REVIEW: “JUNGLE CRUISE” (2021) Disney Studios

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I was probably 4 years old when I was first taken to Disneyland. I can’t remember my exact age, but I do know I was very young and my parents took me on the Jungle Cruise ride – and I freaked out and started screaming and crying. Because yes, I thought it was real and I remember so well the big hippo opening his mouth right where I was sitting in the boat and I thought I was going to be eaten, and basically thought lions, tigers and bears were all after me. I cried so hard and was so terrified, that I never went on that ride again until I was a teen – possibly even older! Needless to say, there was no crying watching this version of Disney’s “JUNGLE CRUISE”, only laughter as it is definitely not that ride and a much different story to boot.

This adventure begins with Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt), who hires a wisecracking skipper, named Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson), to take her down the Amazon in his ramshackle boat. Together, they search for an ancient tree whose petals hold the power to heal all — a discovery that will change the future of medicine. Along for the ride Lily’s posh, upper-crest brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall), who doesn’t clearly belong anywhere in a jungle, but succeeds in stealing a lot of his scenes with his over-the-top persnickety ways, most particularly his interactions with Frank’s pet leopard whom they have on board the cruise. The CGI might have been a bit lacking on the leopard, but Whitehall makes it funny so it’s very easy to overlook.

(L-R): Dwayne Johnson as Frank Wolff, Emily Blunt as Lily Houghton and Jack Whitehall as MacGregor Houghton in Disney’s JUNGLE CRUISE. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2021 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

While ‘Jungle Cruise’ could have just been a simple escapade through the jungle with some good action and laughs thrown in, we do get some long drawn out sections with Johnson’s character Frank explaining a bit of a convoluted backstory of the special flower, and the enhanced version of the long dead enchanted conquistadors of his time. Kids especially, might get a bit lost here as let’s face it, they just want the lions, tigers and fun action aspects of his character that help endear Frank to us more. Director Jaume Collet-Serra gives us a big scale action adventure here with plenty of laughs thanks to Johnson giving us some of his best cheesy humour with one-liner awful, terrible jokes that are so bad they are absolutely downright funny. It’s perfectly done and no one in this film takes it all to seriously and that is possibly it’s biggest highlight except for the fact that the biggest thing that upstages them is the absolute wonderful, electric chemistry between Blunt and Johnson. This would have been a totally different movie without that as together they are an unbeatable team here and yes, the glue that holds this film together. But the supporting cast consisting of Jesse Plemons, and again, Jack Whitehall with his witty-ness, Edgar Ramirez, and Paul Giamatti, all add to the adventure as well and round it all up.

So my advice is no crying – and get your ticket for the fantastical journey that is – Jungle Cruise.

Grade: B-

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Review Screening: Monday, July 26, 2021 at El Capitan Theater ~ Courtesy of Disney Studios

“JUNGLE CRUISE” IS IN THEATERS AS OF FRIDAY, JULY 30, 2021 also VOD on Disney+

REVIEW: “A QUIET PLACE PART II” (2021) Paramount Pictures

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Sequels. That dreaded word to most – as they usually begin where the original inevitable cliffhanger of it’s predecessor left off. It’s usually a re-hashed, mish-mash of the original film, and rarely if ever, is it as good as the original. Well colour us thankfully out of that sequel slump as “THE QUIET PLACE PART II“, is anything BUT a slouch of it’s original.

This wonderfully woven sequel gives us the briefest of a flash of the past, probably just for old time-sakes to remember where we were, but then with the flick of scene, we are brought to a time we have never seen before. The time before ‘it’ all began that we all really wanted to know about, and answers so many questions in a very short time. Wrapping up it up cleanly on how ‘the Quiet’ came upon them, and giving us our first glimpses of the monsters that we now know, who hunt by sound, like the dropping of a pin or too loud of a breath, and just like that, they’ve got you. And right as we understand the implications, again, with another flick of the scene, we just skip from day one of the invasion to day 474 of the apocalypse, just after mom Evelyn, kills the alien in her home in the first movie that started it all, ‘A Quiet Place‘.

Continuing on, as Evelyn (Emily Blunt), Regan (Millicent Simmonds), and Marcus (Noah Jupe), are forced to venture out and continue traveling on foot with baby Abbott in tow. They enter the fortified compound of old family friend Emmett (Cillian Murphy), who is not nearly as welcoming as they hoped. The family must now face the terrors outside, while continuing their journey and struggle for existence while in complete silence. They also now know some of the vulnerabilities that the aliens are susceptible to as well, like the high-frequency audio feedback from Regan’s cochlear implant hearing aid. But by being forced to venture into the unknown, they realize that these aliens that hunt by sound, aren’t the only dangers they face lurking in the beyond. In a turn of events, Marcus and Regan discover a radio signal that plays the song “Beyond the Sea” over and over on repeat, and after some doing, finally realize the whereabouts of the location it’s emanating from. Regan figures this might be her chance to not just find, but help other survivors that might be stranded as well. But as with everything in a twisty-turning film like this one, there is always going to be that one thing in the narrative that doesn’t really turn out the way you might want or need it to, or maybe it does? And therein lies the fun, brilliance and suspense of it all.

