Dogville (2003) Review

Happy 50th Birthday to Nicole Kidman!

Instead of a birthday Top Ten, I figured I should review Dogville since I watched it recently. Looking at Kidman’s films, there are still a few big ones I need to see before doing a Top Ten anyway so maybe I’ll do that list next year if I’m still blogging. It would be an interesting list as she’s done many different types of films but I’m pretty sure that my current favorites are the underrated To Die For, guilty pleasure Malice, and great ghost story The Others. I’ve never been a huge fan but Kidman has gone up in my estimation in the last few years and I thought she was really good in the Big Little Lies TV series, based on the Liane Moriarty book. I’m looking forward to seeing her in Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled.

Now let’s see what I thought of this three-hour-long Lars von Trier avant-garde play that explores human morality. Woohoo! PARTY! Dogville would make for a fun double feature with The Hateful Eight… 😉

Dogville (2003)

Directed & Written by Lars von Trier

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Lauren Bacall, Chloë Sevigny, Paul Bettany, Stellan Skarsgård, Udo Kier, Ben Gazzara, James Caan

Narrated by John Hurt

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A woman on the run from the mob is reluctantly accepted in a small Colorado town. In exchange, she agrees to work for them. As a search visits town, she finds out that their support has a price. Yet her dangerous secret is never far away…

My Opinion:

This is the third Lars von Trier film I’ve seen after Dancer In The Dark & Melancholia (which I reviewed HERE & which I quite liked. Sort of. I think…). His work is certainly not to everyone’s taste and, in looking up Dogville, critics’ reviews were either “this is a masterpiece” or “what a load of pretentious bollocks” (I’m paraphrasing there but it’s what they meant). I liked Dogville. I preferred Melancholia but both are unique and, so far, I like what I’ve seen of von Trier’s style and think we may have a similar view on people (although I think he seems to have even less faith in humanity than I do).

Dogville’s set up, as a play with very few props and where each house in the small town is shown as an outline from above, took less getting used to than I was expecting. The story & the acting were good enough to not really need props, special effects, etc. If you seriously hate plays I suppose you might not have the patience for this film. However, like with The Hateful Eight, this movie is unnecessarily long. Three hours! It wasn’t needed. I don’t think the extra time really added much depth to the characters – the story could have been told just as well with an hour shaved off. But I’m admittedly getting old & tired & too damn busy to sit through these extra long movies. Then again…. No. It IS too long, dammit. I’m not just being grumpy. When it’s necessary for the story, really great movies don’t feel too long. Seven Samurai doesn’t feel too long. Seven Samurai is a masterpiece.

Dogville is decent. I’m glad I sat through it (in three sittings). But it’s not a masterpiece and it’s not as important as it thinks it is. However, to automatically label it pretentious does seem unfair. Von Trier took a gamble on trying something different that certainly wouldn’t appeal to mainstream audiences (well, duh – that seems to describe all his films) but I think it worked pretty well overall for Dogville.

Kidman was very good and I loved John Hurt’s narration (I’ve added Dogville to My Top Ten John Hurt Movies list of all I’ve seen of his but it just misses out on being in the ten). Actually, Hurt’s voice was probably the very best thing about the film – I’m going to keep exploring his work that I missed out on. He was certainly an underrated actor. As for everyone else, they all did a very good job in making us hate the shit out of them. Paul Bettany had an especially interesting role as the only one who seemed to be on Kidman’s side but, although not directly unkind, he ends up the worst of the lot. I wanted to punch him in the damn face. So… Yeah. You’re meant to hate these characters. And you will. So they all succeed in their roles but, of course, it doesn’t make for a pleasant three hours. It’s a film worth a watch but you’ll need to be in the right frame of mind before giving this one a go. I liked the concept and von Trier’s attempt to explore humanity and what could happen if we had the ability to completely take advantage of someone in need. Would we treat them kindly or not? Von Trier obviously thinks not. I wonder why he hates people so much?! But, I must admit to really liking how this film ends so maybe I’m not so different from the residents of Dogville. Which I suppose is von Trier’s obvious point. But, seriously – he could’ve gotten that point across in well under three hours. 😉

My Rating: 7/10

**Just thought I’d add this bit I read at Wikipedia, as I was unaware that this film is meant to be the first part of a trilogy:

The film is the first in von Trier’s projected USA – Land of Opportunities trilogy, which was followed by Manderlay (2005) and is projected to be completed with Washington.

I liked Dogville okay but doubt I can be bothered to watch the rest, unless the final one gets rave reviews when it’s finally made… I think I’ll next check out those Nymphomaniac films instead. Which also look like loads of fun. PARTY! 😉

Wonder Woman (2017) Review

Wonder Woman (2017)

Directed by Patty Jenkins

Based on Wonder Woman by William Moulton Marston

Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Before she was Wonder Woman she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

My Opinion:

I always struggle to write reviews of superhero movies as I don’t read comics & have zero knowledge of anything superhero-related beyond what I’ve seen in all the mainstream Hollywood films. I’ve watched the majority of them but I don’t obsess over them & I’m not some superfan of superheroes. They’re fun entertainment but I see them as popcorn movies. I’ve grown especially tired of the dark and dreary, too-serious types the last several years. Batman V Superman, which I watched last week in preparation for Wonder Woman, was beyond bad. I knew the reviews weren’t good, but… Wow! I still didn’t expect it to suck as much as it did.


I admit to preferring lighthearted superhero films to the serious ones (I love Guardians Of The Galaxy 1 & 2) but do enjoy the balance that current Marvel films seem to manage with serious stories that still have a sense of humor and fun to them. Wonder Woman is finally a DC film with the right balance. There was plenty of kick-ass action as well as funny moments, there were several strong characters who worked really well together, there’s a positive overall message, and Gadot is perfection. Oh! And I had fun watching it. That’s the way it should be.

I don’t want to get into the whole “sexism” debate & female-only screenings of Wonder Woman & some jerk claiming the director was only hired because she’s female & how some have said that maybe the good reviews are just because people are too scared to talk bad about the first true female superhero movie & blah blah BLAH. Who cares?! Why are people so hung up on this? A good movie is a good movie. And this is a really good movie. This is a far better movie than the majority of superhero films in recent years. And, yeah, its star happens to be a woman. Yay! It’s 2017 – it’s about f*^king time. She kicks ass as well as all the male superheroes. And she sure as shit out-acts some of them (I’m looking at those in Batman V Superman & Suicide Squad, although I’m aware that weak scripts & directing will often result in bad performances so the actors may not be 100% to blame).

I’ve not seen Gal Gadot in anything else besides BvS & wasn’t sure what to expect but she’s truly fantastic and I’m not saying that “just because I’m a woman”. I can’t fault her performance in any way. Heck, I even didn’t mind Chris Pine and he sometimes slightly gets on my nerves. I’d have preferred someone unknown in his role but he did a good job with a really likable character. There are several “sidekicks” during the WWI segment that I really enjoyed and I of course loved all the Amazon women and watching a kick-ass Buttercup train Wonder Woman for battle (Robin Wright, as Gadot’s aunt, was another very big highlight of the film).

I’ll wrap this up before I just ramble on for ages. I thoroughly enjoyed Wonder Woman. Is it perfect? No, it has some flaws. It’s definitely a little too long, especially in the middle during the WWI stuff. Other than that, though, I can’t really think of anything much more negative to say. It turns into a pretty typical superhero vs baddie showdown at the end but that’s what we want from these movies. And it’s a great showdown! Plus, with it being a female superhero doing the fighting, it did feel somewhat original this time.

Oh, I guess the only other slight negative is that I’m not sure this version of Wonder Woman will quite connect with young girls as the movie is aimed at a slightly older audience. I took my 8-year-old to it and she liked it & definitely liked the character but I do know she was a bit bored throughout the middle war segment. However, I don’t think it’s too big of a deal as I think it’s a film that young fans will grow into & like even more as they get a bit older. I don’t think it’s inappropriate for young kids (a couple “procreation” jokes will go right over their heads) – younger audiences will just lose interest a bit during certain parts of this 2 hour 21 minute film. Most importantly, though, this is a female character I’m very happy for my daughter to be seeing in a movie. Wonder Woman is strong & independent with values & beliefs she’s willing to fight for. It feels really good to know that the girls of this generation are starting to get more & more positive female role models in films but I do also hope that we can eventually stop focusing so much on gender and just enjoy a movie because it’s good or an actress because she happens to be really great in a role. There’s absolutely no reason to not take your sons to this film as well as your daughters. Surely any boy will want to see one of the best superhero films of recent years.

My Rating: 8/10

Oh! And I love Wonder Woman’s theme… 🙂

Million Dollar Baby (2004) IMDB Top 250 Review

Happy Birthday to Clint Eastwood, who turns 87 today. This time last year, I did a week of Clint Eastwood reviews (you can see My Top Ten Clint Eastwood Movies HERE, updated to now include Million Dollar Baby).

I still wouldn’t exactly call Eastwood a favorite actor of mine but I’m glad that I finally explored some of his biggest films last year as I liked them a hell of a lot more than I expected to. Million Dollar Baby was still a big omission, however, so I’m glad I’ve finally watched that now as well. And, again, I like another Eastwood movie far more than I was expecting to! And, of course, the awesome Morgan Freeman is in it as well (who I would call a favorite actor & whose birthday is tomorrow – guess what Top Ten List I’ll be doing tomorrow…). 😉 Okay – I’ll shut up & review the movie now.

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Based on Rope Burns: Stories from the Corner by F.X. Toole

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman, Jay Baruchel, Mike Colter, Lucia Rijker, Brían F. O’Byrne, Anthony Mackie, Margo Martindale, Riki Lindhome, Michael Peña, Benito Martinez, Grant L. Roberts

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 172 (as of 01/01/13)

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
This film is about an underappreciated boxing trainer, the mistakes that haunt him from his past, and his quest for atonement by helping an underdog amateur boxer achieve her dream of becoming a professional.

My Opinion:

I avoided watching this film for years. I was like “It’s a boxing drama? Pass!”. (Kind of funny that I’ve just watched Rocky for the very first time the same week that I watched this. But I digress). Mainly, though, I avoided this because, when it came out, some annoying assholes decided to spoil the whole damn plot. So I’ve always known exactly how this ends. And that pisses me off. I know it’s not always possible to avoid spoilers but, in the case of this film, there was an uproar since what happens went against the beliefs of some people and they felt the need to warn the public (or something like that) before the film had even been fully released (if I remember correctly). Annoying.

Anyway! This is a great film. I expected to possibly find it contrived (films that try too hard to pull on the heartstrings & just come across as phony piss me off as much as people who spoil films). I expected to not be affected by this film since I knew the whole damn plot already. But it’s a good, heartfelt drama that came across as quite genuine and had fantastic actors playing likeable characters you wanted to see succeed. I sure as shit can’t say I exactly “enjoyed” it (holy hell! I don’t do well with serious dramas). But it’s not the overhyped Oscar bait I had kind of feared it might be.

Come to think of it, I guess this means I should also update My Top Ten Best Picture Oscar Winners list at some point with both this & Rocky. That list includes all 50(ish) Best Pictures that I’ve seen and I have to say that both these damn boxing dramas potentially break into my top ten. Easily top 20 for sure. I’ll have to think about it some more! They’re certainly my favorite boxing movies (Raging Bull didn’t thrill me…). 😉

It’s a shame that Hilary Swank kind of disappeared into bad movie obscurity after this & Boys Don’t Cry (a movie that manages to be even more depressing than this one). Clearly these sort of heart wrenching dramas did suit her but you can’t blame her for trying other things – Starring in nothing but these sort of films would probably mess with your head eventually. I really liked her character in this. Her enthusiasm and single-minded determination are infectious in the same sort of way that made us all like Rocky Balboa and to want him to succeed.

Swank & Eastwood make a great team and their relationship by the end of the film is beautiful & heartbreaking. Million Dollar Baby probably gets somewhat ignored compared to Eastwood’s full-on “guy” movies & bromances but, as great as I think he was in dude movies with the likes of Lee Van Cleef, his mentor/protégée and ultimately father/daughter-like relationship here is a welcome change (and just as good & valid as the bromances). Swank & Eastwood make this film.

But there’s still some male camaraderie for anyone needing that as well. Freeman plays Eastwood’s ex-boxer friend (and… co-owner? or maybe just a trainer living in the gym Eastwood owns. feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). Anyway, I love Freeman and he’s as great as always and another reason why I ended up liking this film much more than I’d been expecting. There’s a story on the side involving skinny little Jay Baruchel wanting to be a boxer & Freeman taking him under his wing. I really liked this story as well (plus that cool confrontation involving Freeman & one of the young boxers). The main story involving Swank is of course the most important but it was good to get a bit more to the movie besides just that.

