Double Feature: Monster Hunter (2020) & The Witches (2020)

Welcome to the next double feature! Its been a while since we’ve done one of these! This time, I’m going to talk about two movie rentals that I’ve watch lately of 2020 movies. The first is Monster Hunter, a 2020’s video game adaptation directed by Paul W. S. Anderson and the second is The Witches a 2020’s Roald Dahl adaptation of a novel of the same name. Thinking about these two movies, I feel like they do pair up well as its two directors with films that really fall in line with the style of films that they are known for. Let’s check it out!

Monster Hunter (2020)

Director (and writer): Paul W.S. Anderson

Cast: Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa, Ron Perlman, T.I., Diego Boneta, Meagan Good, Josh Helman, Jin Au-Yeung, Hirona Yamazaki

When Lt. Artemis and her loyal soldiers are transported to a new world, they engage in a desperate battle for survival against enormous enemies with incredible powers. Feature film based on the video game by Capcom. – IMDB

At this point, whether for better or worse, Paul W.S. Anderson is known for his video game adaptations. Of course, mostly everyone remembers Resident Evil series in particular. He has however done a few other ones and never shies away from adapting video games that he loves but Anderson is much more than Resident Evil and has shown that he has his own directorial style and trademarks. How do I know? Well..an entire season of Movies and Tea Podcast as a retrospective on his work would do it. How about that, eh? A shameless plug for another project where you can check out HERE. With that said, being relatively supportive of Anderson’s work despite his shortcomings and being absolutely unfamiliar with Monster Hunter games in general, I decided to give Monster Hunter a shot and if you are familiar with Anderson’s work, it pretty much will be fairly enjoyable.

Starting with some positives as a complete newbie to this world. Monster Hunter does create a wonderful visual element for this dangerous world that the soldiers end up where every surface has its own monsters hidden from plain sight. Being a creature feature fan, monsters are pretty much a fun element of any movie when well-designed. That makes this world building and creature design all the more engaging to be watching especially with the bird’s eye view shots that Anderson is especially known for and being able to showcase architecture really well which definitely comes into play here with the surroundings. Being fans of Milla Jovovich and Ron Perlman, this was also quite the treat. Plus, a few other supporting characters which were fairly smaller characters. However, the character developed on all fronts were pretty thin overall.

With that said, the shortcomings of the film are fairly more apparent. From the action standpoint, a lot of the fighting choreography cuts away quite a lot so its not too engaging to watch. As mentioned before, the main plot is pretty thin. That does have to do maybe with the whole open world game that it adapts itself from so the story is straightforward but feels somewhat bland, which leads to my previous point about the characters also being poorly written as well.

With that said, the film is pretty below average. As a one time watch and turn off your brain sort of video game adaptation, its still fairly enjoyable since I do enjoy the world building in movies and visually, the world is shown so very nice. However, in substance, its rather lacking overall. The one takeaway I did have from this is that I’d really like to try out a Monster Hunter game soon.

The Witches (2020)

Director (and screenplay co-writer): Robert Zemeckis

Cast: Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci, Chris Rock, Jahzir Bruno, Brian Bovell, Josette Simon

A young boy and his grandmother have a run-in with a coven of witches and their leader. – IMDB

I’ve read some Roald Dahl when I was younger and while I feel like I’ve read The Witches, I can’t exactly be sure so we’re going into this pretty much saying that I haven’t read the novel or have seen the first adaptation back in the 90s. Robert Zemeckis is a great director to be adapting a film like The Witches. The story itself and the fantasy elements all make some wonderful fun but with a little darker twist. Plus, the CGI work here is on point which of course can all be expected with past directorial works by Robert Zemeckis.

