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The house with a clock in its walls (2018)

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You can eat cookies till you throw up, for all I care.
You’ll see… things are…quite different here.

Have you seen “Goosebumps” where Jack Black plays the leading role as well? Well, you can expect almost the same thing. A kids-sized horror film. And I had the same feelings about it after a certain amount of time. Namely that it’s all a little bit over the top. Probably it wasn’t the intention to make it too scary. It should all be about magic and mystery. And it sure was the first half. I admit I have a weak spot for such type of movies. “The House with a clock in its walls” reminded me of the wonderful “Harry Potter” movies. Here too it’s about an orphan boy who ends up in a foster family and apparently has magic powers in his DNA. Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) himself looks like Henry from “The book of Henry“. Also an outsider with aviator glasses on. But halfway the movie derailed a bit and felt rather exaggerated, absurd and grotesque.

 

 

Shit, there’s that lion again.

As I mentioned earlier, the first part is highly entertaining. Lewis is being introduced. He meets uncle Jonathan Barnavelt (Jack Black) and his neighbor Florence Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett). And of course, there’s this huge Victorian-looking house with its ghostly contours. As a spectator, you notice there’s something very unusual going on and certain ordinary things come to life (and in normal circumstances they never do). Something that Lewis only discovers afterward. We then see Lewis attending his new school and how he befriends Tarby (Sunny Suljic), the popular boy who briefly raises Lewis’s popularity. All this is brought with the necessary humor and is highly entertaining for young and old. Even the presence of Jack Black was bearable. I’m not really a big fan of Black’s humor. Usually, it’s bland and ridiculously exaggerated. That is why a similar scene with a lion-shaped-bush with stomach problems is being used three times. Bland, trite and exaggerated toilet humor.

 

 

Puking pumpkins? Let’s use the umbrella.

But in general, it was still enjoyable. What amused me the most was the constant bickering between Uncle Barnavelt and Mrs. Zimmerman. That never really got boring. And then suddenly those puking pumpkins (and boy this was bad looking CGI) and a bunch of puppets shows up. Also, you’ll witness the resurrection of the evil Warlock Isaac (Kyle MacLachlan) and his illustrious wife Selena (Renée Elise Goldsberry). And finally, everything revolves around a very well hidden clock somewhere in the house of uncle Barnavelt. Although he’s a talented wizard and Mrs. Zimmerman a famous sorceress, finding this clock seems an impossible task. Even uncle Barnavelt is forced to use other tools to look for it. Like a huge pickaxe, for example, with which he starts to demolish walls in the middle of the night. And the way they handled this clock-problem, in the end, was also an easy solution. Apparently, the scriptwriters were exhausted and a little uninspired.

 

 

Most positive was Cate Blanchett.

No, I wasn’t really impressed. Visually it looked sophisticated and extremely well-taken care of, but it never was as magical as “Harry Potter“. Cate Blanchett was perhaps the only highlight in this fantasy film for kids. It was as if she tried to be the new Mary Poppins with her behavior. Maybe this movie is perfect to stimulate the fantasy of 8-year-olds. Though they must endure the hyperactive behavior of Jack Black. Is it because of the awkward way in which horror director Eli Roth tackled this project? Or is it due to Jack Black’s lackluster humor? Or was it the laser beam-shooting umbrella of Cate Blanchett used?

 

 

No more fantasy-movies for kids.

Anyway, my interest disappeared and made way for annoyance and lots of headshaking. The only thing I was hoping for was that the damn clock that posed a threat to our universe was found as quickly as possible. And that the other books written by John Bellairs aren’t used for a motion picture as well. After “A wrinkle in time” and this movie, I’m going to avoid fantasy films for children. Enough is enough.

 

My rating 4/10
Links: IMDB
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Action

Wonder Woman 1984 | Official Trailer – HD

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Genre:

Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Release Date:

June 5, 2020

Director:

Patty Jenkins

Cast:

Gal Gadot, Pedro Pascal, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Kristen Wiig,

Plot Summary:

Wonder Woman squares off against the Cheetah, a villainess who possesses superhuman strength and agility.

