Movie Review: Noah (2014)

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Noah: Fire consumes all. Water cleanses. It separates the foul from the pure. The wicked from the innocent. And that which sinks from that which rises. He destroys all, but only to start again.

Plot synopsis: A man is chosen by his world’s creator to undertake a momentous mission before an apocalyptic flood cleanses the world. via IMDb

Rating: 6/10

In possibly the worst book adaption of the century, Russell Crowe stars as Noah, the iconic Ark building Biblical character. He is moody, prone to bitching and sulking, and thus I’ve deduced that Crowe merely imitated his own personality for this. Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson are also in here, and both are fine but it is clearly either’s best work. The shots where all the animals lie sleeping looked awfully fake, and I thought it was simply silly a few times. Anthony Hopkins is some sort of magical elder that cures Emma of her infertility, and I think he is left to drown, and I found that sad because he was so nice and all.

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I did like that Noah was portrayed as a human being. He isn’t a saint who never got mad, he was flawed and human and insecure. Noah’s eldest son was fine and I got why Emma had such a thing for him always, but I still felt sorry for the other son who had to leave behind his lady friend, once again to drown.

Basically, the movie is too long, and so different from the original version I don’t know who the target audience was – if not made for believers this movie doesn’t have enough weight to be considered good enough for other audiences. It is too long and too shabbily put together to be really impressive.

Book Review: Night Shift (Nora Roberts)

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Rising DJ Cilla O’Roarke loves her late night shows on radio station KHIP. She gets to be with her music and be alone, which she likes best, and can still take care of her younger sister Deborah who is studying to become a lawyer. Cilla’s illusion of safety is shattered one night when she receives a threatening phone call through the station’s caller program. Telling herself that it was a onetime thing, she receives more phone calls and it quickly becomes a nightly occurrence. She is promised death as retribution for her crimes, but Cilla has no idea what these crimes could possibly be. Eventually, her station manager decides to call in the help of the police – wisely ignoring the DJ’s protest that she can handle it herself.

The police arrive in the forms of detectives Althea Grayson and Boyd Fletcher. Cilla is somewhat daunted by Althea’s staggering beauty and Boyd’s easy charm and obvious interest. Ignoring Boyd’s advances is not as easy as Cilla would have liked, because she actually feels something for the first time in ages for a man. Accepting her attraction to Boyd would mean dealing with the scars of her divorce and the insecurities that have plagued her ever since.

While their feelings deepen, the stalker becomes more verbally aggressive than previously, and starts showing up at Cilla’s house and private gigs she hosts. Can they the man who thinks he needs to meet out justice against an innocent woman? What is in Cilla’s past that could have caused this behaviour? Is the endangered lady capable of overcoming her insecurities and accepting the love Boyd is offering?

Rating: 6.5/10

Hmm, wow. My initial draft of this post was SO sarcastic, and I have no idea why. I really had such a nice time reading this book. I’ve been reading the series somewhat out of order but could still follow easily enough (Nora Roberts’ books have very predictable story lines).

It is typical Nora material – interesting, sexy, well written and researched. These books are all very 90’s – women who were starting to do it for themselves but still wanted a man to save the day. I always enjoy a chilly stalker, and the villain in here was rather terrifying a few times. I enjoyed Boyd – he was easy going, charming and sure of himself, without being the “deep, emotional thinker” that loves to be present in books but so rarely really exists.

It has its own element of fantasy – I mean a rich cop (or more accurately, in SA, an HONEST cop), but Nora did not write books in the 80’s based on their believability!

Recommendation: Only to established fans.

Marvellous Mondays: Thor (2011)

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Happy Monday, fair friends and readers. I’m reviewing Thor today. I reviewed it before here, back in the dark ages when I was still very new to blogging. I have some mighty months behind me now, where I’ve hopefully improved significantly from those early moments. I also included him in my Top Ten Movie Crushes for Zoë, which you can check out here.

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Plot synopsis: The powerful but arrogant god Thor is cast out of Asgard to live amongst humans in Midgard (Earth), where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders. via IMDb

Thinking back, Thor was probably the first movie of the new Marvel stuff I watched. I was hooked immediately, but it may have been due to the fact that the leading start is so attractive and not really about the storyline. Don’t misunderstand, folks, the story-line isn’t the worst ever, but I’ve since seen tons of movies that do it much better. The Iron Man arm of the franchise is much better than the Thor one, and this movie seems to have been produced solely to prepare the world for the Avengers-storm that was looming.

