Sing Street

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This Ticket Stub Love review was originally posted on the site Chasing Dreams as part of their Film Friday segment.

The Oscar nominations came out a few weeks ago and as always, there were snubs and surprises. The big news is about the hugely popular musical La La Land which was nominated for 14 Oscars (tied for the most nominations since All About Eve and Titanic). However, there is another musical this past year that did not receive the attention it so badly deserved. That film is Sing Street!

Sing Street is a fictional film revolving around a young boy in 1980s Dublin who starts a band to impress a girl.

The premise seems pretty basic but this film is so much more. Its main protagonist Conor (played by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) is also escaping a troubled home life along with the harassment that comes along with starting a new school run by a strict principal. Music helps distract Conor away from his problems and focus on what’s important to him: winning the heart of aspiring model Raphina (played by Lucy Boynton) and eventually becoming successful with the band.

One of my favorite characters was Conor’s older brother Brendan (played by Jack Reynor) who helps foster Conor’s interest in music and gives him band advice. Although Brendan was unable to achieve what he originally planned for himself, he still encourages his younger brother to escape their small town and pave a better future for himself. Here is the takeaway that I got from the film, the notion that anything is possible. If desired, you can break free from the doldrums, from the people and places holding you back. Do what you love and go after it. Why not win the girl and start a band?

The film is directed by John Carney who is known for his other musical films Once and Begin Again. I am a personal fan of Carney’s work because I admire his use of music with character development. The soundtrack for this film is fantastic! There is the classic 80’s sound that takes inspiration from the popular bands and music of the era. The music and looks that Conor and the band all take on parallel their journey as a band and with themselves. It is obvious,that as young kids, they are really just trying to find themselves and their sound. Some of my personal songs off the soundtrack are “Drive It Like You Stole It” (which to be honest should have been nominated for Best Song) and “The Riddle of the Model”.

I enjoyed the camera work in the film as well, especially in the scenes where the viewer gets to watch the music videos the band makes themselves. The songs and videos they create were actually pretty impressive to me. Even more than the romance, I appreciated the friendship between the band members such as Conor and Eamon. The only complaint I have for the film is that I wish they gave more time to some of the other band members and developed their characters more.

Overall, I really enjoyed Sing Street and I feel that it is severely underrated. The soundtrack is only one of the great aspects of the film that should be more lauded. The message of following your dreams is prominent and infused into the film with signature humor and drama. If you’re interested in a musical with a vintage feel that is not La La Land, I highly suggest Sing Street.

ALL IN ALL: Sing Street comes out on top as one of the best musicals of the year, with an excellent soundtrack and an even better story of following your dreams.

Sing Street 4.5/5 Ticket Stubs

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Director: John Carney

Cast: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Jack Reynor, Mark McKenna, Aiden Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy

Run time: 1 hr 46 min, PG-13

Year: 2016

image from: http://singstreetmovie.com/

Split

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I enjoy horror movies, I really do. Even better are thrillers, the ones that get your blood racing and keep you guessing endlessly. The problem with the horror and thriller genres is that it has become extremely hard, at least for me, to find quality films that meet or even exceed the standards put in place. Too many times the films become predictable or outlandish, with unsurprising tropes and not enough emphasis on story itself. Director M. Night Shyamalan is famous for his thrillers, so I was immediately intrigued with the trailer for his new film Split. Though some of Shyamalan’s past films have faltered along the way, Split marks a return to form for the director known for this twists and thrills.

Split follows three girls, who are kidnapped by a man (James McAvoy) with severe dissociative identity disorder. The girls must find a way to escape his 23 different personalities before the emergence of an even worse 24th.

Despite my few reservations, Split was a great film. It was a solid thriller and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I appreciated the story and the use of suspense and thrills in the film. I never knew what was going to happen next and even if I did guess, I was always surprised. Probably the highlight of the film for me was James McAvoy. He was outstanding in this film and his performance blew me away. Honestly I hope he receives more acclaim and awards for this film as I believe it to be his best performance. The task of the role is monumental enough, essentially playing 24 roles, but McAvoy accomplishes it flawlessly. One of the best scenes was one that required him to switch back and forth between the different personalities all at once. McAvoy shines here as his performance really made the movie.

