Cherry (2021) Review

Cherry (2021)

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Based on Cherry by Nico Walker

Starring: Tom Holland, Ciara Bravo, Jack Reynor, Michael Rispoli, Jeff Wahlberg

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows an Army veteran suffering from PTSD, who resorts to robbing banks to support his opioid addiction.

My Opinion:

This was a weird one. I think I liked it okay? Despite none of the characters being very likeable or sympathetic. I felt like this movie was trying too hard to be “worthy”, though. I felt like it had a good story (from the book Cherry partly based on the real life of author Nico Walker) but failed to make what could’ve been a truly great film out of it.

I think part of what didn’t quite make this work for me is the fact that I’m old & grumpy plus maybe a tiny bit film-snobby at times. First of all: I’m old. Tom Holland & Ciara Bravo are both good in this. I can’t fault their performances in any way whatsoever. But, damn. I know they’re in their early twenties & it’s great they cast age appropriate people instead of really old fuckers pretending to be young like in Grease or something, but… They both look about 15 to me. As I said, I do think they did a really good job and it’s partly me just me being so old but I couldn’t fully buy into these two cute, tiny, 15-year-old-looking people being drug addicts (and one also being a hardened war veteran with PTSD). Not fair, I know. They were good. I did like them in this movie even if I couldn’t fully believe the characters based mainly on how they look.

Oh, and I just wanted to make sure to mention Ciara Bravo’s coat at the start of the movie. It’s adorable!! I love it. I want one. But I’m old & not young & pretty like her so it wouldn’t look cute on me anyway. The above picture was the only one I could find of it online with the writing up in the corner (I dunno where it’s from – I found it HERE).

Anyway! Back to problem number two for me: I can be a tiny bit film snobby. I admit to very much preferring movies from the ’70s & ’80s above all other decades. As I watched this, I kept thinking that it could be a classic now if it had been made in the dirty, gritty ’70s (yeah, yeah – I know it’s based on a book that didn’t exist then but you know what I mean). The war bits especially made me think of things like Full Metal Jacket (yeah, yeah – I know that’s an ’80s movie but it’s set during Vietnam so you know what I mean). And then I just thought this movie could’ve been great if made in the past by some amazing director like Stanley Kubrick (you know, had the book existed in his lifetime). Maybe the Russo Brothers just aren’t the best choice for this type of movie? Their MCU stuff is good but a gritty war & drug drama is obviously a very different type of movie. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Cherry will be seen as a classic 30/40 years from now in the same way as things like Apocalypse Now (Maybe? Probably not.).

Well, I think I liked this movie anyway despite it being far from perfect & trying a little too hard. But I wanted to see what would happen with these characters & did want to see them turn their lives around. I also really liked that it was sort of at least three movies in one: the college years, the war years, and the bank-robbing PTSD drug addict years. The war years were probably the strongest parts of the movie but the drug years were quite good too (in a stressful sort of way, I guess). Better character development would’ve been good: So the girl’s parents only showed up briefly in her life once while she was in the hospital & then just disappeared again? And what about the family of Holland’s character – did I just miss that? I feel like something was said but I missed it. Did he have no family? I also think more of a dark humor running through this may have been good (there was a hint of this but not in a way that really worked – Kubrick would’ve been good at that!).

Oh, and Jack Reynor is in this (the drug section). I’ve liked him ever since the fantastic Sing Street & liked him in this too. I looked him up just now to see his age compared with Holland & he’s only about four years older. Yet I fully believed him in this role. He seems so much older. So maybe I am being unfair on Holland (and Bravo) just for looking soooooo damn young. Good performances anyway. They certainly made me never want to go to war or become addicted to drugs! Not that those were ever on my list of things I want to do… I want her coat, though.

My Rating: 7/10

Luca (2021) & Raya And The Last Dragon (2021) Reviews

Can’t believe I didn’t review these two big new Disney & Pixar releases right away. Well, I’ll be posting my June Roundup post next week but figured I better give these slightly more than just the mini-reviews in those posts. Here we go…

Raya And The Last Dragon (2021)

Directed by Don Hall & Carlos López Estrada

Starring: Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Izaac Wang, Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Benedict Wong, Sandra Oh, Thalia Tran, Lucille Soong, Alan Tudyk

Music by James Newton Howard

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
In a realm known as Kumandra, a re-imagined Earth inhabited by an ancient civilization, a warrior named Raya is determined to find the last dragon.

My Opinion:

I was weirdly looking forward to this. Well, maybe that’s not weird? Plenty of middle-aged women love Disney movies. My mom & grandma do too. We grew up with them. I thought this looked really good in the trailer & watched it as soon as it became available as part of the Disney Plus subscription. It’s good. I liked the animation and there were some strong characters & a decent story. Is it as strong as Disney’s very best films? No, but it’s far from the worst and has quite a reputation to live up to if compared to the best. It’s also sadly not nearly good as Moana, which it’s of course going to be compared to the most as that’s also quite recent & was very good. Who cares? It’s still an enjoyable film. And I loved her pet Tuk Tuk! Forget the dragons – I want my own Tuk Tuk!


So cute!

