films, reviews

Tuesday Review – Detective Pikachu (2019)

pokc3a9mon_detective_pikachu_teaser_poster5_star_rating_system_3_starsI was obsessed with Pokémon as a kid. Who am I kidding? I’m still obsessed with it. But it came out when I was exactly the right age. I bought the trading cards, bought as many Gameboy games as I was allowed (my parents being in control of my financials at the time), and watched the TV show. I sang the theme song and tried (and failed) to learn the Pokérap. I put a lot of thought into deciding which Pokémon I’d love to own if they were real: pretty sure I stuck on Growlithe in the end, cause I loved dogs, but it probably changed every day. One thing I did know, however, is that Pikachu wasn’t all that. Something I’ve had heated arguments over the years but that’s a different story for a different time. Pikachu is cute, granted, but he’s not the strongest out there. Still, I was embarrassingly excited about Detective Pikachu. Obviously, Ryan Reynolds meets Pokémon? What more could I want? So, yeah, I was excited but, to be honest, I didn’t think it was going to be good. How could it? It looked shit and it didn’t sound like a real film. It was more like a fake YouTube trailer than a real Hollywood trailer.

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Tuesday Review – Dumbo (2019)

dumbo_282019_film295_star_rating_system_2_stars I definitely watched Dumbo when I was younger but I can’t say that it was ever one of my favourites. I don’t think I ever really rewatched it. Of course, I remember the adorable elephant because it’s the cutest creature to come out of any Disney film. I remember the clown scene, the song, and, obviously, the flying. My memories of the film were that it was a really sweet but not very exciting film. We were more of a Lion King and Aladdin family. So, I wasn’t as emotionally invested in the upcoming remake as I have been with some of the others. Besides, I’m a huge Tim Burton fan. I even liked his reimagining of Alice in Wonderland. Although, I never saw the second one so I might hate that. Still, I was excited by the first look at this film. It had a great cast and it looked fantastic. And, with the dodgy history of this film, making it a bit darker or creepy. If nothing else, it’s 2019 and the idea of keeping elephants captive to perform in a circus is not exactly great.

We all know the story of Dumbo, right? Tiny elephant with massive ears who learns how to fly. He becomes a star and lives happily ever after. Although, in Disney’s latest live-action remake, Dumbo isn’t even the star of his own film. For whatever reason, the decision has been made to give the film a human face thanks to Colin Farrell and his motherless children. Farrell plays Holt Farrier who has returned from the war with one less arm and one less spouse. Holt and his wife were the equestrian performers in the Medici Brothers’ Circus before Holt was called to serve in the army. Whilst he was away, his wife died from Spanish flu leaving his children in the care of the circus owner, Max Medici (Danny DeVito). Unable to go back to his old act, Holt is given the task of caring for the circus’ newly acquired elephants.

It is the baby elephant that Max hopes will pack the punters into the circus but they turn against him when his massive ears are revealed. Thankfully, Holt’s children discover that he has a special talent. They encourage Dumbo to fly in front of an audience and he quickly becomes a star. But all Dumbo really wants is to rejoin his mother who was bought by the villainous V. A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton). Can Holt and his family save the pair before they become another attraction in Vandevere Dreamland?

I’ll be honest, I remembered Dumbo as being a sweet and charming tale about a flying elephant. I know there were some sad moments with his mum and everything but it was mostly nice, right? Tim Burton’s Dumbo made me feel stressed. There were so many awful moments. The bullying of Dumbo by the audience was so extreme. The scene with the fire was way over-the-top. Everything just seemed to be ramped up to cause as much stress as possible. I don’t wish to sound melodramatic but I was on edge through most of the film. Which would be fine if that was the point. But I don’t think it is. This isn’t a film that is trying to play up the horror elements that Burton is known for. It just feels cruel in points. Unnecessarily.

