Ultimate 70s Blogathon Kick-Off: Alien (1979)

Ultimate 70s Blogathon officially kicks off today.

To get things started, my lovely cohost Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews and I will be starting things off at both of our blogs today. To kick off the blogathon, I am reviewing Alien, a movie released nearly 40 years ago and started off a franchise that has been getting a revivial in the last few years. For that, it deserves its spot in this blogathon! For myself, this movie holds a significant spot as one of the first 70s film that I ever saw.

Lets check it out!

Alien (1979)


Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Yaphet Kotto

After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as a distress call, its landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious lifeform, and they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun. – IMDB

Alien is a 1979 sci fi horror thriller directed by Ridley Scott. Everyone knows that but I honestly had no idea how to start off this review about such a popular movie. As much as it kicks off a franchise, the debate of whether this film or its sequel Aliens is better is almost inevitable. However, while both are very good in their own respects, Alien is one that has always got my heart. It really is quite iconic from both the perspective of its story, the atmosphere, the iconic female protagonist and its impeccably brutal alien Xenomorph, it hits a lot of elements perfectly.  Alien can sometimes feel slightly slower in its pacing but this also is where its tense thriller and horror-esque atmosphere is built so well.The darker environment and the mysterious mists here and there along with the foreign space they investigate create some rather creepy imagery right down to the epic face hugger scene and can only send chills down your spine.


The predatory abilities of the Xenomorph is an unknown and as we follow the different characters and their different encounters, we learn a little more. Xenomorph is one of the outstanding parts of this film. Its a speciman to gain knowledge about and as it develops and transforms throughout the film, making a speechless villain have an incredible amount of presence both psychologically and physically.


A great villain needs to be met with someone worthy to fight them off amd here we have the femme fatale Ellen Ripley who really is the standout character in the movie. Everyone else just fills a spot but Sigourney Weaver’s role portrayal of Ellen Ripley is done so well. She’s tough and smart. The encounters are tense but she also knows how to feel quite real. You can almost say that she breaks the mold of the leading men and their badass role but taking on this tough lady role who fights for survival against this monster alien. As much as Ellen Ripley is a great character and the other supporting roles here as the other six crew members feel dispensable, there are still some decent performances delivered. Ellen Ripley played a voice of reason and the consequences of not listening to her eventually was what caused the disaster on the spaceship.

Revisiting older movies are tough to review. On one hand, its inevitable that some will not carry well over time especially sci-fi films because technology has changed so much over the years. Somehow, as much as technology changed and the tech here seems out of date along with some of the effects, Alien still carries itself really well. The horror moments with the face hugger and the Xenomorph are still creepy and believable. The ship feels real enough to be immersed in the events happening on the spaceship. Overall, Alien as a rewatch delivers itself really well and is still an immersive and thrilling watch and shows how before its times it was when it was released in 1979 with a bunch of unique elements that fit so well together.

Head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews to check out his review to kick off the Ultimate 70s Blogathon some time today!
For the rest of the blogathon, posts will be showing up alternate days between our blogs.
Remember to follow us to not miss out on any of the fantastic entries!


Double Feature: Colossal (2016) & Flatliners (2017)

Time for a little non-Valentine’s Day double feature. Its been a little bit of an overloaded day. But I’m falling behind and really want to catch up. We can all take a little break from the marathon and on lovey-dovey films for a while. Plus, Colossal and Flatliners have been sitting for a week or two in my queue and I really wanted to get it out of the way. I am slowly also catching up with 2017 movies whenever they are available. Colossal is on Netflix so let’s check these two out!

Colossal (2016)


Director (and writer): Nacho Vigalondo

Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson

Gloria is an out-of-work party girl forced to leave her life in New York City and move back home. When reports surface that a giant creature is destroying Seoul, she gradually comes to the realization that she is somehow connected to this phenomenon. – IMDB

I heard so many great things about Colossal before I sat down to watch it and still didn’t really know what it was all about. However, I’m a fan of Anne Hathaway and it looked pretty fun so here we are. Nacho Vigalondo is an odd director to say the least. He writes these scripts that go in one direction and then take a sudden change in direction, particularly in tone, super fast. I felt that way about Open Windows (review) and I feel that way about Colossal. However, Colossal is an pretty incredible movie. As I think about it more, the more I feel that this movie was done so well. In the beginning, Anne Hathaway’s Gloria is somewhat of a wreck and she meets Oscar, played by Jason Sudeikis back in her hometown and they become friends along with a few of his buddies. Everything is fine and dandy as they get her settled in as she tries to rekindle her romance with Tim (Dan Stevens) to prove that she’s taking control of her own life. At the same time, they soon realize that there is a monster terrorizing Seoul and its one that has returned after many years before which she soon learns is linked to her.

