Departures (2019)

Director:  Peter Hutchings

Writer: Fergal Rock (Screenplay)

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Maisie Williams, Nina Dobrev, Ken Jeong, Tyler Hoechlin, David Koechne, Peyton List


Plot: A hypochondriac working as an airport baggage handler is forced to confront his fears when a British teenager with a terminal illness enlists him to help her carry out her eccentric bucket list.

Tagline – Living in the moment is hard to do alone.

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes


There may be spoilers in the rest of the review


Verdict: Emotional Rollercoaster


Story: Departures starts as we see Skye (Williams) receives the news that her terminal cancer isn’t giving her much more time, even though she takes the news positively. Meanwhile teenager Calvin (Butterfield) believes he has cancer with his hypochondriac state, even though every test says he is completely fine.

Calvin attends cancer support groups where he meets Skye, who wants a ‘To Die List’ which sees Calvin reluctantly help Skye complete, even though he can’t find the courage to tell her the truth, even though she is teaching him to live hi life more, than he could ever imagine.


Thoughts on Departures


Characters – Calvin is a hypochondriac luggage handler, he goes through tests believing he is ill even though every test says he is fine. He attends cancer support groups in a hope to get prospective of his mindset, only to meet cancer victim Skye who brings him out of his shell, he goes from shy to outgoing through his time with Skye. Skye is a British teenager that has been given the terminal diagnosis for her cancer, she has gotten to the stage where she just wants to make the most out of her remaining life, which sees her befriend Calvin, mostly because he is the only friend she can find in the world, using humour as her biggest defence to what is going to happen to her. Izzy is a flight attendant that has been having no luck in love until she meets Calvin and sees a different type of guy in him. The remaining characters we meet include the parents that have been through their own problems, two random police officers that end up helping the two complete the goals which will get the laughs.

PerformancesAsa Butterfield takes the leading role here and over the past for years he has handle a few of the teenage coming of age roles, he has never put a foot wrong with his own performances in these, with this film once again showing him to be a big talent in the future. Maisie Williams steps out of Game of Thrones to a role that is full of energy, which should be lower in her character, to show us a character that just wanted to live life to the fullest. Nina Dobrev is the best of the rest, with the supporting cast getting their moments when needed for an extra emotional moment or a laugh.

StoryThe story follows a teenage girl that is going to die who befriends a teenage boy that is scared he is going to and the two help each other learn to make the most of their life, through their time together. The story doesn’t hide any facts about the two characters from the audience, which with other films using the same subject matters have used as a late twist in the film. This story is about friendship, adventure, enjoying life and taking chances. While the story might be easy to read just where everything is going to go, you will still need to bring the tissues for this film.

Adventure/ComedyThe adventure elements used in this film are a lot simpler than you would imagine, this is because we get to see how Calvin learns to make life an adventure instead of being scared about what could happen. The comedy in the film is handled tastefully, I have always seen people say ‘you can’t have comedy in a cancer film’ this comedy comes from seeing how Skye is dealing with everything, she wants to laugh and not feel sorry for herself.

SettingsThe film is set in New York, using the airport as one of the main backdrops, elsewhere we see how Calvin ends up going places he never would have considered until he met Skye.

Scene of the Movie –
The real list.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I am going to pick timescale, not sure if it was days weeks or months.

Final ThoughtsThis is an emotional rollercoaster of a film, it will make you laugh, smile and cry, sometimes in the same scene.


Overall: Must watch with tissues.





Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018)

Director: Ari Sandel

Writer: Rob Lieber (Screenplay) Rob Lieber, Darren Lemke (Story)

Starring: Wendi McLendon-Covey, Madison Iseman, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Caleel Harris, Ken Jeong, Chris Parnell


Plot: Two young friends find a magic book that brings a ventriloquist’s dummy to life.

Tagline – Halloween comes to life.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes


There may be spoilers in the rest of the review


Verdict: Not as Fun as it Should Be


Story: Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween when college bound Sarah (Iseman) is left to look after her little brother Sonny (Taylor) and his friend Sam (Harris) who have their own business known as the ‘Junk Bros’, the two discover Slappy while on the job and must deal with the psychotic dummy.

The three soon find themselves needing to fight off Slappy and his creations, leading to them needing to uncover the book by R.L. Stine which can stop his reign of terror, bringing to life the creations from the books.


Thoughts on Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween


Characters – Sarah is the older sister, she is about to head off to college if she can figure out how to write her application letter. She must reluctantly babysit her younger brother and his friend, while dealing with her own personal problems, even if this could bring her the answer she requires. Sonny is the younger brother that gets himself into trouble a lot, when it comes to his creation, along with his best friend Sam. Sam is the wise talking of the two he offers the business, he must help solve the problem of Slappy. Kathy is the single mother forced to work longer hours to make sure her kids have the future, she remains calm through the chaos going on through the film.

