BROOKLYN (transfer) review

These “transfer” reviews are from when I only did reviews on my Facebook page back in 2015. Bare in mind when reading these, I didn’t have the same formula in my review writing that I do now, and my usual “who starred and who directed” information is completely absent, so everything “italicized” is new. With that said, enjoy this review from 2015.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve wanted to see this movie. Aside from the fact that it was being labeled as one of the best movies of the year, I’m also a relative fan of Saoirse Ronan. I also have to be honest, that was as far as my enthusiasm went. I guess I’m just a sucker for what people tell me. Someone tell me I’m a gopher, I’ll probably believe you. In any case, FINALLY made time to see this movie.

Starring: Saoirse Ronan (LOVING VINCENT [2017], HANNA [2011], ATONEMENT [2007], and upcoming films LADY BIRD [2017] and MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS [2018]) and Emory Cohen (WAR MACHINE [2017], THE GAMBLER [2014], and THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES [2012])

Support: Domhnall Gleeson (GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN [2017], THE REVENANT [2015], ANNA KARENINA [2012], and upcoming films STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI [2017] and PETER RABBIT [2018]), Jim Broadbent (THE SENSE OF AN ENDING [2017], HOT FUZZ [2007], THE BORROWERS [1997], and the upcoming PADDINGTON 2 [2018]), Fiona Glascott (THE DEAL [2008], RESIDENT EVIL [2002], and the upcoming FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM 2 [2018]), and Emily Bett Rickards (FLICKA: COUNTRY PRIDE [2012], and TV shows ARROW [2012 – ongoing] and THE FLASH [2014 – ongoing])

Director: John Crowley (CLOSED CIRCUIT [2013], BOY A [2007], and INTERMISSION [2003]). Writer: Nick Hornby (WILD [2014] and FEVER PITCH [1997]). Composer: Michael Brook (STRONGER [2017], TALLULAH [2016], and THE FIGHTER [2010]). Cinematographer: Yves Bélanger (SHUT IN [2016], DEMOLITION [2016], and DALLAS BUYERS CLUB [2013])


Set in the 1950’s. The story follows a young Irish woman named Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) who has been set up with a new life in America, Brooklyn to be exact. She has a difficult time adjusting at first, what with being homesick and all, but all of that changes when she meets Tony (Emory Cohen), a young Italian romantic who quickly falls for the Irish girl, whom eventually falls for him too. Life gets much easier… until Eilis gets word of tragic news that must bring her home.


Great. A nearly flawless movie and thoroughly heartfelt.

Ronan delivers probably her career best. That’s possibly not saying much considering how little she’s done, but there’s no denial that she plays her role as Eilis so straight and convincingly. Every step she takes throughout the film is completely felt. When she gets seasick on a ghetto-looking boat, you feel her agony as she tries to simply find a place to vomit, the heartache when she’s homesick, the happiness when she’s with Tony, Ronan is every bit engaging from the beginning to the end. If she were nominated for best actress at the Oscars, I wouldn’t be surprised (nor would I be surprised if she didn’t win, what with the way that shit’s ran).

The supporting cast isn’t lacking in enjoyment either. Eilis’ romantic-interest, Tony, is indeed a very likable character. He’s a gentleman, and maintains his down-to-earth demeanor and treatment of Eilis. Although I do have to ask why he has a stereotypical Italian accent when none of his family has one. Same mannerisms, maybe, but not the same accent. That was weird. Or maybe their accents were too subtle by comparison to Tony’s over-the-top accent. Who knows?

And, this took me by complete surprise in the most wonderful of ways, Emily Bett freakin’ Rickards of TV show ARROW (Felicity Smoak) popularity was in this movie. She, as well as the other girls in the boarding house, were absolutely charming. Bitchy, but in that hilarious kind of way. I wish I could more about her in this movie, as I do love her acting in ARROW, but her role is so minor here that I wish I could just dock points for that alone: not enough of her.






If there was a complaint I had about this movie, it’s a minor one, which is weird because I just praise him, Tony. He was almost perfectly written, up until Eilis finds out Rose (Fiona Glascott) dies and she must go home. Tony, while comforting and supportive of her decision to return home to say goodbye, he has this scene where he admits to her that he’s scared of losing her: in that if she goes home, she won’t come back. That kind of got an eye-twitch out of me because, if it were me writing the character, he would instead just full-on support her going home and try to figure out how to get her there faster. He could still be scared of all of that, but subtlety would have been preferred in this regard. Focus on the eyes, hold a shot on a remorseful face, admit it to someone else later on, but never let her see that regret. And even if Eilis does stay there, it’s for the best. That’s her home, that’s where her family is, that’s where her life was, and many opportunities will eventually open up for her. What kind of boyfriend wouldn’t be supportive of her decision to stay. Obviously, it would end in heartbreak, which is obviously not where the story ended up, but that’s the tweak I would have made. The rest of the story is fine.






This is definitely one of the better films to hit the cinemas this year. Might not be my favorite, but it’s certainly a wonderful romance tale with some powerful acting by Ronan, a great and funny supporting cast to keep the movie entertaining, it’s an emotional powerhouse that’s well worth the admission and highly recommended.

My honest rating for BROOKLYN: a strong 4/5



CAROL (transfer) review

These “transfer” reviews are from when I only did reviews on my Facebook page back in 2015. Bare in mind when reading these, I didn’t have the same formula in my review writing that I do now, and my usual “who starred and who directed” information is completely absent, so everything “italicized” is new. With that said, enjoy this review from 2015.

Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. What a powerhouse team up. Both women are fantastic actresses and their names alone would be enough to get me into the theater as well as the incessant declaration that this movie was in the running for being the best movie of the year helped a little. Of course, I’m going to take a minute to let my primordial-man to come out, so picture me with a club over my shoulder, dragging my knuckles on the ground, and building a fire in a cave: “pretty naked ladies kissing makes Daniel happy inside.” And that’s it. No more. Back to being a strong-willed human. So, is the movie as fantastic as everyone’s been saying?

