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Insurgent Review

I read the first Divergent novel a few years back.  I know fans defend it against the accusations that it’s a Hunger Games rip-off but in general the YA Dystopian genre just isn’t my favorite.  I didn’t dislike the book, but I just wasn’t eager to continue it.  And after learning that the series was going to be filmed, I decided to watch the sequels instead. The first film was entertaining enough. I didn’t love it or hate it but I thought it adapted well enough from the book. So I assumed Insurgent would be the same.

Erudites are out for blood, Divergent blood to be exact.  Jeanine (played by Kate Winslet) is on the tails of Tris (played by Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James) and co as they make a run for it throughout the ruins of Chicago.  More of the story is uncovered to figure out what Erudites are really after.  Tris and Four’s backs are against the wall and the fate of the world depends almost entirely on them.

What I Liked: The setting it pretty cool. Though I don’t live in Chicago I’ve visited the city my fair share of times for family reunions. It’s one of my favorite places to visit in the summer months.  So I found it interesting to see the dystopian take on it.  I specifically thought about some of the spots I visited as we’re showed their ruined counterparts. I think they did a better job than the original in this aspect.

Theo James. I could watch him on screen all day.  He’s really not a bad actor either, but he provides plenty of eye candy.

Kate Winslet.  While this isn’t my favorite roll for her, her performance is still one of the highlights.  Though for some reason she reminded me of a younger Madonna in a number of scenes.

What I Didn’t Like:  The 3D. Oh my god was it atrocious!  I had to lift my glasses up multiple times just to give my eyes a slight rest. I had a headache and felt nauseous. This was actually one of my worst 3D experiences. I am usually fine if the film has been filmed in 3D, but when it is post-converted more often than not I experience problems. And it’s not like 3D was essential to the movie.  If anything it detracted from it for me.

The book-to-movie plot didn’t strike a balance as well as the first one. This one felt too crowded and at the same time sort of empty, which is typical for middle books in a series.  You want to save the meat for the end most times.  Though strangely enough, I thought Catching Fire was a lot better than its first film even though the book wasn’t as good.

Overall: The terrible 3D had me over this film around the first hour and it’s a two-hour film. The tired premise didn’t really help either. I left sort of dreading that the third book has to be split into two films, riding on Harry Potter’s coat tails to make more money. At this point unless the trailers look promising I may decide to skip the next two. It’s not like I don’t know the spoilers for the final book anyway, so waiting for them to get to the point (Which they can now drag out with two films) is going to be even more agonizing.

Rating: 2 / 5 Stars

GIVEAWAY WINNER! Burned (Fever #7) by Karen Marie Moning

Thank you guys for entering the giveaway! It’s always nice to see a bunch of readers enthusiastic enough to read new things by this wonderful author. The winner randomly chosen to receive a copy of Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #6) by Ilona Andrews is:

Pam Blome

Congrats! Please keep an eye out for an email from me so that I can get your contact info.  Again, thank you all for participating.  Check out my Giveaways page for info on past giveaways as well as those that I have lined up next!  I’m keepin ‘em comin’!  I’m working on my review for The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead so I’ll have a review and giveaway ready for that preeeetty soon!

Cinderella: Classic Fairytale Comes to Life

This age-old tale gets a live action remake! Cinderella is my favorite old school Disney film. Though Sleeping Beauty is not far behind, this is my #1. So I was very excited to learn they would be giving this the Maleficent treatment.

After the untimely passing of her father, Ella (played by Lily James) is left in the care of her cruel stepmother (played by Cate Blanchett) and stepsisters who treat her like nothing more than a maid. She remains a hopeful and good-natured person in spite of this. After an open invitation to the royal palace, Ella looks forward to meeting a handsome stranger (played by Richard Madden) whom she recently met in the woods. He just so happens to live in the palace, but she has no idea she was in the presence of royalty. Her stepmother and sisters ruin her chances to attend the ball, but armed with her magical wand her fairy godmother has other plans.

