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Twilight for Adults – Fifty Shades of Grey

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Fifty Shades of Grey has to be one of if not, the most hotly anticipated films of 2015. With a Valentines weekend release date, whether the film was bad or not, their campaign and release date alone would have made enough money to go ahead and redeem themselves with a sequel/trilogy. Without having read the book and going by hearsay on how dirty and explicit the book is but also terribly executed through bad writing, one could only expect the film to be just as bad resulting in just a dirty old porno on the big screen. With this in mind, a lot of those who thought that have come out disappointed, but those looking beyond that point of dirt and explicitly, you’ll actually find a really good film.
Based on a Twilight fan fiction, Fifty Shades of Grey introduces you to Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), a literature student, who conveniently happens to be a virgin, who’s life is changed when she meets billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) who essentially has a dirty little secret.
Bella and Edward’s Twilight stench is written all over Christian and Ana. It’s very familiar, sometimes a little too familiar but this is mostly at the beginning of the film where they meet and can’t keep their eyes off of each other. But even certain scenarios that happen are too similar to Twilight such as her friend José who seems like the Jacob Black kind of character, Ana being saved by Christian from getting hit by a car, and the plain fact that he can’t help but to be around Ana, quite like how Edward couldn’t stay away from Bella. Given the circumstances, Edward’s reasons seemed a bit more legit than Christian’s but you just have to deal with it. Christian is very straight forward like Edward, he doesn’t really say much and has the same sort of painful facial expression. He’s also adopted. Ana is the vulnerable girl who is in love but is very inquisitive and wants to be with this man of mystery. So essentially this whole story is a more grown up version of Twilight.

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After getting all of that out of the way and really stripping the film down, Johnson’s Ana is a very a strong female lead. Entertainment wise, she has a repertoire of great one liners and comebacks which will make you giggle in agreement. Ana does display some control, even though she becomes his “submissive”. Her projections of vulnerability and solid resistance is very compelling and done so well. She doesn’t give in too easily nor straight away and builds her own compromises with Christians requests. He may be the “Dominant” but it’s to her terms. You really get to see this through one of the best scenes in the film where she has a “meeting” with Mr Grey to discuss the contract to their relationship and to object to certain activities. The on screen chemistry is just simply perfect there. She’s also the character for the audience, seeing Christian and the whole romance/relationship through her eyes, ultimately probing about his past and why he is the way he is. We want to know as much as she does. She also demonstrates how powerful the word “no” can be.

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Dornan’s Christian as mentioned before is very inexpressive, quite cold and very straight forward, but given the circumstances, it’s acceptable. It’s when he begins to open up to Ana in ways he specifically explains in the beginning that he doesn’t engage in, his character starts to break in and this is done in a very subtle way, giving the film a bit of a balance. The awkward attempt of calling Ana “baby” is definitely one of Dornan’s high points and it’s Ana’s inquisitive nature and ability to rebel is what attracts Christian, not just her submission. What really gets to you is his eyes. That’s the main point of contact, communication and wonder, through Dornan’s eyes.

Fifty Shades of Grey
Easing into the film’s main point of focus, the sexual boundaries of pain and pleasure, it’s actually not as bad and explicit as expected. It takes about a good 30 – 40 minutes into the film before anything actually happens and it’s not a lot either. It’s done in a very tasteful and erotic way building the intensity without the need for a bunch of full frontals and weird pornographic angles and moans. Although the shots mostly focus on Johnson, Dornan’s dominance was dominant enough to keep the audience engaged with his actions rather than the camera straying down south. These principles also applied to the infamous Red Room of Pain.
To top it all off, the costume designs worked so well for each character especially Christian Grey and we’re graced with a really seductive yet awesome soundtrack featuring The Rolling Stones, Ellie Goulding, Beyoncé, Awolnation, Annie Lennox, Danny Elfman and much more. It’s such a pleasing soundtrack to listen to and really suits the film.
All in all, it was better than expected, cleaner than expected and more enjoyable than expected. Slick, tasteful, witty and seductive, Twi-hards eat your heart out.

