Monthly Archives: May 2015

May Round Up: YA Love Magazine

As I mentioned a while back I’ve started contributing to YA Love Magazine. Below is my articles from May 2015 if you fancy taking a look…

How I Live Now

May 04, 2015

There’s nothing like a bit of nuclear war to break up young romance is there?

Based on the book by the same name by Meg Rosoff, How I Live Now focuses on American teenager Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) who is forced to stay with her cousins in the English Countryside. Initially hostile and dismissive of her cousins she soon starts to bond with them, especially the oldest cousin Eddie (George MacKay). However when terrorists detonate a nuclear bomb in London the cousins are thrust into a new world, one which threatens to keep them apart from each other…

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Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Cassandra Clare is hot property right now, with her successful book series The Mortal Instruments being made into a TV series called Shadowhunters (which will hopefully erase the woeful movie from our minds).  Now I’m reading the second in her prequel series The Infernal Devices

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I Am Number Four (2011)

May 23, 2015
It’s difficult to try and predict which Young Adult novel series will work as a Movie adaptation. Back in 2011 movie bosses were hoping for the next Twilight with this big screen version of I Am Number Four.
John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) is no ordinary teenager. He isn’t even human. He’s from the planet Lorien sent to Earth as a child along with eight other children and their guardians after Lorien was destroyed by invaders called Mogadorians. Now they are searching for the nine children and hunting them in order…

Has Netflix delivered its first hit YA show with Between?

Has Netflix delivered its first hit YA show with Between?

Netflix has been behind some of the most popular TV shows of the past few years; with hits like Orange is the New BlackHouse of Cards and Daredevil proving popular with viewers and critics alike. Now, Netflix now have their own YA/Sci-fi show Between, co-produced and financed with Canadian network City. With new episodes of Between broadcasted every week on Netflix, will Between become the new TV sensation?…

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Pitch Perfect 2

What’s up Pitches! Yes the sequel to the hit 2012 Pitch Perfect is here for new musical adventures in the world of competitive a capella (who knew that a thing?). But while the original was a hilarious offering will the follow-up stay on key?

When the Barden Bellas, now led by Beca (Anna Kendrick), are humiliated at a performance for President Obama’s birthday they are suspended from a capella competitions and performances. Taking advantage of a loophole the Bellas plan to regain their status by winning the a capella world tournament. The only problem is no American team has ever won. Further problems arise when the group struggle with their confidence, worry over life after graduation and bickering starts between the group. Can they pull themselves together to win the title?

I loved Pitch Perfect, I still find it funny having watched it several times. While Pitch Perfect 2 is far from a dud it also doesn’t come close to the original. It’s a shame to say that the movie just isn’t as funny as I hoped it would be. It has its moments and some scenes are still fun but the jokes don’t come as thick and fast as they did before. Similarly the music isn’t fresh or catchy as before. Some choices seem predictable (Beyonce’s Run The World (Girls) for example), and the ‘original’ song Flashlight (aka Jessie J’s song for the movie) isn’t that memorable. The villains for the movie are also a let down. Their German a capella rivals Das Sound Machine are just stereotypes and not particularly funny ones at that.

It probably didn’t help that I re-watched the first movie just a week before seeing the sequel. So maybe I’m being a bit unfair comparing it so closely. It’s a shame we get less of Beca’s boyfriend Jesse (Skylar Astin), a love interest that was both cute and funny, and also less of Treblemakers who I love. But I understand that the film wanted to focus on the Bellas and female friendship, a move which I applaud as it’s about time women got more screen time in comedy. The Bellas are still a loveable bunch as ever, with Rebel Wilson’s Fat Amy again stealing most scenes she’s in. Newcomer Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) is also a bright addition as the optimistic and bubbly freshman who joins the Bellas. Her romance with Trebles member Benji (Ben Platt) is also quite sweet.

The opening scene with Fat Amy’s ‘wardrobe malfunction’ is still funny even after seeing it plenty of times in the trailer. Their scenes at a retreat are also hilarious and has some good female bonding as well. Also we get to see what Aubrey has been up to since she left the Bellas. Plus bringing Bumper (Adam DeVine) and teaming him up with Fat Amy was also a good move.

