Review: Collateral Beauty (2016)

Seriously, what happened to Collateral Beauty? I saw a trailer for it once or twice last year, and then it just came and went. I can only assume it got buried under all the Oscar movies and Rogue One. Anyway, my good friend Jenna came to see the new house last night, and trying to find a movie that neither of us has seen yet can be quite the challenge, so we settled for Collateral Beauty. Besides, we both love Will Smith (who doesn’t?) so we couldn’t go too wrong.

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Howard (Will Smith) suffers a terrible family tragedy that throws his entire life off balance. In his despair, he writes letters to Love, Time and Death, pouring his sorrow into the words. What he doesn’t expect is a visit from Love, Time and Death themselves (a bit like Scrooge’s visits!) which makes him see things in another light.

collateral-beauty-mixed-reviewsSomething I find really cool about this movie is how much it seems to have split the opinions of the viewers. Check out it’s current ratings chart on Letterboxd! I haven’t seen a more split opinion since watching The Fountain, which for the record, I still don’t know how to feel about. The other thing I got excited about very early on is that this movie is very different to how the trailer makes it out to be. There is so, so much more to the story that what those 2 minutes show you. This was a good surprise, rather than a “what?” kind of Passengers surprise.

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As for the movie itself, it’s messy, sadly. It has a huge, star-studded cast (Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, Michael Pena, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley to name a few) and each has their own complicated story. There’s simply not enough time to get to know these characters well enough, so the emotions thrown at you don’t have a chance to really sink in, leaving you feeling like a bit of a monster for not really feeling anything for them. That said, they have interesting stories to be told, and given some extra time and better pacing, it could have been so good!

What you can’t argue with is Will Smith’s acting talent. I’m not sure if he was trying to bait the Academy with this movie (he was very quiet this year, no?) but his emotions feel genuine, and I can’t stand watching people cry, only because it makes me cry too! To tell you any more about this particular scene would spill into spoiler territory, and I really think if this is something you’d like to see then you should go in as blind as possible.

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I’m sure if I watched this again I’d pick up on all sorts of plot holes, but as a one-time experience, I really enjoyed it. It’s a movie with so much heart and a lot to say, so it’s a shame it wasn’t paced very well or in-depth enough. One thing I will say is that the ending in particular is shocking; for better or worse will depend on each individual viewer, but it’s an ending I certainly won’t forget for a long time.

Whether you love it or hate it, Collateral Beauty is a movie that’ll get any movie fan talking at least. I give the movie 3 and a half falling dominoes out of 5!

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Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

beauty-and-the-beast-2017-reviewYou want to know the only thing that moving house hasn’t stopped me from doing? Going to see my all-time favourite childhood movie being turned into a live action remake! Plus, with the week off work we’ve had, it meant getting to see it while everyone else was either in school or work. Empty screen, result! Also meant that I could sing along without being kicked out, bonus!

Normally our cherished movies being remade is a reason to sulk and moan, but I’ve been so excited since Disney announced Beauty and the Beast was the next to be revisited. I didn’t need a new angle, a new story, I just wanted to see that wonderful old animation get the live action treatment. I was so impressed with the casting! Hermoine was my idol growing up so I knew Emma Watson would nail the role, and Josh Gad is so perfect for LeFou I swear his animated counterpart was drawn with him in mind already. Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen could do no wrong in my mind, and although I wasn’t 100% on board with Luke Evans as Gaston, I was open-minded.

Thankfully, the story hasn’t been changed much at all. The plot holes that the die-hard Disney fans picked up on have been filled, and we got a lot more backstory into the Beast and Belle herself. We didn’t need it of course, but it was interesting at least. I’m sure it’s going to be a sour point for some critics, but this is how I feel; I love cake and chocolate, and if someone gave me more than I could eat, I don’t see that as a bad thing.

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Let me tell you what I loved. Hearing my favourite songs remade. I genuinely shed a tear during Belle’s song, it was perfect. Yes, Emma Watson has been through the auto tune several times, but she probably still sounds better than I do singing in the car. Gaston! Luke Evans completely won me over, I’m converted. LUMIERE. That wonderful candlestick went from being an okay character in the original to completely stealing my heart in the remake. He stole the show in every scene he was in! Also, that snowball fight was brilliant.

Here’s my little nitpicks. I was so excited to see Josh Gad, but he completely overdid LeFou, and I didn’t like the voice he put on for it. The bromance was already evident in the original, and I just don’t see the need to push it so hard like he did. They changed Gaston’s song too, and I still don’t know how I feel about it. Still, when that’s all I can really complain about, it’s not half bad is it?

