Onward (2020) Review

Onward (2020)

Directed by Dan Scanlon

Starring: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer

Production company Walt Disney Pictures & Pixar Animation Studios

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Set in a suburban fantasy world, two teenage elf brothers embark on a quest to discover if there is still magic out there.

My Opinion:

Ahh – My beloved Pixar. Pixar is up there with Studio Ghibli & Akira Kurosawa films for me in that they’re responsible for making so many movies I love & their very best are cinematic perfection (in my opinion, obviously). Pixar could do no wrong until the Cars movies came along & they’ve unfortunately had a few missteps since then. The Disney “sequelitis” thing has hurt the Pixar brand slightly, although Pixar’s weakest films are still far better than the majority of output from other animation studios. Onward is good but it’s certainly not one of Pixar’s best. However, I appreciate getting an original story instead of yet another sequel (Toy Story 4 was very disappointing after the third one had such a perfect ending & made for a fantastic trilogy).

Okay – not that anyone cares but you know I love to make lists & rank things. So here’s My Pixar Movie Ranking (Wow – I never watched Cars 3? I’m clearly not into those…). Figured this was worth doing to see where I’d place Onward:

21. Cars 2
20. The Good Dinosaur
19. Cars
18. Incredibles 2
17. Finding Dory
16. Monsters University
15. Toy Story 4
14. Onward
13. Coco
12. Ratatouille
11. A Bug’s Life
10. Brave
9. The Incredibles
8. Up
7. Toy Story 2
6. Toy Story 3
5. Inside Out
4. Finding Nemo
3. Monsters, Inc.
2. Toy Story
1. WALL-E

So, Onward is unfortunately one of the weakest “original” stories but still better than all the sequels (other than Toy Story 2 & 3, which are great). To be honest, I enjoyed it a bit more than Coco. Coco is lovely to look at & a better “film” but I liked the Onward main characters & the relationship between the two brothers.

I think maybe the most difficult thing with Onward was trying to NOT keep getting Weekend At Bernie’s vibes from it as they dragged their dad around on their journey. As usual, Pixar know how to pull on those heartstrings & there are some lovely moments in this film that are kind of ruined by that stupid Andrew McCarthy movie popping up in my head. Damn you, Andrew McCarthy! (I’m just extra mad at him as I also re-watched Pretty In Pink over the weekend. I will always be #TeamDuckie!).

I’ll try to keep this short as I’m not really planning on doing many full movie reviews this year but, as it’s Pixar, I had to write a little about it. Having just watched Onward, I’m not yet sure how I feel about it. Maybe it will grow on me as some Pixar movies did after a re-watch but I don’t think that will happen in this case & I can’t see ever loving it as I do those at the top of my Pixar list. The overall story is fine but a little weak, especially when compared to just how brilliantly inventive Pixar ideas often are (I’m still amazed by Monsters, Inc. Genius idea). The minor characters in Onward are also disappointing, which is a shame as Pixar often have such strong characters in even the smallest roles. Look at something like Finding Nemo – I love each & every damn sea creature in that thing! They all have such unique personalities. No one stands out in Onward other than the two brothers.

However, I think Onward handles the topic of losing someone well. It manages to make you care about the brothers & their dad, at least, and to yet again simultaneously warm & break your damn heart at the end in usual Pixar fashion. I won’t give too much away but, ultimately, this story is about the two brothers and they’re what make this movie work. They help make up for there being no memorable other characters (maybe that’s the reason why, so the focus is on the brothers & them wanting to see their dad again). I saw people freaking out on Twitter when someone said Onward is Frozen for boys (with people pointing out that both boys & girls can like both of these movies). Chill out, people. The comparison is accurate in that Frozen is about sisters & Onward is about brothers. They’re both about family & love & loss. They’re good films that everyone should be able to relate to in some way. I do wish Onward was a better film overall as its heart is in the right place. Well, you never know – maybe it will grow on me a bit.

My Rating: 7/10

Jojo Rabbit (2019) Review

Jojo Rabbit (2019)

Directed by Taika Waititi

Based on Caging Skies by Christine Leunens

Starring: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson

Music by Michael Giacchino

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Roman Griffin Davis portrays the title character, Johannes “Jojo” Betzler, a Hitler Youth member who finds out his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. He must then question his beliefs, while dealing with the intervention of his imaginary friend, a fanciful version of Adolf Hitler (Waititi).

My Opinion:

Hmm. I liked this movie. I didn’t love it like, yet again, Film Twitter did. But they love every current movie release that doesn’t totally suck. When will I learn to ignore the hype from obsessive young film fans?? I do love satire & dark comedy and, though this is obviously a controversial topic, it’s not like it hasn’t been done in this way before. Has no one watched any movies from before the year 2000? I do think Taika Waititi is pretty damn funny, especially on Twitter, and seems like a lot of fun to hang out with. But chill, people. He’s funny. He’s made some decent movies. Jojo Rabbit is a pretty good film. Again, though, let’s not overreact. There are better films (and worse ones, of course).

This is obviously a divisive film (although I’ve only really seen either love for it or people complaining about people hating it despite me seeing no negative tweets or posts about it??). A film like this is obviously always going to be an uncomfortable watch. “Funny Hitler” is a difficult thing to pull off. I’m not completely sure if Waititi fully managed to make it work but, overall, the movie succeeds in giving us some funny moments and some truly heartbreaking ones. I thought it maybe kept things a little too light for such a heavy topic but, to be fair, I think it will have been hard to get the perfect balance between the humor & the horror. Not being a lover of drama movies, the lighter tone worked for me anyway but it may not suit everyone.

Roman Griffin Davis is good as the title character & I knew Thomasin McKenzie would make it big after seeing her in Leave No Trace. I also loved the small part of the friend, played by Archie Yates (he’s adorable). They all did well portraying the innocence of young kids caught up in a horrific time. And Scarlett Johansson was great. I’m still not sure how I feel about her as an actress as she kind of rubs me up the wrong way but there’s no denying that she’s been brilliant in some of her roles. Her Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for this movie is deserved. Her character and, of course, the kids are what make this movie and give it some heart. Without them, it would have been too “silly” and lacking in emotion. Overall, I don’t think Jojo Rabbit is a perfect film but it did well with subject matter that could turn into a truly disastrous film if not handled well. And, as I absolutely adore the Charlie Chaplin movies I’ve seen, I’m now kicking myself for not yet seeing The Great Dictator to be able to compare these two films. If I wasn’t taking a blog break, I’d do a post on them both. Maybe next year…

My Rating: 7/10

Little Women (2019) Review

Little Women (2019)

Directed by Greta Gerwig

Based on Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, James Norton, Louis Garrel, Chris Cooper

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Jo March reflects back and forth on her life, telling the beloved story of the March sisters – four young women each determined to live life on their own terms.

My Opinion:

I’m not on the Greta Gerwig bandwagon. Her movies are decent. But neither this nor Lady Bird are “Best Picture” material. Yay for a woman being recognised by the Academy finally, I guess? But why Gerwig? There are better films that have been made by women. Okay – I’ll shut up now before I get in trouble. At least her movies are more worthy than her male partner’s (I thought Marriage Story was a self-indulgent snoozefest). I also admit to not being able to stand Emma Watson. Saoirse Ronan is okay but will never ever be a favorite actress of mine. Yeah, I know – I’m old so these people aren’t my generation. I know they have their fans. I also don’t get the Timothée Chalamet thing. Fuck it – I like what I like! I’m not going to pretend to like movies or actors just because they’re currently popular. So I went into this with low expectations.

Well, hell. I quite enjoyed this movie. I have a huge embarrassing confession to make, though. Although I read a lot & do try to read some books before watching the film adaptations, I never read Little Women. More surprisingly, I have also never seen any other film adaptations. And even more surprising than that, I’ve managed to almost completely avoid spoilers for this story for over 40 damn years (other than about Beth). Honest to god, I didn’t know how this story would play out. And I loved that. I can’t believe how much I enjoyed this story. However, is that thanks to Gerwig & some actresses I don’t particularly like? No but I’m glad they made it a fun watch & I even managed to not hate Emma Watson despite her making her usual scrunchy “acting face”. I should’ve read this book. Why didn’t they make us read this one in school?! Damn American educational system! Because this is a good story and I loved it. These characters are great and I loved how different their personalities were. I can see how everyone will have a favorite character from this story. Not sure who my favorite is but I’m going to read the book to decide that as they could be quite different (Florence Pugh was a lot of fun as Amy but I’m guessing she’s the most unlikeable in the book).

Luckily, the British educational system did make my hubby read this one as a kid (he’s a Beth fan, though I’m sure he’ll correct me if I got that wrong). One thing I’ll say is that he absolutely hated how they messed with the linear narrative of the original story. The movie’s story jumps around a lot and some very big reveals are shown right away, which he thinks will have ruined the story for me and for anyone one else who may also be new to Little Women. I have to say the nonlinear structure didn’t work well and, yes – it did ruin what could have been some very big moments. What a shame. Why mess with such a classic? The time jumps also weren’t portrayed well as the characters didn’t look much different despite it sometimes being years later, making it slightly confusing if you weren’t paying close attention (we could hear the people in front of us talking to each other & often being confused as to what just happened). Oh, Amy has bangs/a fringe… We must be in the past again! It was a stupid way to try to be “clever” with a story that people have been perfectly happy with for years. So, what can I say? I enjoyed this movie but let’s be honest: The credit goes to Louisa May Alcott. It’s a brilliant story. I loved it. I’m sorry I haven’t yet read the book. Shame on me.

My Rating: 7/10

Marriage Story (2019) & 1917 (2019) Reviews

As the Oscars are this weekend, I figured I better post my reviews for the Best Picture nominees this week. Below is a re-post of my review of Marriage Story & a new review for 1917. Well, a mini-review of 1917. Okay – it’s not much of a review for 1917!

Marriage Story (2019)

Directed & Written by Noah Baumbach

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, Julie Hagerty, Merritt Wever

Music by Randy Newman

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a married couple (Johansson and Driver) going through a coast-to-coast divorce.

