How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019)

how-to-train-dragon-hidden-world-posterDirector: Dean DeBlois

Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure, Family

Runtime: 104 Minutes

Main Cast: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, F. Murray Abraham, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig, Kit Harington

Plot: After rescuing countless dragons, Hiccup and the rest of the clan are rapidly outgrowing the Isle of Berk. They’re also becoming well-known to other, nefarious clans with sinister motives.

My Thoughts: There was no way that I would miss seeing a How to Train Your Dragon movie but truth be told, I wasn’t a fan of the second one. I was annoyed when what could have been a great plot twist was flaunted in every single trailer, and the whole thing just seemed messy. That said, I’m super happy to say that The Hidden World goes back to its simpler routes, and is a really satisfying finale to the series.

Toothless of course is the star of the show again, this time he’s found a female Night Fury (or Light Fury) and becomes rather lovesick – not helpful when you’re the alpha in the pack and your entire clan is on the run of course. The scenes where he’s trying to impress his love interest are nothing but adorable and quite hilarious!

What is it about animated family movies that make me cry so much? Scrap that – we all know that everything makes me cry now but still! As an almost 30-year-old woman, I should have seen where the story was going but I didn’t and my heart broke into tiny little pieces.

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Still, I love how it was all tied up in the end. It was the perfect ending and so magical for children, too. I wish every series would end on a high like this, instead of churning out sequel after sequel until no one cares anymore.

Best Bit: SAND. Sorry Anakin but you should see how pretty the sand is! It sounds silly I know but it just shows how amazing technology is these days. The visuals in the whole movie were amazing, and I loved the dragon scale armor that Hiccup and the gang wore too. Seriously cool!

Worst Bit: The whole ‘Berk is more than this island, WE are Berk’ speech sounded really familiar. Have you guys been watching Thor: Ragnarok lately?

Fun Trivia: DreamWorks Animation’s first trilogy in which each movie was distributed by a different film studio: Paramount distributed How to Train Your Dragon (2010), 20th Century Fox distributed How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014), and Universal will be distributing How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019).
(For such a fun movie, all the trivia I could find was really dull!)

My Rating: 3 and a half Viking sailboats, riding towards the misty waterfalls…

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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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The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018)

the-house-with-a-clock-in-its-walls-2018Director: Eli Roth

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Family, Fantasy

Runtime: 105 Minutes

Main Cast: Owen Vaccaro, Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Kyle MacLachlan, Colleen Camp, Sunny Suljic, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Braxton Bjerken, Lorenza Izzo, Perla Middleton

Plot: When a young boy named Lewis is orphaned he moves in with his magical Uncle in a large creaky house with a mysterious ticktock sound. Together, Lewis and his magical Uncle unlock the secrets behind the noise in the walls.

My Thoughts: After being subjected to the trailer for this movie more times than I ever needed to, as well as being plagued by the radio advert whilst at work, I made fun of it and vowed I would never actually watch it. I realise it’s based on a novel of the same name but come on, there’s not an ounce of creativity in that title! I guess I at least can’t claim false advertising…it does what it says on the tin!

However, I found myself with a free evening and nothing in the cinema with a decent start time than this and Mile 22. I very, very almost went with the latter hoping it would be so bad it would be good, but that day I’d read a few reasonably positive reviews about that house with a clock in the walls, so I gave it the benefit of the doubt.

You know, it wasn’t actually that bad. It suffers from trying to fit in with a few too many genres at once so doesn’t get a chance to shine in any of them, but there are worse ways to spend an hour and a half of your time. It also makes a decent family movie for the spooky season.

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Best Bit: Cate Blanchett is just amazing in this as Jack Black’s neighbor. Her sarcastic wit was what really kept my interest!

Worst Bit: Jack Black’s head on a baby’s body…Ryan Reynolds just about gets away with having baby legs but this was just so wrong!

Fun Trivia: The bus stops across the street from a theater with the movie, “Space Man from Pluto” on the marquee. The head of Universal Studios wanted “Space Man from Pluto” to be the title of another Amblin Entertainment film produced by Steven Spielberg – but the director on that 1985 film kept the script’s original title, “Back to the Future.”

My Rating: 2 and a half pairs of steampunk goggles. My local cinema was giving away cardboard versions of these which have given me much entertainment as I attempt to convince my 11-month old to keep them on her head long enough for a photo!

