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:

minions

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?

freezeray (small)

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.

285949c9cfa3ed1a9c4b821cfcc2365e-agnes-despicable-me-despicable-minions

 

 

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.

disco

 

 

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.

 

redtransporter

 

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Hogfather (Discworld) ★★★★★

hogfather (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Hogfather
Series: Discworld
Author: Terry Pratchett
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

It is Hogwatch Night and the Hogfather is flying across the world in his red suit and white beard and 4 jolly boars delivering gifts to all the children. However, this Hogwatch Night the Hogfather is looking a little different. He’s a bit bony in the face, he has to stuff a pillow up the suit to give him that jolly fat look and his ho ho ho’s are more like HO, HO, HO! Yes, Death has taken over being the Hogfather for the night.

Now, where did this all start? The Auditors. Of Reality. They hired the Assassin’s Guild to kill the Hogfather. The head of the Guild, thinking it an impossible job, assigns it to Mr Teatime, an assassin who has been causing problems lately with how much he’s been killing. He’s got no style, you know? So the HAG (Head of the Assassins Guild) gives the job to Teatime. Either he’ll succeed and the Guild will get a cavern of gold or Teatime will fail and they can let him go and be done with him. Teatime has thought about just this kind of situation and he has answers.

And that is why Death is pretending to be the Hogfather. He can’t interfere with the Auditors directly but he sets his granddaughter Susan on the case. She tracks down Teatime, who has used the power of the Tooth Fairy make children NOT believe in the Hogfather. She and the newly created god of Hangovers, with the help from a tooth fairy helper, take down the insane assassin.

It is revealed that if the Hogfather doesn’t exist, the sun won’t rise. This will destroy all life on Discworld and THAT is the final goal of the Auditors. Life is messy and doesn’t really fit into neat check boxes, so they want to get rid of it. All of it.

Can Death, Susan and sundry others Save the Most Magical Night of the Year? Of course! Not even Pratchett was so full of bilious hatred and vitriol against Christmas that he’d write otherwise. But he gets his revenge on the readers by getting all metaphysical for at least 3 solid pages. What a rotter.

 

My Thoughts:

My goodness, it has been a bloody decade since I last read this! Still 5stars, still a favorite and still just as good as last time.

This time around I concentrated on the character of Teatime. And you know what? He takes up a VERY small portion of the book even while being a main villain and the killer of the Hogfather. It is like he casts a huge shadow over the whole book while only being a skinny little twig. He has such presence though that I “remembered” him having a much larger role. I think it does say something for Pratchett’s skill that he can make a such a small used character be so big. Of course, him facing down Death himself right at the end does show he had some pretty big cojones.

Death gets a great bit of action and I just laughed and laughed. When Corporal Nobbs, the most venal member of the Watch, gets a super duper assault crossbow from the big red sack and he goes nutso with excitement, I just about died. It also made me remember H.P’s review of the lamest Robin Hood movie ever, complete with “assault crossbows”. Maybe it would have been a good movie if Knobby Nobbs had showed up, hahahahaa. Anyway, I did a lot of laughing.

Susan plays a huge part but unlike Teatime she was so exasperated all the time that she couldn’t be “normal” that it wore a little thin. We get it, she doesn’t want to be Death’s granddaughter. Honey, get over it. You don’t really get to pick your relatives. She started out funny with beating the crap out of monsters under the bed with a poker but became almost grating by the end.

The Unseen Academy and the Wizards are involved, as is HEX the thinking machine. HEX going insane and taking digital frog pills to cure itself was just about the highlight for me.

The only downside to this book was the few pages of metaphysics that Pratchett throws in. All crap about Justice and Mercy and Hope being nothing but lies. Then he took it do a bad place where you can’t believe those things if you don’t believe other lies, like the Tooth Fairy. What a hopeless and utterly futile way to live. He just couldn’t resist allowing his bitter hatred against God, or even the idea of God to peek on through. Thankfully, it wasn’t enough to spoil the whole book. However, I tend to think I’ll have to wait another decade before I try this again.

★★★★★

 

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Joy in the Morning (The Jeeves Omnibus #2.2) ★★★☆½

joyinthemorning (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Joy in the Morning
Series: The Jeeves Omnibus #2.2
Author: P.G. Wodehouse
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Humor
Pages: 272
Format: Digital Edition

Synopsis:

Bertie gets roped into going to Bumpleigh in the Country to help his Uncle by marriage close a business deal with an American Magnate. At the same time Bertie is supposed to help his cousin get said Uncle’s blessing to marry a rich novelist who the Uncle dislikes immensely (for good reason). Then Bertie gets engaged to a woman who he was engaged to a year or two ago and who broke off her engagement to a policeman who was one of Bertie’s old classmates. Said Classmate is a sack of man-meat and looking for any excuse to jail Birtie.