Starring: Cate Blanchett (SONG TO SONG [2017], ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE [2007], ELIZABETH [1998], and upcoming films THOR: RAGNAROK [2017] and OCEAN’S EIGHT [2018]) and Rooney Mara (A GHOST STORY [2017], HER [2013], YOUTH IN REVOLT [2009], and the upcoming MARY MAGDALENE [2018])

Support: Kyle Chandler (MANCHESTER BY THE SEA [2016], THE KINGDOM [2007], KING KONG [2005], and upcoming films FIRST MAN [2018] and GODZILLA: KING OF MONSTERS [2019]) and Sarah Paulson (REBEL IN THE RYE [2017], THE SPIRIT [2008], WHAT WOMEN WANT [2000], and upcoming films THE POST [2018] and OCEAN’S EIGHT)

Director: Todd Haynes (I’M NOT THERE. [2007] and the upcoming WONDERSTRUCK [2017]). Writer: Phyllis Nagy (theatrical film debut; congrats, miss). Composer: Carter Burwell (GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN [2017], NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN [2007], FARGO [1996], and upcoming films WONDERSTRUCK and THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI [2017]). Cinematographer: Edward Lachman (WIENER-DOG [2016], I’M NOT THERE., SELENA [1997], and the upcoming WONDERSTRUCK)


It’s the 1950s, and the story follows a young woman named Therese (Rooney Mara) who almost instantly falls for an older woman named Carol (Cate Blanchett), who is in the middle of divorcing her husband Harge (Kyle Chandler), whom she has fallen out of love with despite his fighting for his marriage. Carol is, however, incredibly loving to her daughter Rindy (twins: Sadie and Kk Heim). As their relationship blossoms, and Therese’s own unhappy heterosexual relationship begins to crumble, Carol and Therese leave town together and begin a passionate affair. But as Harge’s desperation grows, he goes to extreme measures to keep his family together at any cost.


Thank fucking God, I’ve been going absolutely insane with the Netflix movie’s I’ve been watching lately, I NEEDED this movie. While I might not agree that this is the BEST picture of the year, it does certainly have a lot going for it. Admittedly, my main problems with the film are purely nitpicks.

You know what, let’s get those out of the way before going into what’s great.

The beginning just really felt really pretentious. Therese works in a… high end toy store I guess and is constantly surrounded by dolls and toy sets, even lingering on a shot of her with a toy set. I can only assume that this was done as additional character contrast between her and Carol… which is pretty unnecessary, the age difference and style of clothing summed it up enough. No need to hammer it more into our minds.

Now, before I get into the next plot-point that I wanted to address, I want to make something clear to everyone. I will not be pointing this out because of some segregation toward the homosexual community. I think it’s about time that America evolved a bit with legalizing gay marriage. I do not care if you are gay. I care about whether or not you are a good person who tries to do right, and is respectful toward me and others. In turn, I will be a good and respectful person toward, and do right by, you. I have always and forever will treat everybody equally.

So, on to my biggest problem with the film, and this is even commented on in the movie, “You barely know her!” Yeah… that’s a good point. This was basically the “love at first sight” cliché. Literally, Carol walks into the store and Therese is just FIXATED on her. How long have you been out in the real world, woman? What, have NO other attractive women passed by in the store. Somehow Carol is the hot woman to end all hot women? She’s gorgeous, don’t get me wrong, I don’t disagree with her eventual feelings, but it’s the kickstart that I take issue with. I think it’s nice of Therese to mail Carol’s gloves back to her, but she literally just asked her out to dinner with very minimal interaction when the two first met. She’s still a stranger and she barely put up resistance to saying yes to having dinner with her. Remember when I said “equal treatment?” Well, how would it look if Therese was being asked out by a guy? In real life, a woman could easily feel uncomfortable and VERY easily make a declaration of the guy being a stalker or creepy. Why does Carol get a pass for being a lesbian? I disagree with this cliché no matter who the characters are.

But I’ve ranted about these nitpicks long enough. Time to rave about what’s good.

Blanchett is PHENOMENAL. She delivers a performance that is beautifully nuanced and powerful. Carol is a wonderfully confident character and isn’t afraid to speak her mind, but not unaware of the idea that certain things shouldn’t be said. She’s careful, but not paranoid. She knows what she wants, but also isn’t unaware of her limited influence, especially compared to her bully of a husband, Harge. This might be my favorite performance by Blanchett, which is saying something because the nerd inside me LOVES her as Galadriel from the Lord of the Rings franchise.

Mara’s no different. I have to express my absolute delight that PAN (2015) didn’t make a dent in her career. I guess being in a Fincher film will do that to a person’s career, and it’s not like anyone really saw PAN to begin with (myself excluded, I know, shut up). In any case, I’m ecstatic to see her in a role that showcases her acting at its finest. Therese is so wide-eyed and innocent, but she’s no push-over either. She’s uncertain of her sexuality, but knows she doesn’t live in a society that can accept who she is, or is even certain if she herself accepts who she is. But there’s genuine empathy when you see Therese interact with Carol and how free and happy she really is with her.

Of course, when reality sets in and circumstances tear them apart, you feel their anguish, making it truly awful to see the two of them unhappy. What an accomplishment to be this consistently moving to yank at every emotional string I have.

I want to say that I can overlook the logic of the film, as I do believe it could have been easily remedied with at least five minutes to illustrate a passage of time so a glorified road-trip could be more plausible. But the presence of such a cliché prevents it from being truly great. Having said that, the performances themselves and just how visceral the movie is prevents it from being more than just “good.” I may not agree that it’s the best movie of the year, but I do say it’s one of the best.

My honest rating for CAROL: a strong 4/5



Should Kate Winslet just stop traveling in the company of men? She always finds herself royally screwed in some way. Luxury cruise ships, airplanes… or maybe… she’s the problem? *pondering* Maybe men should stop traveling with her… hmm…

Boy howdy have I been seeing this trailer and a certain level of anticipation always bites at me when I see it. I love Winslet and I… well, I never watched any of Idris Elba’s most celebrated TV shows (IE: LUTHER [2010 – 2018]), but I have seen the Thor movies and I rather enjoy him in those, so I’m down to see these two work off of each other.

