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!

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Movie Review: Meg 2 The Trench

 

Movie Review: Meg 2 The Trench

The first Meg came out in 2018 – in case you missed it, here’s a quick summary.  Undersea explorers accidentally disturb the thermal layer at the bottom of the ocean allowing a giant Megalodon or two to come up to the surface and cause chaos. Jason Statham saves the day. Yes, there’s other plot and cast, but that is all you really need to know. And yes, Pippin returns – but don’t worry, once again – he survives.


This one opens with Statham’s character gathering evidence against companies illegally polluting the ocean while still keeping in touch with the little girl from the first movie – he’s now her surrogate dad, since her grandfather passed away in the first movie and her mother died between films.  Now, she’s a tween with a desire to follow in her mother’s footsteps and join on the expeditions. Her uncle (no, he wasn’t mentioned in the first movie) has taken over the company – or at least part of it, and thanks to some new dive suits, they are continuing to explore the trench – well aware that there are a bunch of Megs down there lurking around.  Oh, and he’s working on training a Meg that he has raised, Haiqi, because that will surely go well.


Well, unbeknownst to our cast of plucky heroes, someone has stolen some of their tech and is drilling down in the trench for rare minerals.  Things go wrong, and once again a hole in the thermal layer allows a couple of Megs, some smaller aquatic dinosaur things, plus something else, to come up to the surface and once again, cause some chaos that only Statham and his diving ability can help solve.

Directed by Ben Wheatley, this sequel has a much lighter tone and less bloodshed, which I did not mind. Honestly, I liked the first one, but I liked this one even better!  I found this one far more fun and better paced.  Everyone in the movie also seems to clearly know what type of movie they are making and the returning cast is having an absolute blast. 

Statham is fantastic once again and Jonas Taylor and who knew I needed him paired with the charming Shuya Sophia Cai as Meiying. They are wonderful together and I bought their relationship.  Plus, kudos to Statham for all that jetski work that apparently he did all himself! 



Page Kennedy is back as DJ as a character who took the lessons from the first movie to heart and has actively worked to improve all skills between movies! 

I knew how much I loved Cliff Curtis in things, and I love that he basically gets to play what seems to be very close to himself in this movie. I did not know how much I would love him paired with Jing Wu.  After the initial malfunctions down in the trench, the second half of the movie is crazy weird fun and the two of them have some truly bonkers sequences with the dinosaurs and a helicopter. Not only do they understand the assignment, but they really seemed to be having a great time.



Haiqi the Meg gets just a little character development, not quite enough to allow her to be the hero of the movie, but she certainly does steal a couple of scenes.  I did appreciate how the multiple Megs in the movie all had different scars so that we could tell them apart. 

Overall, it is some big shark action with some hilarity thrown in – while you may not need to see it in a theater, it’s worth a fun streaming night of creature feature action. It would definitely pair well with Sharktopus. 

8 out of 10

Speaking of Sharktopus – it is a shame the giant octopus was ruined in the trailers and even more of a shame that it really has very little affect on the characters – they do not even blink when a giant octopus shows up and starts flinging people around.  These folks have clearly spent too much time in the Trench.


Movie Review: They Cloned Tyrone (R – 122 minutes)

 I wish I had seen this in a theater with a full audience.


They Cloned Tyrone is a gem of a flick that delivers on what it promises.  The first 20 minutes or so set up what feels like white-generated black stereotypes – entirely on purpose so that the movie can shift into its sci-fi story.  If you combined Sorry to Bother You, Black Dynamite, Get Out, and Undercover Brother, you may get close to They Cloned Tyrone. 


Clearly this movie is not trying to hide its sci-fi premise (it is right there in the title) but as the characters slowly learn what is going on around them, the action and comedy both ramp up.  Fontaine is a drug dealer working in The Glenn, getting tips from young Junebug and offering some of his 40 to old Frog.  He checks in on his mother daily, but rarely sees her, and one day while visiting Slick Charles – one of his distributors – he is shot and killed? by rival dealer Isaac.  This entire section of the movie plays into all the stereotypes: dress, music, behavior, slang, etc.  Even the color quality feels more like a 70s Blaxploitation movie. 


