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Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
2018 | Action, Sci-Fi
Solo? So-so.
When the whole Disney “broaden out the Star Wars universe” thing was first mooted I was NOT enthusiastic about the prospect. Then, in Christmas 2016 “Rogue One” burst onto our screens as a breath of fresh air, and I thought “OK, I can be wrong!”. But even jolted by that pleasant surprise, I always thought that the second proposed diversion off the main hyperspace highway into “Radiator Springs” – a Han Solo back-story flick – might fall short. It just didn’t float my boat.

Add into that proposition the decision to give the film initially to “The Lego Movie” directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (why Disney? why?); them trying to forge it as a ‘comedy’; them falling horribly short and being fired by Disney; Disney bringing Ron Howard (“Inferno“, “Rush“) in to try to salvage the project; and Howard reportedly re-shooting 75% of the film and you have the makings of a turkey of galactic proportions.

With all that being said, I was surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did. But that’s off a very low base of expectation.

As you might guess, we go back to see Han… just Han… as a delinquent youth trying to keep his head above water under the thrall of the Fagin-like Lady Proxima (who – no pun intended – keeps her head under the water for most of the time). He is desperate to pull off a con that’s lucrative enough that it will get him and his girlfriend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke, “Me Before You“; “Terminator: Genisys“; “Game of Thrones”) off-planet and into a free life. Things don’t go to plan though and Han – now Han Solo – finds himself a trooper of the Galactic Empire. He links up with fellow rogues Beckett (Woody Harrelson, “War for the Planet of the Apes“; “Three Billboards in Ebbing, Missouri“), Val (Thandie Newton, “Westworld”, “2012”), Rio (voiced by Jon Favreau, “Spider-Man: Homecoming“; “Iron Man Three“) and their assertive and rebellious droid L3-37 (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge) in a get-rich-or-die mission for vicious gang-boss Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany, “Avengers: Infinity War“).

The film has its moments for sure:

There are some nice background touches: an army recruitment video plays to the sound of John William’s empire march (played I am assured by my more musical wife in a major key to sound more uplifting and positive!);
Han’s first meeting with that famous walking carpet (played by Joonas Suotamo) is memorable, as is the introduction to that “card player, gambler and scoundrel” Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover, “The Martian“, “Spider-Man: Homecoming“): all flamboyance, self-regard and well-dressed ego;
solo2
Never count your money while you’re sitting at the table. Lando Calrissian played by Donald Glover putting his ship (you probably haven’t heard of it) on the line. (Source: Lucasfilm).
the character of L3-37 is an excellent addition to the saga, forcefully demanding equality for droids: I would have liked to have seen much more of her;
there is a nice twist on the Greedo/Han “who shot first” debate;
production design and special effects are up to standard for a Star Wars film, and I enjoyed John Powell’s score, incorporating a new ‘young Han’ theme from John Williams himself;
and Erin Kellyman (in here movie debut) is just breathtaking and strikingly brilliant as the be-freckled renegade Enfys Nest.
But overall it’s all a bit disjointed and jumbled, probably as befits its growing pains. We are introduced to Solo within five seconds of the film’s opening….. BAM! No exquisite ‘reveal’ as we saw with River Phoenix in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”. I found this disconcerting and it took me ten minutes to get into the film as a result.

When it gets going it rather tries too hard to join up more Star Wars dots than it needs to. “Rogue One” did that exceedingly well, but that was because it needed to as ‘Episode 3.5’. Here there are visual and verbal references everywhere as the screenwriters (Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan) desperately try to knit their story into the canon. As an example, the action moves to the mines of Kessel at one point. Kessel? Kessel? Wasn’t that a throwaway C3PO line from the “A New Hope” about being “smashed to who knows what” in said mines?. So obviously, in the WHOLE GALAXY that’s where the story leads us, with the local lingo for the hyperspace fuel McGuffin at the heart of the plot being “spice”! It’s all a bit too trite for my liking.

And while a key protagonist appearing near the end of the film (no spoilers) is both a startling surprise and great fun, don’t get me started on the timeline implications…. (see the spoiler section below the trailer for more).

Alden Ehrenreich, who was just brilliant in “Hail Caesar” (“Was that it t’WERRRE so simple“) for me barely makes it past bland in the lead role. One of the defining characteristics of Harrison Ford’s Solo was his swagger and bravado and unfortunately Ehrenreich barely rates a three out of ten on the scale. I also found the chemistry with Emelia Clarke to be lukewarm. Clarke still seems to be struggling to make a significant breakthrough to the big screen…. “Me Before You” still seems to be her high water mark so far. Here she has a key and complex role, but comes over as just plain unconvincing and “meh”.

Ron Howard has clearly done a good job in buffing up a poisoned chalice so it can at least share space on the Star Wars shelf without being laughed out of the Cantina. Perhaps with a more coordinated and thought-through run-up to a Solo sequel (more Enfys Nest please!) this offshoot might have legs.
  
Love, Death & Robots
Love, Death & Robots
2019 | Action, Animation, Comedy
CGI is amazing (1 more)
The Perfect Mix of Morbid Humour and Gore
The episodes are so short! (0 more)
A Masterpiece of the Weird and Fantastical
This is going to be a long one, I'm going to review each episode as they aren't linked or related in any way, but just know, they are all gorgeous works of art and you should totally go watch the whole thing ?.


Beyond the Aquila Rift - CGI was beautiful from the moment it started, I was like 'shiiiit this series is going to be everything I love'. This one is about a crew making a delivery in space, however nothing quite goes to plan. For me, it had a very 'Mass Effect' feel with the FTL travel. I was not expecting a full out sex scene in the first 6 minutes but then again the episodes are on average only 16 minutes long. It was rauncy yet somehow, still quite tasteful, but as with most animated stuff there was an excessive amount of topless boob shots. I won't spoil it, but it ended up as a horrific mind fuck that left a shiver down my spine ?.