I’m sure what either does or very much doesn’t work for people watching this is Awkwafina as Sisu the dragon. She’s very “love her or hate her”. Well, luckily I like her (and her vag) just fine so I liked her as the quirky dragon. But I prefer when Disney doesn’t use very obvious voices & over-the-top comedians who can throw you out of the story a bit & make the films less “timeless”. I’m actually not crazy about Robin Williams in Aladdin for this same reason & I liked Williams as an actor & comedian a lot (RIP – I will forever be sad about that). I guess I just like my Disney films to stand the test of time but, hey, I’m old school. Or maybe just old… Oh well – I liked the Awkwafina dragon anyway. And I loved Tuk Tuk, as I said, and of course Raya is yet another great new addition to the “strong female Disney characters” thing so I was happy as they’re really the three main characters we see the most. Oh, and Raya’s dad was kinda hot.

I think this movie unfortunately loses its way in the middle of the film. It started out very strong and the ending was fine (although, come to think of it, I kind of can’t fully remember the ending now!). I feel like I say this in half my reviews lately (I’m old & I’m tired) but I did snooze a little in the middle so could do with watching this again sometime. I liked it enough that I wouldn’t mind a rewatch. I think, mainly, too many additional characters got added along the way and they weren’t that great compared to those I’ve already mentioned. In fact, one was really annoying (the dumb baby). Even my daughter was like “that baby is dumb” so I’m afraid my pickiness about movies is rubbing off on her. (Dumb baby is in the image below). There was also probably a bit too much going on story-wise for any young kids to follow with so many different regions fighting each other and so many characters to keep track of. I feel a little unfair rating this when I know I could do with rewatching it. But the middle bit & the dumb baby did make me lose interest for a while. Maybe I’ll change my mind & up the rating half a point after a rewatch.

My Rating: 7/10

Luca (2021)

Directed by Enrico Casarosa

Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Saverio Raimondo, Maya Rudolph, Marco Barricelli, Jim Gaffigan

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
On the Italian Riviera, an unlikely but strong friendship grows between a human being and a sea monster disguised as a human.

My Opinion:

My beloved Pixar! I’m such a big Pixar fan. I think their best movies are among some of the very best movies overall, even compared to non-animated films. And anyone who knows me knows I love to rank movies so, if you really need to know, here’s my Pixar ranking (from my least favorite to my favorite):

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

Not seen Cars 3 – Maybe I should watch that…

Okay, I honestly feel really bad about putting Luca last as I thought it was a very sweet & very wholesome film. It was actually so sweet & felt so genuine that I don’t feel right saying anything bad about it. I really did feel like the filmmakers put their hearts into making this & that comes across in the movie. The two boys & the girl they befriended were likeable and watching the movie was… Pleasant? Like, it would be impossible to think mean & nasty thoughts while watching this. It was a nice, peaceful family film.

But I was mostly just bored. And, yes, I fell asleep in the middle of this one too (I did catch up on what I missed later). I’m sorry! I apologise to the filmmakers! Your movie is very sweet and the main three characters are very nice! I complained a bit about Raya having too many characters but I think Luca is missing all the extra “small role” characters that Pixar always do soooo well. Look at how awesome each & every character is in things like Toy Story & Finding Nemo, even down to the ones with very few or even no lines (especially those turtles, dudes!). I wasn’t interested in any of the lesser characters in Luca. Okay, yes – it meant they really got to focus on the main three friends but I’m used to Pixar giving us loads of characters to love in every film. The other characters in Luca were bland other than maybe the weird uncle (I think) who lived very deep in the sea & was nice & weird. Yeah, of course I liked the weird sea monster with no social skills! That’s what this movie needed: More weirdos. It was far too wholesome. I also wasn’t crazy about the animation, which was disappointing as I did like the director’s lovely Pixar short La Luna . This just didn’t look like a Pixar film to me. I guess the style worked better as a short film.

I’ll finish this before I say anything too negative because I don’t think this movie deserves that. It’s certainly not a bad film. Not at all. It’s just not up to Pixar standards. To be fair, I was maybe a little harsh putting it below Cars 2 which I don’t even remember. But, as much as I almost hate those Cars movies, I have to admit those still did a decent job with having more than only three good characters. Sorry. I wanted to like this much more! It did have a lovely message about not hiding your true self so that was nice. (I need to stop saying “nice”)

My Rating: 6/10

Misbehaviour (2020) Review

Here’s another mini-review before I post my full June movie roundup sometime next week…

Misbehaviour (2020)

Directed by Philippa Lowthorpe

Starring: Keira Knightley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Jessie Buckley, Keeley Hawes, Phyllis Logan, Lesley Manville, Rhys Ifans, Greg Kinnear

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A group of women hatch a plan to disrupt the 1970 Miss World beauty competition in London.

My Opinion:

I enjoyed this despite my weird hatred for Keira Knightley. Her acting bothers me yet I seem to watch all her damn movies?! I prefer this longer Wikipedia synopsis to tell you what this is about: “The 1970 Miss World competition took place in London, hosted by the US comedian Bob Hope. At that time Miss World was the most-watched TV show in the world with over 100 million viewers. Arguing that beauty competitions objectify women, the newly formed women’s liberation movement achieved overnight fame by invading the stage and disrupting the live broadcast of the competition.

