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.

books

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?

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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).

Thor Ragnarok Hela

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: Spiderman: Homecoming (2017)

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Plot: Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man when a new threat emerges.

Yes, I’m still alive. I’ve just been sucked into the vortex of two weeks of study leave followed by catching up said two weeks’ worth of the activities that pay my salary.  It’s been hectic, and I’ve had to drastically downscale both blogging and actually watching things. I got a chance about two weekends ago with Spiderman: Homecoming, which is incidentally the superhero film I’ve been least excited to watch. I have some interesting friends (these are the same people with who I watched Power Rangers with), so note that it there is an actual explanation for me finding myself in cinema for the zillionth remake of the Spidey.

I didn’t dislike Homecoming. It was just so Marvel. I’m a big Marvel fan, but these guys make the same film with different actors all the time. That doesn’t say Tim Holland isn’t a solid Peter Parker. Despite already being 20, he’s the youngest looking actor we’ve had to date in this role. He does his very best to appear teenagey and awkward, which is about as successful as a young attractive guy pretending to be awkward is bound to be. My love for Michael Keaton continues – he is the coolest person in the world at this stage, and him as Vulture made some of the best times in the film. His quest for villainy was a bit one sided and this was definitely not the strongest villain Marvel has eked out, but Keaton certainly did his best with the work.

I liked Zendaya quite a lot in her role as MJ – she’s just my spirit animal with her stand offish-ness and overall awkwardness.

Homecoming also features Tony Stark/Iron Man, probably the most loved Marvel superhero at this stage. It is an obvious ploy on the side of the studio – who doesn’t want to see Iron Man suited up and in action. I always like RDJ in this role, he’s as much this character as Hugh Jackman is the Wolverine. I appreciated his presence, and although it wasn’t really defined at stages and he seemed awfully dictatorial towards the kid. Happy (Jon Favreau) comes across as one big, rushed bully and it didn’t really jibe with what we’ve come to expect from him.

What more? This film is extremely long. I was fidgeting in my seat by the end of it. It is big and boisterous and really colorful. It has a lot of flash and plenty well cast characters.

Homecoming won’t be my favorite superhero film of the year – there was Wonder Woman, I still need to see Logan and I’m sure it is going to blow me away, I loved Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Thor and Justice League still need reviews too as well. So, herewith my final comment: Homecoming certainly wasn’t made for me, but I think them teens sure loved it.

Have you seen it? What did you think?

Rating: 6.510

Movie Review: Dr. Strange (2016)

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Plot: A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts

Rating: 8/10

Dr. Strange is by far Marvel’s best looking film to date. The images are extraordinary and a showcase just how far Marvel and technology has progressed up to now. I was very much impressed by all the pretty looking effects and mind breaking images. The slightly lacking plot is saved by the incredible talent that is Benedict Cumberbatch, who enters the superhero craze by taking on a role that wouldn’t have fitted any other actor and suited him perfectly. I think his success comes not only from his talent (which is astronomical) but also his clearly focused approach to his career development – he hasn’t taken on a bad choice in years. I enjoyed him as Dr. Strange, obviously, his work as a neurosurgeon, his crippling loss and refusal to be something what he considers less, and his subsequent rise as a very reluctant, disbelieving superhero.

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The androgynous mastermind Tilda Swinton takes on the role of Sorcerer Supreme. I liked her – she’s so strange and otherworldly and I could completely support her as a century old being with magical power. Chiwetel Ejiofor was wonderful but underdeveloped – I found his pure spirit and belief wonderful, and he deserved much more development on screen.

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I thought the end was a bit drawn out and wished for its closure a while before it ended. It would be unfair to say the plot had holes – it didn’t, but I would have appreciated more information. A lot of the time I felt that the golden magic they were making was simply parlour tricks. I thought the villains looked faintly ridiculous with their golden eye shadow and eyeliner gone wrong.  It’s probably the first time I’ve been unimpressed by Mads Mikkelson – this role didn’t suit him at all. I also thought the love story was a bit superfluous – really, why even include it at all, and that Rachel McAdams should probably have had more time on screen because she’s a wonderful actress.