The Witches is a really cool story about witches versus humans to a certain extent. Well, its more about the witches despise towards children and wanting to execute a huge plot to change them all into rodents. Why rodents? Because they are hated by humans as well and probably will be killed anyways. At least that’s my interpretation from the whole thing. When a grandmother and his grandson tries to run away to a hotel to get away from the witch they believe are bothering them, they end up realizing they are staying in the exact location of a disguised witch coven meeting. When the grandson gets caught, he gets turned into a mouse along with another English kid and then realizes his pet mouse is also one of the witches’ victims. All three of them with the help of their grandma try to stop this plot. The story is so fun to play out especially as every element is done so well especially with the design of the witch as their masked human appearances get reveal to their true form and that’s where the CGI comes into play to make the appearance a tad creepy but still having some silly moments to keep it in line as a family film (or at least I think its a family film. Correct me if I’m wrong in the comments, okay?)

A lot of what makes this movie is fun is the cast. The Witch Leader is played by Anne Hathaway which is pretty fun overall as she captures the character in an entertaining way. It does feel like she loses the accent in some parts of the dialogue but overall, she carries it well enough. The grandmother is played by Octavia Spencer who is one of my favorite actresses ever since seeing her in The Help and then every role she does is just so amazing, no matter what it is. The film overall is narrated by Chris Rock as the older version of the grandson as he recounts the story of his encounter with the witches. Stanley Tucci appears also in supporting role but personally, I love seeing him appear in random roles in so many movies. He is such an underrated actor especially with the diversity of roles he has portrayed over the years. The kids are pretty good as well but the core of their role is in voice acting when they get turned into mice and the whole thing is pretty exciting with a little bit of tension.

The Witches is a fun little family children romp. Its not for very young children, I’d think as the witches are pretty creepy in appearance even if some of it for adults might come off as being silly. The film is done pretty well and has its exciting bits and the CGI is done so well that its pretty cool overall.

My 15 Anticipated Movies in 2015!

I’m not one to make a ton of lists on here.  I have them on and off when I feel the desire for it.  In fact, it all comes down to how I’m a really indecisive person and making choices are really difficult.  I like to give everything chances, even if they don’t quite appeal to me, even if I know that I won’t like it.  Who knows, right? I’m all for something being a pleasant surprise. Every year I see a bunch of these most anticipated movie lists go up and I always want to do one.  I’m sure the 2013 and 2014 one is buried in my drafts somewhere.

One of my personal goals (that I didn’t talk about) is not procrastinating in 2015 (and forever, if at all possible). So, here it is! I doubt I’ll get to see all of these.  I usually get about 12 theatre visits a year or I try for once a month.  We’ll see how this year goes 😉

I’ll try to do this in order of release date according to the upcoming schedule on the Cinema Montreal site.

1. Blackhat (January 16)

blackhat

Chris Hemsworth, Leehom Wang, Hong Kong and Cybercrime? Count me in!

2. Mortdecai (January 23)

mortdecai

Johnny Depp, what more can I say?
I haven’t actually watched the trailer because I don’t usually watch a lot of them But I love Johnny Depp’s acting.
He always is a highlight of even the not so good movies.

3. Jupiter Ascending (February 6)

jupiter ascending

I’ve been anticipating this movie since 2014 then it got pushed to 2015 release and still, I remain hopeful.
Channing, Mila, space-ish setting. That just screams the sort of movie I love.

4. In The Heart of the Sea (March 13 Update: Dec. 11)

in the heart of the sea

Chris Hemsworth, Sea, and a classics adaptation: All works for me.
Now, just to read Moby Dick before this releases 😉

5. Cinderella (March 13)

cinderella

Disney. Cinderella. Cate Blanchett. Hell Yeah! 🙂

6. Furious 7 (April 3)

furious 7

I’m a HUGE Fast & Furious fan. No further reasons needed.
On a side note, I’m probably going to marathon the first 6 before I go see this one 🙂

7. Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1)

avengers age of ultron

I’m a die hard Avengers fan but I have to admit that the Avengers have a really good thing going.
I love the humor, action and everything so I’m in!

