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Onitama
Onitama
2014 | Abstract Strategy, Ancient
Who knew that a game, whose loose translation in English is “Ogre Ball” or “Demon Spirit, ” could pack such a 2-player punch, have a checkersesque simplicity, but also the depth in strategy that can be found only in its inspired creation. PPG encourages you to try, what we find to be anyway, the most inspiring Chess spin-off since Chess itself. If you are like us, you are super busy with everyday life and just can’t seem to find the chance to learn how to play the age old classic quintessential board game. Well, get your pawns ready because Onitama will suck you in, and 3 games later, you’ll still have another half hour free to play!

DISCLAIMER: There are several expansions to this game, but we are not reviewing them at this time. Should we review them in the future we will either update this review or post a link to the new material here. -T

While at first glance, Onitama seems to be another little guy trying its darndest to bring down the classic giant. However, this is where the genius of this game really kicks in. It doesn’t try to take down the giant, but yet streamlines it in a way you would never expect. Onitama brilliantly finds a way to keep the grandeur and thick strategy you would expect from Chess, but eliminates the amount of time needed to craft your next move. Okay, so how is this possible you ask!? Well, in Onitama, you are provided 2 cards on each turn that include a set of possible paths that ANY pawn on the board can take. Seems limiting at first right? That’s the beauty. It’s not. You will be planning your moves quite quickly as the card you just used will trade hands around the table once played. So while a certain card may be your absolute best move in that moment, it may also be the key to your opponent winning the game if you pass it to them. Enter strategic bliss! While you don’t have to remember which way the Knight moves again, you do need to think on your feet potentially 2-3 turns ahead so that you don’t play into your opponent’s plans to victory!

A few other glowing graces this board game includes is its low price point, high quality cards, components (playmat included!), and visually beautiful artwork inside and out. While not imperative to the gameplay of Onitama, you will love the clever naming of the potential move cards. The shape of the move on the card plays a certain role in its naming. E.X. a longer squiggle type move on a card might have the name of “Snake.” Or, a card with the name “Dragon” let’s you leap across the board numerous spaces at a time as if in flight to exert your winged dominance.

We here at Purple Phoenix Games really love Onitama; it’s one of our highest rated 2-player board games! While it can act as a quick filler game between other heavier board games, it can also be played numerous times one after another without the loss of fun or strategic opportunities. I personally cannot think of a time I have ever sat down and played Onitama just once. This game keeps you coming back for more. We hope you will consider picking up a copy soon! As I write this, there are already a few expansions out there or in the works. Check back soon for some exciting updates to this already great board game! Purple Phoenix Games gives this one a calculated 19 / 24.

https://purplephoenixgames.wordpress.com/2019/04/12/onitama-review/
  
Live By Night (2017)
Live By Night (2017)
2017 | Drama
I’m a sucker for a Prohibition-set yarn. It’s a fascinating period in history and typically yields excellent filmmaking with gritty, no-nonsense performances, gorgeous production design and hard-boiled action. It was De Palma’s The Untouchables that hooked me. Some would call it a guilty pleasure; and sure, Morricone’s score is a little over-the-top, De Niro is more caricature than character actor as Al Capone and I’m not going to argue that Connery’s Oscar was a “sympathy vote”, but it’s got everything I mentioned above in spades and for me it’ll always be the high benchmark of the Prohibition era gangster epic. Ben Affleck’s fourth turn as director has done nothing to change my position on that.

