Thursday, July 19, 2018

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (PG-13/1 hr. 54 min.)




From the moment I found out that Mamma Mia had a sequel, I’ve been not-so-patiently waiting for this film to come out.  But, I was dreading it at the same time.  Sequels are never as good as the original. To say I liked the original is a bit of an understatement.  I grew up listening to Abba.  They were my jam.  What?  I may have been born around the time they were really popular and I listened to what my parents listened to.  And they liked Abba.  We listened to them at home.  We listened to them on road trips.  So much so that on one particular trip, a friend of mine, who’d never really heard many Abba songs before, had the entire tape memorized by the time we drove from Oklahoma to Florida.  I still don’t understand why my parents didn’t throw the tape out the window after the first who-knows-how-many times.  All that to say, I was ready for this movie.  And it did not disappoint.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is mostly about Donna Sheridan and how she came to be the owner of a hotel on a little island in Greece while raising a daughter all by her lonesome.  I have so much more respect for Donna, having seen what she went through to get where she did.  That sounds way more dramatic than it was.  She did have bad times but she had so many good times as well.  Donna’s story is mixed in with several other little tales that make this movie so very worth the watch and the wait.  

If you’ve seen the trailers, you’re already privy to a certain special event mentioned in the film.  I really REALLY hate that they did that.  If you haven’t seen the trailers, I recommend not watching them.  Go be surprised the way I think everyone should have been.  I was impressed, though, that none of the trailers I saw gave away a huge part of the movie.  I won’t be telling you, either.
As soon as the movie started, I was transported to Greece and I did quite a bit of travelling along the way.  Except for just a few moments, I became part of the action.  I laughed with them.  I danced with them (not literally, people who know me).  I sang with them (under my breath.  I promise!).  I cried with them.  Oh, boy, did I cry!  We’ll talk about that a little later.  This movie grabbed hold and didn’t let go until the credits rolled.

Despite the conditions of the hotel in the first Mamma Mia!, I still wanted to go for a visit.  The hotel in the new film is beautiful.  My wanderer’s soul needs to see it in person.  The island called to me, as well.  You could be on your own for as long as you want and then go in to town when you feel like being sociable.  It’s almost perfect! 

There were so many people, in this film, that I want to talk about so I’m just going to jumble them all up together.  I can’t even begin to imagine who else could have played young Donna other than Lily James.  I still maintain that someone else, besides Meryl Streep should have been chosen to play older Donna but I can’t begin to tell you how emotional I got seeing her in this movie.  In a good way.  Meryl was not the main focus so she didn’t get as much play as I expected but I truly believe that the amount of screen time she was given, worked.  Amanda Seyfried and Dominic Cooper were back as Sophie and Sky.  I still love them together.  And don’t get me started on how I feel about Cher.  There’s a reason why she’s been famous for as long as she has.  The woman has chops!  And she can sing, too!  I can’t think of any of the other main actors I would have replaced.  You could definitely see the older characters in their younger versions.  Of all these characters, who was my favorite?  None of them.  One person stole my heart and I want to meet her in real life.   Maria Vacratsis was a character whose name I can’t remember, if they even mentioned it, but who played a big role in the lives of a couple of the characters.  She runs the local bar.  She’s ornery.  She’s incredibly kind to those who deserve it.  She’s a fierce protector.  Do NOT mess with this woman.

Now, on to the music.  Oh, my goodness, the music!  As mentioned at the beginning of all this, I’m a bit of a fan of Abba.  When I heard about the sequel, I wondered what songs were going to be used this time around.  It was jam-packed!  Some of you may recall that music, in general, can make me a tad emotional.  I said that this movie grabbed me, right away.  It’s true but the music, along with the acting, took me on a roller coaster ride I’m still reeling from, one day later.  I couldn’t keep my feet still during the faster numbers, I got chills during some of the softer ballads, and a couple of songs nearly undid me altogether.  I counted around 27 songs, in all, but I can’t guarantee that number.  Two songs, in particular tore me up.  Having remembered that I was surrounded by lots of people and not wanting to embarrass my husband, I refrained from ugly crying.  But only just.  “I’ve Been Waiting for You” started it and “My Love, My Life” sealed it.  I really hope this affects other people the way it did me.

If you haven’t seen Mamma Mia!, rent it before you see Mamma Mia!  Here We Go Again.  You really need it to be able to properly appreciate the sequel.  If you have seen Mamma Mia!, consider yourself warned.  While there was the drama of “whose is she?” in the original, the sequel is quite a bit more somber.  It’s still an entertaining movie but in a completely different way.  As soon as it was over, I told Mr. Man that I wanted to see it again.  Right then.  And then again and again.  I highly recommend this movie.  It’s a great summer film and if at least one or 20-something of the songs isn’t nominated for an award, I will be greatly disappointed. 

P.S.  There is a little something after the credits.  

P.P.S.  I wore this shirt to the movie, not knowing the coincidence of doing so.  When you watch the movie you’ll understand why I got a good chuckle out of it.  If you happen to remember what it says.  Thank you, and good day.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Skyscraper (PG-13/109min.)




