DVD Review: The Lovely Bones

Originally posted on another site on 20 April 2010.

lovely-bonesApart from knowing this movie was taken from a book, I knew nothing about it when I pressed the “start” button on the DVD, so I was in for a pleasant surprise. The story is told by a fourteen year old girl who has been murdered – don’t worry this isn’t a spoiler, as the viewer is told this piece of information within the first minute of the movie starting. What followed is different and unusual, and quite captivating. By the time the movie had finished, I had wished I’d read the book instead as they are always so much better and if the movie was good, then I could only imagine how great the book would be. Maybe I’ll get the opportunity to find out in the future.

Anyway, back to the movie. The thing I found captivating was how life and death ran parallel with each other, neither side fully aware of the other, both sides suffering from grief and confusion. (I guess the concept spoke to me because of my own situation.) Mingled with this were the murder details and investigation. For a while, I thought the girl would help solve her murder, but that wasn’t the case. The movie shows the family moving through their grief and the girl refusing to “cross over”. It’s a movie of strong love which spans the unknown…and that is what drew me in and held me the most.

Yet…being a mother of someone who took his own life, I believe this movie can also be dangerous. If my son had seen the movie before his death, I know that it would have fed his belief that life after death is better. It would have given him even more courage to do what he did. And, I believe, that is a bad thing. Yes, I know it’s just a movie, but sometimes concepts feed our needs. Sometimes we are consumed by our needs so much that we can’t see what is plainly set before us – in this case, just a movie. It will be wonderful to discover, at the right time, that death is all rainbows, flowers and chocolate cake, but what if dead is really dead or what if it’s something worse?! If we knew that, would we be willing to give up life? I think we need to be cautious about what is put into people’s minds, especially those easily influenced.

Having said that, to me it was just a movie…and a good one at that.

DVD Review: District 9

Originally posted on another site on 30 January 2010.

District 9Well, what can I say about this movie? District 9 is definitely a movie with a difference. It starts out as documentary type viewing, with news footage and fake interviews. In all honesty, I was bored for a while and didn’t think I’d see the movie through to the end. However, my partner sat thoroughly engrossed and was even in fits of laughter at times. I guess I was too tired to appreciate the jokes.

But then things turned more serious and although we still saw occasional bits of the documentary side of the movie, the viewpoint mainly changed to the main character (and script writer). From this point, my boredom subsided and I became more interested in what was happening. Basically, the story is about an alien ship that arrived over the South African city of Johannesburg in the late 1980’s. Something was wrong with the ship and the aliens couldn’t return to their own planet, so they were transferred into an area called District 9, which promptly became a slum. Twenty years later there’s over 1.8 million aliens living in District 9.

This is a science fiction movie that is totally different to all the other movies of the same genre. When it finished, my partner looked at me and asked if I liked it. I couldn’t give an answer. I didn’t, at first, but it grew on me. I believe I appreciated it even more long after the end credits rolled up and I had had a chance to think about the messages the movie left me with.

In my opinion, the theme of the movie is to do with racism and segregation. How we discriminate against other people and those less fortunate than ourselves. How we show no tolerance for other people’s ways. How we can’t accept that not all people are the same – as in their beliefs, their education, their customs.

The aliens in this movie were a joke to begin with. The things they were shown doing, such as feasting on tyres, were ridiculous. The main character treated them like imbeciles. But then, when events changed and the movie became more serious, we were shown the other side of the aliens. The main character was running for his life and he found help from the aliens. He discovered they had feelings and fears, that they wanted something better for their young. A comradeship formed between him and one of the aliens that, at the beginning of the movie, you wouldn’t have believed possible.

If you want to watch something different and thought provoking, then watch District 9.

DVD Review: Surrogates

Originally posted on another site on 27 January 2010.

SurrogatesImagine living your entire life from within the confines of your home. You never step foot outside the highly secured front door. Not for anything. Not ever! Why? Because it’s too dangerous. But you still go to work, go shopping, go to the doctors, go to the beach and to parties. You can go hand gliding, bungy jumping and skiing. You can do anything you wish. You can even jump out of a plane, if you want to. Heck, it doesn’t even matter if you forget to strap on a parachute first!

