Tag Archives: Reviews

Review: Prometheus (2012)

Directed by: Ridley Scott
Written by: Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof
Genre: Horror / Sci-Fi
MPAA: Rated R
Released: 8 June 2012
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green, Sean Harris, Rafe Spall, Emun Elliott, Benedict Wong, Kate Dickie,

Synopsis: A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.

Review: 8/10

My Thoughts: In 1979, filmmaker Ridley Scott terrified audiences everywhere with Alien; a franchise that would deliver – over the course of 33 years – three sequels and two conjoining spinoff non-cannon films, as well as an array of rich content spanning through books, comics, video games etc etc… But one question that has always boggled the minds of viewers; where did the ‘Alien’ (Xenomorph) come from? How did it come to be? And why does it have striking hominoid like features? But more importantly who was the gigantic dead alien we’ve all come to know as the “Space Jockey” sitting in the pilot’s chair? For some three decades we’ve asked this question, and for three long decades fans waited for the man who started it all to show us.

I was about 6 years old the first time I watched Alien, and unlike most children I was not afraid by the sight of the two mouthed Xenomorphs. Instead I was in amazement over how incredibly interesting the mere sight of them were, I wanted to know more about them, where they were from, why they had two mouths and why they needed facehuggers to transplant their fertile eggs into us and use us as living breathing incubator for their race. After three long decades of being absent from the science fiction genre in which Scott himself help revolutionize with films like ‘Alien’ and ‘Blade Runner’ he has now returned once more to tell us the tale of how it all began, or as Mr. Dryden from Lawrence of Arabia (1968) would say: “big things have small beginnings”.

Taking place 29 years before the events of Alien, Prometheus takes us on a chilling journey to where it all began, following a team of explorers on a 2 year space voyage paid for by the Weyland Corporation to uncover the clues to what they believe is mankind’s true origin, but the truth they seek have consequences that may lead them to unspeakable horrors. I have been waiting years for a true film to be made in the Alien franchise, and after suffering through AVP (Alien vs. Predator) and AVP: Requiem, I welcomed the news of an Alien prequel with open arms. My only concern however, was how it would pan out. I was astonished by how well the finished product turned out. Prometheus was indeed a nostalgic journey down memory lane for someone such as myself, from the interior and exterior of the spaceship to its band of misfit crew, Prometheus brought me back to what intrigued me about the franchise as a child, and brought forth with it answers to questions I’ve long waited for. Ridley Scott also brought back the horror element into the series which I feel became somewhat absent after James Cameron decided to go the route of action sci-fi rather than keeping with the theme Scott started out with in the previous Alien film. However that’s not to say Cameron’s take on the series was at all inferior to Scott’s Alien, just different in theme.

In Prometheus Scott dropped the action theme and returned it to its glorious roots of Sci-fi horror and placed the film’s main focus on the story itself rather than on quick cheap chills and thrills for shock value. But what makes this film so astonishing is the fact  that while it is indeed a prequel to the Alien franchise, it doesn’t rely on it fully. You don’t have to watch the previous Alien films nor do you require any knowledge of them to see this. Prometheus is a film that stands strongly on its own two feet with a standalone story that doesn’t require the backbone of the Alien franchise for stability. However, with that being said I was amazed at some of the stuff Scott was allowed to get away with by the studios here. Certain elements in the film places a few touchy subjects into question almost from the start which will most likely leave some unnerved, especially those of a strong spiritual background, so for this I have to say is not a film for everyone.

As for the acting: much like Scott’s previous films, Prometheus had a very solid cast. First up was Noomi Rapace: You may remember as the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. She delivered a stellar performance in the role of Elizabeth Shaw. I was very unfamiliar with Rapace’s background in film prior to TGWTDT so I can’t say about her past. However with that being said, I’ve really taken a liking to her ability to take on strong leading female roles. She has delivered nothing short of astonishing thus far. Charlize Theron is on a roll this year, playing strong hardened female characters back to back with Snow White and the Huntsman and now Prometheus. Theron, who plays Vickers – the corporate liaison who oversees the operation for the Waylon Corporation, is harden and cold hearted to the bone and only looks out for the company’s interests. Theron pulls of this sinister role without breaking a sweat and makes her presence undoubtedly noticed whenever on screen. Michael Fassbender, whom has been a part of an array of amazing franchises and films as of recently, delivers a superb performance here; his presence in the film equals none except for Theron. Logan Marshall-Green preformed quite well in the film, though I felt his presence was lacking, especially his chemistry with Rapace , which wasn’t really all that strong.  For someone who’s supposed to play second fiddle to Rapace as her partner I think he could have done a lot better. However with that being said about the minor hiccup in the cast, what I found to be the most astonishing appeal to Prometheus was the choice in casting. Unlike most big budget films like this, the cast wasn’t completely Americanized which I’ve always found to be a total cliché in most big budget sci-fi’s. With Prometheus the support cast was mostly British, which was a decent change of pace for a change with a support cast like: Idris Elba, Sean Harris, Rafe Spall, Emun Elliott, Kate Dickie, Benedict Wong, and Guy Pearce.

