Valentine’s Marathon: The Choice (2016)

Next up in the Valentine’s Marathon is the annual Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation visit to stay on track and up to date with this. What started off as something that I thought would be torturous actually wasn’t as bad. A ton of you are going to disagree with me. I know already. Every year I post one of these, most people hate these Nicholas Sparks movie adaptations and would just like them to stop. While I can see where everyone is coming from, I actually don’t mind them at all, except for The Last Song…I really don’t like that one. But can you believe, The Choice is the 10th Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation? But from what I’ve read, this is the last movie adaptation.

Let’s check it out!

The Choice (2016)

The Choice

Director: Ross Katz

Cast: Teresa Palmer, Benjamin Walker, Maggie Grace, Alexandra Daddario, Tom Wilkinson, Tom Welling

Travis and Gabby first meet as neighbors in a small coastal town and wind up in a relationship that is tested by life’s most defining events. – IMDB

Nicholas Sparks movies have a formula. Its also this formula that really drives non-fans away from it, in my opinion. There’s always lovers who meet under less than desirable circumstances who find a way to be together then some disapproving factor drives them apart and then they somehow find the strength to reunite. Some times, they are able to be together and sometimes, other things will keep them apart (ex. sickness, death, bad timing, etc). You get my drift, right? Whenever I review one of these movies, I think its important to push away that formula. Think about the factors they put together from the characters to their chemistry (a big one for romance) and the supporting roles and what it does, maybe even the setting. The formula won’t change, we all know that and if it does, like the first time I saw a character survive the ordeal without some bittersweet twist, I was actually pleasantly surprised. So we’re going to do this for The Choice, okay? It sounds stupid to brush the story aside but that isn’t exactly what I’m doing, just you know glazing over the familiarity and looking more at how it carries itself.

The Choice

The Choice is not my favorite Nicholas Sparks adaptation. In fact, I don’t think A Walk to Remember has ever been beaten in my guilty pleasure romance movies. However, The Choice does also give us two very cute characters. There are some supporting characters that could’ve done with a little more development but still had its purpose. The setting itself is beautiful and the chemistry was done quite well. The story could have been delivered a little better and probably the run time could’ve been shorter as well to make it more compact. The Choice isn’t anything great to the movie adaptations however, there is one thing that I liked a lot about it other than the beautiful setting making me want to seek it all out for myself but our two main characters. There are very familiar mechanics they use, like setting up the story in a way that we’re at a certain point and then recounting the events and then getting to the present and continuing on from there to the conclusion. I can’t say its particularly useful to do it like this but its not a bad way for it to unfold.

The Choice

The Choice’s primary strength is its couple, Gabby and Travis played by Teresa Palmer and Benjamin Walker respectively. Like I mentioned before, it didn’t really hit it off for me right away but in the interaction that Gabby and Travis has in their bickering, they start to grow a little (for me at least). Teresa Palmer’s character seemed to work out better for me but then there’s always a question of judgement and passion. Nicholas Sparks likes to embrace the somewhat “forbidden” love type of thing. Our characters need to have courage and they need to feel some security. In this case, the point of most of the story is Travis’s character not fighting for something he loves and always taking the easy route even if it means heartbreak and being lonely. Up till that point, the story still kind of worked because the message worked for me. However, the third act diving into a dramatic twist somewhat seems a little forced. It does also talk about guilt and holding on and fighting and believing but in many ways, the way it unfolds seems a little manipulative, I guess. I can forgive most of it but just saying that it would objectively be in that area to evoke some sort of sentiment and its where we are tested on how deeply we feel for this couple (which for me, wasn’t a whole lot) whereas, the idea of what is going on about churning up the thoughts of whether to let someone go is probably the bigger question here that really gets emotional. Probably because I’ve been in a relatable situation that it hit me a little harder than it probably would.

The Choice

The Choice however does have some other familiar faces in the supporting role. We have Maggie Grace as Steph, the sister of Travis who really is his guiding light of logic. She sees more about Gabby and her impact on Travis and how he actually feels, just like a close friend would be normally. We have an ex-girlfriend (or something) played by Alexandra Daddario who really doesn’t ever build up to much but to eventually tell Travis something important that encourages him. Tom Wilkinson plays as Travis’s father who in the second half probably understands more about what he is going through than others would. Most of these supporting roles are there for their one moment that really builds a connection or enlightens our character. These characters are also usually expected in these adaptations.

