Ron’s Gone Wrong (2021)

rons-gone-wrong-movie-review-poster-2021Director: Sarah Smith, Jean-Philippe Vine

Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Family

Runtime: 106 Minutes

Main Cast: Zach Galifianakis, Jack Dylan Grazer, Olivia Colman, Ed Helms, Justice Smith, Rob Delaney, Kylie Cantrall, Ricardo Hurtado, Ruby Wax, Ava Morse

Plot: B-Bots, invented by a global technology company, are marketed as a child’s best friend, with the ability to learn everything about them through their online profiles, enabling them to make even more friends. All of the children in Barney’s school has one, except for him. Until his birthday, when his Dad and Grandma get their hands on a faulty model at a more affordable price.

My Thoughts: Ron’s Gone Wrong isn’t the first movie to tackle the issue of children becoming addicted to electronic devices, it isn’t even the first movie this year to do so (hello, The Mitchells vs The Machines!) so it’s not winning any prizes for originality. But, first and foremost, it is a children’s movie and I don’t know about you, but I haven’t met any 6-year-olds complaining about sequels, franchises and remakes being the death of cinema so as long as they’re happy, that’s all that matters, right?

I actually thought this movie was really cute. As a nerd, these little robots sound hella amazing. I’m in my 30’s and have no idea how to use TikTok, but one of these B-Bots that wouldn’t even matter! What kind of skin would I use for my own robot? The possibilities are endless! However, as a parent of a child who’s going to grow up with this tech, I’m TERRIFIED. Having to rank my Top 5 friends in the era of MySpace was bad enough.

Anyway, like I said, Ron’s Gone Wrong is really cute. It has a lot of Big Hero 6 vibes, there are plenty of jokes, and of course there’s a solid message about bullying, friendship and the dangers of the internet in there. Ron has a lot of data missing, meaning he has to learn how to be the perfect friend, and of course he gets it wrong several times along the way, just like we do as humans. I’m not going to shout from the rooftops about it, but I definitely recommend it to any families out there.

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Best Bit: Ron only has data uploaded from the letter ‘A’ section, and he doesn’t know Barney’s name, so he runs through all these names beginning with A until he gets to Absalom, which Barney replies with “Absalom?!” and that’s then taken as his name, with the questioning tone of voice and everything. It was a joke that never got old for me!

Worst Bit: I’ve always been a sap when it comes to movies but since becoming a Mum, I can’t handle seeing sad kids. Seriously, watching Barney left on his own at playtime straight up killed me, it’s the equivalent of when the dog in any movie gets killed and I end up being the fool trying to wipe my tears with my hoodie pretending everything is fine.

Fun Trivia: Olivia Colman’s second animated film, after The Mitchells vs the Machines (2021), which also released in 2021. Interestingly, both animated movies deal with robotic assistants that go haywire, but the way the robots go haywire is portrayed differently.

My Rating: 3 and a half birds that just commented on your face.

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Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021)

venom-let-there-be-carnage-movie-review-2021Director: Andy Serkis

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Runtime: 97 Minutes

Main Cast: Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris, Reid Scott, Stephen Graham, Peggy Lu, Michelle Greenidge

Plot: Following the events of the original movie, Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) agrees to meet with serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) to get his story. After an altercation in the prison, Cletus becomes the host of the symbiote Carnage.

My Thoughts: What a week! 4 new cinema releases and I’ve managed to see 3 of them (sorry, Halloween Kills). The Venom sequel was one I was really looking forward to. I know most people agreed that the original was a mess but a heck of a lot of fun, and I almost fully agree! I had a blast, but didn’t really think it was that of a mess, honestly. The banter between Eddie and Venom was by far the best part, and I’d have been happy with 100 minutes of that, plot or no plot.

So maybe I was wearing my critic hat the other night but I definitely saw all of the flaws in this. I can forgive goofy characters but some of the dialogue was cringe-worthy. There were lines that you could see coming a mile off, and even knowing they were coming didn’t make them any less groan-tastic. Maybe all of that was in the original too and I was wearing rose-tinted glasses, who knows. The time whizzed by and actually felt too fast, which is something I never thought I’d find myself complaining about. If felt like a middle section was missing, you’re enjoying the banter, you blink, and suddenly we’re at the final showdown.

