Review: Me Before You (2016)

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me-before-you-poster

“I don’t do anything, Miss Clark. I sit and just about exist.”
– Will Traynor

SYNOPSIS: A girl in a small town forms an unlikely bond with a recently-paralyzed man she’s taking care of. – via IMDB

me-before-you-will

GRADE 5So I read this book a while back, then saw after that a movie was coming. I was absolutely not going to rush out to see it in cinema. Not because the book was bad, I rather enjoyed that, but because I just didn’t see how they were going to bring is to the screen successfully. My doubts were not wrong.

Me Before You was a right bland affair. Massive chunks of the book were left out, which I understand, but there were also particularly important parts that were skipped. Like, the ones we needed to flesh out the relationship between Will and Lou, to understand why they got so close, and why this was such an emotional story. I suppose due to that, you never get really involved with what is going on, and it doesn’t feel like the movie is playing too much with your emotions, so I guess that is okay. Or maybe they did want to mess with your emotions but put it together so sloppily it would never work. Who knows? It just felt ridiculously rushed, that’s what. Anyway. I really did enjoy the tights scene. That was an important one for me, and they did it perfectly. One score, at least.

me-before-you-tights

I thought Sam Claflin was a really good pick to play Will and I think he did a pretty good job, especially considering how limited his movement was for this role. I think he got the sarcastic, angry side of Will, and yet could be the sweetest person, too.  I did not particularly appreciate Emilia Clarke though. I think the world has an inexplicable and unhealthy obsession with her. You can ask Natasha, I was totally ready to flip out based purely on the fact that her eyebrows were overactive. So overactive you never actually know what emotion she is going for, which is absurd. Maybe she doesn’t get to express herself enough on Game of Thrones, so she goes overboard here. Whatever, she irritated me. She got he awkward side of Lou down though. But those fucking brows man.

There were definitely changes from the book. Some changes were fine, others were terrible, but that is to be expected with a adaptation to the screen from a book. A lot of the cast definitely felt immensely underused, and could have been used better. I quite liked the relationship between Mr and Mrs Traynor, albeit extremely different from the book. Nathan, too, was what I expected of him, so that is good.

While I have some major issues with this movie for a multitude of reasons, what with the pacing being all wrong, the story being rather hollow and ultimately forgettable, just to name a few, there are worse movies out there. This is utterly generic, with nothing special going for it.

 

Rapid Review: The Purge: Election Year (2016)

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the-purge-election-year-poster

” We will now purge. We will torture you and violate your flesh. Remove your skin and share in your blood. This is the American way.”
– Uncle Sam

SYNOPSIS: Years after sparing the man who killed his son, former police sergeant Barnes has become head of security for Senator Charlie Roan, a Presidential candidate targeted for death on Purge night due to her vow to eliminate the Purge. – via IMDB

the-purge-election-year

Man, oh man, was this ever a disappointment to me. I didn’t expect to love this as much as I did Anarchy, because that delivered on everything I ever wanted from a Purge movie, but I really thought that it would be more than this. Sure, I was expecting politics, the title told you as much, but I did  not expect the movie to be so tedious, for the master and star of Anarchy, Frank Grillo, to be reduced to a caricature of his former character, as well as have such a large group of unlikable characters. Really.

For instance, every time I wanted to warm to Joe Dixon, there were just racial slurs again (and seriously folks, as a South African and race being the central point of everything, it’s just the last thing you want to hear in a movie). I quite liked Marcos, and could not stand that stupid Kimmy/Freakbride/whatever that spoiled brat was called that had beef with Joe.

Anyway, the political overtures were over the top, the Purge itself didn’t have the same charm or draw as the last two films, the plot was just all over the show, there were some super dodgy “South Africans” in the beginning (bull), and the movie felt like it dragged because the pacing was faulty. Nope, I expected more after the last movie and Election Year simply did not deliver. I don’t have much to say about this, except that it was quite a let down, and not the greatest note to end these films on.

