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.
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) cameobut 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.
I’m determined to catch up on reviewing the films I’ve seen in the cinema this year. Here are three quick reviews I never got around to and I have three more quickies ready for tomorrow (Ralph Breaks The Internet, The Nutcracker And The Four Realms, and The Grinch. Merry Christmas! I know you desperately need to know my stupid opinion on movies…
A Simple Favor (2018)
Directed by Paul Feig
Based on A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) A Simple Favor follows a small town vlogger who tries to solve the disappearance of her mysterious and rich best friend.
I went to this one night with no expectations as I had a couple of hours to spare. I enjoyed the shit out of this! It’s a fun film. A “chick flick” with dark humor and a fucking filthy mouth from Blake Lively, who gives her husband’s Deadpool character a run for his money. To be fair, I wouldn’t call this a chick flick but any movie with two female leads tends to be labelled with that annoying title. As a girl who isn’t very girly, I appreciate a movie with female leads that isn’t all soppy romantic bullshit or Bridget Fucking Jones or Mamma Barf-O-Mia (no offense to anyone who likes those). 😉 But this is more my type of chick flick.
Anna Kendrick & Blake Lively are far from favorite actresses of mine but they couldn’t have been more perfect for these roles: Kendrick as a nerdy prude and Lively as a beautiful, sophisticated bitch. They both seemed to be having a lot of fun and were pretty damn hilarious. I feel that actresses are rarely given any credit for being funny. Sorry – here’s a quick rant that I’ve had before: Speaking of the director, Paul Feig, he also did Bridesmaids. I don’t like Bridesmaids – it’s not my type of humor. But I can’t deny that there are funny moments and the women in it were very good for that type of film. The Hangover has very similar humor but an all-male cast and a much higher rating on IMDb. Neither are my thing but Bridesmaids is the far superior “dumb comedy”. There seems to be a real backlash anytime women do comedy. It’s odd.
Rant over! Back to this movie. This film falls into several categories and I kind of loved that it’s hard to define. Dark comedy, crime, mystery, thriller… The story has twists and it keeps you guessing and it’s kind of stupid but it’s meant to be silly. It was a great “chill out” movie – you’re not meant to take the mystery too seriously. I don’t know if this will make some turn their noses up but it reminded me of the pulpy mystery thrillers that are guilty reading pleasures of mine sometimes (but with added black humor, making things much more fun). Plus, Lively’s hubby was a hottie so that was enjoyable too.
I won’t say much more as this is a movie where you’re better off not knowing too much about the plot beforehand. If you watch it with an open mind & don’t take the story too seriously you should have a good time.
My Rating: 7.5/10
American Animals (2018)
Directed by Bart Layton
Starring: Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, Jared Abrahamson, Udo Kier, Ann Dowd
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) American Animals is based on the true story of a library heist that happened at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky in 2004.
Okay – American Animals is a far more worthy film than A Simple Favor. However, it almost bored me to tears. Considering that the true story involving a bizarre library heist is really damn interesting, they somehow managed to make this film a bit of a snoozefest. Well, okay – the heist itself was exciting but it takes ages to get to that small part of the film. I think the biggest problem may be that it’s part-documentary, which didn’t really work. So it went back & forth between the actors acting it out & the real-life guys talking about it. This could’ve worked but it just didn’t. It gave the film a weird flow plus the main actor looking nothing whatsoever like the real guy was somewhat distracting.
Huh. I really have nothing more to say about this. It was disappointing. It actually would’ve made for a much better full-out documentary instead. At least they tried something a little different style-wise, I guess. Oh! I did like that they looked like the Beastie Boys in the Sabotage video when they put on their cheesy 70’s-looking disguises for the heist. Funny.
My Rating: 6/10
Slaughterhouse Rulez (2018)
Directed by Crispian Mills
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Finn Cole, Hermione Corfield, Michael Sheen, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Margot Robbie
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) An illustrious British boarding school becomes a bloody battleground when a mysterious sinkhole appears at a nearby fracking site unleashing unspeakable horror.
Wow. This was pretty dreadful. I was excited for this one before it came out as I think a lot of us saw “horror comedy” and the names Simon Pegg & Nick Frost and thought we’d have another Shaun Of The Dead on our hands. Ha! Not even close.