What I Liked:  It keeps to the spirit of the original animated version extremely well and offers improvements. One of those improvements would be evil stepmother’s wardrobe. Cate Blanchette’s outfits slayed. She was so stylish and her character could seamlessly fit into one of my favorite films, The Devil Wear’s Prada. She played the role very well. Her eyes were so intense at times and you effectively loved to hate her. She was probably my favorite character of the movie doing the best job of the cast to bring her role to life. It’s one of those roles where it could be too over the top and campy, but she managed to prevent that.

The scenery and costumes were breathtaking and the colors were beautiful. I’m a sucker for that kind of thing and it provides plenty eye candy in that regard.

And speaking of eye candy, Richard Madden is dashing as ever as the Prince. It was a little hard for me to shake that he is Rob Stark all cleaned up. I also enjoyed Lily James’s portrayal as Cinderella. She has been getting a lot of flack regarding her tiny waist but I honestly didn’t find it distracting. I just figured they had her in a corset and considering that this is an adaptation of a cartoon I didn’t mind them exaggerating it slightly.

What I Didn’t Like:  While I liked that this film maintained the spirit of the original, that meant that the romance between Cinderella and the Prince developed shallowly. Ever After with Drew Barrymore is one of my favorite films and it’s a looser interpretation of the tale. One aspect I enjoyed in that film was that they did a good job at fleshing out the relationship between her character and the Prince. It’s still the best job I’ve seen to date actually.

I was hoping they’d recreate the soundtrack of the original. I was a little let down that they didn’t, at least when it came to the more signature songs.

Going back to the subject of the Prince. Though he was handsome, his personality for me felt a little flat. Perhaps it’s just the nature of the character, but I think of my other favorite Disney Princes come to life like James Mardsen in Enchanted and Chris Pine in Into the Woods who plays Madden’s character. He’s a warped version mind you, and bit less charming when you learn of his true intentions, but he was interesting and refreshing in his own way and Pine pulled out a memorable performance among a stacked cast.

Overall: It’s feel good film and I would say I enjoyed it more than Maleficent if you’re going to group these together. I’m not sure if I enjoyed it as much as Into the Woods but the Cinderella fangirl in me feels like I probably need to buy this on Blu-ray. Next up is my favorite of the 90s generation, Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson. I’m crossing my fingers that they’ll sing the songs this time. In the meantime, I have been thorough entertained by the rap battle between Cinderella and Belle:

Rating: 4/5 stars.  That’s for the movie. This rap battle gets a 4.5/5  ~_^.

*This review is a guest review for my friends over at The Grand Shuckett.

Chappie Review

Well, unlike several people I still enjoyed Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium quite a bit.  It wasn’t at the level of District 9 for me, but it was still engaging.  I know some were concerned that he was beginning to fall into a rut as a writer and director.  Chappie would have proved it.  As a Short Circuit and Robocop fan, I didn’t mind taking the plunge to see for myself.

Robot police forces in South Africa are on the front lines to protect and serve, patrolling the town and discovering criminal activity.  A particular robot becomes a casualty in a shoot out.  And as a young engineer discovers the potential, he provides a programming code that will turn the robot sentient. The robot, affectionately  named “Chappie (played by Sharlto Copley),” figures out human behavior leaving law enforcement become wary, seeing him as dangerous and wanting to make sure nothing like this exists in the future.

 What I Liked:
Chappie as a character is endearing, funny, and innocent.  I thought he did well to humanize the inhumane characters around him.  His design was a good choice to emulate human movement allowing us to connect to the character better.

I like that Blompkamp appears to enjoy working with Sharlto Copley as he’s made sure to include him in every one of his films thus far. He’s a really good actor that we don’t see enough of these days.