Here’s the cast. As previously mentioned, starring, we have Kate Winslet (COLLATERAL BEAUTY [2016], REVOLUTIONARY ROAD [2008], TITANIC [1997], and the upcoming AVATAR 2 [2020]) and Idris Elba (THE DARK TOWER [2017], PROMETHEUS [2012], 28 WEEKS LATER [2007], and upcoming films MOLLY’S GAME [2017] and THOR: RAGNAROK [2017]). In support, we have Beau Bridges (THE DESCENDANTS [2011], MAX PAYNE [2008], and TV show BLOODLINE [2015 – 2017]) and Dermot Mulroney (SLEEPLESS [2017], GEORGIA RULE [2007], and MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING [1997]).

Now for the crew. Directing is Hany Abu-Assad, known for foreign projects that I’ve never seen or heard of. Co-writing the screenplay are J. Mills Goodloe (EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING [2017], THE AGE OF ADALINE [2015], and THE BEST OF ME [2014]) and Chris Weitz (STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE [2016], THE GOLDEN COMPASS [2007], and ANTZ [1998]). Composing the score is Ramin Djawadi, known for THE GREAT WALL (2017), CLASH OF THE TITANS (2010), and BLADE: TRINITY (2004). Finally, the cinematographer is Mandy Walker, known for HIDDEN FIGURES (2016), RED RIDING HOOD (2011), AUSTRALIA (2008), and the upcoming MULAN (2019).

Overall, I know early ratings aren’t being too kind to this film, but… I can’t help it, I like the core stars, it looks like it’s got some chilling moments, and I ain’t just talking about that snow, I don’t know, I think I might like it.

This is my honest opinion of: THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US


Alex (Kate Winslet) and Ben (Idris Elba) are two strangers who meet at an airport. A storm is approaching and their respective flight was cancelled. Alex knows how to get in touch with a pilot, Walter (Beau Bridges), who is willing to fly her to her destination and upon overhearing that they have the same destination, she offers him a ride. However, en route, Walter suffers a stroke and their plane crashes. Stranded with limited food and supplies, they venture out into vast, punishingly cold and unforgiving wilderness to find help and their way back home.


Mmph… while I won’t necessarily argue the negative reviews, I don’t think I agree.

Let’s tackle the problems first. For one thing, the set-up is pretty forced. Basically, what you saw in the trailer, two strangers meeting and she offers to help him along since they share a common destination, that moment in the trailer isn’t any different than in the movie. Look, even the best of samaritans have a knack for walking past people with problems, even if they have problems that they could technically help with. But things like hitching a ride with you on an airplane, that’s pretty out there. There’s no real reason for them to meet like they do. It’s just… he’s on the phone, she overhears, she offers that ride, and he accepts. Cue the plot. That simple.

I also knew the problem would be the romance in the film, and it gets pretty painful, especially in the last fifteen minutes. For one thing, I’m not sure how realistic I would find it. Alex is married, to a wonderful man according to her later in the film, and just because Ben, who is beyond emotionally unavailable, is a fellow survivor of a plane crash, they have a romantic connection? Especially with Alex. She’s got all this optimism about making it off the mountain alive, so why would she even have urges like that? Ben, I could understand, possibly, but not Alex. The romance is pretty forced.






In retrospect, a forced romance can still be good if the chemistry is enough to hold the relationship together. However, nothing excuses the completely different movie that takes over. Now we have this horrible melodrama involving the two characters now separated into their respective lives, but can’t stop thinking about each other. He’s been a dick and not calling her back because he thinks she’s a married woman. She doesn’t get married to Mark (Dermot Mulroney), visits Ben in London, and after a heart-to-heart in a restaurant, they decide to part ways. But in about the cheesiest crap that this movie could have possibly inserted, as the characters walk away, they start crying, and then AT THE SAME TIME, turn back around and run toward each other and leap into their arms. Oh… my god, I think movies from the 1950’s would have called this moment trite!






But it’s not all bad.

Elba and Winslet are both pretty solid. When their scenes require them to be at odds with each other, you feel that tension. When he gets upset with her decisions, you believe he’s an asshole. And when she believes that she’s not dying on this mountain, you legitimately want her to get out of this alive. So while their romantic chemistry isn’t believable, their chemistry as a pair of survivors is solid. The cinematography is gorgeous to look at, the death-defying scenes are tense, and certain resolutions by the end feel natural enough.

What would I have changed? Well, I would probably have Alex and Ben have some sort of chemistry before she offers that plane ride with her. Like, they both stood in line at the airport front desk, or at the bar and had a basic, nothing conversation. Just something to establish some kind of relationship, weak as it ultimately is anyway. Get rid of the obvious romance and make it a little bit more subtle, more like a “will they or won’t they” scenario and leave the emotions ambiguous to interpretation. Oh, and get rid of that last ten fifteen minutes when they’re at home, or make it incredibly brief.

Overall, the movie’s okay, leaning more toward the bad side. It’s not devoid of good things in it, but it’s not enough to elevate it very high. It’s not a good movie. I may not agree with current ratings, scores, and reviews that trash it, but I don’t plan on defending the film either. The set-up is contrived, the ending is a mountain of cheese, and the romance in the middle isn’t compelling. But the acting is good, the scenery is gorgeous, and it’s got its visceral moments. It could have been worse, but it could have been a lot better. Not the worst watch, but I’m not recommending it. At best, a rental.

My honest rating for THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US: a weak 3/5


MY LITTLE PONY: THE MOVIE (2017) quick review

Ugh, shoot me now.

I’m going to take a wild guess here and say that I’m not the target audience. Even as a kid, I was never into My Little Pony, the toys, or the show. For obvious reasons (I’m a dude). But fast forward to the present day, there’s a revival series, and I’m… surprisingly hearing good things about this show. In the sense of… even adults were watching this show. I have to admit, judging from the trailer I watched, and YouTube’s Cinema Snob’s review of the original My Little Pony film, this movie does look far less kiddie pandering and has a lot more personality to it. I can’t say if it’s still something that I’d be into, but I guess that’s why I do these reviews, right?

