Movies

Lizzie Bennet Diaries

I need to take a minute to shout from the rooftops about this addiction. I discovered The Lizzie Bennet Diaries less than a year ago and after binge-watching basically the entire thing in about a week, I fell in love. It was an amazing modern interpretation of a classic story that is one of my favorites: Pride & Prejudice. The characters are colorful and witty and very well done. The little snippets of Lizzie’s life that we get to witness and her interactions with the various people are incredible. The depictions are very well done and the twist to make it fit into today’s more modern world is two big thumbs up! If you want to watch, all the episodes (including bonuses with other characters) can be found here.

Unfortunately, I quickly forgot about this sensation as I dove headfirst into grad school last fall.

About 2 weeks ago, one of my school friends brought up “Emma Approved” during a group chat. I inquired about it and discovered that it was created by the same people who brought us LBD…except this story was based on the Austen novel, Emma! I was completely floored when she said this and excitedly went home to begin watching the episodes. I finished all of them in about a week, in between classes and avoiding homework and final papers. The classic tale was once again transformed in a modern re-telling and formatted to fit the small screen. Episodes (and more bonuses) can be found here.

LBD videos range from 3-5 minutes on average, Emma a little longer at about 5-7 minutes a piece. Pemberly Digital took on Austen’s complex worlds and made them into something great, something wonderful, something that I want to watch on repeat….maybe one day on DVD!

So if you want to “waste” some time on entertainment but don’t feel like watching something modern, check out one of these great features for hours of enjoyment 🙂

Movie Review: Mockingjay Part One

If you haven’t read the books, beware that this post *contains spoilers*!

mockingjayAs with any book to movie adaptation, there are bound to be changes, including missing pieces, and a general lack of explanation. With this movie especially I felt that anyone who hadn’t read the books was going to be a little lost.

For example, what the hell is District 13? How long has that been there? How did they get there? Not to mention the opening scene of Katniss in the dark. I mean, we all knew that she was a little cray cray after the mission failed to save her AND Peeta but it was not a great first scene. And her saying “tell me what’s real” without explaining why that is important kind of failed to make her seem as broken as she was in the books. Which makes her even stronger when she finally deals with her grief and frustration and PTSD and channels it into something powerful.

Then there is the relationship with Finnick, that was basically missing. Them helping each other dealing with the pain and stress spoke volumes on the pages and on screen fell a little flat. And while President Coin was well cast, the relationship with Katniss was far less volatile in the movie than in the book. There is a lot more running and hiding and avoiding and anger. Coin is seen as just as bad as Snow to Katniss.

Not to mention that Katniss didn’t even ask to kill Snow which was a huge deal in the book. Although the issues with being the Mockingjay and not being able to “act” for the propos was pretty dead on. And the tension between her and Gale was also rather downplayed. Oh, and Effie was alive.Book-film iceberg metaphor

And can I just say for the record that I hated the ending? It would have been so much more powerful if they had ended when Peeta was trying to kill Katniss, the world would have lost its mind.

But there was a lot of good as well. I definitely had some teary-eyed moments, including her visits to Districts 12 and 8 and seeing Peeta alive on screen. The casting was dead on once again and I enjoyed the new to screen and old favorite characters. I liked seeing the various unrest and civil warfare happening in the Districts, it made everything seem a bit more real and impactful. The action scenes were well done and it was an overall powerful movie but watching it from the front row made me look at all the little things that were wrong.

I’d give it 3 stars in comparison to the book, maybe 4 as a movie. It’s worth seeing if you’ve watched the others but I felt this one deviated strongly from the plot and was more Hollywood than it should have been.

What I’m Reading

currently reading 10.11.14

The Grand Escape has been on my re-read list for awhile. I remembered this book while going through some of my childhood things and have wanted to read it again ever since. I ordered it from Amazon and it’s now sitting next to my bed all pretty and new and waiting to be cracked open.

Styxx has also been on my list for awhile now and I promised myself I would read this side of the Acheron debacle before the end of the year but I’ve been so distracted by all the shiny, new books coming out that I haven’t gotten around to it yet. Hopefully that changes soon!

The Whispering Skull is the second book in a series that I have been itching to get my hands on since I read the first. And it’s perfect for this time of year. Young people who hunt ghosts for a living? Yes, please!

