Review: Revival – Stephen King

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SYNOPSIS: In a small New England town, in the early 60s, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs Jacobs; the women and girls – including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister – feel the same about Reverend Jacobs. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond, based on their fascination with simple experiments in electricity.

Then tragedy strikes the Jacobs family; the preacher curses God, mocking all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. In his mid-thirties, he is living a nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll. Addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate, he sees Jacobs again – a showman on stage, creating dazzling ‘portraits in lightning’ – and their meeting has profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings. Because for every cure there is a price… – via Goodreads

Yes, another King novel. I have made it my life’s mission to read everything from him. I absolutely love and adore King and his work and have read a hell of a lot of it, but a lot still isn’t all, so I am rereading the ones I have read and starting the others I have not. This is one I was curious about, as it is one of the more recent ones, and when I saw it in my library I thought it was time to give it a shot.

Man, I am so glad that I did. Revival is really good, exactly what I hoped for. You journey through life with a character, from when they are children to when that one, big, crazy event occurs, and as always, Kings blows it out of the park. When Jamie looks back on his life and reminisces, it feels as though you are, because his journey has become your journey.

Charles Jacobs is an interesting character, and the man is crazy to boot. I can totally understand how a tragedy like that could push someone clean over the edge, but the things that Jacobs was willing to do for his research is intense. I really liked reading this, and enjoyed Jamie as a character. I must say I enjoyed the gaps and the encounters between Jamie and Jacobs, though many have complained. The books devolves into plain crazy by the end, but typical King style, it takes you there and you have fun with it.

Revival is well written and an enjoyable read, definitely honing in on that Lovecraftian tribute, and something I thought was really good. I breezed through the book, and though there were some niggles, and I found the secret electricity thing to be a bit much at times because we never really got anywhere with that, this is still definitely worth the read.

September Blind Spot Review: Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

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“The only way to find out what story you’re in is to determine what stories you’re not in.”
– Professor Jules Hilbert

SYNOPSIS: An I.R.S. auditor suddenly finds himself the subject of narration only he can hear: narration that begins to affect his entire life, from his work, to his love-interest, to his death. – via IMDB

I have always heard that Stranger Than Fiction is a solid movie and that Ferrell is excellent in it (this reason is always cited when I say I am not a huge Ferrell fan) and I have always said I will get to it at some stage and then I never do, which is how it ended up on y 2018 Blind Spot list. I needed to cross it off my list.

Right off, I didn’t know what to expect from this movie when I started it. Was it going to be one of Ferrell’s ridiculous movies, would it be different, what was going to come from it? Well, let me tell you, Ferrell rocked this one. Completely. It was a more contained performance than I am used to seeing from him, and the humour landed for me from him now more than ever. I feel he is sometimes just too OTT and not my cup of tea. I think the cast all worked well together in this to deliver a pretty good comedy drama, and I enjoyed it.

The pacing was good, and I was sold on seeing what, exactly, Harold’s life was all about, because it was super bland, doing the same thing day in and day out. Emma Thompson as writer and narrator fit the role perfectly, and it was entertaining to watch her whenever she was on screen. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s insistence on being a kind anarchist is sweet, too, and Ferrell’s lonely Harold is quite sad. Dustin Hoffman, too, as the weird and quirky writing expert is quite fun, and just to see how all the characters interact and pull together to change the initially drab story is a satisfying experience.

The humour is rather sharp and low key in this, not forceful or over the top or anything like that, and it just worked completely for the story being told. I liked how the story paced itself, never too slow to be boring, never too fast to be confusing. I found myself delighted with Stranger Than Fiction coming to life, as a reader and a moviegoer, there was plenty that worked so well.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Stranger Than Fiction, and I might very well check it out again someday. Ferrell did not irritate, and it had enough quirk to keep it fun and sweet but not grating or excessively cheesy and with a cast that worked well together, and I can highly recommend it.

Review: Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015)

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“It’s the zombie apocalypse! Come on, we’re scouts! We’re trained for this!”
– Augie

SYNOPSIS: Three scouts, on the eve of their last camp-out, discover the true meaning of friendship when they attempt to save their town from a zombie outbreak. – via IMDB

Decided to give this a go recently, and I must say, I was not disappointed. Mind you check your brain at the door though, otherwise this is going to be a waste, and do be in the mood for a silly comedy, because that is exactly what Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is going to deliver. That, and crude humour, but littered throughout that crude humour are some real gems, too.

