Review: The Happening (2008)

the-happening-movie-review-2008I was too much of a wimp to see Split (2017) in the cinema in January, and the wait for it to be released on DVD is killing me. I’m not a hardcore Shyamalan fan per se, but I love a thriller movie with a twist! I’m pretty sure I’ve seen all the ‘good’ Shyamalan movies, but I was desperate, and so despite the fairly cold reviews, I gave The Happening (2008) a try the other night. This is a movie that I’ve forever mixed up with The Knowing (2009) which I now realise is just called Knowing, so it looks like I’ve been pulling a Hidden Fences blunder for years.

Moving swiftly on…

Guys, there is no way I can discuss this movie without spoilers. Let me tell you the plot, and if you want to watch it un-spoiled from that, then please just close down this page and hunt down a copy. I’ll save the ‘I told you so’ for when you come back. In The Happening, a strange plague hits Central Park in New York which causes people to kill themselves. A lady stabs herself in the neck with her hair accessory, and workers jump from scaffolding into the streets. Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) and his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel) flee their home.

Right. Now we enter spoiler territory. The greatest plot twists are those that seem so outrageous at the time, but when you start to backtrack through the movie, the clues were all there in plain sight for you to see, leaving you feeling a little hurt, but amazed. The worst kind are either outrageous with no reasoning behind them, or so bleedin’ obvious that you wonder whether there was a twist at all!

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Setting the scene here, at the opening of the movie, Mark Wahlberg is a Science teacher talking to his students about an incident where thousands of bees simply disappeared without a trace, no bodies left behind. After a discussion with the group, he tells them that Science may give the situation an explanation, but what actually happened was a force of nature, and is unexplainable. Right, so I’m guessing that this plague is a force of nature that can’t be explained then? An hour and a half later, yes, I was right. Oh.

If you can move past that, and the horrendous acting (how did this cast make the dialogue sound so bad?) this might be a good movie to watch this friends and a few too many alcoholic drinks. Let me highlight some of the crazier parts for you:

  • Mark Wahlberg has a serious conversation with a house plant, basically asking it not to kill him, just to find out it’s made of plastic.
  • He also creeps into some old lady’s bedroom to find a hella-scary doll tucked into the bed. WHY.
  • When the gang realise it’s the plants killing them (or sending them crazy) Mark Wahlberg shouts for them to ‘outrun the wind’. Um…what?
  • Have I mentioned yet that the Earth’s population is being murdered by plants?

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At least when I get this movie confused with Knowing, it won’t matter any more, because they’re both terrible. I’m not going to lie though, I had a brilliant time watching this, laying out on the sofa with my headphones in, giving a running commentary to my very confused husband. I think he thought I was joking most of the time. 2 out of 5 murderous plants from me!

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Thursday Movie Picks: Television Edition – Science Fiction

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To quote the great Father Christmas (in January, sorry) I’m making a list, I’m checking it twice. My first venture into Wandering Through the Shelves‘ Thursday Movie Picks was kind of a disaster, seeings as I went off an out of date list and wrote about the wrong subject. Whoops. Fingers crossed I’ve got it right this week! Anyway, 2017 is an exciting year for Thursday Movie Picks because Wanderer has thrown in some Television Editions! This is the first of the year, Science Fiction.

Here are my favourites:

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Westworld (2016 – )

I hardly need an excuse to gush about Westworld, because in my opinion it was the best show on TV last year, and I won’t stop talking about it until everyone has made the effort to give it a go. Westworld is a Western-themed adventure park, in which ‘guests’ can pay thousands of dollars to visit and interact with the ‘hosts’, of whom are all robots. The guests are free to do as they wish in the park, they can murder, they can rape, and the hosts all have settings to stop them being being able to harm guests.

That alone is enough to make an amazing TV Show, but of course with any Artificial Intelligence theme, these hosts are becoming more and more self aware, and as time goes on, shenanigans ensue! There are so many twists and turns along the way, and that’s what makes Westworld such a great watch.