But those flaws aside, I still had a really good time. Venom is just such a fun character, I wanted so many more interactions with him and Eddie. Woody Harrelson is having the time of his life playing the bad guy, and it shows. It’s easy to pick apart the bad things but at the end of the day, I was entertained from start to finish, and that’s all I wanted. You can count me in the for the next installment!

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Best Bit: I love the relationship dynamic in these movies between Eddie, his ex, and her new fiancé. The fact that Venom is forever trying to get between them is forever funny but nothing beat the moment that Venom snapped back with a “No-one likes you, Dan!” really made me laugh. (Oh, and there’s also the implications behind that mid-credits scene that I won’t spoil, wahoo!)

Worst Bit: I already mentioned the dialogue, and you can probably guess what’s coming. I didn’t think any line would be worse than Cletus’ “All I’ve ever wanted in this world was carnage” and then in the big fight, he went right ahead and said it, in full theatric dramatics, “Let there be carnage!” UGHH.

Fun Trivia: When Brock enters Mrs. Chen’s shop, Venom arranges a stack of magazines for her. On the cover of those magazines is Marvel writer Stan Lee.

My Rating: 3 and a half chickens that poor Venom is sick and tired of eating.

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A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

As much as I like to try and broaden my horizons when it comes to the genres of books I read, sometimes I just have to go back to my comfort zone to the mystery/thrillers that I love so much. I really enjoyed The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins so her new release for 2021, A Slow Fire Burning was automatically on my radar to read.

In A Slow Fire Burning, the body of a young man is found on a canal boat by a nosy neighbour. There are three main suspects, and the book takes us through the events both leading up to the murder, and the event immediately after. What I loved most about The Girl on the Train was Paula Hawkins’ talent for describing the British setting, and that was definitely the strongest element of this book, too. I live just a couple of roads away from a canal with multiple canal boats often moored there and it was so easy to picture this story happening right where I live.

Unfortunately, the setting was the only thing I really loved about this book. My biggest struggle with starting a new read is getting to know the characters. I probably read the first 10-20% of a book at about half the speed that I read the rest, because I’m trying to remember the characters’ names and where exactly they fit in to the story. Once I’m there, I’m absolutely fine, but I struggled with at least the entire first half of A Slow Fire Burning. Maybe that’s on me, but there aren’t even that many characters here and every night when I picked up my kindle I was finding myself having to skip back several pages to try and jog my memory of what happened last. Eventually I gave up and went with the flow, and that helped in the end.

By the time I found myself well acquainted with everyone involved in this murder mystery, I’d lost the interest of finding out who did it and why. The second half was much faster paced and more thrilling, but by that point it was all a case of too little, too late for me. I also found a lot of the characters really unlikeable. The guy who got murdered wasn’t a nice guy. The three suspects also weren’t very nice people, so what are the stakes here? The only character I liked, and actually I really loved her, was the elderly neighbour who had more sense and charisma than everyone else put together.

So I guess this is my first read of the year that I really didn’t like! Which is rare for me, I tend to enjoy almost everything that I read. But you can’t win them all, can you? I’m still looking forward to Paula Hawkins’ upcoming novel Blind Spot, due for release in 2022. It hasn’t put me off at all.

The Last Duel (2021)

the-last-duel-movie-poster-review-2021Director: Ridley Scott

Genre: Action, Drama, History

Runtime: 152 Minutes

Main Cast: Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, Ben Affleck, Marton Csokas, Harriet Walter, Clare Dunne, Alex Lawther

Plot: Set in medieval France, knight Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) challenges his friend and squire Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) to a duel to the death after Jean’s wife Marguerite (Jodie Comer) accuses Jacques of raping her.

My Thoughts: I need only glance at my Twitter timeline today to see how hard The Last Duel bombed at the box office. It’s easy to claim you don’t care about a movie’s performance but it sucks when original movies don’t do well. It’s so easy to see why this particular one has failed. We’re still in a pandemic, older audiences aren’t returning to the cinemas yet. It was also someone’s genius idea to release The Last Duel in a week with several other big releases. The average movie fan doesn’t go to the cinema more than once a week, they aren’t going to choose a 2 and a half hour long medieval movie about rape over the latest in the Halloween franchise or the Venom sequel. Sigh. I’d hoped the names Ridley Scott, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck would be a draw enough but no. What’s worse is that this looks like the most fun Ben Affleck has had in years!

