Ma (2019) Review

Ma (2019)

Directed by Tate Taylor

Starring: Octavia Spencer, Kyanna Simone Simpson, Diana Silvers, Juliette Lewis, Skyler Joy, Luke Evans, Andrew Matthew Welch, McKaley Miller, Corey Fogelmanis, Gianni Paolo, Dante Brown, Missi Pyle, Nicole Carpenter, Tanyell Waivers, Allison Janney, Dominic Burgess, Heather Marie Pate, Tate Taylor, Victor Turpin, Margaret Fegan

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Ma follows a group of teenagers who befriend a lonely middle-aged woman who allows them to party in her basement, and find themselves being terrorized by her.

My Opinion:

Hey! The main teen girl in this (Diana Silvers) was in Booksmart. I reviewed that yesterday and was probably very unfairly harsh on that film. It’s a better film than Ma. However, I weirdly got far more enjoyment out of Ma. So, while I recognize that Ma is an odd film that some will hate, I’m going to review it positively. I liked it. When it comes to horror, I always lower my expectations. Is it a good film? Meh. Is it a fun horror with a fairly unique idea compared to the so many predictable horror movies that get made? Yes. That’s all you can really ask for from this type of movie. It’s not trying to be Suspiria or Rosemary’s Baby or some horror classic like those.

First of all, I always moan about unlikeable characters in horror movies. How are we supposed to care what happens to them if they’re assholes? I’ve noticed that horror characters are getting better these days and, luckily, Ma does quite well with its characters (as far as the horror genre goes). The teenagers, while not the most developed characters ever, are likeable enough and certainly not at all deserving of what this woman puts them through. Octavia Spencer’s role is also very good in that she’s actually a somewhat sympathetic villain. At least at first… I’ll stay spoiler-free but you will (I should hope) sympathize with her a bit. While I love a good full-on “crazy lady” (give me Piper Laurie in Carrie!), there’s more to Spencer’s character in this so she doesn’t get to let loose and go as completely mental as I was kind of hoping to see from her. However, once you know the story, it makes more sense for her character to not turn into Kathy Bates in Misery (although, don’t worry – she still goes pretty psycho if you’re wanting to see that!).

Another element I knew nothing about but was a nice surprise is that there’s a bit of time spent on the parents of the teenagers. Not nearly as much time as I’d have liked, though. They mostly focus on the main girl’s mother (played by Juliette Lewis) but she also deserved much more development. All the parents really should’ve had more time spent on their character development to further round out this story and I think this could’ve easily been achieved by taking just a little bit of time away from the teenagers. Yes, I’m the age of the parents (oh my god, when did that happen?!?!) and I understand the annoying need to market everything to a young audience these days but, in the context of this storyline, we needed a little more time spent on the boring, old fart parents as well. What’s weird is that I seriously hated Juliette Lewis when I was a teenager but now kind of love seeing her in stuff? Maybe I just appreciate seeing people my age in movies now. I think it started with Whip It. I love that movie. She almost made me want to be a kick ass middle-aged roller derby chick.

Well, I enjoyed Ma and appreciated the fact that the characters were a bit better than we normally get in this sort of horror movie. As with most horror movies, though, I thought the ending was weak. To be honest, I’m not sure how I’d have wanted it to end but it was kind of a letdown after a fairly strong start. I did also appreciate the storyline and the fact that this idea felt more original than in a lot of modern horrors. I’m not going to pretend that it’s a good film, though, and it’s one I’d only recommend to people if I knew their movie tastes well and thought they’d like it. You might hate it but I liked it enough to give it a much higher rating than I know it actually deserves. Fuck it, I rate on my level of enjoyment just as much as on a movie’s worthiness. I’ve been too harsh on movies recently anyway.

My Rating: 7/10

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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.

Gone Girl (2014) Review

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****SPOILER-FREE REVIEW****

Gone Girl (2014)

Directed by David Fincher

Based on Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Starring:
Ben Affleck
Rosamund Pike
Neil Patrick Harris
Tyler Perry
Carrie Coon
Kim Dickens

Running time: 149 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
With his wife’s disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent.

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My Opinion:

Yes, I’ve read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (you can read my review of the book HERE – also spoiler-free). I really will keep this short as it’s a hard movie to discuss without spoilers and, for those who haven’t read the book, I hate the thought of anyone spoiling the story for you. It’s a GREAT story and it’s what I loved the most about the book. I’ll say now that, if you’ve read the book, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the film. If you haven’t read the book, I think you’ll enjoy the film even more as you’ll be getting to watch the story unfold without any knowledge of what’s going to happen next. You’ll be getting to experience the same feeling I had reading the book, which I read very quickly as I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next.

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I had my doubts about Ben Affleck being in this as he wasn’t at all what I pictured and seemed a bit too old. Well, you know what? He’s great in this! I was happier with Rosamund Pike being cast as she did fit my picture of the character. She’s absolutely amazing as Amy! I’m very happy with all the performances but especially Affleck, Pike, and Kim Dickens who does a fantastic job playing the main detective. Carrie Coon is also good as Affleck’s twin sister but her character felt a little less explored than in the book where she was one of my favorite characters.

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As far as movie adaptations of books go, I’m happy to say they’ve done an excellent job with this one. As always, things had to be left out to keep the running time down but I don’t think it was anything that hurt the story in any way. You of course aren’t going to get quite as much character development as you will in a book but they came very close to achieving as much as possible, especially with the main and most important characters. I’d have liked to see more of Rosamund Pike as I didn’t feel they captured her character as well as in the book (through no fault of Pike’s, though – again, this will just be down to time restraints).

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Summary:

This movie is very good. I don’t think many people will find it better than Fincher’s Fight Club or Seven but I think it comes fairly close in some ways. I know some people have been a little disappointed with his more recent efforts but I can’t see many people coming out of Gone Girl and saying they didn’t at least enjoy the story and the performances. In a way, I’m jealous of those who get to watch this without having read the book as I never enjoy a film as much if I’ve read the book (especially this sort of genre) as it loses its impact when you know the outcome. I’m very happy with the adaptation, though. Seriously – I have no complaints there and think they’ve done a pretty damn good job achieving all they did in 149 minutes as it’s a very complex story and set of characters. Well done to all involved! I definitely recommend this one and, if you’ve not read the book, I’d almost say to watch the movie first and then read the book to further flesh out the characters. This is probably the first time I’d EVER say to do things in that order! I just think you’ll have a great time with this movie if you go into it knowing as little as possible.

My Rating: 8/10

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