I just have to end by saying: Oh man – I hated the f*%k out of Swank’s family in this! Which made her character all the more likeable. To put a horrible upbringing behind her & to try to live her dream is the uplifting sort of message people look for in a good story. Which is another reason why I think some people were probably angered by the ending of this film. What IS the ultimate message at the end? But life isn’t always fair & a Hollywood ending in real life is rare. I do watch movies for escapism and do prefer a happy ending but I also can’t get angry at a movie telling a story in a realistic way. I think some people felt cheated by this film. I think we were given a good film with powerful performances & a message of determination and friendship. It’s not an easy watch but it’s a good film I’m glad to have finally seen.

My Rating: 8/10

Ghost In The Shell (1995) Blind Spot Review

Ghost In The Shell (1995)
攻殻機動隊
Gōsuto in za sheru / Kōkaku kidōtai (Ghost in the Shell / Mobile Armored Riot Police)

Directed by Mamoru Oshii

Based on Ghost in the Shell by Masamune Shirow

Starring Voice Actors: Atsuko Tanaka, Akio Ōtsuka, Iemasa Kayumi

Running time: 82 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Ghost in the Shell follows the hunt of the public security agency Section 9 for a mysterious hacker known as the Puppet Master. With the assistance of her team, Motoko Kusanagi tracks and finds their suspect, only to be drawn into a complex sequence of political intrigue and a cover-up as to the identity and goals of the Puppet Master.

My Opinion:

So this was an “alternate” Blind Spot choice of mine (I guess I need to kick one of the main ones off the list now). I decided to watch this because a) the live-action American remake was out recently and b) I noticed the running time of only 82 minutes! Okay – the running time was the biggest reason. Why are so many “worthy” films at least 2.5 hours long? I’m too busy!

I’m glad I did finally get around to watching this. I really enjoyed it. I do want to see the Scarlett Johansson one at some point too just to see how they recreated certain scenes but know that it will of course pale greatly in comparison to the original. I’d be interested to hear from those of you who’ve seen both and from fans of the original.


I’m not going to write a lot about this film as I don’t have much knowledge when it comes to Japanese anime (other than my beloved Studio Ghibli). It’s a genre I’m becoming more & more interested in and want to explore by at least watching some of the most well known stuff. I watched Akira as a Blind Spot choice last year (I decided to dive in at the deep end!). Akira isn’t quite like anything I’d seen before and I loved it (it was my favorite of my twelve 2016 Blind Spot films).

I think Ghost In The Shell is fantastic too and I can understand why it’s so popular but, unfortunately, I wasn’t as blown away as I was with Akira. I think a lot of that is probably thanks to me seeing things like The Matrix and even Ex Machina before seeing Ghost, meaning that Ghost feels almost dated now even though it came beforehand and clearly had a big influence on a lot of later films.

Okay – I don’t think “dated” is at all the right word to use… The animation is beautiful and the story is probably even more relevant now than in 1995. I think anyone who enjoys this type of science fiction would definitely like this film if they haven’t seen it. I suppose it’s just that the themes in Ghost In The Shell have been explored in loads of entertainment over the years (and especially in the years that followed its release), meaning that it doesn’t feel quite as original in 2017 as it will have 22 years ago. But it’s still a damn good science fiction anime & worthy of its status as a classic in this genre. There’s a lot of iconic imagery & an amazing musical montage (I’ve included a clip of this below). I’m happy to say that Ghost In The Shell was well worth my time & a worthy addition to my list of Blind Spot movies.

My Rating: 8/10

Oh, and I love this Mondo poster created by artist Martin Ansin

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (Book Review)

The film adaptation of Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon comes out today in the United States. It was directed by Stella Meghie and stars Amandla Stenberg & Nick Robinson. I must admit that I really enjoyed this book and am annoyed about the three month wait to see the film in the United Kingdom (the release date is set for the 18th of August here). Here’s my review of the novel…

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

What It’s About: (via Wikipedia)
The novel centers on 18-year-old Madeline Whittier, who has severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), also known as “bubble baby disease”. Due to her condition, Madeline is stuck inside her house in Los Angeles, where she lives with her mother, a physician who takes care of her.

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book. But I must admit that it’s a full-on “Young Adult” teen book. I know plenty of grown-ups like myself who still read YA stuff and there have been some fantastic novels in this genre. Unfortunately, though, the Young Adult label has a somewhat negative connotation to it nowadays. This is probably partly due to the fact that there seems to be so much of it now. There wasn’t half as much of it around when I was a young adult myself. Man, I’d have especially loved the post-apocalyptic dystopian thing that is so overused in this genre now. 

What’s my point? I’m getting off topic! I think my point is this: don’t automatically assume a book isn’t good just because it has the YA label. Some feel very teenage while others are just really good stories that transcend any sort of recommended age range (is Harry Potter considered YA? I would assume so). And like them or not, The Hunger Games books don’t immediately make me think “ugh, teenagers!!!”. 

Some YA, however, is very teen and Everything, Everything is clearly written with its teenage audience in mind. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with aiming to please your target audience. This would’ve probably been a favorite book of mine if it had been around in my early to mid-teens (although it would’ve been a very rare favorite in the romance genre as it’s not often that I go for a love story of any sort). As an adult, I can’t say this could now ever be a favorite book of mine but I did find it a very enjoyable read (easily one of the most enjoyable I’ve read so far this year). It has a fairly unique story, an unconventional romance, and a really likable main character. 

I think a lot of YA novels don’t always write convincing teenage characters, probably because the authors are usually adults. The characters either seem too grown-up or too childish and are often hard to like. I think Yoon got the right balance with the character of Madeline as she felt like a real 18-year-old with the hopes & dreams you’d expect from a girl who has been stuck in her home for 18 years due to having severe combined immunodeficiency. She was intelligent but not mature beyond her years and, most importantly (to me), she was very likable in a convincing sort of way. I do think that not enough attention was given to the other characters: the neighbor boy she falls in love with, her mother, and the nurse who cares for her during the day. We don’t get to know any of them as well as I’d have liked but I can forgive this as it’s not a very long book. Madeline is very much the novel’s main focus and I was happy with her character. 

I’m having a hard time explaining why I liked this one… I doubt I’ve talked anyone into reading it! But if you do really like YA novels (probably aimed more at a female audience in this case), this is one I’d definitely recommend as a lightweight but entertaining read. Madeline has had to find ways to keep herself entertained while being a “prisoner” in her own home so we get to see some fun drawings & doodles of hers throughout the book plus we get to read e-mails & instant messages between her and the neighbor boy she falls for. These gimmicks may not be for everyone but I like books that have this sort of thing as it makes it a bit more personal & fun to read. It also shows how Madeline has managed to maintain a sense of humor through her illness. Plus, as I said, I just liked the story/setup. It’s a topic I’ve found interesting ever since seeing John Travolta in The Boy In The Plastic Bubble (Ha! The 1976 TV movie… I totally just aged myself). Well, that movie was far from “good” and Everything, Everything has done a much better job of telling the story of a teenager with the “bubble baby” disease. Plus I really wanted to see what/if/how things would be resolved in this book. I will of course stay spoiler-free but the ending probably left people divided (and that’s all I’ll say). I liked it. I hope they’ve done a good film adaptation. 

My Rating: 3.5/5

Here’s the trailer for the movie (but I think it gives away too much of the story so skip the trailer if you want to know as little as possible…):

The books I’ve read so far in 2017, from least favorite to favorite:

15. The Sisters by Claire Douglas
14. Tape by Steven Camden
13. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
12. The Circle by Dave Eggers
11. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
10. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
9. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
8. Finders Keepers by Stephen King
7. The Dinner by Herman Koch
6. The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
5. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
4. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
3. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
2. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
1. Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie

And I’m currently in the middle of reading Blaze by Stephen King (so far, so good). 🙂

Alien: Covenant (2017) Review

Alien: Covenant (2017)

**Spoiler-free ranting below**

Directed by Ridley Scott

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.

My Opinion:

I’ll keep this brief and of course spoiler-free as I know Alien: Covenant isn’t yet out in America.

I’m a huge fan of the first two Alien films. I’ve never talked about them on this blog because I’m not a good writer and I find it hard to review the films I love the most (I made an attempt to review favorites, which I called CPD Classics, but gave up after a while as it took too long to write those). I can’t find the right words to express the awesomeness of those first two films. The H.R. Giger designs (above all else), the mood, the horror, the mystery, the action of the second film plus a great set of characters, Hicks (hottie), the knife/hand thing and, of course, a kick-ass female. Those first two films are perfection. I suppose that’s why every Alien film since those has been such a huge disappointment. How can you top those? You can’t. And Alien: Covenant is yet another massive disappointment.

I didn’t read any reviews at all before seeing this but the main comment I couldn’t help but see several times on Twitter was that “it starts out okay & almost feels like an Alien film but then turns into Prometheus 2“. That’s exactly right. If you liked Prometheus, you’ll probably like Covenant. If you hated Prometheus, I doubt you’ll like this one. I’m no fan of Prometheus. To be honest, I barely remember it now as I never watched it again after going to the cinema to see it. I wouldn’t say I hated it as I will probably always watch each & every movie that explores the Alien universe as it’s an overall idea that I absolutely love but, man – I wish they’d stop f*^king things up so much!

You know what? I actually think I like Prometheus slightly more now. Compared to Covenant, it’s probably the better of the two. Yikes. It’s like having to choose between two horrible candidates & having to go with the lesser of two evils. Prometheus kept things slightly more simple whereas Scott feels like he’s aimlessly & pointlessly overcomplicating things now. The mystery of the alien race in the first film is a big part of what makes the entire Alien universe so horrifying. Stop trying to explain everything. Stop showing us too much. Stop all the pretentiousness. Make an Alien film. Stop making Prometheus films, dammit. How are so many filmmakers & studios so damn clueless as to what the public actually want?

Okay – maybe it’s time to stop making these films altogether. Or perhaps let someone else take over again (Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 looks fairly promising so far). Either way, I’m pretty good at blocking things out of my mind when I want to and these sequels & prequels have yet to ruin the legacy of the first two films for me. But I grew up with the first two during my early teen film-loving beginnings. How much are these newer films damaging those first ones for the current generation?

I can’t be bothered with this “review”. I’m just annoyed. BUT, I did go in with very low expectations (I’m not stupid). Therefore, I’m not as annoyed as I seem since I got what I pretty much expected. Like with Prometheus, I didn’t exactly hate this film. I just try to think of these films as a separate sort of thing (kind of like with the Star Wars prequels). They mostly suck but there are moments that I enjoy thanks to my love of the original films (the moments that feel like an Alien film & not a Prometheus film and there are a few of these, luckily). Michael Fassbender (hottie) is very good. He steals the show. I just wish they could’ve made us care about this set of characters as much those in Aliens (but that wasn’t Scott). Other than Fassbender, everyone is very one-dimensional & their relationships felt forced for added drama (most of the those on the Covenant are married to someone else on the ship – what’s with all the romantic connections?).

Oops – I was trying to end with only positive comments to help explain why I’m not giving this a lower rating after all my bitching. Um. There’s a Xenomorph. There’s a facehugger. There’s bursting. That’s why the score isn’t lower. God I’m shallow. If they make another one of these movies, I know I’ll still watch the damn thing even though it’s 99% likely that at least 75% of it will suck. 😉 But if I had to rank all these now (not counting those AVP ones), Covenant is probably at the very bottom. That’s so not what I wanted. Why do I continue to live in the hope that there could ever be another good Alien film?

My Rating: 6.5/10*

*I’m being way too generous. Because it’s an Alien film. Sort of. But not really. Damn.

A Dog’s Purpose (2017) Review

A Dog’s Purpose (2017)

Directed by Lasse Hallström

Based on A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Britt Robertson, Josh Gad, KJ Apa, Juliet Rylance, John Ortiz, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Peggy Lipton

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A dog looks to discover his purpose in life over the course of several lifetimes and owners.

My Opinion:

So, yeah – I clearly went to this with the family over the weekend. You know what? It’s not bad! For a family movie. Well, it’s actually not bad for a movie in general. Hubby & I often say that they don’t seem to do as many non-animated “family films” nowadays. We had so many growing up in the Eighties! I miss them. And now that I have a young kid, I want more of them again.

My main concern beforehand was that this movie would be overly sentimental or, even WORSE and a massive pet peeve of mine, that it would be preachy. I hate movies that shove their values down your throat! Luckily, A Dog’s Purpose doesn’t do this. It tells the story in a straightforward way and it’s obvious message (of what things are truly the most important in life) isn’t at all heavy-handed. It comes fairly close to being like all my beloved 80’s family films I saw on TV all the time growing up. Plus, of course, it has cute dogs. Who doesn’t love cute wittle doggies?!