I did have a few complaints about the film but not many. Though I appreciated the development of the main heroine Casey (played by Anya Taylor-Joy), I found the other two girls kidnapped alongside her to be pretty useless. My main problem with the film, however, was the ending. Though I will not discuss it, as doing so will spoil the film, I found one final scene to be pretty jarring from what I expected. Though I suppose that was the purpose of the scene, I still believe Shyamalan’s decision to be completely unnecessary so I myself am choosing to ignore that scene. Everything else about the film though was well done.

Split is an interesting film. It’s discussion of dissociative identity disorders was fascinating and I actually liked the different genres that film picked up as its story developed. I would not recommend the film to those too faint of heart but I personally really enjoyed the film. If you are looking for a new thriller to watch, look no further. Split debunks everything you know to be true and will keep surprising you until the very end.

ALL IN ALL: James McAvoy is a tour de force in Split, a film that shines in the thriller/horror genre with great direction and a consistently twisting story.

Split 4 out of 5 ticket stubs

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Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Cast: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula

Run Time: 1 hour 57 min, PG-13

Year: 2016

 

Hidden Figures

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This Ticket Stub Love review was originally posted on the site Chasing Dreams as part of their Film Friday segment.

I feel that the tagline for Hidden Figures perfectly encapsulates the film. “Meet the women you don’t know, behind the mission you do.” Many of us know or are somewhat aware of the events surrounding Project Mercury, the first human spaceflight program of the United States. What many people don’t realize is that the project would not have been successful without the help of countless engineers and mathematicians, in particular Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson.

Based on a true story, Hidden Figures centers on a team of African-American women, including Johnson (portrayed by Taraji P. Henson), Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Jackson (Janelle Monáe), who aided NASA by calculating the flight trajectories and mathematical data needed to launch the nation’s first successful space missions.

Hidden Figures is an excellent movie. Truly awe-inspiring, its story of these three powerful and intelligent women who overcame so much racism, sexism, and prejudice in the much divided 1960’s will strike a chord with audience members. Personally, and I know I am not alone in this, I was not aware of the tremendous strides and work these women did for NASA and for our nation. It was not only eye-opening but also inspirational to learn about this true story.

The cast performances were excellent. Taraji P. Henson blew me away as Katherine G. Johnson, her performance possessing such emotion and depth that needs to be more recognized and lauded. Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe were excellent as well. Both women brought a palpable strength and a firm grasp on the roles they respectively played.

Pharell Williams, Hans Zimmer, and Benjamin Wallfisch co-composed a great score for the film. The music added a needed boost at times that co-aligned well with the action on screen. In addition, Hidden Figures‘ story is well written and effectively immerses the viewer.

Hidden Figures has a lot of heart. I would fully recommend watching Hidden Figures, though it is not a film that requires a theater experience. People of any age will benefit from watching Hidden Figures and learning about an often overlooked but vital piece of our nation’s history. Even young children, especially girls, can most definitely look to Hidden Figures for a source of new role models as well. Hidden Figures has the heart and will touch yours.

ALL IN ALL: With its inspiring story and talented cast performances, Hidden Figures is sure to stay in the hearts of movie-goers alike for generations to come.

Hidden Figures 4.5 out of 5 ticket stubs.

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Director: Theodore Melfi

Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Jim Parson, Kirsten Dunst, Mahershala Ali

Run Time: 2 hrs 7 min, PG

Year: 2016

image from: http://www.foxmovies.com/movies/hidden-figures

 

 

La La Land

Every year, there’s a select number of films that are predicted to sweep the awards and earn critical acclaim. One of those predicted very early on was La La Land. This film has been at the top of my watch list for a while so I was thrilled when I received the opportunity to finally view the 7 Golden Globe winning (record-breaking) musical La La Land for myself.  I went in with pretty high expectations and I am so pleased to report that they were fully met!

