The Dark Half

Emmy says:
A well-written film that cut down the story to the important points. Unfortunately, that meant doing a disservice to Alan Pangborn who no longer has the character trails and development that exists in the novel. The ending was then rushed, which was disappointing. 7/10.

Jeff says:
There’s a reason you get a film like this adapted and directed by George A Romero. I have nothing to back this up, but I think the ending was what got Romero on board. The rest of the story did a good job of hitting the needed beats, and condensing Stephen King is never easy (and this was a 2 hour movie, not a 4 hour mini-series). Timothy Hutton was excellent as both Thad and his Dark Half, but it seemed more like a summary than a story. The acting was good, the story well told … it was just too short. 7/10.

IMDb

It (1990)

Emmy says:
I watched this film as if through a haze of nostalgia, it made me laugh, it made me smile with indulgence and it ended with making me cry. The cringe worthy 80s effects and Foley have not aged well at all, with that, the story is still strong and carefully collated from the vast amount of material in the novel. 8/10.

Jeff says:
I remember this as a good movie, but not great. Rewatching, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The characters mattered, the relationship to the book was clear (I think the new version does well to change the story to be kids then adults rather than interspersing, but the interspersed timelines were in the original story. A lot of things hinted or mentioned, rather than shown, and it really wasn’t that scary – but then it wasn’t rated for a lot of scares. It was more of an adventure story than a horror film. Still, the cast did an excellent job and now I’m really wondering how the new adults will compare with It: Chapter Two later this year. 8/10.

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Pet Sematary

Emmy says:
This film shows some amazing attention to details with small things like a old hanky for a pocket square. I’m grateful that there was evidence of the call of the burial grounds. Mostly true to the essence of the book. 7/10.

Jeff says:
So, you’re updating a Stephen King story (that’s been done before) and you want to put a twist in to throw the readers off? How about not give it away in the trailers then?! I’ve commented on this before, but this move has me now going to flag films as #ruinedbytrailer if they give away the surprises before you’ve even bought your ticket. That wasn’t the only problem here. Everything about this film screams at me that it’s trying to be Insidious, Annabelle, or something else like that from Blumhouse. Now, there’s nothing wrong with those films – and Blumhouse is making AMAZING movies – but that’s not quite what’s expected from Stephen King stories. It works here, because this story is King at his bleakest (even he says so), but it’s close. All the necessary key beats from the story were there (even to the point of being able to predict the next scare), and I was pleased to see the pull of the burial grounds was included – the book had it, but the previous film version left it out. Some things get under your skin, even when you know better. Kind of like hoping for a great King adaptation. 7/10.

IMDb

Shazam!

Emmy says:
Watching this movie is living the childlike joy of getting a new comic. An absolute pleasure with great looking ugly monsters. Highly recommend. 10/10.

Jeff says:
I wanted to see this movie the moment I knew Zac Levi was playing the ‘adult’ Billy. Then I started hearing that it was actually really good and I got even more excited. Guess what? It was even better than the very high hopes I had! While feeling like an old-school (read: pre-MCU) comic book movie, there’s a heart and sense of fun to this movie that makes it better than just about anything else in the DCEU (which it qualifies to be part of) and even a lot of the Marvel films. The trailer does a remarkable job of NOT giving all the best bits away, which is to be encouraged and congratulated. Like others, I don’t want to say anything to spoil the movie … there were genuine (delightful) surprises in this, even for me. I’m so happy this film got made. 10/10.

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How It Ends

Emmy says:
The end of the world feels all too predictable these days but watching movies like this does seem like we’re taking control of something at least. Enjoyable, even with the obvious scenes. 6/10.

Jeff says:
This was an odd, but still mostly enjoyable film. I have to wonder what Forest Whitaker was doing in it, as someone that well known in this otherwise unknown cast seems strange. A tight character drama that doesn’t seek to explain, just follows the people living out the experience, which I applaud: we don’t always need everything explained if the story is engaging enough. Still, it did flag a little in places and some of the set pieces and character arcs were rather predicable. Weirdly, it kept reminding me of the game series Fallout. A good enough Netflix film, but nothing special. 6/10.

IMDb

Us

Emmy says:
An unsettling piece of art with exhilarating music and deftly played tension. The adrenaline rush was drawn out without a loss of investment. I definitely need to follow Jordan Peele’s career. 9/10.

Jeff says:
Jordan Peele’s follow-up to Get Out is intensely creepy and suspenseful. A masterpiece of storytelling that probably requires multiple viewings to understand properly. The acting is exquisite by everyone in the main family. My only complaint with this movie is that the trailer shows scenes and moments that, when watching the film, gave away the ending (for me, at least). If you haven’t seen the trailer, don’t – just go watch the movie. A tense, well-paced thrill ride that propels you inexorably to the edge and then pushes you off. 9/10.

IMDb

Dumbo (2019)

Emmy says:
An interesting update to the known story, with children being Dumbo’s catalyst to flight. Enjoyable. 7/10.

