Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Review

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Based on Characters from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Lennie James, Dave Bautista, Jared Leto

Music by Hans Zimmer & Benjamin Wallfisch (Blade Runner themes composed by Vangelis)

Cinematography Roger Deakins

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A young blade runner’s discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who’s been missing for thirty years.

My Opinion:

I don’t know how to go about reviewing this film plus there are loads of excellent reviews from actual writers already so I’ll try to keep this one short. Blade Runner 2049 is a brilliant film that will be (and, for many, already is) considered a classic years from now. Like the first film from 1982, it’s sadly a bit of a flop at the box office so far. And like that one, it will forever be revered by fans of serious, hardcore science fiction. If you haven’t seen or don’t like the first film, don’t bother watching this one. You won’t like it. If you’re a big fan of the first film, you’ll be very happy with this one (but I don’t need to tell you that since the hardcore fans have seen the sequel by now).

I do love serious sci-fi although I won’t admit to always understanding it. Science fiction is my favorite genre and the more it makes me think, the more I like it. Usually. Except with Primer… I don’t understand what the HELL was going on in that movie! But back to Blade Runner: The themes associated with artificial intelligence and “the Singularity” are always a favorite of mine within this genre so I do love the original. And I love Ex Machina. And I love WALL-E. And I love The Terminator. Hell, I even like stuff like Bicentennial Man. The thought of artificial intelligence developing human emotions and/or the thought of it far surpassing what the actual human brain could ever be capable of is both fascinating & scary as shit. Well, more scary as shit than fascinating – I think a Terminator future is more likely than a lovable robot WALL-E future. I just read that it’s been predicted that the Singularity will occur by 2045. Shit! That’s not that far away. I may still be alive! This was meant to be after I was long gone. I don’t want the machines to take over!

Holy shit – I’ve gotten very off track. Blade Runner isn’t even really about that. Well, sort of. Not really. God I hate reviewing thinky sci-fi. As I said, I do love the original film (Whichever of the 28 different versions I actually saw. I could do with rewatching it again but knowing which definitive version to watch sucks my will to live). But the Roy Batty “Tears in Rain” monologue is in all versions as far as I’m aware and I love it. It’s one of the all-time greatest cinematic scenes. I wouldn’t say any one scene in the sequel quite matches the emotion or intensity of the “Tears in Rain” scene but several come damn close. I still prefer the 1982 film overall but this is a fantastic sequel that poses even further questions on the issues of morality that are raised in the first film. It’s an impressive film and quite a feat to make a classic such as Blade Runner even better with the addition of a sequel. I mean, look at those Matrix sequels. I hated those & they ruined the first movie for me. Very few sequels make the first film even better so I’m very happy that Blade Runner 2049 managed to do exactly that.

I don’t want to ramble on incoherently for much longer so I’ll just finish by saying what else I loved about this movie besides its overall story & themes. First of all, it’s gorgeous. Director Denis Villeneuve & cinematographer Roger Deakins are in danger of becoming favorites of mine after this and the equally brilliant Arrival (which wasn’t Deakins) and Sicario (which was Deakins). Actually, they already are favorites of mine. Those guys kick ass! Arrival especially – that was a masterpiece in my opinion. Is Blade Runner 2049 as good as Arrival? Hmm… I wouldn’t say I loved it to the same degree and I certainly didn’t have the same emotional response that I did with Arrival but I think I’ll grow to like Blade Runner 2049 even more with time. It’s a grower. I’d like to see how I feel about it in a year but I can see it only going up in people’s estimations over time. Oh, and the effects are amazing. Amazing as in: “I didn’t notice any special effects so they must have been amazing as I’m sure there were shitloads of effects going on“. I know nothing about special effects – I just know that I find dodgy CGI really distracting and that never happened in this film, which meant I was never “thrown out” of the gorgeous world created by these filmmakers. And that sex scene was very well done. I can say that without sounding like a perv since I’m a girl. Bet guys loved that scene, though. Kinky.

Finally, the performances in Blade Runner 2049 are great & far better than I had expected. I admit I can be very fickle about actors – I went from totally loving Ryan Gosling around the time of Drive to becoming a bit bored with him & not really giving him much thought in the past few years. I think my crush is back! I loved him in this. He’s easily the best one in this film (luckily, as he’s in it far more than anyone else). His subtle sort of style works perfectly for his character in the same way I think Harrison Ford was perfectly suited to play Rick Deckard.