My Opinion:

I honestly don’t get the hype over this movie. And I’ve never understood the love for Adam Driver – that gross guy who had gross sex with gross Lena Dunham in gross Girls?! I just feel very out of touch with people the past several years. I see people raving about movies on Twitter so I watch those movies and end up extremely underwhelmed. Is it just me? Why do these same films fail to move me? Because I felt NOTHING while watching this. I didn’t feel that this couple had any sort of meaningful connection or any chemistry whatsoever so found it very hard to feel upset over the breakdown of a marriage that we saw so little of and didn’t get to witness developing in any way. We’re suddenly thrown in at the end of the marriage when they apparently don’t like each other anymore.

I think Driver & Johansson are okay actors (Johansson more than Driver). But they felt like actors in this movie. I felt like I was watching a play that was almost as boring as the ones directed by Driver’s “brilliant” character in this movie. And Johansson’s character was of course an actress. Despite Noah Baumbach sticking to that rule of “write what you know” and clearly writing about his own lifestyle, this movie somehow managed to make these characters feel anything but real to me. It was just odd as one of the main things I saw on Twitter was “This movie is so real!”. Seriously? Am I just dead inside? All I saw were two bland and self-absorbed people not loving OR hating each other enough to build up to that “I wish you were dead!” (or whatever he said) scene. We saw so little of their marriage anyway that I didn’t give a shit when they finally had a damn fight like normal couples do.

I don’t know. Maybe it is just me. I don’t blame either Driver or Johansson, though, as I think the writing here is the problem. This movie is just not my sort of thing. It’s the pretentious & self-indulgent side of “indie” that I can’t stand. It crosses that indie line for me (I don’t know if it fits the indie definition but, who cares, it’s still indie as hell). I either love or hate these types of films. On the right side of the line we have films such as the Richard Linklater ones with brilliant dialogue and characters who are intriguing and fun to watch. Then we cross the line into Wes Anderson movies and, based on the two films I’ve now seen, Noah Baumbach movies. Self-absorbed characters in movies that think they’re much more important & intelligent than they actually are. Marriage Story isn’t awful it just isn’t anything groundbreaking and I didn’t care about the characters. I’ve seen this story plenty of times before but with characters who were much more believable & sympathetic. And don’t even get me started on the kid in this movie! Bloody hell – he’s eight (or so I read) but written like a thoroughly annoying four-year-old. Sorry but no eight-year-old acts like this idiot kid. Was he written by someone who has never been around children? I didn’t expect to hate the poor kid in this movie. Wow. Hey, Hollywood – learn how to write child characters!

My Rating: 5.5/10

1917 (2019)

Directed by Sam Mendes

Starring: George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Richard Madden, Claire Duburcq, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch

Music by Thomas Newman

Cinematography Roger Deakins

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
1917 chronicles the story of two young British soldiers during World War I who are tasked with delivering a message calling off an attack doomed to fail soon after the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line during Operation Alberich in 1917. This message is especially important to one of the young soldiers as his brother is taking part in the pending attack.

My Opinion:

Shit. This was a good film & all that but it’s just not my type of thing. I struggle to force myself to watch war movies. To be fair, there are plenty I do think are great (The Bridge On The River Kwai, The Great Escape, Full Metal Jacket, etc). This one looked great & the “feels like one shot” thing was interesting but honestly a bit distracting. I can see how some probably loved it, though, as it does feel like you’re taking this same journey with these characters. But for some reason I didn’t feel much emotion during this one, though I’m not sure why. The performances were perfectly fine. Again, I may have just been too distracted by the way it was filmed. 1917 is a good film and it’s a great technical achievement but, I’m sorry, I was a bit bored. I’m sorry! I have no class. I’ll still give it a decent rating since I know it’s a good film. I wouldn’t be surprised if it wins Best Picture (but I’d like to see something less predictable win).

My Rating: 7/10

Frozen 2 (2019) Review

Frozen 2 (2019)

Directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee

Starring: Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad

Music by: Songs – Robert Lopez & Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Score – Christophe Beck

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven leave Arendelle to travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest of an enchanted land. They set out to find the origin of Elsa’s powers in order to save their kingdom.

My Opinion:

Frozen 2 is fine. Did we really need a sequel? No. Has it really added anything of value to the “Frozen universe”? No. Are the songs good? No. Is the story good? It’s not horrible but it’s not great. It’s just a bit too complicated and messy for what’s meant to be a kids’ film. The story should be kept more straightforward & fairly simple for a Disney movie to become a timeless classic.

The first Frozen got all the elements right to make it a film that will be seen as one of Disney’s classics years from now despite there seeming to be a slight backlash against it currently. I want Disney movies to have that timeless feel and the first Frozen had that magic. Frozen 2 doesn’t, but that can be said of most Disney sequels anyway. As far as Disney sequels go, it’s still better than plenty of them. So, yes, I still enjoyed this sequel as I’m a fan of these characters but the movie is unfortunately very average and a tad boring.

So, I already mentioned the story as the first negative. It’s not a bad story but it’s just… Meh. I didn’t care about the outcome as it was clearly unimportant – they just needed an excuse to make a profitable sequel. The bigger disappointment was the songs. I have to admit that I can’t now remember how even one song goes, unlike when leaving the cinema after the original film. At least two or three of the songs were instantly memorable in the first Frozen. Sorry, but Disney movies should really have at least one memorable song. The songs are a huge selling point for these films.

But I don’t want to sound entirely negative so I’ll end this very short review with some good things. These characters are still great. I’ll always like Anna & Elsa and it was nice to see them much closer in this one and being a family doing normal things like playing games together. The sequel still very much focuses on the sisterly love thing, which was what helped make the first one so special. And the outfits are once again my absolute Disney Princess movie favorites. I love that they both have their own unique style but especially love Anna’s outfits each time (I’m a huge fan of green and anything even slightly Scandinavian). So good job on that, Disney – these two have style.

This movie is also pretty damn beautiful. I still prefer the imagery & feel of the first film with its icy look and shades of blue & white but there was some gorgeous animation in this one too. And Olaf, although always borderline annoying, did make me smile a couple of times and he has a very funny bit that I won’t spoil. I’d say that only Kristoff & Sven felt a little wasted in this one but, to be fair, these movies are about Anna & Elsa so “the guys” are in it as much as they need to be. And, yes, there IS a scene after the credits that I’d say is worth staying for.

Frozen 2 was fine. It wasn’t needed but I liked seeing these characters again and I don’t think it damaged the Frozen legacy in any way, even if it didn’t exactly add anything special or new to it either.

My Rating: 7/10

I Am Mother (2019) Review

I Am Mother (2019)

Directed by Grant Sputore

Story by Michael Lloyd Green & Grant Sputore

Starring: Clara Rugaard, Rose Byrne, Hilary Swank

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows Daughter, a girl in a post-apocalyptic bunker, being raised by Mother, an android supposed to aid in the repopulation of Earth.

My Opinion:

I don’t watch many of the “direct to Netflix” movies because I’ve been very disappointed with what I’ve seen so far. I did enjoy this one, though. I admit it’s far from perfect but I’m always less picky with sci-fi films for some reason. It’s my favorite genre so I’m always happy to watch some science fiction, even if it’s not perfect. I especially love post-apocalyptic sci-fi (what’s wrong with me??). As long as the story is decent, I’m happy. I Am Mother has a good concept & story.

This is definitely a movie that not everyone will like. It has very few roles; It really is just Clara Rugaard & Hilary Swank with Rose Byrne as the voice of the android raising the girl. So it’s very focused on them and their situation & performances. There are no huge explosions or loads of action or any of that, so don’t expect some Terminator-type movie (by the way, Terminator: Dark Fate pissed me off). If you like slow, serious science fiction & a good story that keeps you guessing, this movie may be your type of thing.

Clara Rugaard was really good as the teenage “Daughter”. I’ve not seen her in anything before. It would be good to see her in other roles now as she really carries this film as the main human character. Hilary Swank was fine as the stranger but I find that sometimes I like her & sometimes I don’t. I thought she was fantastic in Million Dollar Baby and it’s strange how she’s a two-time Oscar winner but hasn’t had big roles since. Her character isn’t exactly likeable here but, hell, there’s been an apocalypse and life has been super shitty for her so I guess we can let her be angry & intense. As for “Mother”, the android, she has an effective design and Byrne’s voice worked well as a very comforting, motherly voice. Which is what this android was of course designed for.

I don’t have a lot more to say about this but it’s one where you’re better off going into it knowing very little about it. I liked that it wasn’t predictable, which most movies are these days. I don’t want to be able to predict the ending from the very start so was happy to be kept guessing throughout this film. The budget probably wasn’t the highest and if you don’t like either of the two main human characters for some reason, you may not enjoy this. But it’s a good, solid sci-fi story that I enjoyed seeing unfold. I thought I Am Mother was better than a lot of bigger budget movies that get full cinema releases.

My Rating: 7/10

Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil (2019) & The Addams Family (2019) Reviews

Happy Halloween Horror Month 2019! I realized I’ve reviewed no “scary” kids’ movies this October. Well, The Addams Family fits in with Halloween. I suppose I’ll squeeze in my review of Maleficent as well since she IS Disney’s best villain. She’d also make for a kickass Halloween costume…

Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil (2019)

Directed by Joachim Rønning

Based on Characters from: Disney’s Sleeping Beauty & La Belle au bois dormant by Charles Perrault

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sam Riley, Ed Skrein, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, Michelle Pfeiffer, Warwick Davis

Production company: Walt Disney Pictures & Roth Films

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Maleficent and her goddaughter Aurora begin to question the complex family ties that bind them as they are pulled in different directions by impending nuptials, unexpected allies, and dark new forces at play.

My Opinion:

I enjoyed this way more than I was expecting. I did actually quite like the first Maleficent (review HERE). However, I’m becoming more and more annoyed at all the pointless live action Disney films being made. It’s come to the point this year where I’ve decided to stop going to see the remakes as I don’t want to support them. I didn’t watch Aladdin or The Lion King. After Beauty And The Beast, I’d had enough. Leave the classics alone! But I don’t really mind when they do things like Maleficent. Is it yet another Disney cashgrab? Of course it is. But at least it’s a new story. It’s not taking an existing beloved Disney classic and making the EXACT same movie again but with real-life annoying actors like Emma Watson and none of the beauty or magic of the animated films.

