Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey & Rodney Rothman
Story by Phil Lord
Based on Miles Morales by Brian Michael Bendis & Sara Pichelli
Starring: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, Nicolas Cage, Liev Schreiber
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) Miles Morales becomes the Spider-Man of his reality and crosses paths with his counterparts from other dimensions to stop a threat to all reality.
Wow. This film was pretty damn great. I’d seen so much hype for this online so didn’t know what to expect as movies rarely live up to their hype for me. Plus, I’m not a huge comic book/superhero movie fan other than thinking they’re enjoyable but forgettable fun. This movie lives up to the hype. I can only imagine how Spider-Man comic fans feel, though – they certainly seem to be in love with this. As someone who isn’t a fan, I’m happy to hear that since I think I kind of loved this film as well. And I certainly have a new favorite version of Spider-Man himself! Well, a few favorites…
I’m going to keep this super short as it’s Christmastime and I’m sick and I have a lot going on. I never like to say too much about these superhero films anyway as I have zero knowledge of the source material. All I know is that I’ve seen all the movie adaptations they’ve done for this character and I easily had the most fun with this version. I adored Miles Morales and thought his relationships with all the other characters in this (such as his father, his uncle & Gwen) were very strong. This movie had far more heart than other adaptations and I bought into these characters far more than in other versions. Plus, seeing different versions of Spider-Man from different dimensions was cool as shit.
The humor all worked perfectly, the New York setting was amazing and I loved that Miles is a graffiti artist and this is yet another movie that made me want to visit New York, the unique animation style was a real treat, the Stan Lee cameo made me want to cry but it was beautiful, and the scene after the credits is BRILLIANT! Loved it. I thoroughly enjoyed absolutely everything about this movie and, as I said, I’m not even a big superhero fan. I’d highly recommend this movie to anyone.
I’ll keep these fairly short. I have 5 more recent films to discuss after these so here are two quickies for two enjoyable movies that definitely won’t be winning any Oscars…
Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Roland Møller, Noah Taylor, Byron Mann, Pablo Schreiber, Hannah Quinlivan
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The story follows a former FBI agent who must rescue his family from a newly built skyscraper, the tallest in the world, after it is taken over by criminals and set on fire.
Yeah, this was silly. Die Hard with extra cheese. I love how when the below poster came out, people laughed at how it would be impossible for a human to make that leap. No shit – it’s that kind of movie. No human could do the majority of what The Rock does in this (and in most of his movies). Sometimes you just have to sit back, eat your popcorn, and enjoy the ride. I laughed out loud a few times at the ridiculousness. But that’s okay sometimes! This is far from “good” but it’s an enjoyable enough disaster movie. It’s better than some & worse than some in this genre. As for Dwayne Johnson disaster movies, I liked it a little less than Rampage but definitely more than San Andreas.
Johnson was the same as always in this. He’s likable in these sort of roles. He definitely has a certain charm going on. I’m not sure when I started liking him? He’s not my type of actor AT ALL. I think it’s because my kid seems to like him & that’s cute. He’s the big action star of her generation like Arnold Schwarzenegger was for mine, I guess. I liked that Neve Campbell’s role didn’t have her being the completely useless wife that needs rescuing. Well, she does need rescuing since she’s stuck in a massive, burning skyscraper that she can’t scale like King Fucking Kong the way her hubby The Rock can! But she’s smart and makes some decent decisions. Their two young kids (a girl and a boy) are adorable (so that you of course want their hero dad to rescue them).
The baddies are cliché but I’d be disappointed if they weren’t in this type of film. And Enter The Dragon once again proves what a massive influence it still has on filmmaking with an over-the-top “hall of mirrors” scene that you know from the start will play a big role at the end (just like when The Rock fixes his wife’s phone – we all saw that coming!). Whatever. This movie was silly fun. And someone at our showing thought it would be funny to go outside & pull the building’s fire alarm 15 minutes before the end, making the entire cinema have to evacuate. But we were allowed back in to watch the predictable ending. Yay.
