The House With A Clock In Its Walls (2018) & Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018) Reviews

Two more quick October reviews for two current “scary” family films…

The House With A Clock In Its Walls (2018) Review

Directed by Eli Roth

Based on The House with a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs

Starring: Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Sunny Suljic, Kyle MacLachlan

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a young boy who is sent to live with his uncle in a creaky old house. He soon learns it was previously also inhabited by a nefarious entity.

My Opinion:

This was an enjoyable family film that unfortunately was slightly ruined by a terrible cinema experience. Why are people such inconsiderate wankers?

Let me see if I can remember what happened in this movie in between all the chatting, the guy shining his phone light to be able to dip his nachos into his supermarket salsa, and the kid’s LED shoes constantly flashing and lighting up the entire cinema. I was excited for another “scary” family film starring Jack Black after really enjoying watching the first Goosebumps movie with my daughter. Well, I still prefer Goosebumps but this was at least a lot better than Goosebumps 2 (review below). I don’t think this quite has the magic of other family fantasy films and the characters aren’t as strong as I’d have liked although all the actors did well in their roles. When compared to things like A Series Of Unfortunate Events (my kid loves that series) or to something like Harry Potter, this story feels a bit forgettable. It was fun, however, and I wonder if the book was a bit more in-depth and if this adaptation didn’t fully do it justice.

Fuck it – I was so distracted that I feel like an ass even attempting to “review” this. It was entertaining and Black & Blanchett worked very well together. Slight spoiler but, basically, the baddie wants to make everyone in the world disappear to which I replied rather loudly “Can he start with this audience??“. This is worth a watch if you like a slightly dark family film. It’s not for the very young but there’s nothing at all unsuitable for ages 6 or so & up.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

Directed by Ari Sandel

Based on Goosebumps by R. L. Stine

Starring: Wendi McLendon-Covey, Madison Iseman, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Caleel Harris, Chris Parnell, Ken Jeong

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows two young boys accidentally releasing Slappy the Dummy and the Goosebumps monsters in their town, causing a wave of destruction on Halloween night.

My Opinion:

This was a very big disappointment. I liked the first film a lot, even though I was too old to read Goosebumps by the time R.L. Stine wrote those (I did read earlier stuff of his). But that series of books is very much the type of “scary & weird” stuff that I loved as a young kid and I was happy to share that movie with my own kid and to have her briefly get into reading the Goosebumps books. But she’s off those now. Damn! I’ll probably never manage to get her into the original Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Hour TV shows that I loved at her age. I was such a weirdo.

The first Goosebumps movie was a great “scary” family film. It was fun and I would imagine that fans loved seeing so many of Stine’s book characters come to life. It had a good story with a great twist for kids (though completely predictable to someone who grew up on The Twilight Zone). The main characters were strong, especially Stine’s daughter, and that relationship was great. The second film is just an inferior copy with weak characters that no one will really care about in the same way. Once again, Stine’s characters are brought to life but on a smaller scale. Slappy is the main star of this one, which is fine as those ventriloquist dummies have always given me the creeps. But so much time is spent on him instead of the character development of the actual humans in the story. Plus, slight spoiler: Jack Black is barely in this film. It’s really not much more than a cameo, which is another huge disappointment if you’re a fan (I am but I know many aren’t). It felt like a TV episode of Goosebumps instead of a movie. Oh well. I’m sure that fans of the books will still get some enjoyment out of it but it feels like a cash grab.

My Rating: 6/10

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Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle (2017) Review

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle (2017)

Directed by Jake Kasdan

Based on Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Bobby Cannavale, Alex Wolff, Madison Iseman, Ser’Darius Blain, Morgan Turner, Colin Hanks, Missi Pyle

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set twenty-one years after the first film, the film follows four teenagers who are transported into the video game world of Jumanji, and playing as the characters they chose, must beat the game in order to return home. The film is also a tribute to Robin Williams, star of the original.

My Opinion:

I’ll be honest – I really liked this movie. It was exactly what I was in the mood for the other day. I needed a fun, chill-out, popcorn movie.

The first Jumanji isn’t exactly near & dear to my heart as I wasn’t the right age for it when it came out (I was in my damn 20s already. Shit I’m old). It’s a good family classic, though. I watched it again a couple of weeks ago with my daughter to refresh my memory. Sheesh – I can’t say it has aged all that well. How terrible did those monkeys look?! Even the kid commented on that. However, she absolutely loved the film. I was surprised. So the story and the characters stand the test of time even if other things about the movie aren’t doing so well now.

As I like but don’t have some kind of huge childhood affection for the first film, I had zero issues with them updating the story for current times. I thought they did a really good job adapting it to a video game this time around and I actually prefer this film to the first one. But don’t tell my kid that – she still loves the first one much more. The story just feels far less messy in this one plus I enjoyed there being a lot more humor. And penis jokes. Lots of penis jokes! But as I’m an old woman with a Beavis & Butthead sense of humor, I appreciate a good penis joke.

The teenagers were all fine in this but we don’t spend loads of time with them as they become their avatars in the game. The avatars (Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart & Karen Gillan) were great. I’ve not seen that many Dwayne Johnson films but I can say that this is the most I’ve ever liked him in a movie. He was very funny, as was Karen Gillan. There’s this whole flirting scene involving Gillan & Jack Black that’s pretty damn hilarious. Love him or hate him (I love him), Black seems to be having a lot of fun in this film and Kevin Hart also does well as his usual Kevin Hart self. You know what you’re gonna get with Black & Hart, though, so the bigger surprise was how funny Johnson & Gillan were.

Yeah, I really liked Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle. As the kid gets older, I’m enjoying seeing more of these family films that are actually entertaining for the whole family instead of just the kids. But with penis jokes. Beware the penis jokes! I think this movie is aimed a bit older than the first Jumanji.

My Rating: 7.5/10

It looks like this is my last review of 2017. Hope you all have a fun New Year’s Eve! See you in 2018 with my end-of-year Best Of 2017 lists, starting tomorrow.