Review: Downsizing (2017)

downsizing-movie-review-2017After falling in love with Colossal (2017) last year for it’s unique story line, I was over the moon when I saw a trailer for Downsizing (2017). 2 movies in the same year with an interesting, different tale to tell that isn’t a remake or a sequel? Count me in! Plus it stars Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz and Jason Sudeikis? Shut up and take my money, cinema lady.

Us humans are slowly killing the Earth with our waste, and quite frankly, we’re running out of room. It’s a miracle then, when scientists discover the ability to irreversibly shrink people down to a fraction of their actual size. Years later, tiny settlements have been set up and roughly 3% (or was it 5%?) of the world’s population are now tiny. It’s environmentally friendly, and also economically friendly, as your money is worth a heck of a lot more when you’re only 5 inches tall.

Paul (Matt Damon) and Audrey (Kristen Wiig) are a married couple who make the difficult decision to downsize themselves. Things go belly-up however when Paul wakes up after the process to discover his wife changed her mind at the last minute, leaving him behind. Thus, Paul starts his new, tiny life.

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I am absolutely in love with this idea, and I’m actually gutted, but also impressed to learn that this is an original screenplay rather than one adapted from a book. So many details have been thought about, from the intricate details on how the downsizing process works to the social issues that would arise from this. Things such as terrorism, as these tiny people are so hard to track, or how they should be able to vote as they don’t contribute much back. It really is a lot to think about!

Sadly, it’s also this movie’s huge problem. None of these issues are explored at all, they’re just brought up and never really mentioned again. The thing is, if these areas weren’t mentioned, we all would have complained that the movie was too simple, so it was never going to win really. Downsizing should have been a TV Series, where each season could have been dedicated to a particular issue. Heck, the first season could have just been about how the process began!

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There’s still some fun to be had though, mainly with the relationship that Paul strikes up with Ngoc Lan (Hong Chau). At first Ngoc Lan seems like a timid cleaner, but she has the most amazing personality and completely overpowers Paul in every single scene. She alone makes this movie worth a watch!

The other thing I have to wonder is what was cut from the movie? One of the coolest moments in the trailer was a giant bottle of vodka being drank by the tiny people. If a scene intended to actually sell the movie was cut, what else? Mind you, it’s long enough as it is!

All in all, I’m gutted this movie wasn’t a TV Show instead, so that the story and all the ideas behind it couldn’t have been explored properly. It’s 3 out of 5 bottles of vodka from me!

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Mini Reviews: The Snowman (2017), Lady Bird (2017) & Call Me by Your Name (2017)

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Not that I want to jinx it or anything, but I’ve been doing better than I thought at watching movies these last couple of weeks! Mainly thanks to it being awards season and wanting to at least have a clue about what’s what of course. The BAFTAs are in a week’s time and I still have a few nominated movies I’d like to catch (Phantom Thread, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool & I, Tonya) but I’m closer than I’ve ever been I think.

I do like to write a little something about each movie I’ve seen but some of the award movies are so hard to write about, so I thought it would be a good time for a Mini Reviews post! Every now and again though I need something a little lighter to watch in between these powerful movies, and that’s how The Snowman has found it’s way here.

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The Snowman (2017) is one of those movies I saw the trailer for ages ago, got super excited for it, and then forgot all about it. That is, until it started cropping up onto everyone’s ‘Worst of 2017’ posts. Torn between taking everyone’s advice and punishing myself, I decided to give it a go anyway. It couldn’t be that bad, right? Read this next bit in a Janice voice. Oh. My. God.

It should have been something I loved. A crime/mystery where Michael Fassbender is trying to solve a series of murders where a snowman is left behind at the scene of the crime. You know, one of those whodunit movies. Only The Snowman just didn’t make any sense. The start was so weird I questioned whether I was even watching the right movie! Plus, there’s throwing in some red herrings and there’s making half the plot completely pointless. Ugh!

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I didn’t know anything at all about Lady Bird (2017) until Saoirse Ronan was on the Ellen Show promoting it, and then I knew I had to see it. I also spent the next hour trying to work out how to even pronounce Saoirse (it’s sur-shah if you were wondering). Gosh, it’s like Domnhall Gleeson all over again! Bless you lovely Irish people.