I just have to say something that may be spoiler territory if you know nothing at all but is known if you’ve seen the trailer or read the synopsis: There are several dogs (five, I think) because the dog keeps getting reincarnated. It was cool seeing him as different dogs (always voiced by Josh Gad) and with different owners/families. I like the sort of setup where you get several different stories in a movie and it worked really well in this film. Anyway – someone started sobbing the first time the dog died and I was thinking “I do hope they realize this is gonna happen over & over again.” Lol. Not to be cold-hearted but, seriously, you must know what you’re getting into if you go to a movie where a dog keeps getting reincarnated… 😉 (That person cried every time)

A Dog’s Purpose was a pleasant surprise and a nice return to an old-fashioned family friendly film with a positive message that occurs naturally instead of feeling forced. Will you enjoy it even if you don’t have a family? I think any dog lover certainly will. And with several different stories, you’ll find one or two that you connect with the most. I liked the main story focusing on the dog as a golden retriever named Bailey, which is the personality the dog continues to identify with and remember through all his lifetimes, and the story where he’s a corgi named Tino belonging to a lonely college girl. I guarantee you’ll love Bailey, no matter which form he takes. And as an added plus, the human characters are likable as well!

My Rating: 7/10

FYI – I’d heard nothing of the controversy surrounding this film due to a video of alleged animal abuse that made the rounds just as this movie was released in the US (maybe that’s why it has come out so much later in the UK). Anyway, as with most fake news, I’m sure that faked video was spread around far more than the story of the investigation that showed it was re-edited to make it look like animal abuse. Here’s the story (from Los Angeles Daily News). Hopefully no one’s career was ruined. We all care about animals being treated well but I often wish humans cared half as much about other human beings as they do animals.

The Dinner by Herman Koch (Book Review)

I’m reviewing the book The Dinner by Herman Koch as the movie is released today in the U.S. There’s currently no U.K. release date scheduled. The movie was directed by Oren Moverman & stars Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Steve Coogan, Rebecca Hall, Adepero Oduye & Chloë Sevigny.

The Dinner by Herman Koch

What It’s About: (via Amazon)
It’s a summer’s evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse — the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.

Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

My Thoughts:

I liked this book but it’s probably not for everyone. I’ll avoid plot spoilers but I’ll tell you that none of the characters are very likable, which puts a lot of readers off (including me, usually). The story was intriguing enough to keep me reading, however, and it’s not a long book so it’s a pretty quick read. It might be worth your time if the plot synopsis interests you. However, it’s also the type of story that should work well as a movie so, if it’s a decent adaptation, you might want to skip the book. I’ll let you know if the movie does the book justice (if the movie ever gets a U.K. release date)! It’s a film I’m definitely wanting to check out as it’s one I feel could possibly improve on the book if handled well. The cast seems promising.

I liked the way the story was presented as courses instead of “Chapters”: Appetiser, Main, Dessert, etc etc (I can’t remember all the posh terms for all the different courses. Never knew there were so many courses to a fancy meal!). We slowly learn more & more about the four adults having this meal together while the story of the horrible act commited by their teenage sons comes to light.

I’m not going to say much more as the story is pretty straightforward and there’s not much more I could say anyway without spoiling it. I’ll say it’s a decent character study but doesn’t explore all the moral implications as much as it could have. By the end, it felt more shallow than I was hoping for. That’s why I’m hopeful for the possibility of a really good film adaptation as there’s some meaty material here for a really good set of screenwriters & actors to sink their teeth into. We’ll see. The Dinner isn’t as deep & meaningful as it could’ve been but it’s still an intriguing story told in a fairly original way and I’d say I enjoyed it more than several of the other 13 books I’ve read so far this year.

My Rating: 3/5

**Yes, I’m keeping a list of all the books I’ve read so far this year. At the moment, this is probably how I’d rank them (from least favorite to favorite). If you really want to know… 😉 I hope to review them all by the end of the year:

14. The Sisters by Claire Douglas
13. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
12. The Circle by Dave Eggers
11. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
10. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
9. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
8. Finders Keepers by Stephen King
7. The Dinner by Herman Koch
6. The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
5. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
4. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
3. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
2. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
1. Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie

(And, yes, I’m focusing on reading books that have been movies/TV shows recently or will be very soon) 🙂

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) Review

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
**SPOILER-FREE REVIEW**

Directed & Written by James Gunn

Based on Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Kurt Russell

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.

My Opinion:

I was so unbelievably excited for this sequel. I absolutely loved the first Guardians Of The Galaxy (review HERE). I think, having become pretty sick of superhero movies doing the SAME DAMN THINGS OVER & OVER AGAIN these past several years, I really bought into these characters & this universe as it finally felt like we were getting a slightly different sort of superhero movie. I prefer lighthearted humor in my superhero movies to the dreariness of things like Nolan’s Batman trilogy (those films, other than Ledger’s performance, have really started to go down in my estimation). I guess I’ve just never taken these sort of movies seriously so, for me, one with a sense of humor works better. Plus, of course, the soundtrack was indeed awesome! An awesome soundtrack will always make me like a movie even more. And… Groot. GROOT! I love Groot. Who doesn’t love Groot?

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is, exactly as I was hoping & expecting, loads of fun but not as good as the first film. Which is fine as it’s hard to top that first film. I always enjoy the introduction of new characters and seeing them get to know each other, which was especially great in the first film and obviously missing from this one. We get to see our main characters’ relationships with each other develop a little more but not quite as much as I’d hoped. But, hey – you know there’ll be another one of these films (and I’ll happily be watching it) so hopefully we’ll get even more character development in the next film. I can’t really say we learned much more about these characters than we did the first time around.

I’ll say that, for this sequel, they’ve upped the humor even more. Maybe they felt the need to after Deadpool? I’m certainly not complaining – I’m loving this “funny superhero movie” thing. Between this and The LEGO Batman Movie and that great trailer for the next Thor film, I’m starting to actually enjoy these superhero movies again instead of almost finding them a chore to sit through. For example: I didn’t even bother with Batman V Superman or Suicide Squad but hubby probably wants to see Wonder Woman and I suppose that means I should catch up on those I’ve missed, but…. Meh! Sounds like way too much work. If that’s the way I feel about having to watch a movie, being a movie-obsessed blogger, they’re clearly doing something wrong with those films. Right? The Guardians films aren’t a chore. They’re fun and I actually enjoy them. That’s the way it should be.

If you loved the first film, you’ll definitely like this one too. If you don’t love the sense of humor thing but want to watch a superhero movie, I’d say there’s still plenty here that you’ll like. The story is… Okay. As far as superhero stories go, it’s pretty standard stuff (to be honest, I hardly ever fully remember the stories in superhero films). But it’s the main characters who really make these two films and they again don’t disappoint. People my age are also gonna love the involvement of a couple of big actors in this one (I actually have no clue if this has been kept under wraps so I’ll say no more other than that I felt a little funny seeing someone again at first. In a good way… 😉 ). There’s also enough serious stuff going on to balance out the humor so that this feels like a Marvel film and doesn’t go full-on silly like some cheesy Eighties flick. It’s probably quite a hard balance to achieve and I think these films stay on the right side of the line. I love these characters and I don’t think we’d care about them as much as we do if the movies were too silly.


Yes, I really enjoyed Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2. As expected, it’s not as good as the first but it’s still a worthy sequel that will keep fans happy and wanting more. And it’s a hell of a lot more fun than most superhero films these days. Give me Groot over moody Batman! Speaking of Groot, I’ll finish with him and with the soundtrack as these are the two things that really make me adore these movies.

If you don’t like Baby Groot, you aren’t going to like this movie (or me, since we can’t be friends if you don’t like Baby Groot). 😉 They clearly knew they were on to a winner with this character and his adorable cuteness is used to full effect. As my hubby asked afterwards, did they rely on him a little too much in this film? Hmm. Probably. But I loved each & every Baby Groot scene. You can’t have too much of a good thing! But if you prefer moody Batman, you probably don’t love these films or Baby Groot anyway. I’m sure Guardians fans will love the excessive Groot cuteness as much as I did. As for the soundtrack: Once again, it was pretty awesome. But definitely not as awesome as the first one. Damn! I avoided looking at the tracklisting beforehand as I wanted all the songs to be a surprise. Maybe it was less impressive since it wasn’t as unexpected the second time around? Still, though, there are some great songs and it’s a lot better than 99% of movie soundtracks these days so I’m just being overly picky because I love the first film. But I’m happy with this sequel and am already looking forward to seeing these characters in more films.

My Rating: 8/10

Is there a scene after the credits?: Hahaha! It’s a Marvel film! Do I really need to answer this? 😉 Okay… No. There isn’t one. There’s… Four? I think it was four. I lost count. And, yes, they are SO worth staying for. Especially two of them. There are scenes throughout the credits plus one after the credits. So hold your pee as one of the two best is that very final one.

Stan Lee cameo: Hubby loved it and said it was probably the best one yet. He knows a lot more about this Marvel stuff than I do but I’m pretty sure you can read about it if you want to as I’ve already seen lots of people talking about this one. 🙂

The Circle by Dave Eggers (Book Review)

The film adaptation of The Circle by Dave Eggers is out today in the US (there’s no current UK release date that I can find. Hmm…). It was directed by James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) and stars Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega, Karen Gillan, Ellar Coltrane, Patton Oswalt, Glenne Headly & Bill Paxton (R.I.P.). I’ll probably try to go to the film at some point, so will of course review that if I do. For now, here’s my review of the novel…

The Circle by Dave Eggers

What It’s About: (via Amazon)
Fast, thrilling and compulsively addictive, The Circle is Dave Eggers’ bestselling novel about our obsession with the internet and where it may lead. When Mae Holland lands her dream job at the world’s most powerful internet company, she has no idea what awaits behind the doors of The Circle…

My Thoughts:

This is one of those books where I loved the concept & agreed with its stance that, basically, the Internet & big corporations (such as the one that Fincher’s The Social Network is about) are evil. Okay, yes – I’m a blogger and I admit that I love to tweet but I’d happily hop into a time machine to go back to the Eighties and live without this sort of technology as I think we were better off without it. The world is a dreadful place & we’re living in an Orwellian dystopia. But we actually brought this all on ourselves, which I think even Orwell didn’t fully foresee. Hell, even Orwell couldn’t predict something as absurd as the rise of the Kardashi-thingies & wannabes! 😉 I blame them for society’s devolution (enabled by the Internet, of course). But back to this book…

I bring up Orwell as The Circle is indeed in a similar vein to 1984. But dystopian novels are more popular than ever and this is yet another of many that come nowhere near that masterpiece. I was pretty disappointed with The Circle overall. I absolutely love this genre and, as I said, I fully agree with this novel’s beliefs so I did expect to thoroughly enjoy it. In fact, I’ve read 14 books so far this year (that’s a lot for me!) and this is possibly my least favorite. Damn. I didn’t expect that.

I found The Circle a bit too long & meandering. It started out okay but, by halfway through, it was becoming a bit of a chore to read as its lead character (Mae Holland, played by Emma Watson in the film) was becoming more and more and MORE unlikable. I think her character is the main problem I had with the novel as I always struggle to enjoy a book when I hate its main character. This can only very occasionally be made up for if the story is exceptionally good but, unfortunately, this isn’t the case with The Circle. I know the book’s whole point is that The Circle (the evil corporation in the story) is almost cult-like and that its believers follow blindly while the reader can see what’s really going on but, ugh, you just want to slap the shit out of Mae and knock some damn sense into her! I suppose Emma Watson is a good choice for the role in the film, though, as she’s seriously starting to get on my tits lately. But I’m hoping that the film will write her character slightly differently and give her some sense.

Well, I plan to check out the movie anyway since I always like to see how novels get adapted. Maybe they can actually improve on the book (it does happen sometimes). I still really like the overall idea behind the novel & its very obvious message even though I don’t think the story and its unlikable lead character do well to convey that message & the seriousness with which we should be taking it. I think I was just hoping for something a little more insightful and less obvious. The Circle doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know and I’m not sure if it was trying to be satirical or not but, if it was, it gave the novel an odd tone that didn’t really work. I prefer my dystopian literature to either be proper satire or full-on bleak, depressing dreariness! The Circle can’t quite decide what it wants to be but I do appreciate its effort to bring further attention to a very important topic we should be taking far more seriously. I think, unfortunately, the satire maybe doesn’t work simply because this book isn’t as exaggerated as Eggers may have originally intended. This story doesn’t feel like a distant future – it feels like it has already happened.

