Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Movie Review: Bad Moms Christmas (R – 104 minutes)

The first Bad Moms caught me by surprise, and ended up being one of my favorite comedies of the year.  It told the story of three over-worked and under-appreciated moms who decide to be ‘bad moms’ (they were still pretty good) in order to regain some of their sanity.  It was made for very little and ended up a big hit, so inevitably, we get a sequel.  This time, the moms are retaking Christmas in order to truly enjoy the season.

Amy, now in a serious relationship with Jessie, has decided that this year, it would be nice to have a slow-paced laid-back Christmas.  Her parents, Ruth and Hank, suddenly come by and her mother immediately starts telling Amy what she is doing wrong – and that because it’s the first Christmas her children will have without their father – everything needs to be perfect.  Ruth sets about scheduling parties and decorating without really clearing any of it with Amy.

Meanwhile, Kiki’s mother Sandy, who has been a little (a lot) clingy since her father passed years ago, also decides to come early for Christmas with her daughter.  She proceeds to be completely unaware of any boundaries and gets way too close to Kiki as she tries to guide her family through the holidays.  Carla is busy being Carla – still the wild one – when her even wilder mother, Isis, comes into town for the holidays.  Well, actually to borrow money, but it happens to be around the holidays. 
Amy, Kiki, and Carla commiserate with each other while trying to deal with the varying levels of crazy that each of their mothers bring to the table.  Hijinks ensue.  Really, that’s about it, there’s not too much of a plot, just a series of crazy circumstances that lead to funny situations, which is really all you want from a movie like this.

This one is written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who also did the first Bad Moms.  It’s funny, not as funny as the original, but still pretty funny.  As with the first movie, the best part of this movie is the bond of friendship between the three leads.  It just makes me want to watch outtakes of the three of them together.   Some of the jokes here are a little tired, and some of the situations go a little too far past funny, but adding in three fantastic actresses as the mothers of the moms is a great addition, and they are wonderfully funny.

  • Mila Kunis returns as Amy still stressed, but managing everything just a little bit better.  Kunis is really good in this role as a mom who just wants to enjoy the holidays with her kids and boyfriend when ambushed by her horrible mother.

  • Kristen Bell returns as Kiki, and is just as high strung here as she was in the first movie, except that her husband seems to really be a better partner now.  She tries to set up some boundaries with her mother, which doesn’t go well.

  • Kathryn Hahn returns as Carla and while she stole the first movie, she steals some of this movie but isn’t quite as outrageous. 

  • Christine Baranski joins as Ruth, Amy’s mother, and she is just horrible.  Nothing Amy does is good enough, and Ruth spends every moment belittling her.  I know it was playing for comedy, but some parts felt like they were going too far, and her redemption almost felt like it came out of nowhere.

  • Susan Sarandon joins as Isis, Carla’s mom, and if Carla was out of control, Isis is completely ridiculous.  Her redemption comes after meeting the other mothers, and realizing she has some work to do.

  • Cheryl Hines joins as Sandy, and is way too involved in her daughter’s life, but manages to hover just over the line between funny and sad.

  • Jay Hernandez returns as Jessie, and he’s really just there to be the ‘good’ guy, which is fine, because he does that very well.  The running gag of Ruth not remembering she had met him was pretty funny.

  • Justin Hartley joins as Ty Swindel, a firefighter/stripper who is in town for a ‘sexy santa’ competition and wanders into Carla’s spa to get waxed.  Sparks between them result in some hilarity and some cringing.  I will tell you that he cannot dance, but he’s game to try.

  • Peter Gallagher joins as Hank – Amy’s father - and honestly, he stole most of the scenes he was in for me. He’s the calm centering force behind Ruth’s crazy, and helps Amy understand why her mother is so cruel – but again, that felt a little like it came out of nowhere.

  • Wanda Sykes has a brief cameo as Dr. Karl, attempting to help Kiki and Sandy figure out what is wrong in their relationship.

The movie is certainly funny, and I definitely enjoyed it.  I absolutely wanted outtakes over the end credits, but instead there was a cast dance sequence that was entertaining, but not as good as outtakes would have been!  For sure it is not nearly as funny as the first – and because the first came out of nowhere, expectations for this one were higher.  It’s just fine for a holiday early morning weekend showing.  Yes, they absolutely set up another sequel – this time of the three older mothers hitting Las Vegas, and I would definitely watch that!
7 out of 10 – gained points for the Kenny G cameo.
Cast Fun: 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Movie Review: Thor Ragnarok (PG13 – 130 Minutes)

Since Thor’s first appearance in Marvel comics in 1962, he’s been a larger-than-life over-the-top character who closely resembles his Norse mythology counterpart.  In his previous two solo outings, Thor in 2011 and Thor Dark World in 2013, an attempt had been made to make Thor more relatable by locating his adventures here on earth.  In this third solo outing, director Taika Waititi embraces the otherworldliness of Thor and allows him to go almost entirely cosmic. 

This movie opens with a bit of an explanation as to where Thor has been during the events of Captain America Civil War.  After the Avengers defeated Ultron, he went scouring the galaxy for the Infinity Stones, finding none.  He ends up captured by Surtur, a large, firey, demon-type guy.  After learning that Surtur can only die after merging his crown with the Eternal Flame on Asgard, and then destroying Asgard, Thor removes the crown and heads back to Asgard – to find Loki in charge, masquerading as Odin, and doing an absolutely terrible job of ruling.  Heimdall is in hiding, the nine realms are in chaos, and Loki is mostly uninterested in helping. Thor takes Loki to earth, where Loki left Odin and are assisted by Doctor Strange in locating Odin. 

Odin is basically Yoda-in-Jedi here, on his way out, and says some cryptic things about his first born daughter Hela (who he has never mentioned to Thor or Loki before) and that she wants to destroy Asgard, and only Odin’s life has been keeping her at bay. Having said this, he promptly dies and Hela promptly shows up – instantly proving how much of a threat she is by destroying Mjolnir and knocking both Loki and Thor out of the rainbow bridge as they were transporting back to Asgard.  She wipes out the Warriors Three, employs Skurge, and sets out reclaiming her birthright.
Meanwhile – Thor gets spit out onto Sakar, captured by Scrapper 142 (who he eventually learns is one of the famed Asgardian Valkyries who were defeated by Hela many years ago) and meets the Grandmaster.  The Grandmaster swiftly enters Thor into his Contest of Champions to fight his champion – who turns out to be the Hulk, much to Thor’s delight.  Discovering Loki is also on Sakar – Thor sets out to gather some allies to return to Asgard and battle Hela.

Kevin Feige and Marvel have once again continued to make all the right decisions by hiring director Taika Waititi for this movie. Waititi is a New Zealand actor, writer, and director who excels at oddball comedy and this movie absolutely shines under his guidance.  Thor previously has been a ‘fish out of water’, which did allow for some humorous moments, but this movie fully embraces the potential lunacy of the character and is more of an action comedy than action movie.  Waititi allowed for a lot of improvisation, something that really pays off with a cast that has been working together for a long time, allowing the scenes to feel natural and fun. Yes, there are stakes, and yes, the story has a fairly serious end, but I feel that the balance between that and the comedy is beautifully held throughout.  The cast truly shines here in what is easily one of the best of the MCU movies.

  • Chris Hemsworth really seems to enjoy this outing as Thor.  He had previously been getting a bit bored with Thor’s ego and attitude, and here, has a blast revamping the character almost completely as he struggles through the galaxy to save his people.

  • Tom Hiddleston once again proves that Loki is sexy even if Hiddleston is not.  He and Hemsworth are at their best in improvised scenes together. Loki is never predictable, except by Thor, and proves to be both incredibly annoying and helpful when it aligns with his own desires.

  • Idris Elba returns as Heimdall and has traded in his giant helmet for a large wig.  Either way, he’s easily the most serious character in the movie as he attempts to move refugees around Asgard.

  • Anthony Hopkins has a brief appearance as Odin, as he shows up to say he’s about to die. He also got to have a blast as the Loki-version of Odin that is simply reclining on a couch watching a play and eating grapes.  That play was amazing – not just for the cameos, but for how incredibly hilarious it was.
  • Cate Blanchett plays Hela, a character who helped Odin capture the nine realms – but when she got greedy and wanted to keep going, he simply banished her to an unknown location where apparently she’s just been waiting and getting angrier until she could get out.  Blanchett also seems to be having a blast as she vamps through the movie, acting superior to everyone she encounters.

  • Karl Urban plays Skurge, a character I was used to seeing follow around the Echantress as her Executioner on the animated Avengers series.  Here, he’s been hired to replace Heimdall, and accidentally ends up working for Hela as she demolishes Asgard.

