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 The Curse of La Llorona (2019)
The Curse of La Llorona (2019)
2019 | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
The Mexican Legend
The Curse of La Llorona is a 2019 supernatura/horror movie directed by Michael Chaves and written by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis. The film was produced by James Wan through his Atomic Monster Productions. It is based on the Mexican folklore, is Chaves directorial debut, and is set in "The Conjuring" Universe. It stars Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, and Patricia Velasquez.


While playing with his family in 1673 Mexico, a young boy closes his eyes only to re-open them and find his family missing. While searching for them he witnesses his mother drowning his brother in a stream. Frightened, he runs away but is caught and suffers the same fate.


300 years later, in 1973 Los Angeles, Anna Tate-Garcia (Linda Cardellini) works as a social worker and is investigating a well known client of hers, Patrica Alvarez (Patricia Velasquez) whose children have gone missing. Demanding to check on her children's well being, Anna goes to Patricia's home with a police of. She searches for the children and finds them locked in a room. Patricia attacks her as she locates the children and is dragged away by the officer while screaming for her not to open the door. Anna takes the boys, Carlos and Tomas out of the room, ignoring their request to stay in the room where they are safe. That night, two boys are found drowned in a nearby river and Anna is called in to investigate their deaths. At the scene Anna hears Patricia screaming that it was Anna's fault for their deaths. This draws Anna and her family into the frightening supernatural realm of "La Llorona" and her deadly wrath.


I felt like this movie was a tough mix of somewhat silly but still creepy. It was good but had too many jump scares that you could see coming from a mile a way. The acting was generally good with Linda Cardellini really selling the terror of fighting off the evil presence. The children's performances were kind of hit or miss for me.. The tone and atmosphere of the film was great but for me "La Llorona" was scarier when she had her face veiled rather than the highly CGI-ed one they gave her when it was removed. The opening was downright silly to me. I didn't find it scary/creepy at all but a little disturbing. Also for some reason I think they went for too many scares in daylight. I know everything scary doesn't have to be at night, but I felt like it undersold them or didn't do them justice. One aspect that I really liked was how they brought in a faith healer or shaman, in Spanish "Curandero" to the Conjuring Universe. He was an interesting original character addition. Astwo different critics put it, "convincing premise, sufficient drama, decent twists, and enough scares make it worth the watch", but "predictable jump scare treatment and dragging exposition take out the potential from this film despite decent performance Orverall I'd give this movie a 6/10.
  
Daddy's Home 2 (2017)
Daddy's Home 2 (2017)
2017 | Comedy
Some good comedy moments drowned in schmaltz.
Comedy and tragedy have always gone together hand-in-hand. Every great comedy tends to have its bitter-sweet moments: Roberts Blossom as the “shovel-killer” grandad in “Home Alone” (who always reminds me of my late Dad… in appearance I might add, not that he was a shovel killer!); John Candy’s depressed shower-ring salesman in “Planes Trains and Automobiles”; Ron Burgundy bawling in a phone box in “Anchorman”. The balance between the two is the key thing and comedies can sometimes get it wrong (the Bird Woman in “Home Alone 2” for example!).

Here is another case in point: “Daddy’s Home 2”, which has some laugh-out-loud comedy moments, but is generally so utterly drenched in schmaltz and sentimentality that the film becomes far harder work than it should be. (By the way, I never saw “Daddy’s Home” (but read the IMDB synopsys): it was not a prerequisite for seeing this movie).


A Christmas cast. From left, Alessandra Ambrosio, Didi Costine, Mark Wahlberg, Scarlett Estevez, Will Ferrell, Owen Vaccaro, Linda Cardellini, Conor or Daphne or Dylan Wise(!) and Mel Gibson.
Will Ferrell (“Get Hard“, “Anchorman“) reprises his role as the somewhat incompetent Brad, ‘sharing’ his family of kids and stepkids with the much more streetwise Dusty (Mark Wahlberg, “Patriot’s Day“). After a poignant school recital, the pair realise the damage that a distributed Christmas is doing to their offspring and they determine to spend Christmas all together this year. In the process they vow to try to put aside their attempts at one-upmanship – “the harbour is closed” – in the interests of giving everyone the best Christmas ever.
But their plans are turned upside down when their fathers also turn up for Christmas: Mel Gibson (in a sublime piece of casting) plays Dusty’s dad, astronaut-hero Kurt, who is even more macho and extreme than Dusty, and John Lithgow (“Miss Sloane“; “The Accountant“) plays Brad’s airy-fairy father Don… the apple has not fallen far from the tree there.

