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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Movie Reviews

Artemis Fowl (2020)

artemis-fowl-movie-review-poster-2020Director: Kenneth Branagh

Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Runtime: 95 Minutes

Main Cast: Ferida Shaw, Lara McDonnell, Josh Gad, Tamara Smart, Nonso Anozie, Joshua McGuire, Colin Farrell, Judi Dench

Plot: Artemis Fowl Senior has been kidnapped by…a hooded baddie with a raspy voice. This mysterious person wants Artemis Fowl Junior to find a magical object called the ‘Aculos’. Young Artemis is about to learn that the Irish tales of fairies that his father read to him every night are real.

My Thoughts: I didn’t write this post to hop on the ‘we hate Artemis Fowl’ bandwagon. I went in with an open mind, hoping to enjoy it. My tastes in movies aren’t always the best and I often have a soft spot for family movies. Not for Artemis Fowl, though. This is up there with Jupiter Ascending (2015) for me. It’s all just a bit…dumb. Which is a shame, because I hear the book is excellent. Then again, I also hear the movie strayed away from its source material.

Firstly, what dirt does Josh Gad have on Disney? He must just be on their payroll by now. Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy, but if you want to cast someone scruffy with a gruff voice, why would you cast Josh Gad? Which brings me to Judi Dench. Goodness me, the last thing I saw her in was Cats (2019). My throat actually hurt every time I had to hear Judi Dench put on that voice. Whyyyyyyyyyy.

I didn’t have a problem with the story itself, but it felt like it was told in the least exciting way possible. There’s a huge, hidden world out there with fairies and dwarves and goblins, but I felt no magic at all. It also didn’t help that little Artemis Fowl himself is one of the most unlikeable characters in the movie. I cared an awful lot more about the young fairy Holly Short than him, and he was just as unlikeable at the end, too.

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Best Bit: At the mid-point of the mess that is this year, with cinemas still not open and Tenet pushed back 2 weeks, I was just happy to be watching a new release, good or bad!

Worst Bit: According to my husband, watching Josh Gad expand his jaw to tunnel his way through the ground and fart out dirt was the most horrifying thing he’s seen in his life. And he quite literally watched in the moment our daughter was born. So…there’s that. Sorry if you lost your appetite.

Fun Trivia: The film has been in development since 2001. Eoin Colfer (author of the book) has jokingly stated that the movie would be finished two years after he died.

My Rating: 2 packs of throat lozenges that I’ve been saving for Judi Dench. Is she okay?

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Movie Reviews

Onward (2020)

onward-movie-review-poster-2020Director: Dan Scanlon

Genre: Family, Adventure, Fantasy, Animation

Runtime: 102 Minutes

Main Cast: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer, Mel Rodriguez, Kyle Bornheimer, Lena Waithe, Ali Wong

Plot: Years ago, the world was a magical place. But magic is a hard skill to master, and so as time went on, the mythical creatures in this world found newer and easier ways to get by. When Ian Lightfoot turns 16, his mother presents him and his older brother Barley with a gift from their father who passed away before Ian was born, a staff and a spell with the power to bring their father back from the dead for one day.

My Thoughts: After so many years, Disney Pixar don’t need to furnish me with any marketing. Just give me a date for when their next movie comes out and I’ll be there. That said, does anyone else feel the marketing for Onward has been a little…light? Not only that, in the trailers I saw over the past few months, I can’t help but feel like Onward could easily be mistaken for a Dreamworks movie. It has that kind of vibe to it, you know?

And if I’m brutally honest, I wasn’t blown away by the movie for a while. I was absorbed in the world-building, and I loved Ian and Barley as characters, but it felt like a very straightfoward, colour by numbers kind of story for a while. However. There was a moment around halfway through, when Ian and Barley are dancing with their father, that it all finally clicked, and the Disney Pixar magic kicked in, and every moment after that was just so good!

No spoilers of course but the ending really took me by surprise. I mean, you can see where the story is leading and you know what the climax will involve, but it didn’t go the way I thought at all which is always welcome. Oh boy did I cry though. It was up there with “Take her to the moon for me” on my Disney Pixar crying scale.

onward-movie-magic-spell-dad-legs-2020

Best Bit: The spells that Ian learns throughout the story are so much fun and took me back to my Harry Potter days. Aloft Elevar is the new Wingardium Leviosa, people. However! My absolute favourite bit was the creature that I will not reveal for spoilers and…let’s say…the finishing touch the curse brings it. I laughed quite loudly at that.

Worst Bit: I’m not fully sold on the mum’s boyfriend as a character. For a movie centring its themes on family, death and grief and everything that follows, I would have expected there to be more about the brother’s feelings towards Colt, other than simply mocking him.

Fun Trivia: Pixar’s iconic Pizza Planet truck appears in the troll bridge toll scene.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 cans of Mountain Dew DOOM. I wish they were real!

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Going Off Topic

Going Off Topic (#23) Who, What, Where, When, Why?

