Pete’s Dragon

It was once said that “it simply isn’t an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons.” While this isn’t the particular tale he was referring to, Tolkien’s words still ring true. Pete’s Dragon is definitely a worthy adventure.Director David Lowery brings this beautiful story to life, impressing audiences right from the start. The opening scene was excellently portrayed, showing the sadness of the events without being excessively graphic or traumatising. 

A great amount of credit must also go to the cast. Oakes Fegley is adorably innocent in the leading role of Pete, the young boy who has grown up in the woods with only Elliot for company. The stand out fact that makes this story all the more amazing? Elliot is a dragon!

Of course not everyone is going to react the same when the existence of said dragon comes to light. Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a park ranger who, with the help of her father, Meacham (Robert Redford), and her boyfriend’s daughter, Natalie (Oona Laurence) want to protect Elliot. On the other side of the coin, we have Natalie’s uncle, Gavin (Karl Urban). Gavin’s reaction upon discovering the dragon is to go hunting. 

We really can’t blame Gavin too much for his reaction. It seems, more often than not, that upon finding something unknown to us, our instinct as humans is to fear it. Stories generally tell us that dragons are something to be feared, so that is the view point adopted by Gavin and his friends.

Thankfully, as in most children’s movies, lessons are learnt and friendships made, so don’t despair too much.

The soundtrack was another facet to this film I really enjoyed. The mostly calming song choices kept the magical feeling throughout.

Lastly, but by no means least, we must address the elephant in the room; or rather, the dragon. Elliot’s mannerisms remind me of a large (ok, massive) green Labrador puppy. His excitement as he plays with Pete and the fear and sadness when he finds himself alone are very well displayed. Effects used to create this adorable, furry giant are fantastic in their quality and his personality is shown extremely well for a character who has no dialogue. 

For kids and adults alike, Pete’s Dragon is the perfect tale to put a little magic in your day.


Sausage Party

If you’re easily offended, stay away from Sausage Party. This latest brain child of Seth Rogen leaves no one untouched in its rude, politically-incorrect insanity. And it’s outrageous.

While I’ll be the first to admit I’m usually not one for offensive and crude humour, the simple fact that no one is left untouched in this nonstop run of insults and one liners did make me laugh.

Rogen’s frequent partners in crime, Jonah Hill and James Franco, ad their voice talents to this cinematic supermarket. And if you’ve watched anything else involving these men (This is the End is probably a good example) you might have a fair idea of what you’re in for!

Just when you think you’ve reached the pinnacle of vulgarity, the end of the film steps it up another notch, throwing you over a cliff. Please remember, even though this is an animated film, it has more than earned it MA15+ rating.

As far as storylines go, I was surprised to find that Sausage Party actually had one at all. The writers were quite adept at working in the stereotypes of many groups of people, all the while portraying and likening them to different foods.

Although I can’t say I’d watch this one again, if you’re a fan of Seth Rogen’s more outlandish work, or up for a laugh at some dirty jokes, Sausage Party is probably one for the watch list.


Suicide Squad

Releasing a bunch of convicted felons to military custody and ordering them to save the world? Sounds like a good idea to me!

DC’s Suicide Squad are the worst of the worst. They steal, destroy, maim, and kill. And they’re our only hope.

From the start, our views of these characters are brought into question. They’re bad guys, right? We’re not supposed to like them; let alone feel sorry for them. But that’s what begins to happen as soon as the screen comes to life.

Deadshot (Will Smith), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) smash their way into our hearts as they smash some baddies.

Will Smith as Deadshot is awesome from his first appearance. With a quick tongue and a little cocky, some might think he’s all talk; but he soon proves he has the skills to back up that attitude.

Killer Croc is big, mean, and ugly. And he knows it. His character, I found, doesn’t show the major, out-right development that the others do, but it’s there. You just have to see past the scales.

El Diablo has already changed his ways by the time we meet him. From bad ass gang leader to pacifist, it’s quite the difference. He’s not interested in fighting. But obviously, that’s no fun in an anti-hero movie.

