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Rating History

Mama
Mama (2013)
20 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

"Mama" is the first big horror film release of the year, so as a horror movie fan, I was glad that my friend recommended this movie to me. It has the name of Guillermo del Toro, not as director as I first thought, but as a producer, so we expected fantastic visuals. I was pleasantly surprised to see Jessica Chastain there too, looking like I have not seen her before, sporting a short dark Joan Jett-hairstyle. This film really had a lot going for it.

"Mama" is a malevolent female spirit who jealously hounds the couple Annabelle (Jessica Chastain) and Luke (Nikolaj Coaster-Waldau) who adopts a couple of young girls who had been found living wildly in an abandoned cabin in the woods. Throughout this movie, in the way of disturbing dreams and jarring apparitions, we join Annabel try to discover what exactly "Mama" wants that she cannot seem to get.

First-time feature film director Andrés Muschietti succeeds to create a horror film that was visually stunning as it was emotionally charged. The stylish look may have been influenced by the producer, Guillermo del Toro. The emotional ride was largely due to the restrained yet effective performance of Jessica Chastain as a single rocker-chick who was suddenly given the unexpected and unwelcome responsibility of being a step-mother to two very disturbed girls.

The one drawback for me was "Mama" herself, particularly how she looked. I admit I did not really like how she reminded me so much of Sadako (of the "Ring" films) in all its obvious computer-generated glory. However, the camera angles used to show "Mama" and her point of view were quite innovative. There were gaping plot holes when you think the story through and try to give explanations to "Mama's" illogical behavior. But hey, she is a crazy ghost after all! Just sit back, imbibe the creepy atmosphere and feel the emotion in the story.

Rating: 4.5

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2
21 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

If you didn't like or see the first movie, watching Breaking Dawn part anything is probably going to be a waste of time. This is where the bad reviews for the Twilight movies come from - non target audience being dragged to the cinema by a friend or partner with all the hype and success promising a great experience, only to find enjoying the sequels requires much more long term investment in the previous movies. It is also, understandably, not everyone's cup of tea. That is fine but I feel it has been overlooked as an epic coming of age story by, shall we say, older film critics.

These critics seem to focus on all the wrong aspects like - occasional plot inconsistencies, dodgy CGI and wooden acting. This franchise is definitely guilty of all these things but no more than any other franchise that is stooped in myth and fantasy.

As a lady in her teens, I loved the first movie, Twilight, but saw past the fact that it was predominately made for a younger female audience. The potential for building on the characters and story that were introduced seemed huge. The main human character (Bella) meets the vampire family that don't eat humans but then comes up against vampires that do. She is in love with Edward Cullen vampire and he loves her more than anybody has ever loved anybody in a story since Romeo and Juliet. He defends her against these nasty vampires.

New Moon is the second movie which explores the issues with a human being with a vampire - issues like being eaten or turned into a vampire by accident which would be hard to explain to her dad (Charlie). Edward leaves Bella for two thirds of the movie but this is even more dangerous for her as they are so in love and she becomes self destructive. In this movie we are introduced to the existence of werewolves and a kind of Vampire council based in Italy called the Volturi. This is also where we are introduced to the possibility that Bella might become a vampire.

The third instalment, Eclipse, takes it all a step further as baddie vampires come to get Bella again with a huge "new born" army and goody vampires and werewolves (natural enemies) put there differences aside to fight this army off. The end of Eclipse is the same as the end of New Moon where Edward asks Bella to marry him and she pulls a face.

Breaking Dawn part 1 - they get married and I nearly cried. The scenes in the Breaking Dawn movies are hugely satisfying after the build up from the previous three movies. The wedding, and the consummation of, is moving to those that care and the progression of the story towards Bella becoming a Vampire is handled really well. She becomes pregnant on the honeymoon but the baby is half vampire so it is a tough pregnancy to be honest. Anyway, Edward has to turn Bella into a vampire as she dies in childbirth - all while the rest of the vampire family fight werewolves outside. It is real edge of your seat stuff - the werewolves are not happy as they feel the peace treaty has been broken by the creation of a vampire child and the will Bella / won't Bella make it is almost too much to bare. One of the werewolves (Jacob) loves Bella though, and is by her side throughout the pregnancy. When the CGI baby vampire is born he then imprints on the baby. This is a werewolf thing that I don't understand but it means he is going to become the child's protector until she is an adult then I guess a bit more. Its well weird but I got passed it.

Part 2 - my expectations were that I was going to see Bella become accustomed to being a vampire and experience it through her eyes. I was hugely interested in how this would all be explained to her dad and also how Jacob's relationship with Edward and Bella's new born child, Renesmee, would evolve. I was not disappointed with how it was all dealt with and came away satisfied by a shocking ending. We have all heard about this twist towards the end and to say I was gripped throughout in anticipation for this is an understatement. The growing of the half human half vampire Renesmee also created a whole new brace of questions. These questions were of concern initially as gaping holes in the plot would have been left had they not been answered satisfactorily - thank god they were. I was worried about this movie slightly as I feared that they would just gloss over really important stuff and focus to much on the major fight scene towards the end. This was clearly going to happen against the Volturi having seen the trailer. Luckily there was far more to the action than the trailer let on.