Speaking of Ford, he’s the best he’s been in a long time. I love Ford. He’s freaking HAN SOLO. But he’s been in some less than stellar films and, sometimes, well… He just seems bored in some of his movies. He’s very good in Blade Runner 2049. Phew. Yay for that! (He’s barely in it, though). Everyone did a very good job in this so I won’t go into each performance but the one other one that deserves a special mention is Ana de Armas as Joi. It’s an unusual role and she does an amazing job with it (I know everyone who’s going to see this probably already has but I’m still avoiding spoilers). And she’s pretty. Too pretty. Like Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina. It’s not fair.


Wait, I forgot about Jared Leto! How could I forget Leto?! He gets on my nerves sometimes and I hated him in Suicide Squad. He’s tolerable in this, I guess. Still a bit over-the-top but at least he’s not in loads of scenes. So, besides Leto being slightly annoying and the running time of 2 hours & 44 minutes admittedly being a little longer than necessary, I can’t really think of anything negative to say about Blade Runner 2049. But I still liked Arrival slightly more. If a third Blade Runner film manages to make the entire series even better as a whole in the same way that this sequel has made me even further appreciate the 1982 film, we may have a science fiction trilogy masterpiece.

My Rating: 9/10

Advertisements

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.

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. 🙂

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…

T2 Trainspotting (2017) Review

T2 Trainspotting (2017)

Directed by Danny Boyle

Based on Trainspotting and Porno by Irvine Welsh

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Kelly Macdonald, Anjela Nedyalkova, Shirley Henderson, Irvine Welsh

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
20 years after the previous film, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Scotland to make amends with his friends, Daniel “Spud” Murphy (Ewen Bremner) and Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson (Jonny Lee Miller), whilst avoiding the psychopathic Francis “Franco” Begbie (Robert Carlyle).

My Opinion:

I enjoyed this sequel more than I thought I would and it was better than I expected. It’s interesting that just last week I reviewed The Hustler (1961) and its sequel The Color Of Money (1986). It doesn’t always work to revisit characters with films that are 20+ years apart. However, in the case of both The Color Of Money & T2, I did thoroughly enjoy seeing what our much older characters are now up to and I don’t think either film ruined its (admittedly superior) predecessor.

Let’s face it – the Trainspotting sequel was never going to be better than the original. Trainspotting was so of its time and it captured a mood, time & place in a way I don’t think could ever be replicated now. All I wanted was a sequel that wasn’t embarrassing & didn’t ruin the characters as we remember them and I think Danny Boyle has managed to deliver this to Trainspotting fans. I’ve actually been extremely disappointed with some of his films I’ve watched lately (Trance, Slumdog Millionaire) so am very happy to say that this sequel met & even exceeded my expectations. I still like these characters. (Other than Begbie, of course… What an asshole!)

I really like the first film and think it deserves its acclaim for being something quite unique. When I first saw it years ago, it was when I was first starting to really get into films and it was unlike anything I’d ever seen before (and probably one of the most shocking I’d seen at that point in my life). I was also still in America at that point so I suppose it was very foreign to me as well. I’ve only watched it once more since (just after moving to the UK over a decade ago) so, while I think it’s a very good film, I’m not one of its obsessive fans and had even forgotten bits & pieces of it. More than anything, it was the soundtrack from the original that stuck with me (Excellent soundtrack!). I probably could’ve done with re-watching the first before the sequel but, with the help of some flashbacks which I thought were well done, it filled in a few blanks in my mind.

My point is this: I’m no expert or obsessive Trainspotting fan and I’ve never read the books so I don’t feel very qualified in reviewing this sequel. I know I personally enjoyed it and it was great revisiting the characters and seeing them together again (especially Renton & Spud. I’d forgotten how likable Spud was – he’s easily my favorite character in the sequel). This is a more grown-up film and certainly not as intense as the original but it feels “right“. These guys are 20 years older – they’re not going to be exactly the same. However, they still stay true to their characters and, though older and supposedly wiser, still make bad decisions and mistakes.

Immediately after watching this, I was mostly curious what fellow blogger Mark of Marked Movies thought of it as I know he’s a big fan of the original (and he’s from Scotland, I should add). He kindly reviewed the original a couple of years ago for my IMDB Top 250 Project HERE (Thanks again, Mark!). I figure that his opinion on this sequel is far more relevant than mine so, if you’d also like the opinion of a big Trainspotting fan, you can read his review of the sequel HERE. It looks like we both feel quite similar about the sequel so Boyle seems to have done a good job keeping loyal fans (as well as casual fans such as myself) happy. Oh yeah – The soundtrack is also okay but it’s not as awesome as the first film’s!

