Current Mini Reviews

So I must admit I have been on a bit of a role lately! I not only have been making podcasts I love on both of my channels (Hallmarkies and Rachel’s Reviews) but I have been able to see a lot of movies (I’ve done several double-headers). Some I have reviewed on my channel (and some on this blog) but others I haven’t gotten around to covering. So that means it’s time for my Current Mini Reviews update! I will let give my brief thoughts, whether it is smile/frown worthy and where it lists in my 2018 Releases Ranking. Enjoy!

life-of-the-party1

Life of the Party

I seem to be one of the few who hasn’t grown tired of Melissa McCarthy’s shtick (I even enjoyed Ghostbusters!).  Now we have Life of the Party and it wasn’t the greatest comedy but it was serviceable. I laughed enough to enjoy myself and the supporting cast is strong including Maya Rudolph, Gillian Jacobs and Molly Gordon who plays McCarthy’s daughter. Luke Benward is very hunky as McCarthy’s boy-fling.

Smile Worthy (barely)

51 out of 71

hotel transylvania 3

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

This franchise has produced 3 entertaining if a bit unmemorable films and that includes Hotel Transylvania 3. It was an enjoyable sit with some nice animation and good laughs. It doesn’t have the emotional punch of Pixar but it had a sweet message to it.  I think this is an improvement over HT2 which didn’t use its ensemble cast very well.

Smile Worthy

19 out of 71

gotti

Gotti

With a 0% on rottentomatoes and moviepass making it basically free I couldn’t resist watching this trainwreck. And trainwreck it is. Pretty much everything is off in this biopic but the most absurd part is they try to paint the mafia as a persecuted minority that the cops are hounding unfairly. There’s even a title card at the end explaining the efforts the FBI went to take them down and the FBI is the villain!

Frown Worthy

69 out of 71

hearts beat loud

Hearts Beat Loud

I think this might have been oversold to me as ‘the next Sing Street‘. Hearts Beat Loud isn’t a bad movie but I left feeling underwhelmed. The performances are nice and a couple of the songs decent but I was never emotionally engaged with the main relationship between the father and the daughter. Both my friend and I agreed that it felt cursory when they could have dove deeper and asked more questions. The only emotion I felt was between the daughter and her girlfriend. Sing Street it is not. I honestly found it kind of boring…

Frown Worthy (barely)

52 out of 71

set it up

Set It Up

Since everyone knows I love romcoms I was told by many to check out this Netflix entry in the genre. My response was it was ok. I liked the lead couple Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell and they had decent chemistry. Lucy Liu is also good as an ice queen boss that gets more character development than the trope typically allows. However, I found the movie to be a bit too cynical for my taste. I like my romances to be a little more light and fluffy.

Smile Worthy (barely)

50 out of 71

Maquia

Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms

Very sweet fantasy anime that is about an immortal woman’s struggles to be a mother and watch her mortal child grow up and suffer. The animation was stunning, and I got very wrapped up in it. It has some pacing issues but over all I definitely recommend it. Director Mari Okada has made a fantasy film that is ambitious in its world building and lovely in its emotional depth. Fantasy fans, not just anime fans will really enjoy it.

Smile Worthy

12 out of 71

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Whitney

I love Whitney Houston and was so sad to see her life spiral out of control leading to her eventual death. So naturally I was interested in this documentary and it’s mostly satisfactory. Director Kevin Macdonald does a good job showing all sides to the singer and her impact on music and pop culture. However, there are a few things that felt a little exploitative to me and his attempts to tie Whitney’s life into broader world events felt a little heavy handed. Still worth checking out. Bring tissues.

Smile Worthy

39 out of 71

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Ant-Man and the Wasp-

I really enjoyed the first Ant-Man. I think more than most, so I was excited for this sequel and I left thinking it was just ok. The action is a lot of fun and the cast knocks it out of the park but it wasn’t as funny as the first one and several plot threads got a little boring for me. Still, it’s a decent superhero movie with some fun moments.

Smile Worthy

23 out of 71

skyscraper

Skyscraper-

This was more entertaining than I expected it to be. There are some entertaining action set pieces like a fight that happens in a room with mirrors. Also I liked that Nev Campbell’s character wasn’t a cliched warrior woman or damsel in distress but just a smart Mom. I’m not sure why they needed him to have an artificial leg except for one kind of gimmicky scene.
The villain characters were very snoozeworthy with lame motivation. Still, if looking for summer entertainment that doesn’t take itself too seriously you could do worse.

Smile Worthy

35 out of 71

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Fireworks-

With the marketing heavily leaning on the ‘producer of Your Name’ I wondered if this would be a disappointment. It didn’t seem to have much to sell of itself but just its similarities to a beloved film. Sadly my worries were correct. Fireworks does have some good things but for each good aspect there was a negative. Some of the animation was beautiful and then others used CG in really terrible ways. Some character moments were sweet and others felt really cheesy. Some parts of the story worked and other parts felt very muddled and confusing. There’s a sexuality in the character design and story that was strange.