8.  Tomorrowland (May 22)

tomorrowland

Disney. Britt Robertson. The premise.  I love it all 🙂 This looks awesome!

9. Jurassic World (June 12)

jurassic world

Chris Pratt and Jurassic Park sequel! I love dinosaurs 🙂

10. Inside Out (June 19)

inside out

I have to admit I was skeptical about this one at first but its starting to grow on me.  Plus, Pixar rarely does wrong.
The premise of emotions and all sounds pretty cool!

11. Ant-Man (July 17)

ant man

This one is a last minute addition after I saw the trailer released two days ago.
Paul Rudd hasn’t never caught my eye before but Ant-Man trailer looks really fun.
Plus, I’m starting to never doubt what Marvel can come up with. So far they’ve had a pretty awesome run.

12. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (September 18)

scorch trials

No trailer for this one yet (at least I couldn’t find one). I loved Maze Runner in 2014. It was one of the better movie adaptations I’ve seen.
Dylan O’Brien is fantastic as Thomas.  I just finished reading Scorch Trials and the book review will go up soon.
As much as I’m anticipating this, I have a little reservation as to how excited I am because of how they set up the first one.

13. The Walk (October 2)

the walk

I walked past The Walk filming in Montreal near my work place. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in it.
And Robert Zemeckis has made a lot of movies that I like.

14. Spectre (November 6)

spectre

I’m not much of a Bond fan but after Skyfall, I’m extremely excited to see this! Daniel Craig is an awesome James Bond 🙂

15. The Good Dinosaur (November 25)

the good dinosaur

No trailer yet and I’m not even sure what this is about but Pixar, dinosaurs and the cuteness overload of the poster 🙂

Honorable mention (in no particular order): Terminator Genisys, Pitch Perfect 2, Minions, Pan, The Fantastic Four, The Hunger Games-Mockingjay Part 2, Star Wars: Episode VII, Kung Fu Panda 3, Mission Impossible 5, The Jungle Book

Slot 15 was the hardest one to choose because I was playing around with shifting Cinderella, Pan and even Mission Impossible 5 on and off the list so they could very well have replaced The Good Dinosaur. Even The Fantastic Four landed on the list for a brief moment during drafting but it just didn’t have the interest I felt for the rest of these.

That’s my *preliminary* list. What’s yours? What movie(s) do you anticipate in 2015?

Romancing the Stone (1984)

Before I start, I’d like to tell you that I’m going to try to pick up the pace with the movie reviews.  I have a whole list to do and because of my eye infection, its causing me to be a bit slower. I know its really been not looking like I’m putting too much time on it but I am, it just takes time to go through the movies and find it all.  Most of the movies are not available on Netflix so I had to physically get a copy. Anyways, so expect more reviews 🙂 It might dip into the first week of September!  Lets get on with this one!

Next recommendation up was in response to my review of Coma (HERE) from Mikey at Screenkicker.  He told me to that I “couldn’t go wrong” with Romancing the Stone when I asked about Michael Douglas films! Check it out!

romancing the stone posterDirector: Robert Zemeckis

Cast: Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito,

Romancing the Stone is an action-adventure-comedy focused around the life of adventure novelist Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner).  Her success in writing does not reflect her personality.  However, when she receives a phone call from her sister Elaine telling her that she is kidnapped and that she needs her to bring to the kidnappers (Danny DeVito and Zack Norman) in Columbia a treasure map in order to be rescue her.  Reluctantly, she arrives in Columbia and after some mishaps, she is lost on her way to Cartagena and meets a jungle saavy Jack T. Colton (Michael Douglas) and requests for his help.  After some bargaining, he agrees but to find out that she is being chased by Captain Zolo (Manuel Ojeda), police authority of Columbia who is after the same treasure map and will do anything to make sure he gets it.