Here’s the voice talent. Starring, we have Emily Blunt (THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR [2016], THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU [2011], THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA [2006], and upcoming films SHERLOCK GNOMES [2018] and MARY POPPINS RETURNS [2018]), Zoe Saldana (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 [2017], STAR TREK [2009], DRUMLINE [2002], and upcoming films AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR [2018] and AVATAR 2 [2020]), Kristin Chenoweth (THE PEANUTS MOVIE [2015], STRANGER THAN FICTION [2006], and RV [2006], and the upcoming THE STAR [2017]), Liev Schreiber (CHUCK [2017], THE OMEN [2006], SCREAM 2 [1996], and two upcoming and untitled films, one an animated Spider-Man project [2018], and the other a Woody Allen movie [2018]), and Tara Strong (TV shows THE FAIRLY ODDPARENTS [2001 – ongoing] and THE POWERPUFF GIRLS [1998 – 2005], and video game INJUSTICE 2 [2017]).

Now for the crew. Directing, we have Jayson Thiessen, known for a ton of My Little Pony projects. Red Flag, a total of three writers: Meghan McCarthy (other My Little Pony projects), Rita Hsiao (TOY STORY 2 [1999], MULAN [1998], and the upcoming DISENCHANTED [2018]), and Michael Vogel (other My Little Pony Projects). The composer for the score is Daniel Ingram, known for other kids TV shows. Finally, and… this animated movie has a cinematographer? Anyway, the… cinematographer is Anthony Di Ninno, known for… another animated film, RATCHET & CLANK (2016).

Overall, I can’t say I’m excited or all that interested.

This is my honest opinion of: MY LITTLE PONY: THE MOVIE (2017)


The ponies of the magical land of Equestria are setting up for a Friendship Festival, all being organized by Princess Twilight Sparkle (voiced by Tara Strong), and is set to be the party of the ages. However, preparations are interrupted by a storm, created by a rogue unicorn named Tempest Shadow (voiced by Emily Blunt), leading the armies of the evil Storm King (voiced by Liev Schreiber), who wants the magic of the ponies and their rulers. The ponies are attacked, but Twilight and a small group of her friends manage to escape, setting out to look for help from their fabled cousins, the hippogriffs.


Big shock, I wasn’t into the movie.

First off, with some strange exceptions, this… doesn’t look like it should be a theatrical release. Not that I’m any particular expert on animated films, but I couldn’t help but feel like the movie just looked like an episode of a TV show. It’s not necessarily bad, per se, but it does look cheap. But like I said, there’s some weird exceptions. There are some moments that have good animation, but when the movie tries to blend the lesser animation with the better animation, it’s really distracting.

It’s obvious that this was made for little kids. The story’s been done, the characters are copy and paste, it’s not particularly funny, the songs are forgettable, and there’s probably more than a few plot points that come and don’t really go anywhere or get any real development. I’m pretty sure at some point, I fell asleep, but I don’t think I missed much. Many of the core pony characters feel way too indistinguishable from each other, each just looking pretty with big eyes and big smiles. At least as far as personalities are concerned. Oh sure, you can tell me, there’s the shy one, there’s the vain one, there’s the hyper one, there’s the cowgirl one, and all that jazz, but ultimately, those are descriptions and traits. Not personalities.

But… I won’t completely trash the movie. There are admittedly a couple of elements that I didn’t hate. Chief among these is Pinky Pie (voiced by Andrea Libman), who is delightfully insane. She is completely over-the-top in everything that she is and does. From crazy eyes in a battle scene, to eruptions of happiness during… well, any other scene she’s in. I can see others being more annoyed by her, and I won’t ever argue that, she’ll be a hit or miss for any adult, but for me, I enjoyed her enough. And on the opposite side of the spectrum, there’s Blunt, who is trying really hard to be sinister and it kind of works. I wish she was a little more sarcastic and cynical to give the adults someone to identify with, but I enjoyed her more than I probably should have.

And I do get a tickle out of seeing Tara Strong, one of the greatest voice actresses today, being the star of a theatrically released movie. So in a way, through all the annoyances and nauseating talks of friendship, it was worth seeing it just for that.

Overall, I don’t think it’s a good film. But let’s face it, this movie isn’t for me. It’s for little kids and its fanbase. It’s innocent enough, but if your kids are bugging you to see it, find a cheap theater near you. Otherwise, for you adults… well, you’re either a weirdo for wanting to see it, or you’ve already made your decision not to and I’m not going to try to convince you to see it. It’s not the most god-awful animated film I’ve sat through, I don’t even think it’s bad, but, no duh, it’s not for me.

My honest rating for MY LITTLE PONY: THE MOVIE (2017): a weak 3/5



Say what now?! This is a sequel?! *Wikipedia search* Well skin me alive and call me naked, this is a sequel! Specifically to the film MRS. BROWN (1997), and Judi Dench is reprising her role as Queen Victoria. I guess if you wanted to make another movie about her and her wacky adventures in her later years, why not make it a sequel? Oh, and it’s also based on a book? Jeez, this Queen certainly gets around in media.

The story looks like it’s about Victoria and she’s become tired with her life and role. But then she meets a young Indian servant and the two strike up a friendship, asking him to teach her all about his culture and reinvigorates her love of life. But it comes at a cost. Her peers start to think that she’s lost her mind, playing nice with a servant. Hence the conflict. It looks like it could be decent and anything Dench touches is golden, so I’m all on board.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Judi Dench (TULIP FEVER [2017], CASINO ROYALE [2006], SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE [1998], and the upcoming MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS [2017]) and Ali Fazal (FURIOUS 7 [2015] and 3 IDIOTS [2009]). In support, we have Eddie Izzard (ROCK DOG [2017], ACROSS THE UNIVERSE [2007], and THE AVENGERS [1998]), Michael Gambon (KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE [2017], THE GOOD SHEPHERD [2006], and SLEEPY HOLLOW [1999]), Tim Pigott-Smith (JUPITER ASCENDING [2015], V FOR VENDETTA [2005], and CLASH OF THE TITANS [1981]), Adeel Akhtar (THE BIG SICK [2017], PAN [2015], and THE DICTATOR [2012]), and Olivia Williams (MAN UP [2015], PETER PAN [2003], and THE SIXTH SENSE [1999]).