Secret War - Again, CGI was epic and the story was the perfect mix of unsettling, gory, and tragic. It follows a platoon of Red Army soldiers who are hunting down mysterious 'monsters'. There's blood, there's guts, a guy has an arm off at one point - what more could you ask for?

Sonnie's Edge - Immediately feels hellishly grunge and rave. I absolutely adored the blacklight effects and a strong female styling, the fight is gorgeous, the monsters have almost a Kaju feel which really made me happy as I love Pacific Rim. Of course this epicness is immediately ruined by a sloppy scene (I won't spoil it) which cemented the fact in my mind this was written by a man (I checked later and found I was correct), it does save itself with a fantastic twist at the end though so it was still an amazing short.

Sucker of Souls - This had a great grungy cartooning that felt half Kill Bill, half 2003 TMNT. It ended up being a real bad day for an archaeological expedition. Gore injected with humour is always a favourite of mine and this ticked all those boxes, including a wisecracking explosives expert (looking at you Gary!) If we've learnt anything from Indiana Jones and Rick O'Connell it's, don't fuck with tombs. This time was no different.

Three Robots - There's something just so fucking fantastic about robots going on holiday and speculating about 'human' stuff. It's just the perfect injection of morbid humour and I love it. The twist at the end had me laughing harder than I had any right to ?.

Ice Age - I haven't seen Topher Grace since That 70's Show so I was like 'heeeey cool'. This was the first one that wasn't soley animation so that was really cool. They find a civilization in their freezer - yes, you read that right, their freezer - and the story is awesome ?. It's a neat reflection on humans and our place in the world.

The Witness - Set in a brightly coloured city the animation here feels very Borderlands-y, which is super cool because I fricking love that game ?. There's murder, full frontal nudity, erotic dancing, and an ending that will tear your head right off. Pretty neat all in all.

Suits - Great Googamooga, this is my absolutely favourite so far, a perfectly normal looking farm, complete with adorable hick accents, discovers a breach in their fence. This isn't just any breach, this is an alien style swarm complete with Mech Warrior suits and a woman named Mel, who I'm convinced is Tank Girl as an old lady. 17 minutes of utter badassery you do not want to miss. Utterly LOVED it, and would 10/10 watch this as its own series.

When the Yogurt Took Over - Ok so the name - I was like 'should I take this seriously? Oooor' ?. Weirdly serious - yet hysterical. A five minute journey into what happened when Yogurt became sentient. You will not be disaappointed ?.

Good Hunting - With animation that reminds me of The Last Airbender, it's a story of magic, friendship, and the industrial age. A beautiful and tragic story, with horrific overtones of what greed and 'progress' can do.

The Dump - The animation this reminds me of would be sorta like, if the people at Pixar got high with Tim Burton. There was one random thing - I found Pearly's dick swing in the wind much funnier than any sane person probably would ?. A great story about man's best friend and let me tell ya, everyone needs an Otto ❤.

Shape-Shifter - There's something so deeply interesting about putting the supernatural into regular life. Two men, who are not human, in the US marines. Insanely intense story for under 15 minutes. Gorgeous CGI work too.

Helping Hand - This had a great "Gravity" feel to it, when everything goes wrong you just keep going, give a little and then a little more and you achieve the impossible. Breathtaking space visuals is just an added bonus ?.

Fish Night - Telltale style animation, depicts a story of a father and son on the road. The car breaks down and something both magical and tragic happens. The ending left me reeling ?.

Lucky 13 - The CGI in this one was so good it took me half the time to figure out that it wasn't real. Lucky 13 was to Cutter like the Normandy was to Joker. Just - the best goddamn ship ❤.

Zima Blues - Animated in a style similiar to Archer, this was an interesting piece about art and how it effects us, we search for meaning through it sometimes it's about appreciating the little things ❤.

Blindspot - 90's animation and a rad story about robots. This is my second favourite after Suits, would 10/10 watch as its own movie ?.

Alternate Histories - Did not stop laughing the entire time. Utter gold. I will recommend one thing - pause it at the blue screen bit, you won't be disappointed ?.

The only thing I'm sad about is there wasn't more of this to watch, it was incredible ?.
  
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Daniel Boyd (1065 KP) Apr 22, 2019

Really enjoyed reading through your individual reviews, agree with you 1000% about Sonnie's Edge

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Hazel (1813 KP) rated Kids of Appetite in Books

Dec 14, 2018  
Kids of Appetite
Kids of Appetite
David Arnold | 2016 | Young Adult (YA)
10
10.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
<i>This ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

They lived and they laughed and they saw that it was good.</i>
<i>Mosquitoland </i>was the best book I read last year (2015) and I was excited to discover what David Arnold would write next. I approached<i> Kids of Appetite</i> with mild trepidation; what if it did not live up to my expectations? Need not have worried – it was brilliant. Dubbed a “tragicomedy” <i>Kids of Appetite</i> is a combination of realistic, heartbreaking experiences with intellectual humour.

The book opens mid interview at a local police station where two teenagers, Vic and Mad, are being questioned about a murder their friend has supposedly committed. From there, the story backtracks a week and proceeds to bring the reader up to date. It all begins with Vic running away from home, distancing himself from his mother and her new partner. By chance, a coincidence – a bump, Vic would say – he is found by Mad who introduces him to a small group of homeless friends. Vic may not have packed in preparation for life on the streets – or in a greenhouse as it turns out – however he did grab the urn containing his late father’s ashes before racing out of the house. Along with the urn is a letter containing cryptic clues that lead to various locations that Vic’s father wished for his ashes to be scattered. He, along with his new found friends; make it a mission to put his father to rest.

It is not possible to label the general theme of the book. <i>Kids of Appetite</i> is a story full of stories. Each character has their own past, something that led them to the situation they find themselves in now. The group consists of five members – once Vic has been accepted. Baz, at age twenty-seven, is clearly the leader: responsible, caring, and fatherly – until accused of murder. Seven years younger is Zuz, Baz’s mute brother, and finally Coco, an eleven year old with the mouth of a foul old lady. It is Coco, amongst all her swearing and hilarious misuse of words, that coins the name <i>Kids of Appetite, KOA</i> for short, a play on words: they are not solely in want of food, they hunger for life.

