Here we are, a third installment of TTR! What follows are bitesize reviews of a handful of films so you can get a taste of what to expect should you wish to explore any of these movies. Honestly it’s been a pretty… average… time at the movies for this month’s TTRs, so if you’re gagging for more ground-breaking cinema, check out the latest BAFTA and Academy Award nominees!
January’s TTRs consists of: Antlers, Disenchanted, Downton Abbey: A New Era, Falling for Christmas, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Marry Me, Roald Dahl’s Matilda: The Musical, and Uncharted.
Director: Scott Cooper
Writers: Henry Chaisson, Nick Antosca, Scott Cooper
Cast: Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, Jeremy T. Thomas, Sawyer Jones, Graham Greene, Scott Haze
As horror movies go, this one wasn’t half bad. When a teacher (Russell) notices one of her students (Thomas) may be suffering (physically and mentally) at home, she takes matters into her own hands, and eventually the hands of the local sheriff (Plemons) and police force. Unbeknownst to those looking out for the boy, his family have recently suffered a malignant curse that the boy desperately tries to keep under wraps. It’s probably a decent scary movie for those with a weaker constitution for horror, but for those who enjoy being SCARED, this one could still be worth a watch if only for the themes and storyline. Jeremy T. Thomas does a really good job for such a young actor too, reminiscent of a (super) young Thomas Brodie-Sangster.
Director: Adam Shankman
Writers: Brigitte Hales, J. David Stem, David N. Weiss
Cast: Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, Idina Menzel, Gabriella Baldacchino, Maya Rudolph, Yvette Nicole Brown, Jayma Mays, Kolton Stewart, Oscar Nuñez, James Marsden
I loved the first Enchanted movie. It had great songs and was a lovely typical Disney movie with a twist. Shankman and co tried to capture the same magic in Disenchanted, but the only ones to be disenchanted are the audience. In this sequel, Adams’ Giselle and Dempsey’s Robert move their family to a smaller town. When a touch of magic on Giselle’s part starts to go wrong, her stepdaughter, Baldacchino’s Morgan, must come to the rescue, and all must learn what it means to be a blended family. Although the themes are on point, the story and, possibly most importantly, the music, fell flat. There is but one good song, in my opinion, and it’s the magnificent Menzel who finally gets to blast her pipes (it was a little strange she didn’t get a song in the first movie, but perhaps it was down to her character being less than secondary). I do think this is the kind of movie that Enchanted fans should make up their own minds about, but I think I’ll just stick with keeping Enchanted on repeat. Wake me up if Nancy and Prince Edward ever get a spin-off.
Director: Simon Curtis
Writer: Julian Fellowes
Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter, Phyllis Logan, Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, Allen Leech, Penelope Wilton, Tuppence Middleton, Imelda Staunton, Samantha Bond
Downton Abbey has always been popular amongst a certain group of people, a group I 100% subscribe to. Something about seeing how the other half live(d), particularly in the 1920s era of debutantes and glitzy glam, is highly appealing. Even more so when there’s a backdrop of how the lower classes lived, the standard upstairs/downstairs dynamic. In this sequel to the TV show’s 2019 full-length feature Downton Abbey, half the family find themselves going to France after the Dowager Countess of Grantham (Smith) finds she has been gifted a villa after the wealthy owner passes away, though the family who pertain to own the villa are not happy about it. If you enjoy all that Downton has to offer, on both the small and big screen, you’ll enjoy this as another addition, with the majority of your favourite characters returning and getting a little more development. I for one would not say no to making it a trilogy. Just one more please, Mr. Fellowes!
Director: Janeen Damian
Writers: Jeff Bonnett, Ron Oliver
Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Chord Overstreet, Jack Wagner, George Young, Olivia Perez
So this was Lindsay Lohan’s supposed *comeback*, a mediocre Hallmark-style Christmas movie. If you didn’t catch this at Christmas, don’t worry, you haven’t missed anything. Lohan plays a rich newly-engaged girl (well… woman, really…) who suffers a head injury on the mountains and is taken in by a handsome, lowly lodge owner and his over-enthusiastic daughter until she is able to regain her memory. This is the kind of movie that used to fly in the 90s, but is just quite unbearable in this day and age. It can be difficult to come up with original movies, particularly of the Christmas romance trope, and this one really didn’t make the cut of my annual Christmas viewing. Lohan’s acting has become so wooden, a far cry from the actress she used to be. I would genuinely like to see Lohan truly comeback, but in some gritty thriller or drama, something we just wouldn’t expect, and to be able to retrain her acting muscles. If she (or the insurance companies…) are taking baby steps, that’s fair enough, but I’m rooting for a true Lohanaissance(TM).
