Category: movie reviews

Movie Review: Wolfwalkers

A while ago, I’d heard good things about Wolfwalkers, an animated movie on Apple TV+. I filed that away, since at the time we had plenty of other things to watch. When I got my new iPad, it came with a year’s subscription to Apple TV+. Thus far, I’d only used it to watch the Tom Hanks battleship movie (Greyhound), so I was excited to be able to put the freebie toward another something in the future.

We watched Wolfwalkers as a family a few nights ago, and we really enjoyed it. It’s a story set in Ireland, about a city that’s plagued with an infestation of wolves outside its walls. The people are scared, and they’re doing their best to kill all the wolves, but they’re failing. It turns out the wolves are being led by a Wolf Walker–a woman who’s a wolf when she sleeps and a human when she’s awake. Except she’s disappeared, and her ten year old daughter is running things in her absence.

I won’t give away more than that. The story echoed Brave in many ways, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, it had a few things that really impressed me. First off, it’s a gorgeous movie, with a hand drawn animation flair that draws attention to the sketch quality of the art. The style was fantastic throughout, and I really enjoyed just looking at how beautiful it all was. The music was also a standout. The story itself was good. Though it dipped into predictable waters at times, it also had some solid developments.

Honestly, one of the things I liked most about it was that it wasn’t done by Disney or Pixar. We watched Soul a while ago as well. I really loved the movie, but at the same time, it feels like Pixar has got its formula down and really just keeps spinning off variations of the same. Of course, if you like chocolate ice cream, and someone makes your favorite chocolate ice cream, it seems kind of petty to complain that they keep making it, but what if there’s a flavor out there that you don’t even know you love yet? If all you do is keep eating the same chocolate ice cream, you’ll never find it. And worse yet, too much chocolate ice cream can make that lovely deliciousness get kind of boring. Variety is a good thing. Soul was very much more chocolate ice cream. Wolfwalkers . . . was more like rocky road. In many ways it could have been another Pixar movie. It’s definitely working in the same basic flavor. But it had enough significant differences to make it a new experience.

I feel like there’s so much room in animation, but these days the films seem to be dominated by the Pixar or the Dreamworks approaches. You’ve either got heartwarming movies with a Message, or farting ogres and neurotic squirrels. True, you’ve got princess movies thrown into the mix, but I would love to see more flat out adventure movies, or mysteries, or even dramas. But maybe that’s just me . . .

In any case, if you’re looking for a good family movie, and you’ve got Apple TV+, I heartily recommend this one. 8.5/10.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Netflix Movie Review: The Twelfth Man

Sometimes I just get sick of everything I’ve been watching or that I’ve put on my list to watch. I start itching to see something totally new and fresh to me. Something I haven’t heard of at all before I start watching it. Now, I’m not completely insane, so I usually at least check the IMDB scores before I start a new movie. (If I want something really good, I want that score to be a 7.0 or higher. If I’m feeling more loosey goosey, I might bite on something in the mid to low 6’s. Anything lower than that, and I’m just not going to waste my time without someone’s solid recommendation to persuade me otherwise.)

Last week, I was back in that spot. I wanted to watch something new, and so I started looking through the action offerings on Netflix. I came across The Twelfth Man, the true story of 12 Norwegian saboteurs fighting against the Nazis in Norway after the country had been invaded in WWII. The saboteurs were ambushed. 11 of them died, and one of them escaped. The movie traces his efforts to get out of the country alive. It’s got a 7.4 on IMDB, and it’s Norwegian made. I hit play as soon as I read the total rating.

I was really impressed with the movie overall. I had never heard of the story of Jan Baalsrud before, and so it was incredible to see what he went through, and even more surprising to read up on it afterwards and see how much of what’s depicted actually happened.

I have to put in a disclaimer, however, because the movie is pretty brutal. Let’s just start off by saying that any movie that begins with the hero jumping into sub-zero ocean water and then fleeing into the Norwegian wilderness in mid-winter (with one bare foot!) isn’t going to be all sunshine and strawberries. And the film doesn’t shy away from showing exactly what Baalsrud had to do to stay alive. So if you’ve got a thing about gore, then either watch something else, or be prepared to clench your eyes shut a few times.

