Movie review: Kong: Skull Island (2017)

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Plot: A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden.

Rating: 7.5/10

I was only too happy when I finally had some time free and could head out and see a film in an actual cinema with actual popcorn. My choice was between Kong and Logan, and I might get shot for this but Wolverine has never been my first choice (although I hear from multiple sources that it is well worth the watch). I set out to see the gargantuan monster and my decision was rewarded for an enticing film.

My most predominant thought about Skull Island is that it is Avatar, sans blue people. I checked the inspiration that director John Vogt-Roberts pulled from and Avatar isn’t listed as one of them, but:  Beautiful untainted area without known human habitation? Check. American army swinging guns and bombs in unprovoked attacks? Check. Outrage when indigenous life revolts? Also check.

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The star studded cast carries the movie when it might have been boring with less capable actors. From Samuel L. Jackson who plays a war veteran who just doesn’t want to admit defeat to Brie Larson as the photographer with a conscious, John Goodman as the researcher who is more invested in the discovery that might be healthy and Tom Hiddleston as a tracker and ex British army officer, they are capable enough to entertain us for the hefty watching time this film demands. I also thought John C. Reilly was appropriate comic relief while also providing some wrenching moments where you wish for him to be granted every wish he has after the life he’s had. I only really highlighted the major cast but a shout out has to be given as well to everyone who is sent along on the expedition, they were all well cast.

Tom Hiddleston proves he is more than Loki. After seeing this I am definitely on board with seeing him in more films. I have to say, this adventurer look suits him really well, I was much appreciative for science reasons. It was also a really cool character to root for, and he had the world weary attitude down to a T.

In all honesty, it took me about three minutes to be on #TeamKong. Stupid Americans thinking they have the right to enter untouched areas and bomb it? Typical and the world is weary. The events of Skull Island immediately occurs after the Vietnam War, and we all know how that went down. The political messaging is very strong and we have to wonder whether it is some jabs at the current administration in America. The expedition team is certainly more diverse than anything that is being pushed by POTUS right now, and it is all the stronger for it.

Brie Larson might be the only female cast member that gets actual lines, but she does her job well and carries the girl power flag with excellence. I liked her, I liked her character and she is definitely an actress I’d like to see more of.

Some beautiful cinematography and directing impresses as well. The indigenous folk are terrifying and oddly beautiful in an untouched way. I’d naturally never return to sanity after meeting them. The massive animals alternate between jaw dropping and vomit inducing. They serve as a not so subtle reminder about the glory of nature untouched.
Kong: Skull Island is definitely worth the watch, although heavy on the political agenda. I also felt that some of the fighting scenes were a bit drawn out and over the top, but that is crowd pleasing to the majority of watchers. I enjoyed it thoroughly as it provided a good variety of actors with an important story and great effects.
Have you seen Kong? What did you think?

Movie Review: Southpaw (2015)

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Plot: As tragedy strikes him in his prime, famed boxer, Billy Hope, begins to fall into a great depression. Once the decision regarding the custody of his daughter is under question, Billy decides to get his life back on track by getting back into the ring.

Rating: 7/10

You know those actors you dislike for no reason whatsoever? It isn’t based on their acting ability or the movies they’ve been in, it really is just because because. Their face? Their voice? No idea, but they make you itch on mere sight. Jake Gyllenhaal is that for me. I feel his eyes are too close and his surname is difficult to spell. He’s also related to a woman named Maggie, which may or may not be the real reason. He also freaked me out to no end in Donnie Darko. My point here is that I generally tend to avoid him at all costs, and it really isn’t because of his acting abilities.

Checking out Southpaw was thus a highly questionable venture as Gyllenhaal is the main character. About five minutes in I was engrossed and the film made me sweat bullets. Is that accurate to use here? Southpaw uses some cheap tricks for tears or to get their audience emosh, but it works. I was so involved and rooting for Billy Hope that I couldn’t care less if my favorite-actor-to-hate was in fact Billy Hope. It is your typical rags to riches to rags to riches again, you do get the expected training montage with Eminem blasting at the background, you do get a slick manager who is shady as hell, you do get your trainer that lifts your hero from the ground.

