Movie Reviews

What I Watched: February 2020

I’ve watched so many movies this year so far, but I’ve been really struggling with finding the creativity to actually write, which is why I’ve fallen off the radar a bit this last week. I’m here today though with a little summary of all the movies I watched in February but never got around to writing full reviews for. It’s been a very mixed bag, which is expected at this time of year when the cinemas are dumped with mostly ‘meh’ movies. I’ve started March on a high though, so let’s hope the trend continues!

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The Lighthouse (2019)

Any movie distributed by A24 is well worth a watch and I’d been dying to see The Lighthouse. It’s absolutely mental, and like nothing else I’ve ever seen. In fact, I think I need to give it another watch to truly appreciate it because I’m not sure how I feel about it quite yet. It’s a stunner though, and worth it to see Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson scream at each other.

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L.A. Confidential (1997)

This has been on my watchlist for too long now, and whilst I didn’t love it, I’m glad I watched it because I think I’ve come to a realisation. Noir movies just aren’t my bag. Which is a surprise to me, because I started seeking them out after loving playing the video game LA Noir, but what can I say? I guess I’d rather be a part of the story than a spectator.

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Playing with Fire (2019)

UGH. I wasn’t expecting some fantastic comedy with excellent performances or anything but this movie was terrible. Predictable, unfunny, and contains some of the worst acting I’ve ever actually seen. I gave it an extra half-star on Letterboxd just to save it from getting the same score from me as Cats, which nothing deserves.

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The Room (2019)

This was a recommendation from my family who loved it. If you’re okay with an absolutely crazy premise, you might enjoy this too. A couple move into this house, and discover that it has a room that will grant you any object you desire. There are catches, of course, and it’s quite the twisty tale.

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Secret Window (2004)

Fun fact – this was a recommendation from my husband who watched it all the time when he was in his teens. Weirdly, on loads of reviews on Letterboxd so did many other people! It’s based on a Stephen King novella and stars Johnny Depp as a writer who one day gets an angry visitor from another writer who claims his work has been plagiarised. It’s twisty, and I enjoyed it.

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I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (2017)

This has been in my watchlist for ages now, and if I’d known it was a Netflix movie I’d have seen it a lot sooner! It’s a wild little indie movie about a woman suffering from depression who finds her house has been burgled. The police are less than helpful so she turns full-on detective and vigilante with her neighbour. It’s a lot of fun!

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To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You (2020)

I jumped on the ‘To All the Boys’ bandwagon last year when everyone fell in love – and I kinda fell for it, too. Sure, teenage romcoms are all kinda the same, but when the characters have so much personality and chemistry it just works. I didn’t love this sequel as much as the original but there was still plenty to like. Also – I’m very much #TeamPeter.

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Hustlers (2019)

I only ever saw 1 trailer for Hustlers before it got released. I immediately wrote it off as some trashy flick that didn’t interest me. You can imagine my surprise when the reviews were glowing. I was even more surprised when people were mad that J-Lo got snubbed come awards season. It still took me way too long to finally see it for myself but I’m so glad I did. This is a gem of a movie!

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Charlie’s Angels (2019)

I started a full review for this one last week and just couldn’t find enough to write about. I actually liked it a lot more than I expected, it’s nothing new but it’s a lot of fun and it’s flashy. Kristen Stewart literally made me question my sexuality at least 3 times, too.

In case you missed any of my full reviews from February, here they are for you now:
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)
Black Swan (2010)
Uncut Gems (2019)
Birds of Prey (2020)
Dolittle (2020)
Emma. (2020)
Peter Rabbit (2018)
Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)
Brahms: The Boy II (2020)

Movie Reviews

Brahms: The Boy II (2020)

brahms-the-boy-2-movie-poster-2020Director: William Brent Bell

Genre: Horror, Thriller

Runtime: 86 Minutes

Main Cast: Katie Holmes, Owain Yeoman, Christopher Convery, Ralph Ineson, Anjali Jay

Plot: Set years after the events of The Boy (2016), Liza, Sean and their young son Jude take a short break to the guesthouse of the infamous Heelshire Mansion in an attempt to find peace and heal after a violent burglary which left Jude traumatised to the point of becoming mute. Whilst exploring the grounds, Jude discovers Brahms, the doll, and quickly befriends him.

Spoilers below for The Boy (2016) Рbe warned! 

