Midsommar (2019)

midsommar-2019-movie-poster-reviewDirector: Ari Aster

Genre: Horror, Drama

Runtime: 147 Minutes

Main Cast: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgren, Will Poulter, Ellora Torchia, Archie Madekwe, Dag Andersson, Isabelle Grill

Plot: A group of young Americans travel to a remote town in Sweden, at the invite of their friend, to take part in their Midsommar festivities. Dani, the girlfriend of one of the boys has recently suffered a traumatic incident and although not originally invited, joins the group as an escape.

My Thoughts: I’m marking this post as filled with spoilers, because it’s one of those where the less you know, the better the experience. Experience is definitely the best word I could use to describe Misdommar! After this and last year’s Hereditary, I will be racing to the cinema to see whatever Ari Aster makes next. The reaction from the audience once the credits rolled is a hilarious mixture of awe, disgust, bewilderment, and anger. It’s painfully obvious that some of the more casual movie fans were after a stereotypical horror!

Hereditary is still my favourite, but what I love about both is the most horrific things in the movie either happen off-screen, in the background or are so subtle that you might miss them if you aren’t paying attention. I’ve come to enjoy the movie more in the days after watching just from piecing some of the scenes together. It’s a long movie at just under 2 and a half hours, but it didn’t feel long to me – it’s a slow burner, but I couldn’t take my eyes away. That’s a lie, there was definitely more than one scene where I HAD to look away!

What surprised me was how funny Midsommar was in places too – I wasn’t expecting it and I pray to all the movie gods that Ari Aster makes a comedy at some point because it would be amazing. All in all, I highly recommend this movie – go in blind, don’t expect something exciting to be happening at every given moment, and just sit back and enjoy the festivities…

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Best Bit: When Mark peed on the ancestral tree. It was funny enough alone, but then the villager’s reaction made it even better. Plus, the scene at the meal just afterward, with the way that guy was staring at Mark? I was laughing so damn loud whilst hiding in my own row at the cinema!

Worst Bit: The dance for the title of May Queen made me feel more ill than any of the gory scenes! It was possibly because I was sat in the second row from the front so I wasn’t sat with any groups of rowdy teens but the entire room was spinning for ages afterward…blergh!

Fun Trivia: According to Ari Aster, this was meant to be his first horror movie since Hereditary was intended to just be a family drama.
“Family drama” …ha!

My Rating: 3 and a half handmade pies. Oh, there’s a hair in yours? Uh…don’t worry about it…just drink your wine…

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Odd Thomas (2013)

odd-thomas-movie-review-2013Director: Stephen Sommers

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Runtime: 97 Minutes

Main Cast: Anton Yelchin, Addison Timlin, Willem Dafoe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nico Tortorella, Patton Oswalt, Melissa Ordway, Shuler Hensley

Plot: Odd has the ability to see dead people, a strange power he inherited from his Mother, a power he mostly keeps a secret with the exception of his girlfriend Stormy of the Chief of Police. He uses this gift to help the Chief solve murders – but one day brings a foreboding of something much bigger.

My Thoughts: What a strange, yet delightful little movie! I’m still making a dent in my ever-growing watch list, and I think Odd Thomas made the list thanks to one of my lovely Blogging buddies after the sad news of Anton Yelchin’s passing. This is definitely my favourite movie of his that I’ve seen so far. It feels low budget – but in a good way, and it’s a wild ride from start to finish.

Absolutely everything about it is quirky, I mean just look at that plot summary! Odd himself talks us through most of the story, explaining how he can see dead people, and what these strange, shadowy figures are that only a very select few can see (they’re called bodachs). If you’ve ever seen the TV show Pushing Daisies, it’s got the same kind of silly vibe, whilst maintaining a reasonably serious storyline. It’s such a hard thing to explain, but you’ll know what I mean if you’ve seen it.

Basically, these bodachs follow death – they feed upon it. So when Odd’s town becomes infested with them, it’s a sign that something awful is on the horizon, a mass murder. Teaming up with Stormy and the Chief, Odd works to solve the mystery of what’s about to unfold, and hopefully stop it before it can happen. It’s by no means a perfect movie but it’s so different and out there that I can’t help but love it!

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Best Bit: I love a good mystery, and whilst this one is satisfying, it was the ending that took me by surprise. Maybe I should have seen the warning signs, but I didn’t, and when it finally clicked what was happening, I was a big mess of emotions!

Worst Bit: The supernatural elements in this movie are so crazy that it requires Odd to narrate almost everything that happens, which I guess feels a little patronising at times. It isn’t a long movie though, so I can’t help but feel like a few extra opening scenes could have done some of that work instead.

Fun Trivia: Scenes that included Odd and Stormy’s origins were deleted from the film. One including young Stormy and her stepfather and another including young Odd and his mother. Odd’s mother put a gun to his head and is later taken away while cutting paper roses. DJ Shamus and most of Ozzy’s scenes were also deleted from the film.

My Rating: 3 and a half bowling shirts, an omen of terrible things to come…

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Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)

spider-man-far-from-home-2019-reviewDirector: Jon Watts

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Runtime: 129 Minutes

Main Cast: Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L. Jackson, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Tony Revolori, Angourie Rice, Remy Hii, Cobie Smulders

Plot: Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Peter Parker is struggling to come to terms with his new role, and the footprints he is expected to fill. All he wants right now is to enjoy his school trip to Europe and tell MJ how he feels about her. Of course, when elemental monsters show up trying to destroy the world, his plans must be changed.

My Thoughts: After the breathtaking, nailbiting and exhausting for all the right reasons movie that Endgame was, this was definitely the right way to go next. Far from Home brings a much lighter-hearted story, although it does still touch upon the sad events from earlier this year. I don’t know why you would anyway, but don’t go and see this before Endgame, because the first 10 seconds are full of spoilers!

As one of the few who loved Andrew Garfield’s Spidey, I’ve been on the fence about Tom Holland up until recently. Now, I’m 100% sold. He really is perfect for the role, and brings all the boyish innocence that the character should have. Watching his relationship grow with MJ was one of the highlights of the movie for me, I just love how awkward they are together. I’m also so glad that MJ is smart enough to point out how clearly obvious it is that Peter is actually Spider-Man!

It’s also so great that Samuel L. Jackson is having a more prominent role in the Marvel movies recently. I think he was my favourite part of Captain Marvel earlier this year and he brings some laughs in Far from Home, too. That said, there was something stopping me from really loving the movie, and I can’t put my finger on it. It could be down to the fact I was simply exhausted (thanks, teething toddler) but I’m not sure. The mid-credits scene has got me very much looking forward to the next installment, though!

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Best Bit: It’s expected with Marvel movies now I guess, but the visuals as far as Mysterio’s powers are concerned were so, so cool. The bit that I laughed hardest at though was on the coach when Peter almost accidentally blew up himself and all his friends!

Worst Bit: I was so excited for Jake Gyllenhaal to be a part of the MCU, and his character has some really fun moments, but once it’s revealed just how his ‘powers’ work, the whole thing feels a bit anti-climatic. The fight scenes between him and Spider-Man seem to go on forever, too.

Fun Trivia: First MCU movie not to have a cameo by Stan Lee; he died shortly after filming wrapped for this movie, but never made it into this movie (most likely due to his declining health), which means that Avengers: Endgame (2019) was his final on-screen appearance. However, this movie does pay tribute to him and fellow Spider-Man creator Steve Ditko.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 dahlias that you shouldn’t trust with the guy trying to sleep with your Aunt…

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Yesterday (2019)

yesterday-2019-movie-review-posterDirector: Danny Boyle

Genre: Comedy, Music, Romance

Runtime: 116 Minutes

Main Cast: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Ed Sheeran, Kate McKinnon, Camille Chen, Maryana Spivak, Lamorne Morris, James Corden, Joel Fry, Alexander Arnold

Plot: Jack Malik is an aspiring singer/songwriter who can’t seem to catch his big break. He plays in local pubs without attracting attention, and even though his manager (and best friend) gets him a set at a small festival, his tent is virtually empty. One night, during a freak, worldwide blackout, Jack is hit by a bus. When he wakes up in hospital, he comes to discover that he seems to be the only person alive who remembers the hugely famous band, The Beatles.

