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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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!

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Movie Review: Spectre (2015)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

The Ten Most Iconic Female Movie Characters Blogathon

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My best friend and follow blogger Zoë gave me the enormously difficult pleasure of taking part in this blogathon. It all originated with a brilliant idea from Dell on Movies, which stated the following:

A list of 10 iconic female movie characters has been made. That list will be assigned to another blogger who can then change it by removing one character (describing why they think she should not be on the list) and replacing it with another one (also with motivation) and hand over the baton to another blogger. Once assigned, that blogger will have to put his/her post up within a week. If this is not the case the blogger who assigned it has to reassign it to another blogger.

Now, this was a lot of fun. It took some thinking, because even though iconic female characters are plenty (yet under appreciated a lot of the time), emotions are involved with this list. I did realize taking off names like Ellen Ripley and Princess Leia would cause the internet to explode, The only tricky part was choosing a character from the damn near perfect list Zoë sent me to shoo one off and replace with someone just as deserving.

So, without further ado:

ellen ripley

princess leia

marge gunderson

scarlet ohara

jackie brown

rose woodhouse

clarice starling

M

the bride

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Who didn’t make it:

M

Reasoning: 

Don’t get me wrong: From the number of Bond films I’ve seen, I have always adored Judie Dench as M. She is classy, straightforward and powerful. So why did I have to kick her off? Well, I took a look at the list and considered what I thought of as viable options, and M is the only character I see on there that hasn’t had a cultural impact with who she is.

Who gets to go on:

Maria von Trapp

Maria Von Trapp

Why? Julie Andrews impressed the world with her portrayal as Maria. I have always enjoyed this movie so much and it impressively spans time so that it is never boring even though it is rather old. Maria is patient, sweet, kind and funny and I really think she had an enormous impact on society. Even now, when I think of pure class, I think of Julie Andrews. She has gone through the horror of losing her impressive singing voice and still managed to continue her career in Hollywood and has always been so dignified, even as a young lady here.

I hereby nominate Kim from Tranquil Dreams. Kim, you have a week! 🙂 (and the best of luck!)

Warm Bodies (2013)

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What am I doing with my life? I’m so pale. I should get out more. I should eat better. My posture is terrible. I should stand up straighter. People would respect me more if I stood up straighter. What’s wrong with me? I just want to connect. Why can’t I connect with people? Oh, right, it’s because I’m dead. I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I mean, we’re all dead. This girl is dead. That guy is dead. That guy in the corner is definitely dead. Jesus these guys look awful.

R is a Zombie. He can’t remember what his name used to be, or how he got to be a Zombie, what disease might have caused it, but now he spends his day walking around in a catatonic state, staring at his fellow zombies. His best friend is M (Rob Corddry), another Zombie. They occasionally grunt and speaking a word (literally, one word). R feels that he is different from the other zombies. They are completely lifeless but R is still processing his surroundings, collecting things, and constantly thinking. There are other zombies as well, who’ve progressed further into the monstrous state and they are called Bonies, because they all peeled their skin off eventually. They are horrible and dangerous and much crueller than the other zombies.

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M asks R if he wants food, and they and another bunch of zombies head out to hunt humans. They find a group of humans, led by Perry Kelvin (Dave Franco), who is outside the protective walls to find medicine for the remaining humans. A fight ensues, and R kills Perry and eats his brain. He glimpses into Perry’s life, and sees his relationship with Julie (Teresa Palmer), who is still fighting the zombies. He saves Julie’s life by making her smell like a Zombie and takes her to where he lives.

Julie is frightened and wants to go home, but is fascinated by R and how different he is from her perception of zombies.

Eventually R takes her home because her safety becomes a major concern. On the way, he tells Julie that he killed Perry and she disappears without him.

M finds R and it is clear that he and some of the other zombies have also starting healing. M tells R that the Bonies are mad that a change is happening and are planning to attack the human enclosure. R decides to go warn Julie, despite the danger.

Will R be able to warn Julie? Will she believe him? What will her father do when he finds out what his daughter has been up to? Can the Bonies be defeated?

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Rating: 7/10

This was such a cute, fun movie that I enjoyed unexpectedly. I thought I would dislike it – the story sounds so corny and I was rolling my eyes when I heard that Hollywood was producing a zombie love story. I mean, honestly? I kept on postponing watching this even though I had heard decent things about it. Warm Bodies succeeded in impressing me – the acting was well done and the progression of how everything went down came along nicely.

I actually enjoyed the presence of Analeigh Tipton, something I never enjoy (she has such an annoying face). Nicholas Hoult should get more roles – not only is he gorgeous he can act as well. Same goes for Dave Franco – his older brother is so annoying but this beautiful man is definitely not. I thought Teresa Palmer was a good choice to play Julie. Julie was a good character and she was admirable and a real fighter. She showed that kindness could be given to something you don’t understand and that if someone’s atrocities shouldn’t be a damning conviction on the rest of the species. I do admire her – not many girls can cope with loving a man who ate your previous boyfriend’s brain.

The theory of healing Zombies was ridiculous, and the zombies not very scary (although the Bonies were), the movie was fun because it didn’t take itself so seriously.

Recommended as some light hearted movie watching. Bestie, I think even you would like this! I can see myself watching this again at some point, and that itself is a rarity these days. Go try it out!