Tag Archives: Film Reviews

HAPPILY (2021): The Thing I Liked…

Happily (2021), Joel McHale, Kerry Bishé, Paramount Movies
Happily (2021), Joel McHale, Kerry Bishé, Paramount Movies

Happily, a comedy/romance about a happily married couple whose life takes an unexpected turn is a self-aware, self-indulgent movie that has one or two moments that are mildly satisfying. Unfortunately, for me, none of these moments adds up to enough to make the experience worthwhile. 

What Happily has to say about relationships and marriage did not need a whole movie to say it. At least not in the way it said it. Furthermore, what Happily ends up saying is unlikely to be what you wish it had to say; well, at least not in the way it says it. 

Writer/director BenDavid Grabinski’s film relies heavily on music to create a tense atmosphere. And I kept watching past the halfway point hoping that the pay-off would make all the excessive atmospheric music, and seemingly unnecessary slow-motion shots somewhat worthwhile, but no.

As for what I enjoyed about the movie, I like Joel McHale and Natalie Morales.

Lastly, watch Happily ONLY if you absolutely must because there have to be far better marital/relationship drama movies out there. I’m also sure there are good TV shows about ’best couples’ whose friends are jealous that their own relationships aren’t as passionate. I can’t think of any titles right now but I know they exist, good ones!

Happy Film Loving

G

THE LITTLE THINGS (2021): The Things I Liked…

The Little Things (2021), Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Warner Bros. Pictures
The Little Things (2021), Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Warner Bros. Pictures

As many can imagine, a thriller starring Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto is the kind that’s highly unlikely to disappoint, especially on the performance front.

All three Academy award-winning actors were great in their roles. I particularly enjoyed the tension-filled dynamic between Washington and Malek’s characters. I also happened to like the way Malek walks in this movie, but that’s neither here nor there.

Performances and walks aside, The Little Things is very unlikely to be what you expect. Writer/director John Lee Hancock’s serial killer movie is engaging and suspenseful; especially at the start. Yet, even though I appreciated the story that Hancock chose to tell, the way the film’s unexpected difference is executed resulted in a storytelling experience that left me feeling disappointed and unsatisfied.

To be clear, I’m not dissatisfied because I didn’t get the ending I wanted. I’m left wanting because the story structure did a less than satisfactory job of managing my expectations.

Besides the already mentioned high points of this movie, one of the biggest positives of The Little Things, for me, is the musical score; the sound of which you’ll recognise, particularly if you enjoyed and or replayed the impressive trailer as much as I did. 

The Little Things is a movie you watch if you’re curious about the performances. And to find out how it’s different from what you typically expect from a serial killer movie, should you be so curious.

Happy Film Loving

G

FORD V FERRARI (2019): The Things I Loved…

Ford v Ferrari (2019), Matt Damon, 20th Century Studios
Ford v Ferrari (2019), Matt Damon, 20th Century Studios

Director James Mangold’s action/drama about the battle between car manufacturers Ford and Ferrari to win Le Mans in 1966 is a movie I’m glad to have finally watched. Especially considering that post-viewing, I don’t have anything negative to say about it.

Starring two of my favourites, Christian Bale and Matt Damon, it’s ultimately the verbal gymnastics in Ford v Ferrari that I enjoyed most. The well-written dialogue between the key characters resulted in plenty of entertaining testosterone, ego and passion-fuelled wordplay.

Additionally, there’s the beautiful friendship between Damon’s Carroll Shelby and Bales’s Ken Miles. And lest not forget the high adrenaline, edge of your seat and excellently captured driving footage.

Mangold’s ensemble cast which includes Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe and Noah Jupe is fantastic. As are the several standout scenes. Including the all-important meeting with Enzo Ferrari.

If you haven’t already, watch Ford v Ferrari because you too may just find yourself with the words, ‘Well, that was super badass and sexy’ escaping your lips.