My Thoughts: I’ve been doing really well at keeping up with cinema releases so far this year, so I caught up and watched The Boy (2016) last week in preparation for the sequel being released. I know it got fairly mixed reviews but I enjoyed it so much more than I expected to, and it was all down to Brahms and that twist at the end. I loved the fact that the real Brahms was alive, and the doll wasn’t possessed, or at least that was my interpretation. It set it apart from similar movies.

You can imagine my disappointment then, when the sequel just kind of pretends the original never existed. You thought the Star Wars sequels were a mess with the 2 directors doing their own thing? Brahms: The Boy II doesn’t even have a different director, and yet so much of the original movie was ignored. Why? The Boy left on a bit of a cliffhanger anyway, why not build on that? Brahms’ list of rules played a key part in the original, and here they mean nothing at all.

I was invested enough in that creepy doll to at least find some sense of enjoyment from the movie, and it’s always funny watching a horror at the cinema just do to a spot of people watching. I might have been hiding in my cup of wine for the tense moments but some poor girl jumped out of her seat at one point. If I was watching this at home, I think I would have given up and started playing with my phone at the halfway point.

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Best Bit: You just have to laugh at the logic behind characters in movies like this. My home was invaded, I almost died, my son is now mute, I have nightmares every night. I KNOW. Let’s take a vacation to a house in the middle of the woods next door to a creepy mansion. We won’t Google it first, either. Also – if my daughter ever found a doll like Brahms buried in the woods? You can bet your ass I would set it on fire the second I saw it.

Worst Bit: I shout at movies at home all the time, but I’ve never done it at the cinema. I came so close last night, though. The second the mum searched that doll code online I was like, it’s upside down. Turn the paper upside down. HEY. Don’t give up. Ugh. TURN IT UPSIDE DOWN!

Fun Trivia: I can’t find anything even remotely fun for this movie, so have this trivia snippet for the original, instead:
Cast members actually used the doll (“Brahms”) to prank each other on the set. On one occasion, one of the cast members propped the doll up outside of the other actor’s bathroom in their trailer to scare them. Upon seeing this, they hurled the doll outside of their trailer and the crew had to repair it and make a replacement doll.

My Rating: 2 out of 5 croquet mallets to keep handy in case your child ever finds a creepy, porcelain doll.

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Movie Reviews

Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

sonic-the-hedgehog-movie-review-2020Director: Jeff Fowler

Genre: Comedy, Action, Family

Runtime: 99 Minutes

Main Cast: Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Jim Carrey, Tika Sumpter, Lee Majdoub, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally, Frank C. Turner

Plot: Based on the hugely famous video game franchise, Sonic is a hedgehog with extraordinary powers, powers which continually put his life in danger. Whilst on Earth, his powers are detected and mistaken for a terrorist threat, leading the government to put the eccentric Dr Robotnik in charge of tracking Sonic down.

My Thoughts: So I hear that Sonic the Hedgehog is now officially the most successful videogame-adapted movie out there. Huh. I would have preferred Pokemon Detective Pikachu (2019) hold that title, but I have to agree with most out there that Sonic the Hedgehog is actually a pretty good movie. And who would have thought, after that initial trailer with the awful design? I’m still not 100% convinced it wasn’t a marketing ploy, but if it was legit – it just goes to show how listening to criticism can actually help in the long term. You listening, Warner Bros. marketing team?

The best kind of family movies are ones that can be enjoyed by both kids and grownups, and Sonic hits the nail on the head on that point. There are fart jokes, Fortnite dances and game references scattered about, and for the adults? We get Jim Carrey. Yes – he’s hilariously miscast in his role, but he’s JIM CARREY. His movies were my childhood, and I’ve missed him so much. He lights up the screen every time he shows up, and yet his appearance never feels out of place. By the end of the movie, he’s also looking much more like his character should. You need to stay through the credits for this one.

So yes. It’s good. It’s probably getting more praise than it should, but I know I wasn’t the only one expecting it to be a trainwreck. It does start a little dull, even with the cliche ‘record scratch, pause, you’re probably wondering how I got into this mess’ trope, but it gets better as it goes on, and I definitely recommend it. Parents, you may as well buckle in, because there’s no doubt we’re getting at least one sequel.

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Best Bit: I have two stand-out moments. One being something that was already in the trailer, the joke with Sonic in the duffel bag, ‘oh yes, there is a child in here, but it’s not mine’. It’s somehow funnier with a crowd! There’s also a moment where Jim Carrey’s in one of his hi-tech vehicles listening to his favourite playlist with a bunch of different green screens behind him – I was laughing so hard!

