Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Beauty and the Beast Makes Me Feel Like a Kid Again

Goddamnit, Beauty and the Beast is absolutely magical. Even though the live-action remake of the 1991 Disney animated classic is almost entirely a shot-for-shot retelling, it manages to give new life to an old tale. In the same vein as Kenneth Branagh’s 2015 film Cinderella—also part of Disney’s current live-action fairytale remake trend—this film makes tiny tweaks to the original fairytale to give it a slightly different, more mature feel. Ha! I say “mature feel” as if I wasn’t sitting there feeling like a little girl again and dreaming of princess gowns. Continue reading “Beauty and the Beast Makes Me Feel Like a Kid Again”

Asa Butterfield in The Space Between Us (2017)

The Space Between Us Is Dumb and Cheesy, and I’m Weirdly Into It

I totally assumed The Space Between Us was based on a YA novel when I saw the trailer. Turns out, it’s not. It’s an original screenplay and story written by Allen Loeb (Just Go with It, Collateral Beauty). And while the script might be a hot mess riddled with plot holes, convenient “get from Point A to Point B” solutions, and dated slang that feels more 2005 than 2034, I can’t bring myself to give it the hate that other reviewers have been (The movie’s at 15% on Rotten Tomatoes as of writing this). I guess what I’m saying is I’m grading on a curve since this isn’t another remake or sequel. Continue reading “The Space Between Us Is Dumb and Cheesy, and I’m Weirdly Into It”

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land (2016)

La La Land: A Bittersweet Love Letter to Old Hollywood

Since its premiere at Venice Film Festival, La La Land has been everywhere, and for good reason. Directed by Damien Chazelle (of the Oscar-winning Whiplash), La La Land is like a giant love letter to Old Hollywood musicals like Singin’ in the Rain and An American in Paris. With fantastic original music, tributes to classic films from the 1940s-1960s, and a charming duo with great chemistry, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that La La Land has been nominated for Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, and Screen Actors Guild Awards—and I have no doubt we’ll see it at the 89th Academy Awards, too. Continue reading “La La Land: A Bittersweet Love Letter to Old Hollywood”

Alexander Skarsgard as Tarzan in The Legend of Tarzan

The Legend of Tarzan: Hey, At Least It’s Pretty

Let me spare you the agony of reading this whole review if you’re not interested in The Legend of Tarzan beyond Alexander Skarsgård’s body (I’m not judging. He’s a gorgeous Swedish viking sex god). He doesn’t take his shirt off until midway through the second act. In a movie that’s only 109 minutes long, that’s waaaaay too long to get to the meat, if you will. And the sex scene where Margot Robbie supposedly punched him for animalistic passion? Nicholas Sparks level of vanilla. If you were hoping for dirty panting jungle sex between two really, really beautiful people, you won’t get it. Continue reading “The Legend of Tarzan: Hey, At Least It’s Pretty”

Lily James and Bella Heathcote in Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies Is Exactly Like It Sounds

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”

That’s the opening line of this film and Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel of the same name. I read Pride & Prejudice & Zombies when it came out in 2009 and found it pretty hilarious (Mind you, that was around the start of the zombie fad; the movie unfortunately landed a release during zombie fatigue). Grahame-Smith took the public domain content of Jane Austen’s beloved classic and simply added a zombie twist for comedy. But you wouldn’t know that if you only watched the movie.

Like its terrible cousin, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, another Grahame-Smith comedy novel that was made into a film, this movie can’t decide what it wants its genre to be. It tries throwing all of them at the wall in hopes they stick and manages to master none. Rom-com? Action? Horror? Period drama? War drama? The tonal shifts in this movie will give you whiplash.

Lily James as Elizabeth Bennet

That’s not to say Pride & Prejudice & Zombies isn’t fun. The physical fight between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy as he declares his love for her is both well-choreographed and funny, as is the training montage between the Bennet sisters. There’s also the zombie headshots that come out of nowhere and make you jump (more so than the zombies themselves). Had this movie focused less on recreating Pride & Prejudice with zombies and more on action-comedy, I think it would’ve fared a lot better.

As for performances, Lily James, who plays classic-heroine-turned-warrior Elizabeth Bennet, fits well with the period piece vibe, which comes as no surprise given her roles in Downton Abbey, War and Peace, and Kenneth Branagh’s live-action Cinderella. But the sword is the extent of James’ refreshed take on Elizabeth Bennet. She’s no different than the countless other actresses who’ve played the beautiful, smart, steely Lizzie. Worse, she occasionally ventures into action movie “Strong Female Character” territory (which is to say she’s little more than fighting skills with great boobs).

Seriously about the boobs for a moment. How many pushup bras were in James’ costumes? Every time she breathed, it was like Helloooooooo, nurse! The person behind the camera was clearly determined to make sure we didn’t forget about her ample bosom either because each shot drew your eyes to BEWBS. Hell, that fight scene I mentioned between Lizzie and Mr. Darcy? He rips open her bodice, and her boobs practically leap out at the audience! We get it! She’s a hot woman with breasts!

Lily James, Sam Riley, Bella Heathcote, and Douglas Booth in PPZ movie.

Beyond that, most of the characters are forgettable. Sam Riley’s Darcy will only spark a romantic fantasy for people who fantasize about making love to sandpaper. Charles Dance as Mr. Bennet and Sally Phillips as Mrs. Bennet are underutilized. The Bennet sisters are like wall decor with Bella Heathcote’s Jane being the gorgeous painting in the center of the room. Jack Huston’s Mr. Wickham wears way too much foundation. And why in the hell doesn’t Lena Headey’s Lady Catherine de Bourgh get more screentime? She’s the bitchiest, most epic warrior in all of England, yet she only shows up to chew scenery.

That said, Matt Smith’s Mr. Collins is the GREATEST Mr. Collins I’ve ever seen. He somehow takes the obnoxious self-importance of the Bennet’s clergyman cousin to the next level, and he is the saving grace of this movie. If you see Pride & Prejudice & Zombies at all, see it for him. Shit, let’s just make a movie called Mr. Collins vs. Zombies. I’d watch that so hard.

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: C

You can listen to my review of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies on “Pat & JT in the Morning” here (at 00:16).

crimson peak

Crimson Peak: A Beautiful Yet Predictable Horror-Romance

After falling for and marrying the charming and mysterious Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) moves to England to live with her new husband and his overbearing sister, Lady Lucille (Jessica Chastain), in their gothic manor, Crimson Peak. Continue reading “Crimson Peak: A Beautiful Yet Predictable Horror-Romance”