Movie Reviews

Onward (2020)

onward-movie-review-poster-2020Director: Dan Scanlon

Genre: Family, Adventure, Fantasy, Animation

Runtime: 102 Minutes

Main Cast: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer, Mel Rodriguez, Kyle Bornheimer, Lena Waithe, Ali Wong

Plot: Years ago, the world was a magical place. But magic is a hard skill to master, and so as time went on, the mythical creatures in this world found newer and easier ways to get by. When Ian Lightfoot turns 16, his mother presents him and his older brother Barley with a gift from their father who passed away before Ian was born, a staff and a spell with the power to bring their father back from the dead for one day.

My Thoughts: After so many years, Disney Pixar don’t need to furnish me with any marketing. Just give me a date for when their next movie comes out and I’ll be there. That said, does anyone else feel the marketing for Onward has been a little…light? Not only that, in the trailers I saw over the past few months, I can’t help but feel like Onward could easily be mistaken for a Dreamworks movie. It has that kind of vibe to it, you know?

And if I’m brutally honest, I wasn’t blown away by the movie for a while. I was absorbed in the world-building, and I loved Ian and Barley as characters, but it felt like a very straightfoward, colour by numbers kind of story for a while. However. There was a moment around halfway through, when Ian and Barley are dancing with their father, that it all finally clicked, and the Disney Pixar magic kicked in, and every moment after that was just so good!

No spoilers of course but the ending really took me by surprise. I mean, you can see where the story is leading and you know what the climax will involve, but it didn’t go the way I thought at all which is always welcome. Oh boy did I cry though. It was up there with “Take her to the moon for me” on my Disney Pixar crying scale.

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Best Bit: The spells that Ian learns throughout the story are so much fun and took me back to my Harry Potter days. Aloft Elevar is the new Wingardium Leviosa, people. However! My absolute favourite bit was the creature that I will not reveal for spoilers and…let’s say…the finishing touch the curse brings it. I laughed quite loudly at that.

Worst Bit: I’m not fully sold on the mum’s boyfriend as a character. For a movie centring its themes on family, death and grief and everything that follows, I would have expected there to be more about the brother’s feelings towards Colt, other than simply mocking him.

Fun Trivia: Pixar’s iconic Pizza Planet truck appears in the troll bridge toll scene.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 cans of Mountain Dew DOOM. I wish they were real!

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Movie Reviews

Coronavirus Double Feature: Contagion (2011) & Isle of Dogs (2018)

I’m not making fun of the terrible situation happening all around the world right now, but just as I watched lots of wedding movies when I was planning my own, watching movies about parenting when I was pregnant, I seem to have found myself watching movies about pandemics what with Coronavirus getting worse each day. If you can’t make light of a bad situation, what can you do?

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It started with Isle of Dogs, which has been on my watchlist ever since it came out 2 years ago. I had no idea what it was actually about other than that it was a Wes Anderson movie and I definitely needed to see it. Once I realised it was about how all dogs get banished to an island because of an outbreak of canine flu, my mind started creating links, and I don’t know about anyone else but for me it seems all my family, friends and work colleagues have been watching Contagion over the weekend so hey presto! Double feature.

Isle of Dogs is a delightful little movie. I’ve always been a fan of stop motion animation and know the sheer amount of work that goes into creating each second of footage. I never expected it to still look so ‘Wes Anderson-y’, if that makes sense? It’s only been in very recent years that I’ve discovered Wes Anderson, and I’m definitely a fan. There’s so much to enjoy about Isle of Dogs, from its gorgeous art style to its witty dialogue, to its heartwarming story.

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Which brings us to Contagion, a movie that is currently sitting at #5 in the iTunes Movie Chart, beating movies such as Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Doctor Sleep. I guess the biggest draw about Contagion is that apart from the fact the virus in the movie kills it’s victim within a matter of days, so many other details are scarily similar to the Cornonavirus!

It boasts a stellar cast including Matt Damon, Gwenyth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Lawrence Fishburne and Jude Law, and if you haven’t watched it yet, give it a couple of hours of your time instead of stockpiling toilet paper!

On a serious note – since I started this post there has been a confirmed case of Coronavirus at the hospital 2 miles from my house, and our Government has delayed reporting on the current number of cases today. It’s a scary world to be in right now, so stay safe, and wash your hands you detty pigs!

