Monday, October 27, 2014

Benedict Cumberbatch is Doctor Strange!

I guess since everyone's saying "final talks" that means it's not official yet, but we knew it had to happen eventually -- Benedict Cumberbatch has just joined the Marvel universe!

He does look like him!

Now, basically everything I know about Doctor Strange is only what can be skimmed off the top of a Wiki page, so I can't and will not attempt to judge this casting, but I also have no speck of a reason to doubt Marvel, and I have to say seeing Cumberbatch as a superhero is such a cool idea that it seems impossible. So I'm happy.

Again I don't know much about this character, but by the casting, and the other actors that were eyed for the role -- most notably Joaquin Phoenix, and even Tom Hardy and Jared Leto according to this site -- it seems to me that this will be very much an intense/complex/dark character that requires a good character actor to pull it off. If that's true it's very interesting to me because Marvel seems to be exploring new territory, and we all know that leads to good things!

No film date yet (I mean it's not even official yet!) but apparently we can expect Cumberbatch to be suited up and all magical-y sometime in 2016. Looking forward to that, and his eventual teaming up with the Avengers!

Benedict is obviously pleased -- Black Widow and Hulk less so -- and hey-- Steven Moffat, why are you Thor?

Leave a comment and weigh in with your thoughts! Especially if you know the character and have an opinion on how he should be portrayed!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Non-Stop

This review is more spoiler-free than this movie's trailer.

In this exciting action thriller, Liam Neeson is a good, well-meaning man with deadly skills who was dealt a bad hand by life, and took it hard (with lots of drinks and reclusive-ness) and suddenly finds himself pitted against an anonymous villain with a terrible evil intent. People's lives are in danger, and Liam Neeson is their only hope.

Not specific enough for you? Well, this is the one on an airplane.

Oh, right. The one on the airplane. Gotcha.

Bill Marks is an ex-cop, turned Air Marshall who's afraid of flying, and likes to cover the smoke detector in the airplane's bathroom with tape so he can drink and smoke his misery away in peace. But on this flight, peace is the last thing he's gonna get -- he instead gets a new texting buddy who tells him that in twenty minutes he's going to kill someone on the plane unless he gets $150 mil. And twenty minutes later Marks knows that he's not kidding around.

It's a who-done-it in the sky; "Murder on the Airway Express" and wouldn't you know it, I'm currently into Agatha Christie, reading and watch Hercule Poirot mysteries whenever I have the spare time. So Marks may have a leg up on the world's most famous detective when it comes to beating the bad guy into a pulp, but first he has to find out who it is, and that's when I wished Poirot was on board so he could point out the right guy and let the pummeling start. Instead they have Liam running around accusing random people based on the most rudimentary evidence, and then believes or doesn't believe their defense based on even less evidence. We don't get any clues to base our guesses on either, except at least we're not blind to the clichés of the genre, and they're clues themselves -- my dad had called the bad guy even before the texts started coming in. Then he left.

Careful! She could be the bad guy!

When there was some pummeling going on, that was when the movie was at its best. Obviously -- this in a Liam Neeson thriller after all -- and the veteran actor's easy star-power is what held this movie together. He didn't even really seem to be trying, but his just being there was all it needed.

In the cast there was also President Coin herself, Julianne Moore, who might be the bad guy, or might be the spunky love interest; and Michelle Dockery, who might be the bad guy, or might just be a nice, kind flight attendant; and Corey Stoll (who I finally actually recognized in something besides his scene-stealing Midnight in Paris turn as Hemingway) who might be the bad guy, or, might be a trouble-causing jerk; and others, of course, who might be the villain or might be just who they seem to be. All of them are characters even more one-dimensional than Neeson's. At least it maintains the balance that way -- nothing says "this is a bad movie" better than side characters overshadowing the lead when the lead is the film's only selling point.

Don't trust her! She could be the bad guy!

Just to recap: so far, I've been laughing at the plot's attempts at a compelling mystery, red herrings and rabbit trails, but I'm still enjoying myself -- Neeson being his usual marketable self, and the solid, clichéd beginning practically guarantees a solid, clichéd ending.

And then, and then, things start happening. Annoying things. The laws of physics get sucked out an open airplane window. Characters start flip-flopping their opinions around at the plot's convenience. Everyone's heads get super dense as the plot stalls for time (gotta get over the hour and a half mark!). And the cherry on top; Politics comes into play, and tries to pose difficult moral questions to confuse and distract us. Plus the special effects were cheap, and that's just... cheap.

