn’t at all what I pictured & they changed an important thing about his looks as described in the book. Jeff Bridges is okay but more “gruff” and bitter than I’d expected. I hated Katie Holmes’ character and hated how they turned it into a story more about Jonas & his two friends whereas in the book the focus is much more on his family unit & the child they’re taking care of (Gabriel). Dammit! This is impossible. I clearly can’t discuss this movie without constantly comparing it to the book. I give up. JUST READ THE BOOK! 🙂

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Summary:

The Giver has a simple yet powerful story that I felt got lost in all the extra scenes they somehow felt necessary to add into the movie to keep teenage audiences interested. Give teenagers a LITTLE credit & don’t just assume they can’t think for themselves. The movie takes the one main theme & shoves it down the viewers’ throats whereas the book presents things in a way that gives the reader the ability to make up their own mind about things. I feel that the movie leaves no room for discussion afterwards and the ending of the movie is a big disappointment compared to the excellent ending in the book. I really have no idea what to rate this movie as, if I’d NOT read the book, I think I’d have quite enjoyed it. However, knowing that the story is told in a much better way in the book does annoy me. Hmm. The movie is decent enough, I guess. Just do me a favor & read the book first? Please??

My Rating: 6/10

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Sorry – this was a rubbish post! I was actually planning on taking a short break from blogging & leaving My Top Ten Carpets & Rugs In Movies as my last post for a while. Go read that HERE instead – that was fun to put together! I’ll start up the reviews again through October with as many horror movies & scary films as I can manage. 🙂

The Boxtrolls (2014) Review

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The Boxtrolls (2014)

Directed by Graham Annable & Anthony Stacchi

Based on Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow

Starring:
Isaac Hempstead-Wright
Elle Fanning
Ben Kingsley
Toni Collette
Jared Harris
Simon Pegg
Nick Frost
Richard Ayoade
Tracy Morgan

Production company: Laika

Running time: 96 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of an orphaned boy named Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) who was raised by underground cave-dwelling trash collecting trolls called the Boxtrolls. The Boxtrolls are targeted by an evil exterminator named Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) and Eggs has to save his family from Snatcher.

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My Opinion:

I’ll get straight to the point: I didn’t enjoy this one. At all. I really really wanted to! I thought it looked very promising. Last Halloween, I watched and reviewed ParaNorman and I liked that one a lot. However, I also fell asleep halfway through Coraline YEARS ago and never bothered to finish it, so… I guess that’s only 1 out of 3 Laika films I’ve liked so far. Hmm.

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I’ll give The Boxtrolls this: the stop-motion animation is amazing! I can’t fault that in the slightest. I also really liked the overall look & style of the movie. What I didn’t like, however, were the characters or the story so I really couldn’t buy into it all despite the boxtrolls themselves being pretty likeable. Unfortunately, they weren’t IN the movie enough. There was far more focus on the human characters than I was expecting and I got very bored when the boxtrolls weren’t onscreen. I could kind of take or leave the main boy in it (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) but I found the girl (Elle Fanning) quite annoying, especially her voice which I think just didn’t work for the character. Unfortunately, the rest of the human characters were even worse (although I suppose the baddie, Ben Kingsley, is at least a very memorable character). Seriously – The Boxtrolls needed more boxtrolls! I liked them just fine. Although I do this ALL the time when I watch a movie at home, I never do this when I go to the cinema: I fell asleep off & on somewhere in the middle of this thing when it was just the annoying human characters onscreen. Probably not a good sign… 😉

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I’m not going to ramble on about this one. Is it bad? No. It just wasn’t for me. If you think it’s your type of thing or that your kids will like it, don’t let me talk you out of going to it. My hubby liked it FAR more than I did. The five-year-old with us also seemed to like it okay, so…. Maybe it IS just me! The movie is an odd one. As for the age it’s suitable for, it’s certainly not as scary as ParaNorman or Coraline, which I would never let a five-year-old watch. This one is aimed younger than those but I’d say kids would have to be six or seven for the most part to actually appreciate it and the main bad guy is probably far too scary for those under five or so. As always, though, every kid is different.

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Super Short Summary:

I just didn’t like this one. Sorry! Giving it a lower rating would be unfair, however, as I know it’s not “bad”. Based on ParaNorman, I’d still watch another film made by Laika. Awesome stop-motion animation, at the very least!

