Movie review: Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Kong

Plot: A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden.

Rating: 7.5/10

I was only too happy when I finally had some time free and could head out and see a film in an actual cinema with actual popcorn. My choice was between Kong and Logan, and I might get shot for this but Wolverine has never been my first choice (although I hear from multiple sources that it is well worth the watch). I set out to see the gargantuan monster and my decision was rewarded for an enticing film.

My most predominant thought about Skull Island is that it is Avatar, sans blue people. I checked the inspiration that director John Vogt-Roberts pulled from and Avatar isn’t listed as one of them, but:  Beautiful untainted area without known human habitation? Check. American army swinging guns and bombs in unprovoked attacks? Check. Outrage when indigenous life revolts? Also check.

kong2
The star studded cast carries the movie when it might have been boring with less capable actors. From Samuel L. Jackson who plays a war veteran who just doesn’t want to admit defeat to Brie Larson as the photographer with a conscious, John Goodman as the researcher who is more invested in the discovery that might be healthy and Tom Hiddleston as a tracker and ex British army officer, they are capable enough to entertain us for the hefty watching time this film demands. I also thought John C. Reilly was appropriate comic relief while also providing some wrenching moments where you wish for him to be granted every wish he has after the life he’s had. I only really highlighted the major cast but a shout out has to be given as well to everyone who is sent along on the expedition, they were all well cast.

Tom Hiddleston proves he is more than Loki. After seeing this I am definitely on board with seeing him in more films. I have to say, this adventurer look suits him really well, I was much appreciative for science reasons. It was also a really cool character to root for, and he had the world weary attitude down to a T.

In all honesty, it took me about three minutes to be on #TeamKong. Stupid Americans thinking they have the right to enter untouched areas and bomb it? Typical and the world is weary. The events of Skull Island immediately occurs after the Vietnam War, and we all know how that went down. The political messaging is very strong and we have to wonder whether it is some jabs at the current administration in America. The expedition team is certainly more diverse than anything that is being pushed by POTUS right now, and it is all the stronger for it.

Brie Larson might be the only female cast member that gets actual lines, but she does her job well and carries the girl power flag with excellence. I liked her, I liked her character and she is definitely an actress I’d like to see more of.

Some beautiful cinematography and directing impresses as well. The indigenous folk are terrifying and oddly beautiful in an untouched way. I’d naturally never return to sanity after meeting them. The massive animals alternate between jaw dropping and vomit inducing. They serve as a not so subtle reminder about the glory of nature untouched.
Kong: Skull Island is definitely worth the watch, although heavy on the political agenda. I also felt that some of the fighting scenes were a bit drawn out and over the top, but that is crowd pleasing to the majority of watchers. I enjoyed it thoroughly as it provided a good variety of actors with an important story and great effects.
Have you seen Kong? What did you think?

Series Review: Daredevil Season 1 (2015)

daredevil-cover

Rating: 9/10

I was typically a fool failing to watch so Daredevil quickly and upon its release. I’ve seen Jessica Jones, and let me tell you, when that review is up you will see how much I absolutely loathed it. My biggest issue with Jessica Jones was that the story was boring, ill written and poorly executed. I was loathe to try yet another superhero series and convinced I wouldn’t enjoy it. Incidentally I started watching because rumor had it that Jon Bernthal is The Punisher and appears eventually in Daredevil. I am on a huge Bernthal binge so I need to watch everything he’s ever been in on risk my eternal happiness. So it came as a big and pleasant surprise to find myself enthralled. Daredevil is one of the meatiest shows out there, full of background information and scenes I would usually blast as filler nonsense. In here? It serves the overall feel of the show well as the early years of each character so deeply impacts them.

