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Terminator Genisys Review

A new timeline is unexpectedly created after John Connor (played by Jason Clarke) sends Kyle Reese (played by Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to protect his mother, Sarah (played by Emilia Clarke), from a Terminator. Originally a frightened waitress, the Sarah of this time is a skilled fighter armed with a Terminator guardian (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) and completely aware of what’s going on.  Reese must now change his original plans and focus on resetting the future and stopping skynet before it starts.

Overall it was actually better than I expected.  Or at least I enjoyed it more than the fourth one with Christian Bale.

Arnie is actually pretty cool! They improved on the CGI of him compared to the 4th one and I thought they almost seamlessly re-imagined or remastered his iconic debut scene in the original. The fact that I can’t tell which without looking at the original again is impressive enough.

Jai Courtney has come a long way from the Spartacus tv show (when I first saw him), starring in high profile films like Die Hard, Divergent, and now this to name a few.  I wasn’t sure if I would like him as Kyle Reese but I thought he handled the role well enough.  He has a strong presence and you believe in him.

I believe this is Emilia Clarke’s first big screen role.  Mostly known as Daenerys Targaryen from A Game of Thrones, she sheds the blond locks for her natural hair, giving you a different feel for her.  Unfortunately, that feel didn’t scream Sarah Connor, the iconic badass.  Linda Hamilton remains the best, but I though Lena Headey did a pretty good job for the Sarah Connor Chronicles that was cancelled prematurely (and I continue to side eye Fox about that one).  Clarke just doesn’t exude that necessary swagger and she probably would have been more convincing if she was Daenerys instead.

Though Terminator 2 is a masterpiece, the storyline for the franchise as a whole is admittedly riddled with flaws, as honest trailers hilariously points out:

Even still, I don’t think that gives this film a right to feel so disjointed and all over the place which it does suffer from more often than not. It gets to the point where you have to let that all go and enjoy the action. If you’re going to throw $170 million worth of action in my face, I’ll do my best to enjoy it.  The 3D is not necessary aside from a couple of scenes, and it almost gave me a headache, so I don’t recommend that format.

You do feel pings on nostalgia, but at the same time I still didn’t feel connected to it either, sort of like how I felt with Jurassic World. Every time I see a new John Connor it always bums me out that Eddie Furlong threw his career down the toilet in a spectacular fashion. These films are spaced out well enough that he could have returned for every one of them and been believable. Maybe they would have been better received too.

Some secrets regarding the character were revealed in the trailer so that ruins the surprise.

This is the second sequel of the franchise that is rated PG-13.  Though I was not surprised, especially considering its massive budget, it was still a disappointment.  That always means they’ll hold back. I think they pushed the PG-13 limits as far as they could with the swear words and brief nudity, but the fight scenes lacked the same level of brutality of its predecessors.

Overall, you aren’t missing much if you skip it, but I think fans of the franchise should still see it.  I think it’s at the level where you can disregard it completely if it’s not to your liking.  But it will be no surprise if you leave still believing that Terminator 2 remains the best.

Rating: 3/5

*My review can also be found over at my friends at The Grand Shuckett.

Magic Mike Review

Mike Lane (played by Channing Tatum) retired from stripping three years ago, finally starting his own custom design business as he was aspiring to do in the original. He’s been working hard, but the former “male entertainer” finds himself missing performing on stage.  He also misses the friends he made among his fellow dancers, the Kings of Tampa.  He meets up with them again as they travel to a stripper convention in Myrtle Beach as their last hurrah.  Originally reluctant, Mike decides to join them on a once in a lifetime road trip to taste the sweetness of the stage one last time.

This sequel was entertaining all throughout.  I thought there was better dialogue compared to the first when it started out good, giving you what you came there for, but then it tried to incorporate a story at the end…and it wasn’t a good one.  That one ended on a fizzle.  This one does not.

Some cameos were totally shocking but no less entertaining. Keep your eyes peeled for Michael Strahan. That’s all I’m gonna say on that one…

Matthew McConaughey was a big reason why the first one was a good as it was in some parts, but XXL ended up being a better film even without him.  I didn’t find myself missing “The kid” (played by Alex Pettyfer) either. I think the cast played off one another better compared to the original and their individual personalities shone through more.  It was really funny and witty, leaving the audience howling with laughter several times. The script is better written, feeling more confident in what it is and what it’s trying to do.

Channing himself I feel like he had more routines in the first one, but he still delivers.  The dancers were as diverse as the crowds they danced for. I noticed they made sure to especially pay attention to women of all different shapes sizes and colors, which will make it instantly relatable on some level.

The crowd this time around had a strong male attendance rate, not including press reviewers. When I saw the original, the theater was filled with 99% of women.  I think its mainstream status has allowed it to be more acceptable than it otherwise would have been.

Overall, if you enjoyed the first one you’ll definitely enjoy this one.  I think they had a lot of fun filming this one and it shows in the final product.  Now we’ll see if it gets a XXL increase in box office returns.  Either way, it’s going to make a mint with a miniscule budget.

Rating 4.5/5

*My review can also be found over at my friends at The Grand Shuckett.

POLL + GIVEAWAY! The Ruby Circle (Bloodlines #6) by Richelle Mead

 

Alrighty! Ask and you shall receive!! Though admittedly I ADORE this series as a whole, this particular book was not my favorite as I explained in my review. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t hold the giveaway anyway and let one lucky winner decide for him or herself! You voted yaye and I’m making good on my promise!  One lucky winner of my blog will receive a copy of the novel! Just tell me which book in the Bloodlines series is your favorite, or if you haven’t read it yet let me know what you’re looking forward to.  I’ve included a poll to help keep track!

How to Enter (PLEASE READ CAREFULLY): My giveaways are only open to followers of Your Urban Fantasy who are 18 years of age or older. In order to enter YOU MUST COMMENT ON THIS ANNOUNCEMENT POST AND INDICATE YOU HAVE DONE SO ON THE RAFFLECOPTER WIDGET! If you’re a new member, sign up on the right panel to follow my blog via email. (Make sure to check your email to confirm your subscription. You should receive a notification immediately, so check your spam folder if you don’t see it right away). Current followers can just say so in their post. The next four opportunities are for bonus entries. Overall, there are up to 5 chances to enter:

  1. Follow this blog via email and comment based on my specifications mentioned before (THIS IS REQUIRED)
  2. Like my review on Amazon (bonus entry)
  3. “Like” Your Urban Fantasy on Facebook (bonus entry)
  4. Follow me on Twitter (bonus entry)
  5. Tweet about the giveaway (bonus entry – you can do this daily for more entries)

The more entries the better your chance to win! Good luck! And don’t forget to comment!  

The giveaway will run from 6/30/15 – 7/12/15. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

End of Days (Penryn & the End of Days #3) by Susan Ee

Synopsis: After a daring escape from the angels, Penryn and Raffe are on the run. They’re both desperate to find a doctor who can reverse the twisted changes inflicted by the angels on Raffe and Penryn’s sister. As they set off in search of answers, a startling revelation about Raffe’s past unleashes dark forces that threaten them all.

When the angels release an apocalyptic nightmare onto humans, both sides are set on a path toward war. As unlikely alliances form and strategies shift, who will emerge victorious? Forced to pick sides in the fight for control of the earthly realm, Raffe and Penryn must choose: Their own kind, or each other?

Review: This series has come a long way and we’ve finally reached the end! Susan Ee’s skills have always impressed me, as she has the ability to cram a good story with thorough world building into a relatively short amount of pages. I enjoy how I feel transported to a new world every time I open one of these books. Admittedly the second book wasn’t a favorite of mine. It lacked a satisfying dose of Raffe, but Ee made up for it with this one. His character experiences a lot of growth and changes along with Penryn as well. The chemistry between the two remains strong. My favorite character is probably her sister though. Every time she’s featured I’m torn between wanting to hug her and wanting to run away from her. The amount of unpredictability with the character makes her exciting.

