Review: City of Heavenly Fire – Cassandra Clare

2

The Mortal Instruments #6

SYNOPSIS: Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Bearing the Infernal Cup, he transforms Shadowhunters into creatures out of nightmare, tearing apart families and lovers as the ranks of his Endarkened army swell.

The embattled Shadowhunters withdraw to Idris – but not even the famed demon towers of Alicante can keep Sebastian at bay. And with the Nephilim trapped in Idris, who will guard the world against demons?

When one of the greatest betrayals the Nephilim have ever known is revealed, Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon, and Alec must flee – even if their journey takes them deep into the demon realms, where no Shadowhunter has set foot before, and from which no human being has ever returned… – via Goodreads

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! It’s over! It’s done! And now I have to deal with this horrific hangover! I feel like I freaking lost people. Ugh. I got so invested in this, so not only am I mourning Grey’s Anatomy being over, I now have to mourn this being done! Yes, I got a little unhealthily attached to this series. It had three excellent books, a fourth instalment that read like filler stuff, a fifth that redeemed, and a finale that was a bittersweet return to form. And now it is over 😦

Okay, coherent thoughts… go! Man, there is so much to love about this book. Clare returns to the humour that makes you laugh out loud, and scenarios and happenings that make you gasp and flip out and laugh and cuss (trust me, my husband was telling me I had to reign it in and hush at a stage – but what does he know?!). I loved that we got back to that, to the characters being more like the ones we met in the original three books, and the issues they face reaching into your heart again. The pacing is also really fantastic, coming across like City of Glass, which is great. You get dragged in and the action and tension and everything else just never stops. It gets you right in the damn feels.

Then there are the characters. There is plenty of character growth to be found here, and I really enjoyed the interactions between characters. There was a lot that changed and grew and was said, and I loved every darn minute of it. Then there is Sebastian Morgenstern. For reals, Valentine was an awesome villain and all of that, but Sebastian just blows him out of the water. He made me so mad, like a little freaking roach. He is so dark and messed up and disturbing, ughhhhhhhh. But he brings it, and I find him to be a worth opponent for Jace and Clary to face off against. Also, back to a book crush for life Jace Herondale. Just saying. He’s been my book crush from the off, but I felt that Clare did him a disservice in City of Fallen Angels and then in City of Lost Souls I knew that that Jace was not the right Jace and felt like such a betrayer.

City of Heavenly Fire also gives us a little more on what it means to be parabatai. Goodness knows I could read a whole book on it and still want more, but we got a few more scraps. The concept fascinates me, and there were sections of this book that dealt with what it was to lose a parabatai or to be bonded to a parabatai and it is still a beautiful concept to me. MORE!

Okay, so as you can tell, I was hooked. Like City of Glass, I feel that this is a solid end. The former read like a conclusion and would have been one that I would have been happy with. I was worried about how Clare would pull it off a second time, but she manages to. I love the way she closed it off, so bittersweet. City of Heavenly Fire is a return to the form of the original trilogy, and a solid conclusion to the series. I can see that I will go back to this series time and time again. I highly recommend it.

Review: City of Lost Souls – Cassandra Clare

2

The Mortal Instruments #5

SYNOPSIS: What price is too high to pay, even for love? When Jace and Clary meet again, Clary is horrified to discover that the demon Lilith’s magic has bound her beloved Jace together with her evil brother Sebastian, and that Jace has become a servant of evil. The Clave is out to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. As Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle wheedle and bargain with Seelies, demons, and the merciless Iron Sisters to try to save Jace, Clary plays a dangerous game of her own. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost? – via Goodreads

Well, here we go, back to something that reads more like a Mortal Instruments novel. City of Fallen Angels really felt like filler nonsense, and I wasn’t a fan really, but City of Lost Souls starts taking us back to the things that we love in the series.

Gosh, I was so torn about all the Jace and Clary scenes here. There were times where you laughed and could picture this Jace as Jace as we know him (gosh, I know how that sentence looks and reads), but at the same time you know it isn’t really Jace. Gah, I can just imagine how Clary felt. Like we have been shipping Clary and Jace from the beginning, and then here you get sections of them together here but it’s not right. Nooooooo!

