Movie Review: Lego: Batman (2017)

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Plot: A cooler-than-ever Bruce Wayne must deal with the usual suspects as they plan to rule Gotham City, while discovering that he has accidentally adopted a teenage orphan who wishes to become his sidekick.

After seeing Lego: Ninjago (2017), I wasn’t all that impressed. It isn’t awful, but there are little to no humor for me to relate to. It’s a kids movie, and as that it just fine. I was told that I had to see Lego Batman, and lofty accolades such as “This is the only movie from DC since Nolan that has been GOOD” – I was quick to point out the wonderful Wonder Woman (2017), but I had to check Lego: Batman, out.

So I’m not putting it above Wonder Woman, but there were truths to the claim – Lego: Batman is fantastic. It is hilarious and witty and the dialogue is fantastic.

How do they give building blocks such emotions? When Batman was sad, I was sad. The movie is full of popular culture references. There are some great quips – the password for the Batcave, the subtle hinting towards double standards in gender relations, and some things about dealing with your feelings that probably flew right over the heads of the little kiddos.

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Will Arnett voices the perfect Batman, creating nuances in a plastic toy that couldn’t have been there without a healthy dose of talent. Michael Cera manages to be not annoying (probably because I couldn’t see that face), and is the trusty sidekick/orphan Robin. Ralph Fiennes provide heavyweight gravity to Alfred; although he sounds still like he’s enjoying himself so much and Zach Galifianakis as The Joker manages to get real emosh at times. I also loved Rosario Dawson – I’ve become team-Rosario since discovering her in Daredevil, and she’s the best Batgirl I could wish for. She puts Batman in his place and stands her ground, and she’s an all-around stand up woman.

I don’t regret one second of this amazingly funny film, and I’d definitely watch this again.

Have you seen this? Let me know!

Rating: 8/10

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Watched, Read, Loved: November and December 2017 and a (belated) happy new year!

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Happy New Year dear friends! The past two months have been whirlwinds! I’ve forgotten how to even blog, and I will be super surprised if my WordPress account actually allows me to log me back in.

Needless to say, it has been hectic – when is it ever not though? I finally completed my degree. I always imagined how it would feel getting that notification, and nothing came close to it because hyperventilation was the prevalent feeling – this panicked excitement and too much happy. I’ve also subsequently been promoted, so November and December were interviews and crazed stress. January is all about settling in to my new role and getting my replacement into her new role, so I can promise some extra crazy moments around the office.

We had my sister’s babyshower, and it was a wonderful day. She’s had some scares with her pregnancy, but I am happy to report that her baby girl is now happy and on her way at the end of January. The day of the babyshower was extremely hot! (It was after all December in South-Africa). We made way too much food but had a lovely time celebrating. If I may say so myself – I can organize an event! 😀

I also managed to have some recreational fun. We went to Sun City in Rustenburg, South-Africa. It has a “sea” and it was a fun day away from Johannesburg. (Also an international five star resort, and looks like the intro to Jurassic Park) However, if I ever go again, I will stay the night. The drive back was straight from a horror movie.

We also went to The Garden of Lights, annually hosted by Emperor’s Casino. It was nothing like I imagined it would be – so charming and gorgeous. It is definitely something I will revisit in the years to come.

Another nice day was visiting the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens. They are so wonderfully green now and it was therapeutic strolling between the plants.

I went on another Tinder date. It’s actually a recurring event with this one guy. I just don’t know what to make of the situation at this stage. I’m sure he’ll make a decent boyfriend, I’m just not sure if he will make one for me. I also went to another singles event, which was really nice. However, the people that attend persistently do good in short bursts but later just fade into the background.

It seems too few paragraphs to describe the past few months. I feel like my life has expanded and grown, and you won’t hear from me that 2017 was a bad year. It was a pretty good year for me. I’m extremely grateful how much I’ve managed to achieved, and hopeful that I will reach some major milestones this year – which I’m keeping secret for now, but the moment they happen I will let you know.

I only have one “resolution” this year, and that is to use less plastic. Plastic consumption in South-Africa is pretty bad, and I am also a culprit. The government implemented costs on plastic bags a few years ago, but as it is still only about 20 cents a bag there hasn’t been a lessening in the staggering plastic consumption in South Africa. So I am planning to take a woven bag with me from now on and to pack my groceries in there when I shop, so as to help in a small way save this planet of ours.

