What’s Up 2019: Week 38

Tranquil Dreams (43)

Welcome to Week 38 of What’s Up! We’re almost done the 3rd quarter of 2019! Fall is almost here and things are definitely going back on course. Everything is almost back on track and next week, we should be seeing a lot more of the signs of October horror themed things coming into the picture (although one thing here actually is going to be for October). At the same time, I’ve also reactivated my Shudder subscription and should keep it for at least 2 months or so unless something else fun comes out and holds my interest after that.

Let’s check it out!

READING

Since September

  • Since September by Noelle MacLeod (Review)
  • The Dragon Head of Hong Kong: An Ava Lee Prequel by Ian Hamilton (Review)

Currently reading: Hope by Terry Tyler

Two novellas definitely made up the majority of my reading this week. I wanted something fun to break between the blog tour reading and decided to finally get around to continue on the Ava Lee series by Ian Hamilton which pretty much never disappoints. I’m a good few books behind on the series as it is so I’m hoping to catch up with it especially since the Kindle versions have been on sale on Amazon lately. With that said, both books were pretty fun to read. Since September had a Girl Interrupted vibe to it and The Dragon Head of Hong Kong was a prequel that talked about how Ava Lee started her job which is interesting as it comes after the first phase of the series ends.

PLAYING

kaiju big battel: fighto fantasy

Starting next: Kaiju Big Battel: Fighto Fantasy

Since this week, I’ve been focusing mostly on some mobile games to wrap up the Mobile Games Roundup, the plan to start Kaiju Big Battel: Fighto Fantasy was delayed which will hopefully be the restart/comeback of our Game Warp restructuring to go back to our initial roots of having an episode for Game Warp per month with a highlighted game. We will try to get some new releases in there but games will be decided on our collective interest to discuss and obviously accessibility. However, we are still somewhat restructuring and finding our footing again in writing reviews and slotting time to record for Game Warp and such so there may still be changes but the effort to get back to action is there.

WATCHING

mary poppins returns

Two rewatches this week of films that I really do love quite a bit and they are both for Movies and Tea as one is our After Hours Shark week pick and the other is my pick. Its coming up on Movies and Tea in the coming weeks so I won’t talk too much about it but you can check out my reviews when I first saw the films.

With that said, I caught up with Battle at Big Rock which is a short that supposedly follows Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom which I haven’t caught up with yet. Regardless, it  feels fairly standalone and was pretty fun. You can find it on Youtube. As for my recommendation this week for a fresh new feature film would be Mary Poppins Returns. I still don’t think doing a follow-up was necessary but in terms of how it lands, its very similar in set-up to Mary Poppins but it still has a fun and musical vibe to it.

BINGING

million pound menu

  • Million Pound Menu (Season 2, 2019)
  • The Mist (Season 1, 2017)

Currently binging: Relation Ship, Dream Space 2, Super Vocal 2, When I Grow Up, A Discovery of Witches (Shudder)

I never reviewed the first season of Million Pound Menu but I did catch up with the Season 2 of it this past week as its one of the newer releases on Netflix. I’ll be talking about that one in a TV binge. We ended up finishing The Mist as well which I can’t say is anything to call home about but TV binge for that one fits into the October horror month so I’ll have that out in next month to also help out with the progress.

The first signs of using the Shudder is showing up already with the mention of Tigers Are Not Afraid in the “Watching” section. We’re halfway through A Discovery of Witches which is Shudder series starring Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer. So far, its alright. A lot goes on so it feels a little convoluted.

As for currently watching, Youku finally released their version of those matchmaking reality shows on Youtube called Relation Ship. After this one, I’ll be doing a huge post on this type of variety show because I’m still very inspired about this subject. Other than that, its When I Grow Up which is a trip for some celebs, father and son/daughters duos who go on the trip in a camping/hiking style that brings them together or understand each other better. Its interesting because renowned actors from Hong Kong like Tony Ka Fai Leung and Elvis Tsui (who was in Stephen Chow films as supporting roles) as well as some popular China stars. Its nice to see some of these renowned stars now finally participating in these reality shows that shows their personalities more.