Having said that, I have to admit that (along with Beauty And The Beast) Sleeping Beauty is probably my favorite Disney movie. I think it’s sadly extremely underrated due to Aurora herself being a dreadful bore. But its visuals are absolutely gorgeous, the music is fantastic, Maleficent is the coolest villain, and I adore those fairies. So you’d think that I’d not want it touched but, as the Maleficent movies have such a vastly different take on the story, I don’t see them as part of the same universe. Whereas I may not be able to watch the animated Beauty And The Beast again without picturing Emma Watson.

I think Angelina Jolie is great as Maleficent and her look is amazing. She’s probably a little too sexy in this, though. It’s a kids’ film! I think bored dads won’t complain when she’s suddenly wearing far less clothing than usual at one point (lots of leg on display). Damn. I wish I looked like that. I’d even take the wings & horns if I could look that sexy. I’m suddenly wondering if there’s creepy Fifty Shades-style Maleficent fan fiction out there (probably).

Plus we also get the gorgeous Michelle Pfeiffer in this one, which I loved as I’m a fan. I’m now thinking I can finally talk my daughter into watching Ladyhawke with me as she’s seen Pfeiffer in a few other things recently (love that movie!). Anyway, Jolie & Pfeiffer are a lot of fun to watch together in this and both have that true “Hollywood star” screen presence. They make this movie better than it otherwise might have been with different actresses.

The story itself is fine. Is it predictable? Yes, but no more so than any Disney movie. That’s what you expect from a family Disney movie so there’s nothing wrong with that. Elle Fanning is good as Aurora and the relationship her character has with Maleficent continues to work surprisingly well. The three fairies continue to be annoying as hell but at least I was prepared to hate them this time around. As I love the animated fairies so much, I absolutely hated what they’d done with them in the first film. They’re obnoxious. That’s my only big complaint, though. And, again, it doesn’t ruin the animated film for me as I don’t see them as the same characters as they’re so different.

I also liked the addition of some very cutesy creatures but know that not everyone will go for weird, cutesy CGI creatures. Hey, it’s Disney – I’m fine with some cutesy stuff to balance out the stirrings of S&M Maleficent fantasies Jolie and her sexy new dark fairies have probably awakened in some viewers. Some viewers. Definitely not me. Nope. (Maybe). We also got Warwick Davis in this with a fairly decent amount of screen time compared to other roles of his. Yay! Love him. Prince Philip is a bit bland but, who cares? These movies focus more on the strong female characters plus it makes up for Aurora being the bland one in the animated film. The three female leads are truly what make this film, though. It’s otherwise just your usual Disney movie but the three main characters, especially Maleficent, are better than what we’ve had in any of the straightforward live-action copies.

My Rating: 7/10

The Addams Family (2019)

Directed by Conrad Vernon & Greg Tiernan

Based on Characters by Charles Addams

Starring: Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Snoop Dogg, Bette Midler, Allison Janney

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
An animated version of Charles Addams’ series of cartoons about a peculiar, ghoulish family.

My Opinion:

I went on about Maleficent for ages so I’ll keep this shorter as I don’t have a lot to say about this one anyway. This movie was fine. It was a very “cutesy” version of The Addams Family, which felt a bit odd as it still had the dark humor. I can’t quite figure out what ages they were targeting here. I think they made it too young this time around. The dark humor won’t work on the really young kids and the younger animated style won’t work on the slightly older kids, especially if they’re fans of the early 90’s films. And it especially won’t work for teenagers, unlike the 90’s movies which I believe had (and still has) teenage fans.

I was too young for the 60’s TV show (despite watching reruns of many old shows as a kid – I just never watched The Addams Family). Then I was slightly too old for the movies (late teens). So I missed out on the hype but I know that kids (now adults) of the right sort of ages in the early Nineties still adore those movies. I’ve watched them again recently with my daughter and she likes them a lot. I think they’ve aged really well and would easily gain a new generation of fans if they see them. I have a new appreciation for them as I can see the appeal for quite a wide range of ages, from probably age 8 or so up to adults. They were proper “family” movies. Morticia and Gomez are great adult characters (Anjelica Huston was perfection) and what teenager, Goth or not, doesn’t love Wednesday Addams? She’s loads of evil fun. She’s certainly my daughter’s favorite.

Luckily, this animated version does an okay job with Morticia and Wednesday. They’re still the best characters and I liked the teenage rebellion going on (loved the pink unicorn hairclip). Uncle Fester was fun and Cousin It was adorable (but making him a “Pimp Daddy”, although briefly kind of funny, will date the film). I just… I… I don’t know. I got some giggles out of this one. I love dark humor and like Wednesday always trying to kill her brother and thought her “noose hair” was cool. But does noose hair work in a very kiddie version of The Addams Family??

I just found the tone of this so confusing that it was difficult to fully enjoy it. There were very young kids at this one and the movie didn’t hold their attention at all, probably because they won’t have understood the humor. My daughter did like it but I think it’ll help that she’s in the very small age range who might like this one (I’d say between 8 & 11). It’s just a shame as The Addams Family is such a great creation and I don’t think this movie has done these kooky characters justice. I don’t think it has harmed the franchise, however. I just think they should’ve focused on making this version more enjoyable for all ages as there are now fans who are my daughter’s age, who are my age (almost) from the 1990s, as well as people who will have been fans since seeing the TV show when they were kids in the 1960s. I think they’ve really missed a trick this time as this version won’t attract a new generation of fans in the way the 90’s films managed to do so successfully.

My Rating: 6/10

Zombieland: Double Tap (2019) Review

Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)

Directed by Ruben Fleischer

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, Emma Stone, Rosario Dawson, Zoey Deutch, Luke Wilson

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita, and Little Rock move to the American heartland as they face off against evolved zombies, fellow survivors, and the growing pains of the snarky makeshift family.

My Opinion:

I really enjoyed the first Zombieland. It even just made it into my list of My Top Ten Horror Comedies. Is the sequel as good as the first film? Of course not. Are they ever? You’re talking ten years since the last one, though. We’ve had zombie overload since then. We’ve had almost ten years of The Walking Dead, which gets more and more and MORE shit every year (why do I keep watching it?!). Double Tap has nothing that feels the tiniest bit original, while I think the first film managed a bit of originality despite not being the first zom-com. I’m a little disappointed but admit that I like these characters and enjoyed seeing them again. Well, maybe not Jesse Eisenberg (Twat).

I have sequel review burnout. I’m running out of things to say about cashgrab sequels & reboots & remakes. I’m also bored with October Horror Month. I want to review the non-horror stuff I’ve seen lately. Joker. Judy. Hustlers. The Farewell. Terminator: Dark Fate, which I saw last night and am hating more and more as I think about it. Leave classics the fuck alone! I think Dark Fate is what’s made me lose the desire to write about pointless sequels. Double Tap didn’t piss me off like Dark Fate, though. It wasn’t a sequel that we needed but there’s no harm in it.

Meh. Woody Harrelson is by far the best thing about these two movies and I really enjoyed his character once again. I could kind of take or leave the rest of them, though, and I don’t think the new additions were anything special. Zoey Deutch was fun but kind of wasted as I think she deserved a better character. And… Hmm. Zombies. There are zombies. The movie is actually less gory than The Walking Dead but the zombie kills are more fun. Maybe The Walking Dead should add some humor to stop the show being so damn boring.

My Rating: 7/10

My rating is too high. I think I’m just being nice because I like Woody.

Oh, and they opened this movie with Metallica’s Master Of Puppets. So we’ll say my rating got an extra half a point for Woody and half a point for using one of Metallica’s best songs…

Repulsion (1965) Review

Happy Halloween Horror Month 2019! Today I’m reposting my mini-review of the 1965 psychological horror Repulsion

Repulsion (1965)

Directed by Roman Polanski

Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Yvonne Furneaux, Ian Hendry, John Fraser

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Repulsion is a 1965 British psychological horror film directed by Roman Polanski, and starring Catherine Deneuve, Ian Hendry, John Fraser and Yvonne Furneaux. The screenplay is based on a scenario by Gérard Brach and Polanski, involving a young withdrawn woman who finds sexual advances repulsive and who, after she is left alone by her vacationing sister, becomes even more isolated and detached from reality.

My Brief Opinion:

This film probably deserves a higher rating than I’m giving it. It’s artsy fartsy & “worthy” but I can’t say I exactly enjoyed it. However, Catherine Deneuve was very good & it’s worth watching for her performance. I decided to watch this film after liking Deneuve in a somewhat similar role in Belle de Jour. I haven’t seen her in much – I don’t know why she played a sexually repressed woman in both of these but she handles this type of character well. Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis if you don’t know anything about Repulsion: “A sex-repulsed woman who disapproves of her sister’s boyfriend sinks into depression and has horrific visions of rape and violence.”

Obviously, having come out in 1965, it seems tame now but I would imagine this was a very shocking film at the time. The pacing is very slow & it does take a long time before much of anything happens, so bear that in mind if you choose to watch it. I have to say I preferred Belle de Jour. I was hoping this would be much weirder, based on that image I used at the top of this post of Deneuve in the hallway with all the hands coming out of the walls. It’s not, though – it’s a pretty straightforward story of a woman who may have experienced sexual abuse in the past (I think this is implied), which eventually drives her insane. Deneuve is great in these films, though, and I’d watch her in other movies based on what I’ve seen so far.

My Rating: 7/10

Breaking In (2018) & Searching (2018) Reviews

For October Horror Month, I’ll be re-posting some mini-reviews of horror movies that I watched in the past year. Here are my reviews for thrillers (okay, not exactly “horrors“!) Breaking In & Searching

Breaking In (2018)

Directed by James McTeigue

Starring: Gabrielle Union, Billy Burke, Richard Cabral, Ajiona Alexus, Levi Meaden, Seth Carr, Mark Furze, Jason George, Christa Miller, Damien Leake

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a mother who must protect her children after the mansion of her recently deceased father is invaded by burglars.