Ok so it’s not as laugh out loud funny as the original, but thankfully the movie still has enough good points that means it deserves to be the masisve hit that it is. But maybe next time they can leave out Beca’s boring internship please!

Rating 3/5 – while it may not hit the high notes of Pitch Perfect this sequel is still a feel good, Friday night movie

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Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 7: The Gift

So has everyone calmed down now after last week? It seemed the internet was full of debate about Sansa’s treatment in the previous episode. So has anything improved for Sansa?

Sadly not. Sansa is now locked in her room, and visited by Ramsey at night. We can tell by the bruises on her arm that he hasn’t been any nicer to her. Still Sansa hasn’t completely broken. She tries to get Reek to remember who he really is and to help her. Inevitably though he reveals all to Ramsey and poor Sansa is left with very few allies. I noticed she also picked something up while she was walking with Ramsey, I didn’t see what it was but hopefully ti’s something she can use as a weapon later-preferably against Ramsey, although I’m losing my patience with Reek/Theon so it wouldn’t be too bad if she killed him too. After he’s mentioned about her brothers of course.

Speaking of Sansa’s brothers, Jon Snow has now set off with the Wildings and some rangers. I’m not sure he’ll have many friends when he returns as his plan to help the Wildings is still as unpopular as ever. Then there’s also the death of Maester Aemon, which is very sad and also very sudden. Did we know he was ill previously or did it all just happen in this episode? Before he dies he tells Gilly that she should take Little Sam and run. It seems like good advise as she’s later attacked by two of the Nights Watch. Sam bravely tries to step in but he’s badly beaten and both of them are only saved by a well-timed appearance by Jon’s direwolf Ghost (speaking of which why isn’t Ghost with Jon? Do direwolfs hate the sea?). At least after all this Sam and Gilly finally get together. But this is Game of Thrones so nice things can’t last. Gilly is probably going to die and Sam will have to run away with baby Sam.

Meanwhile Stannis is near Winterfell but his camp is struggling with the snow. Melisandre comes up with a plan for Stannis to be victorious and it’s exactly as I feared, she wants to sacrifice his daughter Shireen! Luckily Stannis remembers that he’s now a good father and refuses to do so. Whats the chances of Stannis’ wife attempting to kill Shireen instead? She better not! Hopefully Stannis and Davos will put a stop to it. It’s surprising how much I’ve warmed to Stannis this season. Although I haven’t forgotten about Stannis killing Renly and draining blood from his nephew Gendry.

Over in Dorne, Jamie is held prisoner, in a rather lovely room, where his daughter/niece Myrcella visits him. Not surprisingly she still doesn’t want to go back to King’s Landing (and she hasn’t even heard whats been going on with her mother and the Sparrows yet-more on that later). I don’t blame Myrcella for not rushing away with her uncle, from her perspective she was sent to Dorne against her will, why should she rush back now she’s actually happy and planning to marry? It probably will go badly for her anyway but still I respect her decision. In the cells Bronn gets better acquainted with the Sand Snakes, especially Tyene. It’s a scene that’s basically there just to show some nudity. Which is standard Game of Thrones then. Oh and as some viewers suspected, Bronn was poisoned by Tyene’s spear, which causes some tension….until she hands an antidote over to him a few seconds later. It was all over a bit quickly really, so much for dramatic tension. Still I’m happy Bronn is alive for a little bit longer.

In King’s Landing Cersei is being even more smug than usual. Pretending to poor, distraught Tommen that she’s trying to help Margery then taunting the poor girl in her cell. Margery finally tells Cersei what she thinks of her and her ‘generosity’. I really, really hope Margery makes it out of this alive. And if she does maybe she should put her quest to become Queen on hold, it hasn’t brought her much luck has it? Then again knowing Margery she’ll probably make a beeline for Stannis. Her grandmother Olenna tries making a deal with the High Sparrow to no avail. He and the sparrows are really getting on my nerves now so I hope someone brings them down. But that’s unlikely to happen just yet. Later Olenna and Littlefinger are plotting together and Littlefinger promises her that he has a boy who will help her. Who is it he’s talking about? At first I thought Lancel but I can’t see them working together so who does he mean? Young Robin Arryn, Gendry, the long lost Rickon Stark? Basically I have no idea.

