Browsed by
Category: movie review

Urban Hymn Movie Review

Urban Hymn Movie Review

Drugstore Divas received a screener link for this Urban Hymn movie review. All thoughts and opinions belong to Drugstore Divas.

When I watch a movie, I need to be invested in the characters. I don’t need aliens in spaceships or buildings blowing up, but what I do need is someone to root for and, often, someone to root against. If you’re the bad guy, you can be redeemed along the way and I will accept that, but you can’t skate by untouched. You need to get in trouble. You need to be punished. And if you’re the good guy, you need a happy ending or, at least, an ending where I can imagine you’ll find your happy ending sometime after the movie has stopped.

These are the things I want — no, need — in order for a film to be successful. Without those themes, it feels unresolved. It feels like I invested my time in people who don’t deserve it.

And, unfortunately, that’s how I feel with Urban Hymn.

The British drama sounds cliched at best: an at-risk teen meets a do-good caseworker who discovers her talent for singing that can bring her out of her situation. I’m pretty sure if you replace the word “singing” with “writing,” this is also the plot of Precious (which, that sentence may make apparent, but I’ve never seen).

I’m okay with stories that follow the same plot. I watch Dateline every week and it’s always, “someone is murdered; find out who did it in two hours … maybe.” I still tune in. And if you tell me there’s a new romantic comedy with a meet-cute and a break up and a happy ending, I’m in. So find a formula and make it work. I’m good with that.

My trouble with this, honestly, is that I’m American. That’s what I’m blaming anyway. I’m used to thinks working out and movies ending with a big red bow. I need a resolution that I’m okay with. Urban Hymn doesn’t have that. It reminded me of J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, which is also British. It was the story of a troubled teen, told with fantastic acting by the main and supporting characters who, unfortunately, don’t all make it out alive. 

Spoiler alert: Not all the characters in Urban Hymn make it out alive either.

In Urban Hymn, there’s Jamie (Letitia Wright), the at-risk teen, her bad-influence BFF Leanne (Harry Potter’s Isabella Laughland), and Kate, the caseworker (Shirley Henderson). Jamie really wants to listen to Kate and make a better life for herself, but that means distancing herself from Leanne. And Leanne is the only person who has been there for her, thick and thin, during the last six years. Leanne is the friend who not only has your back, but will beat up inmates with a sock filled with batteries to defend you, no questions asked. Sure, maybe she’s not a great influence, but loyalty is strong. Kate, not without her skeletons, is the person who takes you to choir and tells you to ditch Leanne without really understanding what loyalty is.

And when you’re watching, you want to agree with Kate. You want better for Jamie. But as you watch, you really end up wanting better for Leanne. She’s not supposed to be a good guy, but man if Laughland doesn’t carry this whole movie on your back and make you root for her. She’s the only character who you really feel like you know, no matter what. She’s honest and raw and there’s no guessing with her.

You’re supposed to root for  Jamie. She’s the one in all the movie posters. But she’s sort of … bland. The movie wants you to feel for her, but she’s just so flat that I couldn’t care either way. Make it, don’t make it, it’s all the same to me.

But Leanne. You just want someone to hug her, to invest in her, to help her the way Kate did for Jamie, but you don’t get that. That’s not the plot line. That’s not the story here. And that’s too bad because that is a movie I would like to invest two hours in. Not this one.

King Arthur Movie Review

King Arthur Movie Review

We attended an advanced screening of King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword. This is our King Arthur movie review (although it was not required of us and our attending had nothing to do with this blog).

Planning on seeing King Arthur: Legend of the Sword? Check out this King Arthur movie review from

Arthur will become King of England. That’s obvious. The actual conclusion is in the title of the movie (King Arthur: Legend of the Sword). You’re not going to see this movie to figure that out. But the way he gets there, the myth of King Arthur and how it plays out, that’s why you’re heading to the theater.

