Victoria & Abdul

OH yeah, I definitely heard about Victoria & Abdul.

I heard about it, and knew I definitely didn´t want to see it, ever.

What a generic sounding, feel good, Hallmark looking film. Actor names meant nothing, it looked so low effort.

But whoever is pulling the strings behind these things campaigned their dicks off. And it got nominated for Two Oscars. Will it win them? Doubtful. But it is nominated, and I am here to review it.

Yep, there is Victoria & Abdul!

In the late 1800´s, Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) was off, being the Queen of England, doing Queen things. Namely getting awards from sovereign nations, eating lots of food, and taking naps. She was old. Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal) was just a clerk in a prison in India. A regular, who gives a shit job. But Abdul was tall. And they needed tall people.

Why? Because the Queen was to receive a mohur, a special gold coin from India, which they totally owned and were kind of dicks about. And they needed real Indians to go, they wanted tall ones, and he fit the bill. Him and Mohammed (Adeel Akhtar) were sent to not look her in the eye, bow, walk backwards. Make a huge bit of fuss over a tiny coin and then head back to India with no change in their lives.

But Abdul looked her in the eyes. She might have thought he was cute. She made them stay, to present more things as servants. Then eventually her private footmen. And then, eventually, he became her teacher on all things Indian culture. A strange, unprecedented turn of events, one that surely was going to piss off a lot of old, rich, white people.

Also starring some white people: Eddie Izzard, Tim Pigott-Smith, Michael Gambon, Paul Higgins, Fenella Woolgar, and Olivia Williams.

Oh, what is this? Victoria & Abdul & Some Other Guy!

As expected, Victoria & Abdul is a very okay movie. Maybe even one of the okayiest films out there.

Dench does perfectly fine as an old queen, bored with her life, looking for something to fill her hole. Fazal, however, is a fresh change. He has a nice smile, a good laugh and just a really spunky look about him. Without him in this role, giving me something to smile about, it would have easily have been a 1 movie.

This whole thing could be a made up story and it would not change anything. Just because it is real does not mean it is worthy of being a film. The story is about a small part of two people´s lives, and one of them is super royal. A strange pairing, a cute history factoid, and that is about it.

This film will leave our collective conscious in a few years, and that is not really a shame. Just a forgettable, okay film.

2 out of 4.

The LEGO Batman Movie

If you are new here, I have rallied against animated films so far this year. We just had a summer with Cars 3 and Despicable Me 3, both incredibly bad to super bad films. And these are our tent pole films for the year more or less!

There is very little hope of animated films saving it by the end of the year, but I openly acknowledge that I had not yet seen The LEGO Batman Movie. I know a lot of people enjoyed it, our first LEGO movie since The LEGO Movie.

But I am one of the people who only gave The LEGO Movie a 3 out of 4, it was no where close to being my favorite animated movie of the year, but it was quality and hilarious, I give you that. Despite that, I was never looking forward to this movie. I was disappointed to hear it as a sequel.

I want some new original LEGO content, not relying specifically (mostly?) on pop culture content from a single established franchise. I also acknowledge that the previous LEGO film was FULL of pop culture content, but it wasn’t entirely. This just feels…well, unoriginal.

Now that brightly colored chap, he seems like a great way to take any brooding franchise.

Ah yes, Gotham, city of villains and crime and 1 super rich dude and some vigilantism. Batman (Will Arnett) is the best and everyone loves him! But he lives a life alone, mostly hanging out in his house, sometimes interacting with Alfred (Ralph Fiennes). But you know, just being a lone with all his money, cool gadgets, and lobsters.

He is still really good at fighting crime though, and even when the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) gets a shit ton of villains to work together to blow up the city, Batman still stops them. Even worse, Batman refuses to acknowledge the Joker as his greatest villain, his foil, his reason for Batmanning. So now the Joker feels bad. Batman just shuts the door on everyone!

However, with a new commissioner in Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), they are going to focus less on Batman and more on actually catching these bad guys who still terrorize the streets. And you know, maybe focus on getting them fixed instead of just imprisoned. And shit, it starts to work, so Batman has even less to do and no one to hang out with in his increased downtime. Except for Dick Grayson (Michael Cera), whom he accidentally adopted.

Of course eventually some stuff happens and things get really bad, but Batman has to learn to work with others if he is going to defeat this new threat!