My Brief Opinion:

This film wasn’t too bad as far as lightweight “PG-13-Style” home invasion movies go. Is it a bit cheesy? Of course! But is the family likable and do you want them to survive? Yep! Good enough. What more do you need from this sort of movie? I wasn’t expecting something Oscar-worthy here. Gabrielle Union was good and I loved that she was pretty kick-ass for a mother but also not unrealistically so. I actually hate movies like this where a character makes no mistakes whatsoever – that’s unrealistic as we’d all fuck things up in this sort of situation in real life. Wow – Union looks young, though. I had to look up her age and she’s actually a bit older than me. Damn. Lucky her! Well. I don’t know what else to say. This movie is flawed. It’s ridiculous at times. It’s far from perfect. But I liked it. It’s the sort genre we saw a lot more of in the 80’s & 90’s. I miss this kind of straightforward cheesy thriller sometimes. It’s not trying to be anything more than that.

My Rating: 6/10

Searching (2018)

Directed by Aneesh Chaganty

Starring: John Cho, Debra Messing, Michelle La, Kya Dawn Lau, Megan Liu, Alex Jayne Go, Sara Sohn, Joseph Lee, Steven Michael Eich, Ric Sarabia, Sean O’Bryan, Colin Woodell

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set entirely on computer screens and smartphones, the film follows a father (John Cho) trying to find his missing 16-year-old daughter (Michelle La) with the help of a police detective (Debra Messing).

My Brief Opinion:

I enjoyed this way more than I was expecting for a movie that’s all seen through a computer screen via Skype, social media posts, websites, videos, etc. I didn’t think the gimmick would work but the mystery of the daughter’s disappearance was intriguing enough to keep you interested the whole time. The story worked well, the father & daughter had good character development (making up for other characters having very little), and the gimmick didn’t end up being a distraction from the story like I feared it might. The pacing was also really good – these mystery thrillers can drag a bit sometimes but this was fast-paced and very engaging the entire time. I feel like I’m hyping this too much… It’s not exactly Oscar-worthy material but I’m impressed that its gimmick worked so surprisingly well.

My Rating: 7/10

Ready Or Not (2019) Review

Ready Or Not (2019)

Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett

Starring: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars Samara Weaving as a newlywed who becomes hunted by her spouse’s family as part of their wedding night ritual.

My Opinion:

I’ll keep this brief. I enjoyed this film but I do absolutely love the “horror comedy” genre. I of course did a top ten once (My Top Ten Horror Comedies). So, as far as this genre goes, I have to say that Ready Or Not comes nowhere near making it onto my Top Ten list. It was a fun one-time watch, though, and I loved the ending. I’m often disappointed with how horror movies end so that was a plus.


I agree with everyone saying that Samara Weaving was good in this. She’s certainly the star, as expected, but I’d say the rest of the characters are weak in comparison. I’d say we also don’t get a lot of character development when it comes to her character – just a very tiny bit of backstory involving foster homes. But it’s a pretty ridiculous setup anyway and it’s a comedy so I wasn’t exactly expecting anything too “deep”. It will be fun to see how she does as Bill S. Preston’s daughter in Bill & Ted Face The Music. I can’t wait for that movie!!! To be honest, I think her role in The Babysitter was more fun than in this but I think Ready Or Not is definitely the better movie of the two.


Be warned that this one is pretty gory. It’s rated 18, which is very rare in the UK these days unless it’s a Tarantino movie. A lot of it is very fake gore, though, as it’s played for laughs. I did worry beforehand that this might be similar to You’re Next as the trailer gave me the same vibe for some reason. Luckily, it’s far more enjoyable (I kind of hated You’re Next). I’d have liked even more humor than there was, but maybe that’s just me. This movie doesn’t go as all out on the comedy as in something like Grabbers but the few big laughs did get a good reaction from the crowd. It very much sticks with only dark humor, which works perfectly for the ending that I really enjoyed. Overall, Ready Or Not is a fun addition to the horror comedy genre but, as we have so many great horror comedies, I wouldn’t say it feels quite as original or unique as people are saying. Maybe I just watch too many movies…

My Rating: 7/10

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (2019) Review

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (2019)

Directed by André Øvredal

Story by Guillermo del Toro, Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan

Based on Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

Starring: Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Zajur, Natalie Ganzhorn, Austin Abrams, Dean Norris, Gil Bellows, Lorraine Toussaint

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A group of teens face their fears in order to save their lives.

My Opinion:

I went into this film with zero knowledge of the short story collections it’s based on. How in the hell did I not know about scary books published during my childhood and aimed specifically at “middle school kids”?! I was a kid obsessed with weird and/or scary stories! My favorite childhood TV shows were the original The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents! I loved Christopher Pike and, when a bit older, Stephen King (still do)! I’d have loved Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark!!

Well, this movie was a pleasant surprise. Obviously, I’m reviewing this as someone who’s not read the source material so I don’t know how fans feel or how faithful this adaptation is. But I thought it was a very effective and surprisingly scary movie aimed at pre to mid teens. Hell – I don’t know the US rating but it’s a 15 in the U.K., meaning you have to be 15 to be allowed to see it. There’s actually no gore or anything like that – the only warning was “prolonged & intense scenes of horror” (or something along those lines). So to get a 15 rating simply for that does show that it’s quite intense for the slightly younger audience it’s aimed at. I do wonder how people feel about it as not many horror films are aimed at the pre to mid teen market. It’ll be too “tame” for hardcore horror fans but far too intense for younger people expecting a Goosebumps type of film. Personally, I enjoyed the hell out of it. I liked the “horror middle ground”. We need to get more kids hooked on scary stories these days!

I also really enjoyed the setting (1968 small town America) and the fact that the movie started with Donovan’s fantastic Season Of The Witch – That song is bloody awesome. It’s also set at Halloween, which is always good fun for a scary film. The characters were likeable teens and the main girl, played by Zoe Colletti, was especially good. It’s of course sort of a horror anthology, with each character being affected by a different story. This was very entertaining but I’ve always been a big fan of horror anthologies. The separate stories were also linked to one overall story/mystery that was also quite good.

Honestly, I have zero complaints about this movie and I’m normally extremely picky about horror films. If you watch it, just bear in mind that it’s aimed at teens so don’t judge it compared to adult horrors. Oh, I also loved that it used practical effects (as far as I’m aware?). I absolutely hate dodgy looking CGI in horror movies and the terribly cheesy CGI in It Chapter Two was my biggest (but only) complaint about that movie. It’s just pretty bad when a “horror movie for kids” is one of the better horror films we’ve had recently. I think I’m going to go read all the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books now…

My Rating: 7/10

Child’s Play (2019) Review

Child’s Play (2019)

Directed by Lars Klevberg

Based on Child’s Play by Don Mancini

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman, Brian Tyree Henry, Mark Hamill

Music by Bear McCreary

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Child’s Play follows a family that is terrorized by a high-tech doll that rejects its programming, becoming self-aware and murderous.

My Opinion:

What the hell? I, um, quite liked this? This goes against everything that I stand for! It’s silly & ridiculous and it’s yet another goddamn remake (or is it a reboot?!). Whatever – both piss me off. Come up with some original ideas, Hollywood!!! I think I was just in a really good mood when I saw this. Maybe the popcorn was really good that day? Maybe it was the fact that my expectations beforehand could NOT have been any lower? Maybe my hair was looking good? Well, whatever the reason, I had fun watching this. It’s stupid but it’s a nice return to the unapologetic Eighties slasher genre. Most horror movies take themselves too damn seriously nowadays.

I won’t bother comparing this to the original. I like the first few Child’s Play movies just fine but, let’s be honest, they’re not exactly great. I mean, they’re not A Nightmare On Elm Street or a classic slasher like that (THAT remake was atrocious and pissed me the hell off!). So I wasn’t all that bothered about this being remade and, as Chucky is now a high-tech terror and can connect to other electronics from the same company, the movie feels very different anyway so I just see them as entirely separate films. Plus, of course, they changed his look. He looks just as stupid as always, really. Again – I’m not precious about the original so the redesign didn’t bother me. And I of course love Mark Hamill so enjoyed having him as the new Chucky’s voice.

First of all, I’d say they made these characters fairly likeable for a slasher. Andy (Gabriel Bateman) was good and I liked the fact that he’s older than the original Andy (13, I think?). By the way, it’s explained why a 13-year-old boy has a “doll” (which is much more than just a doll now – it’s more of a gadget). His mother (Aubrey Plaza) is also fine, I guess, in her usual annoying way. Yes, it’s also quickly explained why she’s so damn young (she says something about a very eventful Sweet 16). See, movie writers? All you have to do to explain away something that seems a bit stupid is to add in some sort of line like that. Andy also makes a couple of friends his age who are decent characters as well as a likeable neighbor and his mother. So, as far as slashers go, they did a decent job with the characters for a change.

Chucky also has a fun personality in this. Weirdly, he’s kind of a lovable little fucker at first. Fans of the original may miss the much more twisted Chucky, though. I don’t want to give too much away but Chucky going bad in this one is completely different to the (admittedly lame) reason in the original. But it makes for quite a different and ALMOST sympathetic Chucky in this one. I maybe slightly prefer the full-on psycho Chucky of the original but prefer the silly but far LESS silly plot of the new one. I think making Chucky a gadget that can use other electronic devices to kill people in inventive ways was actually quite a good idea to bring Child’s Play up-to-date. One kill, involving some kind of gardening device, was especially wicked. (A tiller. I had to Google that as I know jack shit about gardening. And cooking. And any boring domestic shit like that.)

Child’s Play 2019 is a slasher film that stays very true to the Eightiesstyle slasher. You either like that genre or you don’t. I do as I grew up on it but it’s certainly not for everyone. If it’s not your thing, don’t bother with this movie. If it is, I think you’ll have fun with this remake. They seemed to have fun making it, which I think is important in this genre. Who wants a serious slasher?? I’m going to be way too generous with my rating because I’m feeling nice this week. It’s likely that I’ll lower it by the end of the year but, for now, I have to admit that I liked this movie.

