Movie Review: The Scorch Trials: Running Nowhere

Movie Poster
Movie Poster

The Scorch Trials

Directed by Wes Ball

Released September 18th, 2015

Genre: Dystopian, Action, Adventure, Young Adult

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee

Synopsis

Transported to a remote fortified outpost, Thomas and his fellow teenage Gladers find themselves in trouble after uncovering a diabolical plot from the mysterious and powerful organization WCKD. With help from a new ally, the Gladers stage a daring escape into the Scorch, a desolate landscape filled with dangerous obstacles and crawling with the virus-infected Cranks. The Gladers only hope may be to find the Right Hand, a group of resistance fighters who can help them battle WCKD.

IMDB Score: 7.2/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 62%

My Thoughts

I was super excited to watch the Scorch Trials this weekend it opens because I’d watched the Maze Runner last year and absolutely loved it. It had been a thrill ride from start to finish and I thought that the action/adventure was fascinating and ethereal. Naturally, I was highly anticipating the sequel, expecting it to be bigger and bolder than the last movie.

What I Liked

The cinematography was stellar. I felt like the entire movie fit an overall aesthetic of poignant desolation. The camera focus was sharp as knives and the silhouettes made on the desert landscape were outstandingly artsy. I got chills whenever more than one character turned their heads at the same time, because it was done with such synchronicity and meaning. I felt that the visuals were excellent and I was overall blown away by them.n It certainly had a darker atmosphere than the first movie.

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Game of Thrones’ own Nathalie Emmanuel played such a BAMF (bad ass mother fucker) character, Harriet, in the movie. She was fierce, audacious, and exuded impassioned leadership. It was a delight to watch her instill awe in Thomas’s group and commandeer an army. It was such a far cry from her more gentle character on GoT, and I really enjoyed it.

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My heart leaped with a multitude of intense emotion, from terror to despair to elation. I actually got teary eyed when that tragic event occurred, and I could feel my heart leaping out of my chest with a surge of horror as Thomas’s crew was attacked by zombies. I like movies that make me feel greatly, and The Scorch Trials did succeed in that way.

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Brenda was pretty boss! She was totally self-assured and plucky, and I like her impetus. Her cool demeanor intrigued me. I think that she held her own very well and was very daring and dauntless.

What I Didn’t Like

So. Much. Running. I feel like the whole movie was just about Thomas, Newt, Teresa, Minho, and the rest of the gang just running away from the “bad guys” and being chased and shot at and attacked. Running from WCKD, running from zombies (too many zombies!), running from what ever attacker was there. It became ingratiating. Like Thomas said “I’m tired of running.” I’m tired of you running too, Thomas.

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I didn’t feel like there was any real point to this movie. I left the movie theater not even sure if I knew if there was a plot to it. A lot of random crap just happened to Thomas et al and I didn’t understand the premise of it. The first movie very clearly showed that the objective was to find the way out of the maze, and the objective was reached by them leaving the maze at the end of the movie. It seemed like for the sequel, horrible stuff was just thrown at our heroes and we were left with more questions than answers. It was more a of an awkward in-between movie, and I hope the mystery will be truly solved in the third (and final) movie.

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I didn’t like how Newt didn’t talk that much in this movie. I adore the actor, Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Nanny McPhee, Phineas and Ferb, Game of Thrones) and I wanted his character to be more important in the Scorch Trials, like he was in the Maze Runner. He kind of faded to the wayside in this movie, even though he was still Thomas’s right hand man. Plus, I really love his British accent, so I sorely missed hearing it a lot in the movie. I have a soft spot for Newt, which the Scorch Trials didn’t really deliver on.

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Teresa was just kind of there. Her character didn’t add any value to the plot until the horrific twist at the end, which appeared to have come out of nowhere. She was more of just an accessory to Thomas.

Verdict

The Scorch Trials was very aesthetically pleasing and showcased brazen female characters. It was fun to watch three Game of Thrones actors in one movie (Nathalie Emmanuel, Thomas Sangster, and Aidan Gillen). I think it was really thrilling to watch and it kept me on the edge of my seat. I thought that was excellent direction by Wes Ball in terms of visuals. Yet, it seemed pointless and meaningless, and I was left dissatisfied and disappointed.

7.5/10

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Thomas

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Film Review: Far From the Madding Crowd: Endearing Feminist Romance

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I have a confession to make: I really, really, really love Period Dramas. There’s just something about history that I’m so transfixed by: the fashion, the scenery, the old customs. It’s enchanting to me.