This book also did a nice job of fleshing out the other angels. Some aren’t as bad as you may have initially believed, and then it’s the complete opposite for the others. I wouldn’t mind spin-off stories that focused on them and how it’s presented makes it feel like a possibility.

Because the books are short I am usually left wanting more. This is the end of the trilogy (for now) so this was no exception. But I enjoyed the ride and look forward to what Ee cooks up next!

Review + Giveaway Poll – The Ruby Circle (Bloodlines #6) by Richelle Mead

So someone’s been bad. Want to take a wild guess? You guessed right! It’s me! I’m pretty terrible actually.  I was totally sure that I reviewed this book.  That’s why I’m finally posting this review now.  It’s only one of my favorite (if not my all time favorite) YA series!!  I apologize to my fellow Sydrian fans.  I guess I delayed it because I was really hoping this book would help the series go out with a bang, but at the same time I was fearing Mead would give it a bitter-sweet and unsatisfying ending, like she tends to do for her series on several occasions.

Summary (from Goodreads):

THEY WILL BE TESTED

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets – and human lives.

Their forbidden romance exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s bestselling Bloodlines series.

When the life of someone they both love is put on the line, Sydney risks everything to hunt down a deadly former nemesis. Meanwhile, she and Adrian becomes enmeshed in a puzzle that could hold the key to a shocking secret about spirit magic, a secret that could shake the entire Moroi world and alter their lives forever.

Don’t miss their unforgettable final chapter…

Review:

All in all, I sort of ended this series feeling like no news is good news.  I was really hoping for something more exhilarating, but in the end it felt like more of a fizzle. Without a doubt Books 3 and 4 are the best of the series.  This book didn’t feel nearly as special and a few aspects felt like they were on the predictable side.

Sydrian didn’t have the same spark that I felt from them in the earlier books.  The characters remain likable and both have grown which is nice to see, but that’s about all I can say.

I will definitely miss this series, and though I’m happy for a satisfying ended, at the same time I was left wanting more.  I wasn’t into Vampire Academy nearly as much as Bloodlines, and there’s clearly an opportunity for another sequel of 6 after this one.  But I don’t really think I want to follow those characters as the leads so I can’t say for sure if I’ll be reading it.

I wanted to do a giveaway for this one and if you guys want it I’ll certainly offer one, but I sort of wish it was for a better book.  I like to be really excited about them hoping you’ll enjoy them just as much as I did.  But I shall leave it up to you guys!

To Giveaway or to Not Giveaway? That is the question!

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Jurassic World – The Best Sequel Thus Far!

Last year was a pretty good year to be Chris Pratt. He really shot to the Hollywood A-list fast and into America’s hearts thanks to the successes of The Lego Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy.   He’s become so beloved that adding him to the revered Jurassic Park franchise has been generally welcome.

I still remember the original film when I was a kid. It’s one of my favorite movies to this day. Sure, it looks a little dated, but it’s hard to beat first impressions and as a then 8-year-old it was nothing short of amazing. It left big shoes to fill, so its sequels with Jeff Goldblum in 1997 and Sam Niel in 2001 could not recapture the magic for me at the same level. Because of that, I was a little skeptical going into this one, but that wasn’t going to stop me from giving it a shot.

Summary:
Jurassic World is a luxury island resort that houses several genetically engineered dinosaurs. The latest and greatest creation, the Indominus Rex manages to escape its enclosure and wreaks havoc all over the island. The fate of all lives on the island fall on a former military soldier turned animal trainer.

What I liked:
The dinosaurs look better than ever thanks to the advancements in technology.   The velociraptors especially were among my faves. You can always expect excitement with them and this film did something a little different so it didn’t disappoint.

The effects in general were cool and I think it accomplished what it meant to do distinguishing itself as a “world” as opposed to a “park”. Even still, there were throwbacks to the first film that I really appreciated.