My Rating: 2.5/5

Here’s a trailer for the movie (as is often the case lately, I think it gives too much away):

The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988) Blind Spot Review

The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988)

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Based on The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis

Starring: Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Barbara Hershey, Harry Dean Stanton, David Bowie

Music by Peter Gabriel

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Like the novel, the film depicts the life of Jesus Christ and his struggle with various forms of temptation including fear, doubt, depression, reluctance and lust.

My Opinion:

I’ll keep this short & I’ll be totally honest – The Last Temptation Of Christ was on my 2017 Blind Spot list mainly because I wanted to see David Bowie’s role in it. So now I can say I have! All five minutes (at most) of it, toward the end of the 2 hour & 44 minute film. I suppose I also wanted to add another Martin Scorsese film to my ranked list of his films that I’ve seen (it doesn’t quite make it into the top ten, out of the 12 I’ve seen, nor does it make the list of My Top Ten Harry Dean Stanton Movies). Not gonna lie – out of almost a year & a half of doing this Blind Spot thing, this film is easily my least favorite & was the biggest struggle to work my way through.

I won’t get into the film’s story and religious beliefs. I watched this because I’m a film fan & it’s a movie by a very respected director with some big name stars (and because: David Bowie). No, “biblical dramas” are not at all the type of genre I go for (give me sci-fi) so that wasn’t going to help but it’s definitely overlong and it didn’t feel as, I don’t know… As well put together as most of Scorsese’s other work? I know nothing about filmmaking but this just isn’t up there with the likes of something like Goodfellas (also a genre that’s not at all my type of thing but a good film is a good film, whatever the genre). Not that this isn’t a good film… It must be a decent piece of filmmaking considering that Scorsese was nominated for the Best Director Oscar for it, the film’s one & only nomination. Hmm. It’s very hard to review respected films that just really didn’t speak to you personally! That’s why I’m keeping this very short for a Blind Spot review. I’d love to instead hear from fellow bloggers who, unlike me, have strong opinions one way or another about this film. I do know it was & still is very controversial & hated by some while there are others who think it’s another Scorsese masterpiece.

The acting is solid and Dafoe does a good job but I also felt that the acting let the film down a bit. I didn’t think “Wow – so-and-so was brilliant in this film!” the way I’ve thought some of the actors were pretty amazing in the majority of Scorsese’s other films. Some felt very miscast (Keitel) while some are actors I’ve never been particularly impressed with (Hershey). Okay okay – and my beloved Bowie! I fully admit that acting was never his biggest talent… 😉 However, he did okay in his very small role & didn’t feel as out of place as some of those in larger roles. Harry Dean Stanton was a highlight, though – he’s such an underrated actor.

Overall, I’m sorry to say that this is one of those films that I won’t remember much of a year or so from now. There weren’t really any specific scenes that stood out in my mind (we all know the story already anyway so I saw pretty much exactly what I expected, although this is a somewhat alternative version). I was especially disappointed that the acting didn’t stand out for me and it seriously felt even longer than it already was, especially at the end when we’re given a long look at an alternative life for Jesus? Sorry. I didn’t love it. It’s not a bad film but I’d only recommend it to those interested in religious dramas or to serious Martin Scorsese fans who want to see all he’s done. Ugh. I feel like a bad blogger for not loving a Scorsese film.

My Rating: 6/10

Only I would review The Last Temptation Of Christ & Smurfs: The Lost Village in the same week… Have a nice weekend, everyone!

Smurfs: The Lost Village (2017) Review

Smurfs: The Lost Village (2017)

Directed by Kelly Asbury

Based on The Smurfs by Peyo

Starring: Demi Lovato, Rainn Wilson, Joe Manganiello, Jack McBrayer, Danny Pudi, Michelle Rodriguez, Ellie Kemper, Ariel Winter, Meghan Trainor, Jake Johnson, Mandy Patinkin, Julia Roberts

Production company: Sony Pictures Animation

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In this fully animated, all-new take on the Smurfs, a mysterious map sets Smurfette and her friends Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty on an exciting race through the Forbidden Forest leading to the discovery of the biggest secret in Smurf history.

My Opinion:

I don’t have the energy to “review” this. I suppose Smurfs: The Lost Village isn’t as bad as those godawful live action movies they did with Doogie Howser but that’s not saying much. I know I’m probably too picky on kids’ movies but it’s hard not to be when Pixar & Disney have proven that it is actually possible to make really good movies that people of all ages enjoy. This movie has that “straight to video” feel and it’s one that parents will stick on for their kids to watch while they go & do housework or something. So I suppose that’s one positive thing about it? They should stick that on the cover when it comes out on DVD! “Smurfs: The Lost Village is a good ‘keep the kids entertained while you do housework’ movie.” – Cinema Parrot Disco.

I suppose I’m also a little extra picky since I adored the Smurfs cartoon as a kid in the Eighties so can’t help but compare. At least they didn’t mess with the look of the Smurfs too much but it unfortunately didn’t work as well as The Peanuts Movie, which I really enjoyed. To be fair, this movie is at least a step in the right direction and I don’t think it does any damage to the Smurfs legacy (unlike the horrible live action ones). Actually, I’m not entirely sure why this movie doesn’t quite work. It could’ve been worse but a dull story and some pretty bad casting of voice actors who didn’t suit the characters made for an hour & a half that felt very long in our uncomfortable cinema seats. I hated Gargamel – sorry Rainn Wilson! And Jack McBrayer as Clumsy Smurf probably isn’t to everyone’s taste… His voice can get highly irritating after an hour & a half (or two minutes). I guess Demi Lovato was fine as Smurfette since I didn’t really give her voice any thought and didn’t know until the end credits who had played her. There’s some bland & totally forgettable pop music in the movie, which always annoys me in kids’ films. Oh – except for Blue (Da Ba Dee) by Eiffel 65, which is a thoroughly embarrassing guilty pleasure of mine. Pure cheese! But less embarrassing than this movie.

Okay – a slight spoiler now (if you care). But as my kid pointed out during the movie, she knew all about the lost village already thanks to the toys that have been released (my kid likes to complain about SPOILERS! It’s adorable). The totally predictable & not at all surprising mystery of the lost village is that it’s all girl Smurfs. So Smurfette is finally not the only female Smurf. I’d have never guessed! I only bring it up because it felt like that all female community on The Walking Dead, giving me & hubby the opportunity to make Negan jokes to each other throughout the film to help ease our boredom. Maybe we can make Smurfs jokes to ease our boredom while watching The Walking Dead next season (since that show SUCKS lately – why do we keep watching?!). I think this “review” is finished. I’m going to go do some housework.

My Rating: 4.5/10

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (Book Review)

13 Reasons Why is a new young adult TV series being released on Netflix this Friday (March 31st). There will be 13 episodes (all available on Friday) and the show is based on the novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, in which a teenage boy receives a package containing audiotapes recorded by a classmate who has recently committed suicide. The show was directed by Spotlight’s Tom McCarthy & produced by Selena Gomez. I read the book recently so figured I should review it before the show airs. Here’s my review…

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

What It’s About: (via Goodreads)
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.”

My Thoughts:

I’m not entirely sure how to feel about this book. I’ll say it was very “readable”. I usually take a good few weeks to read a book (due to lack of free time) but this was a quick & easy read plus I found that I really didn’t want to put it down as I was truly curious to see how it would end (I read it over a weekend). It’s an uncomfortable subject matter, however, and I still don’t know if I feel right about how it was handled. Plus, the below trailer for the TV show makes it look almost like an “exciting mystery”, which I don’t think is necessarily a responsible way to market the story. I guess we’ll see how the show unfolds. This IS a book about suicide. The only “mystery” is why the girl did it, which she explains in her audiotapes. The trailer’s mood just feels a bit off to me.

I’ll say this is very much a teen book but it didn’t feel immature or like the author had dumbed it down for its target audience. My teenage years are far far (far!) behind me but this book feels like it was written in a way that would seem genuine & relevant to a modern teen. I know nothing of the book’s success but I would imagine that current teens can relate to it whereas I feel that certain other young adult books are too obviously written by authors whose teen years are far far (far!) behind them. Okay, yeah – I’ve just looked up the author (Jay Asher) and he’s my sort of age. I also think that he did a good job with the character of Hannah Baker, the girl who commits suicide. It can’t be easy for a middle-aged man to capture the feelings of a teenage girl but I think he did well with her character (probably even better than with the main male character, Clay Jensen).

I’ll of course avoid major spoilers but the main moral of this story is to treat people with kindness and to be aware of the signs to watch for that may indicate that someone is suicidal. I of course agree with this message and would love to think that this book could save some lives but, well, I don’t think the world works that way. If anything, it worries me that this story could play into the rather typical teenage thoughts about suicide: that whole “this will make people notice me & understand what I was going through” thing. No. The bullies, etc? They didn’t care beforehand & they wouldn’t care afterwards. I hope no one thinks that because of this book. However, from the other point of view, who knows? Maybe it would help some teens to notice the warning signs & perhaps offer someone some help. Maybe. The nice ones. (Is it obvious that I thought a lot of the people in my high school were uncaring assholes?!)

I admit that Thirteen Reasons Why was a bit of a page-turner, even if the subject matter left me feeling uncomfortable. Clay listens to several cassette tapes from Hannah, each focusing on a different classmate & the role each person played in her final decision. This meant we were told several stories as Clay listened to each tape, which was an interesting way to set up this novel. Hannah Baker was a well fleshed-out character though, interestingly, kind of hard to like. Maybe that was partly the point… Due to various incidents, she turned inward so I suppose she was kind of ignored. Clay Jensen comes across as a little less genuine but I think this is due to his seeming so simple in comparison to Hannah’s complexity. Overall I’d probably recommend this book to anyone who likes young adult fiction and who is emotionally stable. But I wouldn’t necessarily want anyone who is anything like Hannah Baker’s character to read it…

My Rating: 3/5

Here’s the trailer for the Netflix series, starring Dylan Minnette as Clay Jensen & Katherine Langford as Hannah Baker:

The Hateful Eight (2015) Review

The Hateful Eight (2015)

Directed & Written by Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks, Channing Tatum

Narrated by Quentin Tarantino

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In the dead of a Wyoming winter, a bounty hunter and his prisoner find shelter in a cabin currently inhabited by a collection of nefarious characters.

My Opinion:

Yesterday I reviewed Jackie Brown as part of my 2017 Blind Spot Series & for Quentin Tarantino’s 54th birthday. In that review, I talked a bit about my disappointment over The Hateful Eight. It was hard to not compare the two films as I watched them almost back to back but it made me appreciate Jackie Brown even more and made me realize, in comparison, just how overblown The Hateful Eight is.

I already went on about this movie in yesterday’s review so I’ll keep this one short: The Hateful Eight is easily my least favorite Tarantino film (I’ve ranked them all HERE). It’s not a horrible film but he’s clearly believing his own hype too much & needs to return to the simplicity of a really good script as in things like Reservoir Dogs. His films have been getting more & more over the top and this one finally went fully overboard. It’s one thing to be over the top but another to be so dragged out & rather unenjoyable, which is something that I can’t say of any of his other films.

Okay – I’ll try to say some good things about this movie. Well, the best thing about it is Ennio Morricone’s score (but I’ll come back to that). The two main reasons I watched this were for Morricone and to see Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Oscar-nominated performance since I’m a fan of hers (plus to be able to say I’ve seen all of Tarantino’s films, I suppose). The clue is in the title and all these characters are indeed hateful (which isn’t going to make it easy to like a movie very much) but Leigh was great & her character was the one I enjoyed watching the most. I’m glad she got the recognition for this role as the movie itself lets its talented actors & composer down. Samuel L Jackson & Kurt Russell were also very good (although Jackson was, once again, his over-the-top Tarantino self) but no one else in the cast really stood out compared to these three. The other characters were extremely weak for a Tarantino film – he usually manages to make even the smallest characters in a film interesting. Maybe it should’ve just been The Hateful Three. But that’s a shit title. Did he come up with the title first & then had to write in five extra boring characters? Ah ha! That must be what happened. Plus, I think there were actually more than eight so he’s full of shit (you don’t count, Channing Tatum! The Hateful Nine isn’t a good title).


But back to Ennio Morricone. Morricone is a movie music God. Like I said in my Jackie Brown interview, the one thing Tarantino always does right in his movies is the music and I know he was overjoyed when he got Morricone to agree to score this (I want Morricone to score my whole life. That would be awesome). Is it Morricone’s best score ever? Well, no, but you can’t really top something like The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. Yes, he probably won the Oscar for this mainly because the Academy realized they’d seriously f*^kd up in never giving him an Oscar (other than an honorary one) until now. I hadn’t even realized that beforehand – he’s someone you’d just assume already had one. Anyway! Here’s a good interview with Tarantino talking about how he got Morricone to do this score. Wow. Morricone is a true professional. It was a very last minute thing and Morricone did it in very little time & in a way he’s not used to usually working. Combined with unused parts of his score for The Thing, I can’t believe they managed to pull this all together so well in that length of time. Tarantino of course wants to use him again so just imagine what we’d get if Morricone is involved in the project from the very start. It gives me chills thinking about it. I just hope, if they do work together again, that the movie can live up to the score next time!

