Sunday, February 7, 2016

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Warning: I'm one of those people who adores Pride and Prejudice. Not only do I own two copies of it, but I also have four movie adaptions in my modest collection. Despite this, I never read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, not because it didn't interest me, but because I never got around to it. When I saw the trailer a few weeks ago, though, I decided that I needed to see it.

I spent the weekend at the beach (not literally, but close enough), and intended to get some much needed shopping in, which ended up not happening. I loathe shopping. On top of that I was feeling grumpy due to lack of sleep and acute boredom, so seeing a movie theater with all the times posted in big numbers outside was a true blessing. Weekends aren't the best time to see a movie, I know, but this particular theater wasn't packed, and my mom and I didn't sit next to anyone.

Even better? It's a good movie! I didn't go in expecting much. How are they going to incorporate the original story with a new, zombie apocalypse story line? Will it be funny? It'd better be funny. Will I like Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy? These are all important questions. I'm a seriously Prejudice person, after all.

So, to answer my own questions: they blended the two worlds together with unexpected capability. I was unsure at first, and wasn't entirely convinced until the first real fight scene involving the Bennett sisters. As with any condensed version, a lot is cut out, but the important scenes are there, and I can't complain about that; you won't bust a rib from laughing too hard, but it had some genuinely funny moments, and the trailer makes it look far more serious than it really is; despite his rough voice, I liked Sam Riley, and I've liked him in other films I've seen him in. He wouldn't fit into, say, the '95 version, but for this zombified story, he's perfect.

Matt Smith plays Mr. Collins, which was another perfect casting choice. Lily James is Elizabeth, who does the job well, but is overall underwhelming. Douglas Booth is Mr. Bingley, and he's way, way too pretty. Put him in a magazine, seriously. I don't even mean that entirely as a compliment, for he doesn't look as if he belongs in this era. Bella Heathcote is Jane, who was pretty and likable. Also, Charles Dance plays Mr. Bennett, and he should have been in this more. I love Charles Dance. The most surprising casting choice was Sally Phillips as Mrs. Bennett. My immediate thought was: Miranda! Another good casting choice.

My only advice to anyone who wants to see this is: see the 1995 and 2005 versions first. You don't have to, but Zombies pays homage to both of them (unless I imagine one or two of those moments, which is possible), and you probably won't understand certain scenes or realize that something was changed unless you watch those beforehand.

Overall, this was a lot of fun, and it's always great to see women kicking ass, especially zombie ass. Go see it!

My grade: B+ 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens


I've been hesitating to put out this review, because I know I won't be able to review it without giving away one or two spoilers. So yes, you have been warned! Don't read this unless you've already seen it, or you simply don't care.

Basic plot: Set after Return of the Jedi. Luke Skywalker has gone missing, and the First Order are desperate to find and destroy him.

As with most movies, I went into this with lowered expectations, despite the glowing ratings it's received. I'm glad I did. Don't get me wrong -I enjoyed it, but I have a bone to pick, and if I don't get this out of my system now, I never will.

First of all, what is up with Carrie Fisher's mouth? This is why we avoid plastic surgery! And really, Leia and Han Solo broke up?! No, that's wrong, all wrong! It just won't be the same when I watch Return of the Jedi. What's worse is that they give Leia next to nothing to do. She's there to inject some nostalgia, which doesn't work so well when you're disappointed, and she's rendered useless. All she does is attempt to move her mouth, gaze at Han, and look disapproving and worried.

Han Solo is a more pleasant sight, but they still manage to make it cheesy. Nevertheless, he's always been my favorite Star Wars characters, and he was one of the best parts about this they really shouldn't have killed him. I know the point was to create drama, character development, make people cry, and further the storyline, but come on! Having said that, it wasn't a shocker. I think most of us saw it coming from a mile away. In fact, nothing about this movie is surprising or new. The twists were obvious (Rey is a Jedi? I couldn't tell! Kylo Ren is Han and Leia's son? Never would have guessed!), although they're not bad, just uninspired.

