Dear Billy Sometimes…

K O N G   :  

 S K U L L   I S L A N D 

Kong Poster

Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L Jackson, Brie Larson, John Goodman

Rating : 3/5

My Review : 

I love a good old fashioned monster movie. My favourites of course are any that the Monster Maker Ray Harryhausen worked on. I love the combination of the stop-frame animation and live action in the early movies. I also love seeing how this has evolved over the years into the CGI/Special Effects we now have. While Harryhausen never got to see his vision of Kong come alive, Kong: Skull Island is reminiscent of many of the old monster movies including The Mysterious Island. While I love a bit reminiscing in movies, easter eggs and so forth, originality was severely lacking in this movie.

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Unlike previous Kong movies which are usually set in the 1920’s/30’s era, this one is set at the conclusion of the Vietnam War. This did give the movie a different feel and an interesting perspective. In typical movie storytelling style though it is not the beast we should all be scared of but those who claim to be our protectors but who follow their own selfish motives for their own reward.

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The storytelling is long, drawn out providing an uneven pace to the movie. There are a few scenes that I feel were only included to show off the mastery of the CGI artists and had no relevance to the overall story. Kong is not the only thing on this Island to be oversized. Due to this the develop of the story and subsequently the characters is found wanting, leading to uneven performances from most of the lead actors. Tip: Don’t get too attached to a lot of the cast only a few actually make their way off the Island.

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Visually the shots of the Storm and the Island scenes are amazing. The Island location is stunning and the settings, props and costumes are all well thought out. I specifically enjoyed the shots around the tribal village and the detail that went into this. This includes the photo’s which Brie Larson’s character takes of the tribes people, these scenes were cute.

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There is a Monarch Website for Kong: Skull Island 

<<<Click here for the Monarch Website>>>

If you do go and see this movie, make sure you stay to the end of the credits as there is an end scene. This scene though not very exciting expands on the secret scientific organisation known as MONARCH (first introduced in Godzilla: Awakening) and their theories in respect of the various monster related myths, stories and fables told world wide. Setting us up of course for the next movie.

Worth watching just don’t expect greatness.

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How Can A Story Never Die?

B E A U T Y   A N D   T H E   B E A S T 

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Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Emma Thompson, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, etc…

My Rating: 5/5 (I’m being very generous)

My Review :  (Spoiler Free) 

In equal measure I was both nervous and excited about seeing this movie. Was Disney about to ruin one of my favourite movies of all time? I watched the first couple of trailers which showed some promise but as anticipation for the movie built up and trailers, clips etc… were abounding everywhere, I refused to watch them. I wanted to be amazed by the movie not the teasers. On Friday, the day of release, I went to the cinema and sat while Disney brought the cartoon I loved so much to life.

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It is difficult to find the right words for this review without sounding too gushing. Needless to say I really enjoyed it. Yes it has it’s faults, it is not perfect but overall it is immensely enjoyable. I loved the fact they used Beast’s Castle in the Disney Intro (shown above). Even Emma Watson (I’m not a fan, Sorry) as Belle did not destroy the movie for me. To be honest I’m a little confused by other reviews which are commending Emma for portraying Belle as a gritty, strong minded feminist – firstly they need to look up the definition of feminist and secondly, I saw no difference in Emma’s Belle than the Belle in the animation. Have they not watched the cartoon version? My only distraction with Emma’s Belle is that one moment her skirt would be tucked into her bloomers then it would be out, then in again. I think the continuity department needs readjustment.

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Beast though is my favourite character in the original animation but also in this movie. Dan Steven’s did a very good job as Beast, if he had ruined him I would have never forgiven him. Initially I was a little unsure of his look.He is a little different to the cartoon version but it did not take me long to grow used to it.

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In all honesty I was a little disappointed by Luke Evan’s portrayal as Gaston. I did not find him as villainous as the original, more comical. Josh Gad’s performance also though entertaining, was just lacking something. This might be because I had very high hopes for these characters in live action form and I felt a little let down. It also might be due to the fact that the rest of the cast were so good. All of them, were excellent. I especially enjoyed the voice performances of Ewan McGregor as Lumiere and Emma Thompson as Mrs Pott’s. I defy you not cry at the furniture. You will feel stupid but trust me everyone I was with in the cinema were sobbing.