To give away anymore of this film would be to spoil it inherently, and that’s just something to not be done. What can be said is how much a ‘A Quiet Place II‘ does an amazing job of ‘world’ building, to use an odd descriptive of how the locales are made to look deserted and destroyed, with a worn, dilapidated sense to many of them. Along with the places and the practices that must be observed to live in this world help to flesh out this apocalyptic-type setting, just add to the overall feel of the film. There are some imaginative locations and very clever tricks used by everyone in the film to essentially, ‘stay quiet’. This takes thought, oodles of imagination, and is to be appreciated as it adds so much to the sense of tension surrounding our characters. The film is also an acoustical treat for the ears, (ours – definitely not theirs), with great sound and some amazingly detailed, very quiet panic scenes where it made the silence truly all the more deafening. As well, the acting is very good with Simmonds’ taking over as the main lead character, and Blunt playing the strong, albeit, more supporting part. Krasinski, well, he is briefly here at the beginning of our story to tell us why. But it’s truly Simmonds’ who rises to the occasion of being the lead with a fantastic, captivating and compelling performance. Jupe and Hinds, put in some good support here as well, as truly everyone here has a lot to do to just survive, and some of the activities they are forced to do while staying silent are really quite amazing to witness and watch. 

Krasinski divides the action here over three separate narratives, cross-cutting between them to heighten the tension at important points. All the while, he never loses sight of the fact that A Quiet Place Part II – is a horror film, and he keeps the well-crafted scares coming at a steady pace. All in all, Krasinski does the almost impossible here by making a sequel that – dare I say it – is better than the original.

“A”

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Review Screening: Monday, May 17, 2021 ~ Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

A QUIET PLACE PART II” OPENS IN THEATERS NATIONWIDE ON FRIDAY, MAY 28, 2021

Golden Globes – My picks for Film~Best Actor/Actress/Director/Supporting/Foreign

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My picks for these awards are just that..MY PICKS! 😀 This is my favourite award show as it’s both Film & TV..I mean how can you go wrong with the best of both genres drinking it up at one awards show with Tina Fey & Amy Pohler hosting. Well the answer is you can’t. I’ve seen almost all the films presented this year, even the foreign ones – though yes, I’ve missed a few as there is only so much one human-being can do! ha! You might agree or even better, you might dis-agree ~ it’s all good. I will warn you, I did pretty well last year with my picks and this year I think I’m going to do even better. So with that..I give you #peggyatthemovies 2014 Golden Globe picks! Cheers!

BEST PICTURE (DRAMA):
“Boyhood”
I loved the premise of this movie.. the movie itself was good..but not great for me.

“Foxcatcher”
I will say I was glad I went into this film not knowing to much about it. Performances were very good, but still not my pick here.

“The Imitation Game”WINNER
I loved everything about this movie. The story is so good~the much speculated and talked about inaccuracies and all. The acting even better, and alas it was the only movie to make me cry..both times I saw it.

“Selma”
Like it as it’s quite a powerful film with all it’s much talked about inaccuracies also…just didn’t love it.

“The Theory of Everything”
Really like the film..second viewing the other night was even better.. performance by both actors, especially Eddie Redmayne, is what awards are made for. Still not my top choice for best picture though.

BEST PICTURE (COMEDY/MUSICAL):
“Birdman”WINNER
From the 1st viewing to my 3rd viewing.. BRILLIANT!!

“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
I enjoyed this movie as it was tons of fun and entertaining..though I might not think it’s best picture material, others might.

“Into The Woods”
Will admit to not having seen it yet..as it just wasn’t on the top of my to-see list. I will eventually get to it though.

“Pride”
This movie never came to a theatre near me as far as I know as it was on my list..if it did, it was in and out so fast I missed it. Too bad because it seems as it would be right up my alley.

“St. Vincent”
This was a fun, sweet film.. I mean how can you not like Bill Murray..and the kid was great..but still not a top film for moi.

BEST DIRECTOR:
Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Wes Anderson has done some good films that I’ve really liked..and I did like this a lot, just not enough for it to be my pick in this category.

Ava DuVernay, “Selma”
Good film..love the fact that a woman director got nominated and it was great hearing her speak about the film trials & tribulations after the screening, but alas, it’s not my pick.

