Upstream Color (2013) Review

Upstream Color (2013)

Directed & Written & Produced by Shane Carruth

Starring: Amy Seimetz & Shane Carruth

Cinematography by Shane Carruth

Edited by Shane Carruth & David Lowery

Music by Shane Carruth

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.

My Opinion:

Was glad to finally see this on Amazon Prime U.K. as I’ve been wanting to see it ever since I saw Shane Carruth’s other & even more confusing film Primer. Ah, Primer. I… think I liked Primer? I’m not going to pretend that I could at all follow along with the complex time travel involved but, hey, I like a smart film & apparently things were quite accurate in that film according to smart science-y people (or so I read). Gotta love a movie where you have to go online afterwards to try to figure it out. I found a complicated diagram online trying to explain it all (it’s in my Primer review I’ve linked if you want to see it).

So, onto Upstream Color. Again, it’s a bit weird and very “what the fuck is going on?”. I’d say it’s more strange than Primer since that was, really, just a time travel story even though it was complicated but I couldn’t quite figure out the meaning in Upstream Color (if there is one). What is this movie trying to tell us? What was up with the pigs?! What was the purpose of the pig farmer guy? Why was he doing that re-implanting (I’m trying to stay spoiler-free)? What was with the sound stuff he was doing? What was up with those flowers? What the hell was the point of any of this?!? Is this a circle of life type thing? This movie gave me vibes of what I’ve always assumed Terrence Malick’s The Tree Of Life movie is probably like (but I can’t say for sure since I never watched that since it sounds totally pretentious). But I probably will watch that someday since I’m always drawn to these sort of movies despite not being smart enough to understand them.

Well, I won’t ramble on forever talking about this movie since I have no explanations. There are okay articles you can find online if you want to go looking up “Upstream Color explained!” but what I read online didn’t help much either. To be honest, the people writing those articles didn’t seem to know what the point of the movie was either. Even what Shane Carruth himself has said about this movie doesn’t offer all that much insight. For example, this is something Carruth said that’s on Wikipedia under Themes & is spoiler-free (you can read a little more at the link if you want):

“In April 2013, io9.com asked director Shane Carruth if the film’s point regarded a return to nature. Carruth replied that the film explored breaking cycles:

It’s more about what those pigs are now embodying. I mean, there is a break of the cycle. These people that have been affected by this are now taking back ownership of the thing that they’re connected to…I don’t believe that narrative works when it’s trying to teach a lesson, or speak a factual truth. What it’s good for is, an exploration of something that’s commonplace and universal — maybe that’s where the truth comes from.”

Yeah… Okay…. Well, I liked this movie just fine as I do like weird films (Hello, Butt Boy & Rubber!). I think this is a smarter film than those, though, even if the explanations of it sound like a load of bollocks (I’ve put that word in here for Film Miasma). I do prefer Primer as that is shockingly now seeming like the much simpler film but I enjoyed the bizarre ride with this one. Especially the weird shit with the pigs! Amy Seimetz (from Pet Sematary and the director & writer of the equally weird She Dies Tomorrow) was good in the main role. And Shane Carruth seems very talented. He did everything with this movie! Directed, produced, wrote & starred in as well as doing the editing, cinematography & music. I’ve liked enough of what I’ve seen of his work so far to watch anything else he might make.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Timecop (1994) Review

Timecop (1994)

Directed by Peter Hyams

Based on Timecop by Mike Richardson & Mark Verheiden

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Ron Silver, Mia Sara, Bruce McGill, Gloria Reuben

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Max Walker, an officer for a security agency that regulates time travel, must fend for his life against a shady politician who’s intent on changing the past to control the future.

My Opinion:

Okay, despite loving ’80s & early ’90s movies as I grew up on them, I had never seen a Jean-Claude Van Damme film until watching Bloodsport a couple of months ago. Goddamn, that movie was FUN! I liked it so much I gave it a full-length review HERE. It was cheesy & cliché & just the right amount of ridiculous to make it into that “so bad it’s good” category (like my beloved Road House!). Timecop, unfortunately, was not nearly as much fun but I did still quite enjoy it.

I think Bloodsport gets away with its great early ’80s feel (although it came out in 1988) but Timecop has too much of that bad ’90s action movie look & feel about it. And hints of that future horrible mullet are starting to appear. Again, Van Damme is not exactly a “good” actor so it’s hard to take him too seriously as this heartbroken cop who enforces, like, the laws of time travel or some shit. I don’t know but that sounds a bit like the Loki TV show so far! Which, admittedly, is a great idea for a story but was executed very poorly in this film. Which is a shame as, honestly, this could’ve been a kick ass movie with an even bigger budget & a blockbuster star and a far better script. But Timecop was still kind of fun even though Van Damme did his signature splits far less than in Bloodsport (but he did them at least twice including a great split across a kitchen counter which was almost as cheesy as the “tree splits” in Bloodsport). I couldn’t find a good image of the kitchen counter splits online so I grabbed this from a video:

By the way, Van Damme gets his naked bum out briefly in this movie just like in Bloodsport if you’re into that sort of thing.

What can I say? This movie isn’t good but it’s fun. Watch The Adjustment Bureau or the fantastic Predestination if you want to see truly good stories involving time travelling cop types. Watch Timecop if you want a dumb time travel story written around Van Damme doing sexy splits & Mia Sara, aka Ferris Bueller‘s girlfriend, showing her boobs. Oh! OH! And a baddie has an AWESOME (***spoiler*** but not really a spoiler as this movie is predictable) death scene. Awesomely BAD but so bad it’s awesome. Like, BAD low-budget body horror shit for a few brief seconds out of fucking nowhere in this thing. Loved that. I’m giving this an extra half a point for the best dumb death scene I’ve seen in a while.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Shoplifters Of The World (2021) Review

I posted three weeks ago saying I’d catch up on a bunch of old movie reviews I’ve missed over the years then I completely disappeared & didn’t feel like blogging at all. Probably because I hate to commit to anything! So instead I’ve started writing my roundup post of movies watched in June and some of the mini-reviews got too wordy again. So here’s the first of the slightly longer mini-reviews I’ll post before the full roundup next week…

Shoplifters Of The World (2021)

Directed by Stephen Kijak

Starring: Helena Howard, Ellar Coltrane, Elena Kampouris, Nick Krause, James Bloor, Thomas Lennon, Joe Manganiello

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
1987. Denver, Co. One crazy night in the life of four friends reeling from the sudden demise of iconic British band The Smiths, while the local airwaves are hijacked at gunpoint by an impassioned Smiths fan.

My Opinion:

I liked the idea behind this but the way they shoved The Smiths & quotes from their songs very awkwardly into this story as much as possible sadly felt too forced. Here’s a further synopsis from Wikipedia: “Set in Denver, four friends reel from the sudden break up of The Smiths, while the local radio station is held at gunpoint by a fan, forcing a disgruntled heavy metal DJ to play The Smiths all night.” Yeah, that’s a great idea and could’ve been a great movie if done right.

This is one of those movies that felt like it was made by someone who didn’t live through the ’80s so the characters felt like modern teens (or they might have been early twentysomethings) playing ’80s dress-up. BUT! That’s not the case as I did look into this & the director is slightly older than me so did definitely live through the ’80s. Not sure why the film didn’t quite work, then. Maybe he was trying to also capture a new, younger generation of fans? That won’t work – the youngsters have cancelled Morrissey! I do feel bad for the filmmaker on that as this movie may have been in the works before this latest cancellation. Not the director’s fault. He’s maybe a fan who wanted to do a fun movie based around a band he liked (I’m guessing). So that’s a shame. I can see me wanting to make a similar movie based around a band I love.

I wanted to love this movie. It’s totally my type of thing normally. More than anything I think I just didn’t buy into any of these young actors actually liking The Smiths and I never really felt like I was watching a movie set in the ’80s despite it trying really hard to look like the ’80s. Come on – We didn’t actually go around dressed like full-on Madonna or Siouxsie Sioux or Robert Smith – we’d just use bits of their style, like maybe wearing the Madonna bracelets all up our arms. As for The Smiths, I’m not some hardcore fan. I do like several songs quite a lot and love How Soon Is Now & think it’s truly fantastic but I’m closer to being the metalhead DJ in this (especially at the time – I like The Smiths now but didn’t back then). But I like The Smiths enough to have gotten enjoyment from their songs being played throughout this film. If you hate The Smiths, I can’t imagine you enjoying this film since the story & characters aren’t really strong enough. For a movie that better incorporated a band’s music into an interesting story, I far preferred Yesterday with all of The Beatles music.

And now, after my very negative-sounding review, I’ll give this an okay rating as I did still enjoy it overall. Good music & a decade I love so I can’t complain too much. Ellar Coltrane was fine (That kid from Boyhood! I still think that film was quite an achievement). And Helena Howard was also decent as the main girl & Smiths fan (although I still didn’t buy into any of these people actually liking The Smiths). She appears to have not been in much yet but I can see her having a good career. Joe Manganiello was probably the best as the heavy metal DJ but he’s really the only “known” actor in this. So, yeah, this could’ve been a better film but it was worth a watch. However, I’d still rather watch a movie actually released in the ’80s instead of a current film set then…

My Rating: 6.5/10

Unhinged (2020) & The Woman In The Window (2021) Reviews

Two more quickies today for two films that weren’t very good. But one managed to be entertaining while the other was meh. Let’s see which was which…

Unhinged (2020)

Directed by Derrick Borte

Starring: Russell Crowe, Caren Pistorius, Gabriel Bateman, Jimmi Simpson, Austin P. McKenzie

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
It tells the story of a young woman who is terrorized by a seemingly mentally ill stranger following a road rage incident.

My Opinion:

Believe it or not, this was the entertaining “not very good” film. Not all films need to be Oscar contenders, though. It’s a psychological thriller/horror about a psycho who terrorizes a woman after she honks at him in traffic. It certainly doesn’t require any Oscar-winning actors. Yet it has one! I respect actors who go from winning Oscars in really good films like Gladiator then say “Screw it – I still want to play a psycho in a silly road rage movie!”.

Not sure if this is an Oscar-worthy performance but Crowe seemed to be enjoying playing someone completely unhinged. Acting should be fun, right?? But I was a bit distracted through all of this by the fact that I kept thinking Caren Pistorius looks SO much like Linda Cardellini. Then I kept thinking how much I loved Freaks And Geeks. Why don’t they make good shows like that anymore?! Then I read at IMDb that the kid playing the 15-year-old son of Caren Pistorius in this is actually only 14 years younger than her in real life & I thought that was hilarious. That’s so Hollywood. Can’t have a mom in a movie actually looking old! Then I also read this trivia at IMDb & it made me think how much I liked Joy Ride (with the dumb name Road Kill in the U.K.): “The candy cane scissors are a nod to the similarly themed Joy Ride (2001), in which the protagonists use the call sign of Candy Cane to anger a homicidal motorist who then terrorizes them.