Colossal relies a lot on surprising its audience with the unknown factors and taking it those twists it shows. As crazy as the ideas here are, it works really well together. The tone shift works to the advantage of the film. The main cast is truly focused on Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis and boy, do they deliver in spades. That is probably the best part of the film as we watch these two characters develop as the story unfolds. Its truly quite awesome! The uniqueness of the story and the elements it puts together is just pure fun.

Flatliners (2017)


Director: Niels Arden Oplev

Cast: Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, James Norton, Kiersey Clemons, Kiefer Sutherland

Five medical students, obsessed by what lies beyond the confines of life, embark on a daring experiment: by stopping their hearts for short periods, each triggers a near-death experience – giving them a firsthand account of the afterlife. – IMDB

Before I start, I guess its good to note that I haven’t seen the original yet therefore I have no comparison to how this remake or reboot or whatever you call it, is. With that said, Flatliners is one of those movies that makes you feel a little let down. On one hand, I’m pretty happy with the cast themselves. Ellen Page and Diego Luna should be a seller already. Add in some TV stardom from Nina Dobrev who is slowly moving into more films in 2017 with XXX: The Return of Xander Cage early in the year and some other films here and there before that, she just seems to need the right movie to show off that she’s more than Elena from The Vampire Diaries. The idea and concept behind Flatliners is a really neat idea. The idea of encountering death and facing something that shouldn’t be crossed as they treaded darker and darker into some kind of limbo as they tested the boundaries. It was all very clever in the beginning. And that is exactly the problem here, the plot dies out so fast. It just starts going downhill because the movie loses its objective and its momentum and seems to fall flat as the cycle of them reviving each other was pushing further to the boundaries but the cycle was always the same over and over again.

Flatliners seems to forget which genre it wants to embrace. On one hand, it has moments of thriller/horror elements but those never last long enough other than jump scares to make it feel very effective. The dark limbo world they go to worked for a while until it was very predictable to see what was going to happen next. The characters also didn’t have much development. Sure, there was a slight understanding of their personal dark secrets but its all very on the surface because the rest of the time when they were dying or reviving each other, they were drowning in their liberated mind drinking and partying with less and less clothes on. If thats what an added knowledge means, then maybe this experimental revelation might be a little wasted on this group of medical students.

I really wanted to like Flatliners and it started out pretty strong. I only wished it had managed to keep that momentum and develop their characters more. In general , it all dials down to their execution. This was quite the disappointing movie unfortunately.

Double Feature: Arrival (2016) & The Burrowers (2008)

After some pondering, I’ve decided that I’d like to go back to double features. The only exceptions, which are quite a few, will be theatre viewings, festival screenings, screeners, Disney and Hong Kong film reviews.

The first double feature to kick off the year are back to somewhat of a alphabetical order formula. Hopefully this time, I’ll get through the alphabet a second round although I can already see it being double featured somewhat scattered as there is at least one Disney title in between. I’ve been meaning to watch Arrival forever and it finally landed on Netflix and then as I try to get through a lot of the titles I’d like to watch on Shudder, my husband chose The Burrowers.

Let’s check it out!

Arrival (2016)


Director: Denis Villeneuve

Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mark O’Brien, Tzi Ma

When twelve mysterious spacecrafts appear around the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors. – IMDB

I always end up slapping myself everything I finish up a Denis Villeneuve as to why it took me so long to catch up with his film. Although, I’ve seen more of his films before he broke out in Hollywood which are also titles that I always suggest everyone to watch. Arrival is a breathtaking experience, both in its story telling execution and its character development as well as the cinematography and the setting (in the beautiful province of Quebec more rural areas).

