Movie Reviews

In the Heights (2021)

in-the-heights-movie-poster-review-2021Director: Jon M. Chu

Genre: Musical, Drama

Runtime: 143 Minutes

Main Cast: Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera, Olga Meridez, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Gregory Diaz IV, Jimmy Smits, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Stephanie Beatriz

Plot: Based on a Broadway musical, In the Heights tells the stories of the residents of Washington Heights, centering itself on Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), a bodega owner with dreams of moving to the Dominican Republic to fix-up his father’s old bar.

My Thoughts: This is the one I’ve been waiting for. You can keep Dune, you can tell Bond to sod off, all I’ve wanted to see this year is In the Heights. Last year, Lin-Manuel Miranda went from being that cool guy who wrote the songs for Moana to OHMYGOD there’s a new movie he’s partly responsible for and IHAVETOSEEIT. It was Hamilton that caused it, and with Anthony Ramos as the lead I’ve been so excited. I missed the advance previews but I was there on the day of general release with a hopeful smile on my face, and I didn’t leave disappointed. Speaking of Hamilton though, did anyone else catch the on hold music that Kevin (Jimmy Smits) was listening to? I was the only person in the room who clocked it and laughed out loud…

I’ve recently accepted that I am, indeed, a musicals person so I won’t pretend not to be anymore. The only thing that is stopping In the Heights from being perfect for me is that not enough of the songs were standouts. 96,000, In the Heights and Paciencia Y Fe were the stars of the show but there were too many others I’ve forgotten about. That is sure to change once I’ve listened to the soundtrack 1,000 times though.

I just loved the energy of it all, it’s impossible to not feel cheery and get caught up in the story. The choreography is simply phenomenal, oh how I would have loved to be watching them film those musical numbers. There’s just so much hope in this story, there’s no good versus evil, just a community getting by and trying to make their lives as happy as they can be. It’s going to grow on me every time I watch it, I think.


Best Bit: I couldn’t decide whether this needed to be a best bit or a worst bit to be honest, but Abuela’s story! My hayfever already had me sniffing but I haven’t ugly cried like I did for her musical number in a long, long time. That’s got to be the submission for the Oscars, surely? I also loved the short number with Lin-Manuel’s ice cone stand and Chris Jackson’s ice cream truck rivalry!

Worst Bit: We’re right on the back of a mini heatwave here in the UK so that whole storyline was hugely appreciated, but come on! You’re trying to tell me it’s 100 degrees and half of the characters are all still in jeans? Come back to me when you’re just in your underwear and still sweating. And that message goes out personally to Anthony Ramos…coughcoughwink.

Fun Trivia: Jimmy Smits was an early Heights supporter off-Broadway, before the musical was adapted to the screen. When he was asked to do the voice-over for the TV advertisement, he wouldn’t accept payment, but he just wanted some house seats for Broadway.

My Rating: 4 and a half takeaway coffees, just give them a sniff first in case the milk has gone bad.


Movie Reviews

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – Film & Wine Club

the-shawshank-redemption-movie-review-posterDirector: Frank Darabont

Genre: Drama, Crime

Runtime: 142 Minutes

Main Cast: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler, Clancy Brown, Gil Bellows, Mark Rolston, James Whitmore, Jeffrey DeMunn, Larry Brandenburg

Plot: Based on a short story by Stephen King – upstanding banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sent to prison in the 1940s for the murder of his wife and her lover. Whilst there he puts his accountancy work into practice and befriends several inmates, including a man named Red (Morgan Freeman), known to be able to smuggle things inside for a small fee.

My Thoughts: Time for another Film & Wine Club post! Last week it was finally one of my Dad’s movies picked out of the hat, The Shawshank Redemption. Cue a groan from my Mum but to be fair, I’ve seen this movie once before and it’s also IMDB’s #1 movie of all time, so we can’t poke fun at Dad this time around. It’s tough to watch a movie for the first time that’s been given such a high level of praise and keep your thoughts unbiased, I couldn’t put enough into words the first time I watched it but a second viewing really helped.