Overall, The Choice works okay for me. Its not my favorite but it is also far from the worst one out of the ten Nicholas Sparks adaptations. The charming characters of Gabby and Travis may get me to revisit it eventually. There are however many moments where it does fall flat, even if you look past the formulaic plot. The supporting characters are weak and could probably be fleshed out more. The story itself drags much longer than it needs. The chemistry between the characters are a little rushed in the first place so never quite meet the potential even if there are some good moments there. There are issues with this one but I’m pretty forgiving on these adaptations so I can see things that can redeem it. However, its not going to work for people who has never quite enjoyed any of them. If thats the case, you might probably not want to start here.

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Valentine’s Marathon: Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Next up in the Valentine’s Marathon is a classic that I’ve been meaning to see and that’s Singin’ In the Rain! Lots of popular songs and a musical seems like a great formula. Not to mention it looks incredibly fun to watch.

Let’s check it out!

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Singin' In the Rain

Director: Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly

Cast: Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Jean Hagen, Millard Mitchell, Douglas Fowley

A silent film production company and cast make a difficult transition to sound. – IMDB

 Singin’ In the Rain is a classic and I finally can see why. There isn’t much I can say that hasn’t been said before. I’m pretty sure of that. Its not only a romantic story but an incredibly light-hearted, comedic and fun one. The music is wonderful and the idea of watching Hollywood change from silent movies to sound brings in this new adventure for everyone as they embrace change. Not to mention that the entire cast is totally awesome and charming with a lot of character.

Singin' in the rain

Our main characters here are Debbie Reynolds as Kate who turns a cold shoulder when they first meet at big silent film star, Don Lockwood who then gets intrigued. There’s so much here to love in her character. For one, the moment we see her in that number jumping out of a cake and locks eyes with Don before doing that cute little dance with her crew is fantastic. That whole scene sets off the right tone of the chemistry and the charm both of these characters have. Don Lockwood is played by Gene Kelly and this man’s smugness as Don is awesome. It creates the perfect type of character that challenges each other. Although their romance develops relatively quickly, it is believable. Aside from them, another rather big role (although its more of a supporting role), is Don’s best friend, Cosmo who is a complete goofball in so many ways but also an incredibly talented musician. Together, these three create the lighthearted atmosphere this movie needs especially with sound numbers like “Good Morning”. Before Kate shows up, Don and Cosmo also have some great moments to show how strong their friendship is and how on beat they are together, not to mention a little silly. It brings so many layers to these characters.

Singin' in the Rain

In a rather outrageously funny character way was this scene above and it really  highlights Jean Hagen’s character, Lina Lamont who is a great silent star but the moment she opens her mouth, you realize that the transition to movies with sound is really not for her anymore. At least back then when it was full of music and elegance, there was really no place for her as she learns to round her words and be used to speaking into a microphone. However, it did bring a lot of humor as we saw the disasters that it’d bring. Not to mention, the little dramas that she would like to cause for the diva that she was as she grasped to stay alive in the changing movie business. On that note, other characters also helped, like Douglas Fowley as Roscoe and Millard Mitchell as R.F., the latter pretty much runs the studio.

Singin in the rain

Its funny that Singin’ in the Rain before I saw it seemed like just another musical. Probably much better in calibre because its a classic. For that, it didn’t disappoint me at all. In fact, what made it even rise higher in my books and actually is incredibly perfect in many ways is that it has something for everyone (or mostly because I’m sure some people don’t share the same type of love I had). Why I say this is because my husband who is not into musicals or romantic comedies sat there and enjoyed the humor it had and the colorful characters. For that, it makes it even better because the songs compliment a fantastic movie that brings just the right tone of humor and balances it with a story that has notes of romance but also something more to give it even more substance.

