Baby Driver

I don’t know what it is about the summer that makes me fall so behind on blogging. I saw the film Baby Driver this past July but only now am I getting around to my review. I guess the imminent end of the summer movie season makes me buckle down and get to work. It’s not that I didn’t want to review Baby Driver. I did! It was one of my most anticipated movies of this summer. I think I simply had a hard time thinking of what to even say because I loved the film and wanted to adequately express that into words. Let me just try to right here, Baby Driver is a unforgettable ride.

In Baby Driver, Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a young, music-loving getaway driver being forced to work off his debt to a crime boss (Kevin Spacey). Hopeful for a crime-free life with his new girlfriend (Lily James), Baby is once again coerced into a new heist with even higher stakes.

Baby Driver is a fun movie. That’s the first thing I can say. Directed by Edgar Wright, who also directed the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Baby Driver is a pure 1 hour and 52 minutes of non-stop action. It is fast paced with its action and dialogue, leaving viewers as exhilarated as a passenger in Baby’s car. It is truly unlike others in its genre. Baby Driver has a sort of aesthetic that can be attributed to Wright’s artistic vision for the film. It’s gritty yet stylish, violent yet smooth. It is ultimately cool.

The cast is great as well. Ansel Elgort has landed a dream role as Baby and plays it well with a charm that needs little dialogue. Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm are delightfully unhinged. Kevin Spacey, in my opinion, has played the same role one too many times so I was not particularly impressed but he served it well. The inclusion of deaf actor CJ Jones was also nice as I loved his character and performance. One of my few criticisms of the film would probably be how the female characters were portrayed. They simply served as incentive supporting characters to the men. I also wished Baby’s backstory was developed a little more, but the film’s fast pace leaves limited time to dwell so I understand the intention.

The music was probably another huge highlight of the film. Baby Driver incorporates a rich, eclectic soundtrack filled with music from various decades. Baby’s love for music allows Wright to create a fantastic connection between film and music, with action on-screen perfectly coinciding to the beat. The thrilling opening scene was just one of the many standout examples of this. One small random detail that I also appreciated was the film’s setting in Atlanta. It was refreshing to not have a movie take place in New York for once.

I’ve been recommending Baby Driver to many people because I think of it as such an enjoyable movie. It’s fun, fast, and thrilling with comedic yet action-packed scenes. It’s few shortcomings are made up for by its crisp aesthetic and movement. It is one that I look forward to watching again very soon.

ALL IN ALL: Baby Driver is a thrilling ride with a killer soundtrack.

Baby Driver: 4 1/2 out of 5 ticket stubs

Director: Edgar Wright

Cast: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Eiza González, Kevin Spacey, CJ Jones

Run Time: 1 hr 52 min, rated R

Year: 2017

 

 

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Wonder Woman

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

If I’m going to be truthful, I have to admit: I am a bit tired of superhero movies. Not to say I don’t enjoy all of them, sometimes watching a superhero movie brings everyone together for a fun time. My problem is that there is simply too much nowadays. More and more heroes are being picked from the comics to have their own films and franchises with multiple contract deals and crossovers. After a while it is hard to keep track of and follow. The stories tend to feel too similar and follow the same formula. None of these films have stuck with me, until now. Not until the story of Diana Prince finally graced the silver screen. Wonder Woman is the superhero movie we needed.

Directed by Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman tells the story of Diana (played by Gal Gadot), princess of the Amazons, who has been trained since childhood to be a great warrior. Her sheltered life on the island of Themyscira abruptly ends when a pilot (played by Chris Pine) crashes on the shore and tells of a “war to end all wars” going on in the outside world. Diana must leave her home and discover her true powers in order to end the war and save all people.

Right from the start it is clear that this is not your average superhero movie. Right down to even the posters, which show Wonder Woman in strong, dominant poses, the film portrays the character as nothing else but a fighter, a hero. It’s not about the fact that she is a woman, though it is both important and sad that this is the first female-led superhero film, the first to be directed by a woman at that. The film focuses instead on Diana’s journey to becoming the famed Wonder Woman. In the end, it is Diana discovering her true powers and destiny that help her become who she is and help her overcome the struggles she faces while fighting both her small and big enemies. How inspiring it is, to see such a strong woman single handedly run through no mans land from the trenches of war, fired at constantly with bullets as she deflects them all and fights back. The result is one of the most breathtaking sequences in modern-day action film.

