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Penny Dreadful (2014)
An odd duck, this one.
The pilot episode was a typical getting-to-know-you episode where it introduces most of the characters and some intriguing aspects. At first, I was like, "Oh gods above not another vampire show" - boy, was I wrong. By the end of the second episode, I was totally hooked by Eva Green's performance alone. Just stunning work by her in the séance scene. Totally blew me away.
Don't judge a show by it's pilot. Otherwise there would be none at all.
This show is definitely not your average telling of famous stories (vampires, Dorian Gray) as it takes the most gruesome aspects of those tales and incorporates them in whatever manner suits the storyline; Penny Dreadful does not shy away from the taboo, something that has been plaguing certain stories such as Frankenstein and Dorian Gray. This show loves the grotesque and downright sinister nature of storytelling and can depend on its actors to do the job right.
I am highly intrigued by what's to come. It's gritty, filthy, and utterly captivating. I can't see love triangles or any soap opera clichés on the horizon and that makes me optimistic.
Grimm: Goodnight, Sweet Grimm (2013)
Great finish to the season!
Grimm is one of my favorite shows because it has such a dark twist to the fairy tales. Season 1 was all about finding out Nick's abilities and going through the complicated world of wesen for the first time. I really felt like season 2 - the latter half especially - really delved deeper into the mythology and how it affects the characters. By the end of the season, it's almost a completely different show in comparison to the first season (in a good way). It wasn't perfect but it was extremely engaging in multiple ways.
Here's what I hated: Juliette. Such a boring character even with the memory loss. It's almost like the writers tried to force her likability on viewers by making her seem sympathetic. But Bitsie is relatively wooden actress; a sharp contrast to her coworkers. Rosalee and Monroe are a great couple to watch for all sorts of reasons but mostly because they have natural chemistry - something Bitsie and David lack. Her memory loss just amplified the flaws of this character and showed just how unneeded she actually is.
Here's what I loved:
Everyone is in the loop now. The first half of the season was rather boring in comparison to the second half. Hank being included was bound to happen and in fact, it gives the show a little more humor since he is neither wesen nor a Grimm yet aware of both. Now that everyone knows Renard is who he is, it brings everyone together and having such different personalities in the same room gives viewers some great moments.
Nick has really grown as a Grimm and he relies heavily on his mismatched friends. Though 'Muse' was not my favorite episode, it gave a great insight into how well balanced the group actually is.
Rosalee/Monroe. Gah! This couple is so adorable I could watch their scenes all day.
Overall, it was a great second season that was carried mostly by the action and revelations in the second half. I can't wait till season 3!!!!
Who wants to be Bella when you can be Gretel?
Is this movie Avengers quality? No. But it's not nearly as bad as people think. It's corny yes but in a good way. It's surprisingly violent and the fight scenes are really good. It doesn't take itself too seriously and I'm pretty sure that's what throws the majority people off. It's not meant to be an Oscar contender or even a summer blockbuster movie; it's a fun parody of an old tale.
Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner are pretty great to watch too as they get their butts kicked all over the place, which I really appreciate as most leads only get a few hits and then appear completely fine the next shot. Not so here. When Gretel gets beat, she gets hit hard and bears the wounds for several scenes.
So if you want to watch something fun and bloody, this is a great movie to just sit down and have a good time with.
Nothing will ever be the same
I had read the books so I knew what was coming. But I was still flabbergasted by the visceral images as the Red Wedding took place. The whole episode was teeming with suspense and you could feel the tension whether you had read the books or not. I can only imagine how it felt for people who hadn't picked up the subtle foreshadowing of previous episodes. It was spooky how chilling everything came together. But this episode had several more important things happening other than the RW: Jon and the wildlings (which I found boring even in the books) kicks up a notch; Bran experiences some seriously weird stuff that is extremely important to not just his story arc but the entire series. Dany's scenes were typical of her standing around letting the men do the fighting but Jorah is officially friendzoned for life.
Though it is tempting, don't skip over Bran or Jon's parts just to get to the end. The payoff of waiting is worth it and you get some character and plot development as well. But Rains of Castamere will go down as one of the most shocking episodes of any TV series ever. This proves that no other show can even touch this series. I can't find one thing wrong with it.