This is a true story I knew nothing about but fully support because, let’s face it, beauty pageants are demeaning & sexist. But, yeah, I totally watched them as a kid & thought nothing of them as that’s just how the world was. Hopefully they’ve modernised them a bit nowadays?? I have no clue. But I liked seeing these Women’s Liberation activists disrupt this pageant after its host, Bob Hope, made a sexist joke. As with any film adaptation, though, I’m sure it’s not 100% accurate. Okay – I looked up the real footage and, yes, it was much more dramatic in the film. But Bob Hope certainly made plenty of sexist jokes! Icky. Here’s the footage but you can’t really tell that the women are throwing flour bombs at the stage.

What made the whole thing even more interesting was this (from Wikipedia, but it gives the result away if you don’t want to know that before watching the movie): “Even greater controversy then followed after the result was announced. Jennifer Hosten won becoming the first Black woman to win Miss World and the black contestant from South Africa was placed second.” So they rightly disrupted a very sexist pageant but, at the same time, it was the first of these pageants to give other women these opportunities & the winner was a very intelligent woman with a successful life & career following the pageant (whether or not that was helped by winning I don’t know but I’m sure it helps open some doors). So arguments can be made both for and against these contests but the movie doesn’t explore that quite as much as it could have. There’s also a bit at the end in the dressing room that you just know didn’t happen in real life but that they added just to make things more interesting for the film. That’s fine – I always say that if I want the true story I’ll watch a documentary.

This story is interesting enough that I would watch a documentary too but the movie does a decent enough job of bringing a story that probably isn’t well known to a slightly bigger audience even if the film doesn’t really dig too deeply into its subject matter. But I really enjoyed the movie & everyone did a good job, including annoying Knightley & Jessie Buckley as two of the protesters. I especially liked Gugu Mbatha-Raw as the contestant they focus on the most. Oh, and Greg Kinnear was surprisingly good as the truly smarmy Bob Hope. Was Hope always so smarmy?! Guess I don’t remember that from my childhood – I thought he was an American national treasure. Huh.

My Rating: 7/10

*Here’s a small complaint about the poster for this movie: Jessie Buckley is making that dumb selfie duckface. We didn’t make that stupid face before stupid selfies came along. I’m sure you can find some old pictures – I think Marilyn Monroe will have done “kiss face” type photos. But it’s more of a modern thing. So it’s annoying to see it on someone in a film set in 1970 even though I know she’s making fun of pageants & posing. Dumb complaint, I know, but the duckface annoys the hell out of me & makes me wonder if the people actually know how to genuinely smile anymore.

Seconds (1966) & Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949) Reviews

I have my May Roundup post ready but ended up with two more reviews that were a bit too long for a “summary” post. So here are two final quick reviews of movies I watched in May before I post the full list of 26 movies tomorrow.

Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949)

Directed by Robert Hamer

Based on Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal by Roy Horniman

Starring: Valerie Hobson, Dennis Price, Joan Greenwood, Alec Guinness

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A distant poor relative of the Duke D’Ascoyne plots to inherit the title by murdering the eight other heirs who stand ahead of him in the line of succession.

My Opinion:

This was a fun film. I don’t really have any experience at all with the classic Ealing Studios films (I think this is my first?). I have an excuse, I suppose, as I didn’t grow up in England and there are still loads of British movies I’ve not seen. I’d have to say the older British films are probably more my style and I really enjoyed this one, although I’m worried I may have started with their best? It seems the most well known, anyway. And Alec Guinness was a delight in this. Anyone who knows anything about this movie at all will know all about him in this but, as I’m sure there are still some who know nothing about the film, I won’t say much.

This is a black comedy and it was amusing to see the different ways in which the main character kills off his estranged family so that he can become the Duke. The family all had fun & very different personalities. Suffragette Lady Agatha D’Ascoyne was the best and I wished we could have seen much more of that character. Also really liked photographer Henry D’Ascoyne, one of the nicer family members who just likes to have a drink now & then. There are also a couple of love triangles going on and some good back-stabbing & murder mystery twists.

This was a very enjoyable film so I’m going to check out The Ladykillers next from the Ealing Studios filmography. I’ll happily take any recommendations of other classic British films I may have missed! I think The Archers Powell & Pressburger films may be even more my style based on the gorgeous Black Narcissus that I watched this year & the masterpiece A Matter Of Life And Death which deserves WAY more attention than I think it received outside of the U.K. Oh, and I’d love classic British horror recommendations! Dead Of Night was fantastic. And, shamefully, I’ve never seen a Hammer Horror. Shocking as a horror fan.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Seconds (1966)

Directed by John Frankenheimer

Based on Seconds, a novel by David Ely

Starring: Rock Hudson, Salome Jens, John Randolph, Will Geer

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
An unhappy middle-aged banker agrees to a procedure that will fake his death and give him a completely new look and identity – one that comes with its own price.

My Opinion:

Been meaning to watch this for years as it sounded like it could be a creepy movie with a Twilight Zone type of story, which is exactly the sort of thing I love. And it was that kind of thing! Sort of. Although I think The Twilight Zone actually had better stories & told them brilliantly in much less time.

You know I honestly don’t think I’ve seen a Rock Hudson movie before this one?? That’s pathetic. I do need to watch more old films but can see why this is what I’d go for of his stuff. I do love the weird movies! (But this is nothing compared to Butt Boy which I watched the other week). I liked the story in Seconds although, having grown up on these exact kind of stories & loving twists, it was pretty easy to predict. Still absolutely worth watching, though, if you like this kind of thing. It’s still so much better than Black Mirror, which I did enjoy some of but mostly just found it to be inferior to the shows that came before it & felt much more original than Black Mirror did.

