Knives Out Movie Review
Knives Out begins like most mysteries with the crime. The wealthy crime novelist Harlan Thrombey has been found dead in an apparent suicide. The dysfunctional family has gathered to give their statements and get their hands on whatever they can. During the interrogations, detective Benoit Blanc shows up, having been hired to look into the death of Harlan.
If the police think it was a suicide, why was Blanc consulting and who hired him? Blanc is certain that Harlan’s death wasn’t a suicide and there is more going on within the Thrombey family than meets the eye. He is determined to uncover the truth no matter what the cost. Along the way he uncovers a lot more than what happened to the elder Thrombey.
Although it follows the general formula of a whodunit, it deviates from the typical period piece by bringing this murder mystery into 2019 America. It combines the fun of Clue with the crafted mystery of an Agatha Christie novel. Along the way it infuses commentary about topics from social class segregation to politics.
As Johnson has been known for in his previous works, the story is set up using the long-established genre template. He then plays with the conventions, themes, and enjoys taking what we thought would be the plot and playing with it just enough to keep us on our toes.
If Rian Johnson’s goal was to write and direct a film that would draw audiences into the intrigue, he succeeded. In Knives Out, Johnson lays the groundwork for the twists long before we see them coming. As mentioned above, even eagle-eyed moviegoers will second guess their guesses at least once or twice until the big reveal.
Knives Out not only offers viewers clever writing and vibrant locations but an ensemble of rich characters that stand out and shine, each in their own way. Scene-stealers like Daniel Craig’s Blanc, Jamie Lee Curtis’ Linda, and Toni Collette’s Joni are energetic, fun, and sassy.
The film’s protagonist, Ana de Armas’ Marta, is easily noticeable due to the stark contrast between her character and the Thrombey family. She is just a working-class girl, who makes the best of her situation unlike the family whom are spoiled, bratty, and entitled. Both Marta and Harlan come across as the most grounded, knowing what life is like without fame and riches.
Chris Evans takes a left turn from his role as the morally strong Steve Rogers to play an arrogant, pampered, definitely-lacking-a-moral-compass jerk. Ransom is the exact opposite of Captain America and that smirk seals the deal. If you are a fan of Evans you will thoroughly enjoy watching him tackle this role and rocking all those sweaters.
Rounding out the main cast are Don Johnson’s Richard, the quintessential, rich white male, Michael Shannon’s Walt, a seemingly joke of a man with a dark side, and Katherine Langford’s Meg, daughter of Joni and possibly the most normal member of the Thrombey family. Walt’s wife Donna and his son Jacob have the fewest lines, serving to the move the plot along. Despite the size of the cast, each character gets their moment in the spotlight.
Rian Johnson delivers with Knives Out. This non-franchise, no canon in sight film is an entertaining crowd pleaser. The two hours fly by as you try to figure out who did what and why. Upon a second viewing you can enjoy knowing those answers while finding the clues Johnson dropped early on that were missed before.
Knives Out is a deliciously fun game of whodunit that will leave you wanting a sequel. And if Knives Out does well enough, we may just get more stories with Blanc.
Knives Out is in theaters now.
Downton Abbey Review
Excitement is high at Downton Abbey when the Crawley family learns that King George V and Queen Mary are coming to visit. Everyone from the upstairs down is giddy, imagining what it will be like once The Royals arrive. The thrill is contagious, with the entire village buzzing about the visit and the idea that they might share the same space as the King and Queen of England.
When we last visited Downton Abbey, Carson had retired, Molesley was now a teacher, and the house was running on the least amount of staff possible. But with the impending royal visit, it’s an all hands on deck kind of situation. Mr. Carson is pulled out of retirement to head up staff preparations, Mr. Molesley abandons teaching in order to have the opportunity to serve his Queen, and a ton of extra staff is seen preparing the house for their arrival.
But trouble soon arises when Mrs. Patmore, Daisy, and the rest of the servants learn that the King and Queen travel with their own chefs and attendants setting the stage for an impromptu scheme and other shenanigans. Carson naturally does not approve but he also does not not approve.
Meanwhile upstairs, not all is as perfect as it seems. Violet is plotting against a cousin, Tom is being followed, Mary continues struggling with the changing times, and Edith is coming into her own as the Marchioness of Hexham despite the boredom it causes. They all must come together, trusting one another, and standing united not only for the duration of this visit but also for the future.
The plots are easy to navigate, even if you haven’t seen the series. Although I would wager you might not enjoy it as much without any insight into the characters on the screen. The film as a whole feels very much like a classic “the boss is coming to dinner” situation. Just like the television run, the film is equal parts drama and comedy, without being heavy handed or silly.