Cruel and a wasted opportunity. We know from films like Edward Scissorhands that Tim Burton knows how to make great films about weird outsiders trying to find a place in a supposedly civilised society. Dumbo should have been the perfect film for him to remake but, unlike its main character, it never quite gets off the ground. It’s weighted down by so many extra plots and distractions. There are too many characters, which means that nobody gets the development that they need. The CGI elephant is cute and all but you don’t care about him in the same way as the original. There is too much focus on Colin Farrell and co. But even they aren’t given any depth. Everyone just feels like a stock character who is only there to fill space in the frame.

And the story itself feels like it’s just rushing to get to where it wants to be. There isn’t enough build up before we first see the elephant fly. It all happens so quickly and then we’re racing off to a weird futuristic theme park. I know the original Dumbo wasn’t much longer than an hour but they’ve stretched the story so much you can basically see through it. And then there’s the weird message at the centre of the film about the exploitation of big corporations. Considering we’re watching a Disney film this feels kind of disingenuous and jarring. There’s too much going on and you get the impression that Burton wasn’t able to make the kind of film he wanted. The visuals are all beautiful and the cast is, mostly, great. But the script is messy and cluttered. And there’s just not enough Dumbo.

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books, reviews

Book Review – He Did It: A Short Story by JT Lawrence

41usdy9tf7l5_star_rating_system_2_and_a_half_stars What’s this? Another Wednesday and I’m reviewing something that isn’t my current read? Yep, yet again, I’ve had to resort to reading a short story in order to stick to my upload policy. There’s something about Shakespeare: The World As Stage by Bill Bryson that is making it difficult for me to finish. Although, I am in the midst of birthday week so I’ve had other things on my mind. So, what was I to do? Check Kindle Unlimited for an interesting sounding short story that I could finish in less than an hour today, obviously. There really was no thought beyond that. It was basically the first short story I came across that sounded interesting. I’d never heard of the author before or the short story collection that it came from. But I guess that’ the joy of having to read something for a review. You pick up things that you’d never have considered before. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing.

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books, reviews

Book Review – The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy by Tim Burton

melancholydeath5_star_rating_system_4_stars1 Up until yesterday, I was only reading Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Billy Bryson. Up until the point I stopped kidding myself that I would finish it for today. Given the fact that I’ve fallen asleep reading it every night since I started it, it was never going to happen. But, as we know by now, I’m pretty delusional when it comes to my reading goals. So it took a while for me to admit defeat. Stubbornness can be useful in certain situations but sometimes it can make life difficult. Like forcing me to find a quick read to finish in one night. Normally, that would involve me buying a super small book during my lunch break. But, as I’m still trying (and failing) to stick to my book buying ban, I decided that this time I would go back to one of the books on my shelf that I have already loved but never reviewed. A collection of poems, in fact, that I’ve owned for years and adored. I loved it so much that I’ve gifted it to a few friends and I’m the kind of person that doesn’t normally force my bookish loves on my unsuspecting friends.

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films, reviews, TBT

TBT Review – True Romance (1993)

true-romance-1993-05_star_rating_system_4_stars1 Today is Valentine’s Day and, to get in the mood, I was planning on finding some ridiculous romantic-comedy to review. I’ve been getting into the spirit on my Instagram so I might as well do the same here. My plan was to get home from work and watching something disgusting. Probably a Richard Curtis film or something. Instead, I had a dreadful day and really lost my romantic spirit. There’s nothing like your manager unnecessarily calling you a liar to really ruin your entire day. So, I decided I wanted to watch something a little less conventionally romantic this evening. As I was going through my film collection and found this beauty. It seemed to tick every box: romance, mindless violence, humour, Gary Oldman, Patricia Arquette’s boobs… it was all there. I don’t think I’ve ever really made a definitive list of my favourite films ever because it would be too long and ever-changing but, if I did one day, I’m sure this film would be on there somewhere. And I’ve never really talked about it on here before. I think it’s time.

