Movie Review: Justice League (2017)

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Plot: Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.

You can say a lot about the lackluster of appeal the majority of movies DC has eked out has, but I do admire how devoutly DC sticks to Zack Snyder. Whether it is detrimental or genius or blindly devout, they are sticking with this guy and we must all just deal with it. Patty Jenkins did a fantastic job with Wonder Woman, and she’d be a strong contender for any DC material out there, but I guess these guys are just not ready to let a woman do the job she’s certainly qualified for and choose a lesser able man to do it.

BUT, despite what the internet is telling you (Seriously people, you don’t have to hate everything just because it’s fun to smack down films), Justice League qualifies as one of the better DC movies. Certainly second to Wonder Woman, but compared to the joke that was Suicide Squad (which I didn’t hate completely) and the absolute disaster that was Batman vs. Superman (I’d like to forget that one completely), the Justice League is nearly Oscar material in comparison.

Snyder, who I’d like to say at this stage it can’t all be his fault, has a distinct modus operandi. The excessively dreary dialogue and repressive atmosphere that makes you question why you ever liked movies, the irritatingly long fight scenes (remember Zod vs. Superman? FML), the monumental and recurring and completely unnecessary GCI. It’s exhausting, but up until this point DC has not suffered at cinema. They have likely noticed how much more popular their competitor was, and it was a really good decision to attempt some lightheartedness while also keeping the signature dark style.

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However, only one of these irritations became a reality. The fight sequences were handled ridiculously quick compared to Batman vs. Superman as well as the drawn out Superman film in 2013. There were attempts at humor, which worked for the most part. The story was less cluttered and the dialogue had a clear direction. The CGI was the main culprit and was horribly abused. Since Henry Cavill is on the poster, it can be safely deduced that he’s in the film, so that is not a major plot spoiler I’m giving you now (or if it is you lack deductive skills). Followers of Cavill on Instagram will know that he’s sporting a moustache for an upcoming Mission Impossible film. (He, and maybe Tom Selleck, remains the only men to successfully WERK the moustache) He was contractually obliged to keep said moustache throughout shooting, and when Justice League reshoots clashed with the ‘stache, the powers that be decided to CGI the shit out of Cavill’s face. The results are startling, leading many people to wonder if he is, in fact, Human Shrek. The scene where his face is altered is clearly visible and terrible work – I can’t imagine how that got approval. His resurrection is fake and devoid of feeling because of CGI-Superman. I was confused in cinema – his face was distorted and it looked terrible. I sat in the second row of the cinema (was fully packed), so got a very close up and disturbing view of CGI-Superman. Even knowing now why he looked like that does not make it better in any way.  He had a whole lot more teeth than what is usually visible on his beautiful and talented face. That said, Cavill is a superb Superman – he has the gravity required for the success of the role and certainly looks the part. It also takes a whole lot to convince me that Jason Momoa is the second prettiest thing on screen.

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Justice League is miles, and I mean MILES, better than Batman vs. Superman. Ben Affleck has become more comfortable as Batman, he has some believability in the role now, and manages to inject some humor and sarcasm into his portrayal that was desperately needed. He has injected a humanity into his portrayal that was absent in BvsS, something that made him that much more a success of a character. There are also multiple mentions to the fact that the reason he’s a superhero is because he’s rich, which got some chuckles from the crowd. Ezra Miller is a great Barry Allen – he’s so hilariously young and awkward and he is responsible for making the movie more lighthearted. I’ve been pained by Miller in the past – his usual roles are so weird and whiney, but he was an excellent choice for this role. I could have done with some more backstory on Allen, as well as with Cyborg (also an excellent casting choice in Ray Fisher), and the delicious Arthur Curry (Momoa). They showed enough of him to make me excited to watch Momoa as Aquaman for that origin story. It struck me that it was the first time I heard Momoa actually speak English (his other native tongue being Dothraki), and for his major return to the spotlight this seems to be a great role for him.

Wonder Woman returns to Gotham, and her work is questioned by Batman, who displays into the White Man syndrome fantastically. He queries why she hasn’t been a beacon to people, never considering that she gets to make that choice herself. All her actions are basically only to show how strong her male colleagues are, and when Aquaman (Jason Momoa) sits on the Lasso of Truth, her beauty is complimented whereas Superman, Cyborg and The Flash have their abilities complemented, a sure sign that a male director called the shots. I love Gadot as Wonder Woman, and it is an unquestionably the better film. I’ve seen some unhappiness by the Amazonian’s decidedly smaller costumes, and it’s true – Themyscira underwent a troubling fashion change at the hands of Snyder.

