Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

“My dear Belle, you’re so ahead of your time. This is a small village, and it’s small-minded, as well. But small also means safe.”
– Maurice

SYNOPSIS: An adaptation of the fairy tale about a monstrous-looking prince and a young woman who fall in love. – via IMDB

So I went to see this with Natasha when I did my fly by visit this past weekend. She has been waiting for this movie for the longest time, so I figured I may as well go with her, otherwise I will never get to it, despite it touting both Luke Evans and Dan Stevens in the cast (I am speaking from a totally scientific point of view here). Anyway, we tripped out for this in 3D (which I probably could have done without), and I had more fun than expected. I have not seen this since I was a child, so it definitely brought on a sense of nostalgia. There were some changes and additions, but it wasn’t bad.

First and foremost, I think that Luke Evans is the perfect pick to play Gaston. Seriously, he has immense amounts of fun with the role, and you can see it. My favourite part of the movie? Gaston’s song and dance in the pub. Oh my gosh, I laughed, it was so ridiculous and fantastic. He also perfectly captured how a person can be so hot and then open their mouth and ultimately that nasty ass ego and all will ruin the outside, too. Dan Stevens is a pretty damn good Beast, though it is such a pity you don’t get to see all his purdy throughout the film. However, he worked well and delivered quite a good Beast, and I appreciated that. Ian McKellan and Ewan McGregor had a blast as Cogsworth and Lumière , and I enjoyed them. I think, for the most part, the cast was very good. Except maybe Emma Watson. I really don’t like the girl and I don’t think she can act, so she grated on me a bit, but less than expected.

I had quite the issue with the rendition of Beauty and the Best Tale as Old as Time. Seriously – the song is iconic, everybody knows it, and yet it is such a cold, lacklustre, horrendous rendition in the movie. So bad I actually cringed. Sorry Emma Thompson, but that sucked completely. Meh. Also, some of the animation was substandard – so much of it was pretty good, meaning the few times (Mrs Potts and her son Chip especially) when you see the bits that weren’t so great, it is glaringly bad.

I understand that there was some controversy surrounding a gay character, which I just don’t get. I didn’t find it jarring in the very least. In fact, said character provided quite a bit of entertainment. Oh yes, while we are at it, let’s not forget to mention how this movie went out of its way in terms of inclusion – race, gender, sexuality, everything was pretty much covered here. At times came across as a bit forced. I don’t actually have too much else to say. There are issues, but it is also quite fun, so I think it might just be time to wrap up.

Beauty and the Beast is cheesy, amusing, nostalgic, and a touch messy at times, but it is carried by pretty good performances and is rather fun. Not something I can see myself watching again in a hurry, but I am pleased to say that it went better than expected, and is probably the best live action Disney rendition of an old classic I have yet seen (yeah, because I totally watch so many of them).

Review: The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004)

“Love does things for reasons that reason cannot understand.” 
– Joe

SYNOPSIS: Now settled in Genovia, Princess Mia faces a new revelation: she is being primed for an arranged marriage to an English suitor. – via IMDB

Oh. My. Goodness. This movie sucked. Really Ugh. I watched this directly after The Princess Diaries, and was still basking in the glow of nostalgia. This certainly snuffed that light right out. Sequels are not usually known to be particularly good or anything like that, but this? Unforgivable on so many levels!

Where to begin? Oh right, the first thing to be said is that there is some horrible CGI featured here. Luckily the movie is not too dependent on that, so we are not tortured too often. Zipping right along, the movie just discards Michael and Mia, a super sweet romance that was set up in the first movie, and it is glibly dismissed here. Come on. Anything more than “he’s touring with his band” would have been better. Then her dropping the line of “I’ve never been in love”? So you weren’t even that annoying teenager in love with him? Because that is not what it seemed like in the last movie. Let me leave these gripes and move on the the rest of the treasure trove.

Royal Engagement is simply embarrassing, really. After all the fun and entertainment we got from the first one, you would hope that this could at least be halfway decent. Even with the same cast, it is not. It is lame, flat, uninspired. The humour was so forced and stupid and the delivery is terrible, which is unforgivable. The romance story here is so generic and predictable. It brought no excitement to the table whatsoever. The entire movie is actually so formulaic. The predecessor might not have been a movie that broke any moulds, but at least it was fun. This was just awkward and silly and I was not pleased one step of the way.

This movie, sadly, also somehow manages to take itself way too seriously, which truly only hurts the experience even more. Royal Engagement is annoying, goes for cheap, cheesy tricks, and they never really land true. The story doesn’t engage you (yes, I did that), and there is nothing that makes you feel that this could be some special, treasured childhood movie. Rewatching this was a stark reminder as to why it got exactly one viewing from me when I was younger. One of the few things that work for this is the cast – Pine, Rhys-Davies, Andrews, Hathaway and Elizondo give it what they’ve got. They were quite good, even with the abysmal material, but could still not save this train wreck of a movie. Pine and Hathaway worked very well together, it’s just a pity that this is what they had to work with. This movie is so bad it can’t even be guilty pleasure bad.