Also they totally steal the "texts show up on the screen for easy viewing by the audience" trick from Sherlock. I should get over that one though -- it's a useful trick.

But the film ended on a positive note for me, so I guess I will too.

*Tries very hard to think of a play on words involving "positive" and "note."*

Okay fine, I'll be legit about it.

The obligatory "awesome" moment of the climax was laughable, but it also redeemed the film; setting it back on the path of the cheesy and the hammy (and the not-annoying) for the duration of the flight. In the end, there wasn't much to this movie that we haven't seen before -- even performed by the exact same leading man, but it left me with a smile on my face. And maybe that smile was there because I managed to enjoy the movie overall, in spite of its clichéd ridiculousness, or maybe it was because of one little detail that may or may not be considered a spoiler.

One thing's for sure:

I'm positive that this film didn't have any notes at all -- it was texts!

Nailed it. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Avengers: Age of Ultron -- new trailer!

[For some reason the actual trailer didn't publish along with the post at first, but I've fixed it now.]

The new Age of Ultron trailer is here!



And I'm so overwhelmed and excited that the only things I can think to say is exclusively along the lines of "WOW" and "awesome-sauce." Everything looks fantastic, particularly Ultron in my opinion, he's promising to be the most epic, creepy baddie yet! Why, oh why is May 1st so far away??

What are your thoughts on all the trailer?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Janeite Tag



Thanks to Hannah over at Miss Daydreamer's Place for tagging me to talk about my love for Jane Austen!

The Rules:
  • Thank and link back to the person who tagged you.
  • Tell us how you were introduced to Jane Austen and share one fun fact about your Janeite life (this fun fact can be anything from "I stayed up all night reading Emma" to "I visited Chawton and met Anna Chancellor.").
  • Answer the tagger's questions.
  • Write seven questions of your own.
  • Tag as few as one or as many as seven other Janeites and let them know you've tagged them.

My introduction to the world of Jane Austen:
It would be hard to pinpoint the exact moment I became a fan of Austen, but it was sometime between when I first saw the 1995 Pride and Prejudice when I was about eleven, and when I finished reading all her books for the first time, when I was about eighteen. It was probably closer to the latter though, because even though I would watch P&P with my family every time they watched it, it took a while for me to come to appreciate anything more than the pretty dresses and the pretty horses. It could have been in '08, when the new version of Sense and Sensibility aired on TV, and waiting a week between episodes was filled with impatience. Or you could argue that it was when I first appreciated Austen's work in it's purest form; perhaps when I was at the end of Emma and it suddenly occurred to me how much I'd enjoyed the book -- way more than either of the film adaptions. To quote Lizzy on her loving Darcy, "It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberly." So I guess you could say it really was the pretty dresses!

My fun fact about me and Austen: 
This past summer I portrayed Mary Bennet in my theatre group's performance of Pride and Prejudice, a Musical. I got to sing and play the piano badly and everything. And now I feel slightly more connected to and understanding of poor Mary.


Hannah's Questions:
What is your favourite Jane Austen novel?
Oh, starting with a hard one, I see. I remember enjoying reading Emma the most, but I wouldn't take that to mean it was my favorite. Northanger Abbey made me laugh the most, and Persuasion was wonderfully melancholy. But I think I'll have to go with the classic, and say Pride and Prejudice. It has a little of everything, and I think the best romance.

Who is your favourite Austen hero and heroine? (I guess that could be considered two questions!) So since it's two questions, I can pick a hero and heroine who hail from separate stories? If I had to choose them as a pair, I'd say Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney. They are just so adorable together. Separately, I've always been partial to Mr. Knightley, and identified most with Elinor Dashwood. But don't underestimate my liking of Lizzy and Darcy, separately, and as a pair.




Who is your favourite secondary character?
It's funny how most of Austen's secondary characters are usually pretty dis-likable, isn't it? I could never really find it in me to dislike Mr. Churchill though, ever since I first saw him as Ewan McGregor with that adorable smile and that weird, long red hair.

Which relative of any of Austen's heroines/heroes do you find most annoying?
Mrs. Bennet. Next question! Oh, wait, maybe Lady Catherine... hmmm, no, I'll stick with Mrs. Bennet.

Provide up to five of your favourite Austen quotes. (I know, hard! Just pick a few random quotes that you love. They don't have to be your absolute favourites) (Passages, more like, for me!)

