Captain America: Civil War – Best Marvel Film?

This month, Marvel released one of the most highly anticipated films of the year, Captain America: Civil War. Straight away, it’s safe to say that this is a solid, brilliant movie with the long-awaited balance between great writing and stunning action sequences.

The plot focuses on the Avengers dealing with huge social unrest due to the civilian casualties that have followed their exploits. Whilst Tony Stark (Iron Man) leads the team of Avengers willing to allow the government to control their actions, Steve Rodgers (Captain America) opposes such a cause. Subsequently, the Avengers are divided by those willing to comply with the government and those wanting to use their powers freely.

 

What is great about this movie is that both sides have justifications and are given an equal amount of  consideration by the writers. The relationship between Stark and Rodgers is challenged and interrogated, giving the audience a real insight into their motivations. Although the movie is quite heavy due to its content, there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments to lighten it up. *Slight spoiler* the airport scene is perhaps one of the best superhero face-off’s ever translated on screen.

The introduction of Spider-Man, played by 19 year-old Brit actor Tom Holland, gives the film a real uplift. You could practically hear the buzz of excitement as Peter Parker returned to our screens with a witty and charming conversation with Tony Stark. In the past few years, we’ve never had an actor who can perfectly marry the dorky Peter Parker with his humorous, superhero alter-ego, yet Tom Holland looks incredibly promising. Keep an eye out for Spiderman: Homecoming (2017).

This is perhaps the best Marvel movie yet. It satisfies Captain America fans whilst also anticipating  the upcoming The Avengers: Civil War releases. However, make sure you’re up to date with your Marvel films before embarking on this one.

Let’s hope Steve Rodgers can do this all day, because Captain America doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

Image – http://www.blastr.com/sites/blastr/files/Captain-America-Civil-War-Key-Art.jpg.

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International Women’s Day 2016: Famous Female Graduates

It’s that time of the year again where students are traipsing around university desperately trying to balance impending deadlines with job applications and the demands of life. If you’re feeling uninspired, take a look at these famous female graduates who felt that a degree was missing from their list of achievements.

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Doing Britain proud is Emma Watson, who graduated over a year ago from Brown University with a degree in English Literature. She’s managed to achieve this as well as taking breaks from studying to release films such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Many people ask ‘why did she bother?’ After all, Emma Watson is a millionaire after appearing as Hermione Granger in the Potter franchise. She’s modelled for Burberry and been the face of Lancôme, overall establishing one hell of a career. Yet, she still pursued an education,owing that sometimes yearning for fame and fortune just isn’t enough. Emma has since put her degree into practice and has become the Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women, heading the HeforShe campaign that coincides with fourth-wave feminism.

Internationally, another leading lady who has graduated from university is comedian and actress Rebel Wilson. She attended the University of New South Wales in Australia and graduated with degrees in both the Arts and Law in 2009. Due to the nature of her studies, Rebel has stated that she reads her own acting contracts. Another international advocate of education is American actress Natalie Portman, who graduated from the prestigious Harvard University with a degree in Psychology. It is only fitting that Natalie has since won an Oscar for the psychological thriller, Black Swan (2010).

Of course, life would be a lot easier if we had unlimited amounts of cash in the bank, yet these incredible women (along with many more) have helped inspire young girls to pursue academia all whilst in the public eye. Hats (or graduation caps) off to them!

Image taken from @emwatson twitter,

http://twitter.com/EmWatson/media

Quick Review: The Forest

It’s been a while since a good horror movie has graced our screens. The Paranormal Activity franchise has outstayed its welcome and last year’s Halloween efforts failed to hit the mark. Although The Forest has an arguably low budget and only stars moderately well-known actors, it is definitely worth checking out. The plot follows Sara (Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer), whose twin sister Jess has gone missing in the real-life location of Aokigahara in Japan, otherwise known as Suicide Forest. With the help of Aiden (played by Taylor Kinney, American actor and fiancé of Lady Gaga), Sara ventures into the infamous forest and faces supernatural horrors.

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One of the most notable aspects of this film is the story. Most modern horrors ignore plot in favour of cheap jump scares, yet The Forest manages to find a balance between both. This is mainly due to the introduction of the forest itself as a mysterious and sinister location that exists at the base of Mount Fuji. Due to the amount of ambiguity, the film can almost be classed as a psychological thriller, yet it is unfortunately pulled back by the amount of special effects. The first two thirds of the film are fantastic and intriguing as the audience is introduced to the eerie forest and Sara’s past. However, it begins to suffer towards the end as the forest causes Sara’s mental state to rapidly deteriorate. Although there is plenty of mystery, this film may not be for you if you like all of your loose ends tied up. Expect to leave the cinema with a lot of unanswered questions.