Frown Worthy

61 out of 71

 

 

Hotel Transylvania 2 Review

hotel trans2Can we all pass around a petition or something that will tell Adam Sandler he should only make animated films?  But then again there was 8 Crazy Nights a while back so he is by no means a homerun in animated films either.  Still, his best films by far of the last decade have been the Hotel Transylvania movies.  That’s definitely damning by faint praise but it is nonetheless true.

It’s weird trying to write a review of Hotel Transylvania 2 because I had a good time watching it but I can’t think of a whole lot to say in its defense.  Does that ever happen to you?  You like something almost in spite of itself?

Well, Hotel Transylvania 2 picks up where the fun but forgettable first installment left off with Dracula’s (Sandler) daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) getting married to Johnny (Andy Samburg) and then having a little boy named Dennis or Denisovich as the Count likes to call him.

hoteltrans2-2The Count is a doting grandfather and loves Dennis but is constantly preoccupied on whether he is a vampire or not.  He is a ‘late fanger’ as they like to say and has till he is 5 to get his vampire fangs.  If he doesn’t then he, Mavis and Johnny will have to move back to California where Dennis can be safe.

hotel trans2-3Leaving Dennis with Count Mavis and Johnny go to California to check it out and meet his parents (Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally who should be cast in more voice work.  She’s great!).  Mavis is thrilled with all the nighttime 24 hour options in California.

Back at the hotel Count has his friends from the first film Frankenstein (Kevin James), Invisible Man (David Spade), Blobby, and Mummy (Keegan-Michael Key who evidently is in every comedy of 2015).  They decide to try and scare the fangs out of Dennis and take him on a vacation of their greatest haunts much to Mavis’ anger.

They also end up involving Count’s old school father Vlad (Mel Brooks who is underused in the film)

hotel trans2-5That’s basically the plot.  It’s a silly comedy but it did make me laugh.  I particularly liked a repeated joke  with the Phantom of the Opera singing. The tangents with in California and on the scare quest take away from the humor and the ending drags on and is too maudlin.  But overall it is a pleasant amiable film that is aimed at kids with little to none of the adults only humor I didn’t care for in Minions.   I also laughed a lot more than in Minions from start to finish.

The animation is also nicely done led by the great GEnndy Tartakovsky.  The colors are bright and the characters are surprising and fun.

The voice talent all works but the cast is so large that some of my favorites are woefully underused such as Mel Brooks and Fran Drescher (who I know some hate but I’ve loved her ever since The Nanny).  She has maybe 3 lines in the entire movie. Dana Carvey, Jon Lovitz, Chris Parnell, Nick Offerman are hilarious actors and they are given very little to do.

FILM STILL - HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 - Frank (Kevin James and Jonathan (Andy Samberg) watch the birthday celebration of Dennis (Ashler Blinkoff, center) with Wanda (Molly Shannon), Dracula (Adam Sandler), Mavis (Selena Gomez), Mike (Nick Offerman) and Linda (Megan Mullally) in Columbia Pictures and Sony Picture Animation's HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2.

And yet the running time is 89 minutes!  I told a friend of mine ‘if Bambi can tell its story in 70 minutes Hotel Transylvania 2 doesn’t need 89).  They could definitely cut out the animated dance number at the end- a trend in animation carried over from the 2000s that I really hate

Hotel Transylvania 2 is a movie made for kids without a ton of grown-up appeal but I did laugh a fair amount.  More than I did in Minions and definitely more than Dreamworks’ Home. It has better animation, writing and story than either of those films.

So take that review for what it is worth.  I would wait and get it from the redbox or rent it.  Have some laughs and enjoy a moderately entertaining animated film. Nothing more, nothing less.

Overall Grade- C

Here’s my video review

3 Animated Trailers

3 new animated trailers came out today.

There’s a new Peanuts trailer

It looks interesting although I worry they are making the characters too old.  I don’t picture Peanuts characters going to school dances and things like that.  What makes Peanuts funny is they are little kids thinking these deep contemplative thoughts.  That said, I like the style, voicework and I think it looks like a cute movie.

Then we got a new trailer for Hotel Transylvania 2

Adam Sandler is one of my least favorite people in entertainment but I enjoyed the first Hotel Transylvania.  It’s not that original but a cute fish out of water kind of story with some good jokes.  I think this new one looks even better with Mavis’ baby not being a monster and them having to move.  This makes Dracula upset and doing anything to keep them there.  It probably won’t be a masterpiece but I think it will be fun.

Finally we had a trailer for one that hadn’t been on my radar called The Secret Life of Pets.

This one does not look like my cup of tea.  It feels a little Toy Storyish but instead of toys its animals and those copycats have been terrible (need I remind you of last year’s Hero of Color City…).    And I think the whole pets are alive usually is a bad idea (think Cats and Dogs which is awful).  It could be like Over the Hedge which I thought was strong for first 20 minutes and then loses its way.  The voice performances look solid but the project looks tired, so I’m not looking forward to this one. This is also really long for a teaser trailer.

So which out of the 3 are you looking forward to most?  I would rank them 1. Hotel Transylvania 2, 2. Peanuts, 3. Secret Life of Pets