Book Review: The Seven Sisters (Lucinda Riley)

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Plot: Maia D’Apliese and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home, “Atlantis”—a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva—having been told that their beloved father, who adopted them all as babies, has died. Each of them is handed a tantalizing clue to her true heritage—a clue which takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Once there, she begins to put together the pieces of her story and its beginnings.

Eighty years earlier in Rio’s Belle Epoque of the 1920s, Izabela Bonifacio’s father has aspirations for his daughter to marry into the aristocracy. Meanwhile, architect Heitor da Silva Costa is devising plans for an enormous statue, to be called Christ the Redeemer, and will soon travel to Paris to find the right sculptor to complete his vision. Izabela—passionate and longing to see the world—convinces her father to allow her to accompany him and his family to Europe before she is married. There, at Paul Landowski’s studio and in the heady, vibrant cafes of Montparnasse, she meets ambitious young sculptor Laurent Brouilly, and knows at once that her life will never be the same again.

I initially started this review with: My review of the Seven Sisters won’t be the most extensive review I have ever written – ha, when I finally got going the going got long. It’s has been a while since I read The Seven Sisters, and only being nearly done with the second novel (and being more impressed), made me review the first.

I read through most of the book in a few days and then took about two weeks to read the last two hundred pages. Yup, the book is big enough for phrases like “last two hundred pages” to be thrown around. I was at that stage probably at 60% of the book, which gives you some indication of its size. It’s a bit too long, and I truly think that I would have enjoyed the book as a shorter novel more.

The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley starts when an enigmatic tycoon, named Pa Salt by his 6 adopted daughters, passes away under murky circumstances. Following his death, which occurs in the early pages of this book, he leaves each of his daughters with a set of coordinates and some information for them to hunt down their true roots. There is obviously something underfoot – The Seven Sisters should be, well Seven, and as they are only six daughters, there is a seventh missing daughter. I have some theories that are beginning to form on this, but we will see. He seems to also have chosen his daughters particularly well, as each daughter has an impressive lineage in her history despite her early orphanage.

Falling back into 1920, we meet Bel, a beautiful society queen who is barely of age. Her engagement to a wealthy, older society gentleman is of no surprise. The combination of her beauty, her father’s wealth, and Gustavo’s social status promises the elevation of her and her family into the elite social class in Brazil. Despite her father’s great success with his coffee plantations, the society still looks down on them because of their Italian heritage, and this will change with Gustavo’s status. There seems to be at least friendship in their relationship, but the youthful Bel wishes for some adventure before settling into her life as a married woman. This wish is granted when she can travel to Paris with Hector Da Silva, the architect in charge of the mammoth construction of the Christo, and his family. There Bel finds love in the arms of a penniless (but naturally) gorgeous apprentice but is mature enough to return to her home country and wed, knowing the dishonor that will befall her parents should she refuse.

Fast forward a few months, and Bel, married albeit unhappily to the now alcoholic Hector, is shocked when the beautiful Laurent shows up in Brazil. Because Bel is Catholic, and it is 1920, their now sexual relationship sans protection leads to a pregnancy, and Bel must decide her fate – run away with Laurent and bring shame on her deeply traditional family, or will she stay in a loveless marriage and pretend the child is Hector’s?

This part of the novel teaches life lessons like: if you made your bed you will lie in it, and makes you thankful that you are not a woman in the 1920’s. Also, don’t cheat on your husband, even if he is shitty. I really liked Bel, in fact much more so than her modern-day counterpart Maia, because she was vivacious, sweet and mostly kind. I won’t spoil her decision, and I am not sure if I agreed with her choice, but it remained hers to make.

Fast forward 90 years, Maia D’Apliese is motivated to explore her heritage when an old lover shows up close to their estate and wishes to meet with her. Maia has no such desire and sets off to Brazil where she meets up with the (also handsome) author she’s been assisting with translations of his novels. As a historian, he is interested in her history and aids her in her research. As neither of them are ugly, they soon have a little bit of chemistry going on.