The directing of Daredevil is in strong hands. Everything has this tense feel, a sense of darkness that is perhaps an indication of Murdoch’s blindness or of the despondency of the city. I am unable to ignore even one episode’s opening sequence. So dark and heavy and vibey. I would like to know the person who thought of such an incredible opening sequence – one million times the wow.

dd-matt

In one of the best castings in recent memory, Charlie Cox simply shines as Matthew Murdoch. I had no idea that he had such a well of emotions to pull from to bring such a complex character to life. I would never have cast him as Daredevil / MM. This character is so interesting and just the thing I’ve wanted from this Netflix superheroes series – a character with depth and layer. There is such goodness in this guy and the moral questions he faces. I love the flashbacks to him as a kid, I love how he seeks advice from his priest and how he struggles with the mere idea of killing someone. It is incredible how the show’s directors and writers shows how well Daredevil can see despite being blind. His vision is not based on eyesight and so much more powerful and astute than the rest of us.

dd-karen

The unfairly gorgeous and talented Deborah Ann Woll has been previously best known for her role in True Blood. Karen is infinitely more interesting of the two characters I have seen Woll play. I enjoy how she grows and how her spine stiffens when she’s faced with injustice. Dare I hope that this character still has untapped potential and a well of insight to her past?

dd-foggy

Foggy!!!! Matthew’s best friend and law firm partner, this guy provides the majority of funny moments. His little crush on Karen makes me sad as it is becoming so clear that she’s otherwise interested. A man with such a loyal and good heart deserves the best. I’m not really saying Karen is giving him ideas, but I do think she needs to be more careful with him.

dd-ben

There are a number of smaller characters I really enjoyed. I really liked Clare (Rosario Dawson). She was instrumental more than once keeping Matthew alive, and their relationship,Ben Uric, the crooked copper who had one of the finest fuck you attitudes I’ve ever seen on screen.

dd-wilson-fisk

Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk / Kingpin. It is so rare that a villain is developed well enough that you sympathize with him. Kingpin is insane. That car door scene was the big reveal to how unstable Kingpin is, and man, did they do a thorough job doing that. Every subsequent scene with him in is simply stolen by D’Onofrio, who delivers a career best performance. I am so invested in this character and interested in every morsel of information they feed us about him.D’Onofrio is good enough that I feel I should be rooting for Kingpin and celebrating that such a sad youth could turn into such astounding power. It is rare to see a villain have a love interest developed as a serious arc and have the villain become even more insane as a result.

dd-assistant

James, Kingpin’s assistant, is played by Toby Leonard Moore. He is shiny with just the right amount of sneer and slime to make you uncomfortable. SPOILER: Karen shooting James was one of the biggest plot developments. I really didn’t see that one coming. It is sad, I enjoyed his villainy so much. I would have also really liked to have seen why he and Fisk were so loyal to each other in a world where betrayal was constant.

Daredevil was good enough that I wasn’t frustrated by the long setup of events. I vaguely registered that the show seemed to nearly run in a one episode one dilemma format. It served overall to enhance the events that start crashing through after episode 5. There were a few fight scenes that got a bit drawn out but I appreciated the ninja flipping skills of Daredevil so much that I could get through it without irritation.

The final episode is jam packed with excitement and fight scenes. Wilson Fisk is a wily bastard, and his capture proves to be nearly impossible. I do think that his love interest will likely prove a formidable force in the next season. She was very unhappy with his eventual imprisonment. Dare I say we haven’t seen the last of these two morally questionable characters?

Have you seen Daredevil? What did you think?

Movie Review: Annie (2014)

annie1

Plot: A foster kid, who lives with her mean foster mom, sees her life change when business tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks makes a thinly-veiled campaign move and takes her in.

Rating: 6/10

The very low rating I gave might suggest that I disliked Annie. I really didn’t though. I certainly thought that it was really very, very optimistic and that literally no one had an ounce of rhythm except Jamie Foxx. Cameron Diaz and Rose Byrne were the epitome of white girls dancing and I wanted to hide when they were subjected to singing and dancing and I was subjected to watching them do it. I thought Quvenzhane Wallis (what a name) was pretty cute as Annie. It seems quite deranged to make films about singing orphans, but the film (and probably theater production) manages to be upbeat and sweet and inspirational and one of those situations where the villains aren’t even villains at the end of the day. I watched Annie with my mom and she really liked it, and for her to really like a movie is almost impossible. There really isn’t much else to say about this – for a musical full of people who aren’t really musically gifted it didn’t go that bad. I wouldn’t claim that the film restored my faith in humanity because there is no way humanity is that good, but I did like it and thought it was sweet.

