Movie Review! Central Intelligence

Looking for something to do this weekend?! Today’s post, a mix of a Collaboration, Event Recap, & Movie Review, will definitely provide an awesome idea!
On Monday, I was offered the chance to get a sneak peek of “Central Intelligence” – a new movie starring Dwayne Johnson & Kevin Hart that comes out THIS FRIDAY, June 17th! Thank you FabulousArizona.com for this awesome opportunity! The Event was a lot of fun, way more than just a basic Movie viewing. Radio stations Power 98.3 & 101.9 were there giving away a ton of free branded merchandise, as you’ll see below, & playing some great music. I was genuinely surprised no one started a dance party, especially when they started playing “The Wobble”! I posted a video of the theater filling up on my Twitter, go check it out & Follow me: @MissAl_Leigh. Keep scrolling to watch the trailer for “Central Intelligence” & read my Review – I’ll try to keep SPOILERS to a minimum!

As you can see from the trailer, the basic plot is that Hart’s character, Calvin, & Johnson’s character, Robby are high school classmates with very different social standing. Calvin is Prom King & basically Captain of every sport, voted Most Likely to Succeed & dating the prettiest girl in school. Robby is an overweight goofball that’s a social outcast, an easy target for bullies. Flash forward 20 years & Calvin definitely doesn’t have the amazing successful life he imagined. He married his high school sweetheart & now works as an accountant. The day before their 20 year High School Reunion, Calvin is reunited with Robby – now Bob Stone. Bob Stone is, of course, in way better shape, but the same lovable, if a tad bit annoying, goofball – & he’s also a human weapon employed by the CIA. Bob involves Calvin in his latest mission which twists & turns until Calvin has no idea who to trust! Underneath the huge muscles, is Bob still that misfit from High School, who now needs his help to save the world? Or is he really a dirty CIA Agent hell bent on killing whoever gets in his way? Calvin & Bob must overcome many obstacles on the road to clearing their names in this Action Comedy that has a really sweet message about friendship & learning to love who you are.

Rating: B
Usually I split my Movie Reviews into Likes & Dislikes, but there wasn’t anything I DISLIKED about “Central Intelligence”. I just didn’t really connect with it enough or find it hilarious enough to give it an A rating. It’s definitely funny & there were quite a few moments that had the whole audience laughing out loud. However, if you’re not a fan of Kevin Hart, you most likely won’t enjoy this film. He’s a “big” actor, but I have the same sense of humor/style of comedic acting, so I guess I’m biased! The writing is clever, pay close attention for a few lines that reference other characters the cast has played. For example, a line about Bob looking like Hercules – a character Johnson has played. Also, there are some awesome cameos for fans of “Breaking Bad”, “Arrested Development”, & “Bridesmaids”. This film was relatively tame in terms of language & violence which I was kind of surprised by. Plot wise, the details of the CIA storyline hardly matter. The real story is the developing friendship & character growth that occurs between Calvin & Bob. The end is predictable & slightly cheesy, but was nice to see in a mostly male cast action/comedy/buddy film. Character-wise, I liked that Calvin is honestly a good guy. I appreciate that he wasn’t some bad boy jock getting his comeuppance by becoming a paper pusher. I think more people can sympathize with a nice character that had a bright future ahead of him – & just turned out to be average. There’s nothing wrong with it, but I think many of us can identify with having big dreams, only to wake up to a reality that’s much different. All in all, I would definitely recommend this film for anyone looking for a movie that’s fun but also has a lot of heart – no pun intended!

For a chance to win a Sneak Peek of your own for an upcoming film & to check out all sorts of cool restaurants, local spots, spas, donut shops, etc, in Arizona, please Follow Fabulous Arizona on their website, Instagram, & Twitter!

While you’re at it, please Follow me here on MissAl-Leigh.com, Instagram, & Twitter! Let me know if you plan on going to see “Central Intelligence” or once you’ve seen it, Comment below what you thought! What other movies are you planning on seeing this summer?! Thanks for reading 🙂

Movie Review! PAN

Hi y’all, today I’m going to be reviewing PAN – the Peter Pan prequel film that came out this weekend.

