Movie Reviews

Greenland (2020)

greenland-movie-review-poster-2020Director: Ric Roman Waugh

Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller

Runtime: 119 Minutes

Main Cast: Gerard Butler, Morena Baccarin, Roger Dale Floyd, David Denman, Hope Davis, Scott Glenn, Andrew Bachelor, Merrin Dungey, Holt McCallany

Plot: There’s a planet-killing comet hurtling towards Earth and the panic has set in. John Garrity (Gerard Butler) along with his estranged wife (Morena Baccarin) and their child (Roger Dale Floyd) have been selected by the Government to be transported to a top-secret underground bunker to seek shelter, but the trip there won’t be easy.

My Thoughts: You know the movie industry is in a sorry state when one of your most anticipated movies of 2020 is a disaster flick starring Gerard Butler. That’s harsh I know, and actually quite unfairly so because Greenland is a really decent watch! Love them or hate them, there will always be a place for disaster movies and when they’re done right they can be highly entertaining. There are always the genre-typical cliches but they’re part of the fun, and Greenland was genuinely really tense a lot of the time.

The drama kicks off pretty quickly when the first piece of debris falls in Florida and causes a huge aftershock, with the awkward moment of John’s Government alert going off in front of his extended family who haven’t been selected. Then, chaos erupts. That’s also when one of the many cliches comes to light, their son has Type 1 Diabetes, and you just know that the bag of medical supplies packed is going to get lost and cause no end of trouble. Isn’t that part of the fun of this kind of movie though?

I genuinely didn’t know how Greenland was going to end. I had my theories of course but I couldn’t be certain. It’s a satisfying conclusion after a whirlwind final act. We’re due an onslaught of Covid-related disaster movies in the next couple of years which will range from good to downright awful, so perhaps now is the time to watch a movie where the world falls apart without the mention of the C word!

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Best Bit: Just when you think everything is going to be okay, the plane shakes and…oh my god. I stopped breathing at that moment and didn’t start again until the end of the movie, I swear.

Worst Bit: In the ‘so terrible it’s almost brilliant’ corner we have…the security at the military base containing the planes bound for Greenland. There’s a huge, angry mob outside that seem quite happy to just be angry on the spot because pushing your way to the front is apparently a piece of cake. And if you get turned away once you get there? Just pop round the corner to leave, a path that must be concealed by witchcraft as there are no guards there and the mob is seemingly oblivious!

Fun Trivia: The comet is named “Clarke,” in a tribute to the late Arthur C. Clarke, author of the 1993 novel “Hammer of God,” which describes the impact on Earth of a planet-killing asteroid. The novel predates the movies “Armageddon” and “Deep Impact,” which deal with similar events.

My Rating: 3 and a half stacks of pancakes – there’s plenty of time to eat them before the world ends, don’t worry.

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Book Reviews

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Welcome to my 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge! Towards the end of last year I rekindled my love of reading before bed, and I’m keen to keep that up throughout 2021. I’ve set myself a reading challenge on Goodreads to read 20 books this year. It should be easily attainable as I average a book every 2 weeks but I didn’t want to set myself up to fail by choosing a goal too high.

I also want to try to step outside of my usual reading comfort zone this year. I did it back in 2018 and tried to cover every genre. Some books I struggled with but others I really enjoyed so It’ll be interesting to do that again. My go-to read is a murder mystery. I find them easy to read and the mystery keeps my mind busy at night instead of worrying about…well, life! So without further ado, here’s the first book I read this year.

Nora is dead. She chose to end her life after suffering one too many terrible events. However, she finds herself at a library, managed by a sweet old lady who just so happened to be the librarian at Nora’s school when she was a child. At the Midnight Library Nora has the ability to read through a book of all her regrets, with the power to change them. Each book contains an alternative life, should Nora have made different choices, giving her the chance to fix all of her regrets and find the perfect life. If she finds a life she feels satisfied with, she can stay and live it out.

First off, I love the premise of this story. Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you made different choices? From the most minor things such as ‘what if I missed that bus last week?’ to ‘what if I went to University instead of going straight into work?’. It would be fascinating to be able to peer into what those lives would be like. And that’s exactly what Nora gets to do. Of course, nothing is ever quite as it seems. One of Nora’s biggest regrets is that she gave up swimming when she was younger, and as it turns out, if she stuck with it she’d end up being an Olympic champion! But other aspects of her life would have ended up much worse.

It’s a book that really gets you thinking about your own life, and that’s what I loved about it. What annoyed me though was that a lot of the time, those small changes that Nora makes end up with her being hugely successful, either an Olympian, or a Scientist on an earth-changing mission, or a famous rock star. I get it, the book needs to actually be interesting and maybe I’m being pessimistic, but that’s just not the way things would go for your average person, right?