But if that doesn’t turn you away and you’re into tense war films, then definitely watch the movie. It was riveting from start to finish. My only critique would be that it came across as almost propaganda at times. The Germans are simply so bloodthirsty that it’s hard not to feel manipulated. I would have suggested pulling back a bit on that side of things, though I suppose for all I know all of that was true to life as well. But other than that, the movie was very strong throughout.

If only all the random movies I chose to watch ended up being so good. 8.5/10. Great stuff.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Movie Review: Scoob!

I almost never watch bad movies. I don’t mean that as a brag or anything. I just mean that I monitor ahead of time the kind of movies I’m going to consume, and then I steer away from anything that looks like it’s just going to waste my time. I almost never make an exception to this.

Except . . .

Saturday night, I wanted to watch something with MC, and I was looking for something that might be a tinge Halloween-y, and there was Scoob! waiting in the HBOMax lineup. I liked Scooby Doo. A new version of it in movie form? What could be so bad about that?

I hit “play” without really thinking about it any more than that.

Let this be a lesson to you all. Friends don’t let friends watch bad movies. In fact, “Scoob” should be a verb that sums up this sentiment. If you let someone watch a movie you know is bad, you’re basically scoobing them, and they’re justified in being upset after the fact.

This movie was horrendous on so many different levels, I struggle to know where to begin. You’d think making a Scooby Doo movie would be pretty straightforward. You’ve got the characters, the plot is usually pretty much the same. All that’s missing is the zany hijinks, and maybe some cool musical numbers here and there to make kick it up a notch.

Scoob! decided to forego all of that. Instead, they tried to make this be the launching point of an entire Hanna Barbera Universe. So you’ve got Captain Caveman, Dynomutt, Blue Falcon, Dick Dastardly, and Muttley. On the one hand, that sounds like kind of a cool concept. I mean, I always liked the laff-a-lympics, seeing all those characters interact. But the execution of it is just . . . bad. Captain Caveman’s there and gone in a few minutes. They tried to make all these characters work at the same time, and they used a bizarre plot (Dick Dastardly’s trying to get into a secret vault of treasure guarded by Cerberus, who naturally is one of Scooby’s ancestors?) It all ends up being a big old mash of everything. I like pizza and ice cream and rootbeer and broccoli, but I’m not crazy enough to put them all in a blender and hit purée and then expect the result to taste good.

And they do strange things to the characters themselves. A small thing would be the fact that they made Velma Latinx. By itself, that wouldn’t be a big deal. Except they didn’t really go all the way with it. They tinged her skin color just enough to make you wonder, and then they had her use a single Spanish word at one point in the film. Fish or cut bait, people. The way they did it, it felt like she was channeling Dora the Explorer now and then, and not in a good way.

But much, much worse is what they did to Scooby. They turned him into a completely talking character with a slight speech impediment. Listen, people. Scooby-doo talks in short phrases at best. He’s not the sort of dog that’s going to have a conversation with you. He’s just not that bright, okay? Every time Scooby started pontificating about something, another piece of my childhood died.

But wait! There’s more! Because it wasn’t enough to do all of that, they also decided to throw in brief prequel sequence all about how Shaggy met Scooby and the rest of the gang. And none of that worked, either.

Which sums up the whole movie. None of it worked. None of it was funny. The plot was lame. The voice acting was bad. The animation was creepy. (They have a running Simon Cowell joke, and his transition into 3D animation is the stuff of nightmares.) The songs were non-existent. This movie was terrible on pretty much every level of the terrible spectrum.

The only saving feature I can think of is that MC liked the film. That was the only thing keeping me from stopping the movie. Don’t fall into the same trap I did. Don’t Scoob yourself, people. Stay as far away from this movie as you can. 1/10. Awful.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Movie Review: That Darn Cat

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Sometimes it can be difficult to find a movie everyone in the family is going to like. I’ve been burned a few times by turning to old favorites I loved as a kid, since some of them just don’t stand up to today’s pacing and expectations. So while I’d seen That Darn Cat listed on Disney+ for a while, and I remembered really enjoying it back when I was a kid, I had a hard time convincing myself to try to get the rest of the family to watch it. I mean, come on. A movie about a sting operation set up by the FBI to follow a cat in hopes that it will lead them to a kidnapping victim? And it’s a comedy?

