2022 Wrap Up

I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I feel like the years go by faster as I get older.

2022 was another great year of movies. With some memorable visits to the theatre where my auditorium cheered during a viewing on opening day of Top Gun: Maverick to seeing Triangle of Sadness in Cannes, steps away from where the famous film festival takes place, this year will go down in the history books for me.

Moving back to Europe did change the way in which I ran this blog. Usually due to where I was at a certain point in time or the fact that certain films were released on different days was something I needed to adjust to. At least I was always able to fall back on my streaming platforms! All that being said, I look forward to what 2023 will have in store.

Without further ado, here are my top five best and worst films of the year:

Best:

  1. The Menu
  2. Triangle of Sadness
  3. Top Gun: Maverick
  4. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
  5. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Worst:

  1. Deep Water
  2. Pinocchio
  3. The Weekend Away
  4. Disenchanted
  5. Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical

Disenchanted

Ten years after the events of Enchanted, the storybook opens once more on Giselle (Amy Adams), Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino). After the birth of baby Sofia, Giselle thinks its time they move somewhere new. Unfortunately, Morgan is anything but thrilled at the idea of leaving behind her beloved New York for Monroeville. When the two get off on the wrong foot in their new home, Giselle makes a wish that changes all their lives forever. Can every day really be a fairytale?

Getting all the gang back for the sequel that fans have been waiting years for was a wondrous sight. Amy Adams is the epitome of Giselle. Her mannerisms and high pitched voice complete with her charming innocence it was makes her so lovable. This time around, it was interesting have her go through a complete transformation unlike anything we’d seen before. Another bright point of the film was having more time with Nancy (Idina Menzel) and Edward (James Marsden). I always felt like they needed more time in the original so this was a treat for me.

Amongst the returning cast were the newbies. Maya Rudolph portrayed the role of wannabe evil queen Malvina. While I’m not a fan of Rudolph’s, I have to say that she was perfect here. The way in which she worked off of Adams made for some really fun scenes. I wish we could have learned more about her and her minions Rosaleen (Yvette Nicole Brown) and Ruby (Jayma Mays).

In typical Disney fashion, I was transported into a land straight out of my dreams. The bright and vibrant color palette really worked and I loved how that only changed as the plot turned into something more dark and sinister. On top of that was the delightful costume designs; I basically envied every single one of Giselle’s outfits. And who can forget the new, catchy soundtrack?

Enchanted is one of my all time favorite films. I remember the first time I watched it and it still makes me tear up at the end. I always thought it was genius to play off of typical fairytale stories and then putting a new spin on them. There was no way that Disenchanted would be better. I hoped it would come close and there were elements I really did like. For the most part though, it seemed like some of that magic was missing. Maybe it was the tired evil stepmother trope that did it. Regardless, I did finally get a glimpse into Giselle and co.’s lives post happily ever after so I guess I can’t really complain.

Rating: ♥♥.5

Rosaline

We all know about Romeo and Juliet’s doomed love, right? But did you know that before Juliet, Romeo was in love with a maiden called Rosaline?

Rosaline (Kaitlyn Dever) and Romeo (Kyle Allen) were the perfect couple. They dreamed of running away together, their families be damned, if it meant they could be together forever. When he meets Juliet (Isabela Merced) at the masquerade ball, Romeo falls head over heels in love with her. Suddenly jilted by the love of her life, Rosaline will stop at nothing until she finds out who this new woman is. Who she didn’t expect it to be is her cousin.

A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s tragedy, Rosaline was actually pretty cute. Dever shone as the lead, captivating me from the get go. Her comedic timing and meddlesome ways made for some great scenes that had me giggling. I’ve seen her in a variety of projects now and I must admit that she always surprises me.

The other cast and characters were fun to get to know too. I thought it was brilliant to dumb down the role of Romeo; the way in which Allen did this added a different element to the story and made it somewhat unpredictable. Merced did a fine job as Juliet, though I would have liked to see more of her. Bradley Whitford portrayed Rosaline’s father and Minnie Driver who played Rosaline’s nurse Janet didn’t have nearly enough screen time, but who were still welcome additions. And then there was the gorgeous Sean Teale who starred as Dario. His chemistry with Dever was palpable from the very first moment they laid eyes on each other and I just couldn’t wait until they got together.

With costumes that had me truly believing I was born in the wrong century and a soundtrack that gave me major Bridgerton vibes, Rosaline was a much better film than I gave it credit for. While it wasn’t perfect all the way through and at times seemed to drag on a bit, I really did enjoy it.

Rating: ♥♥♥

Hocus Pocus 2

It has been twenty nine long years, but the highly anticipated sequel to 1993’s cult classic Hocus Pocus is finally here!

Every year on Halloween, which just so happens to be Becca’s (Whitney Peak) birthday, she gets together with her best friends Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) and Cassie (Lilia Buckingham) in the woods to practice magic. This year is just Becca and Izzy, however, since Cassie recently got herself a boyfriend (Froy Gutierrez) and a whole new group of friends. But when a spell goes wrong, the legendary Sanderson sisters are brought back to modern day Salem and all hell breaks loose.