Have you seen Annie? What did you think?

Movie Review: 10 Things I Hate about You (1999)

10-things-i-hate-about-you-movie-poster-800x1200

Plot: Adapted from William Shakespeare’s play “The Taming of the Shrew,” 10 Things I Hate About You starts off with Cameron, new student at Padua High, sitting in the office of the quirky guidance counselor Ms. Perky. He is then shown around the school by Michael, who will become his best friend. During his tour is when Cameron first sees Bianca Stratford, a beautiful sophomore with one problem: she isn’t allowed to date. And neither is her “shrew” sister, Katarina, a senior who loves indie rock and feminist prose and hates conformity. But Kat and Bianca’s father alters his house rule: now, Bianca can date… as long as Kat has a date, too. Now, in order for Cameron to date Bianca, he has to find someone to date Kat. So Michael helps him enlist the help of pretty-boy/jerk/model Joey Donner, tricking him into thinking that *he* will get to take Bianca out if he pays someone to take out Kat. His choice: Patrick Verona, a bad-boy with a mysterious reputation–some say he ate a live duck once, others that he lit a state trooper on fire, and even more claim that he had a brief porn career. Will Patrick win Kat’s heart? Will Cameron win Bianca’s? Or will everything hit the fan…?

Rating: 8.5/10

10 things I like about this film

10things-bianca

  1. The deep philosophies of Bianca Stratford

10things-kat2

2. Julia Stiles and her attitude

10things-heath

3. Heath Ledger and his smile

10things-heath24. This iconic scene

10things-joey

5. Joey’s amazing self confidence

10things

6. Joseph Gordon Levit

10things-dad7. And this scene – this is every single dad

10things-kat

8. Kat’s sonnet

shakespeare

9. This sneaky little love story

10-things-4

10. And last but not least, let’s not forget the teachers in this film

I am crazy about this film. It isfeel good, it is hilarious, it is a typical teen film. I think I could watch it once a week for the rest of my life and be totally okay with it. It is everything the 90’s rocked at, and just the typical and perfect high school film in my mind. It always hurts just a little bit to see Heath Ledger so young, alive and beautiful. He was such a charming and talented man and his death to this day remains one that consistently hurts significantly. He has such good chemistry with Julia Stiles, who does the defiant and sulky teenager on point. Bianca Stratford and JGL are so sweet together. Joey Donner? I’m not sure WHO would find him attractive, ick. Though the character was hilarious and the perfect villain for this film, you have to marvel at teenage hormones because that is the only explanation I could have for anyone finding him attractive. Mr. Stratford is probably all of parents – determined to keep his teenage daughters unpregnated and he’s not afraid to use his experience as a gynecologist as a tool. This staple chick flick is just that – a staple. I think a lot of men probably love this too, because it isn’t soppy or stupid and has some pretty damn hilarious moments in. Comment below and tell me your thoughts on this!

Book Review: The Woman Who Stole My Life (Marian Keyes)

TWWSML

Plot: Stella Sweeney is back in Dublin. After living the dream in New York for a year – touring her self-help book, appearing on talk shows all over the USA and living it up in her 10-room duplex on the Upper West Side – she’s back to normality with a bang. And she’s got writer’s block.

Stella wants a clean break as she didn’t exactly leave New York on a high. Why is she back in Ireland so soon? Who is it who keeps calling? Stella wants to get back to being the woman she used to be. But can she? And should she?

Rating: 6.5/10

It took me ages to read TWWSML. I read the first half really quickly, but it was super easy to get bored with the story. I did like that it ran in two different time zones – the present and the past events that lead up to the main character’s current situation. As usual the book contained truly Marian Keyes quirks, but for the most part it was a lot more normal than the previous book of Marian Keyes that I read. The Brightest Star in the Sky was odd to say the least, and this is a return to more moderate work from Keyes, which I enjoyed. It is more in the format of just a normal Irish tale, and I was fine with it.