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Purge: Election Year (2016) Review

The Purge: Election Year (2016)

Directed & Written by James DeMonaco

Starring: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson, Joseph Julian Soria, Betty Gabriel, Terry Serpico, Raymond J. Barry, Edwin Hodge, Kyle Secor, Liza Colón-Zayas, David Aaron Baker, Christopher James Baker, Britanny Mirabile, Juani Feliz, Roman Blat, Jamal Peters, J. Jewels

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Years after sparing the man who killed his son, former police sergeant Barnes has become head of security for Senator Charlie Roan, a Presidential candidate targeted for death on Purge night due to her vow to eliminate the Purge.

My Opinion:

I’ve really liked all three of these movies & they’ve even gone up in my estimation over time. After this final film, I can say that I think this has been a very solid trilogy overall. I wasn’t disappointed with this (final?) film and can confirm that we do get a conclusion of sorts. As much as I’ve enjoyed these, I hope they leave this as a trilogy instead of milking it to death the way they do with so many other movies nowadays. Learn when to stop, Hollywood! I think this trilogy will end up more respected in the future if they end it here.

I did quite long reviews/discussions of the first film (HERE) and the second, The Purge: Anarchy, (HERE). Both times I said that I absolutely love the overall concept but wish they could do a bit more with it. I’ve lost track of how far into the future these are meant to be set but know it’s not too far (I think the first one was about nine years into the future?). The future setting is completely unnecessary anyway as they don’t look much different from modern day America and this is especially true of Election Year, which I felt finally managed to get its point across slightly more than the first two films.

The idea of an annual “Purge”, in which all crime including murder is legal for one night, seemed somewhat far-fetched when the first film came out in 2013 so it’s scary that it no longer feels quite so unlikely just three years later. The idea behind these films is brilliant in that I know they’re meant to be a social commentary on the state of America & to almost be a warning of the way things feel they’re headed. Election Year comes the closest yet to making some sort of important statement & has come out at the perfect time but it still doesn’t quite manage to drive home the fact that people need to wake up & do something if they don’t want the dystopian future predicted in so many great works of fiction over the years. It’s becoming reality now. We’re seriously f*^ked.

Election Year is the strangest of the three in that I think I actually enjoyed it the most but, at times, it’s also the most ridiculous of the three. It tries to be entertaining as well as smart & the two don’t always work together. I’m anti-violence so am a fan of these because they’re trying to show that violence is wrong (while at the same time showing us extreme violence). This isn’t the first time this has been done but it’s very hard to do right (I felt that Natural Born Killers got this right, which I watched for the first time this year & thought was really good). The Purge movies feel like they’re a little too scared to get too serious & still aim to mainly please the horror-loving mainstream audience who won’t care about the message.

I still maintain the unpopular opinion that the first film is the “best” as it was such an original idea and didn’t feel the need to go over the top while the next two were more “fun” as they changed things up to appeal to a more mainstream audience. I do like that each film goes wider to show us the effects the Purge has had, which is what I was hoping for after the first film. They even threw a tiny bit into this one regarding other countries (murder tourists coming to America to join in on the annual Purge). But the baddies were such over the top caricatures in this film that it was too silly at times, which was a shame as I really liked everything else about the film.

I have to say that the main characters in Election Year (the good guys) are the best of all three films, though, making this movie the most enjoyable. Frank Grillo was great in the second one so I’m glad they chose to continue with him, linking these two and making the first one feel more like a stand alone film now. I always liked Elizabeth Mitchell in Lost & loved her in this (the only way I’d maybe want a sequel would be to hopefully see her hook up with Grillo’s character!). Can I vote for her NOW? She’s what real-life America needs & I totally agree with her politics. Then there are the three in the below photo: deli owner Mykelti Williamson, his employee Joseph Julian Soria, and kick-ass customer & friend Betty Gabriel. These three are so damn likable and, as I said, Betty Gabriel is totally kick-ass. My only complaint is that they’re almost too likable & their fate(s) extremely predictable. But, hell – I honestly don’t mind characters who are a bit cliché since it beats having a movie filled with main characters you hate. I’d happily be stuck with this group of people on Purge night.

This has admittedly been a very weak year for movies but I can honestly say that this is currently my third favorite film of 2016. I know I like this series more than most people seem to but I’m hoping these will gain more of a following (probably several years from now when these are likely to be even closer to reality & people realize how accurate they were). The characters are a bit too cliché to take too seriously but they were a lot of fun to watch & the story was probably the strongest overall of the three. It’s still not perfect but I appreciate the effort they’ve made with this series & its overall idea.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Adventures In Babysitting Sequel Is Coming… NO!!!!!!!!!

