Ultraviolet Movie Review

28d093d29d886a1444bf7dd2d96a547aFor the past few weeks, Netflix kept recommending Ultraviolet to me. I wasn’t particularly into the plot of the movie, but I decided to take the plunge anyway. Long story short: it was a bad idea. That said, I could definitely see why Netflix thought I would like it. It falls into the sci-fi action genre, which I love. It deals with the idea of ‘vampires,’ which again I’m generally a fan of. And the lead is a woman, which is something I’m always down with. Unfortunately, none of these things could salvage the movie for me. And to be perfectly honest, I’m a little annoyed I actually sat through the entire thing.

Basically, the plotline of the movie is this: humanity was somehow infected (it isn’t explained how) with this disease that could turn ordinary people into ‘vampires.’ However, these vampires were really just people with fangs, super speed, and greater intelligence (no blood lust or blood sucking here). Anyways, the human population ended up getting intimidated by these ‘vampires’ and hence started a war to exterminate the ‘hemophages’ (as they’re referred to in the movie). In the process, an Archministry took over the country (?) and basically wiped out most of the hemophages. In order to deal with the remaining few, a new weapon was created.

The protagonist of the film, Violet (played by Milla Jovovich), a hemophage, manages to usurp the weapon from the Archministry. She plans to take it to the remaining hemophages who plan to destroy it to ensure that they aren’t wiped out. However, when she sneaks a peak at the weapon, it turns out that it’s a little boy. Apparently, the boy’s blood contained some sort of antigen that could destroy all hemophages. Having lost her own child in a tragic miscarriage and feeling motherly towards the idea of a little boy (although she remains in denial of the latter for a long time), Violet decides to save the boy from the hemophages. She justifies her actions by claiming that she could use his blood to create a counter-antigen that could reverse the effect of turning into a hemophage and make her into a normal human being again. Of course her kidnap not only gets the other hemophages to turn on her, but the Archministry also goes after her to reclaim the boy weapon. The rest of the film deals with this conflict.

For some reason, I had gotten it into my head that this was a good film. That only if I watched long enough, I’d enjoy it. That it would turn into those ‘so bad, it’s good’ films. I couldn’t have been more wronger. The film did NOT get better, in any way.

First off, the effects for this film are ridiculously bad. And I mean ridiculously bad. It was made 2006 so I knew that it wouldn’t have the most realistic visual effects. But my god, were they terrible, even for 2006 standards! Everything was so obviously fake, it hurt my eyes! That’s another thing actually. Maybe its just my eyes, but the colour tone for this movie was insane. Everything was just so bright and colourful, I felt like my eyes were being assaulted! The closest graphics that compare to the movie, in my opinion, are video games. In fact, in the beginning of the film, I actually though that I was indeed watching a video game. Unfortunately, I wasn’t, the entire film itself was shot like that. It was an eye sore.

Secondly, regardless of the VFX, even the action stunts seemed so unrealistic. I mean, Violet would literally just do these random stretches and movements and magically she’d dodge every bullet and sword and end up the victor. Like WTF? There comes a point where instead of being funny and ironic, super unrealistic scenes end up becoming annoying. And this movie remained at the latter point the entire time. It was not fun to watch.

Thirdly, the entire plot of the movie is just so weird. I had so many questions while watching and not one of them was ever explicitly answered. For example, how did Violet manage to hide the fact that she was a hemophage from the facility? What was the injection exactly? How was she revived? How did Six survive?  How were the hemophages able to live undetected in a freaking hotel in the middle of the city for so long? Who were the Blood Chinois and why did they even feature into the film? What was Violet’s backstory exactly and why was it so relevant? What even was the ending about? Like ????

And finally, the acting itself was also a big WTF. I actually haven’t really seen any of Milla Jovovich’s movies before. So I don’t really know about her acting skills. But she was so weird as Violet. I don’t even have the words to explain it. Plus I found Six to be so creepy. Everything was weird and made no sense.

The only positive for the entire film, (and I’m sorry if this is super shallow) is that Milla Jovovich looks pretty good. Her body was on-point, and really that’s it. There’s nothing else good about the film.

My rating: miss it, do not watch it. If your friend suggests it, unfriend them immediately (LOL jokes, but seriously).

