Review: Annihilation (2018)

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“It’s destroying everything.”
– Dr Ventress

SYNOPSIS: A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition into a mysterious zone where the laws of nature don’t apply. – via IMDB

Alright, so this movie seems to have a lot of people either super loving it, or totally hating it. I guess when I think back on it I can totally understand how one could end up in either camp, if I am being honest. There is a lot to like about Annihilation, but there is also a lot that is going to be annoying and can’t be overlooked.

I liked it quite a bit. It was ambiguous, but not in that unsatisfying way that It Comes At Night was. It raised a lot of questions and answered very few, and the few answers it did answer, I could have done without, and some that I wanted, I went without. Visually Annihilation is a beautiful film, and that cannot be denied. Strange shimmer, exotic everything going on behind the shimmer, this new world, all of it, and it works really well.

Then there is the cast. I think this is where the movie got hurt a bit. The characters are all really flat and lifeless, after all is said and done. Jennifer Jason Leigh is just angry and resentful and there. I could have done with more Oscar Isaac, too. Tessa Thompson and Natalie Portman are the only two that will remotely stay with you. The logic is also a little bizarre – for years soldiers have been going in and nobody has been coming back. Let’s send a group of all-female scientists. Like, I got the sending scientists in and all that, but… the definition of insanity? Nothing is changing, evidently. With this there were inconsistencies (lost time only happening and addressed once the whole time??).

There were moments of delicious creepiness (you all know what I am talking about), and the explanation took away some of that beautiful horror shine for both my husband and myself, but the conclusion for this makes up for some of the weaker parts, all while leaving us with another ton of questions, which I liked. I definitely think that this movie is worth a rewatch to pick up on more things.

I think that Annihilation is ambitious and visually stunning, with decent performances of flat characters, and has a score that works really well. I don’t necessarily need a movie spoon fed to me, but Annihilation took it’s ambiguity throughout a little too seriously, leaving a slightly unsatisfied feeling towards the end, though the ambiguity of that is not what left me unsatisfied. Yes, I know that all sounds crazy. Worth a watch, and a rewatch for sure. Not Ex-Machina, but not terrible, either. I look forward to more of Garland’s work.

I went into this blind. I read a lot of good reviews on it, but didn’t read too in depth or anything. Don’t even watch the trailer, just go watch the movie.

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

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“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…

Rapid Review: X-Men: Apocalypse

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x men apocalupse poster

“Everything they’ve built will fall! And from the ashes of their world, we’ll build a better one!”
– Apocalypse

SYNOPSIS: With the emergence of the world’s first mutant, Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan. – via IMDB

x men apocalypse not all of us can control our powers

GRADE 7Yes! I finally went to see this. My husband wasn’t thrilled (he loves going to the cinema), but he knew it is one of the few superhero movies I will insist on seeing in the cinema. Screw that, any new movie in this franchise will have me tripping out, no matter how many installments. I know, it sounds mad. I think the reviews have been unjustly harsh towards X-Men: Apocalypse, though it is by no means a perfect movie. It definitely doesn’t have the wow factor of Days of Future Past, and the plot is a little messy (okay, maybe a dash more than a little), and there were some holes, and the pacing was a bit off. The villain, Apocalypse, was also quite disappointing in the long run. As much as I like Oscar Isaac, this was really not good. There was so much more that could have been done with this character! His rising and the X-Men battling him was so rushed and quick, his true power and danger is never really realised, which is a pity. Besides that, the cast is, as is to be expected, excellent. McAvoy is a fantastic Charles, and Fassbender, of course, delivers as the tortured Erik. I wish that the two of them had been given more screen time, if I am being honest, but I loved them when they were there. Also, Nicholas Hoult could have done with more screen time, too. Okay, I think one of the large flaws of the film is that there are a ton of characters, and none are really done any real justice. Evan Peters returns and owns as Quicksilver, which I loved. I must say though, his hit scene from DOFP was recreated here, and as entertaining as it was, it wasn’t perfect like the last one, and didn’t thrill me as much. It also felt squished in, like it was expected. Fun, but a little off. Sophie Turner really impressed me as Jean Grey (and trust me, this was something I was extremely leery about), and Tye Sheridan’s Scott Summers didn’t manage to peeve me endlessly, which in and of itself is a feat. Last but not least, I want to talk about how awesome Kodi Smit-McPhee’s Nightcrawler is. I was so stoked to see the Nightcrawler return, and to see him get such a large role was fantastic. Happy as can be! Look, he is no Alan Cumming, but he was still wonderful, and I am hoping to see more of him in future movies. Also, a young Storm? Yay! Yes, I had a total ball with all these things. I actually think this film is going to appeal more to people who love the X-Men franchise, and not necessarily newcomers. That being said, I enjoyed the story, but didn’t love it, it was flawed, but a fun film, the effects were good, but there were issues, but I would definitely recommend it for a watch. I really am such a fan of going back to see how the X-Men formed, how the relationships were, how everything was before, and I really think a great job is being done with that. I am going to stop now, before this review gets excessively long.