Including a fascinating autoimmune disease was a great idea. GuillaineBarregot me reading up about the disease, and I patted myself on the back not only for understanding what went down but also learning a bit more about my field of work.

The book was really a big read, and the end was really rushed. It was a bit disconcerting to slosh through five hundred pages to have the ending run away like that. As for characters, I really hated her ex-husband. He was absolutely awful, and I’m not surprised that they ended up being divorced. I could in a way understand her child’s attitude – he’s young and his parents weren’t giving him a stable environment, but a grown ass man acting like that? Inexcusable.

TWWSML really wasn’t bad – it was just way too long. Have you read it? How did you feel about it?

Movie Review: The Proposal (2009)

proposal poster

Plot:  A pushy boss forces her young assistant to marry her in order to keep her visa status in the U.S. and avoid deportation to Canada.

Rating: 7/10

It seems that I can put movies into two categories in my life – what I saw before the blog, and what I saw after I started the blog. There is some time difference (I think I started here in 2011/2012), so most of the things in the “before” section needs to be looked at again.

The Proposal is one of those films. For some reason didn’t enjoy it back then. I think I was convinced that Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds had no chemistry on screen. It’s not true though – they worked well together. Can I just be a bit happy for the challenged gender stereotypes in here? Bullock is the total boss and Ryan is her assistant and I was just like yasss queen.

proposal1

Most romantic comedies have some gaping holes that should have been stories though, and The Proposal doesn’t really escape from that. I would have enjoyed seeing Andrew’s relationship with his dad being addressed as it was obviously full of anger.  It was sadly just used as a ploy to get Andrew to connect more to Margaret. I’m very confused why Gertude (Malin Ackerman) was named Gertrude and why the hell she was even in this story. She’s obviously Andrew’s old girlfriend, and that’s fine, but why is she only that? Like, she doesn’t cause Andrew to question what he’s doing, he doesn’t seem to b aware of her existence, nothing. It also seems that Malin Ackerman’s main claim to acting is walking into a room and to smile, waiting for the other characters to notice how pretty she is.  It’s mean, but I’ve yet to find a role where she actually has a purpose.

I really enjoyed Betty White as the grandma, she was a complete scream as usual. This woman has just seemingly spent her entire life being a complete joy to everyone around her, and I liked that her character wasn’t just this old granny, she had a ton of personality and opinions.

I definitely enjoyed this film. It seems I’ve given it quite a high rating with a seven, but films should be judged within their genre, and whether you had a damn good time. And I say YES to both of these questions!

proposal kiss

Book Review: Honest Illusions (Nora Roberts)

honest illusions cover

Plot: The daughter of a world-renowned magician, Roxy Nouvelle has inherited her father’s talents—and his penchant for jewel thievery. Into this colorful world comes Luke Callahan, an escape artist who captures her heart—and keeps secrets that could shatter all her illusions…

Rating: 7/10

After the immense enjoyment of The Obsession, I quickly plotted devious ways to get my hands on this book. I thought it was a new release by Roberts, but it sadly turned out to be a reprint of one of her very old book. It wasn’t bad though, but I did feel a bit bereft.

My biggest issue with this book was how long it took to get to the main story. It is naturally important to provide a bit of backstory on any set of characters, because how else would anyone ever root for them? I do think that three hundred pages of portraying the past amounted to a bit much though.

Luke and Roxy made an entertaining pair, and despite my bitching about the large past, I loved how they grew up with each other and couldn’t stay apart. I really also liked the supporting characters, especially Roxy’s father, with Mouse and LeCerq being their family and friends too.

It seemed a bit preposterous that the villain managed to become a US Senator after being a young criminal on the streets, but I’m not going to go too much into that as believably isn’t something I insist on in light reading (lol)

The book was good, but I do think that the author wasted a lot of ink on the growing up phase of our two character’s lives. It’s eventual conclusion lacked drama, which sucked, and I thought we deserved a more bitter ending for Sam Wyatt. Pfft.