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Is it exhausting because we’ve seen this a thousand times? I don’t know about the other people, but I was just as invested in Billy’s crusade as I was with Rocky Balboa’s. Maybe I’m easily influenced and a bit of a softie, but I was there in the ring with him. I enjoy boxing movies and sport movies in general, so I guess I was programmed to appreciate this. I liked the soundtrack, it is satisfactorily badass. 50 Cent is about the only cast member who isn’t an above par actor, and since he’s cool (and I’m a little bit afraid of him), I didn’t have any issues particularly.

Gylllenhaal does a good job portraying a man that has clawed himself out of the foster care system and built himself an empire. It can’t be easy as I’m pretty sure he’s been privileged his entire life – being nasty again – but there is a roughness to the character that can only come from a life on the wrong side of the tracks.

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Rachel McAdams manages the same feat as Maureen, Billy’s wife. There was careful consideration to her character. I don’t know how to explain it, but the outfits she wears tells that she grew up somewhere else than her current life might indicate. Maureen was a wonderful character. I enjoy Rachel McAdams, but let’s face it, she doesn’t have many roles that aren’t catered to her Southern Belle persona. Maureen isn’t a southern belle, she’s a beautiful woman who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and managed to build her life up with the man she loves. She’s an excellent wife and mother and the center in Billy’s world.

Oona Laurence completes the Hope family as the geeky and sweet child of Billy and Maureen. She was adorable, not irritating as a character and a huge asset to the team. She made Billy’s struggles that much more legitimate and made everyone root all the more for him. She kept tight control of her role for the duration of the film and remained convincing to the very end.

I would have loved to see more of Forest Whitaker’s character. He’s a fantastic actor and taking on the role of Tick Wills couldn’t have been the most challenging role he’s ever done, and yet he did it with a level of experience that had you wondering who Tick was and what is it that made him train those boys in the gym so hard.

Southpaw is saved from being yet another boxing movie by outstanding performances by its’ cast, good costume work and directing and a badass sound track. I eventually deducted one point because it really is emotional abuse what I went through, but I am really pleased I sat through it.

Have you seen Southpaw? Tell me in the comments below!

Movie Review: Shall We Dance? (2004)

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Plot:

A romantic comedy where a bored, overworked Estate Lawyer, upon first sight of a beautiful instructor, signs up for ballroom dancing lessons.

Rating: 6.5/10

Shall We Dance was quite a surprise to me. I was ready to go on a rampage if it turned into a film that tried to justify an older man cheating on his perfectly nice wife. It seemed inevitable when John Clark joined a dancing studio because of the lovely Paulina (Jennifer Lopez) staring out into the night dramatically every time John’s bus drove past the studio where she worked. He is warned early on that Paulina has a broken heart and a dented ego and that she’s really talented. He tries to connect as he feels the need to be involved in some stranger’s personal business. Luckily she tells him where to get off and that she’s on to his shit. The movie steers in another direction then at least, with John (Richard Gere) learning to love the new skill he’s acquiring. His busy wife is alerted by their daughter that John is happier and acting very twinkle toes suddenly. She gets PI Devine (Richard Jenkins) to investigate and he delivers the real story – John is dancing, but not cheating. Through a whole lot of escalation and dance competitions, John eventually finds himself with a wife whose feelings have been hurt because he hid so much of what makes him happy in the past few months from her.

What I liked?

The cast is charming. Richard Gere is as classically handsome as always, Susan Sarandon is as always beautiful and talented, and Stanley Tucci provides a whole lot of funny moments and impressed me with his comedic ability. The same can be said for Lisa Ann Walter, who plays the really honest and abrasive Bobbie. I liked her attitude and while she could be harsh, I really enjoyed the character. I also really thought Bobby Cannavale and Omar Benson Miller had some great moments as John’s classmates Chic and Vern.

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How Shall We Dance concluded. As I mentioned, I was sure this film would be a justification of cheating episode and I don’t have time for that. It turned out differently than expected and I am grateful for that.

The dancing was a whole lot of fun. I really enjoy dancing movies a whole lot even if they have questionable plot lines.

