Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Lets just get this out of the way before we start, I have watched about 20 minutes total of any King Kong movie and I only have this image of him climbing the Empire State Building or Chrysler Building or something or another. But I love creature features and giant monsters interest me so this felt like it was right up my alley.

With that said, let’s check it out!

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Kong: Skull Island

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz, Tian Jing, Toby Kebbell, Thomas Mann

A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden. – IMDB

Kong: Skull Island is pretty much my first visit into the King Kong universe and let me tell you, it was a thrilling as ever ride. Visually, King Kong and the Skull Crawlers and the other giant creatures here are amazing to look at. The location is also very beautiful which further emphasizes that the more beautiful the place is, the deadlier the creatures in it are. There are exceptions to the equation obviously but Kong: Skull Island is just beautiful to look at with its lush forests and mountains and waterways. Its really very pretty especially the first moment the team breaks through the layer of storm and enters into this paradise. Of course, the next moment turns into hell as their seismic things cause the king of the place to come and attack them and we soon learn, Kong is not the enemy.

Kong Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island is quite the action adventure. There’s a lot of suspense as they learn about the truth on Skull Island and what makes its inhabitants fearful. Kong is really just the king and the protector of his land. However, just like any kingdom, other creatures want to take him down. Skull Crawlers are very competent as a villain in their serpent ways. In fact, if we were to talk about villains, humans are probably the darker ones here. Everything starts with John Goodman’s character Bill Randa and his assistant that asks to somewhat tag along to check this island before another country heads out there and discovers it before they do. Of course, they soon realize he has his suspicions that he’s kept hidden to himself and soon, they are caught up on this island and trying to make it to the retrieval spot before they are abandoned here. The teams are separated and each seem to have their own agenda. The mystery and suspense works very well to keep the movie well-paced especially since the unknown territory and villain contribute a huge part to wondering what the true danger is and how to protect themselves and escape.

Kong: Skull Island

The cast here is also pretty impressive. Of course, its hard to deny any of their talent here. Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson and John C. Reilly all have outstanding performances in their filmography to back them up and they all delivered great performances in Kong: Skull Island. I honestly would love to see Tom Hiddleston as his character James Conrad here in more films. He’s pretty bad-ass and very smart. It feels like this character has more to be discovered. It feels like Brie Larson hasn’t had any action films to date, or at least I haven’t seen any of them if there are and somehow she fits very well in this story as a daring photo journalist who can carry her own. John C. Reilly brings a slight comedic value to the otherwise serious and tense situation as well as Thomas Mann’s character who jokes around quite a bit. If you talk about human villain, Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Preston Packard hits the extreme notes in Kong: Skull Island as a man who lets wanting to stand up for the men he lost hide his reason and judgement. In many ways, I can’t say that his character didn’t at some point remind me of the nostalgic moments with Deep Blue Sea. Its probably just me though.

Kong: Skull Island

There’s a lot to love about Kong: Skull Island. The characters are great, the setting is beautiful, the creature designs are done so impressively and the story is pretty decent as well, filled with suspense and adventure. There were quite a few mixed or lukewarm reviews throughout the year and it made me not too sure about where to place this especially since I have no previous visit into the King Kong universe so it turned out to be an awesome surprise.

Have you seen Kong: Skull Island? What did you think of it?

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Netflix A-Z: The Spectacular Now (2013)

We’re at the S selection for Netflix! Movie reviews craze going on over here, right? I’ve been wanting to watch The Spectacular Now since this movie released back in 2013 but somehow never got around to it. It could be that last year, I took a long drama movie break. There was a few indie S selections that I wanted to watch but The Spectacular Now was one I didn’t want to wait anymore.

Let’s check it out!

The Spectacular Now (2013)

The Spectacular Now

Director: James Ponsoldt

Cast: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brie Larson, Mary  Elizabeth Winstead

A hard-partying high school senior’s philosophy on life changes when he meets the not-so-typical “nice girl.” – IMDB

 The first thing to really catch my eye watching The Spectacular Now at this moment is the brilliant cast they have here. I haven’t really seen a ton of Miles Teller so I don’t have much to compare him to (yes, I haven’t seen Whiplash yet) and I’ve only seen Shailene Woodley in The Fault in Our Stars and I wasn’t a fan of that one. Nothing to do with her, just the story was my issue. Aside from our main characters played by Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, there is a supporting roles by Brie Larson (who went on to play her fantastic role in Room), Jennifer Jason Leigh (who I saw in The Hateful Eight) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (in  this year’s 10 Cloverfield Lane) for starters. The Spectacular Now is a coming of age story that delivers something a little different. Sutter is our main guy here and in many ways, I feel like it wasn’t even meeting Aimee that changed him but just that Aimee was the girl that gave him a different perspective on the future and growing up. The power of youth and relationships, right? In all reality, Sutter is afraid of growing up and its why he doesn’t embrace his the concept of living for the future but rather for the now moment. There’s a really honest and relatable coming of age story in between the charming romance drama going on here.

