Nerve- 15 #filmreview #Han #booktoscreen

Nerve
Trailer
From IMDB: A high school senior finds herself immersed in an online game of truth or dare, where her every move starts to become manipulated by an anonymous community of “watchers.”

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Nerve takes the premise of Jeanne Ryan’s novel, has its kinks and lulls ironed out, in order to provide an hour and a half of suspense, thrills and wicked entertainment.

Emma Roberts and Dave Franco are perfect leads Vee and Ian who join together to participate in Nerve; an online Truth or Dare. To win you need to go viral and complete challenges. How much of a coincidence is it that the challenges just so happen to represent player’s fears and personal demons?!

Okay, so anyone who’s seen the trailer, or watched a suspense movie will know it’s not that simple. Once they have you in their grip, Nerve will do anything to keep you there.

Cinematography is immersive and, at some points, stomach churning. The plot is well developed. At some points, more than the book. The changes allow for more depth of character and Vee’s motivation has a better foundation.

It’s not for everyone though.

IT- 15 #filmreview #Han @gemlovesbooks

IT- 15
Release date: 8th September 2017
Han’s book review
From IMDB: A group of bullied kids band together when a shapeshifting demon, taking the appearance of clown, begins hunting children.
Trailer

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The good
The young actors were amazing and a perfect representation of teens today. I wasn’t sold on Finn Wolfhard as the sexualised Richie (Think Jay from Inbetweeners and that’s what Richie should be like. Unfortunately, Wolfhard’s words fall flat in their believability), however he was perfect for the other aspects of the character and a beautiful homage to Corey Feldmen’s Teddy of Stand by Me.

Sophia Lillis is truly incredible as Val. She portrays a believable vulnerability with a will to survive. Her attack by IT puts the Carrie prom scene to shame and is truly one of the creepiest set pieces I’ve ever watched.

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I don’t think a bunch of kids have been well cast since the golden age of the 80s; they should be held in as high regard as The Goonies and Stand By Me.

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The film makers had the sense not to convolute the plot with King’s “ingenious” method of riding Derry of IT; a consensual gang bang between Val and every single boy in the Losers Club.

There are some amazing one liners that have been woven in due to the time shift from the book; from New Kids on the Block to film references. I was the only person laughing, but I didn’t care one bit. Hit the film on a busy Saturday night and I’m sure there would be more people chuckling along.

The scares are there, especially if you have a dislike for clowns. I jumped twice, but that was more to do with the music than the plot. IT is certainly going to leave a lasting impression.

 

The bad
It’s quite annoying that the bits I quite loved about the film is what I feel did it a disservice.

Setting the teen section in the 80s was good; as a horror movie, it ticks all the boxes. However, in a post Stranger Things world and being a King adaptation; it comes across as a little cheap and homage-ridden to been enjoyed as it was meant. Also, there was so much rich social commentary to be gained from a 50s setting that I was really looking forward to seeing.

There was a little too much Max Headroom computer effects whenever Pennywise came out to play in the mid and long shots and some scenes showed too much which sadly detracted from the horror.

It’s biggest problem when it comes to the horror is that it’s appealing to a 15 audience. Up it to an 18 and they could have gotten a lot more scares in.

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The ugly
Where was my werewolf?! Everyone has their favourite; zombies, vampires, werewolves. I’m a wolf gal; all hair, a bit of gruff and an understanding that we all have an off few days once a month. It’s there in the book, and I had no expectations. Except, ah bloody hell, they went there.

I got a glimpse, a tease if you will. My co blogger has insisted I quote myself from the post movie debrief; “I feel like Domhnall Gleeson did stripped in front of me, but stopped before we got to the good stuff” and it’s true. I feel so robbed and I only hope the intention is that we see it in chapter 2.

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Currently, IT Chapter Two has yet to be green lit. However, it’s had a healthy box office so an announcement should be imminent.

 

Wind River- 18 #filmreview #Han

Wind River- 18
Release date 8.9.17

From IMBD: An FBI agent teams with a town’s veteran game tracker to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation.

It’s not an ‘enjoyable’ watch by any stretch of the imagination, however it is well made and worthy of sharing a shelf with the likes of Leon, Straw Dogs and Seven. It’s based on real events; and contains a message that people do need to hear.

