Movie Reviews

Brahms: The Boy II (2020)

brahms-the-boy-2-movie-poster-2020Director: William Brent Bell

Genre: Horror, Thriller

Runtime: 86 Minutes

Main Cast: Katie Holmes, Owain Yeoman, Christopher Convery, Ralph Ineson, Anjali Jay

Plot: Set years after the events of The Boy (2016), Liza, Sean and their young son Jude take a short break to the guesthouse of the infamous Heelshire Mansion in an attempt to find peace and heal after a violent burglary which left Jude traumatised to the point of becoming mute. Whilst exploring the grounds, Jude discovers Brahms, the doll, and quickly befriends him.

Spoilers below for The Boy (2016) – be warned! 

My Thoughts: I’ve been doing really well at keeping up with cinema releases so far this year, so I caught up and watched The Boy (2016) last week in preparation for the sequel being released. I know it got fairly mixed reviews but I enjoyed it so much more than I expected to, and it was all down to Brahms and that twist at the end. I loved the fact that the real Brahms was alive, and the doll wasn’t possessed, or at least that was my interpretation. It set it apart from similar movies.

You can imagine my disappointment then, when the sequel just kind of pretends the original never existed. You thought the Star Wars sequels were a mess with the 2 directors doing their own thing? Brahms: The Boy II doesn’t even have a different director, and yet so much of the original movie was ignored. Why? The Boy left on a bit of a cliffhanger anyway, why not build on that? Brahms’ list of rules played a key part in the original, and here they mean nothing at all.

I was invested enough in that creepy doll to at least find some sense of enjoyment from the movie, and it’s always funny watching a horror at the cinema just do to a spot of people watching. I might have been hiding in my cup of wine for the tense moments but some poor girl jumped out of her seat at one point. If I was watching this at home, I think I would have given up and started playing with my phone at the halfway point.

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Best Bit: You just have to laugh at the logic behind characters in movies like this. My home was invaded, I almost died, my son is now mute, I have nightmares every night. I KNOW. Let’s take a vacation to a house in the middle of the woods next door to a creepy mansion. We won’t Google it first, either. Also – if my daughter ever found a doll like Brahms buried in the woods? You can bet your ass I would set it on fire the second I saw it.

Worst Bit: I shout at movies at home all the time, but I’ve never done it at the cinema. I came so close last night, though. The second the mum searched that doll code online I was like, it’s upside down. Turn the paper upside down. HEY. Don’t give up. Ugh. TURN IT UPSIDE DOWN!

Fun Trivia: I can’t find anything even remotely fun for this movie, so have this trivia snippet for the original, instead:
Cast members actually used the doll (“Brahms”) to prank each other on the set. On one occasion, one of the cast members propped the doll up outside of the other actor’s bathroom in their trailer to scare them. Upon seeing this, they hurled the doll outside of their trailer and the crew had to repair it and make a replacement doll.

My Rating: 2 out of 5 croquet mallets to keep handy in case your child ever finds a creepy, porcelain doll.

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Movie Reviews

Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

sonic-the-hedgehog-movie-review-2020Director: Jeff Fowler

Genre: Comedy, Action, Family

Runtime: 99 Minutes

Main Cast: Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Jim Carrey, Tika Sumpter, Lee Majdoub, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally, Frank C. Turner

Plot: Based on the hugely famous video game franchise, Sonic is a hedgehog with extraordinary powers, powers which continually put his life in danger. Whilst on Earth, his powers are detected and mistaken for a terrorist threat, leading the government to put the eccentric Dr Robotnik in charge of tracking Sonic down.

My Thoughts: So I hear that Sonic the Hedgehog is now officially the most successful videogame-adapted movie out there. Huh. I would have preferred Pokemon Detective Pikachu (2019) hold that title, but I have to agree with most out there that Sonic the Hedgehog is actually a pretty good movie. And who would have thought, after that initial trailer with the awful design? I’m still not 100% convinced it wasn’t a marketing ploy, but if it was legit – it just goes to show how listening to criticism can actually help in the long term. You listening, Warner Bros. marketing team?

The best kind of family movies are ones that can be enjoyed by both kids and grownups, and Sonic hits the nail on the head on that point. There are fart jokes, Fortnite dances and game references scattered about, and for the adults? We get Jim Carrey. Yes – he’s hilariously miscast in his role, but he’s JIM CARREY. His movies were my childhood, and I’ve missed him so much. He lights up the screen every time he shows up, and yet his appearance never feels out of place. By the end of the movie, he’s also looking much more like his character should. You need to stay through the credits for this one.

So yes. It’s good. It’s probably getting more praise than it should, but I know I wasn’t the only one expecting it to be a trainwreck. It does start a little dull, even with the cliche ‘record scratch, pause, you’re probably wondering how I got into this mess’ trope, but it gets better as it goes on, and I definitely recommend it. Parents, you may as well buckle in, because there’s no doubt we’re getting at least one sequel.