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All in all, I loved it. These live action remakes really are strong. I wasn’t a massive fan of the original Cinderella and Jungle Book, but the remakes won me over, and Beauty and the Beast was just as strong. I’m excited for whichever one is next! This movie gets 4 and a half out of five dozen eggs.

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Going Off Topic (#3) Coming out of Hiding…

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I’ve been living in a box for the last 2 weeks, guys. Okay, slight exaggeration, I’m not homeless, but my life has been surrounded by cardboard boxes for far too long now. We get the keys to our new house today, and we’re moving over the weekend. Exciting, right? NO. I really, really don’t want to move. I love the new house, don’t get me wrong, but I just don’t see what’s so fun about it all right now. Plus, it’s taking all my movie and blogging time away!

moving-boxes-cat-fortSo, a huge apology for just disappearing off the face of the planet this month. If the move goes smoothly and our internet is running sooner rather than later, hopefully I’ll be back in full force very soon. Good old life, getting in the way huh? To give you an idea, this is what my living room looked like this morning. The cats are loving their life right now, and I wish I could tell them to make the most of it before they move to a house that a dog used to live in, and that they’re going to be housebound for 2 weeks. Ah, they’re going to hate me…

Thanks for not ditching me while I’ve been gone. I can see you guys have still left me comments, and I have some emails and Twitter messages to go through too, which I’ll get round to asap. Thanks for being patient with me!

Movie wise, I’m doing fairly terrible. I saw Logan though, for what that’s worth! Honestly, I’ve never been into the X-Men but Logan was pretty darn awesome. Kind of saw those sad parts coming though, although did anyone not? I’ll tell you what I really loved though, Kubo and the Two Strings. I was gutted to have missed it at the cinema, so I don’t know why it took me so long to get round to. I laughed, I cried, and then I sobbed for about 10 minutes, much to the bewilderment of my husband, because I was sat next to him with my headphones in.

I also finally saw Split! I’d been trying to avoid spoilers like the plague, and I was doing so well, the only thing I’d read (about a million times) was that everyone seemed to mention Split and Unbreakable in the same sentence. Well, if you’ve seen Split, you’ll know that I was hugely disappointed to have put two and two together in the first twenty minutes. I’ll just put on my big girl pants next time and see something like that in the cinema…sigh.

And honestly? That’s pretty much it! Are there any new DVD releases you guys can recommend for me so I can catch up?

Book Review: Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty

I’ve been putting off writing this review for so long, that I’ve actually finished reading another book already. Thing is, I don’t like being a negative nelly, but I had such a love/hate relationship with this book. Picking a book to read is so much different than picking a movie to watch. With a movie, you know the cast, you’ve seen at least 1 feature trailer, and you’ve got a pretty good idea about the plot.

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When it comes to a book, you don’t know any of the characters, and personally, I like to make the decision from the blurb on the back and recommendations alone. It’s fun to go in as blind as possible. I haven’t read enough to know what my favourite book genre is yet, but when I read the blurb for Truly Madly Guilty, I got a little bit giddy with excitement. It sounded like my favourite kind of movie! Here it is if you’ve never heard of the book before:

“Despite their differences, Erika and Clementine have been best friends since they were children. So when Erika needs help, Clementine should be the obvious person to turn to. Or so you’d think. For Clementine, as a mother of a two desperately trying to practise for the audition of a lifetime, the last thing she needs is Erika asking for something, again.

But the barbecue should be the perfect way to forget their problems for a while. Especially when their hosts, Vid and Tiffany, are only too happy to distract them.

Which is how it all spirals out of control…”

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Essentially, you have 3 couples who meet one day for a barbecue. Each chapter focuses on the viewpoint of one of these characters, first in the present day, dealing with the aftermath of what transpired, and then on the day of the barbecue itself, and as the book goes on you slowly start to learn just what happened that has caused so much chaos and upset.

The main issue I had was just HOW LONG this book was, and how many pages were used telling me nothing at all. I think it was over half way that I finally learnt what happened, and by then my reaction was sort of ‘is that it?’. It was a terrible thing that happened of course, but given so much time to come up with theories, I genuinely thought a murder had happened that someone was trying to cover up.

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I spent every day reading this having a not so quiet rage about how I still didn’t know what happened, and when I did, I raged about how it shouldn’t have been that big of a deal. Plus, by the time I learned what went down, I kind of stopped caring all together. There was a final twist towards the very end that struck a chord with me, but it was built up to in such a way that you kind of assumed it was coming.