Star Ratings 3

 

 

 

A Compelling Love Story – Testament of Youth

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The film industry has been graced with a very large box full of actors, directors and so on over the past few years from Britain. It has now become so gracious that these British films are having more of a general release rather than just a limited, selected cinema release. The power of the Brits is so highly recognised, we’re dominating the box office with huge nominations in this year’s award season. Kicking off 2015 with the magical Theory of Everything, we’ve quickly received yet another grand performance in the form of a compelling, love story during the first world war.
Testament of Youth is a remembrance of youth and love based on the memoir of World War One by Vera Brittain, giving a more in-depth view of those not only left behind during the the war, but from a woman’s point of view. Alicia Vikander plays Vera, a strong, intelligent female lead who has overcome the struggles of sexism in that society to go to Oxford university and pursue a scholarship in literature. Falling in love with her brother’s best friend, who happens to be a dashingly handsome poet in the making, Roland Leighton (Kit Harington), life begins to fall apart as their youth is taken away from them when the war begins resulting in the men getting shipped off to the front leaving Vera behind. Unable to cope knowing her loved ones are out there serving in the war, she makes the decision to volunteer as a nurse giving her services to the war, keeping a close watch for any communications about her loved ones and experiencing the war from a new perspective.

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Vikander leads the pack with a solid, emotional performance highlighting every aspect of love, romance, distress and the feeling of being hopeless and lifeless but plucking up the courage to be the backbone and inspiration for her men to get home safely. Her physical presence in the more silent scenes is where her performance really hits you the most. It’s heart wrenching. Vikander and Harington’s on-screen chemistry truly portrayed the perfect love story, but in general the chemistry and performances from everyone including Taron Egerton, Colin Morgan, Dominic West, Emily Watson and Hayley Atwell, were delightful.

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The cinematography and locations chosen, especially in Yorkshire, were beautiful and helped to really capture the intensity and fear of not only the war, but that sense of emotion and personality of these characters during the war. Consolata Boyle did a more than superb job with the costume design adding even more character and dominance to the environment.
Outstanding performances, a perfect balance between romanticism and grief and the sheer brilliance of demonstrating the struggles of maturity when one’s youth has been stolen, this is not just a memoir, but is a testament of life itself. Testament of Youth is the perfect example of how far British film has come and where we stand now.

Star Ratings 4

The Good, The Bad and The Bloody Awful

Happy late New Year guys! 2013 has been an incredible year for the world of film and video games, with an even better 2 years ahead of us (from what we know so far). It’s that time where we can reflect on what we’ve seen and played over the past year. It was actually quite difficult putting this post together considering there has been so much greatness in 2013, so forget about a “Top 10” etc, here’s a brief flash back at the cinematic awesomesauce poured over your chips.

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First up, it’s very easy to say that Marvel had a fantastic run, and is still jogging their way to the far far away finishing line smoothly. Iron Man 3 (at the moment currently dubbed as the “last Iron Man”) was fantastic. Everyone had their own opinion on it, but really, it was superb. Getting to see Iron Man stripped down to just Tony Stark with anxiety attacks after New York aka The Avengers Phase one really put the icing on the cake. It was a brilliant way to start off Phase two and it was based around Christmas time (thanks to Shane Black) so there’s an excuse to watch it all year round.

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Second in command, Thor: The Dark World was even better than the first. Based around mostly Greenwich, London and Asgard, Thor became the Thor we all enjoyed from The Avengers (not that we didn’t’ enjoy him in his first solo film, there was just something different) not to mention that devious brother of his, Loki. After his award winning performance, if there was an award just for superheroes, Loki is still the one you want to watch. Patiently, but very impatiently, you wait and can barely contain yourself when Loki is off screen. Saying that, Thor 2 has a really strong and entertaining story that really does grab a hold of you, without pulling you too far into the dark world. Quite frankly, you really wouldn’t want to end up there.

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Hugh Jackman had returned as our favourite X-Men, Wolverine in… The Wolverine. After the first attempt to give Logan his first solo act in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it was time to move forward, rather than going back with all the origin stories and get serious. The Wolverine, set mostly in Japan, occurred after X-Men: The Last Stand, where he’s gone off on his own again with Dr Jean Grey stuck in his head, trying to make him feel guilty for killing her off (even though she killed Cyclops and Professor Xavier). This time however, some dude he had saved back in the day wants Logan’s power of not aging so he can live longer, trying to claim that Logan is ready to die and he’s not, oh the nerve! But anyways, it’s super awesome and Wolverine still has his sarcastic spark and don’t care attitude, even though he really does care and we meet this awesome red haired Japanese girl who literally can beat the crap out of you with her eyes closed. It was dubbed as the “Wolverine film we’ve always wanted” and it’s a fact that it really is. To top it all of, the post credit scene is to die for! It’s what connects the whole X-Men series to the next instalment Days of Future Past, out this year.