Now for the crew. Directing is Stephen Frears, known for FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS (2016), THE QUEEN (2006), and HIGH FIDELITY (2000). Penning the screenplay is Lee Hall, known for WAR HORSE (2011) and BILLY ELLIOT (2000). Composing the score is Thomas Newman, known for PASSENGERS (2016), WALL·E (2008), THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994), and the upcoming THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE (2017). Finally, the cinematographer is Danny Cohen, known for FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS, ROOM (2015), and PIRATE RADIO (2009).

Overall, I’m very curious. Not super hyped, but call me eager.

This is my honest opinion of: VICTORIA & ABDUL


Set in early 1900. Queen Victoria (Judy Dench) is still a revered queen, now serving as the longest running monarch in history. However, she’s grown tired of her position. Her loved ones have passed on and she’s become both apathetic to her own appearance and position. But all of that changes when she meets Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), an Indian servant, who eventually becomes Victoria’s closest friend, teaching her of Indian culture and slowly regains her love of life, despite the deeply rooted arguments from her staff.


This was a really good movie. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

The movie opens on a pretty humorous line. “Based on real events” pause for a second, “… mostly.” This movie had me at “hello” and I was already giggling.

However, and this is pretty consistent for the first half hour or so, the movie loses its momentum. There’s clichés, like the intro of the protagonist running late for work, and the movie isn’t all that funny for awhile. I mean, some gags land, like when a servant tries to wake up Victoria, but all she does is groan. I thought that was hilarious. But for awhile, the humor really falls flat. Hell, fifteen, maybe even twenty minutes into the movie is when the title of the movie appears. That was weird. Why bother by that point?

Having said all that, there is a… I’m not sure how to describe it, but a level of engagement to Dench’s performance in the beginning. She’s so tired, possibly bored, and gives zero shits about everything that’s going on around her. She eats at her own pace, forcing her peers around her to eat quickly, or else their food will be taken away.

About the only saving grace in the film’s comedy in the beginning is Mohammed (Adeel Akhtar), who coud have so easily been that panicky hysterical character that no one likes, but for whatever reason, his exaggerations of what he believes the English do in their spare time is so funny. He does get a little grating later in the film, but he has a bad-ass scene that makes up for all of it.

But honestly, after that first half hour of lackluster comedy, the laughs, as well as the story, pick up immensely. Abdul is impossibly charming and likable. You immediately feel for Victoria and everything that she’s lived through. All of her loved ones are gone and all that’s left is her position and her ambitious and unlikable children who want her power. But meeting Abdul, she learns to find happiness and learns about the Indian culture. There’s this infectious chemistry that Dench and Fazal share, an energy that constantly makes you smile as he describes the Taj Mahal, or teaches her Indian languages and how her eyes light up as she learns, it’s such a beautiful connection that they share. At some point, Dench’s performance gets a little hammy, but it’s so brief that you almost have to remember that it gets there, and it’s not like it isn’t explained (she gets a little drunk), but this is what makes up the entire movie: their friendship and it is really heart-warming to watch just how much she defends him despite all the criticism from those around her.

As much praise as I have with the film, there are a couple elements that I complain about.

A smaller issue is that we never see enough of Abdul and Mohammad interacting. Every scene they share is Abdul being excited, and Mohammad being nervous. We don’t see enough of the two actually being friends. Sure, that would take away from the focus of the relationship between him and Victoria, but it still would have been nice to dedicate a five minute scene of the two men really interacting like friends.

But the bigger issue I took was Abdul’s wife. I believe her involvement in this story is pure fluff. We don’t see hide or hair of her, or even get a single reference to her existence until the one hour mark, and even when she does show up, for all the build-up to her, she barely contributes to the story. Sure, sure, you could argue that it’s all a set up to learn about Abdul’s… procreation issues, or whatever that was, and Victoria’s council to try and get him sent back to India, but I feel like this is where creative liberties would have been needed and find something more sensible to get that kind of information.

Also, there were two incidences that involve Victoria being upset with Abdul. One being when she discovered that it was Muslims, or another Indian group that I can’t remember, were at the head of some revolt that took the lives of British soldiers and then later for another reason that I can’t remember either. All I remember is that these two scenes were resolved as quickly as they were introduced and happen pretty close to each other, so I kept wondering why the writer didn’t just pick a problem and go all the way with it, or combine the two problems into one dramatic scene.

Overall, I really liked this movie. The core characters are ridiculously wonderful to watch and hang out with, it’s funny, dramatic, all around fun for anyone even half interested in this story. I highly recommend this in theaters. It doesn’t have the widest of releases, so you may need to really look for it, but I say it’s worth the effort to see in theaters. History’s most unlikely friendship is arguably one of its most endearing.

My honest rating for VICTORIA & ABDUL: a strong 4/5



For those not in the know, “Kingsman” is based on a comic book series of the same name. Actually, I think the original title for the comic was “The Secret Service” but changed the name to tie in better with the 2015 film. Fun fact of the day, this comic series actually takes place in the same universe as the “Kick-Ass” comic books, as they’re written by the same writer, Mark Millar. Something about Kick-Ass referencing something that took place in the Kingsman series.