  1. (A hilarious conversation between Catherine and Henry in Northanger Abbey.)‘“Now I must give one smirk, and then we may be rational again." Catherine turned away her head, not knowing whether she might venture to laugh. "I see what you think of me," said he gravely -- "I shall make but a poor figure in your journal tomorrow."
    "My journal!"
    "Yes, I know exactly what you will say: Friday, went to the Lower Rooms; wore my sprigged muslin robe with blue trimmings -- plain black shoes -- appeared to much advantage; but was strangely harassed by a queer, half-witted man, who would make me dance with him, and distressed me by his nonsense." 
    "Indeed I shall say no such thing." 
    "Shall I tell you what you ought to say?" 
    "If you please." 
    "I danced with a very agreeable young man, introduced by Mr. King; had a great deal of conversation with him -- seems a most extraordinary genius -- hope I may know more of him. That, madam, is what I wish you to say."’
  2.  (My admitting to liking this one might make me out to be anti-social, but, oh well. Said by Lizzy.) "The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense."
  3. (This one from Mr. Bennet reflects the lighter side of my anti-social tendencies.) "For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?"
  4. (This is one of my favorite moments of Elinor's.)"My dear," said she [Mrs. Jennings], entering, "I have just recollected that I have some of the finest old Constantia wine in the house, that ever was tasted -- so I have brought a glass of it for your sister. My poor husband! how fond he was of it! Whenever he had a touch of his old cholicky gout, he said it did him more good than anything else in the world. Do take it to your sister."
    "Dear ma'am," replied Elinor, smiling at the difference of the complaints for which it was recommended, "how good you are! But I have just left Marianne in bed, and, I hope, almost asleep; and as I think nothing will be of so much service to her as rest, if you will give me leave, I will drink the wine myself."
    Mrs. Jennings, though regretting that she had not been five minutes earlier, was satisfied with the compromise; and Elinor, as she swallowed the chief of it, reflected that, though its good effects on a cholicky gout were at present of little importance to her, its healing powers on a disappointed heart might be as reasonably tried on herself as on her sister.
  5. (And since I've already made this very, very long, I'll put Mr. Knightly's declaration of love last. Not the entire thing though. But I like the entire thing.) “My dearest Emma," said he, "for dearest you will always be, whatever the event of this hour's conversation, my dearest, most beloved Emma -- tell me at once. Say 'No,' if it is to be said." She could really say nothing. "You are silent," he cried, with great animation; "absolutely silent! at present I ask no more."
    Emma was almost ready to sink under the agitation of this moment. The dread of being awakened from the happiest dream, was perhaps the most prominent feeling.
    "I cannot make speeches, Emma," he soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing. "If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am. You hear nothing but truth from me. I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it.”


What is your favourite adaptation for each of Austen's books?
For Pride and Prejudice, the '95 version. Hands down, no contest. (If you're interested, here is my review of the '95, and my review of the '05.)

Northanger Abbey is also easy, since I've only ever seen the '07 version with Felicity Jones and J J Feild. In spite of it's shortness, I consider it to be a very good adaption, perfectly cast at the very least. With the rest though, things get a little more complicated. (Click here for my review.)

For Sense and Sensibility, the '08 version. It's a close call though, as the '95 version is great as well, but the longer runtime, the casting of people who look like they could be their required age, the great casting of the side characters, Dan Stevens, and David Morressey all make me partial to that version.

With Emma, there are commendable aspects in three versions, but I've never really included Kate Beckinsale's version; the race is really between Gwyneth Paltrow's and Romola Garai's, and they're practically equal, only with differing good parts and bad parts. Combined, they would be nearly perfect, but as it is, I think I must go with Paltrow's version, because it's better-made in its own right.

For Mansfield Park, I have to say the '07 version with Billie Piper. None of these adaptations are very good, but the 1999 is just way too different from the book, and the 1983 is old and of low quality had distractingly ugly actors. Plus the '07 has James D'Arcy in it.

With Persuasion it's halfway like Emma -- if I could combine the versions it would make a good one -- and halfway like Mansfield Park -- there really aren't any good versions. The '95 version is certainly the best adaptation, but it doesn't have the heart (however misguided) of the '07 version. Neither does the characters how I see them. (Click here for my review of the '07 version. But know that my opinion of since writing this has dampened slightly.)