2015/01/img_8269.jpg

*sigh*

Okay, I have to take a deep breath. Give me a minute…

Serenity now!

Okay. So, Disney are making a straight-to-cable sequel to one of my most beloved movies of all-time: Adventures In Babysitting. I reviewed Adventures In Babysitting (also known in some countries as A Night On The Town) HERE as part of my CPD Classics series where I used to review my very favorite films. My sad 80’s dorkiness is on full display in that review (and my obvious girl crush on Elisabeth Shue at the time). I don’t care – I’m not ashamed. It’s a great movie and really deserved way more recognition than it got.

I read about the sequel in this article here: moviefone. It’ll be called Further Adventures In Babysitting and will star Disney Channel actresses Sabrina Carpenter & Sofia Carson (before they move on to twerking and Spring Breakers 2 if previous Disney Channel stars are anything to go by). 😉 Speaking of that, the article mentions that Miley *barf* Cyrus (I just threw up in my mouth) was once attached to the project so thank god for small favors, I guess – that may have pushed me over the edge. I’m trying not to lose my head!

No. Just…. No. This will be SO bad. It’ll be so tame and “Disneyfied”. Adventures In Babysitting was sort of a “family film” but it was aimed more at teens & pre-teens with some slightly saucy scenes & naughty language. It had some balls and was actually funny.

*sigh*

Well, if anything, it gives me a chance to mention the original again to anyone who’s never seen it. I highly recommend Adventures In Babysitting, especially to anyone who is fond of the 80s. 🙂

CPD Classics: The Stepford Children (1987) Review

IMG_6933.JPG

The Stepford Children (1987)

Directed by Alan J Levi

Starring:
Barbara Eden
Don Murray
Randall Batinkoff
Tammy Lauren
Richard Anderson

Running time: 96 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
The Stepford Children is one of three made-for-TV sequels to the 1975 film The Stepford Wives. In this sequel, Steven and Laura Harding & their teenage children David and Mary have just moved to Stepford. Steven joins the town’s mysterious “Men’s Association” and Laura and her children soon begin to realize that something isn’t quite right in all-too-perfect Stepford.

IMG_7182.JPG

My Opinion:

You know how, when you’re young, you watch something and become really fond of it and still like it years later even though you know it’s not “good”? This TV movie is probably my biggest guilty pleasure. None of you would like it & I’m not recommending it. I’m just going to talk about it because I LOVED THIS THING when I was about 13 and watched the videotape I’d recorded it onto over and over until finally tracking down a VHS copy years later in the UK where I believe it actually had a limited cinema release. The VHS tape had that dodgy cover at the very top of this post. Hilarious! No one in the movie looks anything like that. Here’s an old ad I found for it & it’s much more accurate:

IMG_6935.JPG

The girl in this ad is Tammy Lauren and she was one of several actresses I was obsessed with as a teen (I discussed this recently when I talked of my love for Catherine Mary Stewart in my Night Of The Comet review HERE. Oh – and I’d like to add that Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney, the other girl in that film, both retweeted me & now follow me on Twitter. Freaking awesome!!!). 😉

I loved Tammy Lauren in The Stepford Children – she had her own style and a cool attitude and didn’t always follow the rules so of course didn’t fit in when her family moved to Stepford, where all the wives and children were a little too “perfect”. I always wondered why she wasn’t in more stuff beyond TV other than Wishmaster (she was also in another great TV movie called I Saw What You Did – maybe I’ll review that next October! I’m sure you all can’t wait for that…). Look at her hair! Oh how I remember my Aqua Net days…

IMG_7190.JPG

Anyway – does everyone know what The Stepford Wives is about? I’m not talking about that awful remake with Nicole Kidman! I mean the 1975 film that’s a bit of a cult classic. You know – this thing:

IMG_7191.JPG

Well, I saw The Stepford Children with no knowledge of The Stepford Wives so it probably helped my enjoyment a bit as I wasn’t 100% sure what was up with the strange women & children of Stepford. I just really liked the two teens (Tammy Lauren & her brother, played by Randall Batinkoff). Oh, and I just looked Randall Batinkoff up at IMDB HERE – he’s turned into a hottie! Anyway… Where was I? God this review sucks. Basically, I liked this movie because of these two plus the boy’s girlfriend, who was the only other teen living in Stepford who appeared to be “normal”. Their dad joins the “Men’s Association” after they move to Stepford and they (and their mom – played by I Dream Of Jeannie’s Barbara Eden) start to become suspicious of this organization and the odd behavior of the Stepford residents. It’s all very predictable & silly and the ending, which kind of freaked me out at the time, will honestly just make you laugh if you somehow manage to watch this now. Here’s a spoiler-y glimpse:

IMG_7188.JPG

Yeah… I know… A little dodgy. How about this?