I liked Chris Pratt as the lead. He wasn’t quite as exciting as Star Lord, but he held his own well and I liked his authority. The action/adventure genre is really becoming a niche for him.

The final battle, I saw it coming a mile away but I still anticipated it and found it exciting. Two mega alphas square off. Will the torch be passed on? I had no doubt about that answer, though it did make me think of 2014’s Godzilla sequel in that respect.

What I didn’t like:
I think I would have liked even more dinosaur vs. dinosaur action. While the scenes between dinosaur and man were decent, I think they could have gotten away with more brutality between the reptiles.

I did find myself wondering how much better this film could be if it were Rated-R. The franchise has made billions over time, so I actually think it could afford to risk it and the film would have felt like it was treading new ground.

I didn’t like Bryce Dallas Howard for most of the film. I found her character very annoying and unrelatable. I didn’t really care for the brothers either. I didn’t dislike them, but in general they lacked the charisma and chemistry of the Murphy siblings in the original.

The 3D was completely unnecessary and almost gave me a headache, but it did not overtake Insurgent for the worst of the year, so there’s that at least.

Overall:
This is definitely the best sequel yet and worth seeing on the big screen. It doesn’t top the original for me, but I can see younger kids today preferring this one thanks to the improved special effects. And thanks to the few loose ends left, I can definitely see a sequel or more in the foreseeable future.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Spy – Funniest Movie of the Year!

Admittedly I am typically not a Melissa McCarthy fan. Sometimes I find her funny, but most of the time she’s too over the top. Her films were beginning to become predictable as well. She always has to team up with another star as if she can’t hold her own.. So I got accustomed to expecting that from her, but sometimes trying something over and over again will eventually strike the right chord. And that’s exactly what happens in this film.

Summary:
Though she possess great skills in field training, CIA analyst Susan Cooper (played by Melissa McCarthy) decides to help from the sidelines, working as an analyst to guide her designated special agent Bradely Fine (played by Jude Law) through missions. He’s handsome and crafty and they make a great team. She inevitably finds herself in an unrequited love situation. Using state of the art hidden spy equipment to keep in contact, their secret to success is discovered by a formidable foe. Bradley is taken out by Rayna Boyanov (played by Rose Byrne) an arms dealer looking to score a lot of cash to sell a nuclear weapon to the highest bidder. This leaves the CIA in a pinch with no choice but to use Susan as a spy to bring Boyanov to justice and avenge her friend. Fellow operative Rick Ford (played by Jason Statham) is not a fan of this idea and makes plans of his own to solve the case.

What I liked:
Well, it’s a comedy, so the idea is to laugh. I was expecting only a couple of chuckles, but I found myself laughing out loud early on, through the middle, and at the end of the film. So in that sense it’s a complete triumph. This is easily McCarthy’s best work. They toned her down a little to be more relatable which likely helps us connect to the character.

Jason Statham helps make this movie. They were an unlikely team up and the final product pays off big time. They play so well off one another. I didn’t realize he was capable of being so funny while portraying a character with the same bravado we’re used to from his other action films.

It’s also re-watchable. I finished it looking forward to watching it again. That’s not always an automatic reaction for me.

What I didn’t like:
Honestly, I was having too much fun to think about what bugged me. But now that I’ve given it a couple of days perhaps it would have been nice to see Statham do more action scenes. We were mostly told what he did rather than shown. While the film still works without it, that definitely would have made it even more fun.

Overall: If you’re in the mood to laugh then this will deliver. I recommend it. And like most spy movies, this is designed to allow for sequels. I hope they make a great one…or several.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Insidious 3 Review

It’s difficult to scare me when it comes to horror films.  There’s a very short list of them that I consider well done and most of those are over 20 years old and include zombies (Thank you, George A. Romero).  That said, I thought the first Insidious was creepy enough. I actually don’t even recall seeing the second one but this one seemed promising.

