Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, 2015

Sharknado 3 oh hell no

July 22, 2015
Dir. Anthony C. Ferrante
Prod. David Michael Latt
Genre: American Disaster Horror Sci-Fi
Starring: Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Cassie Scerbo, Bo Derek, Mark McGrath, Frankie Muniz, Ryan Newman, Mark Cuban, Jack Griffo, David Hasselhoff

My first thought when I saw the commercial for Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! was “Oh hell yes!”. My next thought was, “these movies get worse and worse every year. I can’t wait to watch it!” I then immediately went and listened to the Sharknado song (video at the end of this review) which has now been stuck in my head ever since.

Sharknado 3 is everything I was hoping it would be and more. Unlike the first two, the third film in the series doesn’t take place in just one city, but instead goes all the way from Washington, DC to Florida. With many returning characters from the first and second films and a wide array of new faces, Oh Hell No! takes cheesy shark film to a whole new level.

Where do I begin with Sharknado 3? I don’t think it really need too much description as far as plot goes. Anyone who has seen the first two know the general idea and, if you don’t know what it’s about, just read the title. It’s about a Sharknado. What is a Sharknado?

Sharks! Tornado! Sharknado!

That was said in the trailer for the first film and I still remember the exact voice and way it was said and is the way I describe Sharknado to everyone I know.

Honestly, this film is gold. Really, the whole series is (and yes, I said series. They announced a fourth film shortly after the third one premiered). Sharks in space, stair-surfing, sharks on waterslides, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! had everything.

Sharknado - Shark surfing

There were many notable actors and actresses in this film, including David Hasselhoff, Frankie Muniz, Mark Cuban, and even with appearances from Lou Ferrigno, Penn and Teller, Jedward, and even George R.R. Martin who died during a screening of “Shark Wedding”. Well played Sharknado 3, well played.

George R.R. Martin

Having the main character in a shark film be named Fin is super cheesy and I laugh every time. Then, just when I thought it couldn’t get worse (better), Fin’s father is named Gil. And who plays Gil? None other than The Hoff. Yes, David Hasselhoff was in Sharknado 3.

It’s always funny because I just try to imagine what it must be like to have any of the Sharknado films on your resume. Like, I’d say a good majority of people have at least heard of the film by now and I just try to picture people’s reactions to seeing that on an actor’s resume when you’re casting them for a film or show.

One aspect of this film that I think many people enjoyed was the introduction of Lucas who was played by Frankie Muniz. Seriously, I could not count the number of Malcolm in the Middle jokes made. This one was definitely the most popular:

Sharknado 3 - Malcolm The Middle

Mark Cuban also played a part in this film as the President of the United States. If you can have one of the guys from Shark Tank say, “This is for America baby” as he’s using machine guns to fire, you’ve done well. Though apparently not well enough to afford a good green screen, as was displayed when Fin, Martin, the President, and Vice-President kill a shark with a giant American flag in front of the Washington Monument. It was the worst green screen effect I have ever seen in a film and I loved it.

Sharknado 3 - Green Screen

We saw the return of Fin’s beloved chainsaw in this film. Seriously, if a sharknado ever actually happens I’m just going to grab a chainsaw because apparently that’s all you need to survive. He actually had a golden chainsaw in this film which was actually part of his award given to him at the ceremony in Washington. I’m fairly certain that most awards given are probably fake, but not this one. Fin got a working, golden chainsaw because why not.

Sharknado 3 - Lightsaber Chainsaw

He also had what looked like a lightsaber chainsaw while they were in space. Little nod at Star Wars? I think so. Even April had a chainsaw this time around! Well, a handsaw. Yup, that’s right. After losing her hand in Sharknado 2: The Second One, April apparently replaced the missing appendage with a chainsaw. Pretty cool, but it seems a little inconvenient (not to mention dangerous) when you think about the fact that she’s going to be holding a baby soon.

Also returning was Nova who we hadn’t seen since the first one. They took the return of Nova as a chance to coin the term “Post-Traumatic Shark Disorder” which was the best decision they could’ve made.

Sharknado - PTSharkD

At one part of the film, Fin and The Hoff are going up into space to set off a laser (a terrible CGI laser) to destroy the sharks. April ends up climbing aboard the rocket and going with them Now, they don’t usually let pregnant women fly on a plane during their third trimester, I’m about 99% certain that going to space probably wouldn’t be a good idea either, but I’m guessing no one’s ever really tested the theory.

Sharknado 3 - Sharks in Space

But then, I guess if sharks can survive in space the baby will be fine. Seriously, the sharks in these films are indestructible to everything except gunshots and chainsaws. How is that they can survive in space and in tornados, but a single shotgun wound can kill them? How? Can someone answer that for me?

Probably the absolute most ridiculous part of the film (and that’s saying something) was April giving birth inside the shark. Now I’m going to be totally honest, I wasn’t aware Fin and April had older children. I guess that little detail went right over my head during the first two films when I was focusing a lot more on the sharknados.

While they’re in space April is eaten by a shark that then begins to plunge back down to Earth because apparently gravity decided the sharks weren’t allowed to be in space anymore. April somehow survived and, in a dramatic twist, she’s the one who chainsawed her way out of the shark this time. Along with the baby!

