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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TV Rambles: Fargo Season 3

Aw geez, I’ve been looking forward to Season 3 of Fargo even more than Game of Thrones this year and I can’t believe it’s already over! Where did 10 weeks go? I deliberately stayed away from every bit of news as I could so everything would be a surprise. In fact, by the time Episode 1 aired, all I actually knew was that it starred Ewan McGregor and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

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I gotta say, the first half of Episode 1 didn’t get me at all. I loved the fact McGregor was playing both brothers, but I felt like so much information was being thrown at me with no links whatsoever. That all changed the second David Thewlis came onto screen. I had no idea he was even in this season and it took a full minute for my brain to register it was even him. What a character! It was a wild ride from that moment on.

Just like the previous seasons, this one is an entirely new story set in an entirely different year, but still linked to the bigger Fargo universe. Also joining the cast is Carrie Coon, a newbie to me, playing Gloria Burgle. Gloria is the former Chief of the local police department, and together with traffic cop Winnie Lopez (Olivia Sandoval) she is the force that just won’t quit when she knows to trust her instincts.

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I think Season 1 will always hold that key place in my heart as my favourite season, but this one is only just so slightly behind. The story was as brilliant as you can expect, but it was the characters this time round that really made it special. I’ve never seen David Thewlis play the bad guy, let alone a guy so disgusting in both a literal and metaphorical sense. Some of his scenes were honestly difficult to watch (though it may just be pregnancy nausea on my behalf) and so I have to give him a shout out for that.

Ewan McGregor also shone in both of his roles, managing to play the 2 Stussy brothers so well that it was easy to forget they’re played by the same person. I’m actually tempted to say he did a better job than Tom Hardy did in Legend!

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The real MVPs for me though were Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Carrie Coon. These ladies just steal every scene that they’re in, and they kick ass. Both of their characters go on such emotional journeys, and they’re just a pleasure to watch. I seriously hope these ladies land some big roles in the future, because they’re ones to watch for sure.

I won’t go into of course, but can I just mention that ending? Perfect. I love it and I hate it at the same time, because we’ll never know what happened after those 5 minutes. Arghhhh. Now I have a Fargo-shaped hole in my life. I really hope we get a Season 4 in the future!

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: The Guest (2014)

the-guest-movie-review-2014It’s happening again, you guys. I can feel a new obsession coming on, and this time it’s in the form of Dan Stevens. I spotted The Guest on a monthly recap list another blogger wrote recently (I can’t remember who – sorry!) and it sounded like my cup of tea. The fact that Dan Stevens played the lead was intriguing, I’d so far seen him as a big furry beast and a messed up X-Men Mutant, so I was interested to see him in another role. I’ve got to say though, how does he managed to look so much like Bradley Cooper in this poster? It’s weird!

Anyway, the plot is simple enough. Dan Stevens plays David, a soldier who introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their Son who died in action. However, this isn’t a airy fairy drama where David reconnects a broken family or anything like that. Instead, a whole pile a seemingly accidental deaths take place, and things start to turn a bit weird.

I don’t even know how to describe the tone of this movie, it might be different for everyone. For me it was a cross between Drive and Crazy, Stupid, Love! It had those moody, dark scenes, a stand out soundtrack, but also some outrageously funny mentoring scenes and sex appeal. I’m not kidding about that last part! I had to send my friend Steph (she understands me) a screenshot of Dan Stevens stood seductively, knowing full well what he looked like, wet after a shower and naked except for a towel that was dangerously low. *cough* Is anyone else warm?

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If I tried to be a real blogger rather than a fangirl, I’d tell you that the pacing is completely off in parts, and that the final third is somewhat confusing and a bit of a cop out. It also feels quite long considering the reasonable runtime. I read though that around 20 minutes of footage got cut before the release, which explains the confusion at least. Nonetheless, it’s a movie well worth watching as it’s something a little bit different! Plus Dan Stevens. Did I mention how blue his eyes are?

So where do I go next? I really, REALLY don’t want to watch Downton Abbey (it’s not my cup of tea) and so before I start the downward spiral of working my way through his entire filmography, can any of your recommend me some good Dan Stevens movies? I’m off to see Colossal tomorrow night which I think he’s in, although in a minor role.

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But anyway, I do recommend The Guest, but only if there’s nothing big at the top of your watchlist. It’s a bit of fun, and it’s something both guys and gals will enjoy.

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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: Behind Closed Doors, B A Paris

It seems weird to say now, but a few years ago I had to be convinced that a tablet was something I needed in my life. Not in the medical sense, the electronic. I just didn’t see the point; I already had a phone, a laptop, a TV and a Kindle, I counted myself lucky enough and didn’t need another piece of technology in my life. Now, I don’t know what I’d do without one. I use mine every day for gaming, reading, watching, blogging, you name it, and during our house move it’s been my best friend.

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My whole house may have been in boxes, but my sofa was sat in the living room and I had my tablet, so all was well with the world. Anywho, I digress, what I actually want to tell you about today is the debut novel by the talented B A Paris, Behind Closed Doors. It was one of the 12 books I chose at the start of the year, and my messy handwritten notes tell me it was my ‘Psychological Thriller’ choice.

That was all I remembered when I started reading, and admittedly I almost gave up within the first 10 pages. It opens at a dinner party between couples, and our main character Grace is desperate for her husband’s approval with the three-course dinner she’s prepared for the guests. Ugh. What happened to cooking together? Then she gushes about how perfect her marriage with Jack is, and shares photos from their perfect Honeymoon abroad. Double ugh. I went back to read the blurb to try and work out what tempted me to read this in the first place, and then I realised.

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You see, the seemingly perfect marriage is the whole point of the story. Grace is always immaculately dressed, the house is spotless, and she loves her husband dearly. They go on holiday together regularly, and stay in the nicest hotels. You know what’s odd though? If you ever invite Grace out to lunch, she’ll either cancel last minute or turn up with Jack in tow. You’d like her number to keep in touch? Sorry, she doesn’t have her own mobile phone. Also, why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows? Why indeed!

For a book I thought was going to annoy me, I read Behind Closed Doors in record timing, for me at least. I just had to know what happened next. At 353 pages, it’s not the longest novel in the world, and you could easily read it over a weekend if you were so inclined. To tell you any more would be giving too much of the story away, but let me tell you, I’m sure I nearly passed out during the last few chapters because I was holding my breath, I was so tense.

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I think Behind Closed Doors could make a great movie too, without the need to cut much material. The dialogue would need some work, because on paper it comes across almost pantomime-like at times, a little over dramatic I think. Nonetheless, I would definitely recommend this book to you.

B A Paris is releasing her second novel, The Breakdown, later this year, and I’m quite excited to give it a read!