Anyway Cersei’s plan finally backfires. In a twist EVERYBODY saw coming apart from Cersei, the High Sparrow turns against her and she is thrown into the cells. Was Cersei this dumb in the books, because it’s a bit difficult to believe she could be that stupid as to trust the Sparrows. Then again I’m guessing the flashback in the first episode was to show us how blinded Cersei would be against Margery that she wouldn’t see the real threat against her.

Last but not least we’re across the Narrow Sea and Daario wants Danerys to mary him rather than…blah, blah, blah. Who cares because Tyrion and Danerys meet face to face! I thought this would take much longer to happen so I’m rather glad they didn’t drag this out too long. Although she did not look too happy to see him or Jorah. And why would she? Tryion’s brother killed her family and Jorah was spying on her for the Lannisters. Still she should make us all happy and get over it soon so we can have Tyrion bluntly telling her everything she’s doing wrong with ruling Meereen!

Overall an enjoyable episode that had plenty of things happening and moved the plot along nicely. Roll on the last three episodes!

What did you think of this episode? Are you still annoyed over last week’s controversal episode? Let me know in the comments below.

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The Age of Adaline

Who wants to live forever hey? To be young and beautiful. Of course there’s the fact that everyone around you ages and then dies. Which is a bit of a drawback. In this movie eternal youth is one woman’s fate, but does this tale grow old quickly?

Adaline (Blake Lively) was an ordinary young woman, until she is struck by lightning in a car accident and finds herself never aging a day. However when this arouses suspicions from the authorities Adaline is forced to abandon her life and go on the run, always hiding who she really is. Then she meets Ellis (Michiel Huisman), and she starts to wonder if it’s time to stop running. But how can she have a real relationship when she can’t reveal who she really is, and that she will long outlive him?

The Age of Adaline is a charming movie that gorgeously shot. Whether it’s the flashbacks of Adaline’s life or her present day affairs, both strands are engaging. Blake Lively is terrific as Adaline and she looks gorgeous in the costumes she wears, giving Adaline the timeless look of someone who has lived through many decades. Lively also handles Adaline’s various relationships well, whether it’s scenes with her daughter, past lovers or her present day romantic interest. The scenes with her now adult daughter Flemming (Ellen Burstyn) pack the most emotional impact, and you really feel the mother daughter dynamic even if Flemming appears old enough to be Adaline’s grandmother.

The flashbacks are also full of tension and heartbreak as Adaline has to leave her old life behind, and you can see why she’s hesitant to start anything new with Ellis. There is some nice chemistry between Lively and Huisman although sometimes Ellis is lacking in real personality.

The film drags a little bit in the middle, and sometimes you feel like Adaline should just tell him her secret (although obviously it’s not an easy subject to bring up). While Adaline meeting Ellis’ family is wonderfully awkward and Harrison Ford is great in those scenes, it’s a shame that a certain twist was spoiled by the trailer. The ending was also wrapped up a bit too easily for my liking. I know it’s premise is a bit incredulous but it did stretch believeabilty a bit too much.

If Lively sticks to roles like this and less like superhero dud Green Lantern then she could have a bright career post TV’s Gossip Girl ahead of her.

Rating 3.5/ 5 – great performances from Lively and Ford bring life to this charming movie

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Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 6: Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

I don’t know how I feel about the latest episode of Game of Thrones. I’m still in a bit of shock. And I think everyone who saw the latest episode knows what I’m talking about.

We’ll deal with that all at the end. Firstly onto slightly lighter fare. Arya is still in the House of Black and White and she’s helped a sick girl to die (I did say slightly lighter). Somehow this means that she is ready to see where the dead bodies go after they are cleaned. It turns out their faces are in some creepy chamber. Lovely. Jaqen then tells Arya that while she is not ready to be “no one” she’s ready to become “someone else”. Ok, glad that’s all cleared up.

