Penelope (2006 Movie)

penelope I have to admit, I enjoyed this a LOT more than I thought I would.

Here’s the IMDB Page.  Does anyone actually use that site? Not being a filmhead, I don’t know what movie aficionados actually use. Is it a sellout site like Devilreads is for books? I don’t actually care, it’s just a question that sprang to mind when I was linking.

 

An old money family was cursed several generations ago that the first born daughter would have the ears and nose of a pig. So they had all boys for quite some time. Then along came Penelope, snout and all. Her mother faked her death and has had her hidden away for years. The curse can only be broken when someone like her (ie, a rich blueblood) accepts her for who she is and marries her. Throughout the years Penelope’s mother has used a discreet matching service to try to find Penelope a husband. All to no avail. Then a journalist, who saw Penelope as a baby and was laughed out of a job, finds a down and out Blueblood who he pays to spy.  Max, the blueblood ends up really liking Penelope but when she reveals herself declines her request for marriage. Penelope runs away into the big bad world, meets Reese Witherspoon on a vespa, has a boat load of adventures and then finds out that Max was actually a janitor and not a blueblood at all. She accepts herself and turns into Christina Ricci and she and Max get together happily ever after.

Mrs B went through about 10 movies that the local library had that she was interested in. This was the only one I was willing to watch. Thankfully, we both enjoyed it. I was expecting a lot more YA drama angst but instead it took the Fairytale route, which while having some of the same things, is completely different in tone. The only whiner was a rich brat who hates Penelope but is trying to marry her for her money.  Thankfully she leaves him at the altar! (bravo!!!)

This was light and fun and cute. I actually ended up watching it twice. Once on my own and then again with Mrs B. She tends to be a talker during movies so I have learned to watch things on my own if I want to get all the little details. The whole thing with Max being a fake the whole time was great and the producer did a great job of deliberately misrepresenting things. In some ways it reminded me of “A Beautiful Mind”, that kind of directorial misdirection.  I couldn’t handle a steady diet of movies like this, but it is really nice to get a bit of a change up.

Now comes the tough part. What do I watch next? I just looked through my collection and have picked out three.These are of the “So bad they are just Bad” variety.  Comic book movies before the MCU really got rolling and kicked the quality up a notch. Let me know what you want, if any. No matter which, it isn’t going to be pretty…

 

 

 

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RED (2010 Movie)

redWhat a blast of an action film!  Thanks to everyone who voted for it, it turned out fantastic.

If you care about details, here’s the IMDB page:

RED on IMDB

Basic synopsis is that Frank Moses is a Retired, Extremely Dangerous, blackops operative. The highlight of his life is tearing up his social security check each month so he can call and talk to Sarah, the bored, attractive woman who wants more than her cubicle job. Moses is attacked one night by a whole team of commandos and goes on the run. He ends up kidnapping Sara to keep her safe, as he knows his calls have been monitored and whoever his enemy is will come after her to get to him. Obviously, Sarah isn’t very happy about this, nor does she believe that Moses is anything more than a delusional nutjob stalker, until he rescues her from a fake police officer who tries to drug and kidnap her. Moses hooks up with various other RED operatives to figure out what is going on. It all comes down to the Vice President of the United States and a village being massacred many years ago.  Sarah gets captured and during the exchange, the real villain is revealed and the CIA agent who has been legally tracking Moses down realizes what is going on, switches sides and the good guys win (well, except for the VP. That bugger still dies).

 

I have been a Bruce Willis fan ever since I first saw Diehard on tv many years ago so any movie that stars him at least gets a “hmmm, maybe I’ll watch that someday” instead of outright dismissal like most of the movies today.  The rest of the cast is pretty great too.  Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren all fit their roles and one never overshadowed the other.  Mary-Louise Parker as Sarah the young woman (well, I say “young” but she’s gotta be in her early 30’s in the movie) seemed to be there to propel Moses onward and to show off her cleavage. Thankfully, after she gets onboard and realizes that Frank Moses is serious she becomes a good lense of “ordinary” while the others are all trained assassins.

