Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Movie Review: The Old Guard (R – 125 minutes)

Still no theater-going here, but luckily The Old Guard went right to Netflix. 


I’m going to say this up front – I loved this movie. Quality action and super fun.  The movie Highlander was released in 1986 with some sequels not really of note and a TV show of note that followed in the 90s.  In case you are not familiar with it, the story follows a man from the highlands of Scotland (hence the name Highlander) who is killed in battle but wakes up shortly thereafter, apparently fine. He gets tutored by an Egyptian masquerading as a Spanish knight who is really just Sean Connery in the ways of Immortals. These immortals cannot be killed except by beheading. They live their very long lives occasionally battling and killing one another for the ‘Quickening’. Basically, if you defeat another, you get their strength and power. The only rule is that they never fight on holy ground.  In the end, there can be only one.  Who knows when the end will be.


The reason I mention that is that this movie feels like it could easily be set in that world.  The Old Guard is based on a 2017 graphic novel. The movie introduces us to Andy, or Andromache of Scythia, who is thousands of years old and straight up tired of it.  She heads a small, tight unit of immortal warriors (Booker, Joe, and Nicky) who travel around taking jobs to do the most good they can. Andy has become jaded, believing that none of the good they are doing is having any effect.


Booker brings them a job from James Copley, a former CIA agent who needs their help for something he cannot accomplish on his own.  The job goes sideways, and the group has to deal with being hunted by Harry Melling, a pharmaceutical CEO who sees dollar signs in immortal DNA.  To complicate things, they also have to pick up and train Nile, a newly risen immortal warrior who is not sure about any of this. 


The movie is directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood who also directed Love & Basketball, the Secret Life of Bees, an episode of Cloak & Dagger (watch that if you haven’t yet), and a movie that really surprised me, Beyond the Lights.  This movie is action packed and the action is exceptional.  But tremendous action when supported by characters that are interesting and engaging can make an almost perfect movie. These characters are fascinating and the portrayals are wonderful.

Charlize Theron is an action star and is just fantastic in this role.  I look forward to the planned sequel already to see what is next for Andy. Her relationship with Kiki Layne’s Nile is equally fantastic.  It is such a joy to watch an action movie with two tremendous female leads.  I can’t wait for Nile’s role to expand in additional features.


Matthias Schoenaerts as Booker, Marwan Kenzari as Joe, and Luca Marinelli as Nicky are also tremendous. I’ve seen them here and there but they really each give their characters levels of depth that is missing from most action movies. The scene where Joe explains his love for Nicky is heartbreaking and beautiful, and then is followed up with some wonderful comedic beats.


Chiwetel Ejiofor gives almost unnecessary amounts of gravitas to Copely, a guy trapped in an impossible situation after mourning the loss of his wife.  Harry Melling as Merrick is one of the most punchable villains I have seen in a while. 

Van Veronica Ngo plays Quynh in flashbacks and hopefully in sequels?


Overall, I loved it – 9 out of 10.  Taking off a point because I wanted more detail on Andy’s special baklava identification powers and I can’t help thinking about Highlander while watching this because of the immortal warrior similarities. I did notice that in the scenes where some are bemoaning their immortality, none of them mentioned beheading, but surely that would work, right? Surely Adrian Paul could pop up in the sequel, just hanging out in Joe’s bar?  In any case, the movie is fantastic, really fun, fast-paced, but with enough quiet moments to let you connect to the squad. I really enjoyed it. 



Friday, July 17, 2020

Movie Review: My Spy (PG13 – 99 minutes)

My Spy is available to stream via Amazon Prime video while you continue to safely social distance!


This movie was a pleasant surprise. JJ is a CIA agent who is great at brute strength skills, but lacking the subtly required for undercover spycraft. After a somewhat successful mission where he was exposed but still managed to save the day, his boss busts him down to surveillance of a possible target in Chicago (which looks more like Toronto – only noticeable to those of us who are familiar with either city. Honestly, this is perplexing, if you’re shooting something in Toronto, why not simply set the story in Toronto? There’s no reason it could not have taken place there…but I digress…).


Kate and her daughter Sophie are on the run from her husband’s brother, a bad guy with a bad plan.  JJ and his new partner Bobbi are simply supposed to observe them to see if Sophie’s uncle shows up or comes after them.  JJ’s terrible undercover skills have him interacting with the pair within the first day of the stakeout. Sophie’s growing curiosity skills have her discovering JJ and Bobbie and demanding some interaction. Hijinks ensue.  And, in the case of this movie, the hijinks are truly enjoyable.


