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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Sorry to Bother You (2018)

sorry-to-bother-you-movie-review-2018Director: Boots Riley

Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Comedy

Runtime: 105 Minutes

Main Cast: Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, Terry Crews, Patton Oswalt, David Cross, Danny Glover, Steven Yeun, Armie Hammer, Mahari Crown, Lily James

Plot: Set in an alternate present-day version of Oakland, telemarketer Cassius Green learns the secret to success, using his “white voice”, which propels him into…madness! That’s the best job I can do in summing up this crazy movie.

My Thoughts: I got to see Sorry to Bother You over a week before it’s UK release thanks to ODEON Screen Unseen! The clues are usually ridiculously cryptic but I was pretty certain it was going to be this, although I was just as certain last time and that didn’t end very well. There were quite a few cheers when the secret movie was revealed so I guess it wasn’t only me who was really looking forward to it!

I thought I had seen the weirdest movie ever when I watched The Lobster. Then I thought the same when I watched Swiss Army Man. Oh boy, Sorry to Bother You is going to hold that award for a long time yet! I was ready for weird, I already knew about the “white voice”, but I was so not ready for what I witnessed. I’ve let it sink in for 48 hours now and I’m still not sure what I really think.

What I am certain about however is that I need to see it again. There are so many tiny details crammed in that I know it’ll be a great rewatch. One thing I didn’t miss however were Tessa Thompson’s dildo earrings! Again, not even close to being the craziest thing about this movie!

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Best Bit: I absolutely loved the scene where Cassius is taken into the golden elevator. I thought that sequence code was going to go on forever, and it made me and the rest of the screen really laugh. Oh, oh, I just remembered…have a cola and smile, bitch! Do you think my husband would be mad at me if I threw a can of Pepsi at him and shouted that?

Worst Bit: There isn’t a specific part that I didn’t enjoy, but I did nod off slightly when it came to Detroit’s art show. I’m not an arty person myself so it just didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Fun Trivia: During the bar scene, when Danny Glover’s character is asked why he isn’t dancing, he responds with the, “I’m too old for this shit” line made famous from his role as Roger Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon movie franchise.

My Rating: This rating is bound to change because I feel like it’s the kind of movie that will grow on me with time, but for now it gets 3 and a half out of 5 jade doors…not olive doors, jade doors!

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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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Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

solo-star-wars-movie-review-2018Director: Ron  Howard

Main Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Joonas Suotamo, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Paul Bettany, Jon Favreau, Erin Kellyman

Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Plot: This is essentially the story of how Han Solo gets his surname, becomes best friends with Chewie, and forms a lifelong rivalry with Lando Calrissian years before the events of the original Star Wars trilogy takes place.

My Thoughts: I just don’t see why this couldn’t have been released at Christmas, just like the other recent Star Wars movies. There would have been so much hype around it, and I think it would have helped it perform better at the box office too because I already see this being labelled a ‘flop’ when it really wasn’t a bad movie at all.

Maybe it’s an unpopular opinion, but I thought Alden Ehrenreich did a pretty good job as Han Solo. It can’t be easy trying to imitate another actor’s performance, especially when it’s such a widely-loved character. Can we take a moment though to appreciate the absolute legend that is Donald Glover as Lando? Hollywood, please cast this guy in everything, because he’s amazing!

I wasn’t a huge fan of Emilia Clarke’s character, although maybe I’m just not a fan of Emilia Clarke. She’s great in Game of Thrones but she seems a bit out of place here – and I feel like she did in the latest Terminator movie too.

Solo was a movie I really enjoyed watching, but it missed that spark that the others have, the whole ‘saving the galaxy’ vibe. The storytelling was great but I feel like it’s a movie that I just don’t need to ever see again if that makes sense?

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Best Bit: Any bit that included Lando. But on a serious note, the scene when L3 starts a rebellion of her own. What is it about the Star Wars droids? They’re all hilarious!

Worst Bit: The opening. Why didn’t we have the scrolling introduction? Rogue One had it so why didn’t Solo? I’m confused!

Fun Trivia: While posing as slave traders, Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) wears the same helmet and uniform that Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) wore while posing as a bodyguard for Jabba the Hutt in Stars Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983).

My Rating: 3 and a half pairs of arms that Chewbacca tore off…ouch!

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Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

star-wars-last-jedi-movie-reviewWeekly cinema trips are a thing of the past for me now, but I still managed to get out to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) thanks to my Mum who babysat while the rest of the family and I braved the weather after steering clear of all social media for the previous 3 days. After finally becoming a Star Wars fan at the ripe age of 26 in the weeks before The Force Awakens came out, I felt almost physically sick with excitement to find out what happened next!

As it’s been out for a few weeks now this review is spoilerific, so steer clear if you haven’t seen it yet and don’t want anything spoilt for you!