My Rating: 7/10

Ma (2019) Review

Ma (2019)

Directed by Tate Taylor

Starring: Octavia Spencer, Kyanna Simone Simpson, Diana Silvers, Juliette Lewis, Skyler Joy, Luke Evans, Andrew Matthew Welch, McKaley Miller, Corey Fogelmanis, Gianni Paolo, Dante Brown, Missi Pyle, Nicole Carpenter, Tanyell Waivers, Allison Janney, Dominic Burgess, Heather Marie Pate, Tate Taylor, Victor Turpin, Margaret Fegan

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Ma follows a group of teenagers who befriend a lonely middle-aged woman who allows them to party in her basement, and find themselves being terrorized by her.

My Opinion:

Hey! The main teen girl in this (Diana Silvers) was in Booksmart. I reviewed that yesterday and was probably very unfairly harsh on that film. It’s a better film than Ma. However, I weirdly got far more enjoyment out of Ma. So, while I recognize that Ma is an odd film that some will hate, I’m going to review it positively. I liked it. When it comes to horror, I always lower my expectations. Is it a good film? Meh. Is it a fun horror with a fairly unique idea compared to the so many predictable horror movies that get made? Yes. That’s all you can really ask for from this type of movie. It’s not trying to be Suspiria or Rosemary’s Baby or some horror classic like those.

First of all, I always moan about unlikeable characters in horror movies. How are we supposed to care what happens to them if they’re assholes? I’ve noticed that horror characters are getting better these days and, luckily, Ma does quite well with its characters (as far as the horror genre goes). The teenagers, while not the most developed characters ever, are likeable enough and certainly not at all deserving of what this woman puts them through. Octavia Spencer’s role is also very good in that she’s actually a somewhat sympathetic villain. At least at first… I’ll stay spoiler-free but you will (I should hope) sympathize with her a bit. While I love a good full-on “crazy lady” (give me Piper Laurie in Carrie!), there’s more to Spencer’s character in this so she doesn’t get to let loose and go as completely mental as I was kind of hoping to see from her. However, once you know the story, it makes more sense for her character to not turn into Kathy Bates in Misery (although, don’t worry – she still goes pretty psycho if you’re wanting to see that!).

Another element I knew nothing about but was a nice surprise is that there’s a bit of time spent on the parents of the teenagers. Not nearly as much time as I’d have liked, though. They mostly focus on the main girl’s mother (played by Juliette Lewis) but she also deserved much more development. All the parents really should’ve had more time spent on their character development to further round out this story and I think this could’ve easily been achieved by taking just a little bit of time away from the teenagers. Yes, I’m the age of the parents (oh my god, when did that happen?!?!) and I understand the annoying need to market everything to a young audience these days but, in the context of this storyline, we needed a little more time spent on the boring, old fart parents as well. What’s weird is that I seriously hated Juliette Lewis when I was a teenager but now kind of love seeing her in stuff? Maybe I just appreciate seeing people my age in movies now. I think it started with Whip It. I love that movie. She almost made me want to be a kick ass middle-aged roller derby chick.

Well, I enjoyed Ma and appreciated the fact that the characters were a bit better than we normally get in this sort of horror movie. As with most horror movies, though, I thought the ending was weak. To be honest, I’m not sure how I’d have wanted it to end but it was kind of a letdown after a fairly strong start. I did also appreciate the storyline and the fact that this idea felt more original than in a lot of modern horrors. I’m not going to pretend that it’s a good film, though, and it’s one I’d only recommend to people if I knew their movie tastes well and thought they’d like it. You might hate it but I liked it enough to give it a much higher rating than I know it actually deserves. Fuck it, I rate on my level of enjoyment just as much as on a movie’s worthiness. I’ve been too harsh on movies recently anyway.

My Rating: 7/10

Booksmart (2019) Review

Booksmart (2019)

Directed by Olivia Wilde

Starring: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams, Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, Jason Sudeikis

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Booksmart stars Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever as two graduating high school girls who set out to finally break the rules and party on their last day of classes.

My Opinion:

I was really looking forward to this movie after the huge amount of hype on Film Twitter. And even though I’m WAY beyond my teenage years, I’ll always love a good teen movie. Of course I will; I grew up on John Hughes! I think there have been some very good coming of age movies in recent years, which will probably forever be a favorite sub genre of mine thanks to Stand By Me being a favorite film from my own teen years. But I do tend to prefer the more serious teen films, such as The Edge Of Seventeen & The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, to the full-on comedies such as Booksmart. Maybe that’s why I found this movie slightly disappointing? I don’t know. I’m not a huge fan of straightforward comedies. This movie really just is the female version of Superbad, which I found quite average and only occasionally funny. I do think Booksmart is the better film, but only slightly. Weird that Jonah Hill’s sister, Beanie Feldstein, is in what I see as the female version of his movie…

Do I dare bring this up or will I get in trouble? Screw it – I’m female. I think, as there’s such a push for female directors now, some of their movies are getting overhyped. Guess what? One woman directed AND wrote The Edge Of Seventeen, which is a much better film. Why was nothing said of that? Because, just a few years ago when that came out, everyone wasn’t so focused on being so damn outraged over everything. You know what else is a much better and far funnier film than Booksmart? Clueless. Waaaay back in the dark ages of 1995 yet also directed and written by just one woman. Know what else is a fantastic film and female as f*^k? Waitress (2007), directed and written by the lovely Adrienne Shelly. If she was alive & that film had come out now, it would be up for some damn Oscars. So, yeah, female-led films are being overhyped now as they were so often unfairly dismissed in the past. I get it. I do. But Booksmart is just… Okay.

I promise I’ll shut up in a minute. I’m not going to get into a big discussion on female directors or how much I f*^king love Wayne’s World & Point Break. I’m really happy that women do finally seem to be getting more opportunities to direct now and I know I’ll absolutely love some of their films and may be able to relate to them more. I just wish that they’d been given more recognition in the past because there have been better films than Lady Bird made by women over the years (good but not Best Picture material – Hell, The Edge Of Seventeen was better). So. Booksmart is fun and I did laugh at times but it’s no better (and no worse) than similar films made by men such as Judd Apatow. If you like the Seth Rogen-type comedies but not Booksmart (and vice versa), that makes no sense and you probably ARE sexist. Because it’s the exact same type of movie. Whatever. I’m just sick of people getting hung up on who directs or stars in a movie. Who cares? I just like good characters & writing. I want to be entertained. *Rant over*

Should I actually talk about the movie?! Sorry! I do go off on one sometimes. I won’t once again get started on female-starring comedies always getting far lower ratings than male-starring comedies so I admit that sexism clearly does sadly still exist, especially when it comes to comedy for some strange reason. I don’t personally like either film AT ALL but there’s no f*^king WAY that The Hangover deserves a higher IMDb rating than Bridesmaids. I swear people get a little weird about women daring to be raunchy too. I like raunchy women, dammit, and I like that Booksmart manages to be raunchy but intelligent & realistic about it. Maybe that’s why it’s being more readily accepted? I’m not comparing it to Bridesmaids – it’s definitely a much better film. I don’t like “shock” comedy and Booksmart is more the kind of humor that I go for.

I think the problem is that some of its humor doesn’t work at all. I liked the two main characters just fine but thought all the other characters were very weak. The “doll part”, while a favorite scene for some, didn’t work for me. It’s the kind of dumb scene that modern teens would bitch about in an Eighties movie such as Better Off Dead. We were making dumb scenes like that before today’s teenagers were born! And, as much as I hate to say it as I adore Carrie Fisher, I thought Billie Lourd’s character was ridiculous. I’m not saying it’s her fault – I just didn’t like the character. Never mind that she’s clearly ten years older than any high school student I’ve ever seen but, okay, I know this has always been a thing in “teen” movies all the way back to Grease. I was just confused as I honestly didn’t realize she was a fellow student at first. As I said, though, I liked the two main characters just fine and thought that Kaitlyn Dever & Beanie Feldstein were funny and very believable as best friends. They’re what made the movie better overall. I truly did want to love this but I’m always very picky when it comes to comedy. I enjoyed it but, admittedly, I’m getting further & further away from being the target audience for a teen film. I’m glad that teenagers do seem to be loving it and fully understand why. It’s a good teen comedy. I even admit that it’s a far better film than some of the very dodgy teen movies I liked in the Eighties. But it’s certainly no Stand By Me. Or even Better Off Dead

My Rating: 7/10

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) Review

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Directed by Jon Watts

Based on Spider-Man by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko

Starring: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, J. B. Smoove, Jacob Batalon, Martin Starr, Marisa Tomei, Jake Gyllenhaal

Music by Michael Giacchino

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In Spider-Man: Far From Home, Parker is recruited by Nick Fury and Mysterio to face elemental threats from another dimension while he is on a school trip to Europe.

My Opinion:

I’ll keep this short as I hate writing superhero movie reviews since, let’s face it, they’re all the same. I’ve really enjoyed all of the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but none are ever going to be all-time favorites of mine (well, maybe the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies). The characters are fantastic, though; Better than the movies themselves. This is especially the case with these two Spider-Man movies. Tom Holland is adorable and probably the best live-action Spider-Man we’ve had so I have no complaints when it comes to him or any of the other characters. As always, the characters are strong and the humor is a lot of fun. But I found the stories in both movies a bit average.

For me, I think it didn’t help that this follows Infinity War & Endgame. After that “epic” storyline and seeing all the Avengers working together, it was odd going back to another solo superhero film. Then, of course, we get the usual problem of “Where the hell are all the other superheroes while just one of them is trying to save the world from another threat??” I also just couldn’t get into Jake Gyllenhaal’s character and found this story less believable than in other MCU films (not that any superhero stories are exactly realistic but you know what I mean). I didn’t buy into the story in this one.