What also didn’t help was that every character is easy to hate at multiple parts of the story. That wouldn’t matter so much if there was a lot going on, but so much time is spent just describing these characters in their day to day lives, that they just grate on your nerves a little.

Still, I think it’s a book that’s worth reading, but the key is setting your expectations at the right level before going in. Perhaps that’s my fault for going in practically blind, or expecting a Gone Girl style twist, but I expected too much. If you can focus on every chapter and enjoy it for what it is, I imagine it would be a very enjoyable read! It hasn’t put me off Liane Moriarty as a writer though, because I’ve heard her other novels are great, so watch this space.

Review: The Happening (2008)

the-happening-movie-review-2008I was too much of a wimp to see Split (2017) in the cinema in January, and the wait for it to be released on DVD is killing me. I’m not a hardcore Shyamalan fan per se, but I love a thriller movie with a twist! I’m pretty sure I’ve seen all the ‘good’ Shyamalan movies, but I was desperate, and so despite the fairly cold reviews, I gave The Happening (2008) a try the other night. This is a movie that I’ve forever mixed up with The Knowing (2009) which I now realise is just called Knowing, so it looks like I’ve been pulling a Hidden Fences blunder for years.

Moving swiftly on…

Guys, there is no way I can discuss this movie without spoilers. Let me tell you the plot, and if you want to watch it un-spoiled from that, then please just close down this page and hunt down a copy. I’ll save the ‘I told you so’ for when you come back. In The Happening, a strange plague hits Central Park in New York which causes people to kill themselves. A lady stabs herself in the neck with her hair accessory, and workers jump from scaffolding into the streets. Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) and his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel) flee their home.

Right. Now we enter spoiler territory. The greatest plot twists are those that seem so outrageous at the time, but when you start to backtrack through the movie, the clues were all there in plain sight for you to see, leaving you feeling a little hurt, but amazed. The worst kind are either outrageous with no reasoning behind them, or so bleedin’ obvious that you wonder whether there was a twist at all!

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Setting the scene here, at the opening of the movie, Mark Wahlberg is a Science teacher talking to his students about an incident where thousands of bees simply disappeared without a trace, no bodies left behind. After a discussion with the group, he tells them that Science may give the situation an explanation, but what actually happened was a force of nature, and is unexplainable. Right, so I’m guessing that this plague is a force of nature that can’t be explained then? An hour and a half later, yes, I was right. Oh.

If you can move past that, and the horrendous acting (how did this cast make the dialogue sound so bad?) this might be a good movie to watch this friends and a few too many alcoholic drinks. Let me highlight some of the crazier parts for you:

  • Mark Wahlberg has a serious conversation with a house plant, basically asking it not to kill him, just to find out it’s made of plastic.
  • He also creeps into some old lady’s bedroom to find a hella-scary doll tucked into the bed. WHY.
  • When the gang realise it’s the plants killing them (or sending them crazy) Mark Wahlberg shouts for them to ‘outrun the wind’. Um…what?
  • Have I mentioned yet that the Earth’s population is being murdered by plants?

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At least when I get this movie confused with Knowing, it won’t matter any more, because they’re both terrible. I’m not going to lie though, I had a brilliant time watching this, laying out on the sofa with my headphones in, giving a running commentary to my very confused husband. I think he thought I was joking most of the time. 2 out of 5 murderous plants from me!

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Mt. Rushmore of Movies Blogathon

I really need a break from watching that clip of Jimmy Kimmel getting the orchestra to play Matt Damon off the stage from the Oscars last Sunday, it’s becoming unhealthy, and I have a headache from laughing too much. Thankfully, the ever hilarious M.Brown at Two Dollar Cinema is running a fantastic blogathon to distract me!

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If you’re not following Two Dollar Cinema already then you really ought to be. His movie reviews are so much fun to read, and I guarantee you his ‘Yays’ and ‘Boos’ will have you laughing out loud!

Anyway, onto this Blogathon! To celebrate Presidents Day, M.Brown has invited us all to create our own Mt Rushmore of movies. It’s entirely in our hands what we pick! This Blogathon last took place 3 years ago (before I was even blogging) so I had a read through all the previous entries and oh boy, I’ve got my work cut out for me. You guys are so creative! But I’m going to give this a try. If you’d like to take part too, you’ve got until this Friday, so check out the original post here.

So, without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to the Mt Rushmore of Movie Cameos! Not just any old cameos, I’ll have you know, but the kind that make you jump in your seat with glee because you had no idea they were going to show up.