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I also really enjoyed Karl Urban as the up and coming Specialist who is tracking down Moses without knowing the full story.  He is ruthless and completely competent but right from the get go we know he’s not a villain, as he’s talking to his wife on the phone about their son being bullied at school WHILE hanging a guy and making it look like a suicide. That was just awesome! Also, he was a bit more chiseled in his face than when I saw him in Thor: Ragnarok, where he looked like a fat little dumpling. Once he knows the full story at the end he does the right thing. He and Willis do a brutal fight scene inside the CIA and it captures the essence of this movie. Hard, brutal, awesome and totally unrealistic.

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Make no mistake, if things being “real” is something you need in a movie, don’t bother with this. In the first scene where Urban and Willis meet each other, Willis steps out of a moving at 30mph, spinning car and times things so he can step out of the car, miss the backend hitting him and starts walking towards Urban and shooting at him.  It is physically impossible to go from a moving car to a walk, as your body is moving 30mph as well. But my goodness, it looked so cool!

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At the same time, this was not a grim movie, not by any means. John Malkovich provides enough lunacy as a lsd experiment by the CIA to make anyone laugh and the little subplot with Helen Mirren and her old flame, a Russian operative, is gold. Freeman, as an operative with cancer, brings some poignancy to the movie and Brian Cox, as Mirren’s old flame, almost makes me not want to kill communists (but only “almost”).

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I immediately went on and watched RED 2 and enjoyed it too. Not quite so cool, but still fun. However, a 3rd movie was never made and I don’t know why.  I suspect that the 25% drop in revenue between the two movies might have had something to do with it however. This was actually based on a series of comics published by DC but while I enjoyed the movies tremendously, I doubt I’ll ever check them out.

Overall, this was a fantastic movie that scratched that over the top action machoman guy itch I occasionally get.

 

Next month I’m letting Mrs B pick the movie and I think she’s already settled on one called Penelope. I guess I’ll find out what it is about when I watch it with her 🙂 I just LOVE surprises!

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Despicable Me (2010 Movie)

despicableme (small)Yeah, you probably thought I was going to talk about MYSELF didn’t you? Don’t try to deny it, I can see into your mind and I know your naughty thoughts!  Since I lied to you all in my 2018 in Review post and promised more movies in 2019, I figured I’d start the year off right with a movie that I absolutely love. Thanks to Orangutan Librarian for doing a post on Minions and reminding me to get this ball rolling.

I was late to this party (as is the case with almost all the movies I watch, excepting John Wick) but my goodness, I’m solidly in now.

Basic premise is that Gru is a villain who keeps getting upstaged by another younger villain. Gru decides he’s going to steal the moon but needs the prototype of the Shrink Ray to do so. Of course, Young Villain has already stolen the Shrink Ray. Gru adopts 3 girls who are selling girl scout cookies so he can slip robot cookies into the Fortress and steal the Shrink Ray. Gru ends up fully taking on the roll of the girls’ father and it begins to affect his performance as a villain. His resident mad scientist, Dr Nefario, gets the girls put back in the orphanage so Gru will concentrate on stealing the moon. Gru does steal the moon only to have Young Villain steal it from him. Young Villain also kidnaps the 3 girls to have leverage over Gru. Turns out the Shrink Ray isn’t permanent so Gru has to rescue the girls AND return the Moon so it doesn’t destroy the city. In the end Gru adopts the girls and everyone starts disco dancing at the girls’ performance of Swan Lake. Sigh, those silly minions!

 

The first thing that hooked me was the Minions:

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Boatloads of semi-stupid, nearly indestructible minions who talk in indecipherable french and love bananas. They are funny and got enough laughs to get their own movie later on.

They also are the window into who Gru truly is. He cares about his minions and knows all their names and their families. He’s not evil, just a villain. Gru starts off as a real bad ass and I loved him in that role.  How can you not love somebody who walks into a coffee shop, hollers out “FREEZE RAY!” and proceeds to walk up the line freezing everyone, grabbing the coffee and pastry for the first customer and then walking out the door?

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Freeze Ray!

 

Then the girls come onto the scene and you know that Gru is going to turn into the man with a heart of gold.  Each of the girls is very unique and heartwarming in their own way.

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Vector and his Father, who runs the Bank of Evil,  make for great “real” villains and are so ham handed and over the top and silly that there isn’t a shred of doubt that Gru will prevail. Kind of nice to have the Good vs Evil be so clear cut. Of course, for the target audience of 10 year olds, I’m sure it’s breathtakingly tantalizing if Gru will be The Good Guy or not!

