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

Moonshot

The year is 2049. Walt (Cole Sprouse) is a college student who has always wanted to travel to Mars to start a new life. He has applied for the program multiple times, has never been accepted. Sophie is working on her thesis while maintaining a long distance relationship with her boyfriend Calvin (Mason Gooding) who lives on Mars with his family. When the two happen upon each other, they decide to team up to make their dreams come true. But the journey is life changing in ways they never thought possible that has them questioning everything.

The premise of Moonshot was an interesting one. I liked seeing Earth in the future complete with robots and regular space shuttles going off into space. Having a glimpse into Mars was also pretty cool. It’s fun to imagine that this could be a reality for us in the years to come.

Despite the fact that this is geared towards a teenage audience, there was still a certain charm to it. Fans of Cole Sprouse will fall for Walt. The complete opposite of Jughead on Riverdale, Walt is charismatic, adventurous and has a big heart. Lana Condor has also made quite the name for herself since starring in the To All The Boys trilogy. It was refreshing to see her in the new adult role of Sophie. Together their chemistry was sweet to watch.

In addition to the leads, there is some much needed comedy thanks to Michelle Buteau who plays Captain Tartar and Zach Braff who portrays Leon Kovi, the starter of the Mars initiative.

While Moonshot is nothing spectacular, it’s adorable enough for some casual viewing. The cast play a big part in that as well as the space vibes. It may not be something I will rush to watch again any time soon, but I am glad to have checked it out.

Rating: ♥♥

The Fallout

What starts out as an ordinary day for Vada (Jenna Ortega), Mia (Maddie Ziegler) and Quinton (Niles Fitch) suddenly turns into a tragedy that will change their lives forever. The way in which they deal with the aftermath may be different, but the bond they form will only grow stronger.

I don’t think I can put into words just how much this movie struck a chord with me. The subject matter, while extremely heavy, was dealt in such a poignant way that I have to give props to director Megan Park. Her approach was exactly the way it should have been.

Something I really appreciated was the fact that instead of focusing on the event itself, we got to see the aftermath of it. How these characters tried to not only move on from what happened, but make peace with it at the same time. Although they couldn’t be more opposite, the ways in which they lean on each other was not only realistic, but moving to watch.

Jenna Ortega knocked her performance out of the park. I’ve seen her in a few times before, but never anything on this level. She’s got a bright future ahead. The same can be said for Maddie Ziegler. To me she was always Sia’s protege, yet she really proved herself here. The rest of the cast in Will Ropp, Lumi Pollack, John Ortiz, Julie Bowen and Shailene Woodley were outstanding too.

In spite of its heavy subject matter, The Fallout should be recommended viewing for everybody. I know it’s a movie I won’t soon forget.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

2021 Wrap Up

It’s hard to believe that another year has come to an end. In some ways, it was like I blinked and 2021 was over. Starting out in another lockdown (which definitely impacted my maintaining this blog) was rough, but then halfway through, movie theatres opened up again. Nothing will ever beat walking into that large auditorium, settling into those chairs and buckling in for a life changing journey.

2021 brought many great films that certainly made making this list a difficult task. Some I forgot along the way. Some made themselves known to me more recently. And others I wish I could erase from my memory all together. There are also a few that I think I generously rated, but what can you do?

So without further ado, here are my top 5 best and worst of the year.

Best

  1. Promising Young Woman
  2. West Side Story
  3. In The Heights
  4. Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  5. Encanto

Worst

  1. Space Jam: A New Legacy
  2. The Green Knight
  3. Thunder Force
  4. Locked Down
  5. Tom and Jerry

Dune

Based on the book series of the same name, Dune follows the story of Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), a gifted young man who must fulfill his destiny. To make this happen, he must travel to a dangerous planet to secure the life of his family and his people. His journey, however, will not be an easy one as multiple forces hunt for a supply of a unique and special resource that will change the universe forever.

Let’s get this out of the way: I am not a fan of science fiction. Most of the time I end up confused and missing out on half of the story because they are way too intricate for me to comprehend. So, my expectations for this movie weren’t very high. Here I was thinking I would be spending the entire time struggling to keep up. I can gladly say that the opposite happened though and I ended up completely entranced in the story. While it took some time for things to get going, once it did, I was fully immersed and could barely turn my eyes away from the screen.