Oh. The cinematography was good too. There’s one more thing! The last & final good thing. The outdoor shots were quite beautiful and the opening, combined with Morricone’s score, was very good (I’ll post the opening scene below). Too bad the majority of the film is inside a dark, tiny cabin!!! To start out in a rather epic sort of way with this beautiful snowy landscape and to then end up stuck in a dark little cabin for what felt like far more than the 3 hour & 7 minute running time was so damn cruel. To us. Cruel to the audience. Never mind the characters! Although I suppose they would’ve frozen to death outside, so…

The Hateful Eight. It’s too damn long. It has a good score from a true master. It has three really good actors doing the best they can with a weak script. It’s pretty to look at when they’re actually outside that goddamn cabin. It’s violent as f^*k. It’s definitely a Tarantino film. I still like Tarantino’s films & I’ll still watch them all despite finding this one the most disappointing so far. To be fair, it could’ve been worse. But it could’ve been SO much better. And this review was meant to be short. Like Tarantino, I sometimes don’t know when enough is enough.

My Rating: 6/10

Jackie Brown (1997) Blind Spot Review 

Happy Birthday to Quentin Tarantino, who is 54 today. I figured this would be a good time to finally review my 2017 Blind Spot choice of Jackie Brown. And tomorrow I’ll be reviewing The Hateful Eight, which I’ve finally just watched as well. At least I liked one of these two movies! Here’s my review for Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown (1997)

Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Based on Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard

Starring: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton, Robert De Niro

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A middle-aged woman finds herself in the middle of a huge conflict that will either make her a profit or cost her life.

My Opinion:

I can’t believe it took me so long to get around to finally watching Jackie Brown, the only Tarantino-directed film I’d never watched (okay – not counting that Four Rooms movie or his guest director credit on Sin City, which isn’t a movie that I liked anyway).

Jackie Brown is an odd one in that I’m of course used to Tarantino’s style now & this one has a very different feel to it. I suppose the main reason for this is that the film is an adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s 1992 novel Rum Punch instead of a Tarantino original story like his other films. I think this works in the film’s favor but I’d also hazard a guess that it isn’t the number one favorite film for most diehard Tarantino fans.

I’ll be honest – I think someone needs to rein Tarantino in a bit. Not long after watching Jackie Brown I watched the overblown The Hateful Eight and it definitely made me appreciate Brown much more. At first, I wasn’t sure what to think of Jackie Brown. It’s a good but uneven film and, although I confess that I know nothing about the book and have never read anything by Elmore Leonard in my life, it feels pretty obvious which bits were probably embellished by Tarantino. There’s a welcome subtlety to parts of Jackie Brown that’s especially missing in Tarantino’s most current films. Don’t get me wrong – I like his movies and know they’re going to be over the top (Kill Bill being my favorite, which is OTT to the extreme, but in a good way). But…. What am I trying to say? I don’t know. I think Tarantino is just another director who has come to believe his own hype a bit too much & he needs to take a step back and focus on the great writing that made his older films like Reservoir Dogs such a success. Okay – I’m focusing too much on not liking The Hateful Eight. More about that one tomorrow but I can’t help but compare since I watched these two almost back to back & they’re so very different.

I loved the overall mood of Jackie Brown, which was of course helped once again by the use of a truly fantastic soundtrack. If there’s one thing that Tarantino always does right, it’s picking the music for his films. I loved this soundtrack so much. Best music (as in, songs as opposed to score) that I’ve heard in a film in a long time! Remember when movie soundtracks used to be good like this?? Sorry to go on about this so much but it’s not something that is done as well in films nowadays. When I think back to my teen years, I bought loads of movie (song) soundtracks. There were so many good ones then. What the hell happened? The music in a movie is very important to me as I think it plays such an integral part in creating a film’s mood. I keep saying “song” to differentiate as I’m actually more of a lover of original film scores than of “song” soundtracks usually but, when a movie puts together a lot of previously recorded music as perfectly as Jackie Brown does, it makes me happy. Hey – at least I have to give credit to Tarantino for getting Ennio Morricone to score The Hateful Eight. I worship people like Morricone & John Williams the way that most people worship the pretty celebrities who are in front of the cameras. Maybe I’m weird?! And, shit – I’m talking about The Hateful Eight again. Sorry.

As I said, there’s a subtlety to parts of Jackie Brown unlike in Tarantino’s more recent works and it’s these understated scenes that were easily my favorite bits of this movie. Pam Grier & Robert Forster were brilliant and I was happiest when the movie went back to the scenes involving their characters. Loved their chemistry! I totally wanted a love story there (if you’ve not seen it, I won’t say if this happens or not).

There are bigger name stars in this one (Robert De Niro and, of course, Samuel L. Jackson) but the scenes involving them were the ones that I felt had a little too much of that “Tarantino vibe” going on. Who the hell doesn’t love Samuel L. Jackson, right? He’s awesome. But he’s his usual “Tarantino-self” in this and, for once, I enjoyed having those Grier & Forster scenes involving more than just Tarantino/Jackson sweary banter and extreme violence.

Speaking of extreme violence, this is the least violent Tarantino movie (well, maybe that Four Rooms thing isn’t violent?). I think it’s the first of his films that I was able to watch with my eyes fully open the entire time! I mean, it’s of course plenty violent but it’s not explicitly shown. I’m a wuss. I prefer to not see full-on gore. Yet Kill Bill is my favorite so I suppose that makes no sense… Eh, I just love a good revenge story (and women who kick ass). And I have yet to watch all of Kill Bill with my eyes fully open. I guess, looking at it that way, Jackie Brown is the first & only Tarantino movie that I’ve actually seen. 😉 And I appreciated that.


Perhaps Tarantino should try adapting someone else’s work again sometime. I do like his style and I didn’t mind Jackie Brown having that Tarantino stamp on it but I also liked the way in which adapting someone else’s work meant he kind of managed to keep the story more on track & to not go so medieval on our asses. Again, I think Jackie Brown is also unfortunately somewhat uneven because of this and it’s certainly not a perfect film but I do think it’s better than several of Tarantino’s other films (yet I don’t think it’s widely accepted as so?). I did a post a very long time ago ranking the Tarantino films I’ve seen, which I’ve finally updated HERE. Have a look if you really want to see where I’ve placed Jackie Brown (although you can probably guess where The Hateful Eight ranks!).

Jackie Brown is a good film. It probably deserves more credit than it gets and I’m glad to have added it to my Blind Spot list as it was well worth finally watching. Grier & Forster are the true stars who make this film and it’s unfortunate that they’re somewhat overshadowed by “more famous” names being in the movie as well. I have a confession: I seriously don’t know Robert Forster. I know his face but never could have told you his name and had to look him up after watching this. He’s been in 177 things!!! And I watch loads of movies & know my actors. Is he one of these actors who flies under the radar & won’t get any proper recognition until he’s gone? Or have I just seriously overlooked him for years? He’s so damn good in this & I’m happy to see that he got an Oscar nomination for this role. But… Where the f*^k is Pam Grier’s nomination?!? What the f*^k, you m*^herf*^king Academy?!? I’m going to go Samuel L. Jackson on your asses! She’s great. She’s super sexy at fortysomething. I want her & Forster’s characters to live happily ever after (maybe they do? I’m not saying). I’m going to go listen to that Delfonics song now…

My Rating: 7.5/10

Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time – The Delfonics:

And here’s the opening of Jackie Brown, with Bobby Womack’s Across 110th Street. God I love this soundtrack. Can I just post YouTube videos of the whole soundtrack??:

Who Is He (And What Is He To You?) – Bill Withers:

And this one is bizarre. I like it! Good job, Tarantino. I’ll stop posting videos now. I need to buy this soundtrack… The Lions And The Cucumber – The Vampire Sound Incorporation:

Wait. Gotta end with Pam Grier! Long Time Woman – Pam Grier:

Shit. I didn’t post Strawberry Letter 23. Or Street Life… (This is a good soundtrack. Watch the movie. Listen to the songs). 🙂

Get Out (2017) Review

Get Out (2017)

Directed & Written by Jordan Peele

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Stephen Root, Lakeith Stanfield, Catherine Keener

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Get Out follows a young interracial couple who visit the mysterious estate of the woman’s parents.

My Opinion:

Get Out was a pretty good and enjoyable film, especially for something from the “horror” genre (90% of modern horror movies suck). Then again, it’s not exactly your typical shitty, slasher-type crap. It had some thought put into it, a decent script & acting, and some likable characters. It also feels somewhat original compared to the usual stale horror movie crap that Hollywood pumps out. However, I don’t think it’s as groundbreaking as I’d expected from the little I had read of it. To be fair, I’m old & watch too many movies so I’m harder to impress but I do feel like I’ve seen this movie a few times already, just with a different spin.

Okay, I can’t do this completely spoiler-free. HUBBY – STOP READING HERE. (He hates even the tiniest spoilers). I’m not exactly going to spoil this movie but I AM going to name a few movies this film immediately brought to my mind as I watched it. So, if you’ve seen them, I guess that spoils this one for you. I’d already heard this movie compared to one specific film when skimming some reviews & it ruined it a bit as it meant the ending wasn’t really a surprise to me. So, SLIGHT SPOILERS NOW:

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This is very much The Stepford Wives (with racism instead of sexism) and I wish I hadn’t read that beforehand. However, I think updating the concept behind The Stepford Wives was actually a good idea & it worked very well in Get Out. I’ve always liked The Stepford Wives (and, bizarrely, The Stepford Children, a cheesy 1987 TV movie that I was obsessed with at the time & reviewed HERE). The other two movies I was reminded of were two guilty pleasures: the body horror classic Society (which I sort-of-reviewed HERE) and the super cheesy but kind of fun The Skeleton Key (which unfortunately has Kate Hudson in it. Ew). Between those three movies, you have Get Out. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing as plenty of movies are influenced by others and Get Out is certainly a better film than The Skeleton Key, is probably better although less memorable than Society, and is a worthy homage to the Stepford films.

I’m not going to ramble on about this film. It’s had excellent reviews & a lot of people really loved it. I can understand why as it’s a well-written social commentary with some fun comic relief provided by the dog-sitting friend. The acting was better than you get in your standard sort of horrors (just Allison Williams was weak) and I really liked the tone & use of music. But I still feel like this story has been done before & the movie is probably getting a little more hype than is deserved just because of its message. And I prefer to think the message is “Rich people are assholes”. Right??? I think that’s something we can all agree on. Yeah. Rich people. Rich people suck. 😉

There is one very important life lesson that I gained from this film: Bangs (or a fringe as they call it in the UK) do NOT suit everyone. Allison Williams, you gotta grow that shit out. That was a very bad decision.

My Rating: 7/10

Beauty And The Beast (2017) Review

Beauty And The Beast (2017)

Directed by Bill Condon

Based on Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont

Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson

Music by Alan Menken

Plot Synopsis: The same as the 1991 animated Disney film. Just watch the animated version instead if you haven’t already.

My Opinion:

Mehhhh…. I can’t be bothered to write much of a review for this movie. It’s a cash grab – we all know that. I can’t really trash Disney, though. I grew up on Disney films & I’ll always love Disney, even when they sell out. It doesn’t matter – the majority of film studios, actors & actresses, directors, etc etc, all sell out at some point. As long as Disney keep making some original & quality films alongside these pointless remakes & sequels, I can forgive some selling-out. But I’m sorry to say that this remake of Beauty And The Beast is indeed completely pointless.

I actually didn’t mind the live-action Cinderella (which I reviewed HERE). The kid watched that again recently & I still don’t mind it. At least it’s not a straight copy. I also enjoyed Maleficent quite a bit more than this as it felt somewhat original. With Beauty And The Beast copying everything, right down to giving us inferior versions of the fantastic songs from the original, I just don’t see the point. Okay – there were a few extra things added in storywise (and, I can’t remember now – one or maybe two new boring songs) that didn’t really enhance what was already a good & simple fairy tale.