I really loved the bookcases – if I had so much space I would definitely do that! I also quite enjoyed the librarian; he had some good interactions with Dr. Strange.

Dr. Strange wasn’t perfect, but it was really good, really unique and a brilliant new approach from Marvel. I’m quite convinced that nothing will stop them now, they are taking careful steps to avoid boring their audience. If you haven’t seen this yet and isn’t tired out by superheroes, I definitely suggest you give it a try!

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Movie Review: 28 Thoughts while watching Captain America: Civil War (2016)

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Plot: With many people fearing the actions of super heroes, the government decides to push for the Anti-Hero Registration Act, a law that limits a heroes actions. This results in a division in The Avengers. Iron Man stands with this Act, claiming that their actions must be kept in check otherwise cities will continue to be destroyed, but Captain America feels that saving the world is daring enough and that they cannot rely on the government to protect the world. This escalates into an all-out war between Team Iron Man (Iron Man, Black Panther, Vision, Black Widow, War Machine, and Spiderman) and Team Captain America (Captain America, Bucky Barnes, Falcon, Sharon Carter, Scarlett Witch, Hawkeye, and Ant Man) while a new villain emerges

DON’T READ IF YOU ARE AVOIDING SPOILERS!

Rating: 7.5/10

  1. Why isn’t this titled Iron Man: Civil War? Was that the first fight between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark? (The lame comments gets worse, promise)
  2. Let’s just focus for a few seconds on the fact that this entire fight starts with Tony signing something, The Captain refusing and because they are both pigheaded, a big brawl starts. MEN.
  3. When did Rhodie become an Avenger?
  4. That scene with Tony Stark and the lady at the elevator at MIT is really very sad.
  5. Vision is like the strict dad. No fun allowed.
  6. Can I please learn to Sparta kick like Captain America?
  7. I will also pay a lot of money for fighting skills like the Black Widow.Civil war natahsa
  8. And also – her hair in time of upset – it remains perfect and I want her secret.Civil War BP
  9. Black Panther!!! How great does he look? I love it.I didn’t expect him to be Prince what-what, that was a surprise. Also, the country/area’s name is Wakanda? American source material, I tell you.
  10. On a serious note – I love that the cast is looking more diverse these days.
  11. But on another note – how are only TWO of the Avengers women? That is not very diverse – are the Avengers Donald Trump supporters?Civil war audi2Civil war Audi
  12. Let’s play a drinking game – every time you spot an Audi onscreen you take a shot of Jagermaster.
  13. Is there a slightly love vibe between Vision and the Scarlett Witch? For interest sakes, does he have… all… the equipment of a man or how does that work? And isn’t he something like Tony’s best brain parts? Does that mean that Tony also fancies Scarlett Witch? So many questions!
  14. How does Steve feel to have dated a girl and her grandmother’s sister? Steve is a fox!
  15. Captain America in sunglasses and a cap. (hehehe for my pun) – it works really well.
  16. The fight scenes were incredible, well choreographed and not over the top. Although, the buses flying everywhere at the helipad? That was the height of preposterous. Does Stark Industries cover the bill for all the damage the Avengers wreck?Civil WAr barnes
  17. Bucky Barnes. Such a great character and Sebastian Stan brought everything to the table as usual. Sebastian broke my heart with all his sad and soulful looks, though I loved the camaraderie between Steve and Bucky.
  18. How sad is Penny’s funeral? Seriously, how much must our guy handle? Penny’s inclusion broke my heart because she’s the only thing that Steve had left from the world he existed in and new well.
  19. PLOT TWIST! As mentioned above, how does he feel that he does a cross generational dating vibe going on?
  20. Steve can pull me closer like he did that helicopter. MY GUY.
  21. I want to bitch and moan that husband Chris Hemsworth is not in this, but really, there are about ten million characters already in here. Same goes for the green guy – I ADORE Mark Ruffalo and think he’s great as Dr. Bruce Banner. But I don’t think the posters would have been big enough for the cast if they were included.
  22. I really liked the Black Panther. He looks great. The character is also really solid – there is a goodness in him that was definitely missing from the havoc the Scarlett Witch wrecked in Age of Ultron.
  23. Daniel Bruhl! Great appearance by a solid actor.Civil war cia
  24. Some Martin Freeman too. I hope he has some more time in future movies – Marvel can do with some of his experience and class acting.
  25. I need to watch Ant Man really soon – I wish I could have seen the film before I saw Civil War – because my cutie pie Paul Rudd is his cute self.
  26. The new Spiderman… why is his aunt Marisa Tomei and why is he so young? I just can’t.
  27. Spiderman’s talking is only second to Tony Stark’s incessant talking, and if I have to be honest there is only enough space for one talker in the franchise.
  28. I enjoyed the end and appreciated that it didn’t end with a truce because everyone’s mother is named Martha. Not that I’m pinpointing to anything else.