What I Didn’t Like:
Blomkamps need to highlight the risks and results of poverty are duly noted, but it came off as a contrived after using Johannesburg once again. I half expected this to be a legit sequel to District 9. While I do still want to see one made, films like these concern me that he’s ran out of ideas to make it good enough.

I tend to like Hugh Jackman’s characters when he plays as someone likable.  Unfortunately that was not the case here.  I also found his character a bit uneven.  I understand that sympathetic villains are common, but I wasn’t sure as to how I was supposed to feel about him and if is he was onto something for a greater purpose.

The weird existential turn it takes toward the end lacked impact and proper built up.  That angle should have been explored well throughout the film.  In the end it made the moment feel a bit cheap.

I teased about this being an R-Rated Short Circuit!  In reality the action was fun, though I will admit the R-rating left me expecting more.  It didn’t feel like and R-rating for me until the end when it became a lot more graphic.  Maybe it’s the language I missed that did it?  Either way it comes off as a missed opportunity.  An R-rated Short Circuit would be really cool.  But I guess we’ll see that the day Power Rangers get an R-rated film.  Oh wait!!  ~_^

Overall: This one would have gotten one extra star if he said “Johnny 5 is alive.” While not bad, I think I would have preferred he did a Short Circuit reboot instead.  He is tapped to direct the latest Alien film so it definitely wouldn’t have been below him to do it. Chappie is certainly watchable, but it still can’t tough the brilliance of District 9.

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars

*This review is a guest review for my friends over at The Grand Shuckett.

The Last: Naruto The Movie

Synopsis: Two years after the events of the Fourth Shinobi World War, the moon begins to descend towards the Earth. With the moon now a meteor that would destroy everything on impact, Naruto must deal with this new threat.

What I liked:
Save for a few weird moments when they were clearly using the B-team, I thought the animation was great. Hinata’s never looked better and the action was good! I don’t really care for Naruto’s new hair in the film, but I thought it was fine in the manga. The art style of opening sequence alone was fabulous to see on the big screen. I was honestly hoping it would have lasted a little longer but I imagine many painstaking man hours went into making it look that good.

There was more action than I was expecting. Yeah I’m a shipper but I love shounen because of the action. Preview viewers were commenting on how heavy they were pushing the romance element. Yeah it was there and yeah it was cheesy, the fun kind of cheesy, but I was actually expecting even more based on how they were talking about it, so I think it satisfied the action quota and romance quota alike.

I liked the mature feel of the film. The characters are growing up and that certainly made me nostalgic thinking about how far they’ve come. Even still there were a number of scenes that had me laughing and smiling all throughout.

I liked some of the orchestral renditions of the classic Naruto themes. Overall the soundtrack is solid.

The assembled team was very enjoyable. Naruto and Hinata get the most attention naturally, but I think the team was a good choice and everyone played off one another well. Sai is great source of comedy, Shikamaru is good support system for Naruto to get him motivated from a Shinobi standpoint, and Sakura was the NaruHina ship captain emphasizing Hinata’s perspective for Naruto. She also really came through during some crucial moments so I think we see her at her best. It was nice seeing Sakura and Hinata bond because this series has a severe lack of female bromances and they’re my two favorites. Too bad it has to be over boys, but I’ll take what I can get.

Considering that SP worked on this 2 years before the manga ended I thought they resolved NaruHina fairly well. I’ve shipped it for 10 years now. Am I crazy about the time skip? No. I think that if this film didn’t happen then Kishimoto would have resolved it another way within the manga, but this was a worthwhile trade off to portray it in a way that Kishi wasn’t comfortable with penning himself since he isn’t comfortable drawing romance. It acknowledges most manga interactions, and incorporating their past scenes together in order for Naruto to “get it” was a nice touch. It made me feel like they’ve come full circle. I think if this film started production after the manga ended then they could have done a little more since the source material would have been complete, but I understand that they wanted to get this film out in a timely manner to the series’s end; it was inevitable that a couple of things would be lost. All in all that did not ruin my overall feel for the ship or the tone of the film. It felt like a collaboration between Kishimoto and Studio Pierrot and not just Studio Pierrot doing whatever they wanted.

