Monthly Archives: April 2015

Fast and Furious 7

There isn’t many franchises where you can say it gets better after the 5th movie. But having The Fast and Furious series move away from drag racing (yawn) to heist action was a smart move, as well as making the films more of an ensemble with characters from the previous 4 movies brought back as a super team. But after the successful results of 5 and 6 can Fast and Furious 7 match up?

Following on from the events of the previous installments Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) swears revenge on the fast and furious crew on behalf of his comatose brother Owen Shaw. And when Deckard takes down one of their own the gang realise he’s not making idle threats. But to find Deckard they need to work with a covert ops team (headed by Kurt Russell) to rescue a mysterious hacker Ramsey from a terrorist.

Like the last two films this is a fun movie with plenty of excitement and action, a lot of it ridiculous – particularly the stuff in Abu Dhabi – but that’s always been the appeal of these movies. As long as it’s done spectacularly who cares about the laws of physics or logic. The fight scenes are also cool, especially the opening one with Dwayne Johnson against Jason Statham, and Michelle Rodriguez’s fight in Abu Dhabi. Its great having the cast back together especially now in their 7th film as everyone knows their role by now and play to their strengths.

On the downside, I couldn’t care less about Ramsay and the God’s Eye McGuffin. Kurt Russell was a bit wasted and I would have liked more of Dwayne Johnson (although the scenes he wer in were awesome). Statham and Vin Diesel’s fight scenes, while well staged, get a bit repetitive as they constantly fail to kill each other three or four times.

Then there’s the ending. After Paul Walker’s death in 2013 halfway through filming I was wondering how they would end his character Brian’s story. A mixture of CGI and using Walker’s brothers as stand ins helped to complete the movie. What they have come up with is a touching tribute to Paul Walker. It was the right way to end Brian’s story. The song that played at the end was powerful and heartfelt. I couldn’t help but cry at it all.

Rating 3.5/5 – Overall it’s not quite as good as 5 and 6, but Fast and Furious 7 is a good movie, and a worthy tribute to Paul Walker

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Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 3: High Sparrow

After a slow start to the season things are finally moving along with a few shocks in store for the audience.

In King’s Landing Tommen and Margery wed and Tommen manages to avoid the curse of Margery’s previous husbands as they consumate the marriage. Poor Tommen has no idea what he’s got himself into – not that he is complaining – as he’s completely besotted with Margery and doesn’t realise she is manipulating him into sending his mother away. I love Margery, she is one of my favourite characters, i love her shameless ambition. But surely Tommen can’t be long for this world, and what will happen to Margery then? Unless she can produce an heir she may not be queen for long. Margery’s scene with Cersei was brilliant and now that Margery is Queen, Cersei’s position at King’s Landing is in doubt.

She may have made some new alias as we’re introduced to more members of the Sparrows and it’s leader the High Sparrow. He seems to be interested in helping the poor but can we really take him at face value? Everyone is always hiding something in this world.

Arya meanwhile has to learn to lose herself if she wants to stay in Braavos. She is told by Jaqen that she must learn to serve but Arya only wants to serve herself. In an attempt to prove herself she throws away all of her belongings however she is unable to let needle go, and hides her sword away. I think this is a good choice. She will no doubt be in need of it sometime in the future.

While Arya loses herself, Sansa is grabbing back her identity. She returns to Winterfell and as part of Littlefinger’s plan, is due to marry Ramsey! Poor Sansa, her terror when Littlefinger told her she was to marry the son of the man who betrayed her family was really well portrayed. However she eventually regains her composure and listens to Littlefinger words of revenge. She enters Winterfell and turns her steely gaze into a charming smile, which recalls her time with Joffrey when she had to hide her disgust with a smile. If she was to plan a revolt against the Boltons it would seem there is still support at Winterfell as one woman tells her “The North Remembers”. Still Sansa and Littlefinger don’t know the real Ramsey yet (who now flays people and leaves their skin about – gross) and are yet to see Theon/Reek. It will be interesting to see what will happen when those paths cross. Theon/Reek is avoiding Sansa at the moment but he won’t be able to for long.

Brienne and Pod are still following Sansa and the two bond as Brienne appologises for being so short with him. She also reveals how she ended up so devoted to Renly as she recounts being humiliated at a party until Renly saved her. Brienne is truly heartbreaking in this scene and I love Pod interupting to make sure Brienne was aware that Renly was gay (she did). I wouldn’t like to be Stannis when Brienne catches up with him.