Maia’s adventure is not that amazing, and to be honest she irritated me just a bit. She is overly dramatic and her responses to any event is exclamation marks and distress. She’s also mostly the reason I ended up stalling finishing the book – the woman loves to be dramatic. It is also in her sections where the author’s writing, which is overly descriptive at the best of times, became overbearing. I wish most modern novelists could understand that they don’t have to go JRR Tolkien on us all the time (or attempt to), because they aren’t sitting with the greatest novel of our time nor do they have his literary finesse (and I am looking at all of them with this, not only this author).

However, the book isn’t all bad. I enjoyed how involved the Rio community was with the construction of the Christo, it seemed everyone had a crucial role. The book is also just about interesting enough to continue into the second book, which I am relieved to say is much more interesting and the main character, who also has flaws, isn’t nearly as grating as Maia.

I have respect for the author for the research these books had to require, and how she aligns each daughter’s story. The second book is already much better than the first, and it seems like there won’t be any issues with plot holes later in the series.

I would refer this to people who have lots of time for reading, who are patient people, and like long and epic stories which isn’t fantasy based.

Rating: 6.5/10

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Movie Review: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

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Plot: After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe

After 10 incredible years of the MCU, it seems that every single moment has led up to this film. Fan or not, you have probably heard of the staggering success of this film the last weekend – 1.2 billion dollars within one weekend. It is absolutely insane, yet no one seems overly surprised. I am not. I got my ticket for the first release in South-Africa. I get grumpy with spoilers but I don’t have meltdowns, yet I suspected I would have one if someone spoiled this form me. I will keep this review as spoiler free as possible, because if you have eagerly awaited each of these films as I have, you deserve to have it unspoiled for you.

Overwhelmed, emotional, shaken, surprised. That is pretty much how I felt. It became inevitable with the lead up to this film not to ask if a major superhero would die, but which one would. I will tell you that whatever happens feels completely right for that character, like they were always written for it. It is sad, but it feels like the perfect ending.

There are two character developments which feels… weird, even for Marvel. The one I will literally never be able to unsee but the actor involved handled it with charm and comedic ability. But still. It felt like a personal attack on the most beautiful character. The other one was quite hilarious but showed good character development. I am sorry, I am not really making any sense, am I?

It is a mammoth film, with a running time of three hours and 1 minute. It is a feat that I in particular didn’t feel that the film was drawn out, it is written well enough and is entertaining enough that the film runs without ever feeling that unnecessary time was wasted.

What worked well in this film is that the focus was very much on the original 5 superheroes. The Avengers crew has become way too large over the last couple of years and Avengers: Infinity War’s ensemble cast was large enough to host a high-school reunion of a really robust year. I don’t think it is too much of a spoiler to mention that when the rest of the avengers return, it is worth it and at the exact right moment. It is also really beautiful with the focus on one character’s reaction specifically, and you will have to have been dead inside for a thousand years not to be touched by it.

I will probably return with another review once the spoilers are out everywhere. Further than that, it was good and powerful and I enjoyed it. It has been a wild ride, and a beautiful one.

Love you 3000 😉

Rating: 7.5/10

Movie Review: A Star Is Born (2018)

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Plot: A musician helps a young singer find fame as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral

Some people are born with a whole lot of talent. Like, sickening amounts. Two such humans, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, decided to collaborate in a project we never knew we needed quite this much. They are a powerhouse combination as Ally, the down-to-earth-but-wildly-talented Italian American girl who meets Jackson Maine (Cooper), where he stumbles into a burlesque bar one night while she’s performing. Jack, a country megastar is an alcoholic and on a slow medical decline due to his ever growing hearing impairment. Ally seemingly stabilizes him for a while, and as her star continues to shine Jackson’s doesn’t really grow dimmer so much as that his out of control problems rips their life into chaos.

Let’s first focus on the directorial debut of Bradley Cooper. He is a great actor, but might I say he is an even better director? There are strokes of genius moments – focusing on Jackson instead of on Ally while she performs, giving him as the actor enough time to show the feelings the character is experiencing while Ally changes some of his previous ideas. It’s beautiful and touching and inspired. The movie is also incredibly real feel to it, never shying away from the sweaty looks while artists are onstage that makes them so undeniably human – there is one particular scene where Ally is performing one of her new songs to a large crowd and she is sweaty and messy and very human. I am not too great at chatting about why I believe a director is great, but can I finally also add that the colors and use of lighting in this film is really good.