Movie Reviews

The Invisible Man (2020)

the-invisible-man-2020-movie-reviewDirector: Leigh Whannell

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

Runtime: 124 Minutes

Main Cast: Elizabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Harriet Dyer, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Michael Dorman

Plot: Cecilia escapes her abusive husband in the middle of the night and hides at a friend’s house. 2 weeks later she finds out that her husband Adrian has committed suicide and left her his fortune. That night though she begins being stalked by an invisible man, who Cecilia is convinced is Adrian.

My Thoughts: Can Hollywood give Elizabeth Moss a romcom please? Girl deserves one after escaping an abusive partner 2 movies in a row! Jokes aside – I’ve been quietly looking forward to seeing this for a while now. I find the premise of a lot of horror movies interesting but they’re so hit and miss, but the reviews for The Invisible Man have been brilliant, and now I can say deservedly so!

Just the right amount of tension, fear and mystery to keep you entertained for it’s just over 2 hours, and oh man was I scared for most of the first half. The opening scene had me sinking in my seat and hiding in my jumper, and just when you think you’ve reached a calmer moment the music kicks in and the tension starts all over again! It does get a little less scary as certain things are revealed, but that’s when the mystery element turns up a notch so it’s not really an issue.

There seems to be a trend in recent years of horror movies that thrive on removing away a sense, whether it be sight or sound, and it’s so effective. I hate jump scares that feel thrown in for the sake of it, it’s just not enjoyable to me. But this kind of fear is something else – and I love it!

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Best Bit: I won’t spoil it, but there’s a very memorable moment when the whole concept of this invisible man goes from doing little things to scare and anger Cecilia to HOLY S**T what just happened OH MY GOD and I think my jaw hit the floor.

Worst Bit: If you’ve watched the trailer you probably remember a jump scare involving stairs and a bucket of paint. Whilst I’m glad for the warning, it was by far the best scare in the whole movie and if it had remained a secret, it would have been so much more effective. In fact, I think the trailer gives away far too much – it’s better to just jump into this one blindly.

Fun Trivia: Originally was going to be part of the Dark Universe, with Johnny Depp starring as the titular character, and Ed Solomon writing, but changes were made to the Dark Universe to focus on individual storytelling and moving on from the shared universe concept after the box office failure of The Mummy (2017).

My Rating: 4 out of 5 of the LOUDEST damn dog bowls in history. I think I actually almost had a heart attack at that moment, I had shooting tingles go down my arms!

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Movie Reviews

Dark Waters (2019)

dark-waters-movie-review-2019-posterDirector: Todd Haynes

Genre: Biography, Drama, History

Runtime: 126 Minutes

Main Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, Bill Pullman, Bill Camp, Victor Garber, Mare Winningham, William Jackson Harper

Plot: The real-life story of one corporate defence lawyer and his lawsuit against a huge chemical company found to be knowingly poisoning thousands of Americans.

My Thoughts: These thriller-esque biographical movies are quickly becoming favourites of mine. If I can learn something new and shocking and have an absolute blast whilst watching, then what more can I ask for? I honestly thought Dark Waters was by the same director as Spotlight (2015) as they have a very similar style. And they both have Mark Ruffalo! So you’ll have to excuse my confusion. I’d struggle to sell this movie to anyone who hasn’t heard of it because on paper it sounds dry as hell, but it’s so good.

It starts a little slow and takes a while to get going, but Mark Ruffalo is so likeable that I was in it from the start for his character, and his character’s family too. Come the mid-way point of the movie a huge bombshell is dropped, and the pacing turns up tenfold from that point and doesn’t let go. I say it reminds me of Spotlight because that was the last movie I found myself angry watching.

It’s hard for me to fault the movie apart from the pacing at times, but for so long I couldn’t help but feel like Anne Hathaway was being wasted. She was a background character for so long but when the case kicked off, she got her chance to shine and it’s probably one of my favourite performances of hers. I also loved how some of the real people portrayed in the movie actually got cameo roles!

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Best Bit: I’m torn between two moments in the movie. The first being when it was revealed that the problem was so much worse than originally thought. The second was the meeting Ruffalo’s character had with the head of the chemical company, going through all the evidence he had collected. It was so tense.

Worst Bit: Speaking of tense, I never thought I would be so stressed out watching someone turn their key in their car’s ignition. Also – chemical companies suck.

Fun Trivia: Second film Mark Ruffalo has appeared in dealing with the DuPont family. The first was Foxcatcher (2014).

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Teflon-coated pans, dug out of my kitchen cupboards and thrown away.

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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!

movie-review-charlies-angels-2019

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) – be 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.

brahms-the-boy-2-croquet-mallet

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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