Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle (2018)

mowgli-legend-jungle-netflix-movie-review-2018Director: Andy Serkis

Genre: Drama, Adventure

Runtime: 105 Minutes

Main Cast: Rohan Chand, Christian Bale, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, Naomie Harris, Peter Mullan, Eddie Marsan

Plot: We all know this plot by now, right? Mowgli is a human child, raised by wolves, hunted down by the mean tiger Shere Khan, struggling with his own identity.

My Thoughts: It feels like years ago now that both Disney and Andy Serkis announced they were both doing a live-action Jungle Book movie…in the same year. What was up with that? At least as time went on they sorted the scheduling out a little better, although I’d completely forgotten about Serkis’ version until I got a notification on my Netflix account. Whoops!

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle is much darker than both Disney versions, and that’s both its greatest strength and weakness. It stands out from the crowd, but I’m not sure who the target audience is here. It’s way too dark for the young ones, and do us grown-ups really need to watch another retelling of the same story?

I think the movie got better as it went on, the start was quite dull. Also, kudos goes to both Rohan Chand for playing an excellent Mowgli, and to Benedict Cumberbatch for being the perfect Shere Khan without really having to do anything. My bottom line here is if you never see Mowgli, you’re not missing out on anything, although there are much worse ways to spend your time, too.

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Best Bit: Baby Mowgli is just the cutest little thing in the entire movie. However, my Mum brain wouldn’t switch off and I started to think about how on Earth those wolves actually raised him. How do you warm up a bottle of formula in the jungle?!

Worst Bit: I haven’t looked this up but I’m guessing because this is Andy Serkis’ movie, motion capture was used for the animals. I’m not saying it was bad quality at all, but it just made the animals look a bit off, somehow. Shere Khan in particular…his face was all kinds of weird?

Fun Trivia: The original Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling is actually an anthology of separate tales, with Mowgli’s story being just one of them. This is one of the few adaptations that reflects this, being titled simply Mowgli instead of The Jungle Book.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 elephant tusks…and you better keep them hidden too because let me tell you right now – elephants hold a mean grudge!

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Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)

fantastic-beasts-crimes-grindelwald-poster-2018Director: David Yates

Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Runtime: 134 Minutes

Main Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Jude Law, Ezra Miller, Johnny Depp, Zoë Kravitz, Callum Turner, Claudia Kim, Brontis Jodorowsky

Plot: Jack Sparrow Grindelwald has escaped imprisonment and had begun his mission of recruiting wizards to his cause. At least that’s what the likes of IMDB tell me. Mild spoilers ahead this time folks, because I need to rant.

My Thoughts: I’m not mad, I’m disappointed, and I don’t know where to start so excuse the word vomit that’s about to happen. How about we start with the fact that Grindelwald doesn’t really commit many crimes in this movie? He murders a few people (I don’t know who or why) and makes some funky blue flames, but is that really what the movie is about? How about we rename it to Fantastic Beasts: Who is Credence? What is Credence? Why is Credence?

Where is the magic here? The original Harry Potter movies were beautiful stories, perfect for watching with the family over the holidays. We got a really short segment of Newt and Leta during their time at Hogwarts and oh, how I didn’t want it to end. I miss that school hall, the Defence Against the Dark Arts lessons, the huge beautiful castle. That’s all I want. Not a stretched to breaking point thinly veiled plot with some magical creatures thrown in for good measure.

There are so many characters in this movie it’s impossible to keep track of them all, and throwing in romance arcs for the sake of it only made things worse. Jacob and Tina, even Queenie were great characters in the first movie but I felt like their personalities just disappeared in FB:CoG. I did enjoy Jude Law’s Dumbledore though, I wasn’t sure about that casting choice but he really made it work.

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As a normal movie sequel not part of the Wizarding World, it was a reasonably decent story that was simply half an hour too long and lacked emotion. As an addition to the Wizarding World, it was a huge disappointment for me. I’m always going to be extra critical though, I was practically raised on the Harry Potter books and movies! At the very least, it laid a lot of groundwork for the 3rd installment which I’m holding all my hopes for.

Best Bit: When we learned what Leta’s boggart turned into, it took me by complete surprise and absolutely broke me. It was a (pun not intended) fantastic bit of storytelling and it was so emotional. In fact she was my favourite character by far in the whole movie, she was so interesting! Slytherins always are though!