The idea was a good one: fracking causing creatures to come to the surface & attack a snobby boarding school. Plus, I wanted to see this as it was partly filmed at Chislehurst Caves in Kent. I’ve been there. I think I’ve been to most the tourist caves in England plus the catacombs in Paris. I have a weird fascination with creepy, underground places. Anyway – Chislehurst Caves is a cool place & I recommend checking it out if you’re a weirdo like me. Maybe I’ll help Kent tourism! Here’s their website: Chislehurt Caves. Here’s an image from the website:
Oh. Was I meant to be talking about Slaughterhouse Rulez? I honestly can’t be arsed. It was a wasted cinema trip but just about good enough to check out on Netflix if you want to zone out to something stupid. The main characters are fairly decent so it’s good that you want them to survive and the remaining over-the-top rich asshole students to die. Pegg & Frost are odd and there was really no point of having them in the film at all. Oh, and Margot Robbie is nothing more than a cameo on a screen so don’t get all excited thinking she’s in this. And I currently can’t even remember what the creatures looked like so that’s not saying much.
Music by Basement Jaxx & Steven Price
Running time: 88 minutes
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) Attack the Block is set on a council estate in South London on Guy Fawkes Night, and, with some coming of age themes, the plot centres on a teenage street gang who have to defend themselves from predatory alien invaders.
I watched this months ago & I’m still not really sure why I did. A movie about a bunch of teenage thugs? A group of people everyone hates?! The UK has enough of a problem with teenagers who engage in intimidating, anti-social, and sometimes criminal behavior while wearing hooded sweatshirts over their heads to hide their faces. They’re a very unsympathetic group so I think a lot of people were a bit “Really?” when a movie came out about teenage thugs fighting aliens. In fact, this movie starts out with our group of teen “heroes” mugging a woman at knifepoint. So how could I possibly like this movie?? I don’t know but I really did! Attack The Block falls into a category I’m always happy to be able to add to: Pleasant Surprise.
I should first address the fact that John Boyega stars in this film. I’m sure all movie bloggers know his name but, come December, the general public will as well since he has a large role in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. He’s been in very little so far so I’m sure Attack The Block has gotten more attention since he got the Episode VII role as people will now be curious to see what he’s like. Well, I’d say Attack The Block is well worth the watch if you’re at all curious. Boyega was very good in this (actually the best thing about it besides the pretty cool aliens) & I can’t wait to see how he does in his Star Wars role now. Oh, and I of course still also highly recommend Ex Machina to see an excellent sci-fi film starring TWO Episode VII actors: Domhnall Gleeson & Oscar Isaac. Actually, these two films would make a cool sci-fi double feature! It would also go very well with another action packed & violent film in which a London street kid becomes the “hero” – Kingsman: The Secret Service. Yeah! These two would be great fun to watch together…
Just so you know, in case you do watch this, I didn’t exactly hate teenagers any less after watching this. The woman they mug at the beginning has to team up with them later against the alien invaders and most of the teens continue to be disrespectful little pricks. Apart from Boyega’s character, no one exactly “sees the light” & decides to no longer be a teenage criminal or some shit like that. But, hey – this isn’t a Disney movie! It’s a rather violent sci-fi action movie and it’s just meant to be fun. Not every movie needs a moral. There are lots of angry reviews on IMDB from people who hate the behavior of the kids in this but, seriously – lighten up, people! Teenagers are horrible. Always have been, always will be. At least a movie actually portrays modern day teens accurately for a change.
Now that I’ve made this movie sound horrible, I should try to explain why it’s not. Actually, I’m not sure why I enjoyed this so much, to be honest! Part of the reason is probably because I thought the aliens were pretty cool & effective. For the budget, I think they got the right balance in making what appears to be actors in furry gorilla suits look surprisingly good. I’m old school so I hate the overuse of CGI. I mean, look at Alien & Aliens! NOTHING has ever again looked as cool as those films do. And look at original trilogy Star Wars compared to CGI-bullshit prequel Star Wars! Give me puppet Yoda & get your CGI out of my face. Okay – one of the coolest things about these aliens is that they have these scary, glowing jaws & teeth that may have involved a little CGI? I’m not entirely sure but a little is fine! I know I read the filmmakers used as little CGI as they could get away with in this film. They kept the alien design very simple & I liked that a lot and think it worked really well for this film. I’ll keep the look of them a surprise for anyone who hasn’t seen this but it kind of sucks that all I then have to post is a bunch of pictures of hooded teens, making this look like some London gang film instead of a cool alien sci-fi movie. Hmm. Here’s a picture of the lady they mug. And Nick Frost, who plays the council estate’s weed dealer.
