Divergent – Movie Review

Divergent

In a dystopian Chicago, where you can only have one character attribute (either be intelligent, honest, kind, brave or selfless), Tris’s aptitude test proves that she is more than one, a Divergent. There’s only one problem. Divergents are dangerous for the Society and now Tris is in danger.

It is a book adaptation, that much is true. But it is good. Neil Burger brings Veronica Roth’s world to life in a 2-hour long flick. Burger, unlike his predecessors who have attempted at directing adaptations, decided to add to the book’s spectacular rather than take it apart and put it back together in a non-sensical narrative (see Beautiful Creatures). That alone gives him enough credit to go in the cinema with enough hope that you won’t leave as disappointed as with… let’s say, City of Bones. It has proven time and time again that using a book as guidance rather than adapting it for what it is and remaining faithful to it, destroys the film both in gross revenue and in critical reception. And unfortunately we’ve seen far too many failures this past year than successes (although this critic begs to differ. Please tell me when was the last time you saw an adaptation which faithfulness was its undoing? Uhm, can’t think of any? Exactly)

Casting-wise, the film showcases young talent, as well as harboring some established and respected thespians. Kate Winslet, Ashley Judd, Tony Goldwyn are among them. Winslet gives a tasty, yet punch-worthy villainess and Judd gives as her usual kick-ass, albeit a short one.

From the young talent, Shailene Woodley as Tris Prior is an astonishing choice for a lead. Although pretty, is not hot, but gives a charisma to her portrayal of this feminist heroine that is exactly what it needs. The world is full of sexy, hot women pretending to be high-schoolers and outcasts. For once we see a normal girl (turned even more normal with the help of make up an costume design) take the lead and take us on a thrilling ride of transformation and acceptance. She is what most young adult heroines in books look like, and it’s time we embraced that kind of appearance on the big screen as well. And when it comes to Woodley’s most important job on the film, she lends us her natural, raw talent and puts flesh on the bone of Roth’s baby. Continue reading

Under the Skin: A Chilling, Alternative, Yet Captivating Adaptation

Under the Skin

 

Jonathan Glazer is back with a feature film, after a long time of absence. This time with an adaptation of Michel Faber’s book of the same title, it tells the story of a beautiful, yet strange women who lures men into her lair, while getting acquainted with her own humanity.

The director, mostly known for his work on Sexy Beast and Birth decided long time ago to adapt the book and was working on the script for the better of a decade. What he delivers is a stripped to the bare bone version. His lead on the directorial side is strikingly influenced by Stanley Kubrick’s work, with the opening of the film reminiscent of the late director’s work on the iconic science fiction film “2001: Space Odyssey”. Glazer uses over and underexposure, flares, lengthy shots and the beautiful landscapes of the Scottish Highlands to portray a world alien to the lead character. Yet, his most compelling approach to the film was the candidness of Scarlett Johansson’s travails in the Glaswegian streets, with hidden cameras capturing everyday people, strangers lured by the actress’s beauty and seduction.

The music is complimentary to the film narration, since the lack of significant dialogue (in fact, there is next to none) is quite impactful to the storytelling. Mica Levi experiments with familiar and abnormal sounds to deliver a creepy soundtrack to an already peculiar adaptation.

Scarlett Johansson, the lead and one of the few actual actors of the film, shines in this film and gives a unique performance. One would expect of a Hollywood bred and fed actress to undermine or deteriorate an already odd film, yet her silence is as revealing as her nude scenes, which as frequent as they are, are also aesthetically correspondent to Glazer’s work.

It was definitely a different film to watch and not everyone will love it. In fact, my friend who I watched it with, wasn’t even sure if she liked it or not. And let me tell you. A few years ago I wouldn’t even have made it half-way through the film, before deeming it unwatchable, but seeing this film with my new-born directorial eyes it is a film I aspire to. Do not let the fact that it is based on a book keep you from watching it. With so many bad adaptations it is understandable, however Glazer’s vision sets him apart from all the rest and managed to create a film not for the mindless masses, but for the few and stoic.  Do not expect a joyful, hour and a half of a ride, but a disturbing journey into the human psyche and images that will stay with you for a long time.

Rhys out xXx

Frozen: Disney’s Future Is Looking Up

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Elsa was born with a secret and it is that secret that grows her and her sister, Anna apart. Elsa has the best intentions, but no control and her sister will do whatever it takes to undo the wrongs done by her sister.

Disney is back with another princess story based on the Andersen’s Snow Queen, only this time it’s not just about one princess, but two. Or to be more accurate, a princess and a queen. The story has twists and turns at every turn and just about when you think you know what is going to happen you are proven wrong.

Attention this review contains spoilers. LOTS OF THEM.