With such a stacked cast, it was impossible for me not to enjoy the various performances. While I was initially interested in seeing Zendaya and Jason Mamoa, even I have to admit that I wasn’t as bothered by Timothée Chalamet’s portrayal of Paul. He’s not usually a favorite of mine. Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Dave Bautista and Stellan Skarsgård were all flawless in their roles. Rebecca Ferguson’s role as Lady Jessica was the standout however. She stole every scene she was in.

I think the most impressive part of the film was the world building and the sets. I don’t think I had seen anything quite like it before and I couldn’t get over how realistic it all looked. That is something that I admire most about this genre and Dune was no exception. I felt immediately transported to those places which I greatly appreciated. Additionally, the musical score was beautifully haunting and fit perfectly. Hans Zimmer is a genius. I had chills multiple times throughout.

Overall I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Dune. It was very well done and I can say that it is worth the hype it has been receiving. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

The Suicide Squad

Our favorite supervillains are back in a sequel/reboot to 2016’s Suicide Squad. When the government decides to send Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena), King Shark (Sylvester Stallone), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) etc. to the remote island of Corto Maltese, they soon realize that their mission will not be an easy one. Dealing with the various obstacles thrown in their wake, their biggest test of all will be not coming to blows with one another.

The Suicide Squad directed by James Gunn was quite possibly the movie I had been looking forward to the most all summer. It is certainly one that I was very excited to see this year. Unlike many others, I actually liked the first Suicide Squad, but even I have to admit that this version takes the cake. The stakes were higher and it was just completely epic.

I loved the over the top battle scenes and the blood and gore. They were brought to a whole new level and didn’t let up once! I was losing my mind in the cinema at how crazy some of the scenes were. Pretty sure had I been watching at home that I would have yelled multiple times out of pure excitement.

Additionally, the humor was on point. I was laughing out loud the whole way through and that was all thanks to the incredible cast. So many notable names and the characters they played. Honorable mentions go to Ratcatcher 2 and King Shark, however I can’t leave out my girl Harley. She was brilliant in this.

With fabulous music and a fast paced storyline that kept me on the edge of my seat, The Suicide Squad more than exceeded my expectations. Dare I go as far to say that it is DC’s best film to date?

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Space Jam: A New Legacy

The much anticipated sequel to 1996’s Space Jam is here! A New Legacy sees superstar Lebron James at the forefront. When he and his son Dom (Cedric Joe) get trapped in a digital space by AI-G Rhythm (Don Cheadle), the only way they can get home is if they play a basketball game. With the help of the Looney Tune gang, anything is possible.

I had so many expectations for this movie. Space Jam is one of my all time favorites – I rewatch it on the regular and hold it in very high regard. Sadly, the reboot fell short for me. There were certain things that I did like such as the jokes, seeing beloved cartoons like Tweety and Lola (Zendaya) again as well as all the throwbacks they made to the original. The effects were also stepped up which helped add an extra element.

However, that is where the enjoyment ended for me. The plot was not interesting in the slightest and I felt like it took forever for the story to get going. Basically I could have done without the entire first hour. At times it also seemed as if the movie was one big marketing campaign for other WB pictures. I thought that was smart in beginning, but it became overused as the film went on.

Space Jam: A New Legacy was…interesting to say the least. I am happy I saw it and that it was my first movie back in the cinema since last September. Part of me wishes that they had left a good thing alone though. Not every single thing needs a reboot or a sequel!

Rating: ♥♥

In The Heights

Washington Heights, New York City. A vibrant community of individuals from all walks of life who have known each other for forever. Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), a bodega owner, saves whatever he can in hopes of a better life back in the Dominican Republic.

The storyline of In The Heights may not give a lot away, but trust me when I say that you NEED to watch this movie. It is the standout of the summer and I guarantee that it will put a giant smile on your face. Based on the stage musical by mastermind Lin Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame, the movie is a colorful array of catchy songs, breathtaking cinematography, a blast of culture and an amazing ensemble cast.