  • Jeff Goldblum plays The Grandmaster, and yes – everything you’ve heard is accurate – he’s just about the best thing in this movie.  And no – he’s not really acting, just plays Jeff Goldblum on another planet. He’s hilarious, and endlessly watchable.  Also – he seems to completely ignore punctuation.

  • Tessa Thompson was the biggest surprise in the movie for me. I had liked her well enough in Dear White People and Creed, but was completely blown away by her performance here. She is badass and angry – and at first has no interest in facing Hela again, but eventually realizes she needs to return to Asgard.

  • Mark Ruffalo plays Bruce Banner and the performance capture for the Hulk, who has been in control for two years while fighting on Sakar.  The Hulk has finally found a place where he is accepted and loved, and is not ready to relinquish control back to Banner, no matter how much Thor needs Banner.

  • Benedict Cumberbatch plays Doctor Strange in a short scene in the beginning of the movie, and honestly, he’s exceptional here – even more so than in his own movie.  This Doctor Strange is one that has settled into his new role and powers and is perfectly comfortable bamf-ing around his Sanctum looking for things to assist Thor.

  • Taika Waititi also plays Korg – one of the best characters in the movie. He’s another gladiator that Thor meets once he lands on Sakar, a hulking rock creature with a charming voice and personality. He’s hilarious and definitely a highlight – he and his friend Mick.

  • Rachel House, who has been in Waititi’s other movies, plays Topaz, who I would describe as Grandmaster’s henchwoman, assistant, device holder, and occasional realism check.

  • Clancy Brown plays Surtur who I really loved.  He seems just exhausted by everything in the beginning and very clearly states the purpose to his existence, unable to die until he destroys Asgard – which proves to be useful.

  • Ray Stevenson, Zach Levi, and Tadanobu Asano return as the Warriors Three, and Hela swiftly eliminates all three of them. This is a shame, because I really enjoyed all of them in previous movies – but I suppose it also establishes that Hela is very powerful.  Lady Sif is not around, mainly because Jaimie Alexander is shooting Blidspot, but also because she has a mission elsewhere.  This is good news, because it means she will be able to come back at some point.

Overall, the look of the movie is amazing – yes, you should see it in 3D.  The colors and scenery are more in line with Guardians of the Galaxy than some of the earthbound MCU movies, which makes sense. The score is a mix of 80s-style synth pop, with the addition of Immigrant Song by Led Zepplin because of its Norse references.  The action and fight sequences are fantastic, and the comedy is really and truly hilarious.  There are times that I missed the next line because I was still giggling at the previous one.  Definitely see it, it’s wonderful and yes – leads into the Infinity War Avengers movie which will be out next year sometime.  Now, just hang on until Black Panther comes out in February.

9 out of 10 – near flawless.  Gained points for Waititi providing a much needed lightening to Thor.

Bonus – James Corden attempting to launch 4D showings.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Movie Review: Geostorm (PG13 – 109 minutes)

In the 90s, no one destroyed the world better than Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich.  With Devlin producing and Emmerich directing, they gave us Universal Soldier, Stargate, Independence Day (their best) and Godzilla (Their worst).

In Geostorm, Devlin strikes out on his own as the director of a new global crisis movie.  In the near future, as Climate Change continues to make giant storms and natural disasters even stronger, scientists, lead by Jake Lawson, create a satellite web or net above the earth that can dissappate these giant storms, saving hundreds of lives.  The system comes to be known as “Dutch Boy” after the tale of the little dutch boy who put his finger in a dam to save a town from flooding. Jake however, is a bit of a hothead, and the suits in Washington replace him with his younger brother Max, who is working for Secretary of State Leonard Dekkom.  Three years later, the system is due to be handed over from U.S. control to Global control, and things start to go a little fishy. 

One of the satellites malfunctions over Afghanistan, abruptly freezing everyone in a village to death.  President Andrew Palma, concerned because it’s an election year, agrees with Dekkom that they hire their own crew to research the malfunction so that the system is running properly before being handed over to the world.  
Max relunctantly agrees with them to bring in Jake, who has been puttering around in Florida with his daughter (on the weekends he has custody).  After some fairly standard cinematic brotherly family drama – Jake agrees to go back up to the International Space Station to figure out the issue.  Meanwhile, another satellite malfunctions, superheating Hong Kong and nearly wiping out Max’s scientist friend Cheng, who is working on the Hong Kong end of Dutch Boy.

