Avengers: Endgame (2019) Review

**SPOILER-FREE REVIEW**

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Produced by Kevin Feige

Based on The Avengers by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

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

Music by Alan Silvestri

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 8/10

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Review

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

**SPOILER-FREE REVIEW (but I’m sure you’ve all seen it by now)**

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Based on The Avengers by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.

My Opinion:

If anyone has ever read a review here, they’ll know that all my superhero reviews start with me saying “I’m superheroed out”. This is movie number 19 of the MCU, for crying out loud! But I’ve watched all of them (other than The Incredible Hulk. Oops.) I do enjoy them. They’re fun popcorn movies & characters and, thanks to Guardians Of The Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok adding in much more humor & fun, I’ve liked them a bit more in the past few years. I wasn’t overly excited for Infinity War but knew I’d go to it as I do with every Marvel film. I thought it was pretty great! Slow to start but a truly ballsy ending that I loved. In fact, I liked it so much that I want it to be the true ending. Screw Infinity War 2!

I’ve finally ranked all the MCU movies (I’ll post that tomorrow or Wednesday) and had to re-read the plot synopsis for a few of them to refresh my memory. The ones I remember the least are the Avengers ones with loads of characters. It’s always fun to see them all together but the stories become messy and I find that I barely remember the plot afterwards. I mostly prefer the individual character movies.

I expected Infinity War to be just as convoluted and, okay, it probably is a little messy at first while the movie does loads of jumping around from one place to another. But I had a lot of fun with the various small groups of Avengers meeting & working together for the first time. Considering the massive amount of superheroes in this movie, I thought they did surprisingly well with getting the right balance when it came to time spent with each group and with some further character development.

Of the various superheroes meeting for the first time, the Guardians of the Galaxy & Thor are the absolute best. They made a fantastically funny team. I want them to team up for good and make spin-off movies together! Okay, I admit that Thor & Groot are my two favorite characters and the Guardians movies are my favorites but seeing these characters bond was exactly what I wanted. Loved it! I also loved that a lot of characters who’ve had smaller roles in previous Avengers films (or no role at all) had more screen time here. I really liked seeing the Guardians, Thor, Doctor Strange, Vision & Scarlet Witch given important things to do. Especially Doctor Strange – I don’t know if he’s exactly a fan favorite but I think I’m a fan. I find his abilities far more interesting than those of some of the other characters.


Not that our usual Phase One characters have nothing to do – we still get plenty of Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, etc etc. But I’m glad they slightly took a backseat (As presumably they’ll have the biggest roles in part 2. If alive. I’m not saying!). Iron Man still has a large role in this one and I’m now really liking his growing fatherly friendship with Spider-Man. I actually thought there was too much Tony Stark in Spider-Man: Homecoming but now see that it really help set up their relationship for this film.

I’ll wrap this up before I accidentally give away a massive spoiler or something (although the biggest fans will have made sure to see this by now, I hope!). It was hard to avoid spoilers for this one and I’m glad I managed to for two whole days as I think it made me appreciate this film even more. I’ve not mentioned all the characters but that doesn’t mean they aren’t in this (or that they’re dead!). Maybe no one dies in this. Maybe they do. No one really dies in superhero movies, though, so I guess that’s why I’ve never become a massive superhero movie fan. I can’t take them too seriously. It’s not like Han Solo or something – I’m never getting him back! As I said, these Marvel films are just fun popcorn movies to me. Infinity War was actually far more enjoyable than I was expecting and, at the moment, it’s one of my favorites of the 19 MCU movies. But Part 2 could change my mind… I hope it doesn’t undo the good that the end of Part 1 does. I want a superhero movie to do something truly unexpected for a change.

My Rating: 8/10



I love Thor.

Is There A Scene After The Credits?: Yes. Of course? No mid-credits scene, only one at the very end. Yes, you have to stay for it. For once, not ONE person left my cinema before the end credits scene. It only took 19 movies for people to finally figure out that they need to stay through the credits for Marvel movies…. 😉

My Top Ten Celebrities With Color Names

As I’ve already done lists of My Top Ten Color Movies & My Top Ten Color Songs, I figured it was time to also do a list of My Top Ten Celebrities With Colors In Their Names as well. 🙂

I think this list is pretty self-explanatory. I enlisted the hubby’s help & he started giving me lots of names which are colors in other languages. Too complicated! I’m sticking to English (sorry, Mel Blanc). Also, I decided to stick with real people instead of fictional characters as that also got too complicated. So here’s a quick shoutout to two characters I love: Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding from The Shawshank Redemption & Charlie Brown from Peanuts.


Okay – let’s do this! Here are My Top Ten Celebrities With Colors In Their Names (along with my favorite thing they’ve starred in, sung or written):

10. Sienna Miller
My Favorite: Stardust

9. Shel Silverstein
My Favorite: The Giving Tree

8. Robert Redford
My Favorite: Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid

7. Eve Plumb
My Favorite: The Brady Bunch

6. Jeff Goldblum
My Favorite: The Fly

5. James Brown, Ian Brown & Jackson Browne
My Favorites: The Boss, I Wanna Be Adored & Somebody’s Baby

4. Jack & Meg White
My Favorite: Icky Thump & Hotel Yorba

3. Scarlett Johansson
My Favorite: The Prestige

2. Jack Black
My Favorite: Tenacious D & School Of Rock

1. Betty White
My Favorite: The Golden Girls

Honorable Mentions (No, I didn’t forget these):
Karen Black, Alicia Silverstone, Frank Black (aka Black Francis), Pink, Emma Stone, Jennifer Grey, Eva Green, Whoopi Goldberg, Sarah Silverman, Seth Green, Emily Browning, Clancy Brown, Shirley Temple-Black, Rose Byrne, Rose McGowan, Erin Gray, Al Green, Tracey Gold, Matthew Gray Gubler, Shane Black, Joel Silver, Marc Almond, Paul Greengrass, Barry White, Eddie Redmayne, Goldie Hawn, Macy Gray, Otis Redding, The Redgraves, Sharon Stone, Amber Heard, Cee Lo Green, Christopher Plummer, Amanda Plummer, Oliver Stone

And, no – I didn’t forget these either: 😉
Dakota Blue Richards, Red Buttons, Red Skelton, Red West, Ron Silver, Indigo, Amber Tamblyn, Amber Valletta, F Gary Gray, Adam Goldberg, Phil Silvers, Emerald Fennell, Claire Coffee, Professor Green, Jonathan Silverman, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Simply Red, Cilla Black, Dan Brown, Logan Marshall-Greene, Brian Austin Green, Tony Goldwyn, Ginger Rogers, Bobby Brown, Lorne Green

Sorry – I had such a huge list to work off of plus someone always comes along to yell at me for the one thing I missed off of a list. But I’ll still have definitely missed some so let me know of any other Color Names you can think of! 🙂

Captain America: Civil War (2016) Review

**SPOILER-FREE (but not much of a review – I mostly just talk about all these damn superhero movies that keep coming out & where I’d rank them…)**

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Based on Captain America by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, Daniel Brühl, The Kitchen Sink

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In Captain America: Civil War, an act regulating superhuman activity fractures the Avengers into opposing factions, one led by Steve Rogers and another by Tony Stark.

