A Simple Favor, American Animals & Slaughterhouse Rulez Movie Reviews

I’m determined to catch up on reviewing the films I’ve seen in the cinema this year. Here are three quick reviews I never got around to and I have three more quickies ready for tomorrow (Ralph Breaks The Internet, The Nutcracker And The Four Realms, and The Grinch. Merry Christmas! I know you desperately need to know my stupid opinion on movies…

A Simple Favor (2018)

Directed by Paul Feig

Based on A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A Simple Favor follows a small town vlogger who tries to solve the disappearance of her mysterious and rich best friend.

My Opinion:

I went to this one night with no expectations as I had a couple of hours to spare. I enjoyed the shit out of this! It’s a fun film. A “chick flick” with dark humor and a fucking filthy mouth from Blake Lively, who gives her husband’s Deadpool character a run for his money. To be fair, I wouldn’t call this a chick flick but any movie with two female leads tends to be labelled with that annoying title. As a girl who isn’t very girly, I appreciate a movie with female leads that isn’t all soppy romantic bullshit or Bridget Fucking Jones or Mamma Barf-O-Mia (no offense to anyone who likes those). ๐Ÿ˜‰ But this is more my type of chick flick.

Anna Kendrick & Blake Lively are far from favorite actresses of mine but they couldn’t have been more perfect for these roles: Kendrick as a nerdy prude and Lively as a beautiful, sophisticated bitch. They both seemed to be having a lot of fun and were pretty damn hilarious. I feel that actresses are rarely given any credit for being funny. Sorry – here’s a quick rant that I’ve had before: Speaking of the director, Paul Feig, he also did Bridesmaids. I don’t like Bridesmaids – it’s not my type of humor. But I can’t deny that there are funny moments and the women in it were very good for that type of film. The Hangover has very similar humor but an all-male cast and a much higher rating on IMDb. Neither are my thing but Bridesmaids is the far superior “dumb comedy”. There seems to be a real backlash anytime women do comedy. It’s odd.

Rant over! Back to this movie. This film falls into several categories and I kind of loved that it’s hard to define. Dark comedy, crime, mystery, thriller… The story has twists and it keeps you guessing and it’s kind of stupid but it’s meant to be silly. It was a great “chill out” movie – you’re not meant to take the mystery too seriously. I don’t know if this will make some turn their noses up but it reminded me of the pulpy mystery thrillers that are guilty reading pleasures of mine sometimes (but with added black humor, making things much more fun). Plus, Lively’s hubby was a hottie so that was enjoyable too.

I won’t say much more as this is a movie where you’re better off not knowing too much about the plot beforehand. If you watch it with an open mind & don’t take the story too seriously you should have a good time.

My Rating: 7.5/10

American Animals (2018)

Directed by Bart Layton

Starring: Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, Jared Abrahamson, Udo Kier, Ann Dowd

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
American Animals is based on the true story of a library heist that happened at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky in 2004.

My Opinion:

Okay – American Animals is a far more worthy film than A Simple Favor. However, it almost bored me to tears. Considering that the true story involving a bizarre library heist is really damn interesting, they somehow managed to make this film a bit of a snoozefest. Well, okay – the heist itself was exciting but it takes ages to get to that small part of the film. I think the biggest problem may be that it’s part-documentary, which didn’t really work. So it went back & forth between the actors acting it out & the real-life guys talking about it. This could’ve worked but it just didn’t. It gave the film a weird flow plus the main actor looking nothing whatsoever like the real guy was somewhat distracting.

Huh. I really have nothing more to say about this. It was disappointing. It actually would’ve made for a much better full-out documentary instead. At least they tried something a little different style-wise, I guess. Oh! I did like that they looked like the Beastie Boys in the Sabotage video when they put on their cheesy 70’s-looking disguises for the heist. Funny.

My Rating: 6/10

Slaughterhouse Rulez (2018)

Directed by Crispian Mills

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Finn Cole, Hermione Corfield, Michael Sheen, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Margot Robbie

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
An illustrious British boarding school becomes a bloody battleground when a mysterious sinkhole appears at a nearby fracking site unleashing unspeakable horror.

