Category Archives: No Spoiler Reviews

AVENGERS – ENDGAME (2019): The Things I Liked…

Avengers - Endgame (2019), Chris Evans, Marvel Studios
Avengers – Endgame (2019), Chris Evans, Marvel Studios

I know that around the time Avengers – Endgame was released in 2019, there were next to zero complaints about whether the final instalment in the four-movie avengers’ franchise was good or not. Even still, I was very happy to see for myself that soon after Avengers – Endgame started, everything Marvel is known for doing exceptionally well when they’re at their best was very present in Avengers – Endgame. From visually arresting action choreography, good dialogue, memorable special effects to engaging humour, characters and story.

Directed once again by Joe and Anthony Russo, everything picks up in the aftermath of all the devastation that took place at the hand of Thanos in AvengersInfinity War. With even higher stakes than before, Captain America, Tony Stark, The Hulk and their allies have one final chance to reverse everything Thanos did and restore balance throughout the universe.

At the risk of repeating myself, as was the case with Avengers – Infinity War, I don’t personally have any complaints about Avengers – Endgame because I had fun through it all. An additional highlight for me is all the extra movie references. Plus, just as Thanos was the absolute star and my favourite character of Avengers – Infinity War, the number one avenger in this movie is Thor; specifically ‘out of shape Thor.’ I found the surprise dive into Chris Hemsworth’s character so much fun that I’m quite sure I’ve never liked Thor more than I do in Avengers – Endgame.

Of all the Avengers films, Avengers – Endgame is perhaps the most moving / emotional. Specifically as someone who’s probably best described in this case as a casual Marvel fan, I can only imagine how much more significant an experience Avengers – Endgame must have been for the most serious Marvel fans.

Now that it’s all over, for now, I’m left wondering how long it will be before a brand new generation of avengers is announced. I’m in no specific hurry but when do you think the announcements will happen – assuming it hasn’t already happened. And how soon is too soon? I feel like a year or two from now is madness, but then I again I’m not a Marvel super fan.

Happy Film Loving

G

TRYING 2020): The Things I Liked…

Trying (2020), Esther Smith, Rafe Spall, Apple TV+
Trying (2020), Esther Smith, Rafe Spall, Apple TV+

There are three reasons I wanted to watch Apple TV+’s Trying, an eight-part comedy series about a young British couple’s journey to becoming adoptive parents. The first reason is I’ve always found the topic of adoption interesting. Secondly, even though I already love London, it’s always great to see the way others capture my favourite city on film. And last but not least, the trailer did definitely promise comedy, something I’m always ready for.

Episode one of Trying starts with the couple in question, Jason (Rafe Spall) and Nikki (Esther Smith) finding out that they’ll never be able to have their own biological children. Clearly an emotionally challenging time and the writers managed to squeeze some small moments of humour out of the scene and those that followed. The issue I encountered is that by the end of episode one, I wasn’t sure I was gong to make it to episode eight. The main reason being Smith’s character Nikki.

I’m sure that Nikki was supposed to be funny and adorable. However, for me, she registering as annoying. Especially in a scene that involves the throwing of two strangers’ phones into a large pond. It’s really the ‘acting before thinking’ aspect of Nikki’s character that proved irritating and unamusing. It may be that I just empathised more deeply than expected with the unsuspecting victims who have now been inconvenienced with having to get a new phone.

By the time the second episode ends, there’s no doubt in my mind that Nikki has a habit of not fully thinking things through before acting. Yet, oddly enough, I now find myself starting to like her. Something to do with seeing her relationship with her big sister made me warm to her. It’s likely that my change of heart has a little to do with having younger sisters myself; not that my sisters have Nikki’s problem, by the way. I digress.

Episode two is also when I realised that most of the amusing moments in Trying, at least for me anyway, are going to be courtesy of Jason and Nikki’s extended family and friend group, rather than the couple themselves.

