Tag Archives: Film Review

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (2017): Good Movie…

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), Chris Pratt
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), Chris Pratt

To those who’ve already read my thoughts on Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014), you’ll know that I didn’t completely love the movie. Regardless of that truth though, I’m still determined to see as many of the stand alone films of each Avengers Endgame (2019) character as possible. And with that goal in mind, a few days ago I sat myself down to two hours and sixteen minutes of Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2.

My expectations weren’t exactly the highest, as one might imagine. So picture my surprise when I found myself having a good time almost immediately.

In trying to understand what had changed, it became clear that , the story is simply much better this time round. I found it more interesting. I definitely enjoyed the surprises within the script as well as the elaboration on the backstory of several of the main characters. I’m also quite sure that there weren’t any sentimental moments or attempts at humour that felt hugely forced. I imagine that everything was that little bit better because the actors were more comfortable in their roles.

I still stand by the truth that I didn’t enjoy Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014), but I’m also sure that my appreciation of Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2. isn’t a result of me learning to ignore any of the humour that doesn’t quite land or ignore any general corniness within the script. I really did like the new characters, find the story more fun, and appreciated the special effects that little bit extra.

With all that said I now say, watch it because it’s good and especially if you’re sure I’m not completely mad.

Happy Film Loving 

G

EXTREMELY WICKED, SHOCKINGLY EVIL & VILE (2018): The Things I Liked…

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019), Lily Collins, Zac Efron
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019), Lily Collins, Zac Efron

Ted Bundy, one of America’s most infamous serial killers is very much at the centre of director Joe Berlinger’s film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. Yet the story is really told from the perspective of Bundy’s longtime girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer. As such, like Kloepfer, we don’t get to be there with Bundy as he commits his shockingly evil crimes (thank goodness!) We also don’t get to know any real shocking  details about the crimes until the trial towards the end. What we do get is a front row seat to watch Bundy some time after he commits a crime and pretends to be as normal and decent as the next guy. It’s sad but like a true psychopath, he succeeded at it. A lot.

Starring Zac Efron, Lily Collins, Jim Parsons and John Malkovich, I watched Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile because of the very interesting subject matter and the new perspective. Another reason is to see Efron succeed in a more serious role than he’s taken on in recent years. I’m happy to say that he does well. I was particularly impressed during the moments he gave the audience a glimpse into the true darkness within his character’s soul. His time at the dog’s home is one such example.

I don’t believe there was a single dull moment during this movie and contrary to what the trailer made many feel, I don’t consider Berlinger’s film to be one that glorifies or celebrates Bundy. It’s instead a movie that portrays Bundy as he was known to be and part of that is that he was sadly almost as charming as he was wicked, evil and vile.

I say watch Berlinger’s movie, Just don’t watch it expecting explanations and / or deep dives into Bundy’s past that highlight what could have led him to such darkness. For this is a film about Bundy but the focus is on Kloepfer’s experience.

Parsons and Malkovich’s characters are memorable. Overall though, it’s really Collins by whom I was most impressed. She may be an actor with a forever youthful face, but the lady has great instincts. Her telling of Kloepfer’s story will have you mad at Kloepfer, sad for Kloepfer and by the very end,a little surprised in general but definitely extremely relieved for Kloepfer.

Happy Film Loving 

G

GRETA (2018): It’s…

Greta (2018), Chloë Grace Moretz, Focus Features
Greta (2018), Chloë Grace Moretz, Focus Features

Greta, a Neil Jordan directed drama / thriller about Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young woman who befriends a lonely widow, and lives to regret it is a film I’d really hoped to enjoy. Also starring Isabelle Huppert and Maika Monroe, the experience of watching Jordans movie left me wanting for a more thrilling, even, clever, better-written and structured film.

It’s odd but I think that the idea of Greta’s lunacy along with the idea of the nature of the scary things that were happening actually proved more terrifying than the result of what the acting and the way the story is told really made me feel. 

