Review: Kong: Skull Island (2017)

“We are dealing with a monster from a bygone era.”
– Preston Packard

SYNOPSIS: A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden. – via IMDB

I finally got to this, and I must say that I was more impressed than I expected to be. While Kong: Skull Island has some issues, if you don’t overthink it and just go in for what it was made for (pure entertainment), you are bound to have a pretty good time. I quite enjoyed myself throughout.

I had quite a good time with the humour, which was cheesy at times, but every now and again had a good, sharp snap to it. I also absolutely loved the soundtrack, which was totally right up my alley, and worked with this. I think the movie touted quite the impressive cast, though some of them were underused. None of them were actually given a character to really chew on, but they all served their purpose of bringing the story of Kong to life. I thought Hiddleston to be a good ex-military type, Jackson played who and what he always plays, Larson was solid (as is to be expected), and it was a treat to see Reilly here.

I did not enjoy the romance that was squashed into this (I could totally have done without it), and I must acknowledge that the movie had some super dodgy effects at times. Also, just don’t overthink it, because this is a movie to entertain, not to be picked apart like The Godfather or something. Kong was really cool, and I totally enjoyed his scenes. Those icky-ass monsters on the island that Kong protected everyone from served their purpose – to be gross as hell. Ewwww. There were also plenty fight scenes, and all were done quite well – exactly what they needed to be, which is a blockbuster action film. If that’s what you are going in for for Kong, then that is exactly what you are going to get.

Anyway, there isn’t really much to say about Kong: Skull Island other than it is quite a bit of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I had a few laughs, there were some cool fight sequences, a great soundtrack to carry it all, and decent performances from the cast. It’s seriously not a bad movie to while away some time with.

June Blind Spot Review: Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

“When you separate an entwined particle and you move both parts away from the other, even at opposite ends of the universe, if you alter or affect one, the other will be identically altered or affected.”
– Adam

SYNOPSIS: A depressed musician reunites with his lover, though their romance – which has already endured several centuries – is disrupted by the arrival of her uncontrollable younger sister. – via IMDB

You know, this was an odd one. Even after all these years, I was not quite sure what this was all about, only that the characters were vampires. I was pleasantly surprised with the movie, after I had spent some time chewing on it, that is.

Okay, right off the bat I want to say that the film was extremely visually appealing. It was all shot at night, and everything looks dark but never really dreary, just sort of… I don’t know, typically that dark and romantic vampiric vibe. It really was pretty to look at. The score, too, complements the film every step of the way, and the sight and sound combining like they do really set the tone and the atmosphere for the movie, and then the rest is up to the cast, and boy, they really work that. The comedy in this is also very sharp, and delivered effortlessly throughout and never comes across as jarring, yet it is also extremely subtle.

Tom Hiddleston is fantastic. Really. His Adam is quite a complex character who truly entertained me. He is reclusive, haunted and depressed, yet brings massive amounts of humour to the table, which I thoroughly enjoyed. He is classy to boot, and absolutely gorgeous. Tilda Swinton, as always, delivers a solid character, and Eve is one that I quite liked. She gets this almost childlike joy out of things in the world still, despite having been around so long. Adam and Eve perfectly complement each other, and are just this incredibly beautiful, mysterious couple. Hiddleston and Swinton worked wonders together – they just click, everything falls into place when they are together. There is this comfortable, passionate energy between them.

Wasikowska, while breezing in and out, irritated me, and yet provided comedic scenarios in the midst of all the heaviness that was present. Hurt, of course, is excellent here, and his character is a good one, one I could definitely have seen more of. Naturally Yelchin shone here, as expected. While Adam might hate the “zombies”, he has quite the appreciation for Ian, and I liked how that was handled.

Only Lovers Left Alive is dark, haunting, comedic, sophisticated, and most certainly well worth a watch. It’s a movie you chew on after the fact, and that is something that I appreciate. Definitely a different kind of vampire film, and I liked that. This movie is not going to appeal to those who do not enjoy a slow burn film though, or a movie which is not spoon fed to you. There are a lot of little nuances here, things that make the bigger picture that much better.