Anyway, I thought that the cast was good. Sheridan, Miller, and Morgan all work together really well, and definitely pull together those three awkward friends thing. Dumont did her thing, too, but also really came across as the token female, which is also a little annoying.

The movie has a lot of crazy stuff going for it, too, such as the trampoline escape, and how can you not be intrigued by zombie cats? Really? Anyway, the pacing is a little off at times, but for the most part, this movie rolls along just fine and has a ton of ludicrous scenes that work with this. Scouts Guide is completely aware of the type of movie it is, and doesn’t put on airs to be more. It just wants to have fun, and by goodness, that is exactly what it does.

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is juvenile and crass and absolutely ridiculous, and yet it works for a silly comedy, and it entertains, that cannot be denied. Worth the watch and a lot of fun, provided you check your brain at the door.

Review: Dark Matter – Blake Crouch

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SYNOPSIS: “Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe. – via Goodreads

Man, a while ago Mettel Ray spoke of Dark Matter on her blog, and I decided it would be my next Crouch read, as I have a few on my Kindle and just didn’t know which one to go with, and man, I am glad I went with this one. I really don’t want to say too much about this book to avoid spoilers or to give away too much of the story, so I guess we will see how this review goes down.

Dark Matter is a super fun read. I was hooked essentially from the off. It took a few pages to get rolling, and I was wondering if I was sitting with another version of Crouch’s Wayward Pines trilogy, when suddenly it kicked into overdrive and built a truly fascinating story for itself.

The book might have been a tad too long, but that didn’t slow down the reading, just made it a touch more bloated than it should have been. The story is sharp and drags you in and really gets you thinking about a lot of things. Jason is a character you sympathise with and want to see succeed, but you are also not entirely sure exactly how he is supposed to emerge victorious, or what is really going on.

Okay, I don’t really want to say anything more, except that this is a great read. Dark Matter is smart, engaging, twisty and extremely entertaining. Without a doubt my favourite Blake Crouch  novel to date. It wasn’t missing anything, and delivered the goods in a solid fashion. I can highly recommend this one.

Review: Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

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“We have to stop her here and now, and prevent Ragnarok, the end of everything! So I’m putting together a team.”
– Thor

SYNOPSIS: Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok, the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization, at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela. – via IMDB

Well, it’s no real secret that I haven’t enjoyed a single Thor movie so far. They aren’t terrible (who am I kidding, what was that Dark World kak?!), they are just… wasted potential. Seriously, all that lore and everything to work with and we got the two movies we did? Oh well. However, then Taika Waitit directed Team Thor, and I had a renewed interest. The man’s brand of humour appeals to me, and the short made me laugh. We all know I love his other work, so how would it go when he took over the reigns of a massive Marvel production?

In a word? Great. Really. Waititi breathed life into an Avenger that really needed it. Two, actually, because one cannot forget the Hulk in this one. Hemsworth is way more comfortable than ever before in his return as the Son of Odin, and he works so well with Mark Ruffalo, so easy and comfortable. Jeff Goldblum has an absolute ball as  Grandmaster, and Tom Hiddleston is, as always, supremely entertaining as Loki. Hemsworth and Hiddleston play together well, too, and continue to impress us with their hilariously dysfunctional relationship.

The humour is, as I was hoping, top notch. It’s hilarious, and there were a few scenes my husband and I laughed so hard at we went back to rewatch them a few times (Thor’s explanation of the dirty snake trick Loki played on him when they were eight and Loki and Thor with their “get help” skit are prime examples). It truly had me laughing. I have to admit, Korg (Waititi) had me in stitches a few times, what a character!

Thor: Ragnarok is more than just silly entertainment and solid humour though, and it must be noted that the movie looks great and has some solid effects, which I enjoyed a lot. The colours I truly loved, as it just fit the whole vibe of the movie. The soundtrack, too, works all the way through. This is not to say that the movie is without flaws. I, for once, could have done without the whole Doctor Strange bit, as I seriously felt it did not advance the narrative in any way, and was just there to fill time. I was also not a particular fan of Tessa Thompson in this, though eventually you warm up to her a little more.