The Iron Trial and The Young Elites are both new publishing by old favorites (well, not that old). The Iron Trial is co-written by fan-loved Cassandra Clare and so far, it’s pretty interesting, the 20 pages I’ve read at least. And The Young Elites is, of course, the new release from Marie Lu, author of the Legend series that I loved so much. She is fantastic and I hope this one lives up to expectation.

The final book up to bat is Outlander. After seeing it everywhere, and now it’s on TV, I needed to read it. It was calling to me. It’s a love story lost in time zones and I couldn’t resist it, even if the paperback is about twice the size of every other book I’m currently tackling. I’ve heard great things and so far, it’s reeling me in.

So that’s what I’m reading. What are you reading?

Movie Review: The Maze Runner

maze runner Where do I even begin?

The great casting? All the little things they changed? The overall creepy feel of the movie? The extreme scary factor of the Grievers?

It’s hard to determine whether or not I liked this movie. Objectively, it was alright. As compared to the book, they were miles apart. I was so excited that this might actually be a great movie adaptation because Dashner himself loved it. I, however, was somewhat disappointed with all the little bits that were altered to make way for a more Hollywood-esque version of a completely brilliant and cgallyomplex book.

Okay, so let me first tell you what I did love about it. The casting was amazing. Dylan O’Brien was a great pick for Thomas. I really felt like he was connecting with that character and becoming him. His curiosity, running, and logic were dead on for how I pictured Thomas. Will Poulter, who I have loved since he performed in The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, was an absolute standout. Gally is a royal jackass with underlying fears and doubts and I couldn’t look away whenever Poulter was on the screen. Ki Hong Lee, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, and Blake Cooper were also fantastic as Minho, Newt, and Chuck respectively. Although Chuck was a little younger than I pictured.

The set was phenomenal. You truly got the sense of being trapped in the maze with them. The huge, towering walls with the bright green space in the center was dead on. Not to mention the pan out at the end, spectacular. The Grievers weren’t quite what I imagined but just as horrifying as they made me feel while reading the book. Part beast, part machine, and every bit hide-behind-your-hands-while-they-are-near.into the maze

The only casting I didn’t care for was Kaya Scodelario as Teresa. It’s not that she did a poor job, she was actually pretty good, but something about the character felt off with her in the role. Maybe as we see more of her in the next films, my opinion will change.

There were a bunch of little things in the movie that had been altered that you would only notice if you’ve read the book and some of them really bothered me. Only having one doorway, WCKD abbreviation, the plot line with Gally at the end, and the interactions between Thomas and Teresa. I think as a movie, it was good, entertaining, heart-pounding, jaw-dropping, and intense. But I liked the progression of the book better. It felt like they had to simplify it too much in order to appeal to the masses. They explained some underlining themes too openly and didn’t leave enough mystery.

Overall, I’d say it only achieves 3 stars. I hope the next one is better.

Movie Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

tmnt-all

I couldn’t help myself. I had to see it.

The last TMNT that I saw was in 2007. On my 18th birthday. When I locked myself out of my car. With it still running. In the pouring rain. And what made that day better? Getting to see TMNT. (And having my parents live down the road from the theatre with a spare key.)

ticket

I try not to read reviews for movies I know I want to see in the theatre, it can put a damper on them and pull a preconceived notion of how they will be before I get the chance to form my own opinion. Which I hate. So while I wasn’t sure Megan Fox was the right pick for April, and that there had been some sort of backlash between her and the general public already, I tried not to read too much into it.

So I took my cousins, ages 10 &13, to the theatre with me (and not because I was embarrassed to be seen at a kid’s movie) and we settled in for the relatively short ride. Over the course of about 90 minutes, we laughed, were awed, excited, and shocked. Not that any of that adds up to a good movie (or a bad one). In fact, I have a few points that I would like to critique.

1) Megan Fox didn’t have the right face or coloring to be April O’Neil. I think she did an admirable job playing the character, except for the reporter bits, not sure about that. And she definitely has the action star babe thing down pat but honestly her beauty was a little distracting from the role. I always pictured April a little more tomboy with shorter hair or at least a ponytail (and less make-up), I mean come on.