 

Live by Night is an uninspired mess, from voice-over laden start to disastrously predictable end, bringing nothing new or exciting to the table. Beat for beat, its weak script moves from one sigh-inducing cliché to another, reaching clumsily for moments of high emotion that ring hollow and false. If anyone needs any further proof that Matt Damon did all the heavy lifting on the script for Good Will Hunting, they need look no further. It feels wrong to come down so hard on Affleck after his back-to-back successes as a director, but this is more akin to the first work of a blundering novice, and also certainly not what we’ve come to expect of a Dennis Lehane adaptation (see Mystic River, Shutter Island and Affleck’s own incredible directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone). His decision to wear so many hats on this project, producing, directing, sole screenwriter and lead actor, has to be the reason for this stumble. The script desperately needed another set of eyes and the part of Joe Coughlin was clearly written for someone younger and more capable of performing with the subtlety needed to play someone who has to traverse the number of moral dilemmas he’s faced with. Hopefully, this inevitable failure will be what convinces Affleck that his place should be behind the camera directing other people’s scripts and guiding other people’s performances.

 

Speaking of the performances, there is a massive curve in this collection of acting that swings wildly from the cartoonish to the nuanced. To start with, we have Matthew Maher as a KKK member out for his cut and Robert Glenister as an Irish mob boss, both of whom are supposed to be playing dangerous and threatening but can’t do any better than laughable and two-dimensional. Then there’s Chris Messina and Affleck himself as the hoods on the rise, their chemistry is ill-advised at best as they both seem to think they’re in a buddy comedy as opposed to a serious piece of gangster melodrama A favorite of mine, Brendan Gleeson, sadly leaves the screen within the first twenty minutes and that left me with only the inimitable Chris Cooper to look forward to. The subplot involving him and Elle Fanning, as his born-again daughter speaking out against Coughlin’s sinful ways is not without problems of its own, but at least they sell it. That should be no surprise on Cooper’s part, but now between this and The Neon Demon last summer; Fanning is firmly on my radar as one to watch. My hope was that we were going to get some tremendous battle of wills between her and Affleck’s character akin to Paul Dano and Daniel Day-Lewis’ conflict in There Will Be Blood, but that was definitely asking too much. Fanning’s role, like Gleeson’s, is unfortunately cut short just as it gets good.

 

I guess The Untouchables is starting to sound less like a guilty pleasure and more like a masterpiece when compared to this regrettable misfire.
  
Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV (2016)
Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV (2016)
2016 | Action, Animation, International
4
4.0 (1 Ratings)
Movie Rating
It seems like just last week that the creators of the Final Fantasy game franchise sought to bring their vision of the universe they created, and their story, to the silver screen. Well, okay. It wasn’t last week. It’s actually been about 15 years since this really took place in 2001.

I remember being extremely excited for Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, but the movie itself escapes me today. I think the lack of a lasting impact could have to do with those same creators scrambling to find the distinction between a wide-release movie and a game they’re already heavily invested in. After re-visiting the film, I remember my initial thoughts and they remain the same today. The nowhere-near-photo-realistic animated characters battled and chased each other to and fro in a tale that made little to no sense, with or without the rules of the (bad for its time) computer animated gamescape it’s all set in.

Flash back forward to today, another Japanese made FF movie makes its way to the screen via Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV. Kingsglaive represents a quantum leap forward in animation and design, if not a great leap in mo-cap technology and story. The images are far more flexible, more mobile, and more tactile; though, the faces still lack expression, much less what anyone could called subtle or nuanced. The backdrops are striking and surreal, on a par with many of the big sci-fi and fantasy films hitting theaters these days.

But, take away the advertorial nature of Kingsglaive, ignore its use as a cheat sheet, prep for the players of various corners of the game world it depicts, and deal with it as a story with characters and incidents anybody not devoted to the game would watch, and it’s the same old, same old when it comes to FF. It remains a misshapen mash-up heavy with sci-fi fantasy exposition and a back story so convoluted that a single two-hour movie cannot encapsulate it.

Kingsglaive dwells mostly in the realm of fantasy, inside a universe of medieval castles, steampunk weaponry, armor, and creatrues. A world where the Kingdom of Lucis faces a new threat at the end of an uneasy peace with the Niflheim Empire. There’s a magic crystal (of course there is) and the only warriors King Regis (Sean Bean) trusts to defend it are his Kingsglaive, who are empowered by the magic of their sovereign. There are tusked wildebeest warhorses. You would think these would be the point of reference when someone shouts, “Release the DEMON!” But no, they’re actually talking about war crabs – crabs that spit out a hailstorm of fireballs.