Initially it would appear that the main focus will be on Vic: his father’s death, his mother’s new partner, Moebius (facial paralysis) – a syndrome that results in a lot of bullying and discrimination – and, of course, his flight from home. However the remaining members of <i>KOA </i>equally contribute to the overall narrative. Mad, like Vic, knows what it is like to lose a father. Unfortunately she also knows what it is like to lose a mother. Her life since the fateful car crash that left her and orphan has been full of abuse and uncertainty. Baz and Zuz, on the other hand, have escaped a traumatizing childhood in the midst of the Congo Civil War.

Similarly with <i>Mosquitoland</i>, Arnold’s second book is full of intellectual knowledge and humour complete with references to highbrow material. Vic is obsessed with an operatic song and deeply interested in abstract art, particularly Matisse. He pulls the artist’s work apart in search of meaning and relatable truths of life. Like Vic, Mad has a particular song she draws comfort from. The lyrics help her make sense of the world around her, and produce her own manifesto – Madifesto, rather. She is particularly fascinated by S E Hinton’s <i>The Outsiders</i> – a book I have not read, but am obviously going to now. With in-depth theories purloined from her favourite novel, she encourages and advises those around her.

The murder investigation is evidently another key point of the book. I do not want to say too much on the matter as it would not be fair to give the ending away. Be reassured that<i> Kids of Appetite</i> is not a thriller, crime or horror novel; it is the events and dialogue leading up to the conclusion that make up the greatest parts of the story.

It is essentially the characters that make <i>Kids of Appetite</i> such a fantastic work of fiction. Their background stories are all based on real life experiences of many people throughout the world, but it is their opinion of life, their terminology, and their reckless enthusiasm that really impacts the reader. <i>Kids of Appetite</i> is a book to be read over and over again. So many phrases can be lifted and quoted to explain our own lives and feelings. In fact, the entire novel is one big quote to sum up life itself. Although there are so many themes, stories and ideas, there is one clear message. Let go. Let go of the past. Let go of the things that hold you back. For Vic and Mad it is the death of their parents; for Coco it is abandonment; and Baz and Zuz learn to let go of their violent childhood.

David Arnold is an extremely talented author, seamlessly flowing from one notion to another, whilst sweeping the reader into a sea of pure emotion. He may over use the word “ergo” and have an unconventional penchant for ellipses, but that only adds to the uniqueness of the writing. There may be an excessive amount of expletives, however that is overshadowed by the pure genius of the story itself. <i>Kids of Appetite</i> is a book I want to recommend to all. The blurb likens it to authors Rainbow Rowell and Jennifer Niven – I would like to throw John Green into the mix – and should appeal to many Young Adult readers. I could write forever about this book, but I would rather you go and read it yourself. And whilst you read, remember:
<i>They lived and they laughed and they saw that it was good. </i>
  
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Emma @ The Movies (1742 KP) rated Pet Sematary (2019) in Movies

Jun 22, 2019 (Updated Sep 25, 2019)  
Pet Sematary (2019)
Pet Sematary (2019)
2019 | Horror
Yes, I'm a scared cat and bailed out on the Unlimited Screening of this. Those of you on Twitter know that I prefer my horrors to be brightly lit with ample opportunity to scream at the idiots on the screen who are quite clearly going to get themselves killed. That being said, I did decide to see it after reading some general comments after the screening. I believe the phrase I used was "Suck it up, Emma. You can do this."

Pet Sematary is obviously a remake but as I understand it they've made a fair few tweaks to give viewers something a bit different. The premise is still the same though.

After the Creeds move into their new home they discover that the woods on their property are home to a pet cemetery that has quite a local tradition. When their cat, Church, dies on the road outside their house the neighbour overs to help Louis find a spot to bury him. Jud realises that Ellie will be devastated at the loss and leads Louis out to a remote and unusual spot to bury Church. What he doesn't tell him is that Church won't stay buried for long.

Jason Clarke is getting some great screen time this year what with The Aftermath and Serenity (which I hope to catch sometime soon). I liked how he managed to play the sceptic in this, he's a man of science which has a set of rules but the longer he spends in their new surrounds the more he becomes changed by them. He's also a great contrast with his wife and watching them trying to explain death to their daughter was captured in a very interesting way.

Amy Seimetz as Rachel felt a little underwhelming as a character, the backstory she has is odd on its own but having it pop up sporadically through the film felt confusing. I don't know whether it's the same storyline as was in the book but something a little less bizarre felt like it would have worked better and left you with less unanswered questions.

John Lithgow is always a favourite of mine and this performance was no exception. Sort of like the old man shovelling snow in Home Alone he comes across as scary until you realise he's not so bad after all. I'm intrigued by his character though, Jud should surely be much less friendly and changed because of his experiences with the woods, and yet he's fairly normal. The only thing that I was a little disappointed with was that his backstory was very obvious... and to be honest given all the trouble he's had you'd think he'd be a little more cautious.

Our little leading lady certainly has a flair for the demonic and I actually found her to be a much better offering after her unfortunate incident. From what I understand it's her little brother that dies in the original, but in my head I can't see that working very well. They do try and bring him into the story with a slightly supernatural ability to see the dead but it felt a little forced and perhaps it would have been better to just bypass it completely.

If you read my reviews every so often I'm sure you're aware of my dislike for cameras that move erratically. I was aware that we felt to be constantly on the move and it made for a challenging watch. Pet Sematary also featured my least favourite of all the shots, the overhead pan that sets off my motion sickness. Opening the film with a sweeping shot of the forest nearly had me passed out on the floor, and to my joy we also get a brief reprise of this towards the end.