Directors: Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson
Writers: Guillermo del Toro, Patrick McHale
Cast: Ewan McGregor, David Bradley, Gregory Mann, Ron Perlman, John Turturro, Finn Wolfhard, Cate Blanchett, Christoph Waltz, Tilda Swinton, Tom Kenny
Oh I so wanted this to be good. No, I wanted it to be excellent. Guillermo del Toro plus stop-motion? That alone screams TAKE MY MONEY. However, this movie did not fair much better than Disney’s recent live-action adaptation of their classic Pinocchio animation. It began well; Gepetto losing his son and the ensuing animation was fantastic. But then came an annoying, whiney and unlikable Pinocchio. Whether they made the character more like its counterpart in the novel matters not: this one was just grating. The only things saving this movie was the quality of the animation, the darker anti-Disney tones, and the scenes in which Pinocchio finds himself in the underworld. Everything else was formulaic, becoming more and more tedious as it went on. It also boasts a few songs, and other than one that Pinocchio sings that is a little cute, the rest… well, let’s just say Disney outdid del Toro on that, at least. I also really didn’t rate McGregor as the Cricket, which is a shame, because I normally rate McGregor quite highly in everything he does. The same goes for del Toro. Overall, disappointing.
Director: Kat Coiro
Writers: John Rogers, Tami Sagher, Harper Dill
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, Maluma, Chloe Coleman, John Bradley, Sarah Silverman
This is truly just another super fun J.Lo rom-com, and I’m always absolutely here for that kind of movie. In a silly twist, Lopez’s superstar singer Kat finds herself about to marry her fellow popstar boyfriend, Maluma’s Bastian, onstage in front of thousands of fans and televised to millions more. When shit unceremoniously hits the fan, Kat ends up marrying Wilson’s Charlie, an average-joe teacher who somehow found himself in the crowd at the big event. Cue Kat and Charlie figuring out if they can fall in love and stay married. Insane, I know, but isn’t that what we expect of J.Lo’s rom-coms? We never expect much, just to be simply entertained and have some fun. It’s got a wicked soundtrack too, and I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve added a couple of the tunes to my Spotify playlist. If you’re looking for just something easy and fun to watch, with added Lopez-Wilson chemistry (a little different to their first collab in 1997’s horror Anaconda) , look no further.
Director: Matthew Warchus
Writers: Dennis Kelly, Tim Minchin (stage musical), Roald Dahl (original book)
Cast: Alisha Weir, Emma Thompson, Lashana Lynch, Stephen Graham, Andrea Riseborough
This is my first experience of Matilda: The Musical. I’ve always wanted to see the stage show, hearing many good things about it. I couldn’t attest as to the quality of the stage show, I can really only compare to the absolute classic that is the Danny DeVito-helmed 1996 adaptation. If I were to choose one, it would still be the ’96 one, but this musical version is still super fun and raucous, full of amazingly talented children, particularly lead star Alisha Weir. Minchin’s fun lyrics emphasise his abilities as a renowned wordsmith (whether you enjoy his regular adult comedy or not). I’m not too sold on Thompson as Miss Trunchbull, but then again I think I am biased towards Pam Ferris in DeVito’s adaptation. I also liked the modern updates with a more diverse cast. A fun time for the whole family.
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Writers: Rafe Judkins, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway
Cast: Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Antonio Banderas, Sophia Ali, Steve Waddington
Fans of the Uncharted video games had been waiting for (or dreading) this adaptation for a long time. Many fans went after Nathan Fillion for yeeeeears, he being the number one fan-approved actor to take on the mantle of the famous Nathan “Nate” Drake. But, time and age did them dirty, and it was/is likely never to be Fillion. Perhaps in order not to disappoint fans, filmmakers turned to making a movie about a younger Nate at the time he meets mentor/father figure Victor “Sully” Sullivan. But what they actually did is use this as a guise to hire a younger actor but still give him a very adult-Nate adventure. I’m still not sold on Holland as young Nate; he feels typecast, as Nate’s humour does match the kind of humour Holland is known for, especially in his role as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the MCU. But that makes it harder to differentiate him from his other roles and accept his portrayal of Nate. Wahlberg was perfectly fine casting as a younger Sully, but I think overall this movie was not what the game fans had hoped for. It was more like Banderas handing over the Mask of Zorro to Holland (now that I would watch) and then a lot of parkour ensues. As a standalone piece of entertainment however, it’s not too bad. It’s got the action, the humour, the special effects. Enjoyable, but I recommend playing the games over watching the movie.