Kurt forces the family to ‘fight’ Christmas on a neutral turf by renting a palatial AirBnB in a snowy wilderness. Tensions rise between the diverse individuals until a breaking point is inevitably reached.
There are some great farcical sight-gags in this movie. Quite a few of the funniest ones are spoiled by the trailer, but there are still a few standout routines that made me guffaw. A hi-tech shower is predictable but funny; and Brad’s use of a snowblower to apocalyptic ends is the funniest scene in the movie.

Wahlberg and Ferrell are a trustworthy double act (after their initial surprise pairing in “The Other Guys”). Gibson and Lithgow also inhabit their roles perfectly, although it was hard of me to relate to either of them. The scene on the airport escalator as they arrive is very well done.

The supporting cast all play their parts well: ER’s Linda Cardellini as Brad’s wife and Dusty’s ex-wife; Brazilian model and actress Alessandra Ambrosio, as Dusty’s (almost unbelievably good-looking) new wife Karen; and WWE star John Cena as Karen’s ex-husband. (Doesn’t ANYONE stay married in the US any more?). The kid stars – Didi Costine, Scarlett Estevez and Owen Vaccaro – are also good, with Estevez being particularly appealing.

Watch out for a funny cameo in the final scene as well, which I found very amusing (“You only have one story” … LoL).

“Will my bum look big in this?” – erm… no! Sara (Linda Cardellini) and Karen (Alessandra Ambrosio) on a shopping trip.
What drowns out the comedy though is the sentimental storyline around a personal tragedy being lived out by one of the family. The angst and nasty back-biting that surrounds this I found neither funny nor pleasant. The story builds to a snow-bound cinema (showing “Missile Tow” starring Liam Neeson… a great “pointless answer” for the BBC’s “Pointless” quiz!) and a finale song that is just so over the top that it has both an “awww” factor and is bile-inducing all at the same time. The screenplay is by Sean Anders and John Morris, with Anders also directing.

Will Ferrell films can be like a game of Russian Roulette, and I fully expected this to be truly awful. It wasn’t, and as a Christmas comedy it is an OK watch… and thankfully significantly above “Jingle all the Way”!
  
Hunter Killer (2018)
Hunter Killer (2018)
2018 | Action, Thriller
The Hunt for Red October. Crimson Tide. Das Boot. These are the some of the greatest submarine movies ever made. Hunter Killer is not on that list.

 

That’s not to say that this movie isn’t entertaining. Gerard Butler appears alongside a surprisingly well stocked cast including Academy award winner Gary Oldman, Emmy winner Michael Nyqvist, Common and Linda Cardellini to create a gripping experience that is high action and suspense throughout the entire film. But where it excels in action it falls short in story and character development.

 

The action begins right off the bat; and within 5 minutes of the opening credits two submarines are destroyed and the world is on the brink of World War 3. Commander Joe Glass (Butler), despite never having captained a submarine before, is field promoted into command of the USS Arkansas, considered a Hunter Killer submarine, and sent to investigate the missing subs. During the course of his investigation, he discovers that not all is what it seems. Meanwhile, Rear Admiral John Fisk (Common) and NSA Agent Jayne Norquist (Cardellini) are at the Pentagon with some issues of their own. Using a Navy Seal recon team, they’ve discovered that a Russian military coup is in progress and the only way to prevent a war is to rescue the captive Russian president. In the end, all three teams need to work together in order to steer the two countries away from being driven into a nuclear confrontation by a rogue Russian defense minister

To its credit, this movie is what it is. Pure, driven action with few breaks and absolutely no subplots or side stories. Despite there being three main teams within the film (the submarine, the recon team and the Pentagon team) all three are focused on the same objective and there is very little deviation from their respective missions. There’s no accompanying love story or unshown historical conflict between two characters. There’s not even much in terms of character development beyond the typical “old crew learns to trust new and unproven leader”. This is as close to a pure action movie as you’re going to get. Every single line, scene and character is used to further an explosion in some way or another.

This is the first big project for director Donovan Marsh who, prior to this, hasn’t had anything close to this quality of cast or this kind of budget. Hunter Killer has actually been tossed around the studios for a number of years with other notable directors including Tony Scott (Crimson Tide) and Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) previously attached to the script. While it would have been exciting to see what either of those two could have done with this film, Marsh does manage to keep things alive by maintaining that constant stream of action and suspense. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to be able to elevate the picture above that basic level. Despite an all-star cast who performed excellently, the movie remains essentially one-dimensional.

If you’re looking for a tense (Crimson Tide), intelligent (Hunt for Red October) submarine movie that looks a little more like a political thriller and a little less like an advertisement for the Navy, then this movie is not for you. However, if you’re in need of a bit more action and a lot less subtext, then Hunter Killer makes for a great night out full of explosions, amusing jokes and better acting than the dialogue really deserved.
  
Hunter Killer (2018)
Hunter Killer (2018)
2018 | Action, Thriller
Now let's be honest, we all know that Hunter Killer isn't going to be sweeping the Oscar noms. As action fans, do we care? Noooooope!

This is a film that does exactly what you expect, and want it to do. It's Olympus Has Fallen. It's White House Down. It's Geostorm. It's modern action that you don't have to think about. It's that perfect diversion.

I think they tried to capitalise on the big names in this one for the posters. It doesn't really seem like Gary Oldman is in it enough to warrant second billing, but what do I know? The supporting actors were very good. The more I see Common pop up in films the more I'm enjoying him. There are also great performances from Toby Stephens, Michael Nyqvist and Linda Cardellini, which was a nice surprise.

Thanks to half term and my holiday I was traumatised to realise that I was potentially going to miss this one at the cinema. It was on for just one week at my Cineworld which coincided with my first week away, I got back to find most places weren't showing it any more and as expected, I was annoyed. Stupid half term. Vue ended up coming to my rescue with one slight drawback... it was only showing at a time where I'd have norally been in bed for about two hours.

There was a reason for the last bit of waffle. Having to see it in the middle of the night, I was fully aware that the film starts out relatively slowly. I found myself drifting off a little bit, but when the action started I was drawn in and some of the pieces were very effective.

I ended up doing a bit of an IMDb surf from this film while looking at some of the actors. It was a surprising learning curve. Hunter Killer was one of the last films made by Michael Nyqvist before his death, I also discovered that Toby Stephens is Maggie Smith's son. Two very different things that I'm surprised I didn't know.

What you should do

Hunter Killer is definitely worth watching if you catch it on the TV or streaming. It's an entertaining action film that will pass a couple of hours.

Movie thing you wish you could take home

I could do with some handy radar that would help me work out if spaces were big enough for me to parallel park in.
  
Daddy's Home (2015)
Daddy's Home (2015)
2015 | Comedy
5
7.0 (9 Ratings)
Movie Rating
A Lesson in beige comedy
We did it! After managing to get through the record-breaking year that was 2015, things in the film world shifted down a gear for 2016, well, for a month or so.

As we begin another promising year in the world of the silver screen, one of the first movies to garner the public’s attention is Daddy’s Home, but can this comedy with Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell hold its own with the heavyweights in the genre?

Daddy’s Home has a simple premise, stepfather Brad (Ferrell) who lives and breathes for the adoration of his stepchildren feels threatened when their hunky, off-the-wall dad Dusty (Wahlberg) comes into town. That’s literally the plot, and this becomes the film’s major stumbling block.

Decent comedy films are ten-a-penny these days and over the last few years, director Paul Feig has charmed audiences across the globe with Bridesmaids, The Heat and the rib-achingly funny Spy. He is simply the guy everyone wants for comedy as every script that has his name attached turns to gold.

Daddy’s Home unfortunately lacks a cohesive and witty plot, instead opting for clichéd laughs that work the first few times, but fall flat afterwards. That’s not to say there isn’t anything clever here, in fact there is, but it’s in short supply.

The two lead actors are, as usual, dependable with Wahlberg being particularly memorable, not least because he spends the majority of the 96 minute running time with his shirt off, and Ferrell is a veteran in this genre, but the characters lack any real depth, and the obligatory moments were director Sean Anders wants us to feel something for the pair simply evaporate into thin air.

Elsewhere, Linda Cardellini provides a surprisingly phoned-in performance as Dusty’s ex-wife, Sara, with her two children, Megan and Dylan, played by Scarlett Estevez and Owen Vaccaro faring much better. Estevez in particular is a promising young actress.

Despite these glaring omissions, a brilliant sequence shot in a fertility clinic garners laughs from start to finish and Thomas Haden Church’s turn as Ferrell’s boss is a real joy to watch with some of the film’s best lines.

It just all lacks a little touch of Feig. There’s none of the satirical humour mixed with belly laughs that audiences come to expect in 21st Century comedy and it’s a real shame the two lead stars, heavily marketed as facing off against each other, don’t get to do more and go that bit further.

Overall, Daddy’s Home is a perfectly pleasant start to 2016. It’s no-where near the standards set by Bridesmaids or Spy, but does just about enough to warrant a watch. It’s just not as funny as its credentials would have you believe.

https://moviemetropolis.net/2016/01/10/a-lesson-in-beige-comedy-daddys-home-review/
  
 The Curse of La Llorona (2019)
The Curse of La Llorona (2019)
2019 | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
I've said it before, The Conjuring is my all time favourite scary movie. However, since the success of that first movie, there have been a number of spin off movies, in an bid to build what's now known as the 'Conjuring Universe'. These movies have all varied in quality, ranging from the not too bad (Annabelle Creation) to the downright awful (The Nun). With a third Annabelle movie due out this year, not to mention another Conjuring sequel and other planned universe movies such as The Crooked Man, there's no sign of them stopping anytime soon.

Which brings us to The Curse of La Llorona, the latest entry to the universe and one which is based on Mexican folklore. La Llorona, also known as "The Weeping Woman", is the ghost of a woman who drowned her children and now cries while looking for them in the river. Nowadays, children are told to be well behaved and respectful of their elders, otherwise La Llorona will come and take them away.

This movie wasn't originally billed as being part of the Conjuring universe, and featured a pretty dull first trailer. However, a subsequent trailer featured a familiar face from the Annabelle movies in the form of Father Perez (Tony Amendola), and a link to the Conjuring universe was later confirmed, despite his presence in this movie being somewhat brief.

We're in Los Angeles, 1976. Anna (Linda Cardellini) is a widow with two young kids and working in social services. She still mourns the death of her police officer husband while trying to keep her family together and maintain her demanding job. That job involves dealing with some difficult cases involving children and one such case takes her to the Alvarez home. The mother appears to have lost her mind, while her children are locked in a cupboard that has strange markings on the door. As the title of the movie suggests, there is a curse at play and it's not long before that curse, and the horror that brings with it, is passed onto Anna and her children.

Like The Nun, La Llorona is essentially just a woman with scary face makeup who shrieks at people every so often and tries to make you jump. But thankfully, there's a little more to La Llorona than just that. Some slow, effective reveals provide some pretty decent chills and scares, making this a much more solid and enjoyable movie as she begins to terrorise the children before eventually invading their home and going full on evil.

After Father Perez brings us all up to speed on the backstory of La Llorona, and a flashback to 1763 gives us a visual and graphic representation, the family are referred to an ex priest who is better suited in helping them shake off the curse. He comes to their home in order to prepare for the arrival, and hopefully the removal of, La Llorona. It all feels very formulaic, similar to countless movies we've seen before, such as Poltergeist.

The Curse of La Llorona is pretty corny at times, attempting to inject humour which doesn't always seem to work. However, I did like it. It's certainly a huge step up from last year's disappointing Nun movie and featured enough intensity and scares in its short 93 minute runtime to make it enjoyable enough.
  
 The Curse of La Llorona (2019)
The Curse of La Llorona (2019)
2019 | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Umbrella (0 more)
Verdict: Jump Scare 101
Characters – Anna is the widowed social worker and mother who while doing her job, checking up on children that might be suffering abuse, trying to keep them with their parents, get involved in a curse, which puts her own children in danger. Baring in mind, she is a social work and was married to a cop, she doesn’t make the best decisions, we see how she struggles to communicate with her children, often leaves them alone and when they get injuries, she doesn’t demand answers, which remaining unanswered would mean she could be considered abusive. Chris and Samantha are the children, they are both dealing with the loss of their father, which would be difficult for any child, they become cursed by La Llorona who wants to take them, meaning they must first learn to communicate with their own mother, when the events start to happen. Rafael Olvera is one man that turned his back on the church in order to fight the evil in the world, he is the last resort for Anna, where he knows how to stop La Llorona from causing more pain in the lives of family.
Performances – Linda Cardellini in the leading role does well through the film without doing anything you wouldn’t expect for a horror film. The child actors both do a solid job through the film too.
Story – The story here follows a widowed mother that ends up getting a cursed by an evil spirit that wants to take her children and she must figure out how to stop her before it is too late. This is a horror story that does do everything it needs to, to put a character in a position where everything they do know, can be turned on its head, when it comes to child protection. The story does however fall into the position of the start of the La Llorona appearance seeming quite random to the first victim, with not enough investigation into that side of the story, while the battle to protect is pretty much every sort of possession based film we have seen before.
Horror/Mystery – The horror in the film does work if you want jump scares, it does build some up very well, with an umbrella sequences which is the standout for me. The mystery behind the film comes from just why La Llorona has appeared in the first place, which never seems to get answered, only how to beat her.
Settings – The film keeps most of the scares in and around the family home, it does make a point that it is the family that is haunted not the house, which is key to how the ghostly figure appears. Being haunted in your own home is always going to be a scary idea.
Special Effects – The effects are used to make the figure of La Llorona look frightening, it will give the scary figure a look which would get a scream too.

Scene of the Movie – Umbrella.
That Moment That Annoyed Me – It is pretty routine for a horror film.
Final Thoughts – This is a routine horror that does have a couple of good scares without hitting the heights of the rest of the universe it has come from.

Overall: Easy to watch horror.
Rating
  
Green Book (2018)
Green Book (2018)
2018 | Drama
Phenomenal
Sometimes a solid film can catch you off guard. Blockbusters, Marvel films, anything Disney, those are the ones you expect to succeed and most times they do. However, sometimes films come along that aren’t highly publicized that gives you a glimpse of its potential in a trailer you never even would have seen had you not gone to see a certain movie. Enter Green Book, the story of famous black pianist Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and his decision to embark on a tour in the deep south accompanied by his driver and protector, an American-Italian man named Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen).

Acting: 10
You can tell someone is killing at their job as an actor in a movie when you don’t even recognize them. Viggo Mortensen is out of this world amazing in his performance as Tony. He’s tough as nails, but you can see his softer side coming forth as the movie progresses. He and Mahershala Ali have a phenomenal chemistry that carries the story and entertains you from start to finish. They make you feel as if they’re actually becoming the best of friends as their worlds collide. I loved the intensity of some of their scenes and how they could turn on a dime and bring you a little laughter. Also, not-so-small shout out to Linda Cardellini who plays Lip’s wife Dolores as her performance was extremely solid as well.

Beginning: 10

Characters: 10
Tony Lip is easily one of my favorite characters in any 2018 movie this year. He is the typical gruff male and the stereotypical American-Italian type, but it’s eye-opening and fun to watch a character like that in a setting that’s not a mafia movie. His progression is what makes him great, or adds to his greatness rather. I couldn’t imagine coming across a guy like Tony Lip and not liking him after five minutes of meeting him.

I don’t want to downplay Don Shirley’s character, although Lip does steal the show. Shirley is one we can learn from, a guy that fights through adversity and is determined to win at all costs. He is a lost soul that drowns himself in the highs and lows of alcohol and music. You pity him and you cheer for him at the same time.