La La Land tells the story of a jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling) and an aspiring actress (Emma Stone) who meet and fall in love in Los Angeles.

I loved La La Land, I really did. It is a truly magical experience and a wonderful film to see. Everything about it was perfect; from the cinematography, to the production design, costumes, choreography, performances, music, La La Land scored high. The music is great and will make you walk out of the theater humming and playing the soundtrack on repeat all the way home. The film really does make you wish your life is a musical!

The performances in particular were strong. Both Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone brought depth to their multi-faceted characters, infusing both drama and comedy into their performances. Needless to say, their chemistry was great. Gosling’s performance in particular stood out as he easily delivered some of the best lines in the film, providing a surprising number of laughs and proving again his versatility as an actor. He also learned how to play many of his piano pieces which is impressive enough. The film really showcases some of the surprising musical talents of both actors. Though the character development for Mia and Sebastian could have been stronger, in particular with Mia, the two characters still manage to effectively captivate the audience with their love and personal story.

Visually La La Land is simply gorgeous. A classic musical, there were many homages to the old Hollywood style musicals mixed in with the contemporary LA setting. From the dance numbers (Who can forget that beginning freeway scene?) to the elaborate stage sets, the film was able to achieve an impressive mixture of classical and modern film elements. While I am not aiming to name La La Land as the first ever modern musical of its time, I do think the film is worthy of praise for rejuvenating a genre that has become somewhat rare nowadays.

I cannot praise La La Land enough. While its aspirations may seem lofty at times despite some flaws, the film still has so much emotion and heart that cannot be overlooked. After every musical number, I simply wanted to re-watch the whole scene again. The film is deeply satisfying and the love story,while sweet, is more focused on the journey of two people trying to achieve their dreams in the romantically painted town of Los Angeles, which I really found beautiful. I wholly recommend La La Land, and even try to see it in theaters if you can. La La Land provides a magical movie-going experience.

ALL IN ALL: La La Land is a beautifully done and visually gorgeous film, with excellent performances and music that captivates and warms the heart of audiences alike.

LA LA LAND 4.5/5 Ticket Stubs

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Director: Damien Chazelle

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Rosemarie DeWitt, John Legend

Run time: 128 minutes, PG-13

Year: 2016

image from: http://www.lalaland.movie/gallery/12

GOLDEN GLOBES 2017!!!

Yay awards season is finally here! First up we had the Golden Globes Sunday night hosted by Jimmy Fallon. The show as a whole was OK. There were not a lot of funny moments so to say, but more so memorable ones with some great winners and some amazing speeches (Meryl!!). Jimmy Fallon I thought was an alright host. I loved the opening La La Land inspired sequence but other than that and Questlove, he really did not bring anything new to the table.

Make sure to check out TSL’s live twitter feed from yesterday’s show for more of my reactions and opinions about the show!

Some highlights:

  • Best Motion Picture Drama: Moonlight, I’m excited to see this film but I feel like it is being majorly swept under the rug.
  • Best Motion Picture Comedy or Musical: La La Land, the film swept the Globes with a record-breaking 7 wins.
  • Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama: Isabelle Hupert for Elle, I was not expecting this!
  • Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama: Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea
  • Best Actor in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical: Ryan Gosling for La La Land, yup I had a feeling it would go to either of the Ryans (the other being Ryan Reynolds for Deadpool).
  • Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical: Emma Stone for La La Land, yup predicted that.
  • Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture: Aaron Taylor-Johnson for Nocturnal Animals, I love him so I was really happy with his win! Though I think Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) might have been robbed.
  • Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture: Viola Davis for Fences, one of the best wins of the night and her speech was great.
  • Best TV Series DramaThe Crown, happy to say I predicted it!
  • Best TV Series ComedyAtlanta, did not see this one coming but I am so happy it won. It’s a great show!
  • Best Actor in a TV Series Drama: Billy Bob Thornton for Goliath, yup predicted it.
  • Best Actress in a TV Series Drama: Claire Foy for The Crown, yup predicted this one too!
  • Best Actor in a TV Series Comedy: Donald Glover for Atlanta, another one of my favorite wins of the night! Love him!
  • Best Actress in a TV Series Comedy: Tracee Ellis Ross for Black-ish, she made history as the first black woman to win in this category since Debbie Allen in 1983!
  • Best Actor, Limited Series or Motion Picture for TV: Tom Hiddleston for The Night Manager, his speech was probably one of the low moments of night for me. It’s nice to talk about humanitarian work but not when it’s all about your show in the end.
  • Best Actress, Limited Series or Motion Picture for TV: Sarah Paulson for The People v. OJ, yup predicted her!