Ultimately, Captain America: Civil War is Marvel at its’ finest. What did DC think in sending in the substandard BvS when it was so obviously made to go up against this? There is no competition. Marvel has established its’ characters and they follow a successful if generic formula, and it works every time. I thought the story was a bit rushed and Daniel Bruhl did not get nearly enough show time or even a few flashbacks. Only when he’s achieved what he wanted to achieve you get insight into why he is doing what he’s doing.

Civil War is also sporadically like a Game of Thrones episode – there are too many characters to follow and you end up looking at things like how nice the costumes are and the action sequences. Captain America has always been the best Marvel films in terms of material, and this one slipped just a bit in that aspect.

However it does not change the fact that Civil War is a fine piece of work – the action sequences are thrilling and authentic looking (except Audis flying here there and everywhere). Of the new appearances I enjoyed Black Panther the most, and Spidey way last because really, why a reboot when the last cutie pie Andrew Garfield movie was released only last year or something?

Anyway, good job, Marvel. You entertained me really well.

Also, these arms:

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FTF: Five Movies I’m excited to see in 2016

Happy Friday!

Before I start this off, let me give you some information:

It is SO hot in Johannesburg right now. We are soaring around forty degrees celcius, which if you calculate it over into Fahrenheit it still translates as VERY FUCKING HOT. There are shock waves of heat in the air. I am sure of it. My pillows are warm when I get home after work, and I’m sure it is not a ghost. The wipes I clean my face with is warm, sealed in their packets. The air the fan blows out is warm. Are we in Mordor? I do not know.

I managed to stick to my blogging shcedule I promised on Monday. YAY me!!

I’ve done really well with my lifestyle change. So proud of myself!

Unisa sorted their shitty application and registration systems out and I am finally sorted to study this year. Let me NOT even start on that subject.

It is my birthday month! YAY!

Okay, let’s start with the real post:

i.e. Five Movies I can’t wait to see in 2016

Captain America: Civil War

X-Men: Apocalypse

Suicide Squad

Deadpool

The Huntsman

Honorable mentions:

Doctor Strange

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Independence Day: Resurgence

How to be Single

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

What are you looking forward to?

PS: Sorry I didn’t put in YouTube videos. It would have cluttered the post and I’m sure you all know how to Google anyway 🙂

Movie Review: Age of Ultron (2015)

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Plot: When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and it is up to the Avengers to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.

Rating: 8/10

MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

Avengers: Age of Ultron, had the extremely difficult task of living up to its’ predecessor. My love for the first movie is well known, and I’ve reviewed it on my own site as well as on Rob’s for his Genre Grandeur.

I was extremely excited to enter the Marvel universe on Friday night, and I was not disappointed.

