Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019) Review

Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019)

Directed by Rob Letterman

Based on Detective Pikachu by The Pokémon Company

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Suki Waterhouse, Omar Chaparro, Chris Geere, Ken Watanabe, Bill Nighy

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
In a world where people collect Pokémon to do battle, a boy comes across an intelligent talking Pikachu who seeks to be a detective.

My Opinion:

Oh man. When did this come out? A few weeks ago? I already barely remember it so am not sure what to say. The main thing to say is this: This movie is for Pokémon fans and Pokémon fans ONLY. The movie will gain no new fans. It’s not a very good film. If you absolutely love Pokémon, you’ll probably get a lot of enjoyment out of seeing so many of the characters. If you know nothing whatsoever about Pokémon, watching this will be a complete waste of your time.

Let’s see… What do I know about Pokémon?! Not much. I’m old so it’s not from my era. However, I have a young kid who was the right sort of age when Pokémon Go became a thing so she was a fan for a brief amount of time. Okay, I admit that I got into it a bit too. Okay, okay… I admit that I still have the app, although it doesn’t get opened all that often. Annnnnd…. okay, maaaaaaaybe I was the one who kind of pushed the kid into going to this film with me as she has sadly outgrown stuff like this. What can I say? I like Ryan Reynolds but I love Pikachu. Pikachu is adorable. Screw all those other weird-ass looking Pokémon! Pikachu is a great character. This is why there’s an entire damn annual festival dedicated to Pikachu in Japan. Not gonna lie – that looks adorably fun.

Um. This movie. Yeah. It’s a weird one. It’s sort of aimed at the original now twenty-something (or would they be 30?!) fans but is also very much a “kiddie” film. It’s too silly to be fully embraced by those who aren’t hardcore fans. I think my daughter was mostly bored. I could tell she was thinking “I’m too old for this shit!”.

I have almost no knowledge of Pokémon beyond playing the app sometimes so I know this movie isn’t aimed at casual or non-fans anyway. Pikachu talking is strange. The boy, Justice Smith, is perfectly fine but the love interest, Kathryn Newton, is annoying. Why am I still talking about this movie?! There’s nothing really wrong with it and I didn’t hate it (I enjoyed it more than my kid!). It was just a bit boring. Pikachu is still adorable, though. I guess it’s just a shame that the film couldn’t have been aimed at somehow attracting new fans while still keeping the original fans happy, but I’m sure that’s a hard balance to achieve.

My Rating: 5.5/10

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John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019) Review

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Directed by Chad Stahelski

Based on Characters by Derek Kolstad

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston, Ian McShane

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Super-assassin John Wick is on the run after killing a member of the international assassin’s guild, and with a $14 million price tag on his head – he is the target of hit men and women everywhere.

My Opinion:

Oops. I just realized it’s been 2 weeks since I saw this movie and I’ve not yet “reviewed” it. I’m struggling to find the time these days but I like to at least say a little something about the cinema releases that I see. Oh crap… I’ve not yet reviewed Detective Pikachu either! Ha! Maybe I’ll do that next. I’d rather talk about Keanu.

Keanu Reeves. I love him. Who doesn’t?! Anything you ever read about the guy is positive. He’s one of the very few truly likable movie stars. I sometimes feel a bit annoyed at everyone jumping on the Keanu bandwagon. He’s a star from my generation, dammit! Us Gen-Xers have always known he’s awesome. Point Break and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure kick ASS. Even more so than John Wick. I of course did My Top Ten Keanu Reeves Movies HERE. I was maybe a bit rough on John Wick, which I haven’t ranked very high but that’s mainly because Reeves has just been in a lot of really good films. It’s a very solid Top Ten. He deserves more credit!

I’ve enjoyed the John Wick series and think the franchise, as a whole, has gotten better with each film as we get to know these characters a bit more each time. He’s a great character but I think that’s honestly thanks to Keanu, who gives Wick a humble vulnerability that I don’t think most of the bigger name action stars could manage. I can’t see a different actor in this role. I also love the world that these films have created. This secret assassin underground with their fancy hotels and strict rules is cool as shit. Parabellum is also probably the most stylish one yet with a fantastically over-the-top setting for the film’s final battles. All that glass! Hilarious. It was so obvious they were going to smash the shit out of that place. These movies truly are ridiculous but that’s what makes them fun. John Wick isn’t exactly trying to win any Oscars.

I will say that the violence in these films is a bit too much for me personally. I’m not anti-violence in movies but I’m a total wuss and had to look away so often that I probably missed half of this one. It’s the whole point of these movies, though, so it’s not an actual complaint – it just helps keep the John Wick movies from ever being absolute favorites of mine. Point Break is more my speed. Ha! SPEED! Yeah, Speed is more my Speed too. I’ll just always find it funny how desensitised the world is to violence. This is rated 15 in the U.K.! How is it not an 18? It’s excessively violent. Yet a tiny bit of sex, swearing, and a naked boob will get an instant 18. “Oh my god, a nipple! That’ll have to be rated R!”. The world is so fucked up.

My only complaint about this one is the ending. So, this might be a SLIGHT SPOILER (but not really as John Wick 4 has already been announced): The cliffhanger ending and obvious setup for the sequel annoyed me. This series would’ve been PERFECT as a trilogy. Had there been a proper ending with some sort of closure for our dog-avenging assassin hero, I’d rate this film and well as the series as a whole much more highly. I miss the days of a good, solid trilogy. I’m sick of this trend of never-ending sequels. It lessens the impact of the movies as the sequels often get worse and more desperate. Know when to stop, Hollywood! I’m also still thoroughly annoyed that another Toy Story is coming out and I absolutely love Pixar and watch everything they make. But that trilogy was perfection. So I can’t bring myself to give John Wick 3 any higher than 7/10, which is what I gave the previous two films. Had Parabellum given us (as well as Wick’s character) a well-deserved finish, I’d go back and give all three films a higher rating. After these three movies, which have gotten a little more “enjoyable” each time as they go more & more over-the-top (in a fun way), I now have to say that I think the first one is the best as I liked its simplicity. I’m sure I’ll begrudgingly watch John Wick 4 as well as Toy Story 4 but they’ll both have to do something seriously amazing to impress me. I have very low expectations for them.

Keanu Reeves is fantastic, though. He IS John Wick. He’s perfect for this role and 100% the reason why I continue to watch these films. He deserves way more credit for bringing this character to life as I honestly think this series would be a bit dull and far less loved with a different actor.

My Rating: 7/10

**Oh, I loved Anjelica Huston & Halle Berry in this too. Forgot to mention that!

Avengers: Endgame (2019) Review

**SPOILER-FREE REVIEW**

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Produced by Kevin Feige

Based on The Avengers by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Bradley Cooper, Josh Brolin

Music by Alan Silvestri

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe.

My Opinion:

22 movies! I can’t believe I’ve seen all of these. It’s certainly the most films I’ve ever watched in a series. I thoroughly enjoyed each & every one of these MCU films (certainly much more than the dreary DC movies, although they’ve gotten better in the past few years). However, I’m not a huge comic book/superhero movie fan so I won’t pretend that these movies mean as much to me as they do to the hardcore fans. I see them as escapist entertainment. They’re fun popcorn movies. But I can absolutely understand the love for the MCU and think they did a brilliant job setting up so many strong, likeable, and well-developed characters. The films are good (and several are very good) but the characters are great. I can see how fans will feel as strongly about these characters as I do about the characters in Star Wars. They feel like family in a weird sort of way. And Avengers: Endgame provided a fitting end(?) to just over a decade of watching these beloved characters grow & come together as a team.

Avengers: Endgame isn’t a perfect film, though, and I can’t even say it’s going to be an absolute favorite MCU movie for me personally. I do think it’s one that may go up in my estimation over time and it in no way hurts the overall legacy but my initial reaction is that I far preferred Infinity War. That ending had balls. To be honest, I kind of wanted that to be the actual end to the whole MCU (that would be a bit dark, I suppose – this isn’t DC!). But Endgame certainly will have been an emotional rollercoaster for diehard fans so I can appreciate that it will be higher on their lists. I expect to feel the same sort of emotions when watching The Rise Of Skywalker.

I just felt that Endgame took the easy way out with some of its characters. I’m obviously trying to avoid spoilers so I’ll just say that, if this is indeed the last time we’re going to see some of these characters, a few had very satisfying “endings” but I was disappointed with the direction they took for a couple of them. Overall, the movie was more predictable than I was hoping. I wanted more surprises but only got a few small ones. I even managed to successfully avoid ALL spoilers for two entire days so was disappointed to get so few surprises.

I’ll keep this short so I don’t accidentally spoil anything. I struggle with reviews for these films as I do feel like they’re the same formula over & over again and Endgame really isn’t any different from what we’ve seen before besides obviously needing & having a darker tone. Luckily, there are still a few funny moments too. The reason I far prefer Marvel to DC is because they get the right amount of genuinely funny humor mixed in with even the most serious films in the series. I’ve ranked all 22 MCU movies HERE, including Endgame. Maybe Endgame will move up in the future but, from my list, it’ll be clear that I prefer the lighthearted & funny superheroes. It’s Guardians Of The Galaxy for me. And, as Thor is my favorite character overall, I think the best decision Marvel made was to make his originally boring (but hot) character funny. Hemsworth is hilarious. I know that not all will agree with the “funny superhero” thing but I absolutely loved the comic relief provided by Thor & Ant-Man in Endgame. It was needed so that it didn’t turn into DC dreariness. But, as I said, I love that Marvel gets the right balance and the serious nature of this storyline was handled very well. To have such a strong mix of characters with very different personalities is what makes the MCU so enjoyable. There’s something for everyone across these 22 films. To make these many films in just over a decade and to bring all these characters together is a hell of a feat. This may not be my favorite Marvel film but I have a lot of respect for what they’ve done with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

My Rating: 8/10

Greta (2018) Review

Greta (2018)

Directed by Neil Jordan

Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Chloë Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe, Colm Feore, Stephen Rea

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Greta follows a young woman as she befriends a lonely widow who becomes disturbingly obsessed with her.

My Opinion:

I recently re-watched the delightfully “so bad it’s good” Single White Female while stuck in a hotel & mentioned in my review (HERE) that we don’t get enough of those cheesy psychological thrillers anymore that were so common in the 80s & 90s. Thank you, Greta! This is exactly the type of cheesy thriller that I was talking about. Is it a good film? Oh hell no! Is it a fun film? Oh hell yes!