I cannot stress enough how good the casting is in this film. Ezra Miller impressed me to no end, and he has a quirky banter with his team mates. He even manages to be endearing. Momoa is well, Momoa, big and manly and tough. The glimpse into the underwater world we will get to visit in Aquaman was beautiful, and I can’t wait.

A not so good thing about Justice League is the utterly forgettable Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds). He’s poorly introduced, and for all the hard work in keeping the “boxes” safe, he just smashes through all lines of defense. He is also yet another CGI villain from DC. His vampirish followers are slightly scary. His end is ridiculous and leaves room for so much open ended questions. Where did he even go? That end is also preposterous – as my friend pointed out we have all these super-humans battling Steppenwolf and the second Superman pitches everything is saved? What is the point of the Justice League then? How about the incredible Cyborg? The warrior Wonder Woman? The Flash that is seemingly only as fast as Superman, eliminating the need for him almost entirely? Aquaman that saves the team from certain death by water?

I’d love seeing a more realistic villain – this guy was so vague about his purpose and half the time he was a secondary focus point. Can we maybe have less CGI villainy and more real-human villainy? I hope with Lex Luthor in the credit shots we are going to have that the next round.

I enjoyed JL – it is not without flaws but it is the first real attempt DC made to correct their ensemble films. It’s been a good year for these guys and I’d love to see what they conjure up next year.

Have you seen Justice League? Leave your thoughts below

Rating: 7/10

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Watched, Read, Loved: October 2017

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My battle cry should be: “What a Month!”. 2017 in particular has felt like a whirlwind. Every month, so busy, so rushed. Work has been mad. Growing career wise is exhausting. There have been a number of unpleasantness in my team – people resigning, a sexual harassment case (super happy to report that my esteem for my company rose with how they handled the matter), and naturally just the normal amount of pettiness, drama, laziness and idiocy I’ve come to expect from working professionals. However, that said, some demented part of me enjoys working in such a difficult environment. It is enormously satisfying when people bend to your will, see your point, praise your efforts and start acting less like two year olds. I’m probably going to go crazy while doing it, but man, what a ride.

Some things are stressing me out still – waiting for my final results to get my degree is one particular one, and my University is as relaxed about releasing results as they usually are. It is so frustrating to be on a cliff, waiting for an answer, so close to the finish line. That and the course was pretty damn hard, so I am STRESSED. One moment I am convinced I passed and the next moment I’m sure I failed. I’m not the most pleasant person to be around right now, of that I can assure you.

I am also planning my oldest sister’s baby shower. She’s married with a baby on the way; I applaud myself when I comb my hair in the morning. These are the paths we take. However, planning an event is something that always stresses me out – I am such a perfectionist and if I don’t feel something is nice, I get really grumpy. With that is all the baby things too – stressing me out, because my ovaries are going to die soon (I might remove that sentence, I might not). Looking at children in the mall and wondering why anyone would put up with that is what I think of the most, yet at the same time there is something to be said about leaving a legacy. But I also like having my entire salary to myself, and let me tell you, pregnancy seems to come with many ailments that makes me want to revise my previous notion that pregnancy isn’t a sickness.

To load more on my plate, I’ve literally started loading things off my plate. That’s right – I’m at the “healthy lifestyle” game again. It’s a pretty pompous term, but I enjoy using it and it is certainly a better one than the word diet. I’m taking it very basic – cutting out most carbs and eating veggies and protein, with lots of water. I don’t drink any sugar carbonated drinks, so that isn’t a problem, but I do consume copious amounts of Coke Light. Working on lessening that too, as my primary objective is living as clean as possible and not consuming pseudo junk. I like to think I’ve become a regular at our local Parkrun, my total tally of walks is now somewhere around ten. I’ve even done one on my own, because I’ve realized that fitness and companionship aren’t always something that can happen at the same time. So far I’ve lost 3kg, which is obviously slower than I’d like, but it is a consistent trend downwards that makes me happy. I am also sleeping better and feeling more alert, which are two things I desperately needed.

So after an entire dialogue about all my problems, here’s what went down entertainment wise this month.

