Ultimate 2010s Blogathon: The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box (2013) by 18 Cinema Lane

Wrapping up the first week of Ultimate 2010s Blogathon is a review of 2014 fantasy-adventure film, The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box by Sally Silverscreen of 18 Cinema Lane.

18 Cinema Lane is a beautiful movie blog which shares a variety of movie-related posts, not just reviews. While Sally reviews a lot of variety of movies, she does cover a lot of Hallmark movies due to her appreciation for them. Be sure to head over to check out her blog if you haven’t already and give her a follow HERE.


The Adventurer

Take 3: The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box Review

Because I wrote an editorial for the Ultimate 2000s Blogathon, I decided to write a movie review for the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon. The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box is a film I had never heard of until I researched titles for this event. Since it was released in early 2014, I knew it would be a good entry! While learning more about the film, it sounded like a mix between The Librarian trilogy and Sherlock Holmes. Because I enjoy both of those stories, I figured I might get some enjoyment out of this movie! As I’ve stated on countless occasions, I try to use my blog to give lesser-known films the “standing ovation” they might deserve. Talking about The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box definitely fits that goal of mine! But is this movie truly worthy of a “standing ovation”? Please join me on this journey as we’re about to find out in this review!

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: The cast in The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box was solid! I had never heard of Aneurin Barnard prior to watching this film. However, I was impressed with his portrayal of Mariah! His performance was expressive in a subtle way. A good example is when Mariah is explaining to Sacha why he wants to find his brother, Felix. The audience can tell that Mariah is about to cry, but Aneurin primarily relies on expressing those feelings of sadness and loneliness through his eyes. I was also not familiar with Mella Carron before seeing this movie. Like Aneurin, I was impressed with her performance as Sacha! Her overall portrayal was well-rounded. Similar to Aneurin’s performance, she was also expressive in subtle ways. One example is when she’s sharing her problems with Mariah. When she is talking about her father’s troubling behavior, Sacha’s eyes fill with tears, showing how much this situation upsets her. I thought Sam Neill portrayed a convincing villain! I’ve only seen a few of Sam’s films, so I have only seen him portray protagonists or characters that were not villainous. While bringing the character of Otto to life, Sam’s demeanor was arrogant and cunning. These are the qualities you’d likely find in a villain, as these kinds of characters sometimes see themselves as being better than everyone else.

Historical accuracy: The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box takes place in 1885. While watching this movie, I noticed how everything looked and felt like that period in time. The wardrobe and set designs definitely fit within the world the film’s creative team created. The metalwork within the hotel seemed like it came straight from the 1880s. Even the font on posters and signs looked accurate to that time period. The ways this aspect of the film was handled shows that no detail was ignored during any part of the movie’s creative process.

The element of mystery: In The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box, there was a mystery within the main plot. This mystery element was one of the most interesting parts of the film! It allowed me to stay invested in what was happening in the story and to the characters. The mystery also created a sense of wonder as to what would happen next. This element brought intrigue to the overall story!

What I didn’t like about the film:

Lack of lighting: While the cinematography was mostly good in this film, there were some scenes that had little to no lighting. They were so dark, I had difficulty seeing what was on screen. One example is toward the beginning of the movie, when Mariah and Felix are having a conversation outside. This scene was so poorly lit, Mariah face was hidden by the darkness. Whenever this happened, I found it to be frustrating.

A misleading title: As I said in my Halloween Double Feature, a film’s title can act as a promise to a film’s audience. When a creative team makes an effort to put a subject in their movie’s title, they need to deliver on that “promise” to their audience. For The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box, I didn’t really feel like there was an adventure taking place in the story, despite the film being called The Adventurer. There were some scenes that had a sense of adventure to them. But it never seemed like the characters were going on a journey or allowing the audience to go on a quest with them. The majority of this movie took place in one location. This made the story feel condensed. All these elements presented the overall narrative like it belonged to a mystery movie and not an adventure one.

Two separate mysteries: Like I previously stated, I liked the mystery element within this movie. However, I think it was a mistake to feature more than one mystery in the film. In this story, there is a second mystery that exists while the main mystery is being solved. For most of the film, these mysteries were separate from one another. While they eventually connected, this didn’t happen until it was almost time for the film’s climax. The second mystery also felt like it combined with the first mystery out of plot convenience. I thought both mysteries were intriguing. But they should have been in their own separate films.

My overall impression:

The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box is a fine, enjoyable film! There were things about it that I liked, such as the acting and the historical accuracy within the project. However, I can think of movies with adventure stories that were executed better than this one. The fact that this film was light of the adventure was, for me, a disappointment. It also doesn’t help that the film’s title features the word “adventurer”. If you do plan on watching this movie, approach it with the notion that you’re going to watch a mystery movie. That way, the condensed nature of the story and the limited amount of adventure will make more sense. I’m not sure if this film was given a sequel. If it was, I’ll definitely consider reviewing it on 18 Cinema Lane!