My Opinion:

Superheroes Shmuperheroes. I’m sick of saying I’m sick of superhero movies. In the three & a half years I’ve had this blog, I feel like I’ve spent half my time writing superhero movie reviews as so many have come out in that time! I’m tired. I can’t do it anymore!

I have to be honest: I can’t be bothered to write much of a “review” for this. Mainly, I’m going to just talk about all the various superhero movies & where I’d rank them all now. I always struggle with writing about these movies as I’m just a casual fan & have zero knowledge about any of the comic books. I put time into running a movie blog so I do clearly geek out about movies more than the average person but I just don’t have the spare time & energy to devote to watching the thousands of hours worth of superhero sequels, prequels, spin-offs, TV shows, etc etc. I’m old & I’m tired & I have a hubby & a kid. I watch the big cinematic superhero releases when they come out & that’s it. I’ve not even managed to re-watch any, which means I’m always a little lost with each movie as I have to remember minor characters & plots from movies I watched just once at the time of release. It drives my hubby nuts when I have to constantly ask who so & so is and if I should remember them from previous movies. These superhero movies are becoming like Game Of Thrones – too many damn characters & stories to keep track of!

Okay – after getting that little rant out of the way, I have to say that I have really enjoyed these current Marvel films with the various Avengers. A few haven’t been all that great but, overall, they’re very solid films. And, with this one & the fantastic Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the Captain America films are now easily the best of the bunch (including the full-ensemble The Avengers & Avengers: Age Of Ultron). I loved the first Iron Man and would have said that one was my favorite at the time but after Iron Man 2 & Iron Man 3 were so weak, I’d have to say that Captain America has now jumped ahead overall as the sequels have been so great.

You were afraid I was going to trash this movie, weren’t you? 😉 I won’t. It’s very good! But I just can’t review it. I don’t know what to say. I’ve done so many of these superhero reviews. I’m done. For now. I’ll attempt to review X-Men: Apocalypse but I honestly have no hope for that one after Days Of Future Past was such a mess. Let’s just discuss all the various superhero films that are out there.

How I’d Now Rank All The Superhero Movies (remember that I always rank things according to how much I like a movie, not according to what I necessarily think is the best film):

Every time another one of these movies comes out, I say I’ll update this list HERE of My Top Ten Superhero Movies. I desperately need to as it’s extremely different now. For one, I was way too easy on Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. The Dark Knight would probably drop way down to the lower half of the ten now (I was too swayed by loving Ledger in it) while the other two would be knocked out completely.

I’d also move up some older classics I’m no longer ashamed of loving (it was the early days of my blog & I suppose I knew you were all younger than I am. You kids are Nolan-obsessed). 😉 So the 1978 Superman would go way up as would Tim Burton’s Batman (and it would move to a position higher than The Dark Knight).

Then there are the first two X-Men movies. Those came out when I was much younger & had spare time to watch movies & geek out over things and I really bought into those characters & that world. Back then, the superhero movie thing wasn’t big like now & it seemed like those films came from out of nowhere. I loved them & I’m still very fond of them but every movie since has been a huge disappointment, including the prequels which I haven’t been able to buy into at all. The various Avengers films have been so much better than the current X-Men films so I’d probably have to move the first two X-Mens down the list as they’ve now been ruined for me somewhat.

So where would I place Captain America: Civil War in a Top Ten? I think it’s too soon to say where but it’s definitely in the ten. I’ll fully update & re-post my list after X-Men: Apocalypse (even though I think that has zero chance of being on the list). I think a lot of where it will ultimately sit also depends on how good the next Avengers film is (whenever the hell that’s meant to be?!). At the moment, I’m trying to decide if it’s better than The Winter Soldier. I think it may be once we get more of the story but, at the moment, I think I’d rank The Winter Soldier higher. So! For now, and subject to change as I change my mind A LOT, I’ll rank things accordingly:

10. TIE: Deadpool & X-Men
9. The Dark Knight
8. The Avengers
7. Batman (1989)
6. X2
5. Captain America: Civil War
4. Iron Man
3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
2. Superman (1978)
1. Guardians Of The Galaxy

Defining “superhero movies” is quite difficult, though. I’d make it a list of just “comic book movies” but that would further complicate things as there are plenty of non-superhero comic books. For now, I’m leaving out animated films like The Incredibles & Big Hero 6 but I may add them. Also… What about things like Dredd & The Crow? Do they qualify? What do you all think? Because if I start adding in things like those, the list would be very different (for the record, The Crow would easily be my number one as that’s an overall favorite film of mine). Let me know, superhero fans! I really do want to do a proper list, probably where I rank all of the superhero films I’ve seen.

Either way, these various current Marvel films will take plenty of places in my Top Ten as they’re all very strong & seem to be getting better & better. The better they get, the more the other superhero movies pale in comparison & will end up getting knocked out of the list. Way to go Marvel! Unlike DC Comics, eh? As much as I complain about all these damn superhero movies, I always go to them. Until Batman Vs. Superman, that is. After the terrible Man Of Steel, I really couldn’t be bothered to watch it. And from the sound of things, I’m not missing much!

Summary (where I’ll actually say a tiny bit about Captain America: Civil War!):

I have to say that I liked the new characters that have been added to this one. Black Panther is cool (I love those claws) and I really liked Spider-Man! Could we finally have a Spider-Man that fans don’t bitch about?? I have no idea but I really liked him plus my hubby seemed to think they did a very good job with him this time & hubby is a little bit of a comic book fan unlike me. I can’t say I’ve exactly loved any of the Spider-Man movies yet so let’s hope Marvel get things right with their own Spider-Man film. I’m looking forward to it now!

It was great seeing so many Marvel characters together, some of whom haven’t been together in a film yet. However, my one small complaint about the ensemble Avengers films is that there are too many characters, which means that it’s hard for anyone to get much character development. This one is clearly the Captain America & Iron Man show but they didn’t do too bad spending a decent amount of time with some of the other characters. I’d like to see Scarlet Witch get a little further development – they seem to possibly be headed in that direction for the next film.