Age of Ultron immediately starts the action. The Avengers are united (although they sadly never share HOW the Avengers got back as a team), and they are kicking ass. Invading the Hydra building in Sokovia, they briefly meet the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olson) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), and it is very clear that they are impressive enemies. Then Tony Stark is Tony Stark and uses fellow genius Bruce Banner, to set loose Ultron, a powerful creature with artificial intelligence whose main goal is human extinction.

Age of Ultron feels like one huge act. The action never stops, and the scenes flow into each other. I really enjoyed that and thought it also worked well with the slightly less over the top fighting scenes. I really enjoyed the character development. My big issue with the first Avengers were that the characters aren’t really developed – some you know because of their stand alone movie but the first Avengers is just packed with vague references and smart mouth comments between the team.

Age of Ultron tries to give you an idea that these are (mostly) people. I found the story line on Hawkeye the most interesting and never thought that would be in the books for him. I also really enjoyed the character development Natasha Romanoff got – she’s the only female Avenger from the first movie and it is clear that she’s had a sad and unsavory past, but no further background was provided. Her story is intense enough to draw outrage and sympathy on her behalf, and also endear her to the female audience.

AOU Team

The humor in AOU is a lot less forced and thus funnier than in the first movie. It is not only Iron Man (Robert Downey Jnr.) who crack the jokes, it is everyone, and it makes the movie a lot more humorous. I liked the testosterone fight between Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Iron Man. I also really enjoyed that Thor got more lines and that he actually spoke every once in a while, showing he had more potential than looking good – which he does, excellently. One of my favorite scenes is where everyone tries to lift the hammer, and Thor only gets uncomfortable when Captain America (Chris Evans) has the hammer twitching – proving that he is the only worthy Avenger of the hammer except Thor. Captain was also once again the sad guy that kills us with his desolation of having to live without Peggy Carter – just kill me already with that, okay?

Bruce Banner is played by Mark Ruffalo and I think it is one of the best casting choices they made. I work in an academic environment and let me tell you, he does the scatter brained scientist really really well. He is also very heartbreaking when dealing with his anger issues and his heartbreaking lifestyle choices. #lovetheguy

I also really appreciated Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver. He has that mouthy and badass vibe of what you would expect of him, but he also has an authentic quest for vengeance and I appreciated that.

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THEN: OMFG I LOVE THE SCARLET WITCH. Elizabeth does an absolutely amazing job as the female part of the Maximoff twins. Her attitude is fierce, her quest for vengeance is pure, she looks like such a bad ass and the way her powers are brought to life on screen had me in such a fangirling in the cinema. YAY to Marvel for bringing in such an impressive character in the Avengers franchise (I might add that brings the total females up to three, and the males six thousand).

The romance in Avengers came unexpected but not unwelcome. I don’t really think it was necessary because it is not a rom-com, but it is still welcome and surprisingly sweet. The two characters involved surprised me because I would never have grouped them up, but it worked out really heart twisting in the end.

AOU Ultron

I really liked the villain. Ultron is surprisingly funny and embodies the darker side of Tony Stark’s thought. Ultron is multi-layered, extremely intelligent, not alien (good to Marvel for not going that route again) and he had me worried a lot of the time for the level of destruction he could cause. His cause was initially so noble and good, and enales great discomfort because Ultron really has something right – the human race has no idea how to maintain peace.

I thought AOU did so many things better than the first one did: humor, pacing, character development. I still like the first one more, but can’t really pinpoint why – perhaps it is Loki’s deadly charm that pushes it to the top. Age of Ultron is an excellent job done by Joss Whedon and Marvel, and the characters individually shine and as a team. It is definitely worth paying a ticket for!

Marvelous Mondays: Captain America: Winter Soldier Colab

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Happy Monday everyone!