Jeff says:
Movies with Mikey, in the original Lessons Animation Taught Us, spent a fair amount of time talking about the issues (from today’s perspective) that the original Dumbo animated film has. This version also has some issues, albeit different ones. The racism might be gone but, given the setting is just after WW1, treating everyone equally regardless of colour seems just as bad because it’s covering for a shameful time in history. The animal cruelty is still there, and realistic CG makes this even harder for children – there was one literally crying in row behind us during our session. I was angry for much of the film: at choices made in terms of characterisation; the ridiculousness of trying to be “realistic” with animals but create a really unrealistic baby elephant; having the animals react like they understands humans; and I could go on. However, the movie did win me over: some of the story lines were quite moving; some of the dialogue was well-written; the visual nods to the original were cleverly done; the striking similarity of Michael Keaton’s character to the actual Walt Disney (as I first saw mentioned here) was surprising; and the climatic sequence had enough pathos to have me engaged. One of Burton’s better recent endeavours, but still problematic. 5/10.

IMDb

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

Emmy says:
Wonderfully lighthearted with brooding tones. Definitely awesome and a worthy successor for the franchise. 9/10.

Jeff says:
For a toy movie, there’s a lot in this. MovieBob has an excellent review that sums up most of what I think in greater depth than I can. The songs were still catchy, but also really clever; the story had unexpected turns that were impressively deep in places; and the overall message is one that it seems more people need to hear – so I hope they see this. As with the first movie, the ‘bigger world’ bits are a little tedious because the real world isn’t as fun as the imagined world, but it’s also where a lot of the heart is. This was absolutely still awesome. 10/10.

IMDb

Secret Window

Emmy says:
Without knowing the liberties this screenplay has taken from the book, some of the earlier bits of information are jarring and seem like a poor choice. After the conclusion they do, however, make sense. The limited costume for Mort definitely accentuates the depths to which he has sunk. The music provided a background level of tension that heightened the sense of impending dread. A very good adaptation of the short story. 8/10.

Jeff says:
I’ve been meaning to watch this for years, and the Stephen King Watch-a-long has finally given me the opportunity. Was it worth the weight? Not especially. Another King adaptation where all the interesting bits are left out. To be sure, this was necessary – even for a short story – to keep it under 100 minutes. There were changes that didn’t need to be made, and I feel like the ending spoiled what King had intended. Still, decent acting from pre-‘eccentric’ Depp – which is just as well since it’s just him for over half the film. This was an odd little story when King wrote it, the adaptation is an odd little film. I guess that’s fitting, in the end. 7/10.

IMDb

 

Captain Marvel

Emmy says:
A whole lotta kick ass action with amazing alien and de-ageing effects. An absolute must see. 10/10.

Jeff says:
This is a fantastic movie! Capturing the 90s easily, with impressive special effects (including making Samuel L Jackson look young) and a killer soundtrack, this movie is everything I hoped it would be and more. While some of the beats were able to be guessed if you have been paying attention to the MCU, the story was engaging and uplifting. This film is going to be talked about in terms of how great for women and girls it is (especially as today is International Women’s Day), but that sells the movie short – this movie is great for everyone. A lot of heart, a lot of action, and some surprising story decisions that paid off brilliantly. Go see it! 10/10.

IMDb

mv5bmtu1mzy1mduzov5bml5banbnxkftztgwmzqzmjkxnzm40._v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_If you’ve seen the movie, you know why this is here 😀

Alita: Battle Angel

Emmy says:
Beautifully designed world with outstanding character design. Empowering story with stunning action. Highly recommend 9/10.

Jeff says:
Visually stunning, an excellent adaptation of a cyber-punk manga. Awesome to see the female lead actually LEADING and asserting her own agency. The fight sequences had weight and felt as real as possible given the unreality of the context. Like in Upgrade, I felt the fighting reflected the reality of the type of people involved. Parts of the film dragged over-long and made the barely 2 hour movie seem longer (which is not a complement). An ambitious project that exceeded my expectations. 9/10.

(Guest Reaction) Erin says:
Thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Love the graphics. 9/10.

(Guest Reaction) Jono says:
Loved the graphics, but the ending really made it fall flat for me. The build up was there and had me expecting a conclusion, but left me asking why it didn’t go that way. 7/10.

(Guest Reaction) Ms 14yo:
Very Intense! 10/10.

(Guest Reaction) Ms 12yo:
I was emotionally invested the whole time. 10/10.

(Guest Reaction) Ms 10yo:
Loved the dance fighting. 9/10.

(Guest Reaction) Mr 5yo:
Awesome fighting. 10/10.

IMDb

Happy Death Day 2U

Emmy says:
Oh so much fun! The movie leans heavily on the previous film and I’m not sure it’d be enjoyable without it for context. Wonderfully constructed comedy and a unique story. 9/10.

Jeff says:
I’m not sure it’s fair to criticise a sequel for relying on familiarity with the previous film, but it is true that you really need to see Happy Death Day to get the most out of this one.  Just don’t expect the same movie … this one crosses genres and has even less gore than the first one (which was already fairly tame on that front). Having said all that, this was an absolute blast. It was great to spend time with these characters again, and see the secondary characters get more story. A fun, funny ride that still managed some surprising depth. Given the creativity shown in being different to the first, I could stand to see a part three. 9/10.

IMDb

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