What is it about that opening music that makes you jump even though you’re expecting it? And has poor General Hux been eating well enough? He looks even pastier than he did before! I loved the scene where Poe Dameron toyed with him, in fact I think it was even better than when he toyed with Kylo Ren (“So who talks first?”). Never change, Poe!

Like so many others, I’ve spent the last 2 years coming up with my own ideas on how I’d like the story to evolve, and I’ve also been rooting for a particular romance to stir! You’ve got to know I’m talking about Kylo Ren and Rey here. “But they hate each other” I heard people say. “Aren’t they totally related anyway?” No, they aren’t! What I wished for I never actually expected to happen, though. Force bond? Shirtless Kylo Ren?! Rian Johnson you are my hero. Matt was right, Kylo is shredded!

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Ahem. Sorry, I’m drifting off into a fangirl ramble now. But that team up fight scene? Awesome! Did you guys see the way Kylo Ren looked at those Praetorian Guards when one dared to hurt his beloved Rey?! *cough* Sorry, I really will stop now.

I’ve been away from the blog world so I’m not in the loop on what you all thought about it, but according to my Facebook feed the world hated it. Was it too long? Maybe, but I would have sat through 3 hours of it to be honest. I read complaints that it was ‘too different’, but are they the same people who claimed The Force Awakens was just a copy of A New Hope? Was the casino scene necessary? Probably not, but I love seeing more of the galaxy. Let’s not talk about Leia Poppins though…

I’m undecided on how I feel about Rose, but that’s definitely due to the lack of Finn/Poe bromance scenes this time around. Shoo, Rose! Is it just me or did Laura Dern feel a bit out of place here? I think she’s great and all but she just seemed…too prim and proper? I can’t put my finger on it. Her heroic actions were jaw dropping though, I can’t deny that.

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How do we all feel about the reveal of Rey’s parents? How mean is Rian Johnson for teasing the subject at least 3 times before we got to find out? There were so many theories floating around, but I honestly wanted her to have nobodies as parents. Not everyone has to be the child of a main character, but it somehow still felt a bit of a downer to hear it confirmed. It’s strange.

Anyway, I’ve actually been to see it twice now thanks to an impromptu date night with my bestie, and I enjoyed it even more the second time around. Knowing what was going to happen made me appreciate those stand-out scenes even more. I can’t believe we’ve got another 2 year wait now though. I’ve convinced myself that Kylo Ren isn’t going to live to see the credits…

It’s not perfect but I loved it all the same, so The Last Jedi gets 4 and a half un-roasted Porgs from me!

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Review: A Ghost Story (2017)

a-ghost-story-movie-review-2017It’s October! It’s that time of year when I put on my big girl pants, man up a little and watch a few scary movies. Last year was a huge success (for a wimp like me!) as I watched It Follows, Krampus, The Babadook, and even the classic, Psycho. This year I’d quite like to outdo myself, but instead I’ve started on one big fail. Look at that poster! It looks terrifying, right? Only here’s the thing – A Ghost Story isn’t even a horror movie. Doh.

That’s my fault for walking in blind really, but I’ve always stood by my opinion that it’s the best way to go into a movie. So no, A Ghost Story isn’t a horror, instead it’s a cracking little indie movie about a ghost trapped in his home, forced to simply stand by and watch as time flies by.

Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck play a young couple with troubles in their relationship, which are only made worse when Casey Affleck’s character is killed in a car accident. He wakes up in the hospital as a ghost in the most recognisable way, under a sheet with holes cut out as eyes. After he walks back home, he watches Rooney Mara’s character deal with the aftermath and eventually moves out of the house, leaving behind a note hidden in the wall – something she’s enjoyed doing all her life.

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It took a good half an hour for this movie to really kick in and get interesting for me, I’ll admit. I started to wonder what the point was, and some of the shots were almost painfully long in that arty kind of way. It also took me a while to work out why the director would choose to film in an aspect ratio of 1:33:1, but during some scenes I felt genuinely claustrophobic, and then the reason became clear.

I don’t want to talk too much about the rest of the story, because I think you should go in knowing as little as you can but the last 20 minutes or so completely baffled me. Just when you think you’ve got your head wrapped around what’s happening, you get the rug pulled out from under you, but in a simple sense, rather than a shocking, plot twist sense. It was one of those endings I had to read up on, and just like the choice of aspect ratio, it became immediately clear to me.

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Oh! I have to say, despite it not being a horror movie, I still have to say “screw you!” for the TWO jump scares that sneakily made their appearance…it’s a good job my due date is still nearly two weeks away because they gave me such a freight I swear they might have brought on contractions.

So really, other than the slow start, I really enjoyed A Ghost Story. It perhaps wasn’t the scary start to the month I was expecting, but I’m glad I gave it a go nonetheless. It gets 4 out of 5 sympathy pies from me, which is making me feel nauseous just thinking about it, because no one needs to watch Rooney Mara sobbing and demolishing an entire pie in a five minute shot.

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