I love Singin’ in the Rain. Its a great movie and definitely well worth its classic title and in my heart, I truly believe it has something for everyone to love. The cast is fantastic, the story is awesome and the music is simply great. There are some catchy tunes and probably a lot that you have already heard. Debbie Reynolds is so adorable to watch and Gene Kelly is charming in a full of himself kind of way but really pulls it off and we can’t forget Donald O’Connor who is a comedic highlight that keeps the movie fun and entertaining. Its a little bit of everything fitted so perfectly well together.

Have you seen Singin’ In the Rain?

***Since this was supposed to be yesterday’s post, I’ll have another Valentine’s marathon review going up later today.***

Valentine’s Marathon: Romeo & Juliet (2013)

Next up in the Valentine’s Marathon is a tale really as old as time and probably one of the first Shakespeare plays I had to read in school but super renowned and adapted a ton of times and that is Romeo & Juliet. This version is the 2013 one with Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth.

Let’s check it out!

Romeo & Juliet (2013)

Romeo and Juliet 2013

Director: Carlo Carlei

Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Douglas Booth, Damian Lewis, Paul Giamatti, Kodi Smit-Mcphee, Ed Westwick, Christian Cooke

Romeo and Juliet secretly wed despite the sworn contempt their families hold for each other. It is not long, however, before a chain of fateful events changes the lives of both families forever.-IMDB

 Its always hard to review Romeo and Juliet adaptations. We all know how the story will go and the tragic fate of these lovers. It becomes even harder each time to feel moved by the characters and the story somehow because of that familiarity. I’m not sure if this is the most recent movie adaptation but I think so with these young stars playing the popular roles. In reality, it feels like quite the task and one that I’d eventually like to do to talk about the play and all adaptations (or as many as I have access to). Maybe I’ll give that a go one day. However, we’re here to look at this adaptation and to be fair, it was fine. There were some familiar faces, some good performances, the set was pretty decent and so were the costumes. I’m not a Shakespeare extreme connoisseur so I don’t know the play front and back. It been a long time since I’ve read it but from what I remember, its seems pretty close (if not the same) in dialogue.  However, something seems missing which I can’t quite pinpoint so maybe as I write this out, I’ll figure it out.

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet are played respectively by Douglas Booth and Hailee Steinfeld.  I haven’t seen a lot of Hailee Steinfeld but I have seen Douglas Booth in few of his previous roles, probably the one I remember most is LOL and Jupiter Ascending (review HERE). To step into Romeo and Juliet is a big task (like I mentioned before), there was to be passion and believability in their roles. Perhaps one of the things I didn’t quite feel was their connection. Sure, they were passionate in their lines and I could see it working but when they were together, something just didn’t click. Although, I feel that it progressed a little fast also. I get that its supposed to be a few days of events like most Romeo and Juliet movies are set in but it took two seconds to jump to seeing each other, dancing and then going to to the back and kissing. I never felt like other Romeo and Juliet movies progressed the love arc that fast for them and maybe its why those movies had a more impactful performance. Oh, and I actually did like Hailee Steinfeld’s performance. I feel that she has potential to do more and that’s where I think I probably should check out The Edge of Seventeen from last year.

Romeo and Juliet 2013

Talking about the Montague boys now, we’ve already discussed Romeo as the lover boy but possibly a great bromance trio goes to these guys who felt naturally good together. Somehow they worked well in showing their different personalities of Mercutio, Romeo and Benvolio. It was easy to believe that they all held different views of the rivalry between the Montague and the Capulets but also that they each also had different values. Mercutio is played by Christian Cooke, who is a familiar face and I liked him in the role. However, I love Kodi Smit-McPhee ever since I saw him in Let Me In (review HERE). This guy has some really great acting chops. He did a great job at Benvolio even if it was just a supporting role.

Romeo and Juliet 2013

The Capulets are much more individual but also has a lot more screen time. We have Tybalt, played by Ed Westwick who is incredibly known to me as Chuck Bass in Gossip Girl and I loved his character there. Ed Westwick does have some good acting and in the right roles, he can do quite a bit. As Tybalt, he really just does the cocky guy with a ton of anger issues who has incredible hate for Montagues who can barely keep his actions in control. Plus, he does a whole lot of odd grunting angry voices and always has a grimace, which I get is in character but something about his character felt a little overacted perhaps. I can’t say that its his best performance in my book. The other part of the Capulets is Damien Lewis as Lord Capulet. I honestly haven’t had much contact with Damien Lewis but he seems like a really powerful actor because Lord Capulet’s role really carried especially when he was having the whole scene with Juliet and making his point clear of her marrying Count Paris. That was a fantastic scene.