Anyway! Lady Bird is a beautiful coming of age movie in which Saoirse plays a seventeen year old girl wanting to escape her small home town and live out her dreams at college in New York. I loved every single minute of this. I usually feel luke-warm about these kind of movies but I saw so much of myself in Lady Bird. It’s one of my favourites of the year for sure and I so hope Saoirse wins the Oscar!

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So, Darkest Hour was the one I was least excited about seeing, but after that it was Call Me by Your Name (2017). I know everyone loves it, but I need my romance to have a splash of comedy, and it didn’t look like this was going to give it to me. Set in beautiful northern Italy, a young lad named Elio falls in love with his Father’s research assistant Oliver.

It’s such a slow burn, and I really struggled to stay alert through the whole two hours plus of it all. I can appreciate the beauty in it, and if anything it really makes me want to visit Italy myself, but this just wasn’t the movie for me. Plus I can never, ever eat a peach again without thinking about that scene. Shudder.

Review: The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

the-cloverfield-paradox-review-2018The Superbowl isn’t a big deal over here in the UK, nor is it watchable at a decent time in the day thanks to the time zones, so I woke up on Monday morning to a lot of exciting news! A Han Solo trailer (I’m holding onto all hope it’s good), some other big movie announcements, and the crazy news that not only is the new Cloverfield movie ready, it’s released right now on Netflix! You’ve got to hand it to everyone responsible for keeping that under wraps so well in days like these.

I’ll admit I’m a little sad it’s not out in the cinema, but it’s such a breath of fresh air to watch a movie you’ve been anticipating for a long time without seeing a single trailer or knowing anything about it! I’d like to say I wish Star Wars Episode 9 could be released like that, but I’ll be scouring the internet for any news on that for the next (almost) 2 years!

So, this new addition to the Cloverfield movie universe is The Cloverfield Paradox, and it’s a story set in space following an international crew aboard a space station who accidentally smash into an alternate dimension whilst using a particle accelerator to try and solve Earth’s energy crisis. Bit different to a creepy guy in a bunker, right?

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What I love about this discovery is how much it opens up possibilities in the Cloverfield universe. There was no energy crisis mentioned in the previous movies – that’s because those movies happened in different dimensions! The team can literally do whatever they like now, and it sounds like they are as the next instalment is set during World War II.

Sadly, one only needs to Google the name of this movie to discover that the internet hates it. Sigh. I can understand their points, the plot is a bit silly in places but for me that’s what makes it so much fun. If I’m watching Sci-Fi I don’t always want it to be ridiculously hard to understand like Interstellar, or terrifying like Alien. Sometimes I just want to be entertained! Besides, as silly as it is I still think it’s better quality than last year’s Life and the previous year’s Passengers.

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I found the crew to be incredibly likeable, and I felt a real connection to Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s character Hamilton. She’s the star here and she’s presented with such a horrible situation that I won’t go into for spoilerific reasons. Perhaps many will disagree but I thought the story took a lot of twists that were unexpected, and I really didn’t have a clue how it would end until the credits themselves. How cool would that final moment have been on the big screen though?!

I realise I’m completely in the majority here on enjoying The Cloverfield Paradox but that’s okay with me. I give it 4 out of 5 severed arms!

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Point Break (1991) vs. Point Break (2015)

I was feeling pretty blue last week, but a visit from my family and a chat about movies never fails to perk me up a bit. They’re forever taking recommendations from me, but this time I got some recommendations from them! Turns out one of my Mum’s favourite movies is Point Break (1991), a movie I’ve always known the name of but knew nothing about, and so not only did I give it a go last week, I also watched the 2015 remake so I could compare the two.

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Let me explain the plot of the original first just in case you haven’t seen it yet either. There’s a group of people robbing banks dressed as former Presidents of the US, and thanks to some footage from one of the crimes, one detective has the theory that the criminals are surfers. Keanu Reeves is an undercover cop that worms his way into the surf scene in Los Angeles and ultimately finds himself becoming close friends with the leader, played by Patrick Swayze.