The good
With the brutal atmosphere of Seven and unrelenting violence of Leon, Wind River is the crime thriller of the year. Both Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen are incredibly moving in their roles.
Renner’s tormented game tracker Cory Lambert is pure unadulterated grief. It’s painful, yet cathartic to watch. Olsen is likable as out of her depth FBI officer, Jane. Her chemistry with Renner and the other actors brings some light to the dark plot.
The representation of Native American culture is sincere and full of political and social commentary. It’s quite refreshing to be taken into an atmospheric environment relatively unseen in mainstream film.

The final third of the film is where the film shines; all the pieces fall into place and the action heats up. After an epic Leon-worthy show down, the film wraps up with one of the best revenge face-offs I’ve seen. It teared me up worse than Jean Reno’s ‘This is for Matilda.’

The thing I love most of all about Wind River, is its commentary on forms of mental health; from the grieving parent to the lost teen to the isolated worker without home comforts. We need more films like this, preferably ones not so violent and more accessible to a younger audience.

The bad
It does have a slow build that I may not have sat through had I watched it at home. However, having it on the big screen allows you to appreciate the landscape shots and intimate dialogue between friends within the community.

The ugly
The victim that is the catalyst for the whole narrative is a victim of rape. It’s a hard scene to watch, and worthy of the films 18 rating. It is far from gratuitous and ensures you know that this traumatic event happens to women across the world; the disappearance and abuse of Native American women being one minority that repeatedly goes unreported.

 

American Made- 15 #filmreview #Han

American Made- 15
Release date- 25.8.17
Trailer
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The Good
From the opening, I knew I was going to like this Crime Drama Biopic. There was something a little hipster about its phase from fancy, shiny new age Universal logo to the static one of old. The film geek in me loves a gimmick when it comes to studio logos. (Side note- to this day Ralf hums along to every 20th Fox film. It’s head cannon to me now.) It sets the tone and the setting of the film. Got to love the meta of it; it’s harking back to an era in which the president was a former actor. I have much more insightful things to say about the progression of Hollywood during the Regan era, but now is not the time.
The humour from the get going is quirky, gritty and a refreshing change for a Cruise film. Once or twice I found myself being the only person laughing, or understanding the punch like a beat sooner than the rest of the audience.
The plot is given a clear narration with the same flare as 2015’s The Big Short. It’s narration is what ties the whole thing together.

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Okay, I’ll level with you here before I gush at the awesomeness. Cruise and Gleeson meet fairly early and yes, their initial scene would never stand up to that of Deniro and Pacino in Heat when it comes to a sit down; how would it, that was DECADES in the making.
However, Gleeson is once again showing his versatility as the unlikeable ‘CIA’ operative handling Cruise’s pilot Barry Seal.
I know I’m bias as Gleeson is my movie catnip, but I loved his sudo-command over A-list Cruise. It also gives you an insight into Cruise’s character. You know had this been Ethan Hunt the other side of the table, Gleeson’s Monty Shafer would have pissed his pants by the end of the first conversation.
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The Bad
I wasn’t a fan of the shaky cam. It certainly didn’t do the film justice on a Super Screen. I know it was trying to achieve a sense of realism, and aesthetically it makes more sense and you appreciate it more when you get to the final act. Had I watched it on a smaller screen, it might have been okay. However, as it stands, it left me a little dizzy.
I did also find it a little slow in places. Not as slow as other Colombian cartel movies (Yes, I’m looking at you Scarface… You’re long, you’re over rated and I hate you), and while it’s okay for a first watch I don’t think it’s a regular viewing film.