The movie opens with a battle between current king Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) taking on Mordred and his legion of really large elephants. Like, really large. These mythical beasts only exist in movies and legends. And you have to dispel disbelief if you’re to love this movie as much as you should. This is called “Legend of the Sword” not “accurate retelling of a royal succession.”

There are Sirens who live underwater with arms and multiple tentacles, there are mages who can control animals with their minds, and there is a sword is a stone waiting for its rightful heir to pull it out and save his people.

That heir is Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) whose father sent him down the river in a boat, a la Moses style, to save his life. Arthur ended up in a brothel where he grew up hustling, learning to fight, and forming a loyal group of friends and … I won’t say enemies because Arthur says (I’m paraphrasing), “Why have enemies when you can have friends?” … but a loyal group of people who just let him cut a line when he pushes through or lay his hands on a guard because it’s Arthur.

Arthur, the funny, quick witted protector of the common man. A sort of Robin Hood who takes from the offender to give to the offended. He takes a year’s wages from the Vikings for assaulting a prostitute, then gives it to her. He protects his friends and fights their battles when they cannot. You know, the exact type of person who you’d want running your country.

But, he’s not one who wants that power. Isn’t that always how it is? The people who would make the best bosses would rather stay a worker bee. Even when he pulls the sword from the stone, revealing he is bequeath to the thrown, he is ready to just disappear, go back to the brothel, and live his normal life.

That’s not possible.

Half his friends were killed; the other half are in hiding. His home was destroyed and his money stolen. The prostitute who he took wages for was killed before his eyes. So, reluctantly — very, very reluctantly — he realizes something must be done, and he is the leader to do it.

So basically, yes, this is the story of King Arthur. But told in a way that this version of the story of King Arthur wasn’t meant to be told. Director Guy Ritchie intended it to be a serious take on the tale. But the release got shelved for a little while. And, as the legend of this movie goes, it was tweaked to add a bit of humor and Guy Ritchie-style into it. And that’s when it finally got a release date.

Thank goodness for that too.

There were moments when the entire theater laughed — and laughed a lot. There’s a recount of a story told by Arthur and his two best pals (Neil Maskell’s Back Lack and Kingsley Ben-Adir’s Wetstick) that has a very Snatch feel to it that had everyone laughing. It’s then that there’s a lot of modern mixed in with renaissance. The juxtaposition makes the movie stand on its own because it does both very well.

And Hunnam does Arthur very well. You just like him and root for you. You know the story and that he is going to pull the sword from the stone. But you genuinely hold your breath and root for him when he grasps it because you know it’s coming out and that he is going to do something incredible. He puts the common folk of England on his shoulders to overturn the current King (Jude Law as Vortigern).

Hunnam doesn’t have to put the movie on his back, though. He’s so great, but Law is so good as the evil king. And Astrid Bergès-Frisbey’s The Mage is intoxicating. Pepper in the other supporting cast members and you have this really great movie. Seriously. I knew I was going to like it, but I liked it more than I expected. Pete loved it too. And the man walking out behind us said, “This movie is going to make a lot of money.”

I think your prediction is right, dear stranger. This movie is going to make a lot of money. And it’s worth every penny.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword hits theaters May 12. Until then, you can watch the final trailer below.

Netflix’s The Little Prince Movie Review

Netflix’s The Little Prince Movie Review

The Little Prince movie review

I remember reading Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince because I was an overachiever. It was the summer after my first year of college, which I referred to as the longest summer of my life. It was the first time I’d be off from May until August. Public school summers were much shorter, and the next year I would have been accustomed to long summers. But that year, that would be the longest.

Being the overachiever I was, I decided I would learn Japanese.

While doing that, I found out my friend had a required reading assignment of The Little Prince. She was also required to write a paper on it. So me, with a summer of free time, decided to read it and write a paper.

Years later, when I saw Netflix was releasing a theatrical version, Pete and I put it on a long list of things to stream. 

We finally got to it last night, and thank goodness we did.