Summary:
After teen Quinn Brenner (played by Stefanie Scott) loses her mom, a year and a half later she believes she is sensing her spirit.  She makes efforts to contact her in the afterlife and to do so she reached out to psychic Elise Rainier (played by Lin Shaye). Unfortunately Elise is not in the best state of mind, still emotionally coping with drastic life changes and past occurrences, she is not willing to use her abilities. But once Quinn is clearly targeted by these forces, her father (played by Dermot Mulroney) turns to Elise for help. With the help of two parapsychologists, Elise explores The Further — where she discovers a demon that wants human souls.

What I Liked:

The ending developments make the film more interesting.  Unfortunately it takes too long to get to this point.

Just like in the previous films, Elise is likeable and easy to root for and understand.  I like that this character is able to continue to help anyone in need.  Quinn is definitely sympathetic and easy to root for as well, but for me it was more about her circumstances than her actual personality. Elise has the benefit of having prior films to flesh her out and allow her to grow on an audience.

What I Didn’t Like:

Though it clock in at 97 minutes, I thought it was sort of boring until the final half hour.  I would have liked more time spent in The Further (the alternate reality where the ghosts reside).  Considering the forces after them, spending more time in The Further to confront the ghosts would have made things scarier for me.

The PG-13 rating inevitably neuters the full potential of most horror films and this one isn’t any different.   To this day, The Ring remains the only PG-13 film that’s managed to genuinely scare me.

Overall: Fans of the series will definitely see this one, but if you are not familiar with this franchise and not easy to scare, you might want to look somewhere else for a more exciting time.                                                       

Rating: 2 / 5 Stars

 

Giveaway Winner Selected! The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3) by Deborah Harkness

 

Book of Life

 

Hi everyone! Thank you for participating in this giveaway and thank you so much, Penguin, for reaching out with this awesome opportunity!   Out of 77 entries a winner was randomly chosen. This winner will receive the mass market paperback version of the book!  And the winner is

Nickie Mohler

Congrats!  Check your email for details! Thanks everyone for participating! You know I like to keep them coming so please do stay tuned!

San Andreas

It’s a good year to be Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson! Though to be honest, I feel like I’ve been saying that for a few years in a row. On the heels of the big budget, massively successful juggernaut that was Furious 7 (still the highest grossing film of the year right now), this offers up yet another expensive action excursion of a different persuasion. It’s one we’ve all see before, but hey, it’s got The Rock and he’s the man of the hour. He’s “Mr. Franchise Viagra” (his own words, not mine though I can’t disagree), and I am content to watch him in as many films as possible.

In San Andreas, California all is peaceful until a massive earthquake shakes things up on an epic 9.0 magnitude scale. One super capable search-and-rescue helicopter pilot (played by Dwayne Johnson) risks it all to search the ruins of Los Angeles and San Francisco in order to find his estranged wife (played by Carla Gugino) and daughter (played by Alexandra Daddario).

What I liked:
It doesn’t take long to get to the meat of the situation. Right away we’re introduced to an interesting sequence making me wonder if helicopters are actually capable of such precision maneuvers.
The 3D is not essential but I feel like they did a better job with it than the last several films I’ve seen in 3D, so I wouldn’t say it’s completely unnecessary.

The effects were well done and I liked seeing their daughter be a leader and act just as capable as Johnson’s character. It offered a nice balance.

If you like seeing Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino on screen together again then this should deliver. They seem to like working with one another (this is their third film together) and they work well on screen together in my opinion.

What I didn’t like:
The story is weak and predictable. I was hoping for a little more from Paul Giamatti’s character. He is capable of playing interesting roles, but this guy was your standard scientist that has to warn the public of what’s to come. Certain parts of the story reminded me of Taken, especially the estranged/ex-wife being wooed by a billionaire and only the workaholic father is able to save their daughter when faced with impossible odds.

Overall, if you’ve seen one disaster flick you’ve seen them all. It really boils down to WHO you want to see doing the running and WHICH particular landmarks you want to see crash and burn. This movie never pretended to be anything more than that, so for me it delivered.

Rating: 3/5