Following on from last week’s vote Jon Snow is the Lord Commander of the Watch, and is already showing that he means business. He declines Stannis offer of a lordship and to go to Winterfell (if only he knew Sansa was there!) Later he wisely placats Ser Alliser by naming him First Ranger. However Janos Slynt is not prepared to follow orders and when he insults Jon the latter responds my cutting his head off! And being a Stark he naturally wields the sword himself.

Lastly Tryion pursades Varys to go to a brothel where, to his own surprise Tyrion finds he is unable to have sex with a whore. Instead he is kidnapped by Jorah Mormont who promises to take him to the queen! I presume he means Daeneys, but no doubt Tyrion will be afraid he’ll be headed back to Westros. I shouldn’t have been surprised to find Jorath hanging out a place where they have a Daenerys look alike as one of the whores! But will bringing Tyrion to Daeneys mean he’ll come back into the fold?

Although no Daeneys or the city of Dorne this episode, there was plenty of exciting developments. A strong episode which will hopefully continue next week.

What did you think of the latest episode? Let me know in the comments below.

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YA Love Magazine

Time for a bit of shameless self-promotion here. As I quickly mentioned in one of my posts last week I’ve recently started contributing at YA Love Magazine, it’s an online magazine focusing on the YA genre, mostly books but also tv and films. I have a weekly Monday post so if you fancy a look here’s my latest review:

http://yalovemag.com/book-reviews/clockwork-angel-by-cassandra-clare2642015

And here’s my profile and link to my reviews:

http://yalovemag.com/lauren-wills

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The Town That Dreaded Sundown

I did not know much about this film before I went to see it. I knew it was a slasher horror and some kind of remake/sequel to a 1970s film of the same name. That was about it. But sometimes it’s nice to see something where you have no expectations of. And I thought the name sounded cool.

In the town of Texarkana during the annual showing of the 1976 film The Town That Dreaded Sundown (based on actual murders that happened in Texarkana in the 1940s), teenagers Jami ( Addison Timlin) and Corey (Spencer Treat Clark) sneak off to a secluded area to make out. However they are interrupted by a figure known as the Phantom who kills Corey and Jami is left alive to deliver a message to the town “This is for Mary. Make them remember.” As the attacks continue the town of Texarkana are sent into a state of tension and suspicion.

While technically billed as a horror/slasher movie the film is also a meta-sequel making references to the 1970’s movie and to a spree of killings in the 1940s in which the killer was never discovered. It makes for an interesting mix and helps the movie stand out from all the other generic horrors out there. So it may disappoint those who are looking for a more standard slasher movie but may interest those looking for something a dit different. The film also looks great and is well-directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.

There was a good amount of gore for a 15 certificate film. A few things made me squirm and there was some inventive deaths which should please horror fans. Though I think the film could have been more scarier overall which ultimately stops the film from being rated more highly. The film also falls foul to some horror movie clichés such as people walking around alone at night and sneaking off to have sex when they know that there’s a killer on the loose that specifically targets people having sex! Seriously you think that would put some people off but instead it seems to make everyone in town hornier than ever.

While Addison Timlin is a sympathetic lead with a tragic background, some of the supporting cast could have been padded out a bit more. Characters like the Texas ranger ‘Lone Wolf’ Morales (Anthony Anderson) and Reverend Cartwright (Edward Kirk Herrmann) could have done with more development. Still this a fun little movie that enjoys being a bit different.

Rating 3/5 – a few more scares are needed but an enjoyable meta-horror all the same

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Game of Thrones Season Five Episode 2: The House of Black and White

Another episode down! And we finally get to see Arya and Dorne!

Cersei is worried about her daughter Myrcella after a veiled threat appears -a small viper statue with Myrcella necklace in its fangs, which results in Jamie stepping up to bring his daughter home with a little help from everyone favourite hired swordhand. I was worried that Bronn going to get married would mean it was the last we would see of him, happily this is not the case. But will their journey be successful? It would be an interesting twist if Myrcella had switched sides to Dorne and be against the Lannisters. Doubtful but then you never know what can happen in this show.

Although she under the protection of the Martell’s, Myrcella does have enemies in Dorne with Ellaria Sand wanting revenge for Oberyn’s death (still think it’s a shame he was killed off). She wants Myrcella’s head on a plate but Doran Martell rebuffs her plans. I love a good power struggle and though our visit to Dorne was brief in this episode there look like there will be plenty of conflict to come!

