Movie Reviews

Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021)

space-jam-2-new-legacy-movie-review-posterDirector: Malcom D. Lee

Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Runtime: 115 Minutes

Main Cast: LeBron James, Don Cheadle, Cedric Joe, Khris Davis, Sonequa Martin-Green, Ceyair J Wright, Xosha Roquemore, Harper Leigh Alexander, Zendaya

Plot: LeBron’s son Dom (Cedric Joe) wants to focus on making his video game, not playing basketball. LeBron would prefer him to focus on his athletic abilities but when Dom is kidnapped by an artificial intelligence being (Don Cheadle) at Sony, LeBron is forced into playing Dom’s game in order to save his family.

My Thoughts: Disclaimer, I’ve never seen the original Space Jam movie. I wasn’t into sports and I wasn’t fussed about Looney Tunes when I was a kid so it was just never on my radar. But it’s currently 30 degrees Celsius in the UK, and I’ve sworn to watch anything and everything I can at the cinema, so I was there for the air con, the ice cream and a fun time. I’m pleased to say I got all three, mostly. I guess my biggest question is, who is A New Legacy aimed at? If it’s for kids then you can forgive a lot of its errors, but the kids of today don’t know who the Looney Tunes are and they aren’t going to pick up on all of the Warner Bros references. Apart from the 8 year old’s in front of me who knew who Pennywise was. Questionable parenting there, folks.

So if it’s not for kids then it’s a nostalgia trip for the adults who grew up loving the original, which seems more likely than the alternative. Which is fine, other than the fact that at face value, it’s a pretty terrible movie. LeBron can’t act, but you can hardly blame him for that. Everyone seems to be loving Don Cheadle’s villain but I found him the most awkward part of the entire movie. Some of his lines were actually painful to listen to, they must have physically hurt to read. But at the end of the day, I’d rather watch a bad movie that was a lot of fun than a well-made movie that bores me to tears, so there you have it.

The best chunk of the movie is easily when LeBron has landed in the cartoon world and is helping Bugs Bunny get the team back together. It’s not up there with The Muppets (2011) but it’s still a lot of fun, delving into the world of Warner Bros. Did you know LeBron James is a Hufflepuff? Sure, it felt like WB trying to brag at their own collection, but I’m a sucker for references like that and it made the movie more enjoyable as a whole.

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Best Bit: *SPOILERS* If there’s anything I love more than movie references, it’s unexpected cameos – and Space Jam has a great one. The Tune Squad are losing and need a plan – in the form of Michael Jordan, basketball legend and star of the original movie. Now, I might not recognise Michael Jordan himself but I sure as hell recognised that shadow doing a slow-mo walk towards the camera. Michael B. Jordan! Best cameo of the year for sure and an excellent joke.

Worst Bit: Warner Bros just admitted that their new content is all created by an algorithm, didn’t they? It certainly explains their dodgy marketing plans, I guess…

Fun Trivia: After the original idea for “Space Jam 2” was canceled, there was an idea for a spy film titled “Spy Jam” starring Chinese actor Jackie Chan, but he left the project and it evolved into Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003).

My Rating: Two and a half sticks of dynamite…that’s all, folks!

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Movie Reviews

Black Widow (2021)

black-widow-movie-review-poster-2021Director: Cate Shortland

Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller

Runtime: 134 Minutes

Main Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz, Olga Kurylenko, Ray Winstone, O.T. Fagbenle, William Hurt, Simona Zivkovska, Yolanda Lynes

Plot: Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) finds herself reunited with her long-lost sister, Yelena (Florence Pugh). Begrudgingly, they both work together to take down the force that ruined their childhoods and turned them into trained killers.

My Thoughts: Can we talk about how great it is to witness the Marvel opening title on the big screen again? Actual chills. Black Widow and No Time to Die are going to be the most surreal cinema experiences for me because of all the delays. Black Widow has never been one of my favourite Avengers, but I was so excited to see Florence Pugh in the MCU, and she didn’t disappoint. She’s easily the best thing about this movie – no offence to Scarlett or anyone else but Florence just dominated.

Black Widow has a dark, upsetting opening act that surprised me. It’s no secret that Natasha had a rough upbringing of course but having it all spelled out on screen is something different entirely. I worried that would be the tone of the whole movie, but it quickly lightened up once the sisters met. Ddavid Harbour creates a lot of laughs and Rachel Weisz is also great in her role, but the aging is a little odd. Marvel has so much technology behind them so the decision to not try and age Rachel Weisz at all for the scenes in the present was weird.

I had a great time though, and I wish this movie came out before Endgame. It would have given Black Widow so much more character and made her death have a bigger impact. Of course, it would mean the end-credits scene couldn’t exist, and this was a good one. Suddenly, a character from Falcon and the Winter Soldier makes much more sense! I’m really excited to see where that leads.