My Rating: 5/10

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Lucy (2014) Review

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Lucy (2014)

Directed by Luc Besson

Starring:
Scarlett Johansson
Morgan Freeman
Amr Waked
Choi Min-sik

Running time: 89 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.

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My Opinion:

I normally try to wait a day or two to write a review as it sometimes takes me a while to collect my thoughts & decide how I feel about a movie. However, I’m short on time so am writing this review immediately after seeing Lucy. Bear with me while I try to decide what I thought of it as I’m still not sure myself.

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First of all: Scarlett Johansson. She’s turning into quite the interesting actress lately, eh? The second I heard about Under The Skin, I was intrigued & looked all over for a cinema anywhere near me that was showing it. No such luck! Anyway – I finally saw that last week (I’ll be reviewing it on Wednesday if you’d like to know my thoughts on it) and I was impressed with Johansson’s performance. Add in her voice-only role in Her, which I thought was the highlight of an already amazing film, and I’ve had to re-evaluate the somewhat negative opinion I had of her. Bravo to her for taking on these roles. It’s great to see a female lead carrying films that are more than just some dumb Kate Hudson-type rom-coms. Her is my favorite but, of the other two, I think Under The Skin is the superior film to Lucy. However, I do think people have been too harsh on Lucy and, in a way, I thought Johansson did an even better job as Lucy than as an alien in human skin.

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Damn – I suppose I have to talk about the movie as well as its star. Well, there’s good & bad. It’s been reviewed enough now that I think everyone knows the story is a bit iffy and it can seem silly at times. I’m not sure if the weird mash-up of violent action movie & movie-that-thinks-it’s-really-deep-and-smart QUITE works. However… You know what? Screw it. I enjoyed it. Yes, I did. I think… Um. Yes. I did. There have been plenty of negative reviews for Lucy so I’m going to focus on just the positive & tell you what I liked about it:

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– We have a strong female lead, which is something I always go for in movies. I think Emily Blunt’s role in Edge Of Tomorrow was still a better one as she just naturally kicks ass without the help of a drug but I’m liking seeing girls starring in some kick ass action films!

– There’s some weird & wonderful Matrix-y shit going on here & I liked it. I loved the scene in the airplane bathroom and all her confrontations with people as she grew more powerful.

– I like that this movie at least TRIES to be something a bit different. Everyone moans about Michael Bay & his braindead blow-shit-up movies but then we get something like Lucy and people still complain. It at least has a good concept even if it doesn’t quite know how to fully explore it or where to take the story but it’s fun to watch and its themes might make you think afterwards. But, hey – it’s just a movie! Movies are meant to entertain us. I think people forget that sometimes. I had fun watching Lucy.

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Summary:

I’ve really struggled writing this review. I’ve not read too many reviews yet as I was planning on watching this but I KNOW some people will absolutely hate this film. It’s definitely not for everyone, especially those who set their expectations way too high. If you like your violent action movies with a twist of sci-fi weirdness & some added university lectures complete with educational film strips, you might like this one. However, I’m not actually recommending it to anyone reading this. If you do watch it, just watch it with an open mind & try to have some fun with it. I did.

My Rating: 7/10

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Of the two reviews I’ve read in full, I liked Lucy more than Cara but less than Eric. Let me know if you’ve done a review for this as well – I’m curious to know more opinions on this one. 🙂

Earth To Echo (2014) Review

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Earth To Echo (2014)

Directed by Dave Green

Starring:
Teo Halm
Brian “Astro” Bradley
Reese C. Hartwig
Ella Wahlestedt

Running time: 89 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After receiving a bizarre series of encrypted messages, a group of kids embark on an adventure with an alien who needs their help.

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My Opinion:

I was actually really looking forward to seeing this movie. There don’t seem to be many live-action family movies these days that are enjoyable for the whole family. A lot of “family” movies are aimed purely at the kids, who filmmakers seem to think are idiots so they dumb the movies down and throw in a bunch of childish humor. I have a confession to make: I really like Night At The Museum. It’s fun! I enjoyed it and kids enjoyed it. That’s what I mean by a good “family” movie. Remember things like Big? They used to make good live-action family movies like that all the time! I don’t know why there are so few these days. Anyway – that’s what I was hoping for from Earth To Echo. Unfortunately, it’s not a great movie overall (It’s no E.T.!) but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