Well, I was clearly a bit distracted while watching this if I was reading IMDb trivia & this certainly isn’t as good as Joy Ride but it’s a fun “popcorn movie” that’s a bit of a throwback to the kind of thrillers that they made throughout the ’90s. Sometimes we just wanna see a crazy person lose their shit in a cheesy thriller. Like Single White Female! I’ll always like that one but I know it’s awful. This movie keeps up a good pace through the whole thing so you’re never bored, Caren Pistorius and her “son” Gabriel Bateman who could actually be her brother in real life are both perfectly fine as the two main people Crowe is terrorizing, and we get a pretty fun showdown with a great line from Pistorius. That’s all we really need from this type of movie. Yeah, it could’ve been a better film but it was still a fun watch.

My Rating: 6.5/10

The Woman in the Window (2021)

Directed by Joe Wright

Screenplay by Tracy Letts

Based on The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

Starring: Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie, Fred Hechinger, Wyatt Russell, Brian Tyree Henry, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Julianne Moore

Music by Danny Elfman

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows an agoraphobic woman (Amy Adams) who begins to spy on her new neighbors (Gary Oldman, Fred Hechinger, and Julianne Moore) and is witness to a crime in their apartment.

My Opinion:

This was meh. I use the word “meh” on my blog way too much. Unfortunately, it’s just the perfect word for way too many movies these days.

I read this book years ago in preparation for the film adaptation before Covid delayed it for years. I re-posted my old review of the book HERE the other day. The book was also a bit meh but I still had hopes for the movie as it’s the kind of story that can work quite well as a film if done right. Plus I like Amy Adams. Speaking of those cheesy ’90s psychological thrillers, this is another story just like those. But, whereas Single White Female was so cheesy it was fun, I think maybe The Woman In The Window took things a little too seriously? I’m not sure exactly why it didn’t work but the movie was pretty boring. At least I can say Unhinged wasn’t at all boring. And, speaking of Single White Female, I should add that Jennifer Jason Leigh is in this & she’s completely wasted (as is Julianne Moore & Gary Oldman). That’s a lot of big name actors in small roles with very little to do! I mean, my god, Wyatt Russell got more screen time than any of those big names.

I don’t have much more to say about this, to be honest, which is always the case with meh movies. I’ll just say they really glossed over all her conversations with her husband (Anthony Mackie) & their daughter in this and there was way more involving them in the book. Did people watching this movie even notice them or pick up on that story much?! We also didn’t get much of the main character’s love of movies, which I liked in the book. Oh, and not that it matters in the slightest, but the neighborhood in the movie was not at all how I pictured it. And the Amy Adams character was unfortunately a bit unlikeable (but she was that way in the book too so I guess Adams did well). Whatever. I’ve written enough. Watch this if you really want to but go into it with very low expectations. Or just watch the absolutely brilliant Rear Window instead.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Rent-A-Pal (2020) & Butt Boy (2019) Reviews

Okay, these were two quite bizarre films that I watched recently so I figured I’d post a double review…

Rent-A-Pal (2020)

Directed & Written by Jon Stevenson

Starring: Wil Wheaton, Brian Landis Folkins, Kathleen Brady, Amy Rutledge, Adrian Egolf

Music by Jimmy Weber

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
1990: David, 40, looks after his dementia mom. He uses a video dating service to no avail. He buys a “Rent-A-Pal” video tape and things change.

My Opinion:

This was a weird one (although not nearly as weird as the one I’m gonna review next). As in the plot synopsis above, a lonely guy buys a videotape called “Rent-A-Pal” in which a dude named Andy says he’ll be your friend. This movie was actually quite good! It’s one of those movies that looks like a full-on horror film looking at the poster & images but it isn’t really – it’s more of a psychological thriller following a lonely man’s descent into madness. So not all horror fans are going to go for it but it’s also probably way too strange for a more mainstream audience. If you like fairly low budget indie movies (I’m just assuming it’s both of those) with a strange story, this might be one for you. And be aware that it’s nothing like Ringu before you possibly think that based on the creepy videotape thing.

And now for a confession: Please do NOT let this make you not watch this if you’re interested as he’s great in this but I totally watched this due to my undying love for Wil Wheaton. Yeah! Wil Wheaton! You have no idea how much I adored Stand By Me when I was 12/13 and how many times I watched it (many, many times). I was completely in love with Wil and, of course, River Phoenix. And I continued to be in love with Wil as Wesley Crusher (TNG fans were horrible to poor Wesley. I loved him!!). Well, Wil is the guy in the creepy videotape this lonely dude buys. Wil’s character just “wants to be your friend”. Honestly, he’s so good in this and so creepy.

The main character is played by Brian Landis Folkins & I thought he was terrific as well. He really captured the extreme loneliness of this poor middle-aged man stuck at home having to care for his sick mother & having to rely on a “videotape dating service” to find himself a match to hopefully share his life with. But, in the meantime while waiting for a love match, he buys the “Rent-A-Pal” video and that’s when things start getting nice & weird. I admit it: I love weird movies (which will be obvious when you get to my next review). So I liked this one & it felt like a very original story. I was also surprised at just how good it turned out to be as I wasn’t expecting anything too special since I’d never heard a thing about this whatsoever, not even on Film Twitter. It’s a good character study of someone suffering from extreme loneliness & it has good performances. So, yeah, maybe not the best thing to watch if we go back into a full scale pandemic lockdown! And bear in mind that it does get a bit crazy at the end. Only watch it if you like strange films.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Butt Boy (2019)

Directed by Tyler Cornack

Starring: Tyler Cornack, Tyler Rice, Shelby Dash, Brad Potts, Austin Lewis, Robert Moss, Tyler Dryden, Kai Henderson, Wilky Lau

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Detective Fox loves work and alcohol. After going to AA, his sponsor, Chip, becomes the main suspect in his investigation of a missing kid. Fox also starts to believe that people are disappearing up Chip’s butt.

My Opinion:

Hopefully you read the above plot synopsis? Yes, this movie is indeed about people disappearing up a dude’s butt.

As I watch so many movies, I get very bored seeing the same predictable stuff over and over again. Therefore, I do seek out weird movies. I don’t necessarily want to see bad weird movies but seeing a synopsis such as the one above makes me go “Yep, that sounds unique!”. I’d love to make a Top Ten of the weirdest movies I’ve ever seen but think it would be difficult as everyone will have a different definition of weird. Although I think we can all agree on this one being weird! Hmm… What could be in that list? Rubber for sure. Things like Society? Maybe. Possibly some good stuff like the movie Swallow that I watched recently? Not sure if that’s weird enough. Okay, I want to make this list someday! Now onto Butt Boy

This actually isn’t a bad movie. As far as, I dunno, production values or whatever (I don’t know anything about filmmaking). But it looked good (as in, it didn’t seem really low budget or anything) and I remember thinking the score was interesting & fit this bizarre movie well. The acting was perfectly fine too. And, yeah – I really wanted to know what was happening to everything (and everyone) going up this guy’s butt. I also liked the character of the detective (even though he totally reminded me of an ex-boyfriend). He’s mysterious and you can tell he has some tragic backstory and he’s very determined to prove his theory (that, you know, people are disappearing up that dude’s butt!).

Well, I don’t know what else I can say about this. It’s the type of movie I can’t exactly recommend. You’ll either look at that plot synopsis and go “Hell yeah, I’m watching that!” or “WTF kind of weird ass shit does this chick watch? I’m never reading this blog again”. Seeing as we’re all movie bloggers, though, I’m sure a few of you might check this out (Film Miasma!). Also, I should say that the pay off is pretty good in the end (Haha! In the end! Literally!). This movie builds very slowly and then you get a great END (Ha! I said end again). Well, either it’s a great ending or a horrible ending depending on your opinion of it. A fucked up ending may be a better way of putting it, which is exactly what I wanted from a movie about people disappearing up a guy’s butt. I’m rating this half a point more for the truly original story idea.

My Rating: 6.5/10

**I should add that I looked into the director of this film a bit (Tyler Cornack – he also stars in this as the guy sticking junk up in his trunk). Turns out he has a YouTube channel of all kinds of weird & wonderful very short films (an original short Butt Boy being one of them). I’ve not had a chance to check any out yet but the link is HERE if you’re interested. Actually, I don’t know how to add a link to a channel because I’m an old person but that link brings you to the trailer for the channel & the channel is called Tiny Cinema. I’m intrigued…

Underwater (2020)

Underwater (2020)

Directed by William Eubank

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Vincent Cassel, Jessica Henwick, John Gallagher Jr., Mamoudou Athie, T.J. Miller

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A crew of oceanic researchers working for a deep sea drilling company try to get to safety after a mysterious earthquake devastates their deepwater research and drilling facility located at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

My Opinion:

When looking this up I noticed that the writer, Brian Duffield, was also the director of Spontaneous, which I liked a lot. He also wrote Love And Monsters & The Babysitter so he has an interesting list of films. Guess he’s a name to look out for for now! I liked this one a bit less than those but it was still an enjoyable film. I always enjoy these intense deepwater thrillers.

I mentioned in my review for Happiest Season that Kristen Stewart carries this whole movie. She does & she’s good in this but, as some people don’t like her, that may turn them off wanting to watch this as she’s by far the main character and, I’m thinking, in every single scene? Were there any without her? She’s the Ellen Ripley of the deep sea instead of space (but obviously still not nearly as cool as Ripley – no one ever will be). She even runs around in tiny underwear just like Ripley (not sure if that is necessary but I suppose I’d run around in tiny underwear if I had a sexy young body too). This seems a weird role for her after doing so many roles in things such as Personal Shopper. I prefer her in those sort of roles and don’t see her as an action star but she did really well here.


See? Tiny underwear!

I wanted to like this movie a bit more as it’s my type of thing. It’s one of those where I’m not sure why I didn’t like it a bit more. I felt something was missing but can’t for the life of me figure out what. It has good action, pretty good characters (although they all could have used much more development, including Stewart’s), and a cool reason for the earthquake that destroys their underwater facility. I’m staying spoiler-free here as the plot synopsis says nothing about that so I don’t know if it was marketed as a slightly different thing? But it ended up being the type of movie I was hoping for. Hmm. Yeah, all of those things were good. I don’t know – I think it was mainly because we didn’t get to know these characters at all. There are things hinted at, such as with Vincent Cassel’s having a daughter & Stewart having had a boyfriend or fiancé plus we get one couple who are likeable and you want them to survive together but you also don’t know much about them either. It’s one of those movies that dives (ha! dives! because it’s underwater…) straight into the action with no setup of any characters first, which always throws me a bit. And even though the action starts immediately, the movie still takes too long to get to the cool good stuff.