No need to beat around the bush, it was fairly obvious that the gang that Keanu Reeves got himself in with was going to be the gang committing the crimes. But that’s not really the point, because this movie has so much else to offer. It has tension, action by the bucket-load and a romance that doesn’t feel unnecessary or forced. It also has one of the coolest scenes ever (Keanu Reeves on his back shooting at the sky) that I recognised from being spoofed and referenced in other things I’ve seen.

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I loved the ending, too. I thought it would end with the bad guys being caught, the good guys live happily ever after, blah blah blah, but the actual ending was a welcome surprise to me. Plus dare I admit it, I feel a Keanu Reeves obsession coming on. Is this the right time to admit I’ve never seen The Matrix?

Anyway, it was whilst on a high from seeing Point Break that I decided I would watch the 2015 remake. Oh what a stupid mistake that was! It’s impossible to write something coherent and intelligent about the differences, but allow me to list some of the things that annoyed me the most:

– New Keanu Reeves was blond and new Patrick Swayze was a brunette which confused the hell out of me constantly

– The actual bank robberies were mentioned briefly and that was it, rather than them playing a huge part of the story

– Any actual plot was thrown away in favour of stunts

– The only moments that were properly remade from the original were done in terrible ways. The moment Utah started shooting at the sky made me laugh it was so bad.

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Honestly, they could have just copied the movie frame by frame, word by word and it would have been better. I’m all for giving an old story a new lease of life but the best parts were trashed and replaced with crazy stunts just for the sake of action.

Put simply, it was LAME. I’ll stick with the original, thanks!

Bonus GIF:

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Review: Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017)

goodbye-christopher-robin-movie-review-2017Aww man I broke my ‘post every 3 days’ streak! I blame the little one, who this week decided that sleeping through the night actually wasn’t all that fun, and it’s much better to wake up several times instead. Oh, and also to never nap in the day either. Today’s post is sponsored by takeaway pizza and energy drinks…enjoy the nonsense and endless typos!

Sleep deprivation and complex movies don’t mix well so I decided to give something a little lighter a try this week and watched Goodbye Christopher Robin. I’ll admit I don’t know the story behind how that silly old pooh bear was created and you won’t find me turning down a movie starring Domhnall Gleeson so it seemed like the perfect choice! If you didn’t know either, the movie follows the story of creator Alan Milne (Domhnall Gleeson), his wife Daphne (Margot Robbie – who seems to be in everything lately) and his son Christopher Robin/Billy Moon (played at different ages by Will Tilston & Alex Lawther).

You know what? Every new parent needs to see this movie. If you feel bad about yourself as a parent – watch this movie. Because Billy Moon’s parents sucked. I know it was the ‘norm’ in those times to hire a nanny who basically raised your children for you, but Alan and Daphne especially were so cold towards Billy that it made my heart hurt.

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My favourite chunk of the movie is when Alan is left to look after his son alone and the two begin to bond in the woods. They are such magical moments! It’s also quite fascinating to see where the book characters came from, and how they got their names. Then it takes a turn for the worst again. You know those terrible parents who enter their kids in beauty pageants? It can’t be worse than pushing your kid into a bear enclosure for a photo opportunity!

And then of course we have the inescapable heart breaking moment. You guys, I cried my heart out. My little one was having a rare nap in my arms at the time and she nearly needed a clothes change from my tears. Oh motherhood, why have you turned me into such a pussy? I knew the moment was coming, the start of the whole movie alerts you to what’s going to happen, but still! Ugh.

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Of course, Alan gets his redemption in a way, but I never, ever warmed to Daphne. I wonder if it was intentional, but I still hated her by the end of it all.

Gosh doesn’t it sound like I hated this movie? I loved it! It just made me feel all the feels.  Also like a much better parent than I feel I am 99% of the time. It’s well worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already. A solid 4 out of 5 silly old bears from me.

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Review: Darkest Hour (2018)

darkest-hour-movie-review-2018Every year when it comes to Awards Season, there’s always that one movie that I just can’t bring myself to watch. I’ll groan at the very thought of it, but I really try to watch at least the nominated Best Picture movies. Boyhood is the exception. I still can’t face that. Anyway, this year’s movie for me is Darkest Hour. I’d honestly rather watch the terrible alien/sci-fi movie by almost the same name, but I know if I save it till last I’ll never watch it at all, so I sucked it up!