Throw in a nephew whose every act of kindness turns into some kind of disaster, a country ball where Bertie wears a stolen police uniform and midnight escapades and you have this novel in a pinch.

 

My Thoughts:

More of the same, more of the same.

At this point, if you’ve made it this far you know you’re going to keep on going with the series. If this wasn’t for you (Yes, I’m looking at you, Miiiiiiister Newton!), you’d have given up sometime during the first omnibus.

Spineless Bertie can’t act like a man for 2 seconds. Which leads to humorous situations that only Jeeves can manipulate him out of for the betterment of everyone involved. The thing is, as a reader you HAVE to accept the stupidity of Bertie to enjoy this series. Not malicious stupidity but plain old genetic dumb-assery. If you can’t get past that, and I don’t blame anyone who can’t, this just isn’t for you.

But if “rich people having problems” can amuse you, you’ll just keep eating these books up. Wodehouse obviously has a limited repertoire of situations he can bother Bertie with (the main one getting married) but they are still of good variety.

Sit back and chuckle and enjoy Bertie being a dumbass. Because Jeeves is the benevolent force of nature behind the scenes making sure that everything turns out alright.

★★★☆½

 

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Bitter Gold Hearts (Garrett, P.I. #2) ★★★☆½

bittergoldhearts (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Bitter Gold Hearts
Series: Garrett, P.I. #2
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 288
Format: Digital Edition

Synopsis:

Garrett is paid to consult on a kidnapping case for one of the rich and powerful folks of town.Everything seems to be just fine until someone murders the girl who was the go between, who happens to be related to the kidnap victim. Then the heir, who was returned, supposedly kills himself. A wagonload of gold has also disappeared. Garrett is then hired by the remaining daughter to ostensibly find the gold but to also find out what is going on.

Garrett figures everything out but has to reveal it all to the Head of the Family who has just returned from the war. She’s a Storm Lord of no small power and she ends up killing almost everyone involved to cover it all up so her “honor” won’t be besmirched. Garrett realizes what is happening in the nick of time and wraps things up neatly and presents the “evidence” to the other Storm Lords. They strip her of her power and the daughter inherits.

And that wagonload of gold? It disappeared, just like the Steward, who hired Garrett to consult in the first place.

 

My Thoughts:

Garrett sleeps with a lot of women. First, there’s the woman from the previous book, who is away for this one. Then there’s the cousin who ends up murdered and is the cause of Garrett really staying involved in the whole thing. Then there’s the daughter of the Storm Lord. Between all that wenching and the gallons of beer he consumes, I’m surprised Garrett hasn’t died from either syphilis or his liver giving out.

Other than bit of moralizing, I had a blast reading this. Garrett and some shady characters invade a criminal troll stronghold and end up burning the place down. It was violence and action and comedy and humor all in one situation and I loved it. Garrett does a lot of skulking around and I could have done with a little less of that, but eh, he’s a P.I., skulking is part of the job.

I really liked the ending, with the Storm Lord going full on murder spree and Garrett stopping her before she murders him and his friends too. I didn’t see it coming, so when Cook sprang it on me, I was quite surprised, as it meant the book didn’t end with a little “oh, I’ve solved things, lets go home now” from Garrett

I don’t think that I could tell you that the guy who wrote this series is the same guy who wrote the Black Company books. It’s not just the change in sub-genre (comedic detective fantasy versus dark fantasy) but so far, I’ve seen nothing related to or from the Black Company or the Dread Empire. Not a phrase, not a character type, not a situation. That is really good. After 10 books of the Black Company and almost as many with the Dread Empire, I like this change. I hope this tempo can be sustained for another 12 books.

I just realized that maybe I should be adding the mystery tag, as Garrett is private detective after all. But while I will be, these don’t strike me as mysteries. I don’t know if it is because I’ve been steeped in the Agatha Christie, Ellis Peters type of mystery for so long or what.