But we’re not here to talk about comics. We’re here to talk about movies. The first film, KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (2015) was wildly popular with audiences upon its release. It shot Taron Egerton to the stars, gave us one of my personal favorite newcomers, Sofia Boutella, was over-the-top violent, had a fun cameo by Mark Hamill, and was an all around fun time for all. What did I think of it? I thought it was… mostly good. While all of what I said is true, there was one detail about the film that I absolutely hated. The Kingsman training program is, obviously, very hardcore. Few people get through it. But then the final test is to get close to a cute little dog and then shoot it. Do that, and you’re a Kingsman. This pissed me off. The Kingsman prided themselves on being spies, of course, but also being gentlemen. This implies a level of grace, coolness, confidence, class. What’s graceful, cool, confident, and classy about murdering an innocent animal? Eggsy refuses to murder his dog and he’s thrown out of the Kingsman. What sense does that make?! If the dog was trained to fight back without prejudice, then fine, you gotta defend yourself and might teach you a thing or two about trust and betrayal and learning to overcome that kind of grief of killing your friend who tried to kill you. But no, Eggsy’s dog was a cute, innocent pug. Or maybe the exercise could be this: there is no failure in this test. It’s more of a placement thing. Like, okay, you murder the dog, that means you can follow orders to the tee. Field agents need to be able to do that, making you a desirable field agent. If you don’t kill the dog, you’re still a Kingsman, but because you didn’t follow your superior’s direct order, you’re assigned to intelligence work, like Mark Strong’s character, feeding tactical information, but never on the front lines himself. You know, something like that. But no, because you didn’t murder a defenseless animal, you can’t be a gentleman spy. Fuck the Kingsman, man. I never got past this element of the movie, so I personally give it a strong 3/5. As I said, the rest of the film is a load of fun.

But now we have a sequel that I know will be better than the first one. Why? Because comic book sequels have a tendency to be better than their predecessors. Plus, I’m sure there’s not going to be any more “dog murdering” bullshit to piss me off. This movie looks like it’s about the Kingsman getting wiped out by a terrorist organization and it’s up to Eggsy and Merlin, the two surviving Kingsman to work with their American cousins, the Statesman, to bring down this terrorist. As per usual, it looks fun, inventive, and bad-ass. So sign me up, bitches!

Here’s the onscreen talent. Starring, we have Taron Egerton (SING [2016], EDDIE THE EAGLE [2016], LEGEND [2015], and the upcoming ROBIN HOOD [2018]), Julianne Moore (THE HUNGER GAMES: THE MOCKINGJAY – PART 2 [2015], STILL ALICE [2014], BENNY & JOON [1993], and upcoming films WONDERSTRUCK [2017] and SUBURBICON [2017]), Mark Strong (MISS SLOANE [2016], JOHN CARTER [2012], and STARDUST [2007]), and Channing Tatum (LOGAN LUCKY [2017], THE EAGLE [2011], COACH CARTER [2005], and upcoming films with no release dates announced, GAMBIT and VAN HELSING). In support, we have Halle Berry (KIDNAP [2017], PERFECT STRANGER [2007], EXECUTIVE DECISION [1996]), Jeff Bridges (THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK [2017], SURF’S UP [2007], TRON [1982], and the upcoming ONLY THE BRAVE [2017]), Elton John (THE ROAD TO EL DORADO [2000], SPICE WORLD [1997], and 1 episode of TV show NASHVILLE [2012 – 2018]), Michael Gambon (HAIL, CAESAR! [2016], THE KING’S SPEECH [2010], HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN [2004], and the upcoming VICTORIA & ABDUL [2017]), and Colin Firth (BRIDGET JONES’S BABY [2016], NANNY MCPHEE [2005], SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE [1998], and upcoming films MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN [2018] and MARY POPPINS RETURNS [2018]).

Now for behind the scenes. Directing and co-writing is Matthew Vaughn, known for KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (2015), X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (2011), STARDUST (2007), and the upcoming KINGSMAN 3, no release date announced. Co-writing the screenplay is Jane Goldman, known for MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN (2016), X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, STARDUST, and the upcoming KINGSMAN 3. Co-composing the score are Henry Jackman (KONG: SKULL ISLAND [2017], CAPTAIN PHILLIPS [2013], MONSTERS VS. ALIENS [2009], and upcoming films JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE [2017] and RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2 [2018]) and Matthew Margeson (RINGS [2017], KICK-ASS 2 [2013], and SKYLINE [2010]). Finally, the cinematographer is George Richmond, known for EDDIE THE EAGLE, KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE, and the upcoming TOMB RAIDER (2018).

Overall, I’m excited for this. Not out of my mind, but I’m pretty hyped.

This is my honest opinion of: KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE


The Golden Circle is the largest drug cartel in the world and no one knows that it’s ran by the nefarious Poppy (Julianne Moore). She, of course, wants to hold America hostage to legalize all drugs or she won’t give up the antidote to her latest drug, which has been secretly inserted in nearly every single drug that the common person can get, which is millions. But before all that, she gets rid of the only people that she knows can get in her way: the Kingsman. Effectively wiping out all of the Kingsman, with the notable exceptions of Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong). Desperate to find help, they seek it in the form of their organization’s American cousins, the Statesmen.


Meh, it’s not bad. Not as good as the first one, but not bad.

What I liked: Moore is usually a welcomed sight in anything that she’s in, so to see her as the villain in a movie like this was a kind of shock. But as far as that’s concerned, she was a lot of fun. Hell, her intro scene is having a dude send another dude through a meat grinder and makes a burger out of him and then makes the dude try a bite. It’s pretty fucked up, but I enjoyed how deliciously sinister she was (no pun, intended, but I’m taking credit for it anyway, so…. pun intended). And I think it’s hilarious that she kidnapped Elton John for her personal amusement, who is also really funny in the film. Kind of wished we saw more of her robotic creations doing shit, but the dogs were enough, I guess.

The comedy is still there, Egerton is charming as always, as are Firth and Strong. There is a sense of fun about the film, so it’s not boring, thank God. The action is awesome and delightfully violent, and pretty creative for the most part. I’ll never get tired of seeing Whiskey’s (Pedro Pascal) laser whip. Now Star Wars can’t put a monopoly on that idea.

But now for the negatives. Despite some solid talent, like Berry, Bridges, Tatum, they’re barely in the film, or barely contribute to the story, making you wonder why they were even in it at all. Which is pretty manipulative because a lot of the marketing surrounds these characters. I didn’t like how the movie kills off the entire Kingsman organization in its second movie. I mean, wouldn’t it be better to see Eggsy and his team take down a rival organization at their peak power to really showcase their tech, their intel, and their bad-assness? Why kill them off in the second film? I don’t get it. The subplot of Eggsy and his girlfriend Tilde (Hanna Alström) is a little annoying. He’s a spy, of course he’s going to be faced with situations of seduction. How would she not know that?