Review: Now That She’s Gone – Gregg Olsen

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now that she's gone

Waterman and Stark #2

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: Notorious serial killer Brenda Nevins has cajoled, seduced, blackmailed, and left a trail of bodies all across Washington State. Now, after a daring prison escape, she is free to carry out her ultimate act of revenge. The targets: forensic pathologist Birdy Waterman and sheriff’s detective Kendall Stark. The pawn: a television psychic hungry for fame, ratings, and blood. There’s only way to stop a killer as brutal, brilliant, and twisted as this: beat her at her own game… via Goodreads

GRADE 3.5I wish I had known this was a sequel, it would have explained so much. Things make more sense that I know now. Not that it changes the fact that this was a real chore to read. No, sirree, nothing will change that. I had big problems with the fact that this book comprised of some of the flattest, most boring, one dimensional characters I have ever had the misfortune of reading about. Not only are they bland and boring, they are uneven. There are few things that annoy me as much as character inconsistencies, and Olsen’s characters are riddled with them, which is just unacceptable. I got this book to read about the promised serial killer. Come on, that psyche is something that has always fascinated me. A female one? We get so little of that, so much potential. Nope, not what I got. I got a plain, silly Brenda Nevins with her fake boobs and immensely lacking character. She was lame, she did not scare me or fascinate me at all, which was a real pity. I so wanted more. I felt not one ounce of fear or urgency at any single part of this book. When I come to read a crime thriller, I expect those aspects to be present, and I was sorely disappointed to not have them feature here. I feel that there was no backstory for anything that happened in this novel, though I am unsure as to whether or not that is because I missed the last one. Indeed, if that is the reason, Olsen should have given us enough material to move us along in this one and not leave the reader feeling bewildered and confused within the first two chapters. I found that there were absolutely no characters that I liked or wanted to back and support at all, which is not really what you want from a story. I also found the plot lines to be exceptionally forced. I know this review is harsh, and it really is not what I envisioned, and not what I wanted to write, but the book really just did nothing for me, and then just ended, leaving me hanging with nothing wrapping up, and I cannot stand that in a book. I cannot recommend this book, especially not to those who enjoy thrillers, and expect a page turner, gore, a serious story, and an antagonist and protagonist that will draw you in.

Review: Hannibal – Thomas Harris

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thomas harris hannibal cover

Hannibal Lecter #3

SYNOPSIS: Years after his escape, posing as scholarly Dr. Fell, curator of a grand family’s palazzo, Hannibal lives the good life in Florence, playing lovely tunes by serial killer/composer Henry VIII and killing hardly anyone himself. Clarice is unluckier: in the novel’s action-film-like opening scene, she survives an FBI shootout gone wrong, and her nemesis, Paul Krendler, makes her the fall guy. Clarice is suspended, so, unfortunately, the first cop who stumbles on Hannibal is an Italian named Pazzi, who takes after his ancestors, greedy betrayers depicted in Dante’s Inferno. Pazzi is on the take from a character as scary as Hannibal: Mason Verger. When Verger was a young man busted for raping children, his vast wealth saved him from jail. All he needed was psychotherapy–with Dr. Lecter. Thanks to the treatment, Verger is now on a respirator, paralyzed except for one crablike hand, watching his enormous, brutal moray eel swim figure eights and devour fish. His obsession is to feed Lecter to some other brutal pets. – via Goodreads

