Review: Life (2017)

life-movie-poster-review-2017You know that saying, ‘be careful what you wish for’? Years I’ve been waiting for a movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds together. Years! 2 of my ultimate favourite Hollywood hunks in 1 movie. I guess I imagined it would be some kind of romcom, preferably starring myself caught in a love triangle. Alas, it seems only half of my request was eventually heard, and although I got both stars together, it was for a Sci-Fi/Horror. Really, movie gods?!

What makes things even worse is that on paper, and in the trailer in fact, Life (2017) is nothing more than an Alien ripoff. You’ve got a spaceship, a solid crew, a mission to extract and protect a life form found on Mars. Hey presto, turns out the life form is dangerous and hostile! Now it’s a survival game. I sound bitter I know but here’s the shocker, Life is actually a pretty decent movie!

For a start, the crew are all extremely likeable, and they’re smart! Yes, you’ve got one who won’t stop harping on about protocols and rule-breaking, but when protocols are broken they’re for a logical reason, rather than a dumb reason for a jump scare. For a wuss like me, Life was a fairly scary movie, but that’s because this life-form (AKA Calvin) is so small and stealthy, and unpredictable. I’m glad I waited for a home release because some scenes are tense as hell.

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I’ll admit that at the halfway point my interest started to wane slightly. That might be because (highlight for spoiler) Ryan Reynolds got killed off in the first 30 minutes – perhaps I should have seen it coming, but it does drift into far too familiar territory after a while. Yes, Calvin is on the loose, no, we aren’t sure how the crew are going to survive, if they do at all, so just get on with the story so we can find out how it ends!

Life even had it’s emotional moments, mainly centered around a children’s book you may know quite well, Goodnight Moon. You can forget listening to Tom Hardy reading bedtime stories, try watching Jake Gyllenhaal read Goodnight Moon whilst stuck in the situation he’s in and not get misty eyes!

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Finally, and I’ll have to obscure this paragraph mostly for spoiler reasons, I can’t end this post without mentioning the ending. Should I have seen it coming? Maybe? I don’t know, but it caught me completely off guard! That moment when you realise who (and what) is in that capsule that landed in the sea straight up gave me the chills. I’d rather Life stay as a standalone movie but if it had a sequel, heck I’d probably go and see it.

For being surprisingly good as a totally unoriginal movie, Life gets 3 and a half copies of that darn children’s book I’m now never going to be able to buy for my own kiddo.

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Mini Reviews: Okja (2017), Gifted (2017) & Atonement (2007)

I’ve been trying to find a bit of a theme for my mini review posts recently. My mini reviews are basically an eruption of thoughts without much focus at the best of times, so it’s nice to have a bit of order somewhere. So what do a super pig, a mathematical genius kid and a 10-year old period drama have in common? I watched them all over the last 2 weeks and they all made me ugly cry!

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Okja (2017)

Back in 2014, the blogging world alerted me to Snowpiercer (2014), a crazy movie directed by Joon-ho Bong. Last month, a movie recommendation site threw a fascinating crime story called Memories of Murder (2003) at me, also by the same director. So, when my blog feed got filled with mentions of Joon-ho Bong’s latest movie about a super pig named Okja, I knew I had to see it!

Okja had just been released on Netflix so I didn’t even bother with a trailer. I figured it would be some kind of family-orientated movie with a happy ending. Ohh, I was so wrong. This movie is dark. So, very dark. It’s worth it alone for the cast to be honest, but Okja is a movie that will make even the biggest meat-eaters out there question themselves. I did a lot of crying and felt guilty as hell about my bacon sarnie the next morning…

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Gifted (2017)

So I judged Okja terribly, but Gifted is absolutely a movie for the whole family! It stars Chris Evans as a single parent to his niece, who just so happens to be a mathematical genius just like her late Mother. It sounds like your bog-standard, average family movie but there’s a lot to be enjoyed here, it certainly stands out from the crowd. Think Matilda meets Manchester by the Sea!

Unlike a lot of child actors, McKenna Grace is an absolute gem and a pleasure to watch in this movie. Her comedic delivery is spot on and she nails that dead-pan kind of humour. I really hope she lands some more lead roles in the future because she’s one to watch! Gifted really pulls on your heart strings and I wouldn’t say it has a predictable plot at all, I was left guessing right up to the end.

