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.

Snowpiercer Movie Review

snowpiercer-movie-poster-2014-1020770694

I have no clear idea what propelled me to watch this movie. Maybe it was because it fit in the sci-fi genre (ma favvv). Or maybe it was because it had Chris Evans in a very de-glamourized role. Honestly, I have no idea. And after I watched it, I literally questioned myself why I even watched it (?!?). Like what was I thinking?

In a nutshell, the movie focuses on a post apocalyptic world. In an effort to “fix” global warming, scientists end up triggering an ice age. Life on Earth is virtually wiped out. The only people who managed to survive, are aboard the Snowpiercer, a train that continually travels around the Earth (for over 17 years). However, the inhabitants in the train are also divided along class lines. The Elites live near the front of the train, bathing in luxury. For example, on the train, they’re given freshly grown fruit (there’s a literal green house in a train compartment), children are educated, they have extravagant parties, and there’s even a “drug” they are hooked on. All in all, basically living like the elites of today, but just on a train. On the flip side, both literally and metaphorically, are the poor residing in the rear of the train. They are treated quite horribly and only given a small gelatinous protein bars to sustain them. Similarly, their children are not educated and they barely have any access to clean water.

In the beginning of the movie, we’re treated to scenes from the lives of the poor people. Along with being subject to threats, violence, poor food and living conditions, their children are also inspected and occasionally taken away. Chris Evans plays Curtis, one of the poorer people. He’s been receiving covert messages from someone in certain gelatinous bars. Motived by these messages and their general living conditions, Curtis and his mentor, an elderly man named Gillam (portrayed by John Hurt), begin thinking of ways to revolt, to improve their conditions. With the general poor populous, they theorize that if they can get to the front of the train, they can control it and their living conditions. Hence, they set out. What happens next, are bloody, violent, crazy battles through which Curtis and his companions progress. Seriously, it’s pretty insane with people being stabbed, shot at, axed, etc.

At the end of the film, after having to sacrifice many of his close companions, Curtis finally reaches the front of the train and meets its creator, Wilford, played by Ed Harris. Here’s where things get flipped, and Wilford reveals that the entire revolution was actually engineered BY him and Gillam (!!). Wilford explains that the train was originally built with a specific, balanced ecosystem. However, over time, as the populations of the rich and poor increased, the ecosystem went off balance. As the train was the “true eternal,” it was imperative that the ecosystem be maintained. So along with his friend Gillam (Wilford and Gillam were friends), the two conspired to have Curtis and his poor companions revolt. In the ensuing revolt, the plan was that 74% of the poor people would be killed in the carnage, to ensure that the ecosystem would return to balance. Along with balancing the ecosystem, the revolt would also ensure that the poor people still had hope (hope meant that they wouldn’t *all* join the fight so less chance of it being successful) and its violent suppression would keep the system intact through a fear of authority (remember, a lot of people were killed in the revolt).

After revealing all this, Wilford explains that he’s grown old and would like to give Curtis the reigns of the train. In other words, Curtis would become the leader and be responsible for maintaining the ecosystem. Curtis is Wilford’s choice, because as he puts it, Curtis is only one who has seen the entire train, from back to front, and hence actually understands how the train works as a balanced ecosystem. Curtis is distraught after learning this, especially about Gillam’s role in the plot. However, just before Curtis could accept the offer of leadership, it’s reveals that the train uses child labour. As the train had been continuously running for 17 years, some parts had become extinct. In order to ensure that the train continued to run, because it was the only “eternal,” the children of the poor people were used as machine parts. For example, a child was forced to crouch down in small, unsanitary, dangerous, polluted conditions and manually pull out coal from the movie train to ensure that the train didn’t stop. This is the final straw for Curtis, as it turns out that one of the children used as slave labour, is actually the child of one of his friends, a child that he himself adores.  He’s vehemently disgusted, refuses Wilford’s offer, and sacrifices his arm to save the child, Timmy.