Today’s collaboration promised to be fun the second we established when it would take place. Zoë and I had a very important mission the last time I trekked over South-Africa to see my bestie – We HAD to watch The Winter Soldier for the last part of our promised collaboration in Marvelous Mondays. We had earlier reviewed The First Avenger (there’s a link below in Zoë’s part of the post) so here is our second and I hope you like it.

I really love Winter soldier. As a sequel it is just as good as the first movie, something that never ever happens. Marvel finally showed that they could write intricate story lines, compelling villains and a meaty story.

 Plot: As Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world, he teams up with another super soldier, the black widow, to battle a new threat from old history: an assassin known as the Winter Soldier.

There are several reasons I enjoy this movie, and they are:

1) Chris Evans is the perfect America. He is so American, the boy next door. I think he fits that character perfectly and also that he is a very good actor. I love the depth he gives Steve Rogers – it is clear that he is struggling with who he is and how firm he is about what he believes in. There are no grey areas for this guy, and I enjoy how easily he takes on Nick Fury when Nick does something questionable.

2) The fight scenes: They are incredible and you don’t get whiplash from the constant CGI.

3) Sebastian Stan: I think Zoë likes him much more than I do, and for different reasons, but he is a great cast member and works that dark look of the Winter Soldier perfectly.

4) Robert Redford: He is iconic, a brilliant and hardworking actor and I fangirl about him all the time because he set out early on to not just be another pretty face in Hollywood but to make a real difference to the art of film making – did you know he started the Sundance festival?

4) The Winter Soldier wasn’t too long. I HATE movies over 2 hours, and will only enjoy them if they are particularly good.

5) Black Widow is more human in here. She’s a bit too tight-pant-kickassy for me to really enjoy – I think female superheroes are way too objectified. In the Winter Soldier Natasha Romanoff has to deal with some disillusionment because she’s realized something is up with S.H.I.E.L.D, the people she believed in and the institution gave her something to clean up her dark past with.

6) Captain America friendzoning the Black Widow.

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(source)

7) Steve Rogers visiting Agent Carter as an old woman. I will be honest, it broke my heart, but it shows the goodness of his character and how he can’t let go from his past.

8) The Falcon. His costume was wicked cool and Anthony Mackie gave him a fun persona while always reminding you that he had also lost a great deal during his military career.

9) Nick Fury’s escape scene in the car. This guy is so badass and Samuel L. Jackson is perfect to play him.

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10) This prick getting arrested:

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11) Chris Evans is fiiiiiiiiine

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Zoë’s take:

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I freaking love this movie. It is no secret. And if you don’t know this, then I didn’t express my adoration for this properly. When Natasha started up her Marvellous Mondays, you must know how I was all over the Captain’s movies. He is my favourite Avenger (so honourable and fair and brave and sweet), and I really like Chris Evans, and it all just works. It was soon established that Natasha and I would be doing these two films in conjunction (you can totally check out the first collaboration here) and this one we saved for her visit in December so that we could actually discuss it while perving watching.

captain america this isn't freedom

The Winter Soldier just has so much going on for it. I am a big fan of the fight scenes, they were so well choreographed, and a lack of CGI just made them all the more amazing (seriously people, sometimes less in more). The soundtrack suited everything down to a tee, and the pacing was excellent. This felt like an old school spy thriller that just so happened to feature a superhero, and I liked that (because really, I am always front and centre to watch superhero movies, but lately they have all felt so… recycled). The cast all handled their material really well, and I absolutely loved the tension that was worked in perfectly between Evans and Stan.