Sharknado 3 - Baby

How ridiculous does this thing look? Like, I thought the CGI on the sharks was bad, this baby is so obnoxiously fake looking, they weren’t even trying. But, just like everything, this only made the film a thousand times better.

One thing I was disappointed about was that we didn’t get to see Jedward being eaten by sharks. Jerry Springer was attacked by the shark from Jaws, but Jedward lived. *sigh*

Sharknado 3 - Jerry

The film ends with a giant piece of space metal falling on April and it is up to viewers to vote for whether or not she lives or dies in the fourth one. I mean, realistically she’d be dead. I’m surprised she’s made it to number three already. But this is Sharknado and if April can give birth while inside a shark in space, there’s no way a piece of space metal will kill her. That’ll actually be the most unrealistic thing in the whole series.

The acting is bad, the CGI is terrible, the music is fantastic, and I am incredibly excited for the fourth one. Sharknado 3 was just as gloriously bad and fantastic as the previous two. I’m so glad these movies exist in the capacity that they do and I really want to thank Anthony C. Ferrante for bringing these masterpieces to the screen.

If you haven’t seen Sharknado 3 yet, or any of the Sharknado films for that matter, go watch them now. They are so worth it and you will be laughing for days.

Did you watch Sharknado 3? What did you think?

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Insidious, 2010

Insidious

September 14, 2010
Dir. James Wan
Prod. Jason Blum, Steven Schneider, Oren Peli
Genre: Supernatural Horror
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Ty Simpkins, Barbara Hershey, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Andrew Astor

It feels like ages since I last wrote a film review! I decided that to get back in the swing of things I would start with one of my favourite horror films: Insidious!

Now, I’m not usually a big fan of horror. I’ve seen my fair share and I’ve definitely gotten into it more in the past few years, but it really depends on the type of horror.

Gore? Can’t do it. All the Saw films are out and even Final Destination 5 was too much. Stuff with real people? Forget it. And I don’t mean real actors, I mean just normal people who wear masks and break in to people’s houses to torture them. Scream, Cabin in the Woods, The Purge terrify me. Some of them I can take, like Prom only because it’s more stupid than scary.

Weird supernatural things that don’t really make sense? Those I can do. They freak me out, but it’s the kind of freaky and scared feeling that is enjoyable in a horror film. That’s how I feel about Insidious.

When Renai (Byrne) and Josh (Wilson) Lambert move into a new house with their three children: Dalton (Simpkins), Foster (Astor), and baby Cali, they think things are going to be perfect. However, it isn’t long before strange things begin happening.

After Dalton mysteriously falls into a coma, seemingly for no reason, Renai begins noticing things around the house. Strange sounds coming from the baby monitor, the piano playing by itself, even weird figures suddenly appearing in the house.

The couple eventually decide to move to a new house, but the strange occurrences do not stop. Despite Josh’s disbelief at the whole situation, his mother, Lorrain (Hershey), decides to call an old friend, Elise Rainier (Shaye), who she believes can help.

Elise discovers Dalton has a gift; an ability that allows him to travel when he sleeps. According to Elise, this isn’t good and Dalton has travelled too far to a place called “The Further”. Here, other entities live, evil entities who are trying to use Dalton’s body as a way to travel to the human world. One demon in particular has attached itself and they must find a way to bring Dalton back before it is too late. The only way to get him nback? Send Josh into The Further and rescue Dalton, but Josh must do so without bringing anything else back with them.

I love this film. It’s creepy without being over the top terrifying. The acting is amazing, the music is great, and despite the supernatural elements, it’s one of the more realistic horror films I’ve seen. I’ll get to why in a minute.

The cast in this film all did an amazing job. When you make a supernatural horror, you run the risk that your cast won’t be convincing. They need to believably pretend that they’re really encountering these spirits and entities. Even if the spirit is a person in a costume, if they can’t pretend it’s real and make their performance convincing it can ruin the whole film. The Messengers anyone? However, I didn’t find that to be the case with Insidious. The children in particular did a fantastic job.

I always wonder what it must be like to be a kid in a horror film. It’s not like other child actors who go, do their thing on set, and then go home and forget it all. If you’re in a horror movie that stuff can follow you home. Ty Simpkins even said he cried while making the first film.

However, that fear did not deter any acting ability and both Ty and Andrew did a phenomenal job in their roles, both in this and the sequel.

Someone else who did an amazing job was the composer. Honestly, the scary scenes in this film probably wouldn’t be all that scary if it weren’t for the music. Creepy music sets the scene, it’s what really makes you jump when the demon appears.

I actually find the Insidious soundtrack/score to be one of the creepier ones I’ve heard. In most films or even video games I usually find there’s some sort of build up. The scary strings start quietly and build to the moment where the monster or villain jumps out.

Insidious is like: oh, it’s nice and peaceful and then BAM! Scary strings and demon are in the room!

And don’t even get me started on this song:

This song sounds like it could be nice, right? It’s bubbly and talking about tulips. But nope, nope, it’s just super creepy. I kind of wonder what it would be like if I hadn’t heard this song for the first time in this film. Would I like it? Would it be less creepy? Or would it not make a difference and it’s just a naturally creepy song.

Like, every time I hear “Supermassive Black Hole” by Muse, I think of vampires playing baseball. Every time I hear this song, I picture the creepy red-faced demon and the old lady.