2) Sensei Splinter started to explain the weapons he chose for each turtle, but stopped after just one. Uh, okay. What was the point of that? The katana for Leo, that’s all. Not to mention that Leo actually has two swords, but alright.

3) I felt that all of the brothers had very definitive personalities that really shown thru, except Leo. Mikey is the goofball who is addicted (more than the others) to pizza. Raph is the badass who has issues with authority. Donnie is the glasses-wearing nerd who always comes up with a plan. And Leo is…what is the rest of that sentence? I mean, I know who he is from prior exposure but I felt that his character was far less developed in this movie than the others.

4) I liked Will Arnett as Vernon Fenwick but I think it was unclear to most of the audience who he actually was. It kind of seemed like he and April had a thing. But she clearly wasn’t interested. And I always got the impression that he and April were rivals, not necessarily partners. So that was a whole pile of confusing.

Overall though, I have to say that I did enjoy the movie. It wasn’t as showy or explosive (pun intended) as most Michael Bay productions but it was a solid B+ movie, in my opinion. There were a few flies in the honey, so to speak, but I did like it. It was slow to start but then amped up the action which I liked. And the scene on the mountain in absolutely fantastic. (If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about. If not, the movie is worth watching just for that 10 minute sequence.)

Leo

And of course I took the quiz. Want to find out which Ninja Turtle you are? Click here.

Thoughts on Life Wednesay

This is one of the best speeches every given by Robin Williams. He speaks a truth that few acknowledge and one that is becoming increasingly lost in modern times. So often in our pursuit of the dollar, we forget about the pursuit of our passions. We waylay poetry and art in schools because they are underfunded. We forget to pursue happiness because we want to pursue the ideal of “success”.

I doubt a lot of you have seen this movie, featuring many of our favorite Hollywood men, entitled “Dead Poets Society”, but I encourage you to go find a copy if you haven’t. It is definitely a movie worth seeing. One that is more about heart than aliens who blow stuff up but might teach you something about yourself and the world around you.

Lucy…

lucy

…you got some ‘splaining to do!

First and foremost, props to Scarlett Johansson for beating out Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock at the movies last weekend. Lucy‘s premiere scored a bigger box office take than Hercules. Impressive on many levels, the best of which is that a female action lead was a bigger draw. And I’ll admit that I saw Lucy and not Hercules (but I still love you, Dwayne!) because a friend in town chose between the two, but that’s okay because now I can enjoy The Rock in all his deliciousness all by myself.

But now for the actual review. I’m still not sure if I liked this movie (beware: spoilers ahead). What starts out in a seemingly random scene in an unidentified Asian city, quickly becomes a thriller and then an action movie, the slowly descends into sci-fi madness (in a good way). Overall, I think the plot was very intriguing and the concept even more so, the execution however, left something to be desired.

There was lots of head scratching at the end of the movie, pieces that didn’t quite line up. I had a lot of questions that could have been answered by simply taking the time to you know, explain what was happening. Johansson is supposedly a 25 year old student of some kind but it never specifies what she is studying or why she is in Taiwan, not to mention that (no offense) but she doesn’t look 25. She’s always played up as so mature in movies that to put her in a role below her actual age was a little disconcerting to me. Especially after seeing her badassery in The Avengers, I find it hard to picture any younger than that and she seems to be in her late-20s in that movie (like 27-28).

I felt like I was dropped into a world with very little explanation at the beginning of Lucy. There were little snippets of the guy she was with, Richard and how they met but nothing about how they ended up in front of a hotel…a flashback would have been nice, preferably in Richard’s head explaining his background/deal.

There were several scenes that made me go “what the actual eff just happened”. Like in the airplane bathroom. Was that all in her head? Did she actually explode and somehow get pieced back together with the drug? And what was the deal with the time travel at the end? Was that mentioned somewhere in Morgan Freeman’s speech and I just missed it?

And for once, this was an action movie without a serious love connection, which shocked me. Sure, there was that slight possibility with the French police officer, but nothing (not even a kiss!) happened. Which I honestly didn’t mind. I think that romance can often detract from action movies instead of add to the drama and intensity.

Not a bad movie, definitely different. I honestly love the concept behind it, expanding our mind and what we might be able to do with it if we could, but the movie didn’t thrill me. Kept me paying close attention but not sure I’d run out and buy it.