The Lion King

After the murder of his father, a young lion prince flees his kingdom only to learn the true meaning of responsibility and bravery.

Donald GloverBeyoncéSeth Rogen

The King Has Returned.

I really didn’t give a fuck about this remake. I’ve never been the most die-hard Disney fan anyway and The Lion King wasn’t one of my favourites. When it was announced, I didn’t feel excited and would happily have skipped it. However, my husband is obsessed with the original and well, the things we do for love.

I’m glad we did. For a moment there I was almost relegated to a different row, he was so worried I’d ruin it with my negative reaction. But I enjoyed myself, honestly and was very well-behaved.

The film is beautiful, I’d be lion if I said otherwise. The attention to detail is stunning, with lots of fun little side characters peppered throughout. The first half of the movie, in fact was delightful. Baby Simba is a peach and you’d have to be inhuman not to be moved a) by James Earl Jones‘ treacle toffee voice and b) the father/son relationship. It’s even more bittersweet as we all know what’s coming.

I cried a lot, even before ‘that scene’ which I expected to do, I’m a big baby. But I didn’t expect to be as affected. When I was a kid I had a genuine internal worry that I wasn’t ‘normal’ because my heartstrings never seemed to react in the way Disney wanted them to.

For me it started to unravel as soon as we meet grown up Simba (Glover). I’m not crazy about the voice choices for him or for adult Nala (Bey) – both artists I like, particularly Glove – and I hated their songs. Their rendition of Can You Feel the Love to Night is dreadful. Thank God for the genius of Timon and Pumbaa (Billy Eichner and Seth Rogan) then. Rogan was born to play this role and everybody’s favourite characters really shine together. They also get the best songs.

Meanwhile, Rafiki and Scar are also very good. The latter in particular seems even more menacing and his hyena army are terrifying. I felt myself sympathising with Scar toward the end which is odd as there really is no good in him. Perhaps it’s just the concept of a sad, old lion being exiled from the pride that is hard to deal with.

All in all I had fun. I enjoyed it more than Beauty & the Beast and The Jungle Book. Lots of people have been mean about the lack of facial expressions on the animals and I get it, though what do you expect? If you make something realistic, you can’t then expect it to react like the cartoon does. Duh.

Now I’m quite excited for The Little Mermaid which has been stirring up some delicious controversy on the internet over its casting choices. And Mulan also looks pretty good.

Look, we don’t really need any of these movies remade but who am I to begrudge super fans more time with their faves? God knows we need as much joy and happiness as we can get in this confusing world.

Bring on Ursula, bitches. I’m holding out for Lizzo or Missy Elliott for the role.

Film details:

The Lion King
Year: 2019
Director: Jon Favreau
IMDB Rating: 7.2/10
My Rating: 3/5

What are you watching?

Child’s Play

A mother gives her 13-year-old son a toy doll for his birthday, unaware of its more sinister nature.

Aubrey PlazaMark HamillGabriel BatemanBrian Tyree Henry

Friends to the End.

*Minor spoilers*

This is one of my most anticipated films of the year and I’m delighted to report that it was heaps of fun and I was not disappointed at all.

The end.

Kidding. There are still a few things to be said about the new-and-not-so-improved Chucky. I need to make it clear first that my love for Chucky runs deep. I’ve been in love with the trashy AF Child’s Play franchise since forever and genuinely found the first few films terrifying. The way the little guy ran around, pushing unsuspecting baby-sitters out of windows, ramming knives into his victims – it was the stuff of nightmares.

Chucky is my icon, my love – and if it wasn’t cultural appropriation, my spirit animal. Perhaps I identify because we’re both ginger and look good in dungarees, whatever – he’s up there in the horror big leagues and he’s my friend to the end. So having him rebooted is kind of a big deal. Thankfully, the creators have brought us a familiar tale while making it just different enough that it doesn’t compete with the originals. As if anything could.

Karen Barclay (Plaza) and her son Andy (Bateman) have just moved to Chicago to start a new life. Karen works retail at the local Walmart-type store where toy-of-the-moment, the Buddi doll is flying off shelves. The Buddi doll is a fully interactive doll created by global giant The Kaslan Corporation – and it seems there’s not much it can’t be trained to do.

One day, Karen blackmails her boss into letting her take home a faulty doll for Andy’s birthday. Andy’s also been struggling to get out of the apartment since they arrived in town and Karen wants to cheer him up. The range is about to be usurped by Buddi 2, the next model so she figures nobody’s going to miss her broken doll.

Did you say Chucky?

Andy’s dubious about Buddi at first, being too cool and too old to play with dolls but mum persuades him to at least have a look. Buddi quickly renames himself ‘Chucky’ and after imprinting on Andy, becomes his shadow. Andy finds Chucky one creepy motherfucker but they soon bond when it becomes clear that the doll actually gets him.