What sets Wonder Woman apart from the other DC comic films, that have not exactly been met with the same universal praise and success? First I believe having a female director makes a world of a difference, someone who can successfully guide a film to focus on a woman’s strength and ability. Patty Jenkins direction is fantastic. Second comes down to basic storytelling. Wonder Woman’s story execution is flawless. The film explores Diana’s past, with rich characters that shape her character, while also introducing new ones to transition her into the next phases of her battle. The steady but quick pacing allows for just the right amount of exposition and action to create a balance between the two that other DC and superhero films have previously lacked. Nonetheless the story still manages to provide humor, heart, and surprises all while incorporating stunning action sequences. Seriously the action sequences are amazing.

Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman. There is no one else more perfect for the role. She is able to seamlessly blend both her lovable innocence and naivety as someone new to the human world with her warrior strength and intelligence. She views the world with a childlike curiosity and a heart that believes in the inner goodness of people. Gal’s Diana is a symbol of love, truth, and justice and it is a pleasure to watch it all unfold on-screen. Chris Pine is great in the film too, as the American pilot who acts as Diana’s link to the outside world as well as her love interest. Pine acted as the perfect supporting character to Diana with strong chemistry between the two. They played off each other perfectly.

I loved seeing Diana’s childhood and training on the island with the Amazons as well as her action packed war scenes, but perhaps what I appreciated most was Diana’s battle within herself. Her quest for justice was only made stronger when she realized the true power she held inside. Wonder Woman is the perfect superhero movie. The story, performances, direction, and action all made for an enjoyable and inspiring film that can be appreciated by all audiences. Wonder Woman is the superhero we have been waiting for and I cannot wait to see what is in store for her. I recommend everyone to go see the film!

ALL IN ALL: Wonder Woman packs a punch with fantastic action, humor, and heart.

Wonder Woman 5 out of 5 ticket stubs

Director: Patty Jenkins

Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Elena Anaya, Connie Nielsen, Danny Huston

Run Time: 2 hrs 21 min, PG-13

Year: 2017

image from: http://www.joblo.com/movie-posters/2017/wonder-woman#image-34095

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

It’s summertime so of course it is the season for action-packed fun in the sun movies! Now the most recent installment in the Guardians of the Galaxy series came out last month in May but I feel it is the perfect kind of movie on a summer day. It’s funny and fresh and a whole lot of fun, which is why I am giving it my Ticket Stub Love stamp of approval.

Directed by James Gunn, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has the Guardians back as they continue to struggle to work together as a family while traveling throughout the cosmos. The mystery of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt)’s true parentage comes into play and sets things in motion for new alliances, betrayals, and of course mix tapes.

I think one of the great things about Guardians is that it’s not like other Marvel movies. It’s funnier and more clever, with stories that keep you entertained and casts you grow to love more than the overdone Avengers. That’s what made the first Guardians so great: the fact that it was different. Yes it has a superhero team, but the vibe is completely different. It’s light and colorful with retro tones and humor that can’t be matched. Did I think the second installment lived up to the first? Maybe not. Maybe the story felt a bit like it had been done before and the soundtrack not quite as memorable but it’s still a great film.

The Guardians ensemble is such a strong element of the films. Christ Pratt as Peter Quill, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Vin Diesel as Groot. Two words: baby groot! Definitely the highlight of the film for me personally. He’s adorable! The film had a solid story but perhaps what I appreciated most was the bigger role for the character Yondu, in a fantastic performance by Michael Rooker. Playing a new character, Kurt Russel brought great charisma and flow. Pom Klementieff was excellent as Mantis and I am excited to see what else is in store for her character in future installments.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is such a fun movie and the laughs never stop. It proves the series once again to be a sure audience pleaser with stunning visuals, lovable characters, and a story that manages to be full of action, humor, and heart all at once. While maybe not as strong as its predecessor, Vol. 2 is one that people of all ages can enjoy and one that I fully recommend.

ALL IN ALL: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is funny, fresh, and fun with its endearing and hilarious ensemble back again with plenty of action and even more heart.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 4.5 /5 Ticket Stubs 

Director: James Gunn

Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Baustista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Kurt Russel, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff

Run Time: 2 hrs 16 min, rated PG-13

Year: 2017

Beauty and the Beast

The more I think about it, the more I realize just how much I love the original Beauty and the Beast. The 1991 classic animated film has my favorite Disney princess Belle, but only recently have I begun to regard it as possibly my favorite Disney film. Which is why when they first announced the live action remake almost two maybe three years ago, I was absolutely thrilled. I marked March 2017 in my calendar and waited years for this film which has now finally arrived. So much waiting may have heightened my expectations just a bit as I began to feel a bit apprehensive about seeing the film and feeling underwhelmed. I have to say though, I had a magical and fun time watching Beauty and the Beast and I am sure audience everywhere will too.