Overall, The Forest is a frightening and thought-provoking movie that is supported by a stellar performance from Natalie Dormer. Remember, if you are a student at University of Lincoln, be sure to get Meerkat Movies and use your student card for cheaper tickets!

Image: http://i2.wp.com/teaser-trailer.com/wp-content/uploads/The-Forest-Banner-Poster.jpg

 

 

 

Awards Season: Books vs. Film

It’s that time of the year again where all the big names in Hollywood go to glamorous events like the Oscars, BAFTAs, the SAG awards, and get pictured in beautiful designer dresses. However, more interestingly for us, awards season celebrates some of the best films of the year. 2015 has been particularly fantastic. Epic dramas like The Revenant (in cinemas now), and Indie-drama, Room are two of the biggest front runners for the Best Picture Academy Award, yet behind these great movies are great novels.

 

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The Revenant
Book by Michael Punke (2002) ***
Film dir. by Alejandro González Iñárritu (2015) *****

The Revenant by Michael Punke is a fictional tale loosely based on the real-life experiences of expert tracker, Hugh Glass. Set in 1823, it follows the trappers of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, who live a ruthless frontier life. What is historically accurate is Hugh Glass’ brutal attack by a bear, and that he was left for dead by two of his men. The book and film follows his quest revenge, making a captivating tale of survival, although the film does depart from the novel in places.

Although there have been complaints that the film, starring Leonardo Dicaprio, is perhaps too long, it is beautifully shot with plenty of suspense and action to break up Glass’ horrific struggle. This film is not for the faint hearted. There are some truly grotesque moments that will make you squirm in your seat, but director Alejandro González Iñárritu ensures that they are shot in a way that makes them seem realistic and organic. Dicaprio gives a great, stand-out performance as Hugh Glass, giving the film a gritty edge.

Room
Book by Emma Donoghue (2010) ****
Film dir. by Lenny Abrahamson (2015) ****

Room follows the story of kid-napping victim, Joy (Brie Larson), and her five-year-old son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay). Joy was captured at seventeen and has lived in one room ever since. To make life bearable for Jack, who was born in Room, she has convinced him that they are the only people in the world and that nothing else exists outside Room. The mother/son relationship is beautiful to read and watch. Although in the film Jack comes across as difficult, the book is written in his perspective so his behaviour is seemingly more justified. The one downfall of the book is that it’s often difficult to read as Donoghue experiments with punctuation and grammar in order to convey Jack’s voice.

Brie Larson is incredible in the film. Prepare yourself for some real tear-jerker moments thanks to her brilliant performance. The screenplay is written by the author herself, therefore it’s a well-paced, gripping movie that picks out the most effective aspects of the book. However, the second half of the film seems underdeveloped as they skim over some of Jack’s experiences. Yet overall, it’s a great story and well worth a watch and read.

The Martian
Book by Andy Weir (2011) ****
Film dir. by Ridley Scott (2015) *****

One of the biggest surprises of last year was Ridley Scott’s The Martian, starring Matt Damon. Gone were the serious, brooding and dramatic space movies. Instead, The Martian was fresh, funny and feel-good. The film mainly sticks to the plot of the novel, following the story of Mark Watney, an Astronaut that is presumed dead after a huge storm interrupts the crew’s manned mission on Mars. Against all odds he has to find a way to survive on a planet that refuses to cooperate.

The novel is in the form of diary entries, documenting how Mark is staying alive. Although this can get quite dull as lots of the language is very technical, it’s still captivating as Mark is such a sarcastic, comical character. Matt Damon plays him brilliantly in the movie. However, the one problem with the film is that it glosses over some of Mark’s disasters, downplaying his struggle to survive. Despite this, the movie captures the spirit of the book and actually offers us more insight into the happenings of NASA, giving the film a real boost.

Image: http://blogs-images.forbes.com/jenniferbaker/files/2016/01/Book-Adaptations.jpg

 

Quick Review – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

It’s finally arrived. The Hunger Games series comes to a close with its last instalment, Mockingjay: Part 2. It’s everything it needed to be: explosive, emotional and visually dynamic. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) the symbol of rebellion, moves closer to the Capitol with the intention to assassinate Panem’s corrupt dictator, President Snow. Whilst the first part of Mockingjay was more of a political build-up to this finale, this movie does not shy from action. However, it’s a lot darker and scarier than anything we’ve seen in the previous films, so be warned for an increase in disturbing scenes where the Capitol make a sport of death.