Finale Say: With a strong plot and gorgeous special effect, Prometheus exceeded my expectations in every aspect and left me questioning why Ridley Scott ever left the sci-fi genre. I highly recommend!

Short Film Review: Familiar

Starring: Robert Nolan, Astrida Auza, Cathryn Hostick

Written & Directed By: Richard Powell
Reviewed by: Kelsey Zukowski (The Scream Queen)
Grade: B+

Familiar is a dark short film that immediately shows us the twisted fate at hand. It comes full circle, showing how we got to this point and reveals the uncompromising gritty reality behind it. Of course, this is really just setting the tone for what is to follow. At first glance, we really have no real understanding of what’s going on or the weight it holds.

John Dodd’s only escape from his family life misery is the hope o f being essentially free from fatherhood when his daughter goes away to college. He’s done his time and he’s nearly out now, needing freedom behind his residential prison more than ever. Life seems to have other plans though. John’s wife tells him that she is pregnant. It may be a miracle to her, but to John it’s a fate worse than death. He can’t just sit back and allow himself to be stuck again for another 20 years.  He still has some control and he’s not willing to go out without a fight. John resorts to abortion methods and drugs his wife. Things don’t stop there. John’s boundaries are clearly ripping off the seams. A darkness in him getting stronger until it completely takes over piece by piece.

Familiar is a beautifully shot film with excellent production levels, something I rarely see in low-budget  indie horror screeners like this. The acting is spot on and simply incredible. It is the glue that holds the film together. Robert Nolan as John as is clearly the stand out performance. He shows an outstanding range and real understanding of a character who is so teetering. He nails it all from the subdued, hollow, and distantly numb to the scared, out of his element individual who loses his grip on reality and is determined to go out with a fight no matter how viciously suffocating it might be. Astrida Auza gives a much more subtle performance as his wife, but it’s the little touches that really make it notable. She doesn’t seem like an actor, she seems like a real person who is somewhat content in life, but still struggles and aches for something more.

Familiar is constantly interesting and engaging. Each act of the film is significantly different from the previous, almost seeming like a different being altogether. Still, it all works as a progression. It just has you intrigued and not really sure what is going on. It weaves quite an intricate web and ends up revealing a nightmarish reality far beyond fears of fatherhood. Yet it is that fear of the loss of freedom that takes an entirely different horrifying physical manifestation. Or is it the physicality that brings light to the true terrors of parenting, and tragic domestic  living that are merely brought light to by more jarring visuals? That is up to you to decide.

Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Published: October 18th 2007 by Razorbill
Genre: Young Adult/Realistic Fiction
Reviewed By: Nicole Raines
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Even though suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens, the topic is still somewhat of a taboo in open discussions.  Differences of opinion can lead to heated debates and people who are considering suicide often keep it to themselves for fear of being judged. However, ignoring the issue doesnt make it go away. Several young people continue to take their own lives each year, while loved ones are left behind, trying to make sense of the tragedy, questioning “Why?”

Plot: High School student Clay Jensen comes home to find a package left on his doorstep. Inside are seven cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, a fellow student and crush of Clay’s that has recently committed suicide. Within the audio tapes, Hannah lists 13 people who she felt has played a role in her suicide. She also reveals that, if the audio tapes arent passed to each person named next on the tape, a second set of tapes will be leaked to the entire school, which could have serious consequences for some of the people she has named.

My thoughts: Thirteen Reasons Why takes us inside the mind of fictional character Hannah Baker, as she recalls events that led her to the decision to take her own life. The book offers a unique look on the subject with it’s dual narrative: Even though we are hearing Hannah’s story through her own words, we are also experiencing it through Clay Jensen thoughts, the main narrator of the story. I think the narration style of the book was bold to say the least. Jay Asher did a fine job keeping the flow of the story going in his debut novel.

As I listened along with Clay, I often found myself having the same reaction’s to Hannah’s story as he did. Some of her “reason’s why” were easier for me to understand than others. All of Hannah’s choices seemed to stem from the first reason on the list, which was a rumor started by the first boy she kissed. She made it very clear that every bad thing that happened to her could be linked back to his lie that -she felt – destroyed her reputation. Things seemed to keep happening after the rumor and Hannah soon spiraled down into depression.

I’ve read a lot of different thoughts on this book and some people dont consider Hannah’s reasons to be realistic enough to drive a person to commit suicide. I’ll agree that, for me personally, none of the things she listed would be enough of a reason to make me take my own life, but I dont think that’s the point of this book. Hearing Hannah tell her story, I could believe that she felt that they were enough of a reason. I think that once she fell into a depression, that every bad thing that happened to her, no matter how big or small, was magnified by her bleak outlook on life. Once somebody is depressed, any small thing that goes wrong in their life can feel ten times worse than it actually is. I feel that was Hannah’s case. Even when people were trying to be nice to her, she pushed them away because she expected – maybe even wanted – more bad things to happen. She built a wall and she made it impossible for anybody to come in.

