Blind Spot Series: Gladiator (2000)

gladiator-2000-movie-review-blind-spot-seriesDirector: Ridley Scott

Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama

Runtime: 155 Minutes

Main Cast: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Richard Harris, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou, David Schofield, John Shrapnel, Tomas Arana

Plot: Maximus was a strong and loved Roman general, so much so that the aging Emperor Marcus Aurelius chooses him to be his heir over his own son, Commodus. A power struggle breaks out and Maximus’ family are slaughtered, leaving Maximus himself captured and put into the Gladiator games. Now fuelled by vengeance, Maximus sets his sights on rising up the ranks and avenge his wife and son.

My Thoughts: My timing couldn’t be more perfect with my Blind Spot choices lately. I’d chosen The Matrix as my choice last month right when a Keanu Reeves obsession hit, and I was over the moon to realise my June pick was Gladiator when I’ve been spending as much time as possible playing Assassins Creed: Odyssey. One thing I hadn’t realised was how long the movie was, IMDB says it’s just over 2 and a half hours but I think I had some kind of special edition because my copy was just a few minutes shy of 3 hours! Why are all these famously amazing movies so darn long?!

Anyway, I’ll get straight to the point. I did enjoy Gladiator, in fact, I got really into it for the last hour or so, but it took me a long while to actually get invested. Call me uncultured (I wouldn’t argue with you) but Maximus’ story was just so similar to Spartacus’, and that’s a story I know in great detail thanks to the Starz! TV Show, which I know came later but cut me some slack.

Once I’d convinced myself to empty my thoughts and just enjoy the movie for what it was, I had a blast. I loved how Maximus managed to get the other gladiators to work together as one unit, and his rivalry with Commodus was intense. I also now know where the line “Are you not entertained?!”. I think where similar movies go all in for the action and choreographed fight scenes, Gladiator delivers some of the best dialogue I’ve heard in a movie. You can sense when someone’s about to dish out a killer speech, and those are the best moments.

gladiator-russell-crowe-joaquin-phoenix-2000

Best Bit: The scene where Commodus is praising this ‘Gladiator’ and asks him his name will be the moment that I always remember the movie for. “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the TRUE emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”

Worst Bit: I get that the focus of the movie is the hatred between Maximus and Commodus, but with such a long runtime I would have liked some of the side characters to have got a little more limelight.

Fun Trivia: The wounds on Russell Crowe’s face after the opening battle scene are real, caused when his horse startled and backed him into tree branches. The stitches in his cheek are clearly visible when he is telling Commodus he intends to return home.

My Rating: In true gladiator games style, I give it 4 thumbs up!

gladiator-2000-russell-crowe-thumbs-up-live

blind-spot-series-2019-banner-v2The Blind Spot Series was created a few years ago by Ryan at The Matinee, and is now hosted by Sofia at Returning Videotapes. As part of the Series, bloggers choose 1 movie to watch and review each month that is deemed a ‘classic’ or ‘must-watch’. To see the rest of my picks for the year, check out my announcement post here.

Advertisements

Toy Story 4 (2019)

toy-story-4-movie-review-posterDirector: Josh Cooley

Genre: Family, Adventure, Comedy, Animation

Runtime: 100 Minutes

Main Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan Michael-Key, Madeleine McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Jordan Peele, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki

Plot: Now Andy’s toys have settled in their new home with Bonnie, Woody is finding himself left behind in the closet when it comes to playtime. Ever faithful to his child, when Bonnie is upset about attending Kindergarten Orientation Day, he hitches a ride with her and witnesses the creation of Forky, a toy Bonnie makes out of trash. She’s besotted with him, and Woody makes it his goal to keep Forky safe and Bonnie happy.

My Thoughts: I was one of the first people to rage when Toy Story 4 was announced. Toy Story 3 gave us the perfect ending, and so another movie felt like a cash grab, which would have tainted a perfect trilogy. The hype and my general love of Disney/Pixar and Toy Story won me over in the last few weeks and I was dying to see #4, although I was still slightly hesitant and a little pessimistic about the new character, Forky, who the entire world seems to have gone nuts for.

Well – it took about 5 seconds of Forky’s screen time for me to fall in love. You just can’t help yourself, he’s too funny. I remember feeling the same way about the other sequels that introduced new toys, but Pixar are just too good at what they do. The simple thing of returning to the Toy Story world was just magical, and it was so nice to see the cinema full of other adults who have grown up with these movies. I honestly got goosebumps at the music!