My Opinion:

Wow. This was pretty dreadful. I was excited for this one before it came out as I think a lot of us saw “horror comedy” and the names Simon Pegg & Nick Frost and thought we’d have another Shaun Of The Dead on our hands. Ha! Not even close.

The idea was a good one: fracking causing creatures to come to the surface & attack a snobby boarding school. Plus, I wanted to see this as it was partly filmed at Chislehurst Caves in Kent. I’ve been there. I think I’ve been to most the tourist caves in England plus the catacombs in Paris. I have a weird fascination with creepy, underground places. Anyway – Chislehurst Caves is a cool place & I recommend checking it out if you’re a weirdo like me. Maybe I’ll help Kent tourism! Here’s their website: Chislehurt Caves. Here’s an image from the website:

Oh. Was I meant to be talking about Slaughterhouse Rulez? I honestly can’t be arsed. It was a wasted cinema trip but just about good enough to check out on Netflix if you want to zone out to something stupid. The main characters are fairly decent so it’s good that you want them to survive and the remaining over-the-top rich asshole students to die. Pegg & Frost are odd and there was really no point of having them in the film at all. Oh, and Margot Robbie is nothing more than a cameo on a screen so don’t get all excited thinking she’s in this. And I currently can’t even remember what the creatures looked like so that’s not saying much.

My Rating: 5.5/10

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Ready Player One (2018) Reviewย 

Ready Player One (2018)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Based on Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune.

My Opinion:

Where do I start?? I really enjoyed this film and, yes, I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t realize so many people had a problem with the book until reading Twitter these past few months. What the fuck was with all the backlash?! Fucking hell, people. Get a grip. It’s a fun, harmless story that was written for nerds obsessed with 80’s pop culture. Not your kind of thing? Fine. Don’t read the book or watch the movie. Maybe just shut the fuck up and let people reminisce if that’s what makes them happy? I really enjoy Twitter but the self-righteous bullshit is very hard to handle sometimes.

Okay – I’m clearly in a bad mood! I’ll just talk about the movie now. If you’ve read and enjoyed the book, be aware that there are loads of changes. This normally bothers me but I kind of liked it this time. I felt like I was watching a whole new story involving the same characters and it was entertaining to watch & not already know what was going to happen every step of the way. I kind of feel like there are two completely separate Ready Player One stories now and both are enjoyable. I’ll stay spoiler free so won’t go into any details but the biggest things changed (completely!) are the challenges involved in finding each key. Being a big film fan, I loved one of these new challenges and I’m very glad that bit stayed a surprise for me. So try to avoid spoilers and watch this soon if you’re a pop culture nerd like me.

I’ll say this, though – the movie doesn’t stay as true to the “EIGHTIES!!!!” thing as the book. I understand this will have been done to please a more general movie audience but it’s kind of a shame. Don’t get me wrong – there’s still shitloads of 80’s pop culture but it’s not as in-your-face as the book. Which is good in some ways but I still feel that the 80’s kids are being a tiny bit cheated with the film version. And the movie goes more “movie nerd” than “game nerd”, which is definitely more my kind of thing so I’m not complaining. But I think the lovers of classic video games may be a little disappointed at them having a far smaller part in the film.

I’m still trying to sort my thoughts out on this movie. I know this is one where I really should wait a while before writing about it… Is it going to be an all-time favorite Spielberg movie of mine? Probably not but he has so many great ones that it would be hard for him to ever top his classic films. I did do my Top Ten Steven Spielberg Movies HERE and I can say that Ready Player One wouldn’t make it onto that list. But I’ll post an updated list sometime and it will probably make it into the ten since I’d count the Indiana Jones (trilogy!!) as one on my own blog.

Sorry – I know I’ve said very little in this “review”. I’m having to keep things short on the blog lately due to lack of time. Plus I think it’s important to avoid spoilers for this one, making it hard to discuss. Plus… I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about the movie. I thoroughly enjoyed having a new Spielberg sci-fi thrill ride of a film. It was a lot of fun to watch and I’d forgotten it was 2 hours & 20 minutes long as it didn’t feel that way since there’s always so much going on. The characters, though changed slightly, are done as well as they need to be to keep the audience interested in their story and I think Spielberg improved things by focusing even more on their friendship.