The written version of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince is sandwiched between a new tale of an overextended 8-going-on-40-year-old girl who moves with her workaholic mother into a suburb with an elite elementary school. Missing from the picture is the daughter’s overworked father who is in a skyscraper office building in some unseen town.

As the little girl is set to begin a summer filled with schedules and life plans, an airplane piece flies through the wall of the new home, eventually introducing her to an incredibly eccentric aviator. Or, former aviator. He’s aged, now, and shouldn’t be starting the plane he keeps in his backyard.

She, being a studious little girl with no time for anything except her schedule, is shockingly distracted when the aviator flies a piece of a story into her bedroom window. It tells the story of a little prince, who was wandering through Africa, finds an aviator, and asks him to draw a sheep. So he does. And it’s wrong. Again. Wrong. Third time. Wrong. So he draws a box with air holes and says the sheep is inside.

“This is exactly the way I wanted it!” The little prince exclaims … just as I mumble over him, “I remember that sheep.” And that’s when the tears started forming. I couldn’t remember the story,  but I could remember the feeling of it. And it hit me in the gut.

Each important quote that was buried in my memory hit me harder than the one before. Until “What I see here is nothing but a shell. What is most important is invisible … ” and then the exchange: “I can’t take this body with me. It’s too heavy. … But it’ll be like an old abandoned shell. There’s nothing sad about an old shell.”

The flood gates opened and there was not enough material in my sleeves to wipe all my tears.

When you’re an overachieving college sophomore-to-be, these thoughts don’t hit you as they  do when you’ve gone through a bit of life, when you miss someone so deeply, both heart and shell.

Just as the tears stop and you regain control of your breath, you flash back to the bread portion of the sandwich, with the little girl and the aviator. And that doesn’t give you any reprieve from the tears or the message. It just comes in lines you haven’t memorizes, so your heart doesn’t see it coming.

When you’re younger, and you watch this, you’ll take from it that you don’t have to grow up and become dull and boring. You can keep your excitement and wonder. And when you’re older, and you watch this, you understand when someone says, “It is lonely when you’re among people, too.”

No matter how old you are, you have to watch this. Right now. Right this very second. Drop everything and stream it on Netflix. Or pick it up on Amazon here and watch it as soon as it arrives. Just watch it with tissues. And maybe with the lights out.

The animation is amazing and visually beautiful. The story of The Little Prince is beautiful. And the story around the story is just as beautiful and heartwarming. You will love every second of this, even the parts that stab you in the gut, even the parts that cause you tears.

1 Night Movie Review

1 Night Movie Review

Drugstore Divas received a link to stream this movie for this 1 Night Movie Review. All thoughts and opinions belong to Drugstore Divas.

Today is Valentine’s Day, one of my favorite days of the year. It’s just a day where it’s okay to let your heart fill and bubble over with love and hope and happily ever after. Plus, it’s also a really good excuse to binge watch sappy romantic movies. And sure, maybe you choose the classics, but this year, I watched an advanced copy of Level 33’s new film “1 Night.”

It’s cute.

It’s also really predictable, but let’s be honest: all the best romantic comedies are.

See, I’m the kind of person who reads enough of a book to find out who the main characters are, then reads the end to find out what happens, and then goes back to finish the middle. I don’t like surprises, I don’t like not knowing what is going to happen, and I don’t like not being in charge.

So a suspense, a cliffhanger, a show on a streaming network that still has a few seasons to go … not for me. But a romantic comedy and it’s predictability and its happily ever after, I will sit through every one. And throw in a line like, “(Women) don’t want nice. They want extraordinary. They don’t want a hug. They want a punch in the gut.” Yup, you’ve got me hooked.

Justin Chatwin’s Drew says it to Kyle Allen’s Andy, two of only seven speaking characters in the just-over-one-hour movie. It’s one of the better lines in the movie, although there are a couple that jump out at you. What really stand out, though, is just how adorable Andy and Bea (Isabelle Fuhrman) are together. It’s their prom night, and they’re high school seniors. It’s a time when it seems there’s a world of opportunity in front of them. Except, if we’re all being honest, when you’re almost-graduated teenagers, there’s less possibility than notion of possibility. They’re kids. What’s there to do besides find the gravity in working a boring summer job. But being so young puts such monumental significance on everything and that includes falling in love.