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Ocean’s Eight (2018)

oceans-eight-movie-poster-2018Director: Gary Ross

Main Cast: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Richard Armitage, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Awkwafina, Sarah Paulson, Dakota Fanning

Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime

Plot: Debbie Ocean, the sister of Danny Ocean, finishes a prison sentence and assembles an all-female crew to attempt the impossible – a diamond heist during the New York City annual Met Gala.

My Thoughts: I can’t even tell you how much fun this movie is. To all the ladies out there, grab your girlfriends, order some takeout, but don’t stick on that well-used copy of Bridesmaids, watch this instead. While you’re at it, don’t leave the boys out, because there’s plenty here for everyone to enjoy!

Honestly, all I really want to do is rave about how amazing the opening scenes are with Sandra Bullock. I came out of Need for Speed wanting to drive my Fiat 500 like a Lambourgini, I came out of Wonder Woman feeling like I could kick someone’s ass, and I came out of Ocean’s Eight with an incredible impulse to shoplift. I didn’t, of course, but she made it look so easy! I just love Sandra Bullock so much.

If you’ve seen a lot of heist movies (I haven’t) then there’s probably nothing new here, but the ride is fun enough regardless. Also, I normally hate when singers turn up in movies thinking they can act, but I really enjoyed Rihanna’s performance!

With my serious hat on, it was so great to have an all-female main cast where each character got roughly the same amount of limelight, and each of their roles in the heist was just as important as the others, making them all equal. These ladies kick ass!

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Best Bit: Watching Sandra Bullock manage to shoplift all those cosmetics with such ease and confidence. I couldn’t work out how her approach was going to work but when it clicked for me, it was so funny.

Worst Bit: So, we ended up picking the only showing of the day which had subtitles, which was annoying as hell because even though I didn’t need them I couldn’t stop myself from reading them!

Fun Trivia: In her 2011 book, Mindy Kaling expressed an interest in wanting to do a reboot of Ocean’s 11, called Ocean’s 5, that would feature an all-female cast.

My Rating: I was going to do diamonds, but that seemed too obvious, so I’m giving it 4 out of 5 nine-balls!

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Review: Song to Song (2017)

Remember how literally just a few days ago I said I was struggling to name 5 movies that I really didn’t enjoy this year so far? Remember how my list was half-hearted because I didn’t truly hate any of them, I was just disappointed by them? That I actually missed hate-writing about a movie? Turns out the movie gods were listening that day, because they delivered Song to Song.

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I’ve heard that Terrence Malick movies are often controversial, and a quick check on IMDB confirmed what I thought – until now I haven’t seen a single one of his movies. I gotta say, there were none that really shouted out to me either, but there was no way I could ignore Song to Song. Here’s what I knew:
– Music was a strong feature (I’ve been spoiled by John Carney movies)
– It was set in Austin, Texas (I got to go there for work once and had an amazing time)
– The cast was excellent (Rooney Mara, Natalie Portman, Ryan Gosling & Michael Fassbender)
– It was described as a modern day love story

What could possibly go wrong?

It all started out okay to be honest. It felt a bit qwirky, a bit weird. It was a little raunchy too, so ticks in all the boxes from me. My eyes struggled to adjust to the fact that no single shot seemed to last any longer than 5 seconds, but I thought I’d get used to it. I had over 2 hours of movie to get used to it!

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About 20 minutes in, it all just went to hell. I couldn’t work out what was going on anymore. I thought it was established that Rooney Mara’s character was together with Michael Fassbender’s, but then she fell for Ryan Gosling. It seemed like some weird love triangle, because Ryan Gosling seemed way more interested in bro’ing it up with Michael Fassbender, but then he got married to Natalie Portman and…are you still reading?

This entire movie hurt my head. None of the characters ever seemed to talk much, or even smile. I’m sorry but, how can you fall in love with someone if all you do is float around silently, looking at them with the face and flair of a catwalk model? It’s infuriating!

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I actually gave up at the mid way point and turned the movie off. I thought I could be satisfied with not knowing how the story ended, or wasting another hour of my life whilst risking permanent frown lines from the face I pulled the entire time watching. Alas, the next day the completionist in me couldn’t take it anymore and I watched the rest. Did it get any better? No. Was it worth it? I got to see Ryan Gosling make a turkey out of a napkin (actually one of my favourite party tricks) so there was that.

I’m really sorry to actual, legit movie critics who understood this movie and what it was about, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea at all. 1 and a half napkins from me…you can turn them into turkeys yourself, or ask Ryan Gosling to show you how!

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