Oh well. As I said, the characters are strong and Marvel continues to develop these characters far better than the DC films have managed to do. The Marvel characters really do grow with each new film and it was good to see this again with Holland’s Spider-Man. I also love how Marvel focuses on developing the relationships between the characters: Peter Parker with MJ (they’re so cute together & have great chemistry), with Happy Hogan (this was great – taking Tony’s place as father-figure?), with his best friend, and with Aunt May (how hot is Marisa Tomei?!). As I always say, it’s the characters that are more important to me than the story itself. That’s why I always enjoy the Marvel movies despite the storylines failing to ever fully capture my attention. Far From Home was fun but far from my favorite MCU film (I’ve added it to my full ranked list HERE).

My Rating: 7/10

**I have to add this: I’ve now seen the all-time best Spider-Man movie with Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse so it’s going to be harder to fully appreciate the live-action versions. I don’t think Spider-Verse can be topped.

Midsommar (2019) Review

Midsommar (2019)

Directed & Written by Ari Aster

Starring: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgren, Will Poulter

Music by The Haxan Cloak

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Midsommar follows a group of friends who travel to Sweden for a festival that occurs once every ninety years, only to find themselves in the clutch of a pagan cult.

My Opinion:

First of all, I think I was too hard on Hereditary. I didn’t rate it very highly at the time, mainly because I thought the end of the film was a silly mess. However, it starts out great and has what I think will be one of the most memorable & shocking horror movie moments for years to come. And, of course, Toni Collette’s performance was fantastic. I’m loving seeing some serious modern horror with brilliant performances (also loved Essie Davis in The Babadook). So, while I didn’t love Hereditary overall, there was still a lot that I did like about it and I have much more respect for it than for the countless cliché modern horror films that get made.

The reason I bring up Ari Aster’s first feature film for comparison is because I feel exactly the same way about Midsommar. I respect the film, there are memorable shocking moments and imagery, and Florence Pugh gives a great performance. But, overall, I can’t say that I loved the film and the ending is possibly even more of a mess than Hereditary’s.

If you loved Hereditary, you’ll love Midsommar. The themes are very similar and the movies have clearly been written & directed by the same person. Aster is off to a brilliant start with these films and I think he’ll continue to be highly respected in the horror genre if he manages a third film along the same sort of lines as his first two. They’re certainly not for a mainstream crowd, however, and will always be more for the serious “film” fans (I don’t think the audiences I saw these two movies with enjoyed them very much).

I love divisive films, though, especially in the horror genre. I’ll always have more respect for a movie that says “fuck it” and does its own thing than for the boring & predictable ones that push no boundaries. Hell, I loved Mandy but know it’s sure as shit not for everyone. Aster’s two films are the same way so I can definitely understand why he already has big fans of his work even if I’m not yet sure if I’m a fan or not. I really did want to love both of his films and I kind of did at the start of each one. This is something I always moan about when it comes to horror, though. I swear horror movies rarely know how to end. I find very few horror movies have a satisfying ending and Aster’s two films go off the rails a bit too much for me at the end. But I can say that, based on his previous work, I eagerly await his next movie and fully expect to be equally impressed and exasperated at the same time. And, as always, I’ll prefer impressed exasperation over finding a movie just plain boring. Aster’s films are FAR from boring.

My Rating: 7/10

**I’ve had to think about it & let Midsommar sink in for a few days. I fully expected to far prefer Midsommar to Hereditary. I absolutely love the setting and was very much looking forward to a new The Wicker Man (that movie kicks ass). This film looks great, I loved the imagery, and overall I far preferred the look of it to Hereditary. However, I think Hereditary is the better film. I wasn’t expecting to feel that way as Midsommar is more my type of thing. Both movies are intense and leave you feeling quite emotionally drained but Hereditary has an overwhelming sense of dread and fully captures the feeling of grief a bit more effectively than Midsommar. Again, though, both leading ladies give fantastic performances and help elevate these films to something more than just another basic horror movie.

I should also point out that I’m struggling to find the time to write reviews at the moment and have about ten current releases I’ve just not had the energy to review. But I’ve reviewed Midsommar right away, so I guess that says something about it? I have more to say about something like this than yet another superhero movie or yet another animated sequel…

Dumbo (2019) Review

Dumbo (2019)

Directed by Tim Burton

Based on Disney’s Dumbo by Otto Englander, Joe Grant & Dick Huemer and on Dumbo by Helen Aberson & Harold Pearl

Starring: Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Alan Arkin, Nico Parker, Finley Hobbins

Music by Danny Elfman

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A young elephant, whose oversized ears enable him to fly, helps save a struggling circus, but when the circus plans a new venture, Dumbo and his friends discover dark secrets beneath its shiny veneer.

My Opinion:

First of all, I’m really sick of these Disney live-action remakes of animated classics. I don’t see the point. From recent trailers, The Lion King looks like a soulless copy and Aladdin looks absolutely dreadful. Beauty And The Beast pretty much sucked (but I can’t stand Emma Watson so that didn’t help). I didn’t mind Cinderella but I wonder if it would just annoy me if I watched it again now that I’m sick of all these live-action remakes. I’ve kind of vowed to no longer waste my money going to see this shit.

But I knew I’d go to Dumbo because it’s Tim Burton. I’m a hypocrite. I know his best films are far in the past but I still haven’t given up on him and I wanted to see what he’d do with this film. Plus Dumbo himself was so adorable in the trailers. I’ve always loved that baby elephant! Well, I enjoyed this film. It’s a good one to end on. I’ll happily watch no more live-action remakes after this one.

I feel like I have to justify liking a live-action remake. What can I say? I still love that baby elephant. Of course this comes nowhere near the original film and it breaks my heart that some kids may be watching these remakes before the animated films. Or not watching the animated films at all. For some reason, I prefer when these remakes aren’t an exact copy (which The Lion King looks like). I don’t mind having extra bits of story added on, making it feel like an entirely separate film and therefore not messing with the original film’s legacy in my mind. This movie isn’t Dumbo to me. It never will be. But I think they did well with the character of Dumbo himself and he was by far the best thing about this film (as he should be). Dumbo is the true star of this movie.


The reviews I’ve read have all said that it’s the human characters that let this film down. This is true, although they aren’t terrible. They’re bland but not hateful. The only truly weak one is Michael Keaton’s completely generic baddie but the rest are good enough to support the overall story about a flying elephant. Colin Farrell and his two children (Nico Parker & Finley Hobbins), who are the main human characters, are fine but these roles could’ve been played by anyone. However, Danny DeVito & Eva Green are fun to watch and perfect for Tim Burton’s films – you can understand why he sticks with his favorite actors in so many of his films. The human stories were good enough to keep the film interesting while not overlooking the fact that the one story that really matters is Dumbo’s. And I liked the ending. I’m fine with all the changes in the second half as it’s so different from the original that it hasn’t destroyed my love for the animated film. I also liked how they incorporated the Pink Elephants On Parade bit into this film.

Is it weird that I feel bad for liking the new Dumbo?? I do seriously wish they’d stop with these live-action remakes but, in this case, I was happy seeing this character in a new way. He’s always been a favorite Disney character of mine and I think they did a good job with the look him. They got a good balance between making him look like a real elephant but also sort of “cartoony”, and his adorable blue eyes are very expressive. They did a better job with him than with the other CGI animals in these Disney remakes. I also enjoyed the overall production design of this film, but that’s usually the case with Burton’s movies. None of these Disney remakes will ever top the animated classics but at least the 2019 Dumbo hasn’t destroyed the original film’s legacy for me.

My Rating: 7/10

I’ve added Dumbo to my full ranked list of all the Tim Burton movies I’ve seen HERE. I guess I better finally watch Dark Shadows as it’s the only full-length film he’s directed that I’ve not seen.

Pet Sematary (2019) Review

Pet Sematary (2019)

Directed by Kevin Kölsch & Dennis Widmyer

Based on Pet Sematary by Stephen King

Starring: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, Jeté Laurence, Hugo Lavoie, Lucas Lavoie, Obssa Ahmed, Alyssa Brooke Levine, Sonia Maria Chirila, Suzy Stingl, Maria Herrera, AND Leo, Tonic, Jager and JD as Church the Cat

Plot Synopsis: (from IMDb)
Dr. Louis Creed and his wife, Rachel, relocate from Boston to rural Maine with their two young children. The couple soon discover a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home.

My Opinion:

First of all, I’ll always have a soft spot for the 1989 adaptation of Pet Sematary. It came out when I was a teenager and was already a huge Stephen King fan by then so I watched the film over & over & over again (teenagers have so much time to waste). I of course read the book as well but, in this case, I have to admit that I remember the first movie much more than the novel as I saw it so many times. I enjoyed this new adaptation as well. I have to say that it even improved on the 1989 film in a few areas. I’ll still always prefer the 1989 movie but can see why some people might prefer this version, especially if they see it first the way I’ll always love the one that I saw first.

As for the improvements, the main thing would be the acting. This was especially true of the daughter (Jeté Laurence as Ellie Creed). The emotion and the sheer grief, especially from Jason Clarke as Louis Creed, also felt much more real in this adaptation and his marriage (with Rachel Creed, played by Amy Seimetz) felt stronger. The first half of this film, although it felt like a needless straight copy of the 1989 movie, was a definite improvement overall thanks to the acting and better character development. But I know the original film so well that I was worried I’d be spending the entire time watching the exact same film.


Well, the second half switches things up a lot and I’m still not sure how I feel about that. The movie unfortunately falls apart after its strong start. And can I just say how ANNOYED I am that they ruined the one big twist in the trailers for this movie?! I heard that the trailer had a huge spoiler so had managed to avoid it until seeing it before a movie that I went to last month. Grr. Why do they do that in trailers? The twist was actually a good one that worked well for the film. It would’ve been great to not know that beforehand and I have a feeling I’d have liked this adaptation more if that had been a surprise. The second half also goes a little too cheesy but, to be honest, I don’t know how this story can NOT be a little cheesy. The first was cheesy as well but I think it was handled a little more effectively in the first film. I’m also not sure if I liked the various changes but I did like how damn bleak this new version is. This is one of King’s darkest stories and I liked the dark, misty look to this version and the addition of those creepy animal masks worn for the “pet funerals”. Oh, I forgot to mention Jud Crandall! John Lithgow was fine in this role but you can’t top Fred Gwynne’s Jud. He was probably the best thing about the 1989 film so this version lacks that really memorable character.


