Review: Life (2017)

life-movie-poster-review-2017You know that saying, ‘be careful what you wish for’? Years I’ve been waiting for a movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds together. Years! 2 of my ultimate favourite Hollywood hunks in 1 movie. I guess I imagined it would be some kind of romcom, preferably starring myself caught in a love triangle. Alas, it seems only half of my request was eventually heard, and although I got both stars together, it was for a Sci-Fi/Horror. Really, movie gods?!

What makes things even worse is that on paper, and in the trailer in fact, Life (2017) is nothing more than an Alien ripoff. You’ve got a spaceship, a solid crew, a mission to extract and protect a life form found on Mars. Hey presto, turns out the life form is dangerous and hostile! Now it’s a survival game. I sound bitter I know but here’s the shocker, Life is actually a pretty decent movie!

For a start, the crew are all extremely likeable, and they’re smart! Yes, you’ve got one who won’t stop harping on about protocols and rule-breaking, but when protocols are broken they’re for a logical reason, rather than a dumb reason for a jump scare. For a wuss like me, Life was a fairly scary movie, but that’s because this life-form (AKA Calvin) is so small and stealthy, and unpredictable. I’m glad I waited for a home release because some scenes are tense as hell.

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I’ll admit that at the halfway point my interest started to wane slightly. That might be because (highlight for spoiler) Ryan Reynolds got killed off in the first 30 minutes – perhaps I should have seen it coming, but it does drift into far too familiar territory after a while. Yes, Calvin is on the loose, no, we aren’t sure how the crew are going to survive, if they do at all, so just get on with the story so we can find out how it ends!

Life even had it’s emotional moments, mainly centered around a children’s book you may know quite well, Goodnight Moon. You can forget listening to Tom Hardy reading bedtime stories, try watching Jake Gyllenhaal read Goodnight Moon whilst stuck in the situation he’s in and not get misty eyes!

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Finally, and I’ll have to obscure this paragraph mostly for spoiler reasons, I can’t end this post without mentioning the ending. Should I have seen it coming? Maybe? I don’t know, but it caught me completely off guard! That moment when you realise who (and what) is in that capsule that landed in the sea straight up gave me the chills. I’d rather Life stay as a standalone movie but if it had a sequel, heck I’d probably go and see it.

For being surprisingly good as a totally unoriginal movie, Life gets 3 and a half copies of that darn children’s book I’m now never going to be able to buy for my own kiddo.

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Review: A Cure for Wellness (2017)

a-cure-for-wellness-movie-review-2017Some movies look really promising when you catch that first trailer, and then they fall off your radar. Some movies look like they’re definitely worth a watch, but when you see the runtime you feel put off. 5 months after it’s release in the UK, coming in at a whopper of 2 hours and 26 minutes, A Cure for Wellness hit both criteria for me! Thankfully, my Flick Chick Jenna came to stay over the weekend and recommend that we give it a go! It’s amazing how much easier a long movie is to watch when you can have several snack and chat pause breaks.

You probably don’t need me to tell you that A Cure for Wellness is a weird movie. Dane Dehaan plays an ambitious young executive known as Lockhart, sent by his company to retrieve their CEO from a mysterious wellness centre in the Swiss Alps. When he arrives, things seem a little…off. Although the residents are known as ‘guests’ free to leave whenever they wish, no one has actually ever left, and they all seem quite odd. In fact, you could almost say they look ill, which surely can’t be right?

Dane Dehaan has always reminded me of a young Leonardo DiCaprio for some reason, so with that in mind it was impossible to not try and compare this movie to Shutter Island. It has it’s similarities for sure, but they’re very different movies.

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Perhaps it was the dessert and the company, but I didn’t feel like this was a particularly long movie. There were definitely scenes that didn’t add much to the narrative of the story, but what they did provide was their ability to give you the creeps. There’s a mystery to solve here in the mountains, and the pieces of the puzzle are fed to us slowly in a way that helps us put it all together, but the atmosphere of it all leaves us wondering if we can trust our own judgement or not, which is exactly what’s happening to Lockhart.

Some scenes are difficult to watch, and one in particular (involving a dentists chair and a drill!) was impossible! We had to cover our ears, look away and make noises until it was all over. I peeked every now and again, and wished I didn’t.