Fun fact about the red-faced demon that I learned last week is that he is actually played by the composer of the score, Joseph Bishara. He works as a composer on many horror films sometimes actually appears in the films. Not only was he the red-faced demon, but he was also Bathsheba in The Conjuring and Demonic Figure in Annabelle.

I really enjoy the Insidious films because, as creepy as they are, they still manage to add a bit of humour. The humour comes in the forms of Specs (Whannell, who also wrote the film) and Tucker (Sampson). Their banter and fear over what they’re seeing adds a comic element to an otherwise scary film. It also adds a dose of reality because, let’s face it, most of us would react to a ghost by screaming and tripping over ourselves to get away.

But this is only one of the things that makes it more real. I said earlier that Insidious is actually one of the more realistic horror films I’ve seen. Sounds crazy, right? Given what the main premise of the film is.

It’s obviously not the supernatural elements that make it realistic, but rather the reactions the people have to those supernatural elements. Everyone in a horror films screams when something bad happens, but in other films they also walk towards the strange noises when they’re home alone and ask if anyone is there. They walk into rooms when they hear things and leave the lights off. In other horror movies, they stay living in the haunted house!

Insidious did it right. They creep quietly when they hear scary noises and are home alone. They turn on the lights! I was so ridiculously happy about this. If you’re in a horror film and you walk around your house in the dark, you get what’s coming to you.

Also, finally, they leave the house! It doesn’t make a difference in this movie, but they tried which is more than what other scary film inhabitants do.

Insidious is one of my favourite horror films. It has so many fantastic individual aspects that, when combined together, make a really great movie. Even if you’re not typically a fan of scary movies I’d recommend Insidious. It’s a great introduction to horror and is basically what got me started on watching most of the other scary movies I have.

Also, figured I’d add this in at the end. I just saw Insidious Chapter 3 and that one was terrifying. By far the scariest of the three.

Have you seen Insidious? What did you think?

Do you have a favourite horror movie?

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Jurassic World, 2015

Jurassic World

June 12, 2015
Dir. Colin Trevorrow
Prod. Frank Marshall and Patrick Crowley
Genre: Science Fiction Adventure
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins, Vincent D’Onofrio

****WARNING: This post will contain spoilers for Jurassic World! If you have no yet seen the film, STOP READING NOW****

After everything that happened in Jurassic Park on the three islands, would you still build a theme park full of dinosaurs? Apparently someone would because that’s exactly what happens in Jurassic World. Twenty-two years after Jurassic Park, a dinosaur theme park called “Jurassic World” has been opened by InGen on Isla Nublar. Because the first three trips went so well, right?

While visiting their aunt Claire (Howard), who is the manager of “Jurassic World”, Zach (Robinson) and Gray (Simpkins) Mitchell are thrust into a fight they never expected to be in: one for survival. For shortly after their arrival on the island, InGen’s latest dinosaur, the Indominus Rex (a hybrid of several types of dinosaurs) escapes and begins terrorizing the park. While other guests make it to the ‘safety’ of the resort, Zach and Gray are trapped, running for their lives from the D-Rex. Claire enlists the help of Owen Grady (Pratt), the Velociraptor trainer and a man with whom she had one date, to find and rescue them.

All the while, a man named Vic Hoskins (D’Onofrio), the head of InGen’s security team, is organizing a way to take the Velociraptors to use them for military missions. The idea of course being that they train the Velociraptors to go after the ‘enemy’, to hunt and track and do things humans never could. Yeah, because you know that’s going to work out really well.

I absolutely loved this film! The first thing I thought after I watched it was that I couldn’t wait to review it. 2015 so far is a really good year for films and new shows.

One of the first things that became apparent to me as I was watching and, if you look pretty much anywhere online, many others noticed this too, “Jurassic World” bears a strong resemblance to “SeaWorld”. The Indominus Rex has been bred in captivity, it’s completely alone all the time, it isn’t able to hunt for it’s food like it’s natural instincts would be telling it to, and all this has led to it being incredibly dangerous and hostile. It starts killing other dinosaurs for sport and it kills pretty much anything that crosses it’s path. Why? Because it doesn’t know any better. People did this to it and people paid the price for it. Sound familiar?

I loved this parallel. It was fictional film (obviously) and it was fun and enjoyable and tons of people went and saw it, but it dealt with something real and got a lot of people talking.

It also really showed what a difference it can make to have a respect for the animals when they showed Owen working with the Velociraptors. He has them trained, has been working with them since day one of their lives, but he still knows they’re wild animals. He respects that and realizes where the boundaries are and he follows those. This results in them not killing him. But what happens when someone breaks those boundaries and disregards that respect? They get eaten.

Jurassic World did a fantastic job at showing the differences between how creatures are treated and what the outcome of those treatments are.

Something else I loved about this film was characters and the dynamics and interactions between all of them. Each character was an individual and none of them were like the others. None of them were perfect which made them far more relatable to people watching which, as I’ve said in past reviews, is important, especially in a film that contains a lot of fantasy and unrealistic elements.

Not going to lie, I really liked that, at the time of casting, none of these stars were huge A-Listers who was on everyone’s movie watch-list. They had their own follows, now many people know Chris Pratt from Guardians of the Galaxy, but before that he had a huge following from fans of Parks and Recreation. Similarly, Bryce Dallas Howard was known for the various films and shows she did, including appearing as Victoria in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Vincent D’Onofrio’s most recent credits include The Judge and playing Kingpin in the Netflix series, Daredevil. There’s a lot of superheroes/villains in this film isn’t there?