Adapted from the 1991 animated film, Beauty and the Beast tells the story of intelligent and beautiful Belle (Emma Watson) who is taken prisoner in the enchanted castle of a fearsome Beast (Dan Stevens). Though at first at odds, Belle learns to look beyond the Beast’s monstrous exterior and into the kind heart and soul of the prince inside.

Beauty and the Beast was able to achieve a delicate balance between old and new. While many of the scenes and even lines are directly from the animated film, Beauty and the Beast also incorporated new elements into the story. I personally did not have a problem with the heavy reliance from the source material as I feel the live action remake was made to be faithful to the story and paid excellent homage to the original film. While a bit jarring at times, the new additions to the story brought nice depth to the characters in a novel yet familiar way.

The casting is what this film got right from the very beginning and as a result the performances were all fantastic. Emma Watson was the perfect Belle! I cannot imagine anyone else in the role as she harnessed both the inner beauty and the strength needed to play her character. My only disappointment is that I feel Watson could have brought more emotion to the table during some scenes, especially during the magical “Be Our Guest” number. This girl was just casually smiling like it was another Tuesday! Nevertheless she was great and I found her singing to be refreshing as well. Dan Stevens surprised me as the beast! He remarkably was able to let his character’s tormented yet loving emotions shine through all the CGI. His passion for Belle was absolutely palpable and electric during the Beast’s new and original ballad “Evermore”, a highlight of the film for me personally.

The supporting cast was flawless as well. Luke Evans simply was Gaston! I loved his confident performance as well his on-screen partnership with Josh Gad’s LeFou. While it sometimes felt like I was just watching Josh Gad, well be Josh Gad, he nevertheless brought great humor and surprising heart to his role. I cannot praise the enchanted castle objects enough as well! Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, Sir Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts, all wonderful performances that stuck true to their characters.

One of my main concerns for the film before I watched it was the CGI aspect. I had no idea how to visualize all the enchanted characters in a live-action form and was worried the film would come off as coated or even fake. However, I found the CGI to be well done with the Beast and the castle’s many enchanted objects. The sets and visuals in the film were gorgeous! There were times when I felt the film to have an almost awkward feel but I honestly believe it was just trying to get its footing. It is no easy task to bring such a beloved story to the big screen in such a grand way.

Fans of the original animated film may not embrace the new look to the film as well as the additions to the story, but I urge them to keep in mind that it is a remake. It stays faithful but also offers something new to audiences. I went in simply wanting to have a good time and I did! Many times I found myself smiling from ear to ear. From Belle singing on the French country hillside, to the fabulous “Be Our Guest” number, to Belle and the Beast’s first dance, the film reminded me of why I loved the original Beauty and the Beast so much. Children and adults alike are sure to enjoy the film with its blend of romance, adventure, magic, and heart. I bid you to give into the charms of Beauty and the Beast and of course, be our guest!

ALL IN ALL: While staying true to the story and offering new elements and depth, Beauty and the Beast is an enjoyable and magical film with great performances and visuals sure to delight audiences.

Beauty and the Beast 5/5 Ticket Stubs

EDIT: After enjoying this film so much, I decided to go back and watch it again in theaters, this time in IMAX (which is totally worth it by the way). I realized once again that I simply love this movie so much that in an unprecedented move on Ticket Stub Love, I am changing my rating from 4.5 ticket stubs to 5! It’s hard to explain my reasoning, but essentially there was nothing I did not like in this film. I believe the emotions and the experience the film gave me deems it worthy of a full rating!

Director: Bill Condon

Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Kevin Kline

Run Time: 2hr 10 min, rated PG

Year: 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

ticketstublove_ratings_2-5stubs

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

 

The Martian

I recently got the opportunity to watch The Martian for free so of course I jumped on that chance not only because it was free (holla!) but also because it is an acclaimed movie up for many awards (7 Oscar noms!). I am happy to report that I ended up really enjoying The Martian! It is an all around fun movie to watch!

In the year 2035, astronaut Mark Whatney (Matt Damon) is presumed to be dead and left behind on Mars after an extreme dust storm forces his crew to leave him behind. Alone on a hostile planet with little supplies, Whatney must use his ingenuity and wit to survive and signal to those on Earth that he is still alive.