Worst Bit: So in the first 10 minutes we find out that the entire movie is really about finding out who Credence really is. 2 HOURS LATER we find out and honestly, was it a surprise to anyone? You can’t drag it out that long and expect your audience to not put two and two together.

Fun Trivia: Newt Scamander carries a wand, practices magic, and works for the Ministry of Magic even though he was expelled from Hogwarts, which puzzled several fans online especially since Hagrid wasn’t afforded those liberties. J.K. Rowling explained that the reason for this will be revealed throughout the series. (This made me lol. Is she going to explain all the other inaccuracies too?)

My Rating: 2 and a half Nifflers out of 5. Let’s face it, that cheeky little buggar was the real star of this movie.

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The Christmas Chronicles (2018)

the-christmas-chronicles-2018-netflix-movieDirector: Clay Kaytis

Genre: Adventure, Family, Comedy, Fantasy

Runtime: 104 Minutes

Main Cast: Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, Judah Lewis, Darby Camp, Oliver Hudson, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Martin Roach, Lamorne Morris

Plot: After spotting what looks like Santa Claus’ arm in one of their old family Christmas home movies, siblings Kate and Teddy hatch a plan to try and catch Santa on video, ultimately leading to his sleigh getting broken, and Christmas being left at risk of being ruined.

My Thoughts: Netflix made their own Christmas movie, and cast Kurt Russell as Santa Claus. Do we all need any other reasons to give it a go? One thing is for sure, Kurt Russell is a great Santa, although to quote my husband, he isn’t as ‘sweary’ as he perhaps could have been. There’s a good reason for that though I think, The Christmas Chronicles is very much your typical family-friendly festive movie.

There’s nothing new to be found here, there are plenty of cliches including one sibling not being a true believer, Christmas needs saving, etc but it has enough charm to be an enjoyable watch from start to finish. Plus, I don’t remember another Christmas movie where Santa has a blast during a car chase sequence with cops whilst driving a Dodge Challenger! “I’ve traded 8 reindeer for 400 horses!”.

So whilst it might not make its way onto my list of movies that simply must be watched every year, if you have a Netflix account you can’t really go wrong with giving this a watch for a bit of feel-good fun.

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Best Bit: Whilst incarcerated, Kurt Russell hands out musical instruments to his fellow inmates and uses a group of hookers as backing singers in a fairly epic jailhouse rock-style musical number. Yep, you read that right!

Worst Bit: I forgave the ‘fake news’ line without much trouble. But I’m fairly certain I saw one of those odd, annoying elves doing the floss, and that just made me sigh and shake my head…

Fun Trivia: This movie features yet another Kurt Russell connection to Elvis Presley, of which there have been several in his career. Kurt Russell’s first movie was in the Elvis movie “It Happened at the World’s Fair” (1963) where Elvis pays Russell to kick him in the shin. 16 years later, Russell portrayed Elvis in a TV movie “Elvis” (1979). Then, 15 years later, Russell lent his voice to the actor playing a young Elvis Presley in “Forrest Gump” (1994). 7 years after that, Russell played an ex-con who robs a casino during an Elvis Impersonator Convention in Vegas in “3000 MIles to Graceland” (2001). And here in The Christmas Chronicles (2018), the song that Santa (Russell) sings in the jail scene is one of Elvis’ most popular Christmas songs, “Santa Claus is Back in Town” (1957).

My Rating: 3 out of 5 chainsaws, which are apparently wielded by tiny little flossing elves who aren’t afraid to castrate a teenaged boy if need be.

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How It Ends (2018)

how-it-ends-movie-review-2018Director: David M. Rosenthal

Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama

Runtime: 113 Minutes

Main Cast: Theo James, Kat Graham, Grace Dove, Nancy Sorel, Nicole Ari Parker, Forest Whitaker, Aaron Hughes, Lanie McAuley, Josh Cruddas, Aidan Ritchie

Plot: Will and Samantha are having a baby. They’re also getting married, but Samantha’s Dad doesn’t know. When Will flies out to ask his disapproving future Father-in-Law for his blessing, an unknown apocalyptic event takes place in Seattle. Will and Samantha’s Dad end up on a road trip across the States to rescue her.