The pace of the movie is well executed and didn’t drag out for ages.

Stanley Tucci’s role as Link was quite funny and had some gentle reminders in that straight men are also able to be dancers and entertainers, and that society generally gives them a really hard time. His whole costume of wigs and false teeth entertained me to no end and some of the funniest moments on screen come from him.

What I didn’t like:

Jennifer Lopez can dance, she can sing, she can be Jenny from the Block, but what she is unable to do is act. I was left as uninspired as usual by her. No real emotion or even a hint of conviction in her character, all she has to rely on is her dance moves and girly voice to complete the role as Paulina. I’m not even sure why she is on the DVD cover as there were a ton of characters that deserved to be on it rather.

I enjoyed Shall We Dance. It is a reminder that life doesn’t have to be over after a certain age and that you can still experience new things. It is also to a lesser degree a film about being yourself and owning what you believe in. It also contains Richard Gere, one of the most handsome older men still alive. For a romantic drama, Shall We Dance fails to annoy and is enjoyable to sit through, which is as much as you can generally expect from these type of films.

Have you seen this? Tell me in the comment section 🙂

Movie Review: Cruel Intentions (1999)

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Plot: Two vicious step-siblings of an elite Manhattan prep school make a wager: to deflower the new headmaster’s daughter before the start of term.

Rating: 7/10

Watching Cruel Intentions confirmed my belief that I was really the most well behaved teenager alive. I lived in books and in my head and had a small group of friends. I didn’t have the desire to rebel. So when I watch these movies I get such a shock and I’m like ARE YOU ALL REALLY LIKE THAT? My mom would have opened a can of whoop-ass if I tried this shit.

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Cruel Intentions is essentially about two rich, privileged children who play with the feelings and lives of other rich white kids and one black kid. Sarah Michelle Geller is hands down the worst white kid, sniffing cocaine out of her rosary and only revealing her intentions to her slightly less horrible step brother, with who she has a very disturbing Cersei/Jaime vibe, at least without any real blood ties. Selma Blair is a really dumb girl in Cruel intentions and who is really ready to be promiscuous. It was really uncomfortable watching such a dumb girl be so dumb and big applause to Blair who has never even given me a whiff of stupidity in any other situation. Ryan Phillipe is really well cast in any situation where he is set to play a really privileged person. He does it with a natural ability which makes me wonder if that isn’t his real natural ability shining through. His character is not without redeeming qualities and when he becomes ensnared in Reese Witherspoon’s innocent charm, it is strong enough to drastically change his ways.  Sarah Michelle Geller obviously had a really good time with being the villain, and I really liked her in this despicable role. She also looks really nice with brown hair, who would have thought?

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Cruel Intentions felt a bit like what Gossip Girl would have been if the characters had been even more spoiled. The end was really shocking and very sad, but would it have had such an impact with a happy ending? I actually really liked this film, though I wouldn’t recommend you watch it with any parental figure in the area – it would be a complete embarrassment to both of you.

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Series Review: Daredevil Season 1 (2015)

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Rating: 9/10

I was typically a fool failing to watch so Daredevil quickly and upon its release. I’ve seen Jessica Jones, and let me tell you, when that review is up you will see how much I absolutely loathed it. My biggest issue with Jessica Jones was that the story was boring, ill written and poorly executed. I was loathe to try yet another superhero series and convinced I wouldn’t enjoy it. Incidentally I started watching because rumor had it that Jon Bernthal is The Punisher and appears eventually in Daredevil. I am on a huge Bernthal binge so I need to watch everything he’s ever been in on risk my eternal happiness. So it came as a big and pleasant surprise to find myself enthralled. Daredevil is one of the meatiest shows out there, full of background information and scenes I would usually blast as filler nonsense. In here? It serves the overall feel of the show well as the early years of each character so deeply impacts them.

The directing of Daredevil is in strong hands. Everything has this tense feel, a sense of darkness that is perhaps an indication of Murdoch’s blindness or of the despondency of the city. I am unable to ignore even one episode’s opening sequence. So dark and heavy and vibey. I would like to know the person who thought of such an incredible opening sequence – one million times the wow.