Overall score: 7 out of 10

Have you ever heard of The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box? What movie from the 2010s is your favorite? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!
Sally Silverscreen


A huge thanks to Sally Silverscreen for sharing her thoughts on The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box, a movie that I’ve never heard of prior to the blogathon!

Head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews next week to catch the second week of the blogathon and see the next guest review!

Find the archive of posts in the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon updated daily HERE!

My November Adventures!

November is here and gone! Compared to the crazy October, its much calmer, especially since this year I didn’t even think about NaNoWriMo at all. Its the first year in a long time that I haven’t done it (although last year I didn’t finish it). Either way, there are a few plans scheduled in and a remote coverage for a film festival and well, just preparing for December and other little tidbits.

Let’s check it out!

MTL a Table: Rose Ross

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Coregone, carrot mousseline, beluga lentilles, fennel and basil

First to kick off November is our first spot to check out for MTL a Table. This time was a more half the gang deal as it only appealed to ourselves and Phoebe and her family. Rose Ross is located in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and Rosemont in the Promenade Masson and serves French cuisine but with a lot of the local ingredients available to them. It also has some vegetarian options and even had lactose-free dessert which always wins my heart over. The menu also had an Aeroplan privilege exclusive which was fun. The full recap of the meal is HERE.

MTL a Table: La Classe

La Classe

The second restaurant that the group (except my husband who had to work) went to was La Classe, a restaurant in College Lasalle with their students taking up the various tasks from host to servers to kitchen. Its one that we’ve been to before however they had changed their name this year to La Classe. The food here is always pretty good and its pricing is incredibly worth it for its quality and for French fine dining. You can check out the recap of the meal HERE.

MTL a Table: Taboo Cuisine Rebelle

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Salmon gravlax marinated in lemongrass and ginger oil, Asian sauce, wasabi, pomegrenate, fried capers, shoots

The last restaurant in the MTL a Table this year is a new find for the majority of us which turned out to be fairly disappointing. Its pretty much North American food in a lounge setting with a very prominent small finger foods and drinks. Its price point outside of the MTL a table was pretty high as we looked at their menus so MTL a Table gives a general experience of it. There was a lot left to be desired. You can check out the recap HERE.

The First Snowstorm of the season

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Coinciding with our week off from work, a lovely little staycation, much overdue for myself was the first snowstorm of this winter, well, late autumn to be accurate which brought in about 15cm of snow. Some neighbors told us about how most snow removal service contracts only started on November 15th, which this storm hit November 12th so some companies didn’t come around to remove snow, causing quite a few headaches. Luckily, while the storm did knock some of our road trip plans out, it did let us take our time with shovelling the snow, although we still did it in relatively one go in the morning.

Staycation Day Trip: Ottawa & Shopping Haul

Disney Store Ottawa

Disney: Christmas Eeyore

LCBO Rideau Center

LCBO

T&T Supermarket Ottawa

T&T Supermarket (without hot/cooked food)

Other than the shopping haul and just taking a moment out of town, we went to eat at Fatboys Southern Smokehouse. You can find the recap HERE.

An Afternoon with My Battle of Ingredient Co-Host

Kumamoto

PresoTea

The week of staycation is almost at an end and what vacation would it be without running an errand to the dentist to pick up (very expensive and makes me thankful for benefits) Night Guard and the much more exciting hangout for my good friend and Battle of Ingredients co-host for a lunch at Kumamoto and an afternoon tea at Presotea after she helped me out a great deal with something I’ve been meaning to do for a while (but needed a kick in the pants to do).

MEGA Expo

MEGA MIGS Festival 2019

Finally, to wrap up the staycation week once and for all was heading out to check out MEGA Expo which was held at Le Grand Quai, which is so new that I have never been in before. The venue was nice and we saw some nice games. The recap should be over at Game Warp..but it isn’t because I’ve just been hitting a writing slump and busy with work…Its still happening because there’s so many games that I really want to talk about.

Blood in the Snow Festival 2019

Blood in the Snow Festival took place on November 21 to 26 in Toronto. Of course, I didn’t have time to go but I was lucky enough to get remote coverage and it had almost all the movies available to review. Its a short festival but one that highlights a lot of Canadian genre films and while it had some meh films, there was still a lot to love and some really great stories and premise. The reviews should all be up on the BITS 2019 tab HERE. But as usual, I will do a top 3 (since there was only 8 full feature films).

  • Majic
  • Hunter’s Moon
  • Z

Marche Ephemere EtsyMTL

Black Friday – Shopping Haul

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I actually didn’t think about Black Friday until it was literally the week of as the flyers started coming in. Its been a goal to spend less so I’ve decreased a lot of expenses. With that said, I did take a look at the sales and got a little something here and there. Not a whole lot of physical shopping as I was stuck at work rushing a deadline but here’s the general list.