Attack The Block is a really fun alien invasion movie with a lot of action (and quite a bit of violence – I wouldn’t actually let the youngest teens who starred in this watch it!). The aliens had a great look to them and I found the setting of a South London council estate to be a very original idea for a sci-fi film. While some of the teenage thugs are unlikeable, there are a few who aren’t and they did a good job giving all the characters their own personalities considering that it’s a fairly large cast. I’m a fan of Basement Jaxx, who did the score, and they threw one of my very favorite rap songs in here (Sound Of Da Police by KRS-One). I’m interested in seeing what will happen with Joe Cornish’s career as he’s co-written Ant-Man & will be making the Snow Crash film. Attack The Block is from the producers of other British films such as Shaun Of The Dead & Hot Fuzz and, although it’s not a “comedy” in the same way those are (even though it’s labeled as action, comedy & sci-fi), I think you may like it if you liked those. It’s certainly not as good as Shaun Of The Dead but I’d have to say I preferred it to Hot Fuzz. It’s more my kind of thing, though – I love a good alien invasion movie.
Production company: Laika
Running time: 96 minutes
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film tells the story of an orphaned boy named Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) who was raised by underground cave-dwelling trash collecting trolls called the Boxtrolls. The Boxtrolls are targeted by an evil exterminator named Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) and Eggs has to save his family from Snatcher.
I’ll get straight to the point: I didn’t enjoy this one. At all. I really really wanted to! I thought it looked very promising. Last Halloween, I watched and reviewed ParaNorman and I liked that one a lot. However, I also fell asleep halfway through Coraline YEARS ago and never bothered to finish it, so… I guess that’s only 1 out of 3 Laika films I’ve liked so far. Hmm.
I’ll give The Boxtrolls this: the stop-motion animation is amazing! I can’t fault that in the slightest. I also really liked the overall look & style of the movie. What I didn’t like, however, were the characters or the story so I really couldn’t buy into it all despite the boxtrolls themselves being pretty likeable. Unfortunately, they weren’t IN the movie enough. There was far more focus on the human characters than I was expecting and I got very bored when the boxtrolls weren’t onscreen. I could kind of take or leave the main boy in it (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) but I found the girl (Elle Fanning) quite annoying, especially her voice which I think just didn’t work for the character. Unfortunately, the rest of the human characters were even worse (although I suppose the baddie, Ben Kingsley, is at least a very memorable character). Seriously – The Boxtrolls needed more boxtrolls! I liked them just fine. Although I do this ALL the time when I watch a movie at home, I never do this when I go to the cinema: I fell asleep off & on somewhere in the middle of this thing when it was just the annoying human characters onscreen. Probably not a good sign… 😉
I’m not going to ramble on about this one. Is it bad? No. It just wasn’t for me. If you think it’s your type of thing or that your kids will like it, don’t let me talk you out of going to it. My hubby liked it FAR more than I did. The five-year-old with us also seemed to like it okay, so…. Maybe it IS just me! The movie is an odd one. As for the age it’s suitable for, it’s certainly not as scary as ParaNorman or Coraline, which I would never let a five-year-old watch. This one is aimed younger than those but I’d say kids would have to be six or seven for the most part to actually appreciate it and the main bad guy is probably far too scary for those under five or so. As always, though, every kid is different.
Super Short Summary:
I just didn’t like this one. Sorry! Giving it a lower rating would be unfair, however, as I know it’s not “bad”. Based on ParaNorman, I’d still watch another film made by Laika. Awesome stop-motion animation, at the very least!
Poster by Tyler Stout for Mondo. Link here for this & alternate poster: SlashFilm
1. Shaun of the Dead
The first and still the best. I don’t have a lot of history with Simon Pegg & Co. I watched Shaun of the Dead in the cinema when it came out and it was my first experience with them. And I thought it was pretty good! I’m a HUGE fan of Romero’s zombie films (especially Dawn of the Dead) so a zombie comedy spoof was something I was more than happy to watch. As I watched The World’s End and Hot Fuzz for the first time last week, I thought it was time to re-watch Shaun as well & review all three.