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In one of the best castings in recent memory, Charlie Cox simply shines as Matthew Murdoch. I had no idea that he had such a well of emotions to pull from to bring such a complex character to life. I would never have cast him as Daredevil / MM. This character is so interesting and just the thing I’ve wanted from this Netflix superheroes series – a character with depth and layer. There is such goodness in this guy and the moral questions he faces. I love the flashbacks to him as a kid, I love how he seeks advice from his priest and how he struggles with the mere idea of killing someone. It is incredible how the show’s directors and writers shows how well Daredevil can see despite being blind. His vision is not based on eyesight and so much more powerful and astute than the rest of us.

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The unfairly gorgeous and talented Deborah Ann Woll has been previously best known for her role in True Blood. Karen is infinitely more interesting of the two characters I have seen Woll play. I enjoy how she grows and how her spine stiffens when she’s faced with injustice. Dare I hope that this character still has untapped potential and a well of insight to her past?

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Foggy!!!! Matthew’s best friend and law firm partner, this guy provides the majority of funny moments. His little crush on Karen makes me sad as it is becoming so clear that she’s otherwise interested. A man with such a loyal and good heart deserves the best. I’m not really saying Karen is giving him ideas, but I do think she needs to be more careful with him.

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There are a number of smaller characters I really enjoyed. I really liked Clare (Rosario Dawson). She was instrumental more than once keeping Matthew alive, and their relationship,Ben Uric, the crooked copper who had one of the finest fuck you attitudes I’ve ever seen on screen.

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Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk / Kingpin. It is so rare that a villain is developed well enough that you sympathize with him. Kingpin is insane. That car door scene was the big reveal to how unstable Kingpin is, and man, did they do a thorough job doing that. Every subsequent scene with him in is simply stolen by D’Onofrio, who delivers a career best performance. I am so invested in this character and interested in every morsel of information they feed us about him.D’Onofrio is good enough that I feel I should be rooting for Kingpin and celebrating that such a sad youth could turn into such astounding power. It is rare to see a villain have a love interest developed as a serious arc and have the villain become even more insane as a result.

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James, Kingpin’s assistant, is played by Toby Leonard Moore. He is shiny with just the right amount of sneer and slime to make you uncomfortable. SPOILER: Karen shooting James was one of the biggest plot developments. I really didn’t see that one coming. It is sad, I enjoyed his villainy so much. I would have also really liked to have seen why he and Fisk were so loyal to each other in a world where betrayal was constant.

Daredevil was good enough that I wasn’t frustrated by the long setup of events. I vaguely registered that the show seemed to nearly run in a one episode one dilemma format. It served overall to enhance the events that start crashing through after episode 5. There were a few fight scenes that got a bit drawn out but I appreciated the ninja flipping skills of Daredevil so much that I could get through it without irritation.

The final episode is jam packed with excitement and fight scenes. Wilson Fisk is a wily bastard, and his capture proves to be nearly impossible. I do think that his love interest will likely prove a formidable force in the next season. She was very unhappy with his eventual imprisonment. Dare I say we haven’t seen the last of these two morally questionable characters?

Have you seen Daredevil? What did you think?

Watched, Read, Loved: February 2017

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February being so short is all fun and games (particularly since payday is closer for a lot of people) but then suddenly you are in March and I don’t know about you, but I’m really like where the actual f is this year going? February was rather quiet compared to January’s movie intake, which I will blame on the shortness of the month and the fact that I got hooked on Daredevil, which certainly took up the majority of time I would usually have spent watching movies. But do you see me complaining? Nope. It changed my life, the show is THAT good.

On a personal note the start of February was rather sad. I kept thinking whether I should do some sort of separate posting about it, but decided against it as it seemed too morbid to post exclusively about death. One of my oldest friends committed suicide late January, and her birthday was on the same date as my father’s, who would have been sixty this year. In the past the weekend close to the 2nd of February would have usually been a massive amount of party juggling is now only a sad remembrance of two amazing people, and that is really just very sad to deal with.