When I heard about Far From the Madding Crowd, I was thrilled. It wasn’t just that it was a period drama. I was drawn to the heroine’s description as headstrong and independent. Bathsheba Everdene (played by the dainty Carey Mulligan) was a woman who could take care of herself in a society that dictates that women be taken care of. I couldn’t wait to watch that unfold onscreen, being a feminist and all.

Hollywood starlet Carey Mulligan during the filming of an adaptation of the novel Far from the Madding Crowd in Sherborne, Dorset. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 20, 2013. Some scenes from the adaptation of the classic Thomas Hardy novel are being filmed in part of the town which has been transformed to fit the Victorian setting of the film. Photo credit should read: Tim Ireland/PA Wire
Hollywood starlet Carey Mulligan during the filming of an adaptation of the novel Far from the Madding Crowd in Sherborne, Dorset. Photo credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

There was also the not one, not two, but THREE (yes, three!) love interests for one heroine. The hopeless romantic that I am, I was almost giddy with excitement.

So how did Far From the Madding Crowd fare?

I found the background music heavenly, enamored with the violin and piano sounds.

All the main characters were just so pretty and handsome. There was a lot of really good eye-candy with such a beautiful cast. All three love interests (played by Matthias Schoenartes, Tom Sturridge, and Michael Sheen) were exceptionally dashing, charming, and disarming in their own different ways.

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I was overjoyed to watch a feminist lead character. She was independent, the boss, owned property, and didn’t need “things” from a man to marry him. I admired her self-sufficiency and strength greatly.

The scenery was so gorgeous: rollicking hills, luscious green pastures, and tranquil bodies of water. Being an artsy person, I was really enchanted by the interior designs – artful with grandeur. I love really stately interior designs in my period dramas, and was blown away by the elegance in Far From the Madding Crowd.

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I was especially enamored with the moving romance at the center of the movie. It was long-lasting and touching with a beautiful ending of endearing passion and love. The sexual tension was drawn out for maximum effect. Bathsheba Everdene finally got with the one man who’d stuck with her through thick and thin. It was so sweet. The secondary romance was a tragic love pulling at my heartstrings, which hit me deep.

A particular quote stood out to me, spoken by Bathsheba, my feminist heroine: “It is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in a language chiefly made by men to express theirs.” So thought provoking.

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I’d give Far From the Madding Crowd a 10/10. It is a magnificently directed film with a very aesthetically pleasing cinematography. I feel like it told a great love story and really enjoyed the feminist values. I’d certainly recommend it to anyone who loves period dramas, strong female leads, and heartwarming romance.

Film Review: Girl in Progress: A Coming of Age Story

This is my coming-of-age blog post.

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Girl In Progress

Released: August 2012

Watched: July 2015

IMDB Rating: 5.6/10

Synopsis

Grace (Eva Mendes) is a single mom who is often too busy juggling her job, bills and two love interests (Matthew Modine, Eugenio Derbez) to pay much attention to her daughter, Ansiedad (Cierra Ramirez). Inspired by the coming-of-age stories her English teacher (Patricia Arquette) introduces in class, Ansiedad decides to skip adolescence and jump-start her life without her mother. But, when the misguided plan unravels, Ansiedad and Grace must both learn that growing up means acting your age.

My Thoughts

I had the enlightening experience of watching Girl in Progress with my mother, as the film itself is very much a mother-daughter tale.

It tells the “coming-of-age” story of Ansiedad (Cierra Ramirez), a Latina girl who is in a hurry to grow up so that she can leave her oft neglectful mother, Grace (Eva Mendez). She learns about coming of age stories in her English class, in which she reads about how teenagers “grow up” and become “mature” through life experiences, hardships, and life lessons. In an entirely impressionable and naive move, Ansiedad proceeds to manufacture her own real-life coming of age story through sheer will and planning.

Meanwhile, her mother, Grace, is a waitress and a maid, who is involved with a married-with-kids white man. With all her work and her affair-ing, mother Grace simply fails to pay attention to Ansiedad and her needs as a child. As a result, Ansiedad’s behavior becomes a cry for help.