At The Wall Jon Snow is offered to be named the Lord of Winterfell and a legitimate Stark if he kneels before Stannis. But Jon – a true Stark even if not by name – does the nobel thing and sticks to his vows as a man of the Night’s Watch. But due to Sam’s strong words to his fellow-men Jon is voted the Lord Commander! And we actually saw Jon smile! Miracles can happen. It was great to see something good happen to Jon Snow for once and I was proud of Sam and how confidently he spoke up for Jon. But there’s bound to be trouble ahead, maybe enough to make Jon regret being made Lord Commander.

In the Vale Brienne and Podrick finally meet Sansa! Unfortunately Littlefinger’s meddling (and Brienne’s admittedly bad luck with the people she previously sworn to protect) means Sansa refuses Brienne’s help. First Arya, now Sansa, no one wants Brienne. But luckily Brienne has a new-found determination and she resolves to follow Sansa for when she eventually realises she can’t trust Littlefinger. Hopefully Brienne’s plan will work, but seeing as nothing has so far I’m not too sure it will.

In Braavos Arya finally gets to her destination and arrive at the House of Black and White…only to be turned away. Oh dear! But then later the man who turned her away is revealed to be the man she was looking for all along – Jaqen H’ghar! I’m not really sure why he didn’t let her inside in the first place but still it was a cool reveal.

Only a short bit of Tyrion and Varys this week sadly but they are still great as ever. Their conversation about how they are considered freaks and will never be accepted was so sad and so well acted. There was a good bit of black humour when Tyrion joked that they can’t kill every dwarf just to find him – cut to Cersei being delivered a dwarf’s head from some men looking for payment. Cersei herself is having problems among the King’s council as she is delivering orders while Tomen is elsewhere, leading to her uncle Kevan leaving until he heard directly from Tomen. Although she’s cunning, Cersei isn’t as smart as she thinks she is and it’s bound to cost her dearly.

In Meereen, Daario and Grey worm capture a member of the Son of the Harpy leading to much debate over how to deal with him. After hearing some home truths from Ser Barristan about the Mad King’s actions Dany decideds on a fair trial rather than immediate death like she normally would. However one of her council members Mossador kills him first. Dany then decides to publicly execute Mossador. Its heartbreaking hearing Mossador plead for his life because he obviously believed he was doing was to protect Dany. Although I can see why Dany had to kill him, I’m not sure it’s the best move considering the riot that broke out afterwards, has Dany lost the people of Meereen?

An enjoyable episode. Still a bit light on action and developement in some areas, but still engaging all the same. I think now that the main characters have all been established they can now move the plot along further. And most importantly of all Drogon the dragon made an appearance! Everything is better with dragons!

So what did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

On another note I am now a regular contributor to YA Love Magazine, an online magazine about Young Adult books, movies and TV. My first article went online today so if you fancy a look or want to drop me a comment here’s the link http://yalovemag.com/book-reviews/divergent-trilogy

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Violet and Daisy (2011)

Oh to be a teenager again. Spending your days hanging out with friends, shopping and er killing people for hire?

Violet (Alexis Bledel) and Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) are teenage assassins who accept what they think will be an easy job so they can buy some expensive dresses. However their target (James Gandolfini) is not what they’re expected and they have a hard time pulling the trigger.

This crime drama/comedy is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s got three good leads in Bledel, Ronan and Gandolfini but only Gandolfini’s mysterious loner is given much depth as the girls get to more know about him as they struggle to kill him. We are only hinted at the back story for Violet and Daisy and some further light on their backgrounds would have been welcomed. The same goes for the organisation they work for, who are they and how exactly were these girls recruited?

The tone of this movie is a bit uneven with the drama and comedy not always mixing well together. At times the film seems to want to say something deeper about these characters or their lives while other times the movie goes into broad humour that doesn’t always sit well with what’s just happened. Splitting the movie into chapters suggests that the film wants to be cooler than it actually is, while subplots about Daisy’s predecessor and Violet ending up in the middle of a robbery are brought up then frustratingly dropped again.

But the for all its flaws the film is easy watching and mildly enjoyable if you’re watching for free.The girls convincingly look like teenagers (even if Bledel was 29 at the time she still looks as young as when she was in Gilmore Girls) and I liked how the girls weren’t overly sexualized like other films would have done. The relationships between the three characters were good and its brief running time means it doesn’t out stay it’s welcome.

Rating 2.5/5 – frivolous and lacks a distinct style despite having a solid cast

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Game of Throne Season 5 Episode 1: The Wars to Come

It felt like we had been through a long winter waiting for Game of Thrones to come back on our screens. Now that it’s returned was it worth the wait?