★★★☆½

 

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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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Right Ho, Jeeves (The Jeeves Omnibus #2.1) ★★★☆½

righthojeeves (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Right Ho, Jeeves
Series: The Jeeves Omnibus #2.1
Author: P.G. Wodehouse
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Humor
Pages: 212
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Bertie comes back from the Continent with his Aunt and Cousin and things fall apart. Bertie tries to wear a white suit coat and clashes with Jeeves. Jeeves lets him have his way and solve everything on his own. So, Bertie’s cousin is engaged but the couple fights and calls off the engagement. A friend of Bertie’s is in love with a girl but can’t work up the nerve to even talk to her. This girl is a friend of Bertie’s cousin and is staying with them. Bertie is called down to the countryside to assist in giving a speech at a local boys school and hand out prizes. He avoids this by sending the love struck friend down with the promise that it will help him court the girl he loves. Bertie goes down to help restore bliss between his cousin and her fiance. He also finds out that his Aunt needs a lot of money from his Uncle to fund her vanity magazine, money which he already gave her but she lost in gambling on the Continent. Throw in Anatole the French chef who is threatening to leave and you have a problem only Jeeves can fix.

But Jeeves isn’t fixing anything since Bertie WILL insist on wearing the white suit coat. Thus it falls to Bertie to solve everything. Of course, he just makes it 100 times worse. Thankfully, Jeeves relents and solves everything BUT at the cost of making everyone hate Bertie and “accidentally” leaving the iron on the white suit coat.

Hijinks, wrong engagements, one spectacular instance of public drunkenness and sundry other mishaps occur, affording the reader an escape from the humdrum of life for a couple of hours.

 

My Thoughts:

You know, I have mentioned this before, but it really stuck out, AGAIN. Whoever put these omnibus editions together is a complete jackass. I hate them in fact. It is almost like someone who never read the books and is not a reader at all in fact, looked at the books and just randomly pointed them out and decided which volume each book would go in. It is just frustrating as it is obvious it is lazy no good incompetence that made such decisions.

Overall, I still enjoyed this. This was another novel instead of a short story collection but so much is going on that it almost might as well be a short story collection. There were times I felt like I had already read this but given that Bertie references these escapades in other books, turns out I was just remembering the references. Another reason to kick the jackass who put these together.

I have to say, it is incredible how much Bertie can wreck things. What’s even more astounding is just how dense he is when Jeeves fixes everything at his expense. Bertie pretty thinks “Oh well, at least I’m not getting married now” and is happy enough. Egads.

I think one of these books every 6 to 8 weeks is working out well. Enough time for me to forget any lingering animosity and to simply remember the stupidly funny stuff. That’s good enough for me!

★★★☆½

 

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Fail Harder (Caverns & Creatures #2) ★☆☆☆½

failharder (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Fail Harder
Series: Caverns & Creatures #2
Author: Robert Bevan
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 305
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The Gang of merry losers runs into some other humans who have been sent to this fantasy world by Mordred. They team up with them and learn of yet another group, of middle graders, who were Mordred’s favorites and are sure to run rampant once they learn of his demise.

Katherine, Tim’s sister, is kidnapped by a vampire who has also been brought here by Mordred. He turns her before the group can rescue her but they do rescue her and kill the vamp. With the loot and stuff they raid from the dead vamp’s castle, they pay a dodgy magician to get Tim back to the real world so he can find Mordred’s dice and figure out how to get everyone back.

Tim makes it back, but still in his halfing body and finds Mordred still alive in the freezer. The dodgy magician, having a glimpse of our world through Tim’s mind, decides he wants to check things out and brings the whole Gang back with him.

 

My Thoughts:

You know, I barely even noticed the profanity this time around. However, the reason I didn’t was because of the crass humor and the complete stupidity of just about ALL the characters involved.

This group of people who got sucked into the fantasy world? They deserve to die. In fact, the United States is a better place if these people really did die. The fact that scum like them get their vote to count as much as mine, it infuriates me.

Yeah, I was pretty pissed off for almost the whole book. That is how pathetic these people were. So I’m done. I knew I was going to be done with this book one way or another, but my goodness, the amount of idiocy the characters packed into a mere 300 pages was astounding.

Don’t get me wrong, this has nothing to do with them being hardcore gamers. I can sit around and play Magic the Gathering for hours on end. But I’m not an idiot who just does whatever he feels like whenever he feels like. I realize I haven’t pointed out specifics for you to judge for yourselves. But just think of someone you know who does what they want, when they want, regardless of consequences and you have this group. I’ve been using the term “stupid” but it is more along the lines of irresponsible in the worst way.

I still would like to thank Swords & Spectres for his very enthusiastic take on this series. For some non-frothing at the mouth reviews, check out his reviews. Maybe he can convince you to read them.

★☆☆☆½

 

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