Emma Watson: Wrong for the part. I’ve thought that since it was first announced that she would be Belle. She doesn’t do a horrible job but Hermoine as Belle was always going to be very distracting. Dan Stevens: Nope! Didn’t work. Plus he’s not hot enough (cartoon beast-turned-human was a babe). Kevin Kline: He was okay. Luke Evans: Actually, I guess he was pretty perfect as Gaston. Josh Gad: Not too bad – he was kind of fun but all I can hear is Olaf. Ewan McGregor: He did okay copying the original version of the character but the French accent was just confusing. Well, all the accents in this were confusing (but I suppose the same can be said of the original). Emma Thompson: Perfect casting but YOU CAN NEVER TOP ANGELA LANSBURY, dammit!!!! Chip was still cute, though. Just not as cute as animated Chip. But nothing in this topped the original in any way, so….

Whatever. It’s not a horrible movie. The CGI is decent. No, wait – I suppose the CGI actually quite good but we’re all spoiled these days & expect perfection. If you love the animated film, odds are that you’ll want to watch this at some point but I wouldn’t say you have to rush out to see it. If you haven’t seen the animated film for some reason, please just watch that first. Or instead. I’ll give this an extra half point since my kid seemed to enjoy it. I guess that’s all the really counts, right? 😉

My Rating: 6/10

Logan (2017) Review

Logan (2017)

Directed by James Mangold

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Dafne Keen

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a past-his-prime Logan embarking on a “road trip” across a dystopian future version of America for one final mission.

My Opinion:

I’m not going to say yet again how superheroed-out I am and that I skipped watching all superhero movies last year other than Deadpool & Captain America: Civil War. Oops – I guess I did just say it again? Anyway, I’m not a big superhero geek & don’t read any comics (well, I read Watchmen & Tank Girl so I’m lying a little) but I enjoy these movies when they’re halfway decent. The X-Men movie series has probably actually been my favorite. At least, character-wise, it’s the group of “superheroes” (okay, mutants) that I’ve been drawn to the most. The movies started out pretty good (although a little cheesy) but have ended up so disappointing in recent years. Hell, I didn’t even watch X-Men: Apocalypse or The Wolverine. That’s pretty bad considering how much I loved these characters after the first couple of films.

Then Logan came along, which looked a bit different and had a great trailer (plus a young girl kicking ass!) so I was finally once again excited to watch an X-Men movie. I suppose it helps that two of the absolute best X-Men characters are the stars of this one (Professor X is my personal favorite. Yay, Patrick Stewart!). I honestly didn’t miss having loads of other mutants in this. I find it overkill sometimes when you have too many characters, like in Civil War. Sometimes less is more and I liked so much focus being on Logan, Charles & Laura.

I really enjoyed Logan. It’s a very good film for this genre. I think the more violent, more grown-up thing worked very well for the character of Wolverine but wouldn’t necessarily work for all other comic book characters. It was the perfect “end(?)” to this character’s story (for me). And, I’m not gonna lie – I loved seeing a young girl kicking ass. Plus I love a good father/daughter-like relationship in a movie. Dafne Keen did a great job and I was a sucker for the relationship she developed with Logan as well as with Charles. And of course the further development of the existing relationship between Logan & Charles. I love that kind of shit. A fucked-up, crazy, loving mutant family! Good character development & angst & feelings. I like that! Good stuff.

I admit that I didn’t care too much about the actual story itself. The story was decent enough. I can’t say I ever take these comic book storylines too seriously anyway. With these kind of movies, I always care more about really good characters & just enough action to keep things moving along and Logan delivers as far as these two things are concerned. Did I like it more than the very first two X-Men movies? I don’t know. In some ways, yes. I think it’s the better film but certainly not as much “fun”. But it’s not meant to be – I guess it depends what you want from a comic book movie. I like either fun or serious depending on my mood and I enjoyed Logan as much as the first couple of X-Men films, just in a different sort of way. Other than that, I don’t have much more to say. I’m no expert on these movies as I haven’t read any of the comics so can’t compare. I like the films. I love the characters. I thought Logan was a great final film for Wolverine. For now. Until another sequel or prequel or evil twin or clone or time travel or some alternate reality bullshit comes along…

My Rating: 7.5/10

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

Directed by Chad Stahelski

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life.

My Opinion:

I think these John Wick films could grow on me if they keep making them. Although, having said that, I also hope they stop and make it only a trilogy to avoid overkill (Ha! Literally, since there’s a lot of killing in these!!!! Holy hell).

I reviewed the first John Wick HERE last week & gave it a sort of “meh” review. I’ve felt kind of bad about that ever since. It was a fun action film. If you don’t take it too seriously, you should enjoy it. I was possibly going to wait for the sequel to come to Netflix but an opportunity arose for me to go see it over the weekend so I did. I’m glad I did. This is one of those instances where the sequel has actually made me like the original film even more. Things are coming together and I think this becoming a trilogy will be perfect. We’re leaning more about John Wick and this crazy secret society of hitmen with their strict rules of conduct. But, at the same time, it maintains the air of mystery from the first film which at first slightly annoyed me but now makes more sense as I realize that maybe we shouldn’t know absolutely everything about the character of John Wick. We don’t need to. He’s an ex-killer. No… He’s had a change of heart but he’s still a killer. He’s far from perfect. But none of that really matters. We just want to see him kick ass. We still want to see him kick ass because THAT PUPPY WAS SO DAMN CUTE.

I’m going to keep this review short as I think I spent long enough explaining my feelings in my review of the first film. I want to love these movies as much as everyone else seems to but they still don’t quite resonate with me. I stand by my opinion that, when comparing Keanu Reeves action flicks, the John Wicks come nowhere near the awesomeness of Point Break. They also don’t manage to match up to Speed or The Matrix. However, I’ll give them this: John Wick: Chapter 2 is a very strong sequel that actually manages to elevate the first one whereas the Speed & Matrix sequels were so bad that they almost managed to completely destroy the original films.

These John Wick films are definitely headed in the right direction and I’m now looking forward to the next film much more than I’d expected. This sequel is even more slick & stylish than the first and the scenes in Rome plus an action-packed scene in a mirrored art installation were a joy to watch. And with so many exceptionally strong supporting characters (I’ve especially liked Willem Dafoe & Ian McShane but I could go on & on listing all the great characters), I can’t wait to see everyone again. The characters who are still alive, that is… 😉 Plus you know they’ll get just as many impressive actors for the next film as well since someone clearly has great Hollywood connections. Maybe Keanu is just friends with everyone in Hollywood. Who doesn’t love Keanu, right?

Oh! One last thought that I had in the middle of watching Chapter 2. Maybe this is why these films are subconsciously growing on me? In a youth-obsessed Hollywood, it suddenly occurred to me just how old the majority of the main cast in both John Wick films are. Keanu himself is (a very hot) 52! McShane (74), Dafoe (61), Fishburne (55), Leguizamo (52). Even the dead-flashback-wife is age-appropriate to her husband instead of being 20 years younger (Bridget Moynahan – 45). Wick 2 also has a very memorable scene proving that 45 can be sexy with a great performance from 45-year-old actress Claudia Gerini. And Common is as handsome as always in this sequel (I loved that he had such a big role) – It’s just funny to think that he’s kind of a youngster in comparison to everyone else (only 44!).


Anyway, this won’t seem like a big deal to twentysomethings but it was kind of awesome when I thought about it. These super violent, action-packed, stylish, well-acted, kick-ass John Wick movies star people old enough to be your parents & grandparents! And I’m thinking it doesn’t matter to the younger audience anyway, judging from the wide twentysomething to sixtysomething gender mix of those watching this in my cinema. They’ve managed to appeal to all ages & genders with these films, which is quite an accomplishment for action movies. I do get their appeal. They’re growing on me. I promise. I’ve upped my John Wick 1 rating (to the same as my rating for this one). If the next movie is just as good, I’ll up them all to 7.5. I promise. Let’s hope these films continue on this upward trajectory. Yeah, they might already deserve a 7.5. I may change my mind. I do that a lot. 😉 But for now…

My Rating: 7/10

I’m already thinking 7/10 may be a little low. FYI: This movie was FAR more violent than I expected based on its 15 rating in the UK. Just a warning for those with kids in the 15 age range. It was almost Tarantino-level violence. It was actually a bit much for me. (I’m a wuss). I’m a bit shocked that it’s not rated 18…

Watership Down (1978) Blind Spot Review

Watership Down (1978)

Directed by Martin Rosen & John Hubley

Based on Watership Down by Richard Adams

Starring: John Hurt, Richard Briers, Michael Graham Cox, Roy Kinnear, Simon Cadell, Harry Andrews, Zero Mostel

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A group of rabbits flee their doomed warren and face many dangers to find and protect their new home.

My Opinion:

This is my second Blind Spot movie of 2017 after watching & reviewing The Hustler in January. I’ve never read the Watership Down book by Richard Adams and have managed to avoid spoilers for years. I’d only ever heard that the movie is “sad” so I will of course avoid giving any major spoilers in this review.

I’m still not quite sure what to think of this film. I watched it over a month ago & it goes up in my estimation the more I think about it. It was very good & I liked it but know it’s one that would grow on me after multiple watches. I have to say that I wish I’d grown up with it as that would make me appreciate it in a different sort of way. I also very much want to read the book now as I think it would make more sense of the story (I was extremely tired the night I watched this. As usual). I want the kid to read more classics so I have a feeling she’ll be getting this book as a gift from mommy so we can read it together when she’s older. It’ll prepare her for the movie, which I wouldn’t allow her to watch yet. Yes, this film is indeed extremely violent for an animated “family” film. I’ll come back to that topic in a bit…

Watership Down is very different from modern-day animated films. I mean that in a good way, though. It has the soul & bravery that a lot of classic kids’ stories had in the 1970s but which have been sucked out of the sanitized & meaningless “Happy Meal toy seller” movies pumped out by Hollywood nowadays. To quote two bits of trivia at IMDB, Watership Down is “considered to be the most violent animated PG-rated film ever made.” Also, “The British Board of Film Classification is still receiving complaints about this film after it was made almost 40 years ago.

It’s funny to think that, although I didn’t see this as a kid, I’d have probably seen it by the age of six or seven and my parents would’ve thought nothing of it whereas no one would let a kid that age watch this film now. I just find it amusing what people protect their kids from nowadays. They’ll shield them from an allegorical classic such as this but will think nothing of letting them have unmonitored Internet & social media access. They’ll think nothing of letting them do so many things that are far more psychologically damaging than watching Watership Down. Don’t worry – I’m not getting on my soapbox since, even though I know I’d have seen this by the time I was my kid’s age if I’d had the opportunity, there’s no WAY I’d let her watch this! Lol. 😉 Not yet. I’ll check out the book first as that seems like the better introduction but, to give a slight spoiler warning, this movie goes full-on “Bunny Road House at the end! I expected a polar bear to fall on someone. I expected Sam Elliott (stud) to show up & help guide the bunnies to safety. Be nice until it’s time to not be nice, little bunnies!

I often say “I’m now interested in reading the book” after watching a movie that I liked but I rarely do it as I don’t like doing it that way around (I try to always read the book before the movie adaptation if it’s something that interests me). I mean it this time, however. It strikes me as one that will go far deeper in the book as the rabbits have their entirely own culture, belief system, language, etc. The movie touches on this very well and I loved the look and animation style used at the start of the film to help explain their culture but would assume, as is usually the case, that the book will explain even more. The story being an allegory of many things, but mainly humanity in general, I’d like to read the book to more easily draw the parallels.

Finally, for those interested in the book or movie, I’ll say that it follows the classic Joseph Campbell “hero’s journey” sort of theme, which always makes for a great story. The epic journey and mythological themes also reminded me of just how much I loved The Warriors. Yes, that’s right! I did indeed just compare Watership Down to The Warriors & Road House. That’s a massive compliment because those movies are awesome. Okay – I’ve talked myself into it now: I really really liked Watership Down. It’s a fantastically epic allegorical journey worthy of its “classic” status. And Road House Bunny Warriors kick ass.

To end this review, I thought I better make mention of the book’s author (Richard Adams) and the voice our main character Hazel (brilliantly done by John Hurt). Both sadly passed away very recently and it’s just a coincidence that I chose this as a Blind Spot movie as I’d been wanting to see it for years. So, in their honor, I’m happy to say that Watership Down is a wonderful story and I’m very glad to have added another John Hurt classic to my recent list of My Top Ten John Hurt Movies (a list which is still sadly missing a few big films I have yet to see). I’ve now updated that list & Watership Down is very high (ain’t nothing gonna beat Alien, though! EVER). I hadn’t realized just how many voices Hurt had done for animated films and, based on how great he was in this, I’m now moving Ralph Bakshi’s The Lord Of The Rings (in which he voices Aragorn) much further up my “To Watch” list. So far, I’m very happy with my 2017 Blind Spot choices.