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Thor: Ragnarok (2017): This was one of the big ones I wanted to see. My darling favorite superhero returned to the big screen, and I was ready. Thor has never been my favorite franchise of Marvel, but on a science level it has always worked really well. This time around Waititi joined in to direct (and star), and I actually watched it TWO times in cinema – super super rare for me. The second watch did highlight some issues – some of the pacing is off, especially by Tessa Thompson, but it was still so much fun that I am not willing to alter the 8.5/10 I gave it.

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It was also Halloween month, so I picked up Hocus Pocus for the very first time in my life. It was okay, I’ve definitely seen worse and better, but I did enjoy the drama of the three witches and how excellently they acted it out.

Dis Koue Kos, Skat, was my Afrikaans feature for the month. Think Eat, Pray, Love, with less praying (and travelling). Anna-Mart Van Der Merwe, a South-African film legend, stars in this excellent film as a newly divorced woman settling into her new life. I had  a lot of fun with it.

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Lego: Ninjago movie (2017) – This was October as well?! October WAS a long month! I had a lot more fun with this than I thought I would, which is saying something.

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Star Trek (2009) – it took me nearly ten years to watch this, and I am happy that I finally did. Review coming soon.

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I kept it pretty simple this month with reading, revisiting the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. It’s simple reading, perfect for stressful days where you just need a bit of chill and sexy vampires.

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The real reason for the little amount of movie watching that went down can be pinned to Spartacus. I finally started the series. It’s pretty good despite awful dialogue, though just not one of the shows to watch with your parents / child. EVER.

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What have you been up to this month?

Series Review: Stranger Things Season 2 (2017)

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If you’ve read my review of Season 1, well, then you know how much excited I felt for the arrival of Stranger Things Season 2. I love Stranger Things more than Eleven (Jane?) likes Eggo Waffles. I would have loved to binge the entire series, but work kept me so busy I had to act like a normal person and settle for one or two episodes each night.

The first season of Stranger Things was such a compelling hit because it was so unexpected. The shock of the upside down and the ingenuity of the writing contributed towards addiction and despondency I developed and experienced subsequently when I finished the measly amount of available episodes. Season two kept some of the elements, but loses that biggest appealing factor – the surprise. Sure the children are as adorable as ever, there are some seriously excellent scenes and flashbacks to the 80s, but the wow factor was missing save for the first episode and episodes eight and nine. The writing was off at times and felt lazy at times. Episode 7 irritated me so much I nearly didn’t finish the series. It was an absolute disaster. Removing Eleven from Hawkins and sending her to find her “sister” among a merry bunch of thieves for an entire episode? What a stupid power trip and unnecessary when there were a million other things that episode 8 could have focused on.

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New additions Dacre Montgomery, Sadie Sink and Sean Astin were welcome additions. Dacre Montgomery seems particularly well cast as Billy the Bully – he’s an 80’s bully personified with his mullet, cigarettes, blaring rock music and really tight pants (circulation could not have been easy). He was particularly good in scenes where he loses his cool and you are able to see that this kid isn’t just a run of the mill bully; he has serious anger issues and is dangerous. Montgomery lived himself into the role and is utterly convincing – excellent work from this young Aussie who donned an American accent like it was no big thing. Sadie Sink is Max, who is in the unfortunate situation of being Billy’s stepsister. She hides her stress and worry and fear under some smart mouth comments, and I enjoyed her. It is also nice seeing another girl join the male dominated cast. Sean Astin as Bob was a sweetheart and I enjoyed seeing him in something again. He had some unlikely hero moments and although he was obviously written as a bit of a nerdy, offbeat character there was such goodness in him that you couldn’t help but root for him even though clearly he’s in the way of a romantic engagement I root for.

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I really like that they promoted Joe Keery to series regular as Steve Harrington. Steve has the best character growth, some of the best lines (#FarrahFawcett) and is such a likeable guy. He’s evolved from the typical high-school prick. He still at odds with Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton) for the affections of Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) and in season one I was unsure who I would choose, but Steve is now clearly my favorite. He has some great moments where he gets all parental and authoritative with the younger kids, and I had such a good time witnessing him. I like the mentoring relationship he’s begun with Dustin, who in himself is so darn adorable with his pearly whites.