All in all, I would still recommend this book, but I’d warn you to not expect something as philosophical as I did.

Book Reviews

Mini Book Reviews: Skyward, Starsight (Brandon Sanderson) and Recursion (Blake Crouch)

I try to write a little about everything that I watch and read but I’ve fallen really behind with writing about the books I’ve read recently. Now that we’ve entered a new year and I’ve started a Goodreads challenge I want to start fresh, so here’s a few words about 3 books I read towards the end of 2020 that I never got round to reviewing properly.

Skyward, Brandon Sanderson – The first book of the Skyward series. I’ve loved the Sanderson novels I’ve read so far but was a little hesitant going into this series as it’s Sci-Fi and I don’t have a lot of experience with that. It was an incredible read though. I might know next to nothing about space craft and war but Sanderson’s style of writing means none of that matters, it’s so easy to picture what he’s describing. I fell in love with the main character, Spin. She’s so headstrong and doesn’t let anyone get in her way. The real star of the show however is M-Bot, the ship that Spin finds with a highly advanced AI.

Starsight, Brandon Sanderson – I got so absorbed by the first Skyward book that I went straight into the second one the very next night, which in hindsight was a huge mistake because the third book hasn’t even been written yet so I’ll be waiting a while. I wasn’t sure about Starsight at first because it takes place in a completely different location and leaves behind a lot of the original book’s main characters, but the host of new ones were very easy to get interested in and I found Starsight just as impossible to put down as Skyward.

Recursion, Blake Crouch – This book is so hard to talk about. If you’ve ever read any of Crouch’s other books you’ll know why. Recursion is all to do with our memories. Imagine right now that you could travel back to a big memory of yours, perhaps a huge regret, and not only re-live that moment, but continue living in that life? That’s what Recursion is all about. It’s less to do with time travel, and more with parallel universes. It was a fascinating read but so complex that I really struggled at times. I wasn’t blown away by Recursion like I was with Dark  Matter (a stunning read!) but that’s by no means an insult.

Lists

Top 10 Best Movies of 2020

Well, here it is, my Top 10 Best Movies of 2020! It’s late, in true fashion of course, because 2021 is really testing my resolve right now. I’d tell you all about it to make my chest feel lighter, but there’s going off topic and then there’s derailing a blog post completely. So let’s stick with the positives, shall we? I already posted my Top 10 Worst Movies of 2020 if you happened to miss that. As much as I love these lists, it can be so confusing with release dates around the world. The UK tends to get the big, Oscars type movies in January but I’ve also been lucky enough to be given screeners for movies that aren’t released in the UK until 2021, so please bare that in mind.

Let’s do this, shall we?

Number of 2020 movies watched: 94
Movies that just missed out: Over the Moon, The Broken Hearts Gallery, Soul, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special

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#10 Kajillionaire – Pre-pandemic I would have had to wait months to see this, when one of the streaming services picked it up. But with a lack of blockbusters my local cinema was playing Kajillionaire in the small summer window that it was allowed to open and it was such a great experience. I love quirky movies like this and I highly recommend it.

best-movies-2020-happiest-season

#9 Happiest Season – Christmas is my favourite time of year, it’s no secret. So when new festive movies get released, I get excited. When last year’s biggest offering also happened to star some of my favourite actresses as well as one of geniuses behind Schitt’s Creek, my most adored TV show of 2020 – I was absolutely desperate to see it. And despite some troubled story telling as far as the lead couple goes, I still loved every minute.

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#8 Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga – Just when I was at an all time low living under Lockdown 1.0, this movie came along to brighten my spirits. Let the anthem of 2020 be Jaja Ding Dong! You don’t need to be a hardcore Eurovision fan to enjoy this but you will need to find a bit of joy in being silly.

best-movies-2020-palm-springs

#7 Palm Springs – Another entry to the ‘Groundhog Day’ genre but this time featuring Andy Samberg in the glorious sunshine. It shouldn’t have been as good as it was but it had such charm that it was impossible not to love.