Oh, didn’t I mention that Chuck is faulty for a reason? A disgruntled worker at the Vietnamese factory where the Buddi dolls are assembled has disabled all Chucky’s safety guards before taking his own life. I do hope none of this comes back to haunt anybody…

As Andy and Chucky get friendlier – and start hanging out with some of the neighbourhood kids – Fay (Beatrice Kitsos), Pugg (Ty Consiglio) and Omar (Marlon Kazadi) – things seem to be on the up. Except for Karen’s douchey boyfriend Shane (David Lewis), who Andy despises. But horror movies aren’t usually charmed and happy for long and Chucky begins to display some possessive tendencies which start to have dire consequences for anyone who crosses Andy. Bless.

Also living on the same block is neighbour Doreen (Carlease Burke) who is frequently visited by her son, Detective Mike (Henry). Mike strikes up an acquaintance with Andy and his mother – which is handy when Chucky takes violent action against somebody they all know. With hilarious consequences – it has to be said that I laughed a lot during this murder sequence and the subsequent aftermath. It’s stretched out quite a lot but it fits the childishness of the story, also giving me Stranger Things/Stephen King vibes. You’ll know what I mean when you see it – it’s incredibly macabre and I ADORE IT.

Unfortunately, Andy can’t just be living in sweet harmony with his homicidal best pal and action must be taken. Which betrays Chucky’s trust and makes him mad. Really mad.

If they don’t let us play, they all go away.

The film climaxes at the Buddi 2 launch and I’m afraid it’s brilliant. Disgusting, creepy, tense but ultimately, so much fun. I love the new Chucky, I’m sorry Classic Chucky. Nobody’s ever going to replace you in my heart but Buddi Chuck is pretty adorable. The A.I. has a very saccharine look and I thought it would jar on me but oddly enough, I settled quite quickly into the new aesthetic.

Child’s Play: Reloaded succeeds in making our antagonist a sympathetic one which is impressive given he’s essentially just a hunk of plastic and metal. His reasons are pure and true – he just doesn’t have boundaries.

While I did miss the supernatural angle, this was lighthearted and silly, making me LOL several times. Hamill’s voice work is lovely and subtle, Plaza is her usual gorgeous kooky self – and Bateman as Andy is really good. In contrast to Jackson A. Dunn in Brightburn, Bateman is a natural who easily carries the film. The children are all great and they’re the main fixture for me. The A.I. is bad messaging is irritating though it has to be said.

I want more and I also really want to watch the originals again. STAT. Bravo, team.

Film details:

Child’s Play
Year: 2019
Director: Lars Klevberg
IMDB Rating: 6.5/10
My Rating: 4/5

What are you watching?

Hairspray (2007)

We head to Baltimore this week to hang out with Tracy and Edna Turnblad, take on segregation and get off with Zac Efron. Yes, it’s the wonderful remake of The Sultan of Sleaze’s seminal classic Hairspray and everything is right with the world. Except the fact Divine is no longer with us. That bit sucks.

Pleasantly plump teenager Tracy Turnblad teaches 1962 Baltimore a thing or two about integration after landing a spot on a local TV dance show.

John TravoltaQueen LatifahNikki BlonskyMichelle PfeifferZac EfronBrittany Snow

You Can’t Stop The Beat.

Tracy Turnblad (Blonsky) is a fat white girl living in Baltimore with her parents Edna (Travolta) and Wilbur (Christopher Walken). She’s #obsessed with dancing and never misses The Corny Collins Show on the local network. Her best friend Penny Pingleton (Amanda Bynes) has to sneak out of her highly religious mother’s (Allison Janney) house to go watch the show at the Turnblads’.

The teenage regulars who dance on the show attend the local high school with Tracy and Penny but they’re worlds apart in the social hierarchy. Queen bee Amber Von Tussle (Snow) doesn’t stand a chance with a mother like Velma (Pfeiffer), who works for the television station that produces The Corny Collins Show. Velma uses her position to ensure Amber is center stage at all times – and urges her to keep her relationship with handsome beau, Link Larkin (Efron) “for the cameras”.

While the show and its dancers are all white, it does allow African-Americans on once a month for “Negro Day”, hosted by DJ Motormouth Maybelle (Latifah). Much to Velma’s disdain.

When one of the regular dancers is required to step off the show “for about nine months”, a public audition is held for her replacement. Naturally, Tracy is first in line to try out but has the challenge of persuading her mother to let her go first.

Edna is an agoraphobic who hasn’t left the house for decades, ashamed of how she looks and constantly on a diet. She fears for her daughter while Wilbur is slightly more positive, telling her to go for it.

The audition doesn’t go according to plan though, as Velma brutally rejects Tracy for being fat and supporting racial integration. Devastated, Tracy returns to school where she’s given detention for cutting class. Here she bumps into Seaweed (Elijah Kelley) and some of the other black dancers from the show who teach her a few moves, which she takes to like a duck to water. They instantly welcome her into the fold and tell her she’s got impressive talent for a white chick.