The stakes are high, and there’s been quite a bit of intermixing of Lucians and Niflheimers in the “hundred years of peace”, but anti-immigrant backlash rears its ugly head. Taunts and slurs against the immigrants are present, as is there a wall – who says video game movies can’t be topical. With the immigrants who must prove themselves, there are good soldiers, an evil prince, all with tongue-twisting names like Lenafreya Nox Fleuret, should you choose to try and remember them.

The dialogue, delivered by the likes of Aaron Paul and Lena Heady, could have been better. Though I don’t so much blame the voice talent as much as I do the script itself, with classics like “Get back here alive! That’s an order!” and “You speak of matters beyond the wall.”

Probably the biggest thing most movie fans will remember, is the name of the city under threat. It probably has the silliest name this side of Raccoon City. They call it, Insomnia. Which is kind of ironic, because Kingsglaive may be a cure for the condition for some.
  
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
1999 | Horror
While this film is credited as being the first "found footage" film ever made, it is not true. I found several websites even saying the same thing. Not true. That award goes to Cannibal Holocaust (I am pretty sure) which was release almost two decades earlier (1980 vs. 1999).

The film begins with sort of standard documentary fare showing interviews with the Maryland locals discussing if they have heard of the legend of the Blair Witch. For those that had, they recalled their own memories of the stories they had heard from others or from their childhood. Eventually, the documentary filmmakers meet the odd-looking Mary Brown who details her first hand experience with the demon recalling its weird hairy appearance.

Heather, Josh and Michael then decide to go for an outdoor wooded adventure in an attempt to locate and document evidence of the existence of the local legend themselves, not knowing what lies ahead for them. The journey starts out pretty normal with Heather doing most of the onscreen explanations, the other two mostly relegated to replying to her whims or arguing with her about various topics.

Eventually, a few bad thing start to happen including the loss of their woodland map and hearing strange sounds during the blackness of night. They now wander the woods becoming increasingly agitated with each other and their situation when it is revealed they may be walking in circles and are no closer to completing their quest or finding their way out. They see various various stick and rock formations which are not naturally occurring which means someone else is out there with them.



I remember sitting in a darkened theatre in 1999 hearing about this film briefly before its release. Not much was known at the time, and I recall this being one of the first films to have significant internet buzz beforehand. The internet was only a few years old at the time, so this was also a relatively new concept. Modern audiences are spoiled with so much content for every film available online, that everyone almost loses the feeling of being completely surprised by a film you knew virtually nothing about going in.

For Blair Witch, the added element of the "found footage" style was foreign to pretty much everyone which added to the hype and box office success of the film. Virtually the entire viewing public were not completely sure if what they were watching actually happened or this was fiction. It helped that writer/directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez used an unknown cast so seeing someone they recognized onscreen would not ruin the experience of believing its authenticity.

I am down on sloppy modern moviemakers most of the time these days relying so heavily on CGI and making movies look like pretty perfection rather than focusing on the most important thing for a horror film (or any film) a good screenplay and implied tension. For Blair Witch, it has been said some scenes were improvised or given a general direction but not a full script; however, that doesn't detract from the authentic nature of the situation.

The 2nd half of the film has some truly terrifying moments which happen in the background or off-screen showing you don't need to spend all your money on a CGI monster, just make it scary. The scene and keyart for the film showing the top half of Heather's head which she speaks into the camera explaining her terror and anguish is so believable and mesmerizing it send chills down my spine every time I watch it.

The film also get bagged for the ending which might be considered too short or anti-climactic; however, I think it's perfect and really the only way the movie could have gone.