My Thoughts: I would quite happily swap all these musical biopics for more movies like Yesterday. We get it, they started from nothing, got lucky, did a load of drugs, and became legends. Let’s have some more originality, Hollywood! I wouldn’t call myself a Beatles fan, but I was a huge McFly fan as a teen and they drew an awful lot of inspiration from the Beatles, even doing a lot of covers of their songs, so I knew most of the music in this movie, which always helps.

The start is a little bit clunky, I guess there’s no subtle way to go from ‘guy wakes up in hospital’ to ‘guy realises the Beatles don’t exist’ so it feels a bit of a forced connection, but the movie soon picks up from there. My fellow Brits might know Himesh Patel from Eastenders, but this is the first time I’ve seen him, and he is wonderful! He’s got a natural charm about him and delivers the dead-pan humour effortlessly. Lily James is of course as stunning as always, she lightens up every scene that she’s in.

I loved how the movie didn’t try to explain why there was a blackout and why The Beatles ceased to exist. We don’t need to know, and it would have become silly if it was elaborated on. The relationship between Jack and Ellie was frustrating at times, I honestly wanted to shake Ellie at one point and tell her to just move on, but it all ends well. I don’t think Yesterday is a movie for everyone, but if you like a bit of weird with your romance, then this might be the one for you.

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Best Bit: *MILD SPOILER* Okay, I know it was probably a joke that fell flat for most, but I loved the revelation that it wasn’t just The Beatles that had been wiped from existence. It was a running joke that I wish would have cropped up more, and the Harry Potter moment at the end was brilliant. I don’t want to live in that world!

Worst Bit: Ed Sheeran. Mate, look. You make some really great music, and as much as I’m all for you having cameos in British movies where you get snubbed, you can’t act. Keep the screen time to a minimum, please!

Fun Trivia: Though it wasn’t in the original script, director Danny Boyle was so taken with the discovery of a recording studio by a railway track that he had the text altered to incorporate the trains and utilise the location as Gavin’s studio.

My Rating: 4 cans of…Coke did you say? We don’t have Coke, will Pepsi be okay?

yesterday-2019-pepsi-can-coke

Mini Reviews: Movies Watched in June

Not gonna lie, I lost my movie mojo a little at the start of June. Maybe it was the shocking amount of rain we were having in the UK that was making me feel glum, or maybe it was because I couldn’t settle on what Keanu Reeves movie to watch next, but either way, both the weather and my movie watching picked up eventually! As I’ve started to do, here are some mini-reviews on the movies I saw in June but didn’t write a full post for.

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Wonder Park (2019)

I wasn’t super excited to see Wonder Park or anything but I’ve always loved rollercoasters and theme parks, even the games like Rollercoaster Tycoon, so I still wanted to see what it was like. It was pretty meh. It uses cheap tactics to pull on your heartstrings and it just feels like a second-rate Pixar movie. Almost like a budget Inside Out to be honest. Plus – why the hell is the movie called Wonder Park if the park in question is actually called Wonderland?! It’s still annoying the hell out of me.

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Demolition (2015)

I realised it’s been a year since I announced I would watch my entire watch list by the end of 2018. Whoops. That didn’t go well. I’m not giving up though, so Demolition was next on my list. It’s a quiet and melancholy little movie, typical Jake Gyllenhaal to be honest, but still very much enjoyable. I remember a time when I was a teen that angsty Gyllenhaal movies were my life – teen Allie would have loved Demolition much more than adult Allie.

murder-mystery-movie-review-2019

Murder Mystery (2019)

I’ve been looking forward to this one for ages but my sleep-deprived brain convinced itself that Jason Sudeikis was the main star?! It was only when I opened up Netflix on the night the movie dropped that I realised it was even an Adam Sandler movie. We all know to watch with caution when this guy is involved. I didn’t love it like I hoped, but there was still a lot of funny moments. Luke Evans was a delight, and that guy who only spoke in raps had me laughing every time he showed up!

slaughterhouse-rulez-movie-review-2018

Slaughterhouse Rulez (2018)