The Family Stone (2005)
Worst Holiday Movie I've Ever Seen
Holiday movies are supposed to make you feel good. That is basically their only job. From classics such as Miracle on 34th Street, It's a Wonderful Life, and A Christmas Story to newer stories like Love, Actually, Elf, The Santa Clause etc., - they all have several common factors:
- Love: whether it be friendship, family, or another kind.
- Feeling: They never take themselves too seriously. Whether the plots range from various interacting story lines, a man recounting his adventures as a child, or just a silly notion about an overgrown elf; none of these take themselves too seriously. They know exactly what they are - holiday movies that make the audience feel good.
- Characters: The characters must be likable! What is the point if the audience has no one to root for?
At first glance, this movie would seem like a gold mine. The casting is some of the most talented actors in Hollywood. But it isn't. In fact, it's downright horrible. None of the common factors that I said above are present in this movie. There is not ONE. SINGLE. Likable. CHARACTER. Yes, we all relatives that are embarrassing but I guarantee you that if a family acted that way, no one would bring their partner home.
The pacing of the movie was terrible. One moment one couple is in love and the next they're in love with each other's siblings. There are simply too many unlikeable characters in one place all bumping into each other with nothing worthy to show for it. The Stone family is also one of the most hateful families I've ever seen on screen. They are downright cruel to Meredith (Parker) from the start and are relentless in their pursuit to tear her down. They are akin to a pride of lionesses hunting down their prey. It's terrible to watch.
Um, excuse me, what part of this movie is supposed to fill me with holiday cheer? Or any kind of cheer for that matter? I never laughed at any time and the only note worthy scene is the dinner table. Many people have said that this movie was written by uptight republican conservatives. Have they not seen the cast? 9 out 10 of them are known for their liberal views. But I'm just as lost as anyone as to why any of these actors would want to be in this god awful movie.
The only reason I'm even giving this one star is because of Elisabeth Reaser of whom I am a major fan. Do yourself a favor and avoid this at all cost. It will not only kill your holiday spirit, but I'm pretty sure even Scrooge would be embarrassed that he pales in comparison to the Stone family.
The Watch (2012)
Don't take it seriously
Like most comedies starring Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller and/or any of the Frat Pack, people are going to complain that this was gross, unfunny, ridiculous, etc.
But they clearly expect too much from these guys. If you go into this movie thinking that you'll fall on the floor laughing then yes, you will disappointed. But I expected nothing and I laughed my butt off. It's a silly movie with a silly plot and it knows this.
If you don't like Vince Vaughn or Ben Stiller, then don't see it. It's that simple. If you do like them, give it a try. I'll definitely watch it again because it was entertaining in the most over the top way.
Not like anything else
When I first saw the trailer for Copper, I figured it would be like a continuation of 'Gangs of New York.' How wrong I was. Though the setting of Copper mimics that of 'Gangs,' it goes further beyond into the seedy underbelly of the Five Points. It focuses not on revenge or the Civil War, but rather what problems plagued the detectives that tried to keep order in a lawless town.
On its own, Copper is a unique perspective on how justice was done in America. Essentially, the show is about Kevin Corcoran, a detective in the Five Points who stops at nothing to get his man, even the ones that think they are above the law. He relies heavily on his partner, Francis Maguire, during the inevitable trouble that follows them wherever they go. Kevin also invokes the help of a black doctor, Matthew Freeman, whose brilliant mind helps the detectives identify certain characteristics of victims that will lead to the killer. But their relationship is tricky due to the fresh wounds that are present from a recovering nation after the Civil War.
This show is not at all shy or subtle in its approach as to how things were back then. From the issues of race, class, peer pressure, and the common practice of child prostitution, nothing is left untouched by Copper. This show is certainly not afraid of offending people and you know what? That's what makes it so good to watch.
Tom Weston-Jones commands the screen from the first glance and refuses to let go as we are introduced to more characters. He gives an air of mystery and respectability to his role as Kevin Corcoran. He and his co-stars are able to carry the load of heavy scenes that might otherwise make viewers uncomfortable in an understated way. The fact that the bulk of them are complete unknowns (at least in America) allows the audience to watch without any preconceived notions about what to expect.
