Once Upon A Time In Hollywood: Movie Review

Spoiler Free as can be.

Well Quentin Tarantino throws us a magnificent suspense, drama, comedy movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. An absolute killer of a Hollywood movie set in 1969 Los Angeles and focusing on faded television actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo Dicaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) as they try to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Rated 85% by Rotten Tomatoes and 7.7 by IMDB, running time at 2 hours 41 minutes.

I was hesitant to buy this movie from Amazon Prime, but I took the plunge and loved it. This is the best Tarantino film in my opinion since movies like Pulp Fiction and Django Unchained. What you get is a sweet mixture of intense suspense, action, drama, comedy (absolutely hilarious, subtle) and some great acting.

Leonardo Dicaprio and Brad Pitt shine in this movie. I thought to myself what a strange combination, but in the end they make a great acting pair and the chemistry is brilliant. Don’t forget Margot Robbie, hopping in as Sharon Tate and Emile Hirsh as Roman Polanski.

The movie starts off getting to know Rick Dalton, and his stunt double, we see that they are struggling, trying to plan and forge some kind of future success in the movie industry. There is a great bond, a friendship which makes this connection and film so unique.

Of course, things get better and more funny as they finally land their roles in western films typical of the 50s. Then, all is not what it seems as Cliff, seemingly sets in motion a chain of events after picking up a young girl on the street looking for a ride. I won’t say anymore.

The film seems to be going off on tangents and I was left wondering what the point of all of it was. Persevere for a great, suspense filled finale. It all comes together at the end.

A film that ultimately comes down to love and friendship, dramatic relationships and comedic failing television stars.

My Rating: 5/5

Lockdown Guide to Movies

Hi everyone, this is an essential movies list for those stuck inside or those looking to find some decent movies. I won’t be adding pictures for each movie, rather a list. Some movies are part of trilogies or series of films.

  • Jurassic Park
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Back to the Future
  • American History X
  • Interstellar
  • Indiana Jones
  • Rear Window
  • Green Mile
  • Terminator
  • The Departed
  • Inception
  • Alien
  • Django Unchained
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • American Beauty
  • Braveheart
  • Waterworld
  • Requiem for a Dream
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • 2001 – a Space Odyssey
  • Snatch
  • Rock n Rolla
  • Monty Python
  • Metropolis 1922
  • Die Hard
  • Chinatown
  • Heat
  • Pans labyrinth
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
  • V for Vendetta
  • Black Swan
  • Mission Impossible
  • James Bond
  • Shutter Island

This is only a small list, but a good starting point for anyone struggling to find a movie they haven’t seen before. I would find it hard to believe someone hasn’t seen any off this list!

Dawn of the Dead (1978): Movie Review

A long awaited review, following my book review of Dawn of the Dead, so here it is. After all these years I am finally reviewing this iconic movie. Released in 1978, with various cuts and special editions, this review will focus on the 2 hour and 7 minute movie. That is the version I have on DVD and have had for years, the blu-ray is expensive and very sought after. Rated by IMDB at 7.9 and Rotten Tomatoes at 93%. Directed by George A. Romero. 

Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia S.W.A.T. team members, a traffic reporter, and his television executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall.

Here’s the trailer: https://www.imdb.com/video/vi215942681?playlistId=tt0077402&ref_=tt_ov_vi

Starring an unknown cast at the time, which adds a fantastic authentic feel to the movie, following Night of the Living Dead and proceeding Day of the Dead, Dawn stands tall as one of the greatest movies ever made and probably the best zombie movie made. David Emge as Stephen, Ken Foree as Peter, Scott H. Reiniger as Roger and Gaylen Ross as Francine. The cast are very good actors and the acting is just very real, I didn’t think to myself on the first watch, ‘I’m watching a movie,’ I thought, ‘this is a great adventure.’

Ripe with consumerism symbolism, and selfish greed, we see our characters survive as they battle to take back the giant mall from the dead whilst enjoying the excess luxury all the shops have to offer. Our first encounter with the characters is Francine, in a memorable chaotic scene at the start of the movie inside an overwhelmed and understaffed news station trying to get the news out to the world that the zombies are taking over. It’s not long before they are all on-board the chopper off to the mall.