GRADE 6You all know I absolutely loved the first two Hannibal novels. The Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon were both absolutely brilliant, beautiful, well-structured and very well written. Hannibal Lecter was creepy, freaky, the stories were intense, Will Graham and Clarice Starling were in fine form, the books were, simply, smart and chilling. I have been waiting years to get to this novel (I know, I really need to work on how I prioritise what I read) and I finally got to it. I have praised how loyal the previous movies were to their books, which is amazing. I know that Scott’s Hannibal does not get so much love, and I wondered if that was due to a bad book adaptation or what. Harris is a great writer, and I honestly thought this book would be so much more than it was, but let me tell you, it’s quite the disappointment. It starts strongly, it really does. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the initial setup, there was so much potential. But then the story took on this weird, not-suited life of its own and it went downhill from there. Steeply. It was unbelievable, and not in the grand, oh wow kind of way, either. The writing that had started so crisp and rich dwindled, the story setup and the characters that were so fascinating were quickly thrown aside, Hannibal was brought front and centre and then there was this horrible sense of disappointment because the Hannibal of this novel is so intensely different from the Hannibal that has been set up before. Lecter and Clarice no longer chill and thrill, and that conclusion? People complain about the movie conclusion and then there is this one… the whole thing simply becomes a caricature of what it was, which is a real pity. I feel bad about scoring it what I did, but I cannot possibly score it any higher. It starts with a bang and just loses steam and becomes jilted and silly. I mean Hannibal takes on this whole supernatural power, and then there is the drugging and hypnosis and he cannot be caught (I could deal with it – but it got messy). A large chunk of this novel was simply not credible. I couldn’t buy into it like I could the other two, not to mention that the book itself just wasn’t as engrossing or thrilling as it could have been. What a waste.

Review: Rememberers – C Edward Baldwin

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 Rememberers #1

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: For 19-year-old Kallie Hunt, everyday moments began feeling all too familiar. She had a sense that she’d lived them before. But that was crazy, right? Deja vu. That was kid’s stuff, right? Been there, done that, impossible. You got one shot at this life thing. One shot. You lived. You died. End of story.

But if that was true, then why would the government be interested in her? Why would priests literally be stalking her? How could a small town girl possibly have anything to do with saving humanity from terrorists and demons? And pray-tell, what does any of it have to do with her first love?

For Kallie Hunt, there would be no simple answers. Besides, nothing in life is ever really simple. Not good. Not evil. Not even love… – via Goodreads

GRADE 4This book had a description that sounded mildly interesting (note, I didn’t get the synopsis on Goodreads) and I thought that it had possible potential. It started off and wasn’t particularly engrossing, but I trudged along anyway. Soon there was a possibility that things would look up… we had the church, hidden secrets, some weird agencies with their “soldiers”, dead terrorists and all that, I could even start dealing with the stunted dialogue. But then, just as quickly, that was lost. I honestly wanted to enjoy this more than I did. When Kallie was introduced, there was nothing I found even remotely likeable or identifiable about her, and that is most likely what kept me even more distanced from this book. Exploring this whole déjà vu thing was something I was looking forward to. Admittedly, the memory biology and the majority of the psychology discussed and presented in this book was well researched, accurate, and explained in a fantastically simple manner, so as not to lose any readers, and I appreciated that. As a psychology student, I hate it when some books drag in some slap dash psychology and then they are either wrong or so complicated that it doesn’t make sense to the average reader eventually anyway. So things were on an even level, nothing too amazing, nothing too bland, just average, and I was alright with that. But before I could blink my eyes and adjust to the next thing, Kallie was actually the goddess Kali or otherwise the First Woman, her boyfriend was silly and not fleshed out, FBI agent Bennett was basically stalking Kallie for answers to terrorist plots, the whole religious secret society petered out, there was no real explanation as to Rememberers and demon possession all over the show. Johnny Swag never had me convinced about his religious ties and was creepy from the off, Seth was such an annoyance, and I found Josh to be the most entertaining character of the lot. I think the end also just did it in for me, and I couldn’t stop myself from rolling my eyes. It was just a tad too over the top. Rememberers was ultimately incredibly flawed and I was a little let down when all was said and done. The book came across as very preachy, the writing didn’t always flow (sometimes it did and other times not at all) and the dialogue was not something that interested me, it didn’t come across as natural. The book was also much longer than it needed to be. Also, every time that things start to get interesting, you are ultimately disappointed because Baldwin teases with all these brutal things going down but never delivers. I suppose this book will be much more enjoyed by younger teens and people who haven’t read much, but it wasn’t my cup of tea, sadly.

