Opinion Battles Year 4 Round 1 Favourite Oscar Winning Performance from an Actress

2018 is here! Opinion Battles starts up again except this year on a monthly basis. January kicks off with a look at our Favorite Oscar Winning Performance from an Actress. Lots of great choices here and I’m very happy that I’m actually in the majority this time with choosing Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins.
Head over to check out the other choices and vote for who you agree with.

Movie Reviews 101

Opinion Battles Year 4 Round 1

Favourite Oscar Winning Performance from an Actress

Opinion Battles is back, much like last year when we look at the Oscar winning Actors, we are going to dive into looking at our favourite Oscar Winning Actresses, just what will make our list and what would you have picked?

Next Round is Most Anticipated Movie of 2018 – Closing Date Friday 3rd February 2018

Darren – Movie Reviews 101

Brie Larson – Room

 

I may have picked a modern winner, but for me this is one of the best acting performances I have ever seen, Brie must carry this movie with her performance that must be strong for her son, while also being the victim of the kidnapping and multiple rapes. We do see how her character must learn to live again which is just as difficult as she would have imagined, she…

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Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Lets just get this out of the way before we start, I have watched about 20 minutes total of any King Kong movie and I only have this image of him climbing the Empire State Building or Chrysler Building or something or another. But I love creature features and giant monsters interest me so this felt like it was right up my alley.

With that said, let’s check it out!

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Kong: Skull Island

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz, Tian Jing, Toby Kebbell, Thomas Mann

A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden. – IMDB

Kong: Skull Island is pretty much my first visit into the King Kong universe and let me tell you, it was a thrilling as ever ride. Visually, King Kong and the Skull Crawlers and the other giant creatures here are amazing to look at. The location is also very beautiful which further emphasizes that the more beautiful the place is, the deadlier the creatures in it are. There are exceptions to the equation obviously but Kong: Skull Island is just beautiful to look at with its lush forests and mountains and waterways. Its really very pretty especially the first moment the team breaks through the layer of storm and enters into this paradise. Of course, the next moment turns into hell as their seismic things cause the king of the place to come and attack them and we soon learn, Kong is not the enemy.

Kong Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island is quite the action adventure. There’s a lot of suspense as they learn about the truth on Skull Island and what makes its inhabitants fearful. Kong is really just the king and the protector of his land. However, just like any kingdom, other creatures want to take him down. Skull Crawlers are very competent as a villain in their serpent ways. In fact, if we were to talk about villains, humans are probably the darker ones here. Everything starts with John Goodman’s character Bill Randa and his assistant that asks to somewhat tag along to check this island before another country heads out there and discovers it before they do. Of course, they soon realize he has his suspicions that he’s kept hidden to himself and soon, they are caught up on this island and trying to make it to the retrieval spot before they are abandoned here. The teams are separated and each seem to have their own agenda. The mystery and suspense works very well to keep the movie well-paced especially since the unknown territory and villain contribute a huge part to wondering what the true danger is and how to protect themselves and escape.

Kong: Skull Island

The cast here is also pretty impressive. Of course, its hard to deny any of their talent here. Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson and John C. Reilly all have outstanding performances in their filmography to back them up and they all delivered great performances in Kong: Skull Island. I honestly would love to see Tom Hiddleston as his character James Conrad here in more films. He’s pretty bad-ass and very smart. It feels like this character has more to be discovered. It feels like Brie Larson hasn’t had any action films to date, or at least I haven’t seen any of them if there are and somehow she fits very well in this story as a daring photo journalist who can carry her own. John C. Reilly brings a slight comedic value to the otherwise serious and tense situation as well as Thomas Mann’s character who jokes around quite a bit. If you talk about human villain, Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Preston Packard hits the extreme notes in Kong: Skull Island as a man who lets wanting to stand up for the men he lost hide his reason and judgement. In many ways, I can’t say that his character didn’t at some point remind me of the nostalgic moments with Deep Blue Sea. Its probably just me though.

Kong: Skull Island

There’s a lot to love about Kong: Skull Island. The characters are great, the setting is beautiful, the creature designs are done so impressively and the story is pretty decent as well, filled with suspense and adventure. There were quite a few mixed or lukewarm reviews throughout the year and it made me not too sure about where to place this especially since I have no previous visit into the King Kong universe so it turned out to be an awesome surprise.

Have you seen Kong: Skull Island? What did you think of it?