I don’t do history, I don’t do war and I most certainly don’t do politics, and Darkest Hour is all of these. It is essentially a retelling of Winston Churchill becoming Prime Minister of the UK in the middle of World War II, making the impossible decision whether to make terms with Hitler or fight to the bitter end.

Honestly, this movie just wasn’t for me. I loved Dunkirk (2017) because despite it being a war movie, it showed purely the action side of things. I mean, at least this was a more fun way of learning about World War II than sitting in my actual history lessons back in school? I’ll give it this though, Gary Oldman as Churchill is nothing short of amazing. He is completely unrecognisable, and brought so much life to the role.

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Speaking of which, shout out to Ben Mendelsohn! He’s such a chameleon, that’s why I love him. I’ve seen him play a space nazi, a down on his luck gambling addict and now a British king, and every role seems to come so naturally to him. I’m so looking forward to seeing him in Ready Player One later this year!

So seeings as I’m going to really struggle to talk about this one, let me tell you the character I identified the most with, Elizabeth Layton, played by Lily James. Poor girl is a typist for the grumpiest bloke ever, and it’s not easy when he’s changing his mind on words and shouting! It reminded me of my first boss who I did a lot of admin for. He’d stand right behind me and dictate what he wanted me to type, which is incredibly difficult for a nervous dyslexic like me! Even the best of us can’t type with someone breathing down their neck.

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I can appreciate Darkest Hour for it’s performances, and I’m sure it’ll do well at the BAFTAs next month. It’s just really not my cup of tea. I know it’s a well made, well acted movie, but I rate my reviews on a mix of that and also how much I enjoyed it, and so that’s why this gets 3 out of 5 ‘V for Victory’ signs from me.

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Review: Focus (2015)

focus-movie-review-2015It was time I took a break from catching up on as many award-nominated movies as possible, and watch something a little easier to digest, something that had been recommended to me by my movie-loving family (a long time ago, and on multiple occasions, sorry!). Time for Focus (2015)! Besides, who can turn down a Will Smith movie? I just love the guy.

Focus (2015) is a reasonably straight forward Crime/Drama movie in which Will Smith plays Nicky, a veteran con man takes an apprentice under his wing, Jess, played by Margot Robbie. A heated romance ensues, but without warning Nicky breaks up the relationship. 3 years later Jess shows back up whilst Nicky is in the middle of the biggest con of his career, and she throws him off track completely.

I feel like this movie was split into two distinctive halves. First we have an introduction of sorts into just how talented Nicky is not just with sleight of hand, but also psychology and suggestion. This was without a doubt my favourite part of the movie after a certain scene in which it is shown to us the audience the sheer level of work and skill that went into the con at the sports game. It’s like something Derren Brown would do!

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The second half leaves us wondering – Is Nicky conning Jess? Is Jess conning Nicky? It’s the more action packed half, and comes to an explosive conclusion. It might have been fairly predictable, but there was still one more twist that I didn’t see coming.

I think what makes Focus so enjoyable is the chemistry between Will Smith and Margot Robbie. They’re both people I love to see, but they work together so well! It reminded me that their relationship in Suicide Squad was what made it entertaining to be honest.

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My only complaint is that I wanted more of that first half. Watching the team work the crowds, lifting watches, jewellery, handbags and more from clueless victims. Seeing Nicky explain all the suggestions he left behind in the lead up to (and during) the sports game. I actually turned onto high alert after that part, wondering if the movie itself was doing that to us. Were there little details hidden throughout the movie that would lead up to something shocking we should have seen coming? That never happened, sadly.

Still, as a Saturday night movie with a glass of wine and a takeaway, you can do no wrong by watching Focus. It’s flashy, it’s fun, and you can brag to your family/friends if you manage to work out the ending before it’s too late, just like my Mum who’s very pleased with herself (proud of you, Mum!). From me, Focus gets 3.5 out of 5 things I stole from you whilst reading this. Psyche!

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