Aussie villain for the win! Captain Boomerang is an excellent role for the Australian born Courtney. While I admit I would have loved to see more of him during the fights, Boomerang as a character made me giggle more than a few times with his thick Aussie accent and cracks at everyone.

Of course we can’t forget our leading lady, the one and only Harley Quinn. Margot Robbie is wonderfully twisted in her role as the psychiatrist-turned-villain. Her backstory is definitely one that will invoke a little sympathy.

The other much anticipated character that cannot be ignored, is none other than Gotham’s Clown Prince of Crime, the Joker. Jared Leto plays this maniacal jester’s newest incarnation.

One of the biggest criticisms I’ve come across in regards to Suicide Squad is the lack of screen time the Joker has. In my humble opinion, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. The film is about the Suicide Squad. Harley is a member, however unwilling; the Joker is not. So as much as I’m excited to see more of Leto’s Joker in the future, his use in building Harley’s story but allowing her to take the lead is fantastic. Having said that, I am in agreeance with many fans asking why DC and Warner Brothers used so much Joker footage in the advertising stage.

Between the quick paced fights and traumatizing flashbacks, the darker feel for the DC cinematic creation they started with Dawn of Justice is continued. These comic book character are not just for kids.

The soundtrack to this film is certainly something else. While it still does well to move with the action and emotions of the film, the selection of songs themselves feel a little list a playlist someone has put together as their own personal soundtrack to life. And let’s be honest, that’s exactly the egotistical thing some of these guys would do.

Hate to love them or love to hate them. It makes no difference in the end. Either way, you’re in for a wild ride when you check out Suicide Squad.


Image: Warner Bros. Pictures


Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Filled with sarcasm, jokes, and puns, each worse that the last, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a movie anyone can enjoy.

Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) is the foster kid who doesn’t fit in. All his life, he’s been bounced from house to house, only to continuously get into some kind of trouble. As a last ditch effort, his case worker sends him to live with Bella (Rima Te Wiata) on her farm. At first it’s a big change for Ricky; there’s nowhere to get into trouble, and Bella’s husband Hec (Sam Neill) doesn’t seem very interested in him.

A very big theme throughout the film seems to be that there are lots of people who don’t care about foster kids. It’s something Ricky has come to understand and expect in his 13 years. Until he finally finds a home with Bella. Small gestures and constant effort on Bella’s part start to pay off. It’s both heartening and tragic to see how far a little kindness can go to changing one kid’s outlook on the world.

Unfortunately, it seems that even good things can’t always last. With Bella’s sudden passing, Ricky fears he will be lost once again in the foster system. Not wanting that to happen, he takes off into the bush. Knowing that a city kid like Ricky won’t survive long on his own, Hec goes after him only to be injured upon tracking the kid down. As so the story really begins. After spending a few weeks camping out to allow Hec’s leg to heal, the pair start their return to civilization to find that they have been the focus of a massive manhunt. From here, the movie picks up speed as Ricky and Hec continue to evade the authorities.

Director Taika Waititi does a wonderful job, covering all facets of Ricky’s story. Although the surface of the film is amusing in a way that is designed to make both children and adults laugh, Sam Neill’s character, Hec, is used very well in allowing the more mature members of the audience to see the real issues. Throw all that into the mixing pot with the beautiful scenery that is the New Zealand bush, and you have movie that is both intellectually entertaining and visually pleasing. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a definite must see.


The Legend of Tarzan

Director David Yates transports us to the absolute beauty of the African Congo in this new adventure of our beloved wild man.

Right from the simplistic but action filled opening scene, it’s easy to tell you’re in for something special. Such an unadorned, stand-alone scene that leaves you with a feeling of anticipation for what’s to come.

Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) has left his home in the jungle, leaving behind his name. Living on his family’s estate in England and going by his birth name, John Clayton thinks he is where he belongs. Until along comes George Washington Williams. Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) recruits a hesitant Clayton’s help, asking him to return to the wilds of Africa.

After much discussion (and the lady putting her foot down) it is decided that John’s wife, Jane Clayton (Margot Robbie), will also be returning to the land where she spent much of her childhood.

