Avengers: Endgame (2019) Review

**SPOILER-FREE REVIEW**

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Produced by Kevin Feige

Based on The Avengers by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Bradley Cooper, Josh Brolin

Music by Alan Silvestri

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe.

My Opinion:

22 movies! I can’t believe I’ve seen all of these. It’s certainly the most films I’ve ever watched in a series. I thoroughly enjoyed each & every one of these MCU films (certainly much more than the dreary DC movies, although they’ve gotten better in the past few years). However, I’m not a huge comic book/superhero movie fan so I won’t pretend that these movies mean as much to me as they do to the hardcore fans. I see them as escapist entertainment. They’re fun popcorn movies. But I can absolutely understand the love for the MCU and think they did a brilliant job setting up so many strong, likeable, and well-developed characters. The films are good (and several are very good) but the characters are great. I can see how fans will feel as strongly about these characters as I do about the characters in Star Wars. They feel like family in a weird sort of way. And Avengers: Endgame provided a fitting end(?) to just over a decade of watching these beloved characters grow & come together as a team.

Avengers: Endgame isn’t a perfect film, though, and I can’t even say it’s going to be an absolute favorite MCU movie for me personally. I do think it’s one that may go up in my estimation over time and it in no way hurts the overall legacy but my initial reaction is that I far preferred Infinity War. That ending had balls. To be honest, I kind of wanted that to be the actual end to the whole MCU (that would be a bit dark, I suppose – this isn’t DC!). But Endgame certainly will have been an emotional rollercoaster for diehard fans so I can appreciate that it will be higher on their lists. I expect to feel the same sort of emotions when watching The Rise Of Skywalker.

I just felt that Endgame took the easy way out with some of its characters. I’m obviously trying to avoid spoilers so I’ll just say that, if this is indeed the last time we’re going to see some of these characters, a few had very satisfying “endings” but I was disappointed with the direction they took for a couple of them. Overall, the movie was more predictable than I was hoping. I wanted more surprises but only got a few small ones. I even managed to successfully avoid ALL spoilers for two entire days so was disappointed to get so few surprises.

I’ll keep this short so I don’t accidentally spoil anything. I struggle with reviews for these films as I do feel like they’re the same formula over & over again and Endgame really isn’t any different from what we’ve seen before besides obviously needing & having a darker tone. Luckily, there are still a few funny moments too. The reason I far prefer Marvel to DC is because they get the right amount of genuinely funny humor mixed in with even the most serious films in the series. I’ve ranked all 22 MCU movies HERE, including Endgame. Maybe Endgame will move up in the future but, from my list, it’ll be clear that I prefer the lighthearted & funny superheroes. It’s Guardians Of The Galaxy for me. And, as Thor is my favorite character overall, I think the best decision Marvel made was to make his originally boring (but hot) character funny. Hemsworth is hilarious. I know that not all will agree with the “funny superhero” thing but I absolutely loved the comic relief provided by Thor & Ant-Man in Endgame. It was needed so that it didn’t turn into DC dreariness. But, as I said, I love that Marvel gets the right balance and the serious nature of this storyline was handled very well. To have such a strong mix of characters with very different personalities is what makes the MCU so enjoyable. There’s something for everyone across these 22 films. To make these many films in just over a decade and to bring all these characters together is a hell of a feat. This may not be my favorite Marvel film but I have a lot of respect for what they’ve done with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

My Rating: 8/10

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Unicorn Store (2017) Review

Unicorn Store (2017)

Directed by Brie Larson

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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


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

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

My Rating: 6.5/10

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

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

Captain Marvel (2019) Review

Captain Marvel (2019)

Directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck

Based on Captain Marvel by Stan Lee & Gene Colan & Carol Danvers by Roy Thomas & Gene Colan

Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, Jude Law

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in 1995, the story follows Danvers as she becomes Captain Marvel after Earth is caught in the center of a galactic conflict between two alien worlds.

My Opinion:

I’m short on time & haven’t even done my February Roundup post of movies I’ve watched but figured I better say a little something about Captain Marvel. After all the weird controversy and all the whining and all the sad losers down-voting it online before even seeing it, I didn’t know what the hell to expect. I’ve really enjoyed all the Marvel films although I’d never call them personal favorites and I feel that they’re all the same story and follow the same formula. I’d happily live without more superhero movies for a while. However, the Marvel ones are thoroughly entertaining and have a fun sense of humor that I appreciate (they’re popcorn movies – superhero films should be fun!).

Anyway, I thought I’d do a quick review of Captain Marvel since it’s had such unfair treatment and I wanted another positive review out there in the world. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and, dare I say, I liked it even more than several other MCU films. I thought it was actually stronger as far as story & character development than some of the other standalone origin films (it’s way more fun than Thor, for example, as much as I lust over Hemsworth). I’ve added Captain Marvel to My Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie Ranking (HERE). I’m still on a high after seeing it so, yes, I may have it a little too far up the list but it’ll be obvious that my favorite movies are the “funny” ones and I’m happy to say that Captain Marvel has way more humor than I was expecting. Pretty ironic after all the “why can’t she smile on the poster?” idiocy, huh? Samuel L. Jackson was especially hilarious (I adore that badass motherfucker) and it was a delight seeing him with Larson: Their real-life friendship gives them a great on-screen chemistry.