The list doesn’t stop there thought. The two youngest stars of the film had their own following which is rapidly growing as they rise to stardom. Nick Robinson can currently be seen on Melissa & Joey, but I’m sure many people also know him his role in the film Frenemies. Meanwhile, Ty Simpkins has a crazy long list of credentials for a thirteen-year-old, including playing Harley in Iron Man 3 and playing the lead role of Dalton in the first two Insidious films.

But why am I telling you all this? Because one of my favourite things about movies is when they don’t cast a ton of super well-known actors. Sometimes it seems like when a big-name actor is cast in something, they were only cast for their name and not because they could actually help make a great film. Ben Affleck in Daredevil anyone? Like, if the plot is interesting, the special effects are well done, and you actually spend time promoting, it doesn’t matter what names you have tied to it.

And I think they knew that. This was a Jurassic Park film! Tons of people were going to see it, they didn’t need to cast some hotshot film actor who had billions and followers just to draw attention to it. And they didn’t which I’m happy about. It shows that you can make a great film with hard work and an awesome cast, it’s not just about the $$$$.

And this was a great film. I went and saw it in 3D and it was actually like there was a giant dinosaur running straight towards me! I know people have been complaining about how the dinosaurs weren’t realistic because actual dinosaurs had feathers, but really? If they showed what Velociraptors actually looked like, they wouldn’t be nearly as terrifying. Watch the video below to see what I’m talking about.

So yes, the dinosaurs were large and scaley and half of them probably didn’t look at all like what they actually would have looked like. But you know what? For the two and a half hours I was in the theatre, I could almost believe there was an island out there with a dinosaur theme park on it. And frankly the dinosaurs were much more believable than the fact that Claire was able to sprint through mud in those heels she was wearing.

Now of course, this wouldn’t be a Jurassic Park film without music. The theme for these films is one of those that you can never forget. Everyone knows the Jurassic Park theme even if they haven’t seen the film. Sitting in that theatre and hearing it being played during Jurassic World was incredibly nostalgic. I never in my life thought they would make another Jurassic film and I was so excited when they announced the new movie.

Hearing that song at different points in the film was actually really emotional. It doesn’t matter how old you are, Jurassic Park takes you away from your world and into one that I think we would all be simultaneously amazed and terrified by. I never thought I would hear that song again in a new film, not knowing what was coming. But there it was and it was beautiful.

All in all I thought Jurassic World was amazing. Just like the scientists in the film, they took what they knew and what they had from the first three, and they made it even better. They advanced it without taking away from the things that have always made these films special. The cast did a phenomenal job, the music and special effects couldn’t have been better, they managed to get an important message while still keeping it entertaining, and I will definitely be seeing the next one when it comes out.

Have you seen Jurassic World? What did you think?

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Avengers: Age of Ultron, 2015

Age of Ultron

May 1, 2015
Dir. Joss Whedon
Prod. Kevin Feige
Genre: American Superhero Film
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, James Spader, Paul Bettany, Don Cheadle, Cobie Smulders, Anthony Mackie, Hayley Atwell, Idris Elba, Stellen Skarsgard, Samuel L. Jackson

****WARNING: This post will contain spoilers for Avengers: Age of Ultron! If you have no yet seen the film, STOP READING NOW****

Avengers: Age of Ultron, where do I begin? I am a huge fan of Marvel and especially of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). I have been anxiously waiting for this film since I saw the first Avengers film and, while there were a couple thing I was a little ‘meh’ about, overall it far exceeded all expectations I had.

In this next installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), what starts out as a simple mission turns into a fight for all of the earth and humanity. The Avengers have finally managed to track down Loki’s scepter, leading them to the Hydra base belonging to Baron von Strucker. While they are able to retrieve the scepter, they realize von Strucker has been using it to experiment on humans, namely, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff (Taylor-Johnson and Olsen respectively) aka Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.

The pair are soon recruited by Ultron (Spader), a robot designed by Tony (Downey Jr.) that was meant to protect the world, but instead became bent on destroying it. The Avengers must now find a way to defeat Ultron and his army of robots before he kills every human in the world.

Avengers

There were so many characters in this film! All the Avengers returned: Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye, as did many other characters from the MCU. Falcon, Rhodey, Peggy, Maria Hill, the computer guy from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, even Fury came back! I was half expecting Coulson to pop out somewhere. however, there were also many new characters.

First and foremost is Ultron. Ultron is pretty much the ultimate bad guy. Sometimes you sympathize with the antagonist or villain, like many people do with Loki. Some the antagonist is a victim masked as a villain, like Bucky. But in this case, nope, Ultron is just crazy. Literally from the moment he was ‘born’, he was like, “Death! Destruction! Kill all the humans!” James Spader, who did a phenomenal job in his role as Ultron, said Ultron is very much like a child and I have to say I agree. it’s like he’s throwing a tantrum, but instead of banging his fists on the ground he built an army of killer robots. I imagine this is actually what most toddlers would do if they had the mental capacity to do so.

ultron

Another new character in this film is Vision. Though, I guess he’s only half new as Vision is played by Paul Bettany, the same actor who has been voicing JARVIS since the first Iron Man film. I was so excited when they announced Bettany would be playing Vision. He is a fantastic actor, but I must admit it’s a little strange hearing that voice now with a face to go with it. I imagine it was even stranger for Bettany to suddenly be right in the middle of the action with the other actors instead of recording in a studio for a short period of time.

Vision

Andy Serkis had a small role playing Ulysses Klaue and again, hearing his regular voice and seeing his face was very strange after watching Lord of the Rings and Planet of the Apes.

Linda Cardellini also appeared in the film playing Laura Barton, Hawkeye’s wife, but I’m going to talk more about that later.

Marvel's Avengers: Age Of Ultron..L to R: Quicksilver/Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen)..Ph: Jay Maidment..©Marvel 2015

Finally, two characters who I didn’t expect to like as much I do, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff aka Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Now I’ll admit, going into this film I didn’t know too much about these characters except that they’re Magneto’s children (which is totally irrelevant in this film so basically I knew nothing), but they quickly became two of my favorites.

Twims Xmen

Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch in this film are played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen respectively. They have absolutely no connection to the X-Men films except for the fact that Taylor-Johnson and Evan Peters (Quicksilver, X-Men: Days of Future Past) were both in the film Kickass which I thought was pretty hilarious.

Quicksilver and Quicksilver

I was a little confused by the lack of connection to X-Men because Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are supposed to be mutants, but apparently that isn’t the case in this film. In this instance, the twins got their powers after HYDRA experimented on them using Loki’s scepter. Now, as someone who has not read the comics (though if anyone knows where I can read them online, please let me know!), I wasn’t too bothered by this plot change. However, apparently a lot of people were very angry about this change. People were also angry about the fact that the twins were Eastern-European in this film, hailing from the fictional city of Sokovia. Again, I really wasn’t bothered by this. It was done to drawn a firm distinguishing line between the Avengers and X-Men so I really don’t think it was a big deal. Watch the video below to hear what Taylor-Johnson and Olsen had to say about mastering the Sokovian accent (1:17).

Alright, the last thing I want to say about the twins is that they seemed very human to me. In a film full of superheroes and gods, I always like those little details they add in to make the characters seem like people instead of machines. That was especially pertinent in this film where they were battling machines. In AoU, there are several instances where we see Quicksilver getting tired or sweating. In other media, this isn’t something we usually see happen to him, but you would think it would, right? After running and running and running the guy would need a break eventually. As for Scarlet Witch, she’s always been displayed as being this huge badass, which she absolutely is. But we also got to see the other side of her. Regret and fear which are two very human emotions and really drove home for the audience that they weren’t bad guys and, even though they’re superheroes, they’re still people.

So like I said, these two very quickly became two of my favorite characters in the film. Quicksilver had all of seven lines and yet here we are, with me rabbiting on about them for several paragraphs. I think it’s safe to say that I did not see this coming. I can’t wait for Captain America: Civil War so we can see more of Scarlet Witch and I really hope we eventually get to see more of Quicksilver (It’s the MCU, anything can happen). I know many people (myself included) are also hoping to one day maybe see a Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch film, but I feel like we’re about as likely to see that as we are to find out what happened in Budapest.

Speaking of Budapest. Raise your hand if you thought they were hinting at a romance between Black Widow and Hawkeye?

*Raises hand*

Whelp, apparently not. Instead we learn that Clint is married and has three children and Natasha and Bruce are dancing around each other. Now, before I get into this and cause a huge ship storm, I would just like to say that yes, I do ship characters regardless of what the official storyline in the films is. But that’s why fanfiction and tumblr and things like that exist so you can create things exactly the way you want them to be. I’m not taking sides here because frankly, Clint/Natasha is adorable, but so is Bruce/Natasha and Farmer Clint/Laura so I’m not taking one side or another.

#StopShipWars2k15

So, Clint having a family was pretty unexpected, I think we can all admit that. However, their explanation for why we never heard about Laura and the kids until now actually did make sense. I do still think that maybe they could have dropped a little hint or something, like during Captain America 2:

Steve: “Where’s Hawkeye?”
Natasha: “Family stuff.”

Hawkeye Family

Just… something because I do really feel like they were hinting at Clint and Natasha being together. I mean, all the people who were up in arms over the sudden changes didn’t just get their crazy ideas from nowhere, right? But instead, Clint has a family and a farm out in the middle of nowhere. However! It’s really not a bad thing. The idea of Hawkeye having chickens, wearing plaid, and riding a tractor is pretty hilarious and overall I actually really enjoyed this whole storyline.

Hawkeye Farm

The writers must have known how much people were going to freak out over these new developments, but they jumped straight into it and I think it was success. Linda Cardellini did a great job and the kids were adorable. Hawkeye is in the new Captain America film so I hope we get to see more of his family (especially Nathaniel Pietro Barton because that was the cutest thing ever!).

Nathaniel Barton

Like I said, I’m not too bothered about who’s with who. Shipping for me exists in the world of fanfiction and other parts of the internet. The only time I really focus on it is when it really doesn’t make sense. Which, for me, was the case with Bruce and Natasha.

Bruce and Natasha are actually a really cute idea. There’s just something about two damaged people coming together that views always seem to enjoy. However, while I feel like the writers explained Hawkeye’s situation really well, they seemed to be lacking in this particular storyline. Bruce and Natasha’s liking for each other really seemed to come out of nowhere. When did it start? Was it back during the first Avengers film? Was it during Captain America 2? If that’s the case, why didn’t he help them when they were after Steve? How did it start? Why wasn’t it mentioned until now? Again, in CA2:

Steve: “Where Bruce?”
Natasha: “Oh, he’s going to Fiji.”

Or something like that. Two lines. Two very short lines just to let the people watching know that the pair were even talking! Their relationship just really seemed to come out of nowhere and I really think that’s why so many people were so hesitant and confused by it. And now, the last we saw of Bruce, he was leaving in one of the jets to go who-knows-where. I hope he’ll be back. Mark Ruffalo always does a great job in the role of the giant, green rage monster and maybe if he comes back there’ll be more of an explanation and more context about BruceNat.

BruceNat

Now, I know I just about Hawkeye, but can we just take a minute to acknowledge how amazing his character was in this film!? He actually had lines! I was so proud! He wasn’t someone’s puppet in this film and had a major story arc. Hawkeye was a hugely sarcastic and vital part of this film and I think Jeremy Renner did a spectacular job.

Alright! I’ve gone on and on and about the characters in this film, but what about all the other stuff? It would be a pretty boring film if we saw Iron Man and the Hulk battling in front a green screen. Actually, I guess without the special effects it would be Iron Man .vs. Bruce Banner in a leotard with dots all over his face. Yeah… real ferocious. It would also be incredibly boring to see Thor fighting without his hammer or Captain America with his shield. Like, these movies would not exist in the capacity that they do without the special effects, props, and costume/make-up departments.

The special effects department always has quite the job on these films and AoU was no exception. Obviously the cast and crew didn’t go around destroying buildings and practically leveling cities. But it sure looked like they did. I always love thinking how those things must look to the younger audience members. Sokovia flying in the sky looked amazing and so real. I obviously know it’s not and that it didn’t happen. But the kids in the audience? They believe the city was flying and I think that’s a pretty magical thing that the SE people manage to do. Elizabeth Olsen stated that there was quite a trust thing going on between her and the department as she obviously didn’t have red magic balls of energy flying out of her hands so essentially she had to just wave her arms around and hope they would be able to do something with that. It worked.

Hulk vs Iron Man

The costume and make-up department also had even more work to do with this film with more characters and more things happening. Between prosthetics, turning Paul Bettany red, and all the variations of costumes that had to be designed for each character. I guess they were kind of lucky that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch’s outfits are so simple, but then you add Vision and Ultron to the mix and I’m sure it was pretty evenly balanced.

Finally, the props people. Cap wouldn’t have a shield, Thor wouldn’t have a hammer, Hawkeye wouldn’t have a bow, and Tony wouldn’t have any of his little gadgets if it weren’t for these people. They really go above and beyond, creating so many variations of each prop. The different versions of Thor’s hammer all varied in weight, they had to make Cap’s shield looking different levels of battle worn. It really never ends. You can watch the video below to get a behind-the-scenes look at the props department on set.

Okay, the last thing I want to talk about is the extraordinary amount of sass and sarcasm in this film. I always expect there to be some, it is a Marvel film after all. But AoU was just jam-packed with one liners and a level of sass I never expected. From Hawkeye especially! I mean, “The city is flying, we’re fighting an army of robots, and I have a bow and arrow” has to be one of the best lines in the film. That, “You didn’t see that coming?”, “Not when I’ve created a murderbot.”, and “Language.” are just a few of the lines I can think of off the top of my head. Seriously, this film’s script is sarcasm gold. Well done Joss Whedon.

Language

While there were a couple things in this film I was a little iffy about, overall I absolutely loved it. Age of Ultron, like the other films in the MCU, is one of those movies that I will watch over and over and over again. It’s probably one of my favorite Marvel films to date and has me even more exited for Captain America: Civil War next year!

Civil War

Have you seen Age of Ultron? What did you think?

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The Hobbit Book .vs. The Hobbit Films

The HObbit vsAs a writer, a lover of books, and a lover of films, one of the things I always take special notice of films adapted from books. Sometimes they turn out great, absolutely amazing (see: The Fault in Our Stars)! Other times… well, other times we don’t talk about it.

Today though, we are going to talk about it, it being The Hobbit. I actually really enjoyed The Hobbit films and I absolutely love the book. If I’m being honest, the movies actually made the book more enjoyable for me because I could picture the characters in my head (which is helpful when twelve of the characters are dwarves with similar names!).

But I’m not here to go on about how amazing the book was or how fantastic the films are, those things will be written in my individual reviews of them. I’m here to talk the differences between the films and the book.

Well, the first and probably most obvious difference is that there is ONE book and THREE films. Why? Some people say it was a money grab, that Peter Jackson was just milking the film to be like Lord of the Rings. Personally, I think it’s because Jackson knew it would make a better trilogy than trying to squeeze everything into one, two-hour film. I mean, I can’t even imagine Bilbo leaving the Shire at the start of the film and somehow they pack everything into two hours so that they can reach the Battle at the end. Not possible.