I’m doing a grand old job at posting all my Top 10 lists for the decade, aren’t I? I’m just stuck in that time between Christmas and New Year when I don’t know what day of the week it is, what time of day it is or what a decent meal looks like. Chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and wine…wine whenever! So whilst I’m in no shape to be ranking movies or attempting to review anything I’ve seen, enjoy some word vomit from yours truly.

I hope you all had a grand Christmas, by the way! Mine’s been fab. I’ve spent the days with family and friends and it’s genuinely been lovely. Speaking of friends, my bestie Steph is going to get an ODEON Limitless card in the New Year so I’m going to have a cinema buddy for 2020! Hurrah! I mention her often here but she’s actually been my best friend since we were about 14. We lost touch after school but reunited around 6 years ago and now we live literally seconds away from each other! She’s as nuts as me, and she was grateful I didn’t mention how she broke down in tears in my car after watching Rise of Skywalker. Whoops.

Movies wise, I think I’ve only seen 2 new ones since I wrote anything here.I’ve rewatched Rise of Skywalker twice now but I also watched Parasite on Boxing Day (bloody brilliant) and I saw Little Women last night which was good, if not my usual cup of tea, and ever so slightly confusing with the time jumps. Oh! And I did see Jumanji: The Next Level as well which was surprisingly good, just like the first.

Over to TV…I didn’t catch up with Mr. Robot in time to watch the finale as it happened. I haven’t seen any spoilers yet though, so I’ll get there eventually. I did finish The Mandalorian which was glorious, and I’m interested to see where Season 2 takes us. Me and my husband have started watching The Witcher together which is actually really good so far, even though we’re only 2 episodes in. Can we all agree that Toss a Coin to Your Witcher is the greatest song of 2019? And finally – I’ve started Season 2 of You which is everything I wanted it to be. Life is good, guys.

So, once I’m back into the swing of things I’ll be posting regularly again, and I desperately need to catch up on the blogs I follow too (sorry, guys!). I’ll be finishing my Top 100 Movies of the Decade posts, announcing my 2020 Blind Spot list, and probably making a few New Year’s Resolutions too.

For now – I hope you’re enjoying the break, if you’ve got one, and I’m super excited to be sharing the movies of 2020 with you all next year!

Movie Reviews

Noelle (2019)

noelle-disney-christmas-movie-2019-posterDirector: Marc Lawrence

Genre: Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Runtime: 100 Minutes

Main Cast: Anna Kendrick, Bill Hader, Shirley MacLaine, Chelah Horsdal, Andy Nez, Billy Eichner, Julie Hagerty, Maceo Smedley, Kingsley Ben-Adir

Plot: Nick and Noelle’s father has passed away, leaving Nick to take on his role of Santa Claus. Nick struggles with the pressure however, and after Noelle suggests he takes a weekend away to de-stress, Christmas itself is in jeopardy when he fails to return.

My Thoughts: Christmas has well and truly landed in my house, our tree is up, mince pies are readily available, and I’m consuming as many festive movies as I can! There’s no way I was going to skip Noelle. It combines my favourite time of year and one of my favourite actresses. And! It’s a Disney movie! Can I really ask for anything more? It draws a few comparisons with Elf (2003) for its ‘fish out of water’ vibe, and whilst it’s nowhere near as good, there’s still a lot to like.

What is there to like, you ask? How about the cutest outfits December can buy, an adorable baby reindeer called Snowcone, and Bill Hader leading a festive yoga class? If that’s not enough for you then bah, humbug. Billy Eichner is back, you might know him better as the voice behind Timon in the Lion King remake. I wish he was given a little more free rein, though. I was hoping he would have a hissy fit like he did in Parks & Rec but his character was much more restrained.

For me, a Christmas movie needs to do 3 things. It needs to make me laugh, which this did many a time, even if they were groan-laughs at terrible puns. It needs to make me feel festive, which it did, mainly in the form of outfit envy over Anna Kendrick’s elf getup. Finally, it needs to be so darn sweet it makes me cry and goddamnit did Noelle make me cry. The scenes at the children’s shelter made me sob like a baby.

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Best Bit: I couldn’t even list all of the puns but they are relentless and I love it. Also, the candy cane gavel joke never got old. I also kind of want one.

Worst Bit: This was almost my Best Bit instead because the CGI reindeer at the shopping village were SO TERRIBLE it was actually hilarious. The people in the background weren’t even looking at them in some scenes. Totally took me out of the movie but for funny reasons. Like, that CGI would have looked bad 15 years ago. That’s how much it stood out.

Fun Trivia: In the scene at the store where Noelle is in the freezer, you can see a Disney Duffy doll behind her, and just after that, a guest is seen purchasing a Shellie May doll.

My Rating: 3 and a half iPads which seemingly everyone in this movie wanted for Christmas. To be honest Santa, I wouldn’t say no if you’re offering…

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