Amazon

  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
  • Crawl
  • Greenies Dental Treats (for cats)
  • Car phone holder

Steam

  • Blackwood Crossing
  • Batman: The Enemy Within
  • Yoku’s Island Express

Playstation Store

  • Spider-Man
  • Days Gone
  • God of War

Michael’s (shown above): Wreath and Wreath supplies

Decathlon: Water Pouch (for backpack)

Cute Kitty Pic

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That’s it for this November adventures!
A lot more packed than I expected but it had to do with the last minute vacation.

Double Feature: Split (2016) & Aquaman (2018)

DOUBLEFEATURE (10)

The next double feature has come around and this time we’re going a lot more mainstream than the last one. They really have nothing in common (at least I don’t think so) but happens to be films I recently watched. The first is Split which we saw over the Fan Expo weekend and paired with that is Aquaman, continuing my not in order viewings of the DC films, but it was a cheap rental so here we are.

Let’s check it out!

Split (2016)

Split 2016

Director (and writer): M. Night Shyamalan

Cast: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Izzie Coffey, Brad William Henke, Sebastian Arcelus

Three girls are kidnapped by a man with a diagnosed 23 distinct personalities. They must try to escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new 24th. – IMDB

Having not seen Unbreakable before, this movie is a second movie in a trilogy which ends with this year’s Glass (which I haven’t seen either). However, it does feel like a standalone film so that is okay. Split is a film that predominantly felt like it had some positive ratings so being something that looked more of a psychological thriller, it was on my to-watch list. With that said, Split was a pretty good film overall but in the spectrum of things, James McAvoy is really the star of the show that takes it away. Its more a show of how flexible his acting can be rather than the actual context of the story being an intriguing one. That’s not saying that there weren’t thrills and maybe even some cheap jumpscares.

The story of Split can be viewed in two ways. The first is the pressing matter of this man who comes in with various personalities that these girls discover and soon through the psychiatrist scenes and such, there’s a knowledge growing on who is the boss among these personalities and their nature while at the same time, there’s this second matter of seeing Casey, who is obviously the tough one of the three girls, played by Ana Taylor-Joy who does a decent job and her flashbacks to her childhood related to hunting with her father and uncle which goes on some tangent that I didn’t quite appreciate.

Split is an okay movie. The story itself shone because of James McAvoy’s character and the multiple personalities that went through the scenes and it was fascinating to see those moments but as the film drew to a close, it felt like it went off track and didn’t quite end as strong as it started.

Aquaman (2018)

Aquaman

Director: James Wan

Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Randall Park, Graham McTavish

Arthur Curry, the human-born heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, goes on a quest to prevent a war between the worlds of ocean and land. – IMDB

I’ve only watched 2 DC films to date: Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (review) and Wonder Woman (review) which was a pretty low point and a fairly high point respectively. With that in mind, Aquaman was bound to hit somewhere in the middle and it did. It wasn’t exactly out of my expectations which were pretty low to begin with. Having not done a ton of research either, it was surprising to see the cast that it had including Nicole Kidman, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren and of course, Amber Heard (which I honestly think the last film I saw her in was All The Boys Love Mandy Lane).

If I were to talk about what is wrong with Aquaman, boy, we would be here for a while. The simple version is that its actually quite meh. The dialogue is a not too good. A lot of it feels really stupid. The effects aren’t too great especially the whole underwater conference and riding these different sea creatures. The characters themselves are also quite shallow where it never seems that we connect with them enough to care. At the same time, the whole deal with the revenge situation and such feels a little disjointed. Now, if we were to talk about some good things. Jason Momoa probably would be one of them as he fits into the Aquaman role quite good and I’m not even too huge on a man sporting a man-bun. But, there are some fun moments that he brings out as Aquaman.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two films? Thoughts?

Double Feature: Gods of Egypt (2016) & Holidays (2016)

Welcome to the next double feature. This time, we’ve landed coincidentally on two 2016 movies. Our G selection is one that had some pretty bad reviews when it came out and that is fantasy action film, Gods of Egypt. The H selection is horror anthology Holidays directed by a good few directors, one of their headlines being Kevin Smith.

Let’s check it out!

Gods of Egypt (2016)

Director: Alex Proyas

Cast: Brenton Thwaites, Courtney Eaton, Nikolaj  Coster-Waldau, Gerard Butler, Elodie Yung, Rachel Blake, Bryan Brown, Chadwick Boseman

Mortal hero Bek teams with the god Horus in an alliance against Set, the merciless god of darkness, who has usurped Egypt’s throne, plunging the once peaceful and prosperous empire into chaos and conflict. – IMDB

So…Gods of Egypt…not sure where to start with this one. The cast here is pretty good and probably one of the reasons why I decided to at least give this a shot. Sad enough though, this movie is a lot of flare and not a whole lot of substance. Its actually not even a lot of fun to watch because its pretty boring and stupid. Gods of Egypt is one of those films that remind me of previous bland experiences like Clash of the Titans (the remake) and The Immortals (which I also disliked both of these). It bases itself on playing with the various gods of Egypt (as per its title) and uses a fairly basic story where Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is an pretentious god who eventually gets his throne taken from him when he gets blinded by Set (Gerard Butler). In the process, Set puts Egypt into this world where everyone needs to gain whatever value or money in order to get a better afterlife. In desperation to save his love of his life, the mortal Bek (Brenton Thwaites) tries to get Horus to stop his self-loathing and help him get back his sight (aka his powers) so that he can get back the throne and hopefully make Egypt better again.

There’s some romance and some bromance and some good versus evil and some personal character development. Its not clear who is the hero here or who is the main lead and the story is as predictable as it sounds. There’s a whole lot of plot holes and its pretty forgettable and there’s nothing very special of it. I can’t really find a whole lot of good to say about this. I really liked Chadwick Boseman’s character. It gave the story some well-needed humor and enthusiasm.

Holidays (2016)

holidays

Directors (and writers): Kevin Kolsch & Dennis Widmyer, Gary Shore, Nicholas McCarthy, Sarah Adina Smith, Anthony Scott Burns, Kevin Smith, Scott Stewart, Adam Egypt Mortimer

Cast: Madeleine Coghlan, Savannah Kennick, Rick Peters, Ruth Bradley, Ava Acres, Mark Steger, Sophie Traub, Aleksa Palladino, Joceline Donahue, Harley Morenstein, Harley Quinn Smith, Ashley Greene, Seth Green, Clare Grant, Lorenza Izzo, Andrew Bowen, Megan Duffy

HOLIDAYS is an anthology feature film that puts a uniquely dark and original spin on some of the most iconic and beloved holidays of all time by challenging our folklore, traditions and assumptions. – IMDB

Its always tough to decide how to approach reviewing anthologies. Holidays takes 8 shorts from different directors that center their stories around 8 different holidays and the darkness in the characters involved. There are some very odd stories in this anthology that can only be described as weird and bizarre. However, in some ways, it does work. In some other ones, my less favorite ones, the stories are a bit too far-fetched for my taste. Its one of those things in anthologies where some things just work better than others and that changes by personal preference.

Here’s how I’d rank the 8 shorts in this anthology:

  • Christmas
  • Father’s Day
  • Mother’s Day
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Easter
  • Halloween
  • Happy New Year’s
  • St. Patrick’s Day

Taking a look back at the 8 stories in Holidays, my favorite was no doubt almost equally Christmas and Father’s Day. In terms of the horror comedy style, Christmas nails it and has Seth Green who does a stellar job however, in terms of horror atmosphere, Father’s Day captures that one really well. The execution of the both of these are on point. If we talk about creepy kids and a little weird and psychological, which is the type of horror that I like also, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day both have these elements and for that, these four are the most memorable to me and well rounded.

If we talk about the last four, the one that I remember the least is St. Patrick’s Day. Aside from, there are some creative twists to say the least. Easter is creative in the sense of mixing the Easter bunny and recreating it with a religious twist. I can’t decide if maybe it might not be as welcomed. While Halloween had a more over the top twist which was a tad disturbing but strayed away from the very gory bits and as much as I like over the top in some scenarios, I wasn’t a particularly huge fan of the execution while acknowledging the psychological elements behind it and Happy New Year’s also has a clever twist behind it which I have to say works also.

Holidays isn’t the best horror anthology out there but in terms of embracing its weird and horror comedy nature, it achieves that quite well. The stories vary in tone and atmosphere and using the theme of 8 different holidays is a nice idea.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen either of these films?
Are you a fan of horror anthologies? If you’ve seen Holidays, which is your fave segment?

Double Feature: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) & Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)

Welcome to the next double feature! This time we are doing a double rental feature. Both of these were films that I rented in the last little while and its one that we’ve been wanting to see and both are sequels.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle

Director: Jake Kasdan

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Rhys Darby, Bobby Cannavale, Nick Jonas

Four teenagers are sucked into a magical video game, and the only way they can escape is to work together to finish the game. – IMDB

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a sequel to the 1995 Jumanji film. With anything like that, it takes a lot of care. For one, it needs to keep in mind that it is its sequel and keep the heart of it but also give it the modernized world standard. At the same time, still giving respect to the success of the first one. Luckily, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle makes it slight changes to make it not a remake but a sequel that happens years after the original. It acknowledges the original board game format and then gives the reasons of how it turns into a video game format. The whole player and video game world is one that works really well also plus they add in the four players and role-playing game style.

With that said, the heart of the film really is the cast themselves and how they interpret each of their roles. Dwayne Johnson always aims to please with his humor. It becomes hilarious to just watch these characters take on the opposite of who they are in reality, for better or for worse. In the case of his character, Spencer who is a nerdy scrawny nobody in school, this transformation aims to have a few laughs as he gets fascinated at being somebody. While on the other hand, we have the jock character who turns into Kevin Hart. After Central Intelligence (review), we are already familiar with how great Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson work as a comedic duo. They bring in a lot of laughs. However, Jack Black is the star of the show as he embodies a self-absorbed high school girl. I can’t imagine anyone else excelling at that role as he did. Pure entertainment!