Ansiedad grows through a whole plan of becoming a good-girl-gone-bad, with her end goal of leaving via bus to New York. It was all very silly and childish. She ends up alienating her best friend and getting bad grades (on purpose!) while hanging out with the so-called “bad girls” and seeking a “bad boy” to lose her virginity to, which she planned to be her final step towards coming of age.

Ansiedad goes off the rails, losing her best friend and only stopping her deflowering at the last minute, when she realizes how much she doesn’t really want to. Meanwhile, her mother deals with being let go by her lover’s shrewd wife and said lover’s claims that he would leave his life for her. That was obviously a lie, he was never going to leave his wife for her, my mother and I both agreed.

Everything rights itself in the end as Ansiedad and Grace get to hash things out when Grace dumps her duplicious lover and stops Ansiedad from leaving at the nick of time. Ansiedad lets out her suppressed emotions of rage and abandonment at her mother, and they finally make up in a touching mother-daughter moment. Ansiedad also patches things up with her best friend movingly.

This movie was often times over the top, over dramatic, and even downright ridiculous, but I took away a very essential message from it in the importance of family, and appreciating your loved ones, the people who are really there for you no matter what.

Rating: 7/10

On that note, I’m ready to give myself up to adulthood. If you’re reading this, it’s too late for adolescent me because she’s a grown up now. This is scheduled to be published the moment I turn 18. So long, childhood. It’s been real.

Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Admittedly, I read this classic for my English class, American Literature, my junior year. Yet, I felt the pressing need to talk about this riveting book as it completely captured my imagination. This holiday, I watched the modern remake of the movie based on the Great Gatsby, and it seems necessary to compare and contrast the two: The Book, and The Movie starring the striking Leonardo diCaprio.

THE BOOK

The narrator is an impressionable, analytical, judgmental young man who recently moved to the East to find glamor and adventure. He represents the young souls in all of us, eager for romance and excitement, yet judgmental of the people caught up in that lifestyle. He is the outsider, watching the lives of other people unfurl around him in New York City. Our narrator, Nick Carraway, is the voice of the readers themselves.

The main character of the story is actually the enigmatic Jay Gatsby, one of the nouveau-riche of West Egg, thrower of lavish parties and owner of a vast amount of wealth. No one could figure out where exactly the wealth came from, which intensified the mystery encompassing Gatsby. Nick Carraway is the next door neighbor who watches the parties from afar until he is invited by Gatsby himself. He is thrown into the prodigality of the Jazz Age: 1920’s America, where the only concern is having fun dancing and drinking.

On the other end is West Egg of the wealthy people of old money, inherited wealth. Here we are introduced by Nick to Tom and Daisy Buchanan. Tom is your typical Alpha male douchebag who peaked in high school/college, while Daisy can best be described as a delicate flower, ditzy and romantic.

The epic romance unfurls as Nick discovers that Daisy and Gatsby used to be lovers until they were tragically separated when Gatsby went off to war. Daisy, as a rich young and beautiful socialite, was pressured into marrying a wealthy man (Tom) by her mother. What really got me was how Gatsby had purposely gotten a mansion right opposite Daisy’s in order to be secretly near her. He threw all those parties just to get her attention, hoping that she would stop by sometime, but she never did. That was literally the cutest thing I had ever read.

So Gatsby gets Nick to invite Daisy over to HIS house for tea, so he, Gatsby, could kind of just ‘drop in’ and run into Daisy again. Gatsby was so nervous about it and wanted everything to be perfect for their run-in. On the day, Gatsby is a nervous wreck, and I just found it so adorable, how much he cared about Daisy and what she thought. When Daisy arrives, at first its awkward, but then they start talking to each other like old times, and my heart is literally bursting with joy for them and their young love renewed.

The really sad thing, however, is how Gatsby wants to repeat the past, before he went to war, and fix it by having Daisy tell him she never loved Tom, only him, and by marrying Daisy. It’s also romantic but so tragic because you can;t repeat the past, and it’s heart breaking to see Gatsby get his hopes up. Nick, like us, knows Gatsby can’t fix the past, and tells him so, but Gatsby stubbornly wants to believe that he can.

Gatsby and Daisy become clandestine lovers and Daisy so much as comes to one of Gatsby’s parties with Tom, and sneak off with Gatsby.