David Fincher, “Gone Girl”
I mean who doesn’t love David Fincher..He;s done some brilliant stuff..and I liked this film a lot as it had a good creep/twisty factor but it’s not an award winner.

Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman”WINNER
But there is only one “Birdman” and this film was stunning with it’s long one-shots and imagination. I loved loved loved it…all 3 times to be exact.

Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Yes, I was stunned as I watched this film unfold as to the idea of it all..and that idea was Richard Linklater’s – but I just didn’t like the movie enough to make it my #1 .. though if Alejandro doesn’t win, he would be my 2nd choice based on just the fact it was done over a 12yr time period..that’s a huge commitment and undertaking.

BEST ACTRESS (DRAMA):
Jennifer Aniston, “Cake”
I wish I could say I’ve seen this film/performance as a lot of people are raving about it. But I blinked and missed it for the 1 week it was in like 2 theatres here.

Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”
Loved the film, loved the performance especially for her 1st major leading role and she was wonderful..my 2nd choice for sure.

Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”WINNER
Can we not just give Julianne the damn award already??!!! She needs to finally win it for a lead role in a film dammit!!

Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”
While I’m not Rosamund Pike’s biggest fan, she was crazy creepy good in this role. But then she also did Simon Pegg’s “The Pursuit of Happyness” this year which was awful. Just for that reason alone she doesn’t deserve this. 🙂

Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”
Yeah..everyone said I would be ‘WOWED’ by this film & her performance..I wasn’t. It was good..not great.

BEST ACTOR (DRAMA):
Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”
Funny-man turned oh-so-serious and pulled it off..pretty well I might add.

Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”
2014 was definitely the year of the Brits. This performance is outstanding..it really is..but it’s also my 2nd choice. I know..I know..ALREADY!

Jake Gyllenhaal, “Nighcrawler”
Jake pulled off creepy-shitshow reporter here.. but he didn’t come close to my 2 top picks performance wise.

David Oyelowo, “Selma”
Good performance..fair movie..but like Jake, just didn’t come close to the top 2.

Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”WINNER
Yes, I am giving my pick to Eddie Redmayne here..why..because simply put he was BRILLIANT BEYOND BELIEF. He embodied Stephen Hawking in every way, shape, form & speech. This performance is why awards are given. period.

BEST ACTRESS (COMEDY/MUSICAL):
Amy Adams, “Big Eyes”WINNER
Really good performance.. was it the ‘gold standard’ of American Hustle that I loved..no..but then neither was the film and sadly the actress roles were seriously lacking this year across the board. She was however good enough to win this.

Emily Blunt, “Into The Woods”
I’ve come to like Emily Blunt more & more..she was great as an action star with Tom Cruise in ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ pulling this off is harder.

Helen Mirren, “The Hundred Foot Journey”
Didn’t see this film..again, I’ve read the movie itself is mediocre but how can you not love Helen Mirren is just about anything.

Julianne Moore, “Maps To The Stars”
Again, blinked and missed this one, but I hear Julianne did a bang-up job.

Quvenzhane Wallis, “Annie”
Let’s face it..we know the genre was lacking contenders so this is a ‘fill up the category’ nomination.

BEST ACTOR (COMEDY/MUSICAL):
Ralph Fiennes, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
I’m a fan of this film and of the performance, as it was fun. But it’s not a win.

Michael Keaton, “Birdman”WINNER
Let’s face it..we ALL love a really good comeback. And Michael Keaton gives it to us lock, stock and barrel in this film. He’s a fantastic actor who deserves this big time.

Bill Murray, “St. Vincent”
I j’adore Bill Murray. From ‘Caddyshack’ to ‘Groundhog Day’ to this film. How can you not? But it just wasn’t a better performance than my pick for winner.

Joaquin Phoenix, “Inherent Vice”
Ridiculous film..ridiculous performance..and I love Joaquin. This shouldn’t even be up and I’m guessing was another ‘fill in the category’ nomination

Christoph Waltz, “Big Eyes”
Good performance and while some thought it over the top..I was lucky enough to see a screening with a Q & A afterwards with cast/director where they noted it was actually toned it down. I liked it, not enough for a win though.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
The part I loved most about this was when I finally realized that they were doing this over a 12yr period and having a giggle over ‘hey, that’s when she was doing “Medium” hair-style etc. She probably did the best work of her career here and stands a good chance of winning.

Jessica Chastain, “A Most Violent Year” WINNER
Jessica just went against type here and really came out strong in this performance for me. Very different style & film.

Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game”
For once Keira Knightley did not annoy the bejesus out of me..She was actually decent in this role. Though she also did ‘Begin Again’ – where she was annoying and probably one of the 5 worst movies of the year ‘Laggies’ – so she can not not not possibly deserve this award.