What really sets this movie apart from the others is the identity crisis that Katniss and Peeta struggle to deal with. Gone are the ‘star-crossed lovers’ from the first movie. Instead, Katniss battles with being a leader whilst promoting a cause that in itself is flawed. Peeta, played brilliantly by Josh Hutcherson, struggles to return to his old self after having his memories of Katniss cruelly warped.  Both actors are completely mesmerising, driving the finale of this franchise to its bittersweet end.

Overall, Mockingjay: Part 2 is a huge improvement on its predecessor, and also the book. Perhaps both Mockingjay films could have been condensed into one film, yet this movie succeeds in tying up all the loose ends.

Image: http://cdn1-www.comingsoon.net/assets/uploads/gallery/the-hunger-games-mockingjay-part-2/mockingjayposter.jpg

 

Why you should watch Star Wars Episode 7 at Midnight

It’s that time of year again. It’s cold, rainy and your workload is increasing. You want to do something, anything, but a night out isn’t worth the impending hangover. If you’re into movies and catching the latest blockbusters, then attending midnight premieres is the way forward. You can stay warm by grabbing a Costa before heading into the theatre, and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of a late night showing.

I discovered the buzz of my first midnight premiere at university last November at my local Odeon’s 12am showing of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. Although we had work to do, seminars to attend hours later and we were all super tired, nothing could compare to the anticipation of watching a major movie on the big screen in the early hours of the morning. Midnight premieres are fun, different and perfect for this time of year. The last instalment of THG is hitting cinemas on the 19th November, so be sure to buy your tickets beforehand as they’re bound to sell out.

But the biggest cinema event of 2015 is happening on December 18th. A lot of people will be dying to get home for Christmas, but it’s worth sticking around another night to catch Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It’s perhaps the most anticipated movie of the decade, let alone this year, so being one of the first to see it among other fans will be a night to remember.

Now, you may not be a Star Wars fan, or you probably think that the entire franchise is ridiculously nerdy and a waste of time. It’s not for everyone, but there’s something about those movies that’s fun for all: heroes, villains, lightsabers, Harrison Ford (still got it) and of course, cute robots. The new entry promises to offer a fresh take on the universe. If the trailer (attached below) is anything to go by, the new entry will focus on Daisy Ridley’s character of Rey, a badass new female lead who will do more than look pretty and stray from the action.

Across the UK, the premiere of Star Wars is sure to make box office history. Whether you’re a diehard fan of the previous films or you just want to go and see what the fuss is about, book tickets now as they’re selling out fast.

Not a fan of Star Wars? Well …

Trailer link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3U90zeuipU

Image 1: http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/03121/villain_3121826c.jpg

Image 2: https://media3.giphy.com/media/BL7AC7arPk1Ak/200_s.gif

Quick Review: The Martian

After the success of the Oscar winning movies such as Gravity and Interstellar, dark, complicated and brooding ‘space films’ have been dominating the box office over the last couple of years. When I went into Ridley Scott’s latest directional effort, The Martian, I expected another dramatic film that would focus entirely on the psychological conflict of a man stranded on mars.

I could not have been more wrong.

The Martian is fresh, comical and feel-good despite its subject matter. It follows the story of Mark Watney, an Astronaut that is presumed dead after a huge storm interrupts the crew’s manned mission on Mars. However, it turns out that Watney has survived, and against all odds he has to find a way to survive on a planet that refuses to cooperate.

You’d think that such a simple story would struggle to fill out its 2.5 hour time frame, however not once did it feel like the film had ran its course. Matt Damon is fantastic as the cocky but intelligent Watney, and his struggles to grow food and communicate with Earth leaves the audience completely rooting for him. The humour is brilliant as Mark provides light comic relief in spite of his hopeless situation. Although at times it’s hard to believe that Watney would remain so level-headed, the comedy never feels forced. If anything, it’s enhanced by the bold music choices (the audience audibly laughed when ‘I Will Survive’ played during the closing credits). But amongst the humour are moments of real poignancy and scientific wonder, giving this film an effortless Apollo 13 vibe.

Although the science is apparently accurate, it may displease some of the physics geeks out there with some of its far-fetched subplots. However, if you’re looking to be entertained, then go and see this movie.

Verdict: 4.5/5 stars.

Image: http://images-cdn.moviepilot.com/images/c_fill,h_225,w_540/t_mp_quality_gif/t0ehygdpyrqgszmbhpa1/matt-damon-confirms-that-the-martian-will-be-worlds-away-from-interstellar-20th-century-463664.gif

Expectation vs. Reality – Life Goals

Along with thousands of other students in the UK, I have no idea what to do with my life despite being 20 years old. It’s worrying, really, that I leave the safe haven of University in little over a year and will be spat into the big wide world with nothing but a piece of paper to argue that I’m employable. With this in mind, I can’t help but feel that our generation are obsessed with cheating life and are under the impression that we can create our own ideal jobs instead of facing the tough reality of the working world.