In summary the whole cast, headed up by Kristen Stewart (Bella) and Robert Pattison (Edward), looked fantastic and fitted the roles perfectly. Kristen's nervous acting - particularly in the first movie - was part of the character and her style adapted as she progressed through to her finally becoming a vampire. Robert's reportedly "wooden" acting can be explained by the fact he is a 109 year old vampire and is essentially walking dead so is supposed to be a bit reserved and vacant - perhaps lacking the normal vibrancy you would expect from a normal human teenager. Only Michael Sheen, as the head Volturi, takes a different approach by being camp but in a very sinister way. The way he laughs in Breaking Dawn Pt 2 steals the show as far as acting is concerned but then you would expect nothing else from him would you?

The Hunger Games
24 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

I'm not really keen in reviewing films that are NOT in my liking but after seeing this I couldn't help myself. I have read the books and enjoyed each one thoroughly. The author managed to surprise and entice me throughout Katniss' experiences, making each chapter intensely thrilling. The film leaves a lot to be desired.

I personally do not think that Jennifer Lawrence makes a good Katniss, as she is too polished, too pretty and too old. Katniss is supposed to be sixteen and far more child like- - and it would have been to the film's merit if they had cast someone younger. Peeta was awful too- - although Collins states in the books that he and Gale are supposed to be good--looking, the filmmakers have made too much of this. Each character lacks any of the depth you get from reading the books, in particular Caesar Flickerman, who in the books was an approachable, uncle-type character, lacks any sort of sympathy for the characters in the film.

A gut-wrenching moment in the book is the death of little Rue, however it is a mere inconvenience in the film and it continues with none of Katniss' regret or misery at having lost the life of the child. The fight Katniss experiences to get food and water is completely ignored throughout the first part of the arena as well, negating The Hunger Games theme entirely.

The books were also very brutal, explicitly describing the deaths in the arena - but the film has dumbed it down in order to make it a PG 13, and so the deaths in the arena are barely even noticeable despite the fact we are supposed to be outraged at the Capitol for having put the children there to die.

The film seemed eager to rush through the story, making it feel unfinished and shabby. I could go on and on - needless to say, read the books because they are amazing...and if you have read the books, don't watch the film!

Sinister
Sinister (2012)
24 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

When it comes to scary movies, themes are usually divided into categories of kidnapping, serial-murders by obnoxious and cruel antagonist,and brutal accidental scenes. Surprisingly, "Sinister" has all of those and guides us in an unique way. Horror-movie fans like me might be tired of them and expecting something new before watching this but this movie truly deserves to be called as a horror movie with various refreshing elements that arouse your fear.

What I loved about this movie was it was easy to follow what was going on in each scene as it has a few characters and casual conversations. It is about a reckless writer who is famous for writing a suspense novel that grasped the #1 in New York times best-sellers moves to the hunted house with his family in order to get references for his new novel. The acting was also impressive as every character executed their roles especially Ethan Hawke and Juliet Rylance who are appeared as a married couple with two children show natural and vibrant emotion with a clear tone.

The editing was exceptionally well done as I don't recall any unnecessary moments. The intriguing part was how the director Scott Derrickson tried to engage us with 8 mm film projector by showing how it can be used in both real and inconceivable world. You will understand what I mean by watching the movie.

There are still many things that I want to mention but I would rather not write them and let you experience the same feelings that I had in the darkness where chunks of curiosity about the freaky and mysterious white creature and every single incidents that make you repeat "What is going to happen?". You will not regret your decision but prepare to be petrified.

Super 8
Super 8 (2011)
24 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Warning: There are a lot of spoilers in this review, but it was necessary to make the point.

I am somewhat amazed that the reviews are so positive for this film. It was at best mediocre. It starts off in rather spectacular fashion with a train wreck that would make Final Destination proud, but it seriously stretched believability. Forget the obvious questions of the speed of the train and the lack of security. There were flying freight cars, explosions everywhere, demolished train station, complete and utter destruction. This starts a film that had gaping holes in the storyline or just things that made little sense.

There are questions in the plot galore. My favorite is why, when they finally closed the town down, would the military bring back the trucks holding the secret contents wanted by the alien to rebuild his ship. In my opinion, that material would have been safely tucked away in a high security location, but then there would have been no melodramatic ending.

Even the premise of the kids making a Super 8 movie was never really central to anything in the film more than a late in the movie glimpse of the alien being escaping the train wreck. Maybe this was the director's slight of hand making us think the Air Force would track down the film makers, since the movie made it clear the commanding colonel knew the Super 8 film existed. More confusing than diverting. I had difficulty figuring out what year the film represented; my guess is mid 1970's. But that would make the communist angle seem out of date and it was inconceivable that the town folk failed to link the heavy handed Air Force actions with the events happening to them.

There are parts of the film I liked. The subplots for the most part worked and the acting is passable. The kids are entertaining and the super 8 film making was wonderful fun. The adolescent love story and the jealousy it created was well done. Their exploits had a charm that unfortunately was lost later in the film.

This movie is worth seeing, just leave your brain behind. I read one review that saw this as a successful merger of ET and the Goonies. Unfortunately, I see it as an unsuccessful merger of ET and Final Destination.