Rambling Review: Logan

Logan3I haven’t done a review in ages!  And instead of being overly late to the party (like I usually am), as this movie is still in theaters, I thought I’d give this one a shout out.

I try my best to only watch a trailer or two of any film I’m interested in seeing.  I don’t read other reviews, I don’t seek out spoilery information, and I try to ignore social media posts (which is almost a permanent state at this point, as I’m always behind in everything), so I didn’t know too much about what to expect from this movie before viewing it.

I haven’t finished the Wolverine film series, or even the newer X-Men films, so I’m uncertain to any tie-ins, but this definitely felt like a stand alone film and didn’t require much explanation as to what had been happening up to this point.

Side note, I went to see this by myself.  I like going to the movies once in a while on my own, but clearly this was a shock to the two men seated near me.  “You’re here alone?” One of them asked.  “Yes.”  I responded.  “You came to see Logan by yourself?”  “Yep.”  I heard him sort of huff in surprise.  I didn’t pay enough attention to the accent to narrow down where they were from, but clearly this was a strange idea to them.  I’m not sure if it was because I was lone woman, or because I was a lone woman at a superhero movie.

At the conclusion, he asked if I liked it.  Yes.  Yes, I did.

*I like to write reviews as if I were talking with a friend, so I try my best to keep them spoiler free. 🙂

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As I said, I didn’t know much about the film before entering the theater.  The fantastic pairing of Johnny Cash on the trailer was enough to spark my interest, especially with Logan looking so weathered and forlorn.  He looked like a man whose age had finally caught up with him; a man who has seen a great deal and lost just as much.

The film is set in the not too distant future, and we’re introduced to a Logan who is clearly unwell, whose claws are getting a little rusty, has a limp, and is drinking himself into oblivion.  The strong warrior doesn’t appear to have much fight left in him, and becomes a reluctant protector of a young girl with similar powers.  And I do mean reluctant.

Mutants have gone the way of the dinosaur, and Logan is looking out for himself and the Professor, who is now in his 90s and unable to control his powers due to seizures.  Apparently there was an incident that killed a number of people and mutants in the recent past, and Logan is doing his best to keep him safe and protected.  He just wants to earn enough money to buy a boat and escape to a quiet life – enter the bad guys who think they’re good guys.

There’s been a secret project going on for years, because there’s always a secret project, and when the lab rats get loose, the big guns come out in force to clean up their mistake.  And do they ever come out in force.  There are loads of great fight sequences – Logan’s claws are still as sharp as ever, and we discover, so are the little girl’s, and she’s a dangerous little thing.

The movie is about both a literal and figurative “journey”.  Logan has lost everyone he’s ever cared about, save Charles, and he doesn’t want to care about anyone else, no matter how she might tug at the ol’ heart strings.  He’s not who he once was, and he’s not who everyone wants him to be, he’s just…tired, of it all.

The film took some unexpected turns, but honestly, they felt right.  It wasn’t a traditional spandex-clad superhero film, and I think that’s what I liked best.  It was a more “reality” based look at an old hero and what they, or any of us, are willing to fight for.

There was one aspect of the storyline that I felt was a little forced in, and a cliche of sorts – the whole white hats vs black hats kind of thing, facing yourself, and your past, but as parallels go, it wasn’t too bad.  *This one is hard to go into too much explanation without being spoilery. 

This is my second favorite X-Men film, after the first one back in 2000, and probably number 6 on my top 10 of superhero movies.  It wasn’t what I was expecting, and that was a good thing.  All the X-Men movies of late have not inspired me to care about any of these characters I once liked.  Remember the X-Men cartoon?  The writers, directors, etc. really should have taken a note from their predecessors.

You don’t have to be a superhero fan to enjoy this film.  It’s a tale we’re all familiar with, it just happens to be “enhanced”. 😉

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If you’ve seen Logan, what did you think?

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4 New (to me) Favorite Shows + 1

TVblueIt’s hard enough to keep up with the shows I’ve been watching for years (because I haven’t paid for television in nearly 5 years and generally have to wait to stream), let alone stay current with the torrent of new shows available on the numerous outlets nowadays, but since I want to be a part of it all, I had to make a concerted effort to watch some new things.

I decided to go through my various lists and watch the first episode of a number of shows, and see what struck me.  Here are the “new to me” stand outs:

lastkingdom4.  The Last Kingdom – A wonderful show I discovered via Netflix is the BBC import The Last Kingdom.  Set before England is a united nation, the story follows the life of a young Saxon prince who is captured by an invading Dane army and becomes their earl’s slave.  As the years pass, he becomes more Dane than Saxon and eventually becomes the earl’s adopted son.  His journey is a strange one as he discovers that despite his true heritage, he is a man that doesn’t really belong in either world, and yet finds himself at the center of the great changes that are to come.