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My favorite characters at this stage are Hopper, Steve and Dustin. My least favorite is Nancy because that girl must stop messing with Steve and Jonathan’s feelings. I won’t go on a rampage against her but my tolerance for girls who play with multiple men’s’ feelings are quite strong. She redeemed herself somewhat in the last episode, though she still makes me narrow my eyes.

I won’t discuss all the characters – seriously, my love is strong. Caleb McLaughlin gets more screen time and I loved it. Lucas is such a great character and revealed his inner strength when he stood up to Billy. Finn Wolffhard has a great career ahead of him – boy can act! Noah Schnapp is updated to series regular and boy, did little Will suffer greatly again. Poor kid. He managed to be creepy and still have the audience feel protective over him. Milly Bobby Brown is as fascinating as always – she taps so much emotion into her performance it seems unreal that she’s only 13 years old.

The 80s nostalgia makes me so nostalgic – and I wasn’t even around back then. That dance scene in the final episode made me so darn happy and reminiscent about my own primary school days – who hasn’t done those awful “close” dances? So much love. Oh, and Dustin’s hair in that episode. GOSH so darn cute.

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The last two episodes make great strides in repairing the disaster of Episode 7. It is still more lopsided than it needs to be, and the writing needs a more structured approach in season 3. I would love to have Billy get involved in what is really going on in Hawkins, that would help wipe that punk ass attitude off him. I would also like to have him evolve a bit more, become a slightly decenter person while maintaining the ‘tude. If Eleven cannot be called Jane, that would also be great. Maybe Steve can get someone who isn’t Nancy because she doesn’t deserve him? More Dustin too, with his pearly whites.

Rating: 7/10

Movie Review: Wild (2014)

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Plot: A chronicle of one woman’s 1,100-mile solo hike undertaken as a way to recover from a recent personal tragedy.

I seem to have a knack about sitting down to watch films about real events lately. When it is done right, these films are fantastic. When it is done wrong, well, then obviously not.

Wild is somewhere between the middle – I didn’t hate the film, but I found Reese Witherspoon’s character an emotional drain. Wild is about Cheryl Strayed’s successful hike through the Pacific Crest Trail, where she rediscovers herself after the death of her mother. I’ve been through the death of a parent, so I am with everyone on the level of grief it brings. However, grief does not equal lack of accountability and I found the multiple cheatings on her husband rather distasteful, and it’s depiction of it pretty gross. There is also a heroin addiction in play, and I really pitied her husband by the end of it. Witherspoon is a good enough actress to show the selfishness of Strayed’s character on screen. Make no mistake; her journey alone in the PCT is the correct way to rediscover herself, to reset, and to begin again. The solitary journey through the wilderness appealed to me, as did the incredible scenery and the wonder of the different landscape the USA has. I also really liked that she, a woman alone, set out and discovered the world. It is also a bit strange for me to imagine as South-African – I would never dream of hiking somewhere alone in fear of safety.

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The ending especially grated on me – ending a film on an open dialogue with some profound quote is one of the greatest crimes in humanity. Give me a conclusion – show how she apologizes to her ex-husband, show how she changes her life and show her marrying Michiel Huisman – gorgeous McGorgeousface – just show me SOMETHING that isn’t an open ending.

The sex flashbacks were rather distasteful and I would probably have liked Wild better if it wasn’t so frequent. It makes the film so much dirtier than it needs to be. It does serve as a contrast to the pure beauty of nature, so there is that at least.

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Overall, Wild really wasn’t my favorite film. There are ways they could have done it better. Witherspoon is an outstanding actress so I did appreciate her efforts, but man, those character flaws in the film put me off.

Rating: 6/10

Movie Review: Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

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Plot: Imprisoned, the mighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.

*Contains minor spoilers*

How is it possible that it has been 5 years since The Avengers? It seems like only yesterday. At the time it was one of the coolest and most interesting action hero films I’ve ever seen, and created an avalanche of Marvel-watching for yours truly. And it was great for its’ time – Joss Whedon did a fantastic job, even though it was a large CGI feast and if you hadn’t watched previous MCU films, well, sorry for you because that story would have made no sense at all. Since then we’ve been exposed to the good and the bad of superheroes, often with directors resigning in protest against MCU’s heavy handed control. There has been unfortunate mishaps (in particular, The Dark World was really just crap), and Marvel started to have a tired, repetitive tone to all their films. It was all good to look at, but man, it was all the same. Marvel Studios and DC Comics recognized superhero fatigue was quickly starting to rear head, and Marvel took some preventive actions while DC realized they needed to make proper films. Dr. Strange of 2016 was a visual stimulation we had not yet beheld, Deadpool went R-rated with its graphical violence and strong language, Wonder Woman finally proved that female superheroes could work and that DC miraculously still had a smidgen of sense, and Guardians of the Galaxy was original, quirky and fun as hell.