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Bill Murray – Zombieland (2009)

When you’re on the run from a zombie apocalypse in the middle of Hollywood, how are you going to find a good place to hide? Use a map of the star’s homes and find where Bill Murray used to live, of course. The only issue with that is it turned out that Bill Murray was still very much alive, disguising himself as a zombie in order to ‘blend in’, and allowing himself to be able to freely wander the city. What you shouldn’t do during a zombie apocalypse? Try to scare your gun-wielding friend. RIP, Bill Murray.

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John Cena – Daddy’s Home (2015)

I’ll be the first to admit that Daddy’s Home was a terrible movie. It was terrible the first time I watched it, and when I was forced to watch it a second time on a plane (one of those older ones with the shared TV in the aisle) I could have cried. What made it worse was all the R-Rated jokes were cut out of the plane version! However, I am an absolute sucker for those John Cena videos doing the rounds a couple of years ago, and so when he turned up at the end of Daddy’s Home, all was almost forgiven!

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Tom Cruise – Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)

Who can forget the opening credits to Goldmember, which looked like something straight out of Mission: Impossible? Wait…dammit. Then I guess I should have seen it coming when it turned out that Austin Powers was being played by Tom Cruise! The weirdest part was that he looked the part completely! Of course, there were plenty of cameos in this movie, but we can only fit 4 heads onto Mt Rushmore!

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Ryan Reynolds – A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)

This is a personal guilty pleasure of mine. After showing up in a previous Seth MacFarlane movie, I was hoping Ryan Reynolds might show up, but I didn’t expect him to. When, in a Western bar, he did make an appearance, I literally squealed (in a cinema of all places) and then made some odd, disappointed sound which I can’t describe with a keyboard when he was instantly killed by Liam Neeson. Sigh.

Honourable mentions go to nearly everyone in This Is the End (2013), because I could have made this entire post about that movie and still struggled to pick just 4!

Review: John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

john-wick-chapter-2-review-2017Anyone who thinks cinema is dead should visit my local on a Tuesday night. Maybe my awful Fifty Shades review has brought in extra punters (ha, like anyone reads this anyway) or maybe it’s because the place has brought back every Best Picture nominee, but as I pulled onto the car park on Tuesday night I had to kick my husband out of the car while I parked to grab a spot in line, because it had reached the door!

Thankfully, the cinema had put on 2 screens for John Wick: Chapter 2, and a good job too because even our second screen was jam packed. Call me naive, but I didn’t realise John Wick was so popular! I watched the first last year and enjoyed it plenty, but I’m not well versed in action movies.

You’re best to catch up before starting Chapter 2, because it picks up almost where the original left off. John’s got himself a new dog, but he still wants his car back. John (Keanu Reeves) has a knack of getting what he wants, and I hope his car gets fixed in John Wick: Chapter 9 (release date 2030), because it was pretty sweet. Putting the car aside, things are about to get real, because John owes some guy a blood debt, and saying no quite clearly isn’t an option.

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Here’s what’s so great about Chapter 2. It takes the world we were introduced to briefly in the original movie, and expands on it hugely. The organisation John Wick worked for is huge, it has it’s own 5* hotel that acts as a safe haven for the agents, they have their own set of strict rules, and a huge team of tattooed ladies working in the top secret admin area operating machinery from years ago. It’s all quite fascinating, and makes you feel like a very small part of something huge.

Then you’ve got the action scenes themselves, which are second to none. My husband is adorable with movies like this, he gets so sucked in to the action that I swear he “feels” the hits taking place. You’ll hear his gasp and grunt and if someone gets hit in the throat, he’ll actually cough. Bless him. But yeah, the action is great. If you raved about John Wick taking guys out with a mere pencil in the first movie, you’re in for a treat.

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Let me get my gripes out of the way. Firstly, a big screw you to the BBFC who have ruined a second movie for me with their stupid ratings screen before the movie. How did they ruin it this time? Next to the rating, along with ‘strong violence’, they included ‘suicide scene‘ (highlight the text if you want the spoiler). Thanks, BBFC. Next, what was the point of Ruby Rose’s character being deaf? Just another reason for the really cool subtitles? In fact, what was the point in her character at all?

One more thing that I actually found quite funny. Everyone pays for goods with these fancy looking coins. What does one coin buy you? Anything as extravagant as a team of people to clear a room after an assassination for you, or an unlimited stay in a top hotel. What does one coin also buy you? A bourbon and a gin at a bar. Excuse me?!

Forgive my rants, I did quite enjoy this movie. It’s been perfectly set up for a third instalment, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing it. John Wick: Chapter 2 gets 3 and a half pencils out of 5 from me.

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