Typing all this out is a lot of work so check out the full list of winners here.

Now onto my other favorite part of awards season: THE RED CARPET!

Joining us again this year with her red carpet picks is Amanda A!

Amy’s Choices

BEST

Lily Collins in Zuhair Murad

My favorite look of the night. I dream about this dress, I am obsessed with this dress. It is absolutely gorgeous!

Reese Witherspoon in Atelier Versace

 Love the light yellow color and elegant fit

Viola Davis in Michael Kors

YELLOWWWW, it’s bright and it’s a risk but Viola pulls it off exceptionally

Brie Larson in Rodarte

Classic and gorgeous Brie

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Emma Stone in Valentino Haute Couture

I thought the color was kind of drab on this one actually. The stars make up for it though.

Mandy Moore in Naeem Khan

Liked the cape and cut

THE WORST

Jessica Chastain in Prada

Was not a fan of the color, cut, or design at all

Zoe Saldana in Gucci Premiere

Get those ruffles out of here! Zoe Saldana’s looks are often hit or miss with me.

Nicole Kidman in Alexander McQueen

Those sleeves though..I’m not sure if the dress would be much better without them though.

Felicity Jones in Gucci

Sorry Amanda A, I know you like this dress but it just didn’t cut it for me. I like the black details the more I look at it, but the dress as a whole disappointed me.

Amanda’s Choices

Surprising number of great dresses on the carpet last night! It was extremely hard to narrow them down this time. Loved to see some of these ladies taking risks with their fashion choices that paid off. 

BEST

Viola Davis in Michael Kors

Tell me who else pulls off highlighter yellow like that? 

Felicity Jones in Gucci

This dress is getting a lot of undeserved hate, but I love the different colors and the detail. 
Emma Stone in Valentino Haute Couture
Such a pretty color on her and I love the stars! 
Issa Rae in Christian Siriano
She looked like a goddess! 
Lily Collins in Zuhair Murad
A perfect princess dress
HONORABLE MENTIONS
Brie Larson in Rodarte
A classic and elegant look
Ruth Negga in Louis Vuitton
So unique and she pulled it off.
Evan Rachel Wood in custom Altuzarra
The fit of this suit is amazing.
WORST

Jessica Biel in Elie Saab Haute Couture

A bit too low cut and she doesn’t have much to show for it.

Sarah Jessica Parker in Vera Wang

Was she trying to pay homage to Princess Leia? Idk

Jessica Chastain in Prada

Looked kinda like a bedspread. Not feeling the color, cut, or details 

Sofia Vergara in Zuhair Murad

Eh a bit much 

That’s the end of our Golden Globes coverage! Special thanks to Amanda A for her red carpet picks and to Asha A for watching the show with me again! We’ll be back for the SAG awards Saturday, January 29th.

images from: http://www.usmagazine.com/stylish/pictures/golden-globes-2017-red-carpet-fashion-what-the-stars-wore-w459648

http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/08/entertainment/gallery/golden-globes-red-carpet-2017/

Passengers

Two strangers alone on a spaceship. Make that Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence alone on a space ship. Sounds intriguing right? I mean I would want to see that movie. Passengers has all the ingredients for a solid movie. An interesting premise, cool sets and effects, two of the hottest actors in Hollywood. All it really needed was a well crafted story. What a story it lacks though.