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a sequel that honestly didn’t really need to happen. Being a huge fan of the original, it was one that I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. Luckily, as unnecessary as it was, it was a ton of fun and that was all it needed to be.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)

sicario day of the soldado

Director: Stefano Sollimo

Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Catherine Keener, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Matthew Modine

The drug war on the U.S.-Mexico border has escalated as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border. To fight the war, federal agent Matt Graver re-teams with the mercurial Alejandro. – IMDB

You can check out the review of Sicario HERE.

In a nutshell, I was pretty enthralled with Sicario. Probably not so much that I went running to watch its sequel for a few specific reasons, the main one being that the ending of the first one was pretty gloomy and I wasn’t really down for anything like that. In many ways, Sicario: Day of the Soldado takes a different approach. It still has its twists and turns and it still maintains a pretty decent atmosphere and locks in those ethics and morals and the right and wrong of the situation. In that sense, the characters and the situation at hand all work out pretty decently. Plus, it takes the whole wondering how messed up a situation is when the government okays their people to make up a situation controlled by them to push the tension on other situations. It also looks at the extents of what is the greater evil and the means to meet the ends of a situation. Sicario has always been about making those big choices that feel wrong and its the heart of these stories especially when fighting cartels.

As great as watching Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin was in this film. Their roles are pretty great. Their characters do get quite a bit of change. However, if anything what it feels like here is that after Sicario, we already know to expect that things aren’t going to go as planned and that something is going to happen as a twist and there’s going to be something deeper to the story that is at hand. Because of that, it doesn’t quite hit as poignantly as the first one. I’m going to be honest that in my mind, I didn’t think that Sicario needed a sequel. The first movie shone because of Emily Blunt (for me) and taking her out of the equation now (because there was no way she was coming back), didn’t seem like it would work. Good news is that the movie still works, just not as effectively as the first one. Its still pretty good though.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen either of these films?

Valentine’s Double Feature: Secret (2007) & The Space Between Us (2017)

Its been a while since I’ve continued on the Valentine’s Netflix Alphabet marathon! Its getting dangerously close to the end of the month and I still have a good few movies to get through. At this point, it might spill into the beginning of March. Either way, I said that I’d finish it so I will. Due to the missing X selection later on, I have chosen to do two S selections! This is the last change to the alphabet marathon. Surprisingly though, these two are both teen romances and have some unique-ish idea/concept.

Let’s check it out!

Secret (2007)

Director (and writer): Jay Chou

Cast: Jay Chou, Lun-Mei Kwai, Anthony Wong, Kai-Syuan Tzeng, Ming-Ming Su, Devon Song

Ye Xiang Lun, a talented piano player is a new student at the prestigious Tamkang School. On his first day, he meets Lu Xiao Yu, a pretty girl playing a mysterious piece of music. – IMDB

Jay Chou’s directorial debut sees him both as the writer of the original story and also acting in the film. From Initial D, its already not high expectations in the Jay Chou acting but Jay Chou is a creative individual and a very musical person so its no surprise to see that he has injected a musical element to this story. The pity of this film goes to Netflix categorizing its subgenre that ruins the twist of the story making it much easier to guess. The ending is somewhat of a headscratcher and feels a bit flawed from what the whole logic behind the situation was, the story itself had its charm. The first is the setting that its done, bordered by water, the school grounds and the more classical building. The second is its characters, including Jay Chou who wrote in a character that truly matches himself. Its probably the perk of being the writer of the original story.

secret 2007

On the off-chance that you aren’t watching this through Netflix, I’m going to keep this spoiler free as much as possible. While this movie seems a lot like your average teen movie with the female character having some ailment, there is a much more light-hearted sort of appeal to this mostly with its added twist. Using music as a medium is a really nice touch here. With the subgenre that it tackles, there are some little logic issues and flaws but it also has this fantasy element that adds a little something extra.

As I mentioned before, Jay Chou writes a character very suitable for himself therefore he does a decent job. Its really his romantic interest, Lun-Mei Kwai that takes a lot of credit here. Her personality reflects Xiao Yu’s character a whole lot whether its her little movements or when she’s happy or sad. The chemistry between them spark up some nice little moments that make us truly root for this pairing. However, in a movie full of young actors and actresses, there is no doubt that Anthony  Wong stands out the most playing the father of Jay Chou’s character. He has this vibrancy and his character while seemingly not very significant in the beginning, ramps up quite the significance by the end.