Fontaine surprisingly wakes up the next day and goes about his business, but Slick Charles and one of Charles’s working ladies, Yo-Yo help him realize what happened to him. Together, the three set out to investigate, try to figure out what is going on, rally their neighborhood, and try to stop it. 


Written and directed by Juel Taylor, I was not sure what to expect from this movie, but my goodness, I enjoyed it.  The beginning is aggressively stereotypical in terms of language and behavior that it is almost off-putting and unpleasant to watch, but that is exactly the point. Once the threesome discover what is going on and hatch their plot to combat it, the movie is funny, action-packed, and deeper than it should be. 

The cast is perfection, and John Boyega continues to be charismatic and entertaining. Even as the despicable Fontaine, he is watchable.  Speaking of watchable, I cannot remember the last time I have enjoyed Jamie Foxx this much. Where Boyega’s Fontaine is angry and grumpy through the whole movie, Foxx’s Charles is the comedy relief.  Teyonah Parris as Yo-Yo rounds out the crew and together the three of them seem to be genuinely having a great time.


David Alan Grier shows up randomly as a character I swear I remember from In Living Color, and Keifer Sutherland plays a villain in a very creepy and dark way.


Overall, I really enjoyed this and maybe because I was not expecting anything, but I cannot recommend it enough – it’s on Netflix and certainly worth a stream!

9 out of 10

Also – the folks behind Black Dynamite have a new one coming out – can’t wait for that either.

 


Thursday, August 10, 2023

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 (PG13 – 150 minutes)

 

I loved the first Guardians movie and may have loved the second one even more. They are two of my favorite of the MCU flicks to date.  I did not care for this one.


In this movie, Star Lord and Team are floundering after the events of Endgame, Peter is drinking a lot after losing Gamora twice. The rest of the team has set up show on Knowhere and are working to improve it when they are attacked by Adam Warlock, created by the Sovereign to gather some vengeance for the events of GOTG2.  In the attack, Rocket is injured and the rest of the movie is the team trying to help him while we get his flashbacks to his youth/creation/upbringing/escape. 

James Gunn had always been clear this one would be telling Rocket’s backstory and that Rocket has been the heart and soul of the team. Knowing that Rocket is a genetically enhanced Racoon, and that the villain is the High Evolutionary, whose entire deal is experimenting on things to improve them, I knew there would be some animal experimentation/cruelty scenes.  If it clarifies it for you, DoesTheDogDie.com – on the very first question on their list – someone was clever enough to just put “This is not the movie for you” and they could not be more right. 



Rocket’s backstory is painful and vividly told, and while there are no scenes of animal surgery, the implications and reactions of those watching said scenes were enough to be triggering, traumatizing, and scarring.  I also felt that while the charm of some of the earlier GOTG movies were the team learning to work together and teasing each other in the process – in this movie, it felt like they were being downright mean to each other to the point of bullying. At one point, instead of apologizing to Drax for saying something cruel to him, Mantis simply uses her powers to make him forget.

There are certainly parts that are entertaining, Gunn does a good job of bringing closure to this current group of Guardians as well as introducing new ones, the hallway fight sequence is fantastic, and certainly there is heart in the team needing to save Rocket. Overall, I did not like it and I found parts of it almost physically painful.  The entire movie felt mean-spirited, downcast, and in general, was a bit of a bummer.

3 out of 10

Side note – what a waste of Nathan Fillion. We finally get him in an MCU movie, and this is how he’s used?  Also – credit to Nathan Fillion, his scenes are fun and he does a great job bringing in some lightness. Also also – props to us that we spent enough time with Groot that we finally start to understand a little of his language!


Movie Review: Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One (PG13 – 163 minutes)

 

This has a whole lot of title for a movie that should really just be called MI7. Tom Cruise is bound and determined to do everything he can to give the movie-going audience a thrill ride and I will always give him credit for that.


In this particular mission, Ethan Hunt and team come up against an ‘entity’ – an AI that becomes self-aware and decides, like all movie AIs before it, that humanity is the problem and it is time to wipe them all out.  It partners up with an agent of chaos from Ethan’s past and sends him after a key mcguffin that can be used to help it gain more power as Ethan attempts to stop it and save his friends. Stunts and hijinks ensue.