I’ll keep this plot description brief, although, please be cautious as there will be spoilers down below. The film tells the story of how Peter Pan came to Neverland and met his famous band of Lost Boys, Captain Hook, Tinker Bell, & Tiger Lily.

Keep reading to see my likes, dislikes, final thoughts, & rating of this film! Be warned – SPOILERS!!!
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Likes:
– Some of the writing/plot points were creative in a subtle way that was perfect for a family friendly film. There were a few instances where the writers created a sort of parallel universe between Neverland and the “real world” which was set during WWII. One example; Peter lives at an orphanage & boys have started to disappear. One character says he hopes they’ve escaped to Canada. You eventually find out they’re being sold by the orphanage to Neverland pirates. In real life during WWII, children were stolen by/sold to Nazi’s or were sent to other countries by their families to escape. These subtle references to that time period would go over the heads of most kids, but adds another layer to the story for those familiar with history. Another way they made things more family friendly was, rather than showing a bloody massacre when the Neverland tribespeople are killed during a fight scene, they explode into a mist of bright colored powder.
– References to source material included lines such as, “To die will be an awfully big adventure”, references to Peter crowing, minor characters such as Nibs & “the twins” who are important Lost Boys in the source material, a few important scenes involving shadows – a reference to the importance Peter’s shadow plays in the source material, a scene with a Neverland Bird’s nest, and a clever line at the end of the film when Peter asks Captain Hook if they’ll always be friends and he says, “Of course, what could go wrong?”. The line was humorous yet ironic, as most viewers know they go on to become enemies, but more importantly, seemed to be setting things up for a sequel.
– There were 3 big animation sequences that were amazing & reminded me of “The Deathly Hallows” scenes from Harry Potter. Overall, the visual effects were stunning, yet dramatic – some might find them cheesy, but I enjoyed them.

Dislikes:
– I don’t know anyone else that experienced this, but I found the accents extremely difficult to understand in the beginning.
– Super slow, kept waiting for something big/exciting to happen, especially between Pan & Hook.
– Garrett Hedlund’s portrayal of Hook felt extremely forced. With that deep voice & disjointed way of speaking, it seemed like a bad impersonation of The Joker or Indiana Jones. This was the first time I’ve seen him perform so I’m not sure if that’s his style or that’s what the director wanted. Either way, it didn’t work for me.
– Tiger Lily, a character that was originally written & is typically portrayed as Native American, was played by a Caucasian actress. I think they should’ve stayed true to the source material & not made the character Caucasian.
– Not a fan of the musical numbers. At first it was cool to hear modern music, but they didn’t include enough & the few songs felt out of place. They either should’ve gone for it or left them out all together.
– Very little about this film felt original. As the film progressed I was thinking to myself, “Harry Potter, Pinocchio, Star Wars, Stardust” etc, etc. I’m not talking about the THEME of the stories aka Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey” but actual plot points felt lifted from other stories.
– Why did people grow old on Neverland?!?!!?!?
– There was a lot left unexplained. I feel like they only wrote this film to create/gauge interest & then planned a sequel that would delve into the meat of the story. However, I doubt there will be a sequel.

Final Thoughts & Rating:
– I really, really wanted to love this film. Peter Pan has a huge place in my heart. I love the story, the musical, the Disney film, & the 2003 film – but overall I was disappointed in PAN. I feel like they missed the point of the Peter Pan legend, or at least, the way I see it. Peter isn’t a hero. He’s a bratty little boy that doesn’t want to grow up because he doesn’t want responsibility. He would never want the responsibility given to him in the film – he wants “always to be a little boy & to have fun”, yes, I just quoted the source material, I told you I love Peter Pan. Nothing is real to him, there’s no consequences. When confronted with death he says, “to die will be an awfully big adventure”. Everything is a game, he’s just moving from one wild adventure to the next. I’ve always seen Peter as a warning. Yeah, being a kid & having wild adventures is great, but eventually you have to grow up or you’ll miss out on the rest of life – & the rest of life is pretty great too! Wild adventures don’t stop because you grow up, they just change – & usually involve alcohol, haha! If you can’t change/grow up, the best part of the adventures – your friends – will leave you behind & you end up alone, like Peter does in the source material when Wendy leaves Neverland & takes all the Lost Boys with her. I understand this film was showing us Peter before he becomes “Peter Pan”, so he has yet to turn into the famous character. However, in a film about how a character gets his start…they don’t really explain how he gets there! If you have any feelings at all for Peter Pan, go see this just for the heck of it, but don’t expect too much other than great visuals & the occasional clever reference.
My Rating: C