What I didn’t like:
My biggest gripes for the ship were the results of Kishi’s demands: the time skip and the scarf. I still would have preferred them to become canon pre 699. I still would have wanted a movie but I would have liked to have seen more of them already as a couple instead of the flirting and awkwardness and whatnot. That’s just my personal preference. But if there’s any NaruHina story to be told, then I’ll be there with bells on. I think the film accomplished what it set out to do; it pleased its target audience. I think the cheers, reported tears, and overall enthusiasm of the crowd equate to a success.

Next up, the scarf theme, I thought it was cute and I understand the significance since Kishi wanted to tie in how he met his own wife, and I get that it’s a symbol of her feelings, but at times it felt like overkill. To the film’s credit though, it was definitely self aware and made jokes out of how often Hinata was knitting.

One annoyance was that Naruto said Hinata’s name a bajillion times. I’m pretty sure someone tallied it to be about 60+ times; that’s a lot in a 2 hour time span. That became a little much, but it reminded me of when they’d make her say Naruto’s name a bunch of times throughout the series, sometimes out of nowhere when it wasn’t even necessary. They toned it down on her end and that’s fine with me. It’s about time the shoe was on the other foot.

The Sasuke fan in me would have preferred no Sasuke at all. And if there HAD to be Sasuke a cameo then definitely not one of him returning to Konoha of all places. Considering how things ended in the manga between Sasuke and Sakura before the epilogue (if NaruHina’s the yin then SasuSaku’s the yang), this avid SasuSaku shipper (*points to self*) was not feeling that at all. You can’t give me a cameo and then think that should be enough when there are a lot of questions surrounding him. #SorryNotSorry! If they left him out completely it would have been just fine since they weren’t going to do anything with him.

The villain was nothing special but my expectations were so low that he actually wasn’t that bad. He was involved in a few cool action sequences and the NaruHina cockblocks made you love to hate him.

Overall:
For the most part I enjoyed it and I’m glad I get a second chance to watch it next week to see what I missed. After nearly 10 years in the Naruto fandom a film like The Last is a real treat and not to missed by anyone who is a fan of the NaruHina ship.  I decided to attend the first US release with a bunch of fellow friends and fantards that I’ve known since pretty much the beginning!  That made the experience even better. It was certainly more enjoyable for me than the anime has been as of late. It was engaging from beginning to end. It wouldn’t have been as interesting if it weren’t for the NaruHina element but this clearly their best effort for any Naruto movie to date.

I’d give it a 7.5/10.

 

Review + Giveaway! Burned (Fever #7) by Karen Marie Moning

Synopsis: It’s easy to walk away from lies. Power is another thing.

MacKayla Lane would do anything to save the home she loves. A gifted sidhe-seer, she’s already fought and defeated the deadly Sinsar Dubh—an ancient book of terrible evil—yet its hold on her has never been stronger.

When the wall that protected humans from the seductive, insatiable Fae was destroyed on Halloween, long-imprisoned immortals ravaged the planet. Now Dublin is a war zone with factions battling for control. As the city heats up and the ice left by the Hoar Frost King melts, tempers flare, passions run red-hot, and dangerous lines get crossed.

Seelie and Unseelie vie for power against nine ancient immortals who have governed Dublin for millennia; a rival band of sidhe-seers invades the city, determined to claim it for their own; Mac’s former protégé and best friend, Dani “Mega” O’Malley, is now her fierce enemy; and even more urgent, Highland druid Christian MacKeltar has been captured by the Crimson Hag and is being driven deeper into Unseelie madness with each passing day. The only one Mac can depend on is the powerful, dangerous immortal Jericho Barrons, but even their fiery bond is tested by betrayal.