That last part is actually really great because it functions as the closing of a circle. As Curtis explained in the film later, the initial conditions for those at the back of the train were so horrible, that they had to resort to cannibalism to survive. In fact, to his own horror and regret, Curtis participated. He describes how he was about to eat a baby (the baby coincidentally turns out to be his best friend later on L-O-L), when Gillam stopped and sacrificed his arm in lieu of the baby. Gillam’s single act of sacrifice moved everyone in the poor section and changed them. Instead of killing and eating each other, people began sacrificing themselves as food. However, Curtis could not bring himself to sacrifice his arm, no matter how much he tried. Eventually, as the train conditions settled, the poor people were given the gelatinous protein bars to eat, stopping the cannibalism. However, in the end, Curtis does in fact sacrifice his arm to save a child. So like I said, coming a full circle. Really great scene.

Anyways, the movie ends with the entire train exploding and only two people surviving, Curtis not among them. Like I said, pretty crazy movie. But, it would be amiss to assume the craziness to be synonymous with a bad movie as this movie is far from bad. It actually prompts some really great discussions and is peppered with decent script-writing, acting, and directing. I mean, I already mentioned the full-story circle of Curtis himself. However, that’s not the only themes at work in this movie. I read somewhere that the movie was actually an allegory and I’d have to completely agree. For me, one of the biggest themes throughout the movie was the theme of human hubris. In their ego and pride, humans believed they could eradicate global warming. And yet, their arrogance was what led to their downfall and they triggered the next ice age. Similarly, throughout the train, Wilford continually harps on about the train being the only “eternal,” believing that the train would go on forever. Thereby also justifying his actions and boosting his own ego. However, as the end of the movie shows, the train was not eternal and the world had in fact begun thawing from its ice age. In their own arrogance, the characters let their hubris cloud their minds and ended up warping the world and their actions.

I also really liked the way Curtis’s character evolved. Throughout the movie, Curtis is presented as the hero. The protagonist who’ll lead the poor people to a successful revolution and end up changing the world of the train. However, as the film continues, cracks appear in this description. We see how Curtis sacrifices his best friend in an effort to ensure his revolution succeeds. Curtis himself confesses how he was willing to resort to cannibalism to survive. In fact, he openly admits that he preferred to eat human babies because they ‘tasted better.’ He’s actually not the hero. This is especially highlighted when his views are contrasted with those of Namgoong, played by Song Kang-Ho, who was an engineer put into a coma as a punishment for doing too many drugs. On an abstract level, Curtis believes in the system of the train. He operates within the system and attempts to hold it in place. In other words, he implicitly supports Wilford’s ideas. On the other hand, Namgoong steadfastly refuses the system. While Curtis plans to take hold of the train by reaching the front, Namgoong plans to blast out of the train. He’s been observing the outside world and has come to the realization that things are changing, i.e. the ice age is subsiding. He openly rejects the system and instead embraces a new one, one not regulated by class or economics. In the end, its Namgoong whose plan Curtis concedes to. Hence, Curtis is shown to be wrong; he’s not the hero. However, he’s also not quite the villain, he’s just simply a human.

Of course, these are just two themes that I found and really resonated with. I’m convinced that there’s many others that I haven’t picked upon but others have. It’s an extremely thought-provoking film. And as this is technically a movie review, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the acting or directing or writing. In terms of acting, if you can’t tell by my review, Chris Evans really knocked it out of the park. He was fabulous as Curtis and gave a very believable performance (although I will say, he did look a tad too muscled, but that’s just me). And the supporting actors, like Song Kang-Ho, Octavia Spencer, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt and Ed Harris were all really great as well. Directing was pretty good as well. It was actually directed by a South Korean filmmaker, Bong Joon-Ho and apparently this was his english-language debut.  My only issue with his filming, was that he made Namgoong’s character speak exclusively Korean. I just thought it was kinda strange. Aside from that, I thought he did a pretty great job, especially when it came to the action sequences and the visual affects. Definitely enjoyed the cinamatography as well. And coming to writing, again, really good as well. Apparently the movie was based upon a French graphic novel. I have not read the novel, but I definitely really enjoyed the themes the movie touched upon.