Take Zoella as an example. She’s 24. Did all the same stuff we did, for instance GCSEs, A Levels, an apprenticeship … she fell into vlogging and she’s now one hell of a wealthy business woman. I’m often quick to criticise her due to the fact that she got a book deal for a book that she didn’t even write herself, yet you’ve got to give it to her – she’s riding a wave of success and making the most of every minute of it.

Yet if you ask any student what they want to do when the finish university, the answer will more than likely be ‘become a millionaire’, just like Zoella is, with an extravegant and optimistic plan towards how that will happen. The reality is, we will be in a horrible amount of debt with over half of us forced to live at home again until we can find employment. Many may turn to vlogging, attempting to get a huge following in order to become the next Zoella and live an awesome life of attending fancy social gatherings, being paid to advertise make-up and write books. Yet as lovely as that would be, it’s not realistic.

So my question is, should the harsh reality of life as a post-graduate be more considered online and at University? How do we snap out of the idea that we’ll catch a lucky break and immediately find jobs? I would love to have more preparation and options on what to do after University ends. As they sing in Buffy … where do we go from here?

When will franchises stop being exploited?

Don’t get me wrong. I love a good franchise. There’s nothing better than being completely enveloped in a world and knowing that you still have about four books or movies left to watch (take Harry Potter or A Song of Ice and Fire, for instance.) These books need sequels because the story is so carefully planned that it is necessary for these sequels to exist. Yet I’m getting increasingly angst about the amount of sagas spitting out sequels for no other reason than to make money.

The latest example of this is perhaps The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. I hate to just come out and say ‘that book was terrible’ but let’s face it … the book was terrible. I remember wishing that the producers would make the smart decision to cut out all of the dull scenes from the book that we had to endure and really adapt the book into something worth watching. And yes, Mockingjay Part 1 was a decent film. Okay, it didn’t have the same level of excitement as the first two films, but it was a great exploration of themes that feature in the novel, like dictatorship and propaganda.

Yet the movie was everything I expected to be: a big build up to the inevitable final battle that will take up most of the second film. We’ve seen this many times in huge money-making franchises like Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hobbit … so of course the producers of THG thought ‘oh hey let’s milk this for as long as possible!’

What happened to VALUE. Instead of dragging things out why don’t producers just condense the best possible scenes into one 2.5/3 hour movie? The Hobbit easily could’ve been two films without all of the pointless scenes that seem to take up most of the plot (and I’ll like to add I never once got that feeling with the Lord of the Rings trilogy as they were based on massive books with plenty of content to pick from!)

Even Disney have jumped on this bandwagon. Even though Toy Story 3 ended PERFECTLY we now have another film to look forward to. I fear that this will go the same way as the Shrek franchise in the sense that the movies will get worse and worse, even resorting to a ‘let’s go back in time’ storyline because they ran out of ideas.

Franchises need to stop being exploited. You can have too much as a good thing and our favourite franchises are becoming nothing more than consumerist commodities, so overall I hope to god it stops soon!

 

Breaking up with TV shows

If there’s a figure I do not want to know, then it’s how many hours of my life I have spent watching television/movies. It actually makes me nervous to think that at least four hours of my day are spent on the sofa glued to a screen (realistically it’s probably more) …

Recently I started watching Breaking Bad. I know, I know, I’m a bit late on the uptake. The truth is I started watching it a year ago and couldn’t get into it. Didn’t really get the hype. Then about a month ago I was bored babysitting and thought ok I’ll give it another shot. One month later and I’m getting towards the end.

WHAT A SHOW. Jesus, it’s taken over my life. I wouldn’t say it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen (nothing will top Game of Thrones or LOST for me) but it’s definitely up there. It’s refreshing to watch a show with a consistently solid script and incredible acting.

Yet why has it taken over my life? In fact, why do I get so obsessed with television shows? Is it the escapism? The fact that I’m bored? I don’t want it to be this way anymore. I want my own life to be more interesting to me than a fictional television show.

So yes, whilst I’m gonna finish BB as soon as possible, I think it’s going to mark the end of a time in my life where I’ve vegged out on the sofa (most of my teenage years…) I think it’s time for me to start living properly and not allow myself to get so bored with myself that a TV show is what gets me up in the morning.

So, no more counting down the days to the next season. No more obsessive fangirling over every new trailer. No more stalking character tags on tumblr. Let’s see how long this lasts.

Side note: please reassure me that it’s not just me who gets seriously obsessed easily? Also let me know your thoughts below on Breaking Bad but please keep it spoiler free for those that haven’t watched it.

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