Overall, the changes made for the movie were mostly improvements on what I realize isn’t exactly classic American literature. Yes, Spielberg “has done it again!”. I love Spielberg and I love him returning to this style of sci-fi. However, like the 80’s pop culture the story wishes to emulate, this movie will always just feel like a tribute to Spielberg’s best films as opposed to actually being one of his best. I really enjoyed Ready Player One, I’ll definitely watch it again, and I’ll buy it as soon as it’s released on DVD. But I’d still rather watch a genuine classic film from the Eighties instead.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Is There A Scene After The Credits?: No, there’s nothing during or after the credits.

The Boxtrolls (2014) Review

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The Boxtrolls (2014)

Directed by Graham Annable & Anthony Stacchi

Based on Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow

Starring:
Isaac Hempstead-Wright
Elle Fanning
Ben Kingsley
Toni Collette
Jared Harris
Simon Pegg
Nick Frost
Richard Ayoade
Tracy Morgan

Production company: Laika

Running time: 96 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of an orphaned boy named Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) who was raised by underground cave-dwelling trash collecting trolls called the Boxtrolls. The Boxtrolls are targeted by an evil exterminator named Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) and Eggs has to save his family from Snatcher.

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My Opinion:

I’ll get straight to the point: I didn’t enjoy this one. At all. I really really wanted to! I thought it looked very promising. Last Halloween, I watched and reviewed ParaNorman and I liked that one a lot. However, I also fell asleep halfway through Coraline YEARS ago and never bothered to finish it, so… I guess that’s only 1 out of 3 Laika films I’ve liked so far. Hmm.

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I’ll give The Boxtrolls this: the stop-motion animation is amazing! I can’t fault that in the slightest. I also really liked the overall look & style of the movie. What I didn’t like, however, were the characters or the story so I really couldn’t buy into it all despite the boxtrolls themselves being pretty likeable. Unfortunately, they weren’t IN the movie enough. There was far more focus on the human characters than I was expecting and I got very bored when the boxtrolls weren’t onscreen. I could kind of take or leave the main boy in it (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) but I found the girl (Elle Fanning) quite annoying, especially her voice which I think just didn’t work for the character. Unfortunately, the rest of the human characters were even worse (although I suppose the baddie, Ben Kingsley, is at least a very memorable character). Seriously – The Boxtrolls needed more boxtrolls! I liked them just fine. Although I do this ALL the time when I watch a movie at home, I never do this when I go to the cinema: I fell asleep off & on somewhere in the middle of this thing when it was just the annoying human characters onscreen. Probably not a good sign… ๐Ÿ˜‰

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I’m not going to ramble on about this one. Is it bad? No. It just wasn’t for me. If you think it’s your type of thing or that your kids will like it, don’t let me talk you out of going to it. My hubby liked it FAR more than I did. The five-year-old with us also seemed to like it okay, so…. Maybe it IS just me! The movie is an odd one. As for the age it’s suitable for, it’s certainly not as scary as ParaNorman or Coraline, which I would never let a five-year-old watch. This one is aimed younger than those but I’d say kids would have to be six or seven for the most part to actually appreciate it and the main bad guy is probably far too scary for those under five or so. As always, though, every kid is different.

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Super Short Summary:

I just didn’t like this one. Sorry! Giving it a lower rating would be unfair, however, as I know it’s not “bad”. Based on ParaNorman, I’d still watch another film made by Laika. Awesome stop-motion animation, at the very least!

My Rating: 5/10

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Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz & The World’s End (Cornetto Trilogy Review)

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Poster by Tyler Stout for Mondo. Link here for this & alternate poster: SlashFilm

1. Shaun of the Dead

The first and still the best. I don’t have a lot of history with Simon Pegg & Co. I watched Shaun of the Dead in the cinema when it came out and it was my first experience with them. And I thought it was pretty good! I’m a HUGE fan of Romero’s zombie films (especially Dawn of the Dead) so a zombie comedy spoof was something I was more than happy to watch. As I watched The World’s End and Hot Fuzz for the first time last week, I thought it was time to re-watch Shaun as well & review all three.