As an actor, Cooper undertook 18 months of vocal training to perfect Jackson’s gravelly country drawl. He also performs all the songs himself and sang live in all the shots in the film. Like I said, sickeningly talented. There is also a heartbreaking raw desperation to Jackson – sad and lonely and dealing with an idolization of a father who was anything but great. It’s impossible not to be touched by scenes where he describes how he was treated by the father he idolizes, and it is clear that his problems started

There is nothing particularly fresh about how the story is told, and even the ending is slightly darker than the usual route, it still remains a well visited topic. A Star Is Born is unique because, in my opinion, the following reasons:

  • Lady Gaga is not only a phenomenal performer with one of the best voices of our time. She is more than a passable actress. Cooper chose well to have her in this role and the movie couldn’t possibly have enjoyed this level of success with a less convincing performer. I will be honest and say that I never cared for her crazy theatrics on stage, but as this form? I can become a major fan.
  • The chemistry between Cooper and Gaga is off the charts. I hope they make more films together because they work seamlessly as a pair and were utterly convincing as a pair, so much so that there are STILL rumors about their off screen affair, which didn’t happen, because, ya know, maybe Bradley just isn’t the cheating type. However, it creates a tense and powerful atmosphere in this movie and the combination of the two makes you truly want it to work for Ally and Jackson
  • I had some moments rolling my eyes because the notion that only women who have poor self esteems and dress “down-to-earth” are worth noticing is played with a bit in here – let me just say that a woman can dress in a piece of meat and still be just as talented as Ally in ASIB (quite literally for Gaga), and still have the same amount of talent worth noticing.

Overall, this film definitely deserves the hype it got. and even though heartbreaking, I can commit to watching it again. It was THAT good.

Let me know if you saw it and loved it!

Rating: 8/10rev-1-ASIB-15481r_High_Res_JPEG

Movie Review: Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

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Plot: The story of the legendary rock band Queen and lead singer Freddie Mercury, leading up to their famous performance at Live Aid (1985)

Wow. I went to see this in cinema in December and never got around to reviewing it. It simply needs a spot on this blog because even though I never got around to posting a top 10 films for 2018, this would have ranked high up.

Let’s focus a few seconds on the performance that made this film – Rami Malek’s portrayal of Freddie Mercury. Malek has always embraced oddball roles with vigor and has no trouble taking on a human legend full of eccentricity like Mercury. The two sides of Mercury is explored – his crazy media and onstage persona and him as a loner and intensely private. Malek handles both with aplomb. He switches seamlessly between the two sides of Mercury and seems truly lost in his performances on stage.  I doubt anyone else could have given such a convincing performance. He deserved his Oscar, and he deserves all the praise being thrown his way for his work.

I liked that the movie focused on the band and how they developed, grew and thrived to become one of the greatest bands of all time. It could have gone without a few fabrications, such as a breakup by the band. I know there was some uproar online about the numerous factual inaccuracies in the film, but Bohemian Rhapsody is still one of the strongest films to walk out of 2018.

The other performances are stellar as well, although I would have enjoyed more time with the other band members on screen. I still don’t accept that Gwilym Lee portrayed Brian May – he looks so much like the real deal in the film that I won’t accept that they didn’t just dye the real Brian May’s hair brown again. Anyway, he obviously does a convincing job to portray the amazing guitarist. Joseph Mazello plays John Deacon and Ben Hardy Roger Taylor, and I think the only thing that could have made the movie better was more in-band conversations. Lucy Boynton plays Mercury’s female love interest Mary Austin, and yup, you guessed it, a fine job too. Allen Leech plays a villainous manager that corrupts Mercury and derails his life, and it was quite upsetting seeing my favorite Tom Branson behaving in such a manner.

