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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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

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

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

 

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

 

 

Ant-Man

Nowadays I feel like there are so many superhero movies coming out that I honestly cannot keep track of them all. They tend to sort of mesh together in my head in categories like Marvel or DC. You see movie studios are smart though. They know people will go to see big superhero blockbusters so that’s why they put more and more into production. I did go to see Ant-Man, and though I was not particularly psyched to see it or anything, I actually really enjoyed it.

In Ant-Man, con-man Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), armed with a super-suit with the ability to shrink in size but increase in strength, must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglass), plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

Ant-Man was a quintessential superhero movie, with action, drama, and comedy all in one. Paul Rudd was great in the film, bringing some needed lightheartedness while still playing the role of a father/hero out to save the world perfectly. Sure Ant-Man might not be the best movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it was fun and enjoyable.

I will say though, the best part of the movie hands-down was Michael Peña as Luis, Scott Lang’s ex-con buddy. He was hilarious and brought the most laughs to the movie! The scenes with his crazy long, off-topic stories were definitely among the most funny and memorable parts of the film. That’s one of the things I really liked about Ant-Man, it was funny and light a lot of the time. The action scenes and visual effects were well done too, especially since you have a guy shrinking down to insect size most of the time. Ant-Man has the ability to draw in a wide audience and please them too.

ALL IN ALL: Ant-Man is probably one of the more humorous Marvel movies and is able to also blend in great action and story into one entertaining film.

pic: http://ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BMjM2NTQ5Mzc2M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTcxMDI2NTE@._V1_SX640_SY720_.jpg

 

 

Django Unchained

Spoiler Alert: Some plot points are discussed, but nothing that gives the story away.

DJANGO!!!!!!!!!!! Finally after months of waiting, I have seen Django Unchained! My older sister Amanda took me to see it, but it was all sold out so we got tickets to the next showing, which was so packed that we had to sit in the 2nd row. Yup, that’s right, I saw all the blood and guts up close. Hey, but let me say something…IT WAS AWESOME!

Django Unchained is a classic spaghetti western written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Set in the Deep South before the Civil War, the film is about Django (Jaime Foxx) a freed slave who sets out with a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from a cruel plantation owner(Leonardo DiCaprio).

Where do I begin to review this movie? All I can really say is that it was great! It lived up to my expectations. Tarantino did a good job with making it a classic western because right when the opening credits came in and the Django theme song played, which has been stuck in my head for days now, I really did feel like I was watching an old cowboy movie. The music was perfect, but when that Rick Ross rap suddenly started playing, I cracked up so hard. The captions, the font of the captions; everything fit in so well with the film.

Christoph Waltz as Dr. Shultz and Jaime Foxx as Django

Some of the slavery parts were hard to watch and were pretty cringe-worthy. I have to say that I honestly had no idea of some of the tortures slaves had to go through. It really was an eye-opener. Also, like practically all Tarantino films, it was packed with violence and gore. Oh and gallons of blood! Especially the final shootout. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything, but it’s chock full of blood and guns. Besides from all the violence, I really loved the storyline. Yeah it’s a western, but at its center is a quintessential love story which is the heart of the movie. The love Django has to rescue his wife from the worst plantation in the South was incredible. In addition, the movie was surprisingly funny! There were so many bits of humor snagged here and there that was perfect for breaking up the serious dialogue.

Jaime Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie

Now let’s talk about the cast. OOO-WEE! They were excellent! Jaime Foxx- He was awesome as the gunslinging Django, and did a better job than I expected. Christoph Waltz- perfection! My favorite character in the movie and was great as Dr. Shultz, the german bounty hunter.  Kerry Washington- She did a good job as Broomhilda, Django’s wife. Her brutal scenes as a slave were painful to watch at times. Samuel L. Jackson- I almost didn’t recognize him at first! He was so into the character and was flawless as Stephen, the cold, head slave of Candyland (DiCaprio’s character’s plantation).  Last but definitely not least, we have the amazing Leonardo DiCaprio- Let’s just say that I think it’s high time that he wins an Oscar, and for this role. How he still managed to be the vicious and cruel Calvin Candie, but still have that charming Southern drawl beats me! He could change his emotion from completely calm to bellowing with rage, as seen especially in the dinner table scene. Crazy good.

Whew, this review was pretty long, but I had so much to talk about! Django Unchained was excellent and I recommend everyone to see it. However, it is not for the squeamish because there’s a lot of blood and violence. Also be warned that there is profanity and they use the n-word like 100 times, but keep in mind that this movie takes place in the time of slavery. If you’re fine with everything just mentioned, GO SEE DJANGO!

ALL IN ALL: Django Unchained is a fantastic and classic western with gun fights , a love story, and an amazing cast all rolled into one!

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