Furthermore work was also a little crazy. I received a job offer and went through all the hoops to get a formal proposal. I ultimately decided to stay with my current company, a decision which I question daily. The pros and cons kept me awake for nights on end, and while I’m mostly happy with my decision the thought of a few things still make me wonder. It is not always easy here, but I have realized that the field I am in is rarely easy, so if I truly want to change I will do so after my degree and rather just change careers completely.

On the Tinder and dating saga: February is the month of Lurveeeee. I am very much past the point where Valentines actually holds meaning to me. I hate to be on the overly-negative-bandwagon, but it is a commercialized chaos and I am very uninterested in furthering every shop in town’s agenda. I just realized that I really have so much to say about this that I should do another Tinder and dating post. It has been a merry ride with asthma attacks during dates, single events, people who actually use the term hella cool and people who seem to think I’m dumb and don’t have basic knowledge of things.

Looking at everything I just wrote on there I am not surprised I didn’t reach my January high of movies. Here they are below, let me know what you’ve been up to as well in the comment section!

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Movies:

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Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016): 8.5/10

I started February off with a bang and finally got to Hunt for The Wilderpeople. I reviewed it already because I loved it too much to keep it contained for too long. It is really far out of the type of movie I would usually choose to watch. This actually can’t be classified to a genre. Full of quips, this film is designed to warm your heart and make you think long and hard about the sanity of New Zealanders.

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The BFG (2016): 6/10

Wow, I really get why people didn’t like this! Long and overindulgent. Ugh.

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Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince(2009): 6.5/10

Can a movie ever really do justice to the book it was created from? The answer is always no unless it is Lord of The Rings. I’m not sure whether I’ll even do a review for this. I had it in my head to do a series at one stage, so maybe I will just write it up and get to it one day in the distant future.

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Shall We Dance? (2004):6.5/10

I watched this with my mom, and we both enjoyed it. It is mostly about an old man finding his groove again, and I liked it by the end. It is also not about cheating and I was very suspicious about that, which made me pleased in the end.

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Notting Hill (1999): 6.5/10

I apparently really like the 6.5/10 rating. It seems like a fair score if I liked it but it wasn’t amazing. Notting Hill is a passable film but it isn’t my favorite in the genre. I still think Julia Roberts is one of the most beautiful women to have ever worked in Hollywood.

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How to Be Single (2015): 6.5/10

This is a second watch for me. I really like a number of things about this movie – Rebel Wilson and Dakota Fanning do great work together. Dakota Fanning is a really talented lady, so I hope she does more work other than that BDSM crap. The message of this film is also really important.

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Books:

The Power of Six (Pittacus Lore)

Not sure if I should even list it on here as I read the last twenty pages in February, but there you go. It was quite enjoyable although it certainly wasn’t as captivating as the first book.

After You (JoJoMoyes)

After Me Before You, the touching book and the slightly less touching film, After You comes along. Lou is dealing with her grief, her inability to convey to strangers how she loved a man so quickly and powerfully in only six months and the judgment of every ass available. It is written in typical JoJoMoyes style and so far it is really enjoyable although I can’t see how she will reach the emotional highs of her first book.

Tribute – Nora Roberts

I enjoy Tribute on a loop every year at least. All I know from reading this book again is I want a Spock.

Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban – JK Rowling

Everything. This book is everything. It makes me so happy and content. It is such an important book in the series, and there are scenes in there that fills my heart up with so much happiness and light.

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Series:

X-files Season 2 – I’m a bit at a snag right now with X-Files. I enjoy it but it is so procedural I can drop and pick up without too many holes in the conversation.

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Daredevil Season 1 and 2 – I’ve been postponing this for ages now. WHY? It is amazing. It is 10 000% better than that awful Jessica Jones BS I subjected myself too. Charlie Cox as Daredevil is AMAZING. That introduction.The tone of the series.The action.The simple badassery. I am so involved in this. WOW. I will post both reviews and JJ soon, and you will see the remarkable difference.

What have you been up to this month?

Movie Review: Love, Rosie (2014)

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Plot: Rosie and Alex have been best friends since they were 5, so they couldn’t possibly be right for one another…or could they? When it comes to love, life and making the right choices, these two are their own worst enemies.