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Is it the best mystery/thriller out there? No, and I feel like it might even be a bit of a love/hate kind of movie for most, but there was enough here to keep me interested and guessing as to how it might end. I think I had a much better experience watching it with someone – I don’t think I could have put up with it solo. Right at the very end we’re left with a very confusing scene which opens up a whole bunch of questions. My favourite thing about these kind of endings is that everyone will have their own take on it!

I was pleasantly surprised by The Cure for Wellness, and so it gets 4 out of 5 glasses of water (that you should absolutely NOT drink) from me.

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Review: The Belko Experiment (2017)

the-belko-experiment-2017-movie-reviewWhat’s this? 2 posts in 3 days? Is it possible that I’m getting back into a blogging routine again? Argh, I’ve cursed it now. You won’t hear from me for a week at least now. Anyway! This also marks the 3rd night in a row I’ve watched a movie on nothing more than a whim, and this time it was The Belko Experiment. I’d heard the name crop up on a few blogs when it was released in cinemas, but I tried to avoid reading too much because it seemed like one of those movies that was better the less you knew.

In Bogtoa, Colombia, there is a high-rise office block, home to a government orientated business named Belko Industries. Due to nature of the work, Belko requires all non-national employees to wear tracking chips, which is odd enough, but on one particular work day, the local employees are all turned away at the gates, and that’s where this twisted social experiment starts, for the remaining 80 employees within the building.

I’ll admit, I was expecting this to be more of a psychological kind of thriller, rather than the blood bath that it was, so that’s skewed my judgement a little, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. The movie builds up to the main event nicely, introducing most of the main characters with a pretty cool cast including Michael Rooker, Sean Gunn, John C. McGinley and John Gallagher Jr just to name a few!

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Once the building is locked down and the announcement made that the employees have just 20 minutes to murder 2 of their colleagues, the mind games really start. It’s always interesting to see how these characters react to such an ultimatum, and I have to admit I would be the one who runs to hide in the stationery cabinet. No wonder Hollywood hasn’t made a movie about me yet! If anyone else really enjoyed that element of the movie I highly recommend Circle (2015) which follows the same concept on a much more intimate level.

The Belko Experiment is gory as hell (for me anyway!) so I wouldn’t recommend watching this with dinner…especially if it involves pasta sauce. I reckon every office worker out there should give this a watch though, who hasn’t daydreamed about bashing their boss’s head in with a tape dispenser? Hi boss, if you’re reading. I just made that up to be funny, I promise.

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Of course I won’t ruin the ending for you, but I’m a little torn on how to feel about it. It felt like the easy way out to me, but then I can’t imagine any other ending that would have made sense, unless of course this was an M Night Shamalamadingdong movie! I just wish it had some more mind games. 3 out of 5 tape dispensers for me. I always said those things are so heavy they could do some serious damage…

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Review: Alien: Covenant (2017)

alien-covenant-movie-review-2017Take this post with a pinch of salt and good humour. I’m not a Horror connoisseur, and I’ve watched approximately 2 and a half movies in the Alien franchise to date. They are the original Alien (actually kind of loved it), half of Aliens (it was on TV late at night, I’ll finish it someday) and Prometheus (saw it at the cinema, can’t remember anything). You’re probably wondering how I wound up at the cinema in the first place to see Alien: Covenant, right? It’s the husbands fault, despite being a wuss like me he loves the Alien series, and we’d both goaded each other into watching something scary together.

Here’s the plot, as I understand it. A ship bound for a faraway planet holds a small crew and a couple thousand frozen people ready to start a new colony (I’m not talking about Passengers I promise). Their ship is damaged and during repairs, one of the crew members’ helmet picks up a transmission from a much closer planet seemingly just as habitable as their original destination.

I’m not going to beat around the bush here. What ruins this movie is the fact that not one member of this crew seems to have watched a Horror movie before. This is 2 hours of dumb people doing dumb things. Here’s mistake numero uno: Months, if not years of research into this new planet must have taken place, and yet the crew change course on a whim, simply because none of them particularly want to go back into space sleep again.