And fine, let’s talk about that controversial sex scene. Honestly, I thought because Poppy (Moore) created a female robot that does the Golden Circle tattoo thing, I figured that the sex scene would be about the robot fucking a dude or something weird like that. But nope, it’s about Eggsy fingering some blond girl who is the girlfriend to Poppy’s main henchman with a tracking device shaped like a condom that he’s supposed to shove up her vagina. Honestly, maybe I’m just a guy about it, but it took me a good minute to figure out at the end of the movie that this was the big ole controversy. I mean, it’s not overly graphic in the fingering, and technically does serve the plot of the story and carries dramatic weight, albeit in the subplot that I barely cared about. But the more I thought about it, yeah, this was unnecessary. A tiny tracking device can be placed anywhere and didn’t need to be implemented like this.

Overall, yeah, not quite as good as the first film, but it’s alright. If you’re a fan of the first one, I can’t imagine you feeling betrayed or not having fun with it. But I do recommend toning down your high expectations if you have them.

My honest rating for KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE: 3/5



For those of you not in the know, I’m generally not an anime fan. Not because I have something against the artform or anything, but rather it was just something I wasn’t quite into as a kid. Sure, I enjoyed me some DRAGONBALL Z (1996 – 2003), ROROUNI KENSHIN (1996 – 1998), Pokemon (1997 – ongoing), a little bit of YU YU KAKUSHO (1992 – 1995), but very little beyond them. So with this in mind, it’s a safe bet to assume that I’m not the biggest Studio Ghibli fan. In fact, the only one I’ve ever seen was MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (1988). Nope, I’ve never seen PRINCESS MONONOKE (1997), or SPIRITED AWAY (2001), none of them. But ever since watching Youtube’s Nostalgia Critic dedicating a month of expressing his opinions of Ghibli’s work, I’ve been more than interested in hopping onto the band wagon, if only because their films are so celebrated among the animation-junkie community.

As for this current film, it seems like this is somewhat a slightly debated film over whether or not it’s truly a Ghibli film. Why? As I understand it, Ghibli was established in 1985, but NAUSICAÄ came out in ‘84. But if I had a guess, this film still had the same artists attached, specifically Hayao Miyazaki, considered to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest anime artists of all time, so even if it’s not technically a Ghibli film, it’s still considered one.

The story of NAUSICAÄ looks like it’s about this young girl in the middle of a war between humans and giant insects vying for control over the last of this post-apocalyptic world’s last remaining natural resources and she’s trying to put a stop to the carnage. If I were to hazard a guess, it’s a take on the whole “appearances can be deceiving” type of story, making the insects look like monsters, but learning that they’re just beings trying to making their own way in the world, and the humans are the real enemies. Or because of this being a Ghibli production, maybe there won’t be specific villains. I don’t know, but it looks like it could be pretty good.

Directing and writing the film is the legendary champion of animation himself, Hayao Miyazaki, also known for THE WIND RISES (2013), PRINCESS MONONOKE (1997), and THE CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO (1979).

Overall, bring it on. Show me something great, y’all. I’m ready!

This is my honest opinion of: NAUSICAÄ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND (1984)


Set in a post-apocalyptic world, 1,000 in the future, covered in the wasteland known as the Sea of Decay. Nausicaä (voiced by Sumi Shimamoto) is the young Princess of the Valley of the Wind, a small, but peaceful land of farmers just trying to get by in their world. But the peace doesn’t last long when a Tolmekian aircraft, a neighboring militaristic land, crashes, holding the fleshy pod of a developing Giant Warrior, a long dead ancient race believed to be one of the major causes of the end of the world. But the Tolmekian Princess Kushana (voiced by Yoshiko Sakakibara) and her army invades the Valley of the Wind for control of the Giant Warrior and intend to use its great power to wipe out the giant insects that live in the Sea of Decay and restore life to it’s former beauty.


This was an impressive film and I really liked it. I can’t say that I love it, but I am so happy I got to see this.

Already, this movie had me at hello. I’m a general sucker for post-apocalyptic stories. Even though this is a pretty… pretty apocalypse… weird, but whatever. If I give this movie any credit is that its beauty is worth the price of admission alone. The movie’s animation is stunning, particularly the scenes when Nausicaä is flying on her glider, those are particularly breath-taking and fun to watch. It’s kind of like watching the precursor to HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON’s flying scenes. You just feel the speed and your heart drops like the sheer velocity is pressing into your chest, it’s fantastic. Although, I might argue that this is more impressive because it’s still hand-drawn animation rather than computers. Major credit for animation department.

But if there’s anything that truly blew me away was the titular character herself, Nausicaä, herself. This is how you write a great character. She’s interesting, she’s sympathetic, and she’s bad-ass. To top it all off, she’s a princess. Why does that matter? Far too often, I see princesses hold the title, but do very little with it, making the title utterly pointless. But Nausicaä, she’s active like it’s nobody’s business. Her opening sequence, when you really think about it, gives you a wonderful sense of her bravery right there and then. She’s venturing into the Sea of Decay, collecting plant samples. By the way, I totally see it now, Rey’s introduction in STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015) was totally inspired by Nausicaä’s intro here. Masked, alone, venturing in a dangerous environment in the name of survival, though I think I prefer Rey’s intro much better. Either way, that doesn’t mean Nausicaä’s is bad.

But back on track, she also collects pieces of Ohm shells for her village to use, and then almost immediately gets sucked into an action scene. An Ohm is chasing a wandering man and she’s doesn’t try to kill the Ohm. Rather, she tries to calm it down and give it incentive to go back to its forest and succeeds. While I can see some argue that she’s a little too perfect because she loves everything, I think that’s one of her most endearing aspects and what makes her journey all the more engaging and even heart-breaking. And when I say she loves everything, I mean everything. People, plants, animals, she loves and cherishes all of them, no matter how grotesque and monstrous they look, and yeah, these Ohms and other insects are freaky as all hell. Personally, I’d have killed them with violence without batting an eyelash, but that’s why I’m not the star of a movie, or a particularly interesting character.