Wait. No. Goose was the most humorous character! Who the hell doesn’t love Goose after seeing this movie?

Is Captain Marvel a perfect film? No. Does it break Marvel’s formulaic superhero mold? No, other than its superhero lead being female. The movie does drag at the start but I feel the same about most other origin films. I thought they could’ve done much more with the characters played by Bening, Law & even Lashana Lynch as they were very underdeveloped. The young girl was sweet – I’d like to see more of her if they were to ever do another film (Oops – I just Googled her character! We’re likely to see her…).


Larson was really good in this role so I’m happy she’s proven everyone wrong (not that haters would ever admit it). I’ll be honest & say that I wasn’t sure of the casting choice either as she’s so good in serious dramas such as Room & Short Term 12 and I couldn’t picture her as a superhero. And as I said earlier, the Larson/Jackson duo was great. Seeing SO much of Nick Fury was fantastic. It’s about time! I loved him and the de-aging thing was scary good.

Will this movie be speaking to me more, though, since I’m female and was a similar age in 1995 so of course loved the references and the music? Probably. (No Doubt! Garbage! Hole! Blockbuster!!). So what? We all like different things and this movie won’t speak to everyone in the same way. I get that. But to trash it (without even seeing it) makes no sense to me. There’s a bit of “girl power” stuff but it’s not over-the-top or annoying (there’s actually a good message about never giving up, which is a message for everyone). In fact, this film is far less “political” than a lot of other superhero films. It’s a typical MCU film but actually more fun than a lot of them. And as for DC, I actually sort of enjoyed Captain Marvel as an overall film a little more than Wonder Woman. Sorry! I do think Wonder Woman is a stronger character. I’m a total sucker for the Eighties more than the Nineties, though, so I’ll probably prefer the next Wonder Woman. Give me 80’s music over 90’s! It feels a little sexist to compare the two but it’s hard to not make a comparison. Both these female-led films are really good examples of the superhero genre and are undeserving of backlash. But I honestly don’t give a shit when it comes to the genders of a film’s stars: I just want a good, entertaining movie. That’s what I got.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Stan Lee Cameo: First of all, there’s a lovely Stan Lee tribute at the start of the film which I’m sure has left everyone very teary-eyed. Then his cameo, fairly early in the film, was easily one of my favorites (and so adorably 90’s!). They even made a very small change to this cameo after his death, which made it even more meaningful (you can read about it HERE but it’s obviously a spoiler).

End Credits Scenes: There are two end credits scenes. The mid-credits scene has me very excited for Endgame (and got a very big reaction from an equally excited audience in my cinema). Don’t miss this scene. There’s also a funny post credits scene that got a lot of laughs from the clued-up people who stuck around (seriously, people – how do you not know by now that there are scenes after the Marvel end credits start rolling?!). Oh – and not only did the mid-credits scene get a huge reaction, all the funny bits in the film got lots of big laughs from my packed audience. So much for the “predictions” that this film would be a flop & that no one wanted to see it…

Number of people using their phones during this movie: Three. STOP LOOKING AT YOUR FUCKING PHONES IN CINEMAS, PEOPLE! It’s a bright fucking screen in a dark fucking room! Do you really think that the eyes of everyone sitting behind you don’t immediately go to your goddamn bright screen when you look at your phone?! SO FUCKING DISTRACTING. So fuck you very much to the woman who ruined the Stan Lee tribute as well as a very important moment of backstory explanation during this film by flashing her stupid phone. *Rant over*

Here’s No Doubt’s Just A Girl. I’ve always loved this song.

Good Time & Kong: Skull Island Movie Reviews

Two quickie reviews for two 2017 movies that I finally saw. Then I’m going to focus on reviewing movies with at least one Oscar nomination (Kong: Skull Island has one nomination so I guess I’m kind of starting today). Next week I’ll review The Shape Of Water, Darkest Hour, and hopefully both Lady Bird & I, Tonya if I manage to see them after they’re released tomorrow. Oh, and tomorrow I’ll finally review The Greatest Showman (nominated in the Best Song category).

Good Time (2017)

Directed by Ben Safdie & Josh Safdie

Written by Josh Safdie & Ronald Bronstein

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ben Safdie, Barkhad Abdi, Buddy Duress, Taliah Webster, Necro

Music by Oneohtrix Point Never

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
After a heist goes awry, a bank robber spends a night trying to free his mentally handicapped brother from being sent to Riker’s Island prison.

My Opinion:

Good Time is one of those films that’s quite good but soooooo extremely “indie” that there’s absolutely no one in real life who I could recommend it to. Only you movie bloggers! πŸ˜‰

So it appears this was directed by two filmmakers who are brothers & one also does the writing while the other also does the acting (in this case, playing the mentally handicapped brother of Robert Pattinson). This is certainly no Twilight! It’s good to see Pattinson in something so different. He does very well in this as a complete fuck-up who clearly loves & wants to take care of his brother despite not knowing at all what’s actually best for him.