  
Show all 3 comments.
40x40

Andy K (10212 KP) Oct 18, 2019

Interesting. Haven't heard of that one. I will certainly check it out. Thanks!

40x40

Awix (1791 KP) Oct 18, 2019

You're welcome.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Hellboy 2) (2008)
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Hellboy 2) (2008)
2008 | Action, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Hollywood is often littered with decisions that in hindsight seem to be utterly insane. For all of the big budgeted films that go on to do huge business, there are films such as “Waterworld”, “Howard The Duck”, “Hudson Hawk”, and countless others that make you scratch your head and wonder who thought they were worth the investment of millions of dollars that were needed to bring them to the big screen.

One such decision that will undoubtedly look bad with the passage of time, was the decision for Columbia not to continue the “Hellboy” film series and allow it to walk away to find a home elsewhere.
Thankfully due to the strength of “Pan’s Labyrinth”, creator Guillmo del Toro who is riding a wave of critical success, “Hellboy II: The Golden Army”, is a step up from the previous film and sets the stage for a potential series of sequels for Universal.

The film once again stars Ron Perlman as the title character, a demon of supernatural origin who was raised by humans and leads a team of gifted individuals in the ultra-secret Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD).

The story begins shortly after the events of the last film, and finds BPRD Director Tom Manning (Jeffrey Tambor), frustrated with Hellboy’s continued flaunting of the rules by posing for pictures and autographs while on missions, despite being sworn to keep himself and the agency a closely guarded secret.

As if this was not enough trouble, Hellboy is having issues with the love of his life Liz (Selma Blair), who is starting to have issues with his gruff mannerisms and slovenly ways.
Unknown to the BRPD a new threat is brewing in the form of Prince Nauada (Luke Goss), who plans to retrieve three pieces of a golden crown so that he may control a fabled army of golden soldiers, and wage war on humanity.

Nauada is part of the mythical world of beings that long ago formed a truce with humanity and have lived in peace. Nauada, who has lived under the rule of his father for centuries, strikes out and sets events into motion which require the BPRD to respond to a threat greater than any they have previously faced,.

With the able help of Abe Sapien (Doug Jones), and new member Johann Krauss (Seth MacFarlane), the BPRD clash with themselves and the forces of Nauada with the fate of the world in the balance.
The new film is significantly better than the previous one, and del Toro has masterfully blended the characters and many interesting sub-stories with solid action, FX, and surprising humor. There is a scene in the film where Hellboy and Abe bond over music and beer to discuss women that is truly classic as is the confrontation between Hellboy and Krauss over leadership.

del Toro is a master at creating world of fantasy and splendor and when he allows the film to venture into this area, the film truly shines. It is during the transition between fantasy and alleged reality where the film has a few rough edges. While it was great to see the characters have a more defined relationship and interaction with one another, it seemed at times that areas for potential gold were glossed over or rushed to get back to the action and FX. There are some great storylines about Hellboy’s relationship with humanity, Liz being caught between two worlds, and many more that I hope get developed more in any future films.

There were times in the film where the nearly two hour run time seemed excessive and dragged, especially leading up to a finale, that did not deliver as big an impact as the setup had hinted at.
That being said, thanks to great characters and visuals “Hellboy II: The Golden Army”, is the rare sequel that is better than the original.
  
Hellboy (2019)
Hellboy (2019)
2019 | Action, Adventure, Fantasy
This sort of soft reboot of Hellboy is a truly mixed bag. It's just about watchable, and there are some things I liked, and a whole heap of things I didn't like.