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Atonement (2007)

Why did I watch Atonement when I have such a passionate dislike for period dramas? My littlest Brother was coming to stay and I told him we’d have a movie night. He loves plot-twist movies but wanted to watch something none of us had seen before, so I put together a little list. Atonement wasn’t what we watched (we went with The Village) but it kept cropping up in my searches and I couldn’t understand why a movie like that would be considered a plot twist movie. Safe to say, my curiosity got the best of me.

I ended up watching Atonement over 2 days in the end, and at the point the movie tells us who actually committed the crime, I whinged and complained about wasting so much time to a twist that wasn’t even a twist. Then I realised I still had another 20 minutes of the movie to go. If you’ve seen Atonement, well, I know you won’t have forgotten what happened next. That ending destroyed me. I went to bed in silence that night and still felt upset the day after!

Review: A Cure for Wellness (2017)

a-cure-for-wellness-movie-review-2017Some movies look really promising when you catch that first trailer, and then they fall off your radar. Some movies look like they’re definitely worth a watch, but when you see the runtime you feel put off. 5 months after it’s release in the UK, coming in at a whopper of 2 hours and 26 minutes, A Cure for Wellness hit both criteria for me! Thankfully, my Flick Chick Jenna came to stay over the weekend and recommend that we give it a go! It’s amazing how much easier a long movie is to watch when you can have several snack and chat pause breaks.

You probably don’t need me to tell you that A Cure for Wellness is a weird movie. Dane Dehaan plays an ambitious young executive known as Lockhart, sent by his company to retrieve their CEO from a mysterious wellness centre in the Swiss Alps. When he arrives, things seem a little…off. Although the residents are known as ‘guests’ free to leave whenever they wish, no one has actually ever left, and they all seem quite odd. In fact, you could almost say they look ill, which surely can’t be right?

Dane Dehaan has always reminded me of a young Leonardo DiCaprio for some reason, so with that in mind it was impossible to not try and compare this movie to Shutter Island. It has it’s similarities for sure, but they’re very different movies.

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Perhaps it was the dessert and the company, but I didn’t feel like this was a particularly long movie. There were definitely scenes that didn’t add much to the narrative of the story, but what they did provide was their ability to give you the creeps. There’s a mystery to solve here in the mountains, and the pieces of the puzzle are fed to us slowly in a way that helps us put it all together, but the atmosphere of it all leaves us wondering if we can trust our own judgement or not, which is exactly what’s happening to Lockhart.

Some scenes are difficult to watch, and one in particular (involving a dentists chair and a drill!) was impossible! We had to cover our ears, look away and make noises until it was all over. I peeked every now and again, and wished I didn’t.

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Is it the best mystery/thriller out there? No, and I feel like it might even be a bit of a love/hate kind of movie for most, but there was enough here to keep me interested and guessing as to how it might end. I think I had a much better experience watching it with someone – I don’t think I could have put up with it solo. Right at the very end we’re left with a very confusing scene which opens up a whole bunch of questions. My favourite thing about these kind of endings is that everyone will have their own take on it!

I was pleasantly surprised by The Cure for Wellness, and so it gets 4 out of 5 glasses of water (that you should absolutely NOT drink) from me.

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Review: Song to Song (2017)

Remember how literally just a few days ago I said I was struggling to name 5 movies that I really didn’t enjoy this year so far? Remember how my list was half-hearted because I didn’t truly hate any of them, I was just disappointed by them? That I actually missed hate-writing about a movie? Turns out the movie gods were listening that day, because they delivered Song to Song.

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I’ve heard that Terrence Malick movies are often controversial, and a quick check on IMDB confirmed what I thought – until now I haven’t seen a single one of his movies. I gotta say, there were none that really shouted out to me either, but there was no way I could ignore Song to Song. Here’s what I knew:
– Music was a strong feature (I’ve been spoiled by John Carney movies)
– It was set in Austin, Texas (I got to go there for work once and had an amazing time)
– The cast was excellent (Rooney Mara, Natalie Portman, Ryan Gosling & Michael Fassbender)
– It was described as a modern day love story

What could possibly go wrong?

It all started out okay to be honest. It felt a bit qwirky, a bit weird. It was a little raunchy too, so ticks in all the boxes from me. My eyes struggled to adjust to the fact that no single shot seemed to last any longer than 5 seconds, but I thought I’d get used to it. I had over 2 hours of movie to get used to it!

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About 20 minutes in, it all just went to hell. I couldn’t work out what was going on anymore. I thought it was established that Rooney Mara’s character was together with Michael Fassbender’s, but then she fell for Ryan Gosling. It seemed like some weird love triangle, because Ryan Gosling seemed way more interested in bro’ing it up with Michael Fassbender, but then he got married to Natalie Portman and…are you still reading?