The movie is directed by Peter Segal who has a track record of some quality comedies (Tommy Boy, 50 First Dates, the Sandler Longest Yard, and Grudge Match). Here, the cast shines in some funny and sweet scenes with enough action thrown in to keep it interesting.

Dave Bautista continues to prove he deserves all the jobs as he perfectly fits into JJ’s awkwardness. JJ just wants to be good at his job, and because he was great at his previous job, is puzzled by his ineptitude in this one.  Dave is fantastic.  Pairing him with Chloe Coleman’s Sophie is beautiful.  She’s bold and brash and is not intimidated by him. They are fantastic together.


Parisa Fitz-Henley was amazing in Midnight, Texas (you should catch up on that show if you missed it) and is good here as a woman trying to start over who is both confused and charmed by the giant new neighbor.  I think Kristen Schaal was better in this then I’ve seen her recently, or maybe just less annoying? She’s really good at what she does, which is typically annoying characters, so seeing her play the ‘straight man’ here was very entertaining.  Speaking of which, Ken Jeong plays a very un-Ken-Jeong like head of the CIA department official-type.


The two scene stealers for me were Devere Rogers and Noah Dalton Danby as Carlos and Todd respectively. They are the couple that live across from and are very protective of Kate and Sophie.


Overall, the movie is very fun, definitely charming, and certainly some great social quarantine viewing.

8 out of 10. Perfect family fun for a home theater evening. Get your popcorn popped.



Thursday, June 25, 2020

Retro Movie Review: Killing Gunther (2017 - R – 92 minutes)

Some of the theaters in my area have begun discussing plans to safely reopen. In the meantime, I continue to safely social distance and catch up on older flicks I missed.  Killing Gunther is available on Netflix.


Taran Killam came up with some truly zany characters during his time on SNL. I have enjoyed his run on the sitcom Single Parents. This movie features something in between. Killam wrote and directed this truly bizarre movie where he plays a hitman named Blake.  Blake and all his hitman friends are doing just fine in the old hitman rankings. There’s one issue. Each of them has come across Gunther – the number one hitman in the world.  Annoyed with being constantly one-upped, they get together to decide to kill Gunther and remove him from the equation.  To ensure everyone is aware of the success once they have succeeded, they have hired a documentary crew to follow them as they attempt to ensnare and eliminate Gunther.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeLp9-k9-LQ


The movie is absolutely ridiculous. As long as you go in realizing that, you can turn off your brain and enjoy the silliness. Killam directs as well as having written this story and with a cast of friends the interaction scenes where all the hitpeople are together are the best moments.  Bobby Moynihan is a standout and I could have used even more scenes with he and Killam.  Each of the characters is more insane than the last and watching them attempt to plan is where the best hijinks ensue. 

The true gem of this movie is Arnold Schwarzenegger as Gunther. He seems to be having the time of his live as Gunther. He definitely understood the tone and has a blast sending up his previous roles and lines of dialogue.


Overall, the movie is stupid and silly, and honestly, might be exactly what you need to watch right now.

6 out of 10 – solid brainless entertainment. Get out the air popper and enjoy.


Monday, June 1, 2020

Movie Review: The Lovebirds (R – 86 minutes)

We’re all still practicing social distancing. The Lovebirds was going to be released in theaters last month, but it adjusted to Netflix, where you can now stream it!


The Lovebirds is a rom-com that begins with a quick montage illustrating how Leilani and Jibran fell in love. Three years later they are realizing the relationship is no longer working and have decided to call it quits when they encounter a bit of a situation. They interrupt a man who says he’s a cop chasing a guy on a bicycle. The cop commandeers their car and promptly uses it to eliminate the man on the bike. He then leaves as bystanders start to show up. Leilani and Jibran realize they are not likely to be believed when they state their innocence and go on the run. Hijinks ensue as their relationship rekindles.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzPq8uVgLe8

The movie is directed by Michael Showalter who also directed the Big Sick (see that if you haven’t).  It’s fairly straightforward and predictable, but not in a bad way.  As I have stated before, I do not mind rom-coms being predictable. It is the one genre where that is perfectly acceptable. Here, the situation is zany. The chemistry between Issa and Kumail is good and they are both skilled comedians, so I expected to laugh out loud more often than I did.  As it was, I spent a good deal of time chuckling, so not complaining.

There’s very few other cast members, Anna Camp and Kyle Bornheimer have just a couple of scenes and everyone else has near-cameos.  Paul Sparks plays the cop that they encounter briefly and then set out to find.