Let's start with the negatives - the absolute biggest problems with Hellboy is the editing and pacing.
The quick cuts and bizzarre transitions that happen often are incredibly jarring, and stops the narrative running smoothly for much of the duration.
It almost feels as if the film has been designed for someone who gets bored easily, and will shoehorn in a new scene before giving you the chance to take in the previous one.
It also plays havoc with a lot of the already mediocre (and sometimes cringe-worthy) script - a good example of this comes right at the beginning, as Hellboy is introduced us, searching for an MIA fellow agent.... Its here that Ian McShane's character explains to Hellboy over the phone, what this agent was doing when he went missing, only for Hellboy to himself repeat it to another character seconds later - it's weird and feels lazy.
Another issue is something I seem to complain about a lot recently - CGI. A lot of the CGI throughout is not great, and it's again, a complete mixed bag. Some of the practical effects look fine. The big demons glimpsed in the trailer look fine. And then everywhere else it just shits the bed, most glaringly when it comes to Ben Daimio, a character from the comics who should be an exciting inclusion, but is dragged down buy just how awful it looks.
Another thing I also disliked was the insistence of having 'cool' rock songs playing every two minutes, especially in fight scenes that would otherwise have been entertaining. At times, it felt like I was watching Suicide Squad all over again, which is never a good thing.
A lot of the acting throughout Hellboy is also stale and unenthused. Milla Jovovich is particularly uninspiring as The Blood Queen (a villain from the comics that never enthralled me in the first place), Daniel Dae Kim (Ben Daimio) and Sasha Lane (Alice Monaghan) just seem embarrassed to be involved at all.

This does bring me on to the things a liked about Hellboy though - David Harbour won me over pretty quickly as the titular half demon, he provides the movies sparse humour, and the make up work is great - he does his absolute best to hold it all together.
Ian McShane is good also, but come on, it's Ian McShane man.
Even if they aren't represented perfectly, I still liked seeing a lot of characters from the comic book, and my love for Lobster Johnson is strong.
The monster designs are pretty great for the most part, Baba Yaga looks skin crawling, and as I said, the big demons seen in the trailers are pretty horrifying.
The violence and gore is unfortunately, mostly CGI, but is pretty effective for the most part, even if it does feel like the movie is sometimes packing in an R rating to disguise the averageness of everything else.
As mentioned above, some of the action pieces are pretty fun, but I must say, the climax of the movie is pretty underwhelming.


I didn't find Hellboy as horrible as some people made it out to be - it's certainly not as good as the original two films (although I find the first one to be quite average as it is!) but it still has some credibility, even if it's a small amount.
Unfortunately, for every step Hellboy takes forward, it's takes two back, resulting in a messy and muddled film that struggles to find an identity, and it's reeks of studio meddling.

Still though, Big Mo Harris shooting an Uzi is always a pleasure 👍
  
The Demon’s surrendee (Demon’s Lexicon #3)
The Demon’s surrendee (Demon’s Lexicon #3)
Sarah Rees Brennan | 2011 | Paranormal, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Young Adult (YA)
6
6.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
This is a review for the whole series
I read these books because a friend of mine suggested them and she enjoyed them very much. I really like Sarah Rees Brennan style, it is funny and engaging and I really couldn't put these books down. However the end of this trilogy makes me angry, there are so many problems with it that I don't know where to start. I apologise in advance for the mistakes in this review, I am not a native speaker so please be patient.

The Disney happy ending: I don't want to comment the fact that everyone gets paired off here, but what about the magicians? In this book the magicians are evil, they kill people, they are addicted to power, the lousy solution they found through Jamie it's not solid. What happens when Jamie dies? When Nick dies? It can last for 50-60 years, what then? This magicians are not vampires that can drink animal blood, they are addicts that need to kill people in order to have power, this solution is just temporary and I cannot see another way to make it happens afterwards, unless they start to sacrifice babies that is even worse. Moreover they unleash 2 demons on Earth (the most irresponsible and incoherent thing they can do after 3 books of saying how they are pure evil) and the only explanation we get is "winning a war comes with a price"

Diversity: the way diversity is treated in this book is ridiculous. She throws in some black or gay character, family problems, a past of abuses and then she uses them to makes the white rich kids shine. I will talk about Sin in a minute, but what about Seb? He could have been such a precious character instead you see him as bully, then as the magicians' pet, then he gets to date the boy he always loved in secret, after he bullied him for years, just because he's the only gay character still available