My Rating: 8/10

Here’s Art Garfunkel doing the Bright Eyes song from Watership Down. The song is actually only very briefly featured in the film – I expected to hear the whole thing…

**FYI: Netflix & the BBC are making a new Watership Down mini-series with a pretty impressive cast (James McAvoy, John Boyega, Nicholas Hoult, Ben Kingsley, and Gemma Arterton to name a few). This will apparently air sometime this year. I can’t find more current information on it but you can read an old article about it HERE at Variety.com. Will be interesting to see but I’ll read the book first. I’m sure this version will be a watered-down Watership Down… 

Oh, I actually managed to go to a movie over the weekend! And it was almost as violent as Watership Down. See you tomorrow with my review of John Wick: Chapter 2. 

Sicario (2015) Review

Sicario (2015)

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Starring: Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, Daniel Kaluuya, Maximiliano Hernández, Victor Garber, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Donovan, Raoul Trujillo, Julio Cedillo, Hank Rogerson, Bernardo Saracino

Music by Jóhann Jóhannsson

Cinematography by Roger Deakins

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film is about a principled FBI agent who is enlisted by a government task force to bring down the leader of a powerful and brutal Mexican drug cartel.

My Opinion:

Ohhh… This movie was GOOD. And to think I wasn’t even necessarily planning on ever watching it! I never really like the crime drama type of genre so, no, this will never exactly be a personal favorite film of mine whereas I LOVE Villeneuve’s Arrival (It’s my favorite genre – So glad he’s going in a sci-fi direction with his movie choices now!!!). But it’s a damn good film even if it’s not usually my sort of thing.

It wasn’t until loving Arrival that I started taking a bit more notice of Villeneuve’s work. It’s why I finally decided to watch Sicario last month (my girl crush on Emily Blunt helped too). I’d already seen a couple of his films and I thought they were pretty good and beautifully filmed but they weren’t really my type of thing either. Wait – I take that back… Enemy was totally my type of thing. I wanted to like that one more than I did. I did appreciate it and think I’d like it more on a re-watch but it was a very slow film & it took a while to get into it. I preferred it to Prisoners, however, but that’s again probably due to me not liking the crime genre. I now really want his Incendies to be one of the next films that I watch for my IMDB Top 250 Project (it’s at #146). With his current popularity I’m hoping it’ll pop up on Netflix or something.

So! Here we are with Sicario – easily my second favorite Villeneuve film I’ve seen so far. I know nothing about filmmaking but this film was beautiful. Those shots of the landscape! It’s a shame that I saw this one on a TV instead of in the cinema. The cinematography & the score created such a rich atmosphere. This combination almost gave me the same sort of feeling as I had while watching Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Western epics (I liked the Dollars Trilogy & Once Upon A Time In The West WAY more than I ever expected to, especially having no prior Western movie experience).

I can definitely say that I intend to watch everything made by Villeneuve from now on. This is what I like: Movies that feel like true art. It feels like we don’t get enough “epics” nowadays. And they don’t all have to be artsy fartsy – I’d call Mad Max: Fury Road epic & it’ll still be loved & respected years from now. I blame the general public for the lack of very few all-time great films now, though, not the filmmakers. The majority of people wouldn’t have the patience for a Leone film now – they’d rather go to the next Fifty Shades movie. The next Fast & Furious film will make more money than most of the Best Picture nominees put together (Maybe. I dunno. I’m pulling that statistic out of my ass). Sicario isn’t quite up there with the Leone films but it’s getting close. Arrival is at that level (for me, at least). Both Sicario & Arrival will be seen as all-time classics 20 years from now, which can’t be said of many current films. But the Leone films didn’t really get any respect until years later, right? I think these two Villeneuve films, though respected by the filmmaking community right now, will get more recognition in the future. Arrival won’t win Best Picture and, years from now, people will be all “Why didn’t Arrival win Best Picture that year?!”. Oh well – The Academy never gets it right anymore.

I’m rambling, as usual, so I’ll wrap this up by saying a bit more than “This film is pretty & has a great mood!”. I’m one of those weirdos who cares more about a movie’s director than its stars. If the director is awesome and the story is good, the actors probably won’t f*^k up the film. I mean, I suppose a good director isn’t going to let crappy actors be in their film anyway. However, some credit has to be given to the actors in Sicario. Emily Blunt & Benicio del Toro are especially strong in bringing these characters to life.

Blunt, who kicked ass in Edge Of Tomorrow, again plays a great “tough chick” with a believable vulnerability. Her character isn’t perfect, she doesn’t make all the right decisions, she’s not a machine, she does have emotions, but she stays true to her beliefs to the very end. This is actually a very similar character, belief-wise, to the one in Edge Of Tomorrow and I think Blunt plays these “strong yet vulnerable” roles perfectly. Can we have more roles like these for women, please??? Thank you, Villeneuve, for these strong & believable female roles (Btw – I’ll say it again – Amy Adams was ROBBED of an Oscar nomination for Arrival! Grr).

Benicio del Toro also gives his best performance since the dog-faced boy in Big Top Pee-wee (he must get so sick of people saying that). Seriously, though – I’ve always known he was a good actor but I’ve not paid much attention to him. He’s fantastic in this, especially at the end. He kind of blew me away. He plays this thoroughly complex character with such chilling subtlety. Josh Brolin & Daniel Kaluuya also do brilliantly in supporting roles and I loved how the film captured the strong bonds and sense of extreme loyalty between FBI partners.

Sicario’s slow & deliberate build-up of tension and the reveal of character motivations made for one of the most intense final acts I’ve seen in a while. I admit that it took me a while to get into the film as it’s a topic I certainly can’t relate to and a genre I don’t often choose to watch but it’s so well-made with such rich characters & performances and an ending that had me on the edge of my seat (well, couch). This is damn good filmmaking. I want more of this. Please let Blade Runner 2049 be at least this good!

My Rating: 8/10

**Speaking of the lovely Emily Blunt, it’s her 34th birthday tomorrow so I’ll be posting a list of My Top Ten Emily Blunt Movies. 🙂

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (Book Review)

Big Little Lies is a seven-episode series starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman & Shailene Woodley. It’s airing on HBO in America this Sunday (19th of February) and looks like it will air on Sky Atlantic in the UK sometime in March.

Based on the novel of the same name by Liane Moriarty, the show was created by David E Kelley & directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (director of films such as Wild & Dallas Buyers Club). Having just read the book, I figured it was time I do a quick book review for anyone who may be interested in either the novel or the TV show…

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

What It’s About: (via Amazon)
Perfect family, perfect house, perfect life; Jane, Madeline and Celeste have it all . . . or do they? They are about to find out just how easy it is for one little lie to spiral out of control.

My Thoughts:

I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed this book as it’s certainly not my usual sort of genre (give me Stephen King, fantasy, dystopian, or post-apocalyptic!). Is it chick lit? I hate that term – It’s so condescending. And I hate the so-called chick lit genre as it tends to be the “silly” books that are given this label. I suppose it’s certainly aimed at female readers, though.

I haven’t read reviews at all but I would assume the main comparison being used to describe this book’s story & overall feel is Desperate Housewives, which would be extremely accurate. I have a confession: I’m not a girly girl & watch very few girly things but I watched all of Desperate Housewives (despite its AWFUL title, which almost made me not watch it in the first place). But then the opening DH scene started with a tragic death and a woman who then happily realized that it meant she wouldn’t have to return (some kitchen appliance she’d borrowed – can’t remember) to the now-dead woman. And I was hooked! Well-written dark humor with rich characters is something I can get behind. Who cares what label you give it? I don’t think Big Little Lies is quite as good as that first season of Desperate Housewives (as with all shows, DH went badly downhill in later years) and it doesn’t have as much of that darkly humorous streak but it’s a fun satire on parents, particularly mothers, and the crazy world of school politics.

Big Little Lies starts with a tragic & unexplained death on the night of the adult-only trivia fundraiser taking place at the novel’s school. Our three main characters, Jane, Madeline & Celeste, each have five-year-olds attending their first year of school. This is a fairly long book that I found a very quick read thanks to the way it was broken up into so many chapters & the way most chapters ended with statements from witnesses who were there on the trivia night. After the opening chapter in which someone has died, the novel then goes back to the beginning of the school year to introduce us to all our main potential victims and murderers. I loved not even knowing who ends up the victim, which kept me reading as I was anxious to find out. The witness statements at the end of the chapters give us little clues along the way as to what may have happened.

Big Little Lies isn’t exactly some piece of “worthy literature” but it was a light & entertaining read and should make for an enjoyable TV series. I’d actually like to see them up the dark humor for the show if they can. The book sounds more shallow than it actually is – It tackles some heavy issues, especially at the end, but it could’ve done with sticking more to its sassy satire we mainly glimpse in the witness statements and through the character of Madeline. Speaking of Madeline, the casting of Reese Witherspoon for this role is absolute perfection – I can totally see her as this outwardly superficial character with the deep down heart of gold. I can also see Woodley & Kidman as Jane & Celeste now even though Celeste won’t be how I pictured looks-wise but Kidman definitely has the right sort of personality & manner to suit the role well. With a lot of big names involved, including Jean-Marc Vallée as the director, I think the show is in good hands & I’m looking forward to seeing how they adapt the book.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Here’s the UK trailer for the TV show. I think they’ve upped the drama! Hope the show doesn’t take itself too seriously…

John Wick (2014) & The Neon Demon (2016) Movie Reviews

With John Wick: Chapter 2 coming out, I figured I better review the first film (which I finally watched a few months ago). So I wrote the below review. After writing it, I then watched The Neon Demon. I must say that John Wick has gone up in my estimation since seeing The Neon Demon. Every movie EVER MADE has now gone up in my estimation since seeing The Neon F*%#ing Demon!!!!! Let’s talk about these, shall we…?

John Wick (2014)

Directed by Chad Stahelski & David Leitch

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Willem Dafoe

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.

My Opinion:

I love Keanu Reeves. And, apparently, I’m not alone. I was very surprised when a list I did last year of My Top Ten Keanu Reeves Movies was one of my most viewed & most shared posts. Yay! Everyone loves Keanu! I honestly didn’t realize he was so popular.

So I made that list having not yet seen John Wick or The Neon Demon and figured I could update it once I’ve watched them. Well, I’ve now updated the list. I can tell you that The Neon Demon sure as SHIT doesn’t make the top ten (it’s atrocious). Unfortunately, John Wick doesn’t quite manage to break into my top ten either. It’s very close! I’ve put it at 12 but it’s probably hovering around the 10, 11 or 12 range depending on my mood… So there you go – I’m sure you were all dying to know my final official ranking of Keanu Reeves films! 😉

John Wick is a really fun action film. It was what I expected in being all style over substance so that didn’t bother me at all. We all need to turn off our brains sometimes & just watch a fun action flick! I think I was just disappointed that it wasn’t as much fun or as stylish as I’d been expecting in order for it to make up for that lack of substance. It’s an okay film but comes absolutely nowhere near Keanu’s best. This is no The Matrix or Speed and it’s especially no Point Break (Point Break rules!). Damn. But, man, I loved that puppy. Cutest puppy EVER! I’m giving this movie a slightly higher rating simply because of the puppy. A BEAGLE. A SNOOPY puppy!!!!!


Wook at that wittle face!

I do know how to enjoy a fun “popcorn” movie and, no, I wasn’t expecting Oscar-quality writing or acting in John Wick. However, I needed to know the character of John Wick a little better in order to care about him & his quest for vengeance. We get some flashbacks of his wife and, of course, we meet his adorable puppy. However, we didn’t get much of his backstory. I felt like I didn’t know a thing about him by the end other than that he was sad about his dead wife (not a spoiler – she’s already dead at the beginning of the movie). I mean, he’s a (former) killer. Right? How is he any better than the many, many (many) people he proceeds to kill throughout this film? Because a cute puppy licked his face & he loved his pretty wife?

Okayyyy – I fully admit to falling asleep in the middle of this like I often do during films at home so maybe I missed something (I’m a parent. I’m exhausted). 😉 Why did he retire? For love? Or because he developed a conscience? I hope that was the reason… The only way I can describe it is this: I sometimes watch a movie and feel like I’ve jumped right into the middle of it and missed a bunch of the beginning where they’ve set up the characters & the story. I felt that way 30 minutes into John Wick despite missing absolutely nothing from the start. I almost cared more about Willem Dafoe’s character (a great character, from the very little we get to know him – I’d love to know more about his previous relationship with Wick as well). Well, maybe we’ll find out more in the sequel? As fun as it is to watch some shoot-em-up non-stop action sometimes, I still want to know a little about the main character at the very least. If I care about him, I’ll get more enjoyment from his revenge. I do love a really good revenge movie! I liked John Wick well enough to watch the sequel but it’s a “wait for it to show up on Netflix” movie for me. (Although, initial reviews of the sequel are very good so maybe I can be talked into making a trip to the cinema for it. But the sequel puppy isn’t nearly as cute…!!!)