On a spacecraft transporting thousands of people to a distant colony planet, two passengers (Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence) wake up from induced hibernation 90 years too early.

Okay just read that premise. Again does it not sound interesting? That is the movie the trailers were advertising. That is the movie that I went in thinking I would see. Sadly it is not. Here is my main issue with Passengers and what I gather has been many people’s: Passengers is misleading. It really is. However I am going to refrain from giving anything away. The film was marketed in a way that was not fair to its actual material and to the people paying money to see it, and I personally found that frustrating. It also makes it very hard to overlook the true premise, which is a little more difficult to accept.

Not only was the film misleading, but the story itself was pretty lackluster once you get past the revelations not given away in the promos. The film felt sort of like Titanic, Gravity, and a bit of The Martian all rolled up into one. The action was severely anticlimactic and the character development poor. Good chunks of the movie were solely devoted to showing off how hot the main actors are. It only goes to show my theory that if one of the two characters was not as attractive, then none of the events in the film would have happened. It all felt vain at times and I found myself with many questions at the end.

All this is not to say there are no positive aspects of Passengers because there are! Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence’s performances were great, as was their chemistry. They were not given the best material to work with though. Michael Sheen was actually a bright standout in the film as the robot bartender Arthur. His character was charming and his performance was simply refreshing. The costumes and sets had a nice aesthetic to them and while more could have been done with the visual effects, I found them overall satisfying.

To put it simply, Passengers made me frustrated. Not only was I upset with how the story developed but I also felt that there was so much missed opportunity with the film. Again all the key ingredients were there. It just needed a better story. That being said, I enjoyed Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence in the film. While I might not recommend seeing Passengers in theaters, I feel like some may still enjoy watching the film.

ALL IN ALL: Even with great chemistry from its two leads, Passengers still comes up short with a misleading and lackluster story.

Also, introducing our new ticket stub rating system (thanks Aimee J)!

PASSENGERS 2.5/5 Ticket Stubs

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

I love getting into the swing of blogging again! I just saw the new spin-off/prequel film in the Harry Potter film series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Now I am a big Harry Potter fan. I read all the books and I have seen all of the movies multiple times. Harry Potter has been a huge part of my childhood and for countless other people too. So I can definitely understand any weariness Harry Potter fans may have about this new film series. Let me tell you this though and forgive my pun, Fantastic Beasts is pretty fantastic!

In the year 1926, seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book at Hogwarts, writer Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arrives in New York City with a suitcase that contains dozens of magical creatures. Chaos ensues when some of the creatures escape, causing trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj (muggle or non-magic) worlds.

I enjoyed Fantastic Beasts, I really did. It is a genuinely fun movie to see. Harry Potter fans need not worry as well. Let’s make this clear, Fantastic Beasts is no Harry Potter, but that is the point. It is not trying to. In fact the film needs to be different, which it is. No one is really expecting Fantastic Beasts to be the same, which in my opinion is what makes the film more enjoyable and fun. You see, Fantastic Beasts is based on a book of the same name by J.K. Rowling but that book really did not have much of a story apart from the descriptions of the many magical creatures found in the wizarding world. J.K. Rowling herself wrote the screenplay for the film so I found it really unique to be going into this film blind. The audience really does not have much prior source material to go off on, unlike the Harry Potter films.

Eddie Redmayne was great in Fantastic Beasts as Newt Scamander. He is honestly adorable and I could not think of a better actor to fill the role. I personally was not a huge fan of Katherine Waterson’s character Porpentina Goldstein as I found her character to not be very likeable at all especially when compared to the other supporting characters played by Dan Fogler and Alison Sudol. They both actually stole the show for me, especially Fogler. He provided some great comic relief and his character was my favorite by far.