Overall, Romeo and Juliet in this 2013 adaptation was okay. It probably won’t be memorable but its not horrible either. The pacing of the script could probably use some work to help make us care more about Romeo and Juliet especially when everyone already knows how this all works out and pretty much knows what to expect. There are some decent performances that I haven’t even mentioned other than Hailee Steinfeld, Damien Lewis and Kodi Smit-McPhee but also we have Paul Giamatti who plays as the Friar and as always, he does a nice job in the supporting role. Its hard to not compare Romeo and Juliet adaptations to each other especially since there’s already been so many but here’s my shot at it.

Have you seen this adaptation of Romeo and Juliet? Which adaptation is your favorite?

Valentine’s Marathon: Mr. Right (2015)

And the Valentine’s Marathon finally starts! There’s only like a five day countdown to the actual day, not that it really means anything much to myself but its a nice excuse to jump into some romantic comedies and other romance dramas. I finally managed to find time to get some of it done.

The first one was actually quite unexpected but I wanted to be spontaneous so I ended up choosing Mr. Right. Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell, what can go wrong, right?

Let’s check it out!

Mr. Right (2015)

Mr. Right

Director: Paco Cabezas

Cast: Sam Rockwell, Anna Kendrick, Tim Roth, James Ransone, Anson Mount, Michael Eklund, RZA, Katie Nehra

A girl falls for the “perfect” guy, who happens to have a very fatal flaw: he’s a hitman on the run from the crime cartels who employ him. – IMDB

It always feels good to start up a movie and right away, the comedy tone is exactly what you’d like. Mr. Right was exactly what I liked about it. It helps that I’m a fan of Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick. Mr. Right isn’t perfect for sure. The story itself has some pretty awkward and great moments. Some other fun times and there’s a tad of action here and there but the true stars of the movie in this rather messy plot line that seems to really work best when Sam Rockwell and/or Anna Kendrick is on screen. Lucky for us (and the movie as a whole), they are in a lot of scenes. Our villain is a little undefined because there’s Tim Roth’s character hunting down Sam Rockwell, that trickles into a somewhat silly but manipulative plot of these brothers and their feud, who are the obvious baddies. Mr. Right works in all the odd and awkward ways.

Mr. Right

Mr. Right has a great cast headlining for it. Anna Kendrick plays as Martha, a girl freshly broken up and in the recovering days, she meets Mr. Right (aka Francis), played by Sam Rockwell. Anna Kendrick as Martha sometimes reminds me a little of Tina Fey. That is a great thing because Tina Fey’s humor usually works for me. Anna Kendrick however carries herself nicely as the sweet but unique girl. Martha is a colorful character. She has weird thought processes and connects odd things together and right from the child of her aspiring to be a T-Rex, we already know we’re in for some fun times. There are not enough words to describe how fantastic Anna Kendrick plays this role into a believable manner. Its hard for us to find someone so awkward also but she does in Mr. Right, a hitman with a reverse psychology to not only dance his way out of situations, view a connection to the objects around him to predict when and where things will drop but also kill the people who hire him because murder is wrong. Mr. Right is on the run but when he misses Martha, he feels the connection right away and it changes who he is a lot because he doesn’t want to lose her. In just a short few days, the connection between Martha and Francis are amazing. Odd and awkward but incredibly cute and fun. Props goes to Sam Rockwell for being able to pull off such a crazy character but also to both of them for delivering incredible chemistry. Even without the action and fighting and guns, watching them both was charming and adorable and entertaining to no end.