Bo Peep is back – shamefully I don’t even remember her being absent from the last movie but oh my god is Bo Peep a badass! Now a lost toy, she leads a little ragtag bunch of other toys and it reminded me so much of Mad Max. She was a real highlight of the movie, much of which takes place in an antique store, home to the kind of creepy Gabby Gabby with a broken voicebox and her cronies who scared me more than the entirety of Brightburn (2019) which I watched the night before. This movie is a U?! Mind you – Sid’s toys in the original movie were just as scary.

toy-story-4-woody-forky-2019

I haven’t mentioned the man of the moment yet – Keanu Reeves, who I couldn’t avoid lately even if I wanted to. Keanu voices Duke Caboom, a Canadian stunt driver who was ditched after his commercial oversold him. Guess what toy my little girl is going to be treated to come payday? My husband is going to kill me…

Best Bit: When Forky is brought home and doesn’t understand that he’s a toy, he keeps shouting ‘trash!’ and jumping into whatever wastebin he can find, leaving poor Woody up all night every night throwing him back onto the bed into Bonnie’s arms. It was just too funny, and oh Woody, I feel for you!

Worst Bit: Curse my STUPID Mum feelings – I cried 3 times during this movie. The ending got me, of course, I think you’d have to be a monster to not get a little emotional at the ending, but the occasions where a little girl was upset and crying? My heart actually hurt just watching it. I can’t deal with it!

Fun Trivia: Boo from Monsters Inc (2001) can be seen behind Bonnie at kindergarten orientation when she creates Forky.
I THOUGHT that was Boo! I didn’t spot the pizza planet truck though, good job I’m going to see the movie again this weekend.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 bins of trash…hide them from Forky!

toy-story-4-review-trash-can-forky

The Passengers by John Marrs

Just when I went to give myself a pat on the back for being completely up to date with my movie reviews, I went and realised I’m 2 books behind on book reviews. Argh! It’s a good thing, I guess, it means I’ve been able to find time to actually read recently, although with the book I’m about to talk about and the one I will be soon, it’s more the case that I sacrificed sleep in order to try and read quicker.

the-passengers-john-marrs-book-review

The Passengers is set in Birmingham, UK (my hometown!) in the not-so-distant future where cars are fully automated. On this particular day, eight seemingly random cars are hijacked by a hacker, and live feeds of their cars and a gathering of officials are broadcast to the country. The hacker announces that in just a few hours, all 8 cars are programmed to collide at high speed, but the public can decide just 1 person to survive.

It’s a crazy premise and caught my attention straight away, I don’t think I’ve ever bought a book quicker. The build-up is slow enough to explain just how cars are operating in this future setting but it doesn’t feel long before we’re thrown into the action. To begin with, it was quite confusing suddenly being introduced to all the characters trapped in the cars, and I was frantically trying to remember their names, but the story moves in a way in which you don’t need a perfect memory.

The best thing about The Passengers is the twists and turns that the book makes. Once the characters were introduced I’d already started making my mind up on who I would pick to survive if I had to, but then it’s revealed one by one that all 8 have dark secrets that completely change the way you feel about them. With every new chapter, I couldn’t be certain what direction the story was going to go in next, which is mainly why I ended up reading it so quickly.

Its only letdown was the ending, which I felt turned a little too silly. It was twist after twist and although I’m quite happy to forgo the fairytale ending, I wasn’t satisfied with the conclusion to this story. Still – it’s a solid read and I definitely recommend it!

Another of John Marrs’ books, The One, is going to be a Netflix Series soon so I’m quite keen to check that one out!

1 Year of ODEON Limitless

odeon-limitless-is-it-worth-it-2018

My Timehop reminded me this morning that it’s been a whole year since I signed up for ODEON’s Limitless membership! When I first started I was hesitant, wondering if I would actually make use of it and make the monthly cost worth it, but I really have – and it doesn’t even feel like a year has already gone by.

I used to go to the cinema a lot before I became a Mum, and I accepted that part of my life would take a break whilst my little girl grew up, but actually, it’s been the opposite! I go to the cinema alone now most nights, something that made me nervous to begin with, but I don’t give it a second thought now. Quite often I spot other people on solo visits, and even if I’m seeing the latest horror on a Friday night with a room full of teens, it’s no big deal.

I’ve been able to see movies that I might have otherwise missed altogether, I’ve been to many secret screenings, and seen movies up to 5 weeks before their UK release date at some Limitless-exclusive events. It’s been a brilliant year – and I’m looking forward to the next one!

Here’s everything I’ve seen at the cinema in my 1st year. If I’ve written a full review for it then I’ve linked it:

Ocean’s Eight
Hereditary
Sicario: Day of the Soldado
Tag
Skyscraper
Incredibles 2
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Ant-Man and the Wasp (Twice!)
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
The Meg
Christopher Robin
American Animals
Searching
BlacKkKlansman
The Predator
A Simple Favor
The House with a Clock in Its Walls
A Star Is Born
Venom
First Man
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Old Man & the Gun
The Grinch
Sorry to Bother You
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Beautiful Boy
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Aquaman
Bumblebee
The Favourite
Mary Poppins Returns
Stan & Ollie
Glass
Instant Family
Green Book
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
Wild Rose
Fighting with My Family
Cold Pursuit
Captain Marvel
What Men Want
Fisherman’s Friends
Us
Shazam!
Dumbo
Pet Sematary
Missing Link
Avengers: Endgame
Long Shot
Booksmart
Pokemon Detective Pikachu
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (Twice!)
Aladdin
Rocketman
Ma
Dark Phoenix
Men in Black: International

60 movies in total! Ah, that was so satisfying finishing that count, I think it would have killed me if I’d seen 59 – I like a nice, round number!