The Space Between Us (2017)

the space between us

Director: Peter Chelsom

Cast: Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, Gary Oldman, Carla Gugino, BD Wong, Janet Montgomery

The first human born on Mars travels to Earth for the first time, experiencing the wonders of the planet through fresh eyes. He embarks on an adventure with a street smart girl to discover how he came to be. – IMDB

I’m not exactly understanding all the hate that this movie seems to get via the different site that I’ve looked at. To be honest, this movie is right up my alley. For one, it has an incredible cast, at least I’m a big fan of everyone here. Then it has this whole sci-fi premise of space and Earth. The idea behind the story is pretty nice as well. There are some glaring similarities to a lot of other movies, the one that I thought of first was Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart (Review), an animated film that I love a whole lot. To see competent young actor and actress like Asa Butterfield and Britt Robertson take over this pairing just warmed my heart because they are both constantly on my radar.

With that said, the music here is fantastic. The story here is a bit thin on the character development side of things and focuses on some cheesy teen romance thing, which worked for me because somehow these two have a good bit of chemistry and some really nice scenes. Plus, the whole fish of water thing always makes me feel incredibly entertained especially how they wrote up Asa Butterfield’s character even if he falls into those tropes of having some weakness to him but the fact that its because he’s born on another planet really makes it unique in its own way.

On top of that, you get Gary Oldman and Carla Gugino in this film who truly add quite a bit to the film in their roles. Its quite the adventure to see the whole chase from one thing to the next. There is romance but also a great deal of adventure that is where the bonding of the characters happen. Britt Robertson does play a very similar role to a few roles she’s done where she is a teen that doesn’t fit into the life that she is from. The key question here that is asked is “What is your favorite thing about Earth?” I think its a valid movie that uses this story to ask a deeper question about appreciating the things that we have around us that we take for granted. There are many layers to the story. Sure, it has its faults and there’s a ton of cheese and its fairly predictable but there’s also a lot of fun and adventurous moments here that work. Plus, it doesn’t take the normal teen romance type of bittersweet ending so I’m all for that.

That’s it for this double S feature for Valentine’s romance!
Both movies that have flaws but that I found a lot of enjoyment from!
Have you seen Secret or The Space Between Us?

Christmas 2018: The Christmas Chronicles (2018)

The Christmas Chronicles (2018)

Christmas Chronicles

Director: Clay Kaytis

Cast: Kurt Russell, Judah Lewis, Darby Camp, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Oliver Hudson, Lamorne Morris, Martin Roach

The story of sister and brother, Kate and Teddy Pierce, whose Christmas Eve plan to catch Santa Claus on camera turns into an unexpected journey that most kids could only dream about. – IMDB

An adventure this one definitely is. The Christmas Chronicles is a fun little adventure full of everything that we love. I have to say that Kurt Russell as Santa is a pop of difference. Judah Lewis and Darby Camp are great as kids. It gave me this whole vibe of what great Christmas movies that we love had especially when tackling the power of to believe in Santa. The story is a bit generic and expected but the enthusiasm and the pure humor of the whole thing along with all the fun action-packed bits definitely set it apart whether its racing down the streets in flashy race cars or commandeering a sleigh ride and the different aspects that gives it some fun moments makes it never forget what it is and stays true to its purpose.

Christmas Chronicles

The highlight of The Christmas Chronicles definitely hands down goes to Kurt Russell who truly takes us for a fun little Christmas ride as after the kids scare him and make him crash land in Chicago, to chase down his Santa hat, his reindeers and his bag of toys. With the help of Teddy (Judah Lewis) and Kate (Darby Camp), this adventure is kind of an interesting way to see Santa portrayed in a rather non-traditional way. Its refreshing and Kurt Russell’s version is so memorable.

Other than that, what I did like a lot also has to go to the computer graphics and how it makes up for all the cute designs here and just how everything comes to life. For one, the reindeers are done so lively and the expressions in their eyes are fantastic. Just like when we get to see these North Pole elves who have their fantastical language but all so unique in their design just like how they look so cute but have this very hilarious ugly side when the situation is needed. They are so cute and charming.

Overall, The Christmas Chronicles is a fun Christmas adventure. It has a lot of the Polar Express feels, especially because a few parts takes the music from that movie, especially with the same concept of believing in Santa and the power of this belief and trying to get someone (in this case Teddy) to regain belief. At the same time, it also has these musical moments where Kurt Russell has a singing moment. There are a ton of elements here. Its festive and fun and honestly, its been a while that I’ve felt like any holiday films released in the last few years has made it onto our annual holiday movie marathon, but this one definitely fits all our criteria.

Double Feature: Central Intelligence (2016) & Rampage (2018)

What better way to start the week than with a Dwayne The Rock Johnson double feature, right? That is really all I have to say. Today’s pairing is one that happened to work out so I deliberately delayed Central Intelligence to pair with Rampage which I rented a few weeks ago.

Lets check it out!

Central Intelligence (2016)

central intelligence

Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Smith, Amy Ryan, Danielle Nicolet, Jason Bateman, Aaron Paul

After he reconnects with an awkward pal from high school through Facebook, a mild-mannered accountant is lured into the world of international espionage. –IMDB

Jumping into comedies is a scary thing because you never know what type of humor is going to be on the other side. Baywatch (review) is a fine example of how humor didn’t work but the action did. Central Intelligence reminded me a little of Get Smart. There is a lot of over the top humor and somehow a part of me enjoyed it because Kevin Smith and Dwayne Johnson paired up and reminded me of the good old days in Hong Kong cinema when Stephen Chow and Andy Lau did God of Trickery (one of my fave films ever). Before long, I did buy into the humor and the random action and how great Dwayne Johnson’s character is and how scared and random reactions Kevin Smith had.