Well, I liked this one just fine. I want to give it a slightly higher rating. I suppose it’s also hurt by the fact that we’ve seen so many films like this & there are better examples of this sort of thing. But Stewart is really good as the movie’s big action hero plus I liked the ending a lot and I’m always picky about movie endings. There’s a great final scene with Stewart. If you’re a big fan of hers, I’d definitely recommend this as I think you’d really enjoy it.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Last Christmas (2019) Review

Last Christmas (2019)

Directed by Paul Feig

Screenplay by Emma Thompson & Bryony Kimmings

Starring: Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Emma Thompson

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Based on the song of the same name, the film stars Emilia Clarke as a cynical Christmas store worker who forms a relationship with a mysterious man (Henry Golding) and begins to fall for him.

My Opinion:

This is one of those movies that I liked but also hated because it was so ridiculously predictable. Schmaltzy & cheesy! Also, the completely unnecessary political agenda thrown in as a small subplot was annoying as hell. Thanks for adding BREXIT into a Christmas rom-com. Are you fucking kidding me?! But I’m a hypocrite because I’ll still give this an okay rating because 1) It had some sweet and also some funny moments, but mainly 2) I think Henry Golding is flipping adorable. I’m not super girly or a big lover of rom-coms but I do adore a sweet and lovable male love interest. If the couple work well together in this type of film, it helps to make up for the film’s shortcomings. Emilia Clarke & Henry Golding are so damn cute together.

Emilia Clarke’s main other relationships in the film are with her boss, Michelle Yeoh (the Christmas-loving owner of the Christmas shop where Clarke is an elf) and with her family (including Emma Thompson as her mother). Clarke is a mess and all her relationships are strained, especially with her intense & dreary mother (Emma Thompson, with a seriously dodgy sounding accent. Maybe it’s good, though – I dunno. I’m terrible with accents). There were some very funny moments with Thompson & Yeoh, though. Their characters are both eccentric and quite fun. I did enjoy the comedy in this movie – it was very borderline on being “appropriate” for a 12A rating. Fine with me – I like my comedy a little naughty. Too wholesome is boring.

Clarke’s character is unfortunately a little hard to like but that’s the entire point of the film (gotta have that predictable Ebenezer Scrooge redemption, right?!). Then, of course, there’s Henry Golding as I mentioned. He’s an absolute sweetheart, of course, as all men are in romantic comedies. So unrealistic! But I don’t care. You’re meant to love him in this. Again, that’s the whole point of these sort of movies.

Oh! I’ve not mentioned Wham! I actually kind of forgot this was based on George Michael’s music (despite the title). I was never exactly a fan so admit I hadn’t wanted to hear loads of Wham throughout this. Some songs are just in the background, so I was glad it wasn’t “in your face” and wasn’t distracting in any way.

What else can I say? This movie is SO cliché that I hate myself for kind of falling for its absolute bullshit. But, dammit, Christmas movies are meant to be feelgood movies and you’re meant to like the couple. This movie does at least get these things right as well as adding in some enjoyable humor. I guess I can forgive the pukey plot thanks to all that. If only they’d left Brexit out of this. I’d have liked it much more without that. This movie is now forever tied to this specific point in time thanks to that, ruining its chances of being a timeless Christmas classic years from now.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) Review

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

Directed by Tim Miller

Based on Characters by James Cameron & Gale Anne Hurd

Starring: Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, Diego Boneta

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Sarah Connor and a hybrid cyborg human must protect a young girl from a newly modified liquid Terminator from the future.

My Opinion:

Oh – I had no idea that this was released in the UK just over a week before the US?? Woohoo! We always get stuff last! Too bad this one sucked. Well, since it’s out in America today, I guess I better post a quick review.

Why can’t they just let things die?! Okay – I realize this review is starting out very negative. I didn’t HATE this sequel and did get a few moments of enjoyment out of it. But it’s just another completely pointless addition to a franchise that was perfect to begin with. Fuck all these sequels & reboots & remakes. Give us something original.

I’m a very big fan of The Terminator and thought Terminator 2: Judgment Day was great (and one of the all-time best sequels). Everything since has sucked. To be fair, the others didn’t damage the legacy as they were so forgettable. Honestly, I can’t now remember a damn thing that happened past T2. Which is fine as James Cameron has said those are part of an “alternate universe” and Dark Fate is a direct sequel to T2. Dark Fate is indeed better than the previous movies that followed T2. Unfortunately, being a direct sequel with both Linda Hamilton & Arnold Schwarzenegger, it DOES damage the legacy of the first two films. Especially Judgment Day. I’m so pissed off about a couple of things specifically that, any slight enjoyment I got out of seeing Sarah Connor & that kickass Terminator design once again, was completely ruined.

Well, we do indeed get to see Linda Hamilton & Arnold Schwarzenegger again. I admit that I loved that despite being pissed off and they’re by FAR the best things about Dark Fate. I still love the character of Sarah Connor and she still kicks ass, which is fantastic to see from a woman her age. Yes, I’m loving the increase in strong female characters lately, especially those who are over forty. I swear the world sometimes thinks we all cease to exist or be interesting after forty. I hate the strong female character thing when it’s forced, though. It wasn’t with Sarah Connor or Ellen Ripley or even Laurie Strode. Nowadays it doesn’t always come naturally as they try to force an agenda into everything. Let stories and characters just be the best they can be by putting whoever will be strongest into a role, no matter who they are or what they might look like. Hamilton & Schwarzenegger are perfection. The new girl, Natalia Reyes, was perfectly fine. I liked that she’s not some kickass female, just like Sarah Connor wasn’t at first. She felt more real that way. However, I thought Mackenzie Davis was extremely miscast, although I’ve liked her in some other roles. I was fine with the extra role for a woman in this one as I thought the friendship between the three worked well. I just don’t think they cast the right actress in her case.

Schwarzenegger, though cool as always and surprisingly funny (should a killer robot dude be funny?!), was a bit wasted. That was a shame. It took way too long for him to show up but luckily he did, as the movie was seriously dragging by that point and needed him to spice things up. Hamilton seemed a bit too cool with seeing him again, though. Remember how much she freaked out in T2?! Not that it matters since, as I said, this movie shits on T2‘s legacy. Oh, I didn’t mention the new Terminator dude (Gabriel Luna). Meh. Who cares? He can do one new very cool trick that I liked but I’m still too pissed off for that to impress me. Oh, and the action gets too far-fetched to be taken at all seriously near the end. I don’t want a Terminator film to be laughable. The first two are classics and should’ve been left the hell alone.

Oh well. As I said, we get to see Schwarzenegger & Hamilton again. I’ll forget this plot in a few years anyway. I’ll be generous with my rating but it’s thanks only to seeing these two reprising their very iconic roles. The rest of the movie wasn’t needed. We didn’t need this!!!

My Rating: 6.5/10

Let’s listen to Brad Fiedel’s awesome Terminator theme. They don’t make movies or music like this anymore…

Unsane (2018) & Single White Female (1992) Reviews

For October Horror Month, I’ll be re-posting some mini-reviews of horror movies that I watched in the past year. Well, these two are more thriller than horror… Here are my reviews for Single White Female & Unsane.

Single White Female (1992)

Directed by Barbet Schroeder

Based on SWF Seeks Same by John Lutz

Starring: Bridget Fonda, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Steven Weber, Peter Friedman

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A woman advertising for a new roommate finds that something very strange is going on with the tenant who decides to move in.

My Brief Opinion:

God, this movie is so shit. The acting is atrocious. Goddamn I thoroughly enjoyed re-watching this pile of shit all these years later while stuck in a hotel with nothing else to watch. This is the kind of cheesy thriller I was talking about in my Breaking In review. We had so many films like these in the 80’s and especially the early 90’s. I kind of miss these shitty thrillers with bad acting! Remember the movie Malice with Nicole Kidman & Alec Baldwin? That was early 90’s too. I loved that movie for some odd reason. Oh! And how about The Hand That Rocks The Cradle?! I kind of liked that piece of shit too. Man, early 90’s movies were crap. Anyway – Single White Female is kind of in the “So bad it’s good” territory. I love Jennifer Jason Leigh and her overacting here and Bridget Fonda’s, I dunno, underacting? Does she have any emotions at all? And how crap is this movie title? And who the hell doesn’t remember the high heels in this film?! Classic cheese. I kind of feel like giving this a slightly higher rating but can’t in good conscience do that…

My Rating: 6.5/10

Unsane (2018)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Starring: Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharoah, Juno Temple, Aimee Mullins, Amy Irving

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Unsane follows a woman confined to a mental institution after she is pursued by a stalker. The film was shot entirely on the iPhone 7 Plus.

My Brief Opinion:

This is that Steven Soderbergh movie he filmed on an iPhone. The gimmick doesn’t really work if the movie is boring, though. I wasn’t distracted by the iPhone thing but the story and characters were very weak for a Soderbergh film. He’s not a favorite of mine but this film is certainly no Out Of Sight or Ocean’s Eleven. Sex, Lies, And Videotape had far more interesting characters & dialogue and, for a film of his with a somewhat similar theme, I’d definitely recommend Side Effects over this. This is the first thing I’ve seen Claire Foy in and everyone raves about her but I can’t see why based on this film. That’s probably the fault of the film, though. I didn’t care about her character and whether or not she was crazy. But, hey – Juno Temple rips her tampon out in this & chucks it at Claire Foy so I guess it at least deserves an honorable mention on My Top Ten Period Dramas list…

My Rating: 5.5/10

Green Book, Instant Family, Can You Ever Forgive Me? & Eighth Grade Movie Reviews

I managed to see four 2019 UK cinema releases while on planes to and from America in August (I realize they were 2018 releases in the US). I’d not flown anywhere for years – When did the movie selection get so good & recent?? I figured I’d give these quickie reviews since I try to review all UK film releases each year. I’ll start with the best and end with the worst…

Green Book (2018)

Directed by Peter Farrelly

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in 1962, the film is inspired by the true story of a tour of the Deep South by African American classical and jazz pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and Italian American bouncer Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) who served as Shirley’s driver and bodyguard.