Thursday Movie Picks: Period Drama

Happy Thursday, everyone! Brightburn is finally out in the UK today so I’m hoping to catch that tonight. I’m not setting my expectations too high, but I’m still looking forward to it. Anyway, Thursday also means Thursday Movie Picks, hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. I had to do a quick Google search to define this week’s topic of Period Drama, as I’ve always said I hated the genre without really knowing what it is.

To my joy, Google defined it as “a work set in a past time period, usually used in the context of film and television”. Well blow me down, it’s a much broader term than I thought it was! Thanks to that revelation, I’m bringing a theme within the theme this week, as my 3 Period Drama picks all star Emma Stone!

period-drama-movies-favourite-emma-stone

The Favourite (2018)

This, to me, is my dictionary definition of Period Drama. Women in huge, stuffy dresses and men going off to war. What convinced me to see The Favourite though was the cast, obviously including Emma Stone, and the fact that it’s directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, known for creating all things weird and wonderful. Olivia Colman won an Oscar for her performance in this, and she was so deserving of it! I highly recommended this one if you haven’t seen it already.

period-drama-movies-help-emma-stone

The Help (2011)

It’s been years since I watched The Help, but writing this has reminded me how much I want to see it again. Emma Stone plays a writer called Skeeter who decided to interview the black women who look after wealthy families. Again, the cast here is stunning and it’s a shocking look into history. The Help is worth a watch if nothing more than to see Octavia Spencer deliver arguably her most famous line ever, “Eat my s**t”.

period-drama-movies-magic-moonlight-emma-stone

Magic in the Moonlight (2014)

I only watched this one recently, but once I realised my first two picks shared Emma Stone in common I just had to see if I could make it a hat trick, and huzzah! Here we go. I’ve since learned that Woody Allen movies are an acquired taste, so this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I quite liked it. It had just the right amount of humour, romance, and mystery to satisfy me.

Men in Black: International (2019)

men-in-black-international-2019-movie-reviewDirector: F. Gary Gray

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Comedy, Adventure

Runtime: 114 Minutes

Main Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Liam Neeson, Rebecca Ferguson, Emma Thompson, Rafe Spall, Kumail Nanjiani, Jess Radomska, Kayvan Novak

Plot: After a childhood encounter with an alien changed her life, Molly has spent years trying to find the Men in Black in order to join their ranks. Once she succeeds, she is thrown right into the deep end as it is discovered there’s a mole within the organisation.

My Thoughts: I think I’ve only seen the original MiB movie but I liked it a lot. It was funny, the action scenes were cool and it had aliens! What more could younger me want? With all the reboots and remakes lately, I guess a new MiB movie was inevitable, and honestly I’ve felt like the only person around who was actually excited to see it! If nothing more, we get Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson team up again, which is bound to be fun.

Surprising no one, I set myself up for a fall. I enjoyed Men in Black: International, more than most by the sounds of it, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for. It just took itself too seriously most of the time and the jokes weren’t coming fast enough. The plot is really messy, and the ending was just a bit…sad, really. Still, there were plenty of things to enjoy. I’ve decided that every movie needs an Emma Thompson cameo. After Bridget Jones’ Baby and now this, I just want her to turn up and be sassy and sarcastic in everything I watch!

There are a few appearances from some familiar non-human characters, but I kind of wish we got to see a little more of them. There’s also a brilliant, tiny new character who I’ll get into in a moment, but he’s a show-stealer. All in all, there are definitely worse ways to spend 2 hours, but if you’re going to watch a silly action movie in which cool people clad in suits shoot at aliens…you’re probably better sticking with the original.

men-in-black-chris-hemsworth-tessa-thompson

Best Bit: Pawny! Or Steve, as he called himself. He’s a little alien who was also a pawn on a chessboard protecting his queen, who sadly was murdered. Left feeling hopeless, Agent H convinced him to serve Molly, Agent M instead, and every time he popped up he made me laugh. I’m hoping Funko are putting in a rush order of figures of him so I can get one for my dashboard soon…

Worst Bit: Spoiler alert here! After watching the trailer, and scoffing at my excitement, my husband announced ‘It’s obvious – Liam Neeson is going to be a bad guy’. How it was obvious, I don’t know, but I spent the whole movie unable to get the thought out of my head and curse him, he was right. He’s so annoying. He did the same with Gossip Girl, he’s got a plot-twist radar!

Fun Trivia: The film was originally going to be a “Jump Street” – “Men in Black” crossover with Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill reprising their roles from the franchise. However, plans fell apart, so it became a spin-off with Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson.
[ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN AMAZING.]

My Rating: 3 pairs of standard issue black glasses that you’ll need to wear so you don’t forget all about this movie. On second thought…you don’t want to wear them, do you?

men-in-black-international-review-glasses