Movie Reviews

Hamilton (2020)

hamilton-disney-poster-review-2020Director: Thomas Kail (Screenplay written by Lin-Manuel Miranda)

Genre: Musical, Biography, Drama, History

Runtime: 160 Minutes

Main Cast: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., Renee Elise Goldsberry, Phillipa Soo, Daveed Diggs, Jonathan Groff, Chris Jackson, Jasmine Cephas Jones

Plot: A recording of the live performance of the Broadway hit Hamilton from 2016, telling the story of one of America’s founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton.

My Thoughts: Every now and again I get the pleasure of watching something that I love so wholeheartedly, I find myself at a complete loss for words. I tried to write my post earlier in the week but it turned into a 500+ word ramble about a musical play I was in as a kid, I’m all for going off topic every now and again (hence the blog name) but this was too much, so you can look forward to that in a future post of its own soon. So back on track. I’ve never been a theatre person. When I went to New York for my honeymoon my husband and I made the effort to see a show on Broadway, how can you not? We chose Finding Neverland because it was a) Disney and b) a musical, and we had such a good time. So yes, Hamilton was a must when it got released on Disney+.

My knowledge of American history all comes down to one of my favourite ever games, Assassins Creed III. I know enough to know who the main characters in Hamilton are and how the story goes, which was handy. As for the show itself, I knew nothing at all. When the first song started with that hip hop vibe (I sound 900 saying that) I was really taken aback, but oh boy, it goes so well. There isn’t a single song in the whole performance that didn’t make me want to get up and cheer.

So there you have it, a review that tells you next to nothing useful. Not that I write ‘proper’ reviews anyway but…just go and watch Hamilton.

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Best Bit: I feel like every new song became my favourite song, but the ones that stick out the most to me are My Shot, You’ll Be Back, Right Hand Man, What’d I Miss, Cabinet Battle #1…okay you get my point. I tried to only pick my favourites and it’s still a long list.

Worst Bit: If I tried to fault it at all, the only thing I can think of it that the second half feels slower than the first, but it still contains some epic moments, and the finale itself is just beautiful.

Fun Trivia: The cost of filming the show in June 2016 for later exhibition as an independent movie was financed by its three main producers for less than $10 million. In February 2020, Disney paid $75 million for the worldwide rights to release it, believed to be the largest price ever paid for a single film acquisition. Other studios that expressed interest in the film rights included Warner Bros. Pictures, 20th Century Fox (which would eventually be acquired by Disney) and Netflix.

My Rating: A full 5 copies of Assassin’s Creed III which gave me all the background knowledge of American history I needed to understand what was actually going on.

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Lists

Best and Worst Movies of 2020…so far!

Can you believe we’re halfway through the shitstorm that is 2020? I like to do a little mid-year best and worst post but for a while, I thought it wasn’t going to be possible. Thanks to plenty of cinema visits before lockdown and the joys of Netflix, I can confidently say I’ve seen enough movies to give you a list of the 5 Best and 5 Worst movies of 2020 so far. With Mulan and Tenet pushed back AGAIN, who knows when the next big release will be?

I watched Hamilton (2020) on Disney+ between choosing which movies would feature in this list and actually sitting down to write it, so it’s excluded for now. I guess there’s an argument to be made that it isn’t a movie, but that’s an argument for another day.

Let’s kick off with the 5 worst movies of 2020 so far, shall we?

worst-movies-2020-bloodshot

#5 Bloodshot

I doubt I would have even watched this if it weren’t for lockdown. Vin Diesel isn’t my cup of tea and the movie trailer didn’t excite me. The actual movie itself wasn’t bad, just painfully average in every way. It would have been a solid 6 or 7 out of 10 if it came about 10 years ago, but action movies like this have moved on.

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#4 Dolittle

Since writing my full review of Dolittle I have learned that Robert Downey Jr was meant to be doing a Welsh accent. Oh. Wales is about an hour drive away from me, and my boss is Welsh. I really should have been able to detect that accent. Yikes.

