Movie Review: Underwold Bloodwars (2016)

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Plot:Vampire death dealer, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) fights to end the eternal war between the Lycan clan and the Vampire faction that betrayed her.

Although my fondness for the franchise has not dimmed in the least, the last two Underworld films have been really bad compared to the previous three. It feels like they story has veered far off from what the original was about. Bloodwars does not mention what happened in Awakening. Apparently the human race conveniently forgot that vampires and lycans exist and just happily ceased the war that they subsequently raged on them. Seline’s daughter was spirited away by executive producers for no other reason. There are some strange new vampires that have been to the other side. Seline soon joins them and gains delightful highlights. It seems like the writers are desperately trying to replace Scott Speedman with Theo James. I’ve said it in my review of Awakening too, so please note that Theo James, for all his deliciousness, isn’t the character we want to end up with Seline. There is no one for her but Michael, and whatever issues the directors have with Scott Speedman better be resolved before the next film because no one believes the easy copout they sicced on us. I enjoy his inclusion as David, but really, give me my Michael back. Tobias Menzies as Marcus was okay. He provided the necessary antagonist, but was he really convincing? The character isn’t developed or explored. He has a terrible backstory, similar to Michael and Lucian, but he isn’t properly introduced and felt like an empty antagonist by the end of it.

Underworld Bloodwars is the sloppiest of the franchise, with bad writing and heartless performances. It certainly isn’t my favorite of the bunch, and I do hope that when the sixth film gets the light they will have a story to tell again.

Rating: 5.5/10

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Movie Review: One Day (2011)

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Plot: After spending the night together on the night of their college graduation Dexter and Em are shown each year on the same date to see where they are in their lives. They are sometimes together, sometimes not, on that day.

Mind-numbing, soul-crushing, depressingly dreary, the undeniable stupidity of the human – in particular female – race.

This quote from Perks of Being a Wallflower “We accept the love we think we deserve”. That powerful, terrifying and thought-provoking phrase surely indicates that Emma (Anne Hathaway) does not think she deserves a good man.  Emma meets Dexter on the night of graduation. It’s the typical – she crushed on him hard, he’s ignorant to it. He’s had everything given to him in life and is as a result more open to adventures than Emma. Jim Sturgess’ considerable charm is not enough to make rooting for Dexter plausible.

Dexter is beautiful, charming, affluent and a B-grade celebrity in One Day. He’s a jerk, he can’t keep his pants up, and he mistreats his dying mother and concerned father. The only thing good about Dexter is Emma, who for whichever reason remains his friend after rejections and indifference and an unhealthy dose of selfishness from his part. They remain friends for years. She struggles to bloom but eventually reaches her dream of becoming a writer. Dexter, in contrast, loses his B-grade celebrity status because everyone thinks he’s annoying and falls into pit after pit of despair. But no – Emma never realizes that she deserves more. She’s still caught in that University fantasy about the gorgeous man falling for her. No relationship ever works out for her because remains attracted to Dexter. His shitty personality is marginally better when he’s with her, but he only becomes fully saved towards the end of the film, and by that time I just couldn’t care anymore about him.

The script of this film is largely the cause of its’ failure. There is a constant lack of information. Dexter’s mother wants to tell him something, we actually never hear what it was. Is this the cancer she later develops? Is it to tell him she thinks he’s a piece of shit? We aren’t privy to that information and we don’t get to see how it alters Dexter. Dexter’s father is an unsuccessful attempt to be a stoic-but-good man. He’s grouchy and has some moments where he ekes out wisdom, but for the most part he’s an empty character that does nothing for the story. Emma has no family apparently. I didn’t even reach a well of sympathy or gushiness for these characters – the script doesn’t allow you to get there.

Dexter is completely insufferable. Have I mentioned this?! He is the typical and often seen privileged private school kid without morals. I can’t root for him on principle. Not all privileged kids are jerks, but this one certainly is.