All in all, I found Thor: Ragnarok to be a highly entertaining, funny film that just goes ahead and does what it wants, and it works so well. It doesn’t matter what you do/do not know about the MCU, you can still enjoy this regardless of.

Review: Hot Fuzz (2007)

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“You do know there are more guns in the country than there are in the city?”
– DS Andy Wainwright

SYNOPSIS: A skilled London police officer is transferred to a small town that’s harbouring a dark secret. – via IMDB

Man, you gotta hand it to this movie, it totally goes for the entertainment factor, and is so heavily laced with dry, witty humour throughout. So, let me get right down to it: Hot Fuzz is fantastic comedy, and Simon Pegg and Nick Frost work absolute wonders together to bring this story to life on our screens.

Nicholas Angel is not the most sympathetic character out there, and most often you laugh at him while he is being a pain in the ass. Soon, though, his life is upside down and he is essentially banished to the countryside, and that is where the adventure begins. Hot Fuzz paints this little town as super non-descript and bland, but something’s cracking here. The colleagues Angel gets at the new police station are great, and nobody is mincing about that they don’t like him or his big city-ness.

Angel and Danny Butterman become fast friends, but it takes time for their relationship to develop, and it is a friendship that grows that is so sweet to watch, and super hilarious, too. Another point of entertainment is, without a doubt, their pub trips.

Hot Fuzz is also really well made, too. It looks and sounds good, even if it is a little choppy at times and not as smooth as you would hope. Timothy Dalton makes his appearances here, of which I am quite the fan. Bill Nighy is dangled in front of us and snatched away super fast, as is Martin Freeman, but it all works. While Nicholas Angel is a bit uptight and a pain initially, you cannot help but root for the guy throughout.

Eventually the movie devolves into all out hilarity and utter lunacy, and you are so drawn in. All the jokes are hard hitting and fast, they land well, and the movie is completely aware of how totally over the top it has gone and embraces it, owns it, drives it all home. You cannot help but have a laugh. The violence is over the top, the fights are insane, every cliché you can shake a stick at has been dragged up, and everyone is having a right time of it, and that is evident.

Review: Legally Blonde (2001)

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“I just don’t think that Brooke could’ve done this. Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.”
– Elle Woods

SYNOPSIS: Elle Woods, a fashionable sorority queen is dumped by her boyfriend. She decides to follow him to law school, while she is there she figures out that there is more to her than just looks. – via IMDB

Yes. The nostalgia man. The nostalgia. I cannot tell you how many times I watched the silly movie growing up, and I have no regrets. I decided the other day to trip down memory lane as rewatch Legally Blonde, and I am glad I did. It is a silly fluffy film for sure, but it has heart, some spunk, and quite a solid message to it, and all this makes for an enjoyable watch.

Reese Witherspoon is the perfect Elle Woods. Like seriously, she just pulls of that totally ridiculous blonde with all the aplomb you would hope that goes with it. She comes across as a totally shallow, brainless airhead, and yet she is not slow. She is just interested in other things – like makeup, beauty, fashion, hair care, and her handbag dog. I love how sassy she is, too, and she has some really priceless lines (like getting into Harvard not really being that hard xD). But when her asshat boyfriend, Warner Huntington III, rips the rug out from under her, Elle goes above and beyond to win him back, and instead proves to the world that she is more than the stereotypical dumb blonde.

Disclaimer: check your brain at the door before you head in for this. If you try to take this too seriously or apply this all as happening in real life, you are going to be in for a bad time. Reality suspension, to be sure. Now, back to the movie. Harvard changes Elle, and in a good way. She gains more confidence than ever before, and feels like she is useful and applies herself, she makes a difference. She also makes real friends that side, and watching Witherspoon’s Elle and Jennifer Coolidge’s Paulette together is something else altogether. I quite enjoyed the little awkward side story between Paulette and the delivery guy, and I thought that Luke Wilson’s Emmett was terribly sweet. I also really liked how much heart Legally Blonde brought to the table, and the strong messages peppered throughout it.