Performance-wise, I unfortunately still find Moretz’s acting to be generally quite awkward. Huppert didn’t perform terribly but I don’t think the surface level feel of the script helped her much either. The few glimmers of hope in this otherwise mostly disappointingly executed film include the clever set-up that leads to the syringe scene and the dancing that immediately followed. Reason being, this is when we get a little glimpse into the extent of Greta’s ‘crazy’, even though it’s never properly explained. The other kind of highlight is the moments in the film that ‘play on Frances’s reality.’

Overall, besides reminding me of ‘stranger danger’, especially in a big city like New York, Greta confirmed that everyone really ought to be aware of their own vulnerabilities. Especially if people close to you haven’t helped to lovingly point them out.

Watch it, if you’re really curious.

Happy Film Loving 

G

WINE COUNTRY (2019): It’s…

Wine Country (2019), Netflix

Wine Country is a comedy about long time friends who gather for a 50th birthday party in Napa. Having not been together in their group in a while, as one might expect, tensions soon arise.

Directed by Amy Poehler who also stars alongside Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch, the premise of the story is the main reason I was interested. Especially since it reminded me of two memorable comedies. Namely Bridesmaids (2011) and Girls Trip (2017) – both of which are focused on the often unspoken tensions between us and our very closest friends.

Poehler’s film is one that started with some promise. It’s just that approximately fifteen minutes in, my interest started to wane. The story, dialogue and some of the character development proved not quite engaging enough to keep me focused. I enjoyed the few scenes that featured Fey and I recall laughing a couple of times in between. Yet overall, the characters of Wine Country just didn’t capture my imagination and heart the way the ladies from Bridesmaids and Girls Trip did. It certainly didn’t help that some jokes were dragged out for too long and the seemingly endless singalongs proved annoying.

It’s really mainly the sunshine-rich location and Fey’s character that were the key highlights of Wine Country. Almost everything else, particularly the comedy felt as though I’d seen it before but executed in a more memorable way.

I say watch it if you absolutely must. Who knows, perhaps you’ll find more to love and if you do, you’re very welcome to let me know in the comments precisely why I’m crazy.

Happy Film Loving 

G

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014): The Things I Liked…

Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014), Chris Pratt
Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014), Chris Pratt

Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel are among the stars of Guardians Of The Galaxy. A James Gunn directed action / adventure / comedy about a group of intergalactic criminals and their attempt to stop a fanatical warrior with plans to purge the universe.

The main reason I wanted to see this film is because I’d really like to watch the last two Avengers movies but I’m behind. And I’ve never been one to jump to watch a sequel before seeing the films that came before.

I’m quite sure that the following opinion isn’t popular but as Gunn’s movie played, it wasn’t too long before the thought ‘I don’t think I like this.’ came to mind. As I wondered why, several reasons began to surface. Reason one, it feels quite a lot like Star Trek. I’m not saying that I hate Star Trek, but I’m also not overly enthused by it either. Reason two, some of the humorous moments work but there’s a bunch of others that feel as though the script is trying too hard to be amusing. So much so that several attempts to make the audience laugh came across to me as forced. Thirdly, I found that out of the four or five main sentimental moments, I only really appreciated two of them; the one on earth and the one involving Groot. The rest just felt rather corny, for want of a better phrase.

As for the things that stood out most in a positive way, those include Zoe Saldana’s physical performance, Karen Gillian as the less favoured sibling, and of course, the visual effects that show what space actually looks like.

Knowing Guardians Of The Galaxy as a movie that many people love, I mostly see it as a reminder that fantasy is definitely not my favourite genre. Especially when most of the actors are sporting plenty of make up / prosthetics. Nevertheless, to everyone who had a great time, I’m seriously very pleased for you.

Happy Film Loving 

G

JOHN WICK (2014): The Things I Liked…

John Wick (2014), Keanu Reeves, Lionsgate
John Wick (2014), Keanu Reeves, Lionsgate

Everything that happens at the start of John Wick may not feel as perfectly put together story-wise as one might prefer. However, it isn’t long after the beginning and / or end that one realises the story and sometimes the dialogue didn’t feel especially polished for a reason. The reason being, the main focus of John Wick is really the fight choreography, stylish shots and shoot-out fun. That isn’t to say that you can’t have both a very well put together story and fun shoot-out action in the same movie. You just won’t necessarily get that here.