My Rating: 6.5/10
Directed by Jeff Tomsic
Based on It Takes Planning, Caution to Avoid Being It by Russell Adams
Starring: Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Annabelle Wallis, Hannibal Buress, Isla Fisher, Rashida Jones, Leslie Bibb, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film is based on a true story that was published in The Wall Street Journal about a group of grown men, played by Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Buress, Jon Hamm, and Jeremy Renner, who spend one month a year playing the game of tag.
I’ve heard very little about this film but also found it silly yet quite enjoyable. And I love that it’s based on a true story. Seriously! A group of 9 friends have been playing the game of tag since high school (23 years ago). The article about the real guys is fascinating – here’s the link: It Takes Planning, Caution to Avoid Being It by Russell Adams.
Now, there’s no WAY they actually do all the crazy over-the-top stuff that’s in this film (they’d all be dead by now) but they show some clips of the real guys at the end and they do go as far as dressing up in disguise and hiding in bushes to tag each other. The article mentions that they have to instruct fellow employees when the game is on to not let certain people into the building. And a couple of their poor wives have had the fright of their lives when their husbands have been tagged. Crazy! But quite sweet. I like how the game has kept this group in contact for all these years (it’s played every year for all of February – I think it was May in the film). And the film gets the slightly cheesy point of the importance of friendship & “staying young at heart” across quite well at the end.
As for the movie itself, it’s funny. I don’t know if it does the true story justice or not, though, as it clearly ramps things up more than it needed to as it’s a pretty fascinating story anyway. Jeremy Renner is the main one they’re all eager to tag as he’s never been “it”. He’s like some kind of crazy ninja assassin, which isn’t very realistic. Hell, one of the 9 real life guys is now a priest! Hilarious. I doubt any of them are ninja assassins. And I doubt any of the real wives are as into the game & competitive as Isla Fisher, who once again plays “crazy bitch”. I think a better film probably could have been made of this story but, if you go into it knowing it’s a great concept that’s had the typical Hollywood exaggeration treatment, you should have fun with it. It was a good day out for the hubby & me as I think we needed a simple film to de-stress that day.
My Rating: 7/10
Oh! Tag had a great soundtrack too. Mostly old school (well, 90’s) hip hop with some Ozzy, Danzig & Pixies thrown in. So that helped our enjoyment as well. Here’s a sample of A Tribe Called Quest & The Pharcyde in this film…
Starring: Demi Lovato, Rainn Wilson, Joe Manganiello, Jack McBrayer, Danny Pudi, Michelle Rodriguez, Ellie Kemper, Ariel Winter, Meghan Trainor, Jake Johnson, Mandy Patinkin, Julia Roberts
Production company: Sony Pictures Animation
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB) In this fully animated, all-new take on the Smurfs, a mysterious map sets Smurfette and her friends Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty on an exciting race through the Forbidden Forest leading to the discovery of the biggest secret in Smurf history.
I don’t have the energy to “review” this. I suppose Smurfs: The Lost Village isn’t as bad as those godawful live action movies they did with Doogie Howser but that’s not saying much. I know I’m probably too picky on kids’ movies but it’s hard not to be when Pixar & Disney have proven that it is actually possible to make really good movies that people of all ages enjoy. This movie has that “straight to video” feel and it’s one that parents will stick on for their kids to watch while they go & do housework or something. So I suppose that’s one positive thing about it? They should stick that on the cover when it comes out on DVD! “Smurfs: The Lost Village is a good ‘keep the kids entertained while you do housework’ movie.” – Cinema Parrot Disco.
I suppose I’m also a little extra picky since I adored the Smurfs cartoon as a kid in the Eighties so can’t help but compare. At least they didn’t mess with the look of the Smurfs too much but it unfortunately didn’t work as well as The Peanuts Movie, which I really enjoyed. To be fair, this movie is at least a step in the right direction and I don’t think it does any damage to the Smurfs legacy (unlike the horrible live action ones). Actually, I’m not entirely sure why this movie doesn’t quite work. It could’ve been worse but a dull story and some pretty bad casting of voice actors who didn’t suit the characters made for an hour & a half that felt very long in our uncomfortable cinema seats. I hated Gargamel – sorry Rainn Wilson! And Jack McBrayer as Clumsy Smurf probably isn’t to everyone’s taste… His voice can get highly irritating after an hour & a half (or two minutes). I guess Demi Lovato was fine as Smurfette since I didn’t really give her voice any thought and didn’t know until the end credits who had played her. There’s some bland & totally forgettable pop music in the movie, which always annoys me in kids’ films. Oh – except for Blue (Da Ba Dee) by Eiffel 65, which is a thoroughly embarrassing guilty pleasure of mine. Pure cheese! But less embarrassing than this movie.