Well, I did enjoy this film. But I enjoy every Stephen King adaptation, even the really bad ones. And there are some VERY bad ones! Pet Sematary (2019) is certainly not one of the bad ones but it’s also not one of the best. Sorry for the meh review! It’s just a little meh. I still prefer the first one but this one was good enough to tide me over while I eagerly await It: Chapter 2 (I loved the 2017 adaptation of It).

My Rating: 7/10

I’m obsessed with Stephen King so of course made lists ranking all of his books & film adaptations. Because I’m a list nerd. I ranked all of his books that I’ve read HERE and all movie adaptations HERE. I’ve added the new Pet Sematary to that list…

Shazam! (2019) Review

Shazam! (2019)

Directed by David F. Sandberg

Based on Characters from DC Comics

Starring: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Djimon Hounsou, Faithe Herman, Grace Fulton, Ian Chen, Jovan Armand, Marta Milans, Cooper Andrews

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s case, by shouting out one word – SHAZAM. – this streetwise fourteen-year-old foster kid can turn into the grown-up superhero Shazam.

My Opinion:

I’ll keep this short since I’m scared to review this after seeing death threats on Twitter when people have given this a negative review. Yikes. But I have to keep my promise to myself to at least review the films that I see in the cinema. My anal retentiveness wins out over potential harassment from trolls!

I enjoyed Shazam. Shazam!, I mean. I’m not using that exclamation mark every time – it’s annoying. This film was an odd one, though, and the tone was all over the place. I’m not saying that the whole “lighthearted combined with dark & evil” thing doesn’t work sometimes (it works in Deadpool) but it was a bit too jarring in Shazam. This is partly due to it being promoted as a somewhat family-friendly superhero movie whereas Deadpool, with its higher rating, made it very obvious that kids shouldn’t watch it.

I wanted to like this film more as there were parts that I thought were really funny and the characters (well, the good guys) were so damn likable and very well-developed as far as superhero movies go. I loved them. A special shout-out especially to the adorable Faithe Herman as Darla & a strong performance from Jack Dylan Grazer, who was also great in the fantastic It. Kids are so good in films nowadays. Remember the 70’s & 80’s when child acting usually sucked? Why was that?! I’ll be honest – I think the above characters as well as the other foster kids & their foster parents are what really made this film as they gave the movie some heart. Without them, the movie would feel too cruel and dark. Zachary Levi & Asher Angel were also very good (and very funny) as our main hero but they needed these other characters to round-out the main character and to make us care about him. How much does Asher look like Arya Stark, though?! It was very distracting once I realized.


Now for the bad… Mark Strong gives the villain his all but the character feels like every other baddie we’ve seen in these superhero films. To be fair, a lot of this is due to my own personal superhero movie fatigue. I enjoy them when they’re good but this isn’t my favorite genre and I want to see more than just superheroes and sequels in the cinema. And, as I said, the movie goes a little too dark with his character. I’m not saying dark is bad. I love dark when done right. Hell, if I had to pick a favorite “comic book” movie, I’d choose The Crow. I freaking love that film. But The Crow sure as shit isn’t a family film. There’s no lightness and certainly no adorable little girl named Darla.

Okay – I was going to keep this short! Well, I did enjoy Shazam. It has some very strong good-guy characters and I loved how well they worked together in this film. You care about them. That’s not something that all superhero movies are able to achieve with their characters. The “light” bits also felt a little like something we don’t see in EVERY SINGLE SUPERHERO MOVIE. So I did very much appreciate that and I had some good laughs during the movie. However, that positive is undone slightly by the too-generic and too-dark baddie. Which is a shame. Just be aware of the warnings before you take kids who are a little too young to this one. As always, it depends on each individual kid and if you think they can handle the violence. I tend to read the parent’s guide before films such as these (which does suck when trying to avoid spoilers!).

My Rating: 7/10

Are there scenes after the credits? Yes. One scene during the credits and a more lighthearted one at the very end. Worth staying for if you’re a DC fan but the first one had no meaning to me…

Oh fuck it. I’ll just say it. Honesty is my best (& worst) quality. I preferred Wonder Woman and possibly even Aquaman. I’m in trouble now! I also preferred Captain Marvel. Oh man – I’m in so much trouble now!!!

The Kid Who Would Be King (2019) Review

The Kid Who Would Be King (2019)

Directed & Written by Joe Cornish

Starring: Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Dean Chaumoo, Tom Taylor, Rhianna Dorris, Rebecca Ferguson, Angus Imrie, Patrick Stewart, Denise Gough, Noma Dumezweni, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Mark Bonnar, Alexandra Roach, Genevieve O’Reilly, Nick Mohammed, Adam Buxton

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows a young boy who finds King Arthur’s legendary sword Excalibur, and must then use it to stop an ancient enchantress from destroying the world.

My Opinion:

Yes, I’m a grown woman but I still get excited when fun family films get made. I’ll always be a nerd. I was seriously looking forward to this one as I thought Joe Cornish’s previous film (Attack The Block) was pretty damn great. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t quite live up to Attack The Block but it’s still an enjoyable film. It’s also aimed younger so is more appropriate for the whole family if your kids aren’t old enough for Attack The Block.

Louis Ashbourne Serkis does a good job as the protagonist (son of Andy, of course. Ah, showbiz nepotism!). But the best part about this film is Angus Imrie as a young Merlin. He’s silly and likable and makes the film a lot more amusing as, without him, there isn’t a lot of humor plus the pacing is a bit slow at times. Oh, and OF COURSE the scenes involving Patrick Stewart are AWESOME since Patrick Stewart RULES. Stewart plays the old version of Merlin and we unfortunately don’t get to see enough of him. But young Merlin is so much fun that you don’t mind the movie switching back & forth between the two of them.

I don’t have a lot to say about this movie. It’s fun and, as always, I really appreciate when decent family films get made. As a lifelong movie nerd, I want to be able to take my kid to movies that I can get some enjoyment out of as well! I think I hyped this one up too much in my mind because of Attack The Block, though. Overall, this movie felt a lot longer than it was and it definitely dragged in places (I’m afraid it didn’t hold my daughter’s attention very well). I never warmed up to the two bullies that eventually team up with our heroes. Also, all the characters could have been stronger and lacked development. But, hey – it was cool getting a unique twist on the King Arthur legend and it’s great to think that it might get some kids interested in further exploring that story. Some kids will enjoy this more than others will but I’m sure that it could end up being a favorite childhood film for kids who really buy into the story. Joe Cornish is still one to watch – I’d be happy to see him direct another film.

My Rating: 7/10

Aquaman (2018) Review

Aquaman (2018)

Directed by James Wan

Based on Aquaman by Mort Weisinger & Paul Norris

Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Kidman

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In Aquaman, Arthur Curry, the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, must step forward to lead his people against his half-brother, Orm, who seeks to unite the seven underwater kingdoms against the surface world.

My Opinion:

Well, this was fun! I wasn’t expecting to like this all that much since DC films tend to suck (other than Wonder Woman). I now like two DCEU movies! Why can’t the others be like this one? Superhero movies should be fun, not dreary and dark and depressing as shit. But maybe that’s just me: I prefer them to all be like Guardians Of The Galaxy.

Aquaman is a bit silly, though, so I’m sure it won’t be for everyone. I loved the silly. It gets a bit more bonkers as the movie goes on, which I also loved. Weirdass giant sea creatures were fun to see in a DC film and the whole underwater thing worked well and gave the movie a different feel from other superhero films, which are all becoming WAY too damn similar. Jason Momoa was also a lot of fun to watch, mainly because you can tell that he’s having a lot of fun playing this character. Okay – and he’s also hot. But my heart still belongs to Thor. Chris Hemsworth is still the ultimate hottie.

The two main female roles were also very strong, which is becoming more popular in movies. We don’t want wussy, useless women. Amber Heard & Nicole Kidman kick ass. Who ever though Kidman would kick ass?? And Amber Heard’s character was cool – I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about her as I’ve never thought she was the greatest actress. Hell, I even really liked the love story between Aquaman’s parents. I don’t normally go for that sort of thing but all the characters were so likeable in this that you wanted everyone to live happily ever after. I can’t say I give the slightest shit about either Superman or Batman in these DCEU films. The characters need to be likeable if we’re going to care about what happens to them! Hollywood still hasn’t quite figured this out.

Beyond that, I don’t know what else to say about this movie. I always struggle to “review” superhero movies. They’re fun & I enjoy them while watching them but it’s not a favorite genre of mine. I don’t expect anything Oscar worthy from them, though – I just want to switch off for a couple of hours & be entertained. Aquaman was definitely entertaining and I may have possibly liked it even more than a few of the MCU movies(!!). It was the final movie I went to in the cinema in 2018 and it was a good one to finish the year. I really enjoyed it (as did the hubby & the kid, so it was a good family movie too).

My Rating: 7/10

I’ll try to post my December Roundup next week followed by all my 2018 Year-End Top Ten lists. So I may sneak in a viewing of Roma this weekend in case it’s worthy of the top ten (I’ll just pretend I watched it in 2018!). For now, these are all the movies I watched in 2018. Yikes. I’m actually going to cut down in 2019…

The King’s Speech (2010) IMDB Top 250 Review

The King’s Speech (2010)

Directed by Tom Hooper

Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Timothy Spall, Derek Jacobi, Jennifer Ehle, Michael Gambon

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 160 as of 01/01/13

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The story of King George VI, his impromptu ascension to the throne of the British Empire in 1936, and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch overcome his stammer.

My Opinion:

Happy Boxing Day! I love this day. I prefer this day to Christmas Day. Far less stressful! Which is why I’ve decided to do a mega quick & lazy review of The King’s Speech, which was one of only three movies I managed to watch for my IMDb Top 250 Project in 2018. I’m seriously slacking on that! (The other two were Citizen Kane & Metropolis, which I’ll review tomorrow).