Seemed like a big ask.

But over the staycation I wanted to find a family friendly film, and . . . that’s what I ended up on. The rest of the gang had their doubts. However, I’m pleased to say that the movie more than held up, and we all really enjoyed it. I gave it an 8/10, believe it or not. It’s true, some of that might be nostalgia at work, but I don’t think nostalgia played too big of a role in it.

What worked about the movie? Its light hearted adventure and earned laughs. (Though it started out much, much darker than I expected a G rated Disney movie to start. Basically a bank teller’s told she’s going to be killed in cold blood while she’s a kidnapping victim. No wonder I was scared of being kidnapped as a kid . . . ) The animal acting in the movie’s a lot of fun too. Daniela was amazed they could get the animals to do all the things they did. These days, it likely would have just been done with CGI, and that’s a bug shame.

The film also boasts a very robust Disney pedigree. Hayley Mills and Dean Jones directed by Robert Stevenson (who did Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Love Bug, The Absent Minded Professor, and more). Will it change your life or make you view the world differently? No. But for a fun time that everyone in the family can enjoy, it’s definitely worth your time. I’m glad I gave it another shot.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Movie Review: Enola Holmes

Back in April, Netflix announced it had bought the rights to Enola Holmes, a new movie starring Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven on Stranger Things), Henry Cavill, and Helena Bonham Carter. Under normal circumstances, I would very much have expected this movie to get a theatrical release with that sort of cast. However, COVID being COVID, many movies have had to adapt. If they’re particularly big movies (like Mulan or Tenet or some of the other hoped-to-be-blockbusters), then the film companies tried to do something special for them, up to and including delaying their release.

A movie about Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister apparently doesn’t get the same sort of treatment. Go figure.

The good news is that Hollywood’s loss is our gain. It’s just important to be able to recognize it as such. (I wonder what sort of an ultimate impact this pandemic will have on films. We’ve been trained to expect that the best movies (for the most part) naturally gravitate to the theaters for their first release. Or at least, the movies Hollywood has dumped the most money into. “Best” might not be the right word. Films that premier on streaming services still have a bit of an “also ran” taint to them. The biggest question that might impact this is “can a direct-to-streaming movie make as much money as a theatrical release? Hollywood is trying all sorts of approaches at the moment. Time will tell, I suppose. But without that theatrical release, a lot of the metrics used to tell how successful and popular a film is just don’t work. Opening weekend box office, for example. And films use those splashes to build momentum. I tend to think the pandemic will have many impacts that we can’t even guess right now . . .)

In any case, Denisa and I had the chance to watch Enola Holmes two nights ago. I’d heard generally positive things about the movie, and I’m happy to report they were generally right. It’s a fun adventure movie for the whole family. (It’s rated PG-13 for “some violence,” but I have to wonder if the reviewers were watching the same movie I was watching. I fully expected it to be PG when I checked just now.)

Enola is the younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. She was raised to be an independent thinker, which doesn’t quite line up with what society expects out of women in her day. When her mother suddenly disappears in the middle of the night, Mycroft steps in to send Enola to finishing school, where she can learn to be a proper lady. Naturally, she has other ideas. Like finding the location of her mother and figuring out why she left.

Adventure ensues.

It’s quick moving and well executed for the most part. I though Brown did quite a good job as Enola, though the plot had some rather gaping holes in it here or there that could have done with some patching. (Several times when we get an answer to a mystery, it seems to be just sort of . . . “because.” That was disappointing.)

That said, if you’re looking for a fun way to pass 2 hours, you can’t really go wrong with this one. The production value is there; it’s light hearted and quick moving. Just don’t think about it too much, and enjoy the ride. 7/10.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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