Happy Film Loving 

G

MISSING LINK (2019): The Things I Liked…

Missing Link (2019), Hugh Jackman
Missing Link (2019), Hugh Jackman

Missing Link, the story of Mr Link (a Big-Foot-like character) and his adventures with explorer Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman), plus adventurer Adelina Fortnight is an animated movie I found to be fun in parts and watchable.

The reason I’m not more enthused by writer/director Chris Butler’s film is that story-wise, it felt oddly superficial and more basic than I expected.

What I did enjoy are the interactions between Lionel and Link, plus the moments of heart, most of which happen in the more engaging last quarter. Emma Thompson’s character is another welcome highlight, and it proved quite satisfying to see Lionel’s growth/evolution as the story continued.

I watched Missing Link because the cast which also includes Zoe Saldana and Zack Galifianakis intrigued me. Yet, overall, I wish I could include Butler’s film on my list of favourite animated movies I’ve seen in recent years, but I cannot. Nevertheless, I say give Missing Link a chance if you’re particularly curious. It may just be what you need when you’re after an easy-viewing animated film experience.

Happy Film Loving 

G

THE LION KING (2019): The Thing I Liked…

The Lion King (2019), Walt Disney Studios
The Lion King (2019), Walt Disney Studios

It has taken much longer than planned for me to finally watch the recent live-action remake of The Lion King (2019). Like many fans, I loved the 1994 original. I enjoyed it for reasons including the brilliant soundtrack, the story and beautiful animation style.

The main reason I couldn’t get beyond the first 15 minutes of director Jon Favreau’s live-action version has something to do with the animation.

There’s no denying that the film is quite the achievement in terms of computer-generated imagery (CGI). Nevertheless, I prefer the 2D animated film; firstly because of the cuteness of the characters. CGI Simba is cute too but different. Also, I prefer the voice work in the first movie. Second, and this one took me by surprise; but, I’d much rather watch the real creatures of the jungle/the African savanna in a well written David Attenborough documentary; than sit through ‘very close but not quite there’ computer-generated images.

Unsurprisingly, for me, The Lion King remake has proven to be largely unnecessary. Mainly because it’s essentially the very same story and seemingly shot for shot. This sameness and the weird space the movie occupies between real and not real is what led me to abort my viewing session. And instead, think about rewatching The Lion King (1994) instead.

Furthermore, I have an irrational fear of rodents. As such, I should have known that all wasn’t going to be well when, at the start, the camera spent what felt like an eternity, following a rodent-like creature around. 

Considering this review is very late, you’ve probably already watched or at least tried to watch The Lion King; in which case I sure hope you had a much better time than I did.

Happy Film Loving

G

LITTLE FISH (2019): The Things I Liked…

Little Fish (2020), Jack O'Connell, IFC Films
Little Fish (2020), Jack O’Connell, IFC Films

Little Fish, Jack O’Connell and Olivia Cooke’s sci-fi/romance about a memory loss virus that threatens to erase the history of a couple’s love and courtship is more cleverly-executed than expected.

It’s important to note that director Chad Hartigan’s Little Fish is a story that focuses more on the couple’s relationship rather than the science of the virus. Little Fish is a beautiful yet heartbreaking love story. One that for me, proved quite watchable in the most part because both leads are great performers. And the portrayal of life with memory loss is captured well. It’s just unfortunate for me that my favourite moments do not happen until close to the end.

I did believe the relationship between O’Connell and Cooke’s characters, However, I didn’t find myself as absorbed with it all; likely in part, on account of the story edit or general editing style. Additionally, the timing of the release of Little Fish may not help everyone’s enjoyment of it. Particularly since it may feel more than a little too real, pandemic-wise for some.

When forced to weigh Little Fish against other movies that spend at least 90% of the time looking closely at a central romantic relationship, I wouldn’t say that Hartigan’s film is my favourite. I’m afraid that ‘coveted title’ belongs to Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones’s Like, Crazy (2011).

Overall, I say give Little Fish a chance if you’re curious. After all, a fair number seem to enjoy it. And there truly is a clever moment or two near the end. Just be sure to pay attention.