There is also that business with Alec being a complete and utter fool about the Magnus thing. I just want to reach out and slap him. His jealousy in City of Fallen Angels was super annoying and against character, but the stupid things he is getting into here with Camille really make me mad. I have shipped Alec and Magnus since Magnus told him to give him a call after the unfortunate party where Simon turned into a rat. I love them together, and what Alec has been doing is not okay!

So the story in here is back to much better. It is indeed a slow burn, but it is worth the read, and the payoff is so worth it. Sebastian really is a crooked, great villain. I mean I have been waiting for him to come back since City of Glass, as he is too good an opportunity to pass up, and I really liked seeing what Clare has done with him. I was interested to see what type of villain he would be, and so far, worse than Valentine it would seem, and I am enjoying it. I am so looking forward to more of the struggle against him.

City of Lost Souls is a return to form in the Mortal Instruments series, and has the series finally finding its feet again. We get great characters again and there is development going on again, though maybe not as much as before. I enjoyed this, and I have to say, I am so hooked on these books.

Review: City of Fallen Angels – Cassandra Clare

2

The Mortal Instruments #4

SYNOPSIS: The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.

But nothing comes without a price.

Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her—his mother just found out that he’s a vampire, and now he’s homeless. When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace. – via Goodreads

Okay, I am going to admit immediately that, of the four books in the series so far, this one is without a doubt the most uninspired. It could have ultimately been a short story, but instead was too long for a short story, but too short for a proper novel for this series (the books are longer). It was also totally unstructured and unsure of what it wanted to be, only starting to materialise with a point to the story near the end, which is a pity. Not the worst book to read, it just not have the oomph of its predecessors.

City of Fallen Angels blunders around. We finally get to read about Jace and Clary without that horrible sibling thing going on, and instead we get sulky teens avoiding each other and having no real idea what is going on. Like… they finally became the stereotype you fear in these kinds of books. There is no actual heat between them anymore (like there has been) and they are whining to everyone but each other. There is not really much character development in this one. Alec turns into a hot, jealous mess about Magnus, and it is not endearing or even funny. If anything, it will chap your ass because Alec has never been like this in any of the other books, which is so annoying. Why is this a thing now? Stop your crap Alec!

So no real plot or character development leaves the book feeling rather hollow. It is definitely lacks direction. I lapped up all the good bits I could, and will forever look at this as more of a filler book. No seriously scary villains in this (though really, there was all the potential in the world), and I feel that I have watched inordinate amounts of Supernatural because I called the instigator pretty much from the off, City of Fallen Angels is a step down from the other books, but certainly (EVENTUALLY) sets up for the story going back to some fantastic places. We shall see where it goes!

Review: City of Bones – Cassandra Clare

4

The Mortal Instruments #1

SYNOPSIS: When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…  – via Goodreads

You know, for years I have wondered about these books, figured I would one day get to them, kept forgetting about them, seeing them and remembering them again, and then forgetting about them. You can see the cycle, right? Anyway, recently Natasha started these and I was in a dark place, looking for something to read that would spark excitement in me again, as it had been too long. Naturally, she pushed these on me and I was like yeah alright, let’s do it. No. Regrets.

I thoroughly enjoyed the world that Cassandra Clare wove for us with the Shadowhunters. I must confess, early on in the start of the book, I was wondering how it would go. It was weird for me that there were sixteen year old kids out clubbing at midnight on a Sunday, but I figured this is some dystopian/futuristic YA (by the way, totally not, it seems the story exists in the same world we are in now, which makes me question parenting skills here). It started in a club and it didn’t really get any better, and the dialogue was a little cringy, but next thing I know? BOOM! Gotcha! I got dragged down this rabbit hole of fantasy that didn’t let up and I didn’t want it to.

We are introduced to a lot of characters, but not an excessive amount. A lot of them don’t really grow much or feature too much (though I would love to see more of Alec, for example). There are things I didn’t like about some of them – like the immediate and total dislike between Clary and Isabelle. It just felt weird. Then there was also that stupid love triangle (what is it about YA that insists there must be some form of a love triangle? Be Tris and Four, people!). It was stupid not only because it was a love triangle, but because the one player in it (Simon) felt like he was always just being dragged in and brought up so that there would be a love triangle, not because there was actual shared interest. Then there is Jace, who is a jackass but you gotta enjoy the guy, and I really like how he and Clary are with one another. Yep, Jace all the way. WOW.