I have been a Queen fan for a big part of my life. Their music is just so alive and interesting and original. I probably sound so much older than what I am when I say that they just don’t produce music like this anymore – the originality seems to have gone down the drain in lieu for bum shorts and gangster lyrics. It was an amazing to listen to all the songs in cinema and know every single word. There is also the incredible Live Aid performance reenacted in the movie, which made me re-watch the actual performance countless times.

Freddy Mercury succumbed to aids-related illness in 1991. His death continues to be one of the greatest losses in the music industry, with such an incredible talent gone forever. With the medical advancements we currently enjoy, he could have fought the progression of the disease for many years and continued to thrive. This film manages to capture the genius and essence of who he was. If you haven’t sat down to watch this yet, I really suggest you do.

Rating: 8/10

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

Movie Review: Captain Marvel (2019)

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Plot: Carol Danvers becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.

There’s that friendly rivalry between Marvel and DC, which actually just ends up benefiting them both. Fans of either side usually flock to cinemas either way, because if you love your superheroes, you love your superheroes. DC took a tentative step forward by bringing forth the fantastic Wonder Woman, which did great despite the internet trolls. Never one to lie down, Marvel countered with the equally great Black Panther, who also did great despite internet trolling racists. If we need a friendly rivalry to promote inclusion of women and people of color in films, then I am happy to have it. Marvel subsequently added more pew to their pew-pews by bringing forth Carol Danvers, potentially their strongest hero (ine), managing to include a female led film in their repertoire and also some much needed help to the depleted Avengers crew.

So, I thought this was great. I am stealing an opinion from a friend here, but as I quite agree I will tell you about it – the only (small) thing about Wonder Woman was that they included a whole lot of Pantene-esque scenes with Gal Gadot’s beautiful hair everywhere, highlighting just how beautiful she is. Carol Danvers is a straightforward fighter and her strength is highlighted by how completely bad-ass she is. I personally think that Brie Larson is just gorgeous, but the film never really focuses on her looks but more on what she is able to do.

Brie Larson is fantastic in this! There were some negative feedback about her not smiling enough in the film – who the hell has time for smiling anyway when you are saving earth and discovering where you come from?! That said, if you are only open to watching this film and not sitting in your mother’s basement and spreading hateful comments on the internet, you will notice that Carol Danvers has a whole lot of emotion flitting across her face – humor, sarcasm, kindness, empathy, and yes, even a smile or two. Larson is a phenomenal actress with a few impressive movies behind her name, and she certainly does not deserve any negative feedback for this role. I also seriously loved how they depicted the relationship between her and co-pilot and best friend Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) – we need more of this on screen, the true female friendships that inspire greatness, loyalty and courage. The same can be said for the respect and honor between the two trainee pilots and Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Benning), who I was surprised and happy to see in this even if she could manage a role like this blindfolded and tap dancing.

Samuel L. Jackson gets significant screen-time to link Carol to the Avengers, and man, he was a treat as always. It is great CGI to make him appear like his 1995 self, and the chemistry between him and Larson is great – it seems like they are true friends. It also provides some backstory on Nick Fury, which is something we all wanted – like why does he have that eye-patch? When exactly did he begin the Avengers initiative? All these interesting questions are answered and more.

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There has been so much talk of this movie by now you don’t need me to tell you that there is a highly entertaining cat in this film, or that Jude Law is gorgeous as Yon-Rogg, and that Ben Mendelsohn does a good job as Talos. What you need to do is go watch this in cinema and help Captain Marvel march towards a billion dollars, to prove that the world is inclusive and awesome.

Have you seen this? Let me know your thoughts!

Rating: 8/10

Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows)

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Plot: “I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb…

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

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I absolutely LOVED the movie (review here); so much so that it spurred me to start writing on my blog again. Naturally no force on this planet would keep me away from the book, and I got the last copy at my local bookshop – even though at an exorbitant price – seriously, how do they want people to keep on reading when it is so expensive? – I was still willing to fork out the cash because I just had to know.

I do love the romantic notion that one hard copy book can travel across oceans and reach people you would never have come in contact with. It’s part of the fun of buying a second hand book – someone else has read and enjoyed that particular book.