Sunday Lists: The Fast and the Furious Franchise – Best to Worst

This week we’re looking at the little (or big) franchise that could. A franchise that I thought had ended came back in 2009 and kind of has gotten bigger and badder in its mission of over the top action in the following years. The Fast and the Furious started as a small scale movie but launched the memorable roles for both Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto and Paul Walker as Brian O’Connor. The franchise has yet to end despite the tragic passing of Paul Walker and seems to be greenlit until at least a 10th installment. This franchise holds a great spot in my heart and ranking is going to be really tough (and it truly was). The list will be updated for the next two movies as they are released and reviewed.

For now, here is the best to worst for The Fast and the Furious franchise (according to us, of course):

Fast Five (2011)

Fast Five is an awesome addition to the franchise. Its hard to imagine any of the films in this franchise beating this one. It has some over the top car stunts however compared to its later ones are slightly more believable. The team assembled here is at its best. Dwayne Johnson makes his first appearance here as memorable as ever. The location of Rio de Janeiro is fantastic as well as the villain here is competent. This film takes the strategic turn that the movie is not only about cars and family and the cast but also that this is a fantastic heist film with an awesome heist involving stealing the entire bank safe and dragging it as a team down the street in an adrenaline-filled escape.

You can read our review HERE.

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

The next three are the hardest to separate and rank higher and lower in this franchise. They each have their pros and cons that rank them fairly level. Fast & Furious 6 rank slightly higher because the team manages to be complete. In the sixth one, we see Dwayne Johnson join in almost like a team member. There are some incredibly over the top moments jumping across freeway gaps and a too long to be true airplane take-off. There are some emotional moments and plans for the future from other members and this sets up the stage to what seems like the plan for Justin Lin the moment he took over the franchise. Its fun and entertaining and does deserve a ton of props for getting here and being acknowledged for all the crazy stunts they do here.

Check out the review HERE.

Furious 7 (2015)

furious 7

Furious 7 does a lot of stuff right. The only reason that it ranks slightly lower is because its success lies heavily on those familiar with the characters here particularly Paul Walker’s character Brian. The movie does a great job at saying goodbye to his character because of his passing in real life. However, this sentiment stays strong for those in love with the franchise like myself because he get s worthy farewell however might not for the random person dropping into the franchise. Of course, before the goodbye, there are more than enough competent moments. One of the best being the great scene of driving a super car through the Dubai buildings. The setting and the adrenaline rush and the competent villain played by Jason Statham along with its emotional value all give this a worthy top 3 spot in the franchise.

Check out the review HERE.

The Fate of the Furious (2017)

fate of the furious

The Fate of the Furious in terms of entertainment value don’t rival that of Furious 7 and Fast & Furious 6. In fact, they are still plenty of adrenaline rush moments. There are a ton of characters added to the mix along with new allies and old ones that make an appearance which plays to the fans of the franchise who love every single member that has joined into these missions no matter how big or small their role may seem. The only thing that makes this one fall a little short is that Charlize Theron while a competent actress and does a great job as the villain really doesn’t seem to have enough to do. Perhaps its the sheer amount of characters that are involved in this franchise now that its starting to remain fun but hard to not feel that its getting slightly convoluted. Its still a fun time especially as they head into a car chase down an ice field.

Check out the review HERE.

Fast & Furious (2009)

fast & furious

The true struggle in this whole ranking was where to place this. This movie sparked my love (or refueled my hope) for this franchise. The story was captivating and there was some great car stunts. The moments here that truly remind us of the greatness of what started this whole franchise up was notched up and done better. Sure, it doesn’t rank very high on Rotten Tomatoes but I do beg to differ. Here is where we see the reunion of everyone and where the events here bring everyone together. The effects here are a little iffy at times but it was the stepping stone the franchise needed to breathe some new life into it and give it the renewed vibe in the right direction.

Check out the review HERE.

The Fast and the Furious (2001)

the fast and the furious

The start of this franchise was The Fast and the Furious and there is no way that we can discount it. While it doesn’t quite shine like its second start in what feels like the revival of the original team in Fast & Furious, there’s something here that makes me nostalgic about it all and the reason why it took so long to figure out where to place this. We learn about Dom and Brian, the values they hold and the start of a conflicted friendship that probably changed the life of the four people intertwined here. For that, this one holds quite a bit of place but then, its hard to not feel that while on a small scale it worked, the revival beats this one just a tad.