Okay – I’ve just looked into it as I had zero clue what films are being made next! Apparently the next full Avengers one is Infinity War in May 2018 & 2019 (split into two damn parts one year apart!)?! Long wait until those… That’s made me lose the will to live again with these damn movies!! I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that this Civil War story is clearly going to be carried on into the next films… I guess I’ve just given away that we don’t get full closure on this story? No surprise there, though – there are 282 more films coming in which to further develop it! Anyway, I still can’t help but slightly prefer some of the stand alone films as we get so much more time to get to know just one main character but it’s still fun seeing them all interacting with each other.

The action in this was also a little too much at first (but not at ridiculous Man Of Steel levels). I also thought it got off to a slow start but I was much more into it by the halfway point. It’s a big story so is taking its time to develop over the course of several films. I guess. Yeah. Ugh. I just can’t handle thinking about them all. Oh, but Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is May 2017!!! THAT I’m excited about (it’s my number one by quite a lot).

Well, for all my bitching, Marvel really are getting better & better at this superhero movie thing & are putting other superhero movies to shame. I’ll continue to watch them all even though I’m superheroed-out but I’ll never geek out over them like my young & carefree twentysomething self may have. But they’re thoroughly entertaining popcorn movies. And although Civil War is obviously getting into darker & moodier territory, it still maintains some of the humor and the less-serious attitude that have made me far prefer the Avengers films to the dark & brooding shit like Batman Vs. Superman appears to be. Screw that emo bullshit! It looks like things will get even more serious for Infinity War, I imagine, but they did a good job getting the balance right in this one and not making a film that’s too depressing to be at all enjoyable. Keep up the good work, Marvel! On all ten films you have planned between now & July 2019. Good (star) Lord…

My Rating: 7.5/10

Is There A Scene After The Credits?: HA! Hahaha! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! Duhhhhhhh….. Yes. Two. This is Marvel. They’re worth staying for, though. In my opinion. The more “important” one is halfway through the credits while the fun “teaser” one is at the very end (that’s the one I liked).

Stan Lee Cameo: It’s cute! I always love them. Maybe I should start rating those too…

The Muscular Arms On Chris Evans: Whoa, boy! I’m a Thor girl & have never really gone for Captain America but I very much appreciated those biceps when he was holding onto the helicopter. Yeah, baby! I may look away from Thor occasionally in the next film you’re both in together…

**Hey, I know I didn’t really talk about this movie but I’ll happily discuss it with anyone in the comments. I really do want to know all your opinions! Especially those of you who are big fans of these films. 🙂

The Jungle Book (2016) Review

The Jungle Book (2016)

Directed by Jon Favreau

Based on The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Starring: Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken, Neel Sethi

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Jungle Book stars and introduces Neel Sethi as Mowgli, an orphaned human boy who, guided by his animal guardians, sets out on a journey of self-discovery while evading the threatening Shere Khan.

My Opinion:

(FYI – I’ve never read the book so can’t make any comparisons to it)

I actually wasn’t all that bothered about watching this one when I saw the trailer. I of course love Disney’s 1967 The Jungle Book. Who doesn’t?! It’s one of my top ten animated Disney movies (I did rank every single one I’ve ever seen HERE in the early days of my blog – I really need to update that list). And it’s one of the absolute best for songs (two of them made my list of My Top Ten Disney Songs. I love making Disney lists).

Anyway! I’m a big fan of the Disney classics and just didn’t really see the necessity (ha) of making this “live action” version. However, it’s pretty good. It could never replace the animated classic for me and I’m mighty pissed off that this new version has a higher IMDB rating than the 1967 film but, oh well – it’s an enjoyable film & its child star (Neel Sethi) does a really great job.

First of all, the CGI in this is spectacular. You have to remind yourself that Sethi was actually acting alone during these scenes – they just look so real. So you have to give the kid extra credit for that! A few bits didn’t look quite right but, overall, I’d have to say that nothing really threw me out of the movie the way that bad CGI can sometimes. Well, nothing as far as the “look” of the film threw me out of it… Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the voice acting.

Of all the animals, I especially loved Bagheera. He looked amazing and, just as importantly, he was voiced very professionally by Ben Kingsley. By saying that I mean this: you don’t go “WOW – that’s Ben Kingsley!” the second you hear Bagheera talk. In fact, we didn’t know until the end credits who actually voiced that character and that’s the way it SHOULD be if Disney wish to make their films timeless classics. I’d say the same for Lupita Nyong’o’s Raksha as well. Raksha was probably my second favorite animal character and I again think a big part of that was down to the fact that I wasn’t picturing the real-life voice actor the entire time.

I went to see this with extended family & seemed to enjoy it more than anyone else in the group. I’m glad I didn’t review it right away, though, as I liked it a little less the more I thought about it (I saw it a week & a half ago). My hubby was especially not a fan. He’s always pooping on my enjoyment of things! I’m pretty damn picky on movies but, believe me, he’s far worse. I do see his point, though, as his biggest complaint is that this movie felt like “The Bill Murray Show”.

I doubt there’s anyone out there who doesn’t love Baloo from the 1967 The Jungle Book. I suppose it’s a difficult job to voice such a beloved character but Bill Murray voices him in that typical Bill Murray way of his: he voices Baloo as Bill Murray. I guess that’s good if you absolutely love him and go to this wanting to see a Bill Murray movie but that’s not what I personally want from any Disney film. I don’t want to picture the actors. I want to get lost in the world created by the movie which, in this case, really did look pretty fantastic. But then Baloo came along acting all Bill Murray-like. And I also adore King Louie from the 1967 film (I actually prefer I Wan’na Be Like You to The Bare Necessities and love that part of the film). But who voices King Louie? Christopher Walken! Are there many voices more identifiable than his?! He did actually tone things down a bit in this but I still couldn’t help but picture King Louie with a gun to his head & talking about sticking a watch up his ass. 

My Daughter’s Opinion: I was surprised that she didn’t seem to like this one very much. Her first comment afterwards was “How long was that? It felt like it was on for aaaaaaages!” so that’s clearly not a good sign (it’s 1 hour 46 minutes, FYI). So I asked her how she liked it compared to the other movies she’s gone to this year & she said it’s last after Kung Fu Panda 3, Zootropolis, Pan & Goosebumps. Man, she’s harsh. But I’m not too upset – this hopefully means she’ll always prefer the superior 1967 film. 🙂

Summary:

If you pretend the 1967 film doesn’t exist, this is a very enjoyable family Disney film that looks absolutely amazing. A really good semi-live-action Disney film… (but not fully live action – it’s honestly so impressive that I keep thinking of it only as live action). The problem, though, is that the animated classic does exist so it’s impossible to not compare the two – especially as they’re so similar and this one does contain the two main songs from the animated film, which I was happy to hear yet at the same time wasn’t sure that they worked in this version. Plus they were sung by Murray & Walken and I’ve already said how I disliked their voices in this. Oh, actually – Scarlett Johansson was equally annoying as Kaa. That bit really didn’t work for me at all.

