Movie Reviews

Greenland (2020)

greenland-movie-review-poster-2020Director: Ric Roman Waugh

Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller

Runtime: 119 Minutes

Main Cast: Gerard Butler, Morena Baccarin, Roger Dale Floyd, David Denman, Hope Davis, Scott Glenn, Andrew Bachelor, Merrin Dungey, Holt McCallany

Plot: There’s a planet-killing comet hurtling towards Earth and the panic has set in. John Garrity (Gerard Butler) along with his estranged wife (Morena Baccarin) and their child (Roger Dale Floyd) have been selected by the Government to be transported to a top-secret underground bunker to seek shelter, but the trip there won’t be easy.

My Thoughts: You know the movie industry is in a sorry state when one of your most anticipated movies of 2020 is a disaster flick starring Gerard Butler. That’s harsh I know, and actually quite unfairly so because Greenland is a really decent watch! Love them or hate them, there will always be a place for disaster movies and when they’re done right they can be highly entertaining. There are always the genre-typical cliches but they’re part of the fun, and Greenland was genuinely really tense a lot of the time.

The drama kicks off pretty quickly when the first piece of debris falls in Florida and causes a huge aftershock, with the awkward moment of John’s Government alert going off in front of his extended family who haven’t been selected. Then, chaos erupts. That’s also when one of the many cliches comes to light, their son has Type 1 Diabetes, and you just know that the bag of medical supplies packed is going to get lost and cause no end of trouble. Isn’t that part of the fun of this kind of movie though?

I genuinely didn’t know how Greenland was going to end. I had my theories of course but I couldn’t be certain. It’s a satisfying conclusion after a whirlwind final act. We’re due an onslaught of Covid-related disaster movies in the next couple of years which will range from good to downright awful, so perhaps now is the time to watch a movie where the world falls apart without the mention of the C word!

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Best Bit: Just when you think everything is going to be okay, the plane shakes and…oh my god. I stopped breathing at that moment and didn’t start again until the end of the movie, I swear.

Worst Bit: In the ‘so terrible it’s almost brilliant’ corner we have…the security at the military base containing the planes bound for Greenland. There’s a huge, angry mob outside that seem quite happy to just be angry on the spot because pushing your way to the front is apparently a piece of cake. And if you get turned away once you get there? Just pop round the corner to leave, a path that must be concealed by witchcraft as there are no guards there and the mob is seemingly oblivious!

Fun Trivia: The comet is named “Clarke,” in a tribute to the late Arthur C. Clarke, author of the 1993 novel “Hammer of God,” which describes the impact on Earth of a planet-killing asteroid. The novel predates the movies “Armageddon” and “Deep Impact,” which deal with similar events.

My Rating: 3 and a half stacks of pancakes – there’s plenty of time to eat them before the world ends, don’t worry.

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Movie Reviews

Locked Down (2021)

locked-down-movie-poster-review-2021Director: Doug Liman

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama

Runtime: 118 Minutes

Main Cast: Anne Hathaway, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Stephen Merchant, Mindy Kaling, Lucy Boynton, Mark Gatiss, Ben Stiller, Claes Bang, Dulé Hill, Jazmyn Simon

Plot: Set in London during the COVID-19 pandemic, Linda (Anne Hathaway) and Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor) put aside their differences after splitting up but being forced to still live together for the meantime, and attempt a high-risk jewellery heist at the UK’s most exclusive department store, Harrods.

My Thoughts: Why do I do this to myself? I had the worst week last week for multiple reasons, all of them directly related to the pandemic, and as a result only watched one movie the whole week. What kind of a movie? A movie all to do with the pandemic. I’m an idiot, aren’t I? At least Songbird (2020) knew it wanted to be a disaster movie, this one was just bad. Mostly because it just still feels too soon to think about Lockdown 1.0 with fondness whilst desperately struggling under Lockdown 3.0, but it had plenty of other issues too.

Firstly, how are we meant to root for two characters who are simply so unlikeable? I really sympathised with Paxton to begin with, his depression tinged with anger and loathing felt horribly similar to how I’m feeling, but crickey I hope I’m not half as annoying about it. The movie has a surprisingly stacked cast considering how indie it feels. I can only assume these people had so little to do in Spring/Summer 2020 that they jumped at the first chance they were given to make a movie!

It’s not all bad though. It honestly got better as it went on and I warmed ever so slightly to Linda and Paxton. The running joke about Paxton’s false identity of Edgar Allen Poe was quite funny and in a few years time the thought of queuing up outside your local corner shop for toilet roll will be mildly amusing at the least. The heist itself was probably the most interesting part but don’t go expecting scenes straight out of an Ocean’s movie…it’s much tamer than that!