 Happy Film Loving 

G

WONDER WOMAN 1984 (2020): The Things I Liked…

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020), Kristen Wiig, Warner Bros. Pictures
Wonder Woman 1984 (2020), Kristen Wiig, Warner Bros. Pictures

The trailer for Wonder Woman 1984 didn’t fill me with as much confidence about the movie as the trailer for the first Wonder Woman film in 2017. Having now seen both films, unsurprisingly, the first one is better.

Key highlights of director Pattie Jenkins’s sequel include most of the time Gal Gadot is on screen, simply because the lady is quite magnetic. Secondly, there’s the final fight sequence between Wonder Woman and Kristen Wiig’s Cheetah. There’s also the cleverly executed moment towards the end when Wonder Woman addresses the people.

If you haven’t watched the movie yet but plan to, be sure to wait for what happens after the end credits start to roll; something tells me it may just lift your spirits. Last but in no way least, we have the musical score by Hans Zimmer. The only unfortunate thing about it is that the worst scenes had me thinking of Zimmer’s talents as wasted on this project.

I had hopes of loving Wonder Woman 1984. The problem is I kept noticing more and more things that increased my level of disappointment. Additional examples include the dreamstone element of the story which came across as silly and somewhat nonsensical. I’m also not a fan of a fair amount of the aerial work, including when Wonder Woman is ‘flying’.

Furthermore, why, oh, why wasn’t the father/son reunion dialogue more tightly edited? It was so unnecessarily long-winded. There’s also the fact that I still remain unsure about how Kristoffer Polaha’s character came to be Steve (Chris Pine). And I’m mad that this movie/story did not make Pedro Pascal look great in the villain role. As for Wiig, I liked her best once she went to the dark side. I still think that the Cheetah look is too much like Cats (2019). I haven’t seen Cats but I hear that such a comparison is not a compliment.

What good or bad things stood out most for you in Wonder Woman 1984? I really could go on about the things wrong with this movie but I have other tasks to complete today. Watch Wonder Woman 1984 if you’re curious enough.

Happy Film Loving 

G

TRAIN TO BUSAN PRESENTS – PENINSULA (2020): The Things I Liked…

Train to Busan Presents - Peninsula (2020), Lee Jung-hyun, Dong-won Gang,
Train to Busan Presents – Peninsula (2020), Lee Jung-hyun, Dong-won Gang

Train to Busan Presents – Peninsula, the sequel to my second favourite Korean film, Train to Busan (2016) has unfortunately not managed to escape the dreaded ‘sequel curse.’ The curse being that movie sequels are rarely, if ever, better than, let alone as good as the original.

Set four years after South Korea was devastated by a zombie attack, the story of Peninsula follows a former soldier who managed to escape overseas. The same soldier takes on a mission to go back. And to his surprise, there are survivors.

Had Peninsula been absolutely terrible, I’d have stopped watching and I probably wouldn’t commit any words to type about the experience. ‘Great’ is not a fitting word to describe Peninsula. Yet, there are a few moments in director Sang-ho Yeon’s movie that I’ll remember fondly. The first being the ‘daughter’s driving’ and the second involves a scene or two where the action is so intense that I had to pause to catch my breath.

As for specific elements that didn’t work well, part of what made Train to Busan great was the humorous moments. There’s sadly none of that in Peninsula. Furthermore, the zombie makeup looked as good as the first time. But the first movie had much better zombie action sequences.

Performance-wise, generally, everyone did well. Yet, they were let down by the film’s reliance on many very familiar tropes. The most frustrating moment of all frustrating moments in Peninsula concerns the use of an overly familiar trope to the most EXCESSIVE degree; to the point where it was r.i.d.i.c.u.l.o.u.s. Ridiculous!

If you haven’t already watched the original movie, please do so because it’s great. Now, try your best to forget that this new one exists. That is, of course, unless disappointing sequels happen to be your thing.

Happy Film Loving

G