At World’s End (2013)

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Synopsis

Few pints. Be grand.

First Half Review

The long awaited finale of the cornetto trilogy is here. I had seen the first back in 2003 “Shaun of the Dead” and while a rewatch has yet to materialise of both Shaun and Hot Fuzz they are both still fresh in my mind.  Going into “The World’s End”, I was apprehensive. these where films I enjoyed while I was a teenager and in my early twenties would it translate for a older me?

Yes and no is the answer.  While there was nothing wrong with it, it did seem the weakest of the three. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t live up to my expectations. 

The premise is group of friends go back to do a pub crawl they attempted when they were teenagers.

Simon Pegg’s character is unlikable and he was developed too late into the movie but when he is, it’s dark as fuck.  The line “They tell me when to go to sleep at night” is one of the most haunting lines in recent times. I feel personally that the other characters are slightly underdeveloped. There are some laughs but it feels like it’s already been done. Nick Frost is teetotal and this built up from the start and is glazed over quite quickly as to why. The explanation of the blanks being there isnt great either. It gets extremely dark and I wonder if that was written out or changed late in a draft. I mentioned near the end it gets heavy and I do have to commend Pegg there, the acting is top notch and he channels a person with his particular affliction with aplomb but it is brief and fleeting.

Shaun was a zom-rom-com. Hot Fuzz was the right amount of slapstick and absurdity.  World’s End just seems flat when compared and doesnt know what it wants to be.

Good movie but the most forgettable of the lot.

Second Half Review

I like Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. I like their characters and stories. I like how normal the characters are, and yet I love the little supernatural twists that may happen in their movies.

I was dead excited to see this movie. The final installation in the “cornetto trilogy” was always going to win big in cinemas.  Simon Pegg really can’t do wrong!

The story of this movie is simple in premise. Aging burnout Gary King decides to get his old school friends back together for one last hurrah, and complete the fabled golden mile of pubs. However, all of Gary’s mates are much more successful now and can they ever find common ground? Plus, their home town is perhaps a little off..

Surprisingly endearing and somewhat unsettling at times,  this movie is definitely one to see. Not my favourite of this “triology” but a nice way to end it.

First Half TL; DR – Creepy robots everywhere!

Second Half TL; DR – not sure I could stomach 12 pints of Fosters….

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Daughter of the Empire by Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts (1996)

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Synopsis

Mara is 17. She is bound for a safe, religious life, deep within the walls of the convent of Lashima, but fate does not always run smoothly. In an instant, her life changes and she is fighting to just stay alive, and to honour her family name.

Review

Oh yes. I love this book. This and its two sequels form some of the best fantasy writing I’ve ever read. Seriously. I reread this series at least once a year. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Mara is a marked girl. Being the Ruling Lady of a great family is enough of an oddity in Kelewan, but Mara’s enemies are many and lurk behind every door. The delicate and complicated system of honour prevents her from doing much, but also allows her to bend her will in many interesting and often slightly blasphemous.

This book really has everything.  Its got political intrigue coming out of every orifice and every victory Mara earns, you feel her sense of relief and truimph. Every painful thing you feel too.

It’s masterfully written and the descriptions of the foreign world make it come to life. The richness of the world is almost meaty in their details.

If you are a fan of fantasy and haven’t read this series, do yourself a favour and check it out. You won’t regret it.

TL; DR – ACOMA!!

Absolution by Murder by Peter Tremayne (1997)


Absolution by Murder

 

Synopsis

Sister Fidelma is on her way to a meeting of influential religious people, in an abbey in present day Whitby. Two equally passionate and opposing sides will meet to debate the correct points within the Christian faith. The year is 664 A.D. and something awful befalls those that reside within the abbey walls.

Second Half Review

Right. I know, I know. I haven’t lost the plot completely, but stay with me on this one.

I visited my parents this week in small town Ireland. Whilst there, I ventured with my mam to the local library as she is a big fan of crime novels and murder mysteries. Jokingly, I suggested the titular book as it ticks all of the boxes.

Historical? Check.
Fiesty female lead with a slightly inept partner? Check.
Bloody, bloody murder? Check.

And its a 7th century nun who SOLVES CRIMES. whats not to like?

So, I guffawed as mam checked the book out, and I teased her the entire way home. I even giggled about it to my sister. Then I realised that I had left my book at home. In Dublin.

Sigh.