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Best Bit: I have two stand-out moments. One being something that was already in the trailer, the joke with Sonic in the duffel bag, ‘oh yes, there is a child in here, but it’s not mine’. It’s somehow funnier with a crowd! There’s also a moment where Jim Carrey’s in one of his hi-tech vehicles listening to his favourite playlist with a bunch of different green screens behind him – I was laughing so hard!

Worst Bit: So Maddie, our leading female character has this sister called Rachel who just hates Maddie’s fella. Keeps telling her to get a divorce, etc, etc. Why?! I mean, I get that it’s all part of a running joke but like, he’s done absolutely nothing in this movie to deserve that hate!

Fun Trivia: Crazy Carl, the local who’s hunting the “Blue Devil” in Green Hills, shows off a wildly inaccurate drawing of Sonic as a description. This is a reference to Sanic, a pop culture phenomenon about poorly-drawn portrayals of Sonic.

My Rating: 3 and a half tortoises suffering from a severe nervous disorder after Sonic decided to liven up their days a little.

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Movie Reviews

Peter Rabbit (2018)

peter-rabbit-movie-poster-review-2018Director: Will Gluck

Genre: Adventure, Animation, Family

Runtime: 95 Minutes

Main Cast: James Corden, Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Sam Neill, Daisy Ridley, Elizabeth Debicki, Sia, Fayssal Bazzi, Colin Moody

Plot: Based on the beloved character Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. Peter Rabbit and his friends are suddenly granted the freedom of Mr McGregor’s vegetable patch when he passes away, but their fun and games soon come to an end when McGregor’s nephew takes over the ownership of the estate.

My Thoughts: Oh how sweet, Allie is starting to watch movies with her kid! Nope, sorry. I’m deep in Star Wars withdrawal and so last night once the kiddo was in bed, I curled up on the sofa for a double dose of Domhnall Gleeson and Daisy Ridley. What can I say? I’m desperate – and it’s been a while since I went on a Domhnall Gleeson binge. Plus I have to admit, I saw the trailer for the sequel and it actually looked quite funny.

Bias be damned, Domhnall Gleeson was an absolute star in this. He really went and threw his all into this movie. He has such a flair for comedy and his rages are hilarious. If General Hux could have had an alternative ending, let it be this movie. Gleeson was literally channelling his inner Hux the entire time and I was 100% there for it. I love the idea of him trying his best to chill out, trying some bird watching as a hobby that he’s absolutely terrible at.

As for the movie itself, I totally get it if you don’t like it. I watch too much Peter Rabbit on a daily basis because of the animated show that’s on Cbeebies every day, and it’s a strange set-up. Like, I’m sorry, but these rabbits are absolute jerks. They’re thieves, and in the movie, they’re even worse. In some scenes, the movie plays out like some sort of reverse Home Alone where Kevin is actually the bad guy?!

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If you fell for the charms of Paddington (2014) then do me a favour and give this a go. It might not pack as much charm, but it’s essentially the best romcom of 2018.

Best Bit: How about Domhnall Gleeson beating the crap out of a Harrods bear? Or saying “I’m chill, man” whilst strangling Peter? Or basically any time Daisy Ridley’s CGI bunny was on screen? There were so many great moments. Lots of ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ jokes too like the Bananagrams game.

Worst Bit: As much as I strangely loved this movie, I just can’t see (hear?) past James Corden’s voice as Peter Rabbit. He doesn’t even try. It’s just…his voice. James Corden went from being a beloved, little-known star in the UK to making it big worldwide, getting big-headed about it, and now he’s just kinda irritating.
Also – how dare you dye General Hux’s hair black. How very, very dare you.

Fun Trivia: In February 2018 – 24 hours after its release – Sony apologised to advocates from food allergy groups who said the scene with a farmer going into allergic shock isn’t funny and also encourages food bullying.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 ice cream trucks with flashing lights. I don’t know why but that joke really tickled me!

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Movie Reviews

Dolittle (2020)

dolittle-movie-review-2020-posterDirector: Stephen Gaghan

Genre: Comedy, Family, Adventure

Runtime: 101 Minutes

Main Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen, Jim Broadbent, Jessie Buckley, Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, Tom Holland, Craig Robinson, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Mantzoukas

Plot: John Dolittle, famed doctor and veterinarian with a talent of speaking to animals, turned to a life of seclusion after losing his wife. His peace is disturbed one day when a young boy turns up at his door with an injured squirrel, as well as a young girl summoning him to save the Queen who is on her deathbed.

