Movie Reviews

Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021)

space-jam-2-new-legacy-movie-review-posterDirector: Malcom D. Lee

Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Runtime: 115 Minutes

Main Cast: LeBron James, Don Cheadle, Cedric Joe, Khris Davis, Sonequa Martin-Green, Ceyair J Wright, Xosha Roquemore, Harper Leigh Alexander, Zendaya

Plot: LeBron’s son Dom (Cedric Joe) wants to focus on making his video game, not playing basketball. LeBron would prefer him to focus on his athletic abilities but when Dom is kidnapped by an artificial intelligence being (Don Cheadle) at Sony, LeBron is forced into playing Dom’s game in order to save his family.

My Thoughts: Disclaimer, I’ve never seen the original Space Jam movie. I wasn’t into sports and I wasn’t fussed about Looney Tunes when I was a kid so it was just never on my radar. But it’s currently 30 degrees Celsius in the UK, and I’ve sworn to watch anything and everything I can at the cinema, so I was there for the air con, the ice cream and a fun time. I’m pleased to say I got all three, mostly. I guess my biggest question is, who is A New Legacy aimed at? If it’s for kids then you can forgive a lot of its errors, but the kids of today don’t know who the Looney Tunes are and they aren’t going to pick up on all of the Warner Bros references. Apart from the 8 year old’s in front of me who knew who Pennywise was. Questionable parenting there, folks.

So if it’s not for kids then it’s a nostalgia trip for the adults who grew up loving the original, which seems more likely than the alternative. Which is fine, other than the fact that at face value, it’s a pretty terrible movie. LeBron can’t act, but you can hardly blame him for that. Everyone seems to be loving Don Cheadle’s villain but I found him the most awkward part of the entire movie. Some of his lines were actually painful to listen to, they must have physically hurt to read. But at the end of the day, I’d rather watch a bad movie that was a lot of fun than a well-made movie that bores me to tears, so there you have it.

The best chunk of the movie is easily when LeBron has landed in the cartoon world and is helping Bugs Bunny get the team back together. It’s not up there with The Muppets (2011) but it’s still a lot of fun, delving into the world of Warner Bros. Did you know LeBron James is a Hufflepuff? Sure, it felt like WB trying to brag at their own collection, but I’m a sucker for references like that and it made the movie more enjoyable as a whole.

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Best Bit: *SPOILERS* If there’s anything I love more than movie references, it’s unexpected cameos – and Space Jam has a great one. The Tune Squad are losing and need a plan – in the form of Michael Jordan, basketball legend and star of the original movie. Now, I might not recognise Michael Jordan himself but I sure as hell recognised that shadow doing a slow-mo walk towards the camera. Michael B. Jordan! Best cameo of the year for sure and an excellent joke.

Worst Bit: Warner Bros just admitted that their new content is all created by an algorithm, didn’t they? It certainly explains their dodgy marketing plans, I guess…

Fun Trivia: After the original idea for “Space Jam 2” was canceled, there was an idea for a spy film titled “Spy Jam” starring Chinese actor Jackie Chan, but he left the project and it evolved into Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003).

My Rating: Two and a half sticks of dynamite…that’s all, folks!

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Movie Reviews

Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse (2021)

without-remorse-clancy-movie-review-2021Director: Stefano Sollima

Genre: Action, Thriller

Runtime: 109 Minutes

Main Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Lauren London, Brett Gelman, Jacob Scipio, Jack Kesy, Colman Domingo, Guy Pearce, Todd Lasance

Plot: John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan), an elite Navy SEAL, embarks on a mission to uncover an international conspiracy after his wife is murdered in an act of revenge.

My Thoughts: Apologies in advance, I’m not well versed in Tom Clancy’s work. I haven’t read his books, I’ve seen the occasional movie based on his characters and I’ve seen my husband play the games inspired by his works. That’s enough, right? Probably not. Anyway! I wasn’t originally planning on watching Without Remorse, but last month was a Michael B. Jordan month for me and so it seemed kind of perfect timing, so I gave it a go. It was…alright. I guess it’s not a good sign when you feel like you need to use Tom Clancy’s name in the movie title just to sell it.

There are a lot of things the movie does well, it isn’t all bad. The action scenes are sublime, and full of tension. It’sin those moments that the movie really shines. What’s lacking is the emotion. Not from the characters themselves, but just in the story itself. None of us can forget the moment John Wick’s puppy was killed 7 years ago. More recently, we were all on Bob Oodenkirk’s side when his character went on a violent rampage in the name of his daughter’s kitty cat bracelet. But John Kelly’s pregnant wife being murdered should have made Without Remorse an emotionally-charged revenge flick, and it was lacking.

It did however set up what could be a promising sequel. In a post-credits scene the word ‘rainbow’ is mentioned, and gamers will instantly relate this to Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege. Honestly, I’m just looking forward to seeing which characters will make it onto the big screen and who will play them! If that movie is done right it should be an absolute blast and have us all on the edge of our seats.