Cheng does some research and comes to find out – shocker – Dutch Boy is being manually sabotaged, and rushes to tell Max in person, since he swiftly realizes he’s being chased.  Jake discovers basically the same thing on the space station and sends a coded message to Max to confirm what Max learned from Cheng.  The clock starts ticking down to a ‘Geostorm’, a giant cataclysmic storm that will basically be a planetary extinction event, as Dutch Boy begins to go offline due to a pile of simultaneous issues, including a virus and the Space Station self-destruct sequence.  Jake has to work with the crew on the space station to find the virus in the system and the saboteur, while Max partners with his secret service girlfriend, Sarah, to get the kill codes for the system directly from the president, all while attempting to track the conspiracy to its origin, which of course, goes up to the highest levels.

The storyline is not original, you can pretty much predict who caused the issues early on, but that’s almost not the point of this movie – the point is the spectacle.  Unfortunately, that falls a little flat as well.  The storm and weather action sequences are not bad - the massive floods, freezes, heatstorms, and tornadoes are interesting to watch, but the overwhelming CGI does take you out of the scenes pretty quickly – this is one rare occasion where I think the destruction will play better on a smaller screen.  The advantage to the original Independence Day was that you did connect to the cast – the wide variety of characters thrown together to survive and succeed.  The same type of story starts here – with multiple characters on many fronts facing the same issues.  However, the characters aren’t given quite the same level of development and time, so there is not the same opportunity to connect, which is too bad, because some of them are really interesting.
  • Gerard Butler plays Jake, and can we please stop trying to have him do an American accent?  There is absolutely no reason this scientist/inventor/engineer could not have simply been Scottish. Hell, there’s even a line about how he and his brother were born in the UK.  In any case, he’s certainly action-capable and great at bossing around a thrown-together team.  I didn’t really buy the science coming from him, but he was just fine in all the other aspects of the character.

  • British actor Jim Sturgess plays Max Lawson, and yes, eventually he and Jake to put their past grievances aside to come together to help save the world.  He’s just fine as a younger brother always having to clean up his older brother’s mess, but I found myself confused by his haircut – a guy who works that often in the White House would surely have a more formal haircut.

  • Abbie Cornish plays Sarah Wilson – Max’s fiancĂ©e and secret service agent in charge of protecting the president. She’s no-nonsense, but quickly sides with Max when he starts telling her what is really going on.

  • Ed Harris plays the Secretary of State, Leonard Dekkom, a man who seems completely sinister from the get-go, especially when he insists on pulling Jake out of his ‘retirement’ to put back on the Dutch Boy project.

  • Andy Garcia plays the president, Andrew Palma, and he was pretty fun – seeming to embrace the silly of the movie at hand.

  • Richard Schiff plays Senator Thomas Cross, who basically harasses Jake out of a job in the early portion of the movie.
  • Daniel Wu plays Cheng, Max’s buddy and the scientist working in the Hong Kong Dutch Boy office.  He’s charming and fun during the short bit he gets to demonstrate how incredibly hot it is, and then paranoid when he realizes ‘they’ are out to get him and his research.  Honestly, because I’m such a fan of Into The Badlands, I did expect him to fight back, but he mostly just ran away from his attackers here.

  • Zaxie Beetz (best name ever) plays Dana, a cybersecurity expert who helps Max figure out what his happening to his access to the Dutch Boy system.

  • Alexandra Maria Lara plays Ute Fassbinder, the German scientist who has been running the space station while Jake has not been there.  She’s tough and capable, and ready to do whatever needs to be done to solve the problem at hand.

  • Robert Sheehan plays Duncan Taylor, the British crew member on the Space Station.  Eugenio Derbez plays Al Hernandez a Mexican crew member on the Space Station. Adepero Oduye plays Eni Adisa, a Nigerian crew member on the Space Station. Amr Waked plays Ray Dussette, a French crew member on the Space Station.  I did love the international crew aspect.

Overall, the movie is fast-paced, the action isn’t bad, and the disaster spectacle is pretty good – plus, the scenes between Ed Harris and Andy Garcia are pretty great, even if the rest of the scenes are average.  There were pieces I really enjoyed – the idea that travel back and forth to the space station is no big deal and happens very regularly, that everyone works together, that science is at the forefront of government, but the execution of the item as a whole was a little lacking.  I still love Dean Devlin, and I’m really looking forward to the new season of the Librarians – even if this is just worth a rental, but not worth seeing in the theater.