Simply put, it’s just fantastic story-telling. It’s a king-sized movie but the time feels like nothing at all, it’s so easy to just fall into Andy’s story and want to know what happens next, is he really guilty, will he ever get out? With a movie this good, it’s easy to see why so many other stories set in prison take inspiration from The Shawshank Repemption. I don’t remember the last time I felt such a strong connection with a character – the anger at the guards and the way they treat Andy, the pure joy seeing Andy, Red and the others enjoying a cold beer on the roof, just all the emotions!

It’s the ultimate story of hope, and I guess even a second viewing wasn’t enough for me to get many thoughts into words. I think my Dad got his own little bit of redemption for picking this movie, and he’ll need all the goodwill he can get because the next movie picked is another of his choices, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid! It’s a movie I’ve wanted to see for a really long time now, but I’ve never been excited enough about it to pick it over anything else, so our little club is the perfect opportunity to finally see it!


Best Bit: There are so many great moments but nothing can top the ending really, can it? Finding out how Andy did what he did, seeing Red finally get what he’s been working so hard on, and the final conclusion? It’s just perfect in every way.

Worst Bit: The introduction of Tommy (Gil Bellows) was such a pivotal part of the story, and whilst we were all wondering of Andy was guilty, Tommy gives us the answer. What happens after that? The rage!

Fun Trivia: Andy and Red’s opening chat in the prison yard, in which Red is throwing a baseball, took nine hours to shoot. Morgan Freeman threw the baseball for the entire nine hours without a word of complaint. He showed up for work the next day with his left arm in a sling.

My Rating: A full 5 out of 5 harmonicas that Andy had to get through Red’s competitor.


Movie Reviews

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021)

hitmans-wifes-bodyguard-movie-review-poster-2021Director: Patrick Hughes

Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime

Runtime: 99 Minutes

Main Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek, Antonio Banderas, Morgan Freeman, Frank Grillo, Richard E. Grant, Gary Oldman, Tom Hopper, Caroline Goodall, Blake Ritson

Plot: Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) is on sabbatical after the events of the first movie, he’s taken a vacation in Capri (like the pants) and he’s given up guns. That all comes crashing down on him very quickly when Sonia Kincaid (Salma Hayek) turns up, guns blazing, to recruit him to help free Sonia’s captured husband Darius (Samuel L. Jackson).

My Thoughts: These big movie releases are really sneaking up on me. It felt like winter and lockdown 3 were never going to end and now here we are, slap bang in the middle of summer! It’s always good to see Ryan Reynolds on the big screen though, even if the movie isn’t good I know I’m in for some fun. Which, as it turns out, is exactly how last night panned out for me. The original Hitman’s Bodyguard movie was decent, but nothing new, and this sequel is…eh. The plot sucks, let me be blunt. It’s textbook comedy/crime/action down to the letter, but the main trio make it worth it.

You’ll be bitterly disappointed if you were hoping for a clever storyline with some jaw-dropping action scenes, but if you’re up for an hour and a half of Ryan Reynolds, Salma Hayek and Samuel L. Jackson kicking ass and being sarcastic a$$holes, then this is the movie for you. Ryan Reynolds gets to be his usual sarcastic self, Samuel L. Jackson gets to say his favourite ‘M’ word at least a dozen times, and Salma Hayek is surprisingly the biggest potty mouth of them all, and they have great chemistry together. I would actually be up for a third movie if it ever happened just for them.

It’s a shame that the plot sucked, but I wouldn’t trade the humour for a better storyline. The movie doesn’t try to be anything more than a fun night at the cinema with a bucket of popcorn. It follows that stereotypical kidnap, revenge, someone you thought was good turned out to be bad, heroes save the day business. All in all, worth a watch if you know what to expect!


Best Bit: Ryan Reynolds just has no shame, does he? I laughed so hard when his character got thrown into a giant wall of Aviation gin (his own company, if you didn’t already know). I was expecting references to Wrexham Football Club and Mint Mobile to come next. Or did they happen and I just missed them?

Worst Bit: So, when The Change-Up (2011) was released, it was my favourite comedy ever for a long time and I watched it a lot. I mean, A LOT. So much so that Alan Arkin will now forever be known as Ryan Reynolds’ Dad in my mind. So you can imagine my excitement when the mystery built over who Michael Bryce’s father was! The actual reveal was even better though, Ii have to admit.