Emma Stone, “Birdman”
Was one of my top 3 films of the year, but definitely not a favourite performance here. It grew on me a bit more by the 3rd viewing, but still, nope.

Meryl Streep, “Into The Woods”
It’s Meryl. What else is there to say? she’s always good.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Robert Duvall, “The Judge”
This was a fairly good movie, and a nice performance. Though sweetly done, not a winner for me.

Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
I remember when the screening started and I thought “how does Ethan look so damn young here” and it took me a good hour to finally realize what they did here. I’ve always liked Ethan, through the good and the bad..this was part of the good.

Edward Norton, “Birdman”
I’m so torn here as until I saw Whiplash, he had my vote. hands down. but now, uuuggghhh torn, torn, torn! But he’s my 2nd choice, and it actually hurts to say that.

Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”
I thought Ruffalo was out of place in this film. He’s playing someone who is clearly supposed to be so much younger and it didn’t come off for me. I know a lot of people loved him in it. He was just okay for me.

J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”WINNER
Damn this movie was good. Even better the 2nd time with a full screening and J.K. & Dir:Damien Chazelle speaking afterwards to fill it all in. I’ve been a J.K.Simmons fan since “OZ” and he blows you away in this film. He so deserves this award for everything he’s done in his career that has been so good, but most of all for bringing this character to life like no other.

BEST FOREIGN FILM:
“Force Majeure”WINNER
I was way behind on my foreign films because they were all screening at the same times and their English counterparts and I could only do so much. That being said, I saw this the other day..really good film..loved it.

“Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem”
Wasn’t able to see this yet

“Ida”
Caught this film this week, and while I know it’s the fav. I found my pick to be all-around better film.

“Leviathan”
This was an okay-good film. I know sometimes maybe a bit gets lost in translation, and while I thought visually it was beautiful, it story was scattered and lost.

“Tangerines”
Was not able to see it.

#PEGGYATTHEMOVIES REVIEW OF ~ “EDGE OF TOMORROW”

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Like most people who saw this trailer I did an *eyeroll* and thought, “Oh looky ~ a Sci-Fi ‘Groundhog Day” but as I started reading some reviews that made it sound not half-bad, I decided to go see it for myself, and I was pleasantly surprised.  “Edge of Tomorrow” is quite a fast-paced, engaging Sci-Fi movie.which I always like, as if they would have slowed the pace any, it definitely wouldn’t work. A few times it actually kept me on the ‘Edge of’ my seat. 😀   

Premise of this movie being that “Major William Cage” (Tom Cruise) is an Army PR man who is sent out to essentially make war look good and has not one iota of actual combat experience. “Cage” is ‘drafted’ into combat in a rather humourous way showing up some of his supporting cast in “Master Sargent Farrell” (Bill Paxton), “Skinner” (Jonas Armstrong”, “Nance” (Charlotte Riley), to name but just some of this platoon of mis-fits.  In this war, Earth is being quickly taken over by “Mimics”, which are odd, very crafty & quick metallic-like creatures who are amazingly quick and seem to know what we are doing before we do it, attack & battle wise.  And that’s because they do. Which is the story behind the story here.  As “Cage” begins to realize that every time he is killed he wakes up and starts the day over again..and again..and again, at the same spot in time, he slowly begins to realize what is happening to him as does “Rita Vrataski” (Emily Blunt), a veteran Special Forces fighter, who ends up training “Cage”. This whole ‘time warp’ deal is something she knows well because she too, has dealt with it being that it has previously happened to her. Every time they get into a spot of trouble, she knows she is just able to kill him and start all over again from step one and change the scenario to make the outcome work. Sometimes this can be funny, and others not so much, but done in a serious tone that doesn’t overtake the whole show and stop it from moving forward..

“Edge of Tomorrow” totally ‘borrows’ from such movies as “Groundhog Day”, “Independence Day” and even “Starship Troopers”, all the while keeping itself completely entertaining all on it’s own.  Yeah. Tom Cruise loves to play the hero..and the action star..we all know this..and at 50 years of age, he still pulls it off here with perfect charm. Emily Blunt, who for me has not always been a favourite of mine, really comes off here as a great strong, female character that I liked a lot. The action sequences are great, the visual effects even better, this movie completely succeeds at what I like to call ‘Peggy’s requirements for a good movie” and definitely again, the bang is worth your buck!!

Grade: B-

#peggyatthemovies

Grading scale: 

 A = OSCARWORTHY; B = ABOVE AVERAGE~MUST SEE; C= AVERAGE~ AND WATCHABLE; D = DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME OR MONEY; F = YEAH..NO DON’T SEE THE MOVIE.. ( + OR – ) GIVES IT A BIT UP OR DOWN