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Best Bit: Michael B. Jordan in that uniform. Ahem! Erm. Nope, sorry, I’ve got nothing sensible to say here. I stuck it out just to drool over Michael B. Jordan. Sorry not sorry.

Worst Bit: I’ve nothing against Jamie Bell, I think he’s a great actor, but he seems so badly miscast in this role! It was so hard to take him seriously as a leader when his vibe is much more suited to a junior role. It was really quite distracting.

Fun Trivia: The film adaptation of Tom Clancy’s 1993 novel ‘Without Remorse’ had been in development since the 1990s. In 1994, Keanu Reeves was offered $7 million for the role of John Clark but turned it down.

My Rating: 3 tubs of popcorn, for no other reason that I’m ridiculously excited to be back in the cinema next week!

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Lists · Movie Reviews

Hidden Gems: Michael B. Jordan

With the outdoors opening up and a week’s holiday to the coast, I haven’t watched as many movies as I usually do which led to a Michael B. Jordan crammed week in order to get my hidden gems post in this month! If you aren’t familiar with the Hidden Gems Challenge, it was started by Mettel Ray and you can find her original post here. Her pick for April is Keira Knightley and I can’t wait to see what she watched! Ii think Keira Knightley is a really underrated actress but there’s definitely a lot of her movies that I haven’t seen yet. But enough about Keira – let’s talk Michael B. Jordan!

Why Michael B. Jordan?

Well, he was voted People Magazine’s Sexiest Man in 2020, a title I’m certainly not going to argue about! But also, I can’t think of a single movie of his that I haven’t enjoyed (with the exception of Fantastic Four, but we can’t blame Jordan for that), and so there’s bound to be even more out there just waiting for me to watch! Jordan has a host of smaller awards already, but I definitely feel like an Oscar-worthy role is right around the corner for him.

Statistics

Letterboxd has 34 movies listed under Michael B. Jordan’s name. I took out shorts, documentaries, and unreleased projects which left me with 20. Before the challenge I’d seen 7 of those, not a lot but a decent percentage! Out of the ones I’d already seen some of my favourites include Hardball, Black Panther and Creed.

I’ve also seen Chronicle, Just Mercy, Fantastic Four, and That Awkward Moment.

As before, I tried to pick 3 movies where Michael B. Jordan played a main role, and so my choices ended up being Fahrenheit 451, Fruitvale Station and Creed II.

Fahrenheit 451 (2018)

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Based on a novel by Ray Bradbury, published in the 1950’s, Fahrenheit 451 is set in a dystopian world where books are illegal and firefighters start fires rather than putting them out. I’d heard that the book is great but the modern movie adaptation was terrible. Buuut the combo of Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon was too intriguing to pass up, so this was my first stop.

It’s not a great movie, but it wasn’t the train wreck I was expecting, that’s for sure. I loved the use of future technology that I imagine is one step further than the source material, and although it left me with a ton of unanswered questions, it didn’t put me off, and as a result I’m actually currently reading the novel in the hopes of getting the answers I’m looking for. Like, if the firefighters aren’t putting out fires, who is?!

Fruitvale Station (2013)

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Fruitvale Station is based on a true story – the event that took place in the early hours of New Year’s Day at Fruitvale Station in Oakland, California, where young Afro-American Oscar Grant was shot by a cop and later died in hospital. I knew this wouldn’t be an easy watch but it’s with regret that I admit I knew nothing about the event, and so it seemed the perfect opportunity to educate myself on this tragic event and also explore one of Michael B. Jordan’s more serious roles. It also stars Octavia Spencer, who just so happens to be another of my choices for the Hidden Gems challenge!

This is a powerful and deeply emotional movie. It opens with real life footage captured by passengers on the train at the station, then goes back in time to explore Oscar’s life, before ending at that tragic night. Oscar isn’t portrayed as a perfect person – he was a real guy who made some bad decisions in his past but was a fantastic father, a loving son and a caring individual. The climatic scene is brutal, unflinching and upsetting to watch, and I don’t know what’s worse – the fact that it’s a movie based on a real event, or the fact that 12 years later murders like this are still a regular occurrence. What is it going to take for this to end?!

Creed II (2018)

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I don’t know what stopped me from watching Creed II, I really enjoyed the first one. I think it was released not long after I became a Mum and stopped going to the cinema for a few months, and it just slipped off my radar. Anyway – Creed II follows on from the events of the first movie, but this time, the son of the boxer that caused Adonis Creed’s father’s death is on the scene and challenging the recently crowned world champion to a match. Rocky urges Adonis to turn him down, but this is personal.

I really need to make an effort to watch the other Rocky movies (I’ve only seen the first) because there’s something about these characters that I just adore. I’m not a boxing fan in the least but from what I’ve seen so far, these movies are so much more than the sport. I thought Creed II lacked some of the personal relationships that the first one did so well, but that final fight was so dramatic I could feel myself tense up and actually stop breathing. I’ll be in the cinema for Creed III – that’s a promise!

