Movie Review: Just Friends (2005)

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Plot: While visiting his hometown during Christmas, a man comes face-to-face with his old high school crush whom he was best friends with — a woman whose rejection of him turned him into a ferocious womanizer.

Rating: 5/10

It’s rarely that I really don’t enjoy a movie and just wish for it to end. Mostly that only happens when Adam Sandler is involved. I’m most often on board in finding something to like about a film.  I decided to watch Just Friends because I find Ryan Reynolds the height of adorable and he was so damn cute when he just started out. This silly comedy however didn’t satisfy me on any level. Ryan Reynolds was annoying as fat Chris Brander and thin Chris Brander. He was without a personality or substance, and his thicker years didn’t bestow wisdom on him. Amy Smart as Jamie Palamino was a bit lame (okay, a lot), and I couldn’t understand why Chris was carrying a torch for her. Anna Faris as Samantha James was created to be the comedic relief, but there was no comedy nor any relief in this film. I found it stupid, insincere and not funny. I think I’m probably missing the point of the film, it’s probably one of those “So bad it’s good” things, but I’ve seen a couple of those and this wasn’t on that level. Oh well, you can’t win at everything, can you, Deadpool?

Have you seen this? What did you think?

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Book Haul September: #CharityShopDisaster

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Saturday was the day. I just did a 5km Parkrun and was feeling particularly accomplished. It was decided that we would check out the charity shop in Mellville, Johannesburg – an area that is quickly becoming a favorite spot of mine, it is so fresh and clean and upcoming. Anyway, in I wandered and found ridiculously low priced books – like insanely low priced.

What I bought:

World Without End – Ken Follett

I read Pillars of the Earth one December. It was an incredible, enormous book that I enjoyed so much. Such violence, romance and drama. I’m going to need some time to do justice to its’ equally gigantic sequel, but I am quite excited to give it a go.

Tess Gerritsen – Under the Knife

Sooo I picked up a few of these for Zoë because Gerritsen is one of her favorite authors, but I accidentally took this one twice. I’ll definitely give it a go because mahbestie really enjoys her.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl who played with Fire – Stieg Larson

I’ve tried to do these a number of times but always stopped. It was electronic attempts, so I would love to get through this series, seeing as it is considered some of the greatest novels of our era.

The Book Thief – Mark Zusak

I picked this one because I haven’t heard a bad word about the novel, and the premise is definitely interesting.

I am Number Four – Pittacus Lore

I’ve heard quite a few times that this is a great book, so I hope I enjoy it!

Club Dead and Definitely Dead – Charlaine Harris

Because who doesn’t need more sex crazed vampires in their life?

Cathy Kelly – Just Between Us

I read two novels from Kelly as a teenager on a loop, so I would love to read something by this Irish author again.

Two old school Afrikaans books

I love old school Afrikaans romance – everything was so chaste

Total haul = R126 (If you are South-African you will grasp just how cheap that is)

Oh, and that is not to mention Marian Keyes that I ordered on line last week. *hides*

I’m actually now in the market for a bookshelf – I have one already, but it has long been overflowing, and with the latest haul we are now in a terrible situation. I’m on the lookout for a shelf, but FML those things are expensive. Goodness!

PS: Here are some pics of our shoes on the walk (#evidence) and of the delicious coffee drinks we had afterwards. It was so good!

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Movie Review: Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015)

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Plot: Dracula and his friends try to bring out the monster in his half human, half vampire grandson in order to keep Mavis from leaving the hotel.

Rating: 7/10

I barely recall what happened in the first Hotel Transylvania, but I know I really loved it. I definitely remember the scream cheese, and to this day I find it ridiculously funny. Thus I was quite apprehensive to sit down for the sequel – not only do I have the honest and justified fear for sequelitis, I also really didn’t want to spoil the feelings I had to the first movie, especially considering the fact that I stand firm on the belief that I don’t like animation as a genre.

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HT2 suffers just a little bit from sequelitis – it’s just not as cute or fun as the first film. I didn’t laugh as outrageously or root for the poor monsters as much, but it was still quite a lot of fun. Considering that Adam Sandler is involved in this film, it is a great. The film has a lot of notable names voicing the characters – Selena Gomez as Mavis, Andy Samberg is Jonathan, Mel Brooks as Vlad and Kevin James as Frankenstein – and that is only naming a few. It works because the voices suit the characters and aren’t as obviously placed as The Jungle Book.

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HT2 never gets going really. I have to say I found it odd that they would touch child birthing in a movie– very awkward topics for parents to discuss with their children. Talk about interesting conversation topics coming up!