It all comes to a head when Gatsby goes over for tea or whatever at the Buchanans’ house, and Tom has already suspected him and Daisy of hating something. The air is steely and tense. Daisy can’t stand it (she can’t cope with difficult situations) and asks if they can go into the city. They go, and Gatsby and Tom start arguing, for goodness sake! Gatsby ends up telling Tom that Daisy never loved him, and only loved him, Gatsby. Daisy echoes Gatsby’s statement, but half-heartedly, which already rang warning bells in my mind. As the fight goes on, Daisy finally admits that she had loved Tom, once, but she loved Gatsby too, and tells Gatsby that he’s asking for too much from her. By this time, I was sick of snivelly, oh-I’m-too-fragile-for-this-I-can’t-handle-it Daisy.

The fight between Tom and Gatsby thickens as Tom reveals what he’s discovered about Gatsby. He’s a bootlegger! That was where he got all his money from! The moment Daisy realizes Gatsby’s not of her social standing, she shrinks away from him, even as he pleads with her and denies everything (lying). Daisy, so typically, practically runs back to Tom to take her away from this HORRIFYING experience and Tom revels in his victory.

To cut the long story short, Gatsby dies for Daisy, it’s all very tragically romantic, and when I was reading it I was literally so surprised because I wasn’t even sure if he was dead or not, but then he was, and it was SO sad. Daisy doesn’t so much as come to the phone when Nick tries to call her, and she doesn’t come for Gatsby’s funeral either.

So I guess the moral of this story is rich girls don’t marry poor guys, which is funny, because that is exactly what happened to the author, Scotty here. Or the moral is that Daisy was a heartbreaking bitch, Tom was an asshole, and Gatsby was a hopeless fool in love.

THE MOVIE

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I know a lot of people who read the book hated the 2013 adaptation of the movie, but I LOVED it. It blew me away and I was completely enchanted from start to finish.

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Tobey Maguire is Nick Carraway, and he was so brilliant at being the wallflower kind of guy, who saw everything but didn’t really do anything. He said direct quotes from the book, poignant observations from Nick in the book and their apt time in the movie. I was so thrilled!

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The effects made everything look larger than life, which is exactly how it was meant to be. It was incredible seeing the Buchanan’s house visually represented because I could see now just how lavishly wealthy they were, how huge and magnificent a house they had.The parties were over the top, so amazing, really reinforcing how brilliant they were in the book. They did a GREAT job at that; the ostentatious opulence.

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Joe Edgerton as Tom was perfect. He looked like an asshole, he talked like an asshole, he oozed hateability through every pore. Carey Mulligan as Daisy was flawless. She was just as I imagined her, all delicate and elegant, pale and doe-eyed, with a cute nub for a nose and classy, classic beauty. She was just the right amount of ditzy and shrewd. Gatsby took the cake. Leonardo diCaprio was Gatsby, and my fangirl heart melted. He was dapper, he was charming, he was arrestingly cute, and just pure Gatsby.

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I was really happy how they basically followed the book, but with little variations here and there that didn’t take away from the surprise. Sure, it wasn’t always word-for-word like the older adaptation, but really, what did you expect in this modern day? The only thing that I didn’t like was how they didn’t show Daisy’s daughter. Apart from that, the movie was splendid.

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Rating: 8/10

Film Review: The Age of Adaline: Charming Visual Masterpiece

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The Age of Adaline

Starring: Blake Lively

Released: April 2015

Watched: June 2015

IMDB rating: 7.3/10

My Thoughts

The Age of Adaline is such a visually stunning film. The cinematography was so pleasing to the eye. I was entranced by the enchanting scenery in pretty much every scene in the film.

THE AGE OF ADALINE - 2015 FILM STILL - Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) - Photo Credit: Diyah Pera
THE AGE OF ADALINE – 2015 FILM STILL – Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) – Photo Credit: Diyah Pera

The Age of Adaline is a film about a beautiful young lady who is rendered immortal and ageless after a horrific car crash, and how she struggles with love as a person who can outlive all her lovers. Blake Lively plays Adaline, the protagonist, and she is just perfect for the role.

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You may remember Blake Lively as Serena in Gossip Girl, the effortlessly classy and charismatic high society girl. Similarly, Adaline was elegant and refined with impeccable style and a winsome smile. She captured and held my attention throughout the film with her air of grace and beautifully tailored style choices.