All that is wrong with Sin:
  The Character: Sin is a strong teenage girl who had a tough life but she has always worked hard to achieve her goal: become the leader of a place that she loves deeply, understands deeply and where she spent her entire life. And when a tourist threats to get the position instead, she is the first to recognise that this girl who has been at the Goblin Market 4 times is better than her in everything. Sin doesn't simply fail, she surrenders to the fact that Mae's is better than her and she just let her have the Market. Sin, that should be the main character of the third book, stays a secondary character with no development other than getting rid of a stupid superstition about limping guys and getting a boyfriend.
  Point of view: although I enjoyed Sin's POV far more than Mae's, I can't see the reason of this choice. The previous POV where of main characters who were actually living the situation and acting in the situation. In here Sin, instead of becoming a main character, spends more than half of the book overhearing conversations (with her supernatural hearing) and following Mae's plans. Again, it seems they wanted to show off about the diversity inside this book and instead it results in a joke. Alan's POV, or Jamie's, would have been so much better.

All that is wrong with Mae:
I am not a fan of Mae, I couldn't stand her form the beginning. I don't want to get started on this because I could talk about it for hours but to summarise my opinion, I think that author wanted to go for a character very much like Hermione but much more popular and cool. The problem is that Hermione, even though she is smart and talented, succeeds in everything she does because she works very hard to get there she sacrifice herself for a greater cause, and she has flow and doubts as every teenager. Mae succeeds in everything without any particular reason, she is just lucky and most of the time she doesn't deserve what she gets.

Last but not lest: COULD YOU EXPLAIN HOW ON EARTH A DEMON AND A HUMAN GIRL GET TOGETHER?????
  
The Gospel of Loki
The Gospel of Loki
Joanne M. Harris | 2015 | Fiction & Poetry
9
9.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
Fantastic take on the character of Loki
‘The Gospel of Loki’ by Joanne M. Harris is the story of the Norse Gods from the point of view of Loki, the Trickster. I’ve always found Norse Mythology very interesting and Loki is by far my favourite of the Gods. I first heard about this book about a year ago and I finally managed to grab a copy from my local library earlier this week, then proceeded to read the whole book in two days. It was just that good!

Odin rules the nine worlds from his fortress of Asgard. When this book starts his people, the Aesir, have finally made peace with the Vanir and members of both groups make up the Gods of Asgard. The world is split into Order and Chaos, with Odin and the Gods trying to maintain Order over the nine realms. Loki was born from Chaos and is essentially a demon with no physical form (or Aspect) living in the realm of Pandaemoniem under the evil Lord Surt. But Loki was curious about the worlds where Order and Chaos co-existed so he left Chaos and traveled to the worlds above where he gained a physical Aspect, met Odin and was invited back to Asgard where he became the 25th God.

He did not receive a warm welcome from the other Gods, however, and soon lived up to his names of Wildfire and the Trickster. This book, which I would imagine takes place over a number of years, tells the story of many of Loki’s exploits in the nine realms including when he tricked a builder into fortifying Asgard’s walls without paying him, cut off Sif’s golden hair (to Thor’s outrage), got Thor to dress up as a bride to infiltrate the Ice Folk and kill their enemies, met the giants of Utgard and their own Trickster Utgard-Loki, all the way up to Ragnarok and the final battle between Order and Chaos.

Okay, I’ve just tried to describe the plot fairly simply above and I don’t know how much sense it will have made if you’re not familiar with the Norse Gods, but hopefully it wasn’t too bad!