Anne Hathaway does her best with Emma, she truly does, but Emma remains a bland, boring and pathetic character without self-esteem and an unhealthy dose of masochism. Anne Hathway can’t pass as a Brit. That accent is off, she rounds her words way too much, and she’s just so American.

I felt like I spent a decade of my life watching this film. It is barely more than one hour and thirty minutes, but so insufferable I’d rather have spent my time watching paint dry.

This film is a drawn out mess about a woman who believes she can save a jerk from himself. The truth is here and that is what irritated me about this film so much – no person can change another person. A person can only change him/herself.

The thing is, I also get platonic relationships that are borderline romantic or full of tension. We all do. There will always be a friend that has the potential for more but there is something holding either of you back at various times. It happens. I just can’t understand why Emma remains friends with such an unredeemable man.

I’m done with this review now. I really hated this film. There are some things that worked – the washed out tones look gorgeous particularly. Other things didn’t work – and most particularly those ugly damn boots Emma insisted on wearing all the damn time.

If you’ve seen this movie, let me know if there is a support group of traumatized watchers helping each other cope with the damage. If you liked it, please do tell me what you liked. I would be VERY curious.

Rating: 4/10

Movie Review: Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009)

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Plot: An origins story centered on the centuries-old feud between the race of aristocratic vampires and their onetime slaves, the Lycans.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0834001/

Rise of the Lycans is perhaps to Underworld what Tokyo Drift is to the Fast and The Furious (although not that bad). It took a risk by removing their main audience draws – Seline and Michael. Rise of the Lycans is set in long long ago where we finally get to see why Lucian embarked on his vengeful path against Viktor (Bill Nighy).

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Casting Rhona Mitra as Sonja was obviously a designed and successful choice. It is mentioned in the first film that Viktor was unable to kill Seline because she reminded him so much of his daughter, and comparing the two, both on personality and on looks I agree with Viktor – they really do share similarities.

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Michael Sheen has never struck me as a man with any appeal, and yet as Lucian I was not immune to his charms. He lost that leery look that I associate with Sheen for his work (mostly as the icky Aro in Twilight) as Lucian, for which I thanked him.

The film has its’ own version of some political commentary with the harrowing conditions the lycans are enslaved by. It is cruel and inhumane, and if there was any misconception that Viktor was a “good” vampire left, this film serves as final proof that he likely had it coming to him.

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Although not part of the main story I enjoyed Rise of the Lycans. It is probably my third favorite overall. The film at least maintains its gritty and sexy feel, something the following films never quite managed to achieve as of yet.

Rating: 7/10

 

Movie Review: Underworld Evolution (2006)

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Plot:Picking up directly from the previous film, vampire warrior Selene and the half werewolf Michael hunt for clues to reveal the history of their races and the war between them.

When films like Evolution gets hated on online I am always quite surprised. This said trashed film and it isn’t nearly as horrible as it is made out to be. The entire Underworld franchise is garbage rated on both IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, but here’s the kicker: it’s actually not that cheesy, it is quite dark and violent and the history between the lycans and vampires are well thought out. Is there some sort of secret society in the entertainment industry that decides to trash things for reasons unknown? Oh wait, that’s the Academy right?

Continuing immediately after the events in Underworld, Seline and Michael narrowly escape after her killing the vampire elder Viktor (Bill Nighy). Seline hopes by awakening Viktor’s brother and last remaining vampire elder Marcus (Tony Curran), she will be able to save her life and Michael’s life. But even though Marcus and Viktor have a long line of dispute between them, Marcus is furious to find his brother dead and sets out on his path of retribution. He is terrifying as some sort of hybrid, and they have a dangerous road to survival set out to them. A whole lot of other things also occur and in it is more insight into the lycan and vampire history.

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Evolution remains dark, sexy and violent. It is not so much different from the first film. We are still following the gorgeous Seline and the gorgeous Michael, and we are treated to some sexy time between them. It was a little risqué, much more than the usual amount generally applied in mainstream films, but it continues to suit the tone of the series and stops just short of being icky.