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The cinematography from the first scene to the last is wonderfully shot. The detail in each frame should be applauded, it is a visual feast. In places it is very CGI heavy, but that is to be expected from a fantasy movie like this, when they are bringing to life quite an ambitious animation.

The soundtrack is also worth mentioning, while they have kept most of the songs from the animation, there are some new lyrics which work well. In prologue begins the same but then changes and makes a little more sense. The role of the Enchantress and why she showed up is also explained (sort of). There are also a few new songs which work really well. My favourite being “How Can A Moment Last Forever?”. It is sung during the movie by both Belle’s Father and Belle, but Celine Dion sings it on the end credits and it is beautiful.

While this movie has a number of references to the original Disney animation, there is some originality in the storytelling. There are some interesting insights into the backgrounds of both Beast and Belle as well as a number of nice touches involving the other cast members.

I had so much love for the animation that I did not believe I would like this new re-telling, however I was proved wrong. I really enjoyed this movie. Ignore the bad reviews, go and see it for yourselves with an open mind.

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Here’s to the Ones Who Dream…

 

L A   L A   L A N D 

Staring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone

Director: Damien Chazelle

La La Land tells the story of Mia (Emma Stone) an inspiring young actress whose path seems destined to cross with struggling Jazz Musician Sebastian (Ryan Gosling). Both are finding it hard to realise their dreams in the city of angels, that wears down and crushes so many young hopefuls.

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Spring came early with arrival of  La La Land. This vibrant musical was a delightful splash of colour on a drab and dreary winters day. With its catchy soundtrack and forever sunny “cinemascope” backdrop, leaving the cinema in a bad mood would be difficult.

Personally I have never felt as though the musical has ever died, but I do feel as though it has evolved. La La Land though hopefully hails the return of the iconic Hollywood musical. Many of the scenes look and feel iconic, strangely familiar with so many nods to the classic Hollywood Musical such as Singing in the Rain and an American in Paris. This movie moves with effortless ease from one scene to the next.

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This is Stone and Goslings third movie outing together. The chemistry between them is palpable, causing the viewing audience to be sucked into their love story. Individually their performances work just as well and are equally convincing.Gosling learnt to play the jazz piano especially for this role and it does add something a little more tangible to his character. Stone’s performance was convincing but I found her singing weak compared to that of Goslings. Though her solo song “The Audition” (Here’s to the Ones who Dream) was probably my favourite song in the movie, that and of course City of Stars.

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Overall this is a enjoyable feel good movie, bursting with colour and life with a pinch of melancholy for good measure. If you go and watch this movie looking for greatness you will leave slightly disappointed. Personally I do not understand all the buzz surrounding it. La La Land does not provide greatness but it does provide much needed relief from a sad dismal world.

Full House… Bingo!!!

A quick review of what may be one of the funniest movies I have seen this year.

B R I D G E T   J O N E S ‘ S   B A B Y

Staring : Renee Zelleweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Emma Thompson

Rating : 4/5

My Review : 

The first time I encountered, what can only be called “the wonder” that is Bridget Jones, was when I was in my early 20’s. I was a single mother, who had inadvertently lost all sense of direction and was dragged along to the cinema by my mother, who decided I needed to get out of the house.  I was not looking forward to watching yet another Rom-Com and its only appeal was that Mr Darcy (Colin Firth) was staring in it, as Mr Darcy (sort of).  It was not long though before I was sucked into the extraordinary world that belongs to the 30 something Bridget Jones. I ended up loving the movie, not so much the book but that’s another story.

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Now we are on the third installment of Bridget’s life, finding her now, once again single and in her forties. Bridget’s life appears to have gone full circle, only this time Bridget is more determined than ever to change it. Swapping from wailing “all by myself” to jumping to house of pain. Bridget and Mark Darcy have been apart for 5 years and Daniel Cleaver (well I’m not going to spoil it for it for you) is not on the scene. Bridget is without a man and her friends are determined to find her one.