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books, reviews

Book Review – Normal People by Sally Rooney

img_20181231_133847-017025406857644198044.jpeg5_star_rating_system_4_and_a_half_stars Do you have any reading resolutions for the year? I know a lot of people like to challenge themselves by setting a reading target for the year. This isn’t something that I tend to do because I don’t want to go down the road of seeing reading as being competitive. If that were to happen, I worry my life would become less about the book and more about the numbers. I want to be able to read at my own speed and not feel guilty. However, as I’m trying to be an active Goodreads member this year as well, I have set myself the modest target of reading 30 books this year. Last year I read 34, which is including a massive slump towards the middle of the year and a fairly shitty December. So, hopefully, I’ll make my target. At the very least I’m off to a good start as I finished my first read of the year yesterday. I may have started it in December but it counts to this year. Thank you very much Goodreads.

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books, reviews

Book Review – Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

81oxlxekxxl5_star_rating_system_4_stars1 It became very apparent at the start of this week that there was no way that I was going to finish the book I was currently reading for this post. So, on Tuesday lunchtime I had a mad dash around the charity bookshop next to work to find something I could finish in a day. There were plenty of possibilities on offer but, having recently seen this on Instagram, I felt the discovery of this book was fate. Not only is the book gorgeous but it’s something I’ve only heard great things about. So, I bought it and started reading it immediately. I didn’t get as much reading done last night because I ended up dropping my phone outside my friend’s house. I ended up spending the time I had put aside to read desperately trying to find my phone and arrange to get it back to me. Still, thanks to a lunchtime of ignoring my coworkers and just reading, I finished the book in time. Now I just need to get this post written.

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film, reviews, TBT

Throwback Thirty – Gotham (1988)

gotham-242415_star_rating_system_1_star Some weeks I plan ahead what I’m going to watch for this throwback post so I know what I’m going to be in for. Other weeks I just randomly search for a 1988 film and pick the most ridiculous. This week was the latter. I’ve just not been in the mood this week. I’m in a massive funk right now thanks to various things so I just wanted to watch something simple and easy. And if it involves Tommy Lee Jones then all the better in my opinion. I’ve always kind of love his blunt and no-nonsense attitude. I love the fact that the man I probably first became aware of in Men in Black actually has no time for jokes. Just remember what he was like at the 2013 Golden Globes with his stony-faced reaction to every joke. It’s iconic. As someone who often just has no time for people, Tommy Lee Jones is kind of my idol. So, a random made for TV movie where he falls in love with a ghost? How the hell could I not?

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books, reviews

Book Review – Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

220px-horrorstc3b6r_book_cover5_star_rating_system_3_stars Emotionally, it’s been an up and down kind of day. I’ve gone from being tired, super stressed, happy, and then weepy.  Every little thing has set me off today and, this evening, one simple email nearly destroyed me. I guess I just need a bit more sleep tonight. So, the plan is to finish this up and head to bed with a good book. There’s nothing that can’t be solved by that. But first we have to get down to business. October kind of got away from me this year. I had such plans to read plenty of horror books but, thanks to the dragging nature of Notes on a Nervous Planet, I ended up only starting one. To be fair to myself, it was one that I had been wanting to read for a while but it’s still kind of disappointing. Especially every time I walk past the pile of spooky books I’ve got still waiting for me to get started on. Both the pile and I know it’s not going to happen now but that doesn’t stop us pretending. I have such unhealthy relationships with the books on my shelves… actually, better make that floor.

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films, reviews, TBT

Throwback Thirty – Hobgoblins (1988)

220px-hobgoblins19875_star_rating_system_1_and_a_half_stars If I were to ask you what your favourite 80s horror film starring small furry monsters then you’d probably, and quite rightly say, Gremlins. Unfortunately that film was released in 1984 so I had to find the next best thing. Thankfully, in 1988 the film Hobgoblins came out and that’s essentially just a carbon copy. Hobgoblins didn’t exactly make a name for itself when it was released but has since become something of a cult classic. Mostly down to the fact that it was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 where it was described by Paul Chaplin as heading “right to the top of the list of the worst movies we’ve ever done.” A fantastic legacy that was only helped by the fact that Rick Sloane (writer, director, producer) submitted the show himself and loved the episode. Whatever else you can say about the film, it certainly had earned its place in the annals of Hollywood history. Continue reading

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