I liked the ending, but let’s face it – it would have had more impact if Dennis wasn’t a vampire in the end and then carried the message that it was okay to be normal and that you could be loved then as well.

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Have you seen Hotel Transylvania 2? What did you think?

Movie Review: 27 Dresses (2008)

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Plot: After serving as a bridesmaid 27 times, a young woman wrestles with the idea of standing by her sister’s side as her sibling marries the man she’s secretly in love with.

Rating: 6.5/10

27 Dresses is actually a horror film. No really, I found it very weird and entertaining. Imagine being  a bridesmaid 27 times – I can’t think of a better plot synopsis for a horror story.

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However, 27 Dresses isn’t marketed as a horror, but actually a romcom, because yes, Judi Greer is again a supporting best friend. She’s allowed now to be a sarcastic best friend, which is the best type to have. We have James Marsden, another frequenter of the romcom scene, and what I can tell you right now is that his dress sense is the most offensive thing about this film – can someone just help him out a bit? He is the angry romantically slighted reporter Kevin Doyle, who sets out to unmask the woman who is involved in so many weddings – a heinous crime, to be sure. Edward Burns is George – the perfect man that would irritate the shit out of anyone in real life, and Malin Ackerman is Tess – sister of main character Jane (seriously inventive names for the lead characters here, wow), and is the prototypical flinty younger sister who gets everything and is a little bit selfish, spoiled and mean.

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Then we have Jane, by Katherine Heigl, the lady who had a field day with romantic comedies shortly after her departure from Greys Anatomy. I completely enjoy her in romantic comedies, it would seem that she was made for these roles, which on further inspection is an insult to her and definitely not a compliment.

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Despite everything listed that definitely informs you that this film is the romantic comedy you see every single day of your life, it still manages to be mildly entertaining. Everything that happens is predictable from the first word uttered, and nothing unexpected or shocking happens. But if you are searching for a movie to not think about – really, no thought processes are required – you can find something to watch in 27 Dresses.

Book review: Let it Snow (Maureen Johnson/ John Green/ Lauren Myracle)

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Plot: A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.

The Jubilee Express (Maureen Johnson)

Rating: 8/10

The Jubilee Express is the only book in this compilation of short stories I would have invested in if it was a full length novel. I quite enjoyed it, though it isn’t without its’ share of ridiculousness. The craziest thing that went down is the reason of her parents’ imprisonment. I also laughed out loud that she would stay with complete strangers in an unknown town – was this a Christmas story or a horror one? Could have gone either way. It seemed that Jubilee only got hold of her character halfway through the book – that is when her observations became very funny. I always like when books address what teenagers should really be aware of – things that even when a boy is completely perfect, he might not be perfect for you. Jubilee realized that when her perfect boyfriend ended up being too perfect for her, and she acted quickly and decisively. The book ended a bit bluntly, but with a limitation of a hundred or so pages it wasn’t that surprising to me.

A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle (John Green)

Rating: 7/10

I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first book when it started out. I think it might have been because I would have been okay with the story carrying on a bit more, that was a nice read. I also think John Green writes deliberately strange at times.  I enjoy most of his work, so it would seem safe to say his method works as often as it doesn’t. The big thing I didn’t enjoy about this is that it has three main characters. With a hundred pages you can’t have three personalities to fit in. Also – this series is obsessed with cheerleaders. Everyone and their icy popsicle has something to say about the group of cheerleaders that end up stuck in the Waffle House during a snow storm. Is this insecurity a large thing amongst teens in the States? I’m so glad we don’t have cheerleaders here. Anyway, the short recovered about halfway through and got moving. I liked everything The Duke was (although I hated that she was constantly referred to as “The Duke”). She was a girl who was laughing, eating and speaking her own mind and she won her guy in the end. It managed to address a bit what girls with confidence to just be themselves still face – I mean how dare we not giggle and fawn over men, and expect them to be onboard with our wants, needs and personalities? I can definitely say that this short rose in my estimation the more I read, but I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed a full length novel.

Patron Saint of the Pigs

Rating: 7/10

The final short in this combined universe was a lot of fun, although I had such issues with the main character. Addie was just an awful, spoiled, pretty white girl who got upset when her truly amazing boyfriend had a personality that wouldn’t make him fawn over her. I really didn’t like her that much, and it increased as the book progressed. I did like her relationship with her friends though – they had great interactions with each other and it seemed like natural bantering. I would have liked to have Jeb in the story a bit more – he’s a ghost figure throughout and I felt I missed him without even knowing him.