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I appreciate Shaun of the Dead more after this second viewing. I think it starts out VERY strong. I like how it takes a while to actually get to the zombies while they take time setting up the characters (these days not many people have the patience to wait that long for the “action”). The two morning walks where the first morning is normal and the second one is clearly not yet Shaun is completely oblivious to all the zombies lurking about is brilliant and probably my favorite bit of the film. This is closely followed by the other best bit of the film where Shaun & Ed discover zombies in the back garden and proceed to defend themselves with some vinyl records (but not the REALLY good ones…).

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Shaun & Ed are of course great characters and Shaun’s girlfriend is fine. I also really liked Shaun’s mother & stepfather but I found Shaun’s girlfriend’s friends slightly annoying. And while the film starts out brilliantly, I do think it loses steam once Shaun & Ed are joined by these friends. I feel this way about all three films, actually. I kind of feel like Shaun of the Dead (and the rest) isn’t sure how it should end. Then it just… Does. Not a horrible ending or anything but just a bit of a let down after such a strong beginning. But still a great movie for its genre.

My Rating: 8/10

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2. Hot Fuzz

My least favorite of the three. Not saying I didn’t like it, though – it’s very close between this & The World’s End.

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I actually knew next to nothing about Hot Fuzz. I thought it was JUST a buddy cop movie spoof. But it actually ended up being more than that and I liked it better than the film I was expecting to see. I’m not a fan of the “buddy cop movies” that it does spoof (well, other than Point Break. I love Point Break!). So I wasn’t going to go for this one as much as Shaun Of The Dead.

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I didn’t buy into Pegg’s or Frost’s characters as much in Fuzz as in Shaun. And while there were some funny moments, nothing really compared to the funny moments in Shaun. I liked the story, though. I don’t know if this is a spoiler but I liked that Fuzz suddenly sort of went all Wicker Man on our asses. Hell, Edward Woodward was even in it! That was fine by me – The Wicker Man is a classic. So, again – not at all the movie I was expecting but that was a good thing in this case. However, I always enjoy a movie more when I feel they’ve done a really good job setting up the characters and I like them or maybe even identify with them in some way. Shaun is superior on story but also far superior when it comes to the characters.

My Rating: 7/10

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3. The World’s End

I actually saw this and then immediately watched Hot Fuzz when I got home from the cinema. Although Hot Fuzz is third for me, it’s probably actually a much better “film” than this one. I know it’s not out for ages in America (ha!) but I can see this one dividing people much more than the other two films. Not entirely sure but that’s kind of the impression I get from those in the UK who have seen it so far. I think it’s not going to be for everyone.

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So why did I like it more than Hot Fuzz? Well first of all – the genre, like zombie movies, is much more my kind of thing. I love sci-fi. And apocalyptic! Oh I love apocalyptic! (What’s with so much of that this year? You’ll have to check if The World’s End makes my list of My Top Ten Apocalyptic Movies HERE). ๐Ÿ™‚ Secondly, as with Shaun, I think the characters are much stronger than they were in Hot Fuzz. Although this time, not necessarily “likeable”. Finally, because of my age, I was able to identify with some of the themes in The World’s End unlike in Fuzz (mainly the fear of getting older and wanting to relive the past but knowing deep down that none of us can). So, that’s why I prefer The World’s End. Oh, and decent music as well. Although nothing tops Grandmaster Flash in Shaun. ๐Ÿ™‚

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The World’s End suffers the most of the three in “not knowing how to end”, I think. That’s the bit that will probably most divide people. As for supporting characters (so, other than Pegg’s & Frost’s), I think they’re actually the strongest in The World’s End. I really liked the different personalities of the friends in this one (which helped to make up for the two lead characters being a bit weaker & less likeable than in Shaun). I can see people not liking Pegg’s character in this one but I could really feel for him & what he was going through so I found him to be a good strong character. There’s not much more I can say about this as I try to keep my reviews spoiler-free plot-wise. I did quite enjoy The World’s End although I think it’s definitely flawed. I look forward to seeing what people in the US think of it once it’s out there.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Quote from my hubby on the Cornetto Trilogy:

“I can’t believe they got away with making the same bloody film three times”.