You have princess Anna, a clumsy character, whose loneliness has made her into a quirky person. Voiced by Kristen Bell, she has a fully-fledged personality, a deviation from the usual princess “stuck-ups” and at the same time a mockery of Disney’s past at the same time.

Elsa, voiced by the talented Idina Menzel, is serious and burdened with her natural gifts over snow and ice. Born different, her parents have forced her into solitude and suppression. Her life has no meaning and nothing to look up to.

With an array of talented voice actors, this movie takes a life of its own and, what a life that is! There are two men in this film. A prince and an ice merchant. One befriends Anna and the other becomes engaged to her. Disney uses their usual trope for their first act, introducing Anna’s Prince Charming, Hans (voice by Santino Fontana) and love at first sight. Only to be mocked by Kristoff (the charming Jonathan Groff) later on in the film. That’s right. Continue reading

Hunger Games: Catching Fire is On Fire

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After her stunt at the 74th Annual Hunger Games, Katniss is on President Snow’s blacklist and he’ll do anything to stop her from becoming an idol of rebellion. Even sent her back to the arena that has scarred her for life.

As if the first film didn’t do a great job at staying faithful to the book, the second installment is a marvel on its own merit. Cinematically, now in the hands of the very talented Francis Lawrence, it excels and is nothing short of epic. Panem comes out fleshier than ever in all its glory and its misery, making a dystopian future that is relevant and relatable to today’s audience.

Oscar winning Jennifer Lawrence is given much more material to work with and demonstrates a bigger emotional range than in any of her movies, wrenching our hearts like a wrecking ball. She has managed to embed Katniss to the core of her performance and after re-watching the first film, it becomes blatantly obvious how Katniss has developed and changed from the happenings of the first installment. Katniss is traumatised, but also stronger and it shows in every inch of Lawrence’s movements, in the tinniest flinch of her face. Continue reading

Now You See Me: A Review

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A group of magicians are brought together by a mystery man to perform elusive tricks and Robin Hood-esque acts. Meanwhile the FBI is on their pursuit, trying to stop their criminal activities.

I’ve been meaning to watch this film for as long as it’s out and finally got around to it. And it didn’t disappoint. The film is a visual extravaganza. An array of memorable cast members march in and take control of this mind-f*ck Continue reading

Silver Linings Playbook – A Review

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Based on Matthew Quick’s novel of the same name, Silver Linings Playbook stars Bradley Cooper as Pat, a bipolar man recently out of a psychiatric unit, who is obsessed with reuniting with his wife and teams up with neurotic Tiffany, played by Oscar Winner Jennifer Lawrence, to prove he has changed and have another chance at his marriage.

Ok. Wow. Just…wow! It’s not common Continue reading

Friday Flix – Star Wars

Welcome to my new blog. I’ve redesigned my brand and redesigning the blog into a writers-readers community. I have big plans ahead on how to achieve that, but let’s get to the subject and the rest will come.

So…I finally started watching some classics and Stars Wars was first on my list. I’m talking about Episode V-VI. So here’s my humble opinion about this epic series.

Star Wars, Episode IV: New Hope (1977)

New HopeStarring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher Directed by George Lucas

Plot A young, orphaned boy discovers the world and the secrets of the Force that control the universe.

Now I see why everyone wanted to be a Jedi. And I want to be one myself. God knows I tried. This visual magnificence has as much to offer to the sci-fi buff (and has done so over the years) as much as to the plot driven junkie. The best of introductions to a world that is still relevant.

 

Star Wars, Episode V: Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Empire_strikes_back_oldStarring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher Directed by Irvin Kershner

Plot Luke is trying to master the art of the Force and be the Jedi he was meant to be, while Princess Leia and Han Solo fight the Empire.

A sequel that definitely lives up to the original. The story keeps blasting us with surprising turns, as are the visual effects. I adored the introduction of love in this film although it came out of the sudden with nothing leading up to it. A great transition to its final film.

 

Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)

Star Wars Episode VIStarring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher Directed by Richard Marquand

Plot Luke fights with his feelings about the news he received in the last film and tries to bring the Empire down and save the universe.

Although I found it was my favourite out of the two sequels I did find the sudden internal fighting of Darth Vader quite abrupt and out of place, but I enjoyed the film to its fullest despite that and the ending was liberating.

 

Weekly Quality of Flix

10-10

 

 

A top notch trilogy that deserves its status. Highly recommended for movie marathons.

7 Things I’m Doing Right Now

I bet you are wondering why the long absence from the blog and the irregular brief posts every now and then. I’m very busy with a ton of projects. So I decided to list them here for you.

  1. I have just finished the editing on my new fantasy romance novel “A Siren’s Song” and preparing it for submission. I will not go into any length about that since I will write another post about it.
  2. Trying to find the time to write “Paint Me With Your Love”, the erotica novel I started writing as part of NaNoWriMo – in which I failed miserably – and put it up on Wattpad.com for you guys to read.
  3. Also trying to find the time to write another adult pararomance I’ve started and which will also be a stand-alone novel and very sexy.
  4. I have written a pilot episode for a sitcom, which I want to submit for development, and I’m now editing the crap out of it to make it hilarious and interesting, but I won’t go into any detail about it since it’s still in the beginning.
  5. Redoing the film that I failed to do two years ago. At the moment I’m organising people, doing the storyboard for the film, which has gone from feature length to medium feature, and gathering all equipment and courage to give it another go. But I’m hopeful this time it will happen.
  6. Starting my own film production company. How do you do that, you may ask? Well, by making a film and putting the logo all over it. So I am preparing for another, this time very short, film which will go into pre-production in January 2014. It’s LGBT-themed and I will submit it to festivals world-wide.
  7. Overloading on caffeine.

That’s about it. It might not seem very busy, but count my almost 24/7 babysitting job and it makes for a very hard schedule to keep. But I’m hopeful I will shine through. I am gay after all. We know all about shinning!

How are you? What are you up to these days? Are you reading anything interesting lately? OR writing? I wanna hear all about it.

Rhys out! xXx

101st Post: Ashton Kutcher said WHAT?!?!

Let me be frank. I don’t have a great amount of respect for Ashton Kutcher.  But I decided to celebrate my blog’s hundred post with the 101st post being all about him. And why you ask? Because of what he said in the Teen Choice Awards back in August. I don’t think I’ve heard another big time youth icon speak more of a true message to their young fans ever. Although the video is worth watching I will recap what he actually said.

1) Opportunities look a lot like work

2) The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart, thoughtful and generous

3) Build the life you want to live.

Basically this very rich man, in both wealth and fame, came out and said to the generation of instant celebrity-and-fame  that opportunities in life don’t just appear. They are the result of very hard work. That was something myself discovered and continue to find out Continue reading

The Wolverine 3D: The Rise of the Man in Crisis

The-Wolverine-2013-Movie still

 

Hugh is back as the clawed mutant with an attitude of a lion and the heart of teddy. The movie steps forward from the array of prequels and origins and as such is a sequel of the fantastic finale to the trilogy X-Men: The Last Stand in which Logan is forced to kill Jean to save everyone.

The film begins with a tortured Logan having discarded his Wolverine side and being haunted by Jean’s (Famke Janssen) image and what he did to her. We are also shown that Logan was present in Nagasaki when the atomic bomb exploded and saved a man named Yashida. More than 50 years later, Yashida sends for Logan to bid him farewell before he dies. But instead of a peaceful dying man, he is faced with the choice to become mortal and eventually die like any human being. He finds himself perplexed into family affairs, assassinations, samurai warriors and lethal women.

First of all, let me say how much I love how non-white this movie is. It actually feels and breathes like Tokyo, hearing the native language and of course the best part is that they actually speak Japanese to each other. It is not concerned with Westernising anything. Well except for the fact that the whole idea is a Westernised notion of Japan anyway. But the film speaks more like an original Japanese film, rather than an American blockbuster. Tao Okamoto as Mariko, Logan’s love interest is as fresh as the movie, making the viewer long for Wolverine to move on with his life with this beautiful and kind girl. Famke Janssen, a sexual and vocal temptress as always, offers the great comparison between the past and the future, between Logan’s ghosts and his reasons to live. Svetlana Khodchenkova as Viper is a walking menace that even the macho-est man will fear. And finaly Rila Fukushima as Yukio becomes a great companion to Logan and an amazing friend and, well, bodyguard. She makes the unthinkable possible and breaks through the tough exterior of this troubled man and becomes a companion unlike any. Their age difference doesn’t do other than compliment the unlikely relationship between the two. I really hope there is a place for Yukio in the new film.

Secondly, the emotional journey of the Wolverine is an amazing rollercoaster. In this film prepare to see a broken man, who has given up on life and immortality. It’s only when he loses that immortality that he starts to see what is there worth living for. He, along with Jean, turned to ash and in this film he is able to be reborn as a new man, a man with a terrible, haunting past, but also a bright future. Logan is able to put his past behind him and embrace himself as what he is. A hero!

Everything in the story is flawless, seamless. All except for the mastermind behind this whole game. I found that watching the last scenes, I already knew what was going to happen, who was behind it all, and what it was really all about. Nonetheless it impressed me, made me relate, made me laugh out loud, made me jump with pain and horror at things happening to Logan and in the end walked out of the cinema wanting to be him.

As if the film wasn’t enough, we are treated with X-Men sweet surprises as Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen make a swift and brief appearance at their titular X-Men roles and give us a taster of the epic that’s about to happen with Days of the Future Past, the new film in the X-Men series, out in cinemas in 2014.