Priest Movie Review

priest_ver9Y’all probably know by now that I’m super partial to sci-fi action films. I generally tend to gravitate toward them and think of them highly, despite some of their more obvious flaws. Similarly, I also tend to enjoy really bad movies. You know, the ones with cringeworthy dialogue, wooden acting, obviously fake stunts, weak plot points, etc. So when I heard of Priest, with numerous reviews panning it, I figured it was something I’d enjoy (LOL). When I finally got around to watching it, turns out, I didn’t enjoy it as much I’d hoped I would’ve. *insert sad face* That said, I’m gonna review it anyway and discuss some of the things I liked and disliked.

Simplistically, Priest is about holy supernatural warriors called ‘priests,’ battling vampires for control in an alternative reality. According to the movie, human kind and vampires had been vying for dominance. The vampires initially ruled, as their fast senses and movements made it easy for them to kill the humans quickly. Eventually, the humans began prevailing once the ‘priests’ stepped in. Trained with special powers (?) the priests were able to battle the vampires and wipe them out. The few remaining ones were put into reservations. As the vampires disappeared, so did the need for the priests. Fearing their power, the leaders of the church and cities (btw the church ended up taking control and people began living in walled cities under church rule), disbanded the priests and attempted to reintegrate them into society. As expected, it didn’t work and instead the priests became pariahs and struggled to find jobs.

With this background, the brother of one of the priests ended up getting attacked by vampires and his daughter (played by Lily Collins) taken. The priest (played by Paul Bettany) hears of this and goes to the leaders to ask permission to rescue the daughter/ his niece. The leaders refuse to believe that vampires are back and deny him permission, stating that if the priest attempted a rescue, they would disbar him from the religious order. The priest doesn’t listen and goes to save his niece anyway. Joining him on this mission, is the niece’s boyfriend, the sheriff of the wastelands (played by Cam Gigandet) and the priestess (played by Maggie Q), initially sent after him by the city leaders. The rest of the movie basically deals with the rescue with some other background characters and stories thrown in.

What I liked, is the following:

  • The action scenes were decent. There were a few slo-mo scenes that were nice and some quick action scenes. That said, they definitely could’ve been improved upon (I felt timing of some of them was a little off and the camera angles could’ve been better, along with lightening being a tad too dark), but it was decent enough.
  • I also enjoyed the new take on vampires presented in this movie. Most current vampire lore has them characterized as these human-like creatures who possess super-strength, speed, beauty and immortality. However, in this movie, they were literally beasts. They were weird creatures with human-ish bodies, but with no eyes and grey skin. In fact, this take was also twisted around to address the idea of current human-like vampires. The villain (played by Karl Urban), was actually the first human vampire as he had fed from the blood of the Vampire Queen. He possessed stereotypical vampire abilities, like super strength, never-aging, blood lust, and also new things like an ability to withstand sunlight. I just thought it was interesting to introduce different types of vampire characterizations in the same movie.
  • The idea of warrior priests was also kinda interesting. Although, the underlying religious tones were slightly too much for me at times. I think they were added to heighten the drama, but it was just weird. I would’ve much preferred a more consistent theme, rather than have the movie introduce religious tones once in a while.
  • I didn’t mind the little hints of romance between the priest and priestess. It was relatively subtle, especially compared to other things in the movie. I mean, could the movie have gone without it? Yeah, most definitely. It might’ve even made the movie better? But, I didn’t mind it. There was only a few hints of it shown so I thought it was fine.
  • And finally, I liked the whole broad vampire plot-line, with the niece being bait for the priest and the idea of a vampire train. I thought it was interesting. Not the best, but interesting enough.

Reading back on my list, even the positives are littered with critiques (LOL). Surprisingly, even with these critiques, my list of what I didn’t enjoy is still longer. For the sake of length, I won’t make a bullet list, but I’ll just list a few things in a simple paragraph (or two).

Firstly, I HATED the reveal that the niece was actually the daughter of the priest. It was too cliche for me and I much preferred it earlier when it seemed like the priest was just going after a niece. On that note, I really disliked how the priest’s backstory played out. I would’ve much rather had him be a childhood love of Shannon who was recruited as a child vs. the adult recruit. I just felt like it cheapened his character, rather than elevate it as the movie hoped to. I also was not a fan of Cam Gigandet’s acting, or maybe it was the character. I just found most of his scenes so grating and with nothing really important to add. He was a typical side-kick character, but the attempt to make him more interesting by threatening the priest was annoying and backfired for me.

