Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Movie: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

May 4, 2011

Title: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (DVD & Blu-ray)
Directed by: Edgar Wright (director of Shaun of the Dead & Hot Fuzz)
Released: 2010
Length: 112 minutes
Genre: Comedy, Action, Guy-Friendly-Romance, Comic/Gaming (pretty much everything awesome!)
Based on: Scott Pilgrim graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Are you in your teens?  20’s?  30’s?  Heck, young at heart?  Boy, do I have the movie for you! [Blogger’s note: I would be an awful Billy Mays.]  Well, that’s assuming you like any of the following: graphic novels, music, video games, comedy, over-the-top action and/or romance. What’s that? You don’t? Well, GET OUT. …I’ll wait for the whole zero people to leave the blog. We good? Okay.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was easily the most entertaining movie of 2010.  Filled with comic and video game-imbued fight scenes, dumb (e.g., Scott) and witty (e.g., Wallace) comedy, insanely catchy music, and a seriously messed up relationship.

For those of you that know nothing about Scott Pilgrim, the story begins like this: Scott Pilgrim is a 23-year old slacker.  Still reeling from a bad break-up, he manages to form a tentative relationship with high schooler Knives Chau.  While complacent, Scott is turned on his head when his literal dream girl shows up: Ramona Flowers.  After finally convincing Ramona to start dating, and a half-hearted break-up with love-struck Knives (perhaps not entirely in that order), Scott discovers that in order to remain with Ramona, he must battle her seven evil exes.  And these are no Karate Kid structured matches; each evil ex has their own abilities and powers, and is willing to go to any low to defeat Scott (something Scott himself has no problem doing).

Did I mention Scott’s in a band?  Featured as the bass player in Sex Bob-omb, along with Steven Stills as lead guitar/vocals and Kim Pine on drums.  For those of you worried about some random band performing and the hoity-toity actors lip syncing and pretending to play the instruments, fear not!  Each member of Sex Bob-omb plays their own instrument, both in the movie and for the soundtrack.  I will note, however, that Beck wrote all their songs—who cares?!  Beck is awesome!  As for The Clash at Demonhead, Brie Larson (as Envy) sings in the movie, but it’s Metric’s song on the album—again, Metric is superb, so oh well!  And may I just note that there is, I kid you not, a Bass Battle!  I love puns.

Bass Battle

Worried about the movie straying too far from its graphic novel roots?  Again, not an issue!  The beginning is nearly word for word, and while they have to leave some things out for time’s sake, and the ending is a bit different due to the final volume not being out until after the movie’s script was written.  Aside from that, nearly everything including the characters’ clothes and hair styles are identical to those in the graphic novels.

Okay, Scott’s pretty oblivious, and Ramona seems to have been cold and uncaring in her past, but the events and the dialogue that transpire with these two and those around them will have you giggling and/or pumping your fists into the air…or at the very least, it will leave you with good memories and a pleasant sense of nostalgia.

BRR: Matched by Ally Condie

April 25, 2011

BOOK READ RECENTLY:

Title:  Matched
Author:  Ally Condie

Other books in series or Standalone: First in a trilogy.  The second book, Crossed, will be released in November 2011 and the third (still untitled) is due out in November of 2012

First Impressions:  I was SUPER excited for this book.  From the description, it sounded like it was going to be right up my alley, a dystopian tale filled with romance and rebellion.  Cassia lives in a world where The Society dictates every aspect of your life, leaving you no choice or real free will.  Everything is chosen for you, including who you marry.  At her Match Banquet, Cassia is shown the face of the boy she is to marry, and it turns out to be her best friend Xander.  But then for a brief moment, another face flashes before her (the face of her friend Ky), leading her to question the choice that has been made for her and what exactly The Society is up to.  The book had a ton of buzz, so I figured it would be pretty great.