I don’t really know what to say about this. You’ll either like its indie style or you won’t. Stuff happens but it’s the meandering sort of storyline that’s so common in indie films. The way that Pattinson’s character does absolutely everything wrong when it comes to his choices in life was amusing. I liked his brother (played by director Ben Safdie) and you really can’t help but kind of want things to work out for these two bumbling criminals. Oh! But, more than anything, I really liked the electronic score done by Oneohtrix Point Never. I’m a sucker for a good score & I know that really helped me to like this movie a little more than I otherwise might have. It kind of brought It Follows to mind. A good score is very important, filmmakers! Well done Safdie brothers & Oneohtrix Point Never.

My Rating: 7/10

**Forgot to say Jennifer Jason Leigh is barely in this. Damn. I like her.

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Based on King Kong by Merian C. Cooper & Edgar Wallace

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Jing Tian, Toby Kebbell, John Ortiz, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, Thomas Mann, Terry Notary, John C. Reilly

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in 1973, the film follows a team of scientists and a US Army unit recently withdrawn from the Vietnam War who travel to an uncharted island in the Pacific and encounter terrifying creatures and the mighty Kong.

My Opinion:

Speaking of good music in a film, Kong: Skull Island has this as well. This time, though, it was a kick ass soundtrack as opposed to the score (I can’t recall the score). The soundtrack was easily my favorite thing about this movie. What is it with Vietnam-era songs?? I love the angry songs from that time in history. Warning: I’m going to go off on a short non-movie-related rant here. Throughout history, the worst times for the human race have often resulted in fantastic music being made. People pour their hearts into their art during the most desperate times. So… Why does music FUCKING suck nowadays? Hmm?! The world is completely fucked up right now so where’s the great music as a result?????? I’ve wondered this for a while now.

Okay – let’s talk about this movie. It really kind of sucked. I hated it at first. I was mega tired & attempted to watch it & zonked out about 30 minutes in. I remember muttering something like “can’t they make a good monster movie….zzzzzzzz…..snore…….”. Then I tried again and still thought it sucked but kind of enjoyed it in a guilty pleasure sort of way. I think this was mainly thanks to (besides the soundtrack) John C. Reilly. Easily the best character. It took far too long to finally introduce him! No wonder I fell asleep the first time.

Oh. I suppose I should mention the monsters??? MonsterSSSS (plural). Was Kong not enough?! What’s with people these days? Never satisfied! I thought Kong was done quite well. And he was a far more developed character than all those random army guys who were there just to die in entertaining ways. Kong was cool – I think I could be friends with that dude. This movie really did improve in the second half (more Reilly & more Kong). So. I dunno. I enjoyed it yet thought it was a pretty bad film. Fun but bad. Like Road House! No. Wait. Road House is fucking awesome. That’s an 8/10 goodbad movie. Kong isn’t bad enough nor good enough to be goodbad. I’m making no sense. I’m mega tired again.

Awesome Vietnam songs! Black Sabbath & David Bowie! Holy shit! John C. Reilly great. Kong very good. Too many monsters spoil things (ONE other big monster to fight Kong is all we need). Rest of the characters extremely weak, especially all those random army guys. But I still always like having Samuel L. Jackson in a movie so that was a bonus. I enjoyed it more than Godzilla (2014). But I have to say that the best monster movie I’ve seen recently is definitely Colossal.

My Rating: 6/10

From the soundtrack: Time Has Come Today by The Chamber Brothers

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (Book Review)

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

What It’s About: (via Wikipedia)
The Glass Castle is a 2005 memoir by Jeannette Walls. The book recounts the unconventional, poverty-stricken upbringing Walls and her siblings had at the hands of their deeply dysfunctional parents.

My Thoughts:

I read this as, which you may notice by my list at the end of this review, I’m reading books before their movie adaptations are released this year. The Glass Castle, starring Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson & Naomi Watts, is out today in the U.S. and October 6th in the U.K. I’m a fan of Larson, especially after the fantastic Room as well as Short Term 12 (which was also from the director of The Glass Castle, Destin Daniel Cretton). So, even though “true story dramas” don’t normally appeal to me, I decided to give this a read since I’ll happily watch a movie with this film’s cast. I didn’t expect the book to quite possibly be my very favorite that I’ve read so far this year. But, I think it probably is. What a pleasant surprise.

I liked the way in which Walls wrote her story. It’s very matter-of-fact and doesn’t seem to be passing judgement on her parents & the way in which they chose to raise their children. Like a lot of people raised in small-town American Midwest, my childhood was pretty straightforward (and pretty damn boring). Not rich, not poor, working parents, regularly attended school, followed all the rules & the “societal norms”, etc. The Walls family are unlike any I’ve ever personally known and I found their story fascinating. I suppose there are other nomadic families in America but it’s a world I’ve never experienced & can’t even begin to imagine. The Walls family moved from place to place all across America, sometimes homeless & living out in the open, rarely holding down regular jobs despite having the ability to work (including the mother having the qualifications for teaching) and despite the fact that their children had to dig their classmates’ uneaten lunches out of the trash at school in order to have anything to eat. I was often shocked by the horrendous neglect endured by Jeannette, her two sisters, and her brother (and amazed that these children were never taken away from their parents). However, as I said, Jeannette never really speaks poorly of her parents – she just tells her story in a straightforward manner without the need to embellish things. Their story is so outrageous that I don’t think you could make up half of the odd things their parents did. Yet Jeannette does still give us glimpses of the love their parents had for them, especially from her father through his many broken promises that I think he himself may have genuinely believed he’d keep even though his children knew he never would.

This is a hard book to describe without making it sound horribly depressing but it’s not really that way at all. It’s truly amusing and at times had me smiling at some of the bizarre things this family went through (like when they try to move a piano into their house). Jeannette’s parents, though they will sometimes make you very angry if you read this, are truly a couple of unique characters & free spirits. It’s highly unusual for me to enjoy (or even bother to read) a true story but, as they say, sometimes life is stranger than fiction. Do they say that? Hmm. Well, someone said that. Sounds like something Jeannette’s father would say. I don’t know if I’ve talked anyone into reading this but I do highly recommend it. It’s frustrating. It’s uplifting. It’ll make you angry. It’ll make you smile. It’ll make you shake your head in disbelief. You won’t know whether you want to hug or punch the parents (most likely the latter). But it’s also not soppy or trying to be some big tearjerker, which is the kind of thing that gets on my nerves. It’s just a well-written story of a girl who somehow managed to survive & to thrive after living a truly unusual childhood with two very eccentric parents. The movie has “meh” reviews so far & the below trailer doesn’t really blow me away (although I’ll still watch it). So, if you can, READ THE BOOK FIRST.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Books I’ve Read So Far In 2017 (ranked from least favorite to favorite…)

– Tape by Steven Camden
– The Sisters by Claire Douglas
– We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
– If I Stay by Gayle Forman
The Circle by Dave Eggers
– The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
– The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Finders Keepers by Stephen King
The Dinner by Herman Koch
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
– Blaze by Stephen King
– A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
– Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie
– Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
– All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
– The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Currently Reading: End Of Watch by Stephen King (book 3 of the Mr. Mercedes trilogy)

Room (2015) Review

Room (2015)

Directed by Lenny Abrahamson

Based on Room by Emma Donoghue

Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Sean Bridgers, William H. Macy

Plot Synopsis:
I’m not putting a synopsis in this time. I, like most everyone who has seen this movie, knew exactly what it was about before going to it. My hubby didn’t know a thing, though, and I think it helped – he thought it was fantastic. If you somehow still know nothing about this movie, keep it that way before watching it. My review will be as spoiler-free as possible.

My Opinion:

This film has finally come out in the UK (along with all the other big Oscar nominees) so, therefore, I’ll be considering it a 2016 movie when I do my year-end lists in December. Then half the bloggers will go “that’s a 2015 movie!”. So annoying. πŸ˜‰ I know I’ll be having to address comments like that once again, though, because I know already that Room will still easily be in my 2016 Top Ten by the end of December. It’s so good.

As I said when I didn’t include a plot synopsis, I’ll try to remain as spoiler-free as possible but this won’t be an easy film to discuss without giving any idea what it’s about (the pictures will be a clue as well but I won’t include many). It’s one I’d highly recommend to any fellow movie bloggers who still haven’t seen it as it’s the exact sort of movie that us (often misunderstood!) cinephiles can truly appreciate. It doesn’t assume its audience isn’t smart enough to fill in some of the blanks and it leaves just enough not fully explained and/or explored, leaving the audience to think about the movie afterwards and to wonder how they may behave in similar circumstances (as crazy as it may seem, it is a real thing that happens).

This movie may also be a “drama” but it’s not one that plays up to that fact. There are no over-the-top melodramatic moments that feel fake or contrived, which is something that drives me nuts about a lot of films. The characters feel like very real people who happen to be in a situation that most of us can, luckily, not even begin to imagine. I know this was a book but it’s one that I wasn’t at all aware of until now. After the film, I looked it up to make sure it’s up for best adapted screenplay (which it is – I was happy to see that). That’s when I noticed that the novel’s author also wrote the screenplay. Well, she did a fantastic job so I now really want to check out the book as well. I think a novel’s author should also write the screenplay more often if this is the kind of result.

I think one sign of a really good film is how much it gets people talking about it afterwards. My husband & I discussed it for a pretty long time. We go to quite a lot of movies but, most of the time, we have very little to say. Well, we’re big movie fans so we perhaps don’t really count anyway – we discuss movies more than the casual cinema-goers. But a lot of the time I’ll come out of a movie and, if people are even discussing the film at all, they never say much more than “that was good” or “that was bad”. This time there was a woman who clearly wanted to discuss it with everyone who walked by. I thought it was quite cool to see that for a change! She asked people if they’d just seen Room and said how fantastic the kid was and that she’d not felt anything like that for a kid in a movie since Kramer Vs Kramer and The Champ (oh, yes! a Ricky Schroder mention in 2016! made my day!!). As we left, I saw that she’d gone over to discuss the movie with those working in the cinema. It was just great to see such public enthusiasm for a film that so genuinely deserves a lot of praise.