Rapid Review: Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)

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exodus poster

“Remember this. I am prepared to fight. For eternity.”
– Moses

SYNOPSIS: The defiant leader Moses rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses, setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues. – via IMDB

exodus charge

GRADE 3So you know, when the trailers came last year I thought this looked alright, like it had potential. There were some big names attached to it and all that, I was under the impression Ridley Scott could do something with it. However, when I popped it in and saw the running time, I was a little sceptical. You have to be bloody brilliant to keep me entertained with a story for that long, but you know what? This is a movie based on the book of Exodus. Shit went crazy there, so I was sure that this would be alright. Oh my gosh, was I ever mistaken! For one, I have absolutely no idea what Bible Scott read. No jokes, seriously. I mean, it must be some special secret edition or something. That movie was not very loyal, at all (last I checked, one of Moses’s big selling points was that he could move water, not wade through it). It was long, oh so very long. It felt like it was never going to end, and it wasn’t getting to the point, either, which was even worse. Let’s pretend, for instance, that this was not some biblical epic, but just some film. Crazy concept, a war between brothers, help from a higher power, some extreme violence… well, the costumes looked like crap, the film was shot badly, everyone had a grating accent, there was no character development (and yes, I said that), what the fuck was Jesse doing out in the middle of the desert again, and why did everything look cheap and icky? Not only that, the hardcore plagues we came to see? Hustled through in about fifteen minutes. The battles from the trailer? Please, they were all there, nothing new in the film really. The logic was also incredibly flawed (all those Hebrew slaves magically outfitted with horses and the ability to waltz off and train and do their thing whenever they wanted, just for starters, as well as being crushed by an ocean. It means you’re dead, especially when you are in the middle of it). Also, there was nothing particularly emotional to identify with or any reason you would root for anyone. I know, I know, it looks like I am being harsh. Honestly, I read a lot of bad reviews on this, but I was still willing to give it a chance, I really was. Sitting down and watching it was just a really painful experience, though, and I really would not recommend it to anyone. Even when trying to look at this as a story that is not from the Bible, it really just falls flat, and there were crazy deviations from the book of Exodus throughout… no. I didn’t like this, I really didn’t. Plus there were some sketchy effects. Overall, pretty sucky, Bale and all!

Review: Godzilla (2014)

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godzilla 2014 poster

“Nature has an order. A power to restore balance. I believe he is that power.”
– Dr. Ichiro Serizawa

SYNOPSIS: In 1999, the Janjira nuclear plant was mysteriously destroyed with most hands lost including supervisor Joe Brody’s colleague and wife, Sandra. Years later, Joe’s son, Ford, a US Navy ordnance disposal officer, must go to Japan to help his estranged father who obsessively searches for the truth of the incident. In doing so, father and son discover the disaster’s secret cause on the wreck’s very grounds. This enables them to witness the reawakening of a terrible threat to all of Humanity, which is made all the worse with a second secret revival elsewhere. Against this cataclysm, the only hope for the world may be Godzilla, but the challenge for the King of the Monsters will be great even as Humanity struggles to understand the destructive ally they have. – via IMDB

This accurately sums up how I felt during this entire movie:

FINALLY. That’s what it feels like when you finally get to see the big dude!

GRADE 4Gotta say that this was a movie I was really excited about. I watched the trailers, and I was like hell yeah, bring Godzilla back to us! I mean really, that was awesome. Then the film came and I was in the middle of exams and could only pick one film to watch in between it all, so obviously X-Men: Days of Future Past won out, that I was way more amped for. Anyway, the reviews started coming back and they were looking a little disappointing, but I wanted to watch it anyway.