Let’s start with the cast. The main players is Amy Adams who plays Louise Banks. She is fantastic as she is not only smart but also incredibly sensitive as a character that always gets questioned for her risky approach and dedication and fascination of deciphering this alien language and her defense of the situation. There is a level of obsession as she is constantly surrounded by the symbols that she is given as she dives into learning the language. Playing opposite here is Jeremy Renner who is more of the scientist of the operation who is fascinated not only by the situation but seemingly more so by Amy Adams character here and rightfully so. He defends and supports a lot of her decisions. Playing the Colonel, who pretty much runs the operation here is Forest Whitaker who is amazing as always. To be fair, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker are all actors that I absolutely enjoy watching so Arrival already had the winning cast for myself.

With Denis Villeneuve at the helm of this, there is always a darker atmosphere here. The urgency of the situation and the threatened environment of the world is definitely a selling point here as it feels quite authentic if the world were to have 12 alien spaceships land in 12 difference places how everyone would react. However, as the story unfolds and Louise Banks figures out the linguistics of it all, we also get brought into the world of what this all is about and to avoid any spoiler territory, it is a thought – provoking and meaningful sort of ending. Arrival is a definitely a must-watch!

The Burrowers (2008)

The Burrowers

Director (and writer) J.T. Petty

Cast: Clancy Brown, David Busse, William Mapother, Jocelin Donahue, Karl Geary, Doug Hutchison, Laura Leighton

In the Wild West a rescue party sets out to find a family of settlers that has vanished from their home under mysterious circumstances. – IMDB

We’re huge fans of monster movies. Tremors is a hit at our house and The Burrowers honestly reminded us a bit of that when we were just looking at the poster. However, The Burrowers is a rather Western style horror film as it is centers itself around a feud between the Americans and their prejudice thoughts on the Amerindians being involved all the deaths and disappearances happening. For that reason, it does sometimes feel like the movie forgets what its trying to do. It does do a good job at the hatred between certain characters towards the Native Americans  and while the story wants to use that as well to drop the little clues here and there to show what The Burrowers are actually and their goal, at point, it goes so slow that it seems to lose its momentum and heads directly into the boring spot more frequent than I’d like.

To be fair, I’m not one to pick at slower paced films. However, The Burrowers seems to be just a lackluster experience. Somehow, I ended up being more affected by the brutality and the depth of the hatred and the actions of a certain character towards Amerindians than actually the threat of The Burrowers themselves. The idea of The Burrowers was a good villain when the whole story pieced together however, the execution of the story itself just didn’t work for me.


The 100 (The 100 #1) by Kass Morgan

After the continued efforts to finish reading IT, I have decided to change up the pace yet again and switch between IT and other books sitting in my Kindle mostly because lugging around that 1400 page novel is really heavy and giving me back pains that my chiropractor isn’t too happy about. With that said, I dug out my Kindle and decided to work on some novels I picked up in 2015 thats been sitting in my Kindle unread. With a longing to get back to the TV series for The 100, I decided to check out the book that the show is based on. This is the first in the series.

Let’s check it out!

The 100
By: Kass Morgan

Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth’s radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents — considered expendable by society — are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life…or it could be a suicide mission…Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind’s last hope. – Goodreads

In terms of dystopian settings, The 100 has decent one and with everything in the recent years, perhaps it even feels possible that if a nuclear bomb where to go off, the world’s backup would be to evacuate a certain few groups to space to survive while the radiation tapers off and Earth becomes viable again. Being a fan of the adaptation always makes it hard to read the source material because it makes you have a comparison. The 100 is a good book with the focus of the perspectives of four characters: Clarke, Wells, Bellamy and Glass. It takes us on both the Ark and the struggles there while also looking at the issues with not being on Earth but dropping a bunch of juvenile delinquents on Earth.

Using the four perspectives are good, it helps broaden the story and give the readers a point of reference and it allows us to learn about the characters, especially as it breaks down how and why they got arrested which highlights who these four are. I don’t quite mind the character development and the story or setting as much as I don’t quite like the descriptive nature of the writing. That honestly is a personal preference. Its easy to read but some parts hop onto slight cliches and it felt slightly corny plus, there was a heavy romantic angle focus which I have mixed feelings about. The 100 felt like in this first book to scrape the surface. It went through the motions of giving us the key plots and then the crisis on The Ark and ends with The 100 faced with their first threat, other people on the ground attacking them. With that said, I like my books self-contained even if it is a series. A good series can end their story and still intrigue their readers to come back in the sequel. The 100 has that intrigue just in its premise so it doesn’t need the cliffhanger ending.