I have enjoyed the last few Mission Impossibles, but I genuinely could not tell you the plots of any of them. I could tell you the major stunt that Cruise did for each of them.  That is how I tend to remember the movies – “The one with the underwater bit”, “The one with the high-altitude jump”, “The one where he is outside the plane”, and this one – “The one with the motorcycle cliff jump”.  Once again, Christopher McQuarrie directs this one (he has done the last three) and the action sequences are spectacular. The car chases are amazing, the entire Uncharted style train sequence is wonderful, and yes, that motorcycle cliff jump is impressive. 


For me personally, I will say that I am over generic all-powerful Artificial Intelligences being the villains in movies. Once that was revealed, I immediately checked out of the plot and found myself waiting on the next stunt. This particular movie AI is entirely too all-powerful and seems to be able to do everything, including threaten all of Ethan’s friends and team members as well as coordinate attacks against them.  Esai Morales plays the human bad guy who is working for the AI because of some cult-like devotion to it.  I would have so much preferred they allow Morales to be the villain. He is perfectly evil and emotionless all the way through and functions as a suitable counter to Tom Cruise’s Ethan. Especially with the connection from their past.  And since you know this is ‘part one’, you know that this movie will end with a cliff-hanger where the team learns where the AI is housed and now has to plan to go after it. 


The returning team of Cruise, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, and even Vanessa Kirby are all wonderful, understand the assignment, and manage to balance the seriousness of the situations and action with a lightness and fun that keeps the movie entertaining.   



I really enjoyed the addition of Hayley Atwell, who brought a lightness and vivacity to the role as well as shed some light on how folks are recruited to the IMF.  She is fantastic and if the next movie sees an end to Ethan Hunt, I would happily watch more MI movies focusing on her character and a new team. I also really loved Pom Klementeiff as the assassin Paris who is there to look cool and kick ass.


It was fun to see Henry Czerny back as Kittridge, but I did miss Jeremy Renner’s, but honestly, there have been so many characters added over the past six movies, who can keep track of who is still alive and working with the IMF?  I also found it very entertaining that there was a bit of Cary Elwes and some of Charles Parnell, Indira Varma, and Rob Delaney as a bunch of powerful folks.


Overall, the movie is fun and action-packed and definitely worth watching on the big screen.  Grab your popcorn and make sure you choose a theater with comfy seats because it is way too long (no one needs a 28 minute cold open desert sequence that probably could have been cut). 

6 out of 10



Thursday, July 27, 2023

Movie Review: Joy Ride (R – 95 minutes)

 

I enjoy a fun raunchy comedy and Joy Ride delivers on that promise.



Audrey and Lolo have been friends since they were little, being the only two Asian girls in their area/school.  Audrey was adopted, and Lolo was there with her parents. As they get older, Audrey becomes the responsible adult while Lolo becomes the freewheeling artist.  When Audrey gets the opportunity to go to China to close a big deal for work, meeting up with her college friend, Lolo goes along as translator, and brings her cousin, Deadeye.  Hijinks ensue.


Apart from the usual drama of your childhood best friend encountering your college best friend and the jealousy/bonding that can happen there, the girls encounter a drug dealer, a basketball team, impersonate a k-pop group, and then decide to find Audrey’s birth mom, which does not go as planned. 


Directed by Adele Lim, this movie is fun and touching, and manages to walk the line between standard girls trip style comedy while adding in the layers of what it means to be a woman of color, in this case Asian-American, the feeling of belonging and not belonging as the characters discuss being too Asian but also not Asian enough.  I appreciated that the movie brings that in and layers it over the comedy.  No race is a monolith and exploring stereotypes and expectations can really bring dimension to comedies as well as dramas, so it is nice to see that here. The cast is great and the comic set pieces are ridiculously fun. I particularly enjoy how the four ladies manage to destroy an entire basketball team.


The cast is wonderful and the four leads play off each other very well. Ashley Park is absolutely the stand-out from Emily in Paris on Netflix, and it was wonderful to get to see her lead this movie. Sherry Cola brings an ease to Lolo and Stephanie Hsu proved how wonderful she can be in Everything, Everywhere, All At Once, so it is no surprise she’s fantastic here playing the two sides of Kat – the publicly buttoned up persona and the wild friend.  Stand up comedian Sabrina Wu brings the oddball nature of Deadeye into the combination, providing both outlandish bits and some hard-hitting honest moments. 