Legally Blonde is a charming, light, fluffy film that tackles some strong issues and actually has quite a good, solid message that it conveys. It also helps that it is really fun and has moments that will stick with you (I mean who is in a hurry to forget the ludicrous bend and snap?!). Also, it’s totally nostalgic, and that wins points for me. It’s such a chick flick, this cannot be denied, and is cute in that slightly sickening way, but you gotta love it.

Review: Kong: Skull Island (2017)

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“We are dealing with a monster from a bygone era.”
– Preston Packard

SYNOPSIS: 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. – via IMDB

I finally got to this, and I must say that I was more impressed than I expected to be. While Kong: Skull Island has some issues, if you don’t overthink it and just go in for what it was made for (pure entertainment), you are bound to have a pretty good time. I quite enjoyed myself throughout.

I had quite a good time with the humour, which was cheesy at times, but every now and again had a good, sharp snap to it. I also absolutely loved the soundtrack, which was totally right up my alley, and worked with this. I think the movie touted quite the impressive cast, though some of them were underused. None of them were actually given a character to really chew on, but they all served their purpose of bringing the story of Kong to life. I thought Hiddleston to be a good ex-military type, Jackson played who and what he always plays, Larson was solid (as is to be expected), and it was a treat to see Reilly here.

I did not enjoy the romance that was squashed into this (I could totally have done without it), and I must acknowledge that the movie had some super dodgy effects at times. Also, just don’t overthink it, because this is a movie to entertain, not to be picked apart like The Godfather or something. Kong was really cool, and I totally enjoyed his scenes. Those icky-ass monsters on the island that Kong protected everyone from served their purpose – to be gross as hell. Ewwww. There were also plenty fight scenes, and all were done quite well – exactly what they needed to be, which is a blockbuster action film. If that’s what you are going in for for Kong, then that is exactly what you are going to get.

Anyway, there isn’t really much to say about Kong: Skull Island other than it is quite a bit of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I had a few laughs, there were some cool fight sequences, a great soundtrack to carry it all, and decent performances from the cast. It’s seriously not a bad movie to while away some time with.

Music Video: My OCD – Rhett and Link

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Okay, not technically a Sporadic Scene, sure, but holy crapsticks man, I love this! My dear Chop, I am sure that you will find the same type of satisfaction in this, you and I can be so bad. This speaks to my soul. Anyway, I will stop waffling, check this out if you haven’t already, lots of fun and totally worth a few minutes of your time 🙂

Review: War Dogs (2016)

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“They called guys like us war dogs. Bottom feeders who make money off of war without ever stepping foot on the battlefield. It was supposed to be derogatory, but… we kind of liked it.”
– David Packouz

SYNOPSIS: Based on the true story of two young men, David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli, who won a $300 million contract from the Pentagon to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan. – via IMDB

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GRADE 7You know, I didn’t really know what to expect of this movie going into it. I didn’t read an awful lot on it, or hear a lot about it. My yardstick was some friends of mine tellling me that it was worth a look see, and was pretty entertaining. I have to say that I agree, this was quite a good one.

Jonah Hill is excellent as Efraim Diveroli, what an absolute tosser. He really owned the role and got into it. Miles Teller is a good actor, and he’s a welcome addition to the cast for this. Hill and Teller work together excellently and effortlessly, and just make this a fun watch. That’s another thing; I appreciated how War Dogs gave you enough story for you to understand, but not so much that it becomes a heavy, full-fledged drama. This movie is ultimately quite fun, despite the subject matter it deals with. What a fantastically crazy story!

The pacing wasn’t bad in this movie – it was fast and told you the story at breakneck speed, to be sure, but you had a lot of fun along the way, and got to see enough of what was happening to appreciate and understand it all. I also liked the score for this. There were some issues – I know I say this is fun and all, and it is, but I would have liked a little bit more substance to the entire crazy deal these young men pulled together.

I am not totally sure about the accuracy of this story, and I am sure that tons of liberties were taken, too, but I had fun. It was not great, and there were legitimate issues that were littered across it with characters and events, but it is a light, entertaining watch, and that is all that I could ask for. This is not an area that most people have a lot of knowledge, so it was something new.

Anyway, silly, entertaining, a few truly funny moments, War Dogs is worth a look see, regardless of the actual story, or how this compares.