The next difference, and probably one that stands out most in my mind, is Tauriel. She was not in the book at all. Peter Jackson included her because this is the 21st century and you can’t release a major film series that has no strong, female characters. Admittedly, her being a strong, female character was overshadowed a little bit when they stuck her in a love triangle, but hey, more on that when I review the second film.

Tauriel

The barrel scene in the film is also completely different from in the book. In the film we see the dwarves and Bilbo escape in the barrels and drift down the river. In the process Kili gets injured and this leads into a whole new storyline. Does this happen in the books? Well… sort of. They do escape in barrels, but the barrels are sealed and the elves actually deliver them themselves without ever knowing it.

*Slow clap for the Elves of Mirkwood*

Legolas, Elrond, Radagast, and Galadriel are not in the book at all, but all play quite a large role the films. Everyone who’s seen Lord of the Rings knows who Legolas, Elrond, and Galadriel are, but I doubt most people who read The Hobbit were expecting to see them in the films. As for Radagast, he was hardly even mentioned in the books, but played quite a large role in the films.

Finally, Azog is dead in the books. No really. One of the main antagonists of the entire trilogy does not exist in the books.

Whaat

Right? I was so confused when I realized this. Bolg, Azog’s second-in-command is the leader in the book, Azog was killed over a hundred years before the events in the book take place!

Now, these aren’t the only differences between the book and the films, and there are more lists out there just like this one. However, despite these changes, I genuinely enjoyed the book and the films. I like them for different things and in different ways, as I usually do with books and movies, but I still like them nonetheless.

Have you read The Hobbit? Seen the films? What did you think? Was there anything that stuck out in your mind?

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Les Miserables, 2012

Les Mis
December 5, 2012
Dir. Tom Hooper
Prod. Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Cameron Mackintosh
Genre: British Epic Romantic Musical History Drama
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barks, Isabelle Allen, Daniel Huttlestone, Colm Wilkinson, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, George Blagden, Killian Donnelly, Fra Fee, Alistair Brammer, Gabriel Vick, Hugh Skinner, Iwan Lewis, Stuart Neal, Hadley Fraser

In 2012, Tom Hooper took on a project so risky that many people were doubting it would end well. That project? Turning the iconic Les Miserables into a film.

Now, this wasn’t the first film adaptation of the classic Victor Hugo novel. There have been many versions of this story told through film, theatre, and more. However, it is always a risk to take something so well-known and beloved and make it new.

Les Mis follows the life of Jean Valjean (Jackman), a man who, after being released from prison, makes the decision to turn his life around and become a better man. He adopts a young girl, Cosette (Isabelle Allen), the daughter of Fantine (Hathaway), a factory worker he didn’t protect. Years later Valjean is caught in the middle of the 1832 Paris Uprising when Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) falls for one of the revolutionaries. All the while Valjean has been on the run from Police Inspector Javert (Crowe) who has been hunting Valjean since he was first released from prison.

This is a story that requires a lot of care. Taking place over many years and involving many characters, Tom Hooper had his work cut out for him. However, between the phenomenal singing from an even more phenomenal cast to sets designed so realistically you’d think they filmed on location, Hooper did a marvelous job at directing the film.

One of the main keys to any film or show is getting the casting right. If even one character isn’t portrayed correctly it can throw off the whole dynamic. Thankfully, Les Miserables didn’t seem to have this problem. Having Hugh Jackman as the lead character, Jean Valjean, was a brilliant choice. The man is not only well-known for his acting in films, but also for his theatre performance. Les Mis scored again when they put Jackman opposite Russell Crowe, who actually got his career started doing musical theatre.

Also amongst this band of amazing actors are Anne Hathaway, who excels in her role of Fantine and brings the emotion right out of the screen. Samantha Barks as Eponine is so skilled at what she does that you will feel everything she does. You will want to fight right alongside her and cry right as she does. Amanda Seyfriend, who had previously been in the musical movie, Mamma Mia, plays the role of older Cosette and Eddie Redmayne (who recently won an Oscar) portrays her love, Marius. Seyfriend’s voice is light and soft, while Redmayne brings something so raw to his performance. The voices are already brilliant on their own, when put together they make a strong couple.

I could honestly go on all day about the amazing actors in this film, but I don’t want to bore you so I’m only going to mention two more. Aaron Tveit in the role of Enjolras and Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche. Tveit had the challenge of portraying this character who is described as being almost God-like. He has to exude strength and passion. Tveit succeeded. You will truly feel like he’s leading you into a revolution when you watch this film. Huttlestone was only twelve when he did Les Mis, but when it comes to his singing, you can forget all about his age. While he has a voice that is young and is perfect for this character, he plays Gavroche so well that you will view him the same as all the other actors.

Of course, none of these actors would be very good if they couldn’t sing. Thankfully they can as they had some serious songs to perform. One of the things that makes this a stand out musical movie is the fact that they made the decision to sing live. Instead of going into a studio to record the music and then playing the track over a video of the actors mouthing the words, they sang every song live on set and that’s what they put in the film. I feel like this really helps get the emotion across in each song and gave the actors more freedom in what they were doing.

In ‘Valjean’s Soliloquoy’, you can hear the tremor in Jackman’s voice, you can hear the raw emotion in ‘I Dreamed a Dream’, and when they sing ‘Can You Hear the People Sing’, well, you’re going to want to build a barricade right there in your living room. Each and every song is done brilliantly. Majority of the songs from the musical are in the film, with only a couple being excluded, and there is also an entirely new song that was written specifically for the film.