In this case, it leads to a life changing journey for author Juliet Ashton, who herself is still recovering from World War II, travels to Guernsey to meet their illustrious book club and one of it’s intriguing members – Dawsey Adams. He writes to Juliet after finding her details inscribed in one of his second hand books, and their pen-pal relationship develops nicely enough that she decides to embark on the journey that will alter the course of her life.

The one thing that took getting used to is that the book is written entirely as letters. This makes things a bit difficult, and certainly something to get used to, because there’s no “real” interaction between the characters and everything is written after the fact. I did get used to it, but like I said, it took a while.

With any book to movie adaption there will be a few changes. This is no different matter, but none so severe that it makes me like one more or one less. Dawsey Adams is definitely less attractive than the beautiful Michiel Huisman, although his character is just as beautiful in the book as in the movie. Again, Glen Powell and his absurd levels of charm make Mark Reynolds a nicer guy in the movie than he is in the book – he seems a whole lot of toxic in the book. They are also never engaged, as they are in the film.

I don’t want to give away too much for those who are planning to pick up a copy, but if you do I really hope you like it. It is still a testament to the beautiful country of Guernsey and their almost overlooked horrors experienced in the war. I am as a result also quite interested in who Charles Lamb was, the country of Guernsey, and any man who might be similar to Dawsey! 😉

Have you read the book? DO let me know!

Book Review: City of Bones (Cassandra Clare)

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Plot: When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know… 

My sister was campaigning that I  read this, hands wildly thrown in the air, that it was good and I needed to read this (you get the idea). I needed a healthy break from Grey’s Anatomy (seriously too attached), so it was a great time to pick up a new book series.

I think we all know these YA books are such hits with their population group because it tells the story of a teen who realizes that she really is different, and that it isn’t just her wildly out of control hormones making her feel excluded. I happen to still like them – they are fun and campy and you can use them as “filler” books between more serious reads.

City of Bones is a good example of this. Clary is likable, Jace is a good love interest. Jace has an attitude as big as the Great Wall of China so that makes him an entertaining character even when you want to punch him, which is quite often. There is a regrettable love triangle going on between Clary’s best friend Simon, Clary and Jace, and that is really typical and not too unexpected, but I still an arc like this as I consider it lazy writing. Imagine a series where two characters are completely into each other and a third doesn’t have to get hurt? For all Tris’ many mistakes, she and Four in the Divergent series never deviate from each other. But it does play into the dreamworld of a teen girl who wishes that not only one, but two, really handsome guys can pine after her

Simon is also a pretty cool only-human character (there needs to be one in every YA book). He is sweet and it is annoying that he lost his superior position in Clary’s life just because she realized her true identity. I hope he is around throughout the series. He’s a funny guy.

So if you’ve read the book you will know there is a major plot twist at the end. It made me furious furious furious (probably as intended). I hope some magic happens and it un-plots itself because I just can’t deal with this.

The book felt about a hundred pages too long. Gosh, the ending is just too drawn out and the author could have kept a few paragraphs off the book and still have gotten to the end like she did.

So now that I have bitched about the bad things, I will tell you that this is easy and light reading. The lore is explained as the book continues and it is as imaginative as we can hope from a genre that has explored every single avenue repeatedly. There are demon hunters, werewolves, vampires, faeries and an entire underworld that hosts them. The focus is on the demon hunters, and how snobby and elite they can be. The villain is all around bad and unforgiving, and not unlike Hitler in his beliefs. He is mad and determined and not even remotely afraid in taking out the people that needs to be taken out in order for him to succeed.

The main protagonist Clary is determined and can deal – she isn’t needy or silly or whiney, and she does her thing. I liked that about her, because too often female protagonists in their own story end up depending on every male available. Clary isn’t like that, and while she may be minuscule, she remains someone to be reckoned with.

If you like the genre, you will definitely like this. I will pick up the movie (even though it has terrible ratings), and maybe even the series – I see that got cancelled too – just to see whether their casting matches to my imagination

Have you read the series? No spoilers please!