More history is given about both species and I enjoyed that. I’m not sure whether there was a real point to bring in a father figure of Markus and Viktor and explaining all that sordid history, but at least it ultimately makes Seline able to walk in the sun.

At the end of the film all I wanted is Michael and Seline to be together and safe. That wish is mostly granted. It still ends with some depressing voice overs, but for the most part we are left with our favorite couple in a relatively safe future.

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Underworld Evolution is enjoyable, gritty, oddly romantic and with a lot of sexy Undertones. I’d give my left pinky toe to be built like Seline, and I wouldn’t mind dating Michael either, hybrid or not.

Rating: 7/10

Movie Review: Nocturnal Animals (2016)

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Plot: A wealthy art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a symbolic revenge tale.

Nocturnal Animals is self-indulgent, narcissistic bullshit. It is also incredibly dull. I’m surprised it got such a good feedback – I watched it specifically because of said good feedback. Instead I watched some weird shit for two hours without a proper ending. For a film written and directed by a fashion designer the main character spent the majority of the film with lipstick that didn’t suit her features. It is a small thing, but it made me hate this film even more.

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The acting is the best part of Nocturnal Animals but it isn’t enough to save the film. Jake Gyllenhaal is persistent in his mission for me to like him, and so far he is winning. I’ve inexplicably never liked him much. Maybe because until recently I only saw him in Donny Darko, which is the strangest film I’ve ever watched and that is saying something. Southpaw impressed me despite such deliberate emotional punches, and I’ve since been getting more exposure to this man. I liked him here too – he had a character that underwent great development and he handled the phasing well.

The story makes a valiant attempt at being mysterious and fails admirably. It tries to be artistic and visually stimulating. Its opening sequence is a desperate visualization of the attempts to make this film more than it is – a self-indulgent expedition of Tom Ford. Ford can be glad his fashion designs aren’t this desperate to be liked or he’d have failed as a designer a long time ago.

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Nocturnal Animals has a litany of celebrities taking part and they have no idea what to do about it. Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Jake Gyllenhaal and Aaron Taylor-Johnson have the most screen time, and they do their best to make their characters work. Taylor-Johnson proves that he is more than just a pretty face. He’s a creepy mcCreeps in here, and I was so freaked out by his strange and awful character and felt dirty every time he was on screen. Amy Adams had the hardest work set out for her – to make the selfish Susan worthy of our empathy. It is hard to sympathize with a woman whose unhappiness stems from every decision she ever made. She had a good, kind man who she left because he wasn’t successful. She’s led a life she swore she wouldn’t, choosing a rich man who sleeps around over a poor man who loved her. Her treasonous acts reach unparalleled heights for which we judge her harshly (well, I did anyway), so sympathizing with her was really hard.

Michael Shannon is such a serious looking bloke, and thus all these serious bloke roles suit him well. He’s this strange cop in the story, with his own little built in mission, and I enjoyed him immensely.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I marginally liked the story more when I realized what was going on. I’ll say this – it is stories within a story. The within story was better than the actual story. It was a meaty revenge piece. It disappointed, but it remained better than the obvious story. I’ll stop using the word “story” now, because it is starting to irritate me.

The cast that gets a few seconds on screen – Isla Fisher, Michael Sheen, Pam from True Blood, Jenna Malone – so much to work with and yet so little attention paid to them. I love Michael Sheen now, my Underworld exposure made me team-Sheen, and I was happy to see him only to be disappointed a few scenes later.

Nocturnal Animals is way too long. I just wanted to get to the end, and then the end sucked so much I felt even more aggressive. It’s an open ending, and we all know how I much love that. Sure, I’ll think a bit about what I watched but dammit, give me a proper ending or watch me rage.

I consider this movie a terrible waste of time and am still upset that I will never get these hours back. The only good thing I got from this was writing this review, it was my catharsis to this terrible piece of shit.