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Best Bit: Anyone watching this who isn’t from the UK is going to be really confused at the nighttime scenes of everyone out on the street clapping and banging pans. Yes, during Lockdown 1.0, at 8pm every Thursday night we stood on our doorsteps and clapped for our incredible NHS. For the first few weeks it was incredibly heart warming. Then, in true British fashion, we took things too far and started banging pots and pans…which eventually turned into full on fireworks displays. Incredibly annoying when you’re trying to get a toddler to sleep! I’ve rambled, haven’t I? Anyway – it’s a funny scene and hand on heart, not exaggerated in the slightest.

Worst Bit: If queuing outside a shop wasn’t bad enough, most of the time you’d eventually get inside just to find everyone had already cleared the shelves anyway! Even now I eye up anyone buying more than 9 toilet rolls at a time. Paxton had the right reaction to that guy walking out with armfuls, “How many arses have you got?!”

Fun Trivia: Extras could not be cast due to COVID-19 and are played by real civilians and Harrods employees.

My Rating: 2 hedgehogs that are high as a kite in your back garden!

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Movie Reviews

Another Round (2020)

another-round-movie-review-poster-2020Director: Thomas Vinterberg

Genre: Drama, Comedy

Runtime: 117 Minutes

Main Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Lars Ranthe, Magnus Millang, Maria Bonnevie, Susse Wold, Helene Reingaard Neumann

Plot: Martin (Mads Mikkelsen) is stuck in a rut. His relationship with his wife has deteriorated to the point they barely speak, and his enthusiasm for teaching History is so low his students are complaining about him. That all changes when, together with his 3 friends, the group conduct an experiment to keep a constant blood alcohol level of 0.05%.

My Thoughts: For a few weeks now, every time I open up Letterboxd I can see chatter about Another Round, and I hate feeling left out so I’ve been really looking forward to watching it for myself. Plus, Mads Mikkelsen is one of those actors who is so universally loved, so it was bound to be a winner. Whilst I wasn’t overly in love with it after watching it, it’s played on my mind ever since and it’s destined to be one of those movies I like more and more as time goes on, I think. As much as I’m trying to right this wrong, I’ve seen very few non-English language movies so it was nice to add another to the list.

It’ll surprise no-one that continually drinking to keep your blood alcohol level at 0.05% is a terrible idea, but it’s so interesting to watch it play out. For a time, it actually works really well. Martin is filled with joy for the first time in years, and it translates into him making more of an effort with his family, his friends, and putting so much energy into his work that his students absolutely love his lessons. It’s far too easy to drink that little bit too much though, and it can’t go unnoticed forever. The beauty of a dramedy such as Another Round means we get to witness both the highs and the lows.

If you need cheering up, let me share something with you. When reading reviews of this I kept seeing references comparing it to The Hunt. My dumb ass assumed they meant The Hunt (2020), a crazy movie about hunting humans for sport. I was really confused until I realised they actually meant The Hunt (2012), a movie by the same director as Another Round and starring the same cast. Doh.

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Best Bit: Brittani at Rambling Film sums it up perfectly, Danish graduation ceremonies are something else! What a fantastic scene, amazing dance moves and an absolute banger of a song, What A Life by Scarlet Pleasure. I’ve been playing it on repeat ever since.

Worst Bit: Before the movie was over I thought my best bit was going to be the moment that little kid, Specs scored the goal. I actually cried a little bit. So it’ll be no surprise that my heart broke into a million pieces when we saw Specs again at *SPOILERS* the funeral.

Fun Trivia: Denmark has some of the highest rates of teenage drinking in the world; a World Health Organization report released earlier in 2020 found that Danish 15-year-olds consumed alcohol at nearly double the European average. Recent efforts to raise the minimum age for purchasing alcohol to 18 from 16 have met with resistance, in part because older adults recall their own youthful intoxications so fondly.

My Rating: 3 and a half glasses of wine I wish I’d been drinking whilst watching this!

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Movie Reviews

Promising Young Woman (2020)

promising-young-woman-poster-review-2020Director: Emerald Fennell

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama

Runtime: 113 Minutes

Main Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Laverne Cox, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Alison Brie, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Molly Shannon, Adam Brody, Max Greenfield, Chris Lowell

Plot: After suffering a tragedy in her past, Cassie (Carey Mulligan) takes her revenge on the predatory men she seeks out on a weekly basis at her local bar.

My Thoughts: A slight ramble from me before I begin. The pandemic has really thrown my creativity out of the window this year but something amazing still came from it. A little dream came true and I was accepted as a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics. One of the perks of memberships is sporadically receiving screener links to not-yet released movies and so finding myself watching Promising Young Woman at home, 2 months before it’s UK release with a screener copy that has a watermark with my name on? That’s made my year, for sure. But on with the review!