Blindspot 2018: Die Hard (1988)

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Plot: John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save his wife Holly Gennaro and several others that were taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.

1988 was the year. My eldest sister was born and John McClane became became the hero of the Nakatomi Plaza attack when he took down Hans Gruber and his other German terrorists. So all in all, it was a good moment in history. Let’s also just take a moment to marvel at the fact at how the view of terrorism has changed,  as well as the nationalities of suspected terrorists.

I have been chewing on this a while – did I like it? Did I not? I really can’t tell for sure. I really like action movies, so it was a bit of a weird thing for me to not have seen Die Hard, considered by many to be 1) a Christmas movie and 2) one of the best action movies, like, ever. So, in the spirit of actually finishing up my Blindspot list this year, I sat down and got this done.

I have to confess that while I liked Die Hard just fine, I didn’t really love it. I felt disconnected from Bruce Willis being young and gung ho and ready to fight the bad guys. The dialogue is fantastic though, and John really is a smart mouth. I am sounding old again, but the dialogue in “today’s” movies just aren’t the same anymore.

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I’ve never seen Alan Rickman in a younger role. He has always been Severus Snape to me, (and now Marvin). It seems like a real shame and something I need to sort out – he is simply fantastic as Hans Gruber – controlled, brilliant, devious and a mastermind. If not for one rogue cop, this man would definitely have succeeded. Hans Gruber is a villain that you don’t get too often in action movies – he is not just a bad guy for shits and giggles, he is smart and has a plan and Alan Rickman acts convincingly as this ominous man.

There is also a bit of a buddy cop vibe going between John McClane and Sgt. Al Powell (Reginald Vel Johnson). Al is the first person to take John seriously and alert the cavalry that there is indeed a terrorist attack going down. Al gets a moment too at the very end to prove his bravery, and I can only hope he is in the next million films that were released in this franchise.

I also liked Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), but I have never really been able to sympathize with people who leave their cop-partners because of the workload (sure, infidelity or abuse, but he is busy protecting everyone). Despite her choice to leave John, she is given good dialogue and is not so afraid of the terrorists that she can advocate rights for her fellow hostages.

I’m giving this a 7/10 because it was good, not particularly great, but a decent watch that didn’t require too much brain power and a decent film to have noted as “watched”.

 

Movie Review: Ant-Man (2015)

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Plot: Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, cat burglar Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

Ant Man is really the only Marvel film I haven’t specifically gone to see in cinema in the last five years. I finally sat down to watch it a while ago, and it halfway confirmed my suspicion that a movie about a superhero the size of an ant would be silly, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t end up enjoying myself quite a lot.

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Anyone who has ever seen Clueless will tell you that Paul Rudd is the most adorable person to have ever person’d (not a word, but going with it). He also hasn’t aged in the 23 years since Clueless and looks exactly the same, adorable person he was back then (although with a lack of photographic evidence I can’t really comment on whether he was as ripped back then). He takes on a big role and sort of becomes an Avenger as Scott Lang, an engineer who has some bad taste in friends, and is recruited for a big role when he steps out of prison.

Joining the Ant Man cast is Evangeline Lilly, as Hope, the daughter of inventor-technology-extraordinaire Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Hope is smart and successful and plays a double agent between her father and the rapidly mentally deteriorating ex-protégée of Hank and current evil person and CEO of Hank’s brainchild company Pym Technologies, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll). She’s also love interest of Scott Lang, because plot reasons, and she’s also not allowed to put on the suit – initially I was like poor move Marvel, not allowing her to put on the suit because of her lady parts, but the movie does try to explain it as daddy has lost mommy this way and can’t lose his daughter this way too (I’m not convinced, but at least the sequel is titled “Ant-Man and the Wasp”, where Hope becomes the Wasp. Hope is great, looking amazing in her black suits and amazing hairstyle and kicking ass while being a central part of the plot. I also really enjoyed Michael Douglas, it is good seeing him look so well after his cancer diagnosis a few years back, and he adds gravity to the movie and manages to deliver some snide remarks and sarcastic comments while he’s at it.