I’ve always found Norse Mythology very interesting, mainly, I think, because of the diverse characters and fanciful stories. We get to meet all those characters in this book; Odin, Thor, Frey, Freyja, Balder, Frigg, Sigyn, Skadi, Gullvieg-Heid & many more. And as this book is written in first person from Loki, we see them all from his point of view. I also loved Loki’s illegitimate children, particularly Hel, the ruler of the Underworld and Fenris the werewolf.

I know a fair bit about Loki from things I’ve read online and books about mythology so I was a bit wary going in about how historically accurate Joanne had written her character, but I have to say that I found her version of Loki spot on! She voiced him perfectly and I also found the other characters to be very close to what I’ve read about them.

I really enjoyed the author’s writing style and the story flowed so well that I found it really difficult to put down. Loki’s storytelling was both informative and engaging and each of his stories flowed into each other very well.

This book is very heavy on the Norse Mythology (obviously) and I think it’s probably best to go into it with a little bit of knowledge beforehand. I think that if I knew nothing of the subject before, I might have found it a bit overwhelming mainly due to the amount of characters and worlds. But saying that, it is so well written and well explained that I think anyone could read it, I just think you’d get more enjoyment out of it if you knew a bit about some of the characters first. There is a very useful character list at the beginning that you can go back to.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves Norse Mythology, especially Loki and Odin but I think anyone who likes a good fantasy novel would enjoy it :)
  
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (2012)
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (2012)
2012 | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
5
7.1 (9 Ratings)
Movie Rating
The Twilight Saga has had a tough time in its short screen life. Constant comparisons to Harry Potter and now The Hunger Games have ensured that it has taken a back seat to these franchises. After 3 bitterly disappointing instalments in the series, Breaking Dawn Part 1 which was released last year lifted the bar and promised a fine end to the series. One year later, Part 2 has been released, but can it keep up the momentum set by its predecessor?

The answer, unfortunately is no and as Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen), Taylor Lautner, (Jacob Black) and Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan) pull the curtains over the long suffering franchise, you can’t help but feel a strange sense of sadness. These films haven’t been as good as they could’ve.

Breaking Dawn Part 2 starts immediately where the last film finished as Bella Swan (Stewart) gives birth to her half-human, half-vampire child. For some bizarre reason, the blood and childbirth elements of the last film have been completely thrown to the wind as Bella awakens as a vampire and is better than ever. Not reminding viewers of what went before was a major oversight on the part of director Bill Condon and those not familiar with the books will have a hard time remembering what happened last year.

It just so happens that Bella and Edward’s daughter Renesmee is growing at an astonishing rate. To show this, the producers have created her with a CGI layering effect which means using a real baby with a CGI face. Unfortunately, this means that Renesmee is the creepiest baby you will have ever had the misfortune to see. Surely there must’ve been some money left over from the $120m budget to create a real treat for fans. As it is, the first time you lay eyes on Renesmee, there is a gasp of horror rather than adoration.

Unfortunately, the sinister Volturi have gotten wind of Renesmee’s existence thanks to a brief cameo by Maggie Grace (Taken 2) as Irina. She mistakenly believes that the child is a pure vampire which is, under no circumstances allowed. Michael Sheen is a highlight as Aro, leader of the Volturi, his camp, unbelievably over the top performance, highlighted perfectly in the film’s finale, is a breath of fresh air against the heavy breathing, downtrodden characterisations from the rest of the cast.

Special effects have never been a strong point for this movie franchise and things really haven’t improved in this latest instalment. We’ve already mentioned the horror of Bella’s demon baby, but the werewolves are pretty bad too and really don’t move the game on at all. In fact, in some sequences it’s like we’re back in the 90s.

It’s not all bad news however; a real highlight for me throughout the course of the films has been the excellent cinematography. The setting is absolutely wonderful, from the snow-capped peaks and plains, to the cliff edges and forests, everything looks fantastic and director Bill Condon really knows how to maximise the environment he has been given to work with.