Featuring an incredible slew of famous people doing extremely minor voices, because YOLO. Seriously, most of these people have like, 1-2 lines, or grunts, or one scene.Again most, there are like two people thrown in here who have slightly more lines. Totally pointless for the most part still, so, whatever. We got Adam DeVine, Billy Dee Williams, Channing Tatum, Conan O’Brien, Doug Benson, Eddie Izzard, Ellie Kemper, Hector Elizondo, Jason Mantzoukas, Jemaine Clement, Jenny Slate, Jonah Hill, Kate Micucci, Mariah Carey, Riki Lindhome, Seth Green, and Zoe Kravitz.

And just think, that wall of text is just the famous people you know who did voices.

Right away in the film, we get introduced to the Joker and his plans to take over Gotham once and for all, with a giant team of villains on his side, which are all presumably real Batman villains. Action, fighting extreme. I was shocked it happened so early, but since this film mostly deals with Batman’s loneliness, we needed to just get him doing Batman stuff, so we could see him existing waiting to do more Batman stuff.

And that part was just…okay. It didn’t connect with me on an emotional level or anything, because this is a film focused on comedy, so it went for quick jokes instead. And to contrast the opening, the ending is long and even more action packed. Even more villains, many more than you’d expect in a Batman movie, and explosions, and action and…

Being overwhelmed. That is what this movie felt like. It went to the extremes early on, then it went to the extremes in the end. In the middle, it is mostly lowkey, plot stuff. My body didn’t enjoy the “rollercoaster”. It failed to find a middle ground, and frankly, basically all of the action felt so excessive that it was not enjoyable from my point of view.

The best parts of the film were just Batman interacting with Robin and Barbara, regular dialogue for regular jokes. But the majority of the plot was off, along with my earlier complaint. It was an okay film when it comes to entertainment, but not one I am rushing off to buy and talk about over and over, like The LEGO Movie.

And now, also this year, we have The LEGO Ninjago Movie? This is based on their own IP, so hopefully they stick to their own stories to give a good film and don’t rely so heavily on other franchises pop culture references.

2 out of 4.

Rock Dog

2017 is the year of the animated disappointments so far, and yes, I still have not seen The LEGO Batman Movie, get over it. It might be funny, I just don’t care too much, as Batman was what I disliked the most about The LEGO Movie.

And I figured I would be skipping Rock Dog, it was an animated film released almost a whole year prior in China. You know, because they made it. And I know America isn’t number one at everything anymore, but I know we are still number one at animated CGI films. Yes, some anime notwithstanding, we do CGI cutting edge and well, so foreign films just seem behind.

And also the title, Rock Dog. Sigh. Come on animated films, be better.

I wonder which one is the rock and which one is the dog.

Way way far away, in a land called Snow Mountain (which is, guess what… a snow mountain!), there lives a young Tibetan Mastiff named Bodi (Luke Wilson). Bet you thought his name would be Rock Dog. Nah, not yet.

A long time ago, a bunch of wolves led by Linnux (Lewis Black) were driven out of their town by Bodi’s father, Khampa (J.K. Simmons). Khampa is pretty sure the wolves will eventually come back, so he is training up the local sheep and his son to protect it again once they come back. There is also some magic stuff about finding his inner fire to help defeat things, but uhh, that is weird.

Turns out Bodi just wants to rock, once he discovers what music and rock music actually is. It is all he thinks about, it is his new dream and passion, and he is a bit of savant. But his dad disapproves, so he one day just goes out on his own to prove him wrong.

After getting to the city, he heads to a place called Rock and Roll Park in order to find a band and make a big name for himself, like the legendary rocker Scattergood (Eddie Izzard). But the wolves are out, the people are mean, and Bodi might just have to make it on the music biz on his own.

Also featurign the voice work of Kenan Thompson, Mae Whitman, Jorge Garcia, Matt Dillon, and Sam Elliott.

The snow or rain or whatever is happening is indistinguishable from that yak’s beard in the background.

Rock Dog is another animated film that ushers out a line of celebrities to do their voice work instead of real voice work, because names sell. Names like Eddie Izzard. Thankfully, two of those names are J.K. Simmons and Sam Elliott, who have unique voices and add something to the film. Too bad their characters are in Snow Mountain, so only at the beginning and the end of the film, really.