One of the best things about Ant-Man is Michael Pena’s performance as Luis, Scott’s former cellmate and criminally-inclined-but-still-cool-person. Not really sure why Marvel would want to tap into the stereotype of Mexican criminals, but Pena manages to make his character a hit and especially hits it off with his amazing storytelling skills.

I also enjoyed seeing Judy Greer again, she’s great and as always after seeing her in something, I wish I could see her become a leading lady in a film. She’s been in Hollywood for ages and yet has never been the sole focus of a film, which is a shame in my opinion. I liked how she wasn’t portrayed as the villainous ex-wife of Scott, but rather a mother and an ex-partner who would be open to allowing more visitation rights to the seriously cute Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) once Scott sorts himself out.

I enjoyed Corey Stoll as the villain, but I really wish there were just a bit more depth to the backstory and more explanations why he lost the plot quite so badly and turned from protégée to “I want to kill everyone” type of person. He quickly becomes the madman, and I don’t always understand why.

I also suffered some confusion, and would advise people to watch Marvel films in the order they come out in, because I got the events quite mixed up in my head at a stage.

Ant-Man had a lot of good things going for it, and it is as warm hearted as a Marvel superhero movie can and will get. I missed out on Ant-Man and The Wasp in cinema (cry cry cry) but will definitely watch it when I can. I hope that Hope gets her chance to kick some ass and become part of Luis’ excellent storytelling skills.

Rating: 7.5/10

Movie Review: Fallen (2016)

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Plot: A young girl finds herself in a reform school after therapy since she was blamed for the death of a young boy. At the school she finds herself drawn to a fellow student, unaware that he is an angel, and has loved her for thousands of years.

Rotten Tomatoes gives Fallen a 7% rating. A really unfair 7% rating. Look, the movie starts with a type of introduction that was clearly stolen from the Lord of The Rings intro (I kid you not), complete with a Galadriel-esque voice over and mystique images. Then it proceeds to the teenage-on-earphones driving in scene so reminiscent from Twilight that I didn’t expect too much. All these movies hope to become the sleeper hit that the first Twilight film was, and they all copy at least one or two aspects of that film.

I wasn’t such a fan of the book Fallen when I read it a couple of years ago, but that had more to do with the writing style than the actual content. Also, are all schools for troubled youth beautiful old mansions or is this just Hollywood?

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Anyway, Fallen is a surprisingly okay film for the tired Young Adult genre that has seen more misses than hits the last few years. Fatal flaw or not, I have a weakness for these films and always end up getting a copy. They don’t have to be good for everybody for me to give it a chance. There are some scenes which are remarkably silly (angels fighting in clouds), but for the most part I was interested and wanted to keep watching. The chemistry between the three leads are great, and the support cast, notably Lola Kirk as Penn, provided enough color to the film to keep it going. She’s hilarious and did the whole nerdy girl perfectly. Also, the two male parts of the love triangle never gets any real animosity going between them.

I liked the story well enough – the angels who didn’t choose sides when Lucifer and God split were sentenced to earth, and that is where one angel (hint, he’s a handsome blonde teenager), fell in-love with a teenage girl (hint, she’s a beautiful brunette), and as a result, this angel damned all the remaining angels, both good and bad, to a lifetime on earth. They are generically white, light angels versus heavy eyeliner dark makeup so that we can definitely know who is on whose side. Naturally beautiful blonde angel guy is stuck pining for eternity, and every 17 years gets to fall in-love again as his true love meets him and dies as soon as they kiss. Pretty sad, I know. Luckily for us, Luce’s reincarnation this time is “different”, and they share a smooch only to discover that she’s not dying and there is hope for them this time around.

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The film has a satisfactory grungy look and tries hard to be hardcore. Since I am about as “hardcore” as a pink marshmallow, I was impressed with the scenes of a metal club (if you can overcome the fact that these troubled teens break out of their dormitory with loud bikes) and found it satisfactorily cool.

I might even pick up the books again to see if they are better this time around. It definitely wasn’t a bad way to spend an hour and thirty minutes, and I won’t scream loudly against picking it up again at some stage.

Rating: 6.5/10