This movie does a good job of capturing the whole “middle-aged man with perfectly fine life has a mid-life crisis & wants to start over” thing. It also explores if that would really make people happy if it was indeed possible to start over. Was this only offered to men in this movie?! Seemed to be. Typical! I think just as many women want to start over (if not more). The movie maybe could have done with a little more focus on his previous life for us to really understand what he gave up but it still got its point across. And it made up for a slight lack of character development by having a full-on naked grape-stomping orgy thrown into the middle of the film. Hell yeah! Where did that come from?! God I love when an old film throws something wild in there. Forget Blue Öyster CultSeconds has Purple Grape Örgy Cult!

Where was I?! The orgy totally threw me. I enjoyed this. I’m glad I finally watched this movie (thanks Film Miasma & Blogferatu!).

My Rating: 7/10

The Mitchells Vs. The Machines (2021) & Abominable (2019) Reviews

Here are two quickie reviews of two fun family films that I really enjoyed.

The Mitchells Vs. The Machines (2021)

Directed by Mike Rianda

Starring: Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Mike Rianda, Eric Andre, Olivia Colman, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Blake Griffin, Conan O’Brien

Music by Mark Mothersbaugh

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
It follows a dysfunctional family that winds up having to save Earth from a robot uprising while on a road trip.

My Opinion:

This movie was surprisingly good! I’m a bit snobby when it comes to animated films if they’re anything other than Studio Ghibli, Pixar or Disney. This is from Sony Pictures Animation who, to be fair, have made a lot of fairly rubbish films (other than Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse which was absolutely brilliant – what happened there?!). Well, this obviously isn’t as good as that one as that would be really hard to beat but it was loads of fun & certainly better than most everything put out by DreamWorks (I’m really not a fan of DreamWorks most of the time either).

Now, I’m going to keep this super short but I just wanted to do a quick post to give this recognition outside of my monthly roundup post of up to 20 or so films to say: “Hey, this movie is quite good & and one of those family films aimed at all ages & not just kids so is one that the whole family can enjoy!. Because I love family movies that aren’t just dumb humor that only very young kids can enjoy. I mean, hell, this movie has a They Live reference! A John Carpenter reference in an animated family film! And it has robots and I love robots. And, for us movie blogging weirdos, the main teenage girl is a massive movie nerd going off to film school to make movies so I know that’s also really helped to make Film Twitter go “Hell yeah!” to this movie. Oh yeah – and Mark Mothersbaugh did the music (I love Devo!). The characters are fun & likeable misfits and my pre-teen laughed in a way I’ve not heard her laugh while watching a movie in AGES. I could do with seeing it again as I was exhausted that night & a bit snoozy so maybe this rating will go up on a rewatch. Good fun, though! Am glad they make stuff like this for everyone.

My Rating: 7/10

Abominable (2019)

Directed & Written by Jill Culton

Starring: Chloe Bennet, Albert Tsai, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, Eddie Izzard, Sarah Paulson, Tsai Chin

Music by Rupert Gregson-Williams

Production companies: DreamWorks Animation & Pearl Studio

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a teenage girl named Yi, who encounters a young Yeti on the roof of her apartment building in Shanghai, names him Everest and embarks on an epic quest to reunite the magical creature with his family at the highest point on Earth along with her mischievous friends Jin and Peng, but the trio of friends will have to stay one-step ahead of Burnish, a wealthy man intent on capturing a Yeti, and zoologist Dr. Zara to help Everest get home.

My Opinion:

Okay, this is a DreamWorks film and as I said above, I’m really not a fan most of the time. I don’t even like Shrek all that much. Looking at their list of films now, I honestly think the Kung Fu Panda ones are my favorites. That’s probably thanks to me loving Jack Black plus an amazing score from Hans Zimmer. Honestly – go listen to Oogway Ascends (HERE)! That’s some gorgeous music for an animated film! I don’t expect that from DreamWorks – it’s Pixar who normally have the beautiful scores (Inside Out, Finding Nemo & WALL-E are some of the all-time best film scores). Oh, and don’t even get me started on Joe Hisaishi’s Studio Ghibli scores! Absolute perfection.

Well, I think I may have a new DreamWorks favorite. I liked Abominable a lot! Maybe my expectations were low? It’s very much my vibe, though – I love this sort of setting & music (it’s set in Shanghai). I thought the Yeti was lovable & adorable (I want one!) and the main characters were really good (especially the teen girl who befriends the Yeti she names Everest). And speaking of music, yes, it also had some lovely music as well. Oh, and the animation was very pretty. The girl goes on a journey with two friends to return Everest to his home after he escapes from a research facility. I’ll keep this one short as well as I don’t have much to say other than: “Yay! This was so good & I really liked a DreamWorks movie for a change and I want my own adorable Yeti!” Oh – the pre-teen loved this one as well. So maybe go more by what she says because she can be even more picky than I am.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Army Of The Dead (2021) Review

Army Of The Dead (2021)

Directed by Zack Snyder

Story by Zack Snyder

Starring: Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Ana de la Reguera, Theo Rossi, Matthias Schweighöfer, Nora Arnezeder, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tig Notaro, Raúl Castillo, Huma Qureshi, Garret Dillahunt

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows a group of soldiers who plan a Las Vegas casino heist amid a zombie apocalypse.