The impressive array of actors and actresses really helped move this movie along. There is the eternally impressive Anthony Hopkins, the darling of the nerd-world Natalie Portman, the ridiculously charming and mysterious Idris Elba, and the surprising (then) new-comer Tom Hiddleston who some might argue was better suited for his role as Loki than Chris Hemsworth was for Thor.

Chris Hemsworth really looks like what I’ve always thought the Norse god would look like. He was probably doing the best with the material given, and his acting isn’t bad, it is just a bit floppy in places. He has improved through the development of the franchise and he has some roles in other movies that he is really good in. I DO find it laughable that they considered his brother Liam for a few seconds for this role, because that wouldn’t have worked at all.

There is decent enough character development in here: Thor had to learn to not let his hot head dominate over his good heart (that is derived from JK Rowling’s description of Harry) and Loki went from the insecure younger brother to the mad villain.

I enjoyed the graphics, something Marvel has never skimped on. Asgard manages to be both other worldly and beautiful, realistic enough to not make me hate the sci-fi part of it (yeah, I just said that). I loved the Bifrost Bridge, one of the prettiest things I’ve seen in a while.

I would rate this movie a 6.5/10, which is slightly less than my original rating.

PS: You can check the list out here for available movies and drop me a line at natashastander@gmail.com to let me know if you would like to review some!

Five things Friday: The Five Personalities that needs a slap at work

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Oh, office life. The office is like returning to highschool – an enclosed space where tempers and hormones flow between people who come from different political, cultural and educational background. A hotbed for dislike, as I’m sure you will all agree. I’ve compiled you a list of the most annoying types around below, but please feel free to add more in the comments section as I am a hundred percent certain the irritation is an ongoing process.

The: I have sooooo many degrees and I am soooooo qualified

Wow, I am so honoured to meet you. Please enlighten me with your 15 years of knowledge gained at University, but please apply all this PRACTICALLY to show me YOU KNOW HOW.

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Your degree makes you nothing if you can’t apply it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, that I will take a logical, practical problem solver over a highly educated, self-important narcissist who shakes when they use a pipette because it is such a foreign object.

The: My parents are so rich so I studied this and then got bored then tried this and then that wasn’t for me and now I am going to study teaching YAAAY

Well, why don’t you just climb into your Audi that you got on your 18th birthday and drive quickly to a place of safety before any violence gestures ensue?

I am so happy for you that you’ve never really had to work hard a day in your life, that you could always fall back against your parents’ bed of currency.  Really now.

The: Oh, I’m so sorry you have bronchitis. I was MUCH sicker than you that one time in Uzbekistan (remember my AWESOME trip right?!) because I had pneumonia and Cholera and Ebola combined.

I think you all get this one really well, so I won’t go into too much detail except suggest that when a person is really ill, they don’t want to hear how much worse off you were than them.

The: I just can’t eat when I’m so stressed type.

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Hmm, well, I’ll go drink a milkshake to get over my stress.

The: I am ALWAYS right and your ideas makes no sense, but when I realise you were right and your idea makes sense please don’t expect an apology because I am way too important for that.

Because who needs good vibes at work?

And a bonus: I’m the world’s biggest virgin and yet I boast about my sexual conquests to everyone so they will think I am Tiger Woods.

Bitch please. If you could get a girl to willingly get within fifty meters of you, I am marrying Tom Hardy this weekend.

Book Review: Night Smoke (Nora Roberts)

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Natalie Fletcher, the daughter of Fletcher industries, is as determined to make her new Lingerie stores a success as she is to prove that she can do the job as well, possibly better, than her brother Boyd would have if he hadn’t followed his passion to become a police man.

Natalie is called to the scene where her warehouse is burning down by a worried caretaker. She meets arson investigator Ryan Piasecki, who is blunt and irritates her immediately. The ex-firefighter finds it amusing that she thinks she can help at the scene, but quickly comes to respect her work ethics. Although he initially suspects Natalie of starting the fire to claim insurance, he realises she is innocent because another fire breaks out when she is having dinner with him, miles away.

Meanwhile, Ryan and Natalie start seeing each other outside of work and he has to start facing the facts that she is an heiress to an empire while he is merely a firefighter. Natalie is furious that Ryan would dare bring her financial situation in as a tool to break things off with her, and their prideful natures are soon constantly bumping heads.

Ryan intensifies his investigation after yet another fire, and finds a convicted pyromaniac living close by. Ryan still carries the scars from a fire Clarence Roberts started, so arresting him again brings the arson investigator great pleasure. Through skill and knowledge of his suspect, Ryan confirms his suspicions that a benefactor is paying Clarence to set the fires at Fletcher industries.

Who is financing these fires? Is it a personal vendetta or a competitor? Can Ryan save Natalie when someone is clearly out to destroy everything she has worked so hard for? Will their rocky relationship survive the last fire?

