Halloween Marathon: Dream House (2011)

Next up is the first choice and one of the highest votes in the polls from you: Dream House. I’ve been meaning to watch this but it just looks so creepy, especially when you put kids vanishing into the wall as the poster.

Regardless, I managed to give this a go with my boyfriend and it was listed a thriller and I wasn’t even sure it was a horror thriller.  Basically I know nothing about it before seeing it, as with most of the movies on the polls.

Lets check it out!

dream houseDirector: Jim Sheridan

Cast: Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts, Marton Csokas

Publisher Will Atenton (Daniel Craig) quits his job to spend more time with his family and devote times to writing a book.  However, shortly after settling into his new house, a series of events occurs that leads him to find out that his house was previously the crime scene of a family murder and that the husband, Peter Ward is still alive and recently released. Will starts tracing the steps to track Peter Ward in hopes of protecting his family: wife Libby (Rachel Weisz) and his  daughters.

Expectations can kill a movie.  I think that is why Dream House has such low ratings especially with Rotten Tomatoes at the mediocre 6% score.  Dream House seemed to sell itself as a creepy horror thriller with supernatural elements.  Now, I’m not saying some of those things wasn’t in it.  Except you can completely take out the horror part because its really not in that league.  Luckily, I learned that it was a thriller (regardless of the specific sort) so I didn’t expect the whole full-on horror. Not sure if that helped.

Dream House

Don’t get me wrong.  I didn’t hate Dream House.  In fact, I actually did enjoy it.  Lets start with what I liked before we jump into what fell short. First and foremost, the best thing about this psychological thriller is the cast.  Everyone does a convincing and amazing job at each of their roles from Daniel Craig’s Will and Rachel Weisz’s  Libby to the their two daughters jumping over to the less apparent role of Ann, played by Naomi Watts as the mysterious neighbor. I think Daniel Craig deserves even more praise because he lets us see that he can be so much more than James Bond (not that James Bond is a bad thing).  His role demanded quite the opposite of what Bond’s character is and that makes what he did here stand out.  The second good thing was the premise of Dream House.  The idea was amazing with a good plot twist that kind of blew our minds.

Dream House

Unfortunately, here’s where I need to talk about the downfall.  Great thrillers have wonderful twists at the right time.  But, Dream House pulled out their twist way too early and actually it didn’t really build well enough for it, making it less effective as a mind-blowing experience but rather a WTF moment where I needed to rethink what I saw from the beginning to formulate how the story got there.  And then, to make it something more, it set out to give another twist near the end which kind of starts being predictable as I guessed half of it and had it confirmed making the second twist not too effective.  This issues with it come in the execution of the plot (as I’m starting to realize is tough to do in a lot of movies) and forming the subplot. Although, the effort was to build on Daniel Craig and his family, they didn’t focus on other relevant characters like the mysterious neighbor played by Naomi Watts who seemed to know more than she was letting on. There was literally altogether a 5 minute encounter before the first twist and it wasn’t enough to connect to her character. I rarely see flaws of execution but this one jumped too abruptly for me to overlook. Now, does that make it a bad movie? Probably not but what frustrates me is that it had all the elements to be such a better (if not great) movie.

Dream House

Overall, Dream House is an enjoyable psychological thriller.  If you acknowledge and drop the horror aspect, you will enjoy this more.  The cast does a great job in their respective roles even if at times, you may feel that each character wasn’t built enough.  However, the good cast doesn’t help to skip over how the plot execution could have been a lot better to build up the suspense and not jump prematurely into the first twist leaving the second twist to lack its needed impact.  I can’t recommend it enthusiastically but if you happen to have a day in and you want to sit down and watch something, this could be a good choice.

Have you seen Dream House? Any thoughts on the twist? Are there any memorable roles of Daniel Craig other than being James Bond? 