Overall, I really liked the pilot. It has serious potential as it was able to balance a certain number of characters with intertwining story lines that make sense. It would be easy for the writers to back away from the uncomfortable situations that the characters get into, but I hope they don't. The raw talk and bold themes are what make this show unique.
Wrath of the Titans (2012)
This was really bad. I didn't want it to be because I enjoyed Clash of the Titans and thought the sequel, though unneeded, could be interesting.
This was a pretty weak movie. The editing is pretty horrible as it jumps from one scene with one group of characters with no segue and then jumps back in only to show us that they are somewhere else in their conversation (or in some cases, another place). The dialogue was horrendous and full of every cliché word in the book. The action scenes were short and oddly placed.
The worst part was Andromeda. In my opinion, Andromeda served her purpose in the first movie. To bring her back as a warrior princess who yells commands was embarrassing to watch. I couldn't take Rosamund Pike seriously in the role as she tried too hard to be both tough as a leader but soft enough to be Perseus's love interest - something Gemma Arteton did effortlessly as Io.
All in all, it was a typical sequel that tried to outdo the first (which was a remake to boot) and failed. It goes in the category of: forgotten sequels.
Not even Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes could save it. In fact, their story lines were the most confusing to me. The writers copped out of a real ending and a potentially great film by overdoing every single thing.
So bad it's good
The first five episodes of this show were really credible. They took one of the most interesting youtube videos (the car through the fence) and debunked it. But then, something happened after those five episodes.
The cases that are presented in the "Headquarters" portion are usually pretty good, but they always end up going for the most obvious cases. I think, for most fans, it was the obvious case of the CGI'd alien case where even a three year old could tell it was faked yet they spent half an episode trying to debunk it. Some of the cases are actually interesting, but the so called "experts" don't really show off their skills. Instead, it sounds like they repeating what real experts would say. And what exactly is Jael's job besides standing there looking pretty? This is a legitimate question. Austin is a "stuntmen", the other girl is a photographer as well as a former model, Devin is a "special effects expert" (something that fails to impress after the CGI alien),Ben is a former "FBI agent" (insert eye roll here) and Bill is a "scientist." Now, none of these people actually use their so called "expertise" but at least they have one next to their name.
Despite having a strong beginning of credible videos, the show has turned into a parody. Regardless of that fact, the show is silly and shouldn't be taken seriously so I still tune in. It's a guilty pleasure of mine and I'm only slightly embarrassed about that.
Love Actually (2003)
The only film that does it right
I really, really hate large ensemble cast movies with intertwining story lines. The reason for this is because the characters in that kind of movie are usually one dimensional with one dimensional problems - and of course they're all beautiful and things are always alright at the end with the cheesy lines and bad chemistry. I can't bring myself to care about the characters because 1) I hate the actors in it or 2) the plot/story lines/acting/dialogue is god awful that it makes me want to hurl. In fact, romance is just not my area.
Love Actually is the only one of these kinds of movies that does it right. And does it very well. Somehow, the writers for this film found the perfect balance of the most amazing cast ever assembled and the the satirical trait that lurks in the background. Love Actually is light hearted with some heavy moments in it but it never takes itself too seriously. It has people making up, breaking up, coming, going, cheating, loving, and everything else that should utterly confuse the viewer. With other movies, things take too long or are too slow; the writers fixated on couple/actor A because they're more famous than couple/actor B.
Not so with Love Actually. Even if one gets more screen time than another, they make up for it in quality. There's a delicate balance between real situations that couples go through versus events that are just so not (*cough* Natalie and the Prime Minister *cough*). However, that's where the casting comes into play. Each actor portrays their character with just the right amount of sarcasm, mystery, or love that it needs so that even the silly story of Natalie and the Prime Minister seem plausible.
Sure the cast is great looking, but you don't notice really because you're so swept up in the magic of the dialogue, which is charming (then again, Brits did make this so I guess that's to be expected) and lighthearted.
This film separates itself simply because it's better than anything like America's put out in this genre. And yes, I am American.
For some reason, Love Actually struck a chord with audiences that won't go away, nor would we want it to. Almost ten years later and people still love this film. It's the only chick flick/holiday film I look forward to watching each and every time.