Mr. Right

I’m a fan of Tim Roth. I’ve liked him since his role in Lie to Me. He was the highlight of 2015’s The Hateful Eight (even if I didn’t like the movie). Yet here, his character is interesting to say the least. Its hard to say its bad but probably more underused. Tim Roth plays Hopper, the mentor of Francis who is now hunting him down to set him straight from what he thinks is pathetic ways. However, Hopper also is a master of disguises and when he acts as a cop in New Orleans, his accent actually sounds pretty bad. Not that I’m an expert at accents but it felt a little fake, which it is, of course. In many ways, if this plot was only about Hopper chasing down Francis and then Francis falling for Martha, perhaps it would be more neat.

Mr. Right

However, we then step into the other plot point of the actual baddies which are brothers in feud where the younger Von, played by James Ransone, is trying to use Francis’s reverse hitman oddity to his advantage and get rid of his brother, Richie, played by Anson Mount who now runs the show. Von has the help of Johnny Moon, played by Michael Eklund (who I recently complimented for his role as the bad guy in The Call). These guys are all idiots on purpose, meaning the script wrote them like that and its these moments that give the movie a comedic action moments and in all honestly, with a story that doesn’t really have much going for it with these bad guys and whatever they are up to, that is what makes it all the more entertaining. It actually boosts the characters of Francis and especially Martha as she breaks out of her shell and embraces her crazy making her really the perfect match for her Mr. Right.

Mr. Right

You know what? The more I write about it and think about Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick as Mr. Right/Francis and Martha, I just can’t help but love them more and more. Sure, Mr. Right has a few flaws, mostly in a somewhat messy plot with supporting characters not used to their full potential but there’s something special here. Its entertaining and has some really great comedic moments. The chemistry between Francis and Martha is awesome and made me love them and cheer for them in all the weirdest ways to actually believing that they are in fact, perfect for each other. And Francis compliments Martha in the oddest moments during the movie and its kinda cute and sweet and hilarious all at the same time. Action-romantic comedy dose totally fulfilled here.

Have you seen Mr. Right? Are you a fan of Anna Kendrick and/or Sam Rockwell?

Holiday Marathon/Netflix A-Z: Once Upon a Holiday (2015)

Okay…I’m cheating a little but its the holidays and I really wanted to wrap up Netflix A-Z and get holiday movies in so I put in this Hallmark movie called Once Upon a Holiday! I’ve been watching a lot of these Hallmark/TV movies and they have just been a pretty enjoyable feel-good experience. The point of these movies are to be heartwarming so as long as it does that, I think I’m pretty cool with it, especially since its the end of the year and all I really want is to relax in all the preparation and craziness.

Let’s check it out!

Once Upon a Holiday (2015)

Once Upon a Holiday

Director: James Head

Cast: Briana Evigan, Paul Campbell, Greg Evigan, Tony Alcantar, Jay Brazeau, Beverley Elliott, Casey Manderson, Jacqueline Samuda, Tara Wilson

When a princess escapes her entourage to explore New York over Christmas, she meets a young man who shows the beautiful stranger his side of the city.-IMDB

Once Upon A Holiday is a fun little Hallmark movie based similarly to Roman Holiday. Along with its familiar modern day revamp, we also have some familiar faces. The first would be our princess in disguise played by Briana Evigan who is in two Step Up movies. Next would be her real life father who plays as her uncle in this one who had a long filmography with some notable titles. Tara Wilson maybe ring a bell as well as Jay Brazeau and definitely Beverley Elliott who plays Granny on TV series Once Upon a Time. Roman Holiday is a classic lead by some great talents and memorable characters. It would be unfair to hope that a modern day revamp could possibly live up to even Audrey Hepburn’s performance alone, however, Once Upon a Holiday has a rather heartwarming take to this romance drama with a lot of festive moments set in the bustling New York City.

Once Upon a Holiday

Roman Holiday is a high bar to aim for but the performances here are nothing short of fun. In fact, I’d go straight to say that the performances are what brings a lot of charm to Once Upon a Holiday. Throwing the physical attractions aside, Once Upon a Holiday takes on a more chemistry that grows between Briana Evigan’s Princess Katarina (aka Katie) and real estate agent turned renovation business owner, Jack. Briana Evigan brings an innocence and naivety to Katie’s character, very much like a princess sheltered from the world would. While bad things do happen to her and we as the more street saavy audience knows even more than she does, its also that characteristic that makes her more open-minded to accept the people she meets while still trying to dodge cleverly the familiar security detail tracking her down.