The movie does make it clear this is a broad comedy but could have leaned into that a little harder.  It’s a little tough because the very premise of them going on the run is a result of them not wanting to call the cops, being two people of color. This is certainly timely and the movie does a good job of acknowledging it without it being the central theme.  The couple experiences one insane situation after another as they decide solving the murder is the best way to clear their names and begin to appreciate one another again.  Are they any different than the couple who realized at the beginning they should not be together? No, but being interrogated in a barn and narrowly escaping a bizarre sex cult does bring people closer together.  


6 out of 10 – Overall, I definitely enjoyed it. However, I can’t help but wonder how I would have felt if I had seen it in a theater rather than on Netflix. I think I give streaming movies a little more leeway.

 


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Movie Review: Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (R – 105 minutes)


Continuing to safely social distance, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot is now available on Amazon Prime! I watched it, so here are some thoughts.
The slacker stoner characters of Jay and Silent Bob first showed up briefly in Clerks, the black and white movie written and directed by Kevin Smith starring a bunch of his friends and chronicling the day to day of working in a Quick Stop. It came out in 1994 and if you were like me and working retail at the time – or anytime really – this movie hit you at just the right moment. It was funny, irreverent, and off the wall.  
Smith took the characters played by himself and Jason Mewes through the next several movies, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and Clerks 2 in 2006, yes, that movie was already that long ago.

In Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, once again Jay and Bob learn that Hollywood is making a movie, this time rebooting the movie that was made in 2001 based on the comic book characters that bear their likeness. So again, they head across the country to get to ‘Chronic-con’ and stop the movie from being made. And yes, that’s essentially the same plot as Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, but you’re not really here for the plot. You’re here for the cameos and dumb jokes.

I enjoyed Clerks immensely, and I also really liked Mallrats and Dogma.  From there on, I like the movies less and less, feeling a little like I was too old for some of the humor.  Smith himself has admitted this one is self-indulgent. After recovering from his heart attack last year he wanted to spend time with his friends and revisit those characters again. I have no issue with that. If you liked the last movie, you’ll like this movie.
Kevin and Jason are still wonderful together and have a casual ease that only comes from years of friendship.  I have to say, I was impressed by Jason’s acting in a couple of scenes. 

Harley Quinn Smith is going to continue building her career and steals a couple of scenes here as Jay’s surprise kid.  I can’t decide if I like her running crew of forcibly diverse sidekicks or find it patronizing – which is kind of the point?

Of the cameos, the Affleck one is definitely the best, and the kid in that scene is Jason’s, which explains the look on his face when interacting with her. 

Jay and Bob are equally as dumb as they have ever been and the celebrity cameos are plenty.  It’s certainly worth a quick watch.
5 out of 10 – just fine, and definitely delivers what it promises. The Stan Lee tribute at the end is especially touching.


Thursday, April 23, 2020

Movie Review: Code 8 (R – 98 minutes)


In responsibly continuing to self-isolate, I watched Code 8 on Netflix. 

In the world of Code 8, about 4% of the population is born ‘powered’. Some are “tks” or telekinetics, some are ‘brawns’ or super strong, some are ‘pyros’ and can generate heat from their hands, some are ‘electrics’ and guess what they can do.  They are treated as lower-class, mostly using their powers for work when possible.  Occasionally one will commit a crime and that’s enough to make the regular people kick around the idea of banning, expelling, or locking up the powered folks.  This results in many of them deciding to hide their abilities to avoid persecution.

We meet Connor, an electric, who is busy using his powers on various construction gigs to gather enough money to help his mother’s medical bills.  She seems to have cold powers and a tumor pushing on her brain that causes her to lose control of those powers from time to time. There’s certainly treatment, but it’s really expensive.  Connor’s doing his best to stay on the straight and narrow, earning honest money but an encounter with the cops and their robotic guardians when they raid his construction site makes him angry. When his mother’s condition worsens, he starts to get desperate.  When a mysterious crew shows up looking for an electric, he joins them, barely hesitating when they start committing crimes.  Add in a situation with ‘Psyke’ a drug made from powered folks, a mind-reading crime boss, and a healer trapped in a bad situation, and things for Connor get more complicated by the minute.

Code 8 started as a crowd-funded short starring the Amells and directed by Jeff Chan.  With the success of the crowd-funding, the full-length version was made.  I was surprised by how much I liked it. It’s a tight little story that feels familiar but with just enough sci-fi additions to keep it interesting.  It managers to keep feeling small and independent even with the futuristic flair.  The story is good, the characters interesting, and the execution great.