Everyone else is basically cameos around the quad, which is as it should be in a movie like this.  Desmond Chiam as Clarence, Kat’s fiancĂ©e is charming. Ronny Chieng continues to reliably play the same character everywhere – hey, he’s great at it – let him keep going!  Baron Davis as Baron Davis was the surprise for me, he was genuinely funny!  Also – any movie that adds Daniel Dae Kim is hitting the right notes. 


Overall, the movie is fun and sweet, certainly worth streaming, maybe not necessary to see in the theater, but definitely worth a watch - if only for the cautionary tale of where not to get a tattoo!

6 out of 10



Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Movie Review: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (PG13 – 154 minutes)

 

In my opinion, Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the best movies ever made.  Temple of Doom is fine and I really enjoy Last Crusade.  I do not think we need to mention the other one.  I was a bit nervous about this, no one really was asking for more Indiana Jones movies, but here we are, and I went in cautiously optimistic.

I was pleased with Dial of Destiny. It maintains the sense of fun and adventure and definitely functions as a decent send off for Indy.  The movie begins with a flashback to the end of WWII as Indy is rescuing his friend from a train full of Nazis.  The Spear of Longinus makes a brief cameo as a red herring of the Macguffin of this movie.  Side note – the Spear of Longinus always makes me think of the 1997 TV show Roar. If you are not familiar with Roar, go ahead and look that up - you’re welcome!


As Indy goes through train car after train car full of Nazis, he eventually rescues his pal Basil from the evil Dr. Voller’s clutches while Basil collects half of the Dial of Destiny – apparently created by Archimedes to predict time-space anomalies. They escape from the train and we reencounter Indy years later living alone in an apartment yelling at his loud neighbors as the city is about to celebrate the return of the moon landing astronauts in 1969.  Marion has left him after their son Mutt died in Vietnam and he is retiring from his teaching job at the university.  Basil’s daughter, Helena (Indy’s goddaughter) shows up to steal the half of the Dial of Destiny – to sell it.  This launches the adventure as Dr. Voller and his henchmen show up to collect the other half of the Dial, leading to a global chase and some fun archaeology as they try to chase down what the dial does and prevent the bad guys from getting there first.


Directed by James Mangold, I found this to be charming and entertaining. It feels in line with the Indy we have come to know. The action sequences are great – the entire train chase bit at the beginning is fantastic, and I enjoyed the little tuk tuk race in the middle. I didn’t mind the digital de-aging in the cold open – I feel like it looked pretty good.  I also didn’t mind the end, which I have heard some people grumble about. For a character that has dealt with ghost in an ark, heart-ripping in a cult, and a ghost protecting a cup – the end of this movie made sense to me.  I feel like it understood the tone and everyone in it was on board and committed to having fun while delivering on what was asked.


Harrison Ford loves playing Indiana Jones and it does show, I appreciated his grumpiness in the beginning but his gradual loosening as he allowed himself to have fun when he got back to adventuring.  Phoebe Waller-Bridge was a good counter-part as Helena and certainly could keep going with these if she chose.  I did not understand why there was a kid sidekick and felt like that could have been removed. 


It was a thrill to see John Rhys-Davies back as Sallah, and I could have used a little more of him and his whole mess of kids helping Indy out of jams.  Mads Mikkelsen is a flawless villain and was coolly nasty as someone who was determined to solve the issues of the third Reich in order to make it ‘better’.  Boyd Holbrook shows up as his number one henchman in a weird including-the-CIA-in-the-story-for-no-good-reason bit.


I was slightly mystified by the inclusion of Antonio Banderas for approximately one and a half scenes.  If you have someone that charismatic, why not give him actual stuff to do?  Maybe he was busy.

Overall, the movie was fun and entertaining. Not flawless, but I absolutely enjoyed it. It’s a little too long, and certainly some bits could have been cut out, but I do love to see Indy figuring out puzzles as he digs through a tomb and/or cave. 