I have to admit seeing the WB logo with the Harry Potter theme playing at the start of the movie got me. It was so nice actually to be back in this familiar world, to recognize the spells and learn more about characters that were previously left untouched. With great effects and an entertaining story, Fantastic Beasts is a film anyone can enjoy, even those who are not so familiar with the Harry Potter wold. The film was actually a bit darker at times than I would have expected, but it still goes to show the pure thrill of this magical world that has been brought back to the big screen.

ALL IN ALL: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an enjoyable film for all that will please Harry Potter fans and delight those not so familiar to the wizarding world.

Director: David Yates

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol

Run time: 133 minutes, PG-13

Year: 2016

image from: http://www.joblo.com/timthumb.php?src=/posters/images/full/fantastic_beasts_and_where_to_find_them_ver4_xxlg.jpg&h=600&q=100

 

Arrival

After a long slump (truly sorry my last review was in June), I have finally seen a film that has motivated me to write again: Arrival. I really enjoyed this film. In fact, I loved it. It exceeded my expectations and left me speechless. I can easily name it as my favorite movie this year (so far). However it may not be for everyone.

After 12 mysterious spacecrafts touch down in different locations across the globe, the military enlists the aid of linguist professor Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) to try to translate the alien communications before a global war breaks out.

Arrival was not the movie I expected. From first glance it may seem like a typical alien invasion type film but do not be fooled. I prefer to describe Arrival as a film that simply has aliens in it. Truth be told, while the alien aspect of the film does play a very large and central role to the plot, the film is revealed to be much larger and introspective. This reason alone is why I do not feel the movie may meet everyone’s expectations. Certainly some sci-fi fans who go in solely expecting an alien invasion movie will be somewhat disappointed. Arrival is not a simple popcorn flick. It is an intelligent film that makes one think, so much that even I cannot stop going over the film in my head.

Arrival is full of emotion. Right from the beginning, it grabs your heart and your mind and does not let go until the very end, where truth be told I found myself in tears. It is simply a beautiful film. With strong performances from Amy Adams and a gorgeous score by Jóhann Jóhannsson (whose previous work includes films such as The Theory of Everything), the film takes the viewer away into a parallel world. The story line of the film is also so smart and intricately constructed. Both beautiful and heartbreaking, the plot of Arrival forgoes conventional storytelling and constantly reels in one’s concentration. Seriously the film made me gasp.

I wholeheartedly recommend this film and I also suggest going in as blind as possible. Arrival may not be what it is pictured as, but nevertheless, it is a powerful and moving film that grows into so much more. The overarching themes and decisions the plot presents resonate with the viewer even after the credits roll. Arrival definitely is a sci-fi film, but it is more so a film about life-about endings and beginnings. Arrival is a well done film and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

ALL IN ALL: While not the typical alien movie, Arrival unveils itself as a beautiful and poignant film with themes of life that resonate deep.

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

Year: 2016

 

 

The Conjuring 2

I love scary movies. I really do. I will admit that I only started watching them a while ago after trying to seem cool to my friends, but I have grown a deep love for the horror genre. The Conjuring series is no exception. I love the first Conjuring film. It is easily my favorite scary movie. Director James Wan, who has also directed classics like Saw, Insidious, and surprisingly Furious 7, is a master of suspense and thrills. The film does not rely on blood and gore but rather well-timed scares and growing suspense that provides a throwback to classic, old school horror films. Back at it again, The Conjuring 2 is no exception.

Directed by James Wan and based on a true story, The Conjuring 2 (2016) has Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return as paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens now travel to London, England in order to help a single mother and her four kids who are being plagued by a malicious spirit.

I want to refrain from comparing The Conjuring 2 too much to the first film, but I can say for a fact that I enjoyed the first film more and found the sequel to be less scary. Do not get me wrong, The Conjuring 2 is a scary film. There were moments that genuinely made me jump. The suspense and thrills were strong. However, it lacked that fresh feel the first film possessed, perhaps due to familiarity.