Now… on to Sebastian Stan. Could we just stop here for a minute? Or two?

sebastian stan bucky barnes uniform

sebastian stan bucky barnes rifle

sebastian stan body

Alright, I am done. Totally not the only reason I thought this movie was good. Besides the fact that he is absolutely fucking edible, all long hair and leather and badass, the Winter Soldier also happened to be the one time Marvel got the villain right. He was not some cheeseball dufus, and his character was consistent, which was also great. He was not playing around, he was on a mission, and he would do whatever it took to complete it. I liked how the cracks start coming through, but it still does not hinder him from going with all he’s got to complete the mission. Watching Bucky Barnes peeking through when the Winter Soldier asked about Steve Rogers was very rewarding, too. The character definitely goes through some changes, and the struggle he and Steve face is quite a difficult little conundrum.

shield captain america winter soldier catches

Let’s also talk about how successfully the movie tied the last two movies together with this one. For instance, the Captain has not just woken up, joined the Avengers and carried on. He is really struggling to fit in with modernised society and everything and everyone he knew is gone. He is lonely. The scene with Steve and Peggy Carter is an absolute killer, and was just executed so well. Not too much, not too little, but enough to really get under the skin. Also, I liked how (unlike Iron Man 3) The Winter Soldier did not hang too much on the events of The Avengers, because that would have annoyed the hell out of me.

The action in The Winter Soldier was handled phenomenally. Edge of your seat and entertaining as hell, I could not take my eyes off of anything that was going on – from big fights in the sky, to ramping motorbikes and a lot of gunfire, knife fights and everything going wrong on the highway, it is well worth checking out. But never once is the action really the focal point, the movie manages to balance out some story, too, and I thought they did that really well.

falcon jumping

I know some people are freaking out because this was a S.H.I.E.L.D. issue and surely the other Avengers should be there and blah, blah, blah. Let me just tell you, I was thrilled that they were not there. I thought it fitting. S.H.I.E.L.D. was created by those linked intimately and closely with Captain America and fighting Hydra, I just thought that it was suiting that this was just for Captain America. We totally didn’t need more superheroes. Scarlett Johansson didn’t bug me nearly as much as usual, like she works better with Captain America because Steve Rogers isn’t leering at her the whole time, and they have a better camaraderie going on. Anthony Mackie was also just awesome as the Falcon, and I really liked the way they kept that flight pack contraption a secret until the very last moment. It made for a splendid reveal.

As you can tell by now (I hope), if you didn’t know before, Captain America: The Winter Soldier rocked my socks off. It is the first movie in years I went to repeat viewings for at the cinema. I will usually watch something and wait. This one needed to be experienced again. And again. And it loses none of its charm, and that’s wonderful. If you somehow managed to miss this, find it and rectify that immediately! It’s a really fun film 🙂

5 Things Friday: Five Things I am completely excited about

Happy Friday all!! Today is my last day of holiday (sad sigh) so I am cheering myself up with things I am completely excited about that is upcoming soon (or not so soon). Enjoy!!

1) Mockingjay Part One

When will this happen? Hopefully I will get to watch this Saturday. Even though reviews have been mixed, I am still excited to see what Katniss Everdeen gets up to.

Expected Rating: 7/10. I’m very sure that people are probably complaining about the correct things.

2) The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

I love the Lord of the Rings so much I haven’t yet reviewed it yet on this blog – I don’t want to screw it up, you see. I have enjoyed these movies OKAY – they are long, I disagree strongly with the presence of a Dwarf and Elf love saga and am amused by the fact that they could make three movies of that teensy book. BUT it is the only movie my dad sees in cinema and can’t wait to watch it with him – he and I are the true fans in the family and can discuss this for hours afterwards.

When will this happen? Within this month

Expected Rating: 7/10. Very sure the length of this movie will irritate me.

3) Jurassic World  

When I heard the imminence of another Jurassic World I was like erm, really? Wasn’t there about fifty million installments, each a bit worse than the previous? I loved the first movie a lot as a kid! I have to say, this is looking very good because 1) Graphics, 2) Chris Pratt, 3) DINOSAURS + SCIENCE.

When will this happen? South-Africa doesn’t have a release date yet on IMDb, so hopefully within 2015.

Expected Rating: 8/1Looking good!