I think this brings us to talk about the changes from the TV series to the book. For one, the entire arc of Glass and Luke are removed in the show however, the show gives a wider group of characters with their own skillset that are beneficial to the group. In this first book, the set up is quite lacking as they only end with realizing that people do live on Earth. Our characters and their leadership and intentions are diffferent also. Clarke is still strong but not quite the leader she is in the show which honestly is what I love about her in The 100. Bellamy also gets a more extreme character where he lacks his presence here. Although you do have to say that they do feel more like lost kids in this book because this is all new to them and between the dazzlement of being on land, it also emphasizes on the lack of knowledge.

The 100 was a good read. It has the right idea and to be honest, I think the show, only referring to the first season, actually takes its characters on a deeper journey than what the book does. While it is good to focus on a few characters and their arcs, the story could be so much better focusing on the dystopia and the new world they are in rather than the petty romance. Even if I am a Bellamy and Clarke fan from the series, it still was a little too much especially in some of the descriptive writing. The style just lacked a little something for me. It usually is a good move to step away from the soure material and in this case, it worked for the broaden scope of tv series.

If anything, reading The 100 has made me want to restart the series to refresh my memory ( not that I really need to) and catch up with season 3 and 4.


Radius (2017)

Radius (2017)


Director: Caroline Lebrèche & Steeve Léonard

Cast: Diego Klattenhoff, Charlotte Sullivan, Brett Donahue

Liam wakes from a car crash with no memory of who he is. As he makes his way into town to look for help, he finds only dead bodies, all with strange pale eyes. Liam’s first assessment is that a virus is present in the air, but he soon discovers the horrible truth: anyone who comes within a 50-foot radius of him dies instantly. – IMDB

Car crashes and memory losses are a common occurrence in film. Radius however takes a different approach by adding extra element to the familiar, an unknown danger. From that point on, Radius sets up a thriller that starts off in its opening scene setting up the mysterious and suspenseful scenario and following through with a tense and well-paced thriller to the finish. There are only a few key characters and while the foundation of the movie sometimes falls into a familiar formula, the radius of death for Liam and his reliance on this unknown girl who is the only one mysteriously immune to it is what keeps the audience on their toes. There is a danger here and yet, the characters don’t seem to deserve any of it because they are hurt and confused.


The cast mainly revolves around the two main characters. The first is a man we soon learn to be Liam. He is portrayed by Diego Klattenhoff who pulls off a strong performance. A lot of the opening scenes are solo and quiet moments and he manages to show the confusion and desperation as he realizes fairly early in the film that he has this mysterious danger to others. As the first act wraps up, Liam has learned his name and meets this other girl who also lost her memory and doesn’t remember her name so is referred to as Jane (short for Jane Doe), who is played by Charlotte Sullivan. Her role here is also done well as she seems even more of a blank slate than Liam and because of that, she is more suspicious of the situation and this man who initially hides information from her. Their bond is one that is intriguing to watch evolve as their journey to follow each  memory that flashes by them to uncover what actually happened takes us through the course of the film up until the big reveal. Other than this bond, these characters constantly remind us of their innocence in this situation and the despair makes them the victims. With no apparent villain other than their predicament, the audience can bond with these two characters.



Radius is a well-paced thriller. It creates a balance of mystery and humanity. Its story has the elements that raises it above the cliched initial scenario, setting it apart in a unique way. The dangers of being able to kill with proximity alienates these two characters, making their bond more intriguing to watch develop. Radius does an intriguing set up in its first act and a tense fast-paced second act but slightly stumbles in its third act during its ramp to the final reveal. Despite its small stumbles, the third act is still shocking. Radius relies on the audiences bond with the characters. The bottomline is that Radius is a competent thriller that does well with great pacing and good characters.

Radius is an official selection for FrightFest, Fantastic Fest and Fantasia Film Festival. It is available on VOD on November 10, 2017.


Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

valerian and the city of a thousand planets

Director: Luc Besson

Cast: Dan DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Sam Spruell, Kris Wu, John Goodman, Ethan Hawke, Rihanna

A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe. – IMDB

Adapted from a French comic series titled Valerian and Laureline, Luc Besson’s latest piece takes us on a sci-fi adventure to Alpha, the City of a Thousand Planets where we follow the adventures of two young agents and partners, Major Valerian and Sergeant Laureline. Luc Besson heading back to a sci-fi premise and seemingly calling back to The Fifth Element days is an endearing thought. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a visually stunning adventure full of new aliens and characters to discover, perhaps more so for those that have not read the source material. While filled with great performances what does let  down the overall experience is the story itself being adventurous and fun but slightly predictable.