Patron Saint of the Pig had moments in that was so funny. The pink hair was a constant topic, the bantering between friends, Jubilee’s name just continuing to create confusion where she went and the complete chaos of the last few pages.

I couldn’t help but notice that throughout all three shorts Starbucks and The Waffle House was mentioned. ALL THE TIME. We need to see how much these guys paid for their endorsement, because it must have been significant.

I liked the end of the book, I just wasn’t sure if Addie deserved to get happiness again. I get that she made the decision to change, but I can’t help but wonder how many times she would have abused Jeb’s feelings in the future.

Overall rating: 7.5/10

I read this story completely non-seasonal (it plays off during Christmas and we are sadly still ages from that) – but it was a really nice read. Light hearted and fun, it is really well written. The stories are all linked somehow but not in a way where you feel that it is forced or unbelievable. It’s a definite feel good book, and reads easily, so if you in the mood for a good book where no one dies and everyone ends up happy, take a read!

Blindspot 2016: Alien (1979)

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Plot: After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as distress call, their landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious lifeform. Continuing their journey back to Earth with the attacked crew having recovered and the critter deceased, they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun.

Rating: 8.5/10

Woohoo! I am catching up! I can do this! I now officially can actually watch a Blindspot and call it for the month it is. Anyway.

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I had a blast with this. I loved the old school 1979 special effects. Loved it. CGI just misses the point at times, and I had a few giggles with the old technology, but I loved it too. I thought Ellen was as badass as any female character could hope to be. I thought the alien was super gross, and I really don’t appreciate how they used milky substances to get the point across. I might remember that for a while still. The growth spurt of the alien was impressive AF. I thought the cat was a bastard quite a few times (when are they not?), and he was just chilling there when the Alien killed that poor guy. Cats are asses. I really liked Dallas, I thought he could have lived a bit longer. The musical score was fantastic – proper tension building music that was alternated with periods of dead silence. It was incredibly effective. The tension that builds as a result is so creepy. Back to that alien, how gross was it when he birthed/got out of that poor unfortunate fellow? I must say, that glob on his face was also pretty gross man. It was also once again essential to note that Ripley was right at the very start to refuse access to the quarantined staff, but whoever listened to a woman when she was obviously right? Not a machine robot, nope siree. The dialogue was good, so much more superior to what movie writers wring out these days. Think about it – when last did you encounter a modern movie that had excellent writing? Rare, rare. My blindspots this year hasn’t always been satisfactory, but I really thought this is as epic as its cult status makes it to be.

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Movie Review: Zodiac (2007)

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Plot: A San Francisco cartoonist becomes an amateur detective obsessed with tracking down the Zodiac killer.

Rating: 8.5/10

I’ve always been more than a little fascinated with serial killers. It’s interesting to wonder why they turned off the normal path and went ballistic, what experiences and impressions turned them into what they are. I once read this “50 most notorious serial killers” type of book, and it was sooo good. I had to read some really light books before I went to bed after I read this book, but the  point is that I enjoyed it and found it fascinating.😀

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Zodiac is aptly named for telling the story of the Zodiac killer, a mysterious and unresolved case of a series of murders that plagued America in the 1960’s and 1970’s. I was thrilled and really entertained and kept suspecting everyone. Mark Rufallo, Robert Downey Jnr. and Jake Gyllenhaal were all really impressive. I especially enjoyed the young Mark Rufallo. Being a cop in the seventies never looked that good. Jake Gyllenhaal didn’t annoy me as much as usual, which I’m sure my bestie would approve of (he’s not so bad, I just can’t for the life of me like the guy). RDJ is also such an amazing actor. Lately he’s Iron Man even when he isn’t Iron Man, and it seems such a shame that this is now what he’s destined to be his entire life.

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As for the serial killer, the events are just sufficiently shrouded in mystery to keep you hooked. I suspected everyone, even the cameraman filming the movie. The story is well laid out. This particular killer had no real modus operandi, it was just that he really liked killing. It didn’t have to be a certain way, it was just about the murders. I naturally would have liked if they included the killer right from the start, or have him part of the police force (I thought that the entire time!). However, this is based on true events, so I guess my story didn’t really go as I wanted it to for a reason.

Another thing that really impressed me was the pacing. The story kept going, it wasn’t dragged out to death, and every scene had a point, no silly plot fillers or anything. As I’ve said, the acting was particularly good and I really loved how authentically 1970’s everything seemed. The only thing is that I would have enjoyed perhaps a dramatic showdown with the killer, but that really the only thing I thought lacked. This is undoubtedly some of David Fincher’s best work, and I will go as far as to say it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen this entire year.

I think it is safe to say that I really enjoyed this. I’ve watched two really great movies so far this month (the other being Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), and it makes me so happy when movies are this well done. It’s definitely a serious movie, so don’t expect anything else, but it is one of the best films I’ve seen this year.

Have you seen Zodiac? What did you think?

PS: Here is Young Mark Ruffalo with a shoulder strap. Delicious.

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August 2016: Watched, Read, Loved

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Watched:

At home:

Bring it on Again. I was in a mood where I felt I could handle cheerleaders, and decided to go down the dark dark road and watch some Bring it On. It really wasn’t bad at all, and I thought this second one was actually way better than the one with Kristen Dunst in.

Bring it on: All or Nothing

Hayden Panateirre and Solange Knowles do the whole face off then friends routine in this Bring it On sequel. This one is the best of the lot, and there is a lot of sneaky humor in if you know where to look.

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I am still so impressed with this movie. It is a great cast and an excellent story, and I wish I’d thought to put it on my Blindspot list this year! (if only because I already had it available!)

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Blindspot: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. This is my Blindspot for JULY, mind you. I have decided that I can’t commit to this exercise next year – it is truly a great concept but I am rather undisciplined and it takes some time and effort sourcing these movies. My plan is to Blindspot you all for a couple of weeks to catch up and end this project properly at the end for the year. Zoe gave me a great idea to do, which I will develop, and tell you all about it when the time comes J As for the movie, I really really loved this film.

In cinemas:

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I haven’t been able to get to the movies as much as I’ve wanted to the past few months. I managed to watch Suicide Squad. I liked it, and it seems that a lot of people really hated it. There are some flaws, but it wasn’t as bad as everyone is making. I actually think I will get the DVD when this is released, just to give you an idea of how much I enjoyed it.

Series:

I finished the highly entertaining Vampire Diaries season 4. I’m not sure whether I can start with Season 5 before my exams, which is probably not the best idea for anyone’s marks at this point. You can read my reviews of Season 1 and Season 2 in the links. Season 4 felt a very slight dip in quality. I felt however that it actioned a lot of items on its’ plate, and that it followed a natural progression for all the characters. And OMFG the males in this show is so ridiculously attractive❤

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Jessica Jones. WTF? This show went from okay at the beginning and just went downhill as the season went on. So many things went wrong, so many bad writing choices. I am really the Marvel fan, but this was a bad job and no one is convincing me otherwise.

Read:

I’m actually reading a lot of books again, and playing around with reviewing them again as I haven’t done them in ages and they were reviewed at the beginning of this blog. I reread Twilight (don’t ask) with the intention of reviewing all four books, but I am struggling with New Moon – it is definitely the most tiresome of the series. I ordered Marian Keys’ latest novel (The Woman Who Stole My Life). I am really excited about that. As usual I have about ten million reads to get through. I made a list here and haven’t really touched that list yet, so I should likely also focus on that. I think when I have my degree it won’t even be the success of completion that will satisfy me the most, it will be the freedom I have to do what the hell I want.

Favorite links:

Zoe sent me this Thor clip to watch. It is so funny! Mjolnir even has his own bed!

What’s been happening in your life?

Blindspot 2016: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

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Plot: When their relationship turns sour, a couple undergoes a procedure to have each other erased from their memories. But it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with.

Rating: 8.5/10

Phew! I am so glad I finally got to watching one of the movies on my list. I have been terrible so far with Blindspots this year. I don’t know why – maybe I’m just way too busy and a lot of the movies aren’t looking that appealing for me. I’ve had some which really disappointed me – especially Love Actually and Home Alone. But I really want to finish this list even if I’m not doing this run next year. I mean, I really love the theory behind Blindspot, but I am personally way too rushed and disorganized to pull off watching older movies in specific time frames.

Anyway, back to the actual review here. I avoided reading anything about this movie before I watched it. I had heard that it was particularly good, but I had no idea what to expect. It turned out to be an excellent decision, because it has been a while since I found anything to be so refreshing or unique.

The first thing that really impressed me is with how well this movie flowed. It was an effortless move shot to shot. I also really enjoyed that while there were parts of this film that could have been confusing it really wasn’t, and that the mystery didn’t cause confusion because it was so well laid out.

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Another thing I really loved was that each actor/actress was in such a different roles they would usually get cast in. Jim Carrey is the star here with an unparalleled performance as the main character. He was painfully sweet and adorable, and just wanted to hug him and make him feel secure. It is standout work here in my opinion, some of the best of his career. Kate Winslet was also enormously surprising. I’ve always admired her work, but I am forever more linking her to Rose in Titanic, and Clementine can’t be more different to the classy Rose. I was always unsure whether I liked Clementine or not. She was dramatic and insecure and mistreated Joel terribly in my opinion. But she was also unique as a character and an entity in Hollywood scripts. It is rare to see such a perplexing oddball female character depicted. Elijah Wood was such a little creep as Patrick. I mean really, what he did was gross. Young Mark Ruffalo is also in here. I’m just loving the guy at this point. He is such a great actor, and I’ve caught a couple of films where he is in lately and every single time I thought him well layered and talented. Stan is really just every young guy around – a little goofy, enjoys his job but still not immune to the temptations life has to offer. He was worth a few chuckles because I just know so many guys like him at this point, though sadly not quite as attractive.As for the last female star, I can never really decide whether I like or dislike Kristen Dunst. I really liked her as Mary Stevo because she refrained from coming across as whining. She was so sweet and light at times, only to have her shocker revealed to her when she least expected it.

There are a ton of other things I really enjoyed – the story especially, but I won’t go into too much here because you want to watch this without spoilers. I also appreciated the length, it was just right. There is also something really feel good about this entire film, an underlying optimism that is absent from so many other films. It is totally worth the watch if you have the time!

Series review: Vampire diaries Season 2

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Note: This post is full of spoilers!

The developing friendship between Alaric and Damon caught me right in the feels, and Rick giving Damon something to drink when they all thought he would die was so sweet between them. I love Rick – he just tells it like it is, and has no problem telling Damon when he is being terrible.

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Alaric and Jenna #coupleGoals

Caroline Forbes’ migration to being kickass and powerful. Caroline is one of my favorite characters in the show. Becoming undead was the best thing that ever happened to her.

Damon. Forever. My love for this character is eternal. He gets hurt so much in the season and it is painful, but the way he copes without ripping people to shreds shows that he has evolved.

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Elijah – classy, powerful, dressed like a king and sarcastic as hell. What is not to love?

The lead up to Klaus. He is evil, powerful and very strong, and everyone fears and respects him.I love this character so much. He is the perfect example of a troubled villain, and even though he is still a complete bastard in this season, he makes this show entertaining as hell.

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The feels – when Tyler bites Damon – HOW did I live through the suspense the first time watching this? Hell, I’ve watched this show into season four and I still have panic attacks. We all saw how Rose ended up dying in season one, it was heartbreaking, and seeing Damon so pale and sickly had me hysterical.

Jenna dying. Man, I LOVED Jenna. She was so blessedly normal – the twenty something girl who is trying to figure out who she is in life and get through college, suddenly expected to take care of people (I can relate more with her situation than you will ever know). Her anger and feeling of betrayal when she found out about Isobel and vampires and that every single person she knows lied to her was completely understandable. Her death was so sad and heartbreaking, and I was really so mad at Klaus at that stage (I still am, he is really not anywhere where he is in redemption with me).

John’s redemption. No one liked John – he was such a tool and obviously the bad guy. At the end he redeemed himself, and although I wasn’t sad that he died (he tried to kill Damon one time too many), it was still a moment where you caught a glimpse of why he was the way he was.

What I didn’t like:

The Matt subplot. He is in the way, his constant insecurities are so annoying and I am heavily invested in watching the rest of the show unfold.

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Luca – what an annoying twat. His father was okay, but Luca was just there as collateral damage.

I understand why the werewolves were incorporated and the story developed because it links to Klaus’ identity strongly. It felt a bit too much at time. It was also completely dumped for a couple of episodes then picked up in the end to just make Klaus’ story work out properly.

Isobel – I’ve never liked her. Elena has moments where she is pretty dang annoying, but with parents like John and Isobel, who could blame her?

Bonnie is still over annoying. I swear, everytime I think she will have a use she just screws up, or isn’t strong enough. Essentially, she’s completely useless in the story. Her crying/screaming/upset repertoire was too much to handle, especially in the end.

Jeremy – he is still in the stage where he must get to a place where I can root for him. At least he cut that stupid hair better. I am glad he didn’t die though – the collateral damage was insane enough at the end of Season two without him being added.

Carol Forbes finding out twice about vampires in this season. It is really not the most crucial plot line of the show, and it was a waste of screen time when other big things went down. It also ties in with the Matt story and I just don’t see for the need for it.

Rating: 8.5/10

Vampire Diaries season two is as good as it got in the series. The story is entertaining and gripping and everything falls together perfectly in the last few episodes. The romance, teenage drama, great plot twists and even greater characters entertained me to no end throughout season two.