Bridget however beats them all and ends up bagging two men or should that be bedding? One new and the other old but ends up abandoning them both. Then sets about trying to slim into some very skinny jeans. Only fate has other ideas. Discovering that she is pregnant and with a very small gap between both men, Bridget is at a loss to who the father of her child is? Is it Jack, or is it Mark?

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I can honestly say I have never laughed so hard at a movie in ages. Though it sometimes plays with the boundaries of credibility, it is undoubtedly heart warming and hilarious in places. The scene with the hospital door is so funny I cried.  It references the first movie with delightful nostalgia and Firth reprises his role of Darcy with a weary acceptance. One of the biggest delights in this movie is Emma Thompson’s role as Bridget’s doctor. She irrefutably steals every scene that she is in and truly makes the part her own.

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What is great though about this offering is that Bridget is not trying to identify herself by being at the side of a man. Even though she wants a father for her child, the new Bridget realises that the most important thing is not her relationship with these men but her child’s.

This time I went to the cinema with my daughter who is now nearly 17 years old. I’m in my thirties and scarily can identify with some of Miss Jones’s many embarrassing moments. The third installment is a good solid offering, with some good old fashioned humour and some great on screen moments. There is a hint at the end of the movie of the possibility of another but please just stop here. No more, let’s leave Bridget on a high note. Besides, I don’t think Renee’s face could take it!

What Goes Up, Must Come Down.

Independence Day: Resurgence. A movie with huge flaws yet still enjoyable.

I N D E P E N D E N C E   D A Y : R E S U R G E N C E

Cast : Jeff Goldblum, Liam Hemsworth, Bill Pullman

My Rating : 2.5/5

Tagline : It has been two decades since the first Independence Day invasion, Earth finds itself facing a new threat. Will mankind’s new defenses be enough, to save them this time?

My Review :

Well we always expected them to come back, didn’t we?

Er… no! I didn’t. Independence Day was so huge, why even try and make a sequel? Initially, I was a little skeptical. Surely they are not going to try and ruin another movie with a mediocre script, CGI heavy, aged actors sequel? I asked myself! Yes… Yes… they were! I waited with anticipation for the trailers and to my surprise they showed a hint of a promise. The clincher for me though was the absence of Will Smith. Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy, he was great in the first movie but I did not want to see a remake of the first movie.

So, I entered the movie theater on Sunday with trepidation and a hint of hope, maybe I was about to see something amazing?

Er… no! Okay, so it was no Toy Story 3, however it was lot of fun. Just don’t think about it too hard.

Earth 20 years since the first attack has embraced and is using the alien technology left behind. Making space travel easier, faster and weapons deadlier. All the nations have come together to form some sort of space defense system. The younger generation has grown up dealing with the repercussions of that fateful day and those who were involved are still looking for answers.

Unfortunately, I ended up with a remake more or less of the first movie except everything is BIGGER! and I mean bigger. The technology, the spaceship and definitely the aliens, all bigger, but despite what they say, bigger does not always mean better. Bigger in this movie actually meant slightly sillier and little absurd. There are two good CG moments the rest of the CG feels a little wasted.

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I am loathed to talk about the plot too much, as to be honest there isn’t really much of one to talk about. Anything I might say about it has the possibility to be a huge spoiler. Parts of the script were amusing and there are a few laugh out loud moments but everything is really predictable. There are some pretty gaping plot holes. It also felt as though the editing was little out. Early on in the movie a base (which we never see) on Saturn is destroyed, presumably by something huge. Reaction of the powers that be in the movie: “Something destroyed our Saturn base? Oh no!” Okay, maybe not quite like that, but that was the general impression. I’m assuming that nothing like that had happened in the 20 years since the first attack, but the reaction was none existent. Just another day at the office.

