Sunday, February 7, 2016

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016): Review

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If you know anything about my literary preferences you will know that the Jane Austin book Pride and Prejudice (1813) is one of top if not absolute favorite book. Going into this movie I was not sure what I expected to see but that I do have a tendency to be quite tolerant of movie/ TV adaptations because I love the story so much and that the more period versions have been very good (1940, 1980, 1995, and 2005) not a fan of the modern day version (2003). I am even a big fan of the Bollywoodesq movie version  (Bride and Prejudice 2004) (If you haven't seen this you should!).  The trailer got me excited as it seemed like the move was going for a great style and I was impressed with the styling of the movie although underwhelmed with the actual Pride and Prejudice story.

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a 2009 book by Seth Grahame-Smith which is just what it sounds like, Jane Austin's (who gets author credit) story but incorporating zombies into the daily lives of the characters. Instead of the Bennett girls just being renown for their beauty they are also known for their abilities as fighters against the zombies that is overtaking England.  This book is actually what sparked off what some people would call my obsession (although I just consider it a favorite fandom) of reading Pride and Prejudice variations and adaptations which there are a ridiculous number.

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This movie version somewhat follows the story of the books but as the movie goes on it veers more and more away from and adds it own stuff to the basic story. I understand why the movie did this but for someone who is expecting it to be really similar to the know Pride and Prejudice cannon you will be disappointed. It has the basic plot points but doesn't follow how they come about. If you are familiar with the story you will be familiar with many of the characters that don't add to the movie except to be there for the fans and they are required for the cannon (Mary, Kitty, Carolyn, the Hurst, Charlotte and they completely delete Col Fitzwilliam and barely  mention Georgiana). However if you are not familiar with the story you will probably have a better time swallowing the movie storyline. I don't think that the movie needed to add as much other stuff as it did (come on Pride and Prejudice cant get much better!) but that the movie fell victim to the standard tries to do too much and therefore didn't spend enough time of what it has problem that many movies do.  Pride and Prejudice is hard to do in the standard movie length on its own but adding the zombie aspect (and the in-between/ Wickham BS) was just too much to handle.

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I was impressed and really liked the overall style of this movie. I liked how it was shot and framed and I was not distracted by the close up action shots (which if you tend to read my post you know is something I tend to hate) and it was a pleasure visually to watch. The special effects were good and I was not distracted by anything that was happening visual. I don't really remember the musical score but that at least means that there was nothing annoying about it.
 
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I was overall underwhelmed with the cast and that fact that they threw in a lot of characters just because there were suppose to be there didn't help with this aspects. Lily James was a good Lizzy Bennett and her quirks went really well with my favorite literary heroine. She looked great as a brunette and was able to embody that characteristics of a strong women although the love connection with Darcy fizzled. She was convincing in her portal although at times over acted a bit.  Jane Bennett was played by Bella Heathcote and Mr. Bingley by Douglass Booth both of who were alright but again didn't have a lot of fleshing out of their characters. Lady Catherine De Bourgh was played by Lena Headey who is awesome and kickass and Lt. Wickham was played by Jack Hudson and I was more applauded with how they mucked with the character then how he acted as Wickham.

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The best and worst casting choices for this version was Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy and Matt Smith as Parson Collins respectively. I am a Colin Firth (1995) as Mr. Darcy fan and do not think that anyone will ever beat him but I am also a big fan of Matthew Macfayden (2005). Where Firth was the rock who you wanted to be there to support you not to mention see coming out of a pond soaking wet, Macfayen was that slow burn that you don't understand why you are so attacked to him, Riley was just strange. I didn't find him to be anything that I look for in a Mr. Darcy and kept thinking that they were going for a vampire feel with him and he didn't really pull the Mr. Darcy feel for me except for the insulting part. He did not have the insulting because he is socially awkward and overwhelmed but that he is just being an ass. I think it could have been better cast. On the complete opposite of this I LOVED loved LOVED Matt Smith (of Dr. Who fame) as Mr. Collins. Mr. Collins is usually a hard character as he is odious, oblivious, and not attractive character but Smith was able to make him this as well as funny and an enjoyment on screen. I am trying to think of a scene he was in that I did not laugh at and he quickly became my favorite part of this whole movie. I want a compilation of just his parts as I am still laughing right now thinking about how absolutely fantastic he was.