While there is no denying that Robbie and Skarsgård play their roles wonderfully, Jackson was the one who stole the show in my eyes. Jane’s fierce loyalty to those she loves and John’s unparalleled determination to face down the evil threatening his family are admirable to say the least. Jackson’s sarcasm and dry humour in the face of their serious task add that extra layer to the film.

The effects used to create the many animals the actors interact with are truly stunning (I’m thinking of you, baby elephant!). And to make those animals move the way they do, it’s a sight to behold.

All in all, the Legend of Tarzan is definitely not the Disney classic I remember as a child. Quite a bit grimmer with lives at stake, the fights are serious; on more than one occasion I found myself jumping.

Family isn’t restricted by blood, all lives matter, and you must fight for what you love.


Star Trek: Beyond

To boldly go where no man has gone before. Anyone how has watched any part of the Star Trek franchise knows that, although exciting, these words usually spell trouble for the member of Starfleet. The crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise are no exception.

But before things take a turn for the worse, we get to have a few laughs at the expense of Captain James T. Kirk as her wades through one of the less exciting duties of a Starship captain. It’s these little bits and pieces of humour that really make the Star Trek movies extra enjoyable for me. Even though, they are mostly serious and action packed, the writers still take the time to make you chuckle.

The levity however is soon interrupted when the lone escapee of a downed ship requests the help of the Enterprise to rescue her shipmates. The catch? Her ship is on the other side of a dangerous, uncharted, and, for most ships, impassable nebula.

From there it’s a rollercoaster of new enemies with the technology to rip into the Enterprise like she’s nothing more than a soft drink can.

The effects used to create the aliens, space craft and battles are amazing to say the least. The first space battle we see is nothing short of astounding. It really sets the scene and raises the bar for what we should expect from the rest of the film.

Returning from the first two films are the amazing command crew. We have Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Sulu (John Cho), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott (Simon Pegg), Doctor ‘Bones’ McCoy (Karl Urban), Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto), and Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine).

Having served together for a few years now, you can see them starting to really mature and settle into their roles as part of the crew, and their little, make-shift family. You also start to see the effect that spending such long periods of time isolated in space can have on someone.

There’s quite a bit more I could say but I’m going to stop now to avoid spoilers. If you’re a lifelong Trekkie, new to the fandom, or just after something fast paced and exciting to watch, check out Star Trek: Beyond.

Live long and prosper.


Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

From start to finish, this movie is an absolute hot mess; and I laughed through every moment.Mike and Dave Strangle (Adam Devine and Zac Efron) are two brothers who just like to have a little fun. Unfortunately, their track record isn’t real great when they bring this fun to family gatherings, where it usually results in serious, although accidental, harm to people and property. When the time for their only younger sister to get married rolls around, Mike and Dave’s family give them an ultimatum. They must find nice, sensible dates to bring to the wedding to keep the boys out of trouble. And so, one craigslist ad later… 

The boys only expected a few replies to their ad. Instead, they are bombarded with hundreds as the ad goes viral. All different manner of ladies apply to b their dates for the wedding. Which just happens to include an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii. Who wouldn’t want that?

As you may expect, the women who respond to an ad on craigslist aren’t all exactly the type you’d want to bring home to mum and dad. Luckily(?) for the Strangle brothers, two particular girls have caught wind of their hunt, and decided to take matters into their own hands. Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) arrange to meet the Mike and Dave; without the boys realising they’ve been set up. A few drinks and some white lies later, the girls are on their way to Hawaii.

From there, the film continues to build in pressure. It just keeps going and going until, like a balloon, it can’t hold any more. The final bang is long anticipated, and yet still hilariously funny. But the film still isn’t over and there are still more giggles to be had. 

Throughout this picture, there are a few different forms of comedy, including some rather crude moments. Most of the time, though, they manage to build up, then still leave your imagination to fill in the rest.

The one thing I still can’t get over is that, although the writers and director have taken an artistic license, the main idea of the events is based on a true story! Mike and Dave are real guys who posted a real ad on craigslist to find real dates for a real wedding. 