The other problem, and not everyone will care about this, is that you wouldn’t exactly want to have this one on if a two-year-old is in the room so it’s not as “entire family” friendly as the animated film. It looks far too real and many scenes are very intense for anyone really young.

Mainly, though, I’m just disappointed that they ruined the chance to make this yet another timeless Disney classic simply because they wanted to stick some big names in it. I expect that from other studios, such as DreamWorks, but not from Disney or Pixar. Okay – I’m not saying my two favorite (now joined) studios never use big names because, yes, they always do. But they usually first make sure that those voices suit the characters whereas this time it felt like they hired the actors without any thought as to if they were appropriate. It’s a shame as I think this would be pretty fantastic without those famous voice distractions. But, either way, it’s still not the animated classic so I don’t care too much anyway as that’s the one I’ll continue to watch for years. Interestingly, both my daughter and husband preferred Maleficent as well as the live-action Cinderella. Hmm. I’m not yet sure how I’d rank the three of them but I’ve given them all the exact same rating.

My Rating: 7/10

Oh! Oh! The baby wolves were adorable. Forgot to mention that. 🙂

Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015) Review

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***SPOILER FREE REVIEW***

Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015)

Directed by Joss Whedon

Based on The Avengers by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Starring:
Robert Downey Jr.
Chris Hemsworth
Mark Ruffalo
Chris Evans
Scarlett Johansson
Jeremy Renner
Don Cheadle
Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Elizabeth Olsen
Paul Bettany
Cobie Smulders
Anthony Mackie
Hayley Atwell
Idris Elba
Stellan Skarsgård
James Spader
Samuel L Jackson

Running time: 141 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and it is up to the Avengers to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.

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My Opinion:

I enjoy superhero movies. I go to them all (usually as soon as I possibly can after they come out). They’re fun! But then I kind of forget about them… I realized while watching Age Of Ultron that I rarely watch most superhero movies ever again after that first viewing in the cinema/theater. There’ve been a few exceptions – I watched The Dark Knight twice, the first couple X-Men movies at least twice, and of course Superman & Burton’s Batman several times. I really should have re-watched the first Avengers film before going to this one because I barely remember it. I think I’m a little superheroed out. I have a pretty good memory when it comes to movies (I mean, I’m a movie blogger after all) but I know I must not be too into these countless Marvel films when I keep having to ask my hubby questions during them. Things like “who’s THAT?” to which he rolls his eyes & replies “only someone who’s been in most the Marvel films so far!”. Also, as I always have to say in these superhero movie reviews, I ONLY have knowledge of the films. God – I can’t even keep all those straight in my mind! I can’t imagine actually reading the billions of comic books as well.

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So now that we know where I stand on these types of movies (I like them & have a lot of fun with them but wouldn’t say I love most of them), we can move on to what I liked & disliked about Avengers: Age Of Ultron. I did a super-short mini-review of the first Avengers movie HERE when I did a roundup of all the films I’d seen in 2012 (I see I ranked it as the 9th best film that year & gave it a 7.5/10). I’ll say I think Age Of Ultron is the better film overall. It drags a little in the middle but the second half is much better than the first half & I think it’s a better finale than in the first film. It’s close, though – I think people may be pretty evenly divided on which they prefer. Also, I thought they actually did a pretty damn good job on character development in this one considering just how many characters are in this thing. It must have been hard to get the balance right between that & all the kick ass action but I think they did very well. What I really liked is that they spent more time on the characters we don’t know as well from a million other movies (Hawkeye, Black Widow & Hulk) and I enjoyed their stories quite a bit (especially Hawkeye’s). Don’t worry – you still get loads of time with the others as well but we already know a lot about them from their own films. I’d have liked a little more focus on Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver but, like I said, there are so many characters that you can’t expect anything too in-depth with each of them in only 2 hours & 21 minutes.

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I guess I didn’t really list anything I disliked about this movie. Well, I suppose I didn’t really dislike much. I wasn’t crazy about Ultron’s voice but that’s because I’m old (that asshole in Pretty In Pink?!). It did feel a little overlong plus it didn’t really pick up until (a character who is on one of the posters but I still won’t name in case it’s a spoiler to some of you) showed up (he was great). There’s some light humor between the characters as always, which is fun (especially a bit involving Thor’s mighty Mjölnir). Speaking of Thor & his big Hammer, I was once again very distracted every time his bare arms were on screen. Chris Hemsworth is so insanely beautiful. Too pretty, really. Maybe it’s why my mind goes all loopy during these movies & I never fully know what the hell is going on. I’m just going to wrap this thing up – I’m picturing those arms again now & I can’t think straight.

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Summary:

If you love all the Marvel films & you loved the first Avengers film, you’ll love this one too. It’s, well, the same thing again. Which is fine… It’s a formula that clearly works. But I have to say I kind of prefer some of the individual films as, while it’s loads of fun seeing all the superheroes together, I like seeing & knowing more about each of their individual stories. I probably almost like the first Iron Man movie & maybe even Captain America: The Winter Soldier more. At least, I think they’re probably better films than either of the Avengers movies but they’re not quite as flashy or cool. We’re talking about superheroes, though, not the Oscars – flashy & cool is sometimes okay too. Avengers: Age Of Ultron has proven one thing to me, though – I really did LOVE Guardians Of The Galaxy. That felt unique instead of the same old superhero movie once again. I think it’s time I do a massive update of my Top Ten Superhero Movies because there will be a lot of changes. Age Of Ultron will make the ten but I’m not sure where. However, Guardians Of The Galaxy will be at number one. Sorry, Age Of Ultron! You were loads of fun. Thanks for entertaining me but I won’t remember much of you in a year. You’re still one of the better films in this genre, though.

My Rating: 7/10

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Is There A Scene After The Credits? Like, duh. It’s a Marvel film. However, there’s ONLY a mid-credits scene & nothing at the very end. However, do not take my word on this, Americans! We may have gotten this movie a week before you but we’ve been screwed out of end credits scenes in the past (the end credits scene from the first Avengers film wasn’t shown in the UK). There have been rumors & supposedly leaked footage of an end credits scene that wasn’t the one I saw here in the UK.

Does Thor take his shirt off once again? Yes. Yes he does. However, it’s not at all gratuitous like it was in his own films. He is, however, soaking wet while shirtless. But there’s no lingering shots. It’s quick. Too quick. I’ll have to buy the Blu-Ray…

What were we talking about again??

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The Avengers (2012) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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As we all anxiously await this Thursday’s (UK) release of Avengers: Age Of Ultron, today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review of the first Avengers film comes from Tim of Beermovie.net. Thanks for the review, Tim! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about The Avengers (aka Avengers Assemble), IMDB rank 129 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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The Avengers is a huge film in every way – budget, hype, box office, you name it. Plenty of people were doubtful that Marvel could truly pull this off given how high they had raised expectations, even though they had already shown time and time again how good they were at exceeding them. Given the sequel is very close on the horizon, now is a good time to revisit one of the biggest films of all time.