The Ugly
This is not about the film itself, but film etiquette and ultimate audience faux pas that led to me becoming a little bit more aware of the films pace; the couple next to me. (Side note: they shouldn’t have been next to us. I’d used my Cinema Magic skills to combine my Cineworld card and Meerkat movies to get myself and a friend in for free. I’d specified the later showing, but the grumpy twenty-something was too busy making her face express her wish to be outside, so she gave me tickets for the screening before… so a seat hop, or three, we find ourselves beside this couple)
The talked, at length and at volume. Throughout the entire film. I don’t get it?! It was central London; the tickets were £16.50 each (hence what I did being a magic trick). Why bother? From the little bits I did hear, it wasn’t even about the film. During the fight and flight sequences it wasn’t so obvious. However, during the quiet bits it was a little like torture… ergo slow pace makes the film fall a little for me.
People, be proud though, I restrained the inner Scouse and I actually let them chat away. I don’t know if it was because the sound system in a Super Screen was a little louder than normal, or if I’m just realising I gain nothing by allowing myself to be wound up by ignorant people. It really is an ugly side of cinema, but I don’t want it to stop me enjoying my time with friends.

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I’m just going to leave this last image of Domhnall here 

Patti Cakes- 15 #PattiCakes #filmreview #han

Patti Cakes- 15
Release date: 1st September 2017
From IMDB: PATTI CAKE$ is centered on aspiring rapper Patricia Dombrowski, a.k.a. Killa P, a.k.a. Patti Cake$, who is fighting an unlikely quest for glory in her downtrodden hometown in New Jersey.

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The Good
Patti Cakes is a stylistically stunning indie underdog film that takes you by the heart. The protagonist’s fantasies are played out as music video clips and give you an insight into Patti’s figurative dreams. Even those people, including myself, who are not partial to the rap genre, will not be put off by the music represented in the movie.

It is a raw, honest and funny look into family life, the challenges faced in trying to make it, and how you cope when you don’t. It unfolds into a bittersweet final act that I challenge anyone to watch without tearing up.

Danielle MacDonald steals the show as Patti; called Dumbo by the boys in her neighbourhood, she represents the body positive character many women have been needing for a while. She crosses so many cultural boundaries and subverts the genre of rap without being a stereotype. The relationship with her mother and Nan provide the films core humour and heart.

The music is excellent, and not being someone who goes out of their way to listen to rap artists, I found myself making a mental note to check out the soundtrack come pay day.

The Bad
There are arguments that the film is a little formulaic and there are already comparisons made to Juno, 8 Mile, Muriel’s Wedding and Strictly Ballroom. While I can’t deny there isn’t those comparisons to be made, I would argue that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being put up there with the caliber of Indie films such as these.

It is also an updated look at the similar themes found within those movies; ones that perhaps would not reach an audience of today. With such an important message, it’s vital it gets an uplift from time to time.

The Ugly
There is nothing within the film that I can pull apart. However, what I will say is that it will be a terrible shame if this film doesn’t make bigger waves here in the UK Box Office.

In a world were we’re sheep and go in our droves to the film with the loudest bangs and the biggest star; it’s time to stop being a sheep.

Ignore any preconceptions you have as the door and watch this film for what it truly is; a bittersweet family drama showcasing talent, humour and a massive heart.

Final Portrait (15) #review

Final Portrait (15)
Director- Stanley Tucci
Released: 18.8.2017

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From IMDB: In 1964, while on a short trip to Paris, the American writer and art-lover James Lord (Armie Hammer) is asked by his friend, the world-renowned artist Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush), to sit for a portrait. The process, Giacometti assures Lord, will take only a few days. Flattered and intrigued, Lord agrees. So begins not only the story of an offbeat friendship, but, seen through the eyes of Lord, an insight into the beauty, frustration, profundity and, at times, downright chaos of the artistic process. FINAL PORTRAIT is a portrait of a genius, and of a friendship between two men who are utterly different, yet increasingly bonded through a single, ever-evolving act of creativity. It is a film which shines a light on the artistic process itself, by turns exhilarating, exasperating and bewildering, questioning whether the gift of a great artist is a blessing or a curse.