Rating: 4.5/10

#100HAPPYDAYS ROUND 2: DAYS 61-70

Happy Monday everyone! Here’s another 10 days worth of happiness, posted on my Instagram account. I am almost done now, and I can’t wait to have another successful happy days behind me.

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Day 61: Did a Parkrun and got some excellent step counts in. Woohoo!

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Day 62: My mom got me this France mug. It is now my favorite mug.

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Day 63: No visit to Nelspruit is complete without a trip to the coffee shop around Bestie’s house, and we went three times. Because coffee is delicious.

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Day 64: Besties birthday!!! We had delicious steaks at Cicadas in Nelspruit. This is Steak with Halloumi, bacon and Onion jam. Salivating.

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Day 65: After an astonishing day of bad service, we licked our wounds at Cicadas with Strawberry Daquiries and Burgers. SO GOOD, with excellent service

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Day 66: We got our movie day in with two old favorites. The two new films (Chef and Arrival), now joins the favorite list.

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Day 67: A fun birthday braai with illuminating new terminology learnt!

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Day 68: Remember my project on day 58 – check how it grew!

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Day 69: Roadtrip home. It was such a wonderful visit, thanks bestie!

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Day 70: More rings from Woolworths. These are so me!

What have you been up to lately?

#100HAPPYDAYS ROUND 2: DAYS 51-60

51Day 51: Just a basic picture of my lunch. It was really delicious and super healthy though.

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Day 52: My bestie came up for a quick pop-in, and we went to watch Beauty and The Beast.

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Day 53: Makeup spoils. I really have such a problem. Rimmel is one of my favorite brands, and I am liking Essence quite a lot these days – for a “cheaper” brand they really have quality products.

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Day 54: My mom got me these bunny slippers for Easter. They are so toasty and have the additional benefits of being bunnies.

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Day 55: Another manicure, this a Revlon one. I’ve really gone for the pinks lately.

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Day 56: To get more steps in, I again visited the Nature reserve. It is such a beautiful place and I am always so surprised that it is smack in the middle of Joburg and manages to be so quiet.

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Day 57: My favorite snacks. 70% Lindt is as dark as I’ll go, and it is such a delight of tastes. It is really low in sugar, so if you are craving some chocolate, you only need to look as far as this.

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Day 58: I watched Warm Bodies for the 100th time, and I enjoyed it. Also see my crochet project here? It is growing super-fast!

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Day 59: This was SO good.

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Day 60: Had drinks with the work colleagues at the Hogshead in Illovo. It was lovely, and although I didn’t get a picture of it, their Consol glasses look fantastic.

Decades Blogathon – Jackie Brown (1997)

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Welcome to the penultimate day of the Decades Blogathon – ‘7’ edition – hosted by myself and my partner in crime Tom from Thomas J.For those who don’t know, the blogathon focuses on movies that were released in the seventh year of the decade. Tom and I are running a different entry each day (we’ll also reblog the other’s post) and today I’m very pleased to welcome Natasha from it’s the turn of the one and only Zoe from Life of this City Girl who is too-cool-for-school in her choice of QT’s Jackie Brown.

Jackie Brown PosterPlot: A middle-aged woman finds herself in the middle of a huge conflict that will either make her a profit or cost her life (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119396/)

A quick peek over at Tom’s blog alerted me to the fact that it was time for his and Mark’s annual Decades Blogathon. In the past…

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Movie Review: Arrival (2016)

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Plot: When twelve mysterious spacecraft appear around the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors.

Since I haven’t read one bad review about Arrival and about ten million people asked me whether I’d seen it, I was really rather excited to get to this. I also loved Sicario, which at that stage had been my exposure to director Dennis Villeneuve’s work.

Arrival is one of the most unique and well thought out films I’ve watch in ages. It is some of the best work I’ve seen from 2016, and would certainly have altered my Top Ten list of 2016. Villeneuve has a talent to direct the dark and dreary. His signature style is tense and the subsequent underlying tension makes him a formidable force to watch in the future. He knows how to get the most intense emotions from his films’ stars, most evident in the way Amy Adams, Jermey Renner and Forrest Whitaker portray their part of Arrival.