Last Impressions:  One of the things I found most interesting about this book was how choice was so completely taken away.  It’s not just that you can’t choose who to marry; The Society has also limited the culture so as not to “overwhelm” the people with too many choices.  They have narrowed things down to The Hundreds, meaning that there are now only 100 songs, 100 movies, 100 poems, and so on.  It was interesting to watch Cassia go from thinking that this isn’t a bad thing to raging against it after her beloved grandfather gives her a poem that isn’t one of the 100 and is therefore forbidden.  I really liked their relationship and what she learns from it.

Favorite Moment (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT):  Ky teaching Cassia to write.  Very sweet, and yet another reminder of how The Society restricts people’s actions (no one is allowed to write, only type into their Scribes).

Least Favorite Moment:  I don’t want to say because it’s a big spoiler!  But it involves someone getting his/her heart broken, and it made me sad.  And that’s all I will say.

Thoughts on the bookcover:  LOVE the cover!  Such a pretty picture, and with the girl in the bubble it’s a good visual image of what the book is about (because Cassia is very much trapped in the safe protective bubble of the Society).

People who should read this:  Anyone who likes a good love triangle or enjoys dystopian stories filled with rebellion and intrigue

If you like this book, you may also like: The Giver by Lois Lowry, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, and Delirium by Lauren Oliver (read my review HERE!)

BRR: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

April 18, 2011

BOOK READ RECENTLY:

Title:  Delirium
Author:  Lauren Oliver

Other books in series or Standalone:  First in a trilogy.  The sequels will be titled Pandemonium and Requiem, but no release dates are available yet.

First Impressions:  I read the summary and thought that it sounded really interesting; it’s a dystopian society where love is considered to be very dangerous, so people get a vaccine when they turn 18 that prevents them from ever falling in love.  Lena is anxious to get it since love caused some serious pain in her family many years back….that is, until she meets Alex….

Last Impressions:  I need the sequel to come out soon.  Like, yesterday, please.  Even though I thought that the worldbuilding was kind of weak (I’m still not totally sure of the origins of this fear of love), I thought that the love story and the feelings that Lena and Alex have for each other were quite powerful, and it really sucked me in.  I also loved seeing the transformation in Lena; she goes from being a girl who does what she is told and tries to please people to a rebel with a mind of her own.  Awesome and empowering.

Favorite Moment (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT):  Lena and Alex fall asleep together in his roofless trailer, looking up at the stars.  Swoon.

Least Favorite Moment:  Turning to the last page and realizing that I’m facing a cliffhanger.

Thoughts on the bookcover:  I know they say “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but I totally only picked this book up because it has such a pretty cover!  I just really liked the color and design, so it made me curious to see what it was about.  I think it fits the mood of the story very well.

Dream Cast:  Alexis Bledel as Lena (true, she probably just popped into my head because that’s the name of her character in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but I could totally see her in this part!), Alex Pettyfer as Alex (I think he has that rebel look down), and Amanda Seyfried as Hana.

People who should read this:  Anyone who likes a good love story, fans of dystopian lit

People who should not read this:  I don’t know if boys would identify with it as much, since it’s from the perspective of a girl and it’s all about love and whatnot, but I could be wrong, so give it a try anyway!

If you like this book, you may also like:  some other dystopian lit that involve a love story, like Matched by Ally Condie, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  After reading Delirium I also decided to try Lauren Oliver’s first book, Before I Fall, and while it’s fairly different from Delirium, it is also EXCELLENT!

Beastly, The Movie

April 2, 2011

A review–by Bethany

Now, when I walked into the theatre I had to remind myself to have an open mind for two reasons. One: I really am not a fan of Vanessa Hudgens acting and two: I’m a huge fan of Alex Flinn’s Beastly, which the movie was based on. The movie follows a boy, Kyle (Alex Pettyfer), who goes through many transformations, physically and emotionally. By the title alone one would be able to figure out that the movie is a contemporary look at the classic Beauty and the Beast.