On top of all that, you get some great cameos with Jason Bateman and Aaron Paul which is pretty cool as well. Plus, there is this secondary story of how high school affects the present with a message about bullying and a positive message about standing up for who you are and all that good stuff. Its an action comedy and it remembers that all the time which makes it pretty well-paced with some exciting moments.

Rampage (2018)

rampage

Director: Brad Peyton

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Malin Akerman, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello

When three different animals become infected with a dangerous pathogen, a primatologist and a geneticist team up to stop them from destroying Chicago. – IMDB

Rampage was on my anticipated list (I think) but my cinema track record this year is not too good so its all down to rentals to catch up. While Rampage didn’t get really good ratings, this sort of film is always up my alley. Big creatures, check. Dwayne Johnson in action, check. Video game adaptation, check. I went into this with the only expectation to have fun and let me tell you, I had some really pleasant surprises. It isn’t a masterpiece but there are some key things that I found here which I liked a lot and for those points, this one was entertaining.

Lets start with the elements I like, all the things I wanted delivered worked out really well. Three big creatures were done so well with the effects and graphics especially with Joe’s facial expression. Dwayne Johnson is also so charismatic in films and this one is no exception. There are some odd forced parts however, overall he wasn’t the issue. As a video game adaptation, it has the reputation to be a guilty pleasure and this one does fit into that category but then I do argue that most of The Rock’s films fall in that mindless entertainment category and it works for that purpose especially as I love not having to think too much during a film and just have fun.

Now, some good and some bad follows that part. I loved Malin Akerman as the villain here. She was quite impressive especially since the last thing I remember her in was 27 Dresses. I’m sure I’ve seen her in other things but I don’t remember right now. She did a fine job here. Now, I’m a little lukewarm on Jake Lacy, someone I thought did a fine job in Miss Sloane albeit a fairly smaller role. Here, he bordered a little on the annoying part. Talking about short roles though, Joe Manganiello has a cameo here and it comes and ends so quickly but his presence is always appreciated. My fave part though, has to be Jeffrey Dean Morgan and his role. Same goes for Naomie Harris who is an admirable actress that I really like in a lot of the roles she’s done. The cast here gave a lot of life to Rampage along with its creatures. Everything else was something of a generic sort of set-up but it managed to keep me interested and entertained so its a fun time overall.

That’s it for this Double Feature!
Have you seen these two films? Thoughts?

Book Blitz: Without Hesitation by Talia Jager (Excerpt & Giveaway)

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Free book alert!!! To celebrate the newly released Painted Skies (Beyond Earth: Book Two) by Talia Jager, the first book in this series is available for free download! Read all about Without Hesitation, download your free copy, and enter the amazing giveaway below!

WithoutHesitation_1877x3000-AmazonWithout Hesitation (Beyond Earth Book #1)

Publication Date: June 16th, 2017

Genre: LGBT/ Sci-Fi/ Adventure

Synopsis:

Without Hesitation is set a thousand years in the future. Earth has become a wasteland. Humans traveled into space to colonize other suitable planets. Labels and stereotypes are a thing of the past and gender and sexual identity are as fluid as love as humans strive to survive. Here we meet Everleigh, the commander of her ship named Nirvana. She is under the control of an evil madman, Caspar, who keeps her family captive. He sends her to Valinor to abduct the Empress Akacia. When she arrives, she is taken back by Akacia’s beauty and when the Empress fights back, Everleigh realizes she has met her match.

**This book is an LGBTQ story with a female/ female relationship.**

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*Available for FREE Download!*

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Excerpt

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“Oh, bugger!” she muttered from her dressing room.

“What?”

“I’m stuck.” She giggled. “I’m going to find the sales lady to help.”

“No! I’ll help. Open your door.”

A few seconds passed before I heard the lock click. She opened the door and I walked in and locked it behind me.

“Zipper’s stuck.” She moved her hair so I could see.

I struggled with the zipper for a minute before working it loose. I pulled it down exposing the intricate tattoos down her back. “Wow…”

Pink flamed her cheeks. “Phases of our moon, Oro.”

I trailed my fingers down her back and she shuddered. It took everything in me not to lean in and kiss her. Our eyes met in the mirror. Her blue eyes were wide with curiosity and bright with anticipation. She tilted her head to the side just enough to expose the long line of her neck and that made my heart speed out of control. I closed the small space between us and let my lips touch her skin. Her breath hitched. She was so warm, so soft, and so perfect.

My lips trailed soft kisses up to her ear, she trembled and let out a low moan. I circled her waist with one arm to steady her. My heart felt like it was going to jump out of my body. Every inch of my skin warmed.