It’s a world where staying alive is a constant struggle, the line between good and evil gets blurred, and every alliance comes at a price. In an epic battle against dark forces, Mac must decide who she can trust, and what her survival is ultimately worth.

Review: This is one of my favorite series.  I read the original 5 books in 6 days because they were just that addictive.  Iced was an entertaining read as well from Dani’s POV.  So where did I falter in my expectations this time around?  Well, I didn’t keep up to date enough with Ms. Moning’s plans. I was under the impression that book’s 6-8 would be from Dani’s POV.  I didn’t want to read up on the synopsis too much, especially since the books were being pushed back due to unforeseen circumstances.  So imagine my surprise to finally get my hands on it and not only is it filled with a million POVs, but it’s mostly Mac’s!

I wasn’t sure how to feel about that.  I like Mac, I really do, but I was looking forward to a break from her until book 9. I wanted to get into the heads of other characters.  Dani may have been annoying for others but she grew on me. I was able to understand where she was coming from as a teen growing up in all of this.  I know these books aren’t YA, but that’s one of the reasons it appealed to me.  I liked the challenge of having her navigate through this rough and unforgiving world, growing up too quickly in order to survive.

Despite my disappointment with the lack of Dani, there were some highlights in the book.  I liked becoming a little more familiar with other characters  for a change.  I just wish this book would have focused on fleshing out a few at a time instead of several. I found myself liking Ryodan’s character more then Iced, so for future books Moning is on the upward trend with him.  Barron’s is Barrons and he has a few memorable quotes.  She does well with keeping him in character which the fans should enjoy. Of course the infamous sex scene of Mac and Barron’s first encounter is officially canon now.  If you didn’t know, Moning wrote it a few years back as a journal entry.  And it’s not much of a spoiler because it will be the first thing you read when you open up the book.  While I am on the fence about my opinion on its resolution, dubious consent aside I do give her props for deciding to tackle the decision head on in the story.  Mac’s certainly endured worse.

If you have come to expect cliffhangers from Moning then you won’t be disappointed here because we get one as tall as the Grand Canyon is wide.  I am not as upset about it because we’ll be getting another book later this year.  It’s just that on my ebook it was at the 90% mark when it happened.  The rest was an appendix describing the world, characters, and creatures so you can imagine that it felt extremely abrupt.  This book was 2-3 years in the making.  It doesn’t feel like that type of effort to me, but I think the next book should give us more to chew on.  Burned still has its highlights and it is absolutely essential to read if you plan to continue the story.

Giveaway

So I’ve got another one! Do you want a copy of my book? Well, you might be in luck!  One lucky winner of my blog will receive a copy of the novel! Just tell me your favorite thing about the Fever Series or if you’re new to it what you’re looking forward to.

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 2/20/15 – 3/6/15. Good luck!

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Kingsman: The Secret Service

I was in the mood for a seemingly good film this week, so I skipped 50 Shades and opted for this one instead.

Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (played by Taron Egerton) is an at-risk youth headed down the wrong path. With no father figure due to his dad’s death while secretly working for a spy organization, trouble has a way of finding him. However, agent Harry Hart (played by Colin Firth) reaches out to him after discovering his potential, recruiting him to be a trainee for the secret service. He will need to train him fast in order to thwart the plans of Richmond Valentine (played by Samuel L. Jackson) who seeks to launch a worldwide killing spree in hopes of solving global warming.

What I Liked:
I like James Bond and I like Kickass. Kingsman is like a perfect blend of the two. It’s very self aware of the spy movie clichés which is a plus. It’s a lot of fun and very colorful too. It reminded me of films directed by McG like Charlie’s Angels 1 and 2, This Means War, etc. I liked the tones and it was shot well. All the nifty gadgets were cool and they kept getting bigger and better up until the end. A lot of attention was paid to the action scenes to make the movements really snap. Colin Firth as Harry is AWESOME in this. He is obviously a very well respected serious actor, but he is one of the main reasons why this film is as good as it is. I loved seeing him kick butt and I thought he was a good mentor Eggsy. His storyline is the most compelling of the cast to me so I would have liked more exploration there.