My Thoughts: Doctor Dolittle (1998) is one of my childhood favourites, so I was always going to be interested to see this remake/reimagining. By the sounds of it, this newer version stays much truer to the original source book. And look at that cast list! I usually chop down the list to just the main, big names, but that’s impossible in this case. How on earth all these names signed up for this movie is beyond me. Some of them are instantly recognisable, like Jason Mantzoukas, very much playing himself…if he were a dragonfly.

Let me get to the point – you’ve probably read a lot of negativity surrounding this movie, and I’m not going to try and change anyone’s mind. I still can’t work out where in the UK Robert Downey Jr.’s accent was meant to be from, but he seemed to struggle with it so much he never expressed a single emotion throughout the whole movie. It feels very much like he’s turning up just to collect his paycheck. It’s all very silly and predictable.

BUT. This movie wasn’t made with most of us in mind. It’s a movie for children. And I’m sure children will love watching a dog in glasses dragging its butt across the floor, a gorilla kick a tiger in his private parts, a grown man pulling objects out of a dragon’s ass, and a polar bear complaining about being cold all the time. There are a few adult jokes scattered throughout to keep the parents chuckling, and I’m sure it’ll be a hit this half-term in the UK.

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Best Bit: In the credits, they show a shot of each of the animals along with the name of who voiced them, and my friend Steph and I turned to each other at the same time when Chee-Chee the gorilla came up and went “THAT WAS RAMI MALEK?” It’s almost enough to need to see it again.

Worst Bit: I’ve already mentioned it but seriously, what accent was that? I’d decided it must have been Scottish, and then I read someone else’s’ review where they said it was Welsh! I should know, shouldn’t I? And yet I’m clueless.

Fun Trivia: Nicolas Cage turned down the role of King Rassouli.

My Rating: 2 out of 5 bagpipes which were retrieved from…well, I think you can guess where.

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Movie Reviews

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)

birds-of-prey-movie-review-2020-posterDirector: Cathy Yan

Genre: Comedy, Action, Crime

Runtime: 109 Minutes

Main Cast: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Ewan McGregor, Ella Jay Basco, Chris Messina, Ali Wong

Plot: Harley Quinn and the Joker have broken up, for real this time. Without the Joker to protect her, however, half of Gotham City now wants Harley dead for a number of reasons. Whilst trying to deal with the target on her back, Harley gets caught up with Dinah Lance, Detective Renee Montoya, Huntress, and Cassandra Cain when the notorious Black Mask is after a priceless diamond.

My Thoughts: Let this review, and every other review out there, be a step towards what Warner Brothers’ marketing department should have, and should still be, doing. Which is, to actually promote the Birds of Prey. If I skipped the trailers at the cinema I doubt I would have even known of this movie’s existence. And now it’s being hailed as a flop. Which is a damn shame, because it’s a great movie, and a huge step up from the disaster that was Suicide Squad (2016).

Birds of Prey is such a feast for the eyes. It’s an explosion of colour, action, violence, comedy, and fantabulous costume design. If you thought Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man was perfect casting, let me raise you Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Margot Robbie is just stunning in this role in every sense of the word. In fact, the casting as a whole is spectacularly on point here. Shoutout to Ewan McGregor here for somehow being a revolting villain and yet so funny at the same time. I lay awake last night hearing him say ‘EWWWW’ over and over again.

Yes, the story is a bit wild and quite literally all over the place. The first half, in particular, is particularly messy but the story never gets confusing thanks to Harley talking us through it. I can only describe Birds of Prey as a cross between Deadpool and John Wick. This isn’t a story about heroines, it isn’t a story about villains. It’s a story about women who are going out on their own for the first time and standing up for themselves, and it’s so much fun.

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I can only hope word of mouth gets this movie the attention it deserves so that we can have a sequel, but it isn’t looking likely right now.

Best Bit: How can I even pick one? Harley walking through the police station shooting glitter all over the place? Dinah Lance obliterating henchmen with her voice? Black Mask telling us about his shrunken heads? Cassandra just casually pickpocketing everyone she walks past? How about slo-mo fight sequences under sprinklers? Too. Many. Iconic. Scenes. I shaved my balls for this?

Worst Bit: Getting a phone call halfway through the movie to tell you your kid is throwing up everywhere and you need to come home. Poor kid was right as rain the next morning, and I went out the next night to try again!
In the actual movie though? Detective Renee Montoya, I love you girl, but you need to show more respect for the perfect egg sandwich.