Anthony Ramos helms the troupe as protagonist Usnavi. His charisma, good looks and beautiful voice make him easy to root for throughout. Well knowns Jimmy Smits as Kevin Rosario, Olga Merediz as Abuela Claudia, Daphne Rubin-Vega as Daniela and Stephanie Beatriz as Carla are a joy to watch. Then there are the newcomers who perfectly round out the cast: Melissa Barrera as Vanessa, Leslie Grace as Nina Rosario, Corey Hawkins as Benny and my personal favorite Gregory Diaz IV as Sonny. He stole every single scene he was in!

And of course, who could forget Lin Manuel Miranda himself as Piraguero? His little cameos were everything.

I’ll be completely honest when I say that I was worried this wouldn’t live up to the hype, or to my expectations. I have become such a fan of Miranda in just one year and I was worried that this just wouldn’t compare to Hamilton. Luckily I soon realized that that wasn’t the case. The two are polar opposites in their plot, but there are similarities in the music styles that I appreciated.

In The Heights really was everything that I hoped it would be and more. It was lively, it was fun, it was emotional and it was heartwarming. It had everything you could want from a movie and yes, I did cry. If you haven’t seen it yet, you are seriously missing out!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Tom and Jerry

I grew up with Tom and Jerry so this movie sparked my interest from the beginning. While I wasn’t an avid watcher, I have seen my fair share of episodes and enjoyed watching the feud between the cat and mouse. I was curious to see how these characters would be brought into 2021. Additionally, the premise of having them in a live action setting was quite appealing and I was curious to see how that would be done.

When Jerry (himself) moves into New York City’s most prestigious hotel on the eve of the biggest wedding of the year, his rivalry with Tom (himself) is inevitably reignited. In order to get rid of Jerry, accidental event planner Kayla (Chloe Grace Moretz) hires Tom to get rid of Jerry. This task will not be easy and as the battle between the two escalates, not only is Kayla’s job on the line, but the future of the wedding and the hotel are in jeopardy.

The combination of bringing cartoon characters into a real life setting was really well done. I thought the way it was done seemed normal in the grand scheme of things and it kind of made me wish we actually lived in such a world. I liked how the people were still themselves, but the animals were all animated. I feel like it made sense that way since the story was mostly told from Tom and Jerry’s perspectives.

Another positive point for me was how Tom and Jerry was given a modern update. The choice to put upbeat, hip hop music was genius and really made the story more relevant. This in comparison with the new special effects really gave a fresh spin on things. It seemed like the way in which the cartoons were drawn in particular was much sharper than they used to be as well.

Unfortunately, that is where the enjoyment stopped. I didn’t feel the plot was extraordinary by any means and couldn’t help but feel like this was targeted to a younger audience. All in all, I do think that Tom and Jerry is a fun movie than can be appreciated by families around the world. The hilarious antics of the cat and mouse will be thrilling for children while parents can relive their younger years while watching.

Rating: ♥♥.5

Locked Down

Not going to lie, I wasn’t sure I was going to be up for watching a movie about a pandemic especially when we are knee deep in one. Movies, to me, are for escaping, not to be reminded of what is is I am already dealing with every single day. That being said, Locked Down looked fun and it starred some really well known actors so I decided to give it a shot.

When London goes into lockdown to help curve COVID-19, Linda (Anne Hathaway) and Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor) had just made the decision to separate after many years together. With no other choice but to cohabit during this time, they try to make the best out of an inconvenient situation. Then, a chance of a lifetime opportunity presents itself. Linda and Paxton must work together one last time if they want to change their lives forever.

If I’m being honest, I was both highly amused and kind of taken aback at how realistic this was. It perfectly embodied what life is like today complete with zoom calls, social distanced meet ups and the wearing of masks (though there wasn’t nearly enough of that). To be fair, it seems as though this had been filmed at the beginning of the pandemic and a lot has changed since then.

I did like the premise of the film, but I expected more. I had gone into it thinking I was about to watch a comedy and while I did laugh out loud, there were a lot more serious moments than I had bargained for. I also felt like some parts were slow and while I appreciate the need to set up the story, not much happened until the end.

There were some fun cameos by some very famous people which I thoroughly enjoyed. Ben Stiller, Lucy Boynton, Mindy Kaling and Ben Kingsley rounded out the cast and made for great side characters. I loved it whenever one of them would pop up.

If you are looking for a different sort of heist movie, I’d say give Locked Down a go. Just prepared that it hits very close to home these days.

Rating: ♥♥♥