I also think it’s unfair to judge Hannah’s reasons by ones own. Everybody is different and some people can deal with emotional scarring better than others. While some people have thick skin and can shrug rumors off as nothing more than that, others can be left emotionally damaged for life because they don’t know how to cope with the stress of them properly. I’m not sure if there’s ever a good enough reason to commit suicide, but Hannah’s reasons were good enough for her.

The best thing about the book is that the author never made Hannah out to be blameless even though she played the victim in her recordings. Even though I could feel bad for Hannah at times, I also felt that her last act in recording the audio tapes were a bit spiteful towards some of the people on the list, especially person number 13. Sometimes I was left questioning why Hannah would allow herself to be put in certain situations and I was even left feeling distaste for some of the things she stood by and “allowed” to happen. There’s a few on the list that I could see why she would want to make them realize their mistakes, but even the author strayed away from actually holding them accountable for her death. A person is accountable for their own actions in the end. Hannah knew that and I think Clay saw that too by the time he got to the end of the recordings. Clay also realized that every nice act can go a long way. I think Hannah taught him that a person in need of help must be willing to accept help. A person has to want to be saved and I feel like Hannah did not, but every small gesture of kindness can make a difference to someone, even if it doesnt save them.

I think the main point of the book is to make a person THINK about the consequences of their actions when it comes to things like spreading rumors or taking advantage of someone. It’s not about Hannah being right or the people on her list being wrong. Hannah’s story is meant to show us the importance of being aware of how we treat others in our daily lives, because we never know what another person might be dealing with on the inside.

Thirteen Reasons Why was one of best books I’ve read in a long time. It was hard for me to put down because I needed to know all the events that lead to Heather’s end. Not only would I highly recommend this book to be a part of everyone’s reading list, I think it should be “Required Reading” for junior/high school. It’s a book that could open up a discussion that could possibly lead to saving a life or at least open a persons eyes to the fact that every action -no matter how small – has an impact on someone.

Book Review: Succubus Revealed

Succubus Revealed (Georgina Kincaid #6)  by Richelle Mead
Published: August 30, 2011 by Kensington
Genre: Adult/Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Reviewed By: Nicole Raines
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Plot: In the final installment of the “Georgiana Kincaid” series, everything seems to be going right for our favorite succubus. Then the unexpected happens: Georgiana’s demon bosses are transferring her to Las Vegas, where they expect her to carry out her succubus duties, away from Seattle and the love of her life, Seth Mortenson. But once she gets there, she realizes the move might not be so bad. In fact, things seem too good to be true in Sin City. Georgiana’s friends are convinced that Hell, who holds a contract on her soul, wants her away from her life in Seattle and have created the perfect scheme to keep her in Vagas …but why would Hell go to so much trouble to keep Georgiana away from Seattle and more importantly, Seth? Georgiana and her friends set out to uncover the life changing truth that Hell doesnt want her to know

My Thoughts: There’s really not a whole lot to be said about the final installment in Georgiana’s tale. The book opens with Georgiana working at the mall as one of Santa’s elves. I really miss her old day job at the book store. That was one of my favorite parts of the previous books, so I guess I was hoping that we might find her back at Emerald City one last time. Since she’s having no luck at finding a decent day job in Seattle, the surprise transfer to Vegas proves to even more enticing. Especially since, when she gets there, she discovers a dream job awaiting. Of course, this is all part of Hells plan to make leaving Seattle (and Seth) that much more easy. If you have read any of the previous books, you can pretty much guess why Hell wants Georgiana far away from Seth, which is why the plot of Succubus Revealed wasn’t that exciting.

My favorite part of the entire series has been the secondary characters and this time we were introduced to Seth’s, anti-establishment, younger brother Ian. He was one of the most amusing characters and it’s a pity he wasnt introduced earlier in the series. Saying good-bye to Carter (an Angel) and Roman (a nephilim) was bittersweet. Both of them proved to be the most intriguing characters throughout the entire series. Without spoiling too much, lets just say that Roman’s role in Georgiana’s happiness was almost too heartbreaking to read. His character came such a long way since the beginning of the series. There’s a part of me that will always be Team Roman.

The ending was satisfactory, but  as much as I have loved spending time with Georgina, Seth, Carter and the rest of the characters, I feel like saying goodbye was way past due. I’m not sure if Richelle Mead always planned to go to six books in the series or if it was part of her contract, but the last few books have felt very stretched out. There wasnt any revelations that I didnt already see coming, so basically it was just waiting and “watching” for her and the others to finally figure out what I had already guessed about the contract on Georgiana’s soul and its link to Seth. I really love Mead as a writer, but I think it was a mistake on her part to throw in so many clues in previous books to where the conclusion was going. Books are always best when there’s mystery and this one lacked it big time.

Even though Succubus Revealed proved to be a little underwhelming, the ending still leaves me satisfied as a fan of Georgina and her friends. 3 stars might be a little generous for this plot alone, but the characters werent any less awesome than they have always been, so that kept me liking the overall story. I thoroughly enjoyed the series as a whole and there’s a part of me that will miss reading about my favorite succubus. I would recommend this book only after reading the previous books in the series, because it cant be appreciated without.