My Thoughts: This movie is hilariously bad. Most ‘end of the world’ movies are, but at the very least they’re entertaining to watch. I don’t know how this one managed to be so darn boring, but I was dying to know how it ended, so that I could move on and get on with my life, mourning my lost 2 hours. Too bad How It Ends has the most ironic title ever…

At first glance it’s hard to tell that it’s a terrible movie. It starts out fine, sets the scene perfectly, introduces it’s main characters well. The acting, whilst non award-worthy, is absolutely fine and the cinematography is pretty good too. The problem is that nothing at all makes sense! 2 days into having no internet connection and the population have turned into characters from Mad Max. Absolutely everyone out on the road is out for blood. Why?

Not to mention all the unexplained moments. Where did Samantha’s Mum go? Ricki, the duo’s car fixer upper, what happened to her? What even is this apocalyptic event? I’m all for a movie that leaves you with questions, but this is ridiculous. You know when you were a kid and you would write stories but get bored after a while and end it with ‘and then they woke up and realised it was all a dream’? That would have been a better ending. Heck, it would have been an ENDING.

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Best Bit: Ricki. That chick is a badass. I don’t know about anyone else but I know for sure she’ll survive somehow.

Worst Bit: “Oh no, my car has run out of fuel. I KNOW. I’ll get this full jerry can of fuel out the boot, pour it all over the car, set it on fire and walk the rest of the way.”

Fun Trivia: The Arlington Bridge in Winnipeg Manitoba Canada, shown in some of the scenes, is 105 years old. It was open on February 5th 1912.

My Rating: One and a half out of five jerry cans. If nothing else, having to Google ‘what is the container you store spare fuel in called’ for this post has at least added to my vocabulary!

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Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

antman-and-the-wasp-movie-poster-2018Director: Peyton Reed

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Comedy

Runtime: 118 Minutes

Main Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña, Walton Goggins, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Hannah John-Kamen, Randall Park, Michelle Pfeiffer, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Douglas

Plot: Scott Lang has been placed on house arrest after the events of Civil War. During this time, Hope and Hank think they have found a way to locate and rescue Hope’s mother, the original Wasp.

My Thoughts: On Monday night I went to a secret screening at my local Odeon, the first of it’s kind that I’d ever been to. I immediately felt at home as you could only book onto the screening if you were a Limitless card holder, so there were quite a few other people on solo trips like me. The whole room cheered once we realised we were getting to see Ant-Man and the Wasp a few days early! I realise practically the whole world has seen it by now, but us tea-loving folk have to wait for ages sometimes.

I don’t know if the excitement did it, but I absolutely loved every minute of this movie. Paul Rudd is just utterly adorable. Evangeline Lilly kicked ass every time she was on screen. Michael Peña is just a delight. Thanks to the ‘powers’ that Ant-Man and Wasp use, the action scenes are just so different to every other movie out there, and the gimmick doesn’t get old, for me at least.

There were turns in the plot that I didn’t see coming, there were heartwarming moments, I laughed out loud several times. What more can you ask for from a movie? I’ve seen reviews mentioning a wafer-thin plot and a bit of a pointless villain but it didn’t taint the movie for me. You can stick Ant-Man right next to Doctor Strange at the top of my favourite Marvel heroes list!

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Best Bit: The moment I was waiting for – Luis telling a story in his own special way. It only happened once but oh it was so worth it. I laughed so loud I missed half of what was said!

Worst Bit: There weren’t any bad moments, but I ended up watching no less than 3 different trailers for the movie over the last few months so there were so many moments that didn’t have much of an impact for me because I’d already watched them 20 times.

Fun Trivia: Contrary to initial appearances, the Pym’s laboratory building is not an actual building that can be shrunk to the size of a suitcase. On the contrary, that small size is the original size of the object. It has been built of brick construction pieces and miniature models of equipment such as AA batteries for a power source etc., and has been enlarged to a full-size building when the owners wish to enter it without changing their own size.

My Rating: 4 and a half out of 5 playing cards, which will come in handy when I find the time to learn close-up magic tricks!