My Opinion:

I’m glad I managed to catch up on seeing this controversial Best Picture Oscar winner. I enjoyed it. I know there’s a lot of hate for this one but I thought the performances were strong and I always like stories involving an unlikely friendship between two very different personalities. I thought Mahershala Ali was great in Moonlight and, at the time, was hoping he’d get more roles so I’m happy that’s happening (and that he keeps winning Oscars). I thought his character & Viggo Mortensen’s worked well together and it felt realistic in that the friendship was often awkward and grew very slowly as they were so different.

Is it true to their real life story? I think some of the controversy comes from Don Shirley’s family saying the two weren’t friends at all (the film was co-written by Frank Vallelonga’s son) but interviews with Shirley himself say differently. Who knows? That’s just what I read at Wikipedia to try to find out what caused the controversy surrounding this movie but I’ve read no more than that. I love movies for their escapism so don’t often go for the “true story” films anyway. I like to think it’s all true but know that movies always play up the feelgood factor. As long as it doesn’t feel too over the top & phony, I’m happy enough with a little bit of feelgood cheese.

At least Green Book keeps it fairly real as things are far from perfect during their journey but I’d have liked a tiny bit more focus on the history of the actual Green Book itself (but that would easily make for another whole separate movie). The focus here is on the friendship between the two men and, as far as roadtrip friendship movies go, I found Green Book enjoyable despite any issues surrounding it.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Instant Family (2018)

Directed by Sean Anders

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Isabela Moner, Tig Notaro, Margo Martindale, Julie Hagerty, Octavia Spencer

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A couple find themselves in over their heads when they foster three children.

My Opinion:

This movie was fine. It actually had a great IMDb rating when it came out in the U.K. and I’d really wanted to see it but the feelgood cheese (as I mentioned in my Green Book review) was a little too much at times in this one.

To be fair, though, this movie was marketed as a comedy drama so it kept things fairly light instead of being a hard-hitting drama at all times (which isn’t my thing anyway – real life is depressing enough!). I just think that this situation in real life would probably be far more challenging than depicted and, for whatever reason, I never felt a strong connection between the couple and the foster kids although the actors all did a perfectly fine job.

The strongest performance was from Isabela Moner as the headstrong and challenging teenager. She was tough but not totally hateful, which is often a danger with teenage characters. The relationship between her character & Rose Byrne’s felt the most realistic and it was nice seeing those two grow closer. Overall, Instant Family was a nice and somewhat safe film that was at times a tiny bit contrived but, oh well – A feelgood film never killed anyone.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

Directed by Marielle Heller

Based on Can You Ever Forgive Me? by Lee Israel

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a biographical film based on the confessional memoir of the same name by Lee Israel. Melissa McCarthy stars as Israel, and the story follows her attempts to revitalize her failing writing career by forging letters from deceased authors and playwrights.

My Opinion:

This was a pretty typical movie with Oscar nominations for acting: The acting was fantastic but the movie was just okay. The true story is actually pretty interesting but I guess it didn’t translate well to film as I was a bit bored throughout the movie. However, Melissa McCarthy & Richard E. Grant were so great and such entertaining characters that this one was still well worth a watch to see their Oscar-nominated performances. I think both of them haven’t gotten enough credit over the years (Yes, even McCarthy, whose brand of humor isn’t my thing for the most part but I can see why she has fans). It’s great that they got recognition for their parts in this film as they’re what made it enjoyable and they had really good chemistry. I’ll keep this short, though, as I honestly have nothing else to say about this movie. Good story, a little slow & boring at times, but fantastic performances and interesting characters.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Eighth Grade (2018)

Directed & Written by Bo Burnham

Starring: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson, Jake Ryan, Fred Hechinger

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The coming-of-age story follows the life and struggles of an eighth-grader, played by Elsie Fisher, during her last week of classes before graduating to high school. She struggles with social anxiety but produces vlogs giving life advice.

My Opinion:

This came out aaaaages ago in America but was only finally released in the UK in April this year. It got brilliant reviews from “Film Twitter” people and, even though I’m an old lady, I’m still always up for a really good coming of age film ever since falling in love with Stand By Me during my own coming of age years. Plus, I can relate to the whole socially awkward thing since I’m still awkward as shit.

Well, damn – This movie was very disappointing. I’ll say that the actress, Elsie Fisher, did a good job and felt very real (she seems sweet – I have nothing bad to say about the actress). She also did the socially awkward thing extremely well so, in that regard, I identified with her (even though she was actually far more awkward than I ever was!). However, I couldn’t relate to the character in any other way whatsoever. I know that pre & early teens can be annoying as hell but her character really was a bit too hateful for me to care at all what would happen to her. And her dad just put up with her whiny bullshit and her being a bitch to him and he didn’t monitor her time spent online AT ALL.

Yeah, yeah – I know I’m sounding old. But, seriously – keep your kids away from all forms of social media as long as fucking possible! It’s dangerous. And if you can’t do that for some reason, monitor what the hell they’re doing! FYI – the girl is a vlogger and this movie is NOT about the dangers of living a phony online existence – It’s just about not fitting in during the most awkward time of life. I’m simply having my own personal rant because seeing young girls living out their lives online and pretending to be something they’re not breaks my damn heart. Do we seriously need a whole generation of superficial KardashiJenners?! I can’t stand that fake bullshit and don’t want real-life girls like this character committing suicide when they can’t live up to the impossible standards set by “influencers” and people with an unlimited supply of money.

No, this movie isn’t about suicide or depression or anything like that – It’s a “comedy” drama, supposedly. Maybe I just AM too old for teen movies now as I found Booksmart disappointing as well. However, I thought The Edge Of Seventeen was very good and a more realistic portrayal of being a teen. I don’t know – I just think Eighth Grade would’ve been better with a more likeable and therefore more sympathetic main character. And possibly with “comedy” that was actually funny – I had to double check to see if this was actually considered a comedy. It also felt like it dragged on forever, despite being a short film. It has one of those typical meandering indie movie storylines that doesn’t go anywhere – I don’t know how I managed to stay awake watching this one on the plane. I suppose that reading all the hype for this one while waiting at least a year for it to come out in the UK didn’t help either as my expectations were probably way too high. What a massive disappointment.

My Rating: 5/10

Crawl (2019) Review

Crawl (2019)

Directed by Alexandre Aja

Produced by Craig J. Flores, Sam Raimi, Alexandre Aja

Starring: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Crawl stars Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper as a daughter and father, who along with their dog are hunted by alligators after becoming trapped in their home during a Category 5 hurricane.

My Opinion:

Oh my god I’m so stressed! Work is manic at the moment. But I want to catch up on reviewing the films I’ve seen in the cinema. So here’s a quickie for Crawl since I don’t have much to say about it.

Crawl was fine. I mean, it’s a movie about people being attacked by huge fucking alligators in a goddamn hurricane. It’s absolutely ridiculous! But it’s meant to be, right? Gotta admit that I loved the idea of a disaster movie, which is sort of a guilty pleasure genre for me, crossed with a horror film. And it kind of works, although I’d have liked better character development. I know, I know – That’s asking a bit much for a movie like this. I just got more enjoyment out of the equally ridiculous The Meg last year as the characters were far more fun and likeable. But fuck that movie – it only had a 75-foot-long megalodon shark. It didn’t have a 75-foot-long megalodon shark during a hurricane or earthquake or killer meteor shower or a goddamn nuclear apocalypse or something.

Well. Yeah. Crawl is fine. If you like the “killer alligators during a hurricane” idea, you’ll like this movie just fine. It’s what I expected but would have been a bit better if I’d cared more about the characters. I disliked Kaya Scodelario but can’t say why so, whatever – Just ignore me! The movie is also a bit too silly at times but I suppose it would’ve been boring if it hadn’t been ridiculous. And it was slightly boring until the alligators showed up, which took far too long.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Brightburn (2019) Review

Brightburn (2019)

Directed by David Yarovesky

Produced by James Gunn & Kenneth Huang

Written by Brian Gunn & Mark Gunn

Starring: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner, Gregory Alan Williams, Jennifer Holland, Steve Agree, Becky Wahlstrom, Christian Finlayson

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a young alien boy raised on Earth who realizes he has superpowers, soon using them to terrorize his town.

My Opinion:

This was okay but I was disappointed overall. It’s certainly far more a “horror” than a “superhero” film, which was perfectly fine with me as I have superhero burnout. However, I admit that it was far too gory for my liking. Yikes! So, if you like your horror to have plenty of gore, I think you’ll be happy with Brightburn. And if you just want a “superhero gone bad” movie, bear in mind that this is actually a horror movie and that you may not like this.

I think this movie suffers a bit from the thing I always complain about; I didn’t like or care enough about these characters to really give a crap about what would happen to them. Elizabeth Banks, as the “adoptive” mother of the boy no one knows is an alien with superpowers, is the most sympathetic character as you can understand why she wants to stand by her son when he starts showing signs of maaaaybe being a bit of a psycho. And he really does turn into a complete psycho. If you like some good old fashioned evil, you may appreciate this film. I’d hate to babysit this boy & The Omen’s Damien. I’m now wondering which one would win in a fight. Evil superpower alien or son of Satan?! There’s a crossover we’ve not seen.

I was looking forward to this film as it was produced by James Gunn and written by his brother & his cousin Brian & Mark. I really like some of the things James Gunn has written (2004’s Dawn Of The Dead, Slither, and of course the Guardians Of The Galaxy films). Brightburn certainly doesn’t live up to those but I don’t know how much involvement he had plus he didn’t write this one. I like the humor of the films he’s written but Brightburn is a straightforward, full-on horror movie so don’t expect it to have any of the humor of other movies he’s been involved in. I’m actually surprised this was rated only a 15 in the UK. It seriously pushes some boundaries on the gore. I’m starting to wonder what the hell it takes for a movie to be rated 18 in the UK…

Well, Brightburn was okay but I didn’t love it. In some ways, though, I did kind of appreciate the fact that it went all out into the horror genre instead of focusing on the superpower thing. And the mask is pretty cool – it’s effectively creepy. Is it weird that I was more impressed that a pre-teen boy was able to make a cool mask than I was that he had superpowers? Did he sew that himself?! I’m sure a lot of horror fans did enjoy this film but the characters, especially alien boy himself, seriously lacked character development. He kind of turns evil for no reason whatsoever? He could’ve been a tortured soul and all that jazz. An alien in an alien world! Oh well. The story had potential that it just didn’t quite live up to. Considering how simple the idea is, it’s kind of never really been done in quite this same way in the horror genre (that I can think of, anyway). I really wish they’d done more with a good idea. But, hey – the end credits hint at sequel potential so we’ll see.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Annabelle Comes Home (2019) Review

Annabelle Comes Home (2019)

Directed by Gary Dauberman

Story by James Wan & Gary Dauberman

Starring: Mckenna Grace, Madison Iseman, Katie Sarife, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
While babysitting the daughter of Ed and Lorraine Warren, a teenager and her friend unknowingly awaken an evil spirit trapped in a doll.