This is one of those movies I kind of forgot existed after it left the cinema. I missed it, and only caught it this month, and it was pretty ‘meh’ to be honest. Why oh why would you cast Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in a movie together and then only let them share one, brief scene? I was really hoping this would be Shaun of the Dead but set in a British boarding school. It wasn’t, sadly…

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Away We Go (2009)

See, I’m making a real effort to tick off my watch list! About 5 minutes into Away We Go I realised why it must have been on the list to begin with. It’s all about pregnancy, becoming parents and not knowing your place in the world. One of you lovely bloggers must have recommended it when I announced my pregnancy. My little girl is going to be 2 in October, so yeah, that’s how neglected my list is! Anyway, once I’d realised this was more of a drama than a comedy, I adored this movie. I highly recommend it to anyone else during their pregnancy, it paints such a more realistic picture than the terrible and loud comedies out there.

bill-ted-excellent-adventure-review-1989

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)

Okay, so I was certain I’d seen this movie before, just so long ago that I couldn’t really remember anything about it. My husband never has though, and let’s face it – that’s a crime. He loved it (duh!) and now I’m not convinced I ever did watch it as a kid. It was so stupidly funny, had some most excellent time travel bits, and not only made history fun but made it make sense! I hated history at school, loathed it, and I’m sure this movie might have made me change my mind. I laughed every time Socrates’ name was pronounced ‘Soh-craytes’ – it was a joke that never got old!

Aaaand just in case you missed any, these are my full reviews for June:

Ma (2019)
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018)
Dark Phoenix (2019)
Men In Black: International (2019)
Gladiator (2000)
Brightburn (2019)
Toy Story 4 (2019)

Brightburn (2019)

brightburn-2019-movie-poster-reviewDirector: David Yarovesky

Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi

Runtime: 90 Minutes

Main Cast: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Emmie Hunter, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner, Abraham Clinkscales, Christian Finlayson

Plot: Tori and Kyle have been desperate to have a child of their own, but their attempts have been unsuccessful. One night, what seemed like a meteor crashed into the grounds of their farm, and a baby was inside. Tori and Kyle kept the baby and raised him as their own, naming him Brandon, but as he grew older he and those around him started to realise there’s something off about him.

My Thoughts: When I first saw the trailer for Brightburn I was so excited, I loved the idea of a reverse-Superman kind of story. It looked darker than I thought it would be, too. Then it finally got released and most of the reviews I saw were fairly negative. I almost skipped it, but I needed to make my own mind up. I definitely enjoyed it more than I thought I would, but it does have problems.

It starts a little slow as you would expect, introducing the family, and showing us how Brandon is treated poorly at school, eventually snapping and breaking another child’s wrist. There’s something in the barn that he seems drawn to at night, and that’s when the horror starts to ramp up a bit. I don’t think Tori and Kyle were stupid for keeping the baby, I think I would have done the same thing, but Tori kept so much hidden from Kyle and I can’t help but wonder if Brandon could have had a chance at redemption if she opened up more.

That’s the biggest problem, really. Brandon is just a bad kid. There’s no sign of him ditching his evil ways, and it’s never really explained what happened to him. He just turned 12 one day, discovered the pod/vessel/ship thing in the barn, and then turned into this evil kid. The story only scratches the surface of what could have been a really interesting movie, and it’s a shame because it’s not like they didn’t have the time to spare, it’s 90 minutes long.

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Best Bit: I knew it was going to be a dark movie, but I wasn’t expecting so much gore. I didn’t think it could get more gruesome than the glass in the eyeball, but then the car smash and the jaw? It’s literally making me shudder! I can still hear the squelchy sounds…!

Worst Bit: Some people point out that the parents are dumb. To me, the cops in this movie make them look like scholars. Are you telling me it took that long to make any kind of connection with the ‘double B’ symbol? Come on!

Fun Trivia: The middle school scenes were shot at the now-defunct Patrick Henry High School in Stockbridge, Georgia. This is the same location used for both Hawkins Middle and Hawkins High Schools in seasons 1 and 2 of Stranger Things (2016).

My Rating: 3 and a half lined-notebooks you can use to viciously scribble designs for your super-evil symbol!

brightburn-2019-review

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.

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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!

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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.