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Moving away from Marvel and slipping into 5th gear, DC had a pretty good run too without a Batman film in site. RED has personally become one of favourite Bruce Willis films (it could actually be my favourite). With the success of the first, yes a sequel had been made with hope for a third. RED 2 adds Catherine Zeta-Jones and Anthony Hopkins to the mix, with the original crew back for another beating (except Morgan Freeman obviously). The relationship between Mary Louise Parker and Bruce Willis onscreen is just so hilarious but sweet at the same time. She’s the type of girl we wish we could all be.

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Next in line was yet another reboot for Superman hailed The Man of Steel. This was actually a huge surprise because its predecessors were never as good as the Christopher Reeve Superman, nothing had even come close. After saying that, Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan really hit the nail on the head, hammering it hard with this one. For an origin story, Man of Steel was unbelievably good. The new man with a cape, Henry Cavill donned the Superman closest to Reeve’s version without a doubt. Michael Shannon as General Zod was fantastic; the only downfall with the film was unfortunately Amy Adams. She’s a great actress, but being cast as Louis Lane was a huge disappointment and just did not work at all. It was actually quite awkward watching it. But other than that, one of the best things about Man of Steel were those camera angles used during the fight scenes and just the way it was filmed on a whole. To add to the excitement, at the SDCC (Comic-Con) it was announced that the Man of Steel sequel would have Batman in it, later on notifying us that Batman would be played by Ben Affleck. 2015 guys!

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It wasn’t just Comic book adaptations that did well this year, Ron Howard’s Rush is definitely a front runner to win some sort of an award this year. The biopic tells the story of 2 F1 race car drivers who’s had this on going feud for years, until one of them gets involved in a life changing accident. The great thing about this film is that it’s not really a racing film; it’s not primarily focused on the races. It’s more about the relationship between the two drivers and you get to watch them grow. It truly is an amazing film.

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Other films that came out for 2013 that were very enjoyable to watch were Now You See Me, World War Z, The Great Gatsby, Disney’s Frozen, Django Unchained (it was technically released in the UK 2013 so ha!), Bad Grandpa, Fast and Furious 6, The Conjuring and to end the year we had The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug which is a must watch for all LOTR fans and The Hunger Games Part 2: Catching Fire. Both films leaving you in a right pickle as their cliff hangers were just too intense. You get the feeling of your eyes welling up thinking “I have to wait a year to know what happens next?” [Insert that Kevin Hart picture that’s been surfing around the net]

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The worst film without a doubt that was released in 2013 that I’ve seen was Texas Chainsaw. Where could one start with this pile of garbage. It was bloody terrible, honestly, don’t even bother try giving it a go. The story was weak, the performances were boring, there was no need for it to be rated an 18 either, it could have easily passed as a 15. There was just nothing to this film, nothing at all.

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Ending on a high note, video games have had an exceptional year with the release of GTAV, Beyond Two Souls, Tomb Raider, God of War Ascensions, Assassin’s Creed Black Flag to mention a few. GOTY (Game of the year) definitely has to go to The Last of Us. Naughty Dog always produce the best, but The Last of Us just went beyond that. There are no words to describe how amazing the campaign is. The story is so strong, you’ll play it more than once and that’s a guarantee. The mechanics of the game is very easy to manage once you know the controls, the feel of the characters are realistic, the voice acting is incredible, the relationship between the protagonists Joel and Ellie is just mouth watering,  I could literally go on and on. The Multiplayer at the moment is lacking a few more modes etc but they are working on it, so it’s just about being patient, but what there is of the multiplayer is awesome. Everyone is just waiting for that announcement for a Co-op now *wink wink*. Honestly though, if you haven’t played TLOU, it’s definitely worth playing. It truly is a masterpiece.

So that’s 2013! Done and dusted, bring on 2014!