On the other hand, Paul Campbell does a great job at being Jack. He is quite the introvert but while being mesmerized and confused by this girl that appears in front of him, seemingly oblivious to everything around her and just learning about something as simple as eating hot dogs, he also reaches out to try and help her. Jack is a good-hearted man who has been tainted by love. There’s something incredibly genuine about Paul Campbell’s role as Jack that makes him believable.

Its not to mention that Paul Campbell and Briana Evigan emit such attractive chemistry between them and the script brings out well a lot of their feelings and thoughts to help us connect to them on a more personal level. Not many can relate to a princess but we can relate to wanting to be in control of our own life and having the power to make our decisions and choices. On the other hand, we can also love the feeling of family and simplicity. Sure, its a little far-fetched in a story to have a love like this one in just a few days time but that is the power of movies and even the romantic in me who doesn’t quite buy the love at first sight thing can fall for.

Once upon a Holiday

Perhaps what makes Once Upon a Holiday a lot more fun is its colorful supporting characters. Jay Brazeau and Beverley Elliott play an ex-magician, Harry that owns a magic store and his ex-assistant, Dixie. Along with them is a scene where they join into a Santa Claus party. On the other hand, there is also Jack’s sister Emily played by Tara Wilson who is charming to watch in a loving and supportive way. By her side is Emily’s small-time reporter Ross, who seems quite stupid and ridiculous as he hopes to find his big break into the big leagues of reporting and turns out to be, very predictably, the guy who ends up following the story of the missing princess and goes on his own wild goose chase.

To be honest, its hard to critique a lot on these heartwarming movies. I’ve said it frequently in the last few reviews. There’s something touching and heartwarming and feel good about them that its okay to accept them for exactly what they are. As predictable and formulaic or even ambitious as they are, these movies are harmless and fun. Not everything is going to be Oscars standards but at least these movies are far far away from being horrible. Perhaps, its the holiday that makes me less cranky about these movies or I’m just a big softie (as Jay says, which I definitely am). Once Upon a Holiday might not be perfect (and I’m aware of that and acknowledge it), but the performances themselves made me love the characters probably far more than I probably should admit. I’ve always been honest about liking movies that a lot of other people would criticize heavily, why stop being myself now, right? 😉

Holiday Marathon: A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale (2015)

This holiday marathon is going at an exceptionally snail pace but don’t you worry. I am trying to get my Christmas/winter/holidays stuff up here, even if it isn’t holiday movies. To be honest, I kind of just want to go back to the classics and not linger too much on these other movies. However, A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale looks cute to say the least. I mean, pets are always welcome for festival season or any season at that.

A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale (2015)

A Dogwalker's Christmas Tale

Director: Letia Clouston

Cast: Lexi Giovagnolia, Jonathan Bennett, Dina Meyer, Patrick Muldoon, Jennifer Joseph, Timeca M. Seretti, Tim Hess

When spoiled, 21-year old college student Luce Lockhart is forced to take a job over the holidays walking a rich developer’s dog, she is thrilled to discover they are going to build a salon and spa over the quaint local dog park nearby. But when Luce meets Dean, an irritating yet handsome dogwalker actively trying to stop them, Luce is forced to question what the park means to her newfound friends, and whether she can put aside her selfish ways to help save the park before Christmas. – IMDB

 I remember the first time seeing A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale pop up on my Netflix page and wondered what would make a movie like this appealing. Sure, there is the above factors I mentioned. Dogs are always a welcoming addition to any movie. Then the second reason popped up and that is Jonathan Bennett, probably most widely known for his role as the boy in Mean Girls. I love Mean Girls and surprisingly, I have seen a few other movies after Mean Girls of Jonathan Bennett. He’s not my favorite actor but I like his roles and his work. There’s a genuine feeling about him, whether it was in Love Wrecked with Amanda Byne (review) or Christmas Crush with Rachel Boston (review). Adding into a simple story in A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale, it all seems to work out. Actually, regardless of how some parts seem rather contrived at parts, there is still a lot of heartwarming and fun moments.

