A Simple Favor (2018)

a-simple-favor-movie-review-2018Director: Paul Feig

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama, Mystery

Runtime: 117 Minutes

Main Cast: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells, Linda Cardellini, Eric Johnson, Sarah Baker, Ian Ho, Kelly McCormack, Glenda Braganza

Plot: Mommy vlogger Stephanie gets herself tangled up in a mystery when her newly found friend Emily goes missing one day.

My Thoughts: A Simple Favour is the movie I never knew I needed. When I heard Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively were teaming up I was absolutely giddy. I didn’t even know at that point what the movie was even about but it could have been the scariest horror of the century and I would have still seen it. When I found out it was a crime/mystery and also a comedy – I don’t even have the words. If you haven’t seen the marketing that Blake Lively did on her Instagram then you need to check it out!

It’s a shame that every single movie released after 2014 involving a missing woman will find itself compared to Gone Girl – it’s happening with this one and they are so very different! I won’t waste time trying to justify myself by listing the differences, just please take my word for it.

Let’s get back to the leading ladies. Anna Kendrick shines as this seemingly perfect Mum, you know the sort, she’s the Mum who brings in home-baked gluten-free cookies to the school bake sale. In my experience, she’s the Mum at your baby group who has a 3-month-old who sleeps through the night and never cries. Fellow Mums, don’t take notice of the Stephanie’s of the world, they’re bad for your health! Sorry, going off topic now…

Blake Lively steals the show, that’s all I can say. She. Is. Incredible. I’m confident in saying that she made every straight female in the audience question their sexuality – me included. Here I was thinking she was the lucky one when in fact It’s Ryan Reynolds!

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Best Bit: Blake Lively’s wardrobe. That’s a shallow thing to pick for best bit I know but if you’ve seen the movie you’ll understand. If I wore a pinstripe suit I would look like a strange young man on his way to an interview – how does Blake do it?!

Worst Bit: Putting my serious hat on, the ending is the only thing that lets the movie down. It was hella fun but absolutely all over the place and there will be people who won’t forgive it.

Fun Trivia: The gin used in the martinis shared by Anna and Blake’s characters is Aviation (American) Gin, a company owned by Blake Lively’s husband, Ryan Reynolds.

My Rating: 4 and a half very strong martinis, which are socially acceptable to drink anytime after 5pm. Unless you’re a Mum, in which case you’re probably going to need one by 10am.

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Searching (2018)

searching-movie-poster-review-2018Director: Aneesh Chaganty

Genre: Mystery, Drama, Thriller

Runtime: 101 Minutes

Main Cast: John Cho, Debra Messing, Joseph Lee, Michelle La, Sara Sohn, Thomas Barbusca

Plot: David’s sixteen-year-old daughter doesn’t come home after study group one night, and also doesn’t show up to school the next day. After doing some searching himself, he files a missing persons report with the police and continues the search with them using his daughter’s laptop and social media. The more he hunts the more he realises – he didn’t even really know his daughter well.

My Thoughts: I was so HYPED to see this movie. If I could describe the kind of movie I would happily watch for the rest of my life, it’s this. A mystery with a gripping story, plenty of twists and turns along the way, and a genuinely surprising ending. I love when movies like this are done well, because I become so engaged with the story and the characters that I don’t find myself playing detective and trying to work it out myself.

The other fascinating element of Searching is the way that it’s shot. The entire movie is seen through a screen – what I mean is that the only time you see any of the characters is through FaceTime, CCTV footage, and webcams. It’s so well done, and really helps with the mystery of it all because we only know what David knows. I’m not certain I’d like to see many more movies shot this way because it could turn into a gimmick very quickly, but it works so well for this.

I’m just gutted that as a movie it doesn’t seem to have had a very wide reach. Most people I’ve spoken to (in real life) have no idea this movie exists, and even though I went to see it within days of it’s UK release, I was 1 of only 3 people in the whole room. Please, please see this movie if it sounds like something you would enjoy!

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Best Bit: That moment towards the end where all of the confusing elements suddenly made sense. If I was watching at home and not out in public I would have had a noticeably more audible reaction.

Worst Bit: I wasn’t expecting the opening 5 minutes to hit me so hard in the feels! That needs to be a warning in the BBFC ratings screen, man!