My Opinion:

I re-posted my review of Zack Snyder’s fantastic Dawn Of The Dead remake yesterday (HERE). I love that film despite hating reboots/remakes and despite the original Romero film being an all-time favorite of mine. It’s a shame that Snyder hasn’t done a film as good as Dawn since (well, Watchmen was pretty good). In fact, I’ve pretty much hated all I’ve seen of his movies other than those two. Don’t tell anyone I said that. Oh god. I’m scared now.

Well, Army Of The Dead is my third-favorite Snyder film! But I suppose that isn’t saying much. It unfortunately doesn’t come close to Dawn for me but I did have fun watching it and, hell, that’s all you really want from a movie about a heist in an apocalyptic Las Vegas infested with zombie strippers & zombie tigers. Still trying to decide how I feel about the zombie tiger. I mean, it was cheesy as hell but it was also a zombie tiger, so… That’s still kind of cool. Cool cheese. Richard Cheese!

Oh, yeah – about Richard Cheese: I’m assuming that was a Richard Cheese song he used at the start? Okay, I thought Cheese’s Down With The Sickness was cleverly used in Dawn but it really threw me to hear that sort of thing used in the same way in Army. Snyder just seemed to be re-using a lot of his old tricks in this movie. Annoying, as I loved his use of music in Dawn but it was just distracting when he used music in the same way in Army (even down to a cheesy “elevator music” type moment with Karma Chameleon in place of Dawn’s Don’t Worry, Be Happy if I remember correctly). And Bad Moon Rising will never be anything other than the An American Werewolf In London song to me. I know this seems a minor complaint but I really love movie scores & soundtracks so it’s something I’m going to notice. Was disappointed at the lack of originality. Oh well. As my hubby & I discussed while watching this, it’s going on 20 years since Snyder’s Dawn remake (oh my god!). So he seems to be relying on the fact that a whole new generation who may not have seen Dawn will be watching this. Apologies as I’m old, though, and Dawn is still fresh in my mind so I can’t help but keep comparing the two in this review.

Dawn also had really great characters (as far as horror movies go) and I feel Snyder tried to achieve the same thing here but, again, he didn’t do as well in Army. That’s probably thanks to James Gunn anyway, who wrote the Dawn screenplay (I love his Guardians Of The Galaxy films & Slither). Don’t get me wrong, though – the characters were still one of the better things about this movie. I liked Dave Bautista and thought he did well in the lead role with his big head & tiny glasses. The girl playing his daughter, Ella Purnell, was also really good. Can I just say that I rewatched Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children two days before Army and didn’t even realise it was the same actress since she wasn’t blonde in this? If someone changes their hair I don’t recognise them at all. Is that weird?! Anyway, those two along with the woman playing the possible love interest of Bautista were by far the best characters. I wish the others had been a bit stronger but there were still a few fun ones (such as the German guy and the other dude helping him with the safe who develop a cute friendship plus the tough chick who brings them into Vegas as she knows the way around). Tig Notaro was also funny as the helicopter pilot & I’d completely forgotten she was brought in to replace someone when I read afterwards that all Notaro’s scenes were filmed later. Well, I guess they did well with that as I didn’t notice! The character seemed to actually be there with them (but maybe I’d have noticed if I knew that fact beforehand – I suck at noticing things like that, obviously, as I also don’t even recognise someone if their hairdo changes).

Um. I don’t know what else to say so maybe it’s better to just wrap this up so I don’t go rambling on and on and on and on (you know, like most Zack Snyder movies do). I just sighed when I saw the two and a half hour running time when I pressed play on this thing. WHY?! It’s not necessary. It’s a zombie movie. I appreciate that it can feel more “epic” when it’s a long film but this isn’t Lawrence Of Fucking Arabia. Longer isn’t necessarily better! (Haha – I’ll refrain from the joke I almost made here). But this review is sounding way more negative than I actually felt. Would I have liked this more if I’d never seen 2004’s Dawn Of The Dead? Yes, that’s very likely. I’ve been moaning that there have been far too many depressing dramas during this pandemic so I was happy to watch a fun zombie “popcorn movie”. And, honestly, I did really like Dave Bautista & Ella Purnell. Zombie tiger was ridiculous but, not gonna lie, also highly entertaining. I was hoping to love this one as I do still love zombie movies even though there are too many now. It just unfortunately didn’t live up to my own hype. It’s far from the best zombie movie out there but it’s also far from the worst.

My Rating: 7/10

Happiest Season (2020) Review

Happiest Season (2020)

Directed by & Story by Clea DuVall

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Dan Levy, Mary Holland,Victor Garber, Mary Steenburgen

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a woman who struggles to come out to her conservative parents while she and her girlfriend visit them during Christmas.

My Opinion:

First of all, can I just say that I hate watching Christmas movies during any month other than December?? Seems pointless. At least the U.K. did get this before Christmas (I think??) – I just didn’t have that streaming service at the time. So, I suppose it lost a tiny bit of that special “Christmas feeling” by watching this in May but it’s also not an overly Christmassy film anyway despite being set in that time period. So watch it now if you want! It’s still enjoyable. It looked like it could be decent so I didn’t want to wait until December.

