Wars, pets, Minions and Wonder Woman – rainy long weekend viewing.

The Queen’s Birthday June long weekend typically means rain and this year was no different. It wasn’t ideal gardening weather, but I did plant some more onions and radishes and cleared out some dead tromboncino vines. It was, however, perfect weather to flop on the lounge under a blanket and watch movies. Or venture out to the cinema to enjoy Wonder Woman in Gold Class!

Despicable Me 2 (2013)

Director: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud. Cast: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt

Despicable Me 2

Gru and Minions in Despicable Me 2. Image: Universal Pictures

Gru, the girls and the Minions are back in this light, fluffy movie. Former evil genius Gru (Steve Carell) is coerced into working for the good guys to catch the bad guys responsible for stealing a secret Arctic lab. On his mission to prove El Macho (Benjamin Bratt) is still alive and the supervillain in question, he meets quirky Lucy (Kristen Wiig) and gets to use some cool gadgets. The girls are yearning for a mother figure and Lucy would be perfect. But does Gru agree? And what happened to all the Minions? This movie has some funny moments (I particularly enjoyed randoms eating Gru’s corn chip hat with guacamole on top) but the story is missing depth and meanders at times. I enjoyed this, but not as much as the original. And, as the Minions always amuse me, I am looking forward to catching the 3rd instalment soon.

3 stars

The Imitation Game (2014)

Director: Morten Tyldum. Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game. Image: StudioCanal

This thoughtful, sad but engrossing story of Alan Turing’s life and achievements has been in my blu-ray collection for some time and I am so glad I finally made the time to watch it. At the height of World War 2, a group of brilliant mathematicians secretly work on breaking the German code, Enigma. Alan (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a socially awkward genius who doesn’t play well with others but eventually forms a bond with Joan (Keira Knightley). While hiding his homosexuality, he and Joan become engaged as they continue the increasingly frustrating task of breaking the code. Working against the naysayers, Alan preserveres with building and implementing his machine (essentially a computer) to process the enormous amounts of data. After the code is broken, the group must deal with the consequences of how they use the information and deciding who lives and who dies. All the performances are amazing but Cumberbatch’s portrayal of the flawed man largely responsible for Germany’s defeat who later finds himself persecuted because of his sexuality is exceptional. It is a quiet, honest, dignified performance that just might make you cry.

4 stars

Wonder Woman (2017)

Director: Patty Jenkins. Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright

Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Image: Warners Bros

Finally. This is the movie Wonder Woman deserved. After years of frustration watching all the male super heroes receive their own movies, and still no Wonder Woman movie, this was worth the wait for fans. An origin movie, we watch as young princess Diana grows up in an isolated paradise and dreams of training with the Amazons. The training scenes of the strong, capable warrior women are impressive. Eventually Diana (Gal Gadot) is trained by her aunt (Robin Wright) as her mother worries where it will lead. After his plane crashes, Diana rescues the “above average” pilot Steve Trevor and he tells her about the war in the outside world, “the war to end all wars” (yeah, right). She soon experiences the conflict first hand when the Germans land on their secluded beach and battle the Amazons. Convinced she can destroy Ares, the God of War, and end the conflict, she leaves with Steve as he reluctantly agrees to take her to the front line in France. We experience the horrors of war through Diana’s innocence as she wades further into this cynical world while trying to save it. During the journey, Diana discovers her destiny while learning about humanity, human frailty, choice and the complexities of good and evil. As a character Wonder Woman is strong, innocent, compassionate, resilient, and it is all achieved without making the men snivelling and weak. The performances are great, the characters are appealing, the cinematography is beautiful, the in-jokes are funny and the action is awesome. I dare you to leave this movie without feeling empowered.

5 stars

The Secret Life of Pets (2016)

Director:  Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney. Cast: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart

The Secret Life of Pets

The Secret Life of Pets. Image: Universal Studios

Max (Louis C.K.) has enjoyed living with his owner Katie in an apartment block full of various pet friends since he was a puppy. But when big, clumsy, adorable Duke moves in, he upsets Max’s comfortable life. Then the adventure across New York City begins, with various pets searching for Max and “flushed pets” chasing him and Duke. Of course, while they are on the run, the dogs learn about friendship and teamwork. The montage at the beginning of the movie with the owners saying goodbye to their pets as they left for the day was hilarious. Beautiful kitty Chloe made me laugh out loud from the start when she swiped away a bowl of biscuits placed in front of her. While some of this movie was a little darker than I expected, most of the animals were cute and funny and I enjoyed it.

3 stars

Did you watch anything new on the weekend? Do you have any thoughts on these movies?

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