Samuel L. Jackson as Valentine is okay. It’s not signature role for him like Nick Fury, but he seemed to be having fun with it.

What I Didn’t Like:
The action is fun, but the CGI is noticeable so it takes some of the realism out of the moment. It’s as if they were considering making it PG-13 but then decided on R and then added more blood and gore to accommodate for it.

Sofia Boutella really stands out as Gazelle, the evil but charming sidekick to Valentine. She’s not your everyday villain that’s for sure. It’s not easy to forget a character with blades for prosthetic legs. While she does do some pretty gnarly things with those blades, I actually think they could have done a little bit more. What we get is certainly adequate though. As a trained dancer she handled the fight choreography well. I certainly would have waived my white flag! I’d like to see her in more projects.

Overall:
It’s fearless, bold, and very entertaining. A sequel would be quite a bit different from the first one, but I would like to see it anyway

Rating: 3.75 / 5 Stars

*This is a guest review for my friends over at The Grand Shuckett

Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels, #7) by Ilona Andrews

Synopsis: As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers. Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate.

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear…

Review:  I know I’m late to the party on this one. I surprise even myself, especially since I read Burn for Me first! *slaps self* Bad bad!  But I finally got around to it.  Ilona Andrews is like old faithful. You know you’re getting a good read no matter what.  While I thought this was a good book, it wasn’t my favorite.  There’s a ton of action and it definitely meets the level we’ve come to expect from them.  This one wasn’t a quotable for me as past books though.  I found myself missing Curran a great deal.  Of course, Kate misses him too but that doesn’t cure the itch for their lack of interaction.  They went through a lot of turmoil in the last book so I was expecting the results of that to carry over to this one, but it was as if none of that happened.  I totally guessed Andrea’s new situation, so I snickered to myself a bit on that one. There are game changing moments that are established, but we don’t really see the follow through here.  All of it will have to wait for future books so I was left wanting to read them ASAP.

I also wasn’t so sure about the love scene. I mean, the scene was fine, it’s just that the placement felt a little random. It was like it was an after thought that the authors realized they needed to add  into the book before its end. There have been prior books where sex isn’t depicted at all and I didn’t enjoy it any less.  And because the tone of the book is so action and fantasy oriented, I think placing better overtones throughout the book would have made me think “finally!” instead of “that was random.”

Julie’s short story as a bonus read  was a decent introduction if they want to consider a spin-off.  However, I think I should have waited to pick it up until later because I was still trying to digest the ending of the main story. As a result, I wasn’t as invested as I wanted to be.

Overall the developments were interesting but this can easily fit into the “transition” book category for me. The one plus with waiting so late to read it is that the wait for the next book won’t be quite as long. So yay me!

 

 

Seventh Son Review

I saw the trailers for this going “Oh is that Prince Caspian in a new movie? Indeed it is! He doesn’t get enough work, I say!” Though this movie didn’t look like it was breaking any new ground, I figured I’d give it a try anyway.

Dark Magic rears its ugly head in this fantasy adventure. Decades ago Supernatural champion Master Gregory (played by Jeff Bridges) imprisons witch Mother Malkin (played by Julianne Moore). However, somehow she escapes and wants revenge. She calls upon her siblings lying in wait, enlisting their help to show all of mankind her wrath. She has to get past Master Gregory first though. Gregory takes Tom Ward (played by Ben Barnes) under his wing as his new apprentice, but time is running short until the next red moon, which will allow evil to prevail. He has to teach Tom to overcome dark magic in record time.

What I Liked:  It looks pretty good in IMAX 3D! The film actually makes good use of the 3D capabilities, making it a little more immersive. Some action scenes have a few objects and creatures jumping out at the screen, occasionally startling you. The visuals were nice if a bit unoriginal.

What I Didn’t Like: Ben Barnes’s portrayal of Tom is fine. It’s just that when it came to the character you want to like him, but he does make some pretty silly decisions. He doesn’t listen and that gets him into trouble more than once. And he seems to be a little selfish sometimes, more wrapped up in the girl than saving the world. As a character with his psychic abilities, I just feel like he would be more concerned about getting to the bottom of the disturbing images he’s been seeing.

I like Jeff Bridges, just not as Master Gregory. Though I enjoyed his action scenes, his pronunciation was purposely weird. I didn’t always know what he was saying as his speech came out too garbled. Julianne Moore, I can’t recall seeing her as a villain in the past. Perhaps she’s done it, but I haven’t seen all of her films. It certainly wasn’t the worst character, but I think they could have done more to make her unique. She could have been more sympathetic than I found her. But she got through this mediocre film without me questioning her merits as an actor too much, so that’s a plus.

Overall: Was it a great film? No. Did it bring anything memorable to the table? No. But it’s watchable and if I had to choose between seeing this one and Jupiter Ascending this weekend, then this one is better.

Rating: 2.5 / 5 Stars

*This is a guest review for my buddies over at TheGrandShuckett.com

Jupiter Ascending – Descending is more like it…

jupiter

I guess they thought throwing the Wachowski name on this film would hype it up as if we were in for some real quality.  But I didn’t forget about Matrix 2 and 3 (while the original remains one of my favorite films of all time).  And then pushing this film back didn’t inspire much hope either.  Even still, I was curious about what they’d do with a film carrying a $175 million price tag.

Jupiter Jones (played by Mila Kunis) was always destined for greatness.  Of course it doesn’t start out that way, as she lives a life as a housecleaner doing backbreaking and tireless work. But that’s about to drastically change when she meets Caine (played by Channing Tatum), an otherworldly hunter who travels to earth to find her and lead her to her future.  Jupiter is the reincarnation of royalty who must claim an extraordinary inheritance that will shape the future of the universe.

What I Liked:
The visuals were nice. I thought some of the creature designs were imaginative and it was eye candy for any sci-fi fan.

What I Didn’t Like:
The acting.  Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum felt so out of place here.  I can usually handle Kunis in comedy and roles where I don’t have to take her seriously.  But here, her dramatic acting could use a lot of work.  I felt no sympathy for her woes and her delivery just didn’t feel natural at all.  I actually was expecting Channing to be the worst of the two, but he annoyed me a lot less. No, I still don’t buy him as a sci-fi guy.  22 Jump Street? I was there! Magic Mike? I was there! Magic Mike 2? I’ll be there! But Channing Tatum with elf ears? It’s only good to see out of curiosity to confirm that this is not the genre for him.  Their chemistry was off for me too so it was hard to buy them as a couple.

They weren’t the worst offenders though. Eddie Redmayne, what were you thinking? For anybody who found Christian Bale’s voice as the Dark Knight irritating, multiply that by 10 for Redmayne’s portrayal of Balem Abrasax, villain and Jupiter’s biggest obstacle to fulfilling her destiny.  And to think he might have an Oscar by next month… Not saying he’s not a good actor.  This is just the perfect example of what a bad role can do.

The storytelling didn’t make a lot of sense at times. The premise was not nearly as deep as it could have been.  The editing didn’t help matters.  It felt a bit odd in certain places.  There were pacing issues and strange cuts that ruined the flow, even to the point of eliciting laughs from the audience occasionally.

Overall:
If I am looking at my watch constantly during the last half hour of a $175 million movie, there is a serious problem. Nothing is more disappointing than wasted potential. There were a lot of missteps with this one unfortunately and the sooner the studios can put this one behind them, the better.

Rating: 1.5 / 5 Stars

*This review is a guest review for my friends over at The Grand Shuckett.