Rating: 7/10

Ah, Nora Roberts. Nora has been publishing books since 1981 and I would like to thank Nora for creating completely unrealistic ideas of men since 1981. I actually love it, even though I have ultimately accepted that no man can be blunt, straightforward, intense and yet utterly charming and in touch with his feelings at the same time. It is silly and unrealistic but hey, books are these things we read to escape from reality, and Ry Piasecki is sadly not in my reality. I liked him, found him fun, and yet could not help what would wonder here in 2014 if an Arson investigator kissed a potential suspect. A broken jaw and a lawsuit perhaps, but hopefully not an invitation into the bedroom.

Serial arsonists fascinate me on the same level that serial killers fascinate me. I can’t understand them so they are ultimately intriguing. I really like Chasing Fire and Blue Smoke more than this, two Roberts books that also deals with firefighters and arson, but this was not a bad addition to the Roberts collection. The book is well written and a quick read and I really had fun with it. My only pain was the floppy ending – it could have been more dramatic, it really felt like it flopped just a bit, and that the writer was tired and couldn’t care any less about it.

Recommendation: For fans

Movie Review: 22 Jump Street (2014)

22-jump-street-uk-posterPlot: After making their way through high school (twice), big changes are in store for officers Schmidt and Jenko when they go deep undercover at a local college. (via IMDb)

Rating: 7/10

I’ve put off watching this one because I couldn’t see how it would be funnier than 21 Jump Street, and I never found that hilarious to start with. I would say that this is an improvement over the first movie. I had serious giggles in here, and there is some seriously sharp humour if you know where to look. I think Channing Tatum’s character is ridiculously sweet and his slightly duh nature is adorable and fits him well. I also think Tatum is ridiculously hot and he can swing up my balcony like he did in the movie.

(Yes, I just said that)

Back to the movie, the plot is as realistic as comedies get. The characters were all a bit ridiculous, but hey, the human race IS mostly ridiculous if you look long enough at one human being, so it wasn’t way off. University students are generally a bit misbehaved so taking these guys to university was an excellent idea.

Reasons it worked:

The relationship between these two guys:
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Often referred to as a couple in the movie, I LOL’ed because true friendship is a lot like relationships, (hopefully without the nooky), and these two were constantly bitching with each other and fighting like about the silliest things.

Funny, sarcastic, unexpected villain

I suspected the villain after a while, but I still found said villain hilarious and the sarcasm truly funny.

Suns out, guns out

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I’m just never going to discriminate against a good pair of muscles.

The characters are endearing

Jonah Hill’s Morton Schmidt is a neurotic, insecure oke who tries to be as cool and fun as his friend, but rarely manages. Yet while being incapable of the ever elusive cool, he has a charm that often finds him in the winning seat with girls.

Tatum as Jenko is silly, goofy, a bit vacant and endearingly sweet. He has insecurities just like his friend, but it is often forgotten because he seems like the golden boy. He cares a lot for his friends and finds it inconceivable that they could be bad when he has connected to them, and I find that a good trait in anyone.

Recommended: As an easy laugh, definitely

Marvelous Mondays: Elektra 2005 by the IPC

Once again, another Monday is upon us. I am here to make it happy for you by posting a review of Elektra, produced by Pappy, who blogs over at the IPC.  Pappy (or Eric, he has many names), has the funniest blog I have ever stumbled across. He hosts Shitfest about four times a year, and if you are interested in doing a most fun blogathon, I suggest you keep your little eyes open for the next opportunity. Thanks for participating Pappy!!!

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Here’s the deal with me and this movie. When Daredevil came out back in the day I was REALLY out on Ben AFFLACK and refused to go see it (I still haven’t but I actually like the guy now). So when this came out, I read all of the bad things everyone had to say about it and didn’t feel like giving it a shot in case AFFLACK and his shit-eating face showed up. So, when Kidney announced this run and I looked at the list, I thought, “Hey, why not?? We could have something here for the next shitfest!” and gave it a look.

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For those of you that don’t know me, I look at a lot of shitty movies. It’s what I’ve done my whole life.  I would always walk to the video store and just rent whatever was new. I’ve also never been a real big fan of mainstream movies, for the most part. I like to find little films that no one else has ever seen and they’re my little secret. All of this is to put something in perspective – I watch a LOT of bad movies. Movies that are so bad they hurt.  I’m also not one of those people that ONLY watch things I’m going to like and give everything a 4 out of 5 or a nine out of ten.  So, when I tell you that I thought this movie was pretty OK, and you return with “WHAT THE FUCK ISAACS YOU IDIOT!!!!!” I challenge you to watch something like GREEN RIVER or THE LEGEND OF SORROW CREEK or CLOSETS and then come back and tell me how much Elektra sucks.