My rating: watch it if you’re feeling philosophical and be prepared to be taken aback by the acting (Chris Evans especially) and its thought-provoking nature.

The Oath of the Vayuputras Book Review

the_oath_of_the_vayuputrasI was incredibly excited to get my hands on this book. After having read The Immortals of Meluha and The Secret of the Nagas, I felt like I was ready to finish off this series and discover how the legends of the Indian Gods came to be. As a refresher for those of you unaware: The Oath of the Vayuputras is the final instalment in the Shiva Trilogy (other books listed earlier), and attempts to tell the story of Indian God Shiva and his companions as if they were humans rather than Gods (who eventually became Gods through their stories/ actions). The Immortals of Meluha (TIoM) introduced us to Shiva and the strange new world he discovered. The Secret of the Nagas (TSotN) fleshed out the world and narrowed down on a specific plot. And The Oath of the Vayuputras attempted to consolidate everything together with one giant battle.

Therefore, much like the previous book, The Oath of the Vayuputras picks up where the last book ended. Along with finding out the secret of the Nagas, we also finally discover what the purpose of the Neelkanth is: to destroy evil. However, as we learned throughout the first and second book, there wasn’t quite a clear consensus on what the evil exactly was. At first, Shiva thought it meant he had to conquer the Chandravanshi’s and then he thought it meant that he had to unite India. In this book, the true evil is revealed. I’m refraining from posting the actual spoiler, but like in the other books, this discussion on evil takes on quite a philosophical character. And like always, I found it quite enjoyable to read it.

Anyways, after the evil is revealed, it turns out that people are not quite convinced by Shiva’s definition of evil. As such, a war begins between, with those supporting Shiva (many of the side characters we were introduced too in earlier books) and those against him (the rulers of Meluha, Swadeep, and some priests). This war actually forms the crux, and numerous pages are devoted to describing the various battle formations, actual battle scenes, and the aftermath of such battles. Along with the war, the book also begins touching about the entire Neelkanth myth.

In TIoM, we were told that Lord Ram established a system of living which was replicated, down to the minute details in Meluha, and greatly respected by other kingdoms. It turns out, that the Vasudevs who communicated with Shiva in TSoN, were actually devotees of Ram who encompassed his teachings and were tasked with ensuring that they were followed (?). However, despite this connection, the Neelkanth wasn’t really a manifestation of Ram or even directly related to him. Lord Ram’s duty (and the duty of his later reincarnations (?)) was to pave a way of life, to ensure that the good was revealed and used. The Neelkanth, on the other hand, was to analyze when the balance between good and evil tilted toward evil, and then eradicate that evil. Fittingly then, the Neelkanth was a manifestation (reincarnation?) of Lord Rudra instead. Lord Rudra, as implied, was a fierce and just God who existed to ensure that good prevailed over evil and destroy the evil. Just as the Vasudevas were devotees of Ram, the Vayuputras (in the title of the book), were accordingly devotees of Rudra. As such, it was their duty to monitor the world and decide when the need for the Neelkanth arose and then accordingly raise the fabled One. However, as TIoM showcased, the Neelkanth wasn’t really chosen or declared by them. Instead, to everyone’s shock, Shiva’s blue neck exposed him as the Neelkanth. Hence, there also existed some confusion over whether Shiva was really the fabled the Neelkanth, or just some impostor who happened to coincidentally have a blue neck.

To this end, the book delves, albeit a little, into Shiva’s background and how he turned out the be the Neelkanth. Turns out, his uncle was a former Vayuputra. He recognized that the good was slowly turning evil and advocated for the declaration of the Neelkanth. However, the other vayuputras refused to listen to him. Hence, the uncle, Manobhu, stole the ingredients necessary to “create” the Neelkanth (blue neck), and secretly administered them to Shiva as he was convinced that Shiva was indeed the fabled Neelkanth, sent by the universe/ God. What was also interesting, was that apparently, Shiva’s mother was the sister of the Vayuputra leader (who also secretly defected and helped make Shiva the Neelkanth), while his father was Manobhu’s brother, aka also related to vayuputras.

Anyways, pretty interesting book. In general, I thought the book did a decent enough job of closing Shiva’s story. I particularly enjoyed how almost anti-climactic the end was. The end destruction commences amid sadness, without much fanfare or dispute. It was unexpected and created a melancholic tone that I think worked quite well for the book. It was enjoyable to read. That said, I definitely had a few complaints.

Firstly, I don’t quite understand why this book was named The Oath of the Vayuputras. To be more precise, through the title, I expected the book would deal with the Vayuputras at length. As mentioned earlier, we do get their backstory and there are actually quite a few chapters upon this. However, when it comes to the Vayuputras themselves, we’re only really given a few chapters (maybe 3?) where we actually get to see them. I just, it felt very misleading. Actually, I also found myself curious about the Vayuputras, about their way of life, their engineering, their own individual stories. Alas, we don’t get much on that.

Secondly, I was quite unsatisfied by the whole how-Shiva-became-Neelkanth story. We were given the basics of what happened, but not really why it happened. How was Manobhu sure that Shiva was the fabled One?  To this end, there is a tiny discussion on Shiva’s third eye (?) but even that isn’t explicitly explained. For someone quite new to Indian mythology, I would’ve much preferred a more in-depth explanation. On this note, I also found myself quite interested in the lives of those before Shiva, namely his parents and relatives (like Manobhu). I mean, we got more hints into the background of Sati and her father Daksha, than we did Shiva. It would’ve been nice to have the same focus on Shiva’s background.

Thirdly, there was also a lot, A LOT of unnecessary detailing. There were times where Amish just went on and on in describing places, things, people, etc. I mean, I understand the need for detail, but there’s also something to be said for being efficient with words. The overly detailed passages also led to the book to be quite long in its length, with over 500 pages of words. It was annoying and in my opinion, majorly detracted from the book/ reading experience. I found myself skimming through a few passages and/or pages as I got so bored with the overly verbose descriptions.

All in all, a decent enough conclusion. It could’ve definitely been improved upon (seriously, where were the editors?) but it was decent enough.

My rating: read it to finish the Shiva adventure and learn some more about Indian Mythology, but skip it if you aren’t interested in either.

Jupiter Ascending Movie Review

jupiter-ascending-main-quadOkay so I have a confession to make: I have never seen the Matrix films trilogy. I just, I wasn’t too into them when they came out and the whole God-story comparison just put me off it further. When they became a big phenomenon, I just tended to ignore discussions on it or distract people. So when Jupiter Ascending came out, with the promotion that it was created and directed by those who created The Matrix, I decided it was high time I sat down and took part (well an indirect part) in the whole Matrix event. However, when the movie came out, I heard some pretty scathing reviews and hence decided that there was no need for me to get involved (LOL). I finally ended up getting over my reluctance and sat down to watch it. And now that I have, I figured a review was due.

In general terms, Jupiter Ascending is about a woman named Jupiter, played by Mila Kunis. Before her birth, her astronomy-loving father died in a robbery attempt gone wrong. Her mother, desolate in her grief, moved to Chicago and raises Jupiter as a single mother while living with some relatives. Quite poor, Jupiter, her mother and aunt work as cleaning ladies for rich people. Jupiter always expects the worst from people, so she hates her life and work. Her days pass by in monotony. However, she’s also incredibly interested in her father and desperately wants to buy a telescope (he was killed in a robbery over a dispute about a telescope). Desperate to gain funds, her cousin convinces her to donate her eggs to earn some extra cash.

Meanwhile, far off into space, it turns out that the universe is ruled by elite alien families. We’re introduced to the powerful House of Abrasax who own and harvest planets, effectively destroying all of its inhabitants. The three Abrasax siblings, Balem played by Eddie Redmayne, Kalique played by Tuppence Middleton, and Titus played by Douglas Booth, are the main characters in this plot. After the death of their mother, Balem inherits a large portion of planets, including the fruitful Earth. Titus does not inherit much but also desires Earth, wanting to end the harvest practises. Kalique remains in the middle. Alongside these aliens, there’s also hybrid humans and robotic-human/ machine people living in space.

Anyways, it turns out that the Abrasax mother had been reincarnated as Jupiter. As a result, if she claimed herself, then Jupiter would own all of the Abrasax’s mother’s inheritance. So when it came to the question of Earth, Jupiter could own it. Realizing this, all three Abrasax siblings send soldiers to Earth to figure out who the mother was reincarnated as (Jupiter) and capture that reincarnation. During Jupiter’s egg donation procedure, it is revealed that the doctors are actually aliens in disguise and sent by Balem to murder her. However, Caine, a human-dog soldier sent by Titus, and played by Channing Tatum, manages to rescue her. Before he can deliver her to Titus, the two are attacked by more of Balem’s men. Caine manages to escape with her and they end up at his friend’s house, Stinger, a human-bee mix, played by Sean Bean.

Here we learn that Caine served under Stinger in some sort of army/ police force but was discharged after he attacked some royalty. Jupiter also discovers that she is a part of the galactic elite. However, the two are again attacked by some soldiers and then transported to Kalique’s residence somewhere in space. Kalique explains to Jupiter than she is her mother’s reincarnation and hence owns Earth. She also reveals how the galactic elite possess a type of youth serum that Jupiter would be entitled to, should she claim her position. However, before things can go any further, the inter-galactic police force (?), Aegis, arrive and grab Jupiter and Caine. At some intergalactic place (?), Jupiter and Caine go through various bureaucratic challenges in order to have her claimed. Just as she finishes, Jupiter and Caine are again intercepted by Titus, after a betrayal by Stinger.

Titus explains to Jupiter how the youth serum is actually derived from the harvest of people on planets. In other words, real humans from other planets are harvested to create the youth serum. Jupiter is understandable disgusted. Titus also reveals how once Jupiter’s reincarnation, his mother, changed her mind and started trying to end the harvest trade instead of profiting from it, she was murdered. Using manipulation, he admits that he plans to stop the harvest trade and proposes to Jupiter in the guise that if anything happens to him, she can continue their work. Jupiter is visibly confused and wants to talk to Caine to discuss things over before she can agree. However, Titus again manipulates her and she ends up agreeing to the wedding. Meanwhile, we see that Titus had Caine captured and reveals his plan to marry Jupiter, kill her, and then inherit her inheritance. Caine is unable to do anything and as Titus expels Caine into the void of space.

On the other hand, the Aegis and Stinger do their best to go after Titus’s ship and save Caine. After Caine is conscious, we learn that Stinger betrayed them in exchange for money to finance his daughter’s sickness. Anyways, Jupiter and Titus’s wedding is arranged quickly and Caine and Stinger attempt to reach the ship to stop it. Just seconds before the wedding is complete, Caine manages to crash the wedding and stop it, revealing Titus’s ultimate plan to Jupiter. Jupiter is understandably shaken and demands to go back home to Earth. When she arrives home, she also discovers that Balem has kidnapped her family and in-exchange for their safety, she must sign over her inheritance to him. The rest of the film deals with that conflict.

All in all, I’m a bit confused as to what I feel for this movie. On one hand, I do like that there is finally a female sci-fi action hero. But on the other hand, she does play the role of damsel-in-distress for a large portion of the film. On one hand, the script is just all over the place with random cuts to scenes and no real exposition in between. But on the other hand, it’s still enjoyable to watch and the visuals are pretty cool. On one hand, some of the acting is really great (Channing Tatum), but on the other hand, some of the acting is just really campy (Eddie Redmayne). I mean, the movie definitely does have its positives but it also has its fair amount of negatives. At this point, in order to get through the haze and form a definitive decision about the film, the best course of option would be to apply a value ranking to the movie’s characteristics. But, I’m having difficult with that as well just because while I don’t think any of the movie’s faults are that incredibly bad, I also don’t think that the movie’s positives are amazingly wonderful. I just, I think I’m just stuck in the middle. It was fun enough to watch, with cheesiness and cliche tropes, but also not firmly in ‘good movie’ category with the disjointing flow.

If anything, I think the movie could’ve benefitted from more editing. Some scenes could’ve been cut, others could’ve been longer, some could’ve been added, etc. I mean, the movie plays off like any sort of generic sci-fi space action flick. But it’s also really ambitious in its scope and that ambitious feelings comes through quite easily while watching. You think and  feel like the movie is going to be really good. I mean while watching, I felt like the harvesting plot might go somewhere and raise questions about morality/immortality, but it just got left behind. I thought maybe the whole idea that humans actually aren’t alone in the world or that we aren’t the biggest hot-shots in the universe was going to be explored and take on the theme of hubris vs dissonance. I thought the whole half human-half animal mix might lead somewhere interesting. I thought maybe Jupiter might be a more nuanced and interesting character than originally perceived to be. Actually, to be fair, I was interested in her pre-alien life, especially with the telescope. Yet, even with these failed opportunities, it doesn’t quite crash and burn for me. It ends up okay and still remains fun- to a point.

My rating: watch it if you’re bored and want a typical sci-fi movie, but you won’t miss anything by skipping it.

Star Trek (2009) Movie Review

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So I feel like I’ve been lacking when it comes to movie reviews. To be honest, I’m not much of a movie person. Or rather, I do watch movies, but just don’t watch them that often or watch them right when they release. Hence, when it comes to doing movie reviews, sometimes I feel like I’m beating a dead horse because by the time my reviews come out, the movies have lost publicity and faded into the deep interior of people’s minds. But, I really do enjoy watching and writing about movies, so I continue to do it anyway.  Anywho, today’s topic is the 2009 reboot movie Star Trek.

Firstly, I’m not the biggest trekkie, but I do have a soft spot for this particular series. The original Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation were shows that my grandfather really enjoyed watching. As a kid, I would sometimes join him and watch them. Now most of the stuff went over my head (I was quite young!) but I do have some good memories of the series. However, my affinity for the series mostly comes from the fact that it was something my grandfather and I did together and something that he enjoyed. So I always associate Star Trek with my grandfather and good memories. Hence when I heard about the 2009 reboot, I was fully on board. And to my absolute delight, when I saw the movie, I fell further in love with the series.

The movie plot, for those of you who’d like some refreshers, basically serves as a prequel/ origin to the eventual Star Trek series. However, it also isn’t quite a *prequel* to the actual series, as the movie sets up an alternate timeline. So while the characters remain quite similar and some plot-lines are recycled, the character origins and development are actually different. So for example, in this film, Captain Kirk actually grew up fatherless and his motivation for joining starfleet was to win a bet, vs. in the original series where he grew up with his father and joined because he was genuinely interested. Similarly Kirk and Spock don’t start out as good friends, but have a rather antagonistic beginning.

Which brings us the the general story in the movie. Since it’s been some time since the movie released, I’m not going to write out a detailed, scene-for-scene description. I’ll basically just summarize the gist. In essence, the origin stories for both Kirk and Spock are laid out (Kirk being a fatherless rebel needing direction and Spock dealing with bullying over his human mother), with the two beginning an antagonistic relationship. It’s through a dangerous situation (rogue Romulan ship from an alternative-timeline future bent on destroying the planets Vulcan and Earth), with a little help from the alternative-timeline Spock (who reveals the backstory of the dangerous situation and the subsequent alternative-timeline that has been created), that the two become friends. Their friendship, and relationship with what would become the original Star Trek crew, is what finally defeats the dangerous situation (pretty cool, climactic scene wherein everyone participates). The movie ends with their formation and Spock’s famous dialogue to venture into space “where no one has gone before.”

As you can tell (hopefully LOL), it’s a super fun movie to watch. It’s basically an adventure film in which the good guys go through some tense and bonding moments before eventually winning over the bad guys. Pretty typical in its plot-line. And yet, the cast, character development, script, and humour elevate it. It actually reminds me a bit of the later Marvel movies, where the fun quotient adds another layer to the movie. And I think this also relates back to the original essence of the Star Trek movies/ shows. From what I’ve been able to glean from observing my grandfather, watching parts of the series, and reading online, one of the biggest draws to Star Trek, has been the sense of discovery the series promotes (along with the science). In each episode, Captain Kirk and his crew discover something new and experience new adventures. It’s fun. Things are always happening. And the film does exactly that. The crew experiences a new situation/ adventure and bond over it. I think this film functioned really well as a starting point for the series. Not only could new fans get into the series, but older fans were also serviced with the idea of an alternative-timeline (giving the writers some leeway with situations, which also serve to conciliate head-strong fans who demand 100% accuracy).

On another note, I think the casting was also really great. I was initially a little hesitant over Chris Pine’s  selection, because prior to this movie, I had only seen him in The Princess Diaries 2. I wasn’t too sure as to how he’d take to Kirk. However, I was also a little scared that he would try to emulate William Shatner’s extremely over-exaggerated acting in an effort to pay homage. Shatner is a good actor (I’m guessing b/c I’ve only ever seen him in Star Trek), but my god, his Captain Kirk, while smooth with the ladies, was also ridiculously zealous in his reactions. To my thankfulness, Pine declined to follow Shatner’s acting style for Kirk and instead did his own thing, which translated wonderfully onscreen. I really enjoyed Pine’s take on Kirk, as being this rebellious kid who needed direction. He really shined in this role and captained the movie wonderfully. All the other characters were great as well, Zachary Quinto as Spock, John Cho as Hikaru Sulu, Karl Urban as Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy, Zoe Saldana as Nyota Uhura, Simon Pegg as Montgomery Scotty, Anton Yelchin as Pavel Chekov, and even Eric Bana as Nero.

Which also brings me to another issue: diversity. Growing up in an extremely multicultural country, diversity (and to another extent representation), has always been important to me. And one of my favourite things about this movie and of Star Trek in general, was how diverse it was. You had people of different races all playing an important role. As a woman of colour, this is a message that brings me great joy. Your talents aren’t determined by your skin colour or anything; it’s who you are. And Sulu, Uhura, and Chekov really represented that for me. It doesn’t matter that you’re a person of colour, or a woman, or have an accent; as long as you can get the job done, you’re good to go. In today’s climate, as much as we’d like to celebrate our diversity and sing kumbaya while sitting in a multicultural circle, the truth is, racism is still quite rampant in our society. I mean, in the United States alone, Black Lives Matter is a glaring example. Even in other parts of the world, Islamophobia is widespread. And these issues are also represented on-screen, wherein people of colour significantly feature less in films and if they do, they are often reduced to being caricatures or reinforcing stereotypes. Yet, Star Trek goes against the grain and represents a more hopeful future/ reality. Not only are people of colour/ minorities represented on-screen, but their roles are significant, regardless of race. Of course, the diversity ratio can be improved, but considering how the series was created way back in the 1960’s and still managed to be so diverse is incredible. Especially when you compare to how we face issues with diversity today.

However, with all my positives for the film, I will say that it is not perfect. The one thing that really annoyed me, was the constant use of lens flare to make scenes dramatic (?). I mean, cinamatography on the whole was decent. The movie was lit brightly which, in my opinion, added to the light, fun feel of the movie. However, there were also constant lens flare. At some point, it just became too much. This may in fact be a critique of the director because apparently he has done it often? And from previous movie watching experiences, I know that you do not always need lens flare to display dramatic moments. There are different ways to shoot scenes, angle your camera, etc. to achieve a dramatic flare. Yet, in this film, I counted over twenty different lens flare scenes, before I stopped counting. I mean, come on. And I was also a little peeved at Uhura’s costume. I mean, not only does the mini skirt uniform she wears look uncomfortable, but it also begs the question of practicality. From prior skirt-wearing experience, I can tell you with 100% guarantee, that pants are much more versatile and facilitate movement in an easier fashion than skirts. I just, I found it ridiculous that everyone was wearing pants except her. I also wasn’t quite a big fan of the gratuitous semi-nude shot of Uhura undressing. I just, it felt so unnecessary and almost like it was servicing fan-boys. Ick. But on the whole, it was definitely an enjoyable movie and a great starting point for new fans to get sucked into!

My rating: watch it to be sucked into an awesome space-y and science-y adventure!