From the very beginning, a portal being opened to another dimension and Loki popping out, it is clear that The Avengers is pretty grand big budget storytelling. The film invokes a little bit of classic Hollywood storytelling as it rounds up the squad, and introduces us to the new characters really succinctly. The introduction of Black Widow, totally schooling a bunch of inept mobsters, is particularly memorable. Unfortunately Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye really misses out on a proper introduction and his character really feels like a bit of an afterthought throughout the film. Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk similarly feels a little short-changed in the intro stakes, but his position in the narrative means that the audience gets to know him a bit better as the film goes along, without ever totally satisfactorily setting up the mythology of the character. The first act of the film manages to function both as a fully formed introduction for viewers new to the MCU and as a charm-filled start for everyone else.

As good as the balance is between the characters, there is no doubting that Robert Downey Jr’s wisecracking Tony Stark occasionally overshadows the film. He is meant to be the funniest, smartest and most powerful of all the Avengers and that on occasions feels like a lessening of the others in the crew. Even more so than some characters getting shortchanged, this obsession with Downey’s Stark is the main aspect of the script that brings down the quality of the film as an ensemble story. It will be interesting to see how Marvel handle this in the forthcoming sequel, a couple of years removed from Iron Man 3 and with Downey Jr’s future in stand-alone films up in the air as far as I understand it.

There are plenty of reasons why Marvel has gotten this whole shared universe thing so right where basically everyone else has faltered in a big way. But casting is perhaps foremost amongst its successes. The choice of Loki for this film, could have been really ho-um, recycling a villain that had already been seen in a stand-alone film. However Hiddleston is so good in the role that you quickly forget you’ve seen him before and come to perceive him as a threat necessitating the entire crew coming together. There is also a pleasant uniqueness in the fact that Loki takes a much more psychological approach rather than simply a ‘raaargh I’m going to crush the world with my huge muscles’ style vibe. Similarly, Scarlett Johansson is perfect as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, capturing a lot of the great attitude that character has in the comics, without needing to delve into dense comic book history (now if only Marvel would get over their strange aversion to a Black Widow stand-alone film).

Plenty of (somewhat justified) criticism has been aimed at Marvel for the sameness of their third acts, so rewatching The Avengers it was nice to be reminded just how well they can pull it off. I noticed this a lot whilst re-watching the film for this review and it was a main reason why I actually enjoyed it more this time than when I saw it in cinemas. Part of what sets this third act apart from some of the others is that the script weaves in occasional pieces of wit and levity to balance out the vibe. Some charming moments break up the huge, long-running battle toward the end, not least of which is Hulk’s hilarious “puny god” interaction with Loki. It’s a hell of a sprawling, choreographed battle that seems to wheel across the whole city. And whilst it’s basically all CGI, it never feels too computerised or like one clump of pixels crashing into another clump of pixels.

It is difficult to overestimate how big an achievement The Avengers is. Not all of that is restricted to the film. Much of it relates to how expertly Marvel crafted their cinematic universe in a way that has ‘inspired’ so many inept imitators that I’m pretty sure none of us ever want to hear the phrase “cinematic universe” ever again. But this film is an exceptional payoff and it both wraps Phase 1 up beautifully and feels like it was something too big for one of the earlier standalone films to handle.

Verdict: 8/10

Under The Skin (2013) Review

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Under The Skin (2013)

Directed by Jonathan Glazer

Starring:
Scarlett Johansson
Jeremy McWilliams
Joe Szula
Kryštof Hádek
Paul Brannigan
Adam Pearson
Michael Moreland
Dave Acton
Jessica Mance

Running time: 108 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Under the Skin is a 2013 British-American science fiction art film directed by Jonathan Glazer, and written by Glazer and Walter Campbell as a loose adaptation of Michel Faber’s 2000 novel of the same name. The film stars Scarlett Johansson as an alien seductress who preys on men in Scotland.

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My Opinion:

Finally! I finally managed to see this movie after looking everywhere for a cinema actually showing it when it came out and having no luck. I was intrigued because, first of all, it looked like “The Woman Who Fell To Earth“. Being a big David Bowie fan and loving The Man Who Fell To Earth way more than I should, I really wanted to see this. Plus, I found out that the director has made some of my favorite music videos (more about that later). So did Under The Skin live up to all the hype in my head? Yes and no.

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I mentioned this movie when I reviewed Lucy HERE on Monday and, yes, I think Under The Skin is the superior film of the two although I did really enjoy Lucy. Scarlett Johansson is indeed the true star of both films and, I think, makes both movies far better than they would’ve been with a different actress (and this is coming from someone who has never really been a fan of hers). Under The Skin is a very brave role for her to have taken on and I think, along with Her, it’s paid off and made her a far more respected actress. Under The Skin could have been a massive failure for her and, although there will certainly be plenty of people who hate the film, I think it’s a huge success as far as her professional career is concerned. As for the movie…

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Yes, it’s weird. Very very weird. It’s exactly what I expected, though, having seen The Man Who Fell To Earth (it does have plenty of similarities so it’s hard to not compare the two). I enjoyed it a lot although I don’t think it’s quite as iconic as the Bowie film (which is NOT a good movie but it’s hard to deny that Bowie is extremely fascinating and certain images from the movie will stay with you). In the same way, there are images from Under The Skin that will never leave my mind. I think that’s a good thing, though. I see that as a sign of a great piece of art. As a coherent and fully rewarding movie-watching experience, however, Under The Skin falls a little short. For as much of a mess as The Man Who Fell To Earth was, we at least had a backstory and knew what Bowie’s alien’s purpose was on Earth. If you’re the type of person who wants a movie with a proper storyline & a satisfying conclusion, Under The Skin may not be for you. If you want a nice piece of art to look at (like, weird & abstract art – not Norman Rockwell or Thomas Kinkade), you MIGHT enjoy Under The Skin.

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Summary:

Well, I don’t think I really need to say much more than I already have. Basically, Under The Skin is weird and you’ll either love it or you’ll hate it. I found it to be an interesting piece of art and, as the director has made music videos before, perhaps that’s why this feels a little like something in between a music video & a movie. If you want a straightforward movie or even something that has some deep meaning, you won’t get that here (but I may just be too stupid to figure out some “deeper meaning” to this film). You will, however, get a good performance from Johansson and some images that you’ll never get out of your mind. I really enjoyed the film.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Here’s a list (thanks Wikipedia) of a few of the music videos made by the director of Under The Skin (Jonathan Glazer). I’ve included two of my favorites (FYI – the UNKLE one isn’t one to watch if there are kids around):

Karmacoma by Massive Attack
The Universal by Blur
Virtual Insanity by Jamiroquai
Karma Police by Radiohead

Plus my two favorites:

Street Spirit (Fade Out) by Radiohead:

Rabbit in Your Headlights by UNKLE ft. Thom Yorke:

**I’ve recently participated in the Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon being hosted by the robust Rob of MovieRob and the zany Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. You can read my contribution, a review of Hitchcock’s 1964 film Marnie, starring Sean Connery & Tippi Hedren, HERE. Thanks, Rob & Zoe, for hosting this blogathon! 🙂

Lucy (2014) Review

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Lucy (2014)

Directed by Luc Besson

Starring:
Scarlett Johansson
Morgan Freeman
Amr Waked
Choi Min-sik

Running time: 89 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.