Every second on your life outside that front door is done through the eyes of a surrogate – a robot that looks like you or an improved version of you, or however you want other surrogates to see you. You can make yourself look gorgeous, but the actions and words of that robot are your own, so if it lacks personality…well?!

Imagine a life where every interaction you have with other people is through the eyes of a surrogate…and most of those other people are surrogates too. I can’t imagine I’d like a life like that and for this reason I found the concept of the movie, Surrogates, starring Bruce Willis, quite interesting.

Of course, as in every situation, there are those who refuse to succumb to a life such as the one I’ve just described and in the movie that sector of people are part of the conflict in the story. The reasoning, and I tend to agree with them in a lot of ways, is that it’s not natural to shut ourselves away and live life through a robot. In fact, can you really say it is living?

In the movie Bruce Willis’ character is married and he never even sees his actual wife. He only ever sees her surrogate, even though they live in the same apartment. He never leaves the apartment and she never even leaves her room. This also causes conflict in the story.

I’ve seen reviews that complain that the movie has taken ideas from other movies, such as The Matrix, but everyone takes ideas from somewhere and this movie is not a remake of The Matrix in any form or fashion. This movie is thought provoking. It made me think about where our future is heading and it made me wonder just how far we might go in the name of security. Yes, I would love to send a surrogate to my place of work to do my job for me…and continue to receive the wage associated with that work. I would love nothing better, but I don’t think I’d like my entire life to be lived through a robot. It might be exciting at first, and it might be a way of experiencing (to some degree) the things you definitely wouldn’t try in real life but it would be damn lonely in the long term.

I recommend this action packed movie and if you’ve seen it, I would really like to know what you think.

DVD Review: Orphan

Originally posted on another site on 25 January 2010.

OrphanI had seen the posters for Orphan but didn’t really think much more about it until G arrived home with the DVD. He said he’d seen the preview on the internet and thought we’d both enjoy it.

The movie is a suspense thriller about a couple who adopt a nine year old girl shortly after the stillbirth of their third child. The marriage is on edge. The mother is finding it hard to cope with her loss. And then Ester comes into their lives. Everything is sweet for a while and then things start to happen. Nasty things. Deadly things. Things that will make the hairs on your neck stand on end and your skin crawl. It had me on the edge of the seat. It was creepy, suspenseful and – something that doesn’t happen to me often – it affected my sleep that night (I kept thinking someone was in the room with me, in the dark, and I couldn’t sleep because of it). I guess sinister children have that affect on me!

It was a movie that felt cliché in some ways, yet spoke to me in volumes in others. The young actress, twelve year old Isabelle Fuhrman, who played nine year old Ester was superb in every way. Without giving away any details, she had me totally convinced she was what they said she was. Her acting ability at such a young age is outstanding and she deserves an award for her role in this movie (I never think of things like awards when I’m watching a movie, so she really did impress me). In fact, whoever cast this movie did a great job. The characters fitted together well and complimented each other.

Some movies are watched and forgotten within days, this movie will remain strong in my mind for some time to come. The chilling plot plus the exceptional cast make a movie that I can highly recommend…but don’t let your kids watch it, it might give them ideas!

DVD Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Originally posted on another site on 4 January 2010.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceAnother DVD I received for Christmas was Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Before I go any further, I must tell you that I have read the entire series of books. You can read my book review here.

So where do I start? I guess I should point out that when the movie started, I greatly regretted not having watched the previous one again, just to refresh my memory of where events were at.

I was surprised by how much the actors have grown up. That was a bit distracting for a while.

The graphics are, as always, excellent. I especially liked the effect when watching a memory commence – that pencilled in look around the edges at the beginning of them. Very impressive!