Onto the acting (as mentioned by the lady at the cinema)… The performances in Room are superb – not only from Brie Larson (who very much deserves that Oscar nomination) but especially from the young Jacob Tremblay. Wow. The cinema lady is partly right – it’s up there with Ricky Schroder’s tearfest in The Champ in a way. However, it’s a much more understated & more “mature” performance than Schroder’s. It does make me wonder how you get such an outstanding performance from a kid so young. I assume some of the credit must also go to the director? So I’m very glad that he’s also up for the best director Oscar. It’s great when small films such as this one do get some recognition: It’s nominated for Best Film, Best Actress, Best Director & Best Adapted Screenplay. Excellent! But I’m not stupid – I don’t think it’ll get anything other than, most probably, Best Actress (I really wish Tremblay was up for Best Actor too, though – the Academy so rarely likes to nominate kids. What a shame).

The little films like this never win much, though. But hopefully the big nominations will at least get this film watched by people who otherwise may have never even heard of it. It’s a film that deserves to be seen and should be seen. Room is only in its second week of release in the UK and I’ve only just managed to catch it (on a tiny screen where my local cinema shoves all the indie films that no one wants to watch, which means it’s unlikely to be showing anymore beyond this week). Why don’t people go to movies like Room? It makes me sad in a way, which is why I enjoyed hearing that woman talking so excitedly about it after seeing it. This is the kind of film that I want to experience more often. Yes, it’s a difficult subject matter but it’s handled respectfully and the film is very well written with characters who are so believably portrayed. And Jacob Tremblay’s character may just make you want to look at life in a whole different light. Only the best movies can do that.

My Rating: 9/10

Non-Stop, The Spectacular Now & Used Cars Movie Reviews

Hope you all had a nice weekend! I have three more mini-reviews for you. This time we have a movie I was expecting to love but didnt, one I expected to like but hated, and one big ‘ol MEH movie. Let’s begin…

Non-Stop (2014)

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra

Starring: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy, Michelle Dockery, Nate Parker, Jason Butler Harner, Anson Mount

My Opinion:

This is the big ‘ol pile of MEH. I always fall behind on reviewing movies I watch at home but tend to keep on top of the ones I actually go to see. Well, I went to this one in the cinema (theatER!) last year but couldn’t summon up enough enthusiasm to review it. Liam Neeson is doing his Taken role again. I don’t know how he ended up being so typecast but I’m not too bothered as he was never exactly a favorite of mine anyway. At least that annoying Maggie Grace isn’t in this.

The plot is… okay, I guess, but it’s not helped by some lame acting and some laughably predictable moments. I mean, this is the basic plot on Wikipedia: Neeson is a U.S. Air Marshal on a flight to London when he “receives text messages on his secure phone stating that someone on the plane will die every 20 minutes unless $150 million is transferred into a specific bank account.” That actually sounds quite exciting, doesnt it?! It does! That’s why I went to it even though I can live without most popcorn action movies. I remember I was in the mood for a braindead action movie when I went to this, though, so I had some fun with it despite it being pretty damn ridiculous.

I was reminded when getting that plot synopsis that Neeson plays an alcoholic Air Marshal. Because he’s TROUBLED & has ISSUES to overcome, people! This is why the passengers aren’t sure if they can trust him when he starts acting like a raving lunatic! lol. I kind of forgot just how silly this one was. I didn’t totally hate it or anything. If you want a simple action movie where you won’t have to think & you like Liam Neeson being all Liam Neeson-y, give this a watch in your comfy living room.

My Rating: 5.5/10

The Spectacular Now (2013)

Directed by James Ponsoldt

Based on The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Starring: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kyle Chandler

My Opinion:

I was desperate to see this movie when I heard about it but then it never came out in the UK and, much to my annoyance, I wasn’t able to see it for ages. All I kept hearing was that it was this generation’s Say Anything. Naturally, being my age, I adore Say Anything so I was like “I must see this Spectacular Now movie!!!”.

Umm… I guess I can see the Say Anything comparisons. If Lloyd Dobler (the sweetest, most perfect boyfriend in the history of film) had instead been a selfish, alcoholic prick. Yeah… the only thing this movie has in common with Say Anything is a role-reversal of the one-sided love story (Diane Court clearly doesn’t love you, Lloyd. But every female my age does, at least!). πŸ˜‰

I suppose my expectations were too high for this movie after the Say Anything comparisons. I’ve not read the (I’m assuming YA) book this is based on – maybe it does a better job with Miles Teller’s character? I guess calling him a “prick” wasn’t totally fair – his character is just aimless & he has issues that lead to him drinking too much but he’s not exactly outright horrible to Shailene Woodley’s character. Wait, no – he really is kind of a prick. He clearly likes her but she’s crazy about him and he’s too self-absorbed to care about any negative impact his actions may have on her. It felt like he was just using her so it was very hard to like him. I think I just expected to like & care about the characters a bit more. This may be partly down to Teller, who I just can’t make myself like (even after Whiplash).