It’s a period piece set in England.  For me, that’s all it really takes, 😉  but there is something unique and captivating about this show, and I definitely recommend watching the first episode like I did – I’m sure you’ll be hooked too.

galavant3.  Galavant – A comedy musical set in Medieval times starring Timothy Omundson?!  I was in from the moment I saw the first preview, but because of the not-having-tv-thing, it was just another show that got pushed to the wayside…until Netflix.  The first two seasons popped up and I was hooked from first song – Thank you, Alan Menken! (of Disney movie fame: The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Tangled to name a few).

The series follows Galavant, a knight on a mission to reclaim his lost love, but as you can expect in a comedy, things don’t always go as planned.  The show is more adult oriented despite the light hearted presentation, special guests make regular appearances, and without commercials, the 18 episodes are only about 20 mins long, so it’s an easy binge watch.  And then I discovered the horrible truth – Galavant had been canceled.  I think the show is really wonderful, and cleverly done.  I’m sad to learn that there won’t be any more of it.  If you’re looking for something different and just plain fun, I highly recommend Galavant.

vikings2.  Vikings – This was a show I longed to watch, but again, did not have access to, and then I got access to Hulu and voila!  Even if I hadn’t been entranced by the first episode, which I totally was, this show was one I was willing to put a little effort into.  Thankfully, it didn’t come to that.  It’s fantastic!  Vikings are often portrayed as this brute invading force, but this show takes us inside their world and, in particular, the life of Ragnar Lothbrok.

Tired of the routine set by his earl of sailing east to lands they have repeatedly pillaged, Ragnar makes a daring-rogue decision and builds a boat of his own to travel to new destinations.  Ragnar, besides being easy on the eyes, is a compelling character to watch.  He’s a clever man played by a subtle actor who says a great deal with his eyes.  (I’m a sucker for that, hello, Mads Mikkelsen.)  And then there’s his wife, Lagertha, a famous warrior known as a shield maiden.  She is an amazing character and my eyes are drawn to her whenever she’s on screen.  She’s a force to be reckoned with, and it’s satisfying to find a character like her.

I’m only on season 2, and there’s already been betrayal and sacrifice (literally) and loss.  I can’t wait to see what else is in store for these characters.

strangerthings1.  Stranger Things – Everyone was talking about Stranger Things so I decided to watch the first episode to see what all the hype was about.  If you’ve been on the fence, get off of it already and watch this hit from Netflix Originals.

Set in the 80s in a small town, this sci-fi series follows a group of friends, four 12 year old boys who are sort of the geeky outcasts.  (In hindsight, they’re the boys I wish I would’ve befriended when I was 12 to learn how to play D&D.)  When one of their friends mysteriously disappears, a new friend mysteriously appears, and a “strange” series of events follow as this tale unfolds.

There was a lot of information about this show on every social media outlet (there still is as season 2 is close at hand), and it was hard to stay ignorant to the premise, so if you’re like I was, I won’t give too much away because it is really well done and a lot of fun to watch.  I have to say I was surprised how much I enjoyed this, because I didn’t know what to expect, so maybe that’s a good thing…I’ve been disappointed more often than not recently when I’m looking forward to something…and despite the fact that Winona Ryder is one of the leads, she is still not a good actor, the show is worthy of your time.

And the +1 is currently in the  “undecided” section:

blackbutlerBlack Butler – The Sis has already watched all the available episodes and is a fan, but I’ve only watched a few, and am still on the fence.  I really like the premise which is about a young boy, the heir to a vast fortune in Victorian England, who makes a deal with a demon to avenge his family.  The demon then becomes his constant companion in the way of his butler, and he is “one hell of a butler”. 😉

Japanime seems to be a cross between a couple of animation types, a beautiful, stylistic art, and this odd, campy, almost childish variant.  Black Butler has both, which sometimes pulls me out of the story because the two styles are drastically different, but this is a mainstay in their animation, I’ve discovered, so it’s just something you have to get used to.

Black Butler is available on both Netflix and Hulu and the Hulu version has both the dubbed and subtitled versions, I believe.  I would recommend the subtitled versions, because Sebastian, the butler, has a wonderful, soothing voice.

Have you watched any of these shows?  What do you think?  Wanna talk about any of them?  Let’s chat!

A Discrepant Writer Reviews: Suicide Squad

I’m breaking from routine this week.  It’s time to mix up the schedule, so for today, I thought I would do a review…I’m really, really behind in those.  I mean, I never even talked about Star Wars.  Who am I?

As always, I will do my best to keep my review “spoiler free”.

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I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that DC is trying to play catch up with Marvel.  Marvel has been interweaving their stories since day one and while not all the movies they put out are stellar, they’ve put out a few great ones and their story telling only continues to get better.  From what I’ve seen so far of the DC cinematic world, the same cannot be said.