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My Opinion:

I normally try to wait a day or two to write a review as it sometimes takes me a while to collect my thoughts & decide how I feel about a movie. However, I’m short on time so am writing this review immediately after seeing Lucy. Bear with me while I try to decide what I thought of it as I’m still not sure myself.

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First of all: Scarlett Johansson. She’s turning into quite the interesting actress lately, eh? The second I heard about Under The Skin, I was intrigued & looked all over for a cinema anywhere near me that was showing it. No such luck! Anyway – I finally saw that last week (I’ll be reviewing it on Wednesday if you’d like to know my thoughts on it) and I was impressed with Johansson’s performance. Add in her voice-only role in Her, which I thought was the highlight of an already amazing film, and I’ve had to re-evaluate the somewhat negative opinion I had of her. Bravo to her for taking on these roles. It’s great to see a female lead carrying films that are more than just some dumb Kate Hudson-type rom-coms. Her is my favorite but, of the other two, I think Under The Skin is the superior film to Lucy. However, I do think people have been too harsh on Lucy and, in a way, I thought Johansson did an even better job as Lucy than as an alien in human skin.

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Damn – I suppose I have to talk about the movie as well as its star. Well, there’s good & bad. It’s been reviewed enough now that I think everyone knows the story is a bit iffy and it can seem silly at times. I’m not sure if the weird mash-up of violent action movie & movie-that-thinks-it’s-really-deep-and-smart QUITE works. However… You know what? Screw it. I enjoyed it. Yes, I did. I think… Um. Yes. I did. There have been plenty of negative reviews for Lucy so I’m going to focus on just the positive & tell you what I liked about it:

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– We have a strong female lead, which is something I always go for in movies. I think Emily Blunt’s role in Edge Of Tomorrow was still a better one as she just naturally kicks ass without the help of a drug but I’m liking seeing girls starring in some kick ass action films!

– There’s some weird & wonderful Matrix-y shit going on here & I liked it. I loved the scene in the airplane bathroom and all her confrontations with people as she grew more powerful.

– I like that this movie at least TRIES to be something a bit different. Everyone moans about Michael Bay & his braindead blow-shit-up movies but then we get something like Lucy and people still complain. It at least has a good concept even if it doesn’t quite know how to fully explore it or where to take the story but it’s fun to watch and its themes might make you think afterwards. But, hey – it’s just a movie! Movies are meant to entertain us. I think people forget that sometimes. I had fun watching Lucy.

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Summary:

I’ve really struggled writing this review. I’ve not read too many reviews yet as I was planning on watching this but I KNOW some people will absolutely hate this film. It’s definitely not for everyone, especially those who set their expectations way too high. If you like your violent action movies with a twist of sci-fi weirdness & some added university lectures complete with educational film strips, you might like this one. However, I’m not actually recommending it to anyone reading this. If you do watch it, just watch it with an open mind & try to have some fun with it. I did.

My Rating: 7/10

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Of the two reviews I’ve read in full, I liked Lucy more than Cara but less than Eric. Let me know if you’ve done a review for this as well – I’m curious to know more opinions on this one. 🙂

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) Review

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**SPOILER-FREE REVIEW. I THINK!**

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Starring:
Chris Evans
Scarlett Johansson
Sebastian Stan
Anthony Mackie
Cobie Smulders
Frank Grillo
Emily VanCamp
Hayley Atwell
Robert Redford
Samuel L Jackson

Running time: 136 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America and the Black Widow join forces to stop a covert enemy that is hiding in Washington, D.C.

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My Opinion:

As I’ve said at the beginning of every superhero movie I’ve reviewed, I don’t know anything whatsoever about these things beyond what I’ve seen in the films. So, luckily, I can just sit back, eat popcorn, and watch these superheroes kick some ass without having to get all geeky nitpicky. I really enjoyed Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

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Captain America isn’t my favorite Avenger (so far). He can be a little dull and he’s not exactly Thor-level hot. I liked the first movie fine but it didn’t exactly blow me away. I also felt the same way about the first Thor movie. But I thought Thor: The Dark World was a lot of fun (you can read my review HERE). And I think Captain America: The Winter Soldier is also a very big improvement over the first one. With the exception of Iron Man 3 (review HERE), I think these Marvel movies are getting better & better and it’s getting me very excited about seeing more.

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I’m struggling to think of what to say about this. As I said, I’m far from being an expert on these superhero movies. So I’ll list a few good & not so good things.

The Good:

The Cast. I really can’t say anything negative about any of them. Scarlett Johansson is one of the best things about this and I quite often don’t like her much. That’s two in a row where I really liked her! (This & Her). Samuel L Jackson, Sebastian Stan, Robert Redford – all good! And I especially liked Anthony Mackie. Like. LIKE! I liked everyone! Really – this is cool because I usually hate at least one person in a movie. Oh, and Chris Evans is good too but, to be honest, he’s kind of the weakest thing about the movie. (Sorry! More about that later).

The Winter Soldier. Well, I thought he was pretty bad ass. And occasionally hot. But not from every angle. I can’t decide! Sometimes hot, sometimes not. But his metal arm is pretty freaking cool.

Falcon & Agent 13. I like these characters!

Stan Lee cameo. They’re always fun but I thought this one was especially cute. Am I allowed to use “cute” in this review? Screw it – I’m a girl so I can say cute if I want to say cute. It’s really cute!

The action. There’s A LOT of it but I thought it was all really good. The fight scenes were, I dunno – really well-choreographed? That sounded stupid. What I mean is – they looked cool! And the car chase scenes were pretty damn awesome too. Now, I like some “worthy” films. But, in the UK, the first couple months of the year tend to be the time they show all the worthy Oscar-nominated movies in the cinemas. I thoroughly enjoyed The Wolf Of Wall Street, Dallas Buyers Club, Her… (not American Hustle so much). But sometimes you really just want to be entertained & have some fun and I was SO ready for a movie like that. The Winter Soldier is the very definition of a “good-time popcorn movie”. I didn’t look at my watch once. (And by watch I mean phone. Who has a watch?). But I still want a decent plot & characters (Hello Pacific Rim! You were fun but some time spent on your script would have been nice!). The Winter Soldier delivers just fine on plot & especially on characters as well as some really kick-ass action. (And, yes, sometimes there can be too MUCH action. I’m talking to you, Man Of Steel!).