I liked this one. I’m not one of these Kristen Stewart haters but I’m also not of the generation who seem to absolutely love her for some reason. I don’t have much of an opinion on her one way or another but she was good in this (and very good in the film Underwater that I watched the other day & will try to review this week – she carried that whole movie). I liked her relationship with Mackenzie Davis in this and wanted them to live happily ever after & all that but I didn’t really feel they had much chemistry. Stewart’s character was more likeable & sympathetic and I kept thinking she might be better off with Aubrey Plaza. Well, they were still fine as a couple but a lot of the other characters helped to make this a really enjoyable movie. It was a bit slow to start but picked up when the family of the Mackenzie Davis character showed up as well as Dan Levy, as Kristen Stewart’s friend.

Victor Garber & especially Mary Steenburgen were great as the parents of Mackenzie Davis, whose house the couple stay at for several days over Christmas. Steenburgen was hilarious as the type of mother who wants her family to be perfect and is always making snide bitchy comments. Her treatment of the, I think middle?, of the three sisters was especially funny – that poor girl is always pushed aside and never lives up to expectations like the other two sisters do. Besides Stewart, my favorite characters were the middle sister (played by Mary Holland), Steenburgen as the pushy mother, and Dan Levy as Stewart’s friend. Don’t think I’ve seen Levy in anything before (I’ve not seen Schitt’s Creek). He was funny & I was glad he ended up in the movie a bit more by the end. We also had some fun sibling rivalry between Davis and her “bitchy” sister Alison Brie plus Aubrey Plaza, as I mentioned earlier, who plays a family friend & former secret girlfriend of Davis. I find Aubrey Plaza hit or miss but this was a good character for her.

I especially enjoyed this movie because it was “pleasant”. That sounds like a horrible compliment but I do mean it in a good way as there have been FAR too many dreary & depressing drama movies during this pandemic. I think we could all use a break from that! Sometimes you just want a lightweight rom-com with good characters & a fun sense of humor. The characters are what really make this film & it’s great that they had so many good ones. And I want to read the book the middle sister is writing. Her painting was pretty good too. Stop being mean to Jane!

My Rating: 7/10

Sound Of Metal (2019) & My Octopus Teacher (2020) Reviews

Figured I should review these two films since the Oscars are this weekend & they’re nominated. I also watched a few nominated shorts, so I’ll briefly mention those at the end of this post as well (If Anything Happens I Love You, The Present, A Love Song for Latasha, Burrow & Two Distant Strangers).

Sound Of Metal (2019)

Directed by Darius Marder

Starring: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Sound of Metal is a 2019 American drama film directed and co-written by Darius Marder starring Riz Ahmed as a metal drummer who loses his hearing.

My Opinion:

I don’t know how to write a full review anymore. I can’t believe I used to do a full review post for pretty much each & every movie I watched?! I think the monthly roundup posts I do now with just a paragraph or so for each movie works better for me as, especially in the past few years, I just don’t have much to say about most current films. I feel like I’ve seen so many movies now that nothing ever feels new or original. It’s probably why I’m going back to exploring much older films that I haven’t yet seen. Movies used to be so much better than they are now. Or am I just old & bitter?!

Why am I rambling? I think it’s because, despite Sound Of Metal certainly being a good film with good performances, I don’t have much to say about it. I mean, it’s not exactly up there with Oscar winners of the past, is it? It’s not The Sound Of Music or The Bridge On The River Kwai, is it? But I’ve felt this way about the Best Picture nominees for years now. Where are the sweeping epics??? It’s all dreary drama now. It’s all performance based. I can appreciate a good performance but it’s not something I’ve ever cared about too much. I mean, I’d rather have an awesome movie with meh performances than a meh movie with awesome performances. But that may just be me. I wouldn’t say Sound Of Metal is at all meh, of course. I just think it’s one that should be up for the acting awards and not Best Picture. (Though I liked it more than the other Best Picture nominees I’ve seen! The Trial Of The Chicago 7 & Mank – those were pretty meh).

Okay, I feel like I’m being negative about this movie when it’s likely to stay one of the films I liked the most after I see all the Best Picture nominees. I’m just venting my frustration at the lack of truly amazing films nowadays. Paul Raci & especially Riz Ahmed were very good & I’m happy to see them nominated. I think they both don’t stand a chance of winning but I’d like to see Ahmed recognised for his work. Also liked Olivia Cooke as his girlfriend but was disappointed that we didn’t see much of their relationship & saw hardly anything to do with their band & career. And, yes – I wanted more actual metal. I’m a big music fan of all genres (well, other than country) and like a lot of metal. I know the focus of the film is the character’s loss of hearing but I’d still have liked to see a little more to do with his music and with his relationship with his girlfriend. I didn’t feel we got to know them well by the end of the film. Also, we didn’t get to know him well enough beforehand to truly understand his loss and what it meant to him.