The performances here focus mostly on Cara Delevingne’s Laureline and Dan DeHaan’s Valerian. As a team, they work together well and while on missions, there is a friction and conflict they have as Laureline fights for her recognition and importance. While some of their dialogue feels cheesy and oddly out of place, they have a certain chemistry that helps in certain ways. It adds in some laughs here and there and their bickering while overused in movies does help ease in some relaxing moments between the action. There are some bigger names here as well such as Clive Owen as the Commander who gets taken by an alien race that was deemed to have been destroyed. While not a huge role, he excelled at commanding his scene. What is also a nice face to see here is Kris Wu, a young actor that appeared earlier this year in XXX:The Return of Xander Cage, who gives a good performance while in a supporting role as well. Aside from that, Ethan Hawke has a cameo role that draws similarities to Jack Sparrow’s free spirit and this leads to Rihanna who is really showing off as a performer more than she is an actress as she dazzles us with a beautiful on-stage transformational dance which is followed shortly after with an emotional scene that falls short from its intentions.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets does lack depth in its story. Perhaps the length of over two hours did more harm than good, as there was a certain level of suspense in the beginning however, the ending became increasingly predictable. What does make this flick worth your time is how Luc Besson brings this world to life in every single way. The City of a Thousand Planets is fascinating to discover at every corner and the effects are done incredibly well. While some may complain about the drawback of having too much CGI, this is a strength in creating this fictional fantasy world. The action and technology here makes those moments feel like we are immersed in great adventures as Valerian and Laureline go on their own mission. It almost feels like we are in a video game. The best example is when Valerian’s gun can shoot platforms as he vaults through a gap with all these fantastical creatures that are both beautiful and dangerous simultaneously.

Overall, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has its flaws. It is meant to be a popcorn flick that will dazzle its audience visually with its beautiful and mesmerizing world along with its action-packed sequences. There is no doubt that this one has decent cast that delivers even with a story that lacks depth however it is a fun and entertaining flick.


Book Review: Gemina (The Illuminae Files 02) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Let’s take a break from Fantasia Festival madness and get  a book review in! You may  not need it, but I absolutely do! 😉

Gemina is the sequel of Illuminae, the first book of The Illuminae Files (as you can see in the cover below). I read Illuminae earlier this year and totally loved it. If you want to know why, you can read all about it in my review HERE.

(The Illuminae Files 02)
by: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands. – Goodreads

Gemina is an exhilarating ride. A fantastically amazing one. This author duo has truly created a writing style that works truly remarkably. Presenting the story through dossiers and recordings are amazing. In fact, I remembered talking at the end of the review of the first book.avoit how it was hard to make that one into a movie and I was honestly disappointed in that choice. On the contrary, Gemina is so descriptive making everything so vivid that while it will be hard to live up to the images of everyone, with the right director, this one could be a fun ride. It might be because it embraces Die Hard set in a dystopian future in space and adds in am an Alien theme with their creatures. The idea is that they can take the first book to have enough success to get this one made also. I’m a little more excited about the idea.

What works for both of these books is how they choose to lay it out. The different recordings and files give you juat enough to understand what is going on but also leaves gaps and blindspots as to what is going on behind the scene and that creates mystery. Continuing after the first book, this hops onto another space carrier and with new characters, however having still managing to comnect to the characters in the first book. That is important as it gives a continuity to the story. It makes the readers care about this world because the new pair of characters are every bit as intriguing to read as they come to life also, two very different people from the first but still with equally intriguing stories that make them survivors but also human. Hanna and Nik are two acquaintances wrapped up in a lot of stereotypes and prejudices towards each other and grow to see each other more.

Its amazing how the Illuminae Files series has embodied so much. Other than the characters, it definitely feels like there is a lot of unanswered questions. The virus in part one, the creatures in part two, the secret agenda from Beitech: the main question at the end is a lot of why’s. Hopefully we will get the answers soon to pull everything together in the third book.

Overall, I love Gemina. There’s so many great things about it that makes it incredible. Not quite as mindblowing as Illuminae however still very awesome.