Ragnarok is the best film in the Thor franchise, which up until now has been the seemingly poorer relative of the MCU. Directed by the uniquely talented and marvelously hilarious Taika Waititi, prepare yourself for Marvel as you’ve never seen it before. You now by the multiple reports on this director that he’s the director behind What We Do in The Shadows and Hunt For The Wilderpeople. The man himself is an eccentric gem, and his humor is as evident off-screen as it is on. His distinct directorial style reverberates throughout Ragnarok. He didn’t write the material for the film but the nature of the humor is a clear indication that he’s all over it. Ragnarok is hilarious – I have never laughed quite so hard at a superhero film before. I laughed and snorted and spit out some of my drink – nothing is too sacred or serious for Waititi to omit. Dangerous portals are “the devil’s anus” and weapons are called “melt sticks” in such a deadpan way that you simply expect Waititi to walk out and wave at you. He is there, and you will have to listen only to know, but I won’t give away his character – I laughed too much at him and would like people to find him on their own. He is also able to bring out the best in Hemsworth and in the character of Thor – Chris Hemsworth is at his finest while playing Thor as a big, lumbering hero who can be quite the meathead but also has a heart of gold. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) returns as the “is he or isn’t he?”baddie, and to be honest I sometimes detect a weariness in Loki’s eyes – he’s so clearly intellectually superior to Thor that his brother’s antics must get exhausting. Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) makes a momentary appearance with his mindboggling magic tricks, and learn both brothers lessons in manners. It works, because unlike Civil War, this isn’t Avengers 2.1 – the entire MCU doesn’t pitch to join in on the fight. It is also more unique, less CGI extravaganza and a complete Thor movie, not a derivative movie that depends on the success of previously established MCU successes (Looking at you, Homecoming).

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The scramble for Marvel to include women, brought on by their rival DC’s wonderful Wonder Woman, brings us two females of note – the villain Hela (fantastically devious performance from Cate Blanchett) and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson). They are even on the poster. It is a positive turn of events, and I’ve seen complaints regarding Hela being one-sided, but I really thought her great and so refreshingly devious – like just mean and no worries about being so. Two times Oscar winner Cate Blanchett brings all her powers, and if one thing I wish they’d given her more time – she’s devious and crazy and cruel, and for the first female villain from Marvel, she’s absolutely wonderful. I’m all for conflicted villains, and Karl Urban’s Skurge certainly has inner conflict, but a pure, evil villain can be such fun, and watching Hela prove that Odin isn’t as squeaky clean as suggested was one glorious ride.  Valkyrie is a potential love interest, as Natalie Portman gets discarded with one single line (another flaw). I am quite pro a love interest that fights on her own and isn’t a damsel, so we will see how this goes.

The Revengers are endless amounts of fun. The movie reaches its conclusion without filler nonsense, the end is quite dramatic and heroic and Chris Hemsworth is as utterly gorgeous as always. Some of the humor is smart, some of it is blatant, and some excellently inappropriate. There is a buddy comedy vibe between Thor and The Hulk, which is endearing and hilarious. Be ready to adore Thor, The Hulk and even Loki – they are clearly having the time of their lives. The post credits scene is interesting and suggests something I thought would happen, and it can only mean great things.

Have you seen Ragnarok? Let me know your thoughts!

Rating: 8.5/10    

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Movie Review: The Fate of the Furious (2017)

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Plot:When a mysterious woman seduces Dom into the world of terrorism and a betrayal of those closest to him, the crew face trials that will test them as never before.

I am quite the big fan of the Fast and Furious franchise. I reviewed the entire series a while ago, and naturally the mere mention of the return of Dominic Toretto and his family was enough to get me excited. These movies have become progressively bigger and more extreme as the series developed, and the Fate of The Furious makes no exception.

To be honest, this is the first film that I felt was overly ridiculous. It has always been very ridiculous with this franchise, but this one went very extra. The “banter” between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham made my toes curl with embarrassment. Seriously – the testosterone these two emit in each other’s presence was nothing short of hilarious. Dwayne Johnson had some pretty funny lines as a school soccer coach, and his desperation in having his girls win the game to avoid a Tay-Tay concert was quite funny and understandable. Fast 8 tries to market Jason Statham now as one of the team, as a Shaw brother it is quite confusing as he was a main villain about fifteen seconds ago.

Dominic Toretto abandoning his family seems crazy, and that is exactly what he does. Villian Cypher (Charlize Theron) shows Dom something on a screen and it is enough to make him drop his wife Lettie (Michelle Rodriguez) and his team. What could make him do this? What does Cypher want? That’s never too clear, because I don’t think the plot is the primary point of this film, and we are left in the dark more than once.

I won’t say why Dom did what he did, but there WAS a BIG reason. Naturally Brian (Paul Walker) must be mentioned loudly at least once, and that he can’t come help because they decided he needs to be away. I don’t really agree with the decision on that, because Brian O’Connor in the Law of the Furious would never drop Dominic Toretto – however sad Paul Walker’s death may be, I think the character would have died too instead of abandoning his family.

Charlize Theron’s Cypher has a very blurry reason for the things she does. The chemistry between her and Vin Diesel is less than zero, and that kiss they share is cold and plain weird (despite Diesel’s strange comments about it). There is a lot of explosions and more bad dialogue, and when Diesel, Johnson and Statham appear together onscreen the manly manliness is almost too much to witness. The rest of the crew – Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Megan (Nathalie Emmanuel) and  Ludacris (Tej) get laughably terrible lines. Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) is still cool AF, and he’s joined by tough guy Scott Eastwood as a new recruit. The awesome Kristofer Hiviju is Cypher’s henchman, and I still love Tormund even though he’s a baddy in here.

The last few scenes of the film is naturally very dramatic and highly unlikely, and the end is  mushy but manly-still. This formulaic fan festival of epic proportions is outrageous, crazy and very similar to the last couple of Fast films. I found it slightly less engaging with a little worse dialogue, but I’m not even fooling myself – if there is a Fast 9, I will still watch it.

Rating: 6/10

Halloween Movie Review: Scream 2 (1997)

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Plot: Two years after the first series of murders, a new psychopath dons the Ghostface costume and a new string of killings begins. 

Contains spoilers!

Sydney has miraculously survived the killings in Woodsboro and is now in college. She’s still close friends with Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) and in contact with Deputy Dewy (David Arquette). Dewy is as sassy as always, and has his comebacks lined up when he sees the formidable and career driven Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox). Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber) might not be a serial killer, and he might not have killed Sydney’s mom, but he’s far from the nice guy and still desperately seeks his fame. Sydney is dating Derek (Jerry O’Connel) – a pretty sweet and smart guy, but can she really trust him after her previous boyfriend turned out to be a murderous sociopath? I naturally suspected the crap out of him, and was sad when he turned out to be innocent AND dead.

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The opening scene isn’t close to as wrenching as in the first Scream, but still good. You have to love the 90’s fashion though. Jada Pinkett (I think this was before she was Smith) is all sassy and then gets stabbed to death. O well.

I do like that the films are consistent – the characters are the same and they are written in the same way. The tone remains witty and funny with some gems delivered from Dewy.

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Can I just mention again how much I love how loose footed these killers are? They are falling all over the place and it is hilarious. They can be punched and aren’t superhuman. I just love how Sydney punches the shit out of people. You go girl!

Scream 2 was pretty close to as good as the first film for me. The third one lacked compared to these, which is really sad, but the first two? Absolute gems.

Rating: 7.5/10

Movie Review: Hidden Figures (2016)

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Plot: The story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program.

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Focusing on the trio of female scientists Katherine Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson at Nasa in the sixties, Hidden Figures plays a vital role in educating the world about the stories of the repressed who rose to great heights while fighting unimaginable odds. The three ladies each had incredible aptitude for their work. Katherine Jackson was so accurate in her calculations her work was better than a computer. Dorothy Vaughan taught herself a computer language when computers were a foreign and scary concept. She became the first black female supervisor at Nasa. Mary Jackson fought for her right to become an engineer, and was the first black mathematician and engineer in the NACA, which would become NASA in 1958.

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Actresses Taraji P Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe shine in their roles, and their fast talking, quick thinking, superbly dressed and outrageously talented selves kept me glued to the screen for the duration of the film. It is impossible to decide who gave the best performance. Octavia Spencer is one of my favorite actresses in Hollywood and seeing her as a determined genius of a woman is already a reflection of herself, it is just the career that differs in her portrayal of Dorothy Vaughan. Janelle Monáe gave me endless happiness with her attitude and her resilience to get what she wanted. Taraji P Henson delivers a demure and dedicated performance as Katherine Jackson, a woman so excellent in her profession she was more accurate than the computers so painstakingly installed by NASA. Katherine had to face inconceivable barriers in her job – not only was she black, she was a woman as well when those two categories were still fighting for rights back in the sixties. She faces uphill battles – the sexism and racism of her colleagues, finding a bathroom – this battle of hers had me the most outraged as it is an inhumanity I have never even been able to comprehend. She does this with grace and poise and so rarely loses her shit I marked her as a saint.

Kirsten Dunst is the white supervisor to Spencer’s Dorothy. Her racism isn’t deliberate or particularly spiteful;but it is so ingrained and habitual that it somehow offends more than the blatant racism Katherine faces. There is some saving for Dunst’s character, and I particularly appreciated the scene where she addresses Dorothy as “Mrs. Vaughan” – a courtesy that was long overdue.

Strong male performances by Kevin Costner as the gruff and motivated Al Harrison – a man portrayed as open eyed and realizing that science and math doesn’t have a skin color. Jim Parsons takes on the role of the close minded bigot Paul Stafford, although I got the impression that the character had bigger problems with Katherine’s gender and the fact that she was a better mathematician than he than her skin color, but even despite that Stafford was a mean and rude man who needed a kick under the ass. Mahershala Ali plays Katherine’s love interest and eventual husband Jim Johnson – he’s so charming and dignified I nearly fainted. Aldis Hidge (Levi Jackson) is a contrast to the calm Jim emits – his anger is raw and justified against the government who denies him and his family the rights so easily afforded to white people. Glen Powell as John Glenn was so incredibly charming and beautiful, and I rooted for him immediately when he chose to greet everyone at NASA, not only the white people.

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Hidden Figures is well written, warmhearted and satisfactory conclusive. Each woman gets what she needs – a promotion, extra education or the incredible right to work as part of the team who would put a man on the Moon. It might be a bit blasé in some parts – Kevin Costner hitting down the signs on the bathrooms and declaring that everyone can urinate where they want was slightly overdramatic, but the sentiment was good.

Another part of the film that I liked was the orbiting into space – it felt real somehow, the hard work, frustration and endless dedication of NASA to get men into space. It is so impressive when you think about that they didn’t have the knowledge NASA now has, they’d never done it before. They were working without computers and relied on human accuracy to attempt something that hadn’t been done before. It is impressive and inspiring.

Hidden Figures filled me with awe, respect and also a great deal of shame. I’ve never had to work as hard as these characters to be accepted in to society, I’ve never had to run to another bathroom because of my skin color, I’ve never been denied tertiary education or a promotion because of a thing I can’t do a thing to change. Systematic oppression is a real thing and I’ve often thought about it lately – society has come a long way in making sure everybody has rights, but are we still subconsciously treating people different when they don’t look exactly as we do? It’s something to consistently address until the last dregs of oppression dies away.

Hidden Figures was not only about skin color, it was about female empowerment, the power of education, the perseverance of the human spirit and about how giving up should never be an option. Excellent performances make this film an entertaining and wonderful watch, and if you haven’t done so yet, I would strongly suggest you rectify that matter.

Rating: 8.5/10

Movie Review: Australia (2008)

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Plot: Set in northern Australia before World War II, an English aristocrat who inherits a sprawling ranch reluctantly pacts with a stock-man in order to protect her new property from a takeover plot. As the pair drive 2,000 head of cattle over unforgiving landscape, they experience the bombing of Darwin, Australia, by Japanese forces firsthand.

Some human rights are less equal than other human rights.

That is an unambiguous fact displayed in Australia, the Baz Luhrman epic. The Aboriginal people were the first people to inhabit Australia 45 000 years ago. They are fascinating and diverse group with over 500 different types of Aborigines, with different languages and territories spread over the dangerous continent. The Aborigines have suffered greatly since the first British invasion, and have lost land, culture and their freedom. The film Australia explores this as one of its’ concepts, primarily the fate of children who had an Aboriginal mother and a white settler father. The making of these children were depicted as consensual sex, although I really doubt whether that was the case most of the time.