Oh how we fall when we are babies.

And how we fall when we see that young love. It’s just something so pure, and that’s exactly what we — and Drew and Elizabeth (Anna Camp) — witness.

The movie actually ends with a twist, as far as romantic comedies are concerned, but not as the viewers are concerned. You’ll put it together right away. It doesn’t take away from the movie. It actually makes you like the characters more because, for me, if not for that revelation, I wouldn’t have cared for Elizabeth. Pitch Perfect’s Anna Camp is the highest billed on this, but I think she’s the weakest actor of the four leads.

If you’re looking for something cute to watch, this is it. And, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re giving away a digital copy of the movie.

1 Night Movie Giveaway

To enter, just use the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway starts now and ends at 11:59pm EST on February 21. The winner must be a US resident who is 18 or older at the time of entry. The movie will be delivered in the form of an iTunes digital download.

Good luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Drugstore Divas received no compensation for this giveaway (I just really like romantic comedies and wanted to watch it). Drugstore Divas is not responsible for prize fulfillment.

Criminal Movie Review #criminalmovie

Criminal Movie Review #criminalmovie

We attended an advanced screening of Criminal. This is our Criminal movie review (although it was not required of us and our attending had nothing to do with this blog).

I don’t prefer movies with blood. If I’m choosing a movie to watch, I always want one with humor, with romance, and with a happily ever after. I don’t want blood or violence or things blowing up. And somehow Kevin Costner’s latest movie Criminal had all that. It had humor and romance and a happily ever after. And blood and violence and things blowing up — and it had my attention every single moment.

Costner plays Jericho Stewart, a convict who is just awful. He spent the majority of his life as a number. When we see him, he is currently chained by the neck in the hole of one of the numerous jails he’s lived in over the years. He lacks the ability to differentiate right from wrong — and is strong — so it gives him the ability beat up anyone or anything without remorse … or the idea that he should be remorseful. He’s like this because he was dropped as a baby, causing frontal lobe damage. His neurons that help you feel emotions just never formed.

This makes him a perfect candidate for an experimental memory transfer when CIA agent Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds) dies … and the secret of where a Dutchman with the ability to take over the US’ military is dies with him. Dr. Fraanks (Tommy Lee Jones) is called in to do the procedure. Despite working on it for 18 years, he’s only seen success on mice. He’s still five years away from human trials, but he doesn’t have five years. CIA head Quaker Wells (Gary Oldman) gives him 48 hours.

And so he does the procedure, which (slight spoiler alert, but you had to have figured this out because if not, the movie wouldn’t have a plot) is a success. So now you have confidential secrets in the mind of a unpredictable murderer.

But a funny thing happens when you have someone else’s memory. You, well, have someone else’s memory. You remember what they knew — how to order grapefruit in French, your security code, the way your daughter likes her waffles. It’s as detrimental to a criminal as it is to the CIA, depending on how you look at it. But to the viewer, it’s nothing short of movie perfection. It makes you feel so much for this character. You get so involved in him that you get caught off guard when you start to tear up at a movie that, just a few scenes previously, showed you a scene of three people dying in a car fire.

Pete and I saw a movie recently that we both hated. A lot of people enjoyed it — including the Academy — but we didn’t. We just couldn’t get into the character. I didn’t care if the main character won or lost, got the girl or not, or was never seen again. I like the actor who played the main character a lot, but he just couldn’t hook me this time.

When Criminal ended, I thought the exact reason why I hated that other movie is why I liked this one. Costner does such a great job of developing Jericho that you become so emotionally invested in him. You know he’s a bad guy — or was a bad guy — but you just fall in love with who he becomes and you root for him. You want him to succeed because, really, he deserves it. You just hope for him.

