Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

(I’m on holiday right now celebrating my 30th Birthday! To fill the void whilst I’m away I’m posting some old movie reviews that I wrote for the blog I had before I started Often Off Topic. I’ll be back in early September.)

fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-them-2016Does anyone else think perfume adverts are more than a little ridiculous? Perhaps now 4DX screens are becoming a thing they have a place in the world, but has anyone really ever paid much attention to these ads? You’re probably actually wondering what the hell perfume has to do with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Well, at the cinema the other night, right before the featured trailers aired, an advert of sorts was played for what looked like a period drama movie or TV show starring Domhnall Gleeson (AKA General Hux, AKA my favourite grumpy space ginger). I got so excited I did a little dance in my seat, until I realised it was an advert for Burberry perfume. What. The. Frick?! NOT COOL Burberry, not cool. Although I might buy your aftershave for my husband now…damnit. It works.

Anyway! Harry Potter fans will be aware of the book on every Hogwarts first year’s required reading list, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Who’d have thought all these years later it would be adapted into not one, but 5 movies?! I wish I could go back and tell 12 year old me. This movie is the story of the author of said book, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) who travels to New York in 1926 to release one of his beasts back into the wild where he/she belongs. Whilst there, several creatures (including the ever adorable Niffler) escape from Newt’s magical suitcase.

Newt gets himself into trouble for involving a no-maj (American muggle) called Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and then not wiping his memory, so gets himself caught by disgraced Auror Tina (Katherine Waterson). Amidst all this, a dark wizard called Gellert Grindelwald is on the loose, an anti-magic cult is throwing their weight around, and a rather dapper Colin Farrell is hunting down a talented young witch. Got it? I sure all hell don’t, there’s so much going on!

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Let me first say though how wonderful it is to return to the wizarding world of Harry Potter. The sheer excitement at hearing that familiar music with the Warner Brothers logo was enough to make me cry (for the second or third time that night, after so many Christmas adverts), and there are plenty of references for the hardcore fans to spot. Eddie Redmayne is the perfect choice for Newt, confident in his abilities and passionate in his subject, but terribly awkward at the same time. It’s the first time I’ve ever really loved him on screen.

The beasts themselves are indeed fantastic. The Niffler is the real show-stealer, but all the creatures we are shown either bring laughs or a feeling of awe. It’s a lot of CGI to have thrown around, but it works. Almost the entire supporting cast were new to me, but their characters were played so well and even ones that have a high risk of being annoying (I’m looking at you, Queenie) were actually incredibly likable.

Where this movie falls down is largely the messy plot. Considering this franchise is going to be dragged out into 5 movies, there was too much packed into the first installment. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I would have been happy for the entire first movie to be an introduction to Newt and Co, chasing down the beasts across New York. Save the dark wizard stuff for movie number 2! Who is the target audience, anyway? This was far too dark for young children, but the plot was far too obvious for the older fans. It’s a shame.

I’ll always be happy for more Harry Potter movies, but I’d have liked them to go down the Star Wars route with a collection of one-offs instead. Let’s have Fantastic Beasts, then how about a movie for Hagrid and how he got kicked out of Hogwarts? A Marauder’s movie would be amazing too! There are so many stories that could be expanded, without the need of dragging them out.

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Best Stranger Things Season 3 Quotes

If you haven’t already noticed, I’m not quite ready to let go of Stranger Things Season 3 yet. I think I love it more and more as time goes on. I guess the quote ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ is true after all. Speaking of quotes…what better way to celebrate the season by sharing some of my favourite quotes from the series?

Erica: You can’t spell America without Erica.

Steve: It’s this stupid hat. I am telling you, it’s totally blowing my best feature.

Lucas: Isn’t it past your bedtime?
Erica: Isn’t it time you died?

Steve (to Dustin): Hope you guys are in shape. Lookin’ at you, roast beef.

Hopper: Maybe I’ll just kill Mike. I’m the Chief of Police, I could cover it up.

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Robin (explaining the plot of Back to the Future): So like, I wasn’t totally focused in there or anything, but I’m pretty sure that mom was trying to bang her son.

Alexei: No cherry, no deal.