The Good
Being set in Paris in the 60s, the film oozes charm and romantic beauty. The palate from Giacometti’s work transcends to the screen in a way that is reminiscent of Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief, Her Wife and Her Lover. At so many points during the film, I could have paused it and made a print to hang on a wall.
The script is charming, unrelenting and brutally real. Both Hammer and Rush, along with Shalloub, have brilliant chemistry and comic timing. It’s subtle humour that doesn’t detract from the drama.
Rush, I’m told, is an uncanny representation of the late artist. For that, I’m yet to be able to confirm. However, it is an amazing performance from the man. His movements, mannerism and misery are all consuming in the performance. From the moment he appears, to the walks in the grave yard (High Gate Cemetery I predict, as it was said that it was all filmed in London) he is the epitome of a tortured artist.
The music is an uplifting reprieve from the heavy drama as Lord starts sitting for his portrait. It’s light, it’s the definition of French culture and has me begging for an original soundtrack in my audio collection as soon as physically possible.

The Bad
While Stanley Tucci is without a doubt an amazing director; this is his 5th outing behind the camera, it is the first time he’s not graced the screen. It really is a shame to not see him on the silver screen.

Hammer’s frustration at the artist’s process is magnificent. Playing Lord as someone who cares about reputation and making connections, you can clearly see his patience being kept at bay for as long as possible.
It’s divine to see the methods he comes up with to combat the mental and physical issues that come with sitting for a portrait, days on end. It leads to some beautiful conversations with other characters and the pay off in the final act is a work of art (no pun intended).

The Ugly (Truth)
Being a biopic, it’s a raw, dramatic and, at times, a cruel life of a talented, yet tortured artist.
Both women in the film are treated unrelentingly badly. His wife is kept at a distance, watching Giacometti have a long-standing affair with a prostitute. Even the wife’s wish to go to an artist’s gala opening is overshadowed by the purchase of a car for the lover.

It’s heart breaking. Neither woman has a fulfilling relationship with the man; even Giacometti’s exchange with his lover’s pimp shows he doesn’t truly love her. He’d pay ten times the fee set in the negotiation, but he won’t buy her out of prostitution.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard- 15 #Hanreview

The Hitman’s Bodyguard- 15

Release date:17th August 2017

Tagline: Never let him out of your sight. Never let your guard down. Never fall in love.

Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Ryan Reynolds, Gary Oldman

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From IMDB: The world’s top bodyguard gets a new client, a hit man who must testify at the International Court of Justice. They must put their differences aside and work together to make it to the trial on time.

The Good

SLJ and Reynolds work so well together as the comedy thriller duo. It’s a joy to see the two of them wind each other up and help each other out when needed. It’s a typical buddy film; hating each other first, but ending with a mutal respect for one another. SLJ surprisingly got the funnier lines and the lighter characterisation and it was quite beautiful to see him play up against Reynold’s straight laced ‘boring is best’.

The humour is there, but there’s also heart behind the plot. What motivates each man is not something to chuckle at; leaving you on the edge of your seat for a whole different reason.

Gary Oldman, doing what he does best. The one thing I love about this man is his versatility. You can find him in blockbusters, Indie flicks and Oscar bait. Here he’s playing the villain to a tee. Accent is a little hammy, but it’s Oldman. We will let him off.

The violence and action sequences where well shot and had the same gloss as recent films like Kingsman. It’s a good touch for people like me who find the realism of violence a little hard to take in a comedy film.

The Bad

I really don’t like the setting. Normally I would be very excited to see a film set in London, but I just wasn’t quite sold as to having two American leads running around the UK. I also don’t get why SLJ was arrested somewhere else and ends up in Manchester.

It’s about 30 minutes too long for me. I was starting to feel a little restless and with a quick edit, they could have brought it down to a comfortable length.

There were two scenes that didn’t quite have the impact I think the film makers were wanting. Firstly, was Reynold’s character pissing into a bottle, for SLJ finding it later in the movie. I suspect at some point, the plot involved someone drinking. But as it stands there was no payoff for the initial scene.

Secondly, the revelation of the ‘mole’ within interpole was missing something. As an audience, people may miss it as we already know quite early on who it is. However, the part that gives the person away to Reynold’s ex makes no sense. It’s missing a scene or dialogue saying the action is a trade mark move of the dictator.

The Ugly

How many motherfucker’s can you fit into a film?! I lost count in the first 20 minutes. I was around 12, but I was only counting SLJ’s and then Salma Hayek fired off about 4 in quick succession. Reynolds was right, SLJ was ruining the word.  Did I laugh; yes, I did. However, few hours after I watched it, I’m finding the joke a little spent. One word does not a catch phrase make.