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This isn’t a GREAT movie or anything, but after hearing so much negativity about it, I have to ask – what were the haters expecting? I don’t really know dick about the character from the comics – for some reason I thought she was Russian but I could be confusing her with someone else, Daredevil was never my favorite.  I thought Garner did a good job as the character. She seemed to be no nonsense and wasn’t acting up like some ham or something. I thought SOME of the fight scenes were done pretty well and, despite some dodginess in the last big battle, I was surprised at how much I didn’t hate it.

Now, I’m not recommending anyone to drop everything they’re doing, pull up their pants and run out to the fucking store to buy it, but it certainly wasn’t THAT bad. In fact, if you’re going to give this a go, I suggest you have an appetizer of DIMPLES, ROGUE RIVER or ROOM 33. Then watch Elektra. Then let’s go have a beer. Or nineteen. THANKS KIDNEY!!!!

THANKS PAPPY!!!

PS: If you are interested, see the list here and get back to me!

Series Review: Cuckoo (2012)

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Ken and Lorna Thompson live a nice normal life in a small British Town. They have a teenage son Dylan, who is very desperate to impress the popular Zoe at school, and a daughter, Rachel, who is returning from her gap year to start studying.

Rachel brings a huge surprise – a husband. Cuckoo is a hippie, strange and new age, American and incredibly sure that he has all the answers in the universe. Ken is horrified, but the eternally optimistic Lorna decides to embrace the situation.

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Ken’s life quickly becomes a series of frustrations. He and Cuckoo just don’t see eye to eye, and since Rachel and Cuckoo are living with her parents, Ken feels trapped in his own home. Cuckoo doesn’t have a job, but he manages to buy a potato stand and plans to build his fortune from it. Nothing Ken does have any impact on Cuckoo, he is oblivious that his way of life is not acceptable to others. Rachel is very in love and does not understand where her father is coming from; can no one see how great her husband is?

Ken is very excited when he has the chance to become the local councillor. Cuckoo is excited for his father-in-law, and offers advice on politics, the interview, everything because he is an expert on this matter. Ken has a good interview, but Dylan is the one who ruins it for him – when Dylan kicks another teen in the balls, it turns out to be the son of the woman who needs to decide who will become the next councilor, and Ken is screwed over by his own son.

Ken and his family are off to see Lorna’s elderly father, who is still recovering from the death of his wife. Cuckoo manages to make Tony believe the house cat is the reincarnation of his wife, and soon they have a very happy Tony. However, when Ken accidentally kills the cat, everything turns around and he is once again in trouble.

Cuckoo manages to convince Lorna’s best friend, Connie that she needs to follow her dream of becoming a singer, the fact that she can’t sing doesn’t really matter. Lorna leaves Steve, her husband, and Cuckoo makes an enemy. Connie is now residing with the Thompsons, and her screeching is driving Ken nuts. Ken makes a plan to get Connie reconciled with her horrible husband, but it backfires and things don’t completely go as planned.

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Rachel and Cuckoo are distraught to learn that the British government doesn’t seem to accept a nude Thai ceremony as an official marriage for some strange reason. They need to get married, or Cuckoo will be deported. Lorna is very excited because she gets to plan a wedding for her daughter, but Ken sees an opportunity to delete Cuckoo from his life, despite the fact that Cuckoo and Ken have been getting closer despite the American’s odd mannerisms. Will Ken be rid of Cuckoo once and for all? Can Steve be trusted? What will happen on the bachelor’s night?

Rating: 6.5/10

I have to confess that I am not overly fond of British television. The humour over there is much different in general from the rest of the world, and since comedies are particularly focused on a specific audience, British comedy seems to be stranger than most.

Cuckoo was luckily very funny and enjoyable.  It has a realistic premise – I think every father’s nightmare is to find out his daughter married a man so completely removed from her upbringing it is not even funny. Andy Samberg is so hilarious as the very hippy Cuckoo.  He is everything reprehensible about current culture – so sure of himself, certain everyone feels exactly how he feels about things and has no apparent thought for anyone’s comfort but his own. Yet at the same time he comes across as an apparently decent (but strange) guy who loves his new wife and has a good heart underneath all the layers of scarves he so desperately loves.

I really laughed at Ken Thompson. He is so funny and such an old man, he just wants a nice normal existence without having to revert to madness, but he will if it is needed.

Recommendation: A solid show, entertaining and funny, something to watch if you need to cheer yourself up.