Rapid Review: Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)

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day 25 the force awakens poster

“There’s been an awakening. Have you felt it? The Dark side, and the Light.”
– Supreme Leader Snoke

SYNOPSIS: Three decades after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat arises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a ragtag group of heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance. – via IMDB

Alright, so obviously I have decided to write reviews here. I have been dead nervous, but that’s just the way it is. Sometimes you just love something so much and want to share it with the world, but you have no idea how. Well, that’s how I get when it comes to Star Wars. I never know how to share my appreciation. So I was really nervous when I heard that Disney had bought out George Lucas and they announced another movie. So much could go wrong. Then there was the whole directors debacle, and I was not having much of it. But when it was announced that J.J. Abrams was going to helm The Force Awakens, I started to get excited. The man is so geeky, totally gets sci-fi, and understands how to handle such a huge franchise for refreshing or rebooting or whatever. I mean just look what he did with Star Trek. I thought he did a great job. So when it was finally time, I hustled right on down to my cinema to check it out, and I wasn’t disappointed, despite having some complaints about some things.

kylo ren lightsabre the force awaken

Okay, now let’s get down to it. That score will forever remain perfect, and I felt like a child sitting in the cinema, watching the story unfold. When Kylo Ren stepped out on screen, I almost exploded. I was so excited. I had suspicions as to his identity, but that was irrelevant. Everything about him was just hardcore – that outfit, that mask, his phenomenally mesmerizing voice… all of it. Not to mention how he uses the Force, his strength, and the fact that he wields my favourite lightsaber in the Star Wars universe. That thing is amazing, and I never understood why people flipped out. Later on, when we get a good look at Kylo Ren? Dat hair. Like OMG. I just wanted to run my fingers through it. Over and over again. It was too gorgeous for words. Adam Driver was just so delicious. Wow.

Then there is the super cute BB-8, who is now my favourite droid in the universe. I need one. This surpasses want. For reals now. Need, people. The way he waddles when he is hauling ass somewhere, how badass he is in an attack (more adorable than anything), and the best thumbs-upper I have ever seen… yes. This was destined to happen. Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford returning as Leia and Han was awesome, and I still adore them. I think everyone must piss off about this whole “Fisher got old” thing – I thought she looked amazing. Haters. Love how nobody is bitching about the men being old. Pfffffff.

I know the world is going to fight back on this one, but I thought that Rey was a bit of a flat, bland character. Like sure, she is going places, and I like her well enough, but I am used to Leia, who just walks in and owns everything. She has more guts. I am sure that Rey will get there though. Also, I was no fan of how quickly Rey just grasped the Force, etc. Seriously. Even Anakin, who was supposed to “bring a balance to the Force” needed extensive training, as well as Luke, when he was to help the Rebels. Rey? Screw that, she just gets the Force. Oh well, let’s see.

I was so stoked to see Chewie and the Millennium Falcon, and I really loved how everything looked in the movie (the X-Wings and TIE Fighters being some personal favourites), and the lens flares were signature Abrams and welcome, no matter what anyone says. I know I have an awful lot to say about this one, but come on, it has been a decade since the last Star Wars release (for me, I never got to see any of the originals in cinema), and so a lot of excitement has been building up. I will stop now though. Meaning… I will stop now with this:

Rapid Review: Ex Machina (2014)

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ex machina poster

“One day the AIs are going to look back on us the same way we look at fossil skeletons on the plains of Africa. An upright ape living in dust with crude language and tools, all set for extinction.”
– Nathan