First of all, we have the sexy Isabelle Huppert playing one of my favorite types of characters: A Batshit Crazy Lady. Fuck it. I’m a lady (well, a female). I’m not offended by women so often being portrayed as unhinged in movies. In fact, I did a list of My Top Ten Crazy Ladies In Movies HERE. These movies are meant to be over-the-top fun. Unfortunately, Huppert wasn’t as batshit as I was hoping. She’s a psycho, yes, but can’t really compare with people like Carrie’s mother in Carrie (I love Piper Laurie in that). She’s clearly having fun with the role, though. I’ve been wanting to explore more of her work since developing a slight girl crush on her after seeing Elle. She’s certainly the one who made me choose to go to this instead of waiting for Netflix, although I don’t mind Chloë Grace Moretz. I also like Maika Monroe as an actress but Huppert is the true star of this film. She has a presence that the two younger actresses lack.

Speaking of Chloë Grace Moretz (and Maika Monroe, who plays her best friend & roommate): I love how many things these two fuck up. Love it! I love how the people being terrorized in these types of movies do so many thoroughly predictable & ridiculous things. There are so many overused tropes in this film! That’s normally something that annoys me, especially in horror films, but it’s what I actually WANT to see in a cheesy psychological thriller. The more clichés the better for this genre! It actually made me smile when Moretz did stupid shit. And the “making cookies” scene was awesome. God Moretz was an idiot following that bit. To do something so cool and then to be so dumb… She really is the Bridget Fonda character from Single White Female. Those two naive morons would get along great. And that ending that we ALL saw coming from a mile away! Hilarious. So bad. So goodbad.


Well. That’s it. What else can I say? This movie was exactly what I was hoping it would be: Cheesy & cliché with predictable idiots, a predictable crazy lady, and overacting without being really bad overacting that throws you out of the film. Greta is not a great film. Thank god! I don’t want Oscar-worthiness ruining a perfectly good cheesy thriller with a batshit crazy lady.

My Rating: 6.5/10

**Single White Female still wins, though. High heel scene beats cookie-making scene…

Unicorn Store (2017) Review

Unicorn Store (2017)

Directed by Brie Larson

Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Joan Cusack, Bradley Whitford, Karan Soni, Mamoudou Athie, Mary Holland, Hamish Linklater

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A woman named Kit receives a mysterious invitation that would fulfill her childhood dreams.

My Opinion:

Figured I’d give this a watch because 1) There’s a bunch of weird hate aimed at Brie Larson & I wanted to give her film a chance because I like her as an actress and 2) Samuel L. Motherfucking Jackson. I love Jackson. Plus it’s cute that these two seem to be real-life friends. Oh, I suppose there’s also a little bit of 3) I’m a girl so I liked unicorns as a child too, of course.

This movie is perfectly fine. I realize that doesn’t sound like much of a compliment. What I mean is that it’s what I expected: It’s a bit quirky with an indie feel and certainly won’t be liked by everyone. Is it aimed more at females? Yes, but I think all of Larson’s hardcore fans will like it since they like her. It’s very much aimed at her sort of fanbase. “Millennial dreamers” is probably the best way to describe who this movie was made for. If you liked La La Land, I’d be very surprised if you didn’t like this. I probably feel like same way about both films but know that they’re not of my generation so I can’t fully relate to either. They’re enjoyable enough films for a one-time watch, though.

I’ll start with the positives: It may sound stupid but I liked Brie’s cute outfits. I mean, they were like what an 8-year-old stuck in a 30-year-old’s body would wear but it reminded me of the crap I wore in the Eighties and I’m a sucker for nostalgia. It was a little weird but fun to see. I actually watched this with my kid and she was loving the outfits. In fact, she seemed to like this movie quite a bit more than I did so I probably got slightly more enjoyment out of this film thanks to seeing her reaction. And the film’s use of color overall was pleasant to the eye – I’m always a fan of that (although it’s no Mandy! that’s a film that did the color thing right). One more positive? There were Care Bears. As a child of the Eighties, I’ll give this film an extra half a point for the Care Bears. Another positive? Oh Shit. I can’t think of anything. I really thought there’d be more. I’m trying to be positive since I think too many people shit on Brie!


Here’s a positive: I can fully understand why some people actually seem to love this movie and are able to relate to it. If I were ten or even twenty years younger, I think I’d be one of those people. When I was younger, this type of film is very much the sort of thing that I loved. I have some very quirky, “indie” favorites from the Eighties and Unicorn Store has a similar feel to those films despite having slightly different values. So I absolutely wouldn’t tell anyone who loves this that they’re “wrong” (who does that anyway?!) as I can relate to loving non-mainstream movies aimed at my generation. Hopefully that respect can go both ways eventually. What I’m saying is this: Can we ALL stop shitting on movies not aimed at our generation?! My generation loved Eighties films and we still do. Respect our opinions on things like The Breakfast Club and Heathers and we’ll respect yours on things like Unicorn Store. I do at least try to give all films a chance, no matter what year they were made.

Unicorn Store is fine but go into it knowing that it’s right at home on something like Netflix. It has a TV movie feel more than a mainstream cinema release. Some very good actors feel very wasted in this (the always delightful Joan Cusack & especially Jackson, whose role is silly but not silly enough to let his crazy self shine). The movie tries to be quirky yet still plays it far too safe – I was hoping for a lot more weird! But having mentioned Mandy, I’m clearly just a fan of weird. The characters are weak and underdeveloped, including Brie’s. I didn’t relate to her character or really care all that much if she’d actually get that unicorn. It’s a shame as I really wanted to like her. There’s also a weird subplot with a creepy boss that feels out of place and the pacing is very slow but, hell, my kid seemed to be enjoying it so I guess it held her attention well enough. The story itself is fun and unique, however, so I appreciate seeing something that I haven’t seen in a million other movies. Man, I struggle with these reviews for movies that are “just okay”. Yeah. Unicorn Store is just okay. Sorry! I wanted to like it a lot more. To be fair, I think it’s one I’d like more on a re-watch. It’s probably a grower. Here’s that extra half a point for the Care Bears…

My Rating: 6.5/10

If you want a really good unicorn movie, I recommend The Last Unicorn. From 1982. Yay Eighties!!!

Oh, and as for Brie Larson & Samuel L. Jackson movies, I did really enjoy Captain Marvel. The hate for that is absolute bullshit. It’s a fun film. Unicorn Store is, however, a better film than Kong: Skull Island (although that was also fun in an almost “so bad it’s good” way). I think Larson & Jackson work well together.

Dumbo (2019) Review

Dumbo (2019)

Directed by Tim Burton

Based on Disney’s Dumbo by Otto Englander, Joe Grant & Dick Huemer and on Dumbo by Helen Aberson & Harold Pearl

Starring: Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Alan Arkin, Nico Parker, Finley Hobbins

Music by Danny Elfman

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A young elephant, whose oversized ears enable him to fly, helps save a struggling circus, but when the circus plans a new venture, Dumbo and his friends discover dark secrets beneath its shiny veneer.

My Opinion:

First of all, I’m really sick of these Disney live-action remakes of animated classics. I don’t see the point. From recent trailers, The Lion King looks like a soulless copy and Aladdin looks absolutely dreadful. Beauty And The Beast pretty much sucked (but I can’t stand Emma Watson so that didn’t help). I didn’t mind Cinderella but I wonder if it would just annoy me if I watched it again now that I’m sick of all these live-action remakes. I’ve kind of vowed to no longer waste my money going to see this shit.

But I knew I’d go to Dumbo because it’s Tim Burton. I’m a hypocrite. I know his best films are far in the past but I still haven’t given up on him and I wanted to see what he’d do with this film. Plus Dumbo himself was so adorable in the trailers. I’ve always loved that baby elephant! Well, I enjoyed this film. It’s a good one to end on. I’ll happily watch no more live-action remakes after this one.

I feel like I have to justify liking a live-action remake. What can I say? I still love that baby elephant. Of course this comes nowhere near the original film and it breaks my heart that some kids may be watching these remakes before the animated films. Or not watching the animated films at all. For some reason, I prefer when these remakes aren’t an exact copy (which The Lion King looks like). I don’t mind having extra bits of story added on, making it feel like an entirely separate film and therefore not messing with the original film’s legacy in my mind. This movie isn’t Dumbo to me. It never will be. But I think they did well with the character of Dumbo himself and he was by far the best thing about this film (as he should be). Dumbo is the true star of this movie.


The reviews I’ve read have all said that it’s the human characters that let this film down. This is true, although they aren’t terrible. They’re bland but not hateful. The only truly weak one is Michael Keaton’s completely generic baddie but the rest are good enough to support the overall story about a flying elephant. Colin Farrell and his two children (Nico Parker & Finley Hobbins), who are the main human characters, are fine but these roles could’ve been played by anyone. However, Danny DeVito & Eva Green are fun to watch and perfect for Tim Burton’s films – you can understand why he sticks with his favorite actors in so many of his films. The human stories were good enough to keep the film interesting while not overlooking the fact that the one story that really matters is Dumbo’s. And I liked the ending. I’m fine with all the changes in the second half as it’s so different from the original that it hasn’t destroyed my love for the animated film. I also liked how they incorporated the Pink Elephants On Parade bit into this film.

Is it weird that I feel bad for liking the new Dumbo?? I do seriously wish they’d stop with these live-action remakes but, in this case, I was happy seeing this character in a new way. He’s always been a favorite Disney character of mine and I think they did a good job with the look him. They got a good balance between making him look like a real elephant but also sort of “cartoony”, and his adorable blue eyes are very expressive. They did a better job with him than with the other CGI animals in these Disney remakes. I also enjoyed the overall production design of this film, but that’s usually the case with Burton’s movies. None of these Disney remakes will ever top the animated classics but at least the 2019 Dumbo hasn’t destroyed the original film’s legacy for me.

My Rating: 7/10

I’ve added Dumbo to my full ranked list of all the Tim Burton movies I’ve seen HERE. I guess I better finally watch Dark Shadows as it’s the only full-length film he’s directed that I’ve not seen.

Pet Sematary (2019) Review

Pet Sematary (2019)

Directed by Kevin Kölsch & Dennis Widmyer

Based on Pet Sematary by Stephen King

Starring: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, Jeté Laurence, Hugo Lavoie, Lucas Lavoie, Obssa Ahmed, Alyssa Brooke Levine, Sonia Maria Chirila, Suzy Stingl, Maria Herrera, AND Leo, Tonic, Jager and JD as Church the Cat

Plot Synopsis: (from IMDb)
Dr. Louis Creed and his wife, Rachel, relocate from Boston to rural Maine with their two young children. The couple soon discover a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home.

My Opinion:

First of all, I’ll always have a soft spot for the 1989 adaptation of Pet Sematary. It came out when I was a teenager and was already a huge Stephen King fan by then so I watched the film over & over & over again (teenagers have so much time to waste). I of course read the book as well but, in this case, I have to admit that I remember the first movie much more than the novel as I saw it so many times. I enjoyed this new adaptation as well. I have to say that it even improved on the 1989 film in a few areas. I’ll still always prefer the 1989 movie but can see why some people might prefer this version, especially if they see it first the way I’ll always love the one that I saw first.