I didn’t get around to this review as I don’t have much to say about this movie. I hate that. I mean, it’s a good film but I find my reviews only get wordy when I really love or really hate a film (I ramble on for ages when I really hate something). Too many films are somewhere in between: Enjoyable enough while watching them but somewhat forgettable. The King’s Speech is like that. And it won Best Picture at the Oscars! Hmm. Here’s what it beat:

127 Hours (not seen it – there’s that arm bit – ew)
Black Swan (certainly more memorable than The King’s Speech)
The Fighter (meh)
Inception (Nolan is overrated)
The Kids Are All Right (meh)
The Social Network (decent film but also meh)
Toy Story 3 (yeah, I prefer this to The King’s Speech)
True Grit (not seen it)
Winter’s Bone (meh)

Okay – it looks like it was a weak year for films. Now I’m wondering what wasn’t nominated at all that may have been better than these (I’m too lazy to bother looking into that).

I remember that I watched this just after watching Darkest Hour so it was interesting seeing that same time period in English history. Movies are the only way I gain any knowledge of history – I have such a Hollywood version of world history in my head. Pathetic, I know. What can I say? I prefer sci-fi & fantasy. I remember thinking Timothy Spall made for a terrible Winston Churchill in this compared to Gary Oldman’s brilliant performance. Not that it matters – it was a very small part since this movie is about King George VI. Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter were all truly fantastic in their roles. That’s why it won Best Picture. Those Academy voters love historical dramas with English accents. Well, Rush isn’t English but Americans can’t tell the difference anyway…

Colin Firth won Best Actor for this, which I think was fair enough. He’s very good in this but I find him rather boring. He plays this stuffy sort of role so often (which is why I guess it was kind of fun seeing him in Kingsman: The Secret Service). I really enjoyed Helena Bonham Carter’s performance and think she deserved an Oscar as well instead of Melissa Leo in The Fighter. Hell, I don’t even remember Leo’s performance – I only remember her swearing in her acceptance speech. To be fair, Bonham Carter plays these stuffy sort of roles more often than Firth but I don’t find her boring. She’s damn good. I’ve never considered myself a fan but I think she always gives a great performance. Maybe I am a fan?? I’ve not watched her stuffiest stuff, though. Maybe I should check out some of that Merchant Ivory shit?? As for Geoffrey Rush, he’s fantastic in this too and also deserved an Oscar (instead of Christian Bale in The Fighter – I hate Bale). But I think Geoffrey Rush is the latest celeb in trouble for some sex stuff from the past so I’ll say no more. At this rate, I’ll have to delete half my blog if I have to get rid of any mention of certain actors…

I said I’d keep this short. The King’s Speech is a good film with fantastic performances. It’s one of those “one-time watch” movies, though. I’m glad I’ve seen it and I did actually enjoy it but I can’t imagine ever watching it again for any reason. It’s certainly weak compared to all the other Best Picture winners & nominees in the history of the Oscars. It’s certainly not the worst, though (I’m looking at you, The English F*%king Patient!). Since I’m a sad & pathetic list maniac, I did rank every Best Picture Oscar Winner I’ve seen HERE and I’ve now added The King’s Speech. It’s toward the bottom but I did enjoy it. I feel like I’m being too harsh on this one! It’s just not all-time classic “Best Picture” material. Or IMDb Top 250 material, which is why I think this has actually now dropped out of that list (I started this project in 2013 so I’m still working off the list from that time).

My Rating: 7/10

Bumblebee (2018) Review

Bumblebee (2018)

Directed by Travis Knight

Based on Transformers by Hasbro

Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, Pamela Adlon

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
On the run in the year of 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie, on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken.

My Opinion:

I’ll keep this review short: Bumblebee was fun. It’s a lot better than those stupid Michael Bay Transformers movies but, hell, it wouldn’t take much to top those. It’s not up there with Steven Spielberg’s family films of the Eighties, though, which I’ve seen Bumblebee compared to. No way. It’s a fun family “popcorn” movie but I wasn’t exactly blown away. (Sorry)

First of all, I’ll say that I’m not a Transformers fan in the slightest so this review is from someone with almost no Transformers knowledge whatsoever. Second of all, I’ll say that I’m damn old so I loved that this is set in 1987. I’m a sucker for anything set in the Eighties since that’s when I grew up. Thirdly, I’m now going to moan about the ways in which they got the Eighties wrong (although the director is my age but I’m assuming he didn’t have full say on all the 80’s stuff that got crammed in).

I liked Hailee Steinfeld’s character in this and of course loved that the lead was a teenage girl (like me in the Eighties). So I could relate to her at times but she’s also a bit too much “ideal Eighties girl” with all her heavy metal t-shirts & dark eyeliner. I was a metalhead in the late 80s (as were most Midwestern teens) but I didn’t own one metal t-shirt. That’s not how girls tended to dress. And we didn’t wear eyeliner in that way. And… I’m sorry but there’s no way a girl wearing a Motörhead t-shirt back then would also be listening to The Smiths. Not as a teen, anyway. The Smiths were the whiny shit you got into once you went to college. (For the record, I do like both metal & The Smiths but as a teen you tended to stick to one genre so you wouldn’t be an outcast).

And don’t even get me started on Rick Fucking Astley!!! News flash for non-80s kids: We didn’t like Rick Astley. He wasn’t some big thing. I know no one who bought a Rick Astley album. AND NO ONE WEARING A MOTÖRHEAD T-SHIRT WOULD BE CAUGHT DEAD WITH A RICK ASTLEY CASSETTE!!! There. Music rant over. The music choices for this soundtrack were mostly too damn obvious but I was pleased to hear some songs (Hooray for Tears For Fears). Oh, one more rant: The Smiths are okay but I can only take so much of their music so can we stop having moody teens listening to them in movies? Has Hollywood not gotten the memo that Morrissey is a bit of a twat now anyway? You know whose music doesn’t get annoying?? The Cure. The Cure are far superior and not so cliché so, hey Hollywood, how about having your moody teens be fans of The Cure instead? From someone who lived through that decade, this is actually more realistic.

As for the other 80’s clichés in this film, I guess it’s not as bad as I was thinking as I was so distracted by the music thing. Hailee Steinfeld really didn’t look at all like an 80’s teen despite them giving her some silly bangs (a fringe to you UK readers). I suppose they didn’t want her to look ridiculous. But the “mean girl bitch” looked so Eighties it hurt. No one really looked like her back then, either – normal teens were somewhere between these two girls. Maybe I should talk about the actual movie??

Bumblebee is a good character. I totally want him as a friend but I think I just prefer robots to humans as I also want to hang out with WALL-E & R2-D2. So I really enjoyed this friendship and, yes, it’s a feelgood family movie. We need more of those! There’s also plenty of action, which should keep Transformers fans happy (I assume). There’s actually more action than I expected from the trailers, which made it look like simply a warm & fuzzy friendship movie. There’s a full-out war on their home planet or whatever, though. There’s also a cute almost-romance with a neighbor boy (who doesn’t at all look like he’s living in the 80s). Meh. I don’t know. I have a terrible cold at the moment! God I hate winter. This movie was fine. It’s a popcorn movie. I’d probably enjoy it more in the summertime… I’m just super grumpy at this time of year.

My Rating: 7/10

I’m going to finally review Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse later today, which is a contender for my favorite film of 2018 (even though I saw it in cold weather). I never expected that!

Mirai (2018) Review

Mirai (2018)
未来のミライ
Mirai no Mirai

Directed & Written by Mamoru Hosoda

Starring: Moka Kamishiraishi, Haru Kuroki, Gen Hoshino, Kumiko Aso, Mitsuo Yoshihara, Yoshiko Miyazaki, Koji Yakusho, Masaharu Fukuyama

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A young boy encounters a magical garden which enables him to travel through time and meet his relatives from different eras, with guidance by his younger sister from the future.

My Opinion:

Mirai is the third film I’ve watched from director Mamoru Hosoda after Summer Wars & Wolf Children. Wolf Children remains my favorite by far as it has the most well-developed characters & lovely animation while Summer Wars has a unique story and style. Mirai was a little disappointing in comparison but there’s still a lot to like about it, not least of which was seeing how much my daughter enjoyed it (it’s her favorite movie of the year – I’m raising an anime fan!).

I’m always a big fan of any stories involving time travel so Mirai’s plot certainly appealed to me. The young boy in the story gets to visit relatives in the past, with the help of his newborn sister’s future self, in order to gain a better understanding of his family and his place within it. It’s a great concept that doesn’t work quite as well as it could have. The stories aren’t as moving as they could’ve been, other than one involving his great-grandfather (who is an animated hottie, by the way – what a stud). I loved that story and wanted more like it. Unfortunately, I don’t think we learn enough about the future selves of our two main brother & sister characters. We don’t know if the boy really changes his ways, either, based on the little we see of his future. I’d have liked to see more of a connection between the brother & sister as this relationship was the main focus of the story.

I think the biggest problem, which didn’t bother me so much but will get on some people nerves, is that the boy is, well, a brat at first. But that’s kind of the whole point of the movie. He’s young (not sure if they say his age – he seems to just be coming out of the toddler stage) and he becomes very jealous of his newborn baby sister and all the attention she receives. If you don’t like kids, as I’ve noticed many people don’t, you’re unlikely to fully enjoy this one. I had a toddler, although I never had to deal with sibling rivalry, and I know they can be a pain in the damn ass. Those tiny humans are insane. So the boy being a little bratty in this didn’t bother me as it felt realistic and having his new sister visit him from the future is a brilliant idea for a story.

Well, I did enjoy this film even though it’s not going to be a very favorite anime movie of mine. I’m sure it’ll grow on me as I’m likely to see it multiple times on DVD thanks to my kid. I feel kind of similar about this one as I did about Makoto Shinkai’s Journey To Agartha, which I reviewed earlier today. I just need something to be as good as all the Studio Ghibli stuff. Or Akira. That’s probably asking too much. I think I’m going through all the anime films too quickly since starting this blog. I’ve watched all the best! I’m afraid nothing will live up to those now. But I’ll still keep watching them just in case…

My Rating: 7/10