Onto less mysterious fare Jamie and Bronn finally get to Myrcella. But (just like I predicted a few episodes back) she doesn’t want to go off with her ‘uncle’ Jamie, in fact she’d rather make out with her betrothed Trystane. It makes a change to see a couple who genuinely care about each other. You don’t see that a lot in this show. Unfortunately Myrcella not only has to deal with the interruption by Jamie but then the Sand Snakes appear and try to kidnap her. The battle between Jamie, Bronn and the Sand Snakes are pretty good. It’s almost a shame that the guards came to save Myrcella when they did, I would have liked to see how it ended. Where does this leave Jamie and Bronn though now? And surely the Sand Snakes and Ellaria won’t let the simple matter of getting arrested stand in their way of revenge?

Meanwhile Jorah and Tyrion make their way on foot to Meereen and someone finally says what I think some fans have been thinking for a while. Why does Daenerys deserve to be ruler of Westeros just because she’s a Targaryen and has three (admittedly very cool) dragons? She doesn’t know anything about Westeros and her father enjoyed burning people alive? It’s nice that the show acknowledges that Daenerys is still a long way from being a suitable ruler of Westeros. Maybe one day perhaps? Anyway Tyrion and Jorah are then kidnapped by Slavers who hope to sell them. Luckily Tyrion’s quick thinking has the Slavers take them to Meereen (yes!) to the fighting pits (boo). Still if anyone can make it out Tyrion can, although considering Jorah’s a dead man walking who know what will happen to him.

Over in King’s Landing Littlefinger tells Cersei that Sansa is at Winterfell, conveniently he leaves out his role in it all. Somehow he manages to convince Cersei to give him Knights to clean up after the inevitable Bolton/Stannis clash. Of course he wants to be made Warden of the North as well. Cersei seems to be making one bad decision after another. She thinks she’s being smart setting up both Margaery and Loras at the High Sparrow’s trial as Tommen and Olenna helplessly look on. Its’ all going to backfire on her I just know it. If the Tyrells don’t turn on her than the Sparrows will. Especially if they can put the Queen on trial I’m sure the King’s mother can, and Cersei has many more skeletons in her closet than Margery. For now it seems as though we’ll be waiting to see how bad the fallout will be before Cersei gets whats coming to her.

Now to the end of the episode. Sansa’s wedding day to Ramsey has arrived and afterwards he rapes her while forcing Reek to look. It’s a difficult scene to watch and you keep hoping Reek will somehow snap out of it and kill Ramsey. Sadly this doesn’t happen. Game of Thrones has never shied away from difficult scenes before (Ned Stark’s death, the Red Wedding) but still this feels a bit exploitive. Maybe once the shock has died down and we’ve seen how the rest of the season will play out I’ll feel differently. However the acting from all three actors were terrific and Ramsey has proved himself a worse villian than Joffrey. Please someone kill him before the end of the season? Sansa really need to light that candle and get Brienne over to finish him off.

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

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Unfriended

A variation on the found-footage genre, this latest horror is set in real-time on the main character’s computer screen. So at least this attempts to offer us something a bit different to a tired and overrun genre. But is it any good?

A year after their classmate Laura committed suicide following online bullying, Blaire (Shelley Hennig) and friends are Skyping each other when they notice an anonymous user under the name billie227 is listening in on their conversations. Their attempts to get rid of the user don’t work, and the user starts writing Facebook messages from Laura’s account. Soon the unknown user starts revealing the groups secrets and it becomes apparent that billie227 wants to hurt everyone involved in Laura’s death.

It’s an interesting concept at the centre of Unfriended, having all the action on one person’s computer. What could have been tedious actually works quite well. The film starts off slow as we are introduced to the main characters, none of who are particularly likeable. Even the victim Laura seems to have been a bully before a vicious video of her was leaked. But this is a film more about the concept than character. It also manages to keep your attention as you try to work out exactly what they did to Laura and what billie227 is planning to do to them. There are some good deaths and scares involved too. There’s some dark humour to help relief some of the tension considering it goes to some dark places with subjects such as teen suicide and bullying.