Woodley was good – this is the type of role that suits her way more than the one in Divergent. But her character is such a pushover, which was a little disappointing. I liked seeing Brie Larson, who I really liked in 21 Jump Street & Short Term 12, in a small role plus Jennifer Jason Leigh (eXistenZ!). But, if this is the current generation’s definition of a love story, then young people need to lighten up & watch a proper romance film. The Spectacular Now was far too dramatic and, unlike Say Anything, had no fun moments despite the heartache. On its own, not being compared to other movies, it’s certainly not a bad film. Don’t let my disappointment keep you from watching it if you’re interested – I know I just hyped it up in my mind too much. Just remember that it’s very much a “drama” if you decide to watch it and that you may not like Teller’s character.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Used Cars (1980)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Starring: Kurt Russell, Jack Warden, Gerrit Graham, Deborah Harmon

This was on Netflix so I gave it a watch since I like Kurt Russell, Robert Zemeckis, and, of course, the Eighties. I figured it couldn’t go wrong with those three things and maybe I’d get a few little laughs out of it. I hated it! I know that movies from my beloved decade haven’t all aged well and some can contain jokes that are seen as un-PC today. That sort of thing doesn’t usually bother me as I grew up with it but this movie just went a little too far with the cruel humor and outdated sexism.

First of all, (this isn’t really a spoiler as it’s obvious this is what’s going to happen) the only character who doesn’t come across as a selfish jerk (Jack Warden) dies and it turns a bit into Weekend At Bernie’s with some of the antics with this poor guy’s dead body (never mind the fact that he was essentially MURDERED for his crappy little car dealership. by his twin brother, no less!). I know death can occasionally be humorous in certain black comedies (Heathers rules) but this one didn’t sit right with me in a silly 80’s comedy. Kurt Russell & Gerrit Graham, who work for this guy and his dealership, do show a little sorrow but their main goal is to save their own jobs at whatever cost. It’s hard to care about them at first as they’re very hard to like but the movie redeems itself a tiny bit when the only female character who isn’t there just to be a pair of tits shows up (more about her later) but they’re cruel & do use her at first (luckily, they instead work with her by the end – the second half of this movie is much better than the first).

As for the women in Used Cars, they were treated no better than Warden’s dead body. I’m not a girl who’s going to demand that women be in every movie ever (two of my favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption & Stand By Me, don’t even have any women in them) but I expect female characters to be treated with the same respect as the male characters. Deborah Harmon is the only important female character and she’s fine but she’s also seen as quite helpless & needing Kurt Russell to come to the rescue since she can’t run a car dealership on her own (what do women know about cars?! actually, I admit that I know nothing about cars). I’m glad they work with her, though, (after cruelly lying to her about something important and of course sleeping with her) and as I said, the movie redeems itself a little in the second half. 

Hey – can I just go off topic & mention that I immediately recognized Deborah Harmon from the TV show Just The Ten Of Us? Am I the only one in the world who watched that short-lived Growing Pains spin-off?? I loved it! It had THREE Nightmare On Elm Street girls in it (THE Heather Langenkamp wanting to be a nun, the girl who turns into a bug, and “girl on bus” in Nightmare 2 – Yes, I discovered the “girl on bus” connection years later when the Internet came around). But back to this shitty Used Cars movie…

I know guys like boobs and there are loads of naked women in movies. I didn’t get that annoyed at the lead male characters in this sleeping around and using strippers to sell their cars. However, I found the very looooong scene where the male stars predictably expose a woman to a TV audience (without her approval) then actually zoom in on her breasts to be a step too far. And it went on for what felt like forever while she did nothing but scream like an idiot. Then, to top it all off, Graham’s character ends it by actually “honking” her boob. Seriously. He may have even made a honking sound effect (I’d check to verify but can’t be bothered). Umm. No. Unless you’re in a relationship with us, never ever “honk” our boobs. Plus Harmon’s character’s boobs get groped by a stranger for no apparent reason toward the end of the film. WTF? Gotta love the 1980s, I guess… I suppose I was more offended than I would have been watching something like Porky’s as you expect that sort of thing from that decade’s sex comedies and I didn’t realize beforehand that Used Cars would be like that.

Oops – this mini-review ended up being fairly long. I do go on a bit when I’m annoyed! Only watch this if you really love movies from the Eighties and you get excited by seeing people like Wendie Jo Sperber in a very small role. Yay! Wendie Jo Sperber! Luckily she went on to be in the much much much (much) better Zemeckis film Back To The Future. That movie is perfection – what the hell happened with Used Cars?! Ugh.

My Rating: 4.5/10 (it gets an extra half a point for Wendie Jo)

Short Term 12 (2013) Review

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Short Term 12 (2013)

Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton

Starring:
Brie Larson
John Gallagher, Jr.
Kaitlyn Dever
Rami Malek
Keith Stanfield
Kevin Hernandez
Melora Walters
Stephanie Beatriz
Lydia Du Veaux
Alex Calloway
Frantz Turner
Diana-Maria Riva

Running time: 96 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A 20-something supervising staff member of a residential treatment facility navigates the troubled waters of that world alongside her co-worker and longtime boyfriend.

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My Opinion:

I remember this movie had a lot of positive buzz when it was out & I’ve been meaning to watch it for a long time, especially after I then saw Brie Larson in a couple other movies & thought she was pretty fantastic. I thought she was the actual highlight of the somewhat mediocre 21 Jump Street & even of that weird Don Jon movie (which is pretty impressive as she only had one line). Oh, and she was good in The Spectacular Now (probably should have been the lead instead of Shailene Woodley).