Fun Trivia: The film took just thirteen days to shoot. However, it took two years to make due to the prep, editing and animating.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Macbooks. I did have a witty joke as per usual but I wanted to keep this post as spoiler-free as possible!

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American Animals (2018)

american-animals-movie-poster-review-2018Director: Bart Layton

Genre: Crime, Drama

Runtime: 116 Minutes

Main Cast: Barry Keoghan, Evan Peters, Blake Jenner, Jared Abrahamson, Ann Dowd

Plot: This is the true story of 4 young men who, after watching many heist movies including Reservoir Dogs, plan a heist of their own to steal millions of dollars worth of art from their University’s library.

My Thoughts: I went into this movie completely blind. It was my local Odeon’s “Screen Unseen” screening, a special event where they show a secret movie not yet released in the UK. I didn’t have any kind of inkling what the movie might be, and I hadn’t even heard of American Animals until the BBFC rating screen appeared!

So with that in mind, maybe the excitement of it all, combined with a complete lack of expectation will skew my thoughts, but I had a brilliant time watching this. It’s told in partly a documentary format with the men of the story making an appearance to give their own accounts of what happened back in 2003. Personally I had no idea so the outcome was always going to be a surprise, but seeing how old the 4 men are now and knowing how much time has passed since the heist, it was easy to deduce that nothing too serious went down for them to be walking free in the present day.

That said, it was a wild ride! You could quite easily split the movie into 2 distinct halves, before the heist and after the heist. The before half was interesting and quite humorous in the way it was filmed, think I, Tonya but not quite as outrageous.

However, it was the second half that makes American Animals so memorable for me. If you’ve ever watched a heist movie and thought “pshht, I could do that” then this is a much watch. It turns serious, fast, and I was honestly frozen in place with my heart thumping in my chest through some moments.

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Best Bit: The conflicting accounts from the 4 men, and how the movie changes with it. It amused me!
“The guy was wearing a blue tie” – Guy in question on screen has a blue tie.
“He had a dark coat and red tie” – Guy in question on screen’s tie has suddenly changed colour.

Worst Bit: I say worst only because it made me feel so uneasy (as intended really) but the moment when the guys ‘take care of the librarian’.

Fun Trivia: During filming the actors were not allowed to meet their real life counterparts because the director feared they would sympathise and/or play them in a certain light.

My Rating: 4 and a half out of 5 red ties. Blue ties. Oh, I don’t even know anymore! Did he have a beard?!

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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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First Reformed (2018)

first-reformed-movie-poster-2018Director: Paul Schrader

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Runtime: 113 Minutes

Main Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Ethan Hawke, Cedric the Entertainer, Michael Gaston, Victoria Hill, Van Hansis, Philip Ettinger

Plot: Reverend Toller is the pastor of the small historic First Reformed Church in upstate New York. The church is celebrating it’s upcoming two hundred and fiftieth anniversary very soon, and whilst preparing for the celebrations, Toller’s faith and wellbeing are threatened by tragic events.

My Thoughts: First Reformed seems to be the movie that every blogger is talking about at the moment, and I’m not one to stray away from the bandwagon, so I gave it a watch at the first opportunity I could get. I tried not to read too much about it beforehand because it seemed like one of those kind of movies.

I’ll tell you what kind of movie it is. It’s the kind that makes you go ‘WHAT?!’ at the end of it, and instead of sleeping that night, you run through your head what it all means until you end up putting yourself into an existential crisis. Safe to say, I had a lot of caffeine to get me through the following day.

Whilst I love a movie that makes me think, I’m not religious at all and so I found a lot of the movie hard to understand. If I were though, I could absolutely see First Reformed being one of my favourite movies of the year. It’s powerful stuff, that’s for sure.

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Best Bit: The growing relationship between Toller and Mary. They are both in so much pain, yet they give so much to help each other. Their friendship is what kept me going through the movie, as it’s quite slow.

Worst Bit: This will only make sense if you’ve seen the movie but, the floating scene. That’s where I crossed the line between barely understanding everything and accepting this movie wasn’t really made for me.

Fun Trivia: Writer/director Paul Schrader stated in a Q&A at Rotterdam Film Festival 2018 that he was surprised while editing the film to notice how many similarities there were with Taxi Driver, a film he also wrote.