Oz: The Great and Powerful (2013)

I’m super happy that I got to watch this opening weekend.  I rarely ever do that because my boyfriend and I aren’t crazy about crowds.  However, we both wanted a little date night at the theatres since the last movie we saw was Les Miserables on New Year’s Eve.

oz posterDirector: Sam Raimi

Cast: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Zach Braff, Joey King

In 1905, an ambitious yet unsuccessful magician, Oz (James Franco) finds himself carried into a tornado and landing into the enchanted land of Oz.  There he meets Theodora (Mila Kunis) who is convinced that he’s the wizard mentioned in the King’s prophecy to save Oz from the powers of the wicked witch.  She then takes him to meet her sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz) who is taking care of the kingdom while there is no one on the throne.  Evanora shows Oz the benefits he would reap if he were to become the King after he’s proved himself as the wizard.  The one thing he would have to do is to destroy the wand of the wicked witch residing in the Dark Forest, Glinda (Michelle Williams).  On his adventures, he takes on a flying monkey Finley (voice by Zach Braff) and saves a little China doll in China Town (Joey King), who ends up joining him in the quests to prove his greatness, they get whirled into the problems of the land of Oz and he needs to not only figure out who to believe, who is good and evil but also how he chooses to become: good or great

I’ve been anticipating this movie a lot and I haven’t actually seen any of the trailers.  Its just I’m into the Wizard of Oz story and the cast seemed fantastic.  The CGI fantasy world looks so beautiful in the poster.  I watched this in 3D because the normal version had ridiculous hours where my boyfriend was still at work.  It was worth it even with a stupid ticket issue before the movie at the theatres.

oz black and white

One of the best part of the movie was its visuals.  It started in the 1905 real normal world in black and white. Everything was black and white till he got spun around literally and whisked into the enchanted world. Let me say that the landing sequence in 3D was super awesome and fun.  If you saw it, you know what I mean. It was a pretty rough landing but it was just beautiful to look at as well.  It gave the audience (and Oz) a general view of everything around him and when he got out, he got to see the enchanted world around him.  The vibrant colors they used and it had this slight cartoon-ish touch to it that reassured us of the magical world around us.  I really  loved it a lot!

oz scenery

Next, I loved the cast.  James Franco was amazing and he really shone as the lead.  I haven’t seen a great amount of him doing comedies.  I’ve seen him in drama (127 Hours) and action (Spiderman).  However, I felt he fit right into the role and brought out all the charisma that he needed.  Man, did he kiss a lot of girls in this movie! And he had a lot of funny moments as well!

ozAs much as Oz was a great part of this, the conflict between the three witches were a huge chunk as well.  Lets start with the order they appeared.  Mila Kunis as Theodora was gorgeous.  Its probably one of the best roles I’ve seen her in and she looked really pretty.  She took on an innocent believer, just the type that Oz would prey on to help him and her love ended up changing her into the total opposite of the spectrum.  She did it really good. Rachel Weisz played Theodora’s sister Evanora, a manipulative witch that holds a lot of hidden secrets.  Prior to this, I’ve only seen Weisz in The Lovely Bones and I don’t really remember much of it.  She is a very charming woman as well.  She portrayed really well the elegant yet manipulative and slightly evil role she was given.  Her expressions and tone of voice was spot on.

oz witches

Last we have Glinda played by Michelle Wiliams. I haven’t known this actress before however she played the sweet and soft but had strong will and inner strength.  She was convincing not only with how she represented that character but she had a very wonderful smile to match it. I think for all the 3 witches, they did cast the right women.  Charming, pretty and elegant embodied each of them. Many times where the witches were involved, it was the most intense and dramatic moments in the movie.

oz witch

The comic relief in this movie other than Oz himself had to be the addition of his flying monkey, Finley.  I don’t watch Scrubs personally and I’m not really familiar with Zach Braff but his dialogue and facial expressions that they gave for this animated character was just hilarious.  He was my boyfriend’s favorite part of the movie, I think.  Aside from that, another character worth mentioning was the Chinadoll that was rescued from China Town.  I love the name, a twist on what we know as Chinatown 😉 That little girl was super awesome. The detail in the character and the voice was done by Joey King.  It showed perfectly at times, how she was fragile but courageous at the same time. Very well depicted characters!

oz china doll


I could go on and on about this.  I love this movie and its a great choice for seeing in theatres.  The CGI, the characters, and the whole animation was gorgeous and well-portrayed.  The story itself had a twist from the Wizard of Oz story that we know.  It wasn’t too dramatic or tense and had a balance of fun and comedic moments, which makes it highly enjoyable!