Fun Trivia: Ryan Reynolds has said of being slapped around in this movie: “In Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, I’m slapped in the face twice by Salma Hayek and once by Samuel L. Jackson. For the record, it was Salma who didn’t pull the punches. Not even once. I can still feel the sharp sting of her tiny hand working its way into my soft Hollywood cheekbones. May God have mercy on her soul.”

My Rating: 3 out of 5 guns that Michael will absolutely not touch, because he’s on sabbatical!


Random Posts

Badly Drawn Movie Posters: Best of 2020

If you haven’t been lucky enough to be traumatised by any of my previous badly drawn movie posters then today is the day! It’s been too long since my last batch and after a fun-filled family day out, I’m far too tired to try and write anything sensible, so here we are.

There’s a theme, all 5 of these posters are from some of the best movies in 2020. Not necessarily my favourite movies, but certainly universally loved movies from last year. I guess you could argue one of them isn’t technically a movie, but now I’m just giving you free clues. See if you can guess any of them – my husband only got 1 right so he’s sleeping outside tonight.






Excuse the smudgy mark on that last one, I’d used a load of cream of my hands (heat rash plus hand sanitiser is NOT fun) and smudged it on the paper! 

How do you think you did? Guessed any instantly? Spat out your drink from laughing at my art skills? I’ll give you the answers now, just keep scrolling…


Here they are! How did you do? Let me know! And if you want to see any of my other badly drawn movie posters, I’ll link them for you now.

Badly Drawn Movie Posters: 2019
Badly Drawn Movie Posters: Christmas

Movie Reviews

A Quiet Place Part II (2021)

a-quiet-place-part-2-movie-poster-reviewDirector: John Krasinski

Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

Runtime: 97 Minutes

Main Cast: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cillian Murphy, Djimon Hounsou, Wayne Duvall

Plot: Following the events of the first movie, Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and her remaining family stumble across an old family friend (Cillian Murphy) and their hopes of survival are raised when Regan (Millicent Simmonds) thinks she’s deciphered a code heard on the radio.

My Thoughts: It felt so surreal and bittersweet to be at the cinema for A Quiet Place II, more than a year after it was originally meant to be released. Seconds into the movie I also realised that although I saw the original at the cinema too, it terrified me and I also had company – this time I was alone (with a room of socially distanced strangers I guess, but still). The movie opened with an extended version of the trailer we all must have seen 100 times now, with a glimpse into how the disaster began. It was so tense on the big screen and of course the first jump scare got me by surprise, curse you car horn!

John Krasinski has done it again, folks. Part II is every bit scary, bleak and tense as the original. There are some things that don’t work quite as well. In the original we don’t have a clue where the story is going or who, if anyone, is going to survive. Part II sets out a very clear path and doesn’t deviate from that course, but the wild ride to get there is well worth it. The other members of the Abbott family take a back seat in this movie, leaving Regan to take control of the story and the screen time. It’s a wise choice though, as her deafness creates some prime opportunities for scares.

The biggest thing that confused me was the overall theme that the movie was going for. It was mentioned more than once about how the disaster had changed everyone, how the people left weren’t worth saving and I thought that was going to be a bigger deal than it was. You know, where the real monsters are us humans rather than the creepy things they’re all trying to avoid? Maybe it’ll be something that carries into the third movie.


Best Bit: I enjoyed the whole movie but the flashback part at the very beginning was just done so well. It was 100% the right decision to not include it in the first movie but it was interesting to see how it started and how quickly everything went to hell. If John Krasinski puts his finger to his lips, you best shut up fast!

Worst Bit: Oh, Marcus (Noah Jupe) was so annoying. How has that kid survived this far, man?! Talk about terrible choices. Other than that, you can tell who in the room had seen the original because of the audible groan when Evelyn walks past that nail in the floorboards – none of us will forget that traumatic moment!

Fun Trivia: Emily Blunt admitted that she was initially hesitant to join the project as she didn’t feel like she could top the first movie. However, she was on board after she heard John Krasinski ‘s pitch of the first bus scene. She also admitted that the first take of that scene is in the movie as she was also terrified in real life by the stunt, which had the bus coming at her at 40 miles per hour.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 cloths that you should TRIPLE CHECK are lying on the door catch correctly!