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Best Bit: Basically, any time Florence Pugh did anything at all, my face was like a child on Christmas day. I don’t know what was better, her love for the vest that she bought with all the pockets (I want one) or the way she mocked Natasha posing all the time and her disgust when she tried it for herself.

Worst Bit: *MINOR SPOILERS* So, I guess the controversial topic will be the character Taskmaster. I didn’t read enough of the comics to really know the character or form an opinion but clearly the character was a man in the comics. I don’t have a problem with Taskmaster being a woman in the movies, it actually fits in really well with the narrative, but I just feel like Marvel already pulled this reveal stunt in Ant-Man and the Wasp and Ghost. You know, the whole ‘this costume looks like it was made for a man but HEY, there’s a woman inside!’

Fun Trivia: Black Widow’s wrist-mounted tasers are colored yellow. This is an homage to Natasha Romanova’s classic Black Widow costume, which was an all-black suit with yellow bracelets.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 shots of vodka that I wish I was drinking instead of the travel mug of tea I took to the cinema with me.

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Movie Reviews

What I Watched: June 2021

What a whirlwind week it’s turning out to be! Word on the street is that all COVID restrictions in the UK are going to be lifted in 2 weeks, which just feels surreal. I just got back from a weekend away in Wales for a family wedding which was a delight. My 3-year-old was better behaved on the long drives than I was, she’s an absolute boss. Oh, and I returned to work this week! Home working only for now and part-time too but after being on furlough since April 2020 I’ll take anything. It’s going to take a LOT of getting used to!

Safe to say, my movie watching is going to dip in July but we aren’t here to talk about July today, are we? Let me share with you what I watched last month…

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Bo Burnham: Inside (2021) – Clearly I’ve been living under a rock, because I didn’t know Bo Burnham was a comedian. Everyone was talking about his lockdown special over Twitter though and I just hate to be left out, so I gave it a watch whilst writing. I got no writing done! I adored every single minute. ‘Shit’ is by far my most listened song of the year, it doesn’t get old for me.

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Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021) – Whilst I’m still salty that ODEON didn’t bother to show this movie, I wasn’t missing out on much. I haven’t seen all of the Saw movies so I can’t comment much about this latest installment, but it was just…a bit meh, wasn’t it?

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Dream Horse (2021) – Yes, I’m still sticking with my pledge of watching absolutely everything my local cinema is showing. Dream Horse was actually a really sweet story set in the Welsh valleys and starring the always-wonderful Toni Collette. It’s a feel-good story and showcases the beauty of the countryside and the warmth of a small community.

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Awake (2021) – I really wanted to like this movie. The idea that some awful catastrophe occurring that renders humankind unable to sleep is fascinating, especially to someone as sleep-deprived as me. Yet Awake somehow manages to follow every conventional step in the ‘disaster movie’ book and is just plain boring.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)Film & Wine Club Review

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021) Full Review

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Together Together (2021) – What a beautiful movie this was. It’s been a while since I watched something that plagued my thoughts for so long after. It’s the story of a single father who hires a surrogate mother, and how their relationship develops whilst she’s pregnant. It could have so easily become a romcom but it stays realistic, through the highs and the lows and it just really surpassed all of my expectations.

In The Heights (2021)Full Review

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)Film & Wine Club Review

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Bo Burnham: Make Happy (2016) – Obviously I was going to allow Netflix to push me into watching some more of Bo Burnham’s comedy work. I think I still prefer Inside but I love the chaotic energy that Bo has on stage. The musical numbers were great, as expected!

Fast & Furious 9 (2021) Full Review

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Luca (2021) – I really want to do a full review for Luca so I’ll be brief for now but I really enjoyed it. It’s not as deep as Inside Out or Soul but I don’t want all of my Pixar movies to be like that. Sometimes I just want to watch two fishy friends eat pasta and ride bikes! It has it’s faults for sure but after reading reviews I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would.

The Dressmaker (2015) – This was a Film & Wine Club pick that I’ll get a full post written up for soon.

I also watched 3 Paul Rudd movies for June’s Hidden Gems challenge. The movies were Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013), How Do You Know (2010) and Dinner for Schmucks (2010). Find out if any of them were gems here!

Movie Reviews

Fast & Furious 9 (2021)

fast-furious-9-2021-movie-review-posterDirector: Justin Lin

Genre: Action, Adventure, Crime

Runtime: 145 Minutes

Main Cast: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, John Cena, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Nathalie Emmanuel, Charlize Theron, Sung Kang, Helen Mirren, Kurt Russell

Plot: 9 movies in and Dominic Toretto’s team have only just discovered that Dom has a long lost brother (John Cena), who just to happens to be a deadly assassin and a great driver, with a plan to take over the world. It involves some crazy magnets and a high-tech gadget that wouldn’t look out of place in a Star Wars movie.

