Bumblebee (2018) Review

Bumblebee (2018)

Directed by Travis Knight

Based on Transformers by Hasbro

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 7/10

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

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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! 😉

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 Cloverfield Paradox (2018) Review

The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

Directed by Julius Onah

Starring: Daniel Brühl, Elizabeth Debicki, Aksel Hennie, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O’Dowd, John Ortiz, David Oyelowo, Zhang Ziyi

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows an international group of astronauts aboard a space station who, after using a particle accelerator to try to solve Earth’s energy crisis, must find a way home after accidentally traveling to an alternate dimension.

My Opinion:

Well. This was pretty fucking terrible. I can’t be bothered to say much about this movie so this will be more of a short rant than a “review”. Seriously, though – it sucked! I’m so annoyed. This was one of my most anticipated movies of 2018. Ugh! Bad. Very bad. I knew something was up when it was suddenly on Netflix instead of going into cinemas. Now I’m worried about Mute & Annihilation going straight to Netflix. Two more films I was really excited about!

I loved the first Cloverfield. I’m one of the few who didn’t exactly love 10 Cloverfield Lane but I thought it was a decent enough addition to a series of films that promised to be the next Twilight Zone-type thing. I’m obsessed with the original Twilight Zone TV show and got really excited when it was revealed that was the direction these individual Cloverfield movies would be taking. Oh man – we’re off to a bad start. These are going to end up like the Lost TV show, not the brilliant The Twilight Zone. I should’ve known! Go away, J. J. Abrams! These are all going to be set in “alternate universes”, aren’t they? Fuck that shit. Lazy fucking writing. This is like the damn island moving. Argh!

Where do I start? Oh, I don’t care. First of all, why did this movie feel like a TV show? I felt like I was watching a long episode of Black Mirror. Black Mirror is good for what it is but I like the movie experience. You know – some sweeping cinematic epic! Okay – I suppose Cloverfield isn’t some Sergio Leone movie but, still. Did this have a low budget or something? If I want to watch a TV show, I’ll watch a TV show.

Second of all, these characters sucked. There was no set up. Straight into the story! I didn’t know a damn thing about these people, so why would I care if they survive? Our main character, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, was the only one who got some time spent on her but they must have done a shitty job since I didn’t even realize her kids had died. Is that a spoiler?! I don’t think so as I think you’re meant to know that from the start but I somehow managed to miss that. It really would’ve helped to know that. Shit. Maybe it’s not known from the start?! If so, why the fuck not?!?! Hopefully I didn’t spoil that. But, seriously, your experience will be spoiled anyway if you watch this. Because this movie sucked. (Did I mention that?).

I should point out that Gugu Mbatha-Raw actually starred in what’s so far my favorite Black Mirror episode (San Junipero– I’ve not seen Series 4 yet). Probably didn’t help that “This feels like a TV show” feeling I had! Anyway – just watch Black Mirror instead of this if you want interesting morality tales with a modern technology twist. Some episodes aren’t great but overall the show is much better than this movie. And much closer to being the next Twilight Zone (although nothing will ever touch that).

Hey! The Norwegian Steve Buscemi guy (Aksel Hennie) was in this! I’ve only ever seen him in Jo Nesbo’s Headhunters. That was a decent movie. Watch that instead of this as well. And Daniel Brühl was in Rush with Chris Hemsworth’s naked butt. Great film! Watch that instead of this too. Elizabeth Debicki was in Guardians Of The Galaxy: Vol 2. A million times better than this! Chris O’Dowd was in Bridesmaids. I dislike that film but it was still better than this one. John Ortiz was in lots of stuff, including A Dog’s Purpose , which I also liked waaaaaaay more than this. David Oyelowo was in Interstellar. I hate that overrated movie but I hated this one much more. Zhang Ziyi was in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Guess what? That’s also WAY fucking better than this movie. What’s my point? Watch those movies instead! And watch Life (2017). Life sucked. I now like Life much more since seeing The Cloverfield Paradox, which is an even shittier version of Life. AND WATCH ARRIVAL!!! THAT is good sci-fi.