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Well, Larson is great in Short Term 12. I’m surprised she hasn’t yet gotten the sort of attention that Jennifer Lawrence did for Winter’s Bone. I mean, I think she did get a bunch of awards for it but she’s still not as famous as Lawrence. Hopefully she’ll get the right sort of role that gets her more recognition. And this might sound weird but, hey – I’m a girl & I like seeing girls who look like regular people in movies for a change! She’s cute, obviously, but not some freakishly gorgeous supermodel.

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In Short Term 12, Larson plays a 20-something who works with a group of other young adults in a home for troubled teens. It’s a fairly heavy film but the characters are pretty well developed and you really do care about what will happen to each of them. You get to know several of the teens at the home but they mainly focus on the stories of two of them while we slowly learn more about Larson’s character’s background & how it affects her job and her life with her boyfriend, who also works at the group home. Her boyfriend is sweet & funny and they have what appears to be a great relationship. I’ve always said that I find it very hard to like a movie if I hate all the characters and Short Term 12 is the exact opposite of this. Even those who are in the home and are getting in fights, swearing & spitting at staff, etc, all have their reasons & just need people to be there for them. I liked everyone in this and hoped for a happy resolution for all of them. It’s not all “sad drama”, though – the boyfriend has a nice sense of humor & there are some heartwarming scenes. I was asked what other movies this is like and I couldn’t really think of one. Maybe something like Stand And Deliver and, hell, maybe even Dangerous Minds? But more “indie” and with a younger feel to it than those as everyone is in their early-20s or their teens in Short Term 12. I do think, if I’d seen this as a teenager, I’d have loved it & watched it over & over like I did with Stand By Me every day after school when I was 13.

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Summary:

Great performances & characters make Short Term 12 a fulfilling movie experience. It’s a bit heavy & a little sad but manages to be uplifting as well and gives us characters we care about. It doesn’t feel contrived & the people in it feel “real”. The director wrote this after working in a similar home just like Larson’s character, which is probably why the movie feels so genuine. Yeah, I thought this one was pretty good.

My Rating: 8/10

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21 Jump Street & 22 Jump Street Double Review

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I went to see 22 Jump Street a couple of weeks ago (I only watched three movies that day, not four like I did one day last month. No, that’s NOT a regular thing that I do!). πŸ˜‰ Anyway – they were Oculus, The Fault In Our Stars (review HERE) & 22 Jump Street. I’m not reviewing much lately but I’ll try to do Oculus at some point (Spoiler: I thought it was pretty shit). Since I just watched 21 Jump Street for the first time a few months ago, I figured I might as well review the two together…

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21 Jump Street (2012)

Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller

Starring:
Jonah Hill
Channing Tatum
Dave Franco
Brie Larson
Rob Riggle
DeRay Davis
Ice Cube
Nick Offerman

My Opinion:

Okay! So. I finally watched this movie a few months ago. I’d avoided it because… How DARE they mess with 21 Jump Street! That’s one of my all-time favorite TV shows (number 11)! And they made it into a silly COMEDY? WTF?! Well, there’s no point discussing the TV show – the movie shares its name & the fact that young looking police officers go undercover in high schools but that’s IT – there are no other similarities so I’ll just discuss the movie and try to pretend it has a different title.

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21 Jump Street was okay. It didn’t exactly blow me away but it was better than I was expecting and I even found a few bits fairly funny. I’ve started to warm a little to Jonah Hill since he was so fantastic in The Wolf Of Wall Street. I’ve never understood the Channing Tatum thing – the first thing I actually saw him in was Side Effects and he seemed out of place. Then I saw the dreadful Magic Mike… Ugh. But he’s likeable here and I think they finally found a role that suits him. Ice Cube was pretty hilarious – I think he was probably the funniest thing about this. The best thing about this, however, was Brie Larson. I’ve not seen her in anything else other than Don Jon but now I really want to see Short Term 12 based on her performance in this.

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21 Jump Street starts out pretty promising but about halfway through gets a little TOO silly and over the top for my liking. I like comedy that stays a bit more simple (as in, not juvenile “in your face” humor). By the end I was a bit bored and fell asleep a few times and kept having to go back to try to finish the last 15 minutes. Hell – I’m not sure if I ever did! By the time they got to the cameos (minor spoiler maybe but I think everyone knows about the cameos by now) I was like “No”. The cameos were pretty stupid and not handled very well. The movie definitely had some potential at first and I had some hope that I was going to end up liking it okay. And I sort of did. Unfortunately, it does fall apart at the end.

My Rating: 6/10

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22 Jump Street (2014)

Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller

Starring:
Jonah Hill
Channing Tatum
Peter Stormare
Ice Cube
Amber Stevens
Wyatt Russell
Jillian Bell
Jimmy Tatro
Nick Offerman

My Opinion:

Well, this is a big step up from 21 Jump Street. Overall, this is a much funnier film and feels a lot more “together” than the first film did. It still goes a little over the top at the end but doesn’t fall apart like I thought 21 Jump Street did. And the best thing about this movie is that it makes fun of itself. A LOT. Because it’s the exact same story again but set in college instead of high school and the movie knows this and constantly jokes about it and the whole “sequelitis” problem in Hollywood. I thought that was all really funny and the end credits scenes (as the credits rolled) were BRILLIANT! It was actually the best bit of the entire movie and worth watching for that alone. So do NOT leave the second the credits roll on this one, people! (Oh, there’s also a final scene at the very end after the credits as well – that one is pretty stupid & not worth staying for, in my opinion).