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I have a deep appreciation for Baz Luhrman. He has directed a large portion of films I call my favorite. – Moulin Rouge, Romeo and Juliet, The Great Gatsby. He has a sense of fancy and shine, and a love for the epic that can’t be anything but admired. Moulin Rouge is my favorite, but after seeing Australia again I realized my vague recollection of the film didn’t do justice to its’ true quality.

Nicole Kidman displays an astonishing amount of wit and humor, a role which I haven’t seen her embody until now. Baz Luhrman and his extravagant affairs suit her – my other favorite of hers (and his) is the heartbreakingly beautiful Moulin Rouge, which is on my soon-to-be-rewatched list as well.

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I will keep my comments regarding Hugh Jackman as clean as possible, but this is one of his finest physical appearances I have ever seen. It is greatly exaggerated it is good to see the sexual focus on a male instead of a female (I can really only think of The Guest as the only other example)

Australia is both heart-breaking and beautiful. The chemistry between Kidman as Lady Sarah and Jackman as Drover is strong, and their love story is beautiful and unrestrained. There is a beautiful romance I read that takes place in the Australian outback (I sadly can’t recall the name), and the struggles of Drover and Sarah reminded me very much of their plights.

Brandon Walters as Nullah is a fast talking child, and his innocence and freedom is beautiful. It broke my heart how badly the Aborigines were treated, how very little rights they were afforded and how they had everything taken away from them – the Australian government only issued an official apology to the Aboriginals in 2008 for the crimes against their race, which is a fine case of too little, too late.

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The backdrop of the film is naturally the raw and intense landscape of Australia’s Outback, which provides a visually stimulating experience. Australia has been accused of being overly long, and yes, it certainly is a doozy, clocking in at two hours and forty-six minutes. As many of you know, I am always first to complain about movies that are too long without any real substance, so if I tell you I didn’t feel that Australia was drawn out and overly long, I really mean it. You just have to be willing to sit down for quite a while and get through it, but the conclusion is rewarding and beautiful.

I thoroughly enjoyed Australia, and would recommend it to people who love Baz Luhrman. It made me read up on the Aboriginals, the atrocities against them, improved my already substantial admiration for Nicole Kidman and convinced me that the acquired taste of an Australian accent could be easily achieved if Hugh Jackman strutted in tight pants across a desert uttering words that I could barely understand but definitely appreciated.

Have you seen Australia? How did it rank for you?

Rating: 8.5/10

Halloween Blindspot 2017: Scream (1996)

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Plot: A year after the murder of her mother, a teenage girl is terrorized by a new killer, who targets the girl and her friends by using horror films as part of a deadly game.

I watched Scream for Blindspot in early in the year, but sat with the review the entire year just so that I could do it in Halloween. I also demanded to watch the subsequent three films, so they will on as reviews this month as well.

I enjoyed the sharp and witty dialogue between the characters. They were quick mouthed towards the killer, and the killer himself had some excellent things to say too.  Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is a female heroine dream and her punching people made me really happy. She handled being stalked by a killer and simultaneously dealing with her mother’s death very well and I love seeing her throw a punch. She’s also not a complete pain in the ass and doesn’t moan about every damn thing.

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Scream is also pleasantly non-gory – sure there are some gruesome scenes but no torture (a complete no-no for me) as I was expecting. The deaths were satisfyingly dramatic. The first death is just so sad and well directed – I was ready to actually just cry for Drew Barrymore (however – take the popcorn off the stove man!)

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Deputy Dewy is such a fun and hilarious character. David Arquette nailed that role and his facial expressions are admirable being able to change his complete facial structure. Gale Weathers is a character that you really want to hate but end up admiring more than anything else by the end of the film. Neve Campbell’s Sydney is a kickass heroine and I was cheering for her all the ways through. I also liked Jamie Kennedy’s Randy – this guy was on top of things and had all the information for a horror movie well documented and studied.

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So you can gather that I had a great time with this film. It is a lot of fun, and there are some jump scenes here and there but it is actually impossible to be really scared while watching this film. If you somehow managed to not see this film in the million years its’ been out there, definitely go watch it!

Rating: 8/10