Jurassic Park (1993)- PG

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Back in November I went to see my most beloved film in the Royal Albert Hall. I figured reviewing a film I know inside and out would be a good way to dip my toes back into the blogging world.

I first watched this film when I was 8 years old and it very quickly became my comfort movie. If I was unwell, if I couldn’t sleep; there it was like an old friend. I loved this film so much I completed my dissertation around the film and its theme of control.

The Good
It’s hard not to talk about it without bias, but as a blockbuster movie it checks all the boxes. It has pace, bratty children you kind of hope get eaten before the final act and some lines that as soon as they’re uttered, you know they’ll be set out as iconic quotes.
Even now, most of the CGI looks good and I will forever love Nedry’s demise along with the now famous ‘clever girl’

The music is quintessentially John Williams and a piece that complements the action. While the main theme is incredible, it is the section as they arrive to the island that sticks in my mind and floats my heart.

Getting Richard Attenborough out of retirement to play Richard Hammond was a stroke of genius. He has such an eccentricity about him that I can’t help but feel for him as his world collapses. The character that appears on the screen is world’s away from Michael Crichton’s incarnation in his 1991 novel.

Another smart move was to adapt the character of Alan Grant into a a-typical Spielberg leading man; a man who struggles to bond with children, but is resolved by the closing credits. See Close Encounters, Indiana Jones, War of the Worlds and even E.T for others within his body of work.

The Bad
As I’ve grown, I’ve become increasingly irritated by the ‘kitchen’ scene. I just think its a little too…. implausible. I know, I know… it’s a movie about cloned dinosaurs but it’s just a little too comical now to see those terrifying monsters man handling the door like some two man panto horse. I do still enjoy Lex’s ‘cunning’ attempt at confusing the raptor by trapping herself inside the kitchen cupboard. However, it’s not as calculated as I once thought; she looks too scared to be the bad ass I had pinned her as.

I’m also a little saddened by the omission of the last act of the book. There is a complete sub story about the raptors that reads like a directors dream. Okay, snippets make there way into Lost World, but it would have fit perfectly here.

The Ugly
The birds at the end of the movie are not condors! Up until last month, I watched this poignant cut from Alan Grant’s outward gaze to a flock of birds thinking it was a reference to Hammond’s outburst at the dinner scene. It made sense, I loved it.
Alas, I was wrong and it’s just a bunch of pelicans with no relevance to the rest of the movie. I guess that says more about me than the movie though.

Cast- 7
Cinematography- 8
Plot- 6 (missed too many bits from the book)
Pace- 9
Music- 8
Enjoyability- 10

 

The Jungle Book- PG

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Raised by a family of wolves since birth, Mowgli (Neel Sethi) must leave the only home he’s ever known when the fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) comes looking for revenge. Guided by a no-nonsense panther (Ben Kingsley) and a free-spirited bear (Bill Murray), the young boy meets an array of jungle animals. Along the way, Mowgli learns valuable life lessons as his epic journey of self-discovery leads to fun and adventure.

No bad, no ugly… Just Good
Where to start? What a beautiful, charming and incredibly detailed film. It’s well paced and doesn’t skimp on the darkness of the original source material.

The voices are all well picked, but special mention must be given to the talented Bill Murray and Idris Elba. There couldn’t have been any better voices for Balloo and Khan respectively.

Neel Sethi is incredible as Mowgli. The sole human actor against a backdrop of CGI, Sethi is able to engage you to the point you forget he’s acting against nothing. It would be wise for the Oscars to offer a nomination to this incredible talent, solely on his performance alone. He’s of the same age as the Harry Potter clan, showing the same talent of a theatrically trained adult; there should be no question about the nod. There is an added bonus that it could pave a way to resolving the diversity problem.

The music, despite what some reviews, really works. Christopher Walken breaking out into song as King Loui is delightful, Bill Murray’s Bare Neccessities is intregrated into the film seemlessly. I would advise anyone watching the film to check out ‘Trust in Me’ by Scarlett Johansson, but be patient as it appears in the closing credits.