I picked up this one, preparing to have a little laugh at the expense of this rather unusual crime novel, and I was hooked! Sure, the writing can be a little cringey at times, and the copious amount of old Irish and Saxon names can be a tad confusnig, but overall, its a neat little book. It’s definitely a filler novel but a pretty unusual one for what it is. I would definitely recommend the series anyway!

TL:DR – Murder She Wrote, Christ Edition

The Bling Ring (2013)

 

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Synopsis
Marc is a troubled kid who moves to a new school. There he meets his soon to be best friend, Rebecca, and her gang of associates. Rebecca introduces Marc to per easy and rather lucrative way of earning money and clothes; by breaking into celebrities houses. Based on true life events, we follow Marc and Rebecca through ever increasingly risky break ins, and wonder when will they slip up?

First Half Review

So one of the hottest movies being touted at the moment is “The Bling Ring@, Sofia Coppola’s newest project, based on real life events about a group of spoiled rich kids who want infamy and stuff. Stuff in the sense that they already have stuff but want more. So, logically, they break into rich people’s and celebrities homes. I’m using the term “celebrity” loosely as it’s Paris Hilton and some person from a reality tv show who these kids seem to focus on.

The story is interesting but we spend far too much time on them walking up to a house and breaking in; well, walking in and taking shit and bragging about it. As time goes on, drugs and this lifestyle get the better of them and they end up getting caught. I was waiting to see what has happened to them or how the court case went but that’s brushed aside in the final 10 minutes.

There was so much potential here which I feel was wasted. The characters are underdeveloped and as hollow as the people they’re stealing from.

Second Half Review

I’m always interested in watching movies which star actors that have played a defining role in previous movies or tv series. Heath Ledger (as the Joker), Benedict Cumberbatch (as Sherlock) and now Emma Watson, who’s portrayal of Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series is pretty much spot on as she is described in the books. Since the end of that franchise, Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe have attempted to move away from their roles to other acting jobs, with varying degrees of success. I actually didn’t mind “The Woman in Black”. But I’m getting away from the point.

Emma Watson’s involvement initially drew my interest to this movie, and after seeing and being surprised by “Spring Breakers” earlier this year, I imagined that “The Bling Ring” would do the same. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. I kept waiting for the story to progress, but it never did. The same scene was replayed numerous times but with different houses and different swag gained. The girls are portrayed (mostly) as spoiled brats who took what they wanted because it was there. Rebecca, the instigator, seemed to get off more on the thrill and the idea of the rich and famous lifestyle, rather than the monetary gains or luxury goods stolen. Marc seemed to have absolutely no relevance to the plot beyond simply googling the addresses of out of town celebrities. And he’s gay, apparently. It was just thrown into the mix a couple of times, and there was no need to expand on his sexuality at all. The film didn’t do it for the girls, so why Marc?

Emma Watson’s “Valley Girl” accent wavered once or twice in the movie, but overall, she looked amazing and seemed to be enjoying herself. It is nice to see her breaking away from her “Hermione” role and for that this film definitely plays a part.

Beyond that though? I wouldn’t bother going to see it, it certainly didn’t leave a lasting impression on me.

First Half TL:DR – Robin Hood for the shallow
Second Half TL:DR – I kept thinking this was a movie about a specific ring, and then at the end, realised it was the worst gang name in history.

 

Twilight (2005)

Twilightbook

Synopsis

Book review time!

Bella Swan moves to dreary Forks, where it rains about as often as she mopes. And she mopes a lot. There she meets an interesting boy called Edward, and they do things. Yep. That’s the plot of this book. Oh, also werewolves.

Review

This is one of those books that I always knew was going to be kind of poor. Part of me wanted to read this because I had seen the first movie a couple of years ago and figured that it was the kind of thing that I might have enjoyed as a teenager. I actually picked this book up at my mother’s house. She is a sucker for supernatural stories and told me that “Twilight was the worst thing I have ever read.”

Where to start with this? The main character, Bella, is about as likeable as moss. You don’t dislike it, you don’t like it, it’s just…. there. She cries about 8 times in the first 25 pages, because she has to live somewhere rainy. Inexplicably, everyone in the tiny town of Forks knows who she is and becomes instantly popular overnight. However, she is so indifferent to her “friends” that she genuinely forgets their names at various points. Boys are all lining up to have a shot at asking her out, but Bella is instantly drawn to a complete and utter psycho, Edward Cullen.