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#3 Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl is on par with Dolittle for the most WTF moment in a children’s movie. Dolittle had a grown man pulling objects out of a dragon’s butt, Artemis Fowl had Josh Gad widen his jaw enough to burrow using his mouth and fart out dirt. I don’t know what more to tell you, guys.

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#2 365 Days

I haven’t mentioned it yet but yes, I watched 365 Days. It’s surely the most-watched movie on Netflix by now. I never thought I would see the day that I could say I would watch something with a worse story than Fifty Shades…but here we are. Those…naughty scenes were quite something though, weren’t they?

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#1 Brahms: The Boy II

You know what? I’m still salty about this sequel. I kind of loved the original movie for thinking out of the box and I was optimistic about seeing more. The Boy II basically just pretends the first movie didn’t exist and was full to the brim of modern horror movie cliches. Brahms deserved better.

2020 hasn’t been a complete disaster (yet) in terms of movies however. I found no trouble picking 5 movies that I loved enough to award them the title of best so far, and I present them to you now.

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#5 Extraction

I’ll admit, by the end of the year Extraction will probably fall into the category of ‘good’, but for now, it most definitely ‘good’ enough to feature in this list. I was expecting an average, run of the mill action movie and a chance to drool over Chris Hemsworth for a couple of hours. Instead, I got a decent story, characters I cared about, and a huge action scene that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a John Wick movie.

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#4 The Invisible Man

One of the last movies I got to see at the cinema before they all closed. This was such a good experience, watching it on the big screen with nowhere to hide when the tension got too high. I’m normally very quiet at the cinema but that restaurant scene? I gasped VERY loudly.

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#3 Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

Warner Bros’ marketing department have a lot to answer for here. They failed to promote their own, promising movie and then tried to blame anyone but themselves when it flopped at the box office. Margot Robbie fits this role perfectly, and it’s full of fun, colourful action scenes from the very beginning. I’ve watched it 3 times now and it’s a blast every time.

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#2 Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Jaja…DING DONG. I’m not sorry for ranking Eurovision so high. It was a solid 8/10 when I watched it and I love it even more almost 2 weeks after watching it. It’s everything I need it to be. It’s funny, it has a touching story, it has songs way catchier than Frozen 2 (I mean it) and did I mention that 4 men ripped Dan Stevens’ shirt off? I love it.

the-gentlemen-best-movies-2020

#1 The Gentlemen

This was the first movie I saw at the cinema in 2020 and when I came out, I had to sleep on my feelings. It felt like a solid 10/10, but could I really give the first movie of the year full marks? Turns out yes. Yes I can. The Gentlemen is brilliant. Hugh Grant is disgustingly phenomenal in his role, and not only did Matthew McConnaughey not get on my nerves like he always does…I really loved his character and what he stood for. It was so much fun, and it’s going to take a lot to knock this off the top spot at the end of the year.

Movie Reviews

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)

eurovision-song-contest-fire-saga-2020Director: David Dobkin

Genre: Music, Comedy

Runtime: 123 Minutes

Main Cast: Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Pierce Brosnan, Dan Stevens, Demi Lovato, Jamie Demetriou, Olafur Darri Olafsson, Graham Norton

Plot: Lifelong friends Lars and Sigrit have forever dreamed of performing at the Eurovision Song Contest and representing their home country, Iceland. When the team responsible pick their 12th entry at random, Fire Saga is chosen to take part and Lars and Sigrit are given the chance to make their dreams come true.

My Thoughts: I’m not ashamed to say I was really looking forward to the release of this movie. Will Ferrell is hit and miss for me, but mostly a hit, and whilst I wouldn’t call myself one of the biggest Eurovision fans, I love the cheese of it all and the catchy tunes, so that’s what I was hoping for.  This is a movie most will scoff at, but I found it a clever mix of pure comedy and feel good, follow your dreams and it paid off. It opens with a fantastically funny musical number and then takes a while to find it’s feet, but after the first half-hour I was sold.

That may, of course, be thanks to the character Dan Stevens plays. I haven’t been following movie news or watching trailers during these last couple of months so I kind of went in blind but when he showed up, I actually did a little scream. You can ask my husband. The spend the next 90 minutes rolling his eyes at me. This is Dan Stevens’ best role since The Guest (2014). I mean it. He’s arguably the best part of the whole movie.