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I saw this in a packed cinema and the kids of around 8 or 9 or so really seemed to like it. They reacted positively to a lot of things and laughed several times at the likeable “geeky” boy. I think that kids who grow up with this movie will always be fond of it in the same way that people my age are fond of E.T. (I have to say this once again, though – this is no E.T.! I’ll probably say that again before this review is over). 😉

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There are too many things “wrong” with this movie that stop it from being something that could ever be considered a family classic. The storyline is a bit weak, the pacing is off & it takes way too long for anything to really happen, they don’t show enough of the adorable Echo who should really be the star of the show, and I think making this a “found footage” film was a big mistake and means that it won’t be timeless like, I dunno… E.T.? Ha! There I go with E.T. again. Seriously, though – could you imagine if Spielberg had made that a found footage film (if, you know, that had been a thing back then…)?? Finally, Earth To Echo just tries too hard to be too many existing movies but doesn’t live up to any of them. It’s a weird mash-up of The Goonies, Chronicle, Batteries Not Included, Explorers, and, umm… E.T.!) 😉

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Where Earth To Echo succeeds, however, is with the main characters of the three boys & their friendship. I found them very believable and they talked the way “real” kids talk and I can imagine them actually being friends in real life. They have very different personalities but they worked together really well. It’s a shame that the movie lets them down because I think they did a good job. Also, Echo is adorable! Like I said, though, they don’t show enough of him. I realize that this movie was focusing more on the friendship between the boys, however, and Echo is the thing that makes them even closer.

Summary:

Overall, Earth To Echo doesn’t quite work. I was really hoping for something better based on the trailers but at least there are some strong characters and a great little alien. I think people have been far too harsh on this movie, however – it’ll never live up to the classics it’s trying to be but it definitely has its good points. Kids will like it fine & adults won’t hate having to sit through it.

My Rating: 6/10

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Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014) Review

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Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014)

Directed by Matt Reeves

Starring:
Andy Serkis
Jason Clarke
Gary Oldman
Keri Russell
Toby Kebbell
Kodi Smit-McPhee

Running time: 131 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In the wake of a disaster that changed the world, the growing and genetically evolving apes find themselves at a critical point with the human race.

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My Opinion:

I’m sure everyone has reviewed this by now so I’ll just say this: Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is pretty damn spectacular. It isn’t perfect but any issues I have with it are pretty insignificant compared to the amazing special effects. WOW! Hey you WordPress whippersnappers – remember that I’m old. You’re all used to movies looking like this now & just expect it all the time. You’re spoiled!!! 😉 I mean, I’m actually still impressed by 1968’s Planet Of The Apes so, you know, maybe I’m more easy to please than some of you. But this film is REALLY freaking impressive.

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The apes!!! I’d happily watch a movie with just the apes & no human actors on screen. There was so much depth to their characters. The only downside is that they did such an excellent job with the look and the character development of the apes that the humans in the film really do pale by comparison. It was actually easier to feel for the apes and their struggle than it was for the humans and all that they’ve gone through. However, (and this is something I loved about this film), there’s no black & white “humans are evil and the apes are innocent” (or vice versa). We see both sides and I thought the story worked really well & that the way things progressed was very believable. I was completely immersed in this film and that doesn’t happen as often as I’d like considering how many movies I go to.

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Summary:

I don’t know what else to say that hasn’t been said by others. I thought Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes was pretty great and I love that Dawn manages to improve on it. Also, I’ll fully admit that I love that this movie turns into a full-on blockbuster at the end. This movie is proof that you CAN have an exciting, heart-pounding blockbuster as well as an intelligent script and well developed characters that you actually care about. I do wish the human characters had had as much time spent on making us care about them as the apes had but it’s really a minor complaint. This movie is very very good.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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I STILL haven’t made my mind up on if Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is my 2nd or 3rd favorite movie of 2014. It’s between this & Her. See my full list HERE if you’re bothered. 🙂

How To Train Your Dragon 2 (2014) Review

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How To Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

Directed by Dean DeBlois

Starring Voice Actors:
Jay Baruchel
Cate Blanchett
Gerard Butler
Craig Ferguson
America Ferrera
Jonah Hill
Christopher Mintz-Plasse
T.J. Miller
Kristen Wiig
Djimon Hounsou
Kit Harington

Production company: DreamWorks Animation

Running time: 102 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film takes place five years after the first film, featuring Hiccup and his friends as young adults. Hiccup discovers a larger conflict brewing between humans and dragons and he finds himself at the center of it.