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51358510 Actress Blake Lively films scenes for 'Age of Adaline' at the Vancouver Art Gallery on March 18, 2014 in Vancouver, Canada. FameFlynet, Inc - Beverly Hills, CA, USA - +1 (818) 307-4813
51358510 Actress Blake Lively films scenes for ‘Age of Adaline’ at the Vancouver Art Gallery on March 18, 2014 in Vancouver, Canada. FameFlynet, Inc – Beverly Hills, CA, USA – +1 (818) 307-4813

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The romance was swoon-worthy. Adaline falls in love with a dashing, disarming young man, acted by Michael Huisman, better known for his portrayal of Daario Naharis in Game of Thrones. They were so pleasantly adorable together.

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I feel like the film relayed an essential message of what it’s like to be alive without really living, confronting the blustering beauty of the past, and setting yourself free from your self-imposed chains.

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Overall, this aesthetically pleasing film is the prettiest and most charming film I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching.

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My rating: 8.5/10

Film Review: The Words

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The Words

Released: September 7th, 2012 (USA)

Watched: August 21st, 2014

Genre: Mystery Romantic Drama

This movie, quite simply, enchanted me.

Everything about it was just so elegantly classically beautiful: the cinematography, the background music, the romance, the cast, the intriguing storytelling, and the mesmerizing story.

The Words reinforced to me why I want to be a writer so badly! The torrent of emotions that drive the out pour of words from your system, and the feelings that are evoked as you pour yourself into your writing. That’s what I love.

I was even more drawn into the story with the flawless orchestral music playing in the background, setting up the scenes and making watching them so dreamy. The actors wrought out the highs and lows of their characters’ lives so magnificently that the lines between fiction and reality were almost blurred for me. And is it just me, or were all the main characters ridiculously good-looking?! Watching their story was like witnessing art come to life. All three romances depicted were swoon-worthy – the struggling love-sick writer (Bradley Cooper) and his supportive adoring wife (Zoe Saldana), the dreaming idealistic young man (Ben Barnes) and his exotic tragic wife (Nora Arnezeder), and the brilliant enchanting older writer (Dennis Quaid) and his enchanted intelligent young fan (Olivia Wilde).

The ending was a mystery, and leaves the viewers to figure it out for themselves, according tot heir own interpretation. I feel like Olivia Wilde’s character was supposed to represent the viewer in her theory for how the writer’s story ended. I agree with her. It was a tale of morality, and how the writer had to pay the ultimate price for his lack of integrity in stealing another man’s work, words, and life.

A relishing 9/10 for me.

Note: Wasn’t Ben Barnes absolutely DELISH in this film?

Favorite Quotes: 

The Old Man: We all make choices. The hard thing is to live with them, and there ain’t nobody that can help you with that.

Clay Hammond: You have to choose between life and fiction. The two are very close, but they never actually touch. They’re two very, very different things.

Movie Review: Belle

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Belle

Release Date: May 2nd, 2014 (USA)

Watched: August 28th, 2014

IMDB

This film was spellbinding to me from the start to the finish.

The background music was magnificent, the wardrobe was exquisite, the drama was deep and the moral message was endless.

I enjoyed it as a historical film, and it’s not a secret, that, as a black female, history has not been kind to people like myself, but the history depicted in this film pleasantly surprised me.

The beginning already stole my heart with Dido Belle’s father being so sweet, loving, and caring to her as he took her to his uncle’s house to live as she is entitled as the daughter of an aristocrat. Even though she was half-black, he staunchly told his uncle that she was his daughter and he was not ashamed to give her his name.

I got to watch what it was really like to be a ‘mulatto’ girl in the 18th century during the slave trade in colonial England, viewing it instead of just reading about it in a history book. Dido Belle (Gugu Mbatha Raw) grew up with her pure white cousin, Elizabeth Murray (Sarah Gadon), who she shared a very special and lovely sisterly bond with, but had a very confusing place in society and in there household. When her father died, she was wealthy with a good family name, but being half-black hindered her.

The film tackled many social issues of the time, including the dependence of women like Elizabeth on ‘suitable’ suitors. I deeply admired Mr. Davinier fighting to make a change despite his class. The Zong case that rocked England and the slave trade was horrific and it was interesting looking at the legal, financial/economic, and moral aspects of the matter. The forbidden love between Dido and Mr. Davinier was simply beautiful. I was ecstatic when justice is served in the end, and when Dido was unequivocal in her love for Mr. Davinier and her loving acceptance of her bloodline

Straight 10/10 for me. All the performances by the actors were just sublime, and it was great watching Tom Felton act the asshole, James Ashford: his specialty.

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