Similarly, I hated how the movie tried to add in so many different things. Instead of focusing on a singular, over-arching theme, it attempted to patch together different themes. The result was a mis-matched thematic tone with insufficient attention paid to the cohesiveness of the movie. For example, the whole battle between the priest and the vampires took on the themes of: a) a man realizing that his power comes from God and not the Church b) a man struggling with forgetting his love and attempting to get back his daughter c) a man trying to find his place in the world. Not the mention the fact that the movie also seemingly touches on the concept of blind obedience vs. true devotion to God. There’s just so much going on at once and nothing ever really reaches the point of completion or even gets fleshed out slightly. Additionally, the pace of the movie also varies. Sometimes its a slick action flick, while at other times, it drags on. Literally, the characters just sit and talk in a desert wasteland a couple of times. It just gets annoying to watch and attempt to focus upon. In fact, on that note, I also thought the movie, while it did have an interesting over-arching plot-line (the niece bait +  vampire train), doesn’t really go anywhere or do it justice. It kinda just gets forgotten. I mean, to be clear, the plot *does* get resolved near the end. But the way it resolves is so unsatisfying that it felt like it didn’t really amount to much (i.e. reach its potential). Plus, I didn’t find the directing to be that amazing or great. It just felt so standard and typical to me — with nothing new to add or talk about. On the whole, I felt like the whole movie needed to be revamped and edited better.

My rating: you can skip it, there’s other better “so bad, it’s good” movies out there.

Train to Busan Movie Review

busanhaengI’m not exactly sure when and where I first heard of Train to Busan. Regardless, I knew I it was well appreciated by people and I knew I wanted to watch it. I’m a pretty big fan of zombie movies (waddup World War Z) and so I was reasonably sure that I’d like this film. On a similar note actually, I had heard that Train to Busan  was a lot like World War Z, in terms of the presentation of zombies (not dumb, slow moving zombies, but terrifying, fast moving ones). I quite enjoyed World War Z, hence I also had high hopes for this movie. If you can’t tell, I was already beginning to psych myself out with just how high my expectations for this movie was. Surprisingly, the movie actually managed to reach and even exceed my expectations. Colour me shocked!

Going back to the World War Z comparison, I actually didn’t find the two movies to be that similar. I mean yes, they dealt with a very similar situation (escaping from fast-moving, flesh-eating zombies) and the effects of the zombies themselves were also markedly alike. Yet, I found that the two movies differed quite extensively in terms of the mood of the movie and the feeling of threat. I’ll expand on this in my review. So, without further ado, let’s get into it.

Train to Busan actually begins with an introduction to the main characters. There’s the closed off, aloof and workaholic single father, Seok-Woo, played by Gong Yoo. He’s a successful hedge fund manager (?) but struggles to be an emotionally and physically avaliable dad to his daughter Soo-An, played by Kim Su-an. Missing her mother and upset with her father’s unavailability (due to his workaholic nature), she wants to go to Busan to visit her mother for her birthday. Seok-Woo grudgingly agrees to bring her to his ex-wife and so the two board the train to Busan.

Also aboard the train are an adorable couple expecting a child. The outwardly tough and inwardly sweet husband Sang-hwa is played by Ma Dong-Seok and the heavily pregnant wife Seong-Kyeong, is played by Jung Yu-Mi. The two also sort of figure as guardian figures for Soo-An, on more than one occassion, due to her tendency to wander off and Seok-Woo’s workaholic tendencies that cause him to lose track of her.

Joining them are a group of school-going baseball players, with the star athlete Yong-Guk played by Choi Woo-Shik and his biggest fangirl, Jin Hee, played by Ahn So-Hee;  arrogant, selfish, and rude businessman Yon-Su, played by Kim Eui-Sung; elderly sisters Jong-Gil and In-Gil, played by Park Myung-Sin and Ye Soo-jung respectively; the train driver played by Jung Suk-Yong; and a homeless man played by Choi Gwi-hwa.

The plot of the movie itself is quite simple. Due to some sort of gas leak/ explosion that happened at a resort, people in Korea began turning into zombie (through animal bites initially, it is implied). However, at the beginning of the movie, this predicament is not widespread or popularly reported. As such, all the characters board the train easily and without fuss, expecting a normal ride. All, except for the homeless man. As we’re shown, he’s presumably seen the zombies in action and is perhaps the only one who knows what is going doing in various parts of Korea. Hoping to escape from the terror, he boards the train and keeps quiet – scared by what he’s seen. Just before the train departs, an infected woman manages to sneak aboard. She’s obviously in pain and has been bitten. As the train begins its journey, a train attendant happens to come across the infected woman. She is concerned and tries to help her, only for the infected woman to complete her transformation into a zombie and bite her instead. Of course, this begins a rampage of sorts where the zombies start attacking people and people try desperately to get away from them — all while the train is still moving!