Mike: We are treating her like some kind of machine when she’s not a machine, and I don’t want her to die looking for the flayed when they’ve obviously vanished off the face of the earth. So can we please just come up with a new plan because I love her and I can’t lose her again.

And finally…

Hopper: If you don’t mind, for the sake of your poor old Dad, keep the door open three inches.

I’m not crying, you’re crying.

This season had some really cute moments for sure, didn’t it? Also, it’s not a quote, but there’s no way I could not post the video for the WORLD’S greatest ever duet…Dusty Bun & Suzie Poo with The Neverending Story!

Good Boys (2019)

good-boys-2019-movie-poster-reviewDirector: Gene Stupnitsky

Genre: Comedy

Runtime: 89 Minutes

Main Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon, Molly Gordon, Midori Francis, Izaac Wang, Millie Davis, Josh Caras, Will Forte, Chance Hurstfield, Stephen Merchant

Plot: Max, Lucas and Thor have been best friends their whole lives, but are growing apart as they get older. When Max gets invited to a ‘kissing party’, the boys club together to learn how to kiss – which inevitably leads to a broken drone belonging to Max’s Dad, and two older girls chasing them down after the boys unwittingly steal their drugs.

My Thoughts: Yes, Odeon, for giving us a Limitless exclusive preview that actually feels like a preview! I’ve been excited to see Good Boys after the teaser trailer revealing that the 3 lead boys aren’t actually allowed to watch their own movie trailer because they’re too young. Like Booksmart from earlier this year, Good Boys is at risk of being hailed ‘the new Superbad’ but I honestly think this is better than that, anyway. Does it bring anything new to the genre? No. Does it bring any surprises along the way? Also no – but the cast carries the entire movie so well that it stands above the rest anyway.

Little Jacob Tremblay is literally the cutest kid in Hollywood, I can’t even. One day he’s going be a megastar and we’ll all be like ‘Omg, do you remember that movie when he was playing a foul-mouthed kid?’. One thing is for sure, after watching this I’m SO glad I’m a mum to a girl and not a boy. Boys are gross! Honestly though, Good Boys brought out the inner child in everyone in the screening I was in last night. We all giggled away at the word ‘boobs’, and the boys’ choice of err…weapons.

So many comedies rely on pop culture references to bring the laughs, and whilst I love those comedies too, they don’t hold up over time to new audiences. I feel like Good Boys will be one of those comedies that’s still just as funny in 10 years time as it is now. If you haven’t already guessed, this movie gets a huuuuge thumbs up from me!

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Best Bit: I thought nothing could be more outrageous than Thor’s parents’ ‘CPR doll’ but oh, I was so wrong. When the boys open the door to Stephen Merchant (a welcomed surprise cameo!) armed with a plethora of other ‘weapons’ they must have got from the bedroom…oh my. I was crying from laughing. It was one of those jokes that carried on through the movie…until Max gave Brixlee the ‘necklace’.

Worst Bit: Speaking of the CPR doll…if there was any moment that made Seth Rogan’s involvement obvious, it was the aftermath of Max kissing that doll. I was half expecting another character to shout ‘OHHH BOYYYYY’ just to remind me of that horrible (but hilarious) moment in Long Shot.

Fun Trivia: The film received an R rating for strong crude sexual content, drug and alcohol material, and language – all involving tweens. This marks the first time an R rating has been given with the description ‘all involving tweens’.

My Rating: 4 and a half beers. I dare you to try and beat the record of…3 sips.

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Stranger Things: Season 3

I’m so late to this party that not only has everyone left, but the place has been cleaned, tidied, and prepared for the next party! I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to watch Season 3 of Stranger Things but after watching episode 7 last night, I had to put the finale on straight after. I have so many feelings! Major spoilers ahead…

Although I liked Season 1, I wasn’t raving about it. Season 2, however, hooked me from the very first episode, I just loved seeing the cast grow up! Steve went from being my most hated character to favourite, and there were so many iconic scenes. I liked the start of Season 3 for the lighter moments like Daddy Hopper, and Max and El going shopping at the mall. It just felt like it took too long for the monster story to kick in, and I guess that’s why I didn’t race my way through the episodes.