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My Opinion:

Yesterday, Cara from Silver Screen Serenade reviewed the first How To Train Your Dragon HERE for my IMDB Top 250 Challenge. Thanks again, Cara! (You can also read her review of the sequel HERE. She’s a big fan of these films). 🙂

I enjoyed the first How To Train Your Dragon. I say it way too often and everyone is probably sick of hearing it but I’m a huge Disney and especially Pixar fan and feel that kids films from other studios (such as DreamWorks) never come close to how amazing most of those are for kids as well as for adults. It’s kind of the same with HTTYD 1 & 2 although I do think they’re certainly two of the strongest movies from DreamWorks.

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I won’t get too wordy as I think Cara has done better reviews but I’ll kind of try to review it for those with kids as well as give my own personal opinion. The sequel is pretty dark – both movies are aimed at a higher age than most of the Disney/Pixar stuff anyway but there are a couple things in the sequel that may be upsetting to younger kids. There’s a sad thing that may be very confusing to them & need explaining and there’s one very big, mean dragon that will probably frighten some. As always, it depends on each individual kid (I saw this with a five-year-old who rarely gets scared by a movie and even this one didn’t seem to bother this kid in the slightest). If your kid is very young and easily upset by movies, it’s probably best to wait a couple years on this one.

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One thing I really liked about the sequel was that there are LOADS of dragons compared to the first one. They’re colorful and it was really quite lovely seeing them all flying around. I also really liked there being much more development of the relationship between Hiccup & his father – this was probably the best thing about the movie. There’s also just as much going on in this one between Hiccup and Toothless, who is possibly even more adorable at first in the sequel and has a lot to do later in the film. The addition of a new character worked really well too, I thought. It’s a shame that Astrid and the other kids (well, they’re 20 now) didn’t have as much screen time as I’d have liked (especially Astrid as I think she’s a great female character in a movie aimed more at boys) but they are still in it plenty so I’m not really complaining.

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I think I must not have paid close attention to the first movie as, for half of this one, I thought the twins that look like Nelson (showing my age!) were both boys. The girl twin lusts after strong, manly men in this one and I honestly thought “Wow, that’s pretty cool that a kids film is brave enough to have an openly gay character. Bravo!”. With the Hiccup leg thing as well, I was thinking that DreamWorks are really doing a good job showing kids that there are lots of different types of people and that we’re all equal and all that. Lol! I’m an idiot. Well, maybe it’ll happen someday. And, hey – Kristen Wiig sounds like a boy. Here’s Nelson for you kids under 35:

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See??

Hopefully they get along better than these two:

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I’ll wrap this up now that I’ve admitted to being an idiot.

Summary:

How To Train Your Dragon 2 is a very strong sequel and they’re both two of the better (and possibly the best) DreamWorks movies. It’s much darker than the first, however, and younger kids may find a few things confusing and scary. For a kids film, the story gets a little complicated toward the end and I think the simpler story in the first one worked better, especially how it came full circle with what happens to both Toothless & Hiccup. It’s still a good sequel, however, and I liked seeing much more character development for the main characters as well as loads more dragons. Definitely recommended if you’re a fan of the first film but be cautious with younger kids as I think one upsetting scene will be quite difficult to explain to them.

My Rating: 7/10

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Boyhood (2014) Review

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Boyhood (2014)

Directed by Richard Linklater

Starring:
Patricia Arquette
Ellar Coltrane
Lorelei Linklater
Ethan Hawke

Running time: 166 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Boyhood is a 2014 American drama film written and directed by Richard Linklater and starring Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater and Ethan Hawke. The film was shot intermittently over a twelve-year period, as Coltrane grew from childhood to adulthood; filming began in the summer of 2002 and was completed in October 2013.

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My Opinion:

I’ll get straight to the point: This movie is NOT for everyone. Unless you’re already a fan of Richard Linklater’s style, it’s very unlikely that you’ll enjoy this film. This is long (2 hours, 46 minutes). There’s a lot of talking. Not much happens. If you don’t like this type of movie, don’t go to it. Luckily, I saw this movie during the day with only a few other people in the cinema. My poor hubby saw it in the evening in a packed cinema. As soon as the movie ended, all he heard around him was people bitching about the movie. (“That was way too long!” “Nothing happens!” “Who would ever want to sit through that again?!”). This is where the general movie-going public gets on my nerves. Do a little bit of homework before going to a movie! There’s this thing called the Internet where you can find out what a movie is about. And when you looked it up to see the showtimes? Well, guess what: the length of the movie is listed there as well! Shocking, I know. Maybe look on IMDB & see if you like other films the director has done? If you can’t be bothered to do any of these things, either stay home or shut the hell up. Okay – rant over! Maybe I’ll talk about what I actually thought of Boyhood now…