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Wayward Pines (2015 – )

I’ll admit, Season 2 of Wayward Pines wasn’t as good, and in fact it feels like a different show, but I absolutely loved Season 1! Basically, a Secret Service agent travels to a town called Wayward Pines to search for 2 of his colleagues who went missing. An accident happens along the way and he wakes up in the town, where everything is a little…off. There’s no phone signal, the residents are unwelcoming, and he can’t escape. Literally. Each episode answers a few questions, but just brings up even more, and it’s the kind of show that gets you making theories constantly!

I can’t explain how the Sci-Fi theme fits in without giving away some key plot points, but I promise you that it fits this theme perfectly. It’s based on a book trilogy of the same name by Blake Crouch, and I’d love to give them a read someday.

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3rd Rock from the Sun (1996 – 2001)

I can’t believe I’m saying (typing?) this, but I’m currently watching 3rd Rock from the Sun for the first time in my life. Why didn’t I watch this sooner? It’s got that perfectly crafted 90’s, literal humour that I just love. I’m 2 Seasons in so far, and the comedy in this show still holds up amazingly well. If you live under a rock like I clearly have been, this show revolves around a group of aliens who have traveled to Earth to learn about the planet’s inhabitants. In order to fit in, they have disguised themselves as a human family.

If you hate canned laughter, over dramatic sitcoms you’ll hate this, but I absolutely love them. Also, it’s one of the first big roles for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and it’s so funny to see him as a kid!

Now I’ll spend the rest of the day nervously refreshing my blog feed to see if I’ve got the subject right this week…

Review: Passengers (2016)

Somehow, I managed to put the left over turkey down long enough to make it to the cinema yesterday! Whilst holding off the temptation to see Rogue One again, I made myself see Passengers. Don’t get me started on the trailer that gives away the whole movie, but I was excited to see Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence in space. I mean, that’s a winning combo for sure, right?

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I’m going to warn you right now of possible spoilers in this review. Normally I keep my posts safe, but I’m not sure how with this one, so if you’re really looking forward to seeing Passengers, just go ahead and bookmark this page for later!

So, you’ve seen the trailer, you know the plot. Jim (Chris Pratt) and Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) are passengers on this huge ship headed for a new planet. The journey will take 120 years, so them and the rest of the passengers are held in suspense pods to keep them preserved. But something happens, and they wake up too early. 90 years too early. Then here’s the movie’s tagline, “There’s a reason they woke up”. Hoo boy, what could the reason be? Sabotage? Were they chosen for something? By someone?

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No. Sadly, there literally isn’t a reason they woke up. Well, we learn how they woke up, but there’s nothing that special about it. Passengers could possibly be the most wrongly advertised movie I’ve ever seen because of that. The plot is kind of lame, and pretty predictable. And yet, it’s still fun to watch. Jim is the first to awake, and I think I’d have been happy with the whole movie being about him exploring the ship. The scene in the cafeteria where he learns that everything but a plain, large coffee is reserved for ‘gold’ members only is kinda hilarious, and there’s plenty more dry humour scattered about.

It’s also super pretty to watch on the big screen. No expenses were spared in the visual department, and the ship itself and the space in which it’s travelling is beautiful, if not a little empty. Plus, with two of the hottest stars in the movie industry as our leading couple, this is going to please both parties on a cinema date, let’s face it! It’s much funnier than I thought it would be, Martin Sheen’s robotic barman was full of character and never fails to provide a few laughs here and there.

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Now I’m really going into spoiler territory, so I’m changing the font colour to help you skip. I wasn’t expecting Laurence Fishburne to turn up, angry bout the fact someone plated a tree on his ship. Sadly, it was kind of obvious that his only purpose was to open the locked door of the command bridge and then die 5 minutes later, after giving Jim and Aurora his security pass. Sigh.

So all in all, Passengers isn’t 2016’s greatest Sci-Fi by a long shot, but there are certainly much worse ways to spend 2 hours of your life. This movie gets 3/5 large coffees from me!

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