Skyscraper (2018) & Tag (2018) Reviews

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…

Skyscraper (2018)

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.

My Opinion:

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

Tag (2018)

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.

My Opinion:

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…

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Baby Driver (2017) Review

Baby Driver (2017)

Directed & Written by Edgar Wright

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Bernthal, Eiza González, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.

My Opinion:

I’m so behind on movie reviews but don’t want to miss out on writing something about this one. Because it’s good! So this will be a quickie review. I’d love to hear from others who’ve seen it. More than anything, I badly need to catch up on replying to all your comments on my blog! Sorry about that. I’ll catch up on that soon. Now let’s talk a little bit about Baby Driver

I know Edgar Wright has some diehard fans thanks to his Cornetto Trilogy (I reviewed all three films together HERE). Those are great, especially Shaun Of The Dead, so it’s obvious why he has loyal fans. Baby Driver, in my opinion, is actually the best film he’s done so far. I love Shaun & it’s a great horror comedy but Baby Driver feels more timeless. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect but did think it would be a little more similar to Shaun, Hot Fuzz, World’s End, Scott Pilgrim, etc. It’s not. It’s very different. It’s not a comedy, although it does have some humorous moments (which is fine with me, as I’m not a huge fan of most comedies anyway). But it’s a kick ass crime/heist movie with great characters & a fantastic soundtrack. It’s pure entertainment, which is missing from movies far too often nowadays. But it’s not dumb Michael-Bay-Style pure entertainment – it’s pure entertainment that puts time & effort into its script, its characters, its look, and its awesome soundtrack (Did I mention its awesome soundtrack? Oh yes, I believe I did. It has an awesome soundtrack).

Baby Driver feels like it can stand alongside some of the great crime/heist thrillers of the 70s & 80s in that, 20 years from now, I think it will be seen the same way that we see things like The French Connection nowadays (although I’ve never actually seen that – I better add that to Blind Spot 2018!). Or… Perhaps Walter Hill’s The Driver (which I’ve also never seen) since Wright gave Hill a cameo in this film. Oh! Yes, I just checked IMDb trivia to verify. I wanted to know Wright’s influences for Baby Driver:

“This film drew inspiration from The Driver (1978), Raising Arizona (1987), The Blues Brothers (1980), and Riding Bean (1989).”

Well, Walter Hill’s The Warriors easily remains my absolute favorite older film that I watched for the very first time since starting my blog almost five years ago, so… Hill’s The Driver is probably worth a watch as Wright clearly has good taste since he’s made such a good film. Oh – and he also gave Paul Williams a small role in this as well. You know – the Rainbow Connection, Phantom Of The Paradise Paul Williams (you young bloggers don’t know who I’m on about). Wright’s influences are obvious (and similar to the things I like seeing as we’re a similar age, I guess) and his love of films & music really shows in how he’s made Baby Driver. It reminds me of how Tarantino makes his films: as a nerdy superfan. And that’s the way it should be. If you love your job, it’s going to be obvious in the final product that you produce.

I liked Baby Driver a lot and I’d say it’s probably my number one movie of 2017 so far but I’m not sure if I exactly loved it in the same way I loved the insanely fun & action-packed Mad Max: Fury Road a couple of years ago. I compare them as it seems like I should feel similar about two really great action films, which is a genre that often disappoints me. I really liked the characters in Baby Driver and I always adore a good love story. In this case, there are several and the girl/boy love story isn’t necessarily my favorite. Baby’s love for a pretty waitress is nice but we also see his love for his mother, his foster father, driving, and MUSIC. I’m going to connect with any movie that shows as much passion for music as this one does. I can’t think of any other movies that have focused on the love of music so much (without the story actually being about music). It works really well so I’m not sure why the film didn’t quite connect with me as much as I expected it to. I do think it’s a film that will grow on me, though, and I’d happily watch it again sometime to see if my opinion changes at all. I can certainly see why the movie has had so much love already as it feels very unique despite having such obvious influences. As I said, I do believe Baby Driver is a film that will stand the test of time & possibly be even more respected in future years than it is now.

My Rating: 8.5/10

**Hmm. I think Baby Driver would probably make it somewhere onto my list of My Top Ten Movies With Song Title Titles 🙂

Minions (2015) Review

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Minions (2015)

Directed by Pierre Coffin & Kyle Balda

Starring Voice Actors:
Pierre Coffin
Sandra Bullock
Jon Hamm
Michael Keaton
Allison Janney
Steve Coogan
Geoffrey Rush

Production company: Illumination Entertainment

Running time: 91 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Minions Stuart, Kevin and Bob are recruited by Scarlet Overkill, a super-villain who, alongside her inventor husband Herb, hatches a plot to take over the world.