I’ll admit that I am new to the Hocus Pocus fandom. I saw the original movie for the first time about two years ago, fell instantly in love and never looked back. I eagerly wait every year so that I can watch it again. Learning that I could finally experience all that I missed out on with the sequel had me more than excited – I just hoped it would live up to my expectations.

The storyline was entertaining enough with the stakes being raised higher than ever before. Getting to see Winifred (Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Najimy) and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) reunite was a dream come true. They were up to their old hijinks once more complete with some great musical numbers and comedic moments that had me laughing out loud.

What I wasn’t expecting was the slightly more emotional tone that this movie had. With the importance of one’s coven at the forefront, I loved seeing the Sanderson sisters’ background story. The sisterhood between Becca, Izzy and Cassie was also nice to experience, especially as they had a lot of similarities with our favorite witches. I wasn’t sure what to think about these new characters, but they worked well here. I also liked the addition of magic shop owner Gilbert (Sam Richardson), the mayor (Tony Hale) and, of course, the return of Billy Butcherson (Doug Jones).

I truly believe that fans of the original Hocus Pocus movie will have a blast watching this new story unfold. It is one of the better sequels that I have seen in a long time, and certainly considering the fact that it came out so long after the original.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Pinocchio

We all know the story of Pinocchio. A puppet made out of pine comes to life after his maker wishes upon a star. In order to become a real boy, he must listen to his conscience in doing the right thing. The original 1940 animated feature was never one that played constantly in my house. Though it had an important message for children, it didn’t hold up to the likes of The Lion King, Aladdin or Oliver and Company for me. And if I’m being honest, the scenes at Pleasure Island were terrifying.

When you hear that a movie is getting a reboot or a remake, you expect an updated version of its predecessor. Something that will take it into a modern age so that today’s generation can enjoy it right along with those who grew up with it. Unfortunately, this new version missed the mark. So many things were lacking and while I finished watching it only twenty four hours ago, I can tell you that I’ve already forgotten a lot of it.

Although this fairytale was never one of my favorites, there was something about it that kept even me glued to the screen. The same cannot be said this time around. That Disney magic that we have all come to know and love was nowhere to be found.

For a movie that was supposed to be live action, that aspect was severely lacking. I understand that Pinocchio needed to be CGI, but the animals and some of the backgrounds just did not look realistic enough to me. On top of that, the additional scenes that were included did little to nothing to add to the overall story.

If it wasn’t for Tom Hanks, Cynthia Erivo and Keegan Michael Key, I probably wouldn’t have pushed myself to finish it. It may not be the worst Disney remake I have ever seen (I’m looking at you Mulan), but it is definitely in the top three.

Rating: ♥♥

Turning Red

Turning Red follows the story of Mei (Rosalie Chiang), who is torn between being her mother’s dutiful daughter and all the chaos that adolescence brings. When the women of the Lee family turn thirteen years old, an ‘inconvenience’ falls on them. Now, if Mei gets too excited, she turns into a big red panda.

The fact that this movie took place in Toronto was a huge plus for me. It was fun spotting all the the Easter eggs. Thank you Disney for putting Canada on the map! The casting choices came hand in hand with the location. With the voice talents of Sandra Oh and Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, the Asian Canadian representation was perfect.

Mei has to be one of the most relatable cartoon characters ever. Her obsession with boy bands and boys in general was something I could appreciate. I also loved the depiction of her relationship with her mother Ming. At the forefront of the film, it ticked all the right boxes for me. Mei wanting to embrace who she is and Ming afraid of letting her daughter grow up was so on point.

Yet another Pixar hit, Turning Red is an uplifting film about growing up and being true to yourself. You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy it. There truly is something in it for everyone.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Jungle Cruise

Based on the Disney ride, Jungle Cruise tells the story of Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) and her quest to find an ancient tree deep in the Amazon that holds the power to heal. Together with her brother McGregor (Jack Whitehall), they enlist the help of Frank (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson), a skipper who knows the river like the back of his hand. Their journey won’t be simple, however, as they are faced with all that the jungle has to offer as well as several foes who covet finding the tree too.

This was a ton of fun! I am so glad I made us watch this in the cinema because we got to experience it the way it was supposed to be experienced. I truly loved everything about this movie. It was full of humor and heart and I cannot get over the amazing chemistry that Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson had with one another. Their back and forth banter was captivating to watch and I could have watched them all day long. I must say though that Jack Whitehall really impressed me. He stole every scene that he was in and I could not stop cracking up at his lines.

The plot itself was interesting and kept me entranced the whole way through. I was on the edge of my seat and just when I thought I knew what was going to happen next, I had to think again. Time completely flew by and I didn’t want it to end.

Once again, Disney really outdid themselves. The effects were next level and at times I really felt like I was there. I had high hopes for Jungle Cruise and it did not disappoint. I was left a permanent smile on my face that I am sure won’t go away anytime soon. Fingers crossed they end up turning it into a franchise because I would totally be onboard.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Black Widow

The long awaited return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is finally here! After its release was delayed for over a year, Black Widow landed in movie theatres and on premium Disney + this week. The story follows Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) after the events of Captain America: Civil War. When a conspiracy arises with ties to her past, Natasha must dig up the parts of her life that she had hoped to keep buried forever. Not only does she need to deal with her history of being a spy, but she must also find the family that she thought she left behind.