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The ending is the perfect blend of silly, sappy and funny all rolled into one. Gru disco dancing with the girls is just priceless and is worth almost the whole movie just for that.

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Overall, this was so much fun. There were a lot of clever ideas and humorous gags and  I’ve been re-watching this regularly several times a year. Not tired of it yet! It also has heart in just the right amount to make me all manly blurry eyed. Completely recommend this. If you have watched Despicable Me, what did you think of it?

Next month I’m thinking of going over either The Transporter with Jason Statham or RED with Bruce Willis. Feel free to let me know your preference if you have one.

 

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Hogfather (2006 Movie)

240px-H_DVDWell, I did manage to squeeze in a movie before the end of the year. So here goes.

 

Part one of this movie deal with Teatime, successfully I might add, getting hold of the Tooth Fairy’s castle and all the teeth involved. He manages to destroy all belief in the Hogfather and the Hogfather’s Castle of Bone disintegrates into nothingness. Death has done all he can to keep the Belief alive by pretending to BE the Hogsfather but against voodoo, it isn’t enough. He knows it won’t be enough and so forbades his granddaughter Susan from interfering in any way.  She is human enough that he knows she won’t be able to stop from interfering. Susan learns that if the Hogfather ceases to exist, then the Sun won’t come up.

Part 2 reveals that Teatime has much bigger plans that just getting rid of the Hogfather. It appears that he has his eye (the one that’s not glass anyway) on World Domination. If Teatime can control the tooth-fairy, he can control the belief and hence existence, of anything. The storyline proceeds by the book, as it were, hahahahaaa.   Teatime comes back from defeat at the hands of Susan, forces a confrontation with Death and loses. Banjo, one of Teatime’s former associates ends up as the new Toothfairy.

The movie does a really good job of following the book’s story. In some ways I thought it did a better job actually. It smoothed out some of those leaps of intuition that Pratchett required of his readers.  Certain issues were plainly spelled out. I also thought the chronology was presented better too.

And Teatime? Oh my goodness, what a complete FREAKAZOID! He scared me.  His voice was spot on and his casual dismissal of everything except himself was exactly as I imagined it when reading the book.

With those improvements, did I like the movie even more?

HA, NOT EVEN CLOSE!

The couple of Discworld movies I have seen all suffer from the exact same problem. Pratchett’s humor does not translate from the written word onto the screen very well at all.

While I wasn’t laughing out loud the whole time reading the book, I didn’t even crack a grin while watching the movie.  It felt too long and all I could think of was “when is this going to be over”? That is the death blow thought for any movie for me.  Also, why is Albert front and center of the dvd cover? He’s Death’s lackey,  a minor side character.  And he looks like some dirty monkey on the cover. He’d be better served as a villain in some Dickens book.  I wouldn’t buy that dvd if you paid me!

A complete, utter and abysmal failure of a movie. I would not even recommend this to a hardcore fan because the humor just doesn’t translate. And Pratchett without humor is like vegan icecream.

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And I’m doubly disappointed because the book was so good. Well, there’s always next year to find a decent movie.

 

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Antman & The Wasp (Movie)

antmanwaspAntman & the Wasp. Technically I know there is a hyphen between Ant and Man but since this is a movie review and what’s more, it is MY movie review, I don’t particularly care. It is much easier to remember and search for “Antman” than “Ant-Man”. I mean, with my thousands of movie reviews, I need to make things easier to find, right? 😉

 

Before watching this movie, you definitely need to have watched Antman. My history with Antman was a weird one.  When I heard that the MCU was putting out a movie about Antman, as a solo hero, I was right there in the frontlines scoffing as hard as anyone. Some guy in a suit who can shrink or enlarge himself? Come on, how corny was that? Plus, given the quality of writers in Hollywood these days, I figured it would be a very lame story.  However, when I ended up watching it, it became one of my favorite recent MCU movies. A heist movie with a wise-cracking lead. And Evangeline Lilly. I’ve been a huge fan of hers ever since her “Kate” days in Lost. So the original movie surprised me a lot with how much I ended up liking it.

It was a no-brainer for me to watch this sequel once it came out on bluray/digital.