romancing the stone michael douglas kathleen turner

I love action adventure movies a lot! This one may have been made before a more recent but similar flick, Nim’s Island but the moment I saw the character of Joan Wilder on screen, my mind thought, Nim’s Island right away.  The story isn’t completely the same but it also features a scaredy-cat adventure novelist that has to conquer their fears and find their courage and protect someone else while being protected also.  Also, I thought to myself, this sure isn’t War of the Roses! That was the first movie I saw Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas on the same screen…but point is, I really found this movie fun.

romancing the stone michael douglas

The best part of this movie was Michael Douglas hands down! I’m still learning about the movies that Michael Douglas has done and no, I haven’t watched Wall Street yet.  I will soon enough.  I have it already.  BUT, somehow I like Michael Douglas in this role because its different from his always being rich and arrogant all the time. He’s still not totally a doe-eyed sweetheart but still, he’s not in a shirt and tie and he’s actually fighting to survive.  Plus, who can say that he doesn’t have great chemistry with Kathleen Turner? Because he does.  Even in War of the Roses, they did, even when they were hating each other’s guts.  They have a believable vibe that just works.

romancing the stone action

I actually enjoyed this more as a comedy than as an adventure because it wasn’t that adventurous when they weren’t being shot at. It was pretty funny.  Mostly Kathleen Turner’s character, the nervous author was just ridiculously silly sometimes.  Most of the other time, its the stupid kidnappers.  We always have those in these movies, right? This time we have Danny DeVito and he always cracks me up (even when he was doing the voice of The Lorax)  ;).  This guy is totally awesome!

romancing the stone zolo

Overall, Romancing the Stone definitely has a fun element to it.  You want to see an outstanding performance by Michael Douglass out of his norm, this one is definitely a great choice.  Its a keeper in my collection and I will watch it again.  Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of Michael Douglas but even I was impressed 🙂 So maybe, if you haven’t seen this, you should give it a shot.  If you have, tell me what you thought about it!

Christmas Marathon: Polar Express (2004)

After an extremely late night partying on Christmas eve with my family and finally getting back to sleep at around 3am, which is extremely late for me, my boyfriend and I both sat down to watch this beautiful flick.  One of the two we always leave for Christmas Day to see.  While he has decided to nap a bit to continue our feasting tonight, I’m taking a moment to sit down and write this.

Before that, I’d like to talk about the how the belief in Santa.  A child’s belief in Santa may be naive but it keeps that childhood happy spirit going.  It gives them hope and joy to find surprises.  Its magical how a little belief can make the little ones so happy.  Every year I watch my boyfriend’s niece and nephew open their presents.  When they were younger, they would have my boyfriend disguise as Santa Claus and play out the whole Santa Claus scene, now we just scurry them off into another room and have all the women make lots of noise to cover up the guys moving everything up and pretending that Santa visit. Its just amazing to see their faces light up when they walk into the living room and see a surprise pile of gifts for not only them but EVERYONE in the room.

This movie ties in exactly to that feeling, the idea of believing.

Polar ExpressPOLAR EXPRESS (2004)

Director: Robert Zemeckis (A Christmas Carol)

Cast: Tom Hanks, Eddie Deezen, Nona Gaye, Peter Scolari

Its Christmas Eve and we zoom into a little boy (Tom Hanks) and his family.  We learn through a conversation with  his parents and his younger sister Sarah that he doubts Santa’s existence.  In the middle of the night, he hears a loud sound and goes outside and there he sees a magical train called Polar Express.  He is invited by the Conductor (Tom Hanks). Unsure at first, still he decides to board the train that is supposed to reach North Pole.  There he meets a little girl (Nona Gaye) who believes in Santa and thinks its the most wonderful experience to go and Billy (Peter Scolari), a little boy who feels lonely and scared.  During the path, they meet have obstacles to get to the final destination to actually witness Santa’s liftoff to start his night long task of delivering gifts.  Its a story of belief, faith and trust.