Suicide Squad, on initial inspection, sounded like an interesting premise: gather together some of the comic world’s worst and let them do something good knowing that if it all goes wrong they’re the perfect scapegoats.

First of all, there are so. many. characters, and for some reason, we needed the backstory of each one.  Actually, no, we didn’t.  As a writer, I’ve learned that when introducing a group, you should find an interesting way to do it, so it sets them all up with their individual character traits and personalities, and doesn’t waste too much time.  This did not happen in Suicide Squad.

I wish I would have timed it, but I felt the set up for all these characters was somewhere in the 45 mins range.  Way too long.  And a lot of their backgrounds could have easily been summed up in a line of dialogue.  With stories of this genre, and with a lot of side characters, I don’t feel that full histories are necessary because we don’t need to emotionally connect with each person on screen.  Besides, the movie is only two hours long.

Then there was the plot, or lack there of.  What a convoluted mess.  Honestly, I felt that the director was having so much fun showing off his cast and special effects that he forgot they were supposed to be doing something – the mission – which, again, was all over the place.  With a comic book history that spans 75 years, there are a number of topics to choose from, and yet this is where they really fell flat.

harleyThe one redeeming thing in the whole movie: Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn.  Besides being absolutely gorgeous, her sweet-crazy performance was the highlight of the film, in addition to the very few interactions we got with Jared Leto’s Joker.  Long time comic book fans are well aware of the twisted relationship they share, and considering the information of how much footage was shot of the two, I think most movie goers were surprised/disappointed with the less than 10 mins that actually appeared in the film.

This is probably because they were trying to make leads of all their characters, and now this is why so many fans are calling for a Harley/Joker film with these two actors reprising the roles.  They were fun to watch.

2stars

Sadly, this film was an overall disappointment.  It had its moments of comedy, but they were few and far between.  Comic books are fun, and yes, they often deal with real world problems, but the characters that are coming to save the day wear tights and capes.  Regardless of wanting these stories to feel “real” with a darker side, they should maintain their levity and fun.

Well, that’s my take any way.  If you saw the film, what did you think?

A Rambling Review: Les Revenants (aka The Returned)

LesRevenants

I love any show or film that keeps you guessing after it’s over.  Days later, you find yourself still wondering what some things meant and still have some pretty big questions.  The French supernatural drama, Les Revenants aka The Returned is just this type of show.

Currently contained within two seasons of just 16 episodes, with no talks of a third season, you will find partial closure and yet be left with that open ended feeling knowing there are no answers to be found.  At least not yet, if ever.  It’s one of those rare gems that lets you ponder its meaning – something I consider very French.

I’m not sure how I discovered the show initially, I think it was recommended by someone I follow somewhere, and I’m glad to have found it, although the wait between seasons was unbearable at over two years.  Both seasons are now available on Netflix.

The story is based on the 2004 film They Came Back, and is about the return of a small town’s deceased residents for no apparent reason.  They don’t all return at the same time, and many of them died at different times throughout the years, leaving the townspeople and their loved ones confused and frightened.

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They don’t look like zombies.  They don’t even look dead.  They don’t bear any marks of how they died and many of them have memory issues depending on how long they’ve been gone, so they’re just as confused.  It makes for an interesting story to see how some of them are welcomed back to their lives while some are not.

Then there is the trouble with the town’s dam.  The entire first season I remember looking at the water and thinking, “What’s really going on in there?”

It’s hard not to go into too much detail with only 16 episodes and four “families” primarily to follow.  This review could easily be much longer, but I want to keep all the mystery alive (pun intended?).  🙂

With so much to watch nowadays, I’ve become rather picky with which shows I stick with and which I give up.  If a show doesn’t grab me within the first few episodes, I don’t want to waste my time.  I know I’ll get flack for this, but I couldn’t get into Breaking Bad or, more recently, Daredevil – two shows loved by nearly everyone I know.  You may find the pacing of The Returned a bit slow initially, but that is part of the magic of this series in particular.  You get to see quiet moments in these people’s lives, and because of that, you feel you understand some of the characters better.

The Returned has an American spinoff that was airing nearly simultaneously and I don’t understand why.  This is one aspect of the Hollywood system that baffles me.  Why was creating a new show based on a current show necessary?  Are subtitles too difficult or cumbersome for the American audience?  Besides, the American version was cancelled after one season.  So no closure for you guys.

I hope for a third season because I would love to see a bit more of this story and its people, and get some answers to those questions still rattling around, but if that doesn’t happen, we can feel some of that unsettling closure that comes with foreign film.

Have you seen the show?  Or its American counterpart?  What are your thoughts?  I’d really love to discuss some of my theories, so join me in the comments!

10 Films That Surprised Me In the Last 10 Years

After my post about the unfortunate Crimson Peak, I started thinking about the movies I have seen and loved.  They had to be out there, right?!  I’m kidding, of course.  I can easily list a number of films I’ve seen in the last few years that I thought were brilliantly done.