Things were slightly unsettling and disturbing before reaching the mall, and then Tom Savini (make-up, fx) brings us some dire zombies elegantly directed by Romero. The shopping mall really does take on a claustrophobic feel, and with the continued use of red, it’s easy to get scared. First time I was! Of course, our heroes are temporarily safe and they begin to enjoy the luxury.

Each store becomes their haven, they over indulge, taking a lot of things to make home their small storage room. This is some genius directing and plot, because we know that all this materialism will not save them in the end. The threat of the zombies soon goes, and the survivors become the zombies, in and out of the shops.

Then we get to the end of the movie, the biker gang. Their attack unsettles this fake paradise that our survivors have built, and they don’t like that. The gang attack, zombies are unleashed on the mall and our group is left with 1 option…escape! The finale was and is an epic and uncharted case of movie making. Today, motorbike gangs in zombies films are probably overdone, but back then, it was cutting edge, along with Savini’s special fx. There are wide camera shots of the bikers in the mall, long shots of our survivors running around and over the shoulder shots for some brutal kills. Legendary moment: Tom Savini as the biker who machete’s a zombie in the head!.

The ending, the bikers leave having unleashed carnage on the mall, and ignorant of what life truly means. The zombies are back and our remaining survivors are forced out by the dead in a chilling end scene, one of the most iconic in movie history also.

If you are a zombie fan, horror fan, comedy fan or just want to watch a relevant movie, then Dawn of the Dead is for you.

MY RATING: 5/5

And that is rare to get a 5 from me. Take care.

Mission Impossible – Fallout: Movie Review

Potential spoilers

12A, 2 hours & 27 minutes, 2018, thriller adventure movie. Tom Cruise returns to grace us with his latest mission, teaming up with Henry Cavill (Superman), Ving Rhames (Dawn of the Dead, Mission Impossible) and Simon Pegg (Mission impossible Rogue Nation, Shaun of the Dead).

Grossing $791.1 million and directed by Christopher McQuarrie.

This film in my opinion was not as good as Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. It did not deliver the thrills or as much action. There is a good, speedy and action filled start, but then the story turns to the past, taking previous characters and unnecessarily bringing them back. Henry Cavill was a welcome addition and turning out to be the bad guy made it so much better. The acting overall by all the cast was average. The stunts, of which it appeared there were few, were not as mind blowing as you’d think. A motorbike chase scene and skydiving scene into a giant party were the highlights along with the helicopter chase at the end of the movie.

It would have been better to use a more real threat. Nuclear bombs are at the heart of fallout, and to its detriment. At least in the previous films, they have used biological weapons to good success because they can be release often and more easily, whereas a nuclear bomb can’t simple be thrown around. Tom Cruise is no longer young, he is still doing his own stunts, considering how much he gets paid that’s a good thing, but I can’t help see his huge ego blocking the action because he just happens to be cocky in everything he does. I used to like his mission impossible films, but now, I say end it there.

There is a sequel planned for 2021 and supposedly another movie after that! Let’s hope the next movie is more fulfilling than this. It’s not awful, it’s just boring for long stretches with very stiffly acted scenes that add little to the plot. So, when action scenes takes effect, we are recovering from sleep, at least I was. As a long time fan, I thought the movies got better and better, but the peak is and will be Rogue Nation for me.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Prometheus: Movie Review

Potential Spoilers

In the distant future, two superpowers control Earth and fight each other for all the solar system’s natural resources. When one side dispatches a team to a distant planet to terraform it for human colonization, the team discovers an indigenous race of bio-mechanoid killers.

Released in 2012 and directed by Ridley Scott, a reboot of the alien franchise. A rating of 7/10 from IMBD and 73% by Rotten Tomatoes. This was an unusual form and overall, it did scare and provide mystery. However, all the alien elements were there, except the Alien, and that was the films biggest let down. That is like having a Friday The 13th movie without Jason!

It starts well, and then the acting keeps the films going. The plot was slow, tense and did not fully deliver. But it was a good and action filled film. I feel the lack of alien in this was underwhelming. There was the sequel Alien: Covenant, but that was worse and also waited until the end of the movie to ‘reveal’ the alien.

The whole film seems like a dedication to the first alien movie, and the similarities between the characters echo Ripley and the first space ship. As usual, Hollywood has favoured nostalgia over originality and I dislike that, a lot. Good acting, nice sets and camera angles, and lighting, sound and everything else couldn’t pull this out of the hole it went down.