Well, I’m just nitpicking now. It’s a good film. It gave a good look into the lives of those who have lost their hearing & I liked how they worked together to live with it. And I hope it wins the Oscar for sound – It would be a worthy winner. I could maybe be convinced to give this half a star more but I’ve ranked it 4th for 2021 U.K. releases & I only gave those above it 7/10. So I better stick with a 7 for now…

My Rating: 7/10

My Octopus Teacher (2020)

Directed by Pippa Ehrlich & James Reed

Starring: Craig Foster, Tom Foster, Octopus (Rosetta), Pyjama Shark

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
My Octopus Teacher is a 2020 Netflix Original documentary film directed by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed, which documents a year spent by filmmaker Craig Foster forging a relationship with a wild common octopus in a South African kelp forest.

My Opinion:

I’m terrible about watching documentaries. I don’t know why, as I do enjoy the really good ones but I have to force myself to watch them. So I’m rating & ranking documentaries separately from the movies that I watch as it’s hard to compare them. As far as documentaries go, this is easily my favorite that I’ve seen in a long time. I don’t even like octopuses! (Octopi???). Honestly, they’re creepy little things. They’re fascinating but they’re f*^king weird.

I loved this little octopus by the end of this documentary! I wasn’t expecting to like this so much, so they clearly did a great job with the film. Man, I was so stressed whenever the dangerous shark fish thingies that wanted to eat the octopus got anywhere near her. I was all “Oh no! Swim away, little octopus! Hurry!!!” I was extremely concerned about this octopus. It’s amazing that this dude went diving every single day to watch her. You really do feel like you’re on this journey with him & I loved watching the octopus adapt & learn. Who knew octopuses were so smart?? Brilliant creatures. I may become an octopus fan now thanks to this fantastic documentary.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Nominated Shorts I’ve Seen (with super brief thoughts):

If Anything Happens I Love You – I already reviewed this a little bit in the link so don’t need to say much more than “This is utterly heartbreaking“. A hard one to watch but a powerful animated short with a message that won’t make the slightest bit of difference in America. Things are never going to change there – I lost hope years ago. Would be happy if this won the Oscar.

The Present – Thought this was a really good short showing the struggles some people face in doing the most basic day to day things in life that those of us in other countries take completely for granted. It’s why I get so annoyed with people constantly whining about the stupidest shit on Twitter. Shut up with your first world problems!

A Love Song for Latasha – This is a very short film worth checking out on Netflix. Another very heartbreaking short, this is the Wikipedia synopsis for this true story: “Drawing on memories from the subject’s cousin and best friend, the film reimagines the life of Latasha Harlins, a Black Los Angeles girl shot and killed by a convenience store owner in 1991.

Burrow – This is a cute Pixar short (well, one of the SparkShorts shorts). It’s not up there in quality with the likes of the other Pixar shorts that were shown in cinemas before films. Enjoyable but forgettable – Pixar has many better shorts than this one.

Two Distant Strangers – This is a short also on Netflix. It’s another important message but unfortunately not as well done as the other nominees I’ve seen. To be honest, though, I never watch enough of the short films & find them hard to judge as it must be difficult to fully develop your characters & ideas in such a small amount of time. Is the quality of filmmaking here Oscar-worthy? I don’t know but I think it’s common for shorts & documentaries to be nominated more for their message so I suppose it’s good that they get more people watching them thanks to their nominations. The actors did a decent enough job in this with an okay script & one-dimensional characters.

**I’m now able to watch Promising Young Woman, so I’ll try to watch it & get a review posted before the Oscars. I’ll do a post tomorrow with all the nominees & links to my reviews of all the films I’ve managed to see. Disappointing year so far! But I have yet to see a lot of those nominated in the major categories.

What are your favorite Oscar nominees this year & what do you most want to see win?

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

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker (2019) Review

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker (2019)

Directed by J. J. Abrams

Based on Characters by George Lucas

Starring: Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong’o, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, Ian McDiarmid, Billy Dee Williams

Music by John Williams

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The surviving Resistance faces the First Order once more in the final chapter of the Skywalker saga.

My Opinion:

I’ve been putting off reviewing this as I’m not yet sure how I feel about it. I did see it at midnight last Wednesday night as we’re a family of Star Wars fans. I think all the negativity online since The Last Jedi ruined my enjoyment a bit plus this is the first time I decided to read all the spoilers beforehand, which is something I always try desperately to avoid. So that’s my own damn fault but, seriously, I hate people who spoil movies online on purpose. I know spoilers don’t bother everyone but it does ruin movies for me. I like to be surprised. My lack of excitement during this one won’t have been helped by the fact that I was watching the story unfold exactly as I’d heard it would. Thanks a lot, Burger King! Shame on me, though. I’ll avoid spoilers again from now on.

I liked The Rise Of Skywalker but am not satisfied with the trilogy as a whole. I’m at the point now where I kind of don’t care about this trilogy existing (and wonder if I’d be happier if it didn’t). For me, it will only ever be the original trilogy that I love. The rest of the movies will never be special to me in the same sort of way, although I did get plenty of enjoyment out of moments in each of them. And Solo deserves more credit than it gets, FYI – that was a fun film.