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#6 Wonder Woman 1984 – I have to admit, by Halloween I never thought we would have gotten Wonder Woman 1984 released in 2020. I had the privilege of watching it on the big screen at one of the very few open cinemas at the time, just days before they all closed (again!) and it was delightful. It served as a reminder that cinemas are still relevant and needed. Yes, it’s great watching new releases in the comfort of our own homes but you just can’t beat the big screen experience.

best-movies-2020-tenet

#5 Tenet – Whether you loved it or hated it, Tenet was surely one of the most talked about movies of the year. Once the cinemas closed in March and speculation began as to what would be the first big release when they reopened, Tenet was the one. I needed two watches to fully appreciate it and understand it as much as I was ever going to, but if I were to describe my ideal kind of movie, Tenet is it, so I was always going to be a fan.

best-movies-2020-the-gentlemen

#4 The Gentlemen – I had to check and re-check but yes, The Gentlemen was released on January 1st, 2020 in the UK. It was the first of very few movies I saw at the cinema last year and I loved every second of it. At the time I questioned myself giving it a full 5/5, but it turned out to be only one of four that I gave the rating to in the end! If you’ve only ever seen Hugh Grant as a charming British gentleman, you absolutely need to see how different he is in this!

best-movies-2020-trial-chicago-seven-7

#3 The Trial of the Chicago 7 – I’ll admit, I haven’t watched many courtroom dramas. I think they can be quite slow and dry, but when they’re good they tend to be incredible, and that was the case with The Trial of the Chicago 7. I won’t even pretend to understand American politics so the beginning confused me but the trial itself was astounding, and shocking when it’s based on a real case.

best-movies-2020-promising-young-woman

#2 Promising Young Woman – I’ve only recently reviewed this so I won’t ramble much but oh my goodness I loved this movie. Mix together Gone Girl (2014) and A Simple Favor (2018), give it a candy coloured aesthetic and a killer soundtrack and you have…this *chefs kiss*

best-movies-2020-hamilton

#1 Hamilton – I almost left Hamilton out of this list completely. It’s not considered eligible for the Oscars after all as really, it’s an edited recording of a live theatre performance that happened a few years ago. But it is so captivating and so easily the best thing I watched on any screen last year that it would be a travesty to disclude it from this list.

Movie Reviews

Locked Down (2021)

locked-down-movie-poster-review-2021Director: Doug Liman

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama

Runtime: 118 Minutes

Main Cast: Anne Hathaway, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Stephen Merchant, Mindy Kaling, Lucy Boynton, Mark Gatiss, Ben Stiller, Claes Bang, Dulé Hill, Jazmyn Simon

Plot: Set in London during the COVID-19 pandemic, Linda (Anne Hathaway) and Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor) put aside their differences after splitting up but being forced to still live together for the meantime, and attempt a high-risk jewellery heist at the UK’s most exclusive department store, Harrods.

My Thoughts: Why do I do this to myself? I had the worst week last week for multiple reasons, all of them directly related to the pandemic, and as a result only watched one movie the whole week. What kind of a movie? A movie all to do with the pandemic. I’m an idiot, aren’t I? At least Songbird (2020) knew it wanted to be a disaster movie, this one was just bad. Mostly because it just still feels too soon to think about Lockdown 1.0 with fondness whilst desperately struggling under Lockdown 3.0, but it had plenty of other issues too.

Firstly, how are we meant to root for two characters who are simply so unlikeable? I really sympathised with Paxton to begin with, his depression tinged with anger and loathing felt horribly similar to how I’m feeling, but crickey I hope I’m not half as annoying about it. The movie has a surprisingly stacked cast considering how indie it feels. I can only assume these people had so little to do in Spring/Summer 2020 that they jumped at the first chance they were given to make a movie!

It’s not all bad though. It honestly got better as it went on and I warmed ever so slightly to Linda and Paxton. The running joke about Paxton’s false identity of Edgar Allen Poe was quite funny and in a few years time the thought of queuing up outside your local corner shop for toilet roll will be mildly amusing at the least. The heist itself was probably the most interesting part but don’t go expecting scenes straight out of an Ocean’s movie…it’s much tamer than that!

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Best Bit: Anyone watching this who isn’t from the UK is going to be really confused at the nighttime scenes of everyone out on the street clapping and banging pans. Yes, during Lockdown 1.0, at 8pm every Thursday night we stood on our doorsteps and clapped for our incredible NHS. For the first few weeks it was incredibly heart warming. Then, in true British fashion, we took things too far and started banging pots and pans…which eventually turned into full on fireworks displays. Incredibly annoying when you’re trying to get a toddler to sleep! I’ve rambled, haven’t I? Anyway – it’s a funny scene and hand on heart, not exaggerated in the slightest.

Worst Bit: If queuing outside a shop wasn’t bad enough, most of the time you’d eventually get inside just to find everyone had already cleared the shelves anyway! Even now I eye up anyone buying more than 9 toilet rolls at a time. Paxton had the right reaction to that guy walking out with armfuls, “How many arses have you got?!”

Fun Trivia: Extras could not be cast due to COVID-19 and are played by real civilians and Harrods employees.

My Rating: 2 hedgehogs that are high as a kite in your back garden!

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