If you enjoy the kind of comedy that comes with Will Ferrell, and if you like music-orientated movies like Pitch Perfect (2012), then you’re going to find a lot to love here. It was kind of ironic that we got this movie in a year when we didn’t get an actual Eurovision, but that’s just another thing to look forward to in 2021. Oh, and the UK still got 0 points. Cheers for that painful reminder!

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Best Bit: I know they were written to be a bit daft but…I just love the songs in this! They’re all on Spotify thankfully, I can’t wait to sing them badly and loudly in the car on the way to work when I finally go back. But the best moment could have possibly been when those 4 dancers tore Dan Stevens’ shirt off of his body mid-song. You guys…they got PAID to make Dan Stevens shirtless. I’m in the wrong job for sure…

Worst Bit: With ABBA songs playing and Pierce Brosnan on screen doing a terrible accent, I got Mama Mia flashbacks. And what’s worse? I remembered how much I enjoyed the Mama Mia sequel.

Fun Trivia: Will Ferrell’s interest in the Eurovision Song Contest began when his Swedish wife Viveca Paulin took him to her cousin’s house in May 1999 and the family turned the competition on. Since then, he kept following it. In 2014, Ferrell travelled to Copenhagen, Denmark to watch the final.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stunning, well-endowed Greek statues which Dan Stevens’ character claims to have no idea that they look identical to him.

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Going Off Topic

Going Off Topic (#26) I booked a cinema ticket!

I’ve avoided doing an Off Topic post for a while just because I feared it would turn into a rambling essay of misery, but I have a lot to talk about today and if I don’t get my words out now any reviews I write will be more illegible than usual.

Things are still pretty rough, as they are for, well, the whole world, but in the UK we’re at least starting to see a glimpse of morality. I’m still on furlough with no return date, so every day I’m battling the fear of losing my job in the middle of one of the worst economic climates ever, but all I can do about that is hope and form a backup plan. On 4th July we’ll see pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, libraries and outdoor leisure facilities opening up, meaning I can take my little girl to the park to play on the swings and slides! I am SO excited to be able to have some more freedom.

Me and my little girl have made the most of our time together by getting out into the fresh air and going for walks, but at the end of the day, she’s 2. There’s only so much we can do before she either gets bored or her little legs get tired so it’s going to be great to have some new activities to do together.

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Cinemas can also reopen on this date and my local has Odeon has announced they will be reopening on 16th July. You can bet I booked a ticket the very second I was able to. On Friday 17th July I’ll be watching Inception (2010) on the big screen for it’s 10th anniversary. I can’t wait!

Of course, things like this stir up the emotions of everyone. I open my Facebook and Instagram to see posts slamming anyone thinking about going to the pub or cinema. Sigh. I wish we could have a little more kindness on the matter. If someone isn’t comfortable to be going out yet, that’s absolutely fine. The world is a terrifying place right now. But if someone is looking forward to doing some of the things they used to do before lockdown? Can we just let them enjoy that?

ANYWAY. New cinema releases are on the horizon and it’s all very exciting. I also really need to catch up on writing reviews because there are so many great movies I’ve watched at home that I then haven’t found the creativity to write about. There are also plenty of terrible movies that I need to tell you to avoid!

Also, I’ve been using an RSS feed called Feeder for a few years to keep track of the blogs I follow but recently it glitched and lost some of my blogs without telling me which ones so I’m starting to make the move to Feedly instead. Do you use a particularly good site to keep track that you can recommend?

While you’re still reading, if you happened to miss his post, Drew is hosting his annual Christmas in July blogathon next month and, as it’s my favourite annual blogathon, I am obliged to remind you in case you want to take part! I’m going to be drawing up a set of terribly drawn Christmas Movie Posters for the event, probably after a frozen cocktail tonight, and I can’t wait to read everyone else’s posts.

Finally – sending you all love during these weird and wonderful times. Take care, and keep safe ❤