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I went into this movie with very high expectations. I’m a Linklater fan – I love the “Before” films and Dazed & Confused is one of my very favorite movies. To be honest, I was kind of hoping for one of those “life changing” films. Fellow movie bloggers should know what I mean by that – You know how some movies really “move” you and make you want to be a better person & all that shit? Things like The Shawshank Redemption, Cinema Paradiso & WALL-E do that for me. Anyway, I didn’t really get that sort of experience from Boyhood. Watching a boy grow up before your eyes like that is a pretty cool experience, though, and you certainly have to give Linklater credit for taking on such a hugely ambitious project. To make a movie out of 12 years’ worth of filming is a hell of an achievement. Does it all come together as an enjoyable “movie”, though? Maybe not quite. In a way, it’s more of a “social experiment” than a film. As a social experiment, it works & it’s pretty amazing. As a movie, it falls a little bit flat.

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Boyhood is very much like Before Sunrise, etc, with the talking and the improvisation and the feeling that you’re just watching normal people going about their daily lives. The characters don’t work together quite as well as Hawke & Delpy did in the Before films and the banter feels a little less natural than it did in those. Plus, it feels like there’s even less of a “story” in Boyhood. I’m not really going to fault Boyhood for a lack of story, however, as that’s not really the point of the film. As much as I wish it was, life isn’t a movie. It’s filled with long, boring days. It’s how you get through those days and the relationships you have with others that really matters in life. And blah blah, yada yada… We all know this although very few of us choose to “seize the day” and all that (I know I don’t live that way). Boyhood attempts to show us this but, for me personally, it didn’t quite connect with me in the same way other films with a similar theme have.

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Summary:

I don’t feel I’ve done a very good job explaining my feelings in this review. I think Boyhood is very good. It’s unique & a great piece of art. Watching the character of Mason (as well as the real-life Ellar Coltrane & all the other actors in this film including Linklater’s own daughter) literally age 12 years in just under 3 hours is, well, pretty damn special. I did genuinely care about the characters (especially Mason but also his mom, played very well by Patricia Arquette). Boyhood is very much a Richard Linklater film – it’s all about the characters & their relationships. I sounded slightly negative in my review as I KNOW some people will hate this movie if they’re expecting something other than a Linklater film & I suppose I wanted to let those people know what they’d be getting themselves into if they choose to watch this. No, it’s not a movie I’m likely to watch again anytime soon but that’s because it’s not really that type of movie. It’s more of an experience and I’m happy I managed to see it in the cinema. I recommend Boyhood but probably only to Linklater fans and/or those who are interested in filmmaking in any way.

My Rating: 8/10

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Maleficent (2014) Review

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Maleficent (2014)

Directed by Robert Stromberg

Based on La Belle au bois dormant by Charles Perrault & Little Briar Rose by The Brothers Grimm

Starring:
Angelina Jolie
Sharlto Copley
Elle Fanning
Sam Riley
Imelda Staunton
Juno Temple
Lesley Manville

Running time: 97 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Maleficent explores the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the 1959 classic Sleeping Beauty and the elements of her betrayal that ultimately turned her pure heart to stone. Driven by revenge and a fierce desire to protect the moors over which she presides, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) cruelly places an irrevocable curse upon the human king’s newborn infant Aurora (Elle Fanning).

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My Opinion:

Saw this today (it’ll be “yesterday” when this posts) and am still trying to decide how I feel about it. Overall, I think it’s pretty good. It starts out very strong then loses its way a little. There were things I thought were very good (Angelina Jolie), things I didn’t like so much (the story felt rushed) and, unfortunately, one thing I really hated (the good fairies). I’ll break it down a bit now and at the very end I’ll say how scary I think it is for those with kids although, of course, it depends on each individual kid & if they’re easily scared or not.