Anyway. The book gets rolling and I really liked how easy it was to read (even though it may have been a tad long), and this read more like mature YA then really young YA, and I liked that. The world doesn’t ever feel too ridiculous (demons, warlocks, werewolves, vampires) it all just flows with the book, and that is cool. Clary also didn’t chap my ass like a lot of the heroines in these types of books do, though her name did grate on me. It feels uncomfortable to read it and to say it. I don’t know, I didn’t like it, though her full name is Clarissa and that is just fine. The book also brings in an interesting villain, and I would really like to see what Clare does with Valentine.

Anyway, City of Bones is a pretty solid introduction to what could potentially be a fantastic story, and I will certainly continue with it. It reads easily, has an interesting, dark world it has woven, and has a lot of characters that are well worth reading. I would definitely recommend this. I won’t lie, there was a development in the book that had me throwing my toys out of the cot in the extreme. Anger. Frustration. Denial. These were all strong feelings to be had. So we will see where it goes.

Sporadic Scene: The Fate of the Furious (2017) – Haka

2

Goodness, this scene! When it opened with Dwayne Johnson giving the lecture, I was like “oh, I am sure this is just gonna be some scene with some kids for the lols”,  but man, it was so much more than just that. Manis and pedis for everyone after, sure, but man, this scene is fantastic all round. Dwayne Johnson leads a girls soccer team in the haka and it is truly both hilarious to boot and at the same time rather inspiring, as you can see it means a lot to him and the girls take it seriously. It is more than just a choreographed skit, especially when you see how much respect was actually afforded the scene, that the haka was blessed by the elders, everything. That’s just great, in my mind.

Review: The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)

2

“The Bible says to never take revenge, to leave it to the Lord. But I wasn’t prepared to wait that long.” 
– Darius Kincaid

SYNOPSIS: The world’s top bodyguard gets a new client, a hit man who must testify at the International Criminal Court. They must put their differences aside and work together to make it to the trial on time. – via IMDB

Dear Lord, I didn’t expect a great movie or anything like that, but I am truly shocked at just how terrible this movie turned out to be. It was godawful and a bag of chips. The trailer had me thinking it would be alright, and it literally featured anything worth seeing in this movie.

My husband and I watched this looking for something a little silly, nothing serious, as we were exhausted from packing up the house (again) and thought something light would tick the boxes. Well, uhm, yeah, then there was this. We expected a bit of cheese, instead we got this hunk of junk. It was not even good cheesy, it just sucked. And it was so long. The two hour run time was so excessive – the movie felt even longer than that, while we are at it. A total punishment to watch.

The jokes were so lame in this, and not one brought forth even so much as a smile from me or my husband. It was deadpan all the way and checking the time more often than not. I know, stupid, we are completists and just sat through it and had regrets. I watch terrible movies because it is fun to write about after the fact, and you all know I have seen some really bad ones over the years.

Anyway, not even Ryan Reynolds could save this, and even a healthy dose of Samuel L. Jackson did nothing to cushion the blows from this. Lame, embarrassing, littered with crappy action sequences and horrendous dialogue, the plot is also just stupid and has no kick to make it worthwhile. It is predictable and messy, that’s all there is to it. Reynolds and Jackson work together, but it just isn’t enough for this wreck.

Yes, I disliked The Hitman’s Bodyguard immensely. That it had a decent cast attached to it and still managed to fail is not shocking, but I honestly didn’t think it would be quite so bad. But it is. It’s long, bloated, badly written and comes together poorly, I would say give this movie a wide berth, you won’t be missing anything at all.

Review: Star Wars Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017)

8

“Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to. That’s the only way to become what you are meant to be.”
– Kylo Ren

SYNOPSIS: Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order. – via IMDB

Oh my gooooosh! I loved this. Yeah, I hear there is some hate, but there is a lot of love, too. I am one of those that thought this was really good. After The Force Awakens, I have been so amped to see where the story goes, and The Last Jedi totally rewarded for my excitement, for the most part (even with the little niggles).

Kylo Ren is baaaaack bitches, and he is freaking awesome! This is something my husband and I will debate for many years to come. This time around we get to see more of Adam Driver’s face and that gorgeous hair, and man, we totally got to explore more of his conflict. Imagine your legacy is Anakin and Luke Skywalker, the light side and the dark? Polar opposites. Imagine that you have been manipulated by someone and it was easy to do so because someone you trusted betrayed you (from what you could see), and you are a kid? Confusion! I love it. I could watch that battle rage forever.