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Overall this movie was alright but I don't see many people going for it. It is not Pride and Prejudice enough for the fans (even those who live the adaptations and variations of the story) and I don't think there is enough of anything else for it to really resonate with people seeing it for the romance (no real underlying burn between Lizzy and Darcy), it is not exciting enough for those who want an action movie (which it isn't even at all) and it is not scare for anyone who gets drawn into the zombie part of it.  If it wasn't for Matt Smith the movie would be basically forgettable.  That being said I will probably watch it again and add it to my collection as even thought it isn't the best version it is still a version of Pride and Prejudice.

My Rating: 2-

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Jurassic World (2015): Review

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I absolutely loved and enjoyed this movie. It is exactly what I like in my family friendly action/blockbuster movies! I was uncertain about Jurassic World when I went into it because I haven't been that impressed with many movies this year and didn't want to be disappointed. I am a fan of Jurassic Park (1993) and the paleontologist of my youth didn't want to be let down. I was very happy to find that this movie was a bunch of fun, well paced, played up the creeping see only part of the dinosaur technique, and threw in some serious Easter Eggs.
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Although I am a fan on Jurassic Park (2013) I am not a purist and am in no way upset or offended that Jurassic World is doing its own thing and incorporating todays technology experiences, I enjoyed the nods to the original movie and I am sure that I missed a whole bunch more than what I was aware of. The science of creating a living dinosaur and the new approach to security with todays technology was able to be incorporated and it worked. I do not feel like it is a movie having to conform or loses its charm due to not working in the current cultural landscape.
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Jurassic World continued along the timeline of Jurassic Park and finds us twenty two years after the events from the first movie. The island that was at one time Jurassic Park has been remade into Jurassic World. It is a dinosaur attraction for the modern audience. It is looking for ways to stay exciting and draw in todays kids who don't just want a normal dinosaur anymore. They want bigger, scarier. Clair, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, is in charge of running Jurassic World and has her nephews Zack, played by Nick Robinson, and Gray, played by Ty Simpkins coming to spend the weekend with her. While she is engulfed with the running of the park and preparing for the release of a genetically engineered hybrid dinosaur called the Indominus Rex, the kids go off to enjoy the rides/ attractions (AKA put themselves in peril). When there is some concern about the Indominus Rex, Clair reluctantly involved Owen, played by Chris Pratt, who is on the island studying and training Velociraptor.  As this is a Jurassic Park movie, things do not go according to plan and the Indominus Rex escapes and goes on a rampage. 
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This movie hit all of the bits that I love in a family friendly action movie. It has science which calls to my younger self; dinosaurs which are just plain awesome; good interplay and chemistry between the adults leads with the guy being strong, capable, but also having a bit of rogue flair; changing types of action sequences; being well paced; and having thing get destroyed.
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With this movie, I have officially decided that I am a HUGH Chris Pratt fan. I think that he has emerged as a fun action hero and I look forward to crushing on him for years to come. He has the acting ability and charisma that makes him a joy to watch. Bruce Dallas Howard is good as Clare although at times I get tired of her same facial expressions. The supporting cast was very good and although there is no real character fleshing out or development, I do not go to this type of blockbuster for character development. I go for a fun experience that I want to enjoy again and again. The cast is rounded out with Vincent D'Onofrio as Hoskins, a military man who wants to use the raptors as soldiers; Jake Johnson and Lauren Lapkus who play control workers and add some comedy; Irrfan Khan who plays Simon Masrrani the billionaire owner of the park who wants to scare the kids with the new dinosaur; and BD Wong who plays Dr. Henry Wu, the only returning cast member from Jurassic Park and the doctor in charge of creating the dinosaurs.
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I would recommend this movie to most people but if you are not someone who is able to suspend your disbelief and just enjoy the journey this movie is not for you. It puts the effort into making itself an enjoyable movie, gives you enough plot to keep it going, throws in some family drama (which isn't really necessary and could have been left out), and pulls you along. It is one of my favorite movies so far this year.
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I liked the combination of CGI and animatronics to create there dinosaurs. And it managed to not make it distracting which is one of my biggest gripes about CGI. It needs to be used in a way that blends in with the movie and you believe what is happening, not pull me out of the experience. Although there were some moments of close up fighting scenes (which I don't like) there was a lot of scope shots to balance it out, this showed the scope of the island, the part, and the dinosaurs. It was an all around solid movie and fun time. I cant wait to go see if it holds up to another viewing!