Okay – a slight spoiler now (if you care). But as my kid pointed out during the movie, she knew all about the lost village already thanks to the toys that have been released (my kid likes to complain about SPOILERS! It’s adorable). The totally predictable & not at all surprising mystery of the lost village is that it’s all girl Smurfs. So Smurfette is finally not the only female Smurf. I’d have never guessed! I only bring it up because it felt like that all female community on The Walking Dead, giving me & hubby the opportunity to make Negan jokes to each other throughout the film to help ease our boredom. Maybe we can make Smurfs jokes to ease our boredom while watching The Walking Dead next season (since that show SUCKS lately – why do we keep watching?!). I think this “review” is finished. I’m going to go do some housework.
Darius (Aubrey Plaza) is a disillusioned college graduate who interns at Seattle Magazine. One of the magazine’s writers, Jeff (Jake Johnson), proposes to investigate a newspaper classified ad that reads:
“Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box 91 Ocean View, WA 99393. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.”
Jeff selects Darius and [intern] Arnau (Karan Soni) to assist him. They travel to the seaside community of Ocean View to find and profile the person behind the ad [Kenneth (Mark Duplass)].
This film got the third highest number of votes when I asked all of you which film I should review next. Everyone was very enthusiastic about this one and I didn’t know what to do as I hadn’t really planned on reviewing it at all. Not because I thought it was bad but, sometimes, I’m just not sure what to say about a film. But I keep my promises so here goes…
I’d been wanting to see this ever since first hearing about the plot. It’s a great idea and I always love that – too many movies are so unoriginal these days. I know it was inspired by a real (joke) classified ad and think it’s great they were able to write a script around this simple idea. I really didn’t know where they’d go with the story.
I did think this was a good film and am glad I watched it but it was just missing *something* for me. Can’t quite put my finger on it. For one thing, from what I can gather, people seem to be big fans of some of the actors in this. That’s of course going to help people to enjoy a film. But I really didn’t (and still don’t) know anyone in Safety Not Guaranteed.
Aubrey Plaza was the best thing about the film for me – I can sort of see why people would already like her from other things she’s been in. I know she’s in a show called Parks And Recreation. I’m not a TV person so this show means nothing to me. Mark Duplass also means nothing to me. Not sure what he’s most famous for but know he makes movies with his brother Jay. I’ve watched one, Cyrus, which I had a hard time finishing. I think he’s certainly an acquired taste. As for his character in Safety Not Guaranteed, I couldn’t connect with him. He was a little too odd, a little too indie-movie-quirky misunderstood weird guy? I don’t know… Just didn’t quite work for me and I couldn’t help but think that Aubrey Plaza’s Darius should run away from him as he seemed the type to have bodies hidden underneath his floorboards.
As for the other characters, I ended up almost liking the story of Jeff (Jake Johnson) a bit more. His story is a little bit like that of Simon Pegg’s Gary King in The World’s End with the whole wanting to relive the past thing. Being my age I, unfortunately, am finding that I can relate to these sort of characters (way) too much. Arnau (Karan Soni) felt a little unnecessary – he seemed to mainly be there to help us understand and give more depth to the character of Jeff. I did think the two characters worked well together.
Safety Not Guaranteed takes a brilliantly simple story idea and gives us an intelligent script with some good complex characters. It ticks all the “indie” boxes but not in that annoying and needy way that some indie films do when they’re trying too hard. It’s a film that the casual cinema goer will probably hate (and may think is seriously going to be about time travel). As with many indie movies, it’s not for everyone. It’s about the characters and, if you can’t relate to at least one of them, you’re not going to enjoy the film. I did enjoy it but do wish I’d cared more for the character of Kenneth. It’s a film I think I should give another chance and re-watch sometime in the future. Anyone have a time machine? 😉