Apart from the camera work that wasn't to my liking there wasn't a lot that I found out of place with the production itself apart from one moment that jumped out at me. When that monstrous little bastard of a cat lured Ellie out into the road we get what is a surprisingly well thought out scene, I was onboard and engrossed and then there were some terrible digital effects involving the truck that stuck out like a sore thumb.

Stephen King and I have a very patchy history with adaptations. I often feel like he writes a fantastic story and then realises he hasn't worked out how to end it and just goe "Boom! Aliens!" I'm looking hard at Under The Dome here, nearly 40 hours of my life... for aliens! Needless to say I was quite pleased that there was some "reasonable" explanation for everything that was happening. Not a single alien in sight and the ending wrapped with a nice ominous vibe that made me glad they hadn't gone with a happily ever after scenario.

Apart from the camera work and the cheap ass jumping scares this wasn't such a bad film. If you ignore the things that don't make sense, like why are parents letting their creepy children give their dead pets a procession through another person's property... or why does the "pet sematary" actually have nothing to do with the resurrections... or why do they walk through about five miles of Star Wars-esque forest and swamp to a random mountain to do the ritual... yeah, if you ignore those things it isn't too bad.

What you should do

It's not a bad horror to watch and if you aren't a big ol' chicken like me then you might want to see it on the big screen.

Movie thing you wish you could take home

What I would like is something very specific, like genie wish specific, I want Church... but I want him in his curly looking death state... without the death. No smell, no blood, no guts, no demonic hell beast, just the regular cat type of hell beast.
  
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Chris Sawin (413 KP) rated Clash of the Titans (2010) in Movies

Jun 22, 2019 (Updated Jun 23, 2019)  
Clash of the Titans (2010)
Clash of the Titans (2010)
2010 | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
5
6.3 (17 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Clash of the Titans tells the story of men turning their backs on the gods. The gods grow weaker as men refuse to pay worship to them and neither side will budge. That's where Perseus (Sam Worthington) comes in. Perseus is a demigod, half man and half god. Zeus (Liam Neeson) is his father, but Perseus was raised as a fisherman. As the gods grow desperate, they turn to Zeus' brother who was banished to the underworld, Hades (Ralph Fiennes) to hopefully scare them into realizing "the order of things." When Hades onslaught kills Perseus' family, Perseus vows revenge against him and will do everything within his power to destroy the god of the underworld. Perseus' journey will not be easy as several ungodly beasts stand in the way of him reaching his goal as he struggles with accepting sanctuary as a god or continuing on this journey as a man.

Clash of the Titans was highly anticipated on my end for quite some time. The trailers were pretty fantastic and everything seemed to point to the film being epic. Directed by Louis Leterrier (Unleashed, The Incredible Hulk) and starring Sam Worthington (Avatar, Terminator: Salvation), Liam Neeson (Taken, Batman Begins), and Ralph Fiennes (In Bruges, The Hurt Locker), this film had a solid cast and a director with some pretty great films under his belt. It had all the elements to make a fantastic film and yet it somehow managed to fail.

The film felt like a watered down version of what a film based on the God of War video game could potentially be. All the same gods are there, the Medusa character is in there, there's a character battling against the gods, the similarities are pretty obvious. The only thing that is different is that the main character is named Perseus instead of Kratos. On one hand, it may not be a bad thing comparing the film to God of War. If they do decide to make a God of War film down the road though, it seems like it'll be way too similar to this film unless they go full-blown, balls out rated R with it. That's the route they should go anyway, but Clash of the Titans basically feels like a censored version of God of War.

Certain other things about the film really bugged me. The main one being that the two main female characters Io (Gemma Arterton) and Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) cried at EVERYTHING. Every time they spoke it was like they started getting teary eyed. "Oh Perseus, I can't follow you into Medusa's lair since I'm not a big strong man like you are. *sob*" Just made me want to slap them and go, "GET A GRIP, LADY! SHEESH!" The biggest pet peeve of mine lies in the finale of the film. Everything regarding Hades and the kraken are dealt with so quickly. The film makes a huge deal about both of them only to have everything wrapped up in less than five minutes when the time finally comes. It just wound up feeling very rushed and anticlimactic. Also, what was the deal with the prophecy the witches gave Perseus? Was the explanation of getting around that because Perseus was half god? That's pretty weak. Instead, we're going to go with this ending that's completely open-ended and leaves massive room for a potential sequel. Lame.

Despite all of the things I found wrong with the film, there were some high points. The CG seemed very all or nothing to me. At times, the effects were fantastic. The giant scorpions scene and the kraken being the best examples. Pegasus is also a great example. The winged horses looked fairly genuine, but they looked kind of odd when they flew. Other times though, it seemed way too obvious that the characters were standing in front of a green screen and fighting with creatures that weren't actually there. There's a scene near the beginning where we first see Perseus as an adult where his father is talking to him and a thunderstorm is beginning to brew. The sky was obviously CG. There were just several moments like that that brought me out of the film.

Ralph Fiennes as Hades was easily the high point for me as far as acting goes. Fiennes was most impressive in David Cronenberg's Spider and has been on my radar for actors to keep an eye on ever since. He doesn't disappoint here. His smarminess as Hades spoke volumes. The ferry scene is also pretty amazing, at least until Perseus and Io begin their Medusa training. Ugh.

A few humorous points, the South Park fan in me chimed in when Io told Perseus "You're more than half man half god." I thought she was going to follow up with, "You're actually half man, half bear, half pig. Or maybe you're actually half bear half man-pig." Still laughing about that one. The scene where Perseus emerges from Medusa's lair and Io is waiting for him, she's wearing this really weird outfit. I heard the guy next to me say, "What the...is she wearing a mop?!" and it made me laugh out loud. Best part of the whole film though, at the end, when everything had been resolved somebody yelled at the top of their lungs, "I AM A GOD!!!!!!" After a brief silence, everyone in the theater started laughing. Kinda sad that the most entertaining part of the film wasn't actually a part of the film itself.

Clash of the Titans was one of the most anticipated blockbusters of the year, but fell short and wound up being one of the most disappointing. With mediocre special effects, a sloppy finale, and female characters that will get on your last nerve, the action film fails to live up to expectations. At the end of the day, Clash of the Titans is basically just a glorified Xena: Warrior Princess.
  
X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019)
X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019)
2019 | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Ever since X-men First Class was released, Jean Gray one of the more pivotal characters in the X-Men universe has been surprisingly absent. Often portrayed at not only having psychic abilities that rivals Charles Xavier, but also attracted the admiration of both Cyclops and Wolverine. While she was a staple in the original film and subsequent sequels her first appearance in the newest series did not occur until X-Men Apocalypse. With the release of Dark Phoenix, we had hoped to finally get an opportunity to explore a bit of her background story and her transformation into Dark Phoenix.

Dark Phoenix begins on a small country road where a very young Jean Grey is arguing with her parents over what music to listen to. In traditional parent fashion, her mother reminds her that the driver is the one who chooses the music and when she is old enough to drive she can choose her own music. This small disagreement turns into a deadly confrontation, when the young Jean, unable to control her vast powers causes her mom to fall asleep at the wheel, resulting in a head on collision killing both her parents. The doctors are amazed that this young girl has survived without a single scratch and a young Charles Xavier arrives to take her to a place where she can be safe.

Fast Forward to the year 1992 where the space shuttle Endeavor, on a routine mission, encounters a cosmic entity that cripples it in space. The X-men, who are now looked at as heroes by most of the world are tasked to bring the astronauts safely home, it’s a dangerous mission, but one that Charles feels will further cement the hero status of his team and continue to grow trust between mutants and humans alike. The mission goes surprisingly without incident until Jean and Night Crawler attempt to rescue the final remaining astronaut from the doomed shuttle. Night Crawler quickly teleports the astronaut to safety, but Jean is caught by the full force of the cosmic entity, absorbing it completely and destroying the shuttle. The team scrambles to locate her, and with the help of Night Crawler are once again able to bring her back to the safety of the X-Jet. Relieved that she has somehow miraculously survived the encounter the team is unaware that Jean and themselves will never be the same again.

As we’ve come to expect from the previous X-men movies, a star-studded cast leads the way. Familiar cast members such as Jennifer Lawrence (Raven), Tye Sheridan (Cyclops) and James McAvoy (Charles Xavier) are joined once again by Sophie Turner as the iconic Jean Grey. Sophie does an incredible job at bringing out both the uncertainty in her character and the extreme anger and rage that flows through her. Unfortunately for such a major character the movie only briefly touches the surface of who Jean Grey really is. The movie, even from the start tends to focus on Jean as a dangerous and angry young lady, unable to control her emotions which will ultimately open the doorway to her alter ego Dark Phoenix. The movie unfortunately treats her as a one-off character and skips most of her back story choosing to focus only on her Dark Phoenix personality. This leaves the audience with no understanding of the person she was prior to the transformation, only seeing Jean as an uncontrollable child who has now become an uncontrollable adult with “off the chart” powers. While Charles and other members of the team try to assure those around them (and the audience seated in the theaters) that Jean is a good person, a person worth saving, there is very little in the movie that allows us to sympathize with her plight. It ultimately villainizes her and leaves much of the cast (and the audience) wondering whether destroying her is the right choice for all humankind.

Visually Dark Phoenix is a masterpiece, whether it’s the awe-inspiring deepness of space, or the incredible visual effects as the mutants square off against each other with their powers. Buildings topple, subway cars are pulled from underground and general mayhem takes the stage. This is certainly one of the more action-packed movies in the series and getting the opportunity to watch some of our favorite mutants square off against one another is enough to excite even the ones least interested in the franchise.

Dark Phoenix as one might expect is also one of the darkest of the x-men movies. Unlike its other Marvel film counterparts, there is no levity in the movie at all. There are scenes that are heartwarming, but the movie takes itself very seriously. Even in a similarly dark Marvel movie Endgame there were moments that would make you laugh regardless of how dire the situation was, Dark Phoenix is not like this at all. It carries a weight to it that ensures that not only the people on screen, but those in the audience understand how truly dire the situation is. It detracts a bit from the spirit of the source material it derives from and could potentially alienate its core audience. This is a very adult movie, that deals with some very adult themes and parents might want to think twice before taking their youngest to see this film. With the X-Men franchise finally joining the MCU, it’ll be interesting to see how movies down the road treat these characters.

Dark Phoenix represents the end of an X-Men era that has existed in both its original and First-Class installments for over twenty years. The acquisition of Fox by Disney now brings this venerable franchise to the MCU family along with its cast of seemingly endless characters. While the movie is certainly better than Apocalypse, it can’t quite reach the heights of either First-Class or Days of Futures Past. The Dark Phoenix storyline does a good job staying closer to its comic book roots than its previous outing but rushes the origin and character development of Jean far more than she deserves. It’s a fine ending to the series as a whole but can’t quite deliver in all the ways I hoped it would.
  
The Language Of Thorns
The Language Of Thorns
Leigh Bardugo, Sara Kipin | 2017 | Fiction & Poetry
8
8.7 (15 Ratings)
Book Rating
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<b>3.8 ★, to be exact. </b>

Sometimes, we enter a library, not really knowing what we are looking for. One day, I entered the library, only to return a few books. Instead, I returned with two more. The first one didn’t impress me, but the second one was this book – The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo. I only picked it up, because I liked the cover. And I know, we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I guess the magic worked on me this time around.

This book featured six stories, all six magical and beautiful in their own way. Some attracted me more, some a bit less, but I, overall, feel delighted to have read this book. I haven’t read Leigh’s previous books, so I didn’t know about this world before, but these are apparently the same woods featured in those books as well.

I will give a brief opinion on all stories, and the main rating will be the average from them all. Let’s go.