My Rating: 3+

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Furious Seven (2015): Review

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I have been looking forward to the newest installment of The Fast and The Furious franchise and if you know me you will know why. I love crappy, big budget, actions movies with lots of flashiness, explosions, chases, and fights. Going into Furious Seven, I was expecting it to be on par with the more recent installments and I am happy to say that it satisfied me and met my expectations. That being said, it is no way an award winner but it is what I have come to expect from these movies which have been getting more and more preposterous as the series has gone on.
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Furious Seven continues a few years after the end of Fast & Furious 6. Dom, played by Vin Diesel, is trying to help Letty, played by Michelle Rodriquez, get her memoires back now they he knows that she is not actually dead but she doesn't remember anything from their life together.  Brian, played by Paul Walker, is having difficulty settling into a normal life as a father with his wife, and Dom's sister Mia, played by Jordana Brewster and small son.  Everyone is drawn back into danger when Deckard Shaw, played by Jason Statham, decides he is going to hunt down Dom due to his little brother being the villain in Fast & Furious 6 and him not being to happy that Dom and crew put the beat down on him. As shown in the teaser in 6 a member of Dom's crew was killed in Tokyo as  warning to Dom. As Dom is hunted by Shaw, Mr. Nobody, played by Kurt Russell, offers Dom a deal with if he saves a hacker names Ramsey, played by Nathalie Emmaunuel, who has developed a program which can find anyone in the world by hacking electronic devices, he will allow Dom to use it to find Shaw.  Also back in the movie are Roman, played by Tyrese, the wise cracking sidekick of Brian from 2 Fast 2 Furious; Tej, played by Ludacris a car tech guy also first appearing in 2 Fast 2 Furious; and Agent Hobbs, played by The Rock, originally appearing in Fast Five.
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Like I said this movie is basically what you have come to expect, and many of us love about The Fast and the Furious movies.  There are amazing cars driving really fast and usually getting destroyed in the process. There are ridiculous stunts and action scenarios that continue to be absolutely over the top but are fun if you can suspend the fact that there is no way that they would even, and I mean ever, be able to actually happen. There is bad and over the top acting from everyone involved and the reduction of many of them to their caricatured main traits and over emphasized emotion laid on thick. There are an abundance of cheesy one liner. There are scantily clad females that are only their for eye candy and this movie has a large amount of ass shots that I could have done without but that they guys will enjoy. The male actors are getting a bit older but still have some strut to them and I have to agree with my cousin that Tyrese continues to be one attractive piece of man candy.
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The one thing about this movie that makes it different from the previous ones in the series is that as many of you know Paul Walker died in a car accident in the middle of filming so both of his brothers were used to finish his role. There are moments where because I know that there were replacements for him that I could tell that was why it was filmed the way it was, with his face in shadows, profiles, or quick personal shots. I think that they did a great job of making it work and it wasn't too distracting or noticeable. The sap factors is kicked into overdrive at the end of the movie.
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I do not think it necessary to say who should go and see this movie due to it being the seventh installment and you know whether you are a fan of them or not but I will say that it was worth seeing in IMAX and this is the type of movie that I think IMAX works really well for.
I have to finish by complaining that this movie as well as a lot of action movies are continuing to have close up/ choppy actions sequences that annoy the crap out of me. I like to see what is happening with the whole sequence not just jump around with editing, in this movie they even did this with the cars chases.

My Rating: 2

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