As for the story itself, I felt hugely disappointed. So much attention had been given to presentation that it felt promising at first, but unfortunately the same attention had not been given to substance (the plot). This meant that the storyline was lacking the details the author had put in and the movie didn’t feel as if it were going anyway. It was a let down. As I have read the books, I knew what was meant to be going on, but G has not read the books and became totally lost. When the movie ended, he told me that he was confused and I had to explain a few things to get him up to par. This is a sign that the movie lacked critical details.

Overall, I felt the movie was a “filler-inner”, setting up the audience for the last instalment. This breaks a major rule in story telling as it broke a promise to deliver a story; which is a beginning, middle and end. When the credits rolled up, I didn’t feel satisfied that a story had been told and neither did G. We both felt cheated!

Knowing what the last instalment brings, this makes me wonder if the film industry will be able to bring it together and deliver an ending that will leave the audience in awe. Because not to do so will mean they have failed miserably at their jobs. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

At this stage of the story, because we are closing in on the end, I would have liked to have watched a movie that left me gasping for more. I should have been writing a review that proudly displayed five out of five stars and I should be complaining that I simply cannot wait for the last movie to be presented to us. Instead, I do none of these things. For me, the movie Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the worst movie so far. I hope, truly hope, that this isn’t an indication of what’s to come.

DVD Review: Twilight

Originally posted on another site on 3 January 2010.

TwilightI’m on holiday, which always means that I have more time to do things I normally wouldn’t – like watch DVD’s. And as it’s the Christmas holidays, it also means that it’s more than likely that I received a couple of DVD’s as presents, which I did. One of those movies was Twilight.

Of course, I had heard of the books and the movie, and I had heard a lot of conflicting reviews on both. However, I had no expectations about the movie and, apart from knowing it was connected to vampires, I had no idea what the story was about. In turn, I didn’t have an advanced feeling that it would be good or bad, I was 100% neutral. This meant that when the movie started, I was able to view the story unfolding before me through my own eyes, instead of being biased by what others thought.

Not having read the books, I have no idea how true the movie was to the books…and I don’t care about that either, as I don’t intend to read them. The movie, for me, was OK. If I were to rate it out of five, I’d give it a three. It wasn’t terrible or unwatchable, but it wasn’t a great movie that will be watched over and over again either. It was a movie that I enjoyed at the time, but it didn’t make a lasting impression on me.

The main male character was strange to look at. I believe this was deliberately done, but I found it a bit distracting. The main female character was ordinary and I mean that in a good way. She wasn’t some Hollywood glamour queen, she was a normal looking human being and that made the movie all the better.

The plot is an old one. It’s been done plenty of times before. But I enjoyed it anyway. The graphics were good, there was enough action to make it exciting and I always like the romantic side of a story so I wasn’t disappointed there. Having said that, I felt that the love between these two people was too quick and not powerful enough.

I don’t really have a lot to say about it. As movies go, it was a good way to pass a few hours after a busy day, but I’m glad I didn’t pay to see it.

Ice Age

Last night I watched Ice Age for the first time. I love animated movies and they are the only type of DVDs I will buy. (However, G buys all the action packed ones, so I don’t miss out.)

Briefly, Ice Age is about three mismatched creatures coming together, for their own reasons, to help a human child return to his tribe. Before the adventure is over, the group not only face boiling lava pits, and treacherous ice tunnels, but they discover emotions.

It’s a great story. I enjoyed it immensely. Now I can put it aside for when the (step) grandchildren grow up a little and will appreciate watching it. (Yes, that was my real reason for buying it – honest!) 😀

HP and the Goblet of Fire (Movie)

We finally saw the movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire yesterday. I was scared that it would be taken away before I got to see it and these movies should be seen on the big screen, to be appreciated.

There were a lot of scenes cut out, and several long scenes in the book were cut right back (and believe me, this isn’t always a bad thing), but I felt the movie was great. It had everything needed to make sense and the graphics were superb. There’s no way they could have done justice to this movie twenty years ago. Everything felt and looked so real, that I can almost believe in dragons!

All Harry Potter fans will love the movie, and non-lovers of these books will have to admit that they’ve done a good job. It’s a must see for sure. I just hope we don’t have to wait too long for the next one.