First off, the characters.  Paul Rudd makes Scott Lang. Since I’m not a comic book fan, I’m not comparing anything, which always helps. Lang is a down on his luck, no matter what, kind of convict. I mean, he is under house arrest for years for helping out the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War. So the movie starts out with him living at home, trying to start up a security company for the guys who helped him and to entertain his daughter. He really comes across as the luckless guy who really wants to do good but no matter what he does, it turns out bad for him. He’s not a fighter, not an aggressive in your face, Knight on a Noble Steed kind of guy.  A girl teaches him how to fight, for goodness sake in the first movie and in this one, he doesn’t do the fighting. That leads over to the Wasp.

Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne, aka the Wasp, is the fighter in this movie. Much like her alter-ego name implies, she is the one with the sting.  She is the one who does most of the fighting, whether against the Ghost or against the Hillbilly Boys and half the time she’s the one initiating the fighting. At the same time she’s working with her dad Hank Pym to build a machine to bring her mom back from the quantum zone. That is her goal and she is completely driven.

The other sub-characters didn’t jar anything for me. Michael Douglass, Michelle Pfeiffer, Laurence Fishburne, all big names that brought their skill to the story without overshadowing the main characters. Michael Pena as Luis, gives another excellent performance as the big mouth buddy of Scott Lang who just cannot keep his mouth shut. When the bad guys put him on the truth serum, man, that was one of the best parts for me. I am a fan of him talking while other characters act out the scene as if they were him. Since it wasn’t “new” like in the first movie, it wasn’t quite as funny but I still found myself smiling away.

The badguys were a bit of a letdown I have to admit.  The Hillbilly Gang moved the plot forward but I never felt like they were a serious threat. The Ghost was cool with her abilities but her obsession with killing Hope’s mom to steal her quantum energy bordered on monomania. She did provide a great foil for Hope in the fight scenes though.

The overall plot was the rescue of Hope’s mom and all the problems the heroes faced while doing it. Nothing earth-shattering or world ending. Sometimes I need the little battles to remember that people are people.

So the movie ended and I had enjoyed it tremendously. It was everything I wanted in an Antman movie. I watched the first mid-credits scene and can’t even remember what it was to be honest. Then came the final scene. It ties directly into the Infinity War but even so, I found it horrifying. It was bad enough with 3/4 of the team (Dr Pym, Hope, her mom and Scott Lang) suddenly disappearing into ash but the panning over the city and seeing nobody? It gave me shivers and honestly kind of ruined the mood.  That isn’t the tone of the Antman movies. It did guarantee though that I’ll be watching Infinity War at some point.

 

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Thor: Ragnarok (Movie)

thorragnorakThe only reason I watched this movie was to see Thor and Hulk either fight against each other or with each other. That is it. I found both previous Thor movies to be unenjoyable borefests.

Part of that is that I never enjoyed Thor as a comic book character, so translating him to the big screen doesn’t make me feel all squirmy and wriggly inside.  The other reason is that I don’t like Natalie Portman, and it really isn’t even her fault. When The Phantom Menace came out in 1999, I had been waiting for a new Star Wars movie since I could remember and I got The Phantom Menace. I wasn’t immediately devastated, but the scarring process had begun and Amidala was the face of the The Phantom Menace as far as I was concerned. It also didn’t help that her character in the previous Thor movies I recollect as the girly girly slap slap variety. So it helped that she wasn’t in this one and the Hulk was. Hulk good, Jane bad!

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Ok, I wrote the previous before watching the movie. I just finished. Holy smokes, I had SO MUCH FUN watching this movie.

I found the humor right down my alley. Physical humor interspersed with lowbrow banter. There were several times that I just laughed out loud. Not a slight chuckle, mind you, but a full laugh that lasted for at least 5seconds.  There was nothing serious about this movie and I’m glad they didn’t try to simply put in spots of humor while making it a grim movie. This was pure comic book and I loved it.

The fighting exceeded my expectations as well. The fight between Thor and Hulk in the arena was great. Wreaking half the arena showed just how powerful both of them were. The big fight scene at the end where Thor goes full on Thunder God was pure awesomesauce. I’m just kind of sad that it took until the end of the 3rd movie to get to that point. But I’m satisfied now that we got there.

I liked the characters as well. Jeff Goldblum was as weird as ever, Hemsworth and Hiddle WERE Thor and Loki and Cate Blanchett as Hela? Yeah, now there’s an evil elf queen for you! Miss Valkyrie lady seemed like the token tough girl but she was head and shoulders above “Jane” in terms of enjoyment. Finally, Hulk. I didn’t like that he talked so much. I know in the comic books he goes through various levels of toughness and braininess, but in this movie, there was no explanation for how he turned into a veritable fount of verbosity. But him fighting things made up for it.

To end, I enjoyed this so much that I’m going to be watching the previous 2 Thor movies again to see if my initial feelings were off or what. This movie didn’t make me a fan of the whole franchise, but it sure made me want to watch any future Thor movies (who knows how many more Thor movies there will be, if any though).

 

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Boondock Saints VERSUS John Wick

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Amateur Thugs getting Lucky

Past Due reviewed Boondock Saints recently and in the comments I was wondering why I had such issues with it when I watched it and yet didn’t have those same problems with John Wick.

Both are movies based on vigilante style violence. Death and Carnage and Violence  and Gore and Profanity. Both movies have them in spades. I found it offensive in Boondock but not in Wick and I wanted to know why.

Prime had Boondoggle Saints available so I watched it again. Yeah, I was not impressed. A couple of Irish brothers run up against some Russian mob guys, beat them up and then when the mobsters retaliate with guns, kill them. With a toilet. They then proceed to try to kill some other Russian mobsters and end up falling through the ceiling and shooting all the mobsters while hanging upside down from a rope from the ceiling in a hotel room. They then bring on board a friend who is as stupid as dirt and a drug addict but knows a lot of information. They get captured and with the help of a FBI agent who is trying to bring down the Russians, get free. And don’t forget their dear father and that rather silly scene in the courtroom.

So, what turned me off? The pure, unadulterated amateurness of these bozos. I don’t applaud someone who does something half-assed or counts on “luck” instead of good planning.  And the humor. That came across as annoying. A movie about Irishmen killing Russian mobsters shouldn’t be funny. You want funny, go watch that other bozo, Jackie Chan.  The only time that humor and violence should mix is in the Three Stooges. Seriously. Killing is serious business. Treat it as such.  I also didn’t like Willem Dafoe’s character. He’s the FBI agent but he’s also an abusive asshole who I ended up despising for his actions. His sympathy for the brothers and his actions in helping them simply made a mockery of the oath he took to uphold the law in the United States. The inclusion of homosexuality into the mix didn’t help at all either.

 

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A Professional doing his job

Now, on to John Wick. John Wick’s wife is dead. She is the reason he left the Assassin business and when she dies, she leaves him a puppy so he has a reason to go on living. Some spoiled Russian mobster breaks into Wick’s house to steal his car. In the process, the brat kills the puppy and beats up Wick but they don’t kill him. See, that was a mistake. John Wick begins a campaign of violence and death against the mobster family responsible and carnage ensues. He systematically takes out their resources, their people and their bases of operations. Even when captured, and gets lucky, it is because he has cultivated a friendship with a sniper, not because of mere happenstance. Basically, whereas the Boondoggle Brothers just winged it, Wick knows how to attain and accomplish his goal.

Another reason I liked this better was because of Willem Dafoe. Interesting that he was in both movies and played a supporting character each time and each time I had a very different reaction to him. In John Wick he was a good friend who had Wick’s back even though it ended up costing him his life. He had his code of Ethics and stuck to it. Whereas in Boondoggle Saints, he let the situation determine his ethics. Now, I’m not saying that a killer sniper is a good man and a pillar of my community. But, R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Sticking to your core beliefs says a lot about a man. Even if only in a movie 🙂

The profanity. Both movies had it and in both it burned my ears. Didn’t care for it or accept it from either.

I think that is as deep as I want to go into either movie.  They’re good for a fun post but I have no desire to delve into the depths. It all comes down to what I put in my captions for the movie covers. Boondock Saints struck me as a couple of amateurs getting lucky and John Wick showed a professional doing his job.  I admire a professional.

Anyone who has watched both movies, have any thoughts about them? The nice thing about movie things is that I while I may have strong likes or dislikes, I acknowledge it is just my opinion and let things go.  Simply put, I don’t care enough to care 😀 So if you loved Boondoogle Saints and thought it was the best movie ever, please say so and tell me what you liked about it. You won’t change my mind, but I’m not trying to change your mind either with this piece.

 

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