Review: Alien: Covenant (2017)

“I think if we are kind, it will be a kind world.”
– Walter

SYNOPSIS: The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape. – via IMDB

Alrighty, this is a movie I have been looking forward to for some time, and I know that my review is rather late in posting, especially considering I actually watched it weeks ago when it first came out. Alien: Covenant is worth the watch. I know that there has been some bitching online, but people need to breathe. There were some niggles to be had here, and there were some things that should be celebrated too.

First and foremost, Covenant managed to balance what I had hoped Prometheus would have when it came out: the gore and the existential philosophising. This is handled really well. The creation question still emerges and is dealt with far better here than in its predecessor, as it handles the themes as introduced in Prometheus more successfully, yet still delivers the blood and gore one craves when watching an Alien movie. It sets an atmosphere again that is both isolated and creepy as hell, much like the Alien films of old. It also has plenty action and some deep themes to look into, and there is blood. Oh yes, all that blood.

The cast, too, was pretty good here. Yes, a lot of them were there purely for sacrifice and the bloodletting we spoke about above, but then there are some performances that stand out. I was surprised that Danny McBride didn’t get under my skin as always, and I actually quite enjoyed Tennessee’s scenes, he was entertaining. Then there is Katherine Waterson’s Daniels, a resolute woman who is easy to root for, and I appreciate that. Naturally everybody has been raving about Michael Fassbender’s performance(s) in this, and I totally get why. The man is brilliant and an absolute scene stealer. I mean wow. He totally got involved here and brought all the goods to the table.

Now, I did have some issues. I didn’t like that the one huge plotsie that was set out here is so damn transparent it is impossible to miss. I would have liked some more mystery there. Another thing, I was not overly sold on all the different xenomorphs here. Yes, we get different ones for each film, yes, they all bring something to the table, but these ones made me thing a lot of the cat-like, super bad CGI xenomorphs of Alien³. Really. Also, the effects were a little dodgy at the best of times and pulled me totally out of the experience, which sucked a bit. A huge gripe I had was that ridiculously unnecessary sex/shower scene that was tacked in here. It had no place in the movie, and was totally uncalled for. Not a fan.

Alien: Covenant hits the ground running with its story and execution. Definitely nothing new at all, but it is brutal, fast paced, carried by good performances, and sets an atmosphere for the audience. The pacing is also quite good, as it doesn’t feel rushed or drawn out. While not a perfect movie, it is a damn enjoyable one. Scott gets to balance out his Prometheus themes with the horror of his original Alien, and so Covenant is birthed and I can appreciate it. Worth a watch I say, especially if you are a fan of the Alien franchise.

Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

“My daughters are trained for battle, sir, not the kitchen.”
– Mr Bennet

SYNOPSIS: Five sisters in 19th century England must cope with the pressures to marry while protecting themselves from a growing population of zombies. – via IMDB

Guys. Guys. Let’s just talk about this. I cannot believe that I had so much fun with this movie. I mean seriously. Take a classic and add a ton of zombies to it? Not traditional zombies either, mind. How exactly was that supposed to work out? Super fun, let me tell you that! I am so pleased that Natasha enjoyed this so much and made me watch it, as I had zero designs on checking this out before she insisted. Now I have seen it a few times and still think it is so much fun. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies totally embraces all that is ludicrous about it, and delivers on so many fronts. Like Warm Bodies, this is a movie that has no right to be as good as it is, and yet here we are.

Right off the bat, I must say that I enjoyed the cast. I think everyone was well cast and they all seemed to have a total ball. Sam Riley is an actor I quite enjoy, and do wish he was in more things. He’s an absolutely brilliant Darcy, and there is just no way that you are not in love with the dude when all is said and done. For reals. Riley just sneaks up on you – he delivers a harsh Darcy, a man so reserved and focused, and before you know it, you are like oooooooh… totally get why Elizabeth would fall for him. Then there is Lily James, and she is a wonderful Elizabeth Bennet. Got mad love for this character – ballsy, educated, can take care of herself and is strong? So ahead of her time and a great feminist? Hells yeah. I was rooting for her all the way. I absolutely loved watching her and Riley together, they had lovely chemistry – so contained and yet completely through the roof. Jack Huston is another actor I particularly enjoy, and I so wanted to trust Mr Wickham, but he is a smarmy bastard. Pretty one, but still.

I would like to take a moment to talk about Mr Collins and Matt Smith’s portrayal. It is evident he is having a blast portraying such a total twat, and is beyond exasperating. My inner feminist was just like “wtf” the whole time, and yet his character made me laugh and groan, and that is purely down to how well Smith played Collins. Charles Dance was also great as Mr Bennet, and I had a lot of respect for how he saw his girls as more that just marriage conduits. Well played, sir!

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies totally embraced its weirdness. Right off the bat it has a crazy opening (that elaborate story and animation was really cool), girls with all sorts of weapons in all sorts of places and mad training and a mother who just wants them to marry rich. It’s insane. While being totally out there yet still loyal to the source material, this movie looks good, too. The sets and costumes are really good, and it does not come off as a budget film. It goes all out, and it really helps the cause.

As you can tell, I thought the movie was a lot of fun. Don’t go into this and expect to see the classic as you have come to expect. Why can’t people just accept this as a fun adaptation, not something competing with a classic? Don’t take it too seriously. For reals, it will ruin the experience. It is silly popcorn entertainment that is actually put together quite well, and has a cast that just makes it well worth the watch. It’s funny, it’s ridiculous, it has zombies and manages to convey a classic love story, where you get involved and want to root for Darcy and Elizabeth to just, you know, find each other. So I think in terms of that the movie delivered, and I would say watch it if you are not going to nitpick for issues and can just shut your brain down at the door and have some fun.

Review: Nocturnal Animals (2016)

“Do you ever feel like your life has turned into something you never intended?”
– Susan Morrow

SYNOPSIS: A wealthy art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a symbolic revenge tale. – via IMDB

Ah, Nocturnal Animals. Where do I even begin? I had forgotten about this completely, except Natasha wanted to check it out, and so we did. Goddammit, so we did. Two hours folks. Two. Nocturnal Animals is a pretentious pile of garbage that actually has some semblance of potential which is unceremoniously pissed away. The opening alone was just grotesque and came across as pretentious, right out of the gate. To shock, to inspire, to make you think that the movie has more depth than what appears on the surface? Screw that. It did not. Revenge tale, and that is that. Not even a good one, while we are at it, despite what it would have you think.

This also seemed like something I would like – dark and a thriller, plus Gyllenhaal? Ticked all the boxes. In fact, I liked the cast for the most part. The film is divided into three segments: the past, the present, the story in a novel. Three. Of these three, the novel coming to life is a fantastic revenge tale, a mysterious story that gets you worried and draws you in, and you feel for the main character of it, and are intrigued by his plight and the relationship he forms with the detective investigating the crime which the main character is a victim of. Awesome. But then there are the other two parts of the movie – the past and the present, and they are both boring and bland and just annoyed me.

My reception of the movie was not helped along by Amy Adams, whom I cannot stand. Her character was such a waste of space. Armie Hammer, too, felt like he was useless here – the script was so skinny. He was pretty much there for some aloof eye candy, and that is that. Gyllenhaal and Shannon are the stars of this, without a doubt. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, too, shone here. Every moment they were on screen, you were engaged. They were so good. A whole movie just about them and their segment would have been fantastic. Instead I had to sit through all that drivel and possibly one of the worst endings I have seen in my life.

I see this movie being lauded as dark, thought-provoking, deep. Pretentious, I will say it again. The movie is not as deep as it wishes to be, and because of that comes across as desperate. While we are at it, it is generic and brings nothing new to the table. I cannot in good conscience recommend this to anyone, though I am aware my opinion is in the minority.

Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

CRAZY STUPID LOVE_COMBO BD (1000250398).indd

“I have loved her even when I hated her… only married couples’ll understand that one…”
– Cal Weaver

SYNOPSIS: A middle-aged husband’s life changes dramatically when his wife asks him for a divorce. He seeks to rediscover his manhood with the help of a newfound friend, Jacob, learning to pick up girls at bars. – via IMDB

You know, the more I watch this movie, the more I enjoy it. I watched this years ago at the behest of Natasha, who knows I cannot really stand rom-coms, but does know what type I can deal with. When she told me to check this out, I figured why not? She won’t just recommend me anything in this genre, so it had to be decent. Plus two, the cast is fantastic. Let me tell you, this movie is great, and I grow constantly more fond of it. It is just so much fun.

I enjoyed that this was not some stupid, soppy, desperate love story. This looked at people who have lives that fall apart – midlife crises that aren’t dealt with, cheating, insecurities, all of it. It explores embracing yourself, letting other people in, dealing with issues head on, so many things. I enjoyed the themes of this movie. And yes, love is an extremely prominent theme, but it does not make you want to retch, so that is a good thing! Crazy, Stupid, Love knows what it is and what it wants to be, and goes with it. It is smart, funny, witty, and sweet, and I appreciated all those things.

Let us not even remotely forget the cast. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are absolutely phenomenal here, and have ridiculously amazing chemistry. Really, I could watch them all day together. This is one of two movies where Steve Carell does not grate on my last nerve, and Julianne Moore is, as always, well worth the watch. Kevin Bacon’s moments were also those of pure entertainment, especially as the movie progresses. What a boring man! Also, everyone worked well together. I particularly appreciated Jacob taking Cal out to begin their main training. Oh boy!

There were plenty awkward moments, plenty funny and plenty sweet, but everything works. This is the kind of romantic movie I can revisit without feeling just plain down ridiculous. There is a lot to like about it, and a movie you can get away with watching with your other half without them wanting to slit their wrists. As you can tell, I quite like this one for a variety of reasons, and I can highly recommend it.

Oooh, oooh, before I go. Women across the globe will thank Hannah for not letting him put his shirt back on after assessing his Photoshopped beauty. For science…

Skip the trailer, just go straight to the movie.

April Blind Spot Review: The Help (2011)

“God says we need to love our enemies. It hard to do. But it can start by telling the truth. No one had ever asked me what it feel like to be me.”
– Aibileen Clark

SYNOPSIS: An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African American maids’ point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis. – via IMDB

I didn’t really know what to expect going into this, I did as little reading on it as possible. I was only told that it is really good and well worth the watch. The subject matter is something that interests me, and it wasn’t long before I realised that this was a movie I was going to enjoy based purely on the fact that the subject matter was handled from the perspective of women alone.

Let’s get right to this by saying that there are some great characters in this, and there are some truly reprehensible ones. Emma Stone is, of course, absolutely fantastic to watch here – sassy and strong. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer are brilliant – also strong women – brave women. Then there is Jessica Chastain, and she is such a sweet, innocent character. These are all characters that you like. They had good chemistry and worked well together. I enjoyed watching Celia and Minny every second, and the relationship between Aibileen and Skeeter is also touching.  On the other side of the spectrum, there is only one I really need to mention here, and that is Bryce Dallas Howard. Her character is so cruel and mean, and Howard plays her so well that you resent her guts. Ugh. Nasty stuff. I get mad just thinking about her transgressions and views.

Anyway, telling the civil rights struggle from the perspective of the women was something new, and that it was being investigated by another woman was also good. So often we hear of the plight from men, but the women, too, had stories to tell. The movie managed to balance cruelty, humour, joy and sadness very well, but it must also be noted that the subject matter, while heavy, never gets as heavy as it could. Look at it as this being a lighter serious movie, if that makes sense. Simplistic, that would be the word I would use. Also probably safe. Drama, yes, but not on the levels of, say, The Colour Purple or American History X.

A sweet film that tackles some heavy issues, but never really going for the guts and glory, but certainly carried by stellar performances and a great cast, so as to elevate it to an enjoyable watch. The movie plays it safe, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing here. Worth a watch.