Why not, do you ask? To tell you would ruin the surprise, but you know how much I can’t stand James Franco? I LOVE HIM in this movie. Best role he’s ever done, officially.

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While I’m at it, here’s some other stupid stuff that happens:
– Far too many people go off to investigate solo. Guys come on, you know that means you’re gonna die.
– Oh, you’ve managed to contain an alien in a locked room? Best open the door then!
– I dread to think how much all this tech cost, but apparently everyone’s shoes have the same grip as old Converse. Blood seems to be even more slippery than banana peel.
– What’s this creepy, squishy, giant alien egg here? Best stick my face in it!

I guess common sense isn’t a prerequisite for space travel, huh.

The movie’s highlight has to be Michael Fassbender, who just never puts in a bad performance. He’s in Covenant twice, because I completely forgot that he was also in Prometheus, and so we’re treated to double the Fassbender-robot action. Speaking of which…I simply can’t ignore the weirdly erotic flute playing scene where Fassbender-bot kisses himself…and talks about fingering…*cough*. It all got very awkward in that dark cinema room for a few minutes.

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Finally, movie makers, if I see your plot twist coming a mile off, you didn’t do a very good job. Although, thanks for making me feel smart, I had the most gleeful face when I got to call it before my husband did. He’s the kind of guy to call a plot twist during an opening sequence, and even though sometimes I think it’s luck and he’s just being an ass, I’m never 100% sure. He might have weird powers.

Who’s in for Prometheus 3 in a couple of years then? You can count me in, this piece of trash was hella fun! 2.5 out of 5 erotic bone flutes from me, that might be enough to share out with the remaining crew. You blow, and I’ll do the fingering. I can’t even type it without feeling the shame!

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Book Review: The Fireman, Joe Hill

After speeding through my first two books of the year at an alarming speed, I forced myself to read the longest book on my list next to slow myself down. The Fireman by Joe Hill definitely qualifies as long with a whopping 747 pages long. I guess this would be the part where I smugly tell you all about Joe Hill and how he’s the son of the legendary author Stephen King, but err, I only found that fact out myself after already finishing The Fireman.

Sigh…just when I thought I knew what I was talking about when it came to movies, I’m a hopeless novice all over again!

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Let me tell you about the book, I can manage that much. The Fireman is the story of a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion (called Draco Incendia Trychophyton) that is threatening to wipe out civilization. The symptoms are easy enough to spot, because an infected person has intricate, black and gold markings on their skin, nicknamed Dragonscale. There is no known cure for the issue, and attempts to look after the infected are leading to entire hospitals and cities being burnt to the ground.

Harper started out as a school nurse but when everything started going south, she moved to work at her local hospital to help as many of the infected as she could. When Harper herself becomes infected with Dragonscale, her husband Jakob is horiffied. The two of them had a pact to end their lives together if they were both to become infected, but when Harper realises she is pregnant, she choses to live instead. This sends Jakob crazy (literally) and Harper is forced to flee for her life.

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She’s rescued by Captain America and Tony the Tiger (I’m only half-joking) who lead her to The Fireman, a man named John who is also infected, but not only can he control the spore, he can use it in a multitude of ways. To tell you how would be ruining the story. The Fireman leads Harper to a camp full of others like her, infected people who have learnt to keep the Dragonscale under control.

I’m not going to lie, this was tough to read. Firstly, I was well out of my depth. I don’t watch horror movies, and I’ve never read a horror novel, so it took me a while to get used to. Thankfully, my overactive imagination didn’t give me nightmares, but The Fireman would be a grim movie! It’s a long book, like I said, but it struggles with pacing issues. One day I would burn through (pun intended) several chapters without noticing the time, another it felt like every line I read was a chore.

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Ultimately, it was worth it in the end. A long book means spending a lot of time with the main characters, and I really grew to love them. Except Jakob, who is possibly the world’s biggest douche bag. There are plenty of surprising twists and turns along the way, and never for a second did I ever think I knew how it would end.

If you have the time to spare, I would definitely recommend giving The Fireman a read. I think I heard that the rights have been sold to 21st Century Fox. I hope they’ll put it on the big screen soon! I think it would make a fantastic TV Series to be perfectly honest, but that’s just me!