Directed by Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, I liked seeing Keanu Reeves as a highly skilled and certainly well-dressed hitman. I had fun as the camera followed him as he moved around the city of New Yorkenacting revenge against the people who killed his precious dog.

It’s clear now why post John Wick viewing, ‘All that for a dog?‘ was a common question asked by a number of people. The story could have been executed in a way that meant such a question never even arose but the filmmakers had other plans. And anyway, for me, the killing spree wasn’t so much about the dog but rather, everything that the very precious dog represented.

All things considered, John Wick isn’t my favourite revenge movie. It also isn’t the worst. The moments that featured a noticeable light blue wash over the film’s imagery, denoting the coldness of the characters, their actions and mindset were one of the key highlights.

I’m quite certain that it’s not just me who kept picturing how a good a John Wick video game might look as the movie played. I definitely imagine that those who like shoot out games, don’t mind relatively graphic violence and enjoy stylishly executed cinema will have the best time.

Happy Film Loving

G

DOCTOR STRANGE (2016): Good Movie…

Doctor Strange (2016), Benedict Cumberbatch, Marvel Studios
Doctor Strange (2016), Benedict Cumberbatch, Marvel Studios

‘Fun’ and ‘good’ are the words for Doctor Strange; Marvel’s story of a brilliant neurosurgeon who’s drawn into the mystic arts while seeking physical and spiritual healing.

Starring the well-voiced Benedict Cumberbatch, director Scott Derrickson’s film is definitely a superhero movie. And as someone who was in the midst of superhero movie fatigue at time of release, I’m happy to say that the film’s different class of weaponry / enemy really worked to make the experience that little bit different and certainly more interesting.

I don’t know how great a thing this is but the impressive visual effects in Doctor Strange kind of kept my beloved Inception (2010) at front-of-mind, at least half the time. In fact, I couldn’t help but wonder about how much more amazing I’d find Marvel’s move if I hadn’t seen much of the style of effects first in Christopher Nolan’s Inception.

Arresting visuals aside though, the execution of the growth of Strange’s character from beginning to end; that – particularly how satisfying it was to watch the growth because he needed it is my favourite thing about Derrickson’s movie.

I absolutely took some time aside to fantasise about personally having Strange’s abilities… without the suffering that came before, of course.

Watch it if you haven’y already. It’s worthy.

Happy Film Loving

G

THE UPSIDE (2017): The Thing I Liked…

The Upside (2019), Bryan Cranston
The Upside (2019), Bryan Cranston

TRight away, I want to confirm that The Intouchables (2011), the French film on which The Upside is based is absolutely better than this remake starring Kevin Hart, Bryan Cranston and Nicole Kidman.

Centred around the friendship that emerges between a wealthy paraplegic and an unemployed man with a criminal record who’s hired to help him, The Upside isn’t an exact copy of The Intouchables. There are some scenes that are very much the same. There are also a few more characters that were added; mainly the one played very well by Aja Naomi King.

I found that the best parts in director Neil Burger’s movie are the moments that weren’t too close to exact copies of scenes from the original. The original scenes always came out on top in my mind.

As for the performances, King was great in her role. Cranston, his super comic timing and Kidman are also undoubtedly very talented actors. Yet, even with all this seasoned talent, there’s no saving this movie from itself. It’s missing that special spark, all-round chemistry and flow that the original has. I enjoyed some of the comic moments between Cranston and Hart’s characters (especially during the birthday pary) but since The Upside is Hart’s first dramatic role, there’s definitely room for him to grow – and I look forward to seeing that progression in future performances.

On summary, watch The Upside if you really want to see for yourself how different it is from The Intouchables. Otherwise, it’s probably better to watch other great works by the talented cast. 

Happy Film Loving 

G