<b><i>1. Ayama and the Thorn Wood – ★★★★★</i></b>

<b>‘’Interesting things only happen to pretty girls.’’</b>

A beautiful tale that will show you how beauty comes from within. The King and Queen have two sons – one is a beautiful man, the future king, and the other one is a monster. They are scared and ashamed of the monster-boy, and let him live his life in the labyrinth they made for him. In the village, in a poor family, there are two daughters, one as beautiful as the sun, and the other one ugly. When the monster escapes the labyrinth and starts ruining fields and make disasters, everyone is scared to go and talk to him and beg for forgiveness, so the ugly lady is sent to her woods – quite certain she will never return…

<b>‘’This little prince was shaped a bit like a boy but more like a wolf, his body covered in slick black fur from crown to clawed foot. His eyes were red as blood, and the nubs of two budding horns protruded from his head.’’</b>

<b><i>2. The Too-Clever Fox – ★★★★★</i></b>

<b>‘’Freedom is a burden, but you will learn to bear it.’’</b>

I loved this story the most, out of all six of them. It reminded me of home, and of how we tell stories back there. The whole ‘’Once Upon a Time’’ is real, and I enjoyed every moment of it. The winter theme, the hunting, the girl and the fox. This is a story that will teach you to not be assured you can outsmart everyone. Foxes in stories have always been presented as the smart ones, outsmarting every animal in the woods. This reminds me of Aesop’s Tales, which I really loved as a little girl. But sometimes, you will get outsmarted, and it might cost you your life. The twist was definitely unexpected, but indeed satisfying.

<b><i>3. The Witch of Duva – ★★★</i></b>

A story where girls disappear, and one girl decides to go into the woods and try to figure out why. This story upset me, and I didn’t like it. But deep inside, it’s a good one. Very creepy though, and very horror-y, but worth reading. Turn the lights off, get under a blanket, turn your torch on, and only then you will be ready to know the deep secrets this story tells you.

<b><i>4. Little Knife – ★★★★</i></b>

The shortest story in the book, but by all means not the least intriguing. A story that features a woman that is too beautiful, that men lose their mind as soon as they see her. To get the chance to marry her, men will have to go through a various of tasks. The twist at the end is incredible, and I really liked it. It starts off as a usual story, but it goes wild.

<b><i>5. The Soldier Prince – ★★</i></b>

This was a story I enjoyed the least. It all screamed ‘’The Nutcracker’’ to me, and I couldn’t see it as original. It was a re-make, and it was very different that the story we know, but it just didn’t work for me. This is a story about a man who makes toys and gives them life. And when one toy sort of ‘’wakes up’’, interesting things start to happen. Quite a creepy story. I usually like those, but this one was not my cup of tea.

<b><i>6. When Water Sand Fire – ★★★★</i></b>

<b>‘’ We were not made to please princes.’’</b>

This one is the longest story in the book. It features a world of creatures living underwater, and Ulla, who can sing and create magic, but who, as the people believe, is not a true born, but a mix between the underwater world and the humans. She is asked to help the prince become a king, but when the magic price is too high to paid, it doesn’t seem like she has a choice. I truly enjoyed this story, as it’s a beautiful mix of emotions while you read it. It was a bit disappointing that it seems as a remake of the creation of the character of Ursula from The Little Mermaid, at least to me.

Have you read this book, or any of Leigh Bardugo’s books? Let me know in the comments, I love to chat with you!

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G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)
G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)
2013 | Action, Sci-Fi
Who didn’t grow up as a child of the eighties and nineties and not play with G.I. Joes? And of those, who can honestly say they were not thoroughly disappointed in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra? Surprisingly, I can say that I wasn’t thoroughly disappointed, but I know the movie could have been so much more than it was. Could it have done without the surreal technology, the sappy love story and the unrealistic action scenes in the movie? Yes. Many fans cried out about this. G.I. Joe: Retaliation set out to respond.

Did they succeed? That’s debatable, but they did a lot of things right in the go-around. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not award winning or anything, and you should never expect a movie like this to be that. But let’s run through a check list. Sappy out of place love-story: gone. Surreal technology: less. Let’s face it, despite what some people felt about the first movie, it did kind of set that precedent. Retaliation is considered a true follow up to The Rise of Cobra. So would it honestly make any sense to go from one extreme of nearly impossible gadgets to none at all? Absolutely not. Besides, the cartoon series also had technology in it. I am not trying to defend the use of it, and there were some pretty crazy gadgets going on in this movie, but it seemed to jive better with what I remember of it as a kid. And they found a really unique way to tone it down without it not seeming right. Unfortunately, there is still a fair amount of unrealistic action in this movie, but that’s kind of become the norm for most action movies these days.

We pick up fairly close to where we left off in The Rise of Cobra. Duke (Channing Tatum) is now commanding a unit of the Joes with Roadblock, Lady Jaye, Flint and Snake Eyes (Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki, D.J. Cotrona and Ray Park respectively) under his command. The Joes are sent out on a mission, a good rapport is built between Duke and Roadblock, but then they go and destroy that when their convoy gets attacked by Cobra eliminating Duke from the rest of the film. Go cry spoiler somewhere else, this happens in the beginning of the movie, and it’s been everywhere since the delay of the movie from last year. I was hoping they would somehow managed to keep him in the movie, especially after seeing the chemistry between Tatum and Johnson, but alas…

So the convoy attacked, and all the Joes presumed dead. Only Roadblock, Jaye and Flint actually survive and try to get to the bottom of everything. Meanwhile President Zartan (remember how the last movie ended) is up to his own nefarious plans in breaking out Cobra Commander with the aide of Storm Shadow. The Joes work their magic, still have access to some technology (though not over the top like The Rise of Cobra), and recruit people to help them along the way, including the man who is the reason the Joes were started: General Joe Coulton (played epic-ly by Bruce Willis).