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Action

Wonder Woman 1984 | Teaser – Full Trailer Tomorrow

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on

Genre:

Fantasy, Action

Release Date:

June 5, 2020

Director:

Patty Jenkins

Cast:

Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Robin Wright, Pedro Pascal, Connie Nielsen, Kristoffer Polaha

Plot Summary:
Wonder Woman squares off against the Cheetah, a villainess who possesses superhuman strength and agility.

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fantasy

Emma Roberts Shines in the Feminist Fantasy ‘Paradise Hills’

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Genre : Scifi-Fantasy
Rating : Unrated
Director: Alice Waddington

Cast:
Emma Roberts
Milla Jovovich
Eiza Gonzalez
Awkwafina
Danielle Macdonald

In the not-so-distant future the rebellious Uma (Emma Roberts) suddenly finds herself on an isolated island known as Paradise. Part reform school and part conversion therapy Paradise is a re-education camp run by the The Duchess (Milla Jovovich) and her all-male staff. Greeting Uma as she wakes are her roommates, the overweight Chloe (Patty Cake$‘s Danielle Macdonald) and metalhead Yu (Awkwafina). With her friends by her side she is forced into several different regiments ranging from make overs and yoga to “mirror therapy” with The Duchess and brainwashing sessions meant to turn Uma into the kind of subservient wife her mother and her rich suitor dream of. Things seem bleak for Uma and her companions until they get to know Amarna (Baby Driver‘s Eiza Gonzalez). Sent to Paradise for her lesbian tendencies she has concocted a plan to escape.

 

 

Perhaps the most noticeable part of Paradise Hills is how absolutely gorgeous it is. Opening to a lavish reception for newlyweds Uma and sleazy socialite Son (Arnaud Valois) you are immediately sucked in by its mix of tradition and opulence as revelers twirl around Uma with streams of white chiffon creating abstract shots as beautiful as a painting. All of which is topped when Uma reaches Paradise. With obvious inspiration from Alice in Wonderland and 1960’s television show The Prisoner it’s pastel flowers and deep primary colors are able to make the film look idyllic without ever really losing that bit of magic. Even as trouble begins to rear its head you can’t help but marvel at Waddington and production designer Laia Colet were able to do on their limited budget. As much as Paradise Hills excels visually its story can feel lacking at times.

 

With writing duties handled by author Brian DeLeeuw (Some Kind of Hate) and Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo (Colossal, Time Crimes) high expectations are to be expected. Vigalondo in particular has done a great job playing with sci-fi tropes in films such as Colossal. Instead what get is a pretty thin science fiction tale. Vaguely mentioning a class system and insight any attempts at commentary are brief. For the most part it follows a cliché-ridden story more appropriate for a YA novel than some of the more imaginative minds in genre film today with most of the story being fairly underwritten. Our world lacking any detail with hints like why The Duchess runs Paradise or the background of Uma’s new friends being vague and quickly glossed over. Instead most of the focus is on Uma who follows the same heroes journey we’ve seen a thousand times over.

 

 

Despite being given a role Emma Roberts could sleepwalk through she does an admirable job as Uma. Her evolution from rebellious prisoner to the leader of a prison escape never feeling forced thanks to her relationship with Amarna. Bonding over their need to break free of Paradise their companionship builds naturally with any hints of Amarna’s romantic tendencies never feeling too exploitative with their sisterhood taking a much bigger role. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same of Chloe and Yu. Despite being brought to life by the always good Danielle Macdonald, Chloe never really rises above playing supportive friend before blending into the background. Yu is given more to do but not much. Sent to the island by her family for anti-social tendencies before moving to mainland China. Whether intended or not it could have been a particularly poignant role had a the always game Awkwafina been given more screen time.

 

There’s no denying how beautiful Paradise Hills is. Showing herself to be a real visionary director Alice Waddington and production designer Laia Colet use a mix of Elizabethan glamour and futuristic technology to create a gorgeous world that looks unlike anything in movies today. Sadly, the same can’t be said for the story which feels like it came from the YA novel starter pack. With a story carried by some great performances Paradise Hills ends up being an engrossing, if somewhat hollow, experience.

Rating 7/10
Links : IMDB

Paradise Hills is now in theaters and on VOD

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