Oddly enough, in my email the following day there was a message from StumbleUpon, a site I haven’t visited in quite a while, about The 30 Best Films of the Decade (this list discusses films from 2000-2009).  I decided to utilize this list as a spring board to create my own “10 best in the last 10”.

This was a difficult task.  There really have been some wonderful films in the last 10 years, a great many of them that I still have yet to see are on a virtual running list, so this list is about the films that truly surprised me and left a lasting impression from a variety of genres; those I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first saw them.

In order of their release date, I present to you the following:

W&GdvdWallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) – I adore this animated film.  The characters make their full length feature debut in this wonderful tale about a man and his dog trying to save the annual giant vegetable competition from a destructive beast with a taste for veg.  The thing I discovered about Wallace and Gromit, and why I love it, is the subtle humor and the dark side of their stories.  Almost more for adults because of the humor, kids can definitely still enjoy the movie because they won’t understand half the jokes anyway, just like Pixar films.  This one takes multiple viewings to catch all the little nuances and cleverly placed verbal and visual cues, and then you’ll find yourself like The Sis and I, quoting it fairly regularly in your daily life.

PansLabyrinthPan’s Labyrinth (2006) – The Sis had not seen this film prior to Halloween, but after watching Crimson Peak, and being disappointed, I encouraged her to watch this beautiful, moving, and surprising adult fairytale by Guillermo del Toro.  This import was nominated for dozens and dozens of awards, and one viewing will give you the insight as to why.  Set in the 40s during a rebellion against the fascist government in Spain, a young girl with a wonderful imagination takes a journey to discover who she really is.  I like to mix reality and fantasy in my own writing and I think that’s why this film struck me – it does exactly that, perfectly.

VforVendettaV for Vendetta (2006) – I knew nothing of this film upon seeing it, and I’m not sure who introduced me to it, but I enjoyed every minute of it.  I like the idea of alternate universes, and the idea of “what if” in regards to history.  England is in a police state following Germany’s win in WWII, and V, voiced by Hugo Weaving, is considered a terrorist for his actions that would lead the people to freedom from their government.  Along his journey he saves a young woman (Natalie Portman) and discovers an ally to his cause.  One of my favorite aspects of this film is that we never see V’s face.  He wears the Guy Fawkes mask the entire time, and although you think that would lead the audience to disconnect, it’s more symbolic that he could be any of us.

Lars&RealGirlLars and the Real Girl (2007) – I turned this film on out of curiosity and discovered a truly moving film.  Ryan Gosling plays Lars, a man who is sort of detached.  He doesn’t like to be touched, and desperate to find a connection, orders himself a girlfriend – a full size doll.  Despite his family’s protest, that he’s crazy, a doctor encourages them and the whole town to embrace his delusion, and his girlfriend becomes an active member of society.  It sounds strange, but it’s a wonderful story about family and how easy it is to write someone off rather than try to help them.  As adults it’s easy to become self-involved, we constantly worry what others might think, and sometimes we want the easy way out of a situation, but this film shows us otherwise.

LetTheRightOneInLet the Right One In (2008) – I had already read the book by John Ajvide Lindqvist before seeing the film, a rarity, so I knew the story going in, but the film still surprised me.  This Swedish film about the bond of friendship is an interesting take on the vampire genre.  Oskar is a shy boy, bullied at school, who befriends his new, odd neighbor, Eli.  Oskar comes off as a bit of a goof, but he’s a 12 year old boy, so, you know, it’s expected, and Eli is wary of him, but also intrigued.  Eli is compelling to watch, and going against Hollywood standards of “beauty”, there is something so interesting about her.  The story builds like a romance, so much so that sometimes you forget you’re watching, what is technically, a horror movie.  An American remake was filmed within 2 years and it wasn’t nearly as memorable.  Give the original a watch.

TropicThunderTropic Thunder (2008) – You may find this a surprising add to the list, but I think it’s an underrated comedy about the Hollywood system.  Ben Stiller directed the film, and there are a few versions available strangely, but despite not loving all of Stiller’s films, this one is hilarious.  I’m not kidding.  Stiller plays the typical action star who has had a string of flops, including a turn in a serious role as a man with a mental disorder who has been cast as the lead of a Vietnam War epic based on a novel.  His costars are Jack Black, a crude comedy actor, Robert Downey Jr., a multiple Academy Award winning actor who really gets into his roles, and Brandon T. Jackson, a rapper who wants to break into acting.  They end up having to become actual soldiers as the location where they’re shooting is an actual war zone.  There are homages to other war films, the jokes are funny to those who know about Hollywood, and the casting choices, I thought, were spot on.  One of my favorite parts of the film is the fake trailers at the beginning of the film.