I’ll come right out and say that Black Widow was never my favorite Avenger. Perhaps a large reason for that is because I’m not a fan of Scarlett Johansson. Still, this movie was much needed to put together pieces of the puzzle. It was important to know where Natasha had come from, though I must say that there wasn’t much in regards to her backstory. I thought we would see more about her start as a spy and her life before she became an Avenger, but that was skipped over.

In true Marvel fashion, the sets and special effects were on point. I feel like they always go above and beyond and this was no exception. Maybe it was also because it had been so long since we last had a movie in this franchise that made it seem more spectacular. In a way, it almost felt wrong not watching it in a cinema.

My favorite part of the whole thing was meeting Nat’s family. Alexei (David Harbour) and Melina (Rachel Weisz) as her parents were so dead on. It was awesome to have both of them join this fandom. However, I do believe that Florence Pugh as Yelena stole the show. She shone in every single one of her scenes and brought some much needed comedic relief. I cannot wait to see more of her in this role as the saga progresses.

While I did enjoy the film, I wasn’t too keen on the villain. To me, he didn’t seem fleshed out enough and I know that Marvel has had more intense bad guys. Also, I tend to get confused during these films because of their small and intricate details. I’m more of a straight forward kinda gal and found myself getting lost during the course of the story. That being said, I am looking forward to seeing how this has set the tone for future instalments and I am happy that Marvel is back!

Rating: ♥♥♥.5

Luca

In a quaint seaside town on the Italian Riviera, a sea monster named Luca (Jacob Tremblay) is about to have the summer of his life. When he meets Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer), a human boy, he is suddenly immersed into a world above the surface. Gelato, pasta and dreams of owning their own vespa, Luca and Alberto team up with local girl Giulia (Emma Berman) to compete in the annual race, but they must be careful not to spill their secret along the way.

Pixar’s latest film Luca is a lot more modest and gentle than some of its predecessors. They usually go above and beyond to up the anti every time, so having a simple story about friendship was different and refreshing to see. Luca and Alberto’s relationship quickly comes at the forefront of the movie and it is touching to watch it blossom. That is something that Pixar always manages to do. They really tug on your heartstrings and this was no exception.

With Jacob Tremblay as Luca and Jack Dylan Grazer as Alberto, the two did a wonderful job as the leads. They really managed to bring to life the friendship between both boys and I have to say that I could watch their interactions for ages and not get bored. Emma Berman is a great addition as Giulia. Maya Rudolph as Luca’s mom Daniela and Jim Gaffigan as Luca’s dad Lorenzo definitely added some humor as well. There was even a cameo from Sacha Baron Cohen!

Unfortunately there were some parts of the film that I did not enjoy. The ‘villain’ of the story, Ercole Visconti played by Saverio Raimondo was quite annoying. I also wasn’t really sure what purpose he served and couldn’t decide if he added anything to the plot. I also have to mention the fact that the overall storyline was not exactly original. I got serious Little Mermaid vibes the whole way through and wanted to break out singing Part Of Your World.

At the end of the day, Luca is one of the summer’s not to be missed films. It is still very enjoyable and great escapism, but it doesn’t stand out from the crowd either.

Rating: ♥♥♥.5

Cruella

Estella (Emma Stone) has always dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. A grifter, she meets Jasper (Joel Fry) and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser) and the three of them build a life for themselves on the streets of London. When Estella lands a job working for Baroness von Hellman (Emma Thompson), she believes that she has finally made it. Unfortunately for her, the Baroness is not who Estella was hoping she would be and desire to rivel the Baroness grows. Before she knows it, Estella is no more and Cruella has taken her place.

The newest addition to Disney’s live action remakes, Cruella has been taking the world by storm. A lot of build up and anticipation for fans of the original classic, I have to say that this was a solid movie at the end of the day. It wasn’t perfect, but it definitely is one of the better films Disney has put out lately.

One of the things that worked best was the cast. They were all phenomenal and that says a lot because I wasn’t sure what to think of Emma Stone at first. I love her, but the idea of her as Cruella didn’t seem to fit. She proved me wrong though and I am so happy about that. Emma Thompson is a queen and she was fabulous in this. Paul Walter Hauser and Joel Fry were exactly how I pictured Horace and Jasper to be and the additions of Mark Strong as John, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Anita and Kayvan Novak as Roger were also well done.

I cannot get over the beautiful costumes that were created for this movie. Heavily influenced by punk rock, it was different and edgy. I coveted all the looks! I also appreciated the music choices and thought that they fit well into the various scenes.

The only thing that I didn’t like was the length of the film. It felt too long and could have certainly been cut down a bit, especially in the beginning. The story took some time to really lift off though I have to admit that once it did, it didn’t let up for a second.

Cruella was a movie that I had been looking forward to ever since it was announced. I remember loving 101 Dalmatians as a child and so I was excited to see the origin story for its villain. I’m really glad that it delivered. It kept me thoroughly entertained and yes, I am hoping for a sequel.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