Cinematography/Visuals: 9
I am always impressed with period pieces and how they are able to capture regions so well. There is such a great depiction here of the northeast vs. the deep south that transports you easily from one region to the next. One minute you’re on a bustling street in the middle of New York and the next you’re on country road surrounded by trees being taken to a backwoods gas station. Just thinking about it even now made me add another point on. I also loved the stark contrast between the beautiful venues where Shirley would play and the grimy hotels he had to stay in because of the color of his skin. It was a major eye-opener and a punch to the gut when you see it on screen.

Conflict: 10

Genre: 8

Memorability: 10
Great choice on the title as it alone helps the film to stand out. You will understand when you see it, trust me. Overall Green Book is a beautiful tale that ultimately breaks stereotypes and spin things in a different light we don’t quite expect. I loved how there were a number of scenes that were not only funny, but touching at the same time.

Pace: 10

Plot: 10

Resolution: 10
Slightly cheesy, slightly unrealistic. I don’t care. To me, it was a fitting ending to an overall solid story. It’s got my seal of approval.

Overall: 97
I love when unexpected gems hit me in the face like Green Book. Go see this film. You will not be disappointed.
  
Grandma's Boy (2006)
Grandma's Boy (2006)
2006 | Comedy
Life for video game tester is often filled with long hours, countless repetition and ever looming deadlines as the rush to get the latest games done and on budget is a key factor in the gaming industry. Often testers, much like the game coders toil away in obscurity with only their fellow gamers and personality quirks as their only companions. One such individual is a man named Alex (Allen Covert), a 36 year old professional game tester who suddenly finds himself out of his home thanks to a roommate who spends months of rent money at a local brothel.

Undaunted, Alex drifts from friend to friend often with disastrous results as he attempts to take stock of his situation and avoid the unpleasant alternative of moving in with his Grandmother (Doris Roberts) and her friends. With a deadline looming for his company’s latest game, a producer named Samantha (Linda Cardellini) is brought in to get the team on task. Faced with the reality of sleeping at his desk thanks to a rather embarrassing incident at a friend’s house, Alex is forced to reluctantly take refuge at his grandmothers.

Since Alex is the old man amongst the early 20’s testers who want nothing better than to break his unbeaten streak in head to head game challenges, Alex is forced to tell his co-workers that he spends his nights with three women and they wear him out. The sad truth is that Alex is worn out from 6:00 AM wakeups followed by three hours of chores before going to work. As if life was not complicated enough for Alex, the head game designer J.P. (Joel Moore), becomes more and more eccentric and this is only fueled by his interest in Samantha and his knowledge that Alex is attracted to her.

With a premise like this “Grandma’s Boys” has all of the ingredients to be a fun comedy that continues in the tradition of Adam Sandler’s comedies since his company produced the film. Sadly the film despite a few laughs becomes utterly predictable and drags in many places. The cast is enjoyable enough, but the jokes are too far between leaving the cast to carry the story which sadly is not strong enough to support the down time between jokes.

This is not to say that there are not some funny moments in the film as I can think of at least a half dozen good laughs. The issue is that when you have to wait 15-20 minutes between then in a film that is just over an hour and a half, it does tend to make the film drag. Also, much of the humor is derived from drug use. While it is funny in spots, the constant use of drugs, being stoned, and so on becomes old fast and makes the film seem like a one trick pony.

Covert who co wrote the film does his best in the film, but seems best suited as a supporting character as his character while likeable does not really connect with the audience the same way that one would with say Sandler, Schneider, or even Stiller. There are some good cameos in the film and Shirley Jones, Ms. Partridge herself is good as the older lady with a healthy libido, but I just could not help think that this film could have, and should have been much better than it was.

In the end, despite some good moments, there simply was not enough of them to save the film as the thin story, repetitive themes, and long gaps between good jokes ultimately sinks the film. It was nice to see a film about game testers as it is a group that is rife with comedic potential to be exploited, but sadly Grandma’s Boys barely scratches the surface.