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My Opinion:

First of all, I must confess that I love minions. LOVE THEM!!!! They’re hilarious and adorable and I desperately want some of my own (to do my evil bidding, of course). I specifically want a Bob after seeing this movie – he’s so sweet with his little teddy bear!

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So, anyway – I’m probably going to be far more forgiving of this movie’s flaws because…. MINIONS!!!! 🙂 Is this movie great? No. Is it even remotely as good as Despicable Me or Despicable Me 2? Hell no. But that’s okay – I didn’t expect it to be. I was hoping it would be better than it was, though, so that was a little disappointing. For the record, I think the first Despicable Me is absolutely brilliant (which shocked me as I’ve never really loved a kids’ film that wasn’t made by Pixar or Disney). I think it’s very funny as well as very sweet (without being schmaltzy). The relationship between Gru & the girls is done perfectly and I knew when they announced there would be a movie with just the minions that it would never live up to the Despicable Mes as Gru and the girls are what really make those movies so great. The fault with Minions isn’t the minions, though – they’re just as silly and loveable as ever. Unfortunately, the story and script are very weak as are all the non-minion characters. Bullock’s Scarlet Overkill is especially boring – I found her and the family the minions first meet to all be a bit stupid and pointless. We cared about Gru in Despicable Me and, even when he was at his most evil, he was at least funny & entertaining. In Minions, I really just wanted the human characters to go away. Maybe the next minions movie should be nothing but minions??? I suppose it would have to be narrated or subtitled through the whole thing, though… Okay, I suppose it wouldn’t work. I’d still watch it, though!

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I’m keeping this review short because, well, there isn’t much to say. If you adore the minions as much as I do, you’ll have fun with this movie even though you’ll recognize that it’s far from perfect. If you’re not a fan of the Despicable Me films or of the minions, I wouldn’t recommend Minions (I’m not sure why you’d want to watch it anyway in that case). I had plenty of fun laughs throughout the film but it’s lacking the heart of Despicable Me (as well as the amazing Pharrell soundtracks). For a soundtrack full of pre-existing music, though, I’d have to say that I did really enjoy the great 60’s songs they chose for the film (from The Beatles, The Kinks, The Who, etc). Plus, thank god, they were smart enough to include Mellow Yellow by Donovan! (because, like, minions are YELLOW! Yeah?!). 🙂 I also enjoyed several 60’s pop culture references but, overall, it didn’t make up for the mediocre story and villain. I still love those minions, though!!!! Just do me a favor & watch Despicable Me instead if you’ve never seen it.

My Rating: 6.5/10

And if you’re curious, these would be my Despicable Me ratings:
Despicable Me: 9/10
Despicable Me 2: 7.5/10
**Updated post to add Despicable Me 3: 7/10**

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My six-year-old’s opinion: I’ve not done this as a “family” review as, to be honest, I’d have watched Minions even if I didn’t have a kid. But I did ask her for her opinion of the movie as I always do after we watch one together. She of course enjoyed it and giggled plenty throughout the film but I know she didn’t like it as much as Despicable Me. She gives the Despicable Me films 10/10 & Minions 8/10 (she tends to rate things too highly). 😉 She sat pretty still through the whole movie so it did keep her attention the entire time. I’d say it’s definitely worth going to if your kids love the minions as much as mine does. Oh, and her favorite bit has to do with a famous band (but I can’t say any more to avoid spoilers).

What my hubby had to say:
“Such a wasted opportunity. Yes I giggled at the odd thing here and there… but what a waste of some of the most iconic creations of the past ten years.”

Is there a scene after the credits? YES! There are a lot of scenes throughout the credits but there’s also a very long scene after the credits as well. It’s worth staying for (in my opinion. if you’re a music lover…).

Jon Hamm Joins Sandra Bullock in Despicable Me Spin-Off Minions

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I love these dudes. 🙂 Can’t wait for Despicable Me 2 & the Minions spin-off. This article from SlashFilm contains the following synopsis:

This spinoff establishes that Minions have existed since the beginning of time, in service of history’s most ambitiously evil villains. Through their lovable ineptitude, Minions have managed to thwart and ultimately destroy all of those bad guys. This story picks up in the 1960s, before they hench-ed for Gru. With no more super-villains to serve, the Minions fall into a collective depression and three of them set out to seek a new evil master. They wind up at a villain convention, where they compete for the right to be henchmen for Scarlet Overkill, whose Audrey Hepburn-like high style appearance belies her world domination ambition and her aspirations to become the world’s first female super-villain.