Well, here is a rundown of my entertainment adventures below. Let me know your opinions! (Sitting on a thousand unread personal emails, so I might have missed some really important moments)

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The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017). Hmm. There are so many strong feelings about this film currently on the internet.  Let me tell you, my feelings were strong after exiting the cinema. I’ve mellowed some, but I am not a fan of this film. I need to write a proper review for it, and I will save my commentary for then.

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Pitch Perfect 3 (2017): These amazing ladies have decided to exit while they are on top. I enjoyed this film so much. It is such silly humour and can be pretty darn vulgar, but at the same time it does my heart good to see female driven comedies shine on their own.

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PS I Love You: Gerard Butler, my pants were on fire. I like this film, despite fully knowing so many people hate it.

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Lego Batman (2017): What a smart, funny, dialogue savvy film. The best Lego movie and one of the finest DC movies.

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Fifty First Dates: I remember loving this film as a child, and eagerly ordered the DVD when I stumbled upon it. It’s still good – a strange mix of Adam Sandler’s best and worst sides. I can at least let my Adam Sandler movies I actually like list grow to three – The Wedding Singer, Mona Lisa smile and Fifty First Dates. The rest remain garbage though.

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Lethal Weapon 3 – I got the third and the fourth movie to watch after Zoe and I watched the first two. I had a great time with this one as well, and the three movies I’ve seen are all equally good. How looky was Mel Gibson before he became the bitter old white man?

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Grease – It really seems unnatural the way John Travolta’s hips move in this film. How young was he?! How young was Olivia Newton John?! Had a lot of fun watching Grease, but it is undeniably a long film.

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Sy Klink Soos Lente – I got in my Afrikaans fix twice in films the past few months. Both (the second below) made me so happy and proud of my language and what we are achieving in cinema. Sy Klink Soos Lente is funny, smart and sweet, and I have watched it once more since the first time.

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Vir Die Voëls – Same as the above. The writing is significantly better than most South-African films, and there is an awareness of dialogue in both these films that impressed me. It’s not just words, it is how Afrikaans people speak. I will definitely sit down for this again!

Eat Pray Love – I grabbed this off the shelf for something to watch with my mom. I’ve always liked this film, but this time around I found myself slightly irritated with the level of first world problems the character experiences – it’s just so much easier to have a midlife tantrum when you can travel the world. Javier Bardem in this remains gorgeous.

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The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King: My heart. I am so attached to these films. They are everything. I actually don’t want to review them – how to bring justice to some of the best films ever made? My heart.

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Justice League – Yep, seemed to have done this in November/December too! To be perfectly honest I enjoyed this more than – gasp – Star Wars. It is definitely one of the better offerings from DC.

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The Italian Job (2003) – Another Blindspot off my list! This went okay, just not a favourite Blindspot this year.

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Zoë got me the best Christmas gift EVER – all the way from England (I’m still naive enough to get such a massive kick from an international shipment). DOWNTON ABBEY BOXSET!!!!! I cannot describe my intense love for this show – it is simply so wonderful. I am already on to season two, and the sarcastic remarks, the amazing running commentary of the Dowager Countess, and the unbearably lovely Matthew Crawley (SOB) keeps my so entertained my pinkie is going to shoot in to the air anytime soon.

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I actually have read way too much to even remember. I am still busy with Under Rose Tainted Skies – it’s good, just very angsty. I’ll finish it soon and tell you all about it, but teenagers are generally difficult to deal with and this one even more so. I am currently devouring Marian Keyes’ This Charming Man, arguably my most favourite read of hers. It’s written so well and flows through the course of the story easily. I also revisited Laurian Clemence’s Mushy Peas on Toast, one of my favourite South-African reads ever, and consumed an unhealthy amount of Nora Roberts. Nora is a spiral – I will read so much of her and then not look at another author for ages, which is lazy and unhealthy on my part. I know I read the two books in the Stanislaski brothers again – which I enjoy despite my opinion on Ukranians not quite matching Nora’s, I also read one of the MacKade books (Return of Jared MacKade), and revisited the Guardians Trilogy. I also read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them (the original book, not the play, which I avoid on principle), and this makes me in the mood for Harry Potter, a complete reread. Who knows, maybe I will even watch the movies as a series. I am also in the mood to read Eat, Pray, Love again by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s the True North of my love of her books, and I’d like to experience it all over again.

What were you up to this festive season? Let me know!

Blindspot 2017: Edward Scissorhands (1990)

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Plot: A gentle man, with scissors for hands, is brought into a new community after living in isolation

Here at the last bit of my 2017 Blindspot reviews I found a movie that was so wonderful I actually wanted to finish it (I am currently so busy my attention span with anything not work related is intolerant at best). I also wondered whether this would be too quirky for me – this film is a classic and has a huge fanbase, but is known to be a whole lot of quirky, and while I like some of these types of films I do have my threshold.