As for the improvements, the main thing would be the acting. This was especially true of the daughter (Jeté Laurence as Ellie Creed). The emotion and the sheer grief, especially from Jason Clarke as Louis Creed, also felt much more real in this adaptation and his marriage (with Rachel Creed, played by Amy Seimetz) felt stronger. The first half of this film, although it felt like a needless straight copy of the 1989 movie, was a definite improvement overall thanks to the acting and better character development. But I know the original film so well that I was worried I’d be spending the entire time watching the exact same film.


Well, the second half switches things up a lot and I’m still not sure how I feel about that. The movie unfortunately falls apart after its strong start. And can I just say how ANNOYED I am that they ruined the one big twist in the trailers for this movie?! I heard that the trailer had a huge spoiler so had managed to avoid it until seeing it before a movie that I went to last month. Grr. Why do they do that in trailers? The twist was actually a good one that worked well for the film. It would’ve been great to not know that beforehand and I have a feeling I’d have liked this adaptation more if that had been a surprise. The second half also goes a little too cheesy but, to be honest, I don’t know how this story can NOT be a little cheesy. The first was cheesy as well but I think it was handled a little more effectively in the first film. I’m also not sure if I liked the various changes but I did like how damn bleak this new version is. This is one of King’s darkest stories and I liked the dark, misty look to this version and the addition of those creepy animal masks worn for the “pet funerals”. Oh, I forgot to mention Jud Crandall! John Lithgow was fine in this role but you can’t top Fred Gwynne’s Jud. He was probably the best thing about the 1989 film so this version lacks that really memorable character.


Well, I did enjoy this film. But I enjoy every Stephen King adaptation, even the really bad ones. And there are some VERY bad ones! Pet Sematary (2019) is certainly not one of the bad ones but it’s also not one of the best. Sorry for the meh review! It’s just a little meh. I still prefer the first one but this one was good enough to tide me over while I eagerly await It: Chapter 2 (I loved the 2017 adaptation of It).

My Rating: 7/10

I’m obsessed with Stephen King so of course made lists ranking all of his books & film adaptations. Because I’m a list nerd. I ranked all of his books that I’ve read HERE and all movie adaptations HERE. I’ve added the new Pet Sematary to that list…

Shazam! (2019) Review

Shazam! (2019)

Directed by David F. Sandberg

Based on Characters from DC Comics

Starring: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Djimon Hounsou, Faithe Herman, Grace Fulton, Ian Chen, Jovan Armand, Marta Milans, Cooper Andrews

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s case, by shouting out one word – SHAZAM. – this streetwise fourteen-year-old foster kid can turn into the grown-up superhero Shazam.

My Opinion:

I’ll keep this short since I’m scared to review this after seeing death threats on Twitter when people have given this a negative review. Yikes. But I have to keep my promise to myself to at least review the films that I see in the cinema. My anal retentiveness wins out over potential harassment from trolls!

I enjoyed Shazam. Shazam!, I mean. I’m not using that exclamation mark every time – it’s annoying. This film was an odd one, though, and the tone was all over the place. I’m not saying that the whole “lighthearted combined with dark & evil” thing doesn’t work sometimes (it works in Deadpool) but it was a bit too jarring in Shazam. This is partly due to it being promoted as a somewhat family-friendly superhero movie whereas Deadpool, with its higher rating, made it very obvious that kids shouldn’t watch it.

I wanted to like this film more as there were parts that I thought were really funny and the characters (well, the good guys) were so damn likable and very well-developed as far as superhero movies go. I loved them. A special shout-out especially to the adorable Faithe Herman as Darla & a strong performance from Jack Dylan Grazer, who was also great in the fantastic It. Kids are so good in films nowadays. Remember the 70’s & 80’s when child acting usually sucked? Why was that?! I’ll be honest – I think the above characters as well as the other foster kids & their foster parents are what really made this film as they gave the movie some heart. Without them, the movie would feel too cruel and dark. Zachary Levi & Asher Angel were also very good (and very funny) as our main hero but they needed these other characters to round-out the main character and to make us care about him. How much does Asher look like Arya Stark, though?! It was very distracting once I realized.


Now for the bad… Mark Strong gives the villain his all but the character feels like every other baddie we’ve seen in these superhero films. To be fair, a lot of this is due to my own personal superhero movie fatigue. I enjoy them when they’re good but this isn’t my favorite genre and I want to see more than just superheroes and sequels in the cinema. And, as I said, the movie goes a little too dark with his character. I’m not saying dark is bad. I love dark when done right. Hell, if I had to pick a favorite “comic book” movie, I’d choose The Crow. I freaking love that film. But The Crow sure as shit isn’t a family film. There’s no lightness and certainly no adorable little girl named Darla.

Okay – I was going to keep this short! Well, I did enjoy Shazam. It has some very strong good-guy characters and I loved how well they worked together in this film. You care about them. That’s not something that all superhero movies are able to achieve with their characters. The “light” bits also felt a little like something we don’t see in EVERY SINGLE SUPERHERO MOVIE. So I did very much appreciate that and I had some good laughs during the movie. However, that positive is undone slightly by the too-generic and too-dark baddie. Which is a shame. Just be aware of the warnings before you take kids who are a little too young to this one. As always, it depends on each individual kid and if you think they can handle the violence. I tend to read the parent’s guide before films such as these (which does suck when trying to avoid spoilers!).

My Rating: 7/10

Are there scenes after the credits? Yes. One scene during the credits and a more lighthearted one at the very end. Worth staying for if you’re a DC fan but the first one had no meaning to me…

Oh fuck it. I’ll just say it. Honesty is my best (& worst) quality. I preferred Wonder Woman and possibly even Aquaman. I’m in trouble now! I also preferred Captain Marvel. Oh man – I’m in so much trouble now!!!

Us (2019) Review

Us (2019)

Directed & Written by Jordan Peele

Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A family’s serenity turns to chaos when a group of doppelgängers begins to terrorize them.

My Opinion:

I saw Us almost a week ago and am still trying to decide how I feel about it. I think it’s a much better film than Jordan Peele’s Get Out, so I’m happy about that. I think what frustrates me nowadays is that so many people like to shout “It’s a masterpiece!” about waaaay too many current releases. If a movie is halfway decent these days, you’ll find a bunch of people with social media accounts declaring it a masterpiece. I swear if I see one more person on Twitter praising Christopher Nolan like he’s some kind of god or saying that the quite-good-but-not-brilliant La La Land is an “all-time classic!!!”, I’m gonna snap like Thanos.

Yeah, there have been some brilliant films in the past decade. There have even been a few where I’ve been guilty of using the word “masterpiece”. I think it’s easy to do when a film lover is on a high after seeing a film they truly loved. But I think we need to see if something stands the test of time. Will Us be seen as an all-time classic 10 years from now? 20? 30? Maybe by some. I think it’ll always be a well-respected film within the horror genre. For me, Us is just a really good horror film. I won’t see it as an all-time classic years from now like I do with films like The Shining or Rosemary’s Baby. It’s not in the same league. However, I respect the film. I’m extremely grateful for “cerebral horror” and loved that this was one of those movies I looked into afterwards to read about all the symbolism and peoples’ different interpretations of the film.

I’ll start with the good: I liked the look of this film. Peele has a good eye for this and there was some great imagery (a lot in the photos in this post, although there are some I won’t post due to spoilers). I also thought the score/soundtrack was pretty great. The look & the music created the sort of moody atmosphere I expect from a good horror film (I’m a sucker for this – that’s why I appreciate films such as Mandy). I also loved once again having a likable group of people. I liked this family. Horror writers have started to finally realize that we want to like the main characters if we’re going to give a shit about what happens to them.


Now for some (small) negatives: For me, the main thing that will probably keep this from becoming a favorite modern horror of mine is that, if you think about the film too much afterwards, the story falls apart. There are too many loose ends and unanswered questions. While I often like this as I hate a movie that spells absolutely everything out for you, in this case you realize that too much doesn’t add up. It’s a great idea for a story, though, and I loved that. I can see why Peele is doing the new The Twilight Zone as this is that type of story. By the way, that’s my all-time favorite TV show so I’m going to be picky as hell with his reboot. All I can say is, as much as I know people are loving this movie, I’m actually expecting better stories for The Twilight Zone. I want ones that don’t fall apart under scrutiny.

And as for one more small negative, I didn’t love Lupita Nyong’o. I really like her as an actress so that was disappointing, especially after I’d heard such high praise. I think she’s great in the main role but, as “Red” (the doppelgänger), I found the character bordering on silly. Oh man, I hate to say that! It’s a small complaint, though. Overall, I really liked the family and their relationship so that made up for the doppelgängers (all of them) not being as creepy as I’d hoped. I just really wanted to love this film. I liked it a lot. It’s very good and I eagerly await Peele’s next film. But, at this point, I don’t think Us will make it into my list of My Top Twenty Horror Movies Of The 21st Century. But it’s possible that this film is one that may go up in my estimation once it has aged a bit more.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Border (2018) Review

Border (2018) (Swedish: Gräns)

Directed by Ali Abbasi

Based on Border by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Starring: Eva Melander, Eero Milonoff, Jorgen Thorsson, Ann Petrén, Sten Ljunggren

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A customs officer who can smell fear develops an unusual attraction to a strange traveler while aiding a police investigation which will call into question her entire existence.

My Opinion:

Er. Um. What the fuck did I just watch?! Well. Huh. This was an interesting film…

First of all, this was personally recommended to me by an old high school acquaintance so I thought “What the hell, I’ll check it out” when a local cinema actually showed this one last week. THIS is why I don’t listen to “real life” people. I only trust my fellow movie blog nerds! To be fair, she was right in that this movie is kind of right up my alley. I love foreign films and I appreciate weird. I watch so many films that I get bored with the same old predictable storylines. I want to see a film I’ll remember. Something like Mandy! And, yeah – I suppose Border too. I’ll certainly always remember it, at least. Not gonna lie, though – it’ll mostly be the sex scene and that penis that I remember.

Eva Melander plays the customs officer who can smell fear and she was very good in this film. You could feel her loneliness and how she feels like an outsider. Her performance is the best thing about the movie overall and, without that performance and character, I don’t think this would have as high of a rating as it does (7.1 on IMDb). I do think people rate foreign films a bit too highly sometimes – not all foreign films are good. I did like the creepy animal attraction she had with the mysterious stranger and did enjoy the overall story. For once I can say that I truly had no idea what the hell was going on in a movie.