We do discover the Aliens actual intention for Earth which is to destroy it, no surprise there. How do they intend to destroy it? By taking the Earth’s core. You get one glimpse of a spaceship preparing to do this in the ocean, exciting, this is the count down for the movie. Oh, hang on… After that you get a group of drunk hairy guys on a boat talking about it. What happened there? Did the money run out for that effect?

Somehow all the protagonists, surprise surprise… end up at Area 51 again! The base has been holding a load of Aliens for the past 20 years. Yet, somehow none of them have escaped until now. How did they do it? We never know. Then they disappear apart from the few needed for killing purposes.

Besides the huge plot holes, parts of the movie failed to flow, the continuity is missing and some of the acting was certainly questionable.  Liam Hemsworth maybe pretty but he is no Lawrence Olivier.

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Yet, despite the negatives I did actually enjoy it, so long as I didn’t think about it too much. The nostalgic references to the first movie were enjoyable though some have called them corny. Bill Pullman gives one of those speeches again. Not as “spine-tingling” as the one in the first movie but still a good moment. Jeff Goldblum is always a delight and as I mentioned Liam Hemsworth is pretty. SO, not all bad.

Overall, if you loved the first movie forget about it while watching the sequel. Don’t spend too much on the tickets cause you will feel cheated. Enjoy the comedy, the special effects and the slithers of heart rendering emotion. Just don’t expect greatness.

I Have Been Called Many Things…

X – M E N : A P O C A L Y P S E 

Cast : James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult

My Rating : 3.5/5

Synopsis : With the emergence of the world’s first mutant, Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan.

My Review :

This heavily CGI, action packed addition of the X-Men franchise is bold and ambitious in it’s characterization and story telling. Its mixture of mythology, social commentary and recent history makes the visual as entertaining as the dialogue.

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Set in the 1980’s, several years after “Day’s of Future Past” we find Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) continuing his dream of developing the School for Gifted Youngsters. Along side him is Hank “Beast” McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) aiding his efforts in helping the young Jean Gray, Cyclops etc… come to terms with their powers. Raven/Mystique (Jenifer Lawrence) is seeking other mutants in a world where they are still treated like freaks and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) has created a new life for himself in Poland, along with a wife and child. Things on the surface appear to be moving smoothly. Until Apocalypse (Oscar Issac) rises from a centuries long sleep and shakes the fragile foundations the mutants have established.

Apocalypse awakes, unimpressed by the weak world leaders and seeks to cleanse the world that lies before him. However, before he sets about wiping the earth of humans, he seeks out his Four Horseman. He gathers together Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Archangel (Ben Hardy) and Magneto, using their anger and fears to persuade them that humanity’s time is up.

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A welcome introduction to this movie is Nightcrawler portrayed by Kodi Smit-McPhee. He provides some much needed comedic moments during the movie. Alexandra Shipp’s interpretation of Storm is fantastic, however I was a little disappointed we did not get to see her in action more. The introduction of the new cast, along with the established older cast works well. The only person for me who really let the movie down was Jennifer Lawrence. Usually I love her, she can do very little wrong, however I felt at times I was watching “Katniss Everdeen” face of the rebellion instead of Mystique anti-hero mutant. One of the best moments of the movie is Quicksilver’s timely appearance at The School for the Gifted.

Admittedly the storytelling did fall down in places, as it often does with heavily action based movies, but makes up for this in some rather endearing and tragic moments throughout. It has a nice pace, with some well judged action scenes, however it does lack some suspense.

I have to admit that this was not a movie I had planned on seeing when I saw the trailer, but I am glad I did. If you have followed the X-Men franchise then this is not a movie to miss. There are some outstanding performances by both the old and the new cast which I enjoyed, as I mentioned before Nightcrawler is dream. The soundtrack also deserves a special mention along with the costuming. Some of those outfits are very impressive, Nightcrawlers “thiller” jacket is very reminiscent of the 80’s. There are also some well judged cameos which you cannot fail to see.

Yes, this movie has received some bad reviews by the critics but don’t listen to them, go and see it for yourselves. You might just be pleasantly surprised.