Unfortunately, no amount of scenery can save a film which, ultimately is a bit of a damp squib. This is more apparent in the finale, which I can honestly say is one of the worst I have ever seen in a film franchise. This is, partly down to Stephenie Meyer’s amateurish writing in the novel, which ensures the final scenes which should’ve been a joy to watch, are completely disregarded and frankly, stupid.

So, there we have it, The Twilight Saga has ended and what a saga it has been. Three average films at best gave way to Breaking Dawn Part 1, which showed promise and could possibly have been the saviour of the franchise. However, the release of Breaking Dawn Part 2 has pushed things back to where it was before the 3rd instalment, Eclipse. The series’ passionate fans have deserved much better and when it should’ve been going out with a bit of bite, instead, we leave Twilight on a bit of a whimper.

https://moviemetropolis.net/2012/12/03/twilight-breaking-dawn-pt-2-review/
  
Jennifer's Body (2009)
Jennifer's Body (2009)
2009 | Comedy, Horror, Mystery
6
6.2 (11 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Devil's Kettle is a small town where everyone knows everybody. The story revolves around the relationship between Needy (Amanda Seyfried) and Jennifer (Megan Fox) and other than having similar interests, the two are polar opposites. Needy is more of the quiet, girl next door type that is a bit of a bookworm with a heart of gold whereas Jennifer is more spontaneous, mean spirited, and the stuck-up, hot cheerleader type that every high school boy seems to dream about being with. One night, Jennifer drags Needy to Melody Lane, the one bar in town, to see a new flavor of the week indie band called Low Shoulder. When the bar catches on fire and most of the people inside are crushed or burned in the destruction, Needy thinks that's where this horrible night gone wrong would end. That is until Jennifer decides to go off with the band in their van and Needy has to make her way back home alone. After that night, a demon is transferred into Jennifer's body with an unquenchable hunger for high school guys. As Needy begins to accept what's happened to her BFF, she realizes that she's the only one that has a chance of stopping Jennifer once and for all.

Other than Megan Fox, the other factor that was pushed really hard in the advertising campaign for Jennifer's Body was the fact that Diablo Cody, the screenwriter for Juno, was attached to this film. To be honest, I think Cody's contributions are what I enjoyed most. The dialogue and humor of the film are both witty and laugh out loud funny at times. The writing, in general, made what otherwise would have been your average horror film worth watching and fairly entertaining in the long run.

This is probably the best we've seen acting-wise when it comes to Megan Fox. She isn't much other than eye candy in the Transformers films and was just an egotistical tramp that just so happened to be a rising star in How To Lose Friends and Alienate People. Other than the demonic possession part, her role in Jennifer's Body isn't too different from her role in How To Lose Friends and Alienate People. I'd give most of the credit to Cody's great writing, but Fox is actually able to display a bit more of her acting range this time around. While it probably isn't much compared to, you know, actresses with talent and she sounds like she has a cold most of the time, it's more than what we've seen from the actress in the past and everyone has to start somewhere.

The storyline doesn't offer much fresh material when it comes to horror films, but it gets the job done. The ending offers a bit of a different take on what would otherwise be an ending that would leave room for a sequel. With the conclusion to Jennifer's Body, however, it's more open ended. They could stop here and it would be a fine stand alone film, but it leaves enough questions unanswered that a sequel could see the light of day. Since the movie only made around $18 million worldwide, a sequel seeing theatrical distribution seems unlikely. A direct to DVD sequel with B-actors is definitely a possibility though. Aren't they always with horror films?

Jennifer's Body is superbly written on one hand, but feels like a run of the mill horror film on the other. The high point is definitely the screenplay by Diablo Cody, who manages to make Megan Fox's acting abilities look better than they ever have. But it seems the films enjoyment will rest solely on the shoulders of how much you enjoy horror films that don't shy away from blood. If you're not a fan of horror, I'd recommend staying away from this one. But if you're a fan of great writing, quite a bit of blood, horror, or Megan Fox's sex appeal then you should definitely give this one a go.