Kyle is a typically popular guy who cares only about appearances, and because of that he believes that everybody else should only care about appearances. Then he pulls a prank on the gothic chick at school, Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen); or so he thinks. When in all actuality Kendra is a witch and was trying to give him a chance out of her putting a curse on him. But because he failed Kyle is transformed to look as ugly as he is on the inside. His one chance of returning to his normal state: to find a girl who will love him for him, not for what he looks like, in one year.

Now, as I mentioned before, Vanessa Hudgens is one of my least favorite actresses, but I’m a strong believer in the idea that people can change. In her first scene I was actually quite taken back and hopeful for her role in the film. However, all good things come to an end, and gradually throughout the movie her acting was what was expected. Mediocre. It reminded me of a high school play, her acting that is. There was a part in the movie where she is listening to headphones and starts singing out loud and abruptly stops realizing that people are around. During that particular scene, I didn’t buy that she was in a world of her own, but acutely aware that she was being filmed. Her performance, I couldn’t buy. But, there was a different actor who blew me away. Neil Patrick Harris, who played Will, Kyle’s blind private teacher, was amazing. Every scene he was in brought light to the movie; even the scenes shared with Vanessa Hudgens. I believe he stole the show. From his first entry to his last scene, it was something to look forward too. Alex Pettyfer played his role well, it wasn’t mind blowing, but it was good. He was definitely a good role for this part.

The cinematography and special effects where small, but great. Simple things such as the marks on Alex’s now transformed arms having flowers bloom in spring or lights and a star during winter. It was a very small effect, but nicely done and quite enjoyable. It’s always the small things. Alex’s face and body was made pretty gruesome, but still able to be looked at. Obviously the director wouldn’t want to make his so ugly that even the audience wouldn’t want to look at the film, but they did a good job and making him a tolerable level of ugly; one to where you could believe, but could continue watching it. And the cinematography won’t win any awards, but it was done right to bring about the movies progress.

Overall, the movie wasn’t bad. It wasn’t the best film I’ve ever seen, but it wasn’t bad. It you like supernatural romance you’ll probably like this film, or if you like the story of Beauty and the Beast, you’ll also like this film. This is my disclaimer: if you loved the book, you will not, I repeat: will not be a fan of the movie. They changed about eleven obvious things. And some of the things they changed did not need to be changed. Because I’m sure all book lovers can understand that sometimes, in order to make a book a film, you have to change things; yet, many of the changes that were made were not needed. The seasons were wrong, some of the scenes were wrong; some of the characters were a little off. But, that doesn’t take away that it was decent movie, it was just a very loose interpretation of the book. I wonder if Alex Flinn liked it.

Manga: Tsubasa –Reservoir Chronicle– by CLAMP

March 21, 2011

Tsubasa, Volume 1

Title: Tsubasa –Reservoir Chronicle–
Author: CLAMP
Publisher: Del Ray
Volumes: 28 (completed)
Publication: 2003-2009
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, Crossover
Anime: 2 seasons, 52 episodes (completed)

[Forgive the long review, dear blogee—the following paragraphs encompass several works, and take some time to explain!]

I’ll tell you something about myself: I hate starting a series with no end in sight. So when the last volume of Tsubasa came out recently, there was finally an end to the six-month+ long cliffhangers (imagine the happy dance, if you will). Of course, I didn’t learn about my extreme aversion to cliffhangers until after I had already started in on the series many a year ago. Frankly, even if I had, I probably would have started reading it anyway; after all, it’s CLAMP!

CLAMP self-portrait, manga-styleI trust you’re familiar with the Japanese power-quad mangaka (comic artist) group? No? Run, don’t walk, to the library and grab any of their previous series: Chobits, X/1999, Tokyo Babylon, Cardcaptor Sakura, Clover, Magic Knight Rayearth, RG Veda—just to name a few. Each series offers gorgeous art, compelling storylines and characters you’ll never forget.

