I am a huge movie lover - I will see pretty much anything once. Like my book blog, this is a place where I will write reviews of the movies that I see. As always, these reviews are strictly my opinion and I welcome and encourage discussion and debate on my postings~

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Commuter

The Commuter (2018) - Run Time: 1h46m


"In this action-packed thriller, Liam Neeson plays an insurance salesman, Michael, on his daily commute home, which quickly becomes anything but routine. After being contacted by a mysterious stranger, Michael is forced to uncover the identity of a hidden passenger on his train before the last stop. As he works against the clock to solve the puzzle, he realizes a deadly plan is unfolding and is unwittingly caught up in a criminal conspiracy. One that carries life and death stakes for himself and his fellow passengers.:


If you have seen a Liam Neeson film in the past decade (think Taken, Taken 2, Taken 3, Up all Night) and have enjoyed it, then this is the movie for you .  It is action packed, full of drama and suspense, and keeps you entertained.  The very beginning (first 5-10 minutes) is a little slow, but you forget about that once the action starts happening.  

So as I mentioned, this is a typical Liam Neeson film and therefore is somewhat predictable.  Neeson plays an ex-cop (of course), whose previous training and experiences come in handy when the action breaks out.  I love Liam Neeson, but unfortunately he is starting to get up there in age.  Even worse, he is starting to LOOK up there in age.  So when he gets in fights with guys who are a good 20-30 years younger than him it does seem a little over the top and unbelievable, but I am willing to forgive it because it is kind of to be expected with this type of movie.

This movie is somewhat predictable - you can see things coming before they happen - but it still manages a few twists and surprises so that you don't feel it was a total waste of time.  

Here's the long and short of it:  If you are looking for depth, sophistication, thought provoking and fabulous acting, you will be disappointed.  If you are looking for some fast pace action, over done fight scenes, predictable plot and general entertainment and fun, go see it.  If you don't like any violence or foul language, steer clear.  If you just want to escape for a few hours and have a good time, this is a great option.  

Rating: 7/10 - worth the watch and it will be one I flip on for entertainment sake when it shows up on t.v.

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Greatest Showman

The Greatest Showman (2017) - Run Time: 1h45min


"THE GREATEST SHOWMAN is a bold and original musical that celebrates the birth of show business and the sense of wonder we feel when dreams come to life. Inspired by the ambition and imagination of P.T. Barnum, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN tells the story of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a mesmerizing spectacle that became a worldwide sensation."


So in case you missed it in the plot summary above - this is a musical.  If yo don't like musicals then you won't like this movie.  The person I went to see this with did not realize before hand that it was a musical and was then somewhat disappointed with the movie because it was not what she expected.  My stance on musicals is this: if you are going to pull off a musical then you need 1) an interesting story line, 2) good actors, and 3) good MUSIC!  I have seen many a musical in my day and my opinion has ranged from LOVED IT to HATED IT.  A few examples, just to give you an idea of where my opinion is coming from: Mamma Mia - it was ok - good actors, fine plot, good music, but sung by TERRIBLE singers.  Les Miserables - HATED IT!  It felt like it went on forever, not a good plot, so-so acting and TERRIBLE music - it was the same song over and over again!  I left the theatre wanting to get back the 3 hours of my life I wasted (I realize there are many people who will disagree with me).  

This one actually surprised me with how much I liked it.  The plot was interesting, especially considering it was based on fact.  I really like many of the stars in this film (Michelle Williams, Zac Effron, Hugh Jackman) and unlike some other musicals - this cast can actually SING!  I found the whole movie engaging and was actually a little sad when it ended.

I also loved the music in this one - which is obviously important to one's overall opinion of a movie musical.  The songs were catchy, and it didn't sound like they just used the same song and changed the lyrics.  In fact, I would even consider putting a few of the songs from this soundtrack onto my iPod.

I found myself tapping my toes throughout and really got invested in the characters.

One thing I didn't love about the movie - I didn't feel there was enough character development when it came to the people with exceptionalities who joined the circus.  Yes, I realize that they are not the main characters, and that the main story revolves around Hugh Jackman's character, but considering the huge part these characters played in his life, it would have been nice to get to know them more as people, and not just for their "freak" characteristics.  I think it did at least give some of them names, however they were referred to so rarely that I honestly can't remember them.  I would have liked to know more about them - their backgrounds, how they felt about being in the spotlight, etc.  Perhaps this is another movie waiting to happen!

Anyway, long story short - it was cheesy (as most musicals are), it was predictable, it was entertaining, and I enjoyed every minute of it.  If you generally enjoy musicals I would bet you will like this one, if not, steer clear.  

Rating: 8.5/10 - I will definitely be watching this one again.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) - Run Time: 1h59min


"The legend of Jumanji continues as the game comes to life once again. In the new adventure, Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan are pitted against stampeding rhinos, mambas, saber-toothed tigers, and a jungle full of traps and puzzles, forcing them to play the ultimate game of survival."


So remember what I just said in my last review about sequels?  Well this one is a rare exception.  Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a SIGNIFICANT improvement over the original movie.  I'm actually not sure if this should be called a sequel or a re-make, but I'm going with sequel just because it doesn't take the same form as the original movie.  In all fairness, the original did come out way back in 1995 and starred the amazing Robin Williams - so expectations in comparison to this one need to be kept in check.  However, I remember seeing the first Jumanji when it came out way back then (I was 11 at the time) - and even back then it was TERRIBLE.  I loved Robin Williams but even as a child in the target age group I HATED this movie!  I found it sooooo boring!  The 2017 version is far from that!

I really loved how this movie tried to update the original and bring it into this century.  There is even a nod to the original near the beginning.  A man jogging on the beach finds the Jumanji board game in the sand and brings it home to his teenage son, who, as a video game addict, comments "who plays board games anymore?".  So, the board game itself creates a video game version to bring more people into the game.  And thus, this movie becomes relevant again.

First off let me say this was a PG movie, and there were a ton of kids in the theater when I went to see it.  However, it has a lot of humour aimed at the adults in the room that would go right over kids heads.  On top of that, there was some wearing throughout, which I heard several kids comment on.  So if you are a parent planning on taking your kid to this, just be aware, this is not a G rated movie for a reason.

I think the thing that made this movie as good as it was, was the amazing casting.  The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) was hilarious in his roll, and no one can play a teenage girl trapped in the body of an old man quite like Jack Black!  They kept me laughing throughout the entire movie!!  There was plenty of kid humour and slapstick comedy, intermixed with jokes meant to keep the adults entertained.

On the down side, I found this movie to be a little long, especially for a movie aimed at kids.  This one almost hit the 2 hour mark, and by 1 1/2 hours I found myself eagerly awaiting the end.  Funny or no, it seemed to be unnecessarily long, especially given the simplistic plot.  There were a few parts that could have been cut down or just plain cut out.  It was also predictable - but I won't hold it against them as this WAS a kids movie.

I'm glad I saw it - it was fun and entertaining - however this isn't one I'll be likely to watch again. 

Rating: 7/10 - if I were rating the original, I would have given it a 2, so this one is a huge improvement over that one.  It just seemed to go on a little too long.  If it had been 45min shorter I probably would have given it an 8.  

Pitch Perfect 3

Pitch Perfect 3 (2017) - Run Time: 1h34min


"After the highs of winning the World Championships, the Bellas find themselves split apart and discovering there aren't job prospects for making music with your mouth. But when they get the chance to reunite for an overseas USO tour, this group of awesome nerds will come together to make some music, and some questionable decisions, one last time." 


Obviously, this is a sequel, which in and of itself should automatically lower expectations.  Rarely does a sequel come close to it's original.  Unfortunately, that remains true in this case as well.  Let me be clear, I still enjoyed it, it was still plenty entertaining - but when compared to the first, it was utter crap.

Bad Points:

First off, several important characters who were in the original do not make appearances.  Jesse (Skylar Astin), Bumper (Adam Devine), and Benji (Ben Platt) are nowhere to be seen (along with any of the other Treblemakers).  Now I get they were probably trying to go somewhere new with this one and didn't want to fall back on the same old plot lines they had before, but these boys added some looks and serious humour to the movies and I for one missed them.  On top of that, Stacie (Alexis Knapp) was barely in it and she was also one of my favourite characters.

Lets talk about the plot - without giving anything away let me just say that some of what happens to the Bellas on their USO tour is absolutely ridiculous.  It makes no sense and is a completely bizarre direction to take the movie into.  This movie is by far more farcical and slapstick than the previous two.

Finally, while there was some great singing (and a lot of awesome covers), there was a lack of mash ups, which is a hallmark of Pitch Perfect movies, and another one of my favourite components.

Good Points:

Although I felt that some important characters were lacking screen time (or simply just lacking in full), there were some awesome new editions to the cast.  For one, Ruby Rose (who plays Calamity, a member of another group performing in the tour) is great.  Her voice is fantastic (I am assuming it was actually her singing, as that seems to be something required of cast members),she's funny and she adds some of that banter and rivalry missing from the departure of the Treblemakers.

The singing in this one was awesome - it certainly did not disappoint.  I loved many of the songs they chose to cover, and they introduced characters who used instruments to play and not just A Capella, which adds another dimension to some of the performances.

Overall, I think this was definitely the worst of the 3 movies by far, however the music may have been better than the second one.  Having said that, I still thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was totally entertaining and I'm glad I saw it.  If you saw (and enjoyed) the first 2 films I definitely recommend seeing it, just lower your expectations a little before you sit down.  

Rating: 8 1/2 /  for music, 7 for plot and overall movie - worth a watch but not nearly as good as the original.   

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Prisoners (2013) - Run time: 2h33min


When two little girls go missing, a father (Hugh Jackman) goes to any length to find them.  Meanwhile, a local police officer (Jake Gyllenhaal) tries to find the kidnapper before time runs out for the little girls.  This movie has a huge cast of big names that play supporting roles, including Maria Bello & Viola Davis as the distraught mothers, and Terrence Howard as the other father who tries to keep his friend from going to far in search of their daughters.