District9District 9 (2009) – As you know, I like sci-fi.  I’m currently writing a space odyssey.  So believe me when I say, this movie completely took me by surprise.  This is not an invasion film like so many other alien movies, it’s about what happens when they seek refuge.  They become second class citizens, relegated to internment camps, where their well-being is not a concern, but learning more about their technology is.  They are not cute, friendly looking aliens, they are hard, bug-like creatures which makes empathizing with them an even greater challenge, and one director Blomkamp achieves.  This story could be looked at as a metaphor, but let’s keep it simple.  This story takes place through the eyes of a government worker who contracts an illness upon visiting one of the districts, and learns first hand how cruel and brutal the humans are and have been to their refugees.  There have been rumors of a sequel for years, and after watching this film, you’ll definitely want one.

FantasticMrFoxFantastic Mr. Fox (2009) – This is the first of two Wes Anderson films on my list.  I didn’t plan it, I swear.  The Fantastic Mr. Fox is based on the book by Roald Dahl, one of my favorite writers, and is the perfect story for Anderson’s signature style.  Using stop motion animation, this is the story of Mr. Fox (voiced by George Clooney) who is doing his best to fight his true nature for the sake of his family.  Eventually he can’t fight it any longer, and his stealing starts a war with three local farmers.  First off, the film is beautiful.  Then there’s that subtle humor and dark side again that I so enjoy.  You don’t have to have children to watch this or Wallace and Gromit, and you don’t have to be embarrassed that you liked them, just remember that animated films can be smart and fun.

IngloriousBasterdsInglorious Basterds (2009) – By far, my absolute favorite Tarantino film, and one of my favorite movies in long time.  Following that same “what if” idea that I like, Tarantino proposes a fantasy about ending WWII by killing Hitler and his closest advisors.  This film introduced us to a wonderful villain, and the actor who played him, Christoph Waltz, that I think scared more people with his cool demeanor, and random bursts of excitement, than any horror movie villain.  I tried to stay away from the big-budget Hollywood movies for this list, and as I think Tarantino is still more of an independent director, I think I can get away by adding this one.  His signature brutality is still prevalent (and how could it not be in a war movie?!), as is his penchant for killing off everyone, but you still leave the film satisfied.

GrandBudapestHotelThe Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) – I appreciate Wes Anderson’s sense of humor, but that wasn’t always the case.  It had taken a few years of cultivating my own dry sense of humor to appreciate his work more fully.  Sometimes his stories take a strange turn, but that was not the case here, and that is why I was so pleased with Grand Budapest.  As The Sis is a big fan of Ralph Fiennes, we were going to see this movie regardless, but what we discovered was a beautiful film with a wonderful, surprising story – it is no wonder why this is considered his best work.  Keeping in line with his signature style and set in the 30s, a grand (pink) hotel serves as the backdrop for a mystery involving Fiennes’ character, Gustave H., the hotel’s concierge, who provides his clients world class service.  Along with his protégé, Zero, the lobby boy, they embark on a unique adventure.  This film garnered Anderson a slew of nominations, including best film, and it is because of his quirky characters and interesting story that you will understand why.

So there you have it.  When I first started putting together my list, I was at nearly 30 movies that I considered truly wonderful in the last 10 years, so as you can see, this was really taxing to decide on just 10 (and by no means is this list complete).

I’d love to hear from you.  Do you agree with my list?  What movies have you loved these past 10 years?

Discrepant Writer Reviews – Into the Woods

ITWposter*Some spoilers – will try to keep to a minimum 😉

Sigh…oh, Into the Woods, I had high hopes for you.

First off, I had no idea this was based on a play from the 80s, I just knew it was a musical fairytale, and I was in, but after the first scene, I quickly realized this was not going to be what I was hoping it would be.

Quick synopsis –

James Corden and Emily Blunt, both of whom I adore, are a childless couple living in a small village as the local baker and his wife.  They have no names, unless Mr. “Baker” counts?  A musical opening number offers us the information that they would like a child, but have yet to be successful in conceiving.

In flies the witch – the always fantastic Meryl Streep, who is the witch from the original story of Rapunzel, in which she offers a trade to the man stealing from her garden – specific greens for his pregnant wife – the veggies for the baby.*  Fair deal.  The witch gives over a whole lot of information to this childless couple about how their house is cursed and if they complete a ritual in a given time, she will lift it.

For writers, this scene will drive you crazy.  It offers all the information about the movie in one scene and without any real provocation.  It’s not as if the couple sought out her help or advice.  She just comes in one day and says, “Let me help you.  Here’s everything you need to do, no strings attached.”  Really?!

*The baker’s father was the thief, and hence Rapunzel is the baker’s sister, whom he doesn’t give a fig about finding, just FYI.