A Dogwalker's Christmas Tale

A lot of the story’s charm goes to Jonathan Bennett playing as Dean and our main character, Luce who we realize has everything and doesn’t quite understand the need of the dog park. As the story continues, we as the experienced viewers already know that she’s going to be the one that will somehow save the dog park, or at least take it upon her to do it and realize the worth of it by the end. However, the merit of this movie that gives it a lot of feel good points is the journey to get there. The interaction and dialogue and chemistry that builds between her and Dean and even her growing love for these furry friends all play into this. Luce is a flawed character but only these characters can grow, regardless of how predictable it is and actually, this movie focuses on how she yearns for “substance” in her personality and we realize that she does have a lot when she doesn’t only care about shopping but puts her traits to good use. Lessons, message, feel-good, heartwarming and a little romance gives this story a nice little boost.

A Dogwalker's Christmas Tale

Of course, we can’t leave this movie without Missy, played by Dina Meyer who is the employer of Luce and her and her husband, played by Patrick Muldoon, plan on building the spa in the dog park area. The friction is here and the dilemma for Luce starts here as she eventually becomes torn on finding the balance between pleasing her employer as they have powerful positions in society and possibly her future and doing the right thing. But we’re here to talk about Missy Paxton and Dina Meyer does a fine job at giving a lot of enthusiasm and charisma to this character.

Overall, A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale really does need to be taken apart. Its supposed to be just watched as a heartwarming little movie with the best intentions. There are some fun performances and some nice interactions and a little chemistry and lots of furry little pets. As predictable as this all is, the feel-good heartwarming element that a Christmas movie needs is exactly what I needed and liked about this one.

Halloween Marathon Finale: Evil Dead (2013)

Its the Halloween Finale!!! We’ve made it to the end and what else to end it with but the final movie in the featured franchise(s), right? It is time for the 2013 remake of Evil Dead. I’m not sure if we can call it a remake but, I guess its rather a modernized version of it all. Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself! I went into this one with a tad bit of fear and rather anticipating it because after seeing Don’t Breathe (review HERE) this past summer at Fantasia Festival, I was having high hopes for Fede Alvarez doing this one and Jane Levy being in this as well. It sure sounds like a good start and I had a warning about it being disgusting at some parts. With all that in mind, its time to jump in!

Evil Dead (2013)

Evil Dead

Director: Fede Alvarez

Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Jessica Lucas, Lou Taylor Pucci, Elizabeth Blackmore

Five friends head to a remote cabin, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods.-IMDB

Some of you lovers of the original Evil Dead are probably going to judge me but I had a lot of fun and fear watching this version of Evil Dead. Maybe I’m just more modernized. It was good that they paid quite a bit of respect to the original by keeping a lot of the iconic scenes and moments. The roles are generally visible in this cast as compared to the original. There are some other different imagery and actually some of the roles seem to be supersized to help solve the mystery a little quicker. What I do like is that it was still a rather quick watch. My guess by memory (which I could be wrong) is that it was about a hundred minutes in length and that is the rare formula but one that works well for film. Much different from the original, this one felt like it built atmosphere better and it had a better backstory than just some friends going out to a secluded cabin for no reason. Kudos for the cabin looking basically exactly the same as the original. It is these key things that should remain intact especially when it doesn’t matter how modernized society gets compared to the wilderness. Back to the reason, they are there to help one of them go cold turkey and get rid of her drug addiction and makes a pact that no matter how much she wants to leave, they have to commit to keeping her there and staying. It also helps that the relationships of the characters are developed here and we can sense a tension between the brother who left a while back and the sister who is the reason they are all here and the backdrop of what they set and the dilemma of the situation as it grows and seeing what decisions they will make.