Check out the review HERE.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) 

fast and the furious tokyo drift

A completely new cast takes on this third entry to the Fast and the Furious. The characters are horrible and pretentious. The races are lackluster. Its only saving point is the character of Han and the surprise ending and the fact that Justin Lin takes over the franchise and in later installments, we realize that this film being out of place actually fit into a grand plan that he had mapped out. Was it deliberate? It would definitely seem so. And for that reason, this one manages to hang on just barely and escape the worst movie in the franchise. If this ranking was solely based on the first five films, it would place last because lets be honest, for those familiar with Initial D, its pretty much an American version with a similar idea.

Find the review HERE.

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

2 fast 2 furious

For the longest time, 2 Fast 2 Furious ranked a little higher than Tokyo Drift however for the reasons above, I had no choice but to push it to the bottom. This one’s only purpose was to bring on Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson who gave us the comedic banter that happens between Tej and Roman in the more recent films. For myself, the film also saw Jin Au-Yeung (more commonly referred to as MC Jin in the Hong Kong world) have a little role here which was pretty nice to see. Aside from that, nothing here really does stand out.

Check out the review HERE.

Are you a fan of The Fast and the Furious Franchise? 
How would your best to worst differ from ours?

Music Obsessions [January 2018]

Happy 2018!

January 2018 is here and we’re taking a look at what music has been on repeat over here! The beginning always gives a very hyped up and exciting time and with that, there’s some pretty upbeat stuff going on here to kick off the year full of motivation and positive vibes.

Let’s go!

Perfect – Ed Sheeran (with Andrea Bocelli)

If Perfect was really awesome enough, this one is absolute perfection. Its so beautiful and romantic. Andrea Bocelli is fantastic and the video even is fun to watch because you can watch how much Ed Sheeran is mesmerized by Andrea Bocelli also.

Special – Ryan Blyth X After 6 feat. Luther Soul

I do a lot of electronic music catching up over the holidays when they have the best of the year mixes. I found this one in the Spinnin’ Records 2017 Mix. Its a 2 or 3 hours show so there was a few songs that I liked quite a bit. It’ll probably pop up in this post. This one has got to be my favorite though.

Fogo – Garmiani (feat. Julimar Santos)

I love Latin music which I normally associate with Zumba. If I wasn’t so lazy, I’d go back to Zumba class so this sort of music infused with Latin music influence gets me all pumped up. Its fun and upbeat and just notches up the energy so much.

Hit the Road Jack – Throttle

Catchy and fun version of this song. My reasons can sometimes be very simple.

絲路 Silkroad of Love – Fish Leong

In my university days, Fish Leong was my constant companion. She’s such a talented singer and this is definitely one of her best songs. Something during this holidays made me really want to get back to the music that I listened to.

Finally the little additional bit…

This is a snippet of the Young and Dangerous Concert in Hong Kong in 2015 (I think). Anyways, this snippet was when the group sang to their wives and Jordan Chan’s part with his wife is absolutely adorable. Actually the entire part is pretty fantastic but then I’m biased because I thought the concert was pretty awesome in its entirety and that has to do with Ekin Cheng being one of my fave actor and singer in Hong Kong. Something I’m working on doing this year is to not only review Young and Dangerous franchise but also Ekin Cheng’s filmography.

That’s it for this Music Obsessions!
What music are you listening to lately?

Game Warp: Top 10 Games Played in 2017

Its time to kick off 2018 at Game Warp!

Game Warp is back with our annual wrap-up podcasts. The first to lead the way is our Top 10 Games Played in 2017. This list comprises of everything we collectively played and reviewed in 2017 and after careful discussion what still makes an impression to us. With that said, not all titles are from 2017 but those that made it showed that they are still a relevant and outstanding gaming experience.

Thanks for watching!
Which games did you play in 2017 that stood out?

If you enjoyed, remember to subscribe to our channel HERE to not miss any of our videos (interviews, reviews, no commentary gameplays and first looks).

Wonder Woman (2017)

This week and the next one will be mainly focused on all the reviews that I haven’t got around to and hopefully along with other fun things. I could do these 2017 movies in double feature but as an effort to catch up and not just wave it off quickly, it is worth a full review, although I am sure that everyone else has said it all.

Wonder Woman (2017)

wonder woman

Director: Patty Jenkins

Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Said Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner, Eugene Brave Rock, Elena Anaya

When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, Diana, an Amazonian warrior in training, leaves home to fight a war, discovering her full powers and true destiny. – IMDB

Wonder Woman is my first full experience into the DC Universe. I’ve never made it past the first ten minutes of Man of Steel and not particularly willing to fork out a ton of money for Batman vs. Superman because it doesn’t have the rental option apparently and well, I flat out missed Justice League because I have never caught up with any of the others so why now, right? Wonder Woman got some incredible reviews and because its such an empowering character and I personally like Gal Gadot a ton and thought she would make this role great, I ended up renting it. As with Marvel films, I have never read the DC comics so I don’t know about the source material and have no comparison.