So off the couple go in search of four items that when combined by the witch will lift the curse and give them the family they desire.  They need a cow the color of milk, a cloak the color of blood, hair the color of corn, and a slipper made of gold.  Enter Jack of Jack and the Beanstalk with his white cow, Little Red Riding Hood (who The Sis groaned each time she opened her mouth – she was annoying), Rapunzel, and Cinderella.

As the title suggests, nearly the entire story takes place “in the woods” and they sing about it, often.  Sadly, none of the songs are catchy or even memorable except for one, which I will mention shortly.  The story does stay more true to the original tales in which the darker side of the storytelling is preserved, like killing the wolf to free Red and her grandmother who have been eaten whole, Rapunzel’s prince being blinded by thorns grown by the witch after being caught leaving the tower, and even Cinderella’s stepsisters cutting off parts of their feet to fit the slipper.  Yep and eww.

But the overall story is weak and drags, and this is coming from Disney…Disney! Who is the reason I have a princess complex!  And Rob Marshall, who directed Memoirs of a Geisha and Chicago.  Chicago is great and so catchy!

Maybe because they were trying to stay true to the original, they didn’t realize that it didn’t translate.  A play is limited in its location changes, hence all the woodsiness (I like that word and I’m keeping it) while the action seemed stifled and the dialogue was often too on the nose. Ugh.

The two saving graces of this film – when the witch is transformed and looks like this:

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Love it!

And when the two princes, one of whom is Chris Pine in a hilarious role as Cinderella’s prince, sing this song:

That’s it.

The story takes a weird turn about three-quarters of the way through, when the happily ever after seems too soon, but what follows is completely out of left field.  There is a moment of weakness that results in a really bad consequence and the remainder of the story threw me for an unexpected, and what felt like a forced, loop.

Given the cast, the people behind it, and the basis for the story, Into the Woods was not the fairytale I was hoping for.

2stars

What are your thoughts on Into the Woods?

*Video courtesy of Youtuber John Oncer.

Discrepant Writer Reviews – Death Comes to Pemberley

DeathPemberley

Death Comes to Pemberley recently popped up on Netflix, and as a Jane Austen enthusiast, I was excited to see they had picked it up.  I had been seeing articles, set photos, etc. for some months, so I made the effort to watch it almost immediately.  If you are wondering why I hadn’t watched it sooner, it’s because we haven’t paid for television in over 3 years.  So yes, I’m fairly out of the loop on most things.

Based on the novel of the same name from 2011 by P.D. James, I have to say I have been less inclined to read any of what is basically fan fiction of one of the most famous love stories in all of literature.  This is not a judgement in any regard.  I love fan fiction, I write some myself, but what I have discovered in some of the reading I have done is that it lacks the…hmm, what’s a good word…magic?

Jane Austen ran in the circles she was writing about.  Modern day writers can only emulate what they’ve studied, read, and seen because we have not lived it first hand, and again, by no mean is this a shortcoming.  I love period pieces, and if we only wrote about what we “know”, we wouldn’t have the wide range of diversity we do in any medium.  As writers, we each have a voice, and when it comes to something as widely beloved as Pride and Prejudice, you have to get it just right.

So here is my quick review.  Twoandhalfstars

The film was broken up into three parts.  I’m pretty sure it could’ve been told in two.  Anna Maxwell Martin and Matthew Rhys play our leads, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy in their sixth year of marriage planning their annual ball when tragedy strikes.  A murder.  Because of the people involved, a wedge is slowly driven between the couple and we are given a glimpse as to the repercussions of following one’s heart instead of one’s head – or at least in the minds of these characters.

The actors are both very good, but I felt Elizabeth was cast incorrectly.  She was not the same spirited woman I have come to love and this is where I blame the writing.  She seemed weak, and that spark that had attracted Darcy to her in the first place was replaced by insecurity and she was kind of dull.  Darcy was too distant, even from the beginning of the film, and because so little is really known of him from the original material beyond those honorable traits we know and love, he too came off a bit dull.

Now, I haven’t been married, so maybe after six years of marriage in this world, they’re a little bored of each other, but when we leave them at the end of Pride and Prejudice, it’s not that I expect the permanent happily ever after, because it is based in “reality”, but I expect more than this.  Of course there will be hard times, etc., but I also expect that the challenge they presented to one another would carry over.  They should have spirited debates, and still have some spark…well, I think so anyway, and that was missing entirely from this tale.

I didn’t feel/see any spark between these characters, and I almost felt like the obligatory “romantic”, oh, let’s call it what it was, the sex scene was meant to reassure us that they did indeed have “something”, but that doesn’t happen in Jane Austen’s stories, so I know it was meant specifically for modern day audiences, and for me it felt out of place.

There’s an odd side story involving Wickham, played by Matthew Goode, and that does have some bearing on the story overall, but in the vein of a mystery, it was still rather convoluted.  The other failing was the absence of Jane and Bingley, the two people dearest to our main characters.  I think there were two scenes with Jane, and they didn’t amount to much.