It’s amazing to have such character development in a movie with a run time of 113 minutes. I’ve watched multiple seasons of a series and still never felt the emotional connection to Costner’s Jericho as I did in this film. And Jones’ Dr. Franks is so good too. 

Yes, this is bloody and violent and things blow up. But you’re doing your heart a disservice if you miss this one.

Criminal is out on DVD now. Get it here.

No Escape Movie Review

No Escape Movie Review

We attended an advanced screening of No Escape. This is No Escape movie review (although it was not required of us and our attending had nothing to do with this blog).

We were barely settled into our seats before there were a trio of dead characters in No Escape. I mean, geez, the movie’s title hadn’t even come across the screen and there were three dead bodies, including an Asian Prime Minister.

If that doesn’t exactly explain Owen Wilson and Pierce Brosnan’s new movie, reread those sentences. The political thriller, which also features Lake Bell, is about an American family that relocates to Southeast Asia for work. As the family is flying, though, that’s when the opening sequence — punctuated by the Prime Minister’s assassination — occurs.

Wilson and Bell, along with their really cute duo of daughters, arrive in a country of unrest, one that has just undergone a coup d’ete. Except they don’t know it. They just know they’re in a “fourth world” country. Small aside: At no point in the movie do they actually identify the country they’re in. And that’s intentional. It was filmed in Thailand with permission only granted if Thailand wasn’t identified in any scenes. So no mention of Thailand. Plus, it’s not really meant to be Thailand anyway.

A quick Google search says Cambodia is a fourth world country — a term that Bell’s character utters early on — and the use of Khmer script (even though it is shown upside down), which is used for Cambodia’s Khmer alphabet, plus a geographical reference in the movie pretty much pinpoint it there. The movie has actually been banned in Cambodia for those reasons, despite the fact that the fictional movie is set in a fictional country with a fictional language.

But let’s back up for a minute. Owen Wilson plays Jack Dwyer, who I assume is a fictional person. He moves his family because he took a fictional(-ish) job at a fictitious water treatment facility. The rebels don’t like him or his white face. Racist? Not exactly. There’s a global problem (one that Pete and I just watched a documentary on last week, actually) where first world countries will go to third and fourth world countries and give them “necessities” (in this case, clean water). But these countries can’t afford to pay for these services, which are given on loan not on generosity. When the first world countries come to collect the bill, it can’t be paid. So instead they claim their natural resources — rain forests, oil, ports, whatever. Natives in this fictional country hate this problem as much as (I can only assume) real natives in real countries do.

Jack Dwyer, he doesn’t mean to bring his family into this. It’s just that this is the only prospect in his future. Dwyer’s just a man from Texas with a failed business in his past. He must have been spending all his time on that business that he didn’t have time to watch the documentary Pete and I saw. If he did, he might rethink his relocation. Instead, though, they arrive to a hotel with no phones, no working TV, and spotty power. He goes out the next morning to get a newspaper (USA Today, please, because he only speaks English) and he’s sandwiched between a wall of rebels and one of police. The tension (and a fire bomb) explode and Dwyer rushes to the hotel to find his family to try and escape.

I held my breath the entire movie, the majority of it spent with my hands over my mouth. Truth be told, writing this review is making me clench up again. Occasionally I would hear Pete or the woman next to me curse. And they heard me jump and let out a squeal a few times. I kept telling myself that Owen Wilson is the star of the movie so he has to make it out alive, but I was less sure about his wife and kids. And, as the movie went on, I wasn’t even very sure about him.

There are two scenes that break the tension, but other than that, you are just in for a long ride. Don’t buy popcorn. You’ll be absolutely glued to the screen and you won’t even look down to eat it. Plus, there’s quite a bit of blood and violence so you probably won’t want to snack anyway. Overall, we loved it. And as I was waiting for Pete to come out of the bathroom afterwords, I heard a ton of people talking about it as they left. Everyone seemed to really enjoy this one.

No Escape is on DVD now. You can purchase it here.