Maggie Smith delivers one-liners as the Dowager Countess and does not disappoint with her superior quips. Penelope Wilton continues that tennis match of words with her as Isobel. Kevin Doyle steals scenes as the enthusiastic Mr Molesley, who’s aria might be one of the best moments of the entire film. Allen Leech’s Tom Branson saves the day and shows his true heroic nature in more ways than one.
Downton Abbey the movie, is full of victories. You leave feeling satisfied where the characters and their extensive storylines stand. It is also a celebration, not for the King and Queen, but for us and how Julian Fellowes and the cast brought this magic into our lives.
The Downton Abbey Scene I Could Live Without
The movie was absolute perfection for this mega fan but I did take issue with one scene. I hated sitting through it and I wished they had left it out altogether. Avert your eyes now, spoilers are ahead.
The final major dialogue of the film centers around Lady Mary asking the Dowager Countess, her grandmother, why she went to London. She tells Mary she had some tests run and it seems that the end of her life is coming, but not to worry because Mary is the future of Downton.
I realize that this was most likely written in to give Dame Maggie Smith a way out if they decide on future series or films. After all the Dowager is older and it would make sense story wise to have her eventually pass on from the world of Downton Abbey.
This upset me and several others in the audience. I lost my grandmother not too long ago and it was the hardest thing I have gone through to date. So yes, my reaction to this scene is wrapped up in all the emotions that come with losing someone so close to you. However, I also felt strongly about this because her character is by far my favorite. She has the best lines, sass and love, and she can give looks for days. It’s a shame to think of any future Downton Abbey anything without her presence.
I could have done without that scene altogether. Or keep the dialogue that Mary is the future of Downton and leave out the impending loss of the greatest character on the show. Just my two cents.
Other than that I adored the film. If you’re not a fan of the show this might not be the one for you. But if you stuck it out with the Crawley family for six series, this film will feel like one extra long, satisfying episode.
Downton Abbey is in theaters now.
Hobbs and Shaw Movie Review
Hobbs & Shaw follows Luke Hobbs as he is recruited for a secret operation that pairs him with his sworn enemy/frenemy Deckard Shaw. Neither one is thrilled, but they need to work together to locate Shaw’s sister Hattie, an MI6 agent who’s allegedly stolen a dangerous biological weapon. That doesn’t go well, as they each have their own style to things. However, when they learn that Hattie is also being hunted by Brixton, a cyber-genetically enhanced terrorist who works for a powerful criminal tech organization, they realize that like it or not they need each other to complete the mission and ultimately save the world.
One of the issues going into this film is that it was highly predictable. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m an old school fangirl of the franchise. I watched the first one and fell in love with customizing imports, NOS boosts, and Vin Diesel. And The Rock? I’ve been a stan since he used to ask “Can you smelllllllll what The Rock is cookin’?”
While I’m far from a hater, it’s a mere fact that it is predictable. Fast cars, crazy stunts that defy all laws of psychics, and eventually after some fight scenes, the bad guy loses. Not to mention the fact that Universal gave the entire movie away in the trailers and TV spots, again, no shade just the truth.
Despite all of that, I genuinely wanted to watch this movie. I’m all for action films that are self-aware. They don’t try to be anything that they aren’t. Hobbs and Shaw knows what it is and even pokes fun at the other films in this franchise as well as themselves. Whether this was an attempt to be clever or an actual jab at Vin Diesel I don’t know, but I liked it.
The action in this film was a mixed bag. Sometimes it was shot beautifully, with the clearness we expect of the John Wick trilogy, and other times it relied on shaky camerawork to heighten the mood. I found it funny they threw in a message about how real people will always trump technology, yet like previous films in the franchise, they rely heavily on CGI. Sometimes that CGI was murky and detracted from the action, other times it was laughable. Thankfully it never lasted too long so the viewer is able to move past it and focus on what happens next.
At this point viewers are used to the vehicles in these films doing insane things. Hobbs & Shaw takes it up a notch by creating high-tech motorcycles, cars, and trucks used by the villains of the story. At one point I thought I was watching a rebooted Transformers. Please don’t make this crossover, ever.
While it is definitely action driven, the chemistry between The Rock and Jason Statham is what made the film for me. Take your best buddy cop story, add in animosity and a lot of brooding and you’ve got Hobbs and Shaw. The jabs they throw back and forth are cheesy at times but they work in the greater context of the scenes themselves.