(To be honest, that IS a very accurate summary. Much more concise and to the point than my three reviews.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Recap for those who don’t actually read my reviews & just scroll to the ratings:

Shaun Of The Dead: 8/10
Hot Fuzz: 7/10
The World’s End: 7.5/10

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Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) Review

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Star Trek Into Darkness

Directed by JJ Abrams

Starring:
John Cho
Benedict Cumberbatch
Alice Eve
Bruce Greenwood
Simon Pegg
Chris Pine
Zachary Quinto
Zoe Saldana
Karl Urban
Peter Weller
Anton Yelchin

Plot Synopsis:

After devastating attacks on Starfleet, the USS Enterprise is sent on a mission into enemy territory in order to find the man responsible for these terrorist acts.

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My Opinion:

I won’t go into how much I know about all things Star Trek – I already did that here when I reviewed Star Trek (2009), which I re-watched this past week, and The Motion Picture & The Wrath Of Khan, which I’ve just watched for the first time: Star Trek Reviews

Basically, I loved The Next Generation and then watched the original series after TNG & have just now started on the movies with the original cast. So, this review is from someone who likes Star Trek but is not exactly a Trekkie (or is it Trekker?).

I really enjoyed Star Trek Into Darkness. I thought the 2009 movie was a decent enough intro to a new series of movies but it didn’t really blow me away. Plus, I fell asleep both times I tried to watch it all the way through. Well, I can say you’re not likely to fall asleep during Into Darkness. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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I enjoyed the main characters more in this one as they were able to just kind of “be themselves” as opposed to in the first movie where they had to spend time setting them up for those in the audience new to Star Trek. It also meant they were able to spend more time focusing on the story and the action in this one – and there’s A LOT of action. It was pretty non-stop from beginning to end. I liked the opening scene (even if it was maybe a bit silly). The bits set in London and in San Francisco looked great. The emotional bits felt more “real” in this one than in the 2009 one (perhaps as we’re more used to the main actors now). Alice Eve is sexy, especially in all the different uniforms. And Benedict Cumberbatch is an EXCELLENT villain. He’s by far the best thing about this one. The only slight downside is he’s so good that it shows off the weaknesses in all the other actors in the film.

I’m reading mixed reviews of this movie now and see that some die hard Trekkies (Trekkers?!) are hating it. That’s unfortunate – I thoroughly enjoyed this but now, after seeing the first two Star Trek films, I can see why they’d take issue with certain things. To those who don’t hold the original movies so dear, I think it’s a lot easier to just sit back and enjoy the new films without overanalyzing them. To those who are pretty new to Star Trek, I can see them really liking the new films. Especially Into Darkness – I thought it was quite exciting (and much better than the first one).

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My initial reaction was that Into Darkness was “fantastic” and I called it the best Star Trek film yet. Well, I stand by what I said about it being fantastic. It’s probably not the “best” one, though. I haven’t watched First Contact since it first came out but I do remember how much I loved it at the time. And I don’t think Into Darkness would EVER top The Wrath Of Khan for any big fans of the original Star Treks. So I think Into Darkness is “one of” the best films of the entire series. But, okay, yeah… I think, for its time and what it will have meant to fans when they first watched it, The Wrath Of Khan is still the “best”. It just didn’t have the emotional impact for me watching it for the first time all these years later.

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Summary:

Star Trek Into Darkness is a thoroughly entertaining & action-packed film with a great villain played brilliantly by Benedict Cumberbatch, who is the highlight of the film. It’s a worthy addition to the Star Trek universe and, in my opinion, one of the best in the entire series. However, after the adrenaline wore off and I thought about the film a little more the day after seeing it, I can see some of the faults. There are minor things (Like the way Alice Eve ends up in her underwear. Yes, she’s hot. But the scene was silly). But there are a few major things as well, which I unfortunately can’t discuss without major spoilers. All in all, this film had the chance to possibly end up (almost) as much of a classic as The Wrath Of Khan. But it doesn’t manage it. None of the Star Trek films, for me, manage the depth needed to make any of them truly stunning films. And now that I’ve thought about things a bit more – Yes, The Wrath Of Khan is the one that actually came the closest to achieving the greatness that, hopefully, we’ll someday get from a Star Trek film. Star Trek Into Darkness was great fun but they’re going to need to get much more bold with the next film if they wish to ever achieve true greatness.

My Rating: 8/10

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Okay okay – Here’s Alice Eve in her underwear:

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