I’ll keep this short as I think this is one of those films where you’re better off not knowing too much about it beforehand. If you like weird and you like the unexpected and you like bizarre graphic sex and you like foreign films and you like indie films and you like Frozen, you might like this truly strange Swedish film. There’s even a mention of Ikea at one point. YES! I’d have been disappointed if they hadn’t mentioned Ikea. And, yes – I meant the Anna & Elsa Frozen when I said Frozen. This has small Frozen vibes but is most definitely NOT child-friendly. There’s also mention of disturbing things involving children (though thankfully not shown), so be aware of that beforehand. And if you do watch this based on my half-assed review and end up scarred for life, I take no responsibility. Watch at your own risk! You might love it or you might hate it but I promise that you won’t forget it. I’d like to give it a higher rating based mostly on Melander’s performance but don’t think the film itself is as good as it could’ve been.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Fighting With My Family (2019) Review

Fighting With My Family (2019)

Directed & Written by Stephen Merchant

Based on The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family

Starring: Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Nick Frost, Jack Lowden, Vince Vaughn, Dwayne Johnson

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A former wrestler and his family make a living performing at small venues around the country while his kids dream of joining World Wrestling Entertainment.

My Opinion:

Wow. I enjoyed this film waaay more than I was expecting! First of all, I better point out that I’m not a wrestling fan whatsoever and have zero knowledge in that field. So I enjoyed this as a really fun piece of entertainment, however close to the true story this movie may be. I have no idea but I’m sure the rise to fame wasn’t quite as simple as portrayed (but movies always exaggerate that). I see this is based on a documentary about the same people (The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family) so I’m sure that’s worth watching if you’re a wrestling fan and want something that’s going to be more factual.


I have to say that I was never a fan of The Rock but, for some odd reason, my daughter loves him. So he’s really grown on me as I’ve now been forced to watch so many of his movies. Well, FYI: He’s hardly in this but that doesn’t hurt the film in the slightest. This story is about the female pro wrestler (Saraya “Paige” Knight) and her (very British!) wrestling family. The Rock does have a (quite cheesy) cameo but the family are a riot and their story was so bizarrely heartwarming (for a family that regularly bodyslam the shit out of each other). Seriously – as someone who’s very rarely a fan of comedy in movies these days, I have to say I laughed (or at least smiled) quite a lot throughout this film. Especially during scenes involving the parents, played by Lena Headey & Nick Frost. They were hilarious. Give me Headey’s character in this over Cersei! I’d love to see her two characters in the ring together. I think Cersei would have her ass kicked.

I really think this is one of those movies that has something for everyone. It’s a great family film, though not for kids too young due to some saucy language (which isn’t something that bothers me since I have a potty mouth). The family are funny yet lovable and you can tell that they’re very close. There’s some jealousy when one of them becomes a big star but the family never come across as fake and nothing feels over the top: They feel like a slightly bonkers but real family who could be living next door to you. You can tell they have a true passion for what they love, which any viewer can relate to whether or not they share that same interest in wrestling. Lovers of sports as well as haters of sports (like me) should all get something out of this movie. It was also great seeing a typical British community portrayed in the film and seeing how wrestling brought them together. I had no knowledge of this film beforehand so the English setting (in the beginning) was a pleasant surprise. What can I say? I really enjoyed this film! About a family of wrestlers!!! Huh.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Captain Marvel (2019) Review

Captain Marvel (2019)

Directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck

Based on Captain Marvel by Stan Lee & Gene Colan & Carol Danvers by Roy Thomas & Gene Colan

Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, Jude Law

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in 1995, the story follows Danvers as she becomes Captain Marvel after Earth is caught in the center of a galactic conflict between two alien worlds.

My Opinion:

I’m short on time & haven’t even done my February Roundup post of movies I’ve watched but figured I better say a little something about Captain Marvel. After all the weird controversy and all the whining and all the sad losers down-voting it online before even seeing it, I didn’t know what the hell to expect. I’ve really enjoyed all the Marvel films although I’d never call them personal favorites and I feel that they’re all the same story and follow the same formula. I’d happily live without more superhero movies for a while. However, the Marvel ones are thoroughly entertaining and have a fun sense of humor that I appreciate (they’re popcorn movies – superhero films should be fun!).

Anyway, I thought I’d do a quick review of Captain Marvel since it’s had such unfair treatment and I wanted another positive review out there in the world. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and, dare I say, I liked it even more than several other MCU films. I thought it was actually stronger as far as story & character development than some of the other standalone origin films (it’s way more fun than Thor, for example, as much as I lust over Hemsworth). I’ve added Captain Marvel to My Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie Ranking (HERE). I’m still on a high after seeing it so, yes, I may have it a little too far up the list but it’ll be obvious that my favorite movies are the “funny” ones and I’m happy to say that Captain Marvel has way more humor than I was expecting. Pretty ironic after all the “why can’t she smile on the poster?” idiocy, huh? Samuel L. Jackson was especially hilarious (I adore that badass motherfucker) and it was a delight seeing him with Larson: Their real-life friendship gives them a great on-screen chemistry.

Wait. No. Goose was the most humorous character! Who the hell doesn’t love Goose after seeing this movie?

Is Captain Marvel a perfect film? No. Does it break Marvel’s formulaic superhero mold? No, other than its superhero lead being female. The movie does drag at the start but I feel the same about most other origin films. I thought they could’ve done much more with the characters played by Bening, Law & even Lashana Lynch as they were very underdeveloped. The young girl was sweet – I’d like to see more of her if they were to ever do another film (Oops – I just Googled her character! We’re likely to see her…).


Larson was really good in this role so I’m happy she’s proven everyone wrong (not that haters would ever admit it). I’ll be honest & say that I wasn’t sure of the casting choice either as she’s so good in serious dramas such as Room & Short Term 12 and I couldn’t picture her as a superhero. And as I said earlier, the Larson/Jackson duo was great. Seeing SO much of Nick Fury was fantastic. It’s about time! I loved him and the de-aging thing was scary good.

Will this movie be speaking to me more, though, since I’m female and was a similar age in 1995 so of course loved the references and the music? Probably. (No Doubt! Garbage! Hole! Blockbuster!!). So what? We all like different things and this movie won’t speak to everyone in the same way. I get that. But to trash it (without even seeing it) makes no sense to me. There’s a bit of “girl power” stuff but it’s not over-the-top or annoying (there’s actually a good message about never giving up, which is a message for everyone). In fact, this film is far less “political” than a lot of other superhero films. It’s a typical MCU film but actually more fun than a lot of them. And as for DC, I actually sort of enjoyed Captain Marvel as an overall film a little more than Wonder Woman. Sorry! I do think Wonder Woman is a stronger character. I’m a total sucker for the Eighties more than the Nineties, though, so I’ll probably prefer the next Wonder Woman. Give me 80’s music over 90’s! It feels a little sexist to compare the two but it’s hard to not make a comparison. Both these female-led films are really good examples of the superhero genre and are undeserving of backlash. But I honestly don’t give a shit when it comes to the genders of a film’s stars: I just want a good, entertaining movie. That’s what I got.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Stan Lee Cameo: First of all, there’s a lovely Stan Lee tribute at the start of the film which I’m sure has left everyone very teary-eyed. Then his cameo, fairly early in the film, was easily one of my favorites (and so adorably 90’s!). They even made a very small change to this cameo after his death, which made it even more meaningful (you can read about it HERE but it’s obviously a spoiler).

End Credits Scenes: There are two end credits scenes. The mid-credits scene has me very excited for Endgame (and got a very big reaction from an equally excited audience in my cinema). Don’t miss this scene. There’s also a funny post credits scene that got a lot of laughs from the clued-up people who stuck around (seriously, people – how do you not know by now that there are scenes after the Marvel end credits start rolling?!). Oh – and not only did the mid-credits scene get a huge reaction, all the funny bits in the film got lots of big laughs from my packed audience. So much for the “predictions” that this film would be a flop & that no one wanted to see it…

Number of people using their phones during this movie: Three. STOP LOOKING AT YOUR FUCKING PHONES IN CINEMAS, PEOPLE! It’s a bright fucking screen in a dark fucking room! Do you really think that the eyes of everyone sitting behind you don’t immediately go to your goddamn bright screen when you look at your phone?! SO FUCKING DISTRACTING. So fuck you very much to the woman who ruined the Stan Lee tribute as well as a very important moment of backstory explanation during this film by flashing her stupid phone. *Rant over*

Here’s No Doubt’s Just A Girl. I’ve always loved this song.

The Kid Who Would Be King (2019) Review

The Kid Who Would Be King (2019)

Directed & Written by Joe Cornish

Starring: Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Dean Chaumoo, Tom Taylor, Rhianna Dorris, Rebecca Ferguson, Angus Imrie, Patrick Stewart, Denise Gough, Noma Dumezweni, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Mark Bonnar, Alexandra Roach, Genevieve O’Reilly, Nick Mohammed, Adam Buxton

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows a young boy who finds King Arthur’s legendary sword Excalibur, and must then use it to stop an ancient enchantress from destroying the world.

My Opinion:

Yes, I’m a grown woman but I still get excited when fun family films get made. I’ll always be a nerd. I was seriously looking forward to this one as I thought Joe Cornish’s previous film (Attack The Block) was pretty damn great. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t quite live up to Attack The Block but it’s still an enjoyable film. It’s also aimed younger so is more appropriate for the whole family if your kids aren’t old enough for Attack The Block.

Louis Ashbourne Serkis does a good job as the protagonist (son of Andy, of course. Ah, showbiz nepotism!). But the best part about this film is Angus Imrie as a young Merlin. He’s silly and likable and makes the film a lot more amusing as, without him, there isn’t a lot of humor plus the pacing is a bit slow at times. Oh, and OF COURSE the scenes involving Patrick Stewart are AWESOME since Patrick Stewart RULES. Stewart plays the old version of Merlin and we unfortunately don’t get to see enough of him. But young Merlin is so much fun that you don’t mind the movie switching back & forth between the two of them.

I don’t have a lot to say about this movie. It’s fun and, as always, I really appreciate when decent family films get made. As a lifelong movie nerd, I want to be able to take my kid to movies that I can get some enjoyment out of as well! I think I hyped this one up too much in my mind because of Attack The Block, though. Overall, this movie felt a lot longer than it was and it definitely dragged in places (I’m afraid it didn’t hold my daughter’s attention very well). I never warmed up to the two bullies that eventually team up with our heroes. Also, all the characters could have been stronger and lacked development. But, hey – it was cool getting a unique twist on the King Arthur legend and it’s great to think that it might get some kids interested in further exploring that story. Some kids will enjoy this more than others will but I’m sure that it could end up being a favorite childhood film for kids who really buy into the story. Joe Cornish is still one to watch – I’d be happy to see him direct another film.