There were new things introduced in this one, too. Kylo’s new plan  has definitely piqued my interest. War profiteering reared its head in here, too, so there was some social commentary on the go. I was so pleased to see BB-8 back in action, he is so adorable! Poe, too, is back in action. The Last Jedi brings up some really solid, strong moments for our female cast, and has some awesome action sequences, too. So it is great to watch like that. I quite enjoyed Beneicio del Toro’s appearance, and would like to see if he pops up again.

Let’s not deny that the movie had flaws – those freaking porgs annoyed me. Cute the first time you saw them, and then they were just jammed in all over the show. There is the super cheese between Finn and Rose, which also got a bit annoying quickly. Also, a lot of questions that JJ Abrams had set up in The Force Awakens were glibly answered here (I am hoping they go back and give us real, fleshed out answers, because if these are the answers, that is bitterly disappointing). Another thing, the story is not overly solid, and the pacing is a little off at times, but nothing too extreme. I was totally engrossed, even with the hiccups. I adore Andy Serkis, for reals, and I really wish there was more to Snoke than we eventually got – so short lived and a bit meh 😦

There is a lot of back and forth about Luke Skywalker and his role here. I expected to see more Luke Skywalker, and I didn’t think he would be quite so bitter and ready to end the Jedi lines like he has, though it brings up the notion that the Force is not just accessible by a small group of elite individuals. Not sure where this is going, but I will give them enough rope and see what they do with it. Anyway, it was strange to see him go the way he did, but I was really impressed with where his character went later on.

Continuing with unpopular opinion time, Rey is still a flat, bland, annoying character for me. I just don’t get the love man, not at all. Every time she was on screen, I felt like precious time was being wasted. I don’t like her, and it sucks that she is one of our new, major protagonists. Oh well. Also, the whole Skywalker legacy is something to wonder about – where are we going from here? I feel that the original characters have been handled a little more poorly than I expected, to be honest.

Ultimately, I still preferred Abrams’s The Force Awakens over this – it looked better, sounded better, and was handled better, though The Last Jedi is by no means a bad movie and does not deserve the hate being flung its way. There is a hell of a lot to like about it – it is fun, it is dark, there are some new concepts being introduced, and has plenty of action. I am seriously looking forward to watching it again sometime and seeing how it holds up. Maybe because I have mad Abrams love and want him to keep going with the story…

Review: Death Note (2017)

5

“Every human spends the last moments of his life in the shadow of a death god.”
– Ryuk

SYNOPSIS: Light Turner, a bright student, stumbles across a mystical notebook that has the power to kill any person whose name he writes in it. Light decides to launch a secret crusade to rid the streets of criminals. Soon, the student-turned-vigilante finds himself pursued by a famous detective known only by the alias L. – via IMDB

You know, I wondered how this was going to go down. I am sure there are going to be a ton of people that are going to hate on it and knock on it (yes, I see I am right having Googled the reception and rating). Anime is not an easy thing to bring to screen, and I must confess I have skipped a lot of the things. I don’t watch anime, though my brother in law and a very close friend of mine swear by it.

Now, while I do not and have not watched a lot of animes, Death Note is one of the few I actually did watch. Well, most of it, until it got so drawn out and boring I wanted to scratch my eyes out. It was entertaining until about halfway, three quarters through, then it just got crazy. When I saw the run-time for this, I was interested to see how exactly Wingard was going to handle the whole story and bring it to life. In short, pretty damn well actually.

Yes, I know a lot of people might want to shoot me for that, and I don’t care. I liked that this was fast and got to the core of the story without all the filler stuff that just bored me out of finishing it initially. The movie felt a bit longer than it was, not because I was bored, but because there was a hell of a lot of content crammed into a short space of time. It never felt rushed though, which is a bonus. It set up what was needed and then told the story, and it came together pretty well.

A big drawback for me was the casting of Keith Stanfield as L, he just didn’t really feel right. The other actors fit and did alright with their roles, but Stanfield just stood out because he did not seem to gel with the other actors, and his performance came across as forced, which I didn’t like. Also, I could have done with more of Ryuk. Light was definitely a strange character here, like he was never scared of Ryuk, but that also didn’t always hurt this. It all just rolled along fine, just strange.