PerformancesThe performances are simple enough, the younger stars, Madison Iseman, Jeremy Ray Taylor and Caleel Harris are good for what they have to do, only to not be on the same level of the previous film. Wendi McLendon-Covey gets the basic parent role done without bring too much new to the character.

StoryThe story here sees the creations of R.L. Stine coming to life causing chaos in a city once again. This is where the story falls flat quickly because the story feels like just a remake of the first, the Goosebumps books are an amazing source of stories and maybe instead of just throwing every monster made into one story, we should think about making one of the stories into a movie, or even as an anthology. We try to have some family bonding put into the story and even elements of coming of age, with Sarah needing to decide her future. In the end this story just isn’t that interesting and by the end you won’t have missed much.

Adventure/Comedy/FamilyThe adventure takes the teenagers into a battle that only they can solve, which is basic to say the least, but they must save the town. The comedy is hit or miss without being much laugh out loud material. This plays into the family side of the film because more of the younger audience will be enjoying this one.

SettingsThe film is set in a town which is considered small where the people need to get out of if they are going to make something with their life.

Special EffectsThe effects in this film are good for the most part, the creations all look like they could be in the world.

Scene of the Movie – 
Gummy bear fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The story not being original.

Final ThoughtsThis is a basic sequel that just copies the original too much, it offers nothing new and is just passable watch for the younger audience.


Overall: Simple and not original.




ABC Film Challenge – Animation – N – Norm of the North (2016)

Director: Trevor Wall

Writer: Daniel Altiere, Steven Altiere, Malcolm T Goldman (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Rob Schneider, Heather Graham, Ken Jeong, Bill Nighy, Colm Meaney, Loretta Devine


Plot: When a real estate development invades his Arctic home, Norm and his three lemming friends head to New York City, where Norm becomes the mascot of the corporation in an attempt to bring it down from the inside and protect his homeland.

Tagline – Bear to be different

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Pathetic Comedy


Story: Norm of the North starts as we head to the North Pole and the arctic home of Norm an underachieving polar bear. He wants to become the king of the arctic like his Grandfather as he lives in peace around seals, whales, birds and for some reason lemmings.

When the real estate mogul wants to build condos in the Arctic, Norm must travel to New York City to stop Mr Greene from going through with his idea and save the Arctic.


Thoughts on Norm of the North


Characters – Norm is a polar bear that needs to help save his land in the Arctic, he seems to get himself into trouble with his clumsy action, he is mostly an insult character. Vera is the struggling single mother that is trying to help her daughter even if she doesn’t believe in what she is going. Mr Greene is an evil businessman looking to build the houses in the Arctic which would ruin the life of the wildlife.

StoryThe story should be about how the humans are destroying the wildlife, but ends up just being hapless look at how one polar bear will try to stop it happening, it is mostly insulting to the audience as a story as it never gets to show the message it should be.

Adventure/Comedy/FamilyThe adventure just seems like click the fingers and we are there, the comedy misses on nearly every level and I wouldn’t want anyone to put their family through this one.

SettingsThe settings are the Arctic, fine works and the New York because wild animal in New York City is meant to be funny I guess?

AnimationThe animation at least looks good being the only positive side of the whole movie.

Scene of the Movie –
They use the ‘Shut Up and Dance With Me Song’ didn’t like the scene but love the song.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Just feels insulting.

Final ThoughtsThis is just a terrible animation that is more insulting that funny, it has an important message and fails to deliver it.


Overall: Avoid please.




Pain & Gain (2013)

logoDirector: Michael Bay

Writer: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely (Screenplay) Pete Collins (Story)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub, Ed Harris, Rob Corddry, Bar Paly, Rebel Wilson, Ken Jeong


Plot: Tired of his everyday job at the gym Daniel Lugo (Wahlberg) gets the motivation to make him rich. Daniel has a plan but first he needs a team he recruits Adrian (Mackie) and born again Christian Paul (Johnson) both bodybuilders from his gym. The plan is to take Victor Kershaw’s (Shalhoub) life but things don’t go to plan.