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The Not So Good:

Captain America. Chill while I explain. I’ve gone & decided to break this down into the good and not so good and have now realized that I can’t really think of anything for the not so good bit but I’m too lazy to go back & change things. Lol. So…

I already mentioned above that Chris Evans is kind of the weakest thing about the movie but I don’t really mean him as an actor – I just think they’ve not done the greatest job developing his character. Yet. I feel like we should know this guy a bit better by now plus he’s not developed much of a personality in the way they at least made Thor more “fun” in The Dark World (Although we still didn’t get anything deep from his character. I’d like Thor a lot less if Chris Hemsworth wasn’t so damn FINE). To be fair, though, it’s kind of a problem with most superhero movies. I think it’s probably also very hard with these movies to get that right balance between “too serious” and “too cheesy” but they’re getting it right more & more often these days, especially with all the Avengers-related ones. So I’m not really complaining much. Other than Iron Man 3, these movies just keep getting better.

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Summary:

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is, well, a kick-ass superhero movie. What else can I say? If you like all the other movies with all the other Avengers, I really can’t see you not liking this one. And I think it’s a massive improvement on the ones that have come before it. I find the character of Captain America a little bit weak compared to the others but if they put this level of effort into the rest of the Marvel Avengers films, we’re in for a real treat. I can’t WAIT to see more based on this one. A thoroughly entertaining movie.

My Rating: 8/10

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Scenes After Credits?: Duh. It’s a Marvel movie! Why do people rush out the second the credits roll?!

Are they worth holding your pee for? There are two: One partway through the credits and one at the very end. The one partway through is a definite must-see. Man I want to see what comes of that one!!! And thanks to the hubby for filling me in on the details with that one. The scene at the very end is worth watching if you’re a completist. I MUST stay for these scenes after the credits otherwise I get really annoyed knowing that I’ve missed something. But, hey – you’d probably have time for a quick pee between the two end credits scenes if you really can’t hold it. 😉

**See My Top Ten Superhero Movies HERE.

By the way – I think I have a new favorite blog! 🙂 Click HERE.

Home Alone 3 (1997) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Ryan of Ten Stars Or Less. Thanks for the reviews, Ryan! He liked Only The Lonely okay – Let’s see his thoughts on Home Alone 3. 🙂

**WARNING: SPOILERS**

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run time: 102 mins
rated: PG
considered: Action, Comedy, Crime
starring: Alex D. Linz, Marian Seldes, Olek Krupa, Rya Kihlstedt, Lenny von Dohlen, David Thornton, Kevin Kilner, Haviland Morris, Scarlett Johansson

movie summary: It has been a few years since Kevin McAllister was left home alone, only to prevent two burglars from robbing his house, fast forward about six years and a similar situation develops in another Chicago suburb. Alex Pruitt (Alex D. Linz) is home sick for the next few weeks with the chicken pox. His next door neighbor Mrs. Hess (Marian Seldes) has just returned home from San Francisco and accidentially got her luggage switched at the airport, so she ends up with someone’s bag that has a brand new toy race car in it. She gives it to Alex as payment for shoveling her driveway, but little does she know that four mastermind international criminals are looking for the toy car and are coming to find her.

Petr Beaupre (Olek Krupa), Alice Ribbons (Rya Kihlstedt), Burton Jernigan (Lenny von Dohlen), and Earl Unger (David Thornton) travel from the west coast to the mid-west to find Alex’s neighborhood. They buy a house at the end of the street and begin to scout the neighborhood before breaking into homes during the day to find the bag. Alex’s dad Jack (Kevin Kilner) flies away for a business trip while his mom Karen (Haviland Morris) works from home and runs errands for a few hours each day. On the first day Alex is left alone he spots Beaupre lurking inside a house across the street so he calls the cops. After the cops search the house and find no signs of a break in they get disappointed that Alex called in a false alarm. The very next day Alex spots Beaupre in another house so calls 911 again. His mom gets very upset with him as the police chief explains the severity of Alex’s recent prank calls. Alex is grounded up in his room with his pet mouse Doris who is the only one that believes him.

His mom heads out the next day for work and should only be a couple of hours which gives Alex enough time to set up a video camera on the toy race car. He drives the car into the house where Beaupre breaks into and catches him in the act. Beaupre realizes the toy car is what he is looking for so he radios the three others to chase down the car. Amazingly all four of them stumble their way through the neighborhood yards only to come up empty-handed. Beaupre figures that the car belongs to a kid in one of the few houses he hasn’t searched yet, so the group targets Alex’s house and plan one final break in.

Alex gets up real early and ushers his mom off to work before assuring her that he’s going to be ok all alone for the afternoon. He begins to set up traps all over the house, at every point of entry, and in the back yard swimming pool. Beaupre and the gang ascend on the house and run into trouble at every turn. Within a few minutes everyone has either been electrocuted, knocked out, tarred, feathered, sprayed painted, burnt, or shot. Despite all the trouble just to get into the house they continue until they get inside and can’t find Alex. He is upstairs watching the events unfold on tv before escaping down the in-house elevator. The guys get upstairs into Alex’s room only to see him running away, so decide to jump out the window onto the trampoline that was covering the swimming pool. Alice falls down the elevator shaft while Beaupre manages to get away and head over to Mrs. Hess’ house to kidnap her. Alex finds her and rescues her when Beaupre threatens to kill him if he doesn’t give up the race car. He pulls a gun on Alex who reaches into his backpack and pulls out a gun of his own. During the standoff, sirens can be heard in the distance which leaves little time for Beaupre to get what he came after and for Alex to prove he wasn’t lying about the break-ins.

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my thoughts: Home Alone 3 is the first movie in the series that didn’t feature McCauley Culkin as the lead character. The franchise had to move on without its star and create a new set of heroes and villains which are disappointing. Instead of two small time house robbers, this home alone kid has to deal with some not so bright international thieves who are looking for a computer chip that can control nuclear weapons.

Alex D. Linz is a funny kid who has big shoes to fill in the lead role and manages to pull it off quiet admirably. He copies some of the tricks used in the first two films but has many gadgets to expand his arsenal to stop the bad guys. The toughest part for all the characters in this story is that audiences have already seen this story played out before and know exactly how it is going to end. In an attempt to keep audience engaged, the computer chip storyline was presented to add some real life drama, even though it is highly unreasonable that some kid will be able to stop highly trained criminals from getting what they want.