I appreciate Shaun of the Dead more after this second viewing. I think it starts out VERY strong. I like how it takes a while to actually get to the zombies while they take time setting up the characters (these days not many people have the patience to wait that long for the “action”). The two morning walks where the first morning is normal and the second one is clearly not yet Shaun is completely oblivious to all the zombies lurking about is brilliant and probably my favorite bit of the film. This is closely followed by the other best bit of the film where Shaun & Ed discover zombies in the back garden and proceed to defend themselves with some vinyl records (but not the REALLY good ones…).
Shaun & Ed are of course great characters and Shaun’s girlfriend is fine. I also really liked Shaun’s mother & stepfather but I found Shaun’s girlfriend’s friends slightly annoying. And while the film starts out brilliantly, I do think it loses steam once Shaun & Ed are joined by these friends. I feel this way about all three films, actually. I kind of feel like Shaun of the Dead (and the rest) isn’t sure how it should end. Then it just… Does. Not a horrible ending or anything but just a bit of a let down after such a strong beginning. But still a great movie for its genre.
My Rating: 8/10
2. Hot Fuzz
My least favorite of the three. Not saying I didn’t like it, though – it’s very close between this & The World’s End.
I actually knew next to nothing about Hot Fuzz. I thought it was JUST a buddy cop movie spoof. But it actually ended up being more than that and I liked it better than the film I was expecting to see. I’m not a fan of the “buddy cop movies” that it does spoof (well, other than Point Break. I love Point Break!). So I wasn’t going to go for this one as much as Shaun Of The Dead.
I didn’t buy into Pegg’s or Frost’s characters as much in Fuzz as in Shaun. And while there were some funny moments, nothing really compared to the funny moments in Shaun. I liked the story, though. I don’t know if this is a spoiler but I liked that Fuzz suddenly sort of went all Wicker Man on our asses. Hell, Edward Woodward was even in it! That was fine by me – The Wicker Man is a classic. So, again – not at all the movie I was expecting but that was a good thing in this case. However, I always enjoy a movie more when I feel they’ve done a really good job setting up the characters and I like them or maybe even identify with them in some way. Shaun is superior on story but also far superior when it comes to the characters.
My Rating: 7/10
3. The World’s End
I actually saw this and then immediately watched Hot Fuzz when I got home from the cinema. Although Hot Fuzz is third for me, it’s probably actually a much better “film” than this one. I know it’s not out for ages in America (ha!) but I can see this one dividing people much more than the other two films. Not entirely sure but that’s kind of the impression I get from those in the UK who have seen it so far. I think it’s not going to be for everyone.
So why did I like it more than Hot Fuzz? Well first of all – the genre, like zombie movies, is much more my kind of thing. I love sci-fi. And apocalyptic! Oh I love apocalyptic! (What’s with so much of that this year? You’ll have to check if The World’s End makes my list of My Top Ten Apocalyptic MoviesHERE). 🙂 Secondly, as with Shaun, I think the characters are much stronger than they were in Hot Fuzz. Although this time, not necessarily “likeable”. Finally, because of my age, I was able to identify with some of the themes in The World’s End unlike in Fuzz (mainly the fear of getting older and wanting to relive the past but knowing deep down that none of us can). So, that’s why I prefer The World’s End. Oh, and decent music as well. Although nothing tops Grandmaster Flash in Shaun. 🙂
The World’s End suffers the most of the three in “not knowing how to end”, I think. That’s the bit that will probably most divide people. As for supporting characters (so, other than Pegg’s & Frost’s), I think they’re actually the strongest in The World’s End. I really liked the different personalities of the friends in this one (which helped to make up for the two lead characters being a bit weaker & less likeable than in Shaun). I can see people not liking Pegg’s character in this one but I could really feel for him & what he was going through so I found him to be a good strong character. There’s not much more I can say about this as I try to keep my reviews spoiler-free plot-wise. I did quite enjoy The World’s End although I think it’s definitely flawed. I look forward to seeing what people in the US think of it once it’s out there.
My Rating: 7.5/10
Quote from my hubby on the Cornetto Trilogy:
“I can’t believe they got away with making the same bloody film three times”.
(To be honest, that IS a very accurate summary. Much more concise and to the point than my three reviews.) 😉
Recap for those who don’t actually read my reviews & just scroll to the ratings:
Shaun Of The Dead: 8/10
Hot Fuzz: 7/10
The World’s End: 7.5/10