In their first encounter, he reacts visibly to her presence and then ignores her completely. Rather than just ignoring this and moving the FUCK on, Bella OBSESSES about this. EVERY SINGLE DAY for months, wondering what she did, and why he had reacted to her so weirdly.Eventually, he rescues her from random rapists, (I’m not joking) and rather than see if she is ok, he berates her for putting herself in danger! Victim blaming much? Edward’s controlling and odd behaviour continues.Forcing Bella to eat, telling her what to eat, watching her sleep(!), taking her to secluded woodlands and essentially telling her that he would kill her in a heartbeat if he wasn’t so intoxicated by her. Oh, and he’s also a vampire.

So, this fact makes Edward seem like he is looking out for Bella, but frankly, reading this book made me uncomfortable. Bella and Edward entered into a “lifelong” relationship after speaking for about (in total) 7 hours. They tell each other that they are in love with each other constantly, and there are pages and pages of descriptions about how Edward’s breath felt on her neck. Icy, if you’re wondering.

The whole time I was reading this, I wondered what sort of relationship kids reading it would envision. Removing the vampiric aspect, it is not normal for a boy in your high school class to break into your room at night to watch you while you sleep. It’s not normal for him to insist on watching you eat and it’s certainly not normal for him to shout at you for putting yourself in danger  when you were almost beaten/raped.

The book has a weird, creepy vibe and left me feeling uneasy the entire time.

Avoid.

TL: DR – Sparkle, sparkle bitches!

World War Z (2013)

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Synopsis 

There is a new plague decimating mankind. There seems to be no stop to it’s spread. One man is sent on a mission to discover how best to combat the disease. His journey takes him all over the world, into hostile territory and through great peril. Can he save the world before it’s too late?

This review contains spoilers.

First Half Review

Well here we are a movie that got so fucked up in development that it is the poster child of “Too many cooks spoil the broth”.  World War Z. So, I have to compare it to something but it cannot be the book as the only thing it has in common is the words “UN”, a 30 second clip in Israel, the use of the word “Zeke” and the fucking title.

So can I compare it with “The Walking Dead”? Nope, as that is a character driven show about people surviving a zombie apocalypse. How about “28 Days Later”? Getting closer but still that had a plot. Hmm “Dawn of the Dead” by Zack Snyder? Yes we’ll go with that for a comparison for the time being.

Now the only way to describe this zombie movie is all grrrr and no bite. There’s no blood, gore, sense of dread, scares in this movie. A movie about fast zombies and there is none of this. How the hell do you do that? Oh yeah, you spend HALF A BILLION on it and try your best to recoup your losses.

Lets get one thing straight Marc Forester can’t direct, Brad Pitt, for the most part, can’t act and Matthew Michael CarnahanDrew Goddard,Damon Lindelof can’t pen a script to save their lives.

The above is the perfect shit storm. So, to compare it to “Dawn of the Dead” 2004 remake, which was a good remake in my eyes. There was humour, character development story arcs for characters, Scary moments, and tense moments.

“World War Z”, however, is full of ludicrous plot holes, nonsensical Dan Brown type sleuthing and one of the stupidest endings in a film ever.

So, to give some back story. A few years ago, the other half and I read “World War Z” and were blown away by the depth and story telling in the book. There was a real sense of this is how we would react if this happened. Then we heard that Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt were bidding for the movie rights. Leo, I was wrong, you should have got it.

The start as always was promising. J. Michael Straczynski, who wrote some of the best Real Ghostbusters episodes penned the script. This script was leaked and people were shocked. There were early rumblings that this script could possibly be nominated for a best screenplay Oscar. You can find it easily online for those interested. Your heart will break though.

Then the producers came in and I’m pretty sure the meeting went like this:

Too much blood. Too much talking. Not enough boom booms

If you have not seen this movie yet and are reading this review avoid it. It is 4 set pieces tied together in the loosest way possible. Philadelphia, South Korea, Jerusalem and Wales and finishes in Nova Scotia. That’s the globe trotting. So we’re introduced to former UN employee who has worked in dangerous areas around the world. That’s all we know about the main character. That, and he has a wife and kids.

He goes to his friend in the UN for help who transports him to a ship. It takes him a few hours to get from Philadelphia to Newark and being from Ireland, I had to guess how long that would take. This seems accurate enough. Except we’re shown the city in complete gridlock. No one able to move etc.