This movie sadly lacks the charm from the previous ones but that never stopped my grandmother from absolutely loving this movie. She would watch Home Alone 3 every holiday season and just laugh at how Alex would outsmart these guys again and again. I haven’t watched this movie since she passed away in 2012 and when I saw it was still available for the John Hughes blogathon on Cinema Parrot Disco, I thought it would be fitting to finally watch it again and remember one of the many things that made her laugh.

my star rating: 3 out 10

Her (2013) Review

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Her (2013)

Directed by Spike Jonze

Starring:
Joaquin Phoenix
Amy Adams
Rooney Mara
Olivia Wilde
Scarlett Johansson

Music by Arcade Fire

Running time: 126 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Her is a 2013 American science fiction romantic drama film written, directed, and produced by Spike Jonze. The film centers on a man who develops a relationship with an intelligent computer operating system (OS) with a female voice and personality.

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My Opinion:

Finally! Finally this came out in the UK! Then I just barely managed to see it as it played for one week then pretty much disappeared from all local cinemas. So annoying! Anyway – I was really looking forward to this and went to it with pretty high expectations, which isn’t always a good thing. Well, it was actually even better than I’d been expecting.

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I’m writing this as I watch Captain Phillips as I’m so behind on this blog and on watching all these nominated movies before the Oscars. I’m distracted so I’ll keep this short. I wondered before watching this what sort of direction they could possibly take with what seems like a pretty simple (if unusual) concept. I was pleasantly surprised at some of the things they did with this story. I (like all of us) watch lots of movies so most are totally predictable but this one did leave me guessing and did surprise me a couple of times, which was great.

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As for the “relationship”, I didn’t know beforehand if I’d be able to buy into it. But I did. It’s very well written (as I expected from Spike Jonze) and, thanks to great performances from Joaquin Phoenix & Scarlett Johansson, I totally did believe they were in love. Funny thing is that I normally find Johansson’s voice really annoying yet in this I thought it was perfect. Actually, I think this was probably the best performance we’ve ever had out of her. I’ve also never exactly been a fan of Joaquin Phoenix but he’s great in this! It’s a shame he’s not up for an Oscar. I’m glad the film & screenplay are up for Oscars as I think they’re certainly deserving of the nominations although I know wins are very unlikely. I’d love to see this win for screenplay at the very least as it’s very clever & I wish films like this got made more often. And, again – this is another best picture nominee that’s better than American Hustle! All that I’ve seen so far have been.

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The film looks beautiful, everyone gives a very good performance (especially the two leads), it’s dramatic yet has really funny moments (Alien child cracked me up!), it’s clever and very well written, and it does a good job exploring all the different kinds of love and how wonderful and painful it can be. I loved little things like the safety pin. But god those pirates are being REALLY mean to sweet Tom Hanks! Okay – I’m too distracted. I’ll just finish this review by saying: I loved Her and I wish there were more films like it.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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**I’ve finished Captain Phillips before this is scheduled to post so I’m going to rank the only best picture nominees I’ve seen. Because I’m anal like that! Starting with my favorite:

1. The Wolf Of Wall Street
2. Her
3. Gravity
4. Dallas Buyers Club
5. American Hustle
6. Captain Phillips

(2 & 3 are close – I may change my mind. I do that a lot.) 🙂

Don Jon (2013) Review

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Don Jon (2013)

Directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Starring:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Scarlett Johansson
Julianne Moore
Rob Brown
Glenne Headly
Brie Larson
Tony Danza

Running time: 90 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)

Italian American Jon Martello (Gordon-Levitt) is a modern day Don Juan, with a short list of things he cares about: “my body, my pad, my ride, my family, my church, my boys, my girls, my porn”. Although he has an active sex life with women he meets at nightclubs, he looks at pornography on the Internet habitually, preferring it to sex.

But one night while clubbing, he meets Barbara Sugarman (Johansson). Will she be the one to make Jon care more about a real live girl than his precious porn? (That bit via me)

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My Opinion:

This is an odd one – I’m not sure how to go about reviewing it. Great directing effort from Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I like JGL so wanted to see how he’d done with this film and I think he did a good job as both director and star of the film. Did I like the film? Not sure. It’s a decent enough film but one I can’t relate to in ANY way, shape or form.

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The characters in this movie are, well, not the type of people I’ve ever known in my life. They lead a totally different lifestyle to mine and care about completely different things to what I care about. I’m assuming they’re a little like those on Jersey Shore? Well, I’ve never watched that and don’t plan to. EVER. Being so self-absorbed & all that sleeping around & watching football & going to church once a week to tell the priest dude that you’ve w#*ked to porn 35 times in one week…?? Not to sound like a prude but I can’t relate to ANY of that. Is this what people in New Jersey do? Maybe I’m too Midwestern. 😉

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So Jon w#*ks to porn in this movie. A LOT. I liked all the crumpled up tissues in the trash throughout this. (TMI?). His sister is ALWAYS typing on her phone in EVERY scene, even while in church. This I loved and, as I figured from the start, the sister would prove the wisest of them all. Best character in the film. Don Jon’s family were also quite likeable – his mom was great and Tony Danza was perfect as his dad. But I always wonder if people go up to him in real life and sing “Hold me closer, Tony Danza!” ever since Phoebe on Friends thought that’s what Elton John was singing. I bet Tony Danza finds that annoying when people do that. You know they must. I totally would.

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Scarlett Johansson – these are the main characters and they’re the ones who are the hardest to like. So, obviously, this movie is about whether or not JGL’s Jon can change his ways and, without giving too much away, he does become a bit more likeable by the end of the film. Johansson? Well, she’s good in the role and it was probably quite fun playing such a psycho hose beast… Then there was the quite unexpected Julianne Moore role. I won’t say what her exact role was but it really wasn’t what I was expecting. She’s good in this but, well… It’s just a bit odd. That’s all I’ll say. Not sure I bought the ending of the film. It was a satisfying enough conclusion but, all in all, I’m not sure what point the film is trying to make beyond “meaningful sex is better than lots of meaningless sex”? Well, duh. Or “Girls have unrealistic expectations thanks to sappy romance movies & guys have unrealistic expectations thanks to porn movies”? Well, duh. I did think they needed to show Johansson going through as many tissues while watching her sappy romance movies as JGL does while watching his porn… (TMI?)

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Summary:

A good effort from Joseph Gordon-Levitt both directing the film & starring as the churchgoing porn-addict lunkhead Jon Martello from New Jersey. The main characters are hard to like but some fun supporting characters, especially Jon’s family, help make up for this a bit. The moral of the story feels a bit pointless as it’s something we all surely know? Overall, I’m not exactly sure what the point of the film was but it’s an entertaining enough way to spend 90 minutes. But if you really want to watch some sort of sex addiction movie, Shame is much better (and far more raunchy, if that’s your kind of thing).

My Rating: 7/10

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