In fact, the characters are so memorable, almost all of them show up in Tsubasa! The two main characters, Sakura and Syaoran, star in—as you may have guessed—Cardcaptor Sakura; one of CLAMP’s most popular series, and a steadfast member of the magical girl genre. Although this Sakura and Syaoran look exactly the same as in CLAMP’s previous series, it soon becomes apparent they do not occupy the world we’re used to seeing them in.

Tsubasa Main Cast: (back) Fai, Sakura, Kurogane, (front) SyaoranHowever, their attachment to each other has reached across universes; something you’ll find is a common theme with characters from other series. When Sakura loses her memories and is put into a catatonic state, Syaoran visits the Dimensional Witch, Yūko (from CLAMP’s parallel series, xXxHolic), and pleads with her to save Sakura. Two other original characters, under varying circumstances, show up at the same time and place to make a request of their own. However, no wish can be granted without giving up what they cherish most. In order to fulfill the trio’s wishes, they must journey to various dimensions, in order to regain Sakura’s memories and restore her to her former self.

Confused? Don’t worry, CLAMP tells the story much better than I do. If you’re apprehensive about reading Tsubasa without first going through all their previous material—don’t be. It’s definitely not essential to be a guru in all things CLAMP in order to enjoy the series. Although you’ll miss out on all your fangirl/boy squeals when your would-be favorite characters show up in the group’s travels (X/1999’s Sorata and Arashi? I don’t normally partake of the fangirl colloquialisms, but *squee*!!—read the series; you’ll understand why it’s a big deal). My only complaint with the series was that it was a bit hard to follow at times. Likely reading it all at once would remedy this—yet another reason to love finished series!

xXxHolic characters: Watanuki, Dōmeki, Mokona, Yūko

As you’re reading through Tsubasa, don’t forget to keep up with its sister series, xXxHolic. It follows Watanuki Kimihiro, who, despite his somber appearance, is typically quite energetic, though not in a happy-go-lucky way. Possessing the unwanted ability to see spirits, Watanuki stumbles upon Yūko’s wish-granting shop, where he promptly finds himself employed in order to work off his wish of one day being normal. The art has a very dark and smoky vibe, which I absolutely adored. The spastic Watanuki and the life-loving, sagely Yūko make a great team for a great read. So far 16 volumes are out in English. It’s unknown when the series will be completed, but I’ll keep gobbling it up anyway!

tl;dr (too long; didn’t read): Everything CLAMP makes is awesome, so by Transitive Property, Tsubasa is awesome!

BRR: Anna and the French Kiss

February 16, 2011

BOOK READ RECENTLY:
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie PerkinsTitle: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins

First Impressions: Honestly? I didn’t think I would like it! I had two friends LOVE the book and another friend LOATHE the book, and after reading their arguments about whether or not St. Clair was a jerk for leading on both Anna and his girlfriend or about whether Anna was weak/whiny for obsessing over him, I thought I would be on the disliking team.

Last Impressions: LOVED it! I could not put it down. And funnily enough, I still agree with a lot of my friend-who-loathed-it’s comments, except the part where she thought Anna and St. Clair’s actions made them (and thus the book) unlikable. I agree that they didn’t always handle the situation the best, but they handled it exactly how I imagine I would if I was Anna. She is such an amazing character because she makes mistakes and then learns from them–and yeah, she obsesses over a boy who is “off-limits,” but haven’t we all? (Hellooooo, Justin Timberlake.) And she never loses her individual personality; she is a neat-freak, sneaker-wearing, film-loving, future movie critic whether St. Clair likes her or not. And double yeah, this is a book about a romance, but it feel it is much more a coming-of-age novel about a girl who learns the pros and cons of growing into an independent woman. in Paris. with a hot, curly-haired guy who has a British accent. and they fall in love. squeeeeel :-)

Favorite Moment (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT): When Anna and St. Clair hung out over Thanksgiving, running and screaming around the dorms while everyone else was gone for the holiday–so many lovely goosebump moments! I also loved every time Anna blushed because I am a total blusher, too.