Did you see PAN? If so, do you agree with my review? If you’re planning on seeing it, please leave me a comment after & let me know what you think! Thanks for reading 🙂

Book review! Beastly by Alex Flinn

Hi everyone,
Sorry I’ve been gone for so long, I was just in the process of moving from the Bay Area down to Southern California & I’m still somewhat adjusting & settling down so I’ve been REALLY busy. It’s taken me over four days to get this post up because I keep stopping & starting. :/ I’m not sure I want to reveal exactly why I moved down to SoCal for privacy reasons, but I’m sure as time passes I’ll end up talking about some stuff.

Anyways, I’m a HUGE fan of Beauty & the Beast, so any type of re-telling or story that’s vaguely associated with it, is going to grab my attention. That’s exactly what Beastly is! Also, they’ve made this book into a movie that’s yet to be released, although from the previews, it looks a LOT different from the book so that’s going to be annoying. I’ll still probably see the movie anyway just for comparisons sake.

Available for $8.99 at Borders. Pic Credit goes to: lafemmereaders.blogspot.com

Beastly is a modern day re-telling of Beauty & the Beast told from the Beast’s point of view. This book is a Young Adult novel so it’s geared mostly towards pre-teens and teenagers. Despite the fact that, in my opinion, it’s not really meant for someone my age to read – I’m 20 – for the most part I enjoyed this book for a bit of light reading. Haha, saying that makes me feel like Hermione, & if you understand what I’m talking about you totally ROCK! I’m not going to talk about the plot because probably everyone knows the story of Beauty & the Beast & if I get too detailed about the way the book retells the events of the stories then we’ll get into spoiler territory!

Pros/Cons: I liked the way Flinn wrote Kyle (the Beast). I felt like his voice was really honest & typical of a teenage boy. Unfortunately, I felt the complete opposite about the way Linda (Beauty…I liked the use of this symbolic name. Linda in Spanish means beautiful!) was written. Her voice felt very fake & forced. This is ironic to me because the book was written by a woman & usually women are better at tapping into their own gender. I liked how the story was sort of a mix of the original tale, plus the Disney version, & many other aspects from transformation stories. I feel like the author really did her homework when researching fairy tales. Another thing I really liked was the chat room sessions. I thought they were SO clever and a great way to incorporate other transformation tales & subtly encourage readers to read those other stories. I did think the ending of the book was kind of just thrown together/rushed. The rest of the book is paced very well so you aren’t getting too much information all at one time, but for some reason the ending felt like WHAM! BAM! LET’S TIE THIS ALL UP, GOTTA GET THIS BOOK FINISHED!! & yes, the twists are somewhat predictable, but that’s kind of hard to escape with a book that’s retelling an already popular story.

Rating: B+. For me, this book was just okay. You can’t really mess with the perfection that is the original story, so I didn’t anticipate this book being outstanding, but it was fairly decent. I can appreciate the author’s version of the story & the obvious hard work she put into it, but this book isn’t making it on my bookshelf. My bookshelf is home to the “A” grade books such as Wicked by Gregory Maguire, Home, a memoir of Julie Andrews’ early years & Spencerville by Nelson DeMille, just to name a few. I’m glad I read it & I may even go pick up some other books by Flinn, she has several other fairy tale remakes, just to see how she interprets/modernizes those stories. Also, at the end of the book there’s a little author’s note in which she talks about some of the books she read to help research for Beastly & they all sounded pretty interesting, so I’ll probably add those to my list of books to read. All in all, if you’re into fairy tales, go pick up this book & give it a try. It never hurts to read more literature, unless it’s Twilight. In all seriousness, it never hurts to add more literature into your life & we’re all entitled to our likes & dislikes 🙂

Let me know if you’ve read this book, plan on reading it, plan on NEVER reading it & your opinions. Tell me if there’s other books you’d think I’d like based on this review. Thanks for reading, stick around!

Love, Al-Leigh