Movie Review: Furious 7 (2015)

FURIOUS7

Plot: Dominic and his crew thought they’d left the criminal mercenary life behind. They’d defeated international terrorist Owen Shaw and went their separate ways. But now, Shaw’s brother, Deckard Shaw, is out killing the crew one by one for revenge. Worse, a Somalian terrorist called Jakarde and a shady government official called “Mr. Nobody” are both competing to steal a computer terrorism program called “God’s Eye,” that can turn any technological device into a weapon. Torretto must reconvene with his team to stop Shaw and retrieve the God’s Eye program while caught in a power struggle between the terrorist and the United States government.

Rating: 7/10

I’m finally through the franchise! I’ve really had a blast, despite some of those first few movies that made me legitimately wonder how they ever got more movies approved.

Furious 7’s production was initially halted when Paul Walker tragically died in a car crash. The world was horrified – both by the death of this well-loved actor and the way that he passed away. Walker has always been a car fanatic, and the car he drove in 2Fast 2Furious was actually his own car. His brothers helped out with filming the remaining scenes, which ensured that Brian O’Connor got the end he deserved.

As for the film? There are numerous mentions for the need for Brian to stop and properly commit to his pregnant wife and son. He struggles with being a standard dad and not an adrenaline seeking ex-cop turned car thief turned assisting the FBI, and wife Mia (Jordana Brewster) notices these struggles. She urges him on one last mission to avenge the death of Han (Sung Kang). Lettie (Michelle Rodriguez) is still struggling to regain her memory and Dominic is struggling with impatience because there are obvious things he wants her to remember. Roman Pierce (Tyrese Gibson) returns to make bad jokes and Tej (Ludacris) returns to being geeky and cool. The most recent permanent instalment returns as Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), who seems to have found even more muscles since the last film.

Furious 7 is as expected over the top, this time with Lamborghinis crashing through sky towers in Dubai. Brian O’Connor escapes a few certain deaths himself, and I couldn’t help but think the writers really wanted to leave clues everywhere. In terms of insanity, the airdrop scene came only second to the Dubai scene. Okay, there was the final collapse in Los Angeles was very crazy too.

F7

Djimon Hounsou is some form of African warlord and he is basically ignored only when he’s really needed. Jason Statham replaces Luke Evans as the Shaw brother to sort out, and for all his capabilities in dealing with action sequences, I have never thought him to be the most solid villain. Elsa Pataky returns as Elena, and I am not really sure why, except (hopefully) that she and Hobbs end up together – a girl can dream! Kurt Russel also has some role, and I was surprised when he was the good guy to the end, it seemed shot in a way that he would have ulterior motives.

But is the film good? Well, it’s not bad. I thought it was a bit loose at the ends and it didn’t gel as it should have. Overall, as part of the franchise, the film didn’t feel like the best. I am glad it ended like it did, but I also thought that Brian O’Connor would never leave Dom behind – ever. It’s pretty much that feeling that Mark Darcy should rather be dead (like in the books) than leave Bridget Jones – I can’t believe I just compared the Fast franchise to Bridget Jones, but there we go.

FastAndFurious_040915

What are your thoughts? How do you feel about what happened in the last film? Do you agree with the arc regarding Brian O’Connor? Share, share!

Movie Review: The DUFF (2015)

DUFF poster

Plot: A high school senior instigates a social pecking order revolution after finding out that she has been labeled the DUFF – Designated Ugly Fat Friend – by her prettier, more popular counterparts.

Rating: 7/10

I was avoiding this like hellfire because I just wasn’t in the mood for a movie that told young impressionable women that they needed to pretty themselves up for the sake of conformity. It was hilarious in Mean Girls, The Princess Diaries and She’s All That, but let’s face it, we need to start telling girls that it is allowed to be absolutely themselves and that popularity really isn’t all that.

duff5

BUT, The DUFF isn’t really like that at all. When Bianca gets told by insensitive-jock-but-actually-not-that-bad Wesley (Robbie Amell) that she is the DUFF of her friend group (read Designated Ugly Fat Friend), she’s understandably upset. It’s obvious that she’s neither Ugly nor Fat at this point, but the producers wouldn’t go as far as casting a really ugly person, which would just be stupid from their point of view. She’s mad at her gorgeous friends, Jess (Skyler Samuels) and Kara (MahaleyHessan) for stringing her along, pretending they are friends, while they are just using her as wingman. They are confused because they had no idea they are that much more beautiful than she is, or popular, and a petty fight ensues. Oh, there is a love interest Toby (Nick Everman), who is soulful, poetic and makes Bianca turn into a mute, and a teacher who really loves Bianca and sees how much she has to offer (Ken Yeong).