The movie was entertaining, had a lot of great and clever humor that wasn’t thrown in your face, and had some great action scenes (if you can get past the fact that in one scene they are fighting Cirque Du Soleil style on the side of a cliff). But it’s some of the little things in this movie that prevent it from redeeming the franchise after the first iteration, including the casting of RZA in a part that looks like it is meant to be serious, but his horrible acting make you really wonder if it was supposed to be a serious role or not. The other gripe I had with the movie was the unlikely resolution of the main conflict. With the Cobra Commander so confident in his plan, why would he, or any self-respecting super villain, deliver a way to foil the evil plan with literally half a second left on a silver platter. The last issue I had with the movie was Storm Shadow. I really liked the conflict between him and Snake Eyes in The Rise of Cobra, but they seemed to discredit his character a lot in this movie. Ultimately they changed the nature of Storm Shadow to make it seem as if he might switch sides in any future installments of the franchise, and that’s just not cool. The character was awesome the way he was.

As for the 3D aspect, it’s said this was the reason that the studio delayed the movie for a year. They wanted to add more effects to it. This tells me two things: the movie was shot in 2D and they had little faith in it. Honestly, I think we all know they tried to add more Duke to the movie in this time (which it’s really hard to tell if they did), but you can tell there was work done with 3D aspect. Too much. It was very distracting at points, and it seemed liked they added elements to scenes just to have 3D. For instance there was a scene where you were in a situation room viewing information on a monitor. It literally looked like they just super imposed a shoulder into the lower right of the screen so they could have in 3D as if you were looking over someone’s shoulder. That’s just silly.

All that being said. I had fun watching the movie. Dwayne Johnson is becoming a powerhouse that everyone was expecting him to years ago. I hope that he can continue this streak with some good movies (he’s got two more within the next month alone). I own the first one on Blu Ray, and I will probably buy this one when comes out as well. I would watch it in theater just for the enormity of the action on the big screen, but skip the 3D.
  
Dolittle (2020)
Dolittle (2020)
2020 | Adventure
A movie the whole family can enjoy together (0 more)
Downey's Jnr's take on a Welsh accent (0 more)
A complete mess, but kids will probably love it.
With the words of Mark Kermode's review ringing in my ears ("It's shockingly poor... and that's the same in any language") I was bracing myself when I went to see this latest incarnation of Hugh Lofting's famous animal-chatting character. And I have to agree that it is a shocking mess of a film, given $175 million was poured into this thing. But, and I say this cautiously without first-hand empirical evidence, I *think* this is a movie that kids in the 6 to 10 age range might fall in love with.

Doctor Doolittle (Robert Downey Jnr) - famed animal doctor, with the unique ability to communicate with any animal - is now holed up in his animal sanctuary, a recluse. His beloved wife - adventurer Lily - was lost at sea (in a cartoon sequence that could have just used the same clip from "Frozen"). He's lost the will to practice; and almost lost the will to live.

Impinging on his morose life come two humans: Tommy Stubbings (Harry Collett), a reluctant hunter with a wounded squirrel, and Lady Rose (Carmel Laniado), daughter of the Queen of England. (We'll quietly ignore the coincidence that, after what looks like several years of mourning, these two independently pitch up at Chez Doolittle within ten minutes of each other!).

For the Queen (the omnipresent Jessie Buckley) is dying, and noone (other than us viewers, let in on the deal) suspect foul play might be at work in the form of Lord Thomas Badgley (the ever-reliable Jim Broadbent) and the Queen's old leech-loving doctor Blair Müdfly (a moustache-twiddling Michael Sheen).

Doolittle must engage in a perilous journey to find the only cure that will save both the Queen and his animal sanctuary - the fruit of the tree on a missing island that his long lost love was searching for.

Let's start with the most obvious point first up. Robert Downey Jnr's Welsh accent is quite the most terrible, most preposterous, most unintelligible, most offensive (to the Welsh) attempt at an accent in a mainstream film in movie history. And that's really saying something when you have Laurence Olivier's Jewish father from "The Jazz Singer" and Russell Crowe's English cum Irish cum Scottish cum Yugoslavian "Robin Hood" in the list. Why? Just why? Was it to distance this version from Rex Harrison's? (Since most younger movie goers will be going "Rex who?" at this point, this seems unlikely). It's a wholly curious decision.

It turns RDj's presence in the movie from being an asset to a liability.

The movie has had a tortuous history. Filmed in 2018 at enormous expense, the film completely bombed at test screenings so they brought in more script writers to make it funnier and did extensive additional filming.

I actually disagree with the general view that the film is unfunny. For there are a few points in the movie where I laughed out loud. A fly's miraculous, if temporary, escape was one such moment. The duck laying an egg in fright, another.

However, these seem to stand out starkly in isolation as 'the funny bits they inserted'. Much of the rest of the movie's comedy falls painfully flat.

In terms of the acting, there are the obvious visual talents on show of Michael Sheen (doing a great English accent for a Welshman.... #irony), Jim Broadbent, Jessie Buckley, Joanna Page (blink and you'll miss her) and Antonio Banderas, as the swashbuckling pirate king cum father-in-law.

But the end titles are an amazing array of "Ah!" moments as the vocal performances are revealed: Emma Thompson as the parrot; Rami Malek as the gorilla; John Cena as the polar bear; Kumail Nanjiani at the ostrich; Octavia Spencer at the duck; Tom Holland as the dog; Selena Gomez as the giraffe; Marion Cotillade as the fox, Frances de la Tour as a flatulent dragon and Ralph Fiennes as an evil tiger with mummy issues. It's a gift for future contestants on "Pointless"!

There are a lot of poe-faced critics throwing brick-bats at this movie, and to a degree it's deserved. They lavished $175 million on it, and it looked like it was going to be a thumping loss. (However, against all the odds, at the time of writing it has grossed north of $184 million. And it only opened yesterday in China. So although not stellar in the world of blockbuster movies it's not going to be a studio-killer like "Heaven's Gate").