Some may say the real horrors in the movie is how the characters treated Laura and each other over the internet, with the focus on cyber-bulling. Posting abusive comments and videos on social media is something that has grown over the past couple of years so it’s good to see a film that’s directed mainly at teenagers address this issue. The teens here feel realistic with their actions, believeing they can say whatever they want on the internet and not thinking about the consequences. I don’t expect it will have much effect on it’s intended audience but it’s still good to see a horror film reflecting what teenagers are currently up to (except for the ghost part-probably) and how it has adverse affects on others.

It’s thankfully short enough not to outstay it’s welcome or make it’s format become too gimicky. Sometimes being stuck on the screen does feel limiting although the film tries to show different mediums such as facebook, skype, google and even chatroulette. Unfortunately with having characters so unlikeable it made it hard to care if they lived or died. The constant explaining technology terms to Blaire is also annoying, I know they have to explain certain things to the audience but it was a bit clunky.

Rating 3/5 – a twist on found-footage horror that takes a simple idea and provides some decent scares and food for thought

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Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 5: Kill the Boy

I can’t believe we’re half way through the season already!

Despite the title of the episode no boys were killed during this episode. We’re talking about metaphorical killing here.

First things first – Grey Worm lives! Yah. But Ser Barristan has died. Boo! This puts Daenerys in one hell of a hissy fit and takes all the leaders of the great families of Mareen (including a member of her own council Hizdahr zo Loraqto) to visit her dragons and has one man burnt to a crisp. And she doesn’t even know if he’s guilty of working with the Sons of Harpy! I was starting to wonder if Daenerys’ council was cursed but she later decides after some contemplating that she would spare Hizdahr. She tells him she will agree to open the fighting pits and she will attempt to give peace to Mareen by marry Hizdahr. He’s either going to be the happiest guy alive marrying the beautiful young queen or he’s going to be afraid the curse of Daenerys will creep up on him next (also didn’t she kill his father a season or two before? That will make any family get togethers a bit awkward).

At Winterfell Sansa finds out a bit more about her intended husband’s true nature as she comes face to face with Theon/Reek. While she still doesn’t know the true extent of Ramsay’s lunacy she’s getting close as she sees a broken, meek Theon. Then Ramsay comes up with the bonkers idea of Reek giving Sansa away at the wedding! Ramsay’s fun is soon brought to an end when his stepmother reveals she’s pregnant. Although his father states Ramsay is still his heir I doubt that will placate Ramsay for long. I’ve heard rumours that Ramsay is meant to be worse than ever this season and I’ve been worried who his next victim would be. I thought Sansa would be in trouble but now I fear for his stepmother and her unborn child. Still at least Sansa has been told by a Stark supporter where to go if she needs help. Also luckily for her Brienne and Pod are nearby. I just hope they won’t be too late.

Another group heading to Winterfell is Stannis and his men. This is the second episode in a row where I haven’t found Stannis to be a complete bore. He’s also smart making sure Sam is still investigating the White Walkers. Still that makes me worried, now we’re seeing more of his softer side with his daughter Shireen bad things are bound to happen. especially as he insist his wife and daughter should come with him to Winterfell. Meanwhile Jon Snow has made a controversal pact with the leader of the Wildings- freedom to come pass The Wall and then give their help to the Watch when the time comes. It’s a bold plan and it has many detractors. As Jon plans to travel with the Wildings I just hope he’s made the right choice.

Anyway the highlight of this episode is at the end with Tyrion and Jorah sailing their way through ruins of Valyria, when Drogon the dragon appears! Tyrion for once is speechless. But the moment is ruined when a group of inflicted people called Stone Men appear and try to kill them. Tyrion almost drowns in the chaos but is saved by Jorah. All seems well until we see Jorah has been infected by the Stone Men. Poor Jorah. But hey maybe he’ll die in his beloved Khaleesi’s arms? Lets hope no one tells him about the wedding…

Theres a lot of talk in this episode about fighting, and a war at Winterfell but with not a lot of action. Hopefully the fight for Winterfell will start soon. They’ve been building it up for long enough. It was  a shame we didnt;t get to see Dorne, King’s Landing or wherever Arya is at the moment. I guess that’s the problem with so many characters. However it’s still a great, tense episode.

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

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