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman is an exhilarating and exciting experience. Visually, it starts off very beautiful in the matriarch hidden island of Themyscira. This island is beautiful along with its lady warriors who are competent and strong. The mood changes complete when Diana Prince (aka Wonder Woman) goes to London and from there, the World War 1 has taken its toll and its grim and dark. The setting drives the atmosphere and ton and this one does that pretty well.

Wonder Woman

The cast also does a great job. The dialogue is decent and they manage to crack a few lighter moments in with Steve Trevor’s assistant and the drunk sniper hired for their expedition and Diana not knowing how normal people dress and act. I love films which use adapting to and learning a new environment as comedic moments and have a really soft spot for it. Wonder Woman does that very well. The standout role here does go to Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. She is strong and powerful and most importantly, very righteous. The ladies from the island was an interesting look at the protected life of Diana Prince as she was growing up and how she fought to be different and strong to one day fulfil her destiny if they were ever found by the God of War. When she does leave, the team that Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine) puts together to find the God of War turns out to be quite the talented and strategic but somewhat of a ragtag team altogether.

Wonder Woman

Do I think that Wonder Woman is amazing? Maybe less than some of the other reviews out there. This was a competent movie and very entertaining. There was a lot of great moments both comedic and emotional ones. There was some great content here to be had. It definitely exceeded my expectations. However, I did find some pacing issues. And forgive me when I can’t quite take seriously that as amazing as I think Wonder Woman is that she was the one that crossed No Man’s Land and defeated the war. But then, I feel slightly contradicting saying that when I can accept all that Marvel Universe superheroes have accomplished in their movies. It was a great scene and triumphant but we did have a good laugh out of the thought of it. Just a minor sidenote about the thought I had when I was watching it. Other than that, the villain here wasn’t exactly standout but still was decent. I’ve seen less prominent villains before.

Overall, Wonder Woman is an entertaining DC addition that was a nice first step into this universe. Gal Gadot does a great job. There’s a nice balance between comedy and emotional elements here. There’s a good bit of action which works for the most part. I had some issues with it but nothing that made me feel like it took away too much from the entertainment value. I’d really like to see another Wonder Woman film though. Probably as this movie took time to set-up Wonder Woman’s origin story, the next one will  give it a deeper plot.

Miss Kane’s Christmas by Caroline Mickelson

This novella somehow slipped my mind in the holiday craze. Lets jump right in!

Miss Kane’s Christmas
by Caroline Mickelson

miss kane's christmas

With Christmas only three days away, Carol Claus agrees to her father’s request that she leave the North Pole on a mission to help save Christmas. Joining single father Ben Hanson and his children for the holidays seems an easy enough task until Santa informs her that Ben is the man behind the disturbing new book ‘Beyond Bah Humbug: Why Lying to Your Children about Santa Claus is a Bad Idea’.
Posing as Miss Kane, the children’s new nanny, Carol pulls out all the stops to show Ben how fun Christmas can be, all the while struggling to understand how one man could hate the holidays so much. How could she, Santa’s only daughter, be so attracted to a man who refuses to believe her father exists? – Goodreads

Miss Kane’s Christmas reads a lot like a Hallmark holiday Christmas. The scenario of using Santa’s daughter and the play on the name is pretty cute however, somehow it loses its momentum quite fast. Miss Kane’s Christmas features an obviously over enthused woman who is sent to bring the holiday spirit into this widower and his two kids life. The going on is fairly straight forward as she ends up asking some elves for help and forcefully decorate the house then end up having them believe because they end up in North Pole.

Honestly, I get that novella are  short form stories and don’t get to be as fleshed out as actual novels but the story here lacks some continuation. It lacked some originality in its execution and in its far fetched moments also turned the characters personality around too quickly. With that said, it is a quick read for a novella but does fall flat every little while. Its not a book I can recommend but then perhaps I am all rom-com’ed out from the holiday films. Its why in the midst of a ton of comparison, this felt like it was lacking. I’m having this feeling that its my problem and not the novellas. If this is your kind of thing, this novella does have some clever moments.

Not a lot to say but novellas are shorter in nature so I’m okay with this being briefer than usual.

Did you read any Christmas books for the holidays?
Feel free to recommend and I’ll jot it down for next Christmas.