Fun Trivia: Before Ewan McGregor was cast as Black Mask, Sharlto Copley and Sam Rockwell were considered to play Black Mask. Rockwell passed on the role but was considered the “archetype” for the casting.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 burritos. When laxatives and prune juice don’t work their magic, you can always count on a dodgy burrito…

birds-of-prey-2020-review-dodgy-burrito

Movie Reviews

Uncut Gems (2019)

uncut-gems-2019-netflix-movie-reviewDirector: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Runtime: 135 Minutes

Main Cast: Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, Lakeith Stanfield, Adele Dazeem Idina Menzel, Kevin Garnett, Judd Hirsch, John Amos, Trinidad James

Plot: Howard is a charismatic gems dealer who is up to his eyeballs in debt. When he gets his hands on an extremely rare Ethiopian uncut rock of gems, he makes a series of high-stake bets which don’t go to plan.

My Thoughts: I’m having a scroll through my Twitter feed and can see everyone talking about a new Adam Sandler movie, called Uncut Gems. I’m confused, for two reasons. One, from the poster I thought it was a documentary. Two, everyone was saying how amazing it was, and that Sandler should have been nominated for an Oscar. Am I in the Bad Place? I didn’t know Adam Sandler could act! Colour me intrigued.

I’ve watched movies that have made me happy, movies that have made me sad, scared, sometimes even sick, but I don’t think I’ve watched anything that’s made me feel so stressed before! My husband walked in at around the halfway point and asked what was going on, and at that point I was like, I don’t know what to tell you! This Howard guy makes terrible choices and everyone is just shouting all the time!

I liked it though. It’s kind of impossible to not get sucked into Howard’s life, but I couldn’t decide if I wanted to see him win or fail. He’s a bit of a jerk but his bets were so crazy I knew there would be a sense of wonder if he did actually pull it off in the end. As for Adam Sandler himself, I don’t know if I would call his performance Oscar-worthy, but it’s definitely the best performance I’ve seen of his.

uncut-gems-2019-adam-sandler

Best Bit: So many of the loud, shouty scenes merged into one in my mind but there’s this moment where Howard’s on the phone to at least 2 different people, Lakeith Stanfield is also shouting at him, everyone is rushing around and then the poor fish are almost murdered. That’s definitely the stand-out scene for sure.

Worst Bit: The door to Howard’s shop is definitely up there with the door to the cabin in The Hateful Eight in the list of ass***e doors. One won’t open, the other won’t shut!

Fun Trivia: Uncut Gems features the 4th most f-words in film history, exactly 408 times.

My Rating: 3 and a half fake Rolex’s…you’ll have to shout louder than everyone else in this movie to complain about them, though!

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Movie Reviews

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)

a-beautiful-day-neighborhood-2019-poster-reviewDirector: Marielle Heller

Genre: Biography, Drama

Runtime: 109 Minutes

Main Cast: Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Chris Cooper, Susan Kelechi Watson, Maryann Plunkett, Enrico Colantoni

Plot: Tom Junod is a journalist known for delving deep into the subjects he writes about, seeking the truth. He’s a cynic by nature with a terrible relationship with his Father, but when put on an assignment to write a piece on the legendary Mr. Rogers, his views are changed.

My Thoughts: I have to admit straight off the bat – I struggled with this movie. Mr. Rogers’ show wasn’t a thing in the UK so I know next to nothing about him, but that wasn’t my problem. I just felt like two very different movies were thrown together to make one, and one that didn’t gel together. I loved Tom Hank’s role, I loved seeing how compassionate Mr. Rogers is and how he deals with the mental burden of everything he deals with. I could have happily watched an entire movie about him, so I guess I should turn to 2018’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor?.

On the other hand, we have Tom’s story. Tom is married more to his job than his wife and hasn’t spoken to his Father in years, since his Mum died and his Father moved on quickly. It may be a story based on real-life, but it’s a story I’ve seen countless times. I also struggled to connect with Tom’s character at all. We were shown too much of his bad side before getting to actually care for him.

So in the end, I have to land somewhere in the middle. I adored one half of the movie and really disliked the other half. It was still an interesting, well-made movie though, and I’d still wholeheartedly recommend it for Tom Hanks’ performance alone. He never turns in a bad performance.

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Best Bit: There’s a scene in a diner where Mr. Rogers tells Tom to take a minute’s silence to think. All the background noise quietens down slowly, and Mr. Rogers looks at the camera, directly at us. It was such a surreal moment and really made me stop and think!

Worst Bit: I know I’m struggling with a movie when I start nitpicking at stupid things. In Ad Astra (2019) it was the absurdity of a Subway sandwich shop on the moon, in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood it was how Tom is never holding his own child. Hold your baby, Tom!

Fun Trivia: During the TIFF post-film panel, Tom Hanks mentions how he wishes he and his son (Colin Hanks) at 3 years old watched a half hour of Mr. Rogers a week so he could learn that it is okay to be sad. Hanks feels children don’t learn the importance of expressing emotions from a young age and Mr. Rogers did an excellent job explaining this.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 baby car seats which it is NOT okay to let your baby sleep for hours in, Tom!

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