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: 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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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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