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Incredibles 2 (2018)

incredibles-2-movie-poster-review-2018Director: Brad Bird

Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure

Runtime: 118 Minutes

Main Cast: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Catherine Keener, Eli Fucile, Bob Odenkirk, Samuel L. Jackson, Sophia Bush, Brad Bird, Phil LaMarr, Jonathan Banks

Plot: Elastigirl teams up with entrepreneur and superhero advocate Winston Deavor on a mission to make all ‘Supers’ legal again, whilst Mr Incredible stays at home with a mission of his own – looking after their three children.

My Thoughts: Boy am I glad that I caught up on the original Incredibles movie before seeing the sequel, because it literally picks up exactly where the original left off 14 years ago. It’s absolutely amazing comparing the same scene in both movies because you can see just how far animation technology has come in those years.

I’ll get straight to the point – I really loved it. Maybe it’s the soppy parent in me, but I enjoyed every second! Sure, you can smell the twist coming a mile away (it’s kind of the same as the original anyway) but I think we need to remember that kids are the main audience for this movie, and it’ll shock and surprise most of them.

I imagine I’m easily pleased but as great as all the superhero action was, it was the family moments that I enjoyed the most. It’s just those stereotypical moments that are absurd yet so true. I remember struggling with my homework and my Mum wasn’t any help at all because she couldn’t understand it herself! I remember those mornings as a teenager where I would decide that I hated everything and every one. Now, as a parent myself, I understand those moments where simply trying to keep a very mobile baby alive is exhausting!

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Best Bit: Jack Jack’s powers. In fact, any time Jack Jack was even on screen. He absolutely stole the scene throughout the entire movie!

Worst Bit: For the movie itself, it was probably just a tad too long. Also – how bizarre was the short beforehand, Bao? The moment where the Mum ate her dumpling child had our whole screen laugh in shocked confusion. Now I’ve looked it up I understand it, but it was one of the most confusing things I’ve seen!

Fun Trivia: A typo on the movie theatre marquis where Tony is dropped off towards the end of the movie reads “A113”, one of the most famous recurring Easter Eggs. Several Pixar producers and animators studied at California Institute of the Arts in classroom A113 and this number appears in every Pixar film.

My Rating: 4 and a half out of 5 cookie num nums, which you’ll need to keep handy…

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The Incredibles (2004)

the-incredibles-movie-poster-2004Director: Brad Bird

Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure

Main Cast: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Jason Lee, Dominique Louis, Teddy Newton, Jean Sincere, Wallace Shawn, Spencer Fox, Lou Romano, Sarah Vowell

Plot: The superheroes have been forced to live normal suburban lives after a series of lawsuits, and that’s exactly what Mr Incredible, Elastigirl and their 3 children have been doing until Mr Incredible is offered an opportunity he can’t refuse which doesn’t turn out the way he thought.

My Thoughts: The start of this movie is hilarious in the worst kind of way. It starts it 1 person suing because his life was saved when he didn’t want it to be and escalates. It sounds bizarre but that’s exactly what would happen if superheroes existed. This is why we can’t have nice things!

It’s been so long since The Incredibles was released that I wasn’t even sure if I’d ever watched it, and it all seemed pretty new to me apart from the final battle so that must be the only bit that I missed! It’s hard to imagine that this movie came out before Marvel and DC had really made their mark on the big screen. It must have been a really fresh movie when it first came out, so I wish I’d seen it then.

I did enjoy it though. I mainly saw it because I’m seeing Incredibles 2 tomorrow night and wanted to know what I was getting myself in to! The family moments are my favourite, just those moments that are so relatable.

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Best Bit: Edna Mode. Just everything Edna Mode, dahling. When she was showing off how fireproof and bulletproof baby Jack Jack’s super suit was, I was almost crying with laughter. The horror!

Worst Bit: It was probably so good at the time, but the animation hasn’t aged well at all. Some parts are just fine but there are certain scenes where the quality really isn’t great. I don’t think I would have noticed as much if it was a childhood favourite of mine though.

Fun Trivia: After Bomb Voyage blows up the safe, Buddy can already be seen as his future alter-ego Syndrome, as a distorted reflection in the safe door, actually commenting about his future.

My Rating: I was going to use capes, but I was told NO CAPES, so it gets 4 out of 5 superhero masks from me!

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