4) Avengers: Age of Ultron

Despite he fact that the filming on the South-African highway gave me an hour delay in my plans a few months ago, I am ridiculously excited. I CAN’T WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When will this happen? 2015

Expected Rating: 8.5/10 EEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

5) Sherlock Season 4

keep-calm-and-wait-for-sherlock-season-4-3

There is not a lot out on this yet, but it is apparently expected within 2015. I need this to happen very soon because I have been Sherlocked for months now and it is not stopping. I actually I think I will rewatch this within the next few weeks. .

sherlock-season-4

I had to put this in because it is so cool!!

When will this happen? (hopefully) 2015

Expected Rating: 275/10 (not even a typo)

What are you excited about?

Marvelous Mondays: Iron Man 3

iron-man-3

Plot: (IMDb) When Tony Stark’s world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution.

I had SO much win last weekend when I accidentally stumbled upon this movie and watched it while having a break between studying stints.

Iron Man 3 was good this time around but I confess that my initial impression was influenced by seeing it on the big screen. Marvel’s current movies are all about big effects and graphics and not always necessarily about the storyline. They are flashy and mesmerising, and I definitely get caught up in the sparkle of it.

Tony Stark goes through character development in this instalment, but that is something that has been cracking from Iron Man 1. He has gone through his stages that started with a playboy billionaire into a slightly more responsible adult to where he finally accepted he needed a balanced life if he wanted Pepper in it. Tony in the third instalment is dealing with the trauma of witnessing Aliens invade space, carrying the weight of protecting New York and carrying a nuclear missile into space and falling back. That certainly does sound like a lot to deal with, and it is immediately apparent that although he is still his flippant and sarcastic self, he is worried and the only way to lessen his stress is to build an army of Iron Man suits.

ironemen

Then there is the Mandarin, an evil terrorist who keeps bombing the shit out of places. The world wants Tony to intervene, but Tony is actually too busy trying to live his life and hide his obsession from Pepper. But then Happy is hurt, and Tony’s best friend is suddenly in critical danger because of the Mandarin. Tony promises retaliation and goads the Mandarin by giving out his address on live television. Tony’s mansion is destroyed in an attack and Tony barely escapes alive, but manages to get a message to Pepper that he is still breathing. He lands in some godforsaken town where there are obviously things amiss and meets a kid with whom he bonds immediately. But Tony is soon tracked down by scary mutating humans who just won’t friggin die, and he is forced to leave and find the Mandarin. The Mandarin is nothing like Tony expected and he needs to readjust his plan of attack because the President of the USA is in danger.

mandarin
#lookscanbedeceiving

I have to say of the three villains that the franchise has hosted, the Mandarin bored me the most but should have been the most intense. Jeff Bridges’ Obadiah Stane was a villain because he was greedy in the first movie, Mickey Rourke’s Ivan Vanko was excellent but Vanko wasn’t necessarily Tony’s enemy, which hate stemmed from what his father felt towards Tony’s father. Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian and Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin was the direct result of Tony’s careless behaviour towards other people earlier on in his life, so these characters should have been full of antagonism towards our main man. The Mandarin managed to disappoint me on so many levels – it was a stupid plot twist and ruined the entire pace the movie had successfully maintained through the movie. I was so bleak about that terrifying Mandarin being a damn puppet! Pearce did okay as Killian but I felt his hatred was rather disconnected and he was trying too hard to be a muhahhaa type of villain.

The graphics are still amazing but it is Marvel and that is kinda their modus operandi. I loved all the Iron Man suits and how they lighted up in the scene where they are all heading for that shipper boat thing (I obviously don’t know the name of it).

Thus, Iron Man 3 is okay, but the franchise seems to be exhausting Robert Downey Junior’s previously inexhaustible wit, so I do think that they should focus more on the other superheroes (I personally think that a good Hulk movie with Mark Ruffalo can work exceptionally well)

#OnlyStrongInASportsBra
#OnlyStrongInASportsBra

PS: This list is finally actually PROPERLY updated, so go have a look and let me know if you are interested in doing a movie.