Worst Bit: So Maddie, our leading female character has this sister called Rachel who just hates Maddie’s fella. Keeps telling her to get a divorce, etc, etc. Why?! I mean, I get that it’s all part of a running joke but like, he’s done absolutely nothing in this movie to deserve that hate!

Fun Trivia: Crazy Carl, the local who’s hunting the “Blue Devil” in Green Hills, shows off a wildly inaccurate drawing of Sonic as a description. This is a reference to Sanic, a pop culture phenomenon about poorly-drawn portrayals of Sonic.

My Rating: 3 and a half tortoises suffering from a severe nervous disorder after Sonic decided to liven up their days a little.

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Movie Reviews

Peter Rabbit (2018)

peter-rabbit-movie-poster-review-2018Director: Will Gluck

Genre: Adventure, Animation, Family

Runtime: 95 Minutes

Main Cast: James Corden, Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Sam Neill, Daisy Ridley, Elizabeth Debicki, Sia, Fayssal Bazzi, Colin Moody

Plot: Based on the beloved character Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. Peter Rabbit and his friends are suddenly granted the freedom of Mr McGregor’s vegetable patch when he passes away, but their fun and games soon come to an end when McGregor’s nephew takes over the ownership of the estate.

My Thoughts: Oh how sweet, Allie is starting to watch movies with her kid! Nope, sorry. I’m deep in Star Wars withdrawal and so last night once the kiddo was in bed, I curled up on the sofa for a double dose of Domhnall Gleeson and Daisy Ridley. What can I say? I’m desperate – and it’s been a while since I went on a Domhnall Gleeson binge. Plus I have to admit, I saw the trailer for the sequel and it actually looked quite funny.

Bias be damned, Domhnall Gleeson was an absolute star in this. He really went and threw his all into this movie. He has such a flair for comedy and his rages are hilarious. If General Hux could have had an alternative ending, let it be this movie. Gleeson was literally channelling his inner Hux the entire time and I was 100% there for it. I love the idea of him trying his best to chill out, trying some bird watching as a hobby that he’s absolutely terrible at.

As for the movie itself, I totally get it if you don’t like it. I watch too much Peter Rabbit on a daily basis because of the animated show that’s on Cbeebies every day, and it’s a strange set-up. Like, I’m sorry, but these rabbits are absolute jerks. They’re thieves, and in the movie, they’re even worse. In some scenes, the movie plays out like some sort of reverse Home Alone where Kevin is actually the bad guy?!

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If you fell for the charms of Paddington (2014) then do me a favour and give this a go. It might not pack as much charm, but it’s essentially the best romcom of 2018.

Best Bit: How about Domhnall Gleeson beating the crap out of a Harrods bear? Or saying “I’m chill, man” whilst strangling Peter? Or basically any time Daisy Ridley’s CGI bunny was on screen? There were so many great moments. Lots of ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ jokes too like the Bananagrams game.

Worst Bit: As much as I strangely loved this movie, I just can’t see (hear?) past James Corden’s voice as Peter Rabbit. He doesn’t even try. It’s just…his voice. James Corden went from being a beloved, little-known star in the UK to making it big worldwide, getting big-headed about it, and now he’s just kinda irritating.
Also – how dare you dye General Hux’s hair black. How very, very dare you.

Fun Trivia: In February 2018 – 24 hours after its release – Sony apologised to advocates from food allergy groups who said the scene with a farmer going into allergic shock isn’t funny and also encourages food bullying.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 ice cream trucks with flashing lights. I don’t know why but that joke really tickled me!

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Movie Reviews

Emma. (2020)

emma-movie-poster-review-2020Director: Autumn de Wilde

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Runtime: 124 Minutes

Main Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny¬†Flynn, Bill Nighy, Mia Goth, Josh O’Connor, Callum Turner, Rupert Graves, Gemma Whelan, Amber Anderson, Miranda Hart

Plot: Based on the 1800’s novel by Jane Austin, Emma Woodhouse is a young, independent and wealthy woman with a passion for matchmaking.

My Thoughts: What happens when you have an ODEON Limitless card, a period-drama loving bestie and a free Sunday evening? You end up at the cinema, watching Emma. I don’t know how much longer I can hold onto my ‘I don’t like period dramas’ membership card, but I’m coming very close to losing it by now, I reckon. I just get driven mad by the insane way these characters talk, and nothing much ever seems to happen apart from tea-drinking, gossiping and dancing at balls. But I have to admit, I did enjoy this one.