5 out of 10 – Gained points for Daniel Wu, but lost points for not using him enough. Gained points for the international crew, but then lost points for making both Butler and Sturgess pretend to be American.

Cast Interviews!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Retro Movie Review: The Lost Boys (1987 – R – 97 minutes)

The fourth of my Halloween-themed retro horror reviews has arrived!  A re-review of The Lost Boys, another 80s classic, filled with big-time 80s stars, big-time 80s hair, and some great big-time 80s music.

Lucy Emerson, recently divorced, moves her two sons with her to the small California town of Santa Carla to live with her father, who seems to be a bit off.  Michael and Sam begin to explore the town, hanging out at the boardwalk, which has a suspicious number of missing-persons fliers.  While Lucy gets a job at a local video store run by the kindly Max, Michael meets and becomes infatuated with Star, a young woman who seems to be dating the rebellious David.  David is the leader of a young gang of hoodlums who ride motorcycles around and basically do teenage-punk stuff.  Sam meets Edgar and Alan, the Frog brothers, who are a pair of young vampire hunters.  They give Sam some horror comics to educate him on the threats of the supernatural.

When Michael attempts to talk with Star, David steps in and bullies Michael a bit – what with some dangerous cliff-side motorcycling, and bizarre food options back at their lair.  Yes, they have a lair.  Come on Michael, how many red flags do you need?  They end the night with some railroad bridge jumping, and Michael suddenly wakes up at home the next day, a little foggy on the previous evening’s events, but with a beginning thirst for blood – which of course, thanks to his new comic-based knowledge, Sam recognizes.  Sam assists Michael in figuring out he is starting to turn, and since he has not yet killed anyone, he’s only a half-vampire – like Star – and he can be cured if they can just kill the head vampire.

Well, the Frog brothers are all about this plan, and think perhaps that Max is the head vampire.  They run tests on him when he comes over to the house for dinner with Lucy, but he passes all of them – the mirror, the garlic, the holy water and the crucifx – they run all the classics.  Since he passes the tests, they naturally assume that David is the head vampire, and set their sights on eliminating him.  Meanwhile, David attempts to push Michael along the transformation, and Michael learns that Star is in the same situation as he is.  Michael, getting weaker – helps Sam and the Frogs stage a final attack on the lair and the vampires to save both Michael and Star from turning completely.

Now, you’ll note I’m stopping there, and I’m not going to tell you who the head vampire is, just in case you haven’t seen this movie.  You should – it’s unintentionally (I think) hilarious, a little scary here and there, and really fun.  It’s directed by Joel Schumacher (yes, the man who put nipples on the Batsuit), who also was the director of other  80s “brat-pack” movies: St. Elmo’s Fire, and the original Flatliners.  The action is great, the comedy is great, and the music is great – but even better is the cast:
  • Jason Patric (no K) plays Michael, the hapless kid who just wants to fit in a new town, but definitely falls into the wrong crowd. In case you missed it, re-watch The Losers, and watch him terrorize Negan, Heimdahl, and Captain America.

  • Corey Haim plays Sam, and is really entertaining here as a kid determined to prevent his older brother from turning full vampire.  I can only hope my brother would do the same for me.

  • Dianne Wiest plays Lucy, and is trying her best to keep some sense of normalcy for her kids after moving them cross country.

  • Barnard Hughes plays the kids eccentric Grandpa, and thank goodness he is so eccentric.

  • Edward Herrmann (extra R and N) plays Max, and is so completely kind and wonderful as the suitor that Lucy gets taken with after the move.

  • Keifer Sutherland continues his string of sleezy 80s creeps in this movie after already nailing it in Stand By Me.  I can’t help it though, I did find him sexy in this role.

  • Jami Gertz plays Star, after playing opposite Jason Patric in Solarbabies (you should see that too), he recommended her for this role.

  • Corey Feldman plays Edgar Frog – and this is the first ‘Two Corey’s’ movie, so you can either credit it or blame it for that.  Hey, Dream a Little Dream was great! Jamison Newlander plays Alan Frog.

    • Billy Wirth plays Dwayne, one of the other vampire punks.

    • Alex Winter (yes, Bill) plays Marko, another vampire punk.

    Overall, if you’ve never seen this, then chances are you’re younger than me. It’s fun, it’s a classic – and that saxophone solo from the guy who was Tina Turner’s saxophone player!  Watch it again this Halloween.

    9 out of 10 – gained bonus points for the hair.  And for Grandpa’s last line.