The Spectacular Now

I have a feeling a ton of people are going to be disappointed when I say this. Miles Teller is an odd choice as Sutter. Maybe its because this movie is meant to be odd but I’ve never been able to see Miles Teller as a very good actor. Maybe its the lack of movies that I’ve seen of his. It took me a while to really connect with Sutter’s character but in a rather unexpected and subtle way, he did grow on me, especially because we could see the script giving him and Aimee a very cute young love growth in a way that they influenced each other and gave each other courage to do the things they were previously afraid to face.

With that said, I liked Shailene Woodley a lot. As the nice girl, she portrayed it on point. It was believable in her most innocent ways. She truly loved Sutter and saw the good in him even when sometimes, he wasn’t all that great. The fascination of a relationship is finding the balance of having something in common but enough not to learn something new from each other and Sutter and Aimee had that. Their relationship was a highlight of this coming of age story even if I don’t believe it would be what really changed Sutter because the powerful scene with him and his mother played by Jennifer Jason Leigh was the one that stole the show.

The Spectacular Now

Other than the wonderfully sweet moments between Aimee and Sutter crafted beautifully, the drama truly comes in in a strong scene when Sutter finally meets his father again. It proves that the innocent memory he had for his father was actually very much an illusion. He starts noticing all the bad his father truly is even when he tries to brush it away and in many ways, can see the hints of him really starting to see how ignorant his father is and how he somewhat sees the disappointing similarities and how he could potentially be a lot of bad. It shows a little of the nature vs. nurture influence right there in my opinion.

The Spectacular Now

 Overall, The Spectacular Now is a really good coming of age story. Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley are great as Sutter and Aimee. The character development for both of the characters carry a lot more than just romance but also what growing up is about. Other than romantic themes, it also has a strong family relationship concept here. The Spectacular Now tells a great story with a compelling message. While I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of the way they ended it because a ton of movies are doing that also, the journey of Sutter and his coming of age story is an intriguing one to say the least.

Have you seen The Spectacular Now? What coming of age movies do you like?

Recap: Oscars 2016!

Following tradition of the last two years, here’s a little recap! I wasn’t sure if I’d end up catching Oscars but we changed up our plans and ended up joining my mom for sit down and dinner together to enjoy the ceremony. My conclusion is that I make better guesses when I haven’t seen any of the movies than when I do.  I guess bias comes into play at that point and it affects my judgement.

I am glad that Mad Max: Fury Road did so well because it was well deserved.  I gave a personal standing ovation in my mom’s dining room to Ex Machina for winning Visual Effects.  There was a bit of cringing when I felt like Sam Smith was about to go off-tune and he looked nervous as heck to be up there but his speech was inspiring and he looked genuinely enthused to win it even if probably Lady Gaga’s song would have been the win that was deserved but I don’t care much for the “Original Song” category.  The only one I was genuinely a little angry at was Mad Max winning Costume Design because Cinderella may not have been a great movie but it was all about costumes while I mean how many costumes were there for Mad Max.  On a happier note, I am happy that Mark Rylance won for supporting actor.  Even if I didn’t see The Revenant, I was fairly certain Innaritu would win for Best Director and Leo for Best Actor because just from the trailers, it looked like the sort of movie that had the calibre and achievement to rightfully earn it. However, I did end up catching Spotlight over the weekend right before Oscars and even posted my review for it and I’m telling you that to me, it was a justified Best Picture winner.  I don’t think I’ve agreed much to these winners in the last few years but then I haven’t caught up with the majority of them either but Spotlight really connected with me in presenting their story and the content.  Out of all those movies, as wonderful and fantastic as they were, Brooklyn didn’t stand a chance in my book and even The Revenant probably wouldn’t have the depth of telling a story that reflected an issue that is maybe probably unfortunately still present today. For none of the other movies I saw in the Best Picture did have as much of a discussion at my home than Spotlight either and we finished that movie at 2am on Saturday night or something (just to give you an idea).

This year I decided to do my Oscars recap of the winners in advance and now, let’s check out the Top 5 Best Dresses.

Oscars 2016

Cate Blanchett

Oscars 2016

Charlize Theron

Oscars 2016

Alicia Vikander

Oscars 2016

Saoirse Ronan

Oscars 2016

Priyanka Chopra

Elegant, beauty, grace: These ladies all had it.  Not to mention, Cate Blanchett picked the perfect dress for the category she was presenting for: Costume Design. Just look at the intricate flowers on her dress! Its amazing! And kudos for Charlize Theron pulling off that style because normally, I’m not a fan of that cut of the deep V plunge (or whatever you call it) but she accessorized well and made it look very nice.

And then for some great moments that I liked quite a bit.

Jacob Tremblay & Star Wars

Oscars 2016

Mark Ruffalo Winking for his Nomination

Oscars 2016

Michael Keaton Fist Pump for Spotlight Win

Oscars 2016

I was equally as happy as Michael Keaton was when I heard that Spotlight won.  This reaction is just priceless!

