REVIEW: “LAST CHRISTMAS” (2019) Universal

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If Emilia Clarke was looking to step out and reinvent herself after eight years as Game of Thrones’ Daenerys Targaryen, then “LAST CHRISTMAS” would be that vehicle. Along with her character choice of Kate, a wayward and dysfunctional wanna-be actress in her 20’s, who spends her day working as an Elf selling year round Christmas monstrosities – well you couldn’t be further removed from the queen of dragons herself with this one.

Her boss, in what is sure to be London’s gaudiest Christmas store, conveniently goes by the moniker “Santa” (Michelle Yeoh), constantly admonishes Kate for her shortcoming, and there are many of them. As a matter of fact, Kate is simply just the worst. Her nights are devoted to getting plastered, trying to find one in the endless array of couches to crash on – and mornings, well mornings are spent trying to recall the who/what/where of the previous evening shenanigans. “It’s not my fault” is almost a battle-cry for Kate. She just can’t seem to get it together, oddly enough, even when she somehow forgot to lock the door and the store gets robbed, incredibly she keeps her job.

One day the super dreamy Tom (Henry Golding) enters the picture, helping her piece her life back together just in time for Christmas. Magically he enchants her in every way from little dances in the street, to taking her to his little private garden spot. But everything just seems to be a bit to convenient here.  Showing up at the most random of moments, Tom is just too good to be true. And this is only a partial list of things that just make no sense here.  Katie even goes so far as to out her sister Marta (Lydia Leonard), yet instead of facing actual repercussions for these things, seemingly things get better for her. It’s like magically overnight she becomes a good person.

It’s never a good sign when the film’s trailer feels like the whole movie, but you would be right on the money with ‘Last Christmas,’  and those holding their breath for something more will leave sorely underwhelmed.  Sure, you don’t go into a film like this expecting to be surprised but neither do you want it feeling like it’s three steps behind you just because you’ve seen the trailer. Yet, as soon the film delivers its climactic plot twist with the earnestness of a kid tying their shoelaces for the first time, the film quickly trips over its own feet. Your only small highlights in characters here are her parents Petra (Emma Thompson), who delves into heavily into a Eastern European accent, and Ivan (Boris Isakovic) her taxi cab driving dad, both of whom supply a laugh or two but not much more.

It’s hard to know who to lay blame on here as there’s not much to work with in terms of the film’s story. Taking its title from the 1984 Wham! pop song Last Christmas, the film treats George Michael’s music with the same depth as Yesterday treated the Beatles; as window dressing. When it comes to the actual film, it’s nothing more than your typical Hallmark movie of the week. Watching Clarke bumble around is endearing enough for the first half or so but it wears thin quickly and the predictable story line does little to keep things interesting.

So, the question remains: how far can a film go based on charm alone? Well, your mileage will undoubtedly vary based on your tolerance of saccharine love stories as ‘Last Christmas’ is as sweet as they get. Its lack of cynicism and Clarke’s infectiously bubbly lead performance will likely be its saving grace for many, but overall it’s ‘Christmas’ story feels like a lump of coal wrapped up in pretty packaging.

Grade: C

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Media Review Screening: Tuesday, October 5, 2019 ~ Courtesy of Universal Pictures

“LAST CHRISTMAS” IS OUT IN THEATERS IN THEATERS WORLDWIDE

 

REVIEW: “DEADPOOL 2” (2018) 20th Century Fox

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So yes, in case somehow you’ve been stuck under a rock or living in Wakanda and you’ve missed all the wonderful promos leading into the release of this film, yes, Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) as his alter-ego DEADPOOL are back for another round. And while the laughs and action are still there, your going to be hard pressed to find a movie more over the top than “DEADPOOL 2”. Director David Leitch takes this one to a whole new level entirely and it works namely because the violence here is just creative vs. all blood, guts and gore. And sure, it defies all logic most of the time, but you can’t help but laugh at the zingers being thrown at you left and right throughout and Reynolds’ charm is undeniable.

We come into the film with Williams having settled into something resembling normalcy, kinda right where you expected him to be – spending his days dispatching villains now that he can with those mutant healing powers – they allow him to recover from gunshot wounds or worse. His nights are spent with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), the love of his life. But some terrible things happen, leaving a depressed Deadpool to crash on the couch at Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters making for some hilarious camp X-Men jokes fall in to place.

We have a mix of some of the old friends, the CGI Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic), Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), Blind Al (Leslie Uggams), and of course our favourite taxi-driver-wanna-be-super-hero Dopinder (Karan Soni). But we also have a whole new fun group come into play, albeit for some it’s not for long journey – but Peter (Rob Delaney), Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgård), Vanisher (Brad Pitt), Bedlam (Terry Crews), Shatterstar (Lewis Tan), and Black Tom Cassidy (Jack Kesy) add a fun plot point to the whole film. They are all part of the newly recruited/dubbed ‘X-Force’ group, which seemed like a good idea at the time, but sadly and hysterically I might add, they are gone in quick succession. My personal favourite and one of the last standing through it all, is bad-ass Domino (Zazie Beetz), whose superpower is undeniably “luck”. Our villians could be one of three very different people at various times throughtout. Cable (Josh Brolin) comes into to try to kill Russell aka Firefist (Julian Dennison), who might or might not be ready to step into villian shoes in a big way, or can we call the creepy Headmaster (Eddie Marsan), the biggest villian of the film. That will be for you to decide and see what happens as telling more of this story just defeats the purpose of the fun you will have while watching it. Also, there are cameo moments galore and I hope no one ruins them for you beforehand because they are just plain fun! While I wasn’t crazy about this storyline in comparison to the first one, the one-line zingers are comedy gold. Pay attention as they go fast..very fast.

That being said, go into this movie knowing that it is a campy, corny, over the top superhero/action/comedy that is just about crazy shooting sequences and one-liners, and you’ll be fine. Do not go into this movie expecting deep plot, meaningful conversations among characters, or anything remotely resembling a serious action or drama movie – because that’s not what it’s all about. And yes, this one features the best post credits scene EVER – so don’t make the silly mistake of walking out when the film is over..stay for both sequences..you will be glad you did.

Grade: B+
@pegsatthemovies

Media Review Screening: Monday, May 14, 2018 ~ Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
DEADPOOL 2 WILL BE OUT IN THEATERS NATIONWIDE/WORLDWIDE FRIDAY, MAY 18, 2018