My Opinion:

I’m not sure why but I’ve watched all the Conjuring Universe movies. I thought the first Conjuring film was very good but the rest of the films have mostly been rubbish. The Annabelle movies have been the worst and I hated the second film. Well, I’m happy to say that I think Annabelle Comes Home is at least far better than the first two Annabelle films. I still didn’t love it but actually did quite enjoy it. And I’m in a rare good mood so I’m going to give it a decent rating. Here’s my Conjuring Universe movie rankings & links to my other reviews:

The Conjuring – 7.5/10
Annabelle Comes Home – 6.5/10
The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Case – 6/10
The Nun – 5.5/10
Annabelle – 5/10
Annabelle: Creation – 4.5/10

I was kind of tough on The Nun. It wasn’t that bad. And The Conjuring 2 is probably much better than Annabelle Comes Home but I just can’t remember much of that one at this point…

I’m not sure if people are liking this movie or not but it’s certainly the “least evil” of the Annabelle movies, which may not please Conjuring Universe fans. I believe all these movies are probably rated 15 in the UK but was curious what the American rating was for this one so I looked it up. It was far more tame than the others so I’m surprised it’s still rated R?? It really feels like a PG-13 film, which I know not all horror fans appreciate but I have no problem with. Hell, the movie almost gave me more of a Goosebumps feel (not helped by the fact that the babysitter in this was in Goosebumps 2).

I think that’s why I had fun with this one, though. I liked that the focus was on a couple of teenage girls babysitting a younger girl (played by Mckenna Grace). I also liked the predictable but simple story. Slight spoiler but the doll awakens various evil spirits which terrorize each girl in a way that also reminded me of the plot in the first Goosebumps film (I admit it – I liked the Goosebumps movie). Most importantly, though, the three girls are likeable. Too many cheesy horror movies have hateful characters, which I never understand. I want to like the characters if I’m going to care about their fate.


For fans of Ed & Lorraine Warren, I’m sorry to say that they’re barely in this. That’s a shame but they’ve had bigger roles in some of the other films so I was okay with them being in this one less. I do find it fascinating that these stories are (loosely) based on their real life paranormal investigations. I didn’t realize that the Amityville haunting was one of their cases as well. I love that paranormal shit! I know these movies are massively exaggerated, of course, but supernatural horror is my favorite type and I usually enjoy even the many bad movies in this genre. Annabelle Comes Home isn’t bad, though. It’s fine but it’s not exactly going to blow anyone away and it doesn’t do anything we haven’t seen before (although the bit with the old television set was fairly inventive). I also liked that they included a nod to the real-life Annabelle doll, which was a far less freaky-looking Raggedy Ann doll.

Speaking of creepy dolls, I’ve always been a fan of scary doll movies. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Annabelle movies are the best in this sub genre and Annabelle herself doesn’t have much to do in these films. I realize it’s better than movies where you’re actually seeing the dolls walking around & stuff as that’s super cheesy… Anyway, I of course made a list of My Top Ten Creepy Dolls In Movies & Television. I’ll forever be haunted by an old Alfred Hitchcock creepy doll episode…

My Rating: 6.5/10

Greta (2018) Review

Greta (2018)

Directed by Neil Jordan

Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Chloë Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe, Colm Feore, Stephen Rea

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Greta follows a young woman as she befriends a lonely widow who becomes disturbingly obsessed with her.

My Opinion:

I recently re-watched the delightfully “so bad it’s good” Single White Female while stuck in a hotel & mentioned in my review (HERE) that we don’t get enough of those cheesy psychological thrillers anymore that were so common in the 80s & 90s. Thank you, Greta! This is exactly the type of cheesy thriller that I was talking about. Is it a good film? Oh hell no! Is it a fun film? Oh hell yes!

First of all, we have the sexy Isabelle Huppert playing one of my favorite types of characters: A Batshit Crazy Lady. Fuck it. I’m a lady (well, a female). I’m not offended by women so often being portrayed as unhinged in movies. In fact, I did a list of My Top Ten Crazy Ladies In Movies HERE. These movies are meant to be over-the-top fun. Unfortunately, Huppert wasn’t as batshit as I was hoping. She’s a psycho, yes, but can’t really compare with people like Carrie’s mother in Carrie (I love Piper Laurie in that). She’s clearly having fun with the role, though. I’ve been wanting to explore more of her work since developing a slight girl crush on her after seeing Elle. She’s certainly the one who made me choose to go to this instead of waiting for Netflix, although I don’t mind Chloë Grace Moretz. I also like Maika Monroe as an actress but Huppert is the true star of this film. She has a presence that the two younger actresses lack.

Speaking of Chloë Grace Moretz (and Maika Monroe, who plays her best friend & roommate): I love how many things these two fuck up. Love it! I love how the people being terrorized in these types of movies do so many thoroughly predictable & ridiculous things. There are so many overused tropes in this film! That’s normally something that annoys me, especially in horror films, but it’s what I actually WANT to see in a cheesy psychological thriller. The more clichés the better for this genre! It actually made me smile when Moretz did stupid shit. And the “making cookies” scene was awesome. God Moretz was an idiot following that bit. To do something so cool and then to be so dumb… She really is the Bridget Fonda character from Single White Female. Those two naive morons would get along great. And that ending that we ALL saw coming from a mile away! Hilarious. So bad. So goodbad.


Well. That’s it. What else can I say? This movie was exactly what I was hoping it would be: Cheesy & cliché with predictable idiots, a predictable crazy lady, and overacting without being really bad overacting that throws you out of the film. Greta is not a great film. Thank god! I don’t want Oscar-worthiness ruining a perfectly good cheesy thriller with a batshit crazy lady.

My Rating: 6.5/10

**Single White Female still wins, though. High heel scene beats cookie-making scene…

Unicorn Store (2017) Review

Unicorn Store (2017)

Directed by Brie Larson

Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Joan Cusack, Bradley Whitford, Karan Soni, Mamoudou Athie, Mary Holland, Hamish Linklater

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A woman named Kit receives a mysterious invitation that would fulfill her childhood dreams.

My Opinion:

Figured I’d give this a watch because 1) There’s a bunch of weird hate aimed at Brie Larson & I wanted to give her film a chance because I like her as an actress and 2) Samuel L. Motherfucking Jackson. I love Jackson. Plus it’s cute that these two seem to be real-life friends. Oh, I suppose there’s also a little bit of 3) I’m a girl so I liked unicorns as a child too, of course.

This movie is perfectly fine. I realize that doesn’t sound like much of a compliment. What I mean is that it’s what I expected: It’s a bit quirky with an indie feel and certainly won’t be liked by everyone. Is it aimed more at females? Yes, but I think all of Larson’s hardcore fans will like it since they like her. It’s very much aimed at her sort of fanbase. “Millennial dreamers” is probably the best way to describe who this movie was made for. If you liked La La Land, I’d be very surprised if you didn’t like this. I probably feel like same way about both films but know that they’re not of my generation so I can’t fully relate to either. They’re enjoyable enough films for a one-time watch, though.

I’ll start with the positives: It may sound stupid but I liked Brie’s cute outfits. I mean, they were like what an 8-year-old stuck in a 30-year-old’s body would wear but it reminded me of the crap I wore in the Eighties and I’m a sucker for nostalgia. It was a little weird but fun to see. I actually watched this with my kid and she was loving the outfits. In fact, she seemed to like this movie quite a bit more than I did so I probably got slightly more enjoyment out of this film thanks to seeing her reaction. And the film’s use of color overall was pleasant to the eye – I’m always a fan of that (although it’s no Mandy! that’s a film that did the color thing right). One more positive? There were Care Bears. As a child of the Eighties, I’ll give this film an extra half a point for the Care Bears. Another positive? Oh Shit. I can’t think of anything. I really thought there’d be more. I’m trying to be positive since I think too many people shit on Brie!


Here’s a positive: I can fully understand why some people actually seem to love this movie and are able to relate to it. If I were ten or even twenty years younger, I think I’d be one of those people. When I was younger, this type of film is very much the sort of thing that I loved. I have some very quirky, “indie” favorites from the Eighties and Unicorn Store has a similar feel to those films despite having slightly different values. So I absolutely wouldn’t tell anyone who loves this that they’re “wrong” (who does that anyway?!) as I can relate to loving non-mainstream movies aimed at my generation. Hopefully that respect can go both ways eventually. What I’m saying is this: Can we ALL stop shitting on movies not aimed at our generation?! My generation loved Eighties films and we still do. Respect our opinions on things like The Breakfast Club and Heathers and we’ll respect yours on things like Unicorn Store. I do at least try to give all films a chance, no matter what year they were made.

Unicorn Store is fine but go into it knowing that it’s right at home on something like Netflix. It has a TV movie feel more than a mainstream cinema release. Some very good actors feel very wasted in this (the always delightful Joan Cusack & especially Jackson, whose role is silly but not silly enough to let his crazy self shine). The movie tries to be quirky yet still plays it far too safe – I was hoping for a lot more weird! But having mentioned Mandy, I’m clearly just a fan of weird. The characters are weak and underdeveloped, including Brie’s. I didn’t relate to her character or really care all that much if she’d actually get that unicorn. It’s a shame as I really wanted to like her. There’s also a weird subplot with a creepy boss that feels out of place and the pacing is very slow but, hell, my kid seemed to be enjoying it so I guess it held her attention well enough. The story itself is fun and unique, however, so I appreciate seeing something that I haven’t seen in a million other movies. Man, I struggle with these reviews for movies that are “just okay”. Yeah. Unicorn Store is just okay. Sorry! I wanted to like it a lot more. To be fair, I think it’s one I’d like more on a re-watch. It’s probably a grower. Here’s that extra half a point for the Care Bears…

My Rating: 6.5/10

If you want a really good unicorn movie, I recommend The Last Unicorn. From 1982. Yay Eighties!!!

Oh, and as for Brie Larson & Samuel L. Jackson movies, I did really enjoy Captain Marvel. The hate for that is absolute bullshit. It’s a fun film. Unicorn Store is, however, a better film than Kong: Skull Island (although that was also fun in an almost “so bad it’s good” way). I think Larson & Jackson work well together.

Border (2018) Review

Border (2018) (Swedish: Gräns)

Directed by Ali Abbasi

Based on Border by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Starring: Eva Melander, Eero Milonoff, Jorgen Thorsson, Ann Petrén, Sten Ljunggren

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A customs officer who can smell fear develops an unusual attraction to a strange traveler while aiding a police investigation which will call into question her entire existence.

My Opinion:

Er. Um. What the fuck did I just watch?! Well. Huh. This was an interesting film…

First of all, this was personally recommended to me by an old high school acquaintance so I thought “What the hell, I’ll check it out” when a local cinema actually showed this one last week. THIS is why I don’t listen to “real life” people. I only trust my fellow movie blog nerds! To be fair, she was right in that this movie is kind of right up my alley. I love foreign films and I appreciate weird. I watch so many films that I get bored with the same old predictable storylines. I want to see a film I’ll remember. Something like Mandy! And, yeah – I suppose Border too. I’ll certainly always remember it, at least. Not gonna lie, though – it’ll mostly be the sex scene that I remember.

Eva Melander plays the customs officer who can smell fear and she was very good in this film. You could feel her loneliness and how she feels like an outsider. Her performance is the best thing about the movie overall and, without that performance and character, I don’t think this would have as high of a rating as it does (7.1 on IMDb). I do think people rate foreign films a bit too highly sometimes – not all foreign films are good. I did like the creepy animal attraction she had with the mysterious stranger and did enjoy the overall story. For once I can say that I truly had no idea what the hell was going on in a movie.

I’ll keep this short as I think this is one of those films where you’re better off not knowing too much about it beforehand. If you like weird and you like the unexpected and you like bizarre graphic sex and you like foreign films and you like indie films and you like Frozen, you might like this truly strange Swedish film. There’s even a mention of Ikea at one point. YES! I’d have been disappointed if they hadn’t mentioned Ikea. And, yes – I meant the Anna & Elsa Frozen when I said Frozen. This has small Frozen vibes but is most definitely NOT child-friendly. There’s also mention of disturbing things involving children (though thankfully not shown), so be aware of that beforehand. And if you do watch this based on my half-assed review and end up scarred for life, I take no responsibility. Watch at your own risk! You might love it or you might hate it but I promise that you won’t forget it. I’d like to give it a higher rating based mostly on Melander’s performance but don’t think the film itself is as good as it could’ve been.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Happy Death Day 2U (2019) Review

Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

Directed & Written by Christopher Landon

Based on Characters by Scott Lobdell

Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Rachel Matthews, Phi Vu, Suraj Sharma, Sarah Yarkin, Ruby Modine

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Tree Gelbman discovers that dying over and over was surprisingly easier than the dangers that lie ahead.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quickie review for yet another “meh” modern horror film. I don’t know why I keep watching modern horrors. I guess I’m a bigger horror fan than I like to admit. If scrolling through Netflix, I’ll always choose a horror over a comedy or a girly romance. However, as much as modern horror sucks, I didn’t hate these Happy Death Day films (my “meh” review of the first film is HERE). They’re fine for a bit of fluffy, PG-13-level-horror fun. In fact, I preferred this sequel to the first one, although I can definitely see some absolutely hating this one as it takes a weird sci-fi direction and really ups the comedy to make this a horror comedy (even though it’s not labelled as that, which will be misleading to straightforward horror fans).

I suppose the main reason I enjoyed this one more was because the main character is no longer a bitch. I know the whole point of the first film was that her experience made her a better person but I never enjoy watching a hateful protagonist. Why should I care about the fate of someone who’s an absolute twat? This role is played by Jessica Rothe and the only praise I’ve really seen for this film is for her performance. She does carry both of these movies and does do a good job. The rest of the actors are very weak in comparison and I can’t decide if the comic relief of a rival girl in this one was annoying as hell or kind of funny. Her character is certainly cheesy but really gave the movie a 1980’s slasher comedy vibe and I’m a sucker for that decade.

That’s probably another reason why I don’t hate these movies: they’re clearly trying for a fun 80’s slasher comedy thing. I’m thinking of things like April Fool’s Day (which, by the way, is awesome and a million times better than Happy Death Day so I’d recommend that over these films). I’m happy that there’s some love for the silly 80’s horror that I grew up on so I appreciate that films such as these two and The Final Girls are being made as an homage to that era. The Final Girls is superior to the Death Day films but none of them manage to fully capture the spirit of the slasher classics and I can’t say that the Death Day films aren’t quite flawed overall. The story gets far too messy in this sequel and is really just a copy of the first film but with added (fun but unnecessary) sci-fi and way more silliness. It’ll definitely be hated by some people. My hubby thought it was abysmal while I thought it was cheesy but had some fun moments and, thankfully, a main character that I didn’t hate this time. It wasn’t worth the cost of going to see it in the cinema, though. We had some time to kill and it’s the only option we had. Wait for Netflix on this one.

My Rating: 6.5/10

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) Review

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) Review

Directed by Mike Mitchell

Based on Lego Construction Toys

Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Maya Rudolph

Music by Mark Mothersbaugh

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
It’s been five years since everything was awesome and the citizens are facing a huge new threat: Lego Duplo invaders from outer space, wrecking everything faster than they can rebuild.

My Opinion:

Damn. What a massive letdown after The Lego Movie, which I thought was one of the best and most original animated family films of these past several years. I think they need to stop with all the freaking sequels for EVERY animated family movie that’s EVER been made. Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks, whatever the hell studio made this (Warner?), etc etc etc. STOP! Just stop it, dammit! Surely they now know they’ve gone too far after the huge negative reaction to the atrocious-looking Will Smith Aladdin Genie?!?! Stop it with the sequels and the reboots and the remakes and especially the pointless live-action versions of animated classics! Latest rumor I saw online was a live-action version of A Nightmare Before Christmas. OMG. Don’t touch that! It’s perfect as is! I’ll boycott! I’ll march! I’ll go on a hunger strike! (Okay, maybe not a hunger strike)


Oh. Yeah. Back to The Lego Movie 2. After all my ranting & raving, I can’t quite put my finger on why this one was so bad compared to the first. It just lacked the heart of the original. It felt stale and unoriginal. It felt soulless. It felt like a cash-grab (as do the majority of these animated sequels). The story felt forced to fit in with the ending of the original & the sort of values that movie was promoting. The jokes weren’t as funny and there weren’t as many fun surprises & cameos. It wasn’t clever in the same way the first one was with things like the Kragle and the “Piece of Resistance”; the script for the first film was smart & truly funny. And Tiffany Haddish has quite a big voice role in the sequel, which is not fun to listen to if you find her as obnoxiously annoying and unfunny as I do (If you love her, you’re in luck!). Also, Emmet’s naive & charming cluelessness got less and less charming as this movie went on, but I’m wondering if that’s just me finding the real life Chris Pratt less and less charming lately as well. Man I’m a bitch! I think I need “unknown” celebs to be in movies since there are far too many that get on my nerves. I have to say that I appreciate Ralph Breaks The Internet a bit more now, which I found very disappointing at first. What I realised is that I still loved the characters in that sequel just as much as in the first film, which made up a bit for the story being weak. I found I didn’t care about the characters in The Lego Movie 2, although it was nice getting to know a little more about Wyldstyle (I still like her).


Okay, this movie wasn’t all bad. It just had a lot to live up to. What did I like? I loved the adorable kiddie voices of the Duplo toys. Those smiley stars and hearts with the sweet little voices were cute as shit. There were still plenty of funny jokes – I guess I’m comparing this to the first movie, which was hilarious, but this sequel was still a lot better than most of stuff made by other studios such as DreamWorks (Sorry – I’m not a DreamWorks fan). My daughter and I still got some giggles out of this one, which I always love to see. There’s also a song that’s almost as good/catchy/annoying as Everything Is Awesome so it’s great that they were almost able to match the joy of that song (it’s called, of course, Catchy Song). In the end, though, this sequel was all just a bit forgettable and disposable, which I’d never say about the first film. Oh well. They can’t all be the Citizen Kane of family-friendly animation.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Not sure if I’ll have time this week but I’ll try to review a film I went to just after this one and did really enjoy – Alita: Battle Angel. It was a pleasant surprise.

A Dog’s Way Home (2019) Review

A Dog’s Way Home (2019)

Directed by Charles Martin Smith

Based on A Dog’s Way Home by W. Bruce Cameron

Starring: Ashley Judd, Jonah Hauer-King, Alexandra Shipp, Wes Studi, Edward James Olmos, Bryce Dallas Howard

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A female dog travels four hundred miles in search of her owner throughout a Colorado wilderness.

My Opinion:

I can’t decide if this was pukey or lovely. Okay – all family films involving cute pets are pukey. But it’s kind of hard to not like them and feel all smooshy inside when you watch them. A cute puppy is a cute puppy! Who doesn’t love a cute puppy?! This film is sweet but it could’ve been better. It’s from the same guy who wrote A Dog’s Purpose, which overall was a much better film with a far more original idea. I’m not gonna lie – I really liked A Dog’s Purpose. My cold, black soul is capable of at least liking cute animals. A Dog’s Way Home is still fun, though, and certainly worth a family movie night at home on your couch.

Oh my god – I have nothing else whatsoever to say about this movie. I’m off to a great start with this blogging thing in 2019! I think I’m just bored. It’s been way too long since I’ve seen anything really good or, at the very least, interesting. I need to see something that can jumpstart my love of film again. Something epic like Arrival. Or something weird as shit like Mandy.

Okay – A Dog’s Way Home is sweet and you’ll enjoy it if you like dogs and have a young kid and like nice, innocent, pure, inoffensive, safe entertainment. Some slightly dodgy CGI ruins it a little and the story isn’t as strong as in A Dog’s Purpose (we’ve seen an animal’s “long journey home” SO many times in movies!). But it was an enjoyable if somewhat forgettable afternoon at the cinema. It was better than Glass, at least. I guess.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Glass (2019) Review

Glass (2019)

Directed & Written by M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Paulson, Samuel L. Jackson

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In the film, David Dunn gets locked in a mental hospital alongside his once-rival Mr. Glass, as well as the multi-personality “The Horde,” and must escape from a psychiatrist who is out to prove the trio do not actually possess super-human abilities.

My Opinion:

Well, this was disappointing. But I did expect it to be disappointing. Maybe I should stop watching movies I expect to be disappointing… I’d save a lot of money!

I like M. Night Shyamalan for the most part. I’ve watched almost all of his movies because I do enjoy his stories and, yes, I like a twist even though he’s known for them so it’s never exactly a big surprise. I can’t say I’ve truly loved any of his films but do think The Sixth Sense is pretty great, especially if you saw it at the time and he wasn’t yet known as “that guy who does twists” (I saw it when it came out and no one yet knew the ending). The Village is also pretty good, although a lot seem to hate it. The rest, however, are unfortunately the very definition of “meh”. But I still weirdly enjoy his movies while watching them. I just never feel the need to ever watch them again…

Okay, I’ve ranked all his movies I’ve seen from my least favorite to my favorite (only the bottom two truly suck):

Lady In The Water
The Happening
Devil
Split
The Visit
Glass
Signs
Unbreakable
The Village
The Sixth Sense

I guess I have Glass pretty high. To be fair, I didn’t hate it (my hubby did). I can see why it has such mixed reviews, though. For me, it was what I expected so I didn’t hate it. I’ve leaned to go into Shyamalan’s films with very low expectations! I think he should be given some credit for creating a whole new comic book/superpowers trilogy that feels unique & original compared to all the damn superhero movies that I’m getting very sick of. It’s just unfortunate that this trilogy doesn’t go out with the bang I was hoping. It’s more of a whimper. Shyamalan likes to go over the top so often – I wish he’d given this a crazy as fuck ending that we’d all remember in the same way we all remember the ending of The Sixth Sense.

Unbreakable is still the best in the trilogy by far but I did like this one more than Split. I loved seeing Bruce Willis and especially Samuel L. Motherfucking Jackson again and I far preferred seeing these three together than when it was just James McAvoy being a lone psycho killer (I’ve never been big on murder-y crime movies). Speaking of McAvoy, he’s great in both these films. He’s better than Willis & Jackson, who are kind of just phoning it in for this one (but they’re huge stars – that happens sometimes). I still love Jackson – he’s one of those actors who’ll make me watch a movie just because he’s in it.

Well, that’s it. I need to keep these “reviews” short anyway if I’m going to keep up on reviewing cinema releases this year. I just don’t have much to say about this one other than that it’s a shame that a good idea feels like a bit of a waste after how Glass ends. It feels a bit “So what?”. Good idea, actors I like, and a really good performance from McAvoy made it worth watching, at least. I continue to think Shyamalan has good story ideas and I respect that as it’s more than most of us will ever accomplish. But I wish the end products could be as good as his ideas – only The Sixth Sense has managed to accomplish this.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Mary Poppins Returns (2018) Review

Happy New Year, everyone! I have a couple of leftover movies that I saw in the cinema in December but didn’t review: Mary Poppins Returns & Aquaman. I’ll try to review Aquaman tomorrow (enjoyed that way more than I was expecting!). Then I’ll try to post my December Roundup next week followed by my 2018 Year-End Top Ten Lists. Woohoo! I love lists! 🙂

Here’s my review of Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

Directed by Rob Marshall

Based on Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers

Starring: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Julie Walters, Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in 1930s London, twenty-five years after the events of the original film, it sees Mary Poppins, the former nanny of Jane and Michael Banks, returning after a family tragedy.

My Opinion:

This was fine. Somewhat enjoyable. A bit “So what?”. Completely pointless. I’ve been getting very bored with sequels, prequels, reboots, etc etc etc. I want to see something new. We have a fantastic Mary Poppins film already with a practically perfect Julie Andrews (she’s actually perfect – Andrews IS Mary Poppins). I know reboots, etc, work occasionally and I admit that it can be fun to once again see beloved characters. I think I come across as grumpy too often on this blog! I like the continuation of stories with characters that I like sometimes. But I don’t like when they feel like cash-grabs and/or they feel pointless or just don’t work and feel like inferior copies. Mary Poppins Returns felt like an inferior copy to me.

The thing I disliked the most about this movie is what I thought I would most enjoy: I really didn’t like Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins. I normally love Blunt and thought she was the perfect choice when cast. The way she speaks in this got on my nerves (too posh – it sounded phoney) and this film actually made the character somewhat unlikeable. She seemed too stern whereas Andrews was also stern but there was a kindness and playfulness that Blunt didn’t manage to convey. To be fair, I’ve not read the books and Blunt’s version may be more faithful. But a lot of us grew up watching Andrews so I can’t help but compare Blunt to Mary Poppins in the original film. Andrews will always be the only Mary Poppins to me.

The other thing they were never going to live up to in this was the songs in the original film, which are some of the catchiest Disney songs ever. I saw this about a week ago and I can’t say I can immediately remember how any of the songs went. There were a couple that were okay but nothing very memorable, unlike things like A Spoonful Of Sugar or Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Okay – one final thing & then I’ll try to say something nice: The story in this was pretty dull as well. Not that anyone is watching this for some complex plot so this isn’t a huge complaint for me. It was just such a predictable & uninteresting story.

Now onto the good things about this movie! I thought some of the sets looked pretty great (I enjoyed the dance number with Lin-Manuel Miranda and the lamplighters as well as the lovely balloon bit at the end). The film was colorful and I loved the costumes, especially what Mary Poppins wore (I like her funky shoes). Speaking of Lin-Manuel Miranda, I liked his character. He was probably my favorite of the new main characters (I found most the others a bit dull, though, and Meryl Streep’s bit was a bit stupid and felt thrown in there just to add Meryl Streep to yet another movie). Oh, and my favorite bits of all: Dick Van Dyke and especially Angela F*^king Lansbury!

Lansbury rules! Love her so much. Have loved her since Murder, She Wrote, which is a totally awesome show (don’t you dare tell me otherwise). And she’s Mrs. Potts, people! And she sounds exactly the same now at 93 as she did in Beauty And The Beast! Lansbury is a national treasure, just like Julie Andrews. By the way – why didn’t Andrews have a cameo?? Perhaps it’s better she’s not associated with this version but giving Lansbury & Van Dyke cameos was the best thing this movie did and really added to my enjoyment. I briefly felt like a kid again thanks to them. I’ll give this movie half a point more just for the addition of Lansbury & Van Dyke…

My Rating: 6.5/10

Ralph Breaks The Internet, The Nutcracker And The Four Realms & The Grinch Movie Reviews

Three more quickies today as I try to catch up on reviewing the 2018 films I’ve seen. Two of these were okay (just okay) and one was pretty dreadful…

Ralph Breaks The Internet (2018)

Directed by Rich Moore & Phil Johnston

Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, Ed O’Neill

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Six years after the events of “Wreck-It Ralph,” Ralph and Vanellope, now friends, discover a wi-fi router in their arcade, leading them into a new adventure.

My Opinion:

I love the first Wreck-It Ralph. I think it’s easily one of the better Disney films of recent years and I appreciated that it felt like such an original idea. Hell, it’s almost as good as Pixar’s films! (Almost). And being a lover of the Eighties, I of course loved the classic video game element. Therefore, it was likely that I wouldn’t enjoy this sequel as much. It doesn’t have the magic of the first film (as is often the case with sequels). And it also loses the simple video game innocence of the first film by making the Internet the focus of this one (and having all the brand names in your face constantly). I hate the Internet. Okay… I’m on it all the damn time… (like now). But I’d still rather be living in the pre-Internet Eighties again.

I’ll start with the best thing about this sequel: Ralph & Vanellope. I love these characters and they’re just as loveable in the sequel as in the first film. Actually, Vanellope is even better in this one – she’s much sweeter since becoming friends with Ralph. They make this movie worth watching and I did really enjoy seeing them again even though I didn’t like the story itself all that much. I also enjoyed the “Oh My Disney” bit. It kind of goes against saying I wasn’t crazy about all the commercialism but I admit that I love Disney. I’m a Disney whore! I love going into the damn Disney Store. I’m such a child. So, I did really like seeing Vanellope with all the Disney princesses. Those bits were a lot of fun and I liked spotting so many other Disney characters & references. Oh and I loved that one cameo (don’t want to spoil it)! Screw it – This is a Disney film. They’re allowed to Disney-fy the crap out of it! I liked those bits just fine.

Where it fails is when it talks about eBay & memes & viral videos & etc etc etc. And the end gets a bit bizarre and didn’t really work for me at all. I really missed the innocence of the first film. This was okay but where can they go from here? It was just a little disappointing but my expectations weren’t too high anyway since Disney sequels are rarely all that great. Oh, but the end credits scenes were brilliant! There are two: one partway through the credits and one at the very end. I highly recommend staying for them as they’re pretty much better than the entire movie itself.

My Rating: 7/10

The Nutcracker And The Four Realms (2018)

Directed by Lasse Hallström & Joe Johnston

Based on The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E. T. A. Hoffmann & The Nutcracker by Marius Petipa

Starring: Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Foy, Eugenio Derbez, Matthew Macfadyen, Richard E. Grant, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
This is a retelling of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s short story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” and Marius Petipa’s The Nutcracker, about a young girl who is gifted a locked egg from her deceased mother and sets out in a magical land to retrieve the key.

My Opinion:

Wow – this has very negative reviews & ratings on IMDb. I don’t fully understand why. I think people were definitely too harsh on this one. No, it’s certainly not great and is quite weak for a Disney film but it was lovely to look at and had a fun story. Hell, I enjoyed it more than that live-action and completely pointless Beauty And The Beast. At least this is a story I didn’t already know and isn’t a re-hash of a far superior film.

Maybe the story was a little too weird for audiences these days? People don’t really go for anything slightly bizarre anymore. As I said, it’s quite a lovely looking film and I liked that it felt a bit like Narnia at first. It makes for a good winter movie in the lead up to Christmas. I also thought the main girl was very good, just as she was in Interstellar (she was the only good thing about that overblown Nolan film).

And Morgan Freeman is in this. Yay! (Am I allowed to admit to loving him again yet? Are people over the “oh my god, he said flirty things to women!” bullshit?). And Helen Mirren – I like that saucy minx too. Unfortunately, Keira Knightley is in this as well. Have I mentioned that she annoys me? (Yes, I have. Many times). Speaking of her and how I said in my previous review that I’m a Disney whore: Knightley recently got on her high horse again and said she doesn’t let her kid(s?) watch Disney movies because they’re a bad influence and blah blah blah. Screw that. How about you talk to them & teach them the difference between reality & fantasy and then let them watch what every other kid watches and enjoys? Are they not allowed to watch this movie, then???

Anyway. This movie was okay but it was also missing something. I can’t quite figure out what it was missing, though. It has the right elements to make it a family classic but it’s already fading from my mind only a few weeks after seeing it. Maybe it’s Knightley’s fault! Her role is too big. She got on my nerves, especially with that stupid voice she put on. Yeah, let’s blame her. Otherwise, this is a decent enough family Disney movie that doesn’t quite deserve the horrible reviews it has had.

My Rating: 6.5/10

The Grinch (2018)

Directed by Scott Mosier & Yarrow Cheney

Based on How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Cameron Seely, Angela Lansbury

Narrated by Pharrell Williams

Music by Danny Elfman

Plot Synopsis (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows the Grinch as he plans to ruin Whoville’s Christmas celebration by stealing all the town’s decorations and gifts.

My Opinion:

Ugh. No. Okay – I’m a big fan of the 1966 American TV classic How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Who isn’t?! That show has been a yearly American tradition for ages now. It’s one of the most beloved holiday TV specials. That’s why they shouldn’t have done this film. They were never going to live up to something that is, quite frankly, almost complete perfection.

Speaking of movies fading from my mind only a few weeks after seeing them, I can barely remember a thing about The Grinch now. I remember liking his adorable and long-suffering dog Max, but the same goes for the 1966 version anyway. I think the biggest problem with this version is this: The Grinch isn’t enough of an asshole. TV Grinch was gloriously mean. Then, to make it even worse, this movie added a bullshit backstory to help explain why The Grinch is a bit of an asshole. We don’t need a stupid backstory! Can’t someone just be an asshole for the hell of it? I mean, I’m a bit of an asshole for no good reason. This is probably why I’ve always slightly preferred The Grinch before his heart grows. He’s damn funny at the beginning of the 1966 version. He’s boring as shit in this lifeless adaptation.

Oh well – I guess it’s still not as bad as that Jim Carrey monstrosity, which is one of my most-hated movies of all time. Just leave The Grinch the fuck alone, Hollywood. That’s what he wants anyway! Oh, and why the hell did they have Pharrell Williams only narrate this movie and not do the music as well? His music is one of the things that makes Despicable Me so great. Illumination is clearly never going to live up to that film ever again.

My Rating: 4.5/10

Halloween (2018) Review

Halloween (2018)

Directed by David Gordon Green

Based on Characters by John Carpenter & Debra Hill

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Virginia Gardner

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set 40 years after the original film, the plot follows Laurie Strode as she prepares to face Michael Myers when he returns to Haddonfield, Illinois, after his killing spree on Halloween night in 1978.

My Opinion:

This will be a quick review as I don’t have time to write much. I only just watched this on Monday night but it would be stupid to review it after Halloween, so… here’s a quickie! To be honest, I don’t have a lot to say about this one anyway (unlike the film Mandy, which I reviewed HERE earlier today).

The original Halloween is obviously a slasher classic. That’s thanks to the brilliant John Carpenter and, of course, the best horror film score ever. There have been loads of inferior slashers since and I can’t say that this 2018 film feels much different than all the copycats that’ve come along since 1978. I saw nothing in this film that I haven’t seen in hundreds of other horrors. It’s not an awful film. It’s just… Okay. And “just okay” annoys me.

Don’t get me wrong – I did get some enjoyment out of this one. It was great seeing Jamie Lee Curtis vs. Michael Myers once again and I of course love seeing a movie with a female lead of her age kicking ass at the box office. There were some pointless bits, like the inclusion of two completely unnecessary “reporters”, and the first half of the film feels like a copy of the 1978 film with teenagers (one babysitting) being targeted. However, that formula worked well in the first movie so I didn’t have a problem with it. Unfortunately, I think the big finale and final showdown were disappointing. I expected to find that all a bit more exciting after a 40-year wait.

Oh well. Halloween (2018 – why couldn’t they just give it a different title?!) is okay. If you’re a big fan of this series of films, you probably really enjoyed this one (even though it erases all previous sequels & is a direct sequel to the original film). I’ll be honest – I’ve not seen all the Halloween films. That’s unusual for me, considering that I grew up on stuff like this. I may get around to them all someday but I know that only the first one is really worth my time. I’ve always been more of an Elm Street girl anyway…

My Rating: 6.5/10

Let’s end with with John Carpenter’s amazing Halloween theme. Love it.

Happy Death Day (2017) & The Ritual (2017) Reviews

Finally – here are two review re-posts of two horror movies I watched this year that weren’t truly dreadful. I didn’t love them but they were watchable, unlike most the horror films I saw at home this year…

Happy Death Day (2017)

Directed by Christopher B. Landon

Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Happy Death Day follows a college student who is murdered on her birthday and begins reliving the day over and over again; at that point, she sets out to find the killer and stop her death.

My Brief Opinion:

I was really annoyed that I missed this in the cinema last year as it sounded like a fun horror in the slightly-cheesy 80’s slasher style I’ll always have affection for (since I’m old). But the movie was a disappointment, although it’s enjoyable enough for an hour and a half of your time. I just think I won’t remember a thing about it in a few years. The biggest problem was probably that the main character was a hateful bitch, so it was hard to care if she’d ever be able to stop her murder from happening. Yeah, she changes at the end (as to be expected – the whole point is that she needs to be a better person), but… Meh. I think my expectations were just too high. This concept was obviously done so well in Groundhog Day that nothing that’s tried to use that same idea has worked as well. If you want a non-horror teen movie with the same idea, I enjoyed Before I Fall slightly more than this one. And if you want a modern horror comedy with a cheesy 80’s thing going on, The Final Girls was better than this one as well.

My Rating: 6.5/10

The Ritual (2017)

Directed by David Bruckner

Based on The Ritual by Adam Nevill

Starring: Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, Sam Troughton

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A group of college friends reunite for a trip to the forest, but encounter a menacing presence in the woods that’s stalking them.

My Brief Opinion:

Still not sure about this horror film. For the most part, I think I liked it. It was atmospheric and genuinely creepy at times (I rarely find horror movies scary in any way). The conflict between this group of friends due to something that happens at the beginning worked quite well with the story later on of the presence in the forest and the way it brings out hidden resentment. The thing that will make people love this or hate this is the ending. The movie changes and becomes a much different film from the Blair Witch type of beginning and this won’t work for everyone. I didn’t mind the ending but preferred the more mysterious, less in-your-face start to the film.

My Rating: 6/10

Frozen (2010), Dig Two Graves, Cargo & Jug Face Movie Reviews

Here are three reposts of short horror reviews I did and one new review of a truly dreadful film that I watched over the weekend.

Frozen (2010)

Directed & Written by Adam Green

Starring: Emma Bell, Shawn Ashmore, Kevin Zegers

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Three skiers stranded on a chairlift are forced to make life-or-death choices, which prove more perilous than staying put and freezing to death.

My Brief Opinion:

Not the Anna & Elsa Frozen! I didn’t mind this horror film even though it’s a bit ridiculous. Three annoying twenty-somethings are left stranded on a ski chairlift when the resort shuts down for a week (or however long). That’s it. That’s the story. Actually, it ended up being okay and we got to know and like these characters a little. Well, they ended up far less annoying than they were at first at least. They do stupid shit but, to be honest, I’m not sure what I’d do in the same situation. Probably freeze to death. My rating is maybe a little harsh but it did get a bit too silly (and gross) and slightly boring at times. At least it’s far better than that horror movie where three twat twenty-somethings are trapped in an ATM booth thingy by some psychotic killer (in the imaginatively-titled ATM).

My Rating: 5.5/10

Dig Two Graves (2014)

Directed by Hunter Adams

Starring: Ted Levine, Samantha Isler, Danny Goldring, Troy Ruptash

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
After her brother’s tragic death a young girl meets three men who claim they can bring her brother back to life.

My Brief Opinion:

Why do I occasionally watch random movies on Netflix that I’ve never heard of?? Well, I luck out sometimes – I thought Circle was fantastic. But the random ones in the horror genre are always shit. I’ll say that the acting in this was decent, though. Far better than the story itself, which didn’t hold my interest. Overall, it was yet another modern horror that was a waste of my time but it’s probably not as “bad” as my rating suggests. It showed some promise. It wasn’t as dumb as most the horrors that get a full cinema release. It was just dull.

My Rating: 4.5/10

Cargo (2017)

Directed by Ben Howling & Yolanda Ramke

Starring: Martin Freeman, Anthony Hayes, Caren Pistorius

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)

After an epidemic spreads all over Australia, a father searches for someone willing to protect his daughter.

My Brief Opinion:

Loved this movie’s concept and thought the short film it’s based on was pretty great. Like Lights Out, however, I thought the longer format didn’t really work. Sometimes less is more! The movie is okay and it’s still a very good concept but I found it a little boring (and I fell asleep for a while in the middle of it – don’t tell hubby because I can’t be bothered to watch what I missed). It’s nice, though, that they’re still somehow finding ways to make zombie movies that feel original! Watch it if you want a decent zombie film that’s more about drama & family and less about blood & guts but PLEASE watch the short film first.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Jug Face (aka The Pit) (2013)

Directed by Chad Crawford Kinkle

Starring: Sean Bridgers, Lauren Ashley Carter, Larry Fessenden, Sean Young, Daniel Manche, Michael G. Crandall

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The story follows a teen (Carter), who is pregnant with her brother’s child and tries to escape from a backwoods community, only to discover that she must sacrifice herself to a creature in a pit.

My Brief Opinion:

Wow. I have a new contender for “worst movie I’ve seen since starting this blog”. I remember a couple of bloggers reviewing this a few years ago & really liking it so I’ve been wanting to see it ever since. I liked the sound of the synopsis and that above poster made it look like it could be interesting. I’ve rated this movie an extra half point for originality since I always complain that nothing feels original anymore and the concept for this film felt fairly unique. Oh, and I liked the “jug faces” that got made – they were cheesy as fuck. In the story, one of these backwoods rednecks makes “jugs” while in a sort of fugue. They end up looking like the face of someone in the community and that person is then sacrificed to “the pit”, which the community believes has healing powers. I don’t know how the hell they knew who was meant to be sacrificed – the jugs never looked like anyone in this stupid movie.


The biggest problem with this movie is the thing that always annoys me the most: every single character is extremely hateful. Well, the guy who makes the jugs is almost okay but the main girl is fucking awful. And her mother! Oh my god! I knew I was probably in for trouble when the only name I recognized in the beginning credits was Sean Young. She plays the mother and she’s waaaaaay too interested in her daughter’s vagina. Yeah, you read that right. So was the brother, as he gets his sister pregnant. The brother was also a complete asshole. I wanted the entire community to be sacrificed to the pit. I thought, after having to endure these dreadful characters, maybe we’d at least get to see some creature in the pit or something. Nope. Nothing. There’s one cheesy looking ghost of a previous sacrifice but that’s it. Nothing scary, no tension, hateful characters, incest, and funny looking jugs. Just watch M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village if you want to watch a backwards community living in the woods. That’s an absolute masterpiece compared to this. Yes, I’ve decided that this is the worst movie I’ve seen in my six-year blog history.

My Rating: 1.5/10