This entire movie hurt my head. None of the characters ever seemed to talk much, or even smile. I’m sorry but, how can you fall in love with someone if all you do is float around silently, looking at them with the face and flair of a catwalk model? It’s infuriating!

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I actually gave up at the mid way point and turned the movie off. I thought I could be satisfied with not knowing how the story ended, or wasting another hour of my life whilst risking permanent frown lines from the face I pulled the entire time watching. Alas, the next day the completionist in me couldn’t take it anymore and I watched the rest. Did it get any better? No. Was it worth it? I got to see Ryan Gosling make a turkey out of a napkin (actually one of my favourite party tricks) so there was that.

I’m really sorry to actual, legit movie critics who understood this movie and what it was about, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea at all. 1 and a half napkins from me…you can turn them into turkeys yourself, or ask Ryan Gosling to show you how!

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The 5 Worst Movies of 2017…So Far

This is slightly later than I was expecting, but I’m back! A few days ago I posted my 5 Best Movies of 2017 so far, and now I’m here with the worst. This is what’s strange though. It’s actually been REALLY difficult to scrape 5 movies together. Not because of trying to whittle them down to 5, but I just haven’t seen many bad movies so far! I’m putting that down to the fact I’m behind on recent releases and so I’ve concentrated on recommendations so far.

I almost wussed out and did a list of 4 but that just felt wrong, so I do have 5 movies for you. However! Take some of these with a pinch of salt, because the first 2 picks aren’t that bad at all, they’re just mediocre enough to make this list.

Oh, and another quick reminder, I go by UK release dates!

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#5 Despicable Me 3 

This is what I mean. So I actually quite enjoyed watching Despicable Me 3. Is it something I’ll ever watch again? Probably not. Oh wait, of course I will. Sometime soon my life is going to full of kids movies. The story is a little too simple. the plot predictable, and despite me not being a fan of their solo movie, the minions are still the funniest part. Nonetheless, I did quite enjoy Agnes’ quest to find a real unicorn! Did they really need to tie it in with that other Dreamworks movie, Sing?! Ugh.

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#4 Before I Fall

Again, this movie isn’t so bad, it’s just quite forgettable. It’s the teenage-angst version of Groundhog Day, basically. A good premise, and again an ending I didn’t see coming, but the problem with these kind of movies comes with the repetition. How many times do you want to watch the same girl’s school ritual? Let’s just put these kind of movies in the same lock box as all the Freaky Friday ones. Funnily enough, the day after I saw this I spotted the trailer for Happy Death Day, so I guess these Groundhog Day movies are making a comeback. Sigh.

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#3 Fifty Shades Darker

As a warm-blooded female, I’m really kind of neutral on the whole Fifty Shades business, I can enjoy the series for what it is, and it’s always a good excuse for a girls movie night, in or out. Whereas the first movie was quite funny however (intentional or not, who knows) this one lacked, and it was really quite obvious where its origins were, badly-written fanfiction. That ending was cringey as hell!

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#2 Fist Fight

Eh, I kind of knew Fist Fight would end up in a list like this before I watched it, but I don’t mind sitting through an hour and a half of comedy with Ice Cube and Charlie Day. It has a few funny moments, mostly the same moments that were in the trailers, but it mostly falls flat. Enjoyable at the time, but I’m not going to remember this one in a year’s time.

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#1 Baywatch

It ENRAGES me how bad this movie was. ENRAGES me. I LOVE Dwayne Johnson, and I’m 100% on his side for calling out the critics on their crap. But this wasn’t the movie to do that on the back of. All the elements of a decent summer comedy were there, so why did it suck so hard? Most of the jokes were completely forgotten the second I left the cinema, and not even Zac Efron’s body could save the day. I never thought I’d say this but honey, you need to put on a little weight!

Sigh. Last year’s list was so much more fun to write, because my hatred was so strong, but this list feels kind of meh. Why I’m complaining I don’t know, surely all we want to see are great movies? But there’s a weird joy in hate-writing about bad movies, and I haven’t had that yet this year. Send me your terrible suggestions folks!

The 5 Best Movies of 2017…So Far

It’s hard to believe we’re half way through the year already! I’ve done pretty abysmally at keeping up to date with current movies so far, but it would be rude not to do a Top 5 list of my favourites so far! I’m expecting Okja and Baby Driver to be great movies, but as I haven’t seen them yet, they can’t be in this list!

I’d just like to throw in a few honourable mentions first: Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2, Table 19, Hidden Figures & Hacksaw Ridge.