Evil Dead 2013

After a whole franchise of the three previous movies and reading through the comments of what made this series memorable, it is fairly obvious that this remake might not seem completely holding that same campiness that built its reputation. However, something about this Evil Dead gets part of it right. Most of it I brushed over up there. The main thing is the atmosphere. Fede Alvarez builds a rather good atmosphere. He never rushes the story. Everyone wants to see the remake have similarities to the original and in fact, guilty as charged, when the violence and death started, it was an automatic expression to see if what went down in the woods would happen in this one or whether a Bruce Campbell character would come up and have to take up the courage to cut off their evil hand, especially when we already know that the possessed girl in the basement still pops her head out as the door is chained shut which also is the only scene I knew about before even seeing the original or this one. Maybe they don’t hold the same vibe because this one still is rather serious but rightfully so because the atmosphere in this one is set up differently while keeping the brutal violence and gore paired up with a lot of creepy moments. (That could be because I’m an amateur at horror and I get scared really easily.)

Evil Dead 2013

The cast in this one is actually quite decent as well. I already told you where I saw Jane Levy. She doesn’t disappoint as Mia as she fights the pain of getting rid of the addiction but also brings in the question of making what she sees and experiences a reasonable doubt that her friends and brother has at what she tells them because it could well be a hallucination or a story she concocted to get out of the pain. Her character actually gets quite impressive and wow to the transformation. That really is all I can say. Aside from that, Jessica Lucas is the second familiar face here and that is because she’s been in Melrose Place and Cloverfield and I think, 90210. (Yeah, I watch a lot of teen shows.) I actually like her as an actress so she did alright for her role here. We can’t really get out of talking about characters without looking at the main guy who plays David, Mia’s brother and portrayed by Shiloh Fernandez. Looking at his filmography, the only other place I saw him was in The East (also a film that I love a lot, review HERE). David was a rather tough character and in the end, it is hard to say whether we do root for him. He kind of is the new Bruce Campbell but maybe not. The core of teens in the secluded cabin and horror always builds up these typical groups and to be honest, it wasn’t all the different here. In fact, the characters still make some rather stupid decisions.

Evil Dead 2013

The main discussion of remakes is really what makes it important. For those new to the franchise, this is a fresh start without having to know the past but having the fans appreciate the little bits of detail that give a nod/homage to the original. Evil Dead does well on this front. With fresh eyes, perhaps it is still worth it because it is different. For those who has seen the original, the main thing is whether those changes were really good. As I mentioned countless times, the atmosphere is the winner here whether its the gloomy and creepy woods or the house or even the transformations and how it all went down. The opening helped the story develop before just dropping friends into the scene. It also was good to take into consideration the book deciphering and making it something they could discover and piece together on their own. However, there is an unfair amount of time for these characters. We know who is the main characters here and it makes it effective for us to care about them but with five people in the house and everyone having to eventually be involved (and you know and expect it even before it happens), its hard to care for characters when they aren’t always apparent. The particular person I mean goes mostly to the very disposable character that plays David’s girlfriend who actually in this remake has a pretty brutal outcome and nods to a rather entertaining and important scene from the original trilogy and yet, while it was quite a bit of impact to see that scene happen, it didn’t make us care as much because the character essentially meant less. It is these little things that happen that perhaps may not shine as much for those who liked the original. I’m just guessing here because some of you who read the review of the original Evil Dead know that I wasn’t particularly raving about it. I much preferred Evil Dead 2 and especially Army of Darkness over it. Some of those scenes really just flashed in a thought like that and whether it was as effective as its original moment. I’m guessing the feeling is going to be different for everyone.

Overall, this version of Evil Dead is one I liked quite a bit. It gave me the creeps and it was rather gory at parts. It did a great job at building a ominous atmosphere and the characters and backstory here actually have a little more depth and gives the situation and the characters a little more meat. It doesn’t have the same tone as the original for the most part and focuses a lot on the suspense and gore but the pacing is better here. On top of that, it is respectful to the original by keeping the location and many scenes similar and to the fans, perhaps that might mean something (even if it is a backlash at how it might not be done right). For the most part, Evil Dead was done right and it was a gory, creepy and rather intriguing horror to watch especially how they changed it up or kept it the same. Some of those decisions are good or bad for the movie but in the end, I think it merited more wins than questionable fails. For that, Evil Dead is definitely a win in my book even if its not perfect.

Have you seen Evil Dead? Did you like it? 

This marks the end of the Halloween marathon/month! Thanks so much for dropping by!
To see a full rundown of this month’s marathon reviews, you can find it under Movies on the above menu.