The film is fully of so many amazing moments; from the jungle’s relationship with the elephants to the harrowing yet eventually uplifting journey Mowgli goes on The Jungle Book will be begging for many return viewings.

Cast- 9
Cinematography- 9
Plot-8
Pace-8
Music-9
Enjoyability- 9

Slow West- 15 

  

I am not a fan of Westerns. There are very few that I have liked. It’s not the genre’s fault; they focus on a violent and negative time.

What I find surprising about Slow West is how full of hope it actually is. It’s artistic and clever script flows through the beautiful but decayed landscape.

It’s a simple plot that fairs well, albeit a little predictable. The film is not a chore to watch like some Westerns, but it’s not a film I would watch repeatedly.

Cast- 8
Cinematography- 9
Plot-7
Pace-7
Music-8
Enjoyability- 7

Wedding Ringer- 15

The Wedding Ringer is a plot by numbers film. Parts of Meet the Parents and There’s Something About Mary with splashes of I Love You Man and Sex Drive.
Just like with all the others, the best bits appear to be in the trailer. Kayley Cucoo-Sweeting isn’t right as the beauty bitch who gets the geek. Go figure! Perhaps she’s too ‘Penny’ or she’s too much of a convincing bitch, but I hate every moment she’s on screen. It was a role made for Cameron Diaz, ten years ago.
The film is inoffensive, but it’s also not very funny. It has heart, but it doesn’t have guts to fully commit to some of the setups.
In a similar way to the Internship, this film could have done with cutting down on the swearing, removing all the genital flashes (although points for showing more of a penis than 50 Shades) and bringing the rating down to a 12a.
I left liking the two male leads a little more than I have in the past, but also realising unless it has Rob Schnider in the lead I need to give the frat boy films a miss.

Cast- 7
Cinematography- 6
Plot-7
Pace-7
Music-9
Enjoy ability- 6

Fifty Shades of Grey- 18

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This appears to be a true Han, Solo movie. I had a number of offers to watch it with people. However, having sat uncomfortably through Basic Instinct for my Film Studies degree I knew this wasn’t something I could do.
I wasn’t alone in this thought either. About half the reasonably sized audience where flying solo for the early morning screening. I ashamedly broke the rules and did not sit in my assigned seat. Blushes a plenty when a cute guy rocks up alone claiming it as his own. At least 10 additional individuals crawled in after the lights went out and a handful of under aged girls firmly clutching 3D glasses from the film they were claiming to see arrived during the final trailer: something I addressed firmly with the manager and warned them to expect more. The problem with a sensation that causes a stir- EVERYONE wants to see it.
I don’t really need to tell you about the plot. The entire human race are currently in one of few camps about this movie and my ‘review’ will not sway you:
1. You’ve read the book, you’ve followed the production from its conception and probably saw it before I did.
2. You’re a sheep. You’ve heard the buzz and want to know what the fuss is about. Whether that be that you are curious, skeptical or downright hipster. (Hi, this is me. Ironically, I was seeing it more because I DIDN’T want to see a film about a sheep)
3. You know it has sex in it/ you think you’ll get sex by seeing it
4. No way, no how am I seeing that movie.

Now, what I will say is: four people walked out never to return. I admire these people for holding their hands up and going ‘nope, not for me,’ and I’m still not quite sure why I wasn’t with them.

I stayed until the end, more out of a overwhelming need to pull Ana from the screen and protect her. I feel a little at odds with myself because I don’t want to belittle anything people might like and enjoy, but I just didn’t feel the promotion of the sort of relationship that appears on screen as ‘romance’ is healthy or good. I also accept that both literature and film are open to interpretation and I will gladly agree to disagree.

The scene it was building up to just wasn’t quite what I was expecting, it fell flat and heavy and I’m frustrated that it’s not a self contained film. It is an abrupt end and I heard a number of people around me mumble ‘is that it?’ as there was a large pause between the final scene and the credit scroll. I know it will put the fans at ease that there’s a sequel on its way, but for those of us who are not- it isolates.

I’ll give it something though- it’s a nice antidote for feeling alone on Valentine’s.

Cast- 8
Cinematography- 8
Plot- 3
Pace- 3
Music- 5
Enjoyability- 1