The film felt somewhat messy, in its plot and visuals. There were scares but almost too many. Let me explain this. The first film drew out the suspense and packed in scares that were not as frequent but packed in a very strong punch. However for example in The Conjuring 2, the first few scenes that featured the demonic entity (I do not want to describe it any more so as not to spoil much), were absolutely horrifying. The film then made the mistake of showing the entity way too often to the point where it was no longer scary by the end of the film. The scares felt repeated and unnecessary at times.

The Conjuring 2 also felt a bit long. Clocking in at 2 hours and 14 minutes, the film is a pretty average length but the pacing made it feel otherwise. A majority of the film was The Warrens along with other investigators trying to determine if the happenings were actually supernatural or not. Though this debate was actually a large part of the real life Enfield Case upon which the film is based upon, less of the film could have been devoted to that aspect. That being said, I found the first Conjuring to be a bit more believable than the second one. Also for those who have already seen the film, those Crooked Man visuals really took away from the tone and reality of it all. Shannon Kook who played Drew Thomas, the Warren’s assistant, in the first film had a small role in the second but really should have had more screen time in my opinion.

Nevertheless, The Conjuring 2 is a solid sequel. Again, James Wan is a master of horror so of course there are some great moments. I especially love his use of the settings and dark corners, making the audience really train their eyes and question, “Is there really something there?”. Though I was a bit thrown off by it, the film also focused many times on Ed and Lorraine’s relationship which was a nice breather from the suspense at times. Overall The Conjuring 2 is a well done addition to the Conjuring franchise and the horror movie library.

ALL IN ALL: Though not as strong and terrifying a film as its predecessor, The Conjuring 2 is a solid sequel with some worthy scares and surprisingly warm themes.

poster from: http://diymag.com/media/img/Film/C/The-Conjuring-2/_1500xAUTO_crop_center-center_75/the-conjuring-2-poster.jpg

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

Out of all the movies coming out in 2016, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 was probably one of the ones I was looking forward to the most. I know, surprising right? Thing is, the first My Big Fat is actually one of my all time favorite movies. I  have seen it so many times with my sisters to the point where we own our own copy and can quote lines directly from it. It’s just one of those films that you can relate to so much and it will always be a classic for me. As many of you may know, I am not a huge fan of sequels at all. At all. So of course I was skeptical of a sequel to a movie that came out fourteen years ago. Sure my skepticism had good reason, but it was honestly so much fun to be reunited with the Portokalos family again!

With her daughter about to graduate and head off to college, Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) is struggling to let go while also dealing with marital problems with her husband (John Corbett) and family problems when her parents realize they were never officially married. Thus, the whole Portokalos family comes together again for an even bigger and fatter Greek wedding.

Let me just start off with this: if you are a fan of the first My Big Fat, you will like this film. If you are not or you have not seen the first one: then don’t watch it (I don’t know why you would if you haven’t even seen the first one anyways). It is as simple as that. Fans of the first will enjoy the movie because it definitely makes you feel nostalgic. There are tons of references to the first film and it so awesome to see all those beloved characters back again. When I say all of them, I mean all of them too! Even the most minor characters are back and it really feels like a huge reunion.

When I first saw the trailer, I was not a huge fan of the whole fed-up teenage daughter subplot, but it actually turned out to be fine. The actress who plays the daughter, Elena Kampouris, even favorited my tweet about the movie so shout out to her! Also the characters really do look the same, have they even aged? John Corbett is a stud as always, and of course my favorite character Aunt Voula steals the show every scene.

That’s another thing, the film really tries to give more screen time to many of the supporting characters and develop their story lines more. While for me that’s fine since I love them all, I can see why that might have been a criticism of the film. Sometimes it felt like too much was going on at once. The writing was not as strong for me either when compared to the first film. A few times there were just awkward moments that fell short and made me cringe.

Nevertheless I liked My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2! It was fun to watch and so great to see all the characters back again. The central message is still there too: family is always first and will always be there for you.

ALL IN ALL: Fans of the first film will enjoy My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, full of sentiments, nostalgia, and of course the fun and beloved Portokalos family.

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