Hobbs & Shaw was an ideal offering for the Summer Box Office. It doesn’t take itself seriously, provides plenty of laughs, and a lot of action. Bottom line if you’re a fan of The Fast and The Furious or just The Rock, you’re going to enjoy Hobbs & Shaw.
Hobbs and Shaw Post Credit Scenes
It seems like every film nowadays as a post credit scene or two. In this case, Hobbs & Shaw has FOUR post credit scenes. They set the tone for a possible sequel, more on that below.
Is Hobbs and Shaw appropriate for teens?
Hobbs and Shaw is rated PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action and violence, suggestive material and some strong language.
This film features bad language (too many to count) and lots of violence. I wouldn’t recommend it for a 13 year old. Older teens will most likely enjoy it, especially if they are fans of the previous films. As always, if you are unsure about it I recommend you viewing the film first.
Will there be a Hobbs and Shaw Sequel?
While nothing is official, The Rock has stated it’s something they are looking into. With the success of the film, I’d say it warrants a sequel. I would rather see this than The Fast and the Furious 9, 10, or 100, to be honest.
Thank you to Universal Pictures for this review copy. All opinions are my own.
Yesterday Movie Review
I’ll fully admit it, Yesterday looked like it would be an okay movie but not one that I would actually enjoy watching. I thought it would follow the typical amnesia, dream sequence-type films meaning Yesterday would be predictable and without something special to set it apart from all the other films.
I was wrong. Yesterday is a playful, fun, heart-felt, musical ride that despite the fantastical elements of the story, is relatable. Plus it doesn’t hurt that the soundtrack is heavy on The Beatles with a side of Ed Sheeran.
Himesh Patel stars as Jack Malik, an aspiring singer-songwriter, whom despite the support of childhood best friend Ellie Appleton (Lily James), decides it’s time to quit on his dream. The night he decides this however, he gets hit by a bus during a blackout that is worldwide. After waking up in the hospital, he realizes he is the only person in the world who remembers The Beatles, coke, and Harry Potter.
Jack starts playing the band’s songs, passing them off as his own, and the fame comes quickly. But when Ellie reveals her true feelings for him, Jack comes to realize that he’s now in danger of losing the only person who’s always had his back and doesn’t care if his songs are Beatles level amazing.
My favorite moment of the film came when Jack speaks to John Lennon.
“Have you had a happy life?” – Jack
“Very.” – John
“But not successful?” – Jack
“I just said, very happy. That means successful.”- John
John goes on to explain he had a job he liked, a wife, essentially a good life that he fought for. The message here was that living a life worth living doesn’t mean you’re famous or rich. It means that you pursued what makes you happy and in the end that fulfills you more than money or fame ever could.
The chemistry of the cast and the visuals of Danny Boyle help to propel the story and engage the audience. While there are unexplained questions if you’re looking for a romantic comedy sprinkled with some magic, Yesterday is the film for you.
Yesterday Movie Bonus Features on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, & Digital
- Corden & Roxanne – Includes deleted performance by Himesh Patel of “Something”
- Late for School
- Nutters Italian Ice Cream
- Moscow Audience
- A Gonk
- W Hotel
- Jack Calls Ellie
- Hilary in the Mirror
- Nick and Carol
- Hazel’s Selfie
Live at Abbey Road Studios – Watch Himesh Patel perform “Yesterday”, “I Want To Hold Your Hand”, and “Let it Be” at Abbey Road Studios.
Ed Sheeran: From Stadium to Screen* – Acting in his first major role, Ed Sheeran reflects on his experiences making the movie.
Agent of Comedy: Kate McKinnon* – Kate McKinnon shares how eager she was to play the role of “Debra Hammer” while the cast and crew reflect on the fun and energy that the queen of improvisational comedy brought to the set.
A Talented Duo* – Richard Curtis and Danny Boyle, two of the most successful British filmmakers, team up for the first time.
Playing for Real* – The re-interpreting of the Beatles songs was a huge undertaking for newcomer Himesh Patel. Learn how he spent months learning to play the songs perfectly as the production decided to take the more challenging route of recording the musical numbers live on set.
Soul Mates* – Beyond the music and the laughs, the film is, of course, a love story. This piece looks at the relationship between Jack & Ellie and the actors playing them.
A Conversation with Richard & Ed* – Long-term friends Richard Curtis and Ed Sheeran have a funny and informal chat about the making of YESTERDAY.
Feature Commentary with Director Danny Boyle and Writer/Producer Richard Curtis
*Exclusive to 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, & Digital
Yesterday Movie Giveaway
One lucky fan will win a Blu-ray combo pack of Yesterday!