In my opinion yes. It is a slow episode, more setting up the stories for the season rather than starting with a bang, although we did get someone being burnt alive at the end so that’s enough excitement for a season premier.

So we began the episode with a flashback to a young Cersei having her future read by a witch. She tells her she will marry a King and have three children although not with the King. She also says that her children will wear golden crowns and golden shrouds and her downfall will be a younger woman. So this doesn’t look good for Cersei’s remaining two children Toman and Marcella. And who is the younger woman? From the looks of it Cersei has her suspicions set firmly on Margery but could it be Sansa or Daenerys that will rise up against her? Cersei has been riding high for too long and I think this season may serve as her comeuppance. It’s just a question of how and by whom?

Meanwhile Tyrion is drowning his sorrows across the narrow sea in Pentos and giving us too much information on how he went to the bathroom while being stuck inside a crate on his journey. His scenes with Varys are full of humour and also reveal what Varys plans are. He wants Tyrion to team up with Daenerys! While this would be an excellent idea I’m not sure it will be so easy. After all his brother Jamie killed her family so she might not be so willing to work with a Lannister. However if she can get over this and work with Tyrion I think they would be a formidable and powerful team.

Daenerys could certainly use the counsel, having let her right hand man go last season she has no one to guide her properly in making decision in Meereen and with a killer on the loose she needs all the help she can get. I’m not sure if Daario will give her the best advise so I think Daenerys could be in for a rough ride this season.

On the Wall Jon Snow is trying to train new recruits while also being caught in the middle of Stannis and Mace. I have to admit while I love most of the characters on the show, or at least love to hate, I find Stannis and his Sorceress completely dull. At least their presence at the Wall pushes along the plot and Mace refusing to bend the knee to Stannis adds real drama. He also receives a gruesome punishment by being burnt alive while everyone watches on. I almost cheered when Jon Snow finally put an end to Mace’s misery and shot him with an arrow, although I’m not sure if it will go down all that well with Stannis.

I was disappointed we didn’t get to see Arya or the southern region of Dorne in the opening episode and it was frustrating to see Sansa and Brienne miss each other. So close! But overall it was an interesting episode full of promise over what’s to come this season. I can’t wait for next week!

 So what did you think of the First episode of season 5, was it a hit or a miss? Let me know in the comments what you think?

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Woman in Gold

When a film has the words “based on a true story” attached to them it sometimes fills me with dread. Instead of being an interesting tale of real life adversity it can occasionally end up being a boring and not all that accurate story. Woman in Gold is-unsurprisingly-based on a true story, but is it one that deserved to be told?

In the 1990s Maria Ultman (Helen Mirren) an elderly Jewish refugee from Austria asks Randol Schoenberg, the lawyer son of a family friend to help reclaim a painting of her aunt stolen by the Nazis. However this process proves difficult as the painting in question is the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I -the Woman in Gold- by the artist Gustav Klimt, which is currently being held by the Austrian State Gallery. To get the painting back Maria and Randol face a long and obstructive court battle which may prove costly and fruitless.

I was worried this would be a ‘worthy’ and dull true life story, but from the beginning I was completely enthralled with the Woman in Gold. It helps that the true story around it is fascinating and has been brought to life admirably by director Simon Vurtis and screenwriter Alexi Kaye Campbell.This is a movie about justice and accountability. How the Jewish citizens in Austria not only had their lives destroyed by the Nazis but their treasured possessions-their music, their paintings- taken away too and still kept from them after the war was long over.

The lead actors both give strong performances. Mirren’s Maria is determined yet haunted by the past, while Reynold’s convinces as the young lawyer who becomes more and more emotionally invested in the case as it progresses. Mirren and Reynolds initially seem like an odd pairing but they work great against each other and you really felt the growing friendship and respect between their characters.

While I expected to learn more about the ‘woman in gold’ herself the focus instead is on a younger Maria (the excellent Tatiana Maslany from TV’s Orphan Black) and her family after Adele’s death, told in flashback during the Nazi invasion of Austria. These flashback add insight and the reasoning of why Maria wants to fight for the painting so much and the scenes with Maria’s family trying to survive the Nazi occupation is fraught with tension.

Some may not find a court case about a painting riveting, and there are moments when the story falters such as whenever Maria has doubts over continuing with case, but I found this to be an engrossing and insightful movie that I hope finds an audience.