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I’ll start out with the good things about this. The best thing, by far, is Angelina Jolie. I’ve never been a huge fan of Jolie but I have to admit that she’s PERFECT as Maleficent. She looks great in this – they got the look of Maleficent so right. I’m actually a big fan of Disney’s 1959 Sleeping Beauty. I know it’s dated in some ways (Sleeping Beauty herself is pretty insipid) but it’s a lovely looking film, Once Upon A Dream is a truly classic song, I LOVE the good fairies, and Maleficent is SUCH an iconic villain – I can certainly see why they’ve chosen her for her own movie. I don’t think Maleficent as a character is in any way damaged by this film. They’ve done an excellent job bringing her character “to life” in this movie & giving her a backstory and, of course, much more depth than in Disney’s 1959 version. It’s also nice that she’s such a strong female character. And I’m happy to report that Aurora is not so completely useless in this like she is in the 1959 film (although she’s extremely underdeveloped – more about that later).

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As I said, this movie starts out very strong. I really liked Maleficent’s backstory & seeing what turned her “evil”. I really liked the look of the film and was very much enjoying the first half of it. They managed to take a character who is one of the most evil Disney villains and did make her sympathetic. But here’s where we get into what some will like about this movie and others will hate…

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I’m doing my best to keep this review spoiler free but it’s a hard one to discuss in this way. I’ll say this: it VERY much changes the story in Disney’s 1959 Sleeping Beauty. I admit I know very little about the original story but do know that the 1959 film bears little resemblance to it anyway so most everyone, like myself, will be comparing Maleficent to the 1959 Sleeping Beauty. The changes didn’t bother me – I see it as another interpretation. Others may not like it. I don’t know… I think the direction they took was a good one and made it feel less dated and “Disney-fied” (although, it’s fairly obvious where they’re going to go with the story). Sorry to be so vague but I don’t want to spoil anything. However, I will say that Maleficent DID ruin my absolute favorite thing about Sleeping Beauty: the good fairies.

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I hated them in this. They changed their names but kept their “colors” the same. Imelda Staunton was okay but I hated Juno Temple. Too young! I know I know – I’m comparing it too much to Sleeping Beauty in this case but, dammit – I love Flora, Fauna & Merryweather. They’re nitwits but they mean well and you can’t help but like them in Sleeping Beauty. In Maleficent, they’re just plain nitwits & I hated how they don’t seem to even really care about Aurora whereas they loved her in Sleeping Beauty. And they look pretty crap in Maleficent – I hated the look of them when they were small fairies. Ugh. Sorry to go on about this so much but they’re SO unlikeable in Maleficent! What a shame. It’s the only change that I hated, however, and I know that’s because they happen to be three of my favorite Disney characters.The other changes to the story were… Interesting. I liked them fine. But they’re very drastic changes so beware if you’re expecting Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.

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Another problem I had with this was that in making Maleficent a sympathetic character, they went a little too far in making us not care about the other side. Things in life aren’t so black & white, which they’ve proved by taking Maleficent & making us feel for her. But that doesn’t have to necessarily make those against her “evil” either. They spent a lot of time developing the character of Maleficent and did a very good job but, unfortunately, we get hardly any character development at ALL with anyone else. The first half of the film focuses SO much on Maleficent that, by the time Elle Fanning shows up as the 16-year-old Aurora, the rest of the film goes far too quickly and we barely get to know Aurora at all. Her father, King Stefan, well… I don’t know how to discuss him without spoilers either. I also wasn’t crazy about the changes made with his character although I didn’t hate it as much as with the good fairies. I’m just not sure it fully worked. And Sharlto Copley really didn’t feel right for the role. But after such a set up for his character at the beginning, he ends up very poorly developed in the second half of the film. Really, the movie is too short. After such a promising start, the second half felt very rushed and needed far more character development for Aurora & King Stefan at the very least.

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Summary:

Maleficent starts out very strong with a magical look & feel and does an excellent job in developing its title character. Jolie is absolutely perfect as Maleficent – she was born to play this role. But, unfortunately, the second half of the film feels very rushed and all the other characters are very underdeveloped. Still, I think it’s much better than things such as Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland (which I hated), Oz The Great And Powerful (which I hated with a passion), and Snow White And The Huntsman (which I thought was okay). Maleficent definitely improves on these and seems like a step in the right direction but I felt that maybe too many “executive” types were pulling the strings, resulting in a film that was too short and therefore felt rushed & underdeveloped. Maleficent is a great character but I so wish they’d focused on the story and the other characters a bit more as well. Overall, it’s a worthy film and I enjoyed it although it drastically changes the story most of us know from Disney’s 1959 Sleeping Beauty.

My Rating: 7/10

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Is It Too Scary For Kids?