Alright, so we’ve established that the actors are amazing and the music is brilliant, but what about the behind the scenes stuff? What about the sets the actors are standing on? When I first watched this film, I almost believed they were standing on a real street in Paris; that Tom Hooper actually had Jackman dragging Redmayne through the sewers. But no, that wasn’t the case. The street where the barricade takes place was actually built inside, as was the ‘Lovely Ladies’ set. No matter how many times I see this film this always amazes me. I feel like I could walk down that street and go inside the buildings because of how real it looks.

However, one of the things that was very real was the barricade that was built in the film. According to Tom Hooper the prop department had built a barricade and they had it set up on wheels so they could bring it on set when they needed it. But for filming purposes they obviously needed to film the boys building a barricade. Well, the barricade the actors built was so good that they just had some people come in and hammer it all together to make it safe. So they actually did build a barricade in the film.

I have seen this film many, many times and I expect I’ll see it many more. Why? Because it’s so brilliantly done that I can’t get enough of it. I highly recommend it to anyone, whether or not you like musicals.

Fun Fact: Many of the cast members in the film have been in a stage version of Les Mis. The actress who plays Eponine, Samantha Barks, played the same role multiple times, including in the 25th Anniversary production of Les Miserables at the O2 theatre. Meanwhile, Colm Wilkinson, who plays the bishop in this film, played the original Jean Valjean in the first stage production of Les Mis.

Have you Seen Les Mis? What was your favourite part of the film? Favourite song?

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The Boondock Saints, 1999

the boondock saints

January 22, 1999
Dir. Troy Duffy
Prod. Robert Fried, Chris Brinker, Mark McGarry
Genre: American Crime Film
Starring: Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus, David Della Rocco, Willem Dafoe, Billy Connolly

This film is a bit older than the others I’ve reviewed so far, but it’s such a great film and I have been really excited to talk about it. Written and directed by Troy Duffy, The Boondock Saints has become what many call a cult classic. Starring Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery as Irish, fraternal twin brothers, Murphy and Connor MacManus, this film explores the thin line between doing what is morally right and doing what you feel is in the best interest of everyone.

The Boondock Saints is a film that, at first, I didn’t think I’d be a big fan of. When I first read the description it sounded like a crime film with religious undertones. I could not have been more wrong. After helping their friend Doc (Gerard Parkes) out of a situation with the Russian Mafia, the brothers, along with their friend, Italian Mafia Package Boy, David Della Rocco (played by the actor of the same name), take on a mission from God to rid the streets of Boston of criminals. All the while they have to avoid being caught by Boston PD. Leading the charge is FBI Agent Paul Smecker (Dafoe) who must decide whether he really wants to catch the brothers or help them on their quest.

While a big part of this film is the killings of criminals, it is not the main focus. This is a very character-driven film and each character offers something unique to the story. Between Duffy’s amazing writing and some phenomenal acting, the characters in The Boondock Saints are unlike any others you’ll see. Despite the MacManus brothers killing people, it is impossible to see them as evil. Their mission begins when they try to help their friend and is then furthered when Connor is forced to take desperate measures to protect his brother. It is obvious from the start of the film that the relationship between the brothers is an important element and Reedus and Flanery’s brilliant acting shows this from start to finish.

Of course, the brothers are not the only characters and the comic relief presented by Rocco and Doc is something that is so unique to this film that you will love both of them. Their presence makes it so that the serious situations aren’t overpowering. In a film like this it is so easy to focus on the guns and blood, but both actors play their characters so well that this remains a character film and not a gun-slinger film. Finally, Dafoe’s portrayal FBI Agent Smecker is truly spectacular. Duffy and Dafoe were able to create a gay character without giving in to stereotypes and it is truly wonderful and entertaining to watch. You will be laughing, crying, cursing, and cheering along with all them.

As different as each character is, something they all bring to the table is unforgettable lines. From Doc’s bouts of shouting caused by the fact that he has Tourettes to Rocco’s “Is it dead?” to the brother’s prayer that is now famous among Boondocks fans, this film is one memorable quote after another. Duffy has written a film that is so unique and memorable that you’ll want to watch it over and over again just to hear those lines.

While the characters are magnificent, what really makes this film such a standout is the way it is all cut together. Jumping from the start of a situation to the aftermath and then showing what happened in between in a sort of flashback sequence sounds confusing. However, Troy Duffy does it in a way that it makes perfect sense and the viewing experience will be unlike anything you’ve seen before.

Nonetheless, despite the amazing cast, director, and just overall quality, this film was not predicted to be a success. It received many negative reviews and was sidelined due to the Columbine shooting that happened around that time. Since then however, it has gained a massive following and the entire cast returned to create The Boondock Saints: All Saints Day and a third film is currently in the works. This film is totally different from what you might expect it to be and I recommend it. It is not the typical action/crime film with lots of shooting and blood. The deaths are done in a way that does not take the focus off the brothers, but only furthers their development. A film consisting of memorable quotes, an incredibly talented cast, and written by a man with a unique vision of film, The Boondock Saints is a film you won’t regret seeing.

Have you seen The Boondock Saints? Do you have a film like it that you love?

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