My Rating: 7/10

Happy Death Day 2U (2019) Review

Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

Directed & Written by Christopher Landon

Based on Characters by Scott Lobdell

Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Rachel Matthews, Phi Vu, Suraj Sharma, Sarah Yarkin, Ruby Modine

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Tree Gelbman discovers that dying over and over was surprisingly easier than the dangers that lie ahead.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quickie review for yet another “meh” modern horror film. I don’t know why I keep watching modern horrors. I guess I’m a bigger horror fan than I like to admit. If scrolling through Netflix, I’ll always choose a horror over a comedy or a girly romance. However, as much as modern horror sucks, I didn’t hate these Happy Death Day films (my “meh” review of the first film is HERE). They’re fine for a bit of fluffy, PG-13-level-horror fun. In fact, I preferred this sequel to the first one, although I can definitely see some absolutely hating this one as it takes a weird sci-fi direction and really ups the comedy to make this a horror comedy (even though it’s not labelled as that, which will be misleading to straightforward horror fans).

I suppose the main reason I enjoyed this one more was because the main character is no longer a bitch. I know the whole point of the first film was that her experience made her a better person but I never enjoy watching a hateful protagonist. Why should I care about the fate of someone who’s an absolute twat? This role is played by Jessica Rothe and the only praise I’ve really seen for this film is for her performance. She does carry both of these movies and does do a good job. The rest of the actors are very weak in comparison and I can’t decide if the comic relief of a rival girl in this one was annoying as hell or kind of funny. Her character is certainly cheesy but really gave the movie a 1980’s slasher comedy vibe and I’m a sucker for that decade.

That’s probably another reason why I don’t hate these movies: they’re clearly trying for a fun 80’s slasher comedy thing. I’m thinking of things like April Fool’s Day (which, by the way, is awesome and a million times better than Happy Death Day so I’d recommend that over these films). I’m happy that there’s some love for the silly 80’s horror that I grew up on so I appreciate that films such as these two and The Final Girls are being made as an homage to that era. The Final Girls is superior to the Death Day films but none of them manage to fully capture the spirit of the slasher classics and I can’t say that the Death Day films aren’t quite flawed overall. The story gets far too messy in this sequel and is really just a copy of the first film but with added (fun but unnecessary) sci-fi and way more silliness. It’ll definitely be hated by some people. My hubby thought it was abysmal while I thought it was cheesy but had some fun moments and, thankfully, a main character that I didn’t hate this time. It wasn’t worth the cost of going to see it in the cinema, though. We had some time to kill and it’s the only option we had. Wait for Netflix on this one.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Alita: Battle Angel (2019) Review

Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

Directed by Robert Rodriguez

Based on Gunnm by Yukito Kishiro

Starring: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley, Keean Johnson

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A deactivated female cyborg is revived, but cannot remember anything of her past life and goes on a quest to find out who she is.

My Opinion:

I went into this with zero expectations or knowledge of the source material. I really enjoyed this film! It’s actually my favorite 2019 cinema release so far (but I’ve not managed to go to many movies so far this year). It’ll be interesting to see where it ranks for me by the end of the year.


First of all, this movie succeeds where so many others spectacularly fail: it has likable and fairly well-developed characters that the audience will actually care about. Okay, it’s a fun action sci-fi movie so there are plenty of one-dimensional characters but the writers clearly put some time & effort into the ones that really matter (they just could’ve spent a little more time on the male love interest). The female cyborg (Rosa Salazar) and the father-figure man who “revives” her (Christoph Waltz) are great characters and their relationship is the best thing about the film. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the look of Alita herself but I thought they did a fantastic job with her. They got a good balance between making her look different from the humans while still seeming human emotionally (especially through her extra big eyes that you quickly get used to) and never entering into creepy uncanny valley territory. She’s more likable than the majority of “human” characters in films these days. I also loved that she’s this kick-ass warrior while at the same time having the feelings and innocence of a sweet teenage girl. This could have come across as really cheesy if not handled right but it works perfectly in this film and I can’t see anyone not getting some enjoyment out of this movie, especially lovers of fun sci-fi action.

I think it’s hard to make a sci-fi film these days that doesn’t feel derivative as there have been so many brilliant stories in this genre. Does the story in Alita feel totally original? No, I suppose it doesn’t. Yet I felt like I was watching a sci-fi film I haven’t really seen before despite it borrowing from so many other films. It’s a cross between Rollerball (1975) & Blade Runner with elements of Bicentennial Man and Ellen Ripley’s Aliens “female kick-ass” action crossed with a good coming of age teen flick. It’s an odd combo that somehow works, making the film a lot of fun and making it feel more unique than it actually is. As for Rollerball, it takes the only good thing about that overall somewhat boring movie: the violent & thoroughly entertaining sport itself. It’s only one small part of Alita, though, as there are so many other storylines going on but it did add some extra fun and action to the film.


I’ve not read reviews so don’t know how others feel about this film but I hope that sci-fi lovers enjoyed it as much as I did, whether male or female. I know there’s sometimes backlash when there’s a female lead in what’s seen as a more male-dominated genre. I’ll never understand that. A good movie is a good movie and the characters are far stronger in Alita than in a lot of sci-fi films, which often lack character development. The amount of action in this should keep fans happy as well. There’s loads of action with some great fight scenes involving all kinds of funky-looking cyborgs that you really want to see Alita kick the shit out of.


Now to give this movie my rating… I struggled with this one! I’d almost up my rating to 8, actually. I might. I often come back to reviews later and adjust my rating. Bear in mind that sci-fi is my favorite genre and this movie is very much my type of thing. The film isn’t perfect. It could’ve been better. It could’ve gone deeper into Alita’s story and her feelings and the meaning of being human (explored more in things such as Ex Machina). The “baddies” were weak and we didn’t get to know enough about their motivations (the characters played Jennifer Connelly and especially Mahershala Ali, who felt a bit wasted in this). Well, sort of played by Ali… I won’t get into that (spoiler). I wouldn’t call this film shallow but it could’ve been more of a “thinky” sci-fi. However, it was a lot of fun to watch and I loved the characters. Sometimes we expect a bit too much from movies. I’d happily watch this one again, which I can’t say for a lot of movies I’ve watched in recent years. I’d love to see this one get a sequel.

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) Review

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) Review

Directed by Mike Mitchell

Based on Lego Construction Toys

Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Maya Rudolph

Music by Mark Mothersbaugh

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
It’s been five years since everything was awesome and the citizens are facing a huge new threat: Lego Duplo invaders from outer space, wrecking everything faster than they can rebuild.

My Opinion:

Damn. What a massive letdown after The Lego Movie, which I thought was one of the best and most original animated family films of these past several years. I think they need to stop with all the freaking sequels for EVERY animated family movie that’s EVER been made. Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks, whatever the hell studio made this (Warner?), etc etc etc. STOP! Just stop it, dammit! Surely they now know they’ve gone too far after the huge negative reaction to the atrocious-looking Will Smith Aladdin Genie?!?! Stop it with the sequels and the reboots and the remakes and especially the pointless live-action versions of animated classics! Latest rumor I saw online was a live-action version of A Nightmare Before Christmas. OMG. Don’t touch that! It’s perfect as is! I’ll boycott! I’ll march! I’ll go on a hunger strike! (Okay, maybe not a hunger strike)


Oh. Yeah. Back to The Lego Movie 2. After all my ranting & raving, I can’t quite put my finger on why this one was so bad compared to the first. It just lacked the heart of the original. It felt stale and unoriginal. It felt soulless. It felt like a cash-grab (as do the majority of these animated sequels). The story felt forced to fit in with the ending of the original & the sort of values that movie was promoting. The jokes weren’t as funny and there weren’t as many fun surprises & cameos. It wasn’t clever in the same way the first one was with things like the Kragle and the “Piece of Resistance”; the script for the first film was smart & truly funny. And Tiffany Haddish has quite a big voice role in the sequel, which is not fun to listen to if you find her as obnoxiously annoying and unfunny as I do (If you love her, you’re in luck!). Also, Emmet’s naive & charming cluelessness got less and less charming as this movie went on, but I’m wondering if that’s just me finding the real life Chris Pratt less and less charming lately as well. Man I’m a bitch! I think I need “unknown” celebs to be in movies since there are far too many that get on my nerves. I have to say that I appreciate Ralph Breaks The Internet a bit more now, which I found very disappointing at first. What I realised is that I still loved the characters in that sequel just as much as in the first film, which made up a bit for the story being weak. I found I didn’t care about the characters in The Lego Movie 2, although it was nice getting to know a little more about Wyldstyle (I still like her).


Okay, this movie wasn’t all bad. It just had a lot to live up to. What did I like? I loved the adorable kiddie voices of the Duplo toys. Those smiley stars and hearts with the sweet little voices were cute as shit. There were still plenty of funny jokes – I guess I’m comparing this to the first movie, which was hilarious, but this sequel was still a lot better than most of stuff made by other studios such as DreamWorks (Sorry – I’m not a DreamWorks fan). My daughter and I still got some giggles out of this one, which I always love to see. There’s also a song that’s almost as good/catchy/annoying as Everything Is Awesome so it’s great that they were almost able to match the joy of that song (it’s called, of course, Catchy Song). In the end, though, this sequel was all just a bit forgettable and disposable, which I’d never say about the first film. Oh well. They can’t all be the Citizen Kane of family-friendly animation.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Not sure if I’ll have time this week but I’ll try to review a film I went to just after this one and did really enjoy – Alita: Battle Angel. It was a pleasant surprise.

A Dog’s Way Home (2019) Review

A Dog’s Way Home (2019)

Directed by Charles Martin Smith

Based on A Dog’s Way Home by W. Bruce Cameron

Starring: Ashley Judd, Jonah Hauer-King, Alexandra Shipp, Wes Studi, Edward James Olmos, Bryce Dallas Howard

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A female dog travels four hundred miles in search of her owner throughout a Colorado wilderness.

My Opinion:

I can’t decide if this was pukey or lovely. Okay – all family films involving cute pets are pukey. But it’s kind of hard to not like them and feel all smooshy inside when you watch them. A cute puppy is a cute puppy! Who doesn’t love a cute puppy?! This film is sweet but it could’ve been better. It’s from the same guy who wrote A Dog’s Purpose, which overall was a much better film with a far more original idea. I’m not gonna lie – I really liked A Dog’s Purpose. My cold, black soul is capable of at least liking cute animals. A Dog’s Way Home is still fun, though, and certainly worth a family movie night at home on your couch.

Oh my god – I have nothing else whatsoever to say about this movie. I’m off to a great start with this blogging thing in 2019! I think I’m just bored. It’s been way too long since I’ve seen anything really good or, at the very least, interesting. I need to see something that can jumpstart my love of film again. Something epic like Arrival. Or something weird as shit like Mandy.

Okay – A Dog’s Way Home is sweet and you’ll enjoy it if you like dogs and have a young kid and like nice, innocent, pure, inoffensive, safe entertainment. Some slightly dodgy CGI ruins it a little and the story isn’t as strong as in A Dog’s Purpose (we’ve seen an animal’s “long journey home” SO many times in movies!). But it was an enjoyable if somewhat forgettable afternoon at the cinema. It was better than Glass, at least. I guess.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Glass (2019) Review

Glass (2019)

Directed & Written by M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Paulson, Samuel L. Jackson

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In the film, David Dunn gets locked in a mental hospital alongside his once-rival Mr. Glass, as well as the multi-personality “The Horde,” and must escape from a psychiatrist who is out to prove the trio do not actually possess super-human abilities.