I’ll admit, when I saw the trailer for Mike and Dave, I expected a few laughs, but certainly not as much as I got. This really is a comedy for the masses (over the age of 15. There are a few reasons why it’ rated MA15+). 



Paranormal Activity ain’t got nothing on these ghosts!

Right from the start, we get thrown into this world of spooky happenings and hair-raising apparitions. These fearsome phantoms leave us with one question. When there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who you gona call?

Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is a physics professor at Columbia University. She enjoys her respectable job until somebody asks for her opinion and help on a highly unrespectable subject in the science community. Ghosts.

Erin is pulled back into research she thought she had left behind when she tracks down her old friend and Abby Bates. While Erin has been teaching, Abby (Melissa McCarthy) has been continuing her paranormal studies with the help of Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), a brilliant (if slightly unorthodox and manic) engineer.

The last two members to round out their team are Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) and Kevin (Chris Hemsworth). Patty, although not being overly fond of ghosts after her own encounter, bring her can-do attitude to the team; she’s not taking rubbish from no ghosts! Although well meaning, Kevin isn’t overly competent at his job as the team’s receptionist. However, he does add more levity to the already hilarious movie.

The lead roles are very well cast, the four blending together well while still bouncing off each other’s quirks and personality’s. The diversity of these women’s attitude and aptitudes when it comes to the different parts of their job and interactions with each other makes you want to be part of their team.

Throughout the film there are so many throwbacks to the original movies, and yet they still managed the ‘same but different’ concept well by paying homage to their predecessors while still making this their own. Keep an out to see who or what you spot.

So put on your jumpsuit, grab your proton pack, and prepare to be slimed by ghostly, ectoplasmic goop as you watched these chicks do what they do best!


Me Before You

When a movie makes you laugh, cry, think, and you go back to watch it a second time, that’s a good sign.

Director Thea Sharrock brings the writing of Jojo Moyes to life in this screen adaptation of Moyes’ best selling novel, Me Before You.

The story is that of Lou Clark (Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke), a young woman trying to find work to help support her struggling family. After a couple of failed job applications, Lou finds work as a carer and companion to Will Traynor.

Will (Sam Claflin) was a successful young business man who couldn’t imagine his life being better, until, one day, and accident changes everything. Will is left a quadriplegic; an outcome he understandably struggles with.

Lou’s chattiness and outgoing choice in clothing style endears her to everyone she meets. She engages Will and his nurse Nathan (Stephen Peacocke) in sarcastic repartee consistently as she gets to know Will and subsequently, little by little, starts to cheer him up.

 The costume department for Lou must have had an absolute blast sourcing her clothes. She has no fear in her wardrobe choices, mixing colors, patterns, and textures to create some truly individual outfits. Her clothes also play an important role in setting the mood for much of the movie; becoming truly out-there or magnificently stunning when the mood is high and everything seems wonderful, or becoming a little more careless and simple when things begin to look bleak.

Fair warning. Although you will get a few good laughs, this movie is probably one to watch with tissues on hand. 


Central Intelligence

Badass is alive, and it wears a fanny-pack!

Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart) has discovered that life after high school isn’t always as you might expect. From star athlete, student body president, and prom king, to middle aged accountant who feels like he’s hit a dead end.

Enter Bob Stone. Stone (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) has changed A LOT since high school. From Robbie Whierdicht, class dweeb with no friends and a whole herd of bullies on his tail, to shorts and fanny-pack wearing, unicorn loving, overly enthusiastic Agent Stone of the CIA.

When Stone drags Calvin into his latest case, the chaos begins.

In what is definitely a fun role for Johnson, we get an action packed flick with guns, cars, explosions, and some creatively used office supplies that make up a pretty boss fight scene.

Meanwhile, Calvin just wants out! Hart plays his role wonderfully as his character finds himself way out of his depth with no idea who he can trust.

Scattered thickly throughout the movie are so many pop culture references that there should be something that everyone understands. From celebrity gossip to movie references and so much more, it adds a fun layer into an already entertaining movie.

So check out Central Intelligence for a good laugh and be sure to wait for the credit scene before you leave.