Final Thoughts

April has been a great month! Or perhaps I should say, the final week in April has been great! As that’s when I squeezed all three of my picks in. Fruitvale Station is without a doubt a hidden gem, and Creed II is very close to being one. Also, I already mentioned that I was so interested in Mettel Ray‘s challenge because I’d tried and failed to do the Blind Spot challenge at least 3 times. Well, I’ve stuck out this challenge for longer than my other attempts and I’m seeing no signs of stopping before the year is out! Next month is dedicated to Margot Robbie, so wish me luck in my picks!

Movie Reviews

Just Mercy (2019)

just-mercy-2019-movie-poster-reviewDirector: Destin Daniel Cretton

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 136 Minutes

Main Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Rafe Spall, Rob Morgan, Tim Blake Nelson, Darrell Britt-Gibson

Plot: The real-life story of how a fresh out of University lawyer by the name of Bryan Stevenson worked to free a wrongly condemned prisoner on death row, blamed for the murder of a teenaged girl.

My Thoughts: I’ve ended up missing out on the last 3 secret screenings that my local cinema offers, so I was dying to make it to the first of the year! I’ve stopped checking their social media for the clues because they’re too obvious. If I want to go to a secret screening, I want to be surprised! My hunch was that it would be Queen & Slim and honestly, I’d never even heard of Just Mercy so I was really excited at the thought of knowing nothing about what I was about to watch!

I’m pointing out the obvious but Just Mercy is tough to watch at times. It’s horrible to know that even in the very late 80s, going into 90s, racism was still so strong. The entire cast does a good job here but it’s Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx who are the standouts here, as the lawyer and death row inmate respectively. We’re with them both every step of the way and feel the same heartache and frustrations as they do.

It’s probably not the kind of movie I would deliberately seek out and watch which is why I love these screenings so much. As powerful as the story is (I cried more than once) it still felt quite dry in places, and it’s at least 20 minutes too long, although I don’t know where I would cut parts out.

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Best Bit: I loved the scene where Bryan managed to get the case re-opened at the supreme court. It was so suspenseful. I really thought for a moment that it was about to end horribly, and when it didn’t, I wanted to jump up and down with everyone else!

Worst Bit: I felt Brie Larson was totally underused. I understand why her character was there but she just didn’t…seem to actually do much? I’d have liked to have found out more about her, why she got into this line of business, what the fallout was, and so on.

Fun Trivia: The roadblock scene was not intended to be a night scene. The film crew was delayed for almost 4 hours due to storms and it pushed the filming back to nighttime.

My Rating: 3 and a half tickets to the Harper Lee museum which you really ought to visit…according to 50% of the characters in this movie.

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Movie Reviews

Mini Reviews: Red Sparrow (2018), Black Panther (2018) & Annihilation (2018)

Aww, I just realised I should have watched another movie with a colour in the title to make this a perfect Mini Reviews post! Anyway, I’ve been able to watch a few movies over the past few evenings but haven’t had much time to properly blog about them, so I thought it was about time I did another one of these posts to keep the flow going.

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Red Sparrow (2018)

I’ve found Jennifer Lawrence’s movies to be a bit hit and miss lately, and I’m not sure where I would place Red Sparrow. Jennifer Lawrence plays Dominika, a prima-ballerina forced to work for the Russian Government as a Sparrow after suffering an injury. It’s a dark and grim movie in more ways than one – including a knife fight scene which was fascinating to me from a technical point of view.

It didn’t help that I watched this in 3 chunks because the plot moves at a crazy pace. Does anyone remember that episode of Friends where they find out Monica and Chandler are together? The moment¬†with Joey, Rachel and Phoebe, “They don’t know we know they know we know!” This is the spy movie equivalent of that to me.

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Black Panther (2018)

Black Panther I think is the first Marvel movie I didn’t catch at the cinema – a crime, I know! Especially as it seems I’m the only person in the world who didn’t see it. It follows T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) as he fights his claim to the throne as King of Wakanda. It’s an amazing introduction to how the people of Wakanda live, with their impressive technology.

At first I think the hype oversold the movie to me and I was a little disappointed, and it also wasn’t as funny as most of the other Marvel movies, but when you take it as a standalone movie it’s brilliant, and it has claim to one of the best bad guys I’ve seen.

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Annihilation (2018)

I remember seeing the trailer for Annihilation last year and being really impressed. There seemed to be a real buzz around it but then when I took a bit of a blogging break I arrived back to see it had been and gone and it wasn’t really being talked about. Then I realised it was actually a Netflix movie which explained a lot! In this movie, a team of biologists enter ‘The Shimmer’ to investigate a phenomenon that only 1 other people¬†has ever survived.

It’s a good movie and well worth a watch but I didn’t love it. The scene with the bear (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve seen it) was terrifying in all sorts of ways and will stick with me for a long time, but the ending left me scratching my head a bit.