My Opinion:

Well, this was disappointing. But I did expect it to be disappointing. Maybe I should stop watching movies I expect to be disappointing… I’d save a lot of money!

I like M. Night Shyamalan for the most part. I’ve watched almost all of his movies because I do enjoy his stories and, yes, I like a twist even though he’s known for them so it’s never exactly a big surprise. I can’t say I’ve truly loved any of his films but do think The Sixth Sense is pretty great, especially if you saw it at the time and he wasn’t yet known as “that guy who does twists” (I saw it when it came out and no one yet knew the ending). The Village is also pretty good, although a lot seem to hate it. The rest, however, are unfortunately the very definition of “meh”. But I still weirdly enjoy his movies while watching them. I just never feel the need to ever watch them again…

Okay, I’ve ranked all his movies I’ve seen from my least favorite to my favorite (only the bottom two truly suck):

Lady In The Water
The Happening
Devil
Split
The Visit
Glass
Signs
Unbreakable
The Village
The Sixth Sense

I guess I have Glass pretty high. To be fair, I didn’t hate it (my hubby did). I can see why it has such mixed reviews, though. For me, it was what I expected so I didn’t hate it. I’ve leaned to go into Shyamalan’s films with very low expectations! I think he should be given some credit for creating a whole new comic book/superpowers trilogy that feels unique & original compared to all the damn superhero movies that I’m getting very sick of. It’s just unfortunate that this trilogy doesn’t go out with the bang I was hoping. It’s more of a whimper. Shyamalan likes to go over the top so often – I wish he’d given this a crazy as fuck ending that we’d all remember in the same way we all remember the ending of The Sixth Sense.

Unbreakable is still the best in the trilogy by far but I did like this one more than Split. I loved seeing Bruce Willis and especially Samuel L. Motherfucking Jackson again and I far preferred seeing these three together than when it was just James McAvoy being a lone psycho killer (I’ve never been big on murder-y crime movies). Speaking of McAvoy, he’s great in both these films. He’s better than Willis & Jackson, who are kind of just phoning it in for this one (but they’re huge stars – that happens sometimes). I still love Jackson – he’s one of those actors who’ll make me watch a movie just because he’s in it.

Well, that’s it. I need to keep these “reviews” short anyway if I’m going to keep up on reviewing cinema releases this year. I just don’t have much to say about this one other than that it’s a shame that a good idea feels like a bit of a waste after how Glass ends. It feels a bit “So what?”. Good idea, actors I like, and a really good performance from McAvoy made it worth watching, at least. I continue to think Shyamalan has good story ideas and I respect that as it’s more than most of us will ever accomplish. But I wish the end products could be as good as his ideas – only The Sixth Sense has managed to accomplish this.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Aquaman (2018) Review

Aquaman (2018)

Directed by James Wan

Based on Aquaman by Mort Weisinger & Paul Norris

Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Kidman

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In Aquaman, Arthur Curry, the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, must step forward to lead his people against his half-brother, Orm, who seeks to unite the seven underwater kingdoms against the surface world.

My Opinion:

Well, this was fun! I wasn’t expecting to like this all that much since DC films tend to suck (other than Wonder Woman). I now like two DCEU movies! Why can’t the others be like this one? Superhero movies should be fun, not dreary and dark and depressing as shit. But maybe that’s just me: I prefer them to all be like Guardians Of The Galaxy.

Aquaman is a bit silly, though, so I’m sure it won’t be for everyone. I loved the silly. It gets a bit more bonkers as the movie goes on, which I also loved. Weirdass giant sea creatures were fun to see in a DC film and the whole underwater thing worked well and gave the movie a different feel from other superhero films, which are all becoming WAY too damn similar. Jason Momoa was also a lot of fun to watch, mainly because you can tell that he’s having a lot of fun playing this character. Okay – and he’s also hot. But my heart still belongs to Thor. Chris Hemsworth is still the ultimate hottie.

The two main female roles were also very strong, which is becoming more popular in movies. We don’t want wussy, useless women. Amber Heard & Nicole Kidman kick ass. Who ever though Kidman would kick ass?? And Amber Heard’s character was cool – I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about her as I’ve never thought she was the greatest actress. Hell, I even really liked the love story between Aquaman’s parents. I don’t normally go for that sort of thing but all the characters were so likeable in this that you wanted everyone to live happily ever after. I can’t say I give the slightest shit about either Superman or Batman in these DCEU films. The characters need to be likeable if we’re going to care about what happens to them! Hollywood still hasn’t quite figured this out.

Beyond that, I don’t know what else to say about this movie. I always struggle to “review” superhero movies. They’re fun & I enjoy them while watching them but it’s not a favorite genre of mine. I don’t expect anything Oscar worthy from them, though – I just want to switch off for a couple of hours & be entertained. Aquaman was definitely entertaining and I may have possibly liked it even more than a few of the MCU movies(!!). It was the final movie I went to in the cinema in 2018 and it was a good one to finish the year. I really enjoyed it (as did the hubby & the kid, so it was a good family movie too).

My Rating: 7/10

I’ll try to post my December Roundup next week followed by all my 2018 Year-End Top Ten lists. So I may sneak in a viewing of Roma this weekend in case it’s worthy of the top ten (I’ll just pretend I watched it in 2018!). For now, these are all the movies I watched in 2018. Yikes. I’m actually going to cut down in 2019…

Mary Poppins Returns (2018) Review

Happy New Year, everyone! I have a couple of leftover movies that I saw in the cinema in December but didn’t review: Mary Poppins Returns & Aquaman. I’ll try to review Aquaman tomorrow (enjoyed that way more than I was expecting!). Then I’ll try to post my December Roundup next week followed by my 2018 Year-End Top Ten Lists. Woohoo! I love lists! 🙂

Here’s my review of Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

Directed by Rob Marshall

Based on Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers

Starring: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Julie Walters, Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in 1930s London, twenty-five years after the events of the original film, it sees Mary Poppins, the former nanny of Jane and Michael Banks, returning after a family tragedy.

My Opinion:

This was fine. Somewhat enjoyable. A bit “So what?”. Completely pointless. I’ve been getting very bored with sequels, prequels, reboots, etc etc etc. I want to see something new. We have a fantastic Mary Poppins film already with a practically perfect Julie Andrews (she’s actually perfect – Andrews IS Mary Poppins). I know reboots, etc, work occasionally and I admit that it can be fun to once again see beloved characters. I think I come across as grumpy too often on this blog! I like the continuation of stories with characters that I like sometimes. But I don’t like when they feel like cash-grabs and/or they feel pointless or just don’t work and feel like inferior copies. Mary Poppins Returns felt like an inferior copy to me.

The thing I disliked the most about this movie is what I thought I would most enjoy: I really didn’t like Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins. I normally love Blunt and thought she was the perfect choice when cast. The way she speaks in this got on my nerves (too posh – it sounded phoney) and this film actually made the character somewhat unlikeable. She seemed too stern whereas Andrews was also stern but there was a kindness and playfulness that Blunt didn’t manage to convey. To be fair, I’ve not read the books and Blunt’s version may be more faithful. But a lot of us grew up watching Andrews so I can’t help but compare Blunt to Mary Poppins in the original film. Andrews will always be the only Mary Poppins to me.

The other thing they were never going to live up to in this was the songs in the original film, which are some of the catchiest Disney songs ever. I saw this about a week ago and I can’t say I can immediately remember how any of the songs went. There were a couple that were okay but nothing very memorable, unlike things like A Spoonful Of Sugar or Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Okay – one final thing & then I’ll try to say something nice: The story in this was pretty dull as well. Not that anyone is watching this for some complex plot so this isn’t a huge complaint for me. It was just such a predictable & uninteresting story.

Now onto the good things about this movie! I thought some of the sets looked pretty great (I enjoyed the dance number with Lin-Manuel Miranda and the lamplighters as well as the lovely balloon bit at the end). The film was colorful and I loved the costumes, especially what Mary Poppins wore (I like her funky shoes). Speaking of Lin-Manuel Miranda, I liked his character. He was probably my favorite of the new main characters (I found most the others a bit dull, though, and Meryl Streep’s bit was a bit stupid and felt thrown in there just to add Meryl Streep to yet another movie). Oh, and my favorite bits of all: Dick Van Dyke and especially Angela F*^king Lansbury!

Lansbury rules! Love her so much. Have loved her since Murder, She Wrote, which is a totally awesome show (don’t you dare tell me otherwise). And she’s Mrs. Potts, people! And she sounds exactly the same now at 93 as she did in Beauty And The Beast! Lansbury is a national treasure, just like Julie Andrews. By the way – why didn’t Andrews have a cameo?? Perhaps it’s better she’s not associated with this version but giving Lansbury & Van Dyke cameos was the best thing this movie did and really added to my enjoyment. I briefly felt like a kid again thanks to them. I’ll give this movie half a point more just for the addition of Lansbury & Van Dyke…

My Rating: 6.5/10

Splendor In The Grass (1961) Blind Spot Review

Splendor In The Grass (1961)

Directed by Elia Kazan

Starring: Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty, Pat Hingle, Audrey Christie, Barbara Loden, Zohra Lampert, Fred Stewart, Joanna Roos, John McGovern, Jan Norris, Martine Bartlett, Gary Lockwood, Sandy Dennis, Crystal Field, Marla Adams, Lynn Loring, Phyllis Diller, Sean Garrison

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A fragile Kansas girl’s love for a handsome young man from the town’s most powerful family drives her to heartbreak and madness.

My Opinion:

First, these are the 2018 Blind Spot films I managed to watch this year, from my least favorite to favorite:

8. Tetsuo: The Iron Man
7. Atonement
6. Gleaming The Cube
5. The French Connection
4. Citizen Kane
3. Metropolis
2. Splendor In The Grass
1. Enter The Dragon

Splendor In The Grass was going to be a 2019 Blind Spot choice but it was on TV so I decided to take the opportunity to watch it this year instead. I’m glad I did. I loved it. In ranking these above, I kept changing the order around between this & Metropolis but, while Metropolis is the better and more iconic film, Splendor In The Grass is the one I enjoyed more. It’s quite a girly film for me but I love a devastating, heartbreaking love story. Love should be painful! And god I love some good sexual tension in movies. It was palpable in this. It reminded me a bit of Brief Encounter. So much sexual frustration!

A big reason I wanted to see this was because I wanted to explore more of Natalie Wood’s films. She’s fantastic in this and entirely to thank for this film being so raw and emotional. She makes this movie the classic that it is. Warren Beatty is fine (this was his very first movie role) and they had good chemistry but I think his and all the other roles in this movie could’ve easily been filled by other actors and it wouldn’t have made a difference. Natalie Wood is the true star here and your heart breaks for her and you seriously want these two to rip each other’s clothes off and just have some damn fun. She was so lovely. I mean, look how lovely she is in this mustard top. Who the hell looks good in mustard?!