Nikki and Jason are actually quite well matched.’
This is something I wasn’t sure about initially but then episode three, my favourite so far happened. It’s the one when Jason and Nikki meet other potential adopters and with amusing results. It’s also when the couple wake up to the idea that on paper, they’re very likely not the perfect candidates to become adoptive parents; plus a question mark starts to form around Jason’s commitment to it all. The kind of question mark that made me eager to find out if it would all work out in the end. Though, my eagerness didn’t have me thinking ‘This is so good I can’t wait to see how it ends. My reaction was more like ‘I’m in this now, I hope it stays as fun as this episode or gets better.’

During episode four, it became clear that Trying is a double and potentially triple, if not quadruple entendre when it comes to the series title. There’s of course ‘trying’ happening where Nikki and Jason are concerned but certainly also with pretty much every character. For me, the big highlight of episode four, and to be honest the whole series is Imelda Staunton’s character Penny, whose job it is to find out if Jason and Nikki tick enough boxes to get time with the adoption panel who decide whether they can adopt. Penny’s arrival really is a breath of fresh air because of the way Staunton expertly embodies the character. During episode four, it starts to seem as though Trying could easily be seen an undercover campaign to let potential adoptive parents in the UK know that they don’t have to be absolutely perfect to qualify.

Episodes five and six have Jason and Nikki learning more about parenting and themselves before the last two final, all-important episodes; of which seven is my favourite of the whole series. It’s when the couples family gather in their home for drinks and food, resulting in tense situations with entertaining comedic results. In this way confirming my previous hunch that the best scenes in Trying will be the one’s featuring Jason and Nikki’s extended family and / or friends. Then came the final episode when we learn whether or not Jason and Nikki get approval to become adoptive parents. It’s an adequately engaging episode that will make you smile, cringe (not in abad way) and perhaps also cry, especially when a particular speech happens.

I don’t personally know anyone who’s very familiar with the adoption process, so I don’t quite know if Jason and Nikki would be approved or not as adoptive parents in real life. Overall though, I think Trying is an OK show. I may have gone into it thinking and hoping that it would perhaps be ‘the Fleabag of adoption comedies’ but that was clearly far too high an expectation to set because Fleabag is comedy, pacing and writing excellence – if you ask me and many others. Whereas I can’t say that all the humour in Trying always hit as intended. Nor was each episode close to as great as the others.

Nevertheless though, the highlights do remain. Highlights such as episodes three and seven, the funniest of the eight. Staunton’s refreshing character Penny and the moving moments – particularly the one in episode eight during the speech in the panel interviews.

Give Trying a chance if you’re curious enough about the UK adoption process and the aforementioned comedy highlights. Otherwise, if you haven’t already, maybe watch Fleabag. It’s not about adoption but it’s British comedy greatness!

Happy Film Loving

G

THE LOST HUSBAND (2020): The Things I Liked…

The Lost Husband (2020), Leslie Bibb, Six Foot Pictures
The Lost Husband (2020), Leslie Bibb, Six Foot Pictures

Josh Duhamel, Leslie Bibb and Nora Dunn’s latest movie The Lost Husband is a film I enjoyed a little more than I expected to.

Directed by Vicky Wight, it’s a story that focuses on Libby (Bibb), a newly single mother who’s trying to put her life back together after her husband dies. And she starts by moving – along with her two children to her no-nonsense aunt’s goat farm in central Texas.

What stood from the very beginning for me as The Lost Husband played is the rather pleasant musical score. Then I noticed the films even pacing and the way it’s arguably not quite as clichéd as the Hallmark movies you may or may not have seen (*wink, wink). Particularly since this story is that little bit more complicated, among one or two other reasons.

Being in the mood mood for an ‘easy viewing’ movie experience with a little romance is the reason t I decided to watch The Lost Husband. The trailer also had me wanting to see Libby make it through the grief so she could start having fun again.

As Libby met the colourful town folk and started to learn more about farm life, largely from Duhamel’s farm manager character, James, it soon became clear that Libby was going to be all right. That’s around the time I started wishing that I too had an aunt who lived on a farm. That is until I remembered my irrational fear of earthworms, bugs and many other animals.