When The Force Awakens came out, however, I admit that I did absolutely love it at the time. I thought the new characters were great and I adored seeing my old favorites again. I was high on the fact that Star Wars was back. I hate that the following two movies didn’t live up to the first one and, more than anything, I hate how this trilogy now feels like it was created just to replace beloved old characters with new ones for a new generation. Can a new generation not appreciate the original characters too? As much as I wasn’t really a fan of the prequels, they’ve now actually gone up in my estimation after the sequel trilogy. I never expected that as I far prefer The Force Awakens to any of the prequels. But now that this trilogy has ended, I feel like it has damaged characters that I grew up with & love whereas the prequels didn’t do them any harm (to the “good guys” that I adore, anyway – I’ve never been a fan of the “baddies”. Screw you, Vader!).

Well, I could talk about my feelings & disappointment forever so I’ll try to focus on this movie specifically now. I do think I need to see it a second time to see if I feel any differently but I’m heartbroken to not feel anywhere near the same level of enjoyment and hope that I felt after a very promising start with The Force Awakens. Hell – I even re-read my The Last Jedi review and my immediate reaction was quite positive. I don’t hate that one the way so many others do. Although The Last Jedi may be my least favorite of the three, it’s almost equal to The Rise Of Skywalker for me as there are certain moments in it that I did really like. So! Here’s what I liked about The Rise Of Skywalker:

– The Droids. The sequels may have somewhat ruined the legacy of my human favorites but at least they didn’t hurt my beloved droids. When people ask who my favorite Star Wars character is, my answer is R2-D2 (followed very closely by Yoda, although I have a feeling that a certain Mandalorian character may end up a contender for my new favorite – but that’s going way off topic). Of course I love Luke, Leia, Han, etc, but nothing beats a cool sci-fi droid for me. We don’t get nearly as much R2-D2 as I’d have liked in this trilogy but I thoroughly enjoyed getting a very funny C-3PO. Loved him in this! I thought they did a very good job playing up to his annoying quirks and making him funny as hell (without him realizing he was being funny as hell). Actually, of all the original characters, I think C-3PO was the only one they managed to improve on instead of lessen or harm or have no effect on (as with R2-D2, who is still the exact same lovable droid and thankfully not harmed by this trilogy). So thank you for not messing with my Droids, J. J. Abrams! Oh, BB-8 is still awesome too and I liked the new addition of D-O. He’s not as cool as BB-8 and the rest but I still really liked him. What can I say? I love a cute droid. D-O reminded me of M-O from WALL-E. (Not surprisingly, WALL-E is an all-time favorite film of mine as well. Robots rule!).

Lando & Chewbacca. Yeah, I love the original trilogy characters. So sue me. It was great finally seeing Lando, who is still cool as shit, and seeing Chewbacca yet again. I of course wanted to see more of them than we got but, hey, at least we got a decent amount of time with them compared to some of the other original characters. I also don’t feel these two were really harmed by this trilogy, but I do worry about Chewie. Can I be his friend?! I want to make sure he’s surrounded by really good friends forever & ever.

Babu Frik. This is a new small character and you’ll either love him or hate him. Being a huge fan of Henson Muppets and Yoda and the genius of characters such as Salacious B. Crumb, I of course was a fan of this goofy new addition. If you like Salacious B. Crumb as much as I do, you’re gonna like Babu Frik. If not, too bad! I don’t care. He’s great and feels like he could easily have fit right in with the original trilogy creatures.

The camaraderie. We see a lot of Rey, Finn & Poe working together in this and I really enjoyed their friendship and lighthearted bickering (we get some fun rapport between Rey & Poe regarding taking care of the Millennium Falcon & BB-8). Speaking of BB-8, Poe’s love for him is adorable. The funny C-3PO moments also come from being a part of this group and I really enjoyed the moments when these characters were together.

I want to focus on the positives about this movie as there’s so much negativity online so I’ll only mention a few things I don’t like, as I already made my feelings clear at the start that I’m disappointed in this trilogy overall. One thing I really don’t like is Kylo Ren as a character and I very much don’t understand the whole Adam Driver obsession so, as he’s a fan favorite, not liking him probably really doesn’t help my enjoyment of these films. I’m also kind of starting to feel the same as others do in finding Rey’s abilities a bit “too much”. She’s too powerful. Too perfect. I still really like her as a character but it’s all way too easy for her. I also didn’t like the story in this one – it felt like a video game story. The main problem, however, is how I feel this sequel trilogy is simply casting our original trilogy favorites aside. This became very clear in The Last Jedi but I don’t think Abrams tried very hard to undo that in this one. It feels a little disrespectful. It doesn’t feel, to me, like these movies were made by true fans of the original trilogy. I didn’t feel that way after The Force Awakens and am upset that it feels that way now that the trilogy is complete. I don’t want any more movies involving these new characters now, even though I do really like Rey, Finn, Poe & BB-8. Based on how this trilogy turned out, I’d now rather have stand alones like Solo and Rogue One. I wasn’t feeling Rogue One at the time but it’s now gone up in my estimation as well as the prequels.

Oh well. I made my feelings clear at the beginning of this review so I obviously have a lot of issues with this trilogy but I don’t want to go into them in much detail as I’m hating all the negativity online. None of these movies are as bad as some people are saying. There’s still lots of great Star Wars moments in each of them. I just really wanted to love this sequel trilogy but, at the moment, I can’t say that I do. However, I’ll try to keep an open mind and maybe watch The Rise Of Skywalker again to see if I feel any differently. I hope so. But I’ll always see it as a separate thing from the original trilogy. Maybe this is just one alternate reality for our original trilogy characters…

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.