No Time to Die (2021)

no-time-to-die-movie-review-poster-2021Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga

Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller

Runtime: 163 Minutes

Main Cast: Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Wishaw, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright, Billy Magnussen, Christoph Waltz

Plot: James Bond (Daniel Craig) has left active service and is trying to enjoy a peaceful life, a dream short-lived when his old friend Felix (Jeffrey Wright) shows up asking for his help. Bond’s mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist becomes more and more complicated by the minute.

My Thoughts: It actually feels quite surreal to be writing about No Time to Die. It’s been a full two years of watching the trailer and after the movie’s release got pushed back time and time again, it’s finally here and the cinemas are full. It’s wonderful! I’m not going to pretend to be a Bond fan, I’ve seen all of the Daniel Craig Bond movies but only once. I think they’re alright! I enjoy them plenty but it’s not a franchise I get excited about. Still, this last weekend has seen cinemas fuller than ever, I didn’t even get close to my usual parking spot right opposite the front door!

I wish I’d at least made an effort to rewatch Spectre (2015) before the last installment because there are a lot of ties to that movie that I completely forgot about. Still, I enjoyed No Time to Die, despite its almost 3 hours runtime that was unnecessary. The action scenes were as great as you would expect them to be, and despite Daniel Craig’s age he’s still completely believable as the agile Bond, and rocks a suit just as well as he always has. Best dressed has to be awarded to Ana de Armas though, hands down!

The ending was bittersweet, I have to say. It was an ending that I expected, and it was well executed for sure (I didn’t think I would be shedding tears over a Bond flick) but it felt a bit deflating at the same time, if that makes sense. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see what happens next. Who is going to play the next Bond? I’m going to make an effort to rewatch the latest movies, and who knows, maybe I’ll find myself loving the franchise after all.

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Best Bit: I think we all fell in love with the amazing duo of Daniel Craig and Ana de Armas in Knives Out (2019) so it was so great to see them together again on the big screen! Ana didn’t get nearly as much screen time as she deserved. (If my bestie and cinema buddy Steph were here though she would have made me mention Bond’s final outfit choice and how much I appreciated it!)

Worst Bit: I was here for the action, I was NOT here for 3 jump scares within the first half an hour! At least I fared better than the woman to my right who almost knocked my drink out of my hand with how much she jumped at one part…

Fun Trivia: Reportedly, James Bond actor Daniel Craig personally hand-picked Cuban actress Ana de Armas to play Paloma in this Bond movie, after working with her on Knives Out (2019), which first released about only four months before No Time to Die was originally meant to release.

My Rating: 3 and a half sphynx cats which come with fur these days!

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Aladdin (2019)

aladdin-movie-poster-review-2019Director: Guy Ritchie

Genre: Family, Adventure, Comedy

Runtime: 128 Minutes

Main Cast: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen, Numan Acar

Plot: “Street Rat” Aladdin is convinced by the Vizier Jafar to venture into the Cave of Wonders to seek out the magic lamp – with the power to make wishes come true.

My Thoughts: It feels like the internet has been complaining about Will Smith playing the Genie for years now – and now we can finally see him in the role! I honestly felt neutral about the casting choice…I mean, would anyone have been happy with any casting choice? All I ever saw were complaints, not suggestions. Anyway – I thought Will Smith did a brilliant job. The Genie’s story was slightly changed anyway, and I thought Will brought a ‘Fresh Prince’ vibe to the character that really worked. Colour me impressed!

In fact, with the exception of Jafar (he shouldn’t have been so young and good-looking!) the casting choices here were second to none. Mena Massoud is adorable as Aladdin, he has the boyish charms he was meant to have, and Naomi Scott takes the already wonderful character of Jasmine and gives her this sense of power that she never had before.

I feel like the general consensus is that people don’t want these remakes but honestly? Keep them coming, Disney! Will they ever replace the originals? Absolutely not – but if they’re bringing a new, younger audience to these beloved stories who don’t want to watch ‘dated’ animated movies, then I don’t see what’s wrong with that.

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Best Bit: Guy Ritchie as Director seemed like an odd choice but he’s injected a lot of humour into the movie that wasn’t there before, and it works so well. My favourite moment will always be the A Whole New World sequence, but Prince Ali introducing himself at the palace comes a very, very close second.

Worst Bit: It was a bit too long (how is this almost 40 minutes longer than the original, there isn’t that much new content!) and Jafar is the weak link here. He isn’t menacing, and I thought his unsightly appearance in the original added a lot to his character. Am I complaining because Jafar is hot in 2019? Yes, I guess I am.

Fun Trivia: During the scene when Aladdin asks Genie to “make him a prince”, Genie produces an actual prince in the background. The prince is dressed in colors of pink & lime green, the same colors in the title logo & a nod to Will Smith’s comedy The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990). So, the Genie created the Fresh Prince for Aladdin.

My Rating: 4 and a half jars of jam that Prince Ali can’t stop talking about – better get some bread!

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Review: Game Night (2018)

game-night-movie-review-2018Have I ever mentioned how much I love Jason Bateman comedies? Horrible Bosses and The Change Up are 2 of my favourite movies of all time, and I’m also a big fan of board games and game nights in general so you can imagine how gutted I was to miss the cinema release of Game Night! It was just one of those incidents where plans were made, the showtimes didn’t work, and then by the time the plans are made again, it’s not in the cinema anymore.

Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) met at a quiz night, fell in love, and hosted a weekly game night for their friends ever since. Things get tense when Max’s extremely successful brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) comes to visit, and suggests hosting the ultimate game night at his rented accommodation. It’s a murder mystery night where one of the group will be kidnapped, but things take a strange turn…

Sadly if you’ve seen the trailer you’ll know what that turn is, but although it gives away far too much of the story (in my opinion anyway) there’s still a lot of fun to be had, and plenty of surprises along the way. There’s always that fear with comedies that all the good jokes are in the trailer, leaving nothing left, but I found loads more to laugh at this time around.

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If you’re a fan of American sitcoms like I am then there’s also a lot of familiar faces to spot which I always find fun. Jason Bateman gives you exactly what you would expect, but the show-stealer this time round was without a doubt Max’s weird neighbour Gary (Jesse Plemons Am I the only one who had to do a double take to check he wasn’t actually Matt Damon?

Anyway, Gary used to be a part of Max’s weekly game nights but when he split from his wife the group started to avoid him (because he’s quite weird), leaving the gang having to creep into the house so as not to make Gary suspicious.

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Despite all of this though, there’s just something stopping Game Night from being up there with the ultimate comedies for me. Perhaps its a movie that will grow on me more and more, as I’ll definitely be rewatching it at some point, but maybe it’s just that I had to wait so long to see it. It’s still a great comedy by all counts of course!

I feel like the last 20 or so minutes is where most of the real enjoyment is, and if you’ve already seen Game Night you’ll know why. I wondered how many times the movie was going to turn the tables on us! It gets a solid 4 out of 5 squeaky dog toys from me.

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