What you need to know about this movie is that it’s a story told in 3 parts. The story from Jean’s side, the story from Jacques side, and finally, the actual truth, from Marguerite’s side. It creates a bit of a groundhog day effect but it’s actually quite fascinating seeing the small changes in the telling of the story depending on who’s side it’s from. A change of just one word can alter the meaning and implication behind an action severely and it’s in the final chapter that the real truth falls into place and we get to see everyone for who they really are.

Yes, it’s an Adam Driver movie and I’m always going to be biased but I liked this movie a heck of a lot more than I thought I would. It’s not fun like Venom or Bond are but it’s smart, dark and shocking. The battle scenes are gruesome and loud, and the duel itself had me on the edge of my seat. Those were scenes that just have to be witnessed on the big screen for maximum effect.

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Best Bit: I think the best moment in the whole movie for me, visuals and battles aside, was seeing Jean’s reaction to Marguerite’s confession from her eyes in the final chapter. We’d started to learn he was nowhere near as noble as he liked to think he was, but his reaction in that moment was when I didn’t care anymore who lost the duel, they both deserved a cruel fate.

Worst Bit: I want to know who was in charge of this decision, because it’s hilarious. Matt Damon? Give him a mullet. Ben Affleck? Bleach blonde and a dodgy goatee. Adam Driver? You’re fine the way you are, honey.

Fun Trivia: Matt Damon can’t grow facial hair, so the makeup department had to try out 20 different beards to apply to Matt Damon’s face. He reportedly got a skin rash underneath the stuck-on beard, which was so irritating that he had to be treated with ice packs after every scene, while shooting the movie.

My Rating: 4 and a half gloves that weren’t slapped down anywhere near dramatically enough for my liking.

the-last-duel-movie-glove-2021

I’m Your Man (2021)

im-your-man-movie-review-poster-2021Director: Maria Schrader

Genre: Comedy, Romance, Sci-Fi

Runtime: 108 Minutes

Main Cast: Maren Eggert, Dan Stevens, Sandra Hüller, Hans Löw, Annika Meier, Jürgen Tarrach, Wolfgang Hübsch

Plot: In order to obtain the funds needed to continue her studies, Scientist Alma (Maren Eggert) agrees to take part in an extraordinary three-week experiment. She must live with a humanoid robot named Tom (Dan Stevens) with artificial intelligence designed to be Alma’s ideal partner.

My Thoughts: I was trying to think about how best to describe this movie, and I landed on Black Mirror episode meets Married at First Sight, minus the creepiness and drama. That’s not really doing it justice though, to be honest. After watching (and loving) the American remake of The Guilty earlier this month without having watched the original, I feel like I’m reclaiming a bit of film blogger karma by watching I’m Your Man. It’s a German movie, and yes, even Dan Stevens speaks German! I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a remake of it soon, either.

I’m Your Man is a quiet and thoughtful movie, which wasn’t what I originally expected, but then I had to remind myself that not all movies have that Hollywood ‘loudness’ to them, and I really got into it eventually. Alma is a great character, she’s amazingly talented but also hurt, and struggles to even accept Tom as anything other than a robot, and pushes him away at every opportunity. Tom of course is learning all the time and only knows to follow algorithms to try and please Alma, leading to quite a few hilarious situations. All I’m saying is, if Dan Stevens wants to come and tidy my house in 11 minutes he’s more than welcome!

I’ve always had a fascination for AI and I wanted to delve so much deeper into the science and technology behind this movie. It was briefly mentioned about the ethics behind these robots, whether they should have human rights and so on, and I wanted to know more! I guess really I need to find myself a good TV show on the subject to get really stuck in to. Anyway – if you haven’t heard of this movie until now I highly recommend it!

im-your-man-dan-stevens-robot-love-black-mirror

Best Bit: I can’t pick between Tom talking to Alma’s ex about the size of the painting and his car, or when Alma introduced Tom to a colleague at a party and Tom went full robot on him. There were so many subtle funny moments in this movie.

Worst Bit: This is the all-singing, all-dancing Hollywood fan in me but the ending left me feeling a bit deflated. It’s an ending I’ll appreciate more as time goes on and I think about it, but I can’t get past my initial disappointment. It felt rushed more than anything.

Fun Trivia: Official submission of Germany for the ‘Best International Feature Film’ category of the 94th Academy Awards in 2022.

My Rating: 3 and a half takeaway coffees that Dan Stevens will order for you and then wait in the pouring rain till you’re done with work.

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