Rating: 5.5/10

I’m once again in danger of having no words to say, because while Love, Rosie is not a great film I didn’t really hate it. The film manages to be more awkward in its’ first twenty minutes of opening time than pretty much any other movie I’ve ever seen. I was cringing. Some writer really thought opening the movie with such a unique situation would lead the way for the rest of the film to be a success. I’m sad to report didn’t work out that well. The script isn’t that strong, it is drawn out at the end only the best type of British films can manage to be British, cute and funny all at the same time.

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The two lead characters worked hard to breathe life into their rather lackluster characters. Sam Claflin is quickly working his way up on my favorite British actors list. He is talented and although his role as Alex Stewart isn’t his strongest by far it is not due to a lack of trying. I also really enjoyed Lily Collins. It is the first time I’ve seen her in a film, and for all the mistakes this film made she was not one of it. She’s really gorgeous and her acting isn’t shabby and she did what she could to save the bad pacing of the film. The two have decent chemistry and a connection that makes their characters work well together.

Love Rosie is shot in washed out colors – I love that, and it also highlights the number of years that pass between two best friends. It also asks the old question of can a straight man and a straight woman be best friends without it becoming romantic?

I didn’t really understand why Suki Waterhouse had a character in this film, and why she and Rosie had such a little fight going. Was it merely a high-school fight that continued as a competition into adult hood? If it was, it sure wasn’t properly indicated in the film.

Rosie’s relationship with Greg (Christian Cooke) was from the start demented, and I’m sure everyone who watched this questioned her sanity when she was willing to give him a chance later on. Stockholm syndrome much?

What else can I say? The film didn’t take its’ sweet time, it was a shorty. I liked that, because I would have definitely rated it lower. I enjoyed the ending, placing each character exactly where they were supposed to be. It’s fluffy and romantic, and although it’s humor is misplaced and badly timed, Love Rosie isn’t the worst film I’ve ever seen.

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Movie Review: The BFG (2016)

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Plot: A girl named Sophie encounters the Big Friendly Giant who, despite his intimidating appearance, turns out to be a kind-hearted soul who is considered an outcast by the other giants because, unlike them, he refuses to eat children.

Rating: 6/10

Something went wrong with this movie. Despite the gorgeous animation and one lone little orphan’s impressive performance, The BFG is sufficiently boring enough to put people to sleep.

I’m never going to do cartwheels when I’m informed that I’m going to watch an animation. I rarely watch it as a personal choice, and it is not that I hate it; I just think there are other genres I can occupy my time with. I was favorably impressed by Inside Out in 2015, it is just that good a movie. I really liked Finding Dory and its’ predecessor, The Incredibles is my favorite animation and I’m a huge fan of any old Disney classic. Even Zootopia was cute despite getting life lessons hammered into your brain without a choice.

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But BFG just lacked for me. It was boring and I couldn’t be engaged no matter how hard I tried. The kid is pretty cute and did a great job. The giant made me worried – his kidnapping and his insistence to have a child present in such a dangerous environment. But anyway. It felt too long and winded and the resolution was a solid 9 on the WTF scale.

The good things? The visuals were lovely. I really did like the kid actor. That’s about it. The BFG is an overindulgent mess where people just let Steven Spielberg run amok. It seems really easy to create a  financially success animation, but even this one thing of getting parents to watch and kids to enjoy was unreachable to this production. Definitely not my favorite film of last year and it is miraculous I’m keeping this at a 6 rating.

Movie Review: Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

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Plot: Several people are hunted by a cruel serial killer who kills his victims in their dreams. While the survivors are trying to find the reason for being chosen, the murderer won’t lose any chance to kill them as soon as they fall asleep.

Rating: 7.5/10

My venture into the horror / thriller continues, this time with The Nightmare on Elm Street. It is yet another film that I was sure would be so icky and scary that I would just puke and / or cry throughout. And guess who didn’t?! ME!