Just note, I always go by UK release dates for this list, otherwise those amazing Oscar movies would never make my lists as they’re always released in January!

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#5 Beauty and the Beast

Is the Beauty and the Beast remake better than the original? No, it’s not even on par with it, but I feel like one of the few that still absolutely loved it. Yes, Emma Watson was wrung through the auto-tune a few times, but would you rather have a singer play the role who can’t act to save their life? It was the casting that won me over, even for roles I was skeptical about, such as Luke Evans, who turned out to be the perfect Gaston. I honestly couldn’t have asked for much more!

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#4 Wonder Woman

If you told me in January that Wonder Woman was going to feature in any kind of Top list written by me, I would have laughed at you, but I think we were all a little surprised at just how good the latest offering from DC was. Let’s hope this is the turning point we’ve all been waiting for! Gal Gadot has stolen my heart you guys.

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#3 Lion

I might have only just stopped ugly-crying whenever I think about the ending to Lion. I knew from the trailers it was going to be something I would enjoy, but when half of the movie is dominated by a child actor you can’t help but be a little wary. Thankfully, little Sunny Pawar is an absolute superstar, and it’s impossible not to love him. It’s still hard to believe this is a true story, it’s simply incredible. Oh man, I just remembered why the movie is actually called Lion and now I’m crying all over again!

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#2 Colossal

No, I will never stop talking about Colossal. It’s my hidden gem of 2017, and I don’t care if I sound like a broken record! Is it the greatest movie of all time? No. Is the story completely polished? No, but it’s a completely unique tale in a year full of sequels, and Anne Hathaway is a delight to watch in this crazy role. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it seems to be unheard of outside of the blogging world, and I’d love for more people to give it a try.

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#1 La La Land

It’s rare that I actually re-watch movies in recent years, mainly because my watch list is longer than my arm and I love the thrill of finding new, great things to watch, but I’ve seen La La Land 3 times now, and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve listened to the soundtrack. It’s a good job that Spotify doesn’t keep those records actually. (Please don’t tell me it does). I’m a sucker for anything starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling together because of their chemistry, and I seem to be loving musicals lately too, so this was a sure winner!

I’ll be back in the week with my Top 5 Worst Movies of 2017 so far list but for now, I’d love to know what movies have been your favourite so far! What have I missed, that I need to catch up on?

TV Rambles: Fargo Season 3

Aw geez, I’ve been looking forward to Season 3 of Fargo even more than Game of Thrones this year and I can’t believe it’s already over! Where did 10 weeks go? I deliberately stayed away from every bit of news as I could so everything would be a surprise. In fact, by the time Episode 1 aired, all I actually knew was that it starred Ewan McGregor and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

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I gotta say, the first half of Episode 1 didn’t get me at all. I loved the fact McGregor was playing both brothers, but I felt like so much information was being thrown at me with no links whatsoever. That all changed the second David Thewlis came onto screen. I had no idea he was even in this season and it took a full minute for my brain to register it was even him. What a character! It was a wild ride from that moment on.

Just like the previous seasons, this one is an entirely new story set in an entirely different year, but still linked to the bigger Fargo universe. Also joining the cast is Carrie Coon, a newbie to me, playing Gloria Burgle. Gloria is the former Chief of the local police department, and together with traffic cop Winnie Lopez (Olivia Sandoval) she is the force that just won’t quit when she knows to trust her instincts.

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I think Season 1 will always hold that key place in my heart as my favourite season, but this one is only just so slightly behind. The story was as brilliant as you can expect, but it was the characters this time round that really made it special. I’ve never seen David Thewlis play the bad guy, let alone a guy so disgusting in both a literal and metaphorical sense. Some of his scenes were honestly difficult to watch (though it may just be pregnancy nausea on my behalf) and so I have to give him a shout out for that.

Ewan McGregor also shone in both of his roles, managing to play the 2 Stussy brothers so well that it was easy to forget they’re played by the same person. I’m actually tempted to say he did a better job than Tom Hardy did in Legend!

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The real MVPs for me though were Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Carrie Coon. These ladies just steal every scene that they’re in, and they kick ass. Both of their characters go on such emotional journeys, and they’re just a pleasure to watch. I seriously hope these ladies land some big roles in the future, because they’re ones to watch for sure.

I won’t go into of course, but can I just mention that ending? Perfect. I love it and I hate it at the same time, because we’ll never know what happened after those 5 minutes. Arghhhh. Now I have a Fargo-shaped hole in my life. I really hope we get a Season 4 in the future!