SYNOPSIS: Caleb, a 26 year old coder at the world’s largest internet company, wins a competition to spend a week at a private mountain retreat belonging to Nathan, the reclusive CEO of the company. But when Caleb arrives at the remote location he finds that he will have to participate in a strange and fascinating experiment in which he must interact with the world’s first true artificial intelligence, housed in the body of a beautiful robot girl. – via IMDB

ex machina

GRADE 8.5I have been looking forward to seeing this for a while, the concept sounded very interesting, and like something both myself and my fiancé would enjoy because it contains both of our professions/fields of study. Boy, were we in for something! Ex Machina was so much more than I expected to be, and I was engrossed pretty much from the second it started. The story reels you in and then just gets the ball rolling quickly, and before you know what it happening you are in for a serious trip. The cast is very limited, but it is perfect for this movie, it is not bogged down by a multitude of unnecessary and flat characters. We were both at the edge of our seats throughout, convinced that at some stage Alex Garland would drop the ball. That happens all too often in sci-fi… great premise, and it all starts so well, and then they manage to do something that sours it all. I just want to commend Garland for giving us a great movie. Througout, I was not completely sure what was going on, and every time you think you have a handle on things, the aspects change, and you start to rethink everything you have seen. The conclusion was great for me, I loved it. It really stretched the idea of a machine with or without emotion to the extremes, and about the validity of this Turing test that was being administered. There is so much to talk about in this movie, but I can’t really because I truly hate spoilers and don’t want to ruin anything for anyone. You have to see it at least once though. Really. I loved the way the movie was shot and how the dialogue flowed, how it got really technical in places, but never so much as to lose a viewer. The performances all round were strong ones, and their interactions with each other were wonderful. The score fit everything perfectly, too, and the slightly washed out look the movie had was so suited for the story that was told. There were so many things going on at any given moment, and your attention is demanded for every second of the film’s run time. What I do know, however, is that everyone should see this movie at least once. If you are a programmer, you are going to love it, if you are into psychology, I think you will enjoy it, and if you like sci-fi then I am sure you will be all over this. I can see,  however, how it won’t be for everyone, but those that appreciate this type of thing will really like it. Okay, that’s all I can really say without spoiling anything, though if anyone wants to talk more about this, you know where to find me! I was a fan and so was my fiancé, and he isn’t usually easily impressed by things like this. I can see myself watching this a few times to come still. What a fascinating movie!

Rapid Review: Drive (2011)

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drive poster

“You tell me where we start, where we’re going, where we’re going afterwards. I give you five minutes when we get there. Anything happens in that five minutes and I’m yours. No matter what. Anything a minute on either side of that and you’re on your own. I don’t sit in while you’re running it down. I don’t carry a gun. I drive.”
– Driver

SYNOPSIS: A mysterious Hollywood stuntman and mechanic moonlights as a getaway driver and finds himself trouble when he helps out his neighbor. – via IMDB

driver driving

I cannot believe that it took me so long to get to it! I have always read around the internet how it is said to be good and all that, but I just never got to it, and it has been waiting for me to check it out for months. Finally, it was going to happen. It was time. Just wow. My mind was completely and utterly blown. I am pretty indifferent about Ryan Gosling, not a huge fan, don’t hate him, doesn’t bother me to see him in a film or anything. But this was the first time that I was actually swept away by him. He was just perfect in his role as Driver. He put so much into the character. The film had a brilliant cast, and Carey Mulligan was also just great to watch. The chemistry between her and Gosling was also extremely impressive and very believable. Their little shy romance was so beautiful to watch, and not overbearing and soppy. The kiss that they shared was simply one of the most breathtaking kisses I have ever seen on the screen. It was stunning. Bryan Cranston was entertaining, as always. The concept for this film was fresh and new in a few ways, and it was executed incredibly well, so Nicolas Winding Refn seriously needs some props for that. The camera work was awesome, and the lighting and emphasis on certain things was beautiful to behold. I am more impressed than I can put into words. The violence was not excessive (as so many people complained about), though it definitely was present. There was not one moment where the film started lagging and losing its momentum – it maintained its greatness from the off and continued in the same streak. The film progresses smoothly and is wonderful to watch. The cast was absolutely awesome, they worked so well together. The soundtrack caught me by surprise, but worked perfectly for the film. Overall, this movie is totally worth the watch, I cannot recommend it highly enough!