So we get to Newark and two guys in a supermarket try to rape his wife in the middle of the floor in one of the most bizarre scenes in the film. It makes no fucking sense. Why in the middle of the dairy aisle? Why not, if you’re going to rape a woman who has a child in a shopping trolley, drag her outside into the alley and do it there. They even make a point to show the rapist which Gerry is with her and he’s carrying a fucking rifle. How stupid are these guys. Man with high powered rifle and you try rape his wife in the middle of the shop. Fucking genius writing there.

Anyway the UN guy with the accent says to Gerry we need your help, the bad army guy says your family can’t stay here if you don’t help and the scientist who figures out what’s going on is tasked with going with a team of seals/commandos/fodder to South Korea to find Patient Zero as they sent a letter with the word “Zombie” in it 14 days ago.

So we arrive in SK and as they are disembarking the plane the scientist who is there to save us all slips and kills himself………

We then learn that Israel has built a giant wall around Jerusalem in 10 days so we head there. Oh, on our way there they are being very quiet sneaking past a killing field of zombies who are asleep or something and Gerry’s wife rings him and causes the death of a team of commandos and we see a nuke being set off over a country.

This leads us to Jerusalem which is the only thing from the book that is anyway intact. But they even manage to fuck this up. We see about 5 helicopters patrolling the wall and area around it. A little girl takes a microphone and starts singing and in turn everyone else starts to sing too. This leads zombies to pile up 200 feet in a cascade type and flood over the wall in the most comical fashion possible. One of the army girls gets bitten by a zombie and in one of the stupidest moves ever, Brad Pitt cuts her arm off with a knife, in one swing, cleanly cut, no blood. She doesn’t pass out; she doesn’t die from loss of blood. She doesn’t scream or pass out.

So now we go to Wales. Yes, to Wales to save the day as that is the closest place to Jerusalem to find a World Health Organisation centre. Just to clarify: there are 194 countries in the WHO and Wales is the closest.

After a fight with zombies on the plane. Gerry throws a grenade at them killing everyone on board except him and the girl….. They crash in the Welsh mountains and make it to the WHO after going through a town that has been untouched by zombies. We then go back to his wife who after finding out her husband is dead as they have not been able to contact him for less than 48 hours kick her and the kids off the refugee ship. Now from Israel onwards they reshot the ending which is rumoured to have brought the budget up to half a billion! So we get to the CDC sorry not “the Walking Dead”. WHO which are full of one half unaffected people and the other zombies. Now, we have also seen a homeless man not moving, an old man being still and a kid who hides at the oncoming zombie horde by crouching down and covering his eyes all bypassed by zombies. Holy shit, the zombies like a T-Rex have their vision based on movement?!

Nope, they don’t go after sick people. So let’s infect every healthy person with a strain of disease. Seems logical and the end.

Let that sink in. Infect the unaffected with horrible diseases…. GENIUS.

 

Second Half Review
I’m not sure how to begin this. I have a sort of “love/hate” relationship with the zombie genre. When it’s done right, it encompasses some of my favourite stories. When it’s done poorly, it’s not only terrible, but horrifically fake. To me, one of the best examples of the zombie genre is the book “World War Z”. I read it and was completely engrossed in it. It pulls me in every single time I read it.
When I heard that there was going to be a movie of this, I was delighted. I hoped it was going to be like a documentary or some such. When I heard that it was going to be done by Brad Pitt’s company I was even more delighted. I didn’t put too much stock in the leaked script which came out a few years back. When I saw the trailers for this movie, I was gutted. Fast zombies, tidal waves of bodies, generic generic generic. But then, there was a glimmer of light. Rumours trickled online of decent zombie still, even though it bore no resemblance to the original source material. So it was with this mindset that I headed to the cinema with.
Sigh.
What an absolute joke. This movie beyond awful. Bland characters with little to no story with a threat thats not a threat. A resolution that is just… urgh. Brad Pitt is an ex- UN investigator. (of what we never find out). He has two daughters and a wife that have no purpose at all in the movie beyond the end scene. Brad Pitt’s character could literally have been ANY OTHER GUY in the world, and they would have achieved the same as him. There was no reason at all for him to be a “UN guy” except that’s how he gets on the boat.
There are massive gaps in the continuity. Traffic choked city streets are shown, and bridges been blockaded but yet Brad Pitt and his family manage to get out of the city and across several states before morning. His wife, accustomed to Brad doing “investigating” for the UN, calls him during a pivotal mission, getting numerous people killed. Even though Israel is in a self declared state of quarantine, they still allow flights in and out of the country.
The actors honestly come across as people who could not be bothered. Brad Pitt appears to be only in this because if he wasn’t, nobody would go see this. The children were completely unnecessary except as a driving impulse for Brad Pitt to do things.
Of course, there are more examples than that, but I don’t think my blood pressure would allow me to write about them, because, more than anything, this movie made me so angry. It was golden opportunity to do something different, something interesting. But all we get is some generic, SHIT zombie movie.
Bad. Bad. Bad.