I am being harsh, because it took me 2 watches of this movie to realise there are better reboots out there. Again, an alien film, without the alien, makes no sense, no matter how many references are there or similar characters. The first watch I was like, ‘whoa what a scary film, excellent, and it’s an alien film!’ Then again I didn’t realise it was a reboot.

My rating is: 3.5 out of 5

Zombieland 2: Double Tap – Movie Review

Potential Spoilers

Another fun zombie filled movie from director Ruben Fleischer. Released 18th October 2019 at a run time of 1 hour 39 minutes. 6.8 on IMBD and 68% on Rotten Tomatoes. This was overall another fun, action packed zombie comedy, brilliantly acted and worth watching on a Friday or Saturday night in with some friends. I watched the movie in cinema in October with my mum.

Straight away the film takes the first and continues the carnage and mayhem. There are new rules, new zombies, new characters, new locations but a terrible political theme at the end which kind of detracts from the movies finale. I enjoyed the first and did not want a second movie, but after watching it I think I liked it enough to say, ‘okay give it a try.’ It is acted well, with cameos from Luke Wilson who rolls up in a monster truck but is soon out of the picture. What does the movie lead to? It starts well in the white house, but soon we know that the group needs to get on the road again when little rock disappears having gone off with her hippy boyfriend to live in Babylon, a supposed safe zone. It gets funnier as Tallahassee, Wichita and Columbus try to track her down along with new addition Madison (acted by Zoey Deutch – class indeed). The journey to Babylon is the highlight and main plot point of the film.

The ending I was disappointed with. We have the whole gun laws argument thrown into a zombie comedy which was really, really not needed at all. It ends with a large battle to defend Babylon, a hippy gun free tower from zombies. This was too large a battle to win, yet our heroes win and then engage in a relaxed, hippy and laid back event. I do not think our characters would do this. After all, they are surviving a zombie apocalypse, not travelling to a friends. There are plenty of bloody scenes and a particularly funny moment when Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) encounters another ‘rule maker,’ and the two argue it out over which rules are better.

I would have liked to see more of what made the original work, some humour was forced and a lot of the comedy came from things that were simple. Tallahassee wearing Elvis’s shoes comes to mind.

Overall this could have been more, but it is still a funny, fun zombie comedy and adds to the cinema greatly: My rating: 3.5/5

 

Doctor Sleep – Stephen King: Movie Review

This review contains spoilers.

The Long awaited adaption of the Stephen King novel released 31st October 2019. I saw the movie in November with a friend, and I was actually frightened! This was a good adaption although certain areas were not filmed which I believe would have contributed to the audiences experience. (One being the extent of Danny’s alcohol problems).

Rated 7.4 on IMBD and 77% on Rotten Tomatoes, standing at a run time of 2 hours 32 minutes and directed by Mike Flanagan.

It was a dark, unsettling ride from beginning to end, and discovering the characters of the True Knot on screen was genuinely terrifying. Abra, the little girl and one main character is helped by Danny, who can sense the shining in her strongly and decides to help save her when he discovers the True Knot are after her. What are the True Knot? A bunch of very ancient people who survive by eating children’s ‘shining.’ I was blown away by the book and the film did not disappoint. I also cannot stress how unsettling this was, with its eery camera angles, the dark settings and the constant focus on death.

It leads Danny and Abra down a dangerous path where they communicate using the shining and since Abra is so powerful, she is capable of more than that. She has the power of telekinesis and teleportation which she uses brilliantly. Finely acted by Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran and Cliff Curtis. I will not forget Ewan Mcgregor’s perfomance in the final act which surpasses many of his previous films. It comes down to an epic cat and mouse tale in which Danny endevours to rescue Abra from this cult the True Knot, whilst battling his alcoholism and inner demons (literally).

I understand horror films need scary scenes, but a child sacrifice scene was way way too much, and I believe should have been cut or not shot at all, we get how horrid and evil the True Knot are, we don’t need children slaying on screen! It is rated 15, but personally I feel a rating of 18 was more appropriate for the themes and horror in this movie. The director has done a glorious job and many King fans will be proud of this creation.

My rating for Doctor sleep (2019) = 4/5

 

 

Goliath: television program review

A legal thriller series starring Billy Bob Thornton, on top form as a down on his luck ambulance chasing lawyer. This is one of the most excellent legal series I have watched. We don’t get a nice mannered lawyer who kisses ass, we get Billy McBride, a real real person who wants to get to bottom of each case. The acting is great, the story lines good and the conclusion on each satisfying, although on the 3rd season I was hoping for a different ending!