I love the idea of seeing more of two of my favorite characters, as I’m sure does every Janeite, but I would almost prefer to imagine their fates as an open-ended tale without any real knowledge of what happened.  Looking back on what I’ve written, it doesn’t sound that promising of a film, but it had its moments, and I was glad to have the opportunity to watch it.  If I were flipping channels and it was on, I’d most likely leave it for a bit, but it’s lack of overall charm doesn’t compel me to go out of my way to watch it again.

Well, that’s my take anyway.

Happy Sunday!

The Discrepant Writer Rambles about Captain America: The Winter Soldier

CaptainAmerica2shieldSo as you may have noticed, I have been quite absent as of late.  The new job is just sapping my energy and creativity, and by the time I get home the last thing I want to do is look at another computer screen.  I thought by now I’d be on a better track, but I’m not quite there yet.  So I thought instead of rambling about the job and the lack of writing, I’d do something a bit more fun and do another movie review.

I am now always behind in my tv and movie watching, this never used to be the case…I wanted to write this post over a month ago, and even then I was already behind.

As some of you may already know, I am a big fan of Captain America, the character.  Chris Evans is absolutely adorable, don’t get me wrong, but I am smitten with the good ol’ American blond boy in general.  I like to think of myself as a good person, that I would do the right thing; even in my video game playing I always choose the “right” path (for which The Sis will usually mock me) and something about that quintessential good guy is extremely appealing.  The good guy doesn’t necessarily have to finish last – although if Tom Hiddleston’s Loki was standing in front of me (or just Hiddles in general), I might leave Cap in the cold. 😉   I like a big action/blow ’em up type movie, and the surge of comic book movies has been a lot of fun for the movie-going experience, especially with Marvel doing such a good job of mixing their universe.  Side note, I’m not going to discuss all the prejudices and politics that have become the main topic of conversation recently in association with these films.  That can be for another day.

I wanted to see CA2, but when it was being released I wasn’t quite the Cap fan that I am now.  I have one friend in particular to thank for turning me on (pun intended) to the world of Captain America.  So when I realized how much more I wanted to see this movie, it was already on its way out of theaters and I had to wait for the dvd release – months later.  Another reason for my late entry on this subject.

So here’s my insight, kept to a minimum because I’ve already rambled a bit more than I anticipated (and it’s been a little while now since I watched it), of Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I was aware of more of the particulars by the time I finally saw the film, so I felt I understood more going in then I would have before this new interest.  And don’t worry I won’t spoil anything for those of you who are behind too.  The movie had a more realistic feel, despite the superhero nature.  Of course there are some big action sequences and massive destruction, but most of the time, I didn’t feel like I was watching a comic based movie.  It is based in the real world and deals with the current political climate and the lengths some people are willing to go to.

I like Natasha being a part of the film, as Steve’s friend and partner, without there being that underlying romantic theme.  I don’t understand why the majority of movies feel it necessary to put the guy and girl together, regardless of their compatibility, just because.  God forbid a man and woman just be friends and work together…side note, she deserves her own movie!

We meet Falcon, who, from what I’ve seen in other mediums is a teenager, but is now a war vet.  He’s not a superhero, but just a good man who wants to do good and because of his admiration for the Cap joins his fight.  I’d like to learn more about him.

The title gave me hope that we would see more of The Winter Soldier, which unfortunately was kept to limited, mostly non-verbal scenes.  Although the few scenes he does have are poignant and will make you more sympathetic to his plight.  There is a whole other post I’d like to dedicate to this character and his relationship to Cap.

After watching the film, I was interested more than ever to learn more about Captain America and his story, especially as hints of The Civil War story line continue to spread.  Then the move happened, and the new job, and I’m no closer to knowing any more than I was just after watching the movie.

My final take on the movie – it’s among one of the best of this genre.  I’d say it’s in my top 3; behind The Avengers and Iron Man and no, I have not seen Guardians yet..I know.  It doesn’t feel as far fetched as some of the other stories, and I think it resonated more with audiences because of its modern take.

Needless to say, I’ve been on the hunt for just the right Captain America shirt and have some comics waiting to be purchased.  I bought a reusable water bottle with Cap’s likeness from the comics and it is this new habit, that could be the right word, that got me the job.

So thanks, Cap!

If you’re interested in some Captain America fanfic, give Archive of Our Own a look.  That’s what started all this.

Have a great week everyone!

Review – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

I have been horrible at watching movies lately.  I have Netflix, but I’ve been on a kick of watching tv series (serieses?  What is the plural?  Is it like sheep or Lego?) and my movie watching has fallen by the wayside.  Then I got the notice from Redbox – free rental.  Well then, let’s take advantage of that!