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This time around, I thought Channing Tatum was much better and a lot funnier. I MAYBE finally like him more after seeing this one. Maybe… Yeah – he’s pretty good in this one and possibly even outshines Jonah Hill this time. They also feel more like a team and have better chemistry. And Ice Cube luckily has even more screen time in this one and he’s again hilarious – I really liked the scenes with him. The “female love interest” this time around doesn’t have the charisma of Brie Larson but I’d have to say that’s the only thing they didn’t improve on from the first film.

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Well, I suppose I should wrap this up as my opinion is pretty obvious anyway. I enjoyed 22 Jump Street quite a bit more than 21 Jump Street. I always love when a movie isn’t afraid to make fun of itself. Overall, though, these films aren’t really my type of thing although I can appreciate why some people like them. If they DO make a 3rd one, I’m hoping they can improve on the whole thing once again & stick to more of the good jokes instead of as many stupid, silly gags (but Hill & Tatum can get high once again. I’ll admit that I find it freaking hilarious when people get high in movies and the fact that I love the Harold & Kumar films probably destroys my argument that I don’t like “dumb” humor). πŸ˜‰ I feel there should be a bigger gap in the two ratings but I don’t think 21 deserves lower than a 6 while I can’t really give 22 a 7 as I can’t say it’s exactly going to be a favorite film or that I’ll ever watch it again. But I appreciate that they seemed to put much more effort into this one. Plus the scenes during the credits get 8/10!

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Don Jon (2013) Review

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Don Jon (2013)

Directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Starring:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Scarlett Johansson
Julianne Moore
Rob Brown
Glenne Headly
Brie Larson
Tony Danza

Running time: 90 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)

Italian American Jon Martello (Gordon-Levitt) is a modern day Don Juan, with a short list of things he cares about: “my body, my pad, my ride, my family, my church, my boys, my girls, my porn”. Although he has an active sex life with women he meets at nightclubs, he looks at pornography on the Internet habitually, preferring it to sex.

But one night while clubbing, he meets Barbara Sugarman (Johansson). Will she be the one to make Jon care more about a real live girl than his precious porn? (That bit via me)

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My Opinion:

This is an odd one – I’m not sure how to go about reviewing it. Great directing effort from Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I like JGL so wanted to see how he’d done with this film and I think he did a good job as both director and star of the film. Did I like the film? Not sure. It’s a decent enough film but one I can’t relate to in ANY way, shape or form.

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The characters in this movie are, well, not the type of people I’ve ever known in my life. They lead a totally different lifestyle to mine and care about completely different things to what I care about. I’m assuming they’re a little like those on Jersey Shore? Well, I’ve never watched that and don’t plan to. EVER. Being so self-absorbed & all that sleeping around & watching football & going to church once a week to tell the priest dude that you’ve w#*ked to porn 35 times in one week…?? Not to sound like a prude but I can’t relate to ANY of that. Is this what people in New Jersey do? Maybe I’m too Midwestern. πŸ˜‰

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So Jon w#*ks to porn in this movie. A LOT. I liked all the crumpled up tissues in the trash throughout this. (TMI?). His sister is ALWAYS typing on her phone in EVERY scene, even while in church. This I loved and, as I figured from the start, the sister would prove the wisest of them all. Best character in the film. Don Jon’s family were also quite likeable – his mom was great and Tony Danza was perfect as his dad. But I always wonder if people go up to him in real life and sing “Hold me closer, Tony Danza!” ever since Phoebe on Friends thought that’s what Elton John was singing. I bet Tony Danza finds that annoying when people do that. You know they must. I totally would.

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Scarlett Johansson – these are the main characters and they’re the ones who are the hardest to like. So, obviously, this movie is about whether or not JGL’s Jon can change his ways and, without giving too much away, he does become a bit more likeable by the end of the film. Johansson? Well, she’s good in the role and it was probably quite fun playing such a psycho hose beast… Then there was the quite unexpected Julianne Moore role. I won’t say what her exact role was but it really wasn’t what I was expecting. She’s good in this but, well… It’s just a bit odd. That’s all I’ll say. Not sure I bought the ending of the film. It was a satisfying enough conclusion but, all in all, I’m not sure what point the film is trying to make beyond “meaningful sex is better than lots of meaningless sex”? Well, duh. Or “Girls have unrealistic expectations thanks to sappy romance movies & guys have unrealistic expectations thanks to porn movies”? Well, duh. I did think they needed to show Johansson going through as many tissues while watching her sappy romance movies as JGL does while watching his porn… (TMI?)

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Summary:

A good effort from Joseph Gordon-Levitt both directing the film & starring as the churchgoing porn-addict lunkhead Jon Martello from New Jersey. The main characters are hard to like but some fun supporting characters, especially Jon’s family, help make up for this a bit. The moral of the story feels a bit pointless as it’s something we all surely know? Overall, I’m not exactly sure what the point of the film was but it’s an entertaining enough way to spend 90 minutes. But if you really want to watch some sort of sex addiction movie, Shame is much better (and far more raunchy, if that’s your kind of thing).

My Rating: 7/10

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