I read recently that a sequel has been okayed, and was like damn, I might have to get to this one. Eventually I did. To give you an example of what happened: I spent the next two hours continually waking my other half up, who was peeved that the movie was such a disappointment, and I lamented that for a movie called Godzilla, there was awful little of the Big G in it… well, at least Andrew of Cultured Left Peg entertained me endlessly.

I am so glad that I did not waste study time and my hard earned money on this crap. The human component of this film was excruciatingly boring. I cannot believe the trailers marketed this movie with a lot of Bryan Cranston, so here I got all excited about that. Guess what? They ripped that joy away from me within the first thirty minutes, too. Now there was an hour and a half left to watch no Godzilla and the terribly wooden Aaron Taylor-Johnson (who, by the way, isn’t even hot in my opinion, either, so I lost on all fronts). Also, whenever he was with Elizabeth Olsen, there was no chemistry there either. Ken Watanabe, another big name draw, was also barely around. I just want to express my irritation with that.

I hated how whenever Godzilla came across those mutos, we saw nothing, just some news snippets after the fact. Goddammit people, I came here for the Big G! I must confess that I thought Godzilla was really well done (on the rare occasions you did get to see him). He was massive, he looked amazing, he moved extremely well, the water shots were brilliant… but that is all I can say for it really.

Review: Divergent (2014)

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Divergent movie poster

“You’re different. You don’t fit into a category. They can’t control you. They call it Divergent. You can’t let them find out about you.”
– Tori

SYNOPSIS: In a world divided by factions based on virtues, Tris learns she’s Divergent and won’t fit in. When she discovers a plot to destroy Divergents, Tris and the mysterious Four must find out what makes Divergents dangerous before it’s too late. – via IMDB

Yes… that actually happened. I am going to call this my biggest let down of 2014 so far (but I really don’t know if I will be let down any worse for anything else… but then the year is young). I really, really, really wanted to like this movie a hell of a lot more than I did and it just… no. It didn’t work.

I want to make mention of the score, first and foremost. What the hell was that? It’s the worst score I have heard since The Great Gatsby, and worse than that this didn’t even have a good story and great costume design and acting and all that. Alright, but let’s move past that. I really wish that Shailene Woodley had given a stronger performance for Tris. She is a heroine I actually like a lot and respect and all that and I didn’t get that feeling from Woodley. Secondly, Tobias’s backstory was horribly underplayed and left out, and he is one of my favourite book characters and they totally glaze over exactly the type of person that he is as well as how he got to where he is.

Marcus (Ray Stevenson) was not made even remotely scary enough (which bothered me no end), the score did not work well with anything, the story had giant holes in it and a lot was changed (and not in the good way either – how did Roth think that this was a nice and loyal adaption of her books?!).  A lot of my favourite scenes, the ones that were supposed to resonate, were botched… and bad. Needless to say, unfortunately, that I was not a fan of this. It felt like a little girl movie trying to play with the bigger leagues and failing exponentially.

The story had so much potential. It felt colossally long (which is saying something, it is only 140 minutes) and so much was squandered and wasted. The characters were all peripheral and unimportant, so nothing of emotional value came to be. There was not depth to any of them (I know there was not an awful lot in the books either for everyone, but for the important characters there was definitely more flesh than anything we got here. Theo James played Tobias to the best of his ability and was definitely worth looking into (and is hot AF – evidence follows), Woodley impressed me nearing the end although a lot was just not what it was meant to be.

The relationship between Tris and Tobias sort of just happened out of nowhere, very quickly, instead of the great build up that was created in the books, making it one of the more worthwhile romances we have seen in a long time. Together, though, they did share a pretty good chemistry. While I am on a bitch session, since when is Tobias a damned rapist (or potentially, either way it was being portrayed that way)?! I was completely horrified at that!

Overall I must say that this is not a movie I am happy to have spent my money on seeing in theatres, I feel robbed! Skip it… I am terribly sad to now know why this film got such a bad rep, but will certainly be skipping the next lot. What a waste of good material.