The only thing that I wish wasn’t quite so about The Lost Husband is its use of a specific cliché involving a group of jealous and unpleasant women during a scene in the town market. Some of the writing and acting in said scene stood out for the wrong reasons. Yet, I till say that if you’re intrigued enough, then give The Lost Husband a chance. Especially when it’s time for an ‘easy viewing’ film session.

There’s also the simple pleasure of Duhamel in a Cowboy hat. You know, in case watching Libby get her life back on track and the idea of a virtual farm-based escape doesn’t quite cut it.

Happy Film Loving

G

THE WILLOUGHBYS (2020): Its…

The Willoughbys (2020), Netflix
The Willoughbys (2020), Netflix

For animated movies to fully keep my attention, it usually helps if funny, fun, cute and moving / heartwarming are key elements of the well written story and finished film. Unfortunately, in The Willoughbys, neither of these themes came across especially strongly for me

Directors Kris Pearn, Cory Evans and Rob Lodermeier’s movie about four children with terrible parents. The kind who only have time for themselves and their romantic love proved quite disappointing. 

Even though the The Willoughbys has some funny moments, it’s the kind of humour that made me smile instead of laugh. The finished film also had the quirkiness and darkness that got my attention during the trailer. Yet, for me,  it’s almost  as if the story tried to do too many things at once,. A reality which then ended up resulting in a finished product that felt disjointed and not as engaging or entertaining as I’d hoped. In fact, by the time The Willoughbys’s overarching theme about ‘the family you choose’ came along, it barely proved impactful. At least not in a way that I connected with.

Even though within thirty minutes of hitting play, I knew I wasn’t really enjoying The Willoughbys, I still thought that I’d eventually get into it and the story would finally settle into a groove I could get on board with. Sadly not.

As for the pointy noises I mentioned in my response to the trailer, they didn’t prove as jarring as they were initially, but that’s not to say that I was ever fully comfortable with them either. 

Give The Willoughbys a chance if you’re very curious. Some people find it refreshingly different. I’m clearly not one of them but perhaps you are.

Happy Film Loving

G

THE HALF OF IT (2020): The Things I Liked…

The Half Of It (2020), Leah Lewis, Daniel Diemer, Netflix
The Half Of It (2020), Leah Lewis, Daniel Diemer, Netflix

At the beginning, writer / director Alice Wu’s movie The Half of It doesn’t appear to be particularly different from the high school films you may have seen before. Yet, as you continue watching, it soon reveals itself to be more than you expected.

Starring Leah Lewis, Daniel Diemer and Alexxis Lemire, Wu’s film turns into a beautiful, sweet and well written story about two high school students who bond over the girl they both secretly love. 

As someone who’s always been partial to well told stories of beautiful friendships, The Half of It ticks a lot of  boxes for me. From the scenes that showed the growth of the bond between seventeen year old Ellie (Lewis) and Paul (Diemer), to the film’s pacing, dialogue and the believable performances by the young talented cast. As I watched The Half of It, I found myself interested, engaged and often moved.

I also like that Paul and Ellie’s friendship isn’t the kind that doesn’t get tested. It is in fact the smart way the story navigates those all important tests through the key themes that emerge which made me like Wu’s movie even more. 

Watch The Half of It because it’s good but also for a beautiful friendship story that features the kind of connection and love that absolutely anyone would be lucky to have. After all, as per the film’s trailer, ‘Not every love story is a romance’ 

Happy Film Loving 

G

THE INVISIBLE MAN 2019): The Things I Liked…

The Invisible Man (2019), Elisabeth Moss, Universal Pictures
The Invisible Man (2019), Elisabeth Moss, Universal Pictures

The Invisible Man is a pleasant surprise of a film. From a clever story with twists and turns you don’t quite see coming to Elisabeth Moss’s impressive emotionally and physically demanding performance. Director Leigh Whannell does a good job of telling a thrilling and equally terrifying story about a woman who’s being hunted by her very abusive ex who also happens to be invisible.