Least Favorite Moment: Anna’s low low point. Where it all spins outta control. You’ll know the part I mean when you read it. Lets just agree that mean people are the WORST. I just wanted to call her up and be like “ummm, you don’t me, but I read about what is happening right now and I just wanted to give you a hug.”

Quote from the book:

World's Largest Crossword PuzzleTime passes quickly for an eight-hour flight.

We don’t talk about what waits on the other side of the ocean. Not his mother. Not Toph. Instead, we browse Skymall. We play the if-you-had-to-buy-one-thing-off-each-page game. He laughs when I choose the hot-dog toaster, and I tease him about the fogless shower mirror and the world’s largest crossword puzzle.

“At least they’re practical,” he says.

Thoughts on the bookcover: Cute…but how come publishers never want to make the girls on covers look like the actual characters? where is Anna’s tooth gap? where is the bleached streak in her hair? Although the whole image of the unknown guy sitting just out of reach is perfecto.

An ideal place to read this book:
in an outdoor cafe! or maybe in a movie theater while you are waiting for a movie to start! or in Paris!!!

Dream Cast: Emma Stone for Anna (I think Emma Stone should be in EVERY movie.) and Aaron Johnson for St. Clair.

People who should read this: Anyone who likes romances, or books set in Europe, or stories about friendships, or any combination of the above :-)

People who should not read this: well there is not much obvious boy appeal, but I can see it enjoyed by boys who do appreciate smart romances with lots of snarkiness (I have several guy friends who love chick-flicks like When in Rome, etc–they would totally love this!). Also, my friend who LOATHES it should not re-read it.

If you like this book, you may also like: 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, Heist Society by Ally Carter, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

BRR: Drama High: The Fight

January 27, 2011

BOOK READ RECENTLY:

Title: Drama High: The Fight
Author: L. Divine
Other books in series or Standalone: First book in the Drama High series

Drama High: The FightFirst Impressions: Wow, Jayd seems like a girl who earns respect and admiration.
Last Impressions: Wow, I totally respect and admire Jayd.

Favorite Moment (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT): I really really loved how L. Divine made Jayd so real–it seems like a lot of authors either make their characters really rich or really poor. Jayd, however, is somewhere in the middle. She has enough money to save up for some cute clothes and name-brand lip gloss, but she doesn’t have much space to store her stuff at her grandmother’s house so she organizes everything into garbage bags. Even though Jayd is in high school, I found her living situation almost reminded me more of living in the dorms in college (but she had access to way better food).
Least Favorite Moment: Well, as the name suggests, the story is all about a girl who wants to fight Jayd because she wrongly believes Jayd is after her boyfriend. So for most of the book, I was all “AHHH WHY DOESN’T THIS SILLY GIRL UNDERSTAND THAT JAYD IS NOT STEALING HER BOYFRIEND AND LAY OFF?!” which I am sure is exactly how Divine wanted her readers to feel, but omigosh it was so frustrating!

An ideal place to read this book: On the bus ride home from school or for a needed break from homework.

Dream Cast: Keke Palmer as Jayd, Kerry Washington or Tracie Thoms as Jayd’s Mom, Meagan Good as Jayd’s friend Mickey, and I haven’t decided for Mama, Misty or the boys…

People who should read this: I would probably most recommend the Drama High series to girls in high school or college who want a fun, but not frivolous, book as a break from their study study study. But, a guy might enjoy this series, too (there is a lot of guys’ perspective on relationships which is interesting).

If you like this book, you may also like: Jayd has a lot in common with the heroines of two other BRR books–Scarlett of Suite Scarlett/Scarlett Fever and Mary Quinn of The Agency series–all girls with strong opinions and character, but who still feel unsure of themselves at times. Drama High fans might also enjoy books by Ni-Ni Simone and Nikki Carter.

Drama High website: http://dramahigh.com/