Die Hard on steroids!!!  This was my first thought once the movie really got going.  It is, but then again, it isn’t.  Skyscraper is the story of Will Sawyer, former hostage rescue team leader and current security assessor who is brought to Hong Kong to test the security system for the new tallest building in the world.  And, why not test out part of it by bringing your family along to stay in the building itself?  I mean, what could possibly go wrong?  I know.  You’ve seen the trailers.  You already know the answer to that.
I can already guarantee that this movie won’t win any major awards but I have to say, it was fun.  And, don’t trust the trailers.  They do give a basic overview but they suck compared to the actual film.  I almost called and gave up my seats because what I’d seen up to that point just wasn’t doing it for me.  I’d also had a really bad day and was pretty sure this was not going to bring me out of my crappy mood.  However, Mr. Man wanted to go so we did.  Almost two hours later, what crappy mood?  This is a summer action flick, without a doubt.  You know why you go to see this type of movie.  For the fun.  For the excitement.  For the muscle-knotting tension (though nothing will ever come close to The Grey in that category).  For…The Rock!  When multiple generations of women think you’re hot, you must be doing something right. 
As you can imagine, most of the movie is shot in and around the skyscraper, so there’s no need to really try to describe anything else.  Nothing else in the movie was meant to wow you like this building did.  It truly did WOW, too. 
Let’s talk about a different kind of scenery for a while.
Dwayne Johnson.  Oh my.  Dwayne Johnson.  There are times I feel like he is so completely full of himself that he doesn’t need my adoration and then I go see one of his movies and think, why not?  If I looked like that, I’d stop at a few mirrors, myself.  Enough of that.  Dwayne (I’m gonna assume he’ll let me call him that) is Will Sawyer.  He’s come a long way from the hostage rescue team.  He’s pulled himself up by the bootstrap, started a family, and made a bit of a name for himself in the security field; with a little help from a friend.  He’s tough.  He’s loyal.  He’s not difficult to watch.  He loves his family.  Makes for a pretty good hero.  Will is one daring son of a gun.  Mr. Man just said that he’s like Batman without all the cool gadgets.  No super powers to speak of but he still gets the job done.  He was involved in one of several it-had-to-happen-this-way-to-make-the-rest-of-the-film-work scenes that I still think was ridiculous.  It almost seems as if the writers just couldn’t quite figure out how to get from point A to point B without added silliness.  What I “feared” most happening, though, didn’t.  He was cheese-lite, compare to a lot of his other movies.
Neve Campbell is Will’s wife, Sarah.  I can’t quite decide how I feel about Neve.  She has aged well, dang it.  And she was a good pick for Will’s other half.  I really liked her in Skyscraper.  She’s come a long way from Party of Five and needs to be in many more films.  I’m just saying.  When you really meet Sarah, you immediately figure out the type of woman she is.  If you don’t, you’re not paying attention.  I’m not saying much else about her because what fun would that be?  I liked Sarah.  I liked her a lot. 
Will and Sarah’s kids were played by McKenna Roberts, as Georgia, and Noah Cottrell, as Henry.  One of them plays a pretty big part in Skyscraper.  The other does not.  They were robbed.  I think they did well with what they were given.  I also think they should be cast in bigger roles in the future.  So there.
I know I’ve said that I like this movie and that it was fun but I just can’t let a few things go unsaid.  This almost went in to spoof territory a few times.  Following are some of my biggest complaints.

·       The mom/wife at the very beginning.  You knew!!!  Say something!  But, I guess if the rest of the movie was going to go like it did, you couldn’t.  But still.
·       The security protocols.  Seriously?  I saw that coming from a mile away.  The infant that was crying right before the movie started saw that coming from a mile away.
·       The crowd reaction.  In the movie, I mean.  In a shot viewed from above Dwayne, and looking down, you cannot even make out the crowd.  And yet!!!  Any time it seems as if something bad might happen to our hero, the crowd gasps.  You can’t see him!!!  I’m totally going to ruin this for you and tell you that, FINALLY, you discover that all of this is being played for them on a big screen.  So, yeah.  They could see him.  But, I was already over it at that point
·      The un-reality (non-reality?  utter ridiculousness?) of a few scenes.  I actually leaned over to Mr. Man at one point and said, “I call b.s. on this whole scene.”  I hope my mom doesn’t read this.   
·      The son.  Kid needed more time on screen.  I started to say that he was totally lame but he wasn’t!  They just needed him for something specific and he played his part.  If he hadn’t been what he was, then someone couldn’t have been somewhere when something important needed to happen.  You savvy?
·       And last, but certainly not least, the reason someone didn’t save himself sooner.  My eyes almost rolled out of my head.  It’s called backup, sir.  Look in to it.
Having said all that, I still really REALLY liked it!  Even after seeing everything that went wrong, I want to stay in this building.  It is supercool and needs to really be built.  I don’t think I could be comfortable staying up very high in it but maybe at least halfway. 
If you’re going to see this movie just because it stars Dwayne Johnson, you won’t be disappointed.  If you’re going for the action, again…  If you go with even the smallest thought that this is going to be based on things that could happen in the real world, start practicing your eye rolls now.  But, go anyway!  It was fun.  It was exciting.  It was NOT over the top mushy.  I’m ready to see it again. 

P.S.  No need to stick around once the credits roll unless you want to take a shot at pronouncing the oh-so-many names.  It is insane how many people it takes to make a movie like this.  This had better do good or someone’s not gonna get paid.
P.P.S.  Your children will never look at monkey bars the same way again.  All I can say is, I’d have gone splat.
P.P.P.S.  Skyscraper was brought to you by duct tape.  “If you can’t fix it with duct tape, you’re not using enough duct tape.”  Do NOT try this at home, kids.