Akacia turned so that we were face to face and her hand came up to cup my cheek. I rested my hands on her waist. Her gaze darted from my eyes to my lips. She muttered something about hesitation and then her soft, supple lips were on mine.

It was my turn to be surprised. Nobody had ever been so bold, but I was only startled for a beat before I seized her lips and deepened the kiss.

When Akacia pulled away the tiniest of moans escaped my mouth. A smile played on her lips that I swear tasted like honey. She tangled her hands in my hair at the back of my neck.

There was a knock on the door. “Do you need help?”

Akacia giggled and I answered, “No. Just another minute.”

-Without Horizons

About the Author

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Talia is no stranger to labels and judgment. She has slowly been developing her voice for those who need help speaking up. She believes that someday labels will be a thing of the past, that sexuality will be fluid, love will be love, and mental illness will be handled with love and care.

Talia is an author with fifteen books published including: Damaged: Natalie’s Story, Teagan’s Story: Her Battle With Epilepsy, If I Die Young, Secret Bloodline, Lost and Found, The Gifted Teens Series, The Between Worlds Series and The Beyond Earth Series. When she’s not writing, she enjoys hiking red rocks or sitting on the beach with a Kindle in her hands and her toes in the ocean.

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Double Feature: Pete’s Dragon (2016) & Peter Rabbit (2018)

double feature

Its been a while since we’ve done a double feature, right? Things are back on track and as much as I wanted to start this whole all same year movies get full reviews. Meaning Peter Rabbit should have its own full review, I just decided to keep with this formula. I guess that kind of hints on how I feel about Peter Rabbit but oh well, we’ll see, right? A nice little pairing that worked out because of my procrastination, may I add? An animated double feature seems like its a rarity around here nowadays plus it has similar names, Pete and Peter. Let’s put it out there right now that I really like watching movies that blend animation with live action, like Mary Poppins. Obviously, these two are more CG and live action but it still counts just in a modernized way.

Let’s check it out!

Pete’s Dragon (2016)

Pete's Dragon

Director: David Lowery

Cast: Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Oakes Fegley, Oona Laurence, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban

The adventures of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliot, who just so happens to be a dragon. – IMDB

I only watched the original Pete’s Dragon recently. You can see the review HERE. This remake or reboot (whatever you want to call it) is still good for what it is. It had adventure and the acting was good. The atmosphere was nice and a lot of the key elements were there while replacing it with a more environmental sort of idea. It creates a lot of drama and less of a musical like the original. Some of the differences are really the point here which truly depends on how much the audience buys into and how it all works out. Like I mentioned, one of the main elements is the more drama and less musical. To me, that kind of takes away from the charm of the original. I’m into adventure and drama and they work well in family movies and that part does work well but it gives off a different vibe from the original. Of course, we should look at this film as how it stands on its own and there is still a lot of magic in Elliot. Without its pink tuff of hair and more alive thanks to computer graphics and less hand drawn animation gives him a more real feeling but still has its magical moments and he is still very cute with his little movements but Elliot is huge and massive compared to Pete, which is also normal.

I watched Pete’s Dragon a good while ago so if you asked me the details, I probably won’t remember a lot of it but I do remember the emphasis on environment which is a nice theme along with the family and just how to not touch the differences in nature and let them be. At the same time, the film’s charm goes to bringing Elliot to life. I still think the original is more fun to watch and its more colorful and all that happy stuff but this one is a different vibe and beast and has its charm. Shame is that its a reboot and not an original property because its hard to not compare the two which makes it feel less of the original concept but each has its strengths.

Peter Rabbit (2018)

peter rabbit

Director: Will Gluck

Cast & Voice Cast: Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson, James Corden, Colin Moody, Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki, Daisy Ridley, Sia, Fayssal Bazzi

Feature adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s classic tale of a rebellious rabbit trying to sneak into a farmer’s vegetable garden. – IMDB

Peter Rabbit is pretty much the expected route of things. For myself, I don’t have a whole lot of nostalgia in regards of Peter Rabbit and honestly, it was so long ago that I read it that I don’t even remember any part of it. My knowledge of it is so little of the source material that this is something of an adventure. Rose Byrne is always a pleasure to watch. Seeing as I just saw Domhnall Gleeson in Goodbye Christopher Robin, there is this odd feeling that he keeps getting into these adaptation projects. He is a pretty good actor in the sense that he nails these roles down really well. While I wasn’t totally buying the romance between these two, it worked in a fun way as he silently fought with the rabbits over their affection of Rose Byrne.

I have fairly mixed feelings. On one hand, I don’t think that the material was as memorable as it could have been. But its harmless fun. There’s a bit of music and dancing bits. There’s some over the top comedy. There is some silly humor. There is also family themes and drama but I can’t help but think that for myself, some of the comedy didn’t land so much but then its not exactly for my age group especially without the nostalgia factor.