That’s it for What’s Up Week 38!
What have you been reading/playing/watching/binging?

The Shallows (2016)

2016 release reviews have been far and few here. Especially the bigger ones. Nothing just seemed to peak my interest enough to get me to go to the theatres other than the whole Fantasia phase in late July. Regardless, I rented The Shallows a few weeks ago and gave it a go. The Shallows crept up on me. I had no idea that it was coming out until it was released and mixed reviews showed up (although a lot of them were on the favorable side, I believe).

Let’s check it out!

The Shallows (2016)

The Shallows

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Cast: Blake Lively, Oscar Jaenada, Brett Cullen, Sedona Legge

A mere 200 yards from shore, surfer Nancy is attacked by a great white shark, with her short journey to safety becoming the ultimate contest of wills. –IMDB

 I love shark movies. To actual bits. Sure, there are a few really fluky ones but whether its the “so bad its good” Sharknado or the 90s Deep Blue Sea or the Australian horror thriller The Reef and of course, the classic Jaws, they are packed with so much awesomeness. The Shallows looks like it has that grasped well and it does deliver for the most part. Sure, there are always things of circumstance like we learn that our protagonist Nancy (played by Blake Lively) is studying to be a nurse. What better than a nurse with some medical skills to be attacked by a shark, right? Except while The Shallows is about Nancy and her fight to survive back to shore, its also a character study and development. Jaume Collet-Serra has directed a good portion of thrillers in his filmography, half of them are action thrillers with Liam Neeson but there are some standout titles like Orphan which is the first time I’ve seen his work and love that one quite a bit. Its nice to see him jumping back into a horror thriller like this one. While I do have to say it packs more thrills than horror, there is a lot about how he makes The Shallows and not revealing the shark so much but rather the water perspectives that make the movie a much more thrilling and engaging experience. When you bond with a seagull, you know that the protagonist and the plot has had some effect.

The Shallows

While there are a few scenes with other characters, like the opening bits mostly, a good part of this movie is really just spending time with Nancy alone in the middle of The Shallows with the beach only a little ways away. What makes Nancy great is that she is smart and resourceful. While there are some convenient situations, there are always changing factors to keep the pacing intriguing to see what else she can do and what other options her character thinks of. Especially because Nancy is not only trapped and hunted, but she is hurt. It is a race with time for her especially the changing tides. The Shallows is a thrilling race to safety and survival against a shark but we slowly realize that Nancy isn’t just a hot body, she also has some issues she needs to work out. It is why she surfs and why she hasn’t decided to settle down and stop surfing and travelling around the world and pursuing her career. Blake Lively has gone a long way. I’ve always enjoyed her as an actress, whether it was in her younger roles in The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants or later on in Gossip Girl and this role shows how much she has grown as an actress.

The Shallows

It is a little funny how I’m writing this coming off of discussing another thriller called “Blood in the Water” over at That Moment In which you can find here. What we criticized in that one as making it even more lackluster was what I liked a lot about this one. Essentially the finale of the movie is somewhat shown in the beginning and then it backtracks to the days as we hit that moment we started with. Another thing that is pretty nice about The Shallows is that while it takes great joy in being a serious thriller, there are still taunting moments that are fun, even if a little predictable of the outcome. They fit together to piece together what we do see in the opening scene as well.

The Shallows

Thrilling shark movies are rather hard to find. The Shallows is one that I truly enjoyed a lot. It had tense and intriguing moments. It tries to be thoughtful and aims for a deeper character study of than just human vs. shark and Blake Lively pulls off a great performance as Nancy, a smart and competent character. There is a lot to love in shark movies in a genre that is generally full of tropes and predictable moments, this one pulls off a few fun surprises and a thrilling movie experience.

Have you seen The Shallows? What is your favorite shark movie?