As my cousin pointed out, Disney is running the show now, and they have a habit of dumbing things down for the audience, and it shows. They try to make it sillier than it needs to be. Take Finn, for example, who should have more depth, but is instead reduced to being a bit of an idiot, which I found incredibly disappointing. The one thing I do like is that Rey can kick ass. She also murdered Keira Knightly and stole her voice, but I think that may be one of the reasons she was cast. She's not the best, nor the most memorable, but at least she's a fighter. And yeah, we can guess what the next twist in her story might be...

Luke doesn't make his appearance until the very end, and it's a wordless, very stare-contesty affair. He knows how to look sad and dramatic, I'll give him that, but it does beg the question: you've been up on this cliff in the middle of nowhere, meditating, I take it, while everyone is out there fighting and dying, and you're meditating for...what? The greater good? And I think I'm lazy. At least he should have a bigger presence in the next installment, but it's not going to make up for the loss of Han Solo. Seriously, make up some BS. Say it wasn't Han, but his twin, Can Solo, who died. I would forgive you, Disney, I really would.

Okay, now that I've properly complained, I'll say this: I liked it. I know, it doesn't sound like I did, but that's how I come off. At the end of the day, it's an enjoyable, albeit unremarkable addition to the Star Wars franchise, and I'm looking forward to seeing Episode VIII. Hopefully Finn will be a more fleshed-out character by then, and Leia's lips will be human again.

My grade:

P.S. Oscar Isaac, yes! He needs to be in the next one more, way more.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Conjuring 2 Trailer

I'm so excited!! I only recently realized they were filming this, which means one of my dreams is coming true. Now if it can be half as good as the first, I'll be (somewhat) happy, but I'm hoping it'll be on par.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Crimson Peak

Before I start, I just want to tell you how badly I want to spoil this movie for you. There is, as always, a twist towards the end of the film, and it's somewhat difficult for me to discuss the plot without going into the (rather unsurprising) twist. But okay, okay, I'll try to refrain from talking about it. I know a lot of people were/are excited about Crimson Peak, so if you haven't seen it yet, I won't ruin it for you!

Basic plot: A young American woman named Edith (Mia Wasikowska) is swept off her feet by a visitor from England, Thomas (Tom Hiddleston). She leaves her life in America behind to marry and live with him in an isolated, creepy, dilapidated house in the UK. Don't get me wrong, I can see the appeal. Handsome foreign man is so in love with you that he wants to take you with him across the pond? But as soon as you see the house, you can tell it won't go well. You know that's the case at the beginning of the movie, to be honest, but still. It's a beautiful but bleak setting, and I felt instant depression at the thought of living there.

Red clay encompasses the surrounding land, even underneath the house, giving everything a rather bloody look to it. Again, great imagery! That's what ends up selling this movie above anything else. Storywise, it's lacking. You have a ghost story mixed in with a murder mystery, although it never manages to be scary. After watching the trailer, I thought this was going to be about vampires, I really did. Jessica Chastain (who plays Thomas' unhappy, dog-hating sister) and Tom Hiddleston both look like vampires, so you can see why I thought that. In the end it's about Edith finding out what her new husband is hiding, and what horrors happened in the house she's living in.

I felt they could have done more with this. The characters and plot could have benefited from some added depth, but it ended up feeling a bit hollow. It's entertaining, but surprisingly forgettable given how much detail and thought was put into the costumes and sets.

My grade: B

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hinterland Season 1

Angst personified

Oh look, a gloomy detective series set in Wales. I'll take it!

Most detective shows follow a formula, and Hinterland is no exception. Unfortunately, it's not a good formula, not when it's this overused. DCI Tom Mathias is described as "troubled." How unexpected! The go-to issue in these cases are: alcoholism coupled with a murdered wife/child. They don't get into his past right away, but it doesn't take long before you know he has children (I assume they're alive) and an ex, and that he sometimes drinks in his lonely trailer. He also never smiles. Ever. Tom is a serious man, and he's got his unresolved issues just like all detectives do. Oh yes, and he jogs a lot, typically at the beginning and end of episodes.

Don't let my negativity fool you, though; I like it. It's a decent show with a beautiful, atmospheric setting. It's not going to make you laugh, which is a shame, but it does provide some gritty murders and interesting plots. Still, it's lacking in something, and I haven't been able to put my finger on it just yet. More character development? I haven't found myself emotionally invested in anyone so far, and after watching all four episodes of season one, which each boast a 90-minute run, I still don't know enough about anyone to genuinely like or hate them.

Maybe season two will provide more background and improve all around. I'll find out once I manage to catch up on it. Until then...Red Dwarf is getting re-watched. It's been my go-to show all week. It's one of my childhood favorites, and the nostalgia is strong with that one.

My grade: B

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Silent Hill

Advice: if you love the name Sharon, you should watch this movie.

"Sharon! Sharon! Sharooooon!" No, really, keep yelling her name. Don't mind the monsters who can hear you, I'm sure they're all too busy watching Duck Dynasty and munching on Doritos (mm, Doritos) to pay you any attention. So yes, keep doing what you're doing, because you're full of good ideas, Rose.

Story: Rose's adopted daughter Sharoooooon is one hell of a sleepwalker, and she loves saying 'Silent Hill' in her sleep, so naturally Rose and her husband, the wasted Sean Bean, look it up and see that it's a foul, supposedly haunted place in West Virginia. Rose, being responsible, kidnaps Sharooooooon and drives her there, despite the glaring signs telling her not to, and risking her daughter's life in the process. Frankly, no one should go to West Virginia. If you were born there, okay, it's not your fault, but if you go there willingly, shame on you!

After they arrive, via car crash (that's what good parents do), Sharoooon disappears and Rose starts running around the abandoned Silent Hill, where something is obviously amiss, but you know, gotta stick with the plan, which is yelling "Sharon!". On her journey, she runs into lot of creepy creatures and tortured dead bodies. Fun! Then she finds out that the scariest thing in this world are religious people. I could have told you that, Rose...

I can't believe I watched all two hours of this. Not only was the acting bad and the characters annoying, but Sean Bean was hardly in it! That should be a crime. Really, if you weren't going to adequately use the Bean, you might as well have cast a beanbag instead.

Silent Hill is based off of the video games (haven't played them, but I'm curious to). I suspect it works much better as a game. As a film, it just doesn't gel. I can imagine the possibility of a better script and better actors, but I don't see that ever happening, which is a shame since there's something worth salvaging here. As you probably guessed (or know, because you might have been tied down and forced to watch it), there's a sequel. My heart says no, but by brain says, "What if there's more Sean Bean in it this time?" No, listen to your heart this time, girl.

My grade: D

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Visit

I can't even begin to tell you how much I love this movie. As excited I was to see this, it still managed to exceed my expectations. M. Night Shyamalan, are you really back to form? Because you need to keep making movies like this, I'm serious.

The Visit is about two exceptionally nice kids who decide to visit their estranged grandparents so that their single mom can have some alone time with her new boyfriend. You mean they're not angsty and trying to sabotage her happiness? I don't believe you! Nonetheless, that's the case. Their mom doesn't even want them to go, it's just unfathomable. If I ever pop out little minions, they need to be like this.

Unfortunately for the kids, things don't go quite as planned, because their grandparents are beyond weird. They're only staying for a week, but things escalate quickly. It's both creepy as hell and hilarious. I adore this movie! All scary films should use humor in combination with scares; it's the perfect mixture. Naturally, there's a classic Shyamalan twist involved. Those always make me nervous. Remember The Village? Yeah, that's why I was nervous. I'm happy to report that The Visit's twist only added to its amazingness, though.

On top of all that goodness, the kids aren't even annoying. They're likable and able to carry this film. The boy, Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) is especially funny.

Well, now I've gone and built this movie up, which means you'll have impossibly high expectations. Oops. Forget everything I said! This movie sucks, should still go see it this very minute. What better way to anticipate Halloween?

My Grade: A+