7 out of 10



Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Movie Review: Fast X (PG13 – 141 minutes)

 


Way back in 2001, if you had told me when I came out of the theater after watching The Fast and The Furious that I would be watching the tenth installment in that franchise in 2023 – and absolutely looking forward to the eleventh, I am not sure I would have believed you – and I loved that first one.  After all, that movie involved a cop going undercover with a street racing gang to bust them for stealing DVD/VCR combos.  To date, the Fast & Furious franchise has spawned ten films, with two more on the way, one spin-off, amusement park rides, games, and could honestly go on and on. There is not really a secret to the franchise’s success, it is pretty straight forward globe-trotting action set pieces with a central theme of family, both chosen and blood - who can argue with that?


In this episode of the Fast saga, we catch up to the Torettos as they are enjoying barbeque, family & Coronas at the house in L.A., continuing their trend of letting the antagonist from the previous film be a good guy in the next one.  Suddenly, their old nemesis Cypher shows up to let them know that a new threat has arisen.  If you remember way back in Fast Five, Brian and Dom drove a drug dealer’s safe through much of Rio de Janeiro, causing huge amounts of damage in a chase that ended with the drug dealer losing his life.  The son of that dealer, Dante, is now coming for the Toretto crew and he is particularly vicious and crazy.  Along the way, Dom and the others have to pick up materials, allies, a couple enemies, all while stopping this new threat and trying to keep their family safe. 

I loved this movie – it is completely over the top bonkers nonsense and knows it.  And yet, this one is a little more grounded than the last one.  This one is directed by Louis Leterrier, a French action director out of the Luc Besson stable. He has done some things I really loved (The Transporter, Unleashed, the Incredible Hulk), some things that were okay (Now You See Me), and some things I have not liked (the Clash of the Titans remake).  In Fast X, he takes the franchise back to mainly car chases and action sequences – and yes, those have been key to all of the movies, but admittedly, in the last one, they drove a car in space. 


The action here is great, the bomb vs. car sequence in Rome in the beginning is ridiculous and entertaining. The helicopter vs. car sequence near the end is fun and the hand to hand combat between Charlieze Theron and Michelle Rodriguez is particularly fantastic.  


There's so much in terms of cast, it's tough to talk about all of them, but the family core group all continue to be wonderful, even if by now we have so many lead characters not everyone is getting enough screen time.  Thank goodness Han is back for real, I love that Mia gets one badass action sequence per movie, but it's too bad she then has to pretend to go back to Brian and their kids.  Tej and Roman continue to get on each others' nerves, Ramsey still has nearly nothing to do.  While John Cena’s Jakob Toretto was an interesting foil last film, he felt stiff and forced. Here he is wonderful. He seems to have been let off the leash and completely understands the movie he is in.  


Honestly, most of the cast has a good time and plays these flicks with a wink&nod. It’s just Vin Diesel that takes them a little too seriously – but you need that at the center of the movie so that everyone else can be crazy. Also - we have the fantastic addition of Rita Moreno as Grandma Toretto (I sort of hope we get to see an action sequence with her and Helen Mirren's Queenie in the next movie).  


The addition of Brie Larson as a new Nobody – the daughter of Kurt Russel’s character from a few movies ago – helps keep the Torettos involved with The Agency (who knows who or what they are, or what goals they have).  And we get to add in the wonderful Alan Ritchson as a new Agency heavy hand, making this the first movie I can think of with two Aquamen in it.


And speaking of crazy – what a glorious addition Jason Momoa is.  It is as if he was given the sole direction of ‘have fun and bring complete chaos’ and my goodness – he is extra in every way. It lightens up the movie while bringing a definite threat.  That dude is living his absolute best life.


Overall, I really loved this one, maybe more than the last couple and I really liked the last one.  If I had to rank them, it would look like this:  1, 5, 10, 9, 6, 4, 7, 8, 2, 3.  Hobbs & Shaw being a spin off is not in that count and honestly, that ranking is basically arbitrary anyway. They’re all silly and wonderful!  Grab your family, popcorn, and a Corona and check it out.


9 out of 10 – but really, shouldn’t it be 10 out of 12 since two more of these are guaranteed on their way?