When Link accidentally walks in on them, he tells Tracy about a record hop being hosted by Corny Collins (James Marsden) himself, where she can have a second chance at impressing him. Which of course she fucking does because she dances rings around Amber and the others. She joins the show and quickly becomes one of the most popular cast members, threatening Amber’s chances of being crowned “Miss Teenage Hairspray”. Not only that but Link starts to fall for her, despite the fact she’s fat and everybody knows fat girls die alone.

“Do it now, or forever wish you had.” ~ Wilbur Turnblad

While things are going pretty well for Tracy, who has just become the spokesmodel for Mr. Pinky’s Hefty Hideaway boutique – and has even managed to get Mum out of the house and into some damn fine frocks of her own – racial tensions in the city run high. Penny meets and falls madly in love with Seaweed, who is also Motormouth’s son – while Maybelle encourages Edna to take more pride in who she is. Pretty sure I’d do anything and everything Queen Latifah told me to.

Maybelle has just learned that “Negro Day” has been cancelled, so Tracy suggests they march for integration. Link’s not so sure, scared of jeopardising his career but Tracy’s all in.

Will the march serve its intended purpose or will shit backfire in Tracy’s face? More importantly (not really, but for the sake of the story), will she make it to the Teenage Hairspray pageant to take her rightful place as winner?

hairspray23

I love the original more than life but I don’t think this version is too bad at all. The songs are great, Nikki Blonsky is a freaking gem and you know what, I feel as though Travolta really brings his A-game to the role of Edna. It’s soft and nuanced – and I feel nothing but sympathy for her as she suffers with body image issues and confidence.

In contrast, it is delicious to watch Velma get her comeuppance, the racist, fat-shaming bitch. I love how Tracy stirs shit up and doesn’t allow her mother’s indirect insecurities to mess with her head. I find it so heart-warming when the women lift Edna up and her final number is great.

Hairspray looks at serious social injustice and doesn’t shy away from how shit and inhumane racism is – which makes me wonder what a modern Hairspray might look like in 2019. I wonder who’d direct? Imagine a Jordan Peele version?

Film details:

Hairspray
Year: 2007
Director: Adam Shankman
IMDB Rating: 6.7/10
My Rating: 4/5

How did my love do with this one? Would she crown it Miss Teen Hairspray or segregate it forever? Twist on over here to find out.

Five Tiny Film Reviews

These are the last five movies I watched in 2018 and have been too lazy to post about – with micro reviews:

The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2018)

The film itself is fine but this is one of the weakest stories in the series (the first not written by Steig Larsson but David Lagercrantz). However, it does offer us a brand new Lisbeth Salander and that’s the real reason I rushed to see it. Claire Foy does a good job. I was curious about her ability to rock the look and she aces it, bringing her own grace to the character. Throw in some sweet Lakeith Stanfield action and a sadistic, vengeful little sister – and I enjoyed myself. Probably a little forgettable but I’m interested to see where this franchise might lead.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Creed II (2018)

Creed was amazing and this is good too, with strong performances all round. Tessa Thompson steals the show from everyone as the world’s most understanding girlfriend Bianca. If I were to pick on it I would say it’s a little heavy-handed on the sentimentality and the abrupt turn around at the end by Dolph Lundgren‘s Ivan Drago might be touching but it is a little barf-worthy. I didn’t hate it though and I’m always going to be there for Michael B. Jordan and any training montage he wants to share with me.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Aquaman (2018)

I’ve never been so aroused and pissed off at the same time. Unfortunately, while Jason Momoa may be the hottest human man on Earth, this film is a pile of steaming garbage and there’s no getting away from that. The dialogue is cheap, it’s light on laughs and is also boring in places, perhaps it’s biggest crime. It does have warrior sharks though so most of the rating I give is for them.

Back to the drawing board again, DC – or maybe given Patty Jenkins a call?

⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (2018)

Marvel, meanwhile knocks it out of the park again with this animated treat. Into the Spiderverse is fun, stylish and has a soundtrack to die for. While it’s silly in places, it works well and the blend of darkness and light works perfectly. My highlight is Nicolas Cage as Spider-Man Noir but there’s excellent voice work from Brian Tyree Henry, Mahershala Ali and Hailee Steinfeld too.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

While this does border on just a little too saccharine for me (balloon scene particularly), it was magical in many ways. Emily Blunt rocks Poppins while bringing her own sarky tone to proceedings, the kids don’t make me want to punch them and Emily Mortimer is dreamy AF (as always). I don’t think I would have gone out of my way to see this if it hadn’t been just before Christmas but I’m glad I did. Is it as good as the original (as most people have asked)? Hard to say, I was never a Poppins purest (more of a Bedknobs & Broomsticks kinda girl) but it is a strong sequel. Definitely worth a watch if you’re not adverse to musicals and uber tweeness.

⭐⭐⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What have you been watching?