First of all, I’m no expert on kids so don’t come back here & yell at me if your kid was too scared! As always, every kid is different so use your best judgement. This ended up actually not being as dark as I was expecting from the trailer. It’s more tame than the ones I mentioned above (Snow White & The Huntsman and Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland). It’s maybe about the same as Oz The Great And Powerful as far as how scary it is. There are three bits that are maybe pushing it a little (I’ll still try to stay spoiler free here). One is a battle at the beginning and of course the final stand off at the end. These two fight scenes are a little intense but of course you don’t see anything like blood and nothing is TOO violent. In my opinion, at least. A lot of very young kids seem to have seen the Harry Potter movies which, to me, I think are too scary for anyone under 7 or 8. I think Maleficent is far less scary than the darkest Harry Potters. The scariest bit involves a dagger in a scene very similar to 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I’d say this one scene would be the most upsetting to young kids but it’s brief and you’ll see it coming if you want to shield your kid from that one scene. As I say – I’m no expert and you have to judge things based on each individual kid as some scare more easily but I personally don’t think Maleficent is much more scary than some of Disney’s animated movies, which can be very dark. Bambi scarred me for life! 😉

The Lego Movie (2014) Review

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(I had to use this amazing Mondo poster by artist Tom Whalen. Link here: GeekTyrant)

**SPOILER-FREE REVIEW**

The Lego Movie (2014)

Directed by Phil Lord & Chris Miller

Starring:
Chris Pratt
Will Ferrell
Elizabeth Banks
Will Arnett
Nick Offerman
Alison Brie
Charlie Day
Liam Neeson
Morgan Freeman

Music by Mark Mothersbaugh (Yo Gabba Gabba! Yes! And Devo, of course)

Running time: 100 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The wizard Vitruvius attempts to protect the “Kragle”, a superweapon, from the evil Lord Business. He fails to do so, but warns Lord Business of a prophecy where a person called the “Special” will find the Piece of Resistance capable of stopping the Kragle.

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My Opinion:

I don’t know how many of you will have read it but when I reviewed Mr Peabody & Sherman recently, I was pretty mean. My main problem (besides one terrible character) was that the movie didn’t seem to know what sort of an audience it was aiming for and ended up making something I think only those between the ages of 6 and 10 will enjoy. I moaned, as I always do, that only Disney and, especially, Pixar seem capable of making kids’ movies that people of all ages love. Well, I’m very happy to report that The Lego Movie achieves this perfect balance as well. And, although aimed more at boys, it’s one that girls will also love thanks to the characters of Wyldstyle and, my personal favorite, Uni-Kitty. Hooray for The Lego Movie! 🙂

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I’m actually going to say nothing whatsoever about anything in this film. My ONLY complaint about this is that I think the trailers showed too many of the funniest scenes, meaning I didn’t get as many surprises as I’d have liked (although there were still some great ones). I absolutely LOVED a few of the surprises but think I’d spoil it for anyone who’s not seen this yet so, unfortunately, I can’t discuss those things! I can be vague and say that I loved loved loved the ending, though – especially the very final thing. It’s so satisfying when a movie gets the ending so right!

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The characters are strong and there are a lot of them & they’re so varied that everyone will have a favorite (go Uni-Kitty!). The “hero”, Emmet Brickowski, is completely ordinary & totally loveable. Wyldstyle is cool & a strong female character great for the young girls watching, Morgan Freeman is of course perfect as the Gandalf-like Vitruvius as he has the coolest voice EVER (well, maybe after James Earl Jones), and there are several superheroes which will make a lot of geeks happy (I say “geeks” in a nice way because we’re all geeks here. And we rule!). One lesser character really cracked me up and, oh my god, the cameo(s) I didn’t know about…. LOVE! (Everyone probably knows by now but, hey – I don’t want to be the person who ruins it for the few people who maybe don’t know everything about this movie by now).

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Summary:

I know I’ve not said a lot about this movie but that’s the whole point. If you’ve not watched every single trailer by now and if you’ve not read much about this film yet – DON’T. I think you’ll enjoy being surprised by just how funny and, quite frankly, epic The Lego Movie is. A lot of talk online says this is the perfect little kids’ introduction to the teachings of Joseph Campbell. It is. It’s an epic adventure with a really great message told in a very unique & un-preachy way. It’s been seen plenty of times but not quite in this fashion and not often in a “kids’ film”. Awesome.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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