First Half TLDR – It’s a fucking mess. Avoid.

Second Half TL:DR – Not even worth seeing if it was the last movie in the world.

 

The Hunger Games (2012)

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Synopsis

Katniss Everdeen takes her sister’s place for a televised battle to the death, in which she must battle against other teenagers to stay alive and for the glory of her District.

The First Half

“Battle Royal lite” is what I was thinking of going into this after hearing about how awesome the book was and seeing Jennifer Lawrence becoming Queen of the Internet, I went in open minded but not expecting much.
So I was surprised to find that it was good. The main cast were more than adequate and it was darker than I thought it would be. Being an American blockbuster I was expecting a lot of hand holding; they didn’t kill that kid, Americans never kill HOLY SHIT THEY KILLED A KID WHAT THE FUCK!?

It will be interesting to see where the sequel goes now. I thought it was solid enough as a standalone. They could have shown a bit more about the backstory of the universe it’s set in and how people are rebelling. It seems that people are more than happy to let the government role over them and let them starve and send their kids to fight to the death. In saying that’s unrealistic, Pol Pot and Kim Jong Il all show that this could happen and hey, us Irish are not known to stand up to Government policies so could this happen here….

Wait where was I? Ah yes, Characters. Lawrence and the other guy were solid. Woody Harrelson is awesome as always. Lenny Kravitz plays a fashion …person which was odd. I found they dreadfully underused Donald Sutherland though.

Overall, though the good outweighs the bad.

The Second Half

Ah, The Hunger Games. I was recommended this series of books after complaining to a friend that I really missed having a series to get my teeth into. I had just recently re-read the Harry Potter series and was having a lot of withdrawals. I remember reading the whole Hunger Games trilogy in an afternoon, so hardly taxing, but enjoyable all the same. I thought the first was awesome and the second and third totally unmemorable. But, on to the movie.

The movie is set in Panem, a futuristic view of our own world, in which the continental United States has been divided into Districts around a central capital city. Each District has its own unique exports and depending on how valuable they are, it determines how wealthy the District is. Unfortunately for Katniss (played awesomely by the ever gorgeous and dorky, Jennifer Lawrence), her District’s export is coal. A dangerous and thankless export, in which people die to produce.

Katniss’ life is far from ideal, and she is the main carer for her younger sister, Prim. Katniss’ mother is inept as a parent ever since her husband died, and Katniss has to provide food for the family. She does this by poaching with her good friend, Gale. On top of this, every year “The Hunger Games” takes place, in which two representatives from each District have to fight to survive. It has some deeper meaning in which its the Capital’s constant reminder that the Districts’ loss at a long over rebellion has not been forgotten. When Katniss’ younger sister’s name is called out, Katniss volunteers in her place.

Possibly my favourite part of this entire movie is the world in which it is set. I feel that they really nailed the oppressive world of Panem. The contrasts between Katniss’ poverty stricken home District and the utter opulence of the Capital was impressively done. It’s not overly obvious, but its the subtly of it that makes the contrast so vivid.

The actors did a fine job of bringing the characters of Suzanne Collins to life. To me, Jennifer Lawrence stole the show. I really look forward to seeing how she moves on from this movie, and her current mantle of Internet Darling.

The problem I have with the whole Hunger Games series, be it books or movies, is that I felt that that the second and third books were unnecessary and I wonder if this will translate to the movies. I felt that the books just pulled on threads that were minute and ended up stretching the whole story thin. But maybe the next movie might prove me wrong.

 

First Half TL: DR – SHE’S ON FIRE

Second Half TL: DR – Battle Royale with Americans and Lenny Kravitz