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: 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 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

Book Review: The Rise of Nine (Pittacus Lore)

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Plot: The Mogadorians who destroyed the planet Lorien continue to hunt for the Garde, the small group of Loric survivors who have taken refuge on Earth. During a dangerous mission at a Mog base in West Virginia, John found and rescued the brutish Nine. But even with their combined powers, special abilities known as Legacies, the pair barely escaped with their lives. And in the process, John’s best friend, Sam Goode, was lost and taken captive by the enemy.

In order to save him—and our world—John and Nine must join forces with Six and Seven who have been battling the Mogs in Spain, and who are now trying to locate Number Eight in India. The Garde must come together before it is too late. They are Lorien and Earth’s only hope.

Firstly, it took me ages to write this review. Analyzing how I felt and whether the book was good took me a chunk of time. This is the third book in the series, and I would love to continue until I have finished the entire set. (Read reviews here and here or the first two books). Of the three novels I liked this one second best, after I am Number Four, although I still felt that it had plenty of mistakes.

Despite the title suggesting that The Rise of Nine is focused primarily on the adventures of Nine; the book shifts between the members of the Garde.  You barely get to know Nine – he just seems like a big brash teenager with way too much ego and way too little sense. He frankly irritated me, and he is by far not my favorite. His pissing contest with Fouris ridiculous, and if I wanted to watch Fast and The Furious for a battle of the penis, I would have. I see Michael Bay had a favorable review of these books, and it makes sense – there is a lot of bang and smoke but very little effect. Reading “The Rise of Nine” was like reading a Michael Bay film – not something I’d actually recommend that often. The book has so many drawn-out fight scenes it feels like I would guess how a book version of his work would read.

I really like Six, and wouldn’t mind a book focused on her. I guess that this series is aimed at teenage boys, which makes that wish highly unlikely to occur, but she’s an interesting character and one of the strongest. Also, least annoying.

I’m not sure where they are heading with the American Government siding with the Mogadorians, but it seems rather vague and silly at this point in the books (though not looking at the current administration, which makes it more likely). While I remember this sore point for me – the “Mogadorians” or “Mogs” is the stupidest name I have ever heard for a fictional race.

The number of dumb decisions these kids make is very high – you can just see high hormone levels drives their life choices. Particularly the final and ridiculous battle with Setrakus Ra. This “all powerful being” attacked in the middle of the series when half the Garde is seriously maimed and they still escape without a casualty? Stupid stupid.

There are some glitches and the writing is by no means perfect, and I really think I’m just too old now for this, but the books are good for light reading and are a fast thing once you get going. I found that final fight stupid. It is starting to feel that things work out for these kids because they must, not because of some brilliantly revealed plot. I am still enjoying the Legacies the kids develop, that at least remain pretty cool.

I will likely read the rest in due course, because it is good for when you want to read but don’t want to think too much about it. I wouldn’t recommend this series to anyone over seventeen actually, but it isn’t too rough just for some mindless semi-dystopian drama.

Rating: 6/10

Movie Review: The Lego Ninjago Movie (2017)

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Plot: Shunned by everyone for being the son of an evil warlord, a teenager seeks to defeat him with the help of his fellow ninjas.

In an unexpected turn of events, I consented to watch the Lego Ninjago movie Sunday night. There are a number of films which I’ve seen, and wanted to see, in cinema this year, of which Ninjago didn’t even register as a possibility. However, I was under obligation to adhere to the “birthday-person-is-allowed-final-word” clause, and I sat down and watched Ninjago.

I suspect Lego is laughing all the way to the bank. It is pure genius business decision, and contains enough adult humor to entertain parents while stressing them out – every child that sits through one of these films will end up wanting some new Legos (hell, I think a lot of adults end up wanting new Legos after a film like this). It is a feast for childish imagination and is bright and colorful and really very excitable. I want to sanctimoniously preach to the parents who had their children out of bed on a Sunday night at our 20:30 screening, but I guess that is beside the point. It is child based and sweet, although it does pale in comparison to 2015’s Lego film. It is funny and cute but lacks some of the sharp dialogue that has become expected in animation films.

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Ninjago also has some seriously crazy moments and I couldn’t help but wonder which choice herbs they were smoking when thinking of the ideas they implemented. It was very weird. I liked Jackie Chan as Sensei Wu, Dave Franco as Lloyd Garmadon and Justin Theroux as the not-so-evil-supervillain Garmadon. Typing that out made me realize that this film barely had a plot or a conclusion (the end is particularly haphazard), but ultimately, for children, it is fine. Personally I enjoyed the first Lego film more, and I’ve been informed that Lego: Batman is a finer film than Ninjago.  However, Ninjago has some laugh-out-loud moments and it was bright, quirky and still not nearly as bad as I expected so all to them.

Have you seen Ninjago? If so, what did you think?

Rating: 6.5/10

Halloween Month Movie Review: Hocus Pocus (1993)

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Plot: After three centuries, three witch sisters are resurrected in Salem, Massachusetts on Halloween night, and it is up to two teenagers, a young girl, and an immortal cat to put an end to their reign of terror once and for all.

What better month to finally watch Hocus Pocus? Following news of an imminent and probably unnecessary sequel, combined with the onset of Halloween, I knew I had to finally sit down and watch this favored and loved cult classic. It was a completely different movie than I thought it would be! The acting of Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy is amazing and hilarious. Sarah Jessica Parker in particular surprised me. She’s just Carrie Bradshaw in my mind, and I couldn’t see her as something else. Well, as the beautiful, crazy and really damn weird Sarah Anderson she was all the levels of entertaining – such an inspired and crazy performance. The three actresses as the Sanderson sisters work great together; they share symmetry in their movements so accurate it is almost like watching a dance routine. Realizing that Sean Murray – always Timothy McGee in NCIS to me – is the poor Thackery Binx also gave me such delight.

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I really enjoyed the performances by the Sanderson sisters and how ridiculous they were and still so nastily evil, but I did find the story just a bit lacking. There isn’t always too much structure, but even with this flaw I still had a really entertaining time with it. It’s the generic “the youth defeats the evil” storyline, and while you would just love to question everything about it, I suggest you don’t, and watch Bette Midler with really weird dentistry enchant you and make you cackle with glee.

Have you seen Hocus Pocus? Let me know what you thought!

Rating: 6/10

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Happy Mean Girls Day!

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Yesterday was October 3rd. Every Mean Girl alumni knows what that means – it is the annual celebration of  the day Aaron Samuels asked Cady Heron what day it was. It reminded me that I recently watched Mean Girls again, and was as always super entertained by this highly quotable, relatable, hilarious comedy.

Most Mean Girls stars (Lacey Chabert, Amanda Seyfried, Jonathan Bennett and Daniel Franzese) reunited to ask for aid to the Las Vegas shooting victims in honor of their Mean Girls Day, and I thought that was a really nice gesture.

To celebrate this annual anniversary of one of my favorite films, here is some hilarious quotes:

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I feel exactly like you with regards to this film, girl who doesn’t even go here!

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Janis Ian gets my feelings about people using terrible grammar and being silly while at it!

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Karin, I get this question a lot!

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We know, Gretchen, we know.

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And lastly, some amazing and inspirational words from Kenny G.

What is your favorite Mean Girls quote?