Brie Larson in Awe

Oscars 2016

And her speech thanking everyone including the movie-goers! It warms my heart even if I didn’t see it in theatres and bought it on the Play store 😉

Leonardio diCaprio Winning Speech

Oscars 2016

Leonardo diCaprio winning was *almost* set in stone.  I was pretty sure he made a solid performance even if I only saw trailers.  However, he didn’t just win an Oscar.  He also delivered a meaningful speech and the best part was his final line about not taking the planet for granted, he wouldn’t take his Oscar win for granted.

I think to wrap it up this year, Lady Gaga’s song deserved more recognition.  I haven’t found the time to watch The Hunting Ground but it does intrigue me. While I can’t find the video for the Oscars performance she made and I only saw a snippet as I left my mom’s at that point and only had snippets online.  The song holds true meaning that deserves to be heard.

That’s it for Oscars 2016! It was a great year with some outstanding movies this year! 🙂
Did you watch the Oscars 2016? What were your fave moments? Did any winners surprise you? Any disappointments?

Room (2015)

During the duration of the Ultimate 80s Blogathon, it will be my chance to do a lot of 2015 movies catch-up.  Focus will mostly go to Oscar nominated films.  The choices are limited as some are stuck in between home release and theatres.  Still, I’m going to try my best to get to as many as possible.  Moving right along with the Oscar nominations (since I already looked at Bridge of Spies before, Room is nominated for 4 Oscars including Best Picture. Its also filmed in Toronto and the little boy Jacob Tremblay has been on The Ellen Show recently.  I read Room (review HERE) a few years ago in my earlier blogging days so maybe that review is not a fun read.  Still, it is a great book.

Let’s check it out! 🙂

Room (2015)

room

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Cast: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, Joan Allen, William H. Macy

After five-year-old Jack and his mother escape from the enclosed surroundings that Jack has known his entire life, the boy makes a thrilling discovery.-IMDB

Room is very good movie.  Its a well done adaptation of the book.  Watching endangered kids always has this somewhat manipulative aspect to it but Room and its cast rearranges (or at least I think of what I remember) the screenplay so that it makes it a little more cinematic.  IMDB’s description is a little skewed.  Room focuses on entrapment in the first half and escape/rehabilitation in the second half, almost through the eyes of a five year old.  During the movie, I was a little shocked that they split the movie almost down in the middle, allocating more time on Ma and Jack recovering and adapting to the real world.  It felt like the source material spent more time building it from Room.  Is that a good choice? Let me tell you that when the credits rolled, I couldn’t help but compare the enjoyment I had of this movie to Gone Girl (also one I loved the novel and was not sure how they’d make it work in a movie).  With that said, the credits listed the author of the book Emma Donoghue also to be responsible for the adapted screenplay and for that, I think is the similarity of what keeps the content true to what the heart of the novel is about.  I’m not one to nitpick on details on expanding or diminishing of the source material.  It honestly doesn’t bother me too much but how they dealt with it held my attention for the movie.  The tension, the urgency, the sacrifice, the fear of adapting, and other feelings were all apparent in this drama.

room

One of the best things was giving us a believable story lead by an extremely competent cast. There is no doubt of the exceptional performances of Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay playing Ma and Jack respectively.  Their attachment and relationship was depicted beautifully. The part I loved the most was those little monologues where the audience got to get an honest glimpse of what Jack was thinking of from the little world he lived in to his transition into a bigger world.  In a story like this, even being saved is still a struggle to heal for everyone and not just the victims.  Jack has the bigger world and building a connection with others and not just his Ma.  On the other hand, Ma has to get over the years she’s lost and people questioning the decisions she made.  Joan Allen is fantastic as Grandma, especially when contrasted with a much shorter appearance of William H. Macy as Grandpa, who for that short time sent out his feelings perfectly. However, among all the praise, I truly think that Sean Bridgers was casted wrong.  I don’t know who could have done it better or maybe its not even a casting issue but the lack of build-up for the villainous character of Old Nick.  It seemed a little rush and there was really one scene that gave him a more menacing feeling.

Room

Room is a truly eye-opening experience, especially when the movie does a fantastic job of opening and closing it the way it did.  Its an experience of really seeing what two sides of the coin (or the other side of the wall?) is all about. Room may be a prison for Ma because she knows what else is out there but for Jack, its not.  This is his world and he is happy because he has Ma.  That attachment takes time to maintain and it won’t be easily broken.  Does leaving Room behind mean that they are free? The amazement and fear in Jack as he learns to connect with others but still have that unbreakable bond with Ma is a precious one.  In all the hardships they’ve gone through, Room isn’t completely a depressing movie.  Its a thrilling and tense but weaved in with some genuine heartfelt moments that give hope and a different point of view.  Maybe sometimes, the eyes of a five year old can see more because they know less.

Have you seen Room? How did you like the performance of Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay?