Happy Women’s Day South-Africa: Top 15 Favorite Kick-Ass female characters on screen

Today is Women’s Day here in South-Africa. Over here we like public holidays quite a bit (although India has TWENTY ONE), so we are all having a day off today – Whoop!

To celebrate, I made a list of strong female characters on screen. I think we can all agree that there are too few well written, complex female characters, but these ladies below are amazing and did their job extremely well in their respective films!

black-widow

Fifteen: The Black Widow – Marvel movies

Female superheroes have increased marginally, and I am really happy about that. My only negative comment is that I am confused why female superheroes need to either wear skin tight leather suits or skimpy Wonder Woman outfits while their male counterparts wears aerodynamically pleasing outfits or war clothing. We have a far way to still go in this genre, but at least we can all agree that Natasha Romanoff kicks ass multiple times on screen and is a fully functional member of the squad. I really enjoy this character, and I think Scarlett Johannson has done a great job bringing her to the screen. It annoyed me a bit that her infertility was this massive discussion in one of the movies – the reproductive capability of her male teammates have never been discussed.

Katniss-Everdeen_Catching-Fire1

Fourteen: Katniss Everdeen

Katniss as a character has many flaws – she is selfish and can’t choose between two men. While that is certainly a crime, I have never been able to really judge her too harshly for it. Her world is dark and horrible, and she has nothing wonderful. Turning away from the caring of a good man? It seems nearly cruel to expect her to do that.

But despite this obvious flaw, I really thought the character was badass and capable, and honorable to take her younger sister’s place in a situation where she was guaranteed her death.

hermoine

Thirteen: Hermione Granger, The Harry Potter series

If this had been a literary list, Hermoine would have been much higher. Film Hermoine is great and Emma Watson did a good job with her, but my opinion remains that the film adaptions didn’t do justice to the sheer magnificence of the novels, on any level. Anyway, this isn’t a Harry Potter discussion, so I will just mention that Hermoine Granger is the reason those two boys stayed alive. She is strong, intelligent, fiercely loyal and brave, and her contribution to the wizarding world and the feminist cause must never be forgotten.

Elle woods

Twelve: Elle Woods, Legally Blonde

When Legally Blonde dropped in 2001, every single person on this planet was charmed by Reese Witherspoon and the ditzy genius she created. There were tiny dogs, buckets of pink, manicures and textbooks, all in one film. I placed Elle Woods on this list because we too often forget that it is perfectly possible for a woman to love pink, to be girly and to be very determined, intelligent and capable all at one time. Another excellent thing in the film was that sisterhood won out in the end, and Warner Hungtinton the Third was booted on his ass.

Caroline

Eleven: Caroline Forbes, The Vampire Diaries

As the only series character to make it on to this post, you must know that I am very much team Caroline. Another pretty blonde girl who shows determination, loyalty and passion for life! In season one, Caroline works on your nerves pretty much incessantly. She’s insecure and whiny, and seems to be shallow and petty. However, the second she becomes a vampire and she realises that she will live an eternity in her own head, she gets a grip in such a remarkable fashion that I became her biggest fan.

I am no man

“I am no man”

Ten: Eowyn, Lord of The Rings

Perhaps the lady with the most iconic quote on the list, Eowyn, shield maiden of Rohan, is on first impression another lady who waits while her beloved father figure wastes away at the hand of the dastardly Wormtongue and her brother rides to war against orcs. It quickly becomes clear that this is a proud woman who was raised by warriors, and that she is simply tired of being left behind while those she loves die around her. She finds a way on to the battlefield, and if that chilling and rousing speech Theoden gives before his final ride isn’t enough, Eowyn steals everyone’s thunder by killing the leader of the Nazgul. She also gets her super happy ending at the end, which pleased me to no end.

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Nine: The Bride, Kill Bill

Quentin Tarantino is a phenomenal film maker, and the roles he creates for women are legendary. The Bride is one such character, hell bent on revenge and making people pay for what was done with her. Uma Thurman brings this vengeful character to life with scary finesse, and even though this isn’t my favorite Tarantino film, the character itself is impressive as they come.

kick ass little girl

Eight: Hit Girl, Kick-Ass

She’s super tiny, she swears like a sailor, she wears a bright purple wig and her father is Nicolas Cage. Who doesn’t love her? I was a major fan of both movies, and it would be amazing if they could make a third. Hit Girl is the best part of this franchise, showing that gender and size is insignificant when it comes to being a bad ass.

rey star wars

Seven: Rey, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The horror when Disney bought Star Wars was paramount. Everyone was sure it would be a disaster, and no one could even get a moment of sleep due to the inordinate amounts of stress this franchise was causing in their adult lives. LUCKILY, Disney actually ended up doing a great job, and introduced a bunch of new characters that were able to flow nicely with how things had been done in the past. One of the best new additions was Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, a survivor and a strong female character who can do things for herself. I really enjoyed this character – she is a fantastic blend of purity and strength and was wonderful and empowering to watch.

ALL YOU NEED IS KILL

Six: Rita Vrataski, The Edge of Tomorrow

A nice little situation of role reversal, Emily Blunt was a hardened war veteran who saved Tom Cruise’s ass REPEATEDLY from aliens. I loved the character – she was sassy, strong, smart and the heroine of the day.

Eva Green CR

Five: Vesper Lynd, Casino Royale

Did you also just rub your heart because of the pain that shot through it when Vesper was mentioned? It HURTS. Vesper is hands down the best Bond girl that has ever been onscreen. Her sharp brain kept her well equipped to banter with Bond, and her eventual control over Bond ripped out my heart. The fact that Casino Royale is the best Bond film out there certainly helps, but this character in herself is powerful and strong and determined, attributes that were completely left out during the writing process for the other female characters over this incredibly long franchise.

Ellie Sattler Laura Dern

Four: Dr. Ellie Sattler, Jurassic Park

I mentioned in my review of Jurassic World that it felt awful to realize that Dr. Ellie Sattler, who was in the very original Jurassic Park in NINETEEN NINETY THREE was a better, well written and strong female character than the running-in-heels-Bryce-Dallas-Howard. Dr. Ellie Sattler, played by Laura Dern, is super smart, professional, excels in her field and gets to see Dinosaurs in JP. I have loved and admired this character from my childhood till now, and I am eternally grateful to the writers that they allowed this strong character to see the light.

M

Three: M, The Bond Franchise

Dame Judi Dench is literal life goals. She is classy, successful and revered, and a girl can just dream to be her when she grows up. M is Bond’s boss, the only person who can try to control him, and their relationship is amazing and complex. I love the power of M, and Judi Dench is incredible to behold as this woman who puts her country above everything in her life.

Furiousa

Two: Furiousa, Mad Max

Homegirl Charlize Theron teamed up with Tom Hardy in the return of Mad Max, and what a job she did. Furiousa is powerful and intense, and her survival skills in the mad world she finds herself in is incredible. The film should have been titled Furiousa, as it is about her and how she helped the wives escape from that dreadful man. The entire film is one big celebration of sisterhood and sticking together, and I could only cheer on the women as they battled for their freedom.

Shoshanna

One: Shoshanna Dreyfus, Inglorious Basterds

The final accolade was difficult to award, because all of the ladies on here are amazing. However, I do think that Shoshanna is worthy, and that her role in Inglorious Basterds is incredibly important. I loved her – her courage and determination, her absolute hatred of anything Nazi, and her eventual success at revenge.

Well, there you have it. There are hopefully a million other female characters that can be mentioned by you below, and I look forward to seeing your opinions!

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July 2016: Watched, Read, Loved

Gosh I’m glad it’s August! I am over the cold in Johannesburg. For reals man. July was a pretty decent month. I got to see my bestie, and even though the circumstances weren’t that great, I am grateful that I at least got to spend some quality time with her.

Personally I think my eyes finally cleared with a few people in my life – there is a certain level of selfishness I can’t tolerate, and this person finally reached it. I should have cut ties ages ago, but when I bond to someone, you really have to nuke me out of it. Well, I’ve been nuked.

Hmm, what else? I’ve had a couple of hectic weekends and it reflected on my scarcity on my blog, which always happens and always frustrates me. I’m going to do my very best to post more often, as it makes me super happy.

And here’s a rundown of what I’ve been watching and reading. Enjoy, and tell me below what you’ve been up to 🙂

Watched:

At home:

Proposa

The Proposal

I saw this film before I opened this blog, and I have always thought that it was an okay film. I actually really enjoyed this so much when I watched it again. Queen Sandra Bullock and a very young and adorable Ryan Reynolds certainly make an interesting couple onscreen, and I thought the dialogue and hysteria was spot on and funny in the film.

Wedding planner

The Wedding Planner

Oh, Maththew McConaughey has a few gems under his belt before he started being all badass in things like True Detective and that other horsey movie that everyone liked. This is a boogy, definitely, and it was silly enough that I got quite annoyed. There were a few pros, which I will mention when I review the film soon, but let it be noted that Jennifer Lopez is a fantastic singer (for her genre) but acting should never be part of her repertoire.

 Valentines day

Valentine’s Day

VD worked well, and it is surprising because the film is packed with actors and actresses, and that rarely works. Mostly it is just a situational feel good film, but there is nothing wrong with that!

 Runaway_Bride

Runaway Bride

I’m on such a Gary Marshall/Julia Roberts run, it is not even funny. They do seem to be a dream team, because when they get together there always seems to be some romantic comedy as a result that is actually enjoyable to watch. Between this and Pretty Woman I enjoyed Pretty Woman much more, but I definitely liked this.

Skyfall

I already reviewed here, and if you haven’t read it yet, rest assured that I really liked this Bond film. It’s my second favorite after Casino Royale, and I must say, I am really surprised how much I’ve enjoyed all these films.

 Ugly truth

The Ugly Truth

It’s really ugly, and it’s really bad. The awful dialogue results in awful acting, I’m not really blaming our leads here at all, it’s just a shit film with crap writing and is as believable as anything Donald Trump says.

 27dresses

27 Dresses

JAMES MARSDEN. You have no idea the amount of hilarity this man causes in my family. I really like him, but his dress sense in this film was absolutely awful. Like, AWFUL. It is also a depressing movie – I will shoot myself before I’m a bridesmaid 27 times, it’s just not right or fair. I love our girl Katherine Heigl in here, and thought there were pretty good moments between the rapid romances and problems being solved easily.

In Cinema:

The Legend of Tarzan:

Tarzanposter

I reviewed this one here. It’s man candy season in this film. I’m not gonna lie. However, it isn’t nearly as bad as the trolls want you to believe, and I am still calling it the most pleasant surprise of 2016.

Series:

VDS4

Vampire Diaries Season 4

I finally switched it back on! It was a time issue, not because I’m struggling to watch it. It is still quite a solid show, but there are a few dips, something that probably can’t be helped when you travel this far into a show. I’ll post all the reviews once I’m done watching, then I can do them consecutively across a couple of weeks : )

Books read:

The Obsession – LOVED this!

Honest Illusions – It was okay – review here

Currently reading:

I’m actually in the middle of way too many books! I am reading Twilight again (the shame, I know) and I am definitely enjoying it more than Blood Bound (Rachel Vincent). I can promise you, when I get through this book, the review will be up here in no time and it will be a bad one – this book is so stupid. It is taking me ages to get through it, a damn shame because it is supposed to be a quick read.

So there it is – I am way behind on everything in life at the moment, but at least I got to do see and read some great material! What have you been up to?

Movie Review: Skyfall (2012)

Skyfall poster

Plot: Bond’s loyalty to M is tested when her past comes back to haunt her. Whilst MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.

Rating: 8/10

CONTAINS SPOILERS

It’s going to be really silly to say again that I love Daniel Craig as James Bond, because I do, but I mention it every time. Anyway, the man is so prime you know? The eyes, the attitude, the suits. Skyfall introduces a broken Bond – he’s simply lived too long and seen too much at this point, and it is catching up with him in a bad day. For him a close call with death is in his daily routine, but after being shot by Moneypenny, he allows himself to be presumed dead for a few months to give himself some time to recover, and only returns when there is big drama in England and his loyalty to his country forces him too.

M is as enigmatic as ever, a power clad iron lady that rules the secret service. The relationship between Bond and M is fascinating, alternating between a very twisted mother and son dynamic, a questionable work relationship and a long standing friendship.

The death of M and Bond’s reaction was a really hard blow to stomach – they had a complex and interesting relationship, one of the few that lasted in Bond’s life. I loved M – especially because it is Judi Dench and only an actress of her capability could have shown so effectively that she would always remember her role to put her country first, and her humanity second – the hard choices she had to make with both Silva and Bond clearly highlighted that.

skyfall2

I really friggin loved Eve Moneypenny. She is so smart and the banter between her and Bond is good for the soul. Naomi Harris was an excellent choice for the role – intelligent, uber British, sassy and pretty.

Then there is the incomparable Ralph Fiennes. I love the man – he has such a diversity to anything he does and he is simply incapable of being in a mediocre role, simply because of his capability to make everything he does exceptional. I loved him as the good voice of reasonable reason – he wasn’t being a tool and underhanded for personal gain, he was simply doing his job and dealing with the fallout of a failed mission.

Daniel Craig;Javier Bardem

Javier Bardem joined Mads Mikkelson as some of the better (excellent) villains of the Craig era of Bond. He was an impressive villain, and gave way to one of the creepiest scenes in the film. The blonde hair is still the worst decision for him ever, but it suited the creepiness of the character. I also really liked the angle that Raoul Silva was an ex CIA operative and the reasons behind his vengeful quest, as well as how eerily calm he was. The method to his villainy incorporated the new modern technology its reach of power.

Ben Whishaw as Q was ridiculously cute. He had this nerdy confidence based on that while Bond would do well in the field, he was the guy making it all work out behind the scenes. He is VERY adorable in that nerdy way, not in a Bond way, but still good. The incorporation of Mallory, Eve Moneypenny and Q seemed nearly seamless in execution, without it being rushed or forced.

Anyway, that is it from me – Skyfall is worth the watch and great entertainment. It is Bond, but not Bond – women have been treated increasingly less as objects in the Craig era, and that is something that can definitely be attributed to Daniel Craig himself, a staunch feminist that has had issues that side with Bond since the start. It shows in Skyfall, where the leading women are Moneypenny and M, and both are equal and perhaps even superior to Bond himself. For that I can simply salute this film!

skyfall3

Movie Review: Quantum of Solace (2008)

QoS1

Plot: James Bond descends into mystery as he tries to stop a mysterious organization from eliminating a country’s most valuable resource. All the while, he still tries to seek revenge over the death of his love.

Rating: 7/10

The worst thing about this film? It is really forgettable. I watched it a bit more than a week ago and I struggled to remember what went down and how I felt about it. However, I enjoyed it, and I am looking forward to finally watching Skyfall soon!

The most important thing in QoS is that James Bond isn’t over Vesper. He’s barely keeping it together, and although he won’t admit how badly she hurt him, he is slowly losing his control. He is more ruthless than he has ever been, and he doesn’t care who gets taken out while he’s doing his job. Daniel Craig – every time I watch a film with Craig in I’m reminded why I firstly really admire him and secondly find him so insanely attractive. He’s so… contained? He is a fantastic actor, he can switch charm on and off as he pleases, and I haven’t seen all the Bond films out there, he seems like one of the best.

I also really love Judi Dench as M. I mean, for reals, who doesn’t? She’s fierce and classy and a wonderful actress. The relationship between Bond and M is so interesting – complete trust most of the time and the acerbic tone of their conversations gets so funny.

The action sequences and directing is very well done, I’m not really a pro on this, but it looked really good.

As for the entire plot, it is good that they took over some of the storyline of Casino Royale, dealing with Bond’s suppressed rage and grief over the woman he loved. The organization behind Vesper is the main tone of the film, and remains shrouded in secrecy throughout. I did feel that some things were confusing and that the writers had no real plan to tell a story and at some points I genuinely wanted to rewind and try and find answers again.

quantum-of-solace

If I think of the recent Bond villains– Mads Mikkelson and Christoph Waltz, then Mathieu Amalric’s Dominic Greene falls far short of the mark. He wasn’t really imposing and his character didn’t have any drive to him – it made the movie much less great than it could have been.

quantum-of-solace-olga-kurylenko

As for the Bond girl, Olga Kurylenko, there have probably been many worse than her. Arriving after Vesper was sure to be a complete nightmare – how was the character to compete? Camille was a bit hollow and one dimensional, but she didn’t truly offend my senses.

I enjoyed it, but thinking back now it’s more a 7 than an 8. Casino Royale is pretty much the gold-standard to me in the Craig leg of Bond, and I think QoS suffered as a result coming directly after it. It is also one of the films in the franchise that builds on what happened in previous movies, making the storyline chunkier (in a good way).

Have you seen this? What did you think?

Movie Review: Spectre (2015)

spectre-james-bond-daniel-craig

Plot:

While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.

Rating: 8/10

December 2015 is such a massive month in the cinema. We’ve seen Mockingjay Part II, Spectre just released, Star Wars, which I’m sure will make everything this year pale in comparison is nearly out and Creed is getting a few good punches in before the end of the year.

Well, I signed on for Spectre because even though I am not a super fan, I thoroughly enjoy Daniel Craig as James Bond. It didn’t disappoint. Spectre is extremely enjoyable experience and doesn’t feel like two and a half hours.

As mentioned, I’m not one of the Bond super fans – nothing against it, but my knowledge of all the films is terribly poor. I’ve (unfortunately) seen Die Another Day and the incredible Casino Royale, maybe a few others, but that is it. So I can tell you what I thought of this film as an entity on its own and not really as part of the Bond franchise.

Bond Still 2

Let’s talk a bit here as the 007 himself, Daniel Craig. I think he is truly the definition of virility – he just looks so well for his age and exudes charisma and power. He is cocky but also gives flashes to a scarred man that is haunted by his past. I find it a very intriguing combination.

Bond still 3

The Bond ladies shine in Spectre. Monica Bellucci and Lea Seydoux both make me feel slightly ill – can such beauty be possible? Granted, Bellucci only has a few seconds on screen but she slays when she is on Lea Seydoux plays main Bond girl Dr. Madeleine Swan and does a great job. She is a central part to the fight to tract down and the destruction of Spectre, and without her Bond would have been mincemeat.

Bond still

Villainville is quite large with an intimidating amount of characters signed on to kill Bond. We have Christoph Waltz with a fantastic turnout as Oberhauser, Dave Bautista terrifying as Mr. Hinx, Andrew Scott as C, the character who successfully fulfils the need to portray a corporate suit as a villain. I would have enjoyed a bit more on Oberhauser and how he came to be so hateful, but I really can’t see how that they would have fitted that into the film.

The directing looks amazing and is splendidly done by Sam Mendes. He did a fantastic run with his time with Bond, and the shooting is beautiful in that warm slightly washed out feel.

The story itself is quite interesting and although I wished it could have been much more fleshed out, it was really well linked. I won’t say too much of this because it heads into spoiler territory, but it was really painful to see how Bond’s pain could be so linked.

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My very favourite scene? The opening with the Day of the Dead parade. It looked fantastic, Bond’s suit was fantastic and the whole setting set a great premise.

Spectre worked remarkably well. I truly do think that they could have developed the story just a bit more, but further than that it was a great film, both standalone and into the Bond franchise.

Have you seen it? What did you think?

5 Things Friday: Trailer time

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYY

IT’S FRIDAAAY!

I’m not nearly as excited as I was last week Friday, because THEN I drove down to see my bestie. It was AWESOME.

Anyway,

This was only a four day week for South-Africa because we, true to our fondness for public holidays, had one to celebrate Women’s Day this past August – my only question is why the men got off as well, but I guess I will never get the answer to that.

To celebrate this short week that went quicker than most, because DUH, one day less of work, let’s look at some new (and some not so new) trailers that has me excited to see their full movies.

Batman vs. Superman

Release date: March 23, 2016

Pros:

I think this can work well if it is properly done

Cons:

Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor?? I can’t see that happening. What is with the hair?

This isn’t really a con, it is just apprehension. Batfleck. I don’t know. Ben Affleck is a good actor and all but I can’t see how he will top Bale.

 

Suicide Squad:

Release date: August 5, 2016

Pros:

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. I think that is going to be amazing.

The whole feel of the trailer – WOW DC, it is looks eery and gritty and sexy.

Cons:

Jaret Leto as the Joker. We will see, but I wasn’t all that impressed by him.

I’m not even sure what Will Smith is doing in here?

The Revenant:

Release date: December 25, 2015,

Pros:

I get to see Zoë dancing around in happiness because DiCaprio is on screen.

Hallo, Tom Hardy

Hallo, Leo

Tom and Leo together? Bring me that popcorn

Cons:

The plot isn’t that obvious in the trailer. Maybe it is a good thing.

 

Mockingjay Part II

Release date: November 20, 2015

Pros:

The second part of that book is much more exciting than the first part, and that is what everyone was complaining about in their reviews of Part one – it was a little bit boring.

The Cons:

That trailer, if you look properly at it, really doesn’t happen what will go down in the final part of the movie.

 

Spectre

Release date: November 6, 2015

Pros:

Daniel Craig as Bond

Cons:

Can’t really think of any right now

Whoop!! What are you excited to go see?

Movie Review: Casino Royale (2006)

Bond-saved-a-company

Plot:

Armed with a licence to kill, Secret Agent James Bond sets out on his first mission as 007 and must defeat a weapons dealer in a high stakes game of poker at Casino Royale, but things are not what they seem.

Rating: 8.5/10

I’m going to review this more as a separate film than looking at it through the Bond Universe. I’m told it is as good as a Bond film can be, but I am not experienced enough in the art of Bond that I can make valid arguments for the pros and cons of it within its expansive genre.

 James

Daniel Craig as a spy for the British Government, and he is badass while doing it. He is fearless and does not think of any consequences, he has a gigantic ego that gets him into trouble most of the time and he loves his women nearly as much as he loves his job.

M accuses Bond of being heartless and cold, and he is most of the time, but the one time where his humanity comes through compensates for every second he was ruthless and cold. It is the most touching scene and beautifully shot, powerful to behold and probably the only of its kind in Bond’s history.

 le chiffre

Le Chriffe: He’s so villainous and powerful and worthy of being hunted by a double-0. Mads Mikkelson has an other worldly face. If it didn’t seem so preposterous I would think he had plastic surgery – he seems almost alien but it works for him. I don’t find him attractive, but I do find him someone I would look at twice and listen to what he wanted to say. Le Chiffre is multi-talented – he could be a classy espionage like thief when he wanted to be but he could get downright dirty when the need was there.

 vespr and bond

Let’s talk about Vesper:

I’ve always seen this girl everywhere and I’ve always wondered why people love her so much. Now I know because I love her as well. She is so capable of dealing with Bond’s ego and holding him in place. She is independent and has her own agenda. She is also kind and humane and is the perfect contrast to Bond’s cold/resigned behaviour to killing people when necessary. I can get Bond being destroyed by her betrayal – she seemed the perfect mate for his character.  I watched it with Zoë and told her that Vesper would either die or betray Bond but I did not expect both would happen. I was devastated for Bond because he had such a deep and open connection with her. (PS: Don’t ever try to get something out of Zoë, her lips are sealed about spoilers and nothing can pry it open).

The movie is a superb balanced show – the action is never too heavy, there is brainy action as well as brawny muscles, the car chases, athletic sprints and combat scenes looks believable, there is romance but it isn’t gross or soppy. I think this is a Bond movie anyone would enjoy, even if you are not a Bond fan.