Watched, Read, Loved: April 2017

April is the best month for South-Africa. Seriously – we have so many public holidays people are actually nice to each other. I took off a chunk of time as well, and it did me the world of good. I actually got some sleep in, saw my bestie and watched some amazing films. Without further ado, here is my rundown of April 2017.

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Movies:

BEauty poster

Beauty and the Beast (2017): The painful excitement that came when I heard they were doing a live animation of my favorite Disney classic was excruciating. Would it work? Would it fail? The QUESTIONS that plagued me.Additionally, B&B was released in South-Africa later than the rest of the world because of South-Africaitis, and there were conflicting reports to be read. Anyway, grabbing popcorn and sitting down to see this was really wonderful. I liked it, and will watch it again. I had Gaston stuck in my head for a week. I better not hear that tune soon.

One day

One Day (2011): HATED IT.

basic instinct

Basic Instinct(1992): This is part of my Blindspot 2017 series. This year I am doing remarkably well with it, because Zoë and I watched a bunch of them in December because #besties. Basic Instinct is next on the list and quite the shocker. OMFG my poor eyes.I might never recover.

Anywhere but home (2008): I thought this comedy was quite funny the second time around (I know I’ve seen this before but I can barely remember it). It’s also titled “Four Christmases”. I’ve never understood exactly why some movies get two titles. Anyway, if you can believe that someone like Reese Witherspoon would end up with someone like Vince Vaughn, you can get through the movie. It has some funny moments, and sure they are the typical things you’d expect, but they are funny regardless.

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Twilight: New Moon (2009): I’ve been meaning to blog about Twilight as a set for ages now. I did Twilight (2008) easily, but had a couple of months delay by what succeeds it. New Moon is the most insufferable – both book and movie – but I sat through it eventually.

Eclipse

Twilight: Eclipse (2010): Eclipse is a strong successor and definitely superior to the ghastly New Moon. Edward is still an obsessive stalker, Bella is still pathetic, R. Patz and Kristen Stewart still can’t act. But decisively better than the infuriating New Moon.

Safe Haven (2013): The casting for Nicholas Sparks film is never specified for acting abilities. I guess the author/filmmaker knows his audience too well, and knows if he provides enough pretty people the film will be acceptable to his fans. He’s not wrong. I enjoyed Safe Haven and the acting is really better than the acting in The Lucky One. The kids were cute and the story was okay.

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He’s just not that into you (2009): I always enjoy watching HJNTIY. My brother-in-law did not appreciate us making him watch it though, telling me that it is not also a guy-friendly film as I initially thought.

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Warm Bodies (2013): I just love this film. Nicholas Hoult is a zombie, and when he eats the brains ofTeresa Palmer’s boyfriend, he starts seeing some memories and slowly returns to human form. The cast, led by Hoult, are all quite charming and for a story that shouldn’t work it works really well.

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The DUFF (2015):yes, I watched it again. One of my favorite films at the moment. Such hilarity.lethal weapon

Lethal Weapon 1 (1987) & Lethal Weapon 2 (1989):
It was my first time around watching this buddy-cop series, and I really enjoyed it. The 1980’s were a glorious time to be alive obviously!

Blood wars

Underworld: Blood Wars (2016)

SO SLOPPY.

chef

Chef (2014): Chef is a film about good food and happy endings, and well deserved of its’ praise. I really quite liked this film!

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Arrival (2016): My review will be up next week. I loved this. Handsdown one of the finest films of 2016.

Drive

Drive (2011): I remember enjoying Drive the first time around, but I really couldn’t remember everything about it. I enjoyed it so much this time too, it is a phenomenal film and some of Gosling’s best work.

The guest

The Guest (2014): This film has a lot of science reasons it works well to the appreciative eye, but I can tell you that I would have loved it without the science too. Gorgeous directing, a solid plot and excellent score, this film is a great film to watch again and again.

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Prisoners (2013): Prisoners currently ranks as my least favorite Villeneuve film. It is on no level a poor film, it was just not my favorite of his. And it is five hundred hours long. *Scientific fact*

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016):

I can watch this movie indefinitely. It is the best!

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Crazy Stupid Love (2011): I definitely need to review this film again – It has been ages since I’ve posted it on my blog. One of the most inoffensive romantic comedies produced in later years, this movie will make you laugh and relate with some character in here.

Nocturnal animals

Nocturnal Animals (2016): This is my new hated film. Gosh, what a spectacular waste of my life. Pretentious bullshit.

 

books

Black-Hills

Black Hills – Nora Roberts

This is a particular favorite book of mine. I enjoy Dr. Lillian Chance – she is passionate about her work in the refuge she built and is smart and cool.

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The Concannon Sisters trilogy – Nora Roberts

While I do enjoy this series of books – Born in Shame, Born in Ice and Born in Fire, they certainly aren’t my favorite of the author. However, her love for Ireland does show when reading this, and I particularly enjoy the description of the scenery.

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Two Broke Girls Season 4 and 5

I’m enjoying myself way too much with this comedy. It shouldn’t be as funny as it is, but I end up really laughing at it.

What did you do in April?

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Book Review: Breaking Dawn (Stephanie Meyer)

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Book: 91/100

Bella Swan is finally marrying Edward Cullen. They made a deal – she would marry him if he turned her into a vampire himself and that they would sleep together before he turned her so that she can experience it all before becoming undead. He reluctantly agrees, sure that she will die in the throes of passion.

On their wedding day, Jacob Black, her best friend, werewolf and third part of their love triangle, shows up to do his duties and be her best man. He is horrified when he realizes Edward and Bella’s plan to make love before she becomes immortal – even though he doesn’t want that to happen, he knows it is much safer with her being a vampire sleeping with a vampire instead of a frail human. They disagree and Jacob flees to the woods.

Edward and Bella goes to Isle Esme for their honeymoon, a place Bella’s new father in-law, Carlisle got for his wife Esme as a present. They sleep together, but Edward is horrified by the bruises he accidentally left on Bella. She is persistent in getting him to make love with her, and in the end she wins, and he does.

When Bella discovers that she, a human, is pregnant with Edward’s child, they both freak out. When she realizes that Edward plans to have Carlisle abort the baby, she calls Rosalie, and the Cullen that always liked her least stands by her.

When Jacob hears that Bella is back, he heads to the Cullen mansion to go check what is happening. He is sure that by now she is a vampire, which is a direct violation of the treaty the Cullens and the Quilettes made ages ago, but he is shocked when he finally realizes what is going on. The fetus is slowly killing Bella, but not only is she determined to carry it to term, she is determined to survive as well.

Jacob decides that he finally has had enough of Bella’s constant infliction of pain on his heart, and leaves. He turns to wolf form and Sam, his pack leader, hears what has happened. He decides that the baby is a danger to Forks and the entire Cullen clan must be killed. Jacob is horrified, splitting from the pack. He warns the Cullens and knows Sam won’t attack with the Cullens waiting for them. Soon after Seth and Leah joins his new pack and the three of them helps guard the Cullens.

Bella goes into labour, and it looks like she is dying. Rosalie takes the baby from them to keep it safe and Jacob follows, intending to kill it. He imprints on the baby, Renesmee, and is unable to do so. Meanwhile, Edward is refusing to let Bella die. He turns her into a vampire by injecting venom straight into her heart.

Three days later, Bella awakens to her new life. Everything is even better than promised, now that she has her beautiful daughter, a best friend who is no longer in love with her, and some super self-control other new borns don’t have that enables her to not kill humans.

Life continues until Irina, part of the Denali clan, shows up. She wishes to make amends for all the drama with Laurent, the vampire who nearly killed Bella and was ultimately taken down by the werewolves. She sees Renesmee and thinks that it is an immortal child, vampire children who had massacred entire villages years before. They are unable to show her the truth and Alice sees her delivering the news to the Volturi, the leaders of all vampires, who have been waiting for something to take out the successful Cullen pack.

With the Volturi heading for them, will Edward and Bella survive the attack? Will they be able to convince them that Renesmee is able to control herself?

Rating: 8/10

I have to say that I really thought that the last installment of the Twilight saga was really well done. It is incredibly well rounded, addressing all the issues from the previous books and not leaving anything unresolved.

Bella was a much more impressive vampire than she ever was a human, and I enjoyed how well she seemed to develop her spine during the book.

It is a hefty read – well over 800 pages, and I questioned my sanity whether it was advisable reading it so close to the end of the challenge. I am glad I did though. It is always entertaining and actually quite well written.

Movie Review: Breaking Dawn Part One (2011)

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Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is finally ready to marry Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), her vampire boyfriend. Her marriage to him will mean the final severance of her friendship to werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) who is in love with her and also a mortal enemy to vampires. Bella plans to become a vampire to be with Edward forever, but this means that a war could break out between the Cullens and the Quileute werewolf pack.

On the night of her marriage, Jacob unexpectedly shows up. She lets it slips that she plans to sleep with Edward while she is still human, and he is outraged. His pack restrains him before things get ugly, and he runs off into the woods.

Edward takes Bella to Isle Esme for their honeymoon. They have sex for the first time, and Edward is appalled how he hurt her. With some convincing she gets him to try again, and it goes much better the second time around. Their honeymoon is only marred by a native who suspects that Edward is something supernatural.

Bella wakes up one morning suddenly very sick, and realizes her period is late. She is stunned when she sees a slight bulge in her stomach. They realize that she is pregnant and Edward is furious with himself. They fly back immediately, and Edward promises to save her life – by aborting the unknown thing growing inside of her. She secretly calls Rosalie (Nikki Reed) for help – the vampire who had always secretly wanted a child more than anything. She and Bella are able to convince the rest of the clan to wait and see what happens.

When Jacob hears Bella is back, he races to see her. He is nauseated when he realises what happens, and turns into a werewolf and runs away. His pack makes sense of what is happening, and Sam Uley, the pack leader, decides they must annihilate the creature – and Bella too as it is growing in her. Jacob stands up against Sam, and claiming his heritage as the true leader of the tribe, breaks away. He alerts the Cullens of the wolves’ plan and with them on alert Sam doesn’t dare attack just yet. Jacob is soon joined by Leah (Julia Jones) and Seth Clearwater (Booboo Stewart), turning his pack into three members.

Bella becomes weaker and weaker because her body won’t sustain any food. Jacob is first to notice that the foetus is craving blood. After that, Bella’s health increases slightly. A few days later she goes into labour and gives birth to Renesmee. It seems that she is dead, but Edward refuses to give up. Jacob heads downstairs, fully intending to kill the new-born, but he imprints on her – a powerful love only a werewolf can feel to its true mate.

When the werewolves learn of Bella’s death, they head to the Cullen’s to kill the baby. They stop when they realise that Jacob imprinted – they would never kill his soul mate. While Bella lies on the table, “dead”, Carlisle (Peter Fascinelli) realises that her heart is beating rapidly. She starts to heal as the vampire venom spreads through her veins, and the Cullens clean her up. Bella’s heart finally seizes up, and she awakens as a vampire.

Rating: 7/10

The second last movie of the franchise Twilight was surprisingly good. I know Twilight has a lot of haters out there, but I suspect it has just as many secret fans too. This movie is decidedly gory at times. The birth of Renesmee is disgusting, and Bella’s deterioration during her pregnancy is excellently done. She looks BAD. Kristen Stewart’s acting has developed enough so that she can grimace in pain and look in love (which is not actually acting since she was dating Pattinson at the time. She still mostly looks vacant, but I have to say I spotted improvement.

The rest of the cast pretty much continues to act as the always have done. I don’t know why, but when Kellan Lutz smiles it looks like he is grimacing in pain. Maybe he just forgot his lines. Looks like the type. He should stick to Calvin Klein-ing around (as mentioned before). I think Elizabeth Reaser should have stayed golden haired for the entire series. Her dark hair isn’t true to the books and doesn’t suit. Can vampires even get dye to stick to their hair though?  I still like Nikki Reed as Rosalie. As the character, I am glad she found some happiness by being part at the end with the birth of Renesmee. Rose’s story is perhaps the saddest of all of them, because she just wanted a kid and a husband to grow old with.

The wedding was beautifully done. I loved the dress.  It was as extravagant as in the book, just like Alice planned.

The movie is definitely better than the first three, and it is a decent enough watch.

Movie Review: Eclipse (2010)

What happened previously?

 

After Bella and Edward’s separation, Bella rushed to Italy to save Edward from exposing himself to humanity and ultimately getting himself by the Volturi. In Italy, Bella came face to face with some of the oldest vampires alive – Marcus, Cauis and Aro – the Volturi, a sort of global government for vampires. They wanted to kill Bella because she knew too much of their world, but Alice’s promise to turn her soon made them rescind on their verdict, promising to keep a close watch on the situation. Edward, who is able to read minds, understood that Aro, a collector of sorts, wanted him and Alice with the Volturi. With Edward’s ability and Alice’s power to see the future, Aro fully grasped the power they could give to him and his brothers.

 

When they arrived back in Forks, Jacob Black, a werewolf who is in love with Bella, told Edward that if he turned Bella into a vampire, the truce between the Cullens and the Quileute werewolves would be over. It nearly turned into a fight, but Bella managed to stop them with one of her self-serving righteous phrases (“You can’t hurt each other without hurting me”)

 

Eclipse

Eclipse

Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart) discuss his marriage proposal, and her wishes for him to turn her into a vampire. He persists that he will only turn her when she is married to him, but she argues that in the modern world it is only acceptable to be married at eighteen when you are pregnant.

Back at home, her father Charlie (Billy Burke) makes no secret that he mistrusts and despises Edward – with good reason. Bella doesn’t really mind too much, knowing she acted very irresponsibly by leaving the country without even mentioning where she was going beforehand. Charlie surprises her when he tells her that he will lessen her punishment if she uses her time by spending time with her friends as well – meaning Jacob. Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who has been ignoring Bella since her return, is apparently going through a rough time and needs his friend. Bella knows that he was there for her when she desperately needed her, but Edward is appalled by the idea that she even considers spending time with the volatile werewolf pack.

Bella and Edward find Jacob waiting for them at school, and she heads out with Jacob. They have a fight because of her decision to give away her humanity, choosing to become his natural enemy.

Edward and Bella go to Phoenix to visit her mother. Upon her return, she learns that the Cullens and the werewolves nearly got into a fight. She hears it was because both clans were hunting Victoria (Rachel Lefevre) , who is bell bent upon destroying Edward’s reason for living – her. The Cullens and Quileute’s are all dedicated to protecting Bella’s life, and take turns looking after her and Charlie.

Meanwhile, Charlie is very concerned about the murder rate in Seattle. It would seem like a serial killer is on the loose, but Edward tells Bella that it is a new-born vampire army. New-born vampires are difficult to control, which explains the random killings. The vampires are unsure why anyone would create an army in Seattle. They agree that they will soon intervene to prevent the Volturi from arriving and taking care of the situation, and then check up on Bella’s mortality status.

Alice (Ashley Greene) sees a vision of the army heading to Forks, and the Cullens align themselves with the wolves to keep the town safe. Bella realize that it is Victoria leading the hunt, and that Victoria knows enough of Alice’s ability to keep on making decisions randomly to keep them confused.

At the graduation party Alice hosts for Bella, the werewolves and the vampires makes a pact to save the town together. They train each night in the clearing under the guidance of Jasper (Jackson Rathbone), who lived in one of these armies before Alice found him and he changed his lifestyle.

Bella is frustrated by her inability to help. Edward’s family keeps telling her that she will be no help as a new-born, only distracting Edward and endangering both of them. One night she visits with Jacob, and his father Billy (Gil Birmingham) tells them a tale about the Third Wife. The Third Wife was a woman who sacrificed her own life to save the Quielettes from a blood thirsty vampire. Bella gets the idea that she can also do something like that, maybe just less dramatic, but Edward and Jacob both get very annoyed with the idea. They agree to take Bella to a safe location in the mountains while the fight is on, laying a false trail so no vampire can find her. Edward agrees to stay with Bella after she says she is either in the clearing with him, or he is at the campsite with her.

At the campsite, Jacob effectively tricks Bella into kissing him. He leaves afterwards, but Edward isn’t mad at Bella, and even reluctantly impressed with Jacob’s dirty techniques.

As Bella, Edward and Seth (Booboo Stewart), another vampire, stays at the campsite waiting out the storm, Victoria arrives with her sidekick Riley (Xavier Samuel). They are both killed by Edward and Seth. Jacob gets injured in the clearing when he has to protect Leah, a werewolf who was careless in her attack on a vampire. The wolves carry him home when they realise the Volturi are on their way, and knows it is best that no one knows of their truce with the Cullens back in Italy.

Jane (Dakota Fanning), Demitri (Charlie Bewley) and Alex arrive, and they kill Brie (Jadelle Ferland), another vampire who was part of Victoria’s army. The Cullens had offered her protection if she surrendered, but the Volturi point out that the protection was not theirs to offer. Before they kill her, Edward reads her mind and sees that the Volturi might have been indirectly involved with the army – they had hoped if some of the Cullens’ had died, Edward and Alice might have been more willing to join the Volturi. Brie is killed, and Jane reminds them that Aro still waits for Bella to turn immortal.

Bella goes to see Jacob afterwards, and he is in a lot of pain. He tells her that she needs to give him space to deal with her decision to become immortal, and she leaves him. Afterwards, she tells Edward that they need to tell Charlie that they are engaged.

Rating: 6.5/10

The movie and the book had a few differences. Once again, a few fights were included that existed nowhere in the novel. The fight between Jacob and Edward in the tent was selfish and narrow minded of them, as it endangered Bella who was right there in that cramped little space.

The scene where Bella runs away with Jacob on the school grounds were also created, but it worked fine with the movie. The cutting of some scenes was understandable – the movie would have become very lengthy.

I enjoyed that they included both Jasper and Rosalie’s tales. It makes clear why they are like they are. I loved how Rosalie got her revenge on men that had raped her before the end of her mortal life. Jackson Rathbone plays Jasper well. He particularly worked well in the Confederate Army part of his story, and how it showed how horrible the first part of his mortality would become.

The scene where Edward and Victoria finally face off was great. I have to mention that in these books I admire how equally strong the female vampires are compared to the male ones. It is a great source of feminism tucked into a series that has been blasted for being too weak in terms of female power. Victoria is in the end this huge threat, while James and Laurent were but temporary ones. Jane is also this incredibly dangerous little cow, and everyone fears her so much. I thought Dakota Fanning was superb here. It is a completely new direction she takes in her portrayal of Jane – she is usually the sweet, innocent little girl with a cute smile, and here she is a psychotic vampire who loves to torture people, with a cute smile. I loved it.

Book Review: Eclipse (Stephanie Meyer)

I have varying degrees of tolerance towards the Twilight phenomenon. It really depends on my mood. Most of the time it really is just a mediocre book to me – it doesn’t inspire the either the complete outrage or adoration it has divided readers into.

In defense for the series, I have to mention that originality is celebrated in all other genres – why is it so impossible for it to be celebrated in Vampires? It is so much better than the fan-fiction it has caused to erupt – like 50 Shades of Grey (E.L. James). That, my dear readers, is atrocious material.

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What happens? 

Bella finally has Edward back. In New Moon, Edward fled her life in a bid to protect her, but it was disastrous for both of them. He returns to Forks, but has to face the consequences of leaving her alone for so long. Jacob Black, a werewolf, is one of them. In the months Edward was away, Jacob became Bella’s “replacement sun”. She is in no way as in love with him as he is with her, but Edward still has to deal with her lasting attachment to another mystical being. Another problem is Victoria – the mate of the vampire James who Edward killed in Twilight, the first book. Victoria, like any other vampire, needs to avenge the death of her mate, and is hell bent on torturing Bella to death to hurt Edward. The Volturi is keeping a close eye on Bella, intent that she either becomes immortal or be silenced permanently to keep their secret world, well, secret.

When it becomes obvious that there is an army of new-born vampires on the loose, the Cullens know that they will have to intervene, or risk the Volturi arriving and checking in on Bella.

Will Edward and Bella survive this new storm?

Rating: 5/10

Like I mentioned, the book is average. It is a good love story – two people fighting to be together no matter what. Everyone is (supposed) to like that. The book itself is not badly written – in fact I find it quite readable. It is much better than some critically acclaimed books.

Bella’s character gets a lot of bad press. At the end of the day, she is day a teenage girl, which makes it okay for her to worry about boyfriends and be insecure. The character is an empty canvass – she is so devoid of real personality that the series’ main readers, teenage girls, can easily place themselves in her shoes and dream about Edward.

Edward isn’t that bad, really. Sure, he is a bit possessive and jealous, but with Bella’s track record of injuries, she really needs supervision. He is written to portray someone set in stone, and the only real change he has had in the last 100 years was his love for Bella – I would be pretty possessive then too. I applauded when he became more lenient and understanding for her need to see Jacob.

If you haven’t read it yet, and you like love stories, read the series 🙂