A movie that amazes me every time because of its values that it tries to carry out.  Even as an adult now, its so crucial to believe and have faith and trust even though it can be hard at times.  Especially when we have something as imaginary as Santa Claus, who appears to accomplish the impossible.  However, this flick attempts to bring this whole idea alive to show that when you believe, thats when you will feel and sense certain things that could fade away.  It shows us that belief can easily be forgotten if we don’t hold on to it.

Aside from that, this one has beautiful animation and a wonderful plot to add to all the characters they introduce.  The majority of the characters don’t have a name and we only know them for the roles they do.  Tom Hanks voices 6 of the characters and does a phenomenal job at it.  He can be a palette of different emotions portrayed on all the characters.  There was a bit of singing and music everywhere which helped lift up the mood.  One word on the director though, he’s also the director of another movie I watched for this Christmas marathon.  Also starring one actor voicing multiple parts in an animation, called Disney’s A Christmas Carol (you can click HERE to see that). He seems particularly skilled at doing Christmas movies and using this one actor multiple parts concept.  Very fun and unique way to arrange the voices of an animation.  Plus the animated characters actually sometimes resemble a bit of the actor voicing them.

One of my favorite characters in this has to be the Conductor of the train.  That character seems to be so insightful.  I’d like to quote a few that I liked:

“Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.” -Conductor, Polar Express

“The thing about trains… it doesn’t matter where they’re going. What matters is deciding to get on.”- Conductor, Polar Express

Was the belief of Santa a part of your childhood?

 

Christmas Marathon: Disney’s A Christmas Carol (2009)

A-Christmas-Carol-Blu-ray-DVDDISNEY’S A CHRISTMAS CAROL (2009)

Directed: Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future trilogy, Polar Express, Cast Away)

Voices by: Jim Carrey, Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, Robin Wright

Based on the classic A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Robert Zemeckis both write and directs this full-length animation.  The story is about a man called Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey) who is very uptight about his money and doesn’t care about the people around him, much less the ones who he sees regularly like his employee, Bob Cratchit (Gary Oldman) or his nephew, Fred (Colin Firth).  On Christmas eve, he goes home and is visited by his former deceased business partner, Jacob Marley (Gary Oldman) burdened with heavy chains.  He tells him that these were from all that he had done while he was alive and that he would be visited by three ghosts: Ghost of Christmas Past, Ghost of Christmas Present, and Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (all voiced by Jim Carrey).  These ghosts bring him to visit memories and visions that he has chosen to ignore and made him realize all his wants had lead him to his ignorance.

The first thing that pulled me to this movie was the idea that Jim Carrey does 7 different voices.  Four are from different stages in Scrooge’s  life: Young boy, Teenage, Middle Age and finally the one we see, as an elderly stingy man.  He also does the voices of the three ghosts.  Jim Carrey and his voice was what drew me to him originally when I first saw him in The Mask.  He does a decent job in that area for this movie.  I have no problem with it.  The voice work was pretty good actually.  I like Colin Firth a lot and his distinct voice was quite himself as Fred.  Gary Oldman did a great job with this one also.  I’ve never heard him doing voices in an animation.

The second aspect of this movie is that I truly love the story and it looked to be really visually stunning.  It did turn out to be quite detailed.  My boyfriend commented about the detail of the reactions and expressions.  The experience was definitely geared towards being seen in 3D, however, I have a normal Blu-ray so it had to do.  It seem had exciting moments.

However, this flick is probably not primarily geared towards young children.  It had a lot of spooky moments near the end.  Although they do try to balance it out with a lot of funny moments to lighten the mood up.  I’m do enjoy this movie a lot.  Its not my absolutely favorite but whats Christmas without a little bit of Christmas carol, right?

There is a CRAZY amount of Christmas Carol adaptations both in animations, or themed like Disney’s, for example, and in real life. Which ones have you seen? Are there some you enjoy more than the others? I heard Muppet’s Christmas Carol is pretty good also.