Well, Edward Scissorhands was not such a case. It is wonderful and will likely finish as my favorite Blindspot this year. The set and costume design is wonderful. The directing is magnificent – Tim Burton provides a darkly magical film that is somewhat sad. The movie is the work of an original genius – Tim Burton before things went skew. Who would have thought to tell the story of a man with scissors as hands, and despite that alarming quality being a kind and untainted soul? I had no idea what this film was even about, and was expecting a darkish thriller fantasy thing,  and it was quite wonderful to experience it so fresh and new even though Edward Scissorhands is as old as I am because it was so much different.

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The lack of wonder a post-Jack- Sparrow Johnny Depp inspires is felt more acutely when you see him in his earlier work such as this. He is inspired, quirky, and enormously talented and manages to convey so much without moving that many face muscles. Whatever he’s become, he is truly wonderful as Edward.

Then there is Winona Ryder, who was truly really pretty as a young girl. My love for this actress has increased exponentially in the last few years – I’ve seen Heathers and then naturally the incomparable Stranger Things, in which she’s both great in despite it being decades apart. Her character Kim is the typical pretty high school cheerleader, who dates the buffoonish Jim (Anthony Michael Hall). She arrives late to the scene, where Edward is settled in and enjoying company with her family when she returns from a camping trip with said buffoon and some friends. She’s naturally quite horrified about this new addition to her family, and even the town’s clear adoration of Edward doesn’t make her too fond of him in the beginning.

Tim Burton manages to tell a story about small town America that is crafty, wildly creative and very accurate. The ice cream coloring from the houses is ghoulish and the “pretty” neighborhood has a rot beneath that is quickly revealed when you learn more about the residents. The residents dwellings are as unlike to their personalities them as Edward’s is unlike him – his is dilapidated and dark while his inside is good and kind, and the town residents have lovely homes with ugly hearts. Especially Joyce (Kathy Baker), who delivers a fine but quite scary performance of a tiger on the prowl, vicious when she doesn’t get what she wants.

The soundtrack is also so beautiful. Whimsical and sad, it highlights each moment in the story perfectly. I’d love to listen to it on other occasions. So perfect and magical.

Then naturally there is the fact that this film doesn’t make you sit long. An hour and forty minutes is all Edward Scissorhands demands from you, and not a second is wasted on unnecessary storytelling. Tim Burton expertly takes you from one surprise to another, and he never lets you get bored or disinterested.

I absolutely loved this. I still have to big movies to finish for my blindspot for 2017 – Goodwill Hunting and The Nightmare Before Christmas, so it might be a bit early to say this was my favorite one this year. What I do know right now is this is one of the films I am the likeliest to rewatch in coming years.

Rating: 9/10

Movie Review: Pitch Perfect 3 (2017)

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Plot: Following their win at the world championship, the now separated Bellas reunite for one last singing competition at an overseas USO tour, but face a group who uses both instruments and voices

In 2012 someone had the idea to create a movie about an Acapella university group with an essentially all female cast. It was a surprising success, people (mostly females) driving out to see women be funny, silly, talented and live in a sisterhood. They returned in 2015 with lesser men in the cast, and their hilarity continued to an extent that personally, for me, it surpassed the 2012 film in terms of quality.

Nothing would stop a production company from milking a successful movie for a number of sequels, so Universal Pictures granted the production of a final, third Pitch Perfect. I collected my own girl squad (men were welcome, they simply weren’t keen), and set off to watch this final film.

I laughed. Rebel Wilson steals the show, again, with her fabulous return to Fat Amy. She’s got a massive agenda in this film – her father Fergus (John Lithgow) reenters her life and we get to see something of Amy/Patricia’s past. Is her father really reformed or is he there for some nefarious reason? I won’t tell you everything, but Rebel Wilson stunned us and she made us cry with laughter in the cinema with her amazing skills.

Naturally Beca (Anna Kendrick) has her issues being a know it all and a bit of a snob. She’s landed a promising position at a record label, but that is not good enough for her because she has all the opinions and also has never had a real job – that would have made her realize that new staff can’t always have their opinions listened to at the first go. She resigns, because finding another job is easy in the Pitch world, and when Aubrey (Anna Camp) has a proposition for the team to go sing at a military base for the troops she and the other Barden Bellas grab it with both hands.