I suppose there’s also the real-life mysterious drowning of Natalie Wood which now makes the film feel even more tragic. In her despair & heartbreak, her character tries to drown herself and it’s widely known now that she had a terrible fear of water and was dreading doing that scene. This is from IMDb trivia:

“For the scene in which Deanie tries to drown herself in the lake, Natalie Wood asked Elia Kazan if she could do it in a controlled studio tank because she had a great fear of water – particularly dark water. “I assured her it was a very shallow lake and that her feet would always be close to the bottom,” said Kazan. “She said that even if her feet were on the bottom, she’d be in a panic of fear about it. So I asked my assistant, Charlie Maguire, to get into the water with her, just out of camera range, while she played the scene of struggling to save herself. This didn’t entirely reassure her, but she did the scene and did it well – then clutched Charlie. ‘Cut!’ I cried. On dry land she continued to shake with fear, then laughed hysterically, with relief.”

This is one of those films that wouldn’t necessarily be loved by everyone nowadays. I think it depends on if you can watch an older film (this was made in 1961 but set in 1928) and judge it by the standards of its time and when it was set. I see too many people judge older movies based on today’s ideals & morals and it always annoys me. Times change and people change. This movie has very outdated ideas on sex and the roles of men & women but that’s just the way things were. Wood’s character is a “good girl” and expected to stay that way while Beatty’s character is frustrated by his desire to have sex with her but also knowing he can’t “spoil” her so is actually encouraged to have sex with someone else instead. Beatty’s character is quite an asshole, by today’s standards especially, and there are times when the men in this act in ways that aren’t tolerated anymore (as with Beatty’s sister, who is considered an embarrassment to the family as she’s very promiscuous).

As I said, though, it’s Wood’s heartbreaking performance that made this movie such an emotional experience plus I’m always a sucker for tragic romance over a traditional “and they lived happily ever after” fairytale. Give me pain & tragedy! It feels more real. If that’s your type of thing, I think you may enjoy this film and I’d certainly recommend it if you want to see Wood at her best. I loved this movie and it’s probably one of my favorite Blind Spot choices in the three years I’ve been doing the Blind Spot Project.

My Rating: 8.5/10

Metropolis (1927) Blind Spot Review

Metropolis (1927)

Directed by Fritz Lang

Based on Metropolis (1925 novel) by Thea von Harbou

Starring: Alfred Abel, Brigitte Helm, Gustav Fröhlich, Rudolf Klein-Rogge

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 89 as of 01/01/13

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city’s mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.

My Opinion:

First, these are the 2018 Blind Spot films I managed to watch this year, from my least favorite to favorite:

8. Tetsuo: The Iron Man
7. Atonement
6. Gleaming The Cube
5. The French Connection
4. Citizen Kane
3. Splendor In The Grass
2. Metropolis
1. Enter The Dragon

Well, I didn’t manage to watch my 12 Blind Spot choices this year as life got too busy but at least I watched eight. Better than nothing! And five of them were well worth the time and definitely worthy Blind Spot picks. The best was indeed Metropolis, which I’ve weirdly been putting off seeing for years despite loving the look of it and liking plenty of silent films. I watched it months ago but also put off reviewing it as it’s one of those where I don’t feel I have enough knowledge to do it any sort of justice. What can I say about it that hasn’t been said? It’s a brilliant, gorgeous film and so eerily ahead of its time. Oh, and yes I loved Enter The Dragon so I have it at number one in the above list. Of course Metropolis is the superior film but I always rank according to what I enjoyed the most and I had more fun with Enter The Dragon. I also absolutely adored Splendor In The Grass and did have that at number two until now as it moved me in a way that Metropolis didn’t but putting Metropolis below it just didn’t seem right as it’s a damn masterpiece. But I may change my mind & switch the order again. I’m like that. (I’ll try to review Splendor In The Grass tomorrow)

Metropolis of course also counts as part of my IMDb Top 250 Project. As I started that in 2013, I’m still working off that list. It breaks my heart to see old films slowly being knocked off that list & replaced with modern ones. Since 2013, Metropolis has dropped from 89 to 110. I just looked now to see what’s higher and got thoroughly annoyed at six Christopher Nolan movies having higher ratings than Metropolis. No way! Am I seriously the only person who thinks Nolan is massively overrated? I’ve only truly liked one of his movies (The Prestige). And Avengers: Infinity War is a fun film but it sure as shit isn’t Top 250 material. Okay – I’ll shut the hell up since I’ve ranked Enter The Dragon above Metropolis so I guess people just like what they like.

What I find interesting is that Fritz Lang’s film M, which I reviewed HERE, is actually higher in the list than Metropolis. Although it’s also a visual masterpiece and a brilliant example of filmmaking done right, I don’t think it’s the better film of the two. I can see why it’s higher, though, as it’s a more “accessible” film for a modern audience. It’s not silent, which I know puts some people off. It’s also a fantastic crime thriller, which is a genre with lots of fans. It’s a genre I rarely like, though. Give me sci-fi and fantasy. Metropolis is right up my alley but I can fully understand why some would find it overlong and probably even boring, although that makes me a little sad. I mean, look at these amazing images! Look! WOW. This is from 1927! Did this not blow people’s minds back then?? It must have. Although, in reading about it, it had some very negative reviews at the time.

The most negative review I saw on Wikipedia was from H.G. Wells, “who accused it of “foolishness, cliché, platitude, and muddlement about mechanical progress and progress in general.” He faulted Metropolis for its premise that automation created drudgery rather than relieving it, wondered who was buying the machines’ output if not the workers, and found parts of the story derivative of Shelley’s Frankenstein.” A lot of reviewers at the time called the story silly & simplistic. I think it has stood the test of time pretty well, especially considering how long ago it was made, but it’s not as scarily prophetic as some later sci-fi films exploring similar themes and ideas involving the future of mankind. There’s still a huge divide between the rich and the poor but our world looks very different from Lang’s vision and he never could have predicted today’s technology and the way in which it controls us mentally more than physically. We’re living in a dystopian future as predicted but it’s a very different dystopia than Lang predicted. So, while this film is stunningly beautiful, I can’t say I connected with it quite as much as some other sci-fi classics when it came to the overall story.

Before I end this so called review, I figured I should also mention The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari as it’s another example of German Expressionism in film. That’s two silent German Expressionist movies I’ve seen! I’m, like, an expert now! Okay – I have zero knowledge on this topic. All I know is that it looks cool as shit and I could spend all day looking at the type of imagery used in these two films. It’s stark and haunting and a little bit creepy and I love it. I like my art a little bit creepy (H.R. Giger is the best). So, again, this is my type of thing but won’t be to everyone’s taste. I admit to being a sucker for great visuals in a film. Give me great imagery & cinematography and I’m happy. Add a beautiful score as well and I’m over the damn moon, such as in a Sergio Leone/Ennio Morricone Spaghetti Western. That’s epic filmmaking. That’s the type of thing I expect when I think “Top 250 Films Of All Time”. Metropolis is iconic, beautiful, and epic. To me, at least. To others, it’s probably boring as shit. Story-wise, it’s not perfect. It’s a little bit messy and I can see how those at the time probably found it pretentious. Would I stick a Metropolis poster up in my cinema room (if I was rich & had such a thing)? Hell Yeah! The film is a work of art. Is it a new all-time favorite film of mine? No, I’ll admit it’s not. If I’m honest, I’ll put Splendor In The Grass just above it on my list. I enjoyed it more. I told you I’d probably change my mind! But nothing can top the artistry of Metropolis.

My Rating: 8.5/10

The King’s Speech (2010) IMDB Top 250 Review

The King’s Speech (2010)

Directed by Tom Hooper

Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Timothy Spall, Derek Jacobi, Jennifer Ehle, Michael Gambon

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 160 as of 01/01/13

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The story of King George VI, his impromptu ascension to the throne of the British Empire in 1936, and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch overcome his stammer.

My Opinion:

Happy Boxing Day! I love this day. I prefer this day to Christmas Day. Far less stressful! Which is why I’ve decided to do a mega quick & lazy review of The King’s Speech, which was one of only three movies I managed to watch for my IMDb Top 250 Project in 2018. I’m seriously slacking on that! (The other two were Citizen Kane & Metropolis, which I’ll review tomorrow).

I didn’t get around to this review as I don’t have much to say about this movie. I hate that. I mean, it’s a good film but I find my reviews only get wordy when I really love or really hate a film (I ramble on for ages when I really hate something). Too many films are somewhere in between: Enjoyable enough while watching them but somewhat forgettable. The King’s Speech is like that. And it won Best Picture at the Oscars! Hmm. Here’s what it beat:

127 Hours (not seen it – there’s that arm bit – ew)
Black Swan (certainly more memorable than The King’s Speech)
The Fighter (meh)
Inception (Nolan is overrated)
The Kids Are All Right (meh)
The Social Network (decent film but also meh)
Toy Story 3 (yeah, I prefer this to The King’s Speech)
True Grit (not seen it)
Winter’s Bone (meh)

Okay – it looks like it was a weak year for films. Now I’m wondering what wasn’t nominated at all that may have been better than these (I’m too lazy to bother looking into that).

I remember that I watched this just after watching Darkest Hour so it was interesting seeing that same time period in English history. Movies are the only way I gain any knowledge of history – I have such a Hollywood version of world history in my head. Pathetic, I know. What can I say? I prefer sci-fi & fantasy. I remember thinking Timothy Spall made for a terrible Winston Churchill in this compared to Gary Oldman’s brilliant performance. Not that it matters – it was a very small part since this movie is about King George VI. Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter were all truly fantastic in their roles. That’s why it won Best Picture. Those Academy voters love historical dramas with English accents. Well, Rush isn’t English but Americans can’t tell the difference anyway…

Colin Firth won Best Actor for this, which I think was fair enough. He’s very good in this but I find him rather boring. He plays this stuffy sort of role so often (which is why I guess it was kind of fun seeing him in Kingsman: The Secret Service). I really enjoyed Helena Bonham Carter’s performance and think she deserved an Oscar as well instead of Melissa Leo in The Fighter. Hell, I don’t even remember Leo’s performance – I only remember her swearing in her acceptance speech. To be fair, Bonham Carter plays these stuffy sort of roles more often than Firth but I don’t find her boring. She’s damn good. I’ve never considered myself a fan but I think she always gives a great performance. Maybe I am a fan?? I’ve not watched her stuffiest stuff, though. Maybe I should check out some of that Merchant Ivory shit?? As for Geoffrey Rush, he’s fantastic in this too and also deserved an Oscar (instead of Christian Bale in The Fighter – I hate Bale). But I think Geoffrey Rush is the latest celeb in trouble for some sex stuff from the past so I’ll say no more. At this rate, I’ll have to delete half my blog if I have to get rid of any mention of certain actors…

I said I’d keep this short. The King’s Speech is a good film with fantastic performances. It’s one of those “one-time watch” movies, though. I’m glad I’ve seen it and I did actually enjoy it but I can’t imagine ever watching it again for any reason. It’s certainly weak compared to all the other Best Picture winners & nominees in the history of the Oscars. It’s certainly not the worst, though (I’m looking at you, The English F*%king Patient!). Since I’m a sad & pathetic list maniac, I did rank every Best Picture Oscar Winner I’ve seen HERE and I’ve now added The King’s Speech. It’s toward the bottom but I did enjoy it. I feel like I’m being too harsh on this one! It’s just not all-time classic “Best Picture” material. Or IMDb Top 250 material, which is why I think this has actually now dropped out of that list (I started this project in 2013 so I’m still working off the list from that time).