My Rating: 7/10

**SPOILERS. Kind of.**

The Neon Demon (2016)

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

Starring: Elle Fanning, Karl Glusman, Jena Malone, Bella Heathcote, Abbey Lee, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves

Plot Synopsis: Guy succeeds in making a decent film called Drive, which then gives him the freedom to make the biggest pile of shit I’ve seen since similar success for another writer led to the creation of the atrocious Jennifer’s Body. The Neon Demon makes Jennifer’s Body look good. 

My Opinion:

I called a movie that I reviewed last week a “load of pretentious bullshit” (the movie Comet). I now apologize profusely to that movie. I’d rather be strapped to a chair “Clockwork Orange-style” & forced to watch Comet 100 times than to ever have to even THINK about The Neon Demon again. I want to wipe this movie from my memory “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind-style“. I want to go back in time and, “Marty McFly-style”, tell myself it’s my destiny (density!) to NEVER watch The Neon Demon. I want to take a flame thrower to this movie “Ellen Ripley-style“. I want to get medieval on this movie’s ass “Marsellus Wallace- style“. I want to stick this movie’s head in a box “Gwyneth Paltrow-style“. I want to banish this movie to the cornfield “Twilight Zone-style“. I want this movie to eat itself, to puke itself up, to re-eat itself, to piss itself out, and to f*%k its own corpse “The Neon Demon-style“.

I can’t truly put into words just how much I hated The Neon Demon and its fake, derivative, shallow, pointless, pretentious aping of artistic masters such as Jodorowsky, Buñuel, Argento, von Trier, Cronenberg, Lynch, etc etc. Not everyone will be a fan of all of those I’ve named (I’m not even saying that I like them all myself) but, like their work or not, at least they did their own thing instead of making superficial & inferior copies of their influences.

I’ll give this movie an extra point for Elle Fanning, though, as I thought she did a decent job for her young age. Other than Fanning, everyone in this is now slightly ruined for me the next time I see them in other films (even Keanu, dammit). Still love him, though, so I’ll try to put this movie out of my mind. But I hope to never see Jena Malone in anything ever again so am very glad that I wasn’t a fan of hers in the first place. More than anything, I’m annoyed that this has tainted the movie Drive and especially that it has ruined Drive’s soundtrack for me, which I liked even more than the film. I’ve hated plenty of movies over the years but I don’t think there’s ever been one that I actually regretted seeing. The Neon Demon may very well be the first. In that regard, I suppose you at least have to give Nicolas Winding Refn credit for creating a film that generated some strong reactions from its’ viewers. I don’t mind movies with some shock value (of those I mentioned above, I do love a lot of Cronenberg’s work) but, to quote my husband, “The Neon Demon thinks it’s art when it’s merely just artifice”.

My Rating: 2/10

The LEGO Batman Movie (2017) Review

The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)

Directed by Chris McKay

Starring: Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Bruce Wayne must not only deal with the criminals of Gotham City, but also the responsibility of raising a boy he adopted.

My Opinion:

The LEGO Batman Movie is easily my favorite 2017 UK release so far! Well, okay – it’s only February and I’ve only seen three other movies (La La Land, T2 Trainspotting & Split). But I’m sure it’ll be in my top ten at the end of the year. It really cheered me up after a crappy day at work – it’s lots of fun and the humor is genuinely funny. And I mean an “all ages” funny – this is one of those movies I’m sure plenty of adults without kids are wanting to see as well. Go to it! You’ll like it no matter what your age, especially if you’re a superhero fan. Although you don’t really have to be a superhero fan, either – I’m a very mild one. In fact, I’m so superheroed-out that I went to, I think, only one of the superhero movies released last year. I didn’t go to that Batman/Superman thingy! I’m pretty sure The LEGO Batman Movie is superior to that anyway from what I’ve read.

I absolutely loved the first The Lego Movie, which I re-watched with the kid again this week. I thought that was one of the best family movies in recent times and it somehow actually manages to still go up slightly in my estimation anytime I see it. This LEGO Batman “sequel” follows a similar sort of hero’s journey narrative and delivers another great message in a thoroughly entertaining, funny, and non-preachy way. I still adore the message from the first film and, while this second film is much more obvious with its straightforward message and the story isn’t quite as “deep” or as uniquely told as in the first film, it’s still a wonderfully written film and so much better than the majority of mindless kids’ films that get made with only cheap laughs and cheap toys in mind. Crap like Trolls! What’s the message in that? Be happy no matter what! Tra la la, stupid happy songs, don’t think for yourself, don’t have emotions…

I also want to emphasize the “non-preachy” message thing, as I get so thoroughly annoyed by preachy kids’ films (I seem to have a very unpopular opinion on Zootopia but I sincerely felt that it rammed its message down our throats. Plus, the film was just boring so that didn’t help). These LEGO movies, like the Pixar films and most (not all) Disney films, get the perfect balance. It feels like the focus is first & foremost on telling a good and entertaining story, which ultimately does a better job in getting its point across anyway since any message it may have doesn’t feel forced.

I suppose I should end this review by actually talking about the movie in some way?? I don’t do that a lot anyway since I like to avoid spoilers and prefer to just discuss my feelings about a movie. What can I say? I thought the jokes in this were genuinely funny (almost as funny as in the first film). “Clever” funny. I’m very picky on comedy and like very few adult films in the comedy genre. Why is the best, most well-written comedy in films nowadays in these so-called kids’ movies? The LEGO movies (and everything made by my beloved Pixar) put all the immature, silly, live-action “adult” comedy to shame. Are adults idiots or something? Considering that our cinema screen was nearly empty when we went to see this while queues were going out the door for that new Fifty Shades movie, I’m thinking that must be the case.

I can’t help but compare this to the first LEGO movie, of course, but to say it’s not quite as good as that one isn’t really an insult as that’s a hard one to live up to. Batman himself is great but the rest of the characters are a bit weak in comparison. The focus is on Batman’s relationship with each of these people, though, and this is done really well. You gets loads of fun pop culture cameos (Gremlins & a Twilight Zone reference put a big goofy grin on my face) and I know there are plenty of superhero in-jokes that I’ll have missed but that hardcore fans will love. I saw so many “dads” alone with their kids at this one and I’m sure they loved it as much if not more than their kids. I like to pretend that those dads’ wives weren’t next door at Fifty Shades… This is why I don’t get along with many other women! Do any girl bloggers out there who prefer LEGO Batman to Fifty Shades want to be my friend??. 😉

The story itself is, well, a pretty standard superhero storyline. But better. I wish more live-action superhero movies were half as good as The LEGO Batman Movie. This film is more lighthearted and “fun” than the first one but it still has a fantastic message and put as big of a smile on my face as on my husband’s and, most importantly, our daughter’s. Well, maybe slightly bigger smiles on ours. But her generation of kids are gonna be great adults thanks to growing up on good movies like these and like those made by Pixar. This generation of kids are gonna save the world! They’re gonna be better adults than all the current idiot grown-ups! If we all live that long. Hmm. This review took a dark turn. Kind of like the death metal songs written by LEGO Batman.

My Rating: 8/10

Dope, Comet & Me And Earl And The Dying Girl Movie Reviews

Three mega quickies for three movies I watched last year. I have a lot of these old reviews to catch up on so I’m going to keep these threesomes short. Here we go!

Dope (2015)

Directed by Rick Famuyiwa

Starring: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Kimberly Elise, Chanel Iman, Tyga, Blake Anderson, Zoë Kravitz, A$AP Rocky

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Life changes for Malcolm, a geek who’s surviving life in a tough neighborhood, after a chance invitation to an underground party leads him and his friends into a Los Angeles adventure.

My Opinion:

I couldn’t wait to see this and the hubby & I immediately watched it the second it turned up on Netflix (or whichever service it was) instead of our usual “What should we watch?” deliberation which goes on for so long that we could watch an entire movie in the time we spend deciding what to watch. Probably one of the biggest disappointments that I’ve watched recently, I enjoyed very little about the movie Dope other than the fantastic soundtrack (which was great but also more predictable than I was hoping for). I think I’m just finally getting too old for certain teenage/twentysomething shit? Especially the quirky “indie-type” ones that try too hard (the next two are even more guilty of that than Dope).

I didn’t exactly hate this movie but no matter how many great artists you use in a film (Public Enemy! A Tribe Called Quest! Eric B. & Rakim!) it can’t disguise the fact that the story is weak & silly and only a couple of characters are likable. Shameik Moore is easily the best thing about the movie (after the music) so at least there was one character I cared about. Zoë Kravitz is also a decent character (with a much smaller role than I thought she’d have). Unfortunately, everyone else is an obnoxious asshole and the two “funny” best friends just annoyed me. Also, I suppose I’m showing my age & small town hickness but the only teenage parties I knew in the Eighties were, to quote Heathers, “keggers with kids”. Give me cheap beer in a field & some cow tipping! I can’t relate to you kids & your weird drugs. Okay – I’ve never actually tipped a cow. That seems cruel. Skip this movie & buy the soundtrack if you don’t already know all the songs. BUY the soundtrack. With actual money. That’s also how we did things in the old days!

My Rating: 6/10

Comet (2014)

Directed & Written by Sam Esmail

Starring: Emmy Rossum & Justin Long

Plot Synopsis: (from IMDB)
Set in a parallel universe, Comet bounces back and forth over the course of an unlikely but perfectly paired couple’s six-year relationship.

My Opinion:

What a load of pretentious bullshit. Feel free to give this one a go if you want to spend an hour & a half watching millennials whining about their first world relationship problems. Oh! And if you like that sort of thing, you’re really in for a treat since we get to see this couple whining in several slightly different scenarios since their relationship is shown in alternate realities. So clever!

I admit that I fell for the “parallel universe” thing in the synopsis so I put this on since I’m a sci-fi nerd. Don’t be fooled like I was! AVOID!!!!!! Do yourself a favor and go watch Arrival if you’re wanting a proper sci-fi drama. Or go watch anything other than this. Hell, just go watch a Nicholas Sparks movie if you’re wanting a bullshit melodramatic romance. At least you know what you’re gonna get with Nicholas Sparks movies since they don’t pretend to be anything other than silly & predictable. Hell, at least Nicholas Sparks characters usually have some goddamn chemistry unlike the two boring fuckers in Comet. And, most importantly, Nicholas Sparks movies know they’re stupid. Comet thinks it’s smart. You’re not smart just because you throw a “parallel universe” angle into a film to try to make it less boring. Comet is just a Nicholas Sparks movie minus any chemistry whatsoever between the characters and minus any good sex scenes.

My Rating: 4/10

Me And Earl And The Dying Girl (2015)

Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Based on Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Starring: Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, RJ Cyler, Nick Offerman, Molly Shannon, Jon Bernthal, Connie Britton

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
High schooler Greg, who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl, finds his outlook forever altered after befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer.

My Opinion:

I’m sorry this threesome is turning into a bitchathon. I’m also sorry to say that I was very disappointed with Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. But, this time, I’m not exactly sure why since this is the type of movie that’s usually my sort of thing.

I like plenty of indie movies (whether they’re the true definition of indie or just the hundreds of wannabe indies nowadays – I’m too lazy to look into whether this was an actual independent film or not). But they can either be brilliant or they can cross that line into pretentious bullshit (like the movie Comet, which stays over that line the entire time). I think the problem with MAEATDG (stupid long title) is that it crosses that line just a little too much for me to have truly bought into it. It tries just a little too hard to be unique. And, once again, I found that I just didn’t like the characters very much. Why is it so difficult to make likable or, at least, interesting and/or memorable characters? With the sad setup to this story, I expected to feel at least a slight emotional attachment to someone. At least the dying girl, right?? We didn’t seem to get to know her well – we mostly spent time with the mopey boy who’s at first pretty much forced to befriend her when she’s diagnosed with cancer. We did have the added bonus of the two boys making amateur films, which is a big YES to us movie nerds watching. It was indeed fun to see bits & pieces of their spoofs of classic films but it didn’t make up for the fact that I didn’t really care about anyone and just found the film surprisingly slow & unengaging. There’s a slight redemption at the end as I liked the presentation of the final film made by our main character and the overall movie itself ended well (as in, it ended how I expected it to and I think it was handled well). MAEATDG was certainly not a bad film. I have respect for everyone involved in its making & can understand why it would have fans. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, it just didn’t resonate with me. And I actually feel kind of bad about that! I’m sorry I didn’t like it that much.

My Rating: 6/10