Off they go to a number of improbable situations that will still make you laugh extra hard. Hunky Theo (Guy Bernet) has a thing for Beca and army officer Chicago Welp (Matt Lanter) develops an interest in Chloe (Brittany Snow), who is hilarious on her crush on him.

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More usuals are also there – Hana Mae Lee returns as Lilly, the really supremely strange Bella. Kudos to Lee, she has worked this awkward and hilarious character excellently. Ester Dean brings cultural and sexual diversity to the Bellas and is one of the most talented cast members in the film. Jessica, or Kelley Jakle, had me laughing at her comments, especially the “shot of white privilege” one.  John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks also returns to their respective roles as John Smith and Gail Abernathy-McKadden-Feinberger, the hilarious and desperate commentators who follow the Bellas everywhere they go.

Pitch Perfect 3 is a closing chapter for the franchise and they send their characters of in ideal, if a bit too perfect, fashion. Everyone ends up where they always wanted to be – vet school, owner of a franchise, a singing career, or Amy, as we all do, with tons of cash and not having to answer to anyone. Some of the jokes are a bit skew, they aren’t as hilarious or as original as they were in the first two films, but these characters have become part of very fond memories for me. I watched the first one with quite a hangover and had to rewatch to actually like it, and the second one had me crying with laughter. This one? A bit lame but it was like watching old friends drive off in to the sunset.

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Have you seen Pitch Perfect 3? Let me know what you thought!

Rating: 6/10

Movie Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

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Plot: Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares for battle with the First Order

I will start out this review by just reminding everyone that Star Wars isn’t my primary Nerddom. I’d choose Harry Potter and Lord of The Rings over it any day. I’d choose many things above it any day – within Disney itself I’d rather focus on the Marvel stuff than Star Wars. So I was excited about this, but I wasn’t ready to weep and rave (won’t be that person for this on any day to be perfectly honest).

The movie… rather lacked in what I expected of it. There were some decent things, and it really looked good, but The Last Jedi has absolutely no point in the franchise – the rebels are absolutely no further in their quest and they are still as screwed as they were at the end of The Force Awakens. I’ve since endured arguments that some very BIG things happen in this film – can’t say because way too spoilery – and yes, that is probably true, but I still stand that the resistance gained nothing by The Last Jedi.

In no particular order, here is a list of things that frustrated me endlessly in this film.

Finn (John Boyega) has absolutely no point in this entire film. He is sent on a bogus mission with Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) and develops some love story there. Let me just reiterate this – I love a good love story but in a film where it isn’t needed, it is sad and desperate. These two characters could have been left out of the film and it would have done nothing to harm the plot.

Then the return of Luke Skywalker – I expected a whole lot more from this character than the bitter old guy that was presented. Mark Hamill has since spoken out against the director, and I think he might be on to something. Without giving away too much, the move is still very counterproductive. The scene with him and Kylo Ren was impressive, I will give them that. Luke Skywalker and Rey also had a really good vibe between them and seemed to build off each other quite well.

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I’ve seen some complaints that Daisy Ridley’s Rey didn’t really grow in this film. She’s still stubbornly sure that Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) can be saved, despite having seen his worst side. I don’t really have a problem with her, though she felt like a secondary character instead of a main one.

It is so great to see a Sci-Fi film (or any film for that matter) include so many female leads. The top three grossing movies of 2017 all have female driven casts – Beauty and The Beast, Wonder Woman and this. There is naturally Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher (to whom the franchise still stubbornly clings to), new comer Kelly Marie Tran, Billie Lourd, and Laura Dern, who not only managed to be a kickass character that could handle Poe’s attitude but had the most amazing purple hair and gave me such envy. Gwendoline Christie continues her role as Captain Phasma, but I am saddened to report that in The Last Jedi at least she’s on screen remains filler.

Adam Driver is the most fascinating new addition to the Star Wars franchise. He is enigmatic, conflicted and all the levels of mesmerizing as Kylo Ren. His shirtless scene is impressive – is Adam Driver really built like such a tank, because I’ve always perceived him as lanky, which also gave birth to the hilarious #KyloRenChallenge. Driver captures the level of conflict Kylo Ren feels at the same time, and a sad moment where you learn why he turned so decisively from Luke Skywalker.

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The adorable BB-8 is on the loose, and his sinister counterpart isn’t any less cute. The new animals – what are those things? Are also cute and very expressive, which provided more than a few laughs in cinema.

My plan this year is to refresh some of the films in the franchise – I’ve might like this more when it fits into a bigger picture. Right now it is only remembered as long and an excellent money scheme by the ever powerful Disney.

Rating: 6/10

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

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: 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