The Amells, both Robbie and Stephen, don’t bother to employ some of the tricks used in Young Guns to hide the Estevez-Sheen relationship.  In case you weren’t sure why Charlie Sheen wears that silly hat for most of that movie – it was to make it harder to see that he and Emilio were brothers.  Here, Stephen has his season 7 (or 6?) Arrow beard, but he and Robbie still look very similar.  The cousins worked together to get this project off the ground and they both bring a groundedness to their characters. Robbie gives Connor a relatability as he struggles with the day to day living that makes the audience feel for him.  He makes some questionable decisions but its easy to see why.

Stephen plays Garrett, the TK leader of a shady thievery crew filled out by Vlad Alexis’s Freddy and Laysla De Oliveira’s Maddy.  

Freddy’s a brawn and Maddy’s a pyro but they need Connor’s electrical abilities to pull off their latest heist.  It’s hard not to see Oliver Queen in Garrett, but Stephen does a good job of being just enough different.

Kari Matchett plays Mary, Connor’s mother. She’s desperate to keep him from making the same mistakes that his father made – namely falling into crime. 
Greg Byrk plays Marcus Sutcliffe, the aforementioned mind-reading crime boss and Kyla Kane plays the healer he keeps near him.  He does a great job of being creepy and she does a great job of looking like she really wants to get away from him. 

Aaron Abrams, who recently annoyed me on Blindspot, plays one of the cops after Sutcliffe and company. Sung Kang (#JusticeForHan) plays Agent Park, his partner on this expedition. The two of them are really interesting and the movie just barely gets to introduce some issues that Park is having as a result of his ex-wife and powered daughter.

8 out of 10 – Like I said, surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It’s a fast-paced and interesting little crime drama with an added sci-fi bonus. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel to see what Garret and Connor get up to later on.  Overall, I highly recommend it, make your own popcorn and do some deep-couch sitting to enjoy this one on Netflix.


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Movie Review: Late Night (R – 102 minutes)


While still practicing some safe self-isolating, I was able to catch up on a movie that I missed in theaters. Late Night is available on Amazon Prime Video.

This movie is an interesting character study that masquerades as a comedy.  Katherine Newbury is a British stand up comedian who has been hosting a late-night talk show in the states for years. There’s a new head of the network who feels that Katherine’s show is not bringing in the numbers, no one is watching it, and the comedy is not fresh.  As such, she lets Katherine know she’s pulling the plug, and in a last-minute effort to try to save her show, Katherine forces her writing staff to hire a new female writer and start shifting the format to reach new audience members.

Molly Patel is a young chemical plant worker who has been dabbling in stand-up comedy. She accidentally gets hired to join Katherine’s writing team. She has to deal with a room full of white, male writers who never interact with either Katherine or the stage of the show and while she negotiates that, Katherine has to deal with her dying husband and rumors of previous misconduct. Hijinks do not ensue.
The movie is directed by Nisha Ganatra, who has a lot of TV directing experience from Fresh Off the Boat, Last Man On Earth, and Brooklyn Nine Nine to name a few.  The movie was written by Mindy Kaling and she again proves her skill. The movie is very interesting and definitely one I feel suffered from incorrect marketing. It was sold as a comedy of a young writer trying to help an older comedian, and while aspects of that are there, it is really more of a drama about the situation with comedic moments. It’s well crafted and certainly well-shot. As long as you don’t expect it to be constant laughs, you’ll enjoy it. The cast is very skilled.
Emma Thompson is certainly good as Katherine. She’s been so comfortable for so long, that she is not sure how to deal with sudden change.  Thompson manages to walk the fine line between incredibly heavy moments and very lighthearted moments with ease. Despite Katherine being a difficult character in many moments, Thompson manages to save her from becoming truly unlikeable.

Mindy Kaling excels at playing upbeat and optimistic characters and Molly is absolutely another one of those. She is excited at the potential of her new position and looking forward to making positive changes.  I love the intelligence and boldness of her character – she seizes on the opportunities that she is given.  

John Lithgow plays Thompson’s aging husband, and their backstory seems truly shady but is never really brought to center stage.

Hugh Dancy plays another writer who is there to be full of himself and cause problems. Reid Scott, Max Casella, Paul Walter Hauser, and John Early are also various writing staff members. Dennis O’Hare is the standout as the exec over the writers who functions as the go-between, shifting jokes from the writers to Katherine and keeping the ship afloat. He’s very good in this, subtle, conflicted, and honest.

6 out of 10 - Overall, the movie is certainly entertaining enough for a couch-watch. I like Mindy’s writing, and as I said, not a straight comedy, but more of a drama with some comedic points.  Very well-put together, but I can’t help wondering if it might have been better as a series on Amazon Prime. That would have really let you dig into some of the backstories that get touched on and dropped due to run-time.