For a start, the cast is just too good. I’ve missed Anya Taylor-Joy, and she’s perfect in this role. Viewers over the sea won’t know who Miranda Hart is and I worry her humour won’t translate well, but she is a NATIONAL TREASURE in the UK and she’s a delight in this movie. Fans of Netflix’s Sex Education will be pleased too as Tanya Reynolds has a fairly big part and although he isn’t credited, I swear Connor Swindells is there, too.

But anyway, I did enjoy this. It’s full of silly little moments and I found myself laughing more than I thought I would. The characters are tough to keep track of at first but I warmed to most of them instantly. Emma is a tough character to portray I guess because at face value, she’s quite unlikeable. She makes terrible choices and comes across as quite stuck up. In fact, Jane Austen herself described the character as “a heroine whom no-one but myself will much like”. By the end of the movie, she does definitely redeem herself, though.

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Am I at risk of being converted into a period drama fan? Probably not. But will I be going to the cinema with the bestie for the next Austen-type movie that comes out? Absolutely. She brings me wine, after all.

Best Bit: The entire movie is a feast for the eyes, but oh, the cakes! I would quite happily walk around in ridiculous dresses for the chance to feast on some of those gorgeous looking macarons. I also laughed every time we got to see that one fed up Dad. Poor guy is regretting many of his life choices, I’m sure.

Worst Bit: You guys, Emma made my precious Miranda CRY. We had a weirdly busy screen for a Sunday night whilst the storm was raging outside, and I have never heard such an audible gasp at the offending line Emma said.

Fun Trivia: Clueless (1995) is a loose American modern adaptation of the novel, set in Beverly Hills and starring Alicia Silverstone as Cher Horowitz (Emma).

My Rating: 3 and a half tarts out of 5. Put on your poshest, British voice and repeat after me, “You MUST sample the tart!”

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Movie Reviews

Dolittle (2020)

dolittle-movie-review-2020-posterDirector: Stephen Gaghan

Genre: Comedy, Family, Adventure

Runtime: 101 Minutes

Main Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen, Jim Broadbent, Jessie Buckley, Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, Tom Holland, Craig Robinson, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Mantzoukas

Plot: John Dolittle, famed doctor and veterinarian with a talent of speaking to animals, turned to a life of seclusion after losing his wife. His peace is disturbed one day when a young boy turns up at his door with an injured squirrel, as well as a young girl summoning him to save the Queen who is on her deathbed.

My Thoughts: Doctor Dolittle (1998) is one of my childhood favourites, so I was always going to be interested to see this remake/reimagining. By the sounds of it, this newer version stays much truer to the original source book. And look at that cast list! I usually chop down the list to just the main, big names, but that’s impossible in this case. How on earth all these names signed up for this movie is beyond me. Some of them are instantly recognisable, like Jason Mantzoukas, very much playing himself…if he were a dragonfly.

Let me get to the point – you’ve probably read a lot of negativity surrounding this movie, and I’m not going to try and change anyone’s mind. I still can’t work out where in the UK Robert Downey Jr.’s accent was meant to be from, but he seemed to struggle with it so much he never expressed a single emotion throughout the whole movie. It feels very much like he’s turning up just to collect his paycheck. It’s all very silly and predictable.

BUT. This movie wasn’t made with most of us in mind. It’s a movie for children. And I’m sure children will love watching a dog in glasses dragging its butt across the floor, a gorilla kick a tiger in his private parts, a grown man pulling objects out of a dragon’s ass, and a polar bear complaining about being cold all the time. There are a few adult jokes scattered throughout to keep the parents chuckling, and I’m sure it’ll be a hit this half-term in the UK.

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Best Bit: In the credits, they show a shot of each of the animals along with the name of who voiced them, and my friend Steph and I turned to each other at the same time when Chee-Chee the gorilla came up and went “THAT WAS RAMI MALEK?” It’s almost enough to need to see it again.

Worst Bit: I’ve already mentioned it but seriously, what accent was that? I’d decided it must have been Scottish, and then I read someone else’s’ review where they said it was Welsh! I should know, shouldn’t I? And yet I’m clueless.

Fun Trivia: Nicolas Cage turned down the role of King Rassouli.

My Rating: 2 out of 5 bagpipes which were retrieved from…well, I think you can guess where.

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