IMG_7186.JPG

Lol! I don’t care. I love this movie and I know it’s because I was young when I saw it & I just really bought into the characters & story at the time. It’s a fun made-for-TV movie and, for years, I’ve been wanting to see the one they made after this one (The Stepford Husbands). I like the sound of THAT – I’d like to order up the Chris Hemsworth model! Seriously, though – if you have the slightest bit of interest in these films, just watch the original Stepford Wives. The idea of “the perfect wife & family” was a little more relevant to 1975 and is probably partly why none of the later films really worked (especially that godawful remake in 2004 – it was a very old-fashioned concept by then). The Stepford Children is probably about as good as these horrible grainy images look but I still love it anyway. (And, yes – I did rewatch it again recently for this review). 😉

My Rating: 7/10

IMG_7184.JPG

21 Jump Street & 22 Jump Street Double Review

20140710-073046 pm-70246533.jpg

I went to see 22 Jump Street a couple of weeks ago (I only watched three movies that day, not four like I did one day last month. No, that’s NOT a regular thing that I do!). 😉 Anyway – they were Oculus, The Fault In Our Stars (review HERE) & 22 Jump Street. I’m not reviewing much lately but I’ll try to do Oculus at some point (Spoiler: I thought it was pretty shit). Since I just watched 21 Jump Street for the first time a few months ago, I figured I might as well review the two together…

20140710-073239 pm-70359688.jpg

21 Jump Street (2012)

Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller

Starring:
Jonah Hill
Channing Tatum
Dave Franco
Brie Larson
Rob Riggle
DeRay Davis
Ice Cube
Nick Offerman

My Opinion:

Okay! So. I finally watched this movie a few months ago. I’d avoided it because… How DARE they mess with 21 Jump Street! That’s one of my all-time favorite TV shows (number 11)! And they made it into a silly COMEDY? WTF?! Well, there’s no point discussing the TV show – the movie shares its name & the fact that young looking police officers go undercover in high schools but that’s IT – there are no other similarities so I’ll just discuss the movie and try to pretend it has a different title.

20140710-073343 pm-70423091.jpg

21 Jump Street was okay. It didn’t exactly blow me away but it was better than I was expecting and I even found a few bits fairly funny. I’ve started to warm a little to Jonah Hill since he was so fantastic in The Wolf Of Wall Street. I’ve never understood the Channing Tatum thing – the first thing I actually saw him in was Side Effects and he seemed out of place. Then I saw the dreadful Magic Mike… Ugh. But he’s likeable here and I think they finally found a role that suits him. Ice Cube was pretty hilarious – I think he was probably the funniest thing about this. The best thing about this, however, was Brie Larson. I’ve not seen her in anything else other than Don Jon but now I really want to see Short Term 12 based on her performance in this.

20140710-073551 pm-70551979.jpg

21 Jump Street starts out pretty promising but about halfway through gets a little TOO silly and over the top for my liking. I like comedy that stays a bit more simple (as in, not juvenile “in your face” humor). By the end I was a bit bored and fell asleep a few times and kept having to go back to try to finish the last 15 minutes. Hell – I’m not sure if I ever did! By the time they got to the cameos (minor spoiler maybe but I think everyone knows about the cameos by now) I was like “No”. The cameos were pretty stupid and not handled very well. The movie definitely had some potential at first and I had some hope that I was going to end up liking it okay. And I sort of did. Unfortunately, it does fall apart at the end.

My Rating: 6/10

20140710-073954 pm-70794286.jpg

22 Jump Street (2014)

Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller

Starring:
Jonah Hill
Channing Tatum
Peter Stormare
Ice Cube
Amber Stevens
Wyatt Russell
Jillian Bell
Jimmy Tatro
Nick Offerman

My Opinion:

Well, this is a big step up from 21 Jump Street. Overall, this is a much funnier film and feels a lot more “together” than the first film did. It still goes a little over the top at the end but doesn’t fall apart like I thought 21 Jump Street did. And the best thing about this movie is that it makes fun of itself. A LOT. Because it’s the exact same story again but set in college instead of high school and the movie knows this and constantly jokes about it and the whole “sequelitis” problem in Hollywood. I thought that was all really funny and the end credits scenes (as the credits rolled) were BRILLIANT! It was actually the best bit of the entire movie and worth watching for that alone. So do NOT leave the second the credits roll on this one, people! (Oh, there’s also a final scene at the very end after the credits as well – that one is pretty stupid & not worth staying for, in my opinion).