As this was done by Wingard, it looked stylish and I enjoyed the soundtrack and score. Wingard understands style, that’s for sure, so that was one of the things nailed down really well in Death Note. All things being said, I quite enjoyed this and I really think the internet is hating on it way more than it deserves.

Review: War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

12

“I did not start this war. I offered you peace. I showed you mercy. But now you’re here. To finish us off… for good.”
– Caesar

SYNOPSIS: After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. – via IMDB

Oh yeah! Went to see this the a while ago (my first official trip to the cinema in London) and I had a blast. Actually, I don’t know if that is the right phrasing. Either way, we are going to roll with it. Andy Serkis returns as the most amazing Caesar, and is as honourable as ever. War for the Planet of the Apes really goes for certain themes, and the conflict and strife between the apes and the humans reach a peak.

Woody Harrelson steps in as the truly reprehensible Colonel McCullough . Like I mean really. The man waltzes in and just destroys things all round. Harrelson was good, if underused, which was the same complaint lodged against Oldman in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. There is so much more potential here, but it doesn’t come. Serkis completely owned in his role of Caesar, but I expected no less from him on that front. His portrayal is brilliant, he really has made Caesar his own. Naturally the movie was visually stunning, too, because these movies have all just looked fantastic from the beginning. It definitely has heart and is excellent. I must be honest and say that Dawn is still my favourite.

The plot progression is also good here. It rapidly brings you up to speed with where everything is now in the world, and then it hits the ground running and it does not let up. You feel the fear and the anger here, and I would like to give the movie credit for that. The score also works hand in hand with the visuals to set the mood and tone for what it to come. I was also super pleased to see Maurice, Luca, and Rocket all together here, and I also found Bad Ape to be an amusing and yet sad (his backstory and the lasting implications on his psyche) addition to the movie. This movie didn’t really go between the two sides, as we have become accustomed to, giving us the first movie that is more about the apes than anything.

I feel this movie was totally worth the excitement I had stashed away for it. It totally had that Logan vibe going for it, like this was the last stretch, and it was most certainly serious. It was grim and heavy and it was not out of place. These movies started at a lighter area and have progressed through a whole array of emotions and settings, and have not once stumbled. These movies are a great example of how a film franchise, and especially a reboot franchise, should be handled. War for the Planet of the Apes is definitely worth watching!

Review: Equilibrium (2002)

6

“You exist to continue your existence. What’s the point?”
– Mary

SYNOPSIS: In a fascist future where all forms of feeling are illegal, a man in charge of enforcing the law rises to overthrow the system. – via IMDB

I haven’t seen this since I was a kid, and I have been meaning to rewatch it for ages now as I quite enjoyed it then and wanted to see how it held up after all these years. Recently I did so and my husband joined me, as he had not seen it. Well, in short, it is still good, though there are some things that I do take issue with.

First and foremost, the story is interesting. Nothing really new, and has pieces that distinctly feel like they are in line with concept of The Matrix, and it is very heavy handed with its message at times. That being said, it is an enjoyable watch if you don’t overthink it or watch Diggs’s performance too closely, because that it probably the biggest drawback of the movie. He is terrible, and my husband had severe beef with how cheery he seemed and smiley, especially if he was supposed to be hopped up on as much Prozium as his counterparts. Also, I get that Bale started feeling, but his character fell apart so violently at times that it was impossible to suspend belief that this futuristic regime would not notice their top cleric going to pieces as he was.

I did like the revolution that was being planned to revert back to the core of what people are, and to see how books and music and little things have been banned in this future world is heavy. Granted, you might be rid of war this way, but you have also lost the core of what it means to be a human, to feel, to have free will. I did like the colours that were used, and Preston’s clothes colours demarcating who he was and what he felt ultimately were good. I do enjoy imagery like that in movies. The costume design for this was also really good, and suited the tone and style of the movie.

The action sequences were fun, too, as is expected from an action movie, and they are choreographed well. I see that this movie gets quite a bit of hate, which I don’t get. It looks pretty good and has a solid story and comes together quite well. It is flawed, yes, but then just about every movie out there is. Go in for an action film with more story than most, and you will be in for a pretty good time. Equilibrium is well worth your time I would say.