The premise of Rock Dog is mostly shit. Anthropomorphized badly explained worlds are all over the place, and this does nothing to rise above a Pre-K TV program on Disney. It doesn’t feel fully fleshed out and it is a super simple story. A lot of it about a dog who just wants to play music in a world that doesn’t rewward newcomers.

But despite its lack of originality, great CGI, or anything new to offer the genres, it is still an average movie.

I mean, I am not going to go out of my way to make sure my kids see it, but if they do see it, I won’t be annoyed at their mind being poisoned by drivel. It is just a bit dull for those of us who have been there, done it, when it comes to these types of movies.

2 out of 4.

Across The Universe

Beatles. People love The Beatles. I can understand their cultural impact on rock and music afterwards, and appreciate it, while not caring about their music at the same time.

Now that that is out of the way, moving on!

Across The Universe is a musical, not adapted from Broadway (original (almost!)), and features only Beatles music. Yay! Well, more or less that means nothing. I knew I’d watch it one day, just wasn’t rushing to the stores when it came out to see it. They can’t all be Mamma Mia!

I bet if I showed random pictures, hardcore Beatles fans could guess the song associated with it, even if they haven’t seen the movie.

Across The Universe is a few different stories wrapped into one, about different people in the 60s/70s America. Each character has its own plot, and gets wrapped up in the rest but all come from their own different backgrounds. Jude (Jim Sturgess) (Come on, you knew someone would be named Jude) is a individual from Liverpool, who has never known his dad, an American who was came over during WW2. So he gets to the USA, illegally, to look for his dad.

At the university where his dad works (janitor), he meets Max (Joe Anderson) a rebellious spirit, and eats dinner at their house, where Max’s dad is very angry about his sons lack of prospects. Jim also meets Max’s sister, Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood) who is upset because her boyfriend is going off to war. After an argument, Max leaves the house and Jim agrees to get an apartment with him in NYC (BFFs instantly!).

They find a loft sharing with the much older, trying to make it as a female rock star Sadie (Dana Fuchs) who provides a nice outlet for singing Beatles songs if there is no good context. Yay bands in musicals. Jo-Jo (Martin Luther) leaves Detroit after the 60s riots, where his younger brother was killed, and eventually finds and joins Sadie’s band as a lead guitarist before she hits it off big. Also interracial loving.

Also Prudence (T.V. Carpio), an asian cheerleader who just finished high school, left the area for being in love with another girl and unable to show her feelings. She also moves to NYC (and that apartment), falls in love with Sadie, but she doesn’t like chicks. She also is pretty emo, runs away a lot, joins a circus and shit.

Main storyline wise, eventually Lucy also goes to NYC after her boyfriend dies in ‘Nam, and develops feelings for Jude. Max also gets drafted and goes to war where everyone assumes he dies. Jude is a painter, and can’t get into protesting as much as Lucy does (who might be getting it on with some anti-war people), and eventually gets sent back to the UK for being here illegally. In the UK, Jude assumes Lucy dies in a home made bomb explosion, and lots of sad things happen, before some happier things.

Also are cameos by Bono and Eddie Izzard, both involving drugs and other free spirit hallucinogens.

Izzard psychadelic
And then stuff like this happened.

That was a shit ton of story lines, and plot, and I left out plenty. But lets face it, if I put another paragraph explaining the ends to all the storylines, you wouldn’t mind much. You want to watch this movie for the music, not the acting or plot lines. But still, plot wise, I found a lot of it interesting. I found the Prudence plot line a bit more confusing, must have missed it a bit in the beginning. I liked Jo-Jos a lot, and Max’s, but the main Jude/Lucy plot line felt weird to me. Just didn’t believe it all, too much weird angst.

The movie also movies very fast, and is over two hours to encompass all the plot (and more music, of course). Generally most of the songs were good, and as far as I could tell, most sounded a lot like the Beatles versions. There were obvious changes to some, and mixed songs, which were generally decent. My favorite parts would be the Let It Be/ Come Together scenes, involving Detroit riots, the brother, funeral, and Jo-Jo leaving. Felt pretty powerful to me. Also only click that first one if you want to be sad.