Verdict: A funny action comedy

Story: A good action comedy that shows how a simple plan can get completely out of control. Each character brings a unique take to the situation. It shows how greed can take over some people’s lives leading them to do crazy things. Even though the story comes off dumb, it is very fun and the first time in a long time we have seen a comedy heist going wrong film. I did like how every character is telling how they felt in the situation while it happens on front of us. (8/10)


Actor Review: Mark Wahlberg – Daniel the mastermind behind the plan, very driven. Very good performance from Mark showing how he can handle comedy and action, mixing everything together. Smooth Talker Award (8/10)


Actor Review: Dwayne Johnson – Paul the born again Christian who only agrees to help if the job is nonviolent. Dwayne is great in this role showing how he is a great comical character even with his action star build. Scene Stealer Award, Favourite Character Award, Comic Relief Award, Funniest Character Award (9/10)

the rock

Actor Review: Anthony Mackie – Adrian a bodybuilder who takes the chance to be part of the team and tries to start a new romance at the same time. Good supporting role trying to be more serious but also having to come off a bit more simple. (8/10)


Actor Review: Tony Shalhoub – Victor rich guy who gets kidnapped and his life has stolen. Great performance from a great character actor who easily stands up to the same level as the A-listers in the film. (8/10)


Director Review: Michael Bay – This guy has a reputation of being lazy with his over the top action taking away the story but this works well showing a better story for what we are used to. Hopefully he will give us some more good well told stories like this is the future. (8/10)


Action: Not too much action mostly short simple action scenes. (6/10)

Comedy: Some very funny scenes that gets funnier nearer to the end of the story. (8/10)

Crime: Good crime story throughout. (8/10)

Believability: Based on a true story but only loosely. (7/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Settings: Miami is a great setting for this film showing the good and bad sides on the area. (9/10)

Suggestion: I would be suggest this to all fans of the switch off and enjoy a film fans it is simple to follow and easy to watch. It will give you some good laughs but not too many to take away a more serious side to the story. (Try It)


Best Part: Everything going wrong with the second heist.

Worst Part: Focusing on making the bad guys the heroes a bit too much.

Funniest Scene: Paul barbeques evidence in public.

Trivia: Dwayne Johnson bulked up to nearly 300lbs for the role

Oscar Chances: No

Chances of Sequel: No


Overall: Good action comedy film


Rating 82

Despicable Me 2 (2013)

logoDirector: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud

Writer: Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talent) Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand, Ken Jeong, Steve Coogan, Elsie Fisher, Dana Gaier


Plot: After a research laboratory is stolen The Anti-Villain league recruits Gru (Carell) to help locate the person responsible for it. Gru is now working to be honest and being a single father of the three girls Margo (Cosgrove), Edith (Gaier) and Agnes (Fisher). Gru has to team up with agent Lucy (Wiig) and go undercover in a shopping mall to figure out who is the one behind the robbery.


Verdict: A welcome addition to the Despicable Me franchise.

Story: This time the story has changed, Gru isn’t trying to outsmart a fellow criminal mastermind he is just trying to stop one, showing how the character has developed over the two films. As before you have a very loose plot that is perfect for the younger audience as well as giving enough for the more mature audience. (8/10)


Character Review: Gru – The reluctant hero who has a new love for his girls, using his gadgets to get the better of his opposition. (8/10)


Character Review: Lucy – A good addition showing that the stubborn lonely character of Gru can have a love interest. Full of her own wacky quirks work very well with Gru to create a good partnership in work and personally time. (9/10)


Character Review: Eduardo – The villain doesn’t come close to the one in the original, he lacks motive, competition and any real charisma. (6/10)


Character Review: Silas – Head of the Anti-Villain league very stuck up poking fun at all the head of the British Secret service characters from the James Bond films. (7/10)


Character Review: Minions – These fellas steal the film again, take them out you have an average film at best, these guys make this film fun and use some very clever film references. Scene Stealer Award, Iconic Performance Award, They Have The Laughs Award, My Favourite Character Award, Comic Relief Award, Funniest Character Award, Lesley Favourite Character Award (10/10)


Character Review: Dr. Nefario – Has a drive to stay working on taking over the world He has some good character twists throughout the film and again is excellently voiced by Russell Brand. (8/10)


Character Review: Margo, Agnes, and Edith – Adding a more family base to the film about how a father has to cope with a young daughter first crush, birthday party expectations and mood isolation spells. They have grown in characters since the first film and add so much more to the story this time around. (9/10)


Director Review: Pierre Coffin, Chris RenaudContinue with the good work created in the first making better character development but losing some of the action we might be used too. (7/10)


Comedy: this film really lacks the truth laugh out loud ability of a top comedy the minions will give you most laughs. (7/10)

Animation: Great animation throughout. (9/10)

Chances of Tears: None (0/10)

Oscar Chances: It might the a nomination for best animation

Chances of Sequel: It has potential for a sequel and the money it made makes the sequel look more than likely.

Suggestion: I would suggest this to all animated fans it is a fun addition to the genre. The minions have to be loved by all as they will have you laughing more often than not. It is good family fun so just enjoy it. (Watch)


Best Part: I loved the minion boy band scene.

Worst Part: Lack motivation from villain.

Funniest Scene: minion trying to save Gru from Lucy.


Similar Too: Despicable Me


Overall:  A funny film made great by the minions.


Lesley’s Rating 100%

My Rating 80%