Like I said before, I believe The Martian to be a very enjoyable movie to watch. There’s action, adventure, drama, comedy, and space! What’s not to love? Going back to the comedy part, The Martian was actually a really funny movie, in huge part to Matt Damon. He did a great job in the film and his character was so likable and hilarious. The comedic moments helped lighten the film at times and added to the entertainment. However while the film can be funny at times, I would not categorize it as a comedy (*cough cough* Golden Globes *cough cough*).

The ensemble cast was awesome too with stars like Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Donald Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor; I mean the list goes on! The film really has you thinking about space and if a lot of the elements in the movie would really be possible (anyone know?). There were parts in The Martian that had me laughing out loud and others that had me gripping the edge of my seat. It is a great film for fans of many different genres and I am certain people will have as fun a time watching it as I did!

ALL IN ALL: The Martian boats an ensemble cast lead by an excellent performance by Matt Damon and is an all around enjoyable film to watch.

Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña,Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, and Chiwetel Ejiofor

Year: 2015

poster from: http://cdn.traileraddict.com/content/20th-century-fox/martian2015.jpg

 

The Revenant

Oh man, how I have been looking forward to this film or what! So glad I finally got to see The Revenant recently because right now it is my top awards season contender. It was fantastic and deserves every single Oscar nomination it received (12 by the way!).

After being mauled by a bear and left for dead by his own hunting team, Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), a frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820’s, is forced to fight for survival and find redemption.

A few words to describe The Revenant: raw, intense, amazing, epic, beautiful…the list goes on! Coming off his work on the Oscar winner Birdman, director Alejandro González Iñárritu deserves praise for his excellent direction in the film. The grueling shoot and the work put into this film shows in every single scene. Probably my favorite aspect of the film was the gorgeous cinematography by the ingenious Emmanuel Lubezki (who also won awards for his work on films such as Gravity and Birdman). Chivo outdoes himself in The Revenant, with stunning camera work and the use of only natural lighting throughout the whole film. The result is breathtaking with shots that are as raw as they are delicate.

Let’s be real though. The Revenant is Leonardo DiCaprio. Leonardo DiCaprio is The Revenant. Never before have I seen a performance like that, one that just requires so much commitment from the actor. Needless to say he was absolutely incredible and deserves every single accolade out there. The things he had to do in this movie! It is insane! His character is mostly silent throughout but the power of his performance is loud. Tom Hardy also did a great job in the film so I am glad he finally got the recognition he deserved through his nomination.

A revenant is defined as one who has returned, as if from the dead. Glass’s return is one that truly expresses the power of the human spirit. The backbone of the film is a gripping fight for survival and revenge with the only guidance of sheer will and a love for family. The Revenant is bleak but it is beautiful. The amazing feats of cinema and acting achieved in the film should be appreciated along with the epic true tale of Hugh Glass.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Confession time: I actually saw this movie over Thanksgiving weekend but I have just been so busy lately that only now am I finding time to write my review. Though its been a while since I have seen it and the movie probably is not on many of your minds anymore, I nevertheless have to stay true to my commitment to review every movie I see in theaters. I also think The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 deserves a review as it is the last film of my one of my favorite book/movie series.

Directed by Francis Lawrence, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 serves as the final installment of the Hunger Games film series. In Mockingjay- Part 2, the story continues as leader of the rebellion Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) travels with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Gale (Liam Hemsworth), and others to the Capitol in order to win the war against President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and save what holds dear to her.

Let me start off with a small complaint about the splitting of the last book into two movies. While I get why they did it and it is also nice to not have to rush through anything or have too much of the story omitted, I still do not think it was completely necessary especially since I feel like the split affected the audience attendance and reaction. I honestly forgot what happened in Mockingjay going in to the theater simply because it had been so long since I saw the last movie or read the book. My stance is that if they were able to fit all of Catching Fire into one movie, then Mockingjay is easily doable but no worries, it really is not that huge of deal.

I thought overall that Mockingjay – Part 2 was a very well done film and I enjoyed it. It was not my favorite of the series (for me it is still Catching Fire), but Mockingjay – Part 2 provided a satisfying ending. One of the reasons I disliked Mockingjay Part- 1 was that it felt like rising action most of the time. The great thing about Mockingjay Part- 2 though is that it starts right off into the storyline and action (a reason why Part 1 is necessary to watch). The length of the film felt like nothing as the pacing was fast and well-managed.