And I suspect there's a good reason for that latent salvation. I think kids are loving this movie, driving repeat viewings and unexpected word of mouth. It is certainly a family friendly experience. There are no truly terrifying scenes that will haunt young children. A dragon-induced death, not seen on screen, is - notwithstanding the intro Frozen-esque cartoon sequence - the only obvious one in the movie and is (as above) played for laughs. There are fantastical sets and landscapes. Performing whales. A happy-ending (albeit not the one I was cynically expecting). And an extended dragon-farting scene, and what kids are not going to love that!!

Directed by Stephen Gaghan ("Syriana", but better known as a writer than a director) it's a jumbled messy bear of a movie but is in no way an unpleasant watch. I would take a grandkid along to watch this again. It even has some nuggets of gold hidden within its matted coat.

As this is primarily one for the kids, I'm giving the movie two ratings: 4/10 for adults and 8/10 for kids... the Smashbomb rating is the mean of these.

(For the full graphical review, please check out the review on One Mann's Movies here - https://bob-the-movie-man.com/2020/02/22/doolittle-2019/ . Thanks).
  
40x40

Sarah (7793 KP) Feb 23, 2020

I'd been trying to figure out from the trailer what accent RDJ was attempting terribly... conundrum now solved!

Hunting Sasquatch
Hunting Sasquatch
2017 | Dice Game, Party Game
Sasquatch. Nessie. La Chupacabra. The Jersey Devil. These are all examples of what is called “Cryptids.” These cryptids are mostly fairytale creatures, and have not been substantiated yet, but many a fool have hunted them nonetheless. You are one of those fools. Your target? Information on Sasquatch. Yeah, you might find other clues to fellow cryptids along the way, but you really need that sweet sweet clear photo to be crowned King Fool!

Hunting Sasquatch is a competitive press-your-luck card and dice game where players are attempting to gather clues to catch Sasquatch. The winner will be the player with the most Victory Points at the end of the game, if any VP are to be had before too many Hunters go missing in the woods.

DISCLAIMER: We were provided a prototype copy of this game for the purposes of this review. These are preview copy components, and I do not know for sure if the final components will be any different from these shown. Also, it is not my intention to detail every rule in the game, as there are just too many. You are invited to download the rulebook, back the game through the Kickstarter campaign, or through any retailers stocking it after fulfillment. -T


To setup shuffle the Location cards (big ones) and reveal as many locations as are players. Shuffle the Hunter cards and deal three to each player. Shuffle the Hunter’s Arsenal cards and place its deck near the Hunter deck on the table. Separate the various tokens by type and place them on the table nearby as well. Have the dice accessible to all players and the game may begin!
On a turn the active player will choose one of their Hunters to visit a Location. The Hunter may visit one of the face-up Locations or draw one to be placed on top of one of those revealed. If the Hunter draws a new Location they MUST visit this newly-revealed Location.

The Hunter then rolls all eight of the green Hunter Dice. If the Hunter had gained any Anti- tokens (anti-camera, anti-book, etc) then those Anti- tokens cause matching dice to be removed from the turn immediately. The Hunter may now spend any Wildcard Tokens they may have earned previously to rotate a die’s value to anything wished.

Once the roll is ready to be resolved, the Hunter will reference the Location they chose for dice values. Each Location has Lost Conditions on the left and Victory Conditions on the right of the card. The Hunter must fill as many Lost Conditions as they have matching dice, and may then assign Victory Conditions dice to their places on the card. Should a Hunter fill up the Lost Conditions spaces with dice the Hunter is then lost to the hunt and their Hunter Card is discarded. Should the Hunter avoiding becoming lost and fill up the column of Victory Conditions they will score the booty from the box in the lower right-hand corner of the Location card (mostly VP, Evidence Tokens, Wildcard Tokens).

If neither column of icons on the Location Card have been filled completely and there are still dice available, the black Fate Die may be rolled. A successful Fate Die roll shows a lucky horseshoe and allows the Hunter to re-roll the available dice. An unsuccessful Fate Die roll shows a bear trap icon and forces the Hunter to apply the Trap conditions on the lower left-hand corner of the Location Card (usually Anti- tokens).


The game ends once a certain number of Hunters are lost (depending on number of players) or once any Hunter has collected all five Evidence Tokens.
Components. Again, this is a prototype copy of the game, so components will most likely be different as a result of a successful Kickstarter campaign. That said, I can comment on the direction the game is going, and I like it quite a bit. The tokens will need to be improved to be more usable, and obviously the dice will upgraded, but other than those I like everything else going on here. The cards are nice, easy to read, and have great artwork on them. Similarly the Location Cards are probably my favorite components of the game because they feature hilarious and wonderful artwork. The game looks great as is, but I am eagerly looking forward to what it will be once completely finished.

The gameplay is kind of a crapshoot in my experience. I have had several plays where too many Hunters were lost too quickly and the game ended in five minutes. I have also played games where Lady Luck was on my side and I was rolling like a king. I managed to get three Evidence Tokens that time. Each one of my games have ended in surpassing the total number of Hunters lost, but I feel like the game is winnable. Just probably by someone luckier than me.

I do really love dice games, and when they allow players to alter the face values, or the game alters them I find a great deal of satisfaction. And that is what Hunting Sasquatch delivers. It is a dice chucking game with dice alteration, amazing hilarious art, and a pretty tough difficulty level. It is perfect for gamers who enjoy dice games but find most to be too lame and easy.

I love this theme. I love this art style. I love the gameplay. I do not love the tiny and thin tokens (but I pray they get a huge upgrade for the final version). Hunting Sasquatch is another winner from Spyglass Games, who brought us the incredible VENOM Assault. I am a big fan of the games this publisher is putting out there and if you are like me, I think you will also like this one a lot. I invite you to check out their Kickstarter campaign when it launches, and remember: cryptids are just made-up stories. They cannot come to your campsite and eat all your jerky.