My Rating: 7/10

Journey to Agartha (aka Children Who Chase Lost Voices) (2011) Review

Journey to Agartha (aka Children Who Chase Lost Voices)
星を追う子ども
Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo

Directed & Written by Makoto Shinkai

Starring: Hisako Kanemoto, Kazuhiko Inoue, Miyu Irino

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A coming of age story involving young love and a mysterious music, coming from a crystal radio left as a memento by an absent father, that leads a young heroine deep into a hidden world.

My Opinion:

I’d been meaning to watch this film for ages. It was recommended to me by S.G. of Rhyme And Reason a very long time ago & I picked up the DVD right away but then it sat on a shelf for years (like most DVDs I buy). Thanks for the recommendation, S.G.! Like Shinkai’s other work, it’s a lovely film and I really enjoyed it. I have to say I slightly prefer his other films, though, which I didn’t expect as the story in Journey To Agartha is much more “me”.

This anime is from director Makoto Shinkai, who also made Your Name and two beautiful short films that I watched recently: 5 Centimetres Per Second & The Garden Of Words. I’m still fairly new to anime so I stick to the most mainstream stuff and admit that Studio Ghibli will always be what I love the most. Beyond that, Shinkai & Mamoru Hosoda (Wolf Children, Summer Wars, etc) are the two main directors I’ve been exploring. So far, I think I slightly prefer Shinkai’s work. This is mainly because of his style more than the actual stories themselves: his films are beautiful works of art. They’re all very “teenage love story”, though, so I was looking forward to Journey To Agartha as it sounded like a far more interesting plot. It’s “weird” and much darker than the other Shinkai films I’ve seen.

But I couldn’t really get into this one. I think the reason was partly because I couldn’t help but keep comparing it some of the Miyazaki Ghiblis. It’s a bit of Castle In The Sky crossed with Howl’s Moving Castle and a sprinkle of Spirited Away. Those are brilliant, of course, so nothing from other directors or studios can really compare to them. When I want that sort of style, I watch a Ghibli film. From the little I’ve seen, I prefer when Shinkai has stuck to his own style. Your Name worked really well for him so I don’t think he needs to try to make a Ghibli-inspired film. I also didn’t really connect with the characters in this one in the same way I did with those in his other films (such as the woman in The Garden Of Words – she was a strong character). The story in this was also intriguing but the plot was a little messy (but Howl’s Moving Castle can be accused of that too).

I do think this film really picked up at the end, though. The climactic scene was pretty cool & intense (don’t let your young kids watch this one – it’s aimed at an older audience). And this dude was pretty groovy, even though he’s one of the most obvious Ghibli-inspired things:

Oh yeah! And I forgot that the girl’s animal companion in this reminded me very much of the one in Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind:

Overall, I definitely enjoyed Journey To Agartha but I haven’t yet seen an anime film that I’ve not enjoyed. This one won’t be an absolute favorite, though. I think my expectations may have been a little high as, looking at the images, it looked like one I’d love. However, I’d like to give it another try sometime as I watched it after a crappy night out so probably wasn’t in the right kind of mood. I’ll see what the kid thinks of it once she’s a couple of years older and I’ll see if my opinion changes on a re-watch. For now, I’m a bigger fan of Your Name.

My Rating: 7/10

I’ll be reviewing Mamoru Hosoda’s Mirai later today. I can’t quite decide if I preferred Journey To Agartha or Mirai…

Ralph Breaks The Internet, The Nutcracker And The Four Realms & The Grinch Movie Reviews

Three more quickies today as I try to catch up on reviewing the 2018 films I’ve seen. Two of these were okay (just okay) and one was pretty dreadful…

Ralph Breaks The Internet (2018)

Directed by Rich Moore & Phil Johnston

Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, Ed O’Neill

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Six years after the events of “Wreck-It Ralph,” Ralph and Vanellope, now friends, discover a wi-fi router in their arcade, leading them into a new adventure.

My Opinion:

I love the first Wreck-It Ralph. I think it’s easily one of the better Disney films of recent years and I appreciated that it felt like such an original idea. Hell, it’s almost as good as Pixar’s films! (Almost). And being a lover of the Eighties, I of course loved the classic video game element. Therefore, it was likely that I wouldn’t enjoy this sequel as much. It doesn’t have the magic of the first film (as is often the case with sequels). And it also loses the simple video game innocence of the first film by making the Internet the focus of this one (and having all the brand names in your face constantly). I hate the Internet. Okay… I’m on it all the damn time… (like now). But I’d still rather be living in the pre-Internet Eighties again.

I’ll start with the best thing about this sequel: Ralph & Vanellope. I love these characters and they’re just as loveable in the sequel as in the first film. Actually, Vanellope is even better in this one – she’s much sweeter since becoming friends with Ralph. They make this movie worth watching and I did really enjoy seeing them again even though I didn’t like the story itself all that much. I also enjoyed the “Oh My Disney” bit. It kind of goes against saying I wasn’t crazy about all the commercialism but I admit that I love Disney. I’m a Disney whore! I love going into the damn Disney Store. I’m such a child. So, I did really like seeing Vanellope with all the Disney princesses. Those bits were a lot of fun and I liked spotting so many other Disney characters & references. Oh and I loved that one cameo (don’t want to spoil it)! Screw it – This is a Disney film. They’re allowed to Disney-fy the crap out of it! I liked those bits just fine.

Where it fails is when it talks about eBay & memes & viral videos & etc etc etc. And the end gets a bit bizarre and didn’t really work for me at all. I really missed the innocence of the first film. This was okay but where can they go from here? It was just a little disappointing but my expectations weren’t too high anyway since Disney sequels are rarely all that great. Oh, but the end credits scenes were brilliant! There are two: one partway through the credits and one at the very end. I highly recommend staying for them as they’re pretty much better than the entire movie itself.

My Rating: 7/10

The Nutcracker And The Four Realms (2018)

Directed by Lasse Hallström & Joe Johnston

Based on The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E. T. A. Hoffmann & The Nutcracker by Marius Petipa

Starring: Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Foy, Eugenio Derbez, Matthew Macfadyen, Richard E. Grant, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
This is a retelling of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s short story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” and Marius Petipa’s The Nutcracker, about a young girl who is gifted a locked egg from her deceased mother and sets out in a magical land to retrieve the key.

My Opinion:

Wow – this has very negative reviews & ratings on IMDb. I don’t fully understand why. I think people were definitely too harsh on this one. No, it’s certainly not great and is quite weak for a Disney film but it was lovely to look at and had a fun story. Hell, I enjoyed it more than that live-action and completely pointless Beauty And The Beast. At least this is a story I didn’t already know and isn’t a re-hash of a far superior film.

Maybe the story was a little too weird for audiences these days? People don’t really go for anything slightly bizarre anymore. As I said, it’s quite a lovely looking film and I liked that it felt a bit like Narnia at first. It makes for a good winter movie in the lead up to Christmas. I also thought the main girl was very good, just as she was in Interstellar (she was the only good thing about that overblown Nolan film).

And Morgan Freeman is in this. Yay! (Am I allowed to admit to loving him again yet? Are people over the “oh my god, he said flirty things to women!” bullshit?). And Helen Mirren – I like that saucy minx too. Unfortunately, Keira Knightley is in this as well. Have I mentioned that she annoys me? (Yes, I have. Many times). Speaking of her and how I said in my previous review that I’m a Disney whore: Knightley recently got on her high horse again and said she doesn’t let her kid(s?) watch Disney movies because they’re a bad influence and blah blah blah. Screw that. How about you talk to them & teach them the difference between reality & fantasy and then let them watch what every other kid watches and enjoys? Are they not allowed to watch this movie, then???

Anyway. This movie was okay but it was also missing something. I can’t quite figure out what it was missing, though. It has the right elements to make it a family classic but it’s already fading from my mind only a few weeks after seeing it. Maybe it’s Knightley’s fault! Her role is too big. She got on my nerves, especially with that stupid voice she put on. Yeah, let’s blame her. Otherwise, this is a decent enough family Disney movie that doesn’t quite deserve the horrible reviews it has had.

My Rating: 6.5/10

The Grinch (2018)

Directed by Scott Mosier & Yarrow Cheney

Based on How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Cameron Seely, Angela Lansbury

Narrated by Pharrell Williams

Music by Danny Elfman

Plot Synopsis (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows the Grinch as he plans to ruin Whoville’s Christmas celebration by stealing all the town’s decorations and gifts.

My Opinion:

Ugh. No. Okay – I’m a big fan of the 1966 American TV classic How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Who isn’t?! That show has been a yearly American tradition for ages now. It’s one of the most beloved holiday TV specials. That’s why they shouldn’t have done this film. They were never going to live up to something that is, quite frankly, almost complete perfection.

Speaking of movies fading from my mind only a few weeks after seeing them, I can barely remember a thing about The Grinch now. I remember liking his adorable and long-suffering dog Max, but the same goes for the 1966 version anyway. I think the biggest problem with this version is this: The Grinch isn’t enough of an asshole. TV Grinch was gloriously mean. Then, to make it even worse, this movie added a bullshit backstory to help explain why The Grinch is a bit of an asshole. We don’t need a stupid backstory! Can’t someone just be an asshole for the hell of it? I mean, I’m a bit of an asshole for no good reason. This is probably why I’ve always slightly preferred The Grinch before his heart grows. He’s damn funny at the beginning of the 1966 version. He’s boring as shit in this lifeless adaptation.

Oh well – I guess it’s still not as bad as that Jim Carrey monstrosity, which is one of my most-hated movies of all time. Just leave The Grinch the fuck alone, Hollywood. That’s what he wants anyway! Oh, and why the hell did they have Pharrell Williams only narrate this movie and not do the music as well? His music is one of the things that makes Despicable Me so great. Illumination is clearly never going to live up to that film ever again.

My Rating: 4.5/10