We get thrown straight into the thick of it when a group of guys in a bar are leering at Cassie, seemingly drunk and alone. One of the guys eventually comes over to offer to get Cassie home, but they end up at his house instead. When the guy starts pushing himself onto Cassie she snaps, completely sober, to teach him a lesson. YAS Cassie. Her quest for vengeance has taken a huge toll on her life, though. Her relationship with her parents is terrible and she threw away a chance at a highly successful medical career. To talk more about the plot would be doing a disservice because just with movies like Gone Girl (2014) – the less you know, the better.

But it’s more than just the story, there is so much more to marvel over. There are things I rarely pay attention to in most movies such as soundtrack and cinematography, but it’s impossible to ignore here. There’s a harrowing version of Britney Spears’ Toxic that gave me actual goosebumps, and every single shot looks like it was set up to be used for a poster. It’s just stunning. I didn’t know what to expect at all and I think that helped too.

promising-young-woman-bachelor-party-nurse

Best Bit: This would change on a daily basis, but the ending is the bit that sticks out the most to me. I know it’s been one of the few things that others have found fault in, but when my hopes were dashed and my jaw had been on the floor for many minutes, what happened at the wedding just blew me away.

Worst Bit: I’ll be as vague as I can but the bedroom scene at the bachelor party. I don’t remember feeling as awful as I did in that moment when watching any other movie.

Fun Trivia: The title is a reference to Brock Turner, a Stanford University student who was convicted of sexual assault in 2016. Despite his conviction, he was referred to by some as a “Promising Young Man.”

My Rating: 5 out of 5 notebooks, and don’t you ever do something that leads to your name being inside one of them.

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Movie Reviews

Songbird (2020)

songbird-movie-poster-review-2020Director: Adam Mason

Genre: Thriller, Drama, Romance

Runtime: 84 Minutes

Main Cast: K.J. Apa, Sofia Carson, Craig Robinson, Bradley Whitford, Peter Stormare, Alexandra Daddario, Paul Walter Hauser, Demi Moore, Jenna Ortega

Plot: The year is 2024, and the world is suffering with COVID-23. Nico (K.J. Apa) is one of the very few who are immune, and works as a courier. When the situation turns dire, he turns to desperate measures to help his girlfriend Sara (Sofia Carson) escape.

My Thoughts: Are we ready for a COVID-related disaster movie? Not really, let’s be honest. Songbird didn’t necessarily want to be the best, but it did want to be first. Sadly there’s a little horror movie called Host (2020) which already owns that title. I’m a sucker for bad movies though, don’t ask me why, and with the situation in the UK what it is I thought it might be nice to escape to a fictional Earth where things are somehow worse, to make me feel better. It achieved that at least, and as much as it wasn’t a good movie, Songbird entertained me enough.

Thing is, when you’re living in a pandemic, you know the ins and outs. So a fictional movie isn’t going to pull the wool over your eyes. COVID-23 is so bad that you’ll actually be shot on sight for leaving your home. Those who are immune have jobs as couriers delivering packages to the rich. The whole time I was asking, yeah but how to people get groceries?! These people have fridges full of alcohol, where are they getting it from? The real villain here though isn’t the virus, it’s the Head of Sanitization. Get ready for the most over-the-top villain you’ve ever seen. I actually expected him to burst into song at one point, it was so corny.

Silliness aside though, give it a few years and we’ll probably have a better COVID movie, like it or not. Think Contagion (2011), but probably starring Dwayne Johnson. Songbird was just clearly thrown together as quickly as possible. There’s some good stuff there, I was intrigued by the Q-Zone. Basically, you get tested every day through an app on your phone and if you test positive, the hazmats take you away to this Q-Zone. We never even got to see it though apart from a few aerial shots from a distance. It’s not a total disaster, but only watch it if you’re up for having a bit of a laugh with it.

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Best Bit: Forget the main love story, I was there for Alexandra Daddario. She instantly makes any terrible movie a whole lot better. Although, she does have in her possession the most useless face mask in history…

Worst Bit: Finally getting around to writing your review for this movie on the same night the Prime Minister informs us of a new, dangerous COVID strain – paving for the way for Lockdown 3, whilst the rest of the world slowly cuts off our tiny, infested island. Sigh.

Fun Trivia: SAG-AFTRA issued a “Do not work” order on Songbird, telling its members to refuse any work on the film.

My Rating: 2 out of 5 Whopper burgers. RIP, Burger King…

songbird-movie-2020-rip-burger-king