Man, have I even talked about this movie at all? I can’t be bothered. A bunch of twats go into space and fuck around with a particle accelerator and rip a hole in the space time continuum (I don’t know if they used that phrase – I’ve ripped that off from Star Trek). Weird shit happens but you won’t care if they all die anyway. Some gross shit happens but none of it is nearly as interesting as the gross shit in Life. I only liked one character. Well, no – I liked Gugu Mbatha-Raw okay but didn’t care too much as I couldn’t get into the movie. But Chris O’Dowd was somewhat enjoyable. His character was the only one who had a personality, at least. So. Yeah. I guess I’ll end this “review” on that one positive statement.

My Rating: 4.5/10

*It probably deserves an even lower rating but it’s still sci-fi and I’m a sucker for this genre. As annoyed as I am, I’ll probably still watch Cloverfield 4 since “supernatural Nazis” sounds bizarre enough to maybe work better than Paradox did…..

A Dog’s Purpose (2017) Review

A Dog’s Purpose (2017)

Directed by Lasse Hallström

Based on A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Britt Robertson, Josh Gad, KJ Apa, Juliet Rylance, John Ortiz, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Peggy Lipton

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A dog looks to discover his purpose in life over the course of several lifetimes and owners.

My Opinion:

So, yeah – I clearly went to this with the family over the weekend. You know what? It’s not bad! For a family movie. Well, it’s actually not bad for a movie in general. Hubby & I often say that they don’t seem to do as many non-animated “family films” nowadays. We had so many growing up in the Eighties! I miss them. And now that I have a young kid, I want more of them again.

My main concern beforehand was that this movie would be overly sentimental or, even WORSE and a massive pet peeve of mine, that it would be preachy. I hate movies that shove their values down your throat! Luckily, A Dog’s Purpose doesn’t do this. It tells the story in a straightforward way and it’s obvious message (of what things are truly the most important in life) isn’t at all heavy-handed. It comes fairly close to being like all my beloved 80’s family films I saw on TV all the time growing up. Plus, of course, it has cute dogs. Who doesn’t love cute wittle doggies?!

I just have to say something that may be spoiler territory if you know nothing at all but is known if you’ve seen the trailer or read the synopsis: There are several dogs (five, I think) because the dog keeps getting reincarnated. It was cool seeing him as different dogs (always voiced by Josh Gad) and with different owners/families. I like the sort of setup where you get several different stories in a movie and it worked really well in this film. Anyway – someone started sobbing the first time the dog died and I was thinking “I do hope they realize this is gonna happen over & over again.” Lol. Not to be cold-hearted but, seriously, you must know what you’re getting into if you go to a movie where a dog keeps getting reincarnated… 😉 (That person cried every time)

A Dog’s Purpose was a pleasant surprise and a nice return to an old-fashioned family friendly film with a positive message that occurs naturally instead of feeling forced. Will you enjoy it even if you don’t have a family? I think any dog lover certainly will. And with several different stories, you’ll find one or two that you connect with the most. I liked the main story focusing on the dog as a golden retriever named Bailey, which is the personality the dog continues to identify with and remember through all his lifetimes, and the story where he’s a corgi named Tino belonging to a lonely college girl. I guarantee you’ll love Bailey, no matter which form he takes. And as an added plus, the human characters are likable as well!

My Rating: 7/10

FYI – I’d heard nothing of the controversy surrounding this film due to a video of alleged animal abuse that made the rounds just as this movie was released in the US (maybe that’s why it has come out so much later in the UK). Anyway, as with most fake news, I’m sure that faked video was spread around far more than the story of the investigation that showed it was re-edited to make it look like animal abuse. Here’s the story (from Los Angeles Daily News). Hopefully no one’s career was ruined. We all care about animals being treated well but I often wish humans cared half as much about other human beings as they do animals.