DUFF1

There’s thankfully only one clothing montage, in which Wesley helps Bianca (Mae Whitman), get bras and nice things to seduce all the boys. It’s cute and fun, but a recording of it goes viral and Bianca’s life becomes pretty shaky for a while, where she naturally contemplates things and becomes stronger as a result.

It’s nothing spectacular, but the DUFF touches on cyber bullying while dealing with bitchy teens. The constant hashtagging on the screen was weird as hell but as for serving the purpose of keeping the film modern and describing any new character that comes in.

As for dual love interests – firstly Nick Everman, who was hilarious as Toby. He was all in touch with his feelings and musical and in the end so full of shit, but Nick Everman injected a lot of humor to Toby. It won’t be a surprise that in the end Wesley is the real love interest (seriously – that is not spoiler alert, that is a bullet point in a movie like this). Robbie and Steven Amell seems like the slightly less dazzling version of the Hemsworth brothers. It would seem that Robbie acts slightly better, maybe because he doesn’t wear green eye makeup and say “You have failed this city” every episode, but this Amell was not bad at all. He was really well cast as a jock, because that is obvious, but there were a few more serious scenes where he projected his feelings well too.

DUFF4

It would be unfair not to complement Mae Whitman. I thought she was adorable and that she went to some great lengths to prove that she was “original” and “different” – two really important things if you want to make it nowadays in Hollywood. She will be forevermore be cast probably as the quirky girl, but that isn’t the worst way to make money, and she does well enough with this type of material.

It’s very lighthearted, but the DUFF is fun, and manages to finally be a movie that whispers that you don’t need blond hair to be the best thing ever.

Have you seen The DUFF? Let me know what you thought!

Movie Review: Laggies (2014)

Laggies poster

Plot: In the throes of a quarter-life crisis, Megan panics when her boyfriend proposes, then, taking an opportunity to escape for a week, hides out in the home of her new friend, 16-year-old Annika, who lives with her world-weary single dad.

Rating: 5.5/10

Somewhere in Hollywood a producer thought people would genuinely want to see a movie about a woman who has everything in life – caring parents, a good education and a man desperate to marry her, decide she wants to live like a teenager for a week, allow said character to move in with a teenager, teenager’s father be okay with it, and in the end this woman would end up happy.

Laggies2
Who had the most personality?

Obviously, I didn’t really get the point of this whole film. There are a minuscule amount of roles that I truly enjoy Keira Knightley, but this was not one of them. Her character was awful. Sure, her friends are atrocious and I’d likely stab them in the neck if I ever met them. The fact that she was friends with such awful people probably just proved the point that she’s awful – like seeking like and all that.

I thought that Mark Webber was quite sweet as the fiancé. I wouldn’t make it with such a sweet man, but he obviously loved Megan and was quite desperate that his life should go exactly as he planned it. Awful Megan really had no thought when she of her fiancé when she banged Craig, and I think at that point I just ended up completely hating her – it was a steady loathing before.

Laggies

What else? Chloë Moretz is appearing in so many thing lately, because she’s finally at an age where she can be cast as a teenager and actually look it. I’ve completely loved her since Kick-Ass, (I mean who hasn’t), and although she was just the generic teenager in this she did a decent job as become her norm.

Laggies_027

Then there is the amazing Sam Rockwell, who manages to stay insanely cool despite having the emptiest role in here. Craig is always working, in sharp contrast with Megan refusing to adult, and except having a few expected lines being angry at being dumped, he was a pretty empty character.

I honestly wish I enjoyed this more. The story was just too annoying to be any worth to me – sure, we all refuse to adult from time to time but that does not mean we get to squat in Sam Rockwell’s kitchen, now does it?

Have you seen it? What did you think?