I quite liked it, but for the horror movies I watched I certainly liked Scream the most. However, this was still quite good, in a perfectly 1984 fashion – the acting, outfits, hair and makeup are so bad. That pink knitted pullover? WHY? The mother had some really interesting makeup as well. I loved seeing Johnny Depp so extremely young. Back then he was quite good looking (he has now progressed to creepy and a bad looking wife beater). I thought Freddy was quite dramatic with his crazy claws and how he put them on. I wanted to yell at them just to go Sam and Dean Winchester on his ass and burn the claw, because we all know that he would immediately perish. Pfft. I thought the movie was cleverly laid out and designed, and even sleep specialists bought in to address what Nancy Thompson went through. Heather Langenkamp was a great heroine – no crazy antics and she decided to fight back pretty quickly.

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I don’t have too much else to say this – I really watched quite a lot of movies in a short time and had no brain cells that instructed me to quite write down an opinion on it at the time. I can tell you that as for the horror genre I am really enjoying Wes Craven’s work – it is witty and well thought out and creative. The Nightmare on Elm Street is definitely worth the time to watch, and rather short too, which is always a great thing in my book!

Book Review: After You (JoJoMoyes) – CONTAINS SPOILERS –

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Plot: How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future…

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.

Rating: 8/10

The events of After You take place after Will Traynor’s assisted suicide in Me Before You. Louisa Clark, his handler and eventual love interest, is dealing with the aftermath of his death. Society is no different than usual and judges her for her actions, thinking that she benefited from his death and perhaps should have done more to have stopped him. But they aren’t on ground zero with Louisa. They don’t know how hard she finds it to cope and to live to up to the expectations she can feel from beyond Will’s grave to live an extraordinary life. An accident makes her parents wonder whether she was planning to commit suicide as well, and despite her best assurances she still attends a support group for bereaved people to ease her parents’ mind. Slowly, life starts to normalize and even look more positive, but the appearance of someone who she thought impossible usurps her life once again. Can she fix herself one more time? Move on from Will?

On the new character front Sam appears, and I can now list him as a book boyfriend. I loved him. I knew from the get go that this couldn’t be the guy Jake was referring to. I knew somehow somewhere there was a gap in communication, and serve Louisa right for thinking the worst. Sam was decent, trustworthy, dependable, really hot and not without scars. Someone perfectly whole wouldn’t have been a good choice for Lou. She’s seen too much and gone through a lot of heartbreak. I was ready to write all the angry letters to JoJoMoyes during the last few chapters in the book, but it would have been for nothing as the end result really pleased me.

The biggest shocker of the book is the existence of Lily, Will’s daughter. I immediately pitied Lily. Her mother was clearly horrible at parenting, she had no foundation and everything she needed to turn into a stable kid was removed at her mother’s whim. Discovering that she had a father that became quadriplegic and chose to end his own life couldn’t have been a joy, and realizing that the family he left behind was neither whole nor perfect sure was a shocker too. I called most of the eventual developments on this character, but that doesn’t mean that I am not happy she ended up with Mrs. Traynor. They both needed something to get them through life, and they are perfect to depend on each other.

Lou’s family is still a driving force in her life. Her brilliant sister, saddled with a young boy so early. Her mother discovering her feminism and her father’s objection to it causes some hilarity but is also a reminder of how life must look for women who spent their entire lives looking after their children. I really liked that these characters remained in the book as it was such a central part to Lou’s character.

I really liked the pace and development of each character. After You certainly is more conventionally romance than Me Before You was. I was reminded of how I thought Marian Keyes would be if she chose to write about normal things. JoJoMoyes has the ability to get you unhealthily involved. I was so stressed about every character in that book. Her support characters are as well developed as her main characters, and she writes them with empathy and humor. You can’t help root as hard for Lou’s mother who is refusing to shave her legs as you are rooting for Lou, worry about Jake, think about Donna and most of all, wonder about the wellbeing of the Traynor family.

I was a huge fan of this book. It made me sad when it ended. I would have loved a third instalment. I checked but I seem to be unlucky in that regard. I recommend naturally that you read the first novel first (the movie doesn’t do it justice) and then read this one. Both are compelling reads that will touch your heart.

PS: Can I please have a Sam?