So, yes, this review is a good six months after the premiere, but if you’re like me, a little behind, then you might find this useful, or at least interesting…I hope.

My sister suggested that I write reviews.  When I countered with, “but I’m so behind, and nothing would be relevant”, she replied that reviews don’t require a time frame.  She also reassured me that because I always had a clear understanding of what I liked or didn’t in something that others may be inclined to watch a film they hadn’t considered before, or not.  I don’t care for reviews that offer big vocabularies and technical terms to make the writer of the review proud of themselves.  I like honest reviews that tell me if I’m going to like the film.  My goal is to write a review as if I were talking to friends, which I am. 🙂  So here is my first go at a review…which I will now be sure to keep shorter since I rambled.

Also, I will need some sort of catchy title for my reviews, like, Geeky Girl Reviews “said film”, or Discrepant Writer Reviews…any thoughts?

I should first preface this review with the fact that I have not seen the first Hobbit in the series in its entirety.  I am a fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, although, that is neither here nor there, but it is one of the reasons I was compelled to watch this series.  The other, Benedict Cumberbatch.  If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you are probably aware of the love my sister and I bear for this actor.  Looks aside, and yes, he is incredibly sexy (if you need proof, and are among one of the last people on Earth to hear about his work on Sherlock, it’s on Netflix, go watch it immediately, and all will be understood), he is an amazing actor with a voice so rich in timbre that it makes 99% of all women weak in the knees.  I’m not sure if that fact is true, but it sounds accurate. 😉

Hobbit:SmaugPosterLet’s try out one of the titles…Discrepant Writer Reviews  The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Quick overview: The dwarves are trying to reclaim their homeland currently occupied by the dragon, Smaug.

I read The Hobbit many years ago.  So many, in fact, that I couldn’t tell you that the movie I was watching was even remotely related to what I had read.  Nothing seemed familiar, except for Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, and the ring.  The movie had the feel of the Lord of the Rings in design and scope, which was a welcome sight that they had not detoured from appearances (I’m looking at you George Lucas).

We are again transported to Middle Earth, and there are some familiar faces, even if some of them shouldn’t be there – Legolas, I didn’t realize how much I had missed you, until just now.  There are plenty of new, pretty faces – Evangeline Lilly as the elf, Tauriel, Lee Pace as the elf king and Legolas’ father, Thranduil, Richard Armitage as the dwarf king, Thorin Oakenshield, and Luke Evans as the human smuggler, Bard – the only ones whose character names you might be inclined to hear and remember.  The character of Bard reminded me quite a bit of Aragorn, the human with a noble lineage who is a “more than meets the eye” type.

Right off the bat, I was confused.  I had the volume up on my tv well beyond its normal range and I still could not hear what was going on around one of the initial scenes that takes place in Rivendell between Gandalf, Saruman, Galadriel, and Elrond.  My mind wandered easily throughout the film, and I think this had to do with the pace (some scenes just lagged or were completely unnecessary), and maybe in part because I was not yet invested with these characters.  This may be because I hadn’t finished watching the first film.  Maybe.

Everywhere the dwarves go, they are captured and pulled along to stand before whoever is the ruler of that particular area, be it an orc, an elf, or a human.  They are considered vagabonds basically, even though one of them is a king by birthright and he is leading a small band of what is left of his people to their rightful home.  At times, I was a little annoyed at Thorin’s behavior, wanting him to be more than he seemed, and maybe he will in the final film.

Gandalf goes off on his own journey to find a wizard called the Necromancer, who everyone continues to comment on can not be a human because humans aren’t powerful enough to control the dead.  There’s a battle that occurs that left me confused, because orcs were present as well, and I didn’t know why any one was even in this particular place to begin with.  Maybe because my mind had wandered earlier.

Cut to, Smaug.  *Side note, I like dragons.  I hate that most of the time they’re referenced as evil, as in the game Skyrim.  You have to slaughter dragons by the dozen, with only two that are actually nice and helpful.  When Smaug speaks, it’s like hearing Darth Vader for the first time.  It’s wonderful and sends a thrill down your spine.  He has lovely dialogue, knows everything, and you kind of hope he wins.  At least I did.

When it cut to black, I laughed, because I knew that what I had heard would be the last line of dialogue and hence the end of the film.  And it was.

Overall, fun to watch if you’re already a fan of LOTR, but it’s a bit long and tedious, and you could probably skip to the end where Bilbo meets Smaug to understand the whole of the film thus far.  The book is not that long, only 365 pgs. vs LOTR at nearly 1200 pgs. which is why it’s understandable that there were three films for that series.  I don’t think The Hobbit requires the same approach.

3of5starsI’d give it 3 out of 5 stars.  It’s well done, but I wouldn’t take my time to watch it again, except maybe for Smaug, and a little more Legolas.  Well, that’s my take.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Feel free to share.

Have a great weekend everyone!