Considering the nature of this story which is based on H.G. Well’s novel of the same name, let’s just say that The Invisible Man isn’t partly categorised as a horror film by accident. The horror part is very real, especially in the psychological sense.It’s also incredibly terrifying for women especially, but generally because very abusive partners exist.

Then there’s the idea that invisibility technology could also exist and end up in the hands of the wrong kind people. I’m no technology expert of course, but Whannell’s film somehow makes such technology or something like it seem far closer to what is possible than I’d like to admit.

Lastly, for those who aren’t the biggest fans of scary movies, will The Invisible Man give the average person nightmares? Probably not. But just know that it isn’t exactly comfortable viewing either because no horror / mystey / sci-fi that’s intent on terrifying us is.

Overall and more than anything, Whannell’s movie is thrilling, well, paced, cleverly shot and very likely surprising in a good way.

Happy Film Loving 

UNCORKED (2020): The Things I Liked…

Uncorked (2020), Mamoudou Athie, Coutney B. Vance, Netflix
Uncorked (2020), Mamoudou Athie, Coutney B. Vance, Netflix

I can’t deny that part of the reason I started watching Uncorked is because I knew it would be set in Paris, France at least some of the time. I imagined that this fact may just help me get over the cancellation of my Spring 2020 travel plans. I think it probably helped a tiny bit in the end. A very tiny little bit.

Luckily for me, the main reason I watched writer / director Prentice Penny’s drama was to see a young man’s (Mammoudou Athie) journey as he tries to balance his personal aspirations of becoming a master sommelier with his father’s (Courtney B. Vance) expectations of him.

From Vance, Athie, Matt McGorry and  Sasha Compére, everyone in Uncorked performed well. I had a good time watching Penny’s movie especially after the slower pace near the beginning subsided. I found the structure of the story refreshing, specifically as it pertains to where it ends up, versus where my years of film viewing experience led me to believe it would go.

As for specific moments that will stay with me, the first is the main family dinner scene which was funny, relatable and well choreographed. The others are pretty much every scenes that features Nash, a wonderful actor whose presence onscreen has a way of putting me at ease.

Overall, I enjoyed the film’s depictions of friendship and family; all of which included a healthy injection of humour. If like myself you like stories of people working hard to make their dreams come true – however unexpected and challenging the journey, I say give Uncorked a chance. It may just give you that extra push to keep working hard towards your own goals; whether you want to become a master sommelier or something else entirely.

Happy Film Loving

G

AVENGERS – INFINITY WAR (2018): The Things I Liked…

Avengers - Infinity War (2018), Thanos
Avengers – Infinity War (2018), Thanos

From director brothers Joe and Anthony Russo, Avengers – Infinity War is the one where the likes of Captain America, Black Widow, Thor and Iron Man, along with their allies come together in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos (Josh Brolin). For Thanos is hellbent on not just putting an end to half of planet Earth, but half of the entire universe, for reasons including it’s his ‘destiny’.

It’s not often that I’m struggling to come up with what I find to be ‘not so great’ about a movie I’m reviewing, but I really have no complaints about Avengers – Infinity War. The story and execution were great and Josh Brolin as Thanos is very much the perfect supervillain.

Brolin did a truly memorable job with his character. His voice performance was just perfect and did a lot to help make Avengers – Infinity War the impressive movie that it is – in addition to the stunning visual effects, dialogue and so on. 

Thanos is the kind of villain I actually thought Ultron would be  in Avengers – Age of Ultron (2015). At the very least in terms of screen time. James Spader’s performance as Ultron was indeed great. It’s just that among a few other things, Ultron wasn’t featured in the movie half as much as the film’s trailer suggested he would be.  

If by any chance you too enjoyed The Avengers (2012) but were left disappointed enough with Avengers Age of Ultron to take a two year break from the avengers movies, Avengers – Infinity War will very likely get you right back on board. Another reason you’ll want to get back into it all is Avenger – Endgame (2019), of course.

Happy Film Loving

G