Rating 4/5 – a thoughtful film about justice with good performances from Mirren and Reynolds

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The Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile

A big thank you to Alex Raphael for nominating me for the Versatile Blooger Award. Please check out his amazing blog. It’s took me a while to accept and write a post following the rules of the award but here we are at last!

As part of the award, I have to say 10 things about me and nominate 15 other cool bloggers.

Here are the 10 things about me:
1. I have started reading A Song of Ice and Fire series and currently half way through A Clash of Kings.
2. I’m glad I watched the Game of Thrones TV series first as I probably wouldn’t have been able to remember who all the characters in the books are and remember who is related to who and who is deceiving who etc.
3. Thanks to my lovely, generous parents adding me to their SkyGo account I can watch Game of Thrones season 5 when it starts next week, which means I don’t have to worry about spoilers on the internet!
4. I like reading Young Adult novels and don’t understand why some people can be a bit snobby about them. It’s just like any other genre, some are really good (The Hunger Games) and some…not so much (sorry any Twilight fans out there but they are not my thing).
5. This year I’m heading back to Las Vegas and am so excited!
6. I have recurring dreams where I am back at school and haven’t studied all years for my exams and I’m really confused because I can’t understand why I wouldn’t have studied.
7. I’ve also had dreams where I’m driving yet I know I don’t have a driver’s license and can’t remember why I’ve decided to go for a drive.
8. As well as reading A Clash of Kings I’m also reading Lamentation (The Shardlake Series) by C. J. Sansom.
9. I’m loving James Cordon as the new host of The Late Late Show on CBS.
10. The snooze button should never have been invented as I’m terrible at getting up early and it’s all too easy for me to just press snooze continuously and go back to sleep, then complain because I never have enough time to get ready in the mornings.

Here are the 15 nominated bloggers. Please have a look on their blogs.

Big City Bookworm

Flashback/Backslide

54 Disney Reviews

RobbinsRealm

Tim’s Film Reviews

Sidekick Reviews

pickoftheflix

4 Star Films

Back to the Viewer

Heena Rathore P

Hypersonic55’sRealm ofReviews and Other Stuff

Dan The Man’s Movie Reviews

Film Grimoire

filmnerdblog

Return to the 80s

Let me know if any of the links aren’t working,I’m not very technically minded!

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Cinderella

I admit I have a soft spot for fairy tales, Disney and Disney Princesses. Following the recent foray into re-working classic fairy tales with films such as Maleficent and Into The Woods, we now get a more traditional story in the form of Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella. But can a modern audience be captured by the magic of an overly familiar tale?

Ella (Lily James) is a young, beautiful and kind girl who lives with her father. Years after her mother passed away her father decides to remarry. Unfortunately the woman he chooses to marry, Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett) treats Ella badly and encourages Ella’s stepsisters Drizella (Sophie McShera) and Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) to do the same. After her father dies her Stepmother’s behavior worsens. After a ball is arranged at the castle in hopes of finding Prince “Kit” Charming (Richard Madden) a wife, Ella hopes she may be able to attend. But with her wicked stepmother and stepsisters in the way, can Cinderella find a way to go to the ball?

So the big twist with this version of Cinderella is that there is no big twist. There’s no knowing winks to the audience, no post-modern take on events, no cynical asides. It’s actually refreshing to see a fairy tale be told straight and feel sincere instead of feeling like everyone is making fun of the story. The beginning starts off rather slow as we meet Ella’s nauseatingly happy parent. But as soon as tragedy strikes the film soon picks up.

It helps that the film is handsomely made by Kenneth Branagh and the film looks lovely on every level. The costumes, in particular the ones worn by Blanchett are gorgeous. Branagh has also cast the film well with Blanchett stealing most of the scenes as the evil Stepmother. Her daughters also provide great comic relief with their hideous personality and fashion sense. Branagh also has a likeable Ella in Lily James. James’ Ella is kind, likeable and amusingly odd in places-such as when she speaks to animals as though they can understand each other. Ok Fairy Tales aren’t known for their great Feminism values but Ella does gets moments where she quietly defies her stepmother and stands up for what’s right, even if it means sacrificing what she truly wants. Her romance with Madden’s “Kit”, who in this version she meets before the ball, is also rather sweet.

Yes it is ridiculous that they love each other after meeting only once, but as “Kit” later says to his father it’s no more ridiculous than him being expected to pick a bride he’s met for the first time at the ball. And no more ridiculous than a pumpkin and mice being transformed into a carriage and horses. Sometimes you just have to go with the ridiculous, and the magic of a good old fairy tale.

Rating 4/5 – a fine family fairy tale with warmth and humour

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