A lot of the choreography was really good as well, in particular the I Want You (She’s So Heavy) song, which I hadn’t heard before. But that one is also incredibly weird.

So hey, overall I will give it to the filmmakers for trying something different, direct to film musicals are always rare, and generally try for wider appeals. But jukebox musicals are an easy way to get it done. “Like the Beatles, then you will love this song!”. Overall, despite the decent singing, good choreography, I felt the film just had too much going on in it. Crazy ass visuals were distractions for me, and harder for me to grasp what was actually happening at times.

2 out of 4.

Every Day

Every Day I’m movie watching.

DO DO DO DO dewdodo
M-m-m-movie watchin’, movie watchin’.

Every Day is the boringly titled movie about a relationship, that sucks, and has problems, yet the problems aren’t too…interesting.

Liev Schreiber plays the dad. He works for a company, as a writer/editor. His boss is Eddie Izzard, who used to be a full time bachelor but is just now settling down, and constantly freaking out about it. He also works with Carla Gugino, who may be trying to seduce him. And by may be, I mean definitely is.

His wife is played by Helen Hunt, who also has to bring in her father to their household. He has…something wrong with him, making him all loopy, and in a wheelchair. But he is old, so he is also normally angry. Because aren’t all old people?

They also have two sons, the younger a kid who likes to play the violin, and thus has concerts for the parents to go to, and the older, someone who recently came out of the closet a few months prior, despite knowing for many many years.

And yeah. A few weeks in their life, and maybe a rekindling of their relationship through these “Troubling times”.

You have to believe that Izzard is the type of guy who can be in charge of a magazine.

What’s to conclude about this movie? Not much. Some stuff happens, then some more stuff happens. Not really present is any comedy, except from how ridiculous Izzard is. The drama, while present, is there, but insignificant.

What is left is a movie that had not much happen, and then left no impact on my life. Woo!

1 out of 4.

Cars 2

Hooray! The long awaited sequel to Cars is Cars 2! And by long awaited, I mean both never expected in 2006 and also, since a couple days ago, when I reviewed Cars.

I say this in an exaggerated way obviously, but Cars 2 is nothing like Cars. Sure, both of them are still in some creepy ass world with only cars (and other transportation vehicles) being their own entities that are alive, but Cars is better than Cars 2. Cars is about slowing down, appreciating the finer things in life, and finding true happiness.

Cars 2 is just some big James Bond Spoof.

Knight Rider
But unfortunately, when I think Cars + James Bond, I think KITT from Knight Rider. This was KITT-less.

Owen Wilson and his bad voicing habits are barely in this movie. This movie is all about Mater, the Tow Truck, voiced by Larry The Cable Guy. Yes. They changed leads and put the comic relief in the first film as the main character. Yes. This is as bad as it sounds.

The actual beginning of the movie I assumed was a “movie” in this car land. It was just nothing like the first film, with Michael Caine playing the James Bond like car, spying on an oil rig? Or something? But this film is “deeper” than that. It involves Lightning going on a world grand prix, and racing against a french car (voiced excellently by John Tuturro) sponsored by an alternative fuel source dude, voiced by Eddie Izzard. This is of course the only way Izzard can play someone who isn’t evil. Because if he had to show his face in a movie, you know he always is the evil dude. Yay voicing!

But yeah. There is some big conspiracy happening. This takes up most of the movie, and of course Mater ends up being mistaken for an American spy. Thanks to Bruce Campbell, who’s few minutes is the best in the movie, because he is Bruce Campbell.

Bruce Campbell
“Voice a car? Boom boom boom. Sorry, I’m fighting deadites here. Can the car just be backfiring? Boom boom boomstick.”

It is stupid that this movie got a G rating, with all of its “violence”. But who knows what goes on in those rating meetings. The reason for all the bad cars is laughable too. They are a bunch of “lemons”, or cars that break down a bunch. Yes. I’d hope you read my first review, but in this world, cars are created and forced to live certain rules. You’d be pissed off too if you were made with defections and forced to just, live that life out while other cars never break down. You can only handle being stuck on the side of the road so many times before you’d snap too.

So, likers of the first Cars movie would probably call this one worse. I am going to actually find a shark and throw it over the shark, to represent my point more. This movie is just a cash-grab for merchandise. But at least they called Bruce Campbell.

1 out 4.