20140710-074103 pm-70863772.jpg

This time around, I thought Channing Tatum was much better and a lot funnier. I MAYBE finally like him more after seeing this one. Maybe… Yeah – he’s pretty good in this one and possibly even outshines Jonah Hill this time. They also feel more like a team and have better chemistry. And Ice Cube luckily has even more screen time in this one and he’s again hilarious – I really liked the scenes with him. The “female love interest” this time around doesn’t have the charisma of Brie Larson but I’d have to say that’s the only thing they didn’t improve on from the first film.

20140710-074343 pm-71023646.jpg

Well, I suppose I should wrap this up as my opinion is pretty obvious anyway. I enjoyed 22 Jump Street quite a bit more than 21 Jump Street. I always love when a movie isn’t afraid to make fun of itself. Overall, though, these films aren’t really my type of thing although I can appreciate why some people like them. If they DO make a 3rd one, I’m hoping they can improve on the whole thing once again & stick to more of the good jokes instead of as many stupid, silly gags (but Hill & Tatum can get high once again. I’ll admit that I find it freaking hilarious when people get high in movies and the fact that I love the Harold & Kumar films probably destroys my argument that I don’t like “dumb” humor). 😉 I feel there should be a bigger gap in the two ratings but I don’t think 21 deserves lower than a 6 while I can’t really give 22 a 7 as I can’t say it’s exactly going to be a favorite film or that I’ll ever watch it again. But I appreciate that they seemed to put much more effort into this one. Plus the scenes during the credits get 8/10!

My Rating: 6.5/10

20140710-074429 pm-71069025.jpg

The Conjuring Getting Annabelle Spin-Off Film

20131111-092426 am.jpg
Ugh – a spinoff about that creepy ass doll from the beginning of The Conjuring. I’ll probably skip that one! Dolls are evil.

I like the sound of the (potential but not confirmed) sequel to The Conjuring a bit more. The following is from this link: GeekTyrant

As for the separate Conjuring sequel that is currently being written by Chad and Carey Hayes, the studio is hoping to get Wan back on board to direct that. There’s no official information on what the sequel will entail, but here’s one of the story possibilities that has leaked online.

“The case file they’re looking at occurs in the late ’70s and centers on two sisters in Enfield, England, who were allegedly possessed. Warren said she personally saw them levitate and even saw one of the sister dematerialize in front of her only to be found 20 minutes later stuffed into an over sized fuse box, contorted in such an unnatural way that they couldn’t have replicated it if they tried. She also said that the demon spoke directly to her husband on many occasions. Warren cited this case as one of the most terrifying experiences of her career.”

“Darkness” Is Holding Up Bill & Ted 3, Says Keanu Reeves

20130915-101146 AM.jpg
This has been going on for years – I don’t think we’re ever going to get a new Bill & Ted film. The following quote from Keanu Reeves when asked about the delay and more information at this link: SlashFilm

It’s a long story. There’s lots of subterfuge and conspiracy theories. There’s a whole thing… I might have to do one of those independent press, conspiracy, other-name kind of [statements] explaining why it hasn’t happened yet, because it’s pretty dark out there.

Also:

Reeves confirmed that “there is [a script],” but added, “There’s all sorts of stuff and it just can’t — it’s just — there’s darkness out there that’s keeping it from happening.” He later continued, “It’s not winning right now. It’s that part of the story where it’s looking grim. It’s the dark period of the idea!”

Richard Linklater Hopes to Film Dazed and Confused Sequel This Fall

20130523-112644 PM.jpg
What?! Oh, this could be awesome…

Read the following & more here: Rolling Stone

The movie will reportedly take place over the course of a weekend at a college in 1980, and while it attempts to capture the style and feel of Dazed and Confused, Linklater has said that none of the characters from the original will reappear.

I recently posted how, if I was a filmmaker (Ha!), I see myself as a Richard Linklater making films like Dazed And Confused. Love that film. Lots of responses to that – looks like we all want to be filmmakers. 🙂 Link: What Kind Of Film Would YOU Make?