Having said how much she values all life, she’s not an annoying pacifist either. Early on, Tolmekian soldiers invade her family castle and kill her father, the king, and she naturally goes into a rage and fights quite a few soldiers in her way. And she isn’t really bested in combat either. They take their swings, but Nausicaä proves that she’s a capable warrior herself. The only reason she stops is because her dear family friend Lord Yupa (voiced by Gorô Naya) stops the opposing sides from fighting, and later on, we learn how Nausicaä regrets fighting back, having let her rage get the better of her. And she never loses her determination or integrity as the story progresses. Even when Kushana forces Nausicaä and a handful of her people to be hostages… not quite sure I understood this subplot much… come under attack by an enemy gunship and their aircraft is going down in flames, Nausicaä refuses to let Kushana die and saves her life, even if it’s against her better judgment.

And to cap off my gushing over her, Nausicaä is so quick thinking that no matter what situation she’s in, she finds a way to either escape, or diffuse the danger. A couple times in the beginning, she manages to calm down several insects from attacking and creating a situation worse for everyone. But later on, her ability to survive several perilous situations is always awesome to watch. Several aircrafts go down with her on them and she barely gets hurt ever. Or, she’s directing people to find shelter, never giving herself a second to figure out what’s going on, she just commands people to go to safety and heads straight into danger. She’s sure reckless, but it works for her character and it’s hard to argue results when she comes out alive. Nausicaä might just be my favorite princess of all time. Hey, since Disney re-released Miyazaki’s films with English dubs, does that make her a Disney princess? Because then I’m calling her my favorite Disney princess! I love her iron-will, her connection to everything and everyone around her, and I love her heart.

And the structure of the story, by God, this was beyond refreshing. Leave it to foreign cinema to school American storytelling in how to make a story that you can’t predict. I mean, usually when I watch a movie, the story can be good enough to distract me from acting like a prophet and predicting how the scenes will go, even if it may be obvious if you took a few seconds to think about it. But this movie… I really had no idea what was going to happen. Who was going to die, what the world would reveal, what the characters were going to choose, this movie is beyond wow in that regard.

One of my favorite subtle things that I noticed was how many of the airships in the movie look like the flying insects of the world. I guess that makes sense since you don’t see any birds in the movie, but… I gotta ask, why aren’t they modeled after birds? They tend to be an insect’s natural predator and they do reference birds in passing conversation, so… question mark, but whatever, still liked it. And speaking of designs, I kind of enjoyed the costumes the people wore. They seemed pretty reminiscent of medieval garbs and cloaks. I guess that makes sense. Princesses, kings, castles, I probably shouldn’t be surprised.

Oh, and I want a fox-squirrel for a pet. If we can clone a sheep, we can splice the genes of a fox and a squirrel. Get on it, science! I has demands that must be met!

But as much as I can gush about this film, there are unfortunately some issues I take with it. Many consider this this one of the anime films you show someone who thinks that anime is just another cartoon for kids. And while I mostly agree with that, this movie is mature, dark, and intense, there are sadly a couple elements that work against that statement. It’s probably not a good thing to dwell on them, but they stick out like a sore thumb to me: there’s some obvious over-explainy dialog in the beginning and end of the film. In the beginning, when Nausicaä is in that cave with the Ohm shell, collecting the plant samples, and ripping out that eye socket thing, she has a line when she’s talking to herself that goes something like, “The pollen is poisonous; would kill anyone in seconds without a mask.” Um… I know she’s just talking to herself, but it’s not her first venture out into the Sea, so there’s no reason to say that to herself. It’s meant for the audience, yeah I know, but she’s not talking to the audience, she talking to no one. And besides, the mask sort of gives the impression that anything in the Sea is deadly, including the pollen. So… not necessary to narrate out loud. I’ll get to the ending bit that bugged me in the spoiler section.

And gunships are way overpowered in this world. I mean seriously, one tiny gunship manages to take down a huge airship, peppering it with very little ammo, jeez. I mean, sure, I give a single X-Wing fighter can take down the Death Star a huge pass, but then again, the Death Star had a weakness. A lame weakness, but a weakness. These airships don’t.




And in the end, when Nausicaä is brought back to life by the Ohm, and Obaba (voice by Hisako Kyôda) watching it happen, she says something like, “The friendship, the connection they share, oh it’s so beautiful.” Ugh, come on! My eyes work, yo! I can see the beauty of her actions and what they meant to the Ohm. I didn’t need that spelled out!

Oh, and that damned Giant Warrior. For such a huge build up for its awesome power, probably one of the major reasons why the world ended, and everyone’s actions revolving around releasing it upon the Sea or leaving it dormant in its pod, this is probably the biggest letdown of the film. When Kushana unleashes it on the stampeding Ohms, the Giant fires two death blasts and then melts away. It probably has a grand total of five minutes worth of screen time. You could literally cut this out from the entire movie and it would have flowed much better. Leave it as some ambiguous part of the world’s mythos, or save it for a sequel. The angry Ohms, the Tolmekian brutality, the film’s enemies seem pretty well-defined without the use of a giant monster that ultimately serves no purpose.




Overall, this was a fantastic film. For Miyazaki’s second film, this was ambitious and it pays off huge. Consider me a fan because I would love to see more of his work in the future. Fathom Events, don’t fail me now. I want more. There’s a few problems that I have with this movie here and there, but they don’t cripple it too badly. I think if you’ve been averted from seeing anime films, give this a watch. Maybe it’ll change your mind, maybe it won’t, but it’ll leave you with the impression that there’s more to anime than stuff like Pokemon and Hello Kitty. It sure is a wonder to behold. Beautiful animation, a great protagonist, its giant scale, it’s one for the ages and I couldn’t recommend it more.

My honest rating for NAUSICAÄ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND (1984): a strong 4/5