So IMDB rates is 8.2/10 and Rotten Tomatoes rates it 82%. They are accurate, although my rating is going to be higher, because I haven’t been genuinely interested to find out more than with this series. 3 seasons and each builds on the last. There are small links throughout each, and they connect in unsuspecting ways. I found the season 3 with Dennis Quaid a real divert from the expected and it fulfilled my appetite.

Each episode feels fresh, interesting and moderately paced. As we enter the second season we start to see Billy connecting with more people and then the 3rd is Billy’s career highlight and his biggest, most dangerous case yet, literally nearly killing him. I found the characters interesting, fun and realistic! The scenes were all about the plot but of course some episodes were cut very toughly and scenes jagged cut from one to the next.

As I say this is one excellently acted series, interesting, thrilling and importantly open to a 4th season which I would love. Amazon Prime original does it again with this legal take on the run down lawyer.

My rating : 9/10

I’m a hard man to please.

Mr Mercedes: Television program review

This review contains spoilers

I write this review feeling pretty good about the series Mr Mercedes, a real riveting and thrilling ride and excellent adaption. It brings everything you could want to screen and more, including great acting from Brendan Gleeson, great tension and near perfect dialogue.

IMDB rates it 7.9 and Rotten Tomatoes 93%. I would say these are both accurate. I am going to do something different and give you the rating I personally think Mr Mercedes is worth first: I rate this series highly at 8/10. Not bad. It’s up there with some of the more thrilling legends of our time. It’s tense, dramatic, lovable and scary all at once. There are shocks where you least expect it.

So, Bill the retired detective is in a cat and mouse chase to find Mr Mercedes, Brady Hartfield. The series dives into the backstory of the famed Mercedes mass killings. It then soon takes a dark turn as we learn Bill now has to face off against him again, this time he is determined to catch the killer. The acting is superb and Brendan Gleeson really was terrific. Although at times, the dialogue was not my cup of tea. I was particularly fond of Bill’s obsessive compulsive sidekick, Holly. The first series takes us on a roller coaster as Bill closes in and the ends with a dramatic finale that viewers will not forget.

The second season is also a brilliant, thrilling watch as the Mr Mercedes is now in a coma and Bill is at last glad, but not convinced that Brady is gone. This is where the supernatural suspense of Stephen King’s work comes in. Brady in a coma is able to make his victims commit atrocious acts. I found this very frightening and awesome. It is a twist that has never been done before as far as I am aware. Of course, the second season is slower and I hoped that Brady would wake up sooner, but in the end, it was just as interesting as the first. I could not stop watching this, I binged the entire series in a week.

Now, season 3, still good. But instead of focusing on the Mr Mercedes, as he is gone, the show moves onto another story. One about Bill Hodges and a murdered writer. Apparently his unpublished manuscripts are worth a fortune so some crazed people want them, but a boy has taken them. I didn’t like the 3rd season as it diverted from the Mr Mercedes storyline. There was the trial throughout, whether Brady Hartfield’s killer should be imprisoned, but it wasn’t enough to make me go “wow.” That’s just television for you, starts off well and then gets worse.

I think the series is worth watching if you like thrilling detective stories and Stephen King adaptions. King features in an episode and is actually a producer I believe on the show? Correct me if I am wrong.

So there you go, 8 out of 10. That’s pretty good, so hey, if you are needing some new television this is worth the watch! I watched this on the Amazon Prime channel called Starzplay and have no idea if it is available elsewhere.

Little Monsters: Movie Review

Little Monsters is a zombie comedy that really brings a new and needed take to an overworked genre.

At first, it seems like the horror, adult humour and bloody zombies would have been toned down since the film features a group of children. However, rest assured that the film delivers on that front.

The cast is remarkable, and the lead role performed by Lupita Nyong’o is impeccable. Supported by talented actors Josh Gad and Alexander England.

As a zombie film, it handles the situation very well, overall the danger is very real, and it is up to a class teacher to try and keep her adorable group of children happy and free from fear. Mix this in with a good dose of needed humour, and its akin to zombieland and shaun of the dead.

Overall, it is an effort worth watching – Rated 5/5.