The great supporting cast though was not featured much at all which was very disappointing. I would have loved more screen time for characters like Johanna, Beetee, Effie, etc. Meanwhile the main cast gave some great performances, in particular Josh Hutcherson. He was fantastic and his performance is severely underrated! In the books and in the past films as well, the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale was more emphasized, but not in Mockingjay Part- 2, which I appreciated. The action and the war against the Capitol was the main focus of the movie and rightfully so.

I would say that if you are a fan of the Hunger Games series, watch Mockingjay – Part 2 because you will not be disappointed. It is an enjoyable film and very well done, a conclusion the series deserves.

ALL IN ALL: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is a satisfying final installment of the Hunger Games series with the right focus and direction needed to conclude a great film series.

Spectre

Yes! I have been waiting to review this movie for such a long time! For those who do not know, I am a bit of James Bond fan so the anticipation leading up to the release of Spectre was unbearable for me.  I made the mistake of looking at some early reviews and the responses seemed very mixed. Some people really liked it and others flat-out hated it..which of course had me worried. So I did my best to go into the theater with an open mind and you know what? It worked! I enjoyed Spectre, but there are some flaws which I understand from those negative reviews. I just have a lot of thoughts about this movie overall so let’s begin.

The 24th James Bond film and the 4th of Daniel Craig’s Bond, Spectre has Bond on the trail to uncover a sinister organization after a mysterious message surfaces from his past. While M fights to keep the 007 program alive, Bond begins to learn the shocking truth behind SPECTRE.

I am going to start this review in chronological order of the film. First, the opening sequence was fantastic in my opinion. Probably one of the strongest points of the film as it started it all off with a bang. Great action sequence and stunt work, so kudos there. After the opening sequence in a Bond film always comes the title sequence (the animated into where they play the new Bond song for the film). When I first heard the Sam Smith song, “Writing’s On the Wall” in the intro, I did not like the song at all. It did not really fit the film, especially coming after that action sequence. Also, the animation intro for Spectre was not the best, way too many tentacles and octopus motifs for my liking. However when I went home and listened to the song again, I actually ended up really liking it. The Sam Smith song is great on its own, but just does not fit into the film that much and almost slows it down as a result. That is why I personally like Adele’s “Skyfall” better because it perfectly captured the essence of what Skyfall was all about.

The plot of the film was fine for me. Again when I compare the two, I think Skyfall had a better and more developed plot with more character and emotion given to Bond. However, Spectre seemed very confident and solid in following the classic 007 formula. Some parts felt very undeveloped though, especially the SPECTRE story line, which should have been the main focus of the film. The film could have gone more into the organization and villain Ernst Stavro Blofield (Christoph Waltz) instead of quickly presenting the two and their role in Bond’s story. Speaking of Waltz, his performance was not too strong in the film for me, mainly because I feel like I always see him in that same villain role.

Now for the Bond girls. Naomi Harris’s Eve Moneypenny was reduced to such a smaller role in Spectre which disappointed me since she is such a great character! Monica Bellucci, who is the oldest Bond girl in history and also totally gorgeous, was in the movie for like ten minutes. No joke. Bigger roles for these wonderful ladies please! In the end Madeleine Swann, played by Léa Seydoux, turned out to be the most pivotal female in the film. Truth be told, I was not a fan of Swann at all. The way her and Bond’s relationship progressed in the film frustrated me because it took an unnecessary turn. In terms of Bond girl ranking, Swann was perfectly forgettable in my opinion so I was surprised to see how big a character she became, especially in Bond’s life.

Daniel Craig did an excellent job as always. I was unsure of how I felt for him returning to do another Bond film since Skyfall seemed like such a strong and perfect film to end his Bond career. However, Spectre also gave a satisfying ending and provided an overarching story line that actually tied up Craig’s films. I think if Daniel Craig wants to step away from James Bond, since it obviously seems like he does, Spectre is the ideal film to end at.

This review is getting long, but probably not as long as the film itself, which came to 148 minutes in the end. Do not worry though, the running time actually did not feel too long while watching Spectre. The pacing of the film is excellent, with just the right amounts of action sequences and story to keep it going smoothly. I am not saying Spectre is the best Bond film or anything (I did like Skyfall better), but I enjoyed it and believe that to be the most important part of a 007 film.

ALL IN ALL: While not as strong as its predecessors in its story and essence, Spectre is still an enjoyable and classic James Bond film.

image from: http://www.joblo.com/timthumb.php?src=/posters/images/full/spectre-poster.jpg&w=654&zc=1&q=90