Iconic is the best word I can think of to describe this season. From the Scoops Ahoy uniform, to Alexei and his Slurpee, Hopper’s beloved car, Joyce and her magnets, Erica just…being Erica, to the John Wick style shootout at the fair, there were just so many great moments to remember.

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And oh boy, what a whirlwind of a finale. The joy we all felt when Alexei won that Woody Woodpecker only to be distraught when he got shot down moments later. Wondering whether Joyce and Hopper might actually get together only to have him ripped away from us. And then, just when everything feels like doom and gloom…Dusty Bun & Suzie Poo save us all with their rendition of The Neverending Story. I’m going to go out there and say it – that scene was the greatest bit of TV I’ve ever seen.

Also, I know how it seems like a silly and small thing to focus on, but I loved how Steve & Robyn’s story ended with them becoming just good friends, after the revelation that Robyn reveals. It was such a surprise, and as much as I was hoping they would be a couple at the end, the reality was actually more satisfying!

Some characters I felt got pushed aside slightly this time. I loved Nancy and Jonathan in Season 2 but they felt completely wasted this time around. I’m not sure how much longer this show can continue without getting a little tired and repetitive, but I’m definitely in for Season 4!

Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)

fast-furious-hobbs-and-shaw-2019-poster-reviewDirector: David Leitch

Genre: Action

Runtime: 137 Minutes

Main Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Helen Mirren, Eiza González, Eddie Marsan, Cliff Curtis, Lori Pelenise Tuisano, Rob Delaney, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Hart

Plot: I wanted to try and explain the plot in my own words as I usually do, but the plot on IMDB is just so darn perfect I couldn’t even try and do it better: ‘Lawman Luke Hobbs and outcast Deckard Shaw form an unlikely alliance when a cyber-genetically enhanced villain threatens the future of humanity’.

My Thoughts: Never did I ever think my most anticipated movie of the summer would be a Fast & Furious movie. Nothing against them, but I’ve only seen the first and fifth ones so far. I enjoyed both, but it feels like there are so many of them now it would take ages to catch up! That said, the trailers that got thrown at me for months never got old and I was SO excited to see Hobbs & Shaw on the weekend. If nothing else, it was worth it to see Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham bicker for over 2 hours.

The move just does exactly what it says on the tin. Okay – the first 10 minutes pretty much tell you exactly how the movie is going to end but you don’t go into movies like this expecting surprises (apart from one huge one I’ll come to shortly). My bestie and cinema date last night should be grateful I wasn’t driving home because there’s something about crazy car chase scenes in busy cities that make me want to drive away like I was driving something 10-times more powerful than my go-kart of a car!

Loads of movies can do action well but what seals the deal for Hobbs & Shaw is the cast. I’ve raved enough about Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham but Idris Elba rocks it as the bad guy (is there anything the man can’t do?!) and Vanessa Kirby? Yaaaaas! She can kick your ass, pour you the biggest drink you’ve ever seen and then insult you so quickly you won’t even know what happened. What a badass.

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Best Bit: You guys, I’ve been raving about this movie for months and NOONE mentioned Ryan Reynolds was in it?! How did I not even know myself? It was so blatantly clear he wasn’t even given a script and I couldn’t be happier. Who cares if he’s typecast when he does his thing so well? Our whole cinema was on the verge of tears from crying so much at his lines.
Also – please don’t tell me I’m the only one who didn’t realise the joke until the airport security guy read out “Mike Oxmaul”??

Worst Bit: It’s my age-old complaint, it dragged towards the end. I’ve nothing against the runtime but that third act seemed to go on forever, and the weirdest part was it ended so abruptly, only to continue the actual story whilst the credits were rolling. What was up with that? We almost left the room just when Ryan Reynolds turned up to spoil the Game of Thrones ending for anyone who hasn’t faced watching that last episode yet!

Fun Trivia: Idris Elba refused to say a scripted line for his character, calling himself “the black James Bond”. He instead used the phrase “black Superman”. Elba has been rumoured to be in consideration for the role of James Bond, and would be the first black actor to portray Bond.
Good on him to be honest…it would be an odd line to say anyway considering he was playing a bad guy?!

My Rating: 4 best friends necklaces…I’ll give you half, Ryan!

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