"Story of Your Life" Day 37 Photo: Jan Thijs 2015

I guess I see now why people were so riled up when Amy Adams was not nominated for best actress. She was fantastic as Louise, a linguist who is tasked to extraterrestrial beings when they mysteriously appear in random locations across the globe. The lingual exploration was fascinating, which explored the dissection of communication and language. It made me realize that we take language for granted and how it forms and changes us. Talking is so natural, we rarely pause to consider how remarkable it is that we are talking.

I am also appreciative that Villeneuve once again provided a film with such a strong female lead. He obviously has an appreciation for strong female characters – can we have more of him please?!

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I always feel like a complete noob when talking about CGI. Visual design is one of the areas where I truly have no experience in (or a desire to get experience in). My adventures into more serious films have shown me however how much tone and proper CGI can affect a film. Arrival has incredible CGI. The Aliens are formed in a way that is slightly revolting and highly fascinating, light years away from our perception of beady eyed human forms. There is a particular scene with Adams that was mesmerizing – I get goosebumps just thinking about it. The directing also is sad and heavy and dark, and impresses the sadness which Adams’ character carries with her.

The eventual conclusion to this two hour masterpiece will stay with you – I am still wondering about the implications of it all. The focus, despite the entire plot, is not truly on the Aliens. It is more about how would we even talk to Aliens should they arrive on the planet.

Rating: A well-deserved 9/10

#100HAPPYDAYS ROUND 2: DAYS 41-50

Happy Monday Everyone!

I’m way behind with posting these… I am now almost at day 75 as I am scheduling this, which is great as it means I am very likely to finish this round too. Let me know how you’ve been in the comments and if you are doing something similar 🙂

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Day 41: I went to a Singles Event where you had to choose four words that would ruin a date. Some people were really creative, and some just pulled things off the internet. The event itself was hosted in a section of a trendy bar, but felt a bit crowded. The people were also really just focused on winning the game instead of getting to know each other, which is the whole point of the exercise. I really doubt whether these events actually succeed in hooking people up, but it is a great exercise to becoming more outgoing and actually speaking to strangers.

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Day 42: I really adore this Lovisa necklace my sister gave me for my birthday. It is just so pretty. I have a slight Lovisa problem.

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Day 43: This is literally just a screenshot of my WordPress calendar showing that I had shit scheduled throughout the month. Definitely doing it this month too, it makes life really easier.

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Day 44: Anyone who has successfully dieted will tell you that if you fail to prepare, you should prepare to fail. I nearly failed the one day after I forgot to pack lunch. My colleague saved me with this yogurt, apple and walnut salad, which was pretty delicious.

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Day 45: I really love this pretty pink Sorbet nail polish titled Pink Cheeks – it can’t be more appropriately labeled.

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Day 46: One small cheat with a Woolworths Marshmallow egg. I am not a marshmallow person, they are generally too sweet and sticky for me, but I do like the Woolies ones, they are superior quality.

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Day 47: I went to the SA on Tap festival with a friend. I’m really not a beer person, so this was quite enlightening. I also saw some other people I know, which was good – being seen with a guy always ups the street cred, so no complaints from this side

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Day 48: This post, which I thought was just the lazy and basic pic of my breakfast and dinner, got a huge amount of likes (yes – 52 likes are huge for me!). I was so pleased.

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Day 49: I’ve been laughing myself silly at 2 Broke Girls recently. I wasn’t a big fan of Season 3, but seasons four and five seem to have gone back to their roots and it worked really well.

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Day 50: I go batshit crazy at work if I don’t have hand cream readily available. Something in the hand soap here makes my hands so dry, and without cream I want to scratch all the time. I’ve stopped buying creams now as I have so many unused ones at home, like this one. While I’m not the biggest fan of lavender, I did like this cream. Which reminds me that it is nearly done and I should bring another one tomorrow.