This post is in partnership with Universal Pictures. All opinions are our own. Affiliate links may be used.
Daisy’s Happy Hats Craft
The kids and I had fun making these hats together. They wanted to make several for all their plushes. Our real four legged babies were not as amused by them. The cats did like all the ribbon though!
Secret Life Of Pets 2 Bonus Features
The Secret Life of Pets 2 release comes packed with bonus features including mini movies, drawing lessons, music videos and more. I’m also sharing a super fun craft inspired by the film below.
Blu-ray, 4K, DVD, and Digital Bonus Features:
- Minion Scouts – When Margo, Agnes and Edith return from Badger Scout camp, three of the Minions are entranced by the girls’ merit badges. Their own attempt at scout camp results in attracting a bear, eating poison berries and eventually blowing up a dam, creating a massive flood. But, when they arrive back home, the girls share their badges, encouraging the rest of the Minions to try their hand at scouting.
- Super Gidget – When Max is kidnapped by an army of squirrels, Super Gidget is the only one who can save him. It turns out that Max’s captor is a flea with the power of mind control. Gidget must use her pluckiness, strength and smarts to save her one true love…until it turns out it was all just a dream.
- The Making of the Mini Movies – Every Illumination film is accompanied by mini movies that are a production all their own. Each film’s directing partners will explore how the mini movies were made.
- Wake Up – Max and Duke have a new morning routine with Liam.
- Duke Explores the Farm – Duke has a funny interaction with a goat.
- Snowball Karate – Snowball does his superhero warm up.
- Secret Confessions – Dogs gather to talk about their deepest secrets
A Tapestry of a Tail: The Making Of – The plot of The Secret Life of Pets 2 involves multiple storylines ultimately coming together to create a larger than life tale. We talk with the filmmakers, editor and cast about the delicate dance of juggling multiple narratives in one movie.
How to Draw – Hosted by Head of Story, Eric Favela, follow the step-by-step tutorial to learn to draw Max, Snowball and Chloe
Frame by Frame: How to Make a Flip Book – In this DIY-style vignette, Head of Story Eric Favela will teach viewers about the essence of animation and how they can create their very own flip book animations at home.
Character Pods – Get a closer look at your favorite characters of The Secret Life of Pets 2 with these delightful character pods that might just give away a few more pet secrets.
- Patton Oswalt – Max
- Kevin Hart – Snowball
- Eric Stonestreet – Duke
- Jenny Slate – Gidget
- Tiffany Haddish – Daisy
- Lake Bell – Chloe
- Nick Kroll – Sergei
- Dana Carvey – Pops
- Bobby Moynihan – Mel
- Harrison Ford – Rooster
A Party Fit for a Pet – Using stop motion animation, this step-by-step guide teaches you everything you need to know to throw the very best party for your pet!
Pops’ Puppy Training School with Kevin Hart – Join Kevin Hart as he shows off his dog training skills.
Pets Yule Log – Sit back and relax in front of this exclusive The Secret Life of Pets 2 themed animated ‘Yule Log.’
- ‘Panda’ Lyric Video
- ‘It’s Gonna Be A Lovely Day (The Secret Life of Pets 2)’ Lyric Video
Exclusive Bonus Features to 4K and Blu-ray:
The Further Adventures of Captain Snowball (Interactive)
This animated ‘Motion Comic’ expands the world of our furry hero, Captain Snowball. Using a ‘superhero’ comic book style and custom animation, we discover more about the secret world of our caped crusader with a little help from our viewers. At key moments in the story, the viewer is presented with a choice: left, or right? Fight or flight? Their choice determines our hero’s next move!
Exclusive Bonus Features to 4K, Blu-ray, and Digital:
My Buddy and Me – We interview the Illumination cast and crew talking about The Secret Life of Pets 2 while holding (or trying to hold) their pets.
Pets with Jobs: A Documentary – We find and profile animals with special jobs – a service dog that detects when its epileptic owner is about to have a seizure; ponies that provide comfort to children with cancer; police dogs that go the extra mile to catch the bad guys. Meet some of the many animals who make the world a better place every day!
Relax the Cat: The Secret Life of Pets Massage – A professional pet masseuse shows the cast how to read signs of tension in their pet and use massage techniques to keep their furry babies relaxed and happy!
Production Pets – It takes hundreds of people to make an animated movie and a lot of those people have pets that can’t wait for them to come home. This piece is dedicated to all those faithful companions.