My Rating: 3 and a half out of 5 glasses of whiskey, that you should really avoid if you have health issues, and most definitely not mix with Pepto Bismol.

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Skyscraper (2018)

skyscraper-movie-poster-2018-reviewDirector: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama

Main Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Pablo Schreiber, Noah Taylor, McKenna Roberts, Hannah Quinlivan, Roland Møller, Byron Mann, Chin Han

Plot: Will Sawyer once worked as part of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, but quit after a traumatic incident. He started up a small security business and thanks to his connections, he has been given the opportunity to assess the security for the world’s tallest skyscraper before the residential floors are opened. When a fire breaks out in one of the middle floors trapping his wife and children, Will does whatever he can to save them.

My Thoughts: I’m not saying I went into this with low expectations, but I think we all know what kind of movie Skyscraper is going to be. It’s cheesy as hell, and if you’ve seen the trailer you’ve seen the whole movie already, but I thought it was really entertaining!

I just can’t help but love Dwayne Johnson, he seems like such a genuinely nice guy, and although his movies aren’t going to Oscar nominees, he knows how to make an entertaining popcorn movie, and that’s just what I love to watch sometimes! It’s not too long, the pacing is good, and I was enjoying every minute, so I can’t complain really.

With my critical hat on, the twists are obvious, the bad guys are textbook and there are more than a few glaring plot holes, but if you started watching Skyscraper expecting an elaborate and shocking story then that’s on you!

skyscraper-movie-dwayne-johnson-neve-campbell

Best Bit: As ridiculous as it was, both scenes involving duct tape are brilliant. I want to see those moves used in the next Mission Impossible!

Worst Bit: The scene early on where Will’s wife needs him to fix her phone and he tells her to turn it off and on again. It was so odd that I just knew it was going to come back again at some point in the movie, and when it does it’s groan-worthy.

Fun Trivia: When Will Sawyer and Zhao first meet, Sawyer greets him with some Mandarin, and Zhao replies in the same language but there are no subtitles on the screen. He is asking in jest, “Your Mandarin is quite good; how is your English?”.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 rolls of duct tape. That should be enough to sort out a wound or you know, scale a skyscraper…

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Adrift (2018)

adrift-movie-review-poster-2018Director: Baltasar Kormákur

Genre: Romance, Drama, Adventure

Main Cast: Sam Claflin, Shailene Woodley, Grace Palmer, Jeffrey Thomas, Elizabeth Hawthorne

Plot: The true story of how Richard Sharp and Tami Oldham met by chance, fell in love and sailed thousands of miles to San Diego, where on the way they faced one of the most catastrophic hurricanes in recorded history.

My Thoughts: It’s been a while since I’ve seen a movie like this, and as with most movies based on true stories, I had no idea what actually happened to Richard and Tami, so I was really looking forward to seeing Adrift. My excitement dwindled slightly when my cinema buddy Steph was told the air-con in our screen was broken and the temperature in the room was currently 26 degrees. Ugh. For my overseas readers – the UK is going through one it’s longest heatwaves ever, and we don’t cope well in the heat!

On to the movie itself though! I think it’s hard for stories like this to have a good pace going, when you’ve got a couple stranded at sea there’s a risk of it lagging but it’s edited in a really nice way. The movie opens with the aftermath of the storm, and flicks back and forth between past and present so just when it’s at risk of getting dull, it switches again.

I am really starting to warm to Shailene Woodley. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve seen her in but she just has a certain down-to-earthness about her that I really like. Plus, I’m never going to complain about getting to see Sam Claflin on the big screen, although he spent a lot of time just laying about. The only thing that kept bugging me was it was made clear that Claflin’s character was much older than Woodley’s, but they looked the same age as each other to me! IMDB research has told me there’s a 5-year difference at least…

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Best Bit: The worst proposal in the world scene. It caught me off guard and I did one of those embarrassingly loud ‘HAH’ laughs that was completely involuntary.

Worst Bit: I can’t say for spoiler reasons, but if you’ve seen it (or know the actual true story) you’ll know exactly what I mean. I genuinely felt glum for the rest of the night!

Fun Trivia: According to Shailene Woodley, there were times on the open sea when, except for the director and cinematographer, everybody was throwing up overboard due to severe seasickness.

My Rating: 3 and a half jars of peanut butter out of 5. Use a spoon though, for crying out loud!

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