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement is a colossal waste of your precious time and energy.  It is a prime example of how not to do a sequel. There is virtually nothing to praise in this (they even managed to throw a spanner in the works between Joe and Clarisse – not okay) and I spent near two hours cringing and annoyed. You could totally pretend this one does not exist and just acknowledge the first one. Seriously.

Review: The Monster (2016)

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“My mom tells me there’s no such thing as monsters. But she is wrong.”
– Lizzy 

SYNOPSIS: A mother and daughter must confront a terrifying monster when they break down on a deserted road. – via IMDB

GRADE 5I really wanted to like this more, I did. Eric and Ryan both thoroughly enjoyed it, and when it started, so did I. I could not stand Zoe Kazan’s character, Kathy. Ick, that is all I am saying. However, that in no way reflects negatively on her performance. She was brilliant, as was Ella Ballentine. They were so believable, and emotional, and that was pretty much what kept me going.

The Monster starts well, and builds a fantastic, tense atmosphere that draws you in. We are all afraid of what’s potentially out in the dark, so this works really well, because it feels like there is something out there. Then strange things happen. Never overplayed. You never see whatever the hell is out there (less is more man, less is more), and it just works. The atmosphere is heavy, and it is dark, rainy, dreary, plus there is all the emotional tension between Kathy and Lizzy, so you are totally engaged. Something is out there, and it is scary as hell. The music works, and it is shot so well.

But then things started going south. For one, I was quite annoyed at the immense amounts of flashbacks. Like, I get that they are developing the characters with that, and showing us how complex the relationship is between mother and daughter, but even with all that, the characters still feel really flat unfortunately. Lizzy and Kathy are still better than others. I also thought that the movie was rather predictable, and I was not pleased when we saw the monster. Not because it was crap, but all the creep was taken right out when I saw it. A movie can lose me when revealing too much. Also, let us not forget how that third act just fell apart. Everything was going so well, and then next thing logic went out the window and some of the most ridiculous decisions ever were made, the atmosphere was forgotten, it pushed for too many jump scares, both mother and daughter became insufferable (even more so than before), and that showdown was so stupid.

All in all it is not a bad movie, and the first two thirds were really good. The atmosphere for the film was wonderful, and Ballantine and Kazan deliver stellar performances. However, there is a lot that is wrong with the movie, too, and the third act really hurt it more than I can say. It is definitely going to appeal to horror fans who love atmosphere, but it won’t thrill those seeking a full on monster movie.

100 Happy Days 2: Day 31 – 40

So apparently the last ten days were all about food, movies/series, and beauty.

Day 31:

Oh man, lazy on so many fronts means I was going to have a simple, lazy dinner, which also made for a simple, lazy lunch. Sometimes that’s all you want. It was really good. Hmmmm.

Day 32:

Ha! The dawn of yet another project, so stoked! We have moved into autumn and the mornings and evenings are definitely more chilly, so yay, it means I get to work on bigger projects again. This one will just be a simple slouchy hat though, but I do so love these colours!

Day 33:

Oooooh, my husband got me Californication for our anniversary and we have started going through it again. This show is awesome, and I really never thought it would appeal to me at all, but it just works on so many levels. Very adult humour, and David Duchonvy is absolutely excellent.

Day 34:

Goodness gracious, but this was delicious! I made a spicy chicken, mushroom, green pepper and baby marrow penne pasta for dinner the other night, and it was glorious. Light, filling, tasty… and a great leftover lunch 🙂

Day 35:

I added yet more movies to my collection, and I am happy with these buys. Can’t wait to watch them all again! I will be sure to eat like a king before rewatching Chef though – I will not be repeating past mistakes.

Day 36:

I am addicted to lip balm. There, I said it. Not that that means I am on the path to recovery, or anything. Natasha has known me the longest, and I always have one or two (or three) lip balms on me at any given time. These Labello Lip Butters are my favourite; they last forever and they smell absolutely divine.

Day 37:

Ahhhhh, after much back and forth, I treated myself to some Essie nail polishes. The polish I have used from Essie until thus far has been wonderful and there are great colours. Excited to see how these ones work out.

Day 38:

Made some delicious crispy chicken cheese burgers with chilli garlic fried onions and salt and pepper chips for dinner. So good!

Day 39:

Okay, so it might officially be autumn, but it is not really cooling down yet here by us. This has not stopped me from eagerly dragging out my huge blanket project that I started last year – a king size blanket is no joke. I am so excited to be working on it again!

Day 40:

A chill day to be had with some hazelnut cappuccino (again – I have a problem) and some awesome Lindt Strawberry Intense dark chocolate and Criminal Minds to keep me company.

Review: John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

“You stabbed the devil in the back. To him this isn’t vengeance, this is justice.”
– Winston

SYNOPSIS: After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life. – via IMDB

I’m pretty sure you all know that I am a pretty huge fan of John Wick, and I have been eagerly anticipating this sequel for quite some time. I trekked off to the cinema opening weekend for this, and I was not disappointed. It is a strong sequel to be sure. This is what most sequels wish they could bring to the table, but fail at more often that not.

Chapter 2 is everything John Wick was, but amplified. Bigger guns, more bullets, more hand to hand combat than you can shake a stick at, just more extravagant everything. It has plenty of throwbacks to John Wick, which is amusing. There is much of the same, but more, if that makes sense. The movie is exciting and the action is engaging, and again it embraces the fact that the story is relatively skinny and rolls with it, and so the viewer is, irresistibly, drawn in all over again. The movie keeps it simple with the story, and indulges with the visuals and the score. I also really enjoyed the humour that was present in Chapter 2 – still my kind of humour. Keanu Reeves dominates as John Wick, and I simply love watching him in character. Ian McShane is, as always, a joy, and Broyles Lance Reddick also brought the goods.

All that being said though, I also had some issues. I felt the movie was a touch long, and while finally getting to see more of this super mysterious, elaborate assassin/criminal underworld, there were some niggles to be had. I am looking here specifically at the end, making it look like every single person in the whole city has ties to this underground organisation. Really? Sometimes the humour also didn’t land quite as quick, fast, and slick and the predecessor.

While Chapter 2 is an entertaining watch that hooks you from the off, I just don’t see how and why it is considered to be the superior of the two films. Totally worth the watch though, and definitely a movie I will be revisiting. It is smooth, well choreographed, exciting, stunning to look at, and is just plain fun. Absolutely recommended.

Review: The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

“I don’t wanna take up a ton of your time, but I’m gonna kill myself. I just thought an adult should know.”
– Nadine 

SYNOPSIS: High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine when her best friend, Krista, starts dating her older brother. – via IMDB

Alright, so I know this rated really highly with people, so I was interested to see how this coming of age film sets itself apart from others in the genre, and there are a few ways, some good, and some bad. It was definitely different in the sense that you don’t actually really like our protagonist, though she does grow as the movie progresses (as to be expected), and ultimately you can see the changes.

Nadine is a more unlikable character than you are used to for this type of movie. Sure, they are supposed to have unlikable aspects, things that change as the movie progresses, but Nadine has virtually no redeeming points, and is selfish on a totally believable teenage level, this is to say that the whole world had to revolve around her. She also encounters situations where being abrasive doesn’t always helps, and other times it did. All that being said, I did like the way the movie did a really good job capturing the insecurities of a teenage girl, as well as the constant stress and complete teenage selfishness.

Even with that being done exceptionally well, I didn’t love this. It isn’t a bad movie, it just didn’t make me feel much of anything. I enjoyed watching Woody Harrelson, because he’s awesome and so was his character, but aside from that? Oh yes, there is Erwin, and I thought he was adorable. Besides them? There were no characters I really enjoyed, or situations, or interactions (except between Nadine and poor Mr Bruner). The movie just came across as really flat and shallow, which is unfortunate. It also wasn’t funny, which at times it felt like it was desperately trying to be. I didn’t find this as deep and poignant as others did. It isn’t a bad watch, it just didn’t do for me what I was hoping it would.

The Edge of Seventeen does a great job of capturing the totally self-centred nature of being a teen, as well as all the awkwardness of it. The movie features sold performances and is shot well, but it doesn’t have the heart or humour it thinks it has.

 

Review: Logan (2017)

“Nature made me a freak. Man made me a weapon. And God made it last too long.”
– Logan

SYNOPSIS: In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X somewhere on the Mexican border. However, Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are upended when a young mutant arrives, pursued by dark forces. – via IMDB

Finally! Got out to see Logan, something I have been looking forward to, but also slightly wary of after The Wolverine, which I absolutely detested. I was hoping that this would be the movie we have all been waiting for for the Wolverine, and let me tell you, it totally is! Hugh Jackman returns as our favourite animalistic antihero, and man, he was just perfect again. As always.

Logan definitely touts a darker, more grown up story, and is so much more human than I expected. This movie isn’t about let’s save the day and take down the bad guys. No, this one looks more at Logan, his relationship with Professor X, and how he is getting on in life, yet is still angry and bitter about many things. Ever the antihero, I suppose. Logan has feeling, and this is evident every step of the way. There is some humour tossed in, nice and dark, but for the most part this is quite an intense drama, and the Wolverine movie we have been waiting for for years.

The effects were really good, and the movie was shot well. You were engaged from the off by both the story as well as the way it all came together, and the movie touts some excellent choreography, which we always wish to see when the Wolverine is out there. The cast is good, too, and I was particularly impressed with Boyd Holbrook, an actor I am familiar with from Narcos. While he was good in that show, he absolutely shone here, and I found myself  incredibly surprised. Also, big fan of his fancy arm.

Logan is heavy, dark, emotional, and just what the doctor ordered. It is a solid outing that will linger for some time after, and definitely cuts to the bone. Longtime fans will be particularly thrilled with how it all comes together.