As the epidemic on the train spreads, we’re also given background information showing how the zombie virus has spread to various parts of South Korea and how some cities have been completely over-taken. The rest of the film deals with the characters various attempts to get away from the zombies. A journey that includes stopping in different places,  fighting with zombies, catching new trains, etc. I’ll refrain from giving out a scene-by-scene review of the movie (as I’ve been trying to do so) and instead focus on some of my observations.

I mentioned earlier that I felt that Train to Busan had a different mood and feeling of threat than World War Z. Basically, in World War Z, there was the threat of zombies of course, but the threat itself wasn’t too overpowering. For example, right after Jerry is almost attacked by one of the zombies, he and his family are taken onto an airplane where the situation is explained. After every “scare” scene, there’s a calm scene because the characters were either a) away from the zombies or b) the threat had been neutralized/ was under control. As such, the mood of the film was also quite different. World War Z, along with playing like a typical survival flick, also played as investigative thriller. Jerry’s mission throughout the film was to figure out how the epidemic started and attempt to find a virus for it, the zombie attacks were just added perks.

Train to Busan, on the other hand, is completely different. First off, the threat of the zombies is ever-present. As all the action happens aboard a moving train, with normal people travelling alongside the zombies, there is no escape from the zombies. A single wrong move could cost the people their lives. I mean, yes sure, there were some “calm” scenes where the characters weren’t explicitly dealing with zombies. Yet, even then, the presence of danger was still felt as the characters were in fact trapped with them. In more than a few scenes, there’s literally just a single door separating the normal people from the zombies. Again, the threat of danger was imminent throughout the entire movie.

Similarly, Train to Busan played entirely like a survival movie. The characters in the movie had no other motive besides escaping alive from the zombies. No one was even thinking about finding a vaccine or how the epidemic spread. Survival was the first and only focus. And there’s a few extremely well done scenes that show just how laser focused all the passengers were on this goal. One that comes to mind, is when the train makes a stop at Daejeon station in an attempt to escape the zombies, only to be confronted with more zombies on the platform. In an effort to save themselves, all the passengers make a mad dash back onto the train. However, in their panic, some of passengers forget that some of the train carriages had zombies within them. So in their worry of getting away from the zombies at the train station, they opened up a random train carriage to board, only to be confronted by the zombies already in the train.

That scene itself I think also played really well into another positive for the film: the sense of reality. Even though the plausibility of a scenario like Train to Busan isn’t that high, the movie felt real. There was a real sense of loss. People died and turned into zombies. Passengers and characters sacrificed themselves. Some even sacrificed others in their quest for survival. Which brings me to another point: how well etched out the various characters were. Although the movie was largely focused on Seok-Woo and Su-An, the other supporting characters also had screen time. Yet, as the supporting cast was so large, not all the characters had an equal amount of screen time. However, even then, the characters still felt real. You could understand their motivations and imagine how they were in normal life (aka when not attacked by zombies). I think this is a testament to not only the writing of the film, but also the actors as they managed to imbue depth in them with only a few minutes of screen time.

Supporting the writing and acting, was the directing and cinamatography. I’m not familiar with Yeon Sang-Ho (the director) or his work. However, I quite enjoyed his filming. He let the story and action take centre, instead of trying to show off various camera angles and/or be extremely creative. I enjoyed it because it allowed the viewer to enjoy the movie without getting distracted. The violence scenes were also directed quite well. Well actually, they were standard, nothing new. But again, it’s not a bad thing because it allowed the story and actors to take centre stage. And finally, cinamatography was fantastic. There were a few scenes wherein the train passed through tunnels, thereby darkening the train compartments. If you’ve been a long time reader, you probably know just how much I hate badly lit/ too dark films. To my happiness, the darkness scenes were lit just enough for viewers to see what was going on. In other words, it was top notch in terms of technical production as well.

My rating: watch it to enjoy a survival flick with the feeling of real danger and loss and be prepared to be blown away.

Friends TV Show Review

159799           I feel like Friends is one of those tv shows that transcends its era. You know, the ones that are relatable and/or funny years later, despite looking and being dated. Kinda like the X-files. And the fact that some of its actors have become big Hollywood stars (wassap Jennifer Aniston), definitely helps keep it more relevant than it would be otherwise. As a result, despite having run for and over 10 years ago, it still remains in current pop-culture (or at least for my generation it does). Hence, I’ve decided to talk about it today.

Friends, for those of you unaware (seriously tho, is there anyone really unaware about this series?), is about a group of friends living in New York, New York USA during the 90s. The core group consisted of bossy cleanliness freak and mother-hen Monica Geller, played by Courtney Cox, her nerdy goofy and unlucky-in-love older brother Ross Geller, played by David Schwimmer, the fantastically ridiculous Phoebe Buffay, played by Lisa Kudrow, the sarcastic everyman Chandler Bing, played by Matthew Perry, the out-of-touch fashionista Rachel Green, played by Jennifer Aniston, and the ditzy but loveable Joey Tribbiani, played by Matt LeBlanc. All episodes revolve around the situations the characters find themselves in, and/or about their lives and their general direction and how the characters adapt/ navigate. Nothing ground-breaking per se, but definitely enjoyable.

For me, the biggest plus point among this series, is the friendship shown between the main characters. They all just get along so well and the interactions among them are fantastic. Each character is so different and has a different viewpoint. But they all respect each other and listen to each other and just hang out. Honestly, Friends has one of the best descriptions of friendship shown on television (living up to its name I suppose LOL). It’s super fun to watch. Adding to the entertainment, is the comedy in this show. Some of the dialogue in this show is hilarious. Like laugh out loud hilarious. And a huge credit to that, not only goes to the writing, but also to the actors. I strongly believe that this show is a testament to the fact that good writing and good actors can create an absolutely great pair (both elevate each other).

And coming to the actors, David Schwimmer in particular comes to mind. I’ve yet to see someone with as hilarious physical comedy as him as Ross. Ross’s physical comedy is absolutely top notch. Whether it be the “unagi” or the leather-pants-with-lotion scenes, he just kills it and always brings the laugh. Another really reliably funny “friend,” was Chandler. His sarcastic one-liners and general wittiness really livened up the show. In fact, each character had stand-out lines and scenes that still remain iconic. Whether it be Joey’s “How you doin?” or “Joey doesn’t share food,” or even Pheobe’s “Smelly Cat” song or “phalanges,” they’re all super entertaining. However, what was also great, was the way how the show could also be so relatable. I mean, we’ve all probably suffered through crappy jobs, heartbreaks, unexpected situations, etc. And the shows funny take on them was great (that said, not all of the situations are relatable or even realistic LOL).

That said, there are definitely a few things about the show that definitely make me side-eye it and are not so flattering. One that immediately comes to mind, is the flanderization of Joey’s character. When Joey initially started out in the show, he was ditzy, there’s no doubt about that. But even with his ditziness, he had some knowledge. It was believable that someone like Joey could exist: ditzy but with some understanding of how the world/ things work. However, as the show went on, the writers end up really dumbing down Joey, to the point where it just became unbelievable, and I mean that literally. He became so dumb. While I found his dumbness enjoyable at some times, it was often annoying because of how unrealistic it was (and what a drastic change it was from the earlier seasons).

The second thing that I really dislike, is the lack of any people of colour. The show features a predominantly white cast. Which, I guess while not ideal, is ok. Yet, even then, there are literally no POC characters. It was so rare to see any POC, not just in side character roles, but even as bystanders (extras). I mean, NYC is not just filled with white people you know. There’s people of all different races and yet Friends made it seem like NYC was just populated with white people. It was kinda jarring to realize and definitely made me side eye the show.

And finally, some story-lines were not enjoyable. In my opinion, to the point where they actually brought down the quality of the show. Case in point: the Ross-Rachel will-they-or-won’t-they relationship. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am generally a fan of will-they-or-will-they-not relationships. I reviewed Bones a while ago, and in its earlier seasons, Bones was exactly that! Especially when it came to the relationship between the main leads. But in Friends, this plot was stretched way beyond the limit. To the point where I honestly did not care and just wanted it to end. Plus, it didn’t help that the two characters also behaved in some pretty unlikeable ways (Ross accidentally said Rachel’s name during his wedding vows to another woman…yikes!). And coming to Rachel, there was also an absolutely ludicrous “relationship” between her and Joey that made no sense whatsoever. Seriously. I’ve yet to meet a single person who doesn’t see that storyline as ridiculous.

However, despite its fault, Friends still remains pretty watchable. It reminds of me comfort food in some ways. Its certainly not the best show around. And there’s definitely been better shows made. Yet, even then, there’s just something so welcoming and comforting about it. If you’re sad, it makes you happy. If you’re bored, it gives you something to do. If you need to escape from life, it lets you. It’s just so consistently reliable, that you cannot help but get drawn into it.

My rating: watch it to enjoy a funny and likeable show, despite the fact that it has some faults and is quite dated