My Thoughts: I apologise in advance, I have no right to be reviewing the latest installment in the Fast & Furious saga. I’ve only seen 2 of the other movies (3 if Hobbs & Shaw counts) and as a result I have next to no idea who most of the characters are or what’s happened over the years. However! I had a blast watching this new one and it would feel like an injustice to ignore it, so it’s a bit of a loss/loss situation. I’m marking this whole post as SPOILERS just because I genuinely don’t know what could be a spoiler or what would be common knowledge to a fan. It was so great to be in a busy cinema again, it was the biggest crowd since January 2020.

When it comes to movies like this, I just want some dumb fun, and I got that in spades. F9 doesn’t take itself seriously at all. In fact, it’s quite meta and even pokes fun at the fact that these characters seem to just survive anything. And when it comes to anything, we’re talking about driving cars off cliffs and being caught by planes, having fist fights on top of speeding cars and, well, driving into SPACE. How can they actually top that?!

The acting is questionable at best, but everyone involved looks like they’re having so much fun that it has to be forgiven. I also have to give kudos because I can’t sit through long movies without fidgeting, even ones I love, and I never would have guessed this one was a few minutes short of being 2 and a half hours. That time really flew by. I’m going to have to fill in the gaps at some point because I feel like there’s going to be many more of these movies…

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Best Bit: This should probably be classed as a worst bit but I just love those magnets. They’re the core to some really great fight scenes but I just have to laugh at how they work. Somehow, every time a character turns them on they only seem to attract whatever metal is needed at the time.

Worst Bit: I can forgive so much – I won’t even question rocketing a car into space but my brain can’t fully switch off and I find myself asking questions like, who the hell is looking after that kid?! How does Charlize Theron go to the toilet in that see-through box?

Fun Trivia: Tyrese Gibson announced on November 1, 2017 that he would not be in this movie if Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson were in it. The two did not get along and Tyrese refused to work with him (November 2017). When Johnson announced that he would pass on this movie, Gibson’s participation was ensured again.

My Rating: 3 and a half pairs of Crocs that I ordered three weeks ago, damn-it! (That’s a really obscure reference to this movie – I’ve never owned a pair of Crocs, just for the record…)

fast-furious-9-delivery-truck-crocs

Movie Reviews

In the Heights (2021)

in-the-heights-movie-poster-review-2021Director: Jon M. Chu

Genre: Musical, Drama

Runtime: 143 Minutes

Main Cast: Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera, Olga Meridez, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Gregory Diaz IV, Jimmy Smits, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Stephanie Beatriz

Plot: Based on a Broadway musical, In the Heights tells the stories of the residents of Washington Heights, centering itself on Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), a bodega owner with dreams of moving to the Dominican Republic to fix-up his father’s old bar.

My Thoughts: This is the one I’ve been waiting for. You can keep Dune, you can tell Bond to sod off, all I’ve wanted to see this year is In the Heights. Last year, Lin-Manuel Miranda went from being that cool guy who wrote the songs for Moana to OHMYGOD there’s a new movie he’s partly responsible for and IHAVETOSEEIT. It was Hamilton that caused it, and with Anthony Ramos as the lead I’ve been so excited. I missed the advance previews but I was there on the day of general release with a hopeful smile on my face, and I didn’t leave disappointed. Speaking of Hamilton though, did anyone else catch the on hold music that Kevin (Jimmy Smits) was listening to? I was the only person in the room who clocked it and laughed out loud…

I’ve recently accepted that I am, indeed, a musicals person so I won’t pretend not to be anymore. The only thing that is stopping In the Heights from being perfect for me is that not enough of the songs were standouts. 96,000, In the Heights and Paciencia Y Fe were the stars of the show but there were too many others I’ve forgotten about. That is sure to change once I’ve listened to the soundtrack 1,000 times though.

I just loved the energy of it all, it’s impossible to not feel cheery and get caught up in the story. The choreography is simply phenomenal, oh how I would have loved to be watching them film those musical numbers. There’s just so much hope in this story, there’s no good versus evil, just a community getting by and trying to make their lives as happy as they can be. It’s going to grow on me every time I watch it, I think.

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Best Bit: I couldn’t decide whether this needed to be a best bit or a worst bit to be honest, but Abuela’s story! My hayfever already had me sniffing but I haven’t ugly cried like I did for her musical number in a long, long time. That’s got to be the submission for the Oscars, surely? I also loved the short number with Lin-Manuel’s ice cone stand and Chris Jackson’s ice cream truck rivalry!

Worst Bit: We’re right on the back of a mini heatwave here in the UK so that whole storyline was hugely appreciated, but come on! You’re trying to tell me it’s 100 degrees and half of the characters are all still in jeans? Come back to me when you’re just in your underwear and still sweating. And that message goes out personally to Anthony Ramos…coughcoughwink.

Fun Trivia: Jimmy Smits was an early Heights supporter off-Broadway, before the musical was adapted to the screen. When he was asked to do the voice-over for the TV advertisement, he wouldn’t accept payment, but he just wanted some house seats for Broadway.

My Rating: 4 and a half takeaway coffees, just give them a sniff first in case the milk has gone bad.

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