I don't know what it is with Hollywood these days making movies that run well past the 2 hour mark, and I sure hope it isn't a growing trend.  Having said that, this is yet another very LONG movie that doesn't feel that long while you are watching it.  I had high hopes for this movie, mostly due to the cast, and I have to say I wasn't disappointed.  As I have said before, I am no movie critic - all I want is to be entertained, and this movie delivered.  It is suspenseful almost right from the start, and keeps the drama and suspense coming right to the very last second.

Hugh Jackman gives a great performance as the father who will do whatever it takes to get his daughter back.  I think what I love best about his performance is that you absolutely feel his fear and anger, and you totally understand why he is doing what he is doing.  BUT ... at the same time you wonder if he isn't taking things a bit too far.  This conflict between supporting his motives and disliking his methods creates even more drama.  Maria Bello plays his wife and I have to say I think she is a bit underutilized in this film.  I love her and basically all she does through the entire movie is lay in bed and cry.  While I understand this, I am used to seeing her play much stronger characters and I would have liked to see her do a LITTLE bit more than fall apart completely.  Jake Gyllenhaal's character was a bit strange for me.  On the one hand, he played the "cop" very well and even managed to bring a bit of humour into an otherwise very dark movie, but on the other hand, for some reason they (or he) decided to give his character what I can only describe as autistic/Asperger's type qualities.  He is not very good when dealing with other people and has this weird little blinking tick thing going on.  I think it took away from his otherwise great performance and didn't really seem to fit with the rest of his character or seem necessary.  I did like his character, he was just sometimes hard to watch on screen (which I didn't think could be possible for Gyllenhaal!).

Now for my few critiques: First, there were some great plot twists in this movie, but I found that I was able to guess them 5-10 minutes prior to them being revealed in the film.  If you are going to come up with such great twists, don't let your audience see them coming!!  Second, there were several times throughout the movie where I found myself shouting (in my head of course) "WHY WOULDN'T HE JUST _______!!!" Overall, I found this film to be fairly realistic and the characters relatable, but every once in a while someone would do something that made no sense.

Overall, I really liked this film.  As I said, I was certainly entertained and it didn't feel as long as it was.  There was some graphic violence in it, but I don't think they took it too far and it was always for a reason.

Rating 8/10 - Some minor flaws but definitely worth a watch. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I'm Back!!

Well, what can I say - much like the many diaries of my youth, I started this blog with good intentions and high hopes, and then .... stopped.  BUT I'm back and I will say that I certainly didn't stop watching movies while I was gone!  I'm hoping to keep this up on a much more regular basis and if I have extra time, I will try and make up for my absence by adding some extra reviews for some of the movies I have seen over the past few years!  And if anyone is still reading this, thanks for sticking with me!!

Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips (2013)- Run time: 2h14min


Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) is leading a container ship which gets taken over by a crew of Somali pirates who plan to hold the ship captive for a ransom. It's a true story based on the real hijacking of a U.S. ship in 2009. Captain Phillips tries to keep his crew safe while the Somali pirates hope for a large payout.


Let me preface this by saying I am a HUGE Tom Hanks fan and there is little this man does that I don't like. I went into this hoping to be entertained but not expecting much. I figured that most of the suspense was probably given away in the previews and was not expecting much more from the movie. I did know that it was based on a true story, although I don't remember hearing about it in the news at all back in 2009 when it took place. I also didn't realize the movie was over 2 hours long. Having said all that, I was very pleasantly surprised by this movie. Besides Tom Hanks as the title character, the only other face I recognized was that of Catherine Keener, who plays Captain Phillip's wife and gets about 5min of screen time (which is a shame because this woman can be great). This film was suspenseful from start to finish and I certainly did not feel like I was sitting there for over 2 hours - the time flew by. The action kicks off pretty quickly in this movie, which is great as many other 2+ hr movies take forever to get to the good stuff.

This movie did an excellent job of taking you through a range of emotions. At various points throughout the film I felt scared, angry, sympathetic, frustrated and a million other things I can't even describe. The relationship between Captain Phillips and the captain of the Sumali pirates is one built on false trust and survival. Each need something from the other in order to survive. As always, Tom Hanks was superb in his role of Captain Phillips - although I have to say his accent was really annoying - NO idea what part of the US he was supposed to be from! Aside from that, he put in a great performance, as did most of the cast. I also think the movie did a great job of keeping things realistic in terms of emotions, reactions and motives. There wasn't a "USA is the BEST" vibe from this movie at all - and the characters were all believeable. Overall, I really enjoyed this movie - it was better than I expected it to be, which is always a nice surprise!!

Rating 9/10 - it was better than expected, and it didn't feel nearly as long as it was. Having said that, it's not the kind of movie you are probably going to watch over and over. Definitely worth the watch though!