Are there any books that you would recommend to a fellow Janeite? For example: some books that I would recommend to a fellow Jane Austen fan are Much Ado About Nothing, North and South and Cold Comfort Farm. 
Oh yes, I definitely agree with the recommendation of North and South. Great book and film adaptation. If you can handle longer and darker, I would recommend Little Dorrit, which was amazing, and more romantic than I expected it to be. (And it has a fantastic, 8-hour-long film adaptation too (my review)) And perhaps if I'd read other Dickens' I could possibly recommend those, of maybe a Bronte, but sadly Austen is just about as far as I've gone with that type of novel. The next closest thing that springs to mind is The Great Gatsby, but I'd recommend that to anyone. If you like the Austen-type movies though, you absolutely must see Cranford -- it's wonderful.

Little Dorrit

It seems that all my Janeite blog friends have been tagged already, I'm going to opt out of the last two steps. However, if you do love Austen, haven't been tagged yet, and want to participate, you absolutely should -- consider yourself tagged and answer the same questions I did!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Upcoming Movie Roundup - October

Last month I actually went and saw a movie I wanted to go and see! The Maze Runner -- and it lived up to it's potential impressively -- click here for my spoiler-free review of it. Now, October.

Look out -- here come ALL THE MOVIES. Not really, but really, there are a lot of new movie this month. Yikes. Which one do you want to see? Which ones have I left out? Which ones should I have not included because they're definitely going to be terrible? Leave a comment -- I need to know these things!


Left Behind
Oct. 3rd (limited); PG-13
I may be the only person in the entire homeschooling Christian community who never read these books. I was never much of a reader as a young person. But even if I had, I don't know if I would be any more interested in this. The RT synopsis makes it sound like just another end-of-the-world/disaster movie like 2012 or The Day After Tomorrow, but then the trailer looks more like one of those "Christian" movies that only Christians will see. Neither bode very well.




Dracula Untold
Oct. 10th; PG-13
Of course I will always want to watch any movie Luke Evans appears in, ever since he made my favorite character from The Hobbit book my favorite of The Hobbit movies as well. I would watch this the exact moment I see it come on TV in a couple years, based on the Luke Evans in a stylized action movie awesomeness, but then there's the vampire thing. There's always something, isn't there?




Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Oct. 10th; PG
This looks cheesy. And silly. And kiddie. And I don't care; I want to see it. Anytime a movie releases that isn't animated, and is rated PG, you have to sit up and pay attention -- this is a dying breed. I wouldn't be surprised if it isn't a great film, but I fully expect it too be fun, and diverting... and silly and cheesy.




Whiplash
Oct. 10th (limited); R
This month in "Obscure Movies I'm Interested in Because of That One Actor and Wouldn't Be Otherwise" Part 1: "Miles Teller." Okay, and also, this one's getting great reviews as an intense character piece for Teller and J.K. Simmons.




Kill the Messenger
Oct. 10th (limited); R
Jeremy Renner delivers a message, and then is killed, while doing some great acting. That's what I'm assuming happens in this movie. (It's a true story, so I could find out easily, but where's the fun in that?) Does that assumption make me want to see it any less? (Or any more?) Nope. And, honestly, this would be a lot more interesting to me if it were not based on true events...




The Book of Life
Oct. 17th; PG
*Sighhh* I'm sorry, but why am I supposed to be interested in this? I don't know, so I guess I'm not. Here's the trailer anyway. If you want to see this, please tell me why so I can try to understand.




The Best of Me
Oct. 17th; PG-13
The latest in a very long line of Nicholas Sparks adaptations trying to find the same amount of success as The Notebook. This one has more of my attention than usual by having James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan in the cast. Still, chances of the sap being unbearable even for the cast? I'd say 94%. Also, enjoy as they blatantly steal from The Fault in Our Stars at the beginning of this trailer. (For the record, I agree with Shakespeare.)




Rudderless
Oct. 17th (limited); R
"Obscure Movies I'm Interested in Because of That One Actor and Wouldn't Be Otherwise" Part 2: "Anton Yelchin." Really, though, this looks pretty great. Just ignore Selena Gomez's face there....




Young Ones
Oct. 17th (limited); R
"Obscure Movies I'm Interested in Because of That One Actor and Wouldn't Be Otherwise" Part 3: "Nicholas Hoult." And fine, there's Elle Fanning too. And Michael Shannon. And seriously, this sci-fi/western style is pretty intriguing!




St. Vincent
Oct. 24th (limited); PG-13
Last, but absolutely, in no way least. Mark my words people: This one. This movie will be the best of the month. Bill Murray is an old grump in an upbeat, pop indie. How could this possibly go wrong? At the very worst it'll just be a vehicle for Murray to crack a bunch of jokes which will undoubtedly be funny, because when is Bill Murray ever not funny? I rest my case. Watch this trailer: