Sunday, July 22, 2012
Cinder is a cyborg and a citizen of New Beijing, but she is not treated as an equal to humans, despite the fact that she's only about 35% cyborg. Cinder is a mechanic who works in the market and all her money goes to her stepmother and stepsisters who have guardianship over her. She's basically a slave to them. One day Prince Kai, in disguise, comes to visit her stall and asks her to fix his beloved android, thus setting in motion the plot of a sci-fi tale about Cinderella (loosely based).
I love YA fiction and for the last few years have been obsessed with dystopian tales. This one has somewhat of a dystopian feel but it's not that genre. The world is new, but people still have their basic freedoms. It's set in the future where earth has been at peace for over a 100 years after WWIV, but the earth has been divided up into 6 countries in total. The story takes place in the Eastern Commonwealth. The biggest threat to mankind is not one another but two things: The Lunar people who inhabit the moon and have great powers of mind control and could destroy mankind and a deadly virus, letumosis, plagues the world.
It took me a while to get into the story, but once I let myself fall into this well crafted world, I was hooked. We all pretty much know the story of Cinderella and how it turns out, but it doesn't follow that path exactly. Cinder is more than just a damsel in distress. She is a deeply layered and confused young woman who discovers secrets about herself through the story. She's not what she seems even to herself.
Marissa Meyer is a fine writer who has created a believable world with characters who are multi-faceted and genuine. I had a feeling the story wouldn't end as the book came to a close. It seems that book publishers are only looking for trilogies or series at the moment, which is fine because I look forward to reading more, as I am the kind of gal who was never invited to the ball.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Gotham is under attack once again. What is it with this city? Is it built upon an ancient Indian burial ground or Buffy's hellmouth? It always seems to be in trouble. That being said the city has enjoyed a relative calmness for 8 years. The Batman is gone. Mob criminals are in jail. The city is safe. But dark secrets have been kept from the citizens of Gotham and as we all know secrets aren't kept in films for very long.
Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale looking haggard. A true method actor) has become a recluse with a bad knee and greasy hair he keeps to himself in one of his wings inside the Wayne Manor. His foundation still holds charity events but he's never present. He just watches from the shadows (just like a bat! get it?). Bruce is forced to come out of hiding when he has a run in with Selina (Anne Hathaway as a deliciously sexy and savvy Catwoman) as she steals his mother's pearls. But what she was really stealing were Bruce's fingerprints. This plot line eventually links in with the main plot of Bane wanting to destroy Gotham (plot points will be kept to a minimum as I think it's best to see the film with fresh eyes).
Which means...The Batman must come back! Gotham needs him! But does Gotham still want him? The cops chase after him as he's the bigger catch than Bane who has yet to show his true nature. Batman is cocky and arrogant and due to this he has a very painful encounter with Bane under the streets of Gotham. He is literally a broken man and is relocated to the sidelines for part of the film until he's able to come to terms with so many of his issues (abandonment issues, anger issues, lost love issues, fear issues, death issues etc.).
The Dark Knight Rises is an enjoyable and entertaining film. It has many layers and complex characters. Nolan really strives to make sure these characters are three dimensional and not just caricatures. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a standout as police officer Blake. He brings a lot of heart to his role (no spoilers about him though) and this film fan was drooling over the man in blue. Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate is very good and beguiling. I was pleasantly surprised by where her character went, but also wanting a different outcome for her (let's just say that patience isn't a virtue). Gary Oldman shines once again as Commissioner Gordon. A man married to his job. He's given up his family for Gotham, which is just so sad and probably wasteful. And Michael Cane as Alfred was just so heartbreaking to watch. He was the heart of this film. Now for Bane. Tom Hardy commands the room when he's in a scene and his physical presence is quite impressive. I just wish I didn't have to strain to understand him for a big chunk of the film. Sound editing needed to be better when he was on screen.
The movie isn't perfect. I didn't particularly like how Bane was defeated or how another villain was done away with. They both felt like passive ways of dealing with an antagonist. I didn't particularly enjoy some of the one liners that Batman and Bane had because that campiness doesn't work in the Nolan Batman universe as these films are much darker in tone. But that being said I went into the film with no expectations and came out quite satisfied. I think even if you have high expectations going in you'll be entertained and not disappointed. The film delivers and is a fitting end to Christopher Nolan's era as the caped crusaders' director.
Sunday, July 8, 2012
Merida is to be married off to one of three sons of the local clansmen, and all three are buffoons in some way. Merida hates the idea of being married off (as she should since she's still a teenager!) so she seeks out the help of a witch who gives her a magical pastry to give to her mother because all Merida wants is for her mother to change. But like all good spells, something goes wrong.
I didn't know plot points when going into this film and I will not reveal them now. It was a bit surprising where the story went, but I believed it and went with it. But the part I liked most about this story was that it wasn't about romantic love. It was about unconditional LOVE, the kind a mother gives a child. This is a film about mothers and daughters. The ups and downs. The give and take. The good and bad. The happy and sad. It's heartwarming and sweet. Is it the best Pixar film ever made? No. But it's a good story.
The film has funny moments and the voice acting was excellent. I do so love my Emma Thompson! But the film is also quite violent and I think young kids will freak out. I had thought of taking my nieces who are 4 and 5, but knowing what I know now I think they would have been too frightened and we would have had to leave the cinema. If you have younger girls then I suggest maybe reading the book first and slowly revealing the story to them and then showing them the movie on DVD so you can take breaks just in case it becomes too intense for them.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
The Amazing Spider-Man is yet another origin story, which we've seen before, but this one has a lot of heart. In fact, I was quite surprised by how heartwarming and sweet it was. Probably not the best thing for a super hero action film, but I think those kind of movies need more heart.
Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield who I am now crushing on) gets bitten by a radioactive spider and then eventually becomes spider-man. He's on a mission, and at first, it's a very dark mission. His Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen doing a wonderful job and the heart of this film) is killed by a long haired man with a tattoo on his wrist. Peter basically will stop at nothing to try to find that man, much to the chagrin of the police lead by Captain Stacy (Denis Leary does a great job here). Eventually Peter must battle the lizard man, a scientist (Rhys Ifans) who worked with his father who injects himself with a reptilian formula to try to regrow his own arm. Things don't go so well for him. The lizard part takes over and he wants to inflict this formula onto the citizens of New York.
The villain, as far as villains go, is pretty lame. Personally, I find most comic book villains to be lame (apart from the batman ones of recent years). But this film doesn't rely too heavily on this villain. Yes, he plays a role and there is a big climactic fight scene at the end, but the real story is Peter Parker coming of age, coming to terms with death and manhood and falling in love with Gwen Stacy (The luminous Emma Stone). These two lovebirds have great chemistry on screen. They were a delight to watch.
I also really liked Peter's sense of humor and sarcasm as Spider-Man. He's not all broody and dark like Batman or all American apple pie like Captain America. This hero is much more layered and genuine, I think. I laughed out loud quite a few times, which I wasn't expecting so that was definitely an added bonus. Oh, and I also got teary eyed a couple of times too. Yeah, the scene where city workers synchronize the cranes to help Spider-Man leap from building to building is pretty cheesy, but I like that kind of cheese!
One quibble is that I found some of Spider-Man's swinging scenes as he webbed from building to building to be a bit blurry. I would have liked it to be crisper with slightly better editing. That being said, this is a fun summer flick and is a great movie for date night. I also think 12 year olds will get a kick out of it, unless of course 12 year olds are too cynical already.
P.S. Keep a look out for C. Thomas Howell who plays a father who owes Spider-Man a debt of gratitude for saving his son.
Sunday, July 1, 2012
Tris is reeling from the death of her parents and doesn't know how to deal. She has to run and hide from the Erudites who want to experiment on her brain then kill her. Insurgent is a solid part 2 in this trilogy that leads to a big reveal at the end. I did find that the last part of the book was rushed and that too much time was spent on the buildup.
I am looking forward to the third book. I just hate waiting so long in between books.
(Note: This review is short and rather ill written because I am distracted. My friend lent me her Vampire Diaries DVDs and I am hooked on this crap!)
"F**K you THUNDER!"
TED is an R-rated comedy by the screwed up mind of Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy) and I do so enjoy his mind.
John Bennett is a lonely little boy and one Christmas he wishes that his stuffed teddy bear was real and then voila! Holy Shit! It happens. His parents reaction is hilarious! And the hilarity continues throughout the film. John as an adult (Mark Wahlberg)is still a bit of a child. He has a dead end job and smokes pot all the time with Ted (who grew up to a foul mouthed bear). The one good thing in John's life is his girlfriend Lori Collins (Mila Kunis) who loves that John has such a big heart. She's just had enough of Ted living with them. Ted drinks. Smokes pot. Invites hookers over (no spoilers, but the hooker scene is pretty funny and gross, which is a MacFarlane speciality). So, of course, John has to choose.
What I liked most about this film was the bromance between the two. A real man and a stuffed animal truly are best friends in this film and their relationship feels real and genuine. And when Ted is in mortal danger it pulled at my heartstrings. Even though you know it's a bear, sorry he's a stuffed bear, you can't help but root for him! The CGI bear is top notch and looks great. A lot better than most big budget action films out there.
If you like foul mouths and raunchy material then head on over to the multi-plex. Laugh in your cola and spit in your popcorn. It'll knock the stuffing right out of your face!
Prometheus is a prequel of sorts to the Alien franchise. It's a lot more sci-fi than horror. It's slow and methodical. It takes its time to build a mystery that leads to some answers. Not all answers, but enough to tie up this plot (strong feeling that there will be a sequel to the prequel that isn't Aliens).
The movie's exposition was a bit much at times. The action and regular dialogue could be unclear at times, which would then be followed by a long winded explanation of things that just happened. I expected it to be a bit smarter and clear in its story, but it's still worth seeing, especially if you're a science fiction fan or Alien fan.