Love and Honor Official Trailer

 

Formerly known as AWOL, Love and Honor is a romance quite like Dear John, The Vow, The Lucky One, The one that started them all The Notebook and the others (you know what I’m talking about), set during the Vietnam war. Starring Liam Hemsworth as a soldier who’s best friend is dumped by his girlfriend so they decied to go AWOL, back to the US to win her back. On the otherhand, Hemsworth ends up falling into his own love story. Based on a true story and making love not war, there’s a couple of little shirtless shot of Hemsworth thrown in there for the ladies. Scheduled to be released sometime this year.

 

Sweet and Gooey – The Vow

What do you get when a script falls between Channing Tatum (the fella from Dear John) and Rachel McAdams (You know the Notebook?) that involves romance, amnesia and a whole lot in between? You get The Vow.

Surprisingly (well not really because you have to make that judgement for yourself) The Vow received a heavy beating by other reviewers calling it all the names under the sun however, I don’t see why. When amnesia is the main subject of a film, it’s usually very predictable with us leaving the cinema with the state of mind that “we’ve all seen this before”, but with The Vow, it was more about love dying before the person and learning and earning the value of love when it’s lost. The fact that it was inspired by true events and a glimpse of the real couple at the end was a nice touch.

Tatum and McAdams play the cute “so in love” couple Leo and Paige, who we learn via flashback, has the relationship that everyone wished they had. After a snowplough accidentally crashes into the back of their car and sends Paige flying through the windscreen (yes, she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, but you’ll know why), she is left with the memory of the life she had when she was with her parents, a life that she had left behind and cut off and when she was engaged to another bloke named Jeremy. Unfortunately, Leo is left reeling and distraught because she does not remember anything of the life she had and still has with Leo, let alone who Leo actually is. Poor Leo hadn’t even met her family because she cut them off for a reason she doesn’t even remember. A bit of irony there and you can see how this plays out.

Starting with her parents, who try to worm their way back into her life and get her back into Law school, with her old friends and totally turns her back into this rich “Stepford wife” (as Leo puts it) who is the total opposite of who she became in the 5 years of her life with Leo. However, the family is hiding a secret and this secret is the reason to why Paige had cut the family off. It plays great little twist to the story.

Jeremy on the other hand was dumped by Paige, but now sees the opportunity to also worm his way back into her heart causing an awkward love triangle. I’m not too sure why Paige was so blank and indecisive with her decisions because to be honest, you take a look a Jeremy and then you take a look at Leo… If I had lost my memory and saw the dashing Leo standing there telling me we’re married etc, hell yeah I wouldn’t even think twice about Jeremy! C’mon now.

Paige’s problem was her fear of moving on and not wanting to leave the past because that’s all she knew. Leo’s problem was his ideals on love thrown out of the window and the uncertain questions of how he can make her love him again because he wasn’t giving up on this emotional dilemma of a situation. For better or for worse, for in sickness and in health, I think The Vow was a very suiting title don’t you think?

The flashbacks may have tried a little too hard to convince us of their blissful love in some parts, especially to someone who has quite a cold and blunt ideal of the word but it’s not all sad and soppy though. There are lots of little quirks and funny lines thrown in at the right time to give some realism to the serious nature of what The Vow is meant to be. There’s even a scene where Rachel McAdams is talking and laughing with her mouth filled with chocolate and a piece flies out into her hair. Laughing the incident off, I’m sure this was not scripted, but made the cut.

It’s difficult to compare The Vow to the other great romances like Titanic and The Notebook because of their stable story line. If the romance had failed, we still would have had a sinking ship to look forward to. With The Vow, her family secret was enough, not superglue like, but more PVA. It worked, which is important. Casting Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams for Leo and Paige was perfect and gave the characters that believability. Though Tatum seemed to love getting his kit off throughout, I was not distracted and was professional about it, maybe because I ended up with a dead arm from the excitement my friend just had to release and I just happened to be there. The hair was doing wonders for me though. Sam Neill played Paige’s domineering father who also went to Law school and plays a huge part in “what’s best” for his little girl.

I guess it can be said The Vow is like their Chocolate Roulette session, but in this box, there isn’t a disappointment. I’ll be looking forward to its blu-ray release.

The Vow – Official Trailer