three-and-a-half-stars

Micro Review - Robocop (1987)

Bob Morton: What are your Prime Directives? 
RoboCop: Serve the public trust, protect the innocent, uphold the law.

Movie Number: 8
Title: Robocop(1987)
Running Time: 102 minutes (“R”)
Director: Paul Verhoeven

It’s tough to admit to watching classics for the first time, but better late than never, right? That said, Robocop was a first-time viewing for me (in fact, all the movies I’ve watched this year have been first-time viewings, which is great). This is one I should have watched years ago, though. The Detroit backdrop is only the candy coating on the incredible action flick that is Robocop. This has some of the greatest gore special effects I have seen in any 80s movie, and through the violence, still manages to have a heart at its core, driving the story forward. Peter Weller and Kurtwood Smith (whom I adore from That 70s Show) are wonderful as protagonist and antagonist, and I can’t stress enough just how incredible the special effects are. It blows most CGI effects out of the water. Robocop is an awesome staple to the action genre.


Review: Across the Universe

Author: Beth Revis

Genre(s): Sci-fi, Mystery, Romance

Format: Paperback

My Rating: ★★★½

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming. - via Goodreads

My Thoughts: I think this book is more of a 3.5 for me. My rating on Goodreads is a 4 because I round up.

THAT SAID…

For the most part, I enjoyed this book. I’m not much of a sci-fi reader - other than dystopian novels, I’m 99% sure this is my first sci-fi novel - but it wasn’t too bad! What I enjoyed the most was how dark the story got. Originally, I didn’t think it was that creepy but the further into the story I got, the more I realized just how dark what was taking place in the novel was and that, along with the satisfaction of knowing without a doubt who the “bad guy” was, was what drove me to keep reading.

So it probably goes without saying that when I first grabbed the book I thought it was going to be heavy on the romance. But that wasn’t the case at all. I’ve heard about a lot of books that are “sci-fi” that are really just romance in a sci-fi setting and Across the Universe wasn’t one of them. I don’t know how the second and third books will pan out but I think the problems presented in AtU definitely lend themselves to being explored and dealt with in the next books.

One of the main problems I had with this book was the murderer. The moment that character was introduced, I had already pinned them as the culprit. It wasn’t hard to figure out so I grew annoyed that Amy and Elder overlooked it for so long. However, given everything going on within the novel, I’m willing to cut them some slack. 

My other issue is the lack of ladies. In total, we have five we know by name, one of whom we never see, and other than Amy, we never actually get to know the other women. Of course, there is a “mean girl” we see occasionally - sigh. It would’ve been nice to see Amy develop some kind of real relationship with another girl aboard the ship since there are eight guys we know by name, five of whom she interacts with on an almost daily basis. I’m not going to hold out too much hope for female companionship in the next two novels, though.

Would I recommend this book?: Yes.

BOOK THREE: Destined, Jessie Harrell (three and a half stars)

I’ve been fascinated by the story of Eros and Psyche since sixth grade, when our English and social studies classes did units on ancient Greece (which culminated with Greek Night, when we all had to do some presentation involving an aspect of ancient Greek culture; my group did a skit called Medusa’s Hair Salon). I’ve read a few books/short stories with this myth as a basis, and even attempted to write my own during NaNoWriMo a few years back.

Destined was not one of the best of the adaptations.

Oh, it was an easy read, and cute. I liked Psyche’s personality. She had enough moxie that it wasn’t grating and didn’t read like faux girl power. However, I didn’t like the POV change–Psyche’s chapters are in first person; Eros’s in third. It disrupted the flow for me.

If you’re looking for a light, fluffy reading of the story, by all means go with this one. But if you’re left dissatisfied by Destined, I’ll suggest one of my favorite retellings: Cupid by Julius Lester. I read it at the start of last year, and it’s absolutely beautiful.

Micro Review - The Fisher King (1991)

Movie Number: 3
Title: The Fisher King(1991)
Running Time: 137 minutes (“R”)
Director: Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliam is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors. My first rendezvous with Gilliam was a couple months ago with Brazil, and I was urged to give The Fisher King a viewing. Sticking true to Gilliam’s style - doses of the fantastical mixed with reality and imagery - The Fisher King is filled with excellent performances from Jeff Bridges, Robin Williams, Mercedes Ruehl, and Amanda Plummer. It also contains one of the single greatest scenes I’ve ever witnessed when the late, great Michael Jeter sings in drag. It is a thrill to behold Jeter’s talent. The Fisher King is beautiful, and well worth your time.

Pandorum is a decent space horror-movie, I didn’t expect it to be amazeballs like Alien, but it’s a shame that the cast is so… cliche.
White male hero who’s the engineer who can alone save the ship, check
White female side-kick who seems to wear a pushup bra the whole time: check
Asian ninja guy: check
Black guy who’s a cannibal (albeit a life or death choice): check (that one kinda bothered me)

The Decoy Princess by Dawn Cook

I first read this book in highschool, although at the time I had messed up and read the second one first and only then skimmed the first one. But since it had been long enough that I didn’t really remember the plot line I figured it was about time to go back and try again.

And yes, I would recommend it if you want a good fantasy.

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The Silver Linings Playbook 

I had no idea what this movie was about and usually on such occasions I am pleasantly surprised. True to form, I thoroughly enjoyed The Silver Linings Playbook and I would definitely recommend it. Yet again I am surprised at how much I liked a drama/romance/comedy film. Although perhaps not a typical experience, The Silver Linings Playbook, depicts the experience of some in all too common relationship situation. 

Bradley Cooper, who i have admired from years ago when he appeared in the TV series Alias, is amazing in this film. Cooper plays the role of Pat, a young man dealing with a recently discovered mental illness and also the infidelity of his wife. His performance is outstanding and although Pat can be incredibly frustrating and hard to watch ultimately Cooper was captivating and endearing.

Jennifer Lawrence, who is popping up everywhere, plays the raw and refreshingly human, Tiffany, who is also dealing with mental health issues and the grief of the death of her husband. She is beautiful in this film and her chemistry with Cooper is electric as it builds throughout the story.

Personally, I love films that manage to tell stories about difficult topics such as heartache, death and mental illness with humour and grace. The Silver Linings Playbook is one of them.

The Silver Linings Playbook - 3 ½ Stars

Greek for Beginners by Jackie Braun

(Image from here)

This was such a cute book! I really needed a light and fun book to distract me from my huge amount of homework I have this weekend… and found exactly what I was looking for in Greek for Beginners.

Although the story wasn’t anything special, and some of the sentences made me laugh out loud and how cheesy they were, this book was pretty good. It was perfect for the kind of book I need during heavy homework weeks- easy to read, quick to finish, and like a chick flick.

The characters were pretty sweet, although nothing too out of the ordinary. 

I liked that it took place in Greece, and gave the book a little bit of a wanderlust fix as well. Although there wasn’t a huge push of Greek culture outside of Nick’s family, the fact that the characters spent a bit of time near the ocean made me want to go to a waterfront myself.

I will give this book a 3.5/5. It was cute, and exactly what I needed, but nothing special or extraordinary.

Review: Before I Fall

Author: Lauren Oliver

Genre(s): Contemporary

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 3.5ish/5

Samantha Kingston has it all: looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last.

The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. Living the last day of her life seven times during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing. - via Goodreads

My Thoughts: I had mixed feelings going into this book. On the one hand, I’ve tried reading another Lauren Oliver book, Delirium, and just couldn’t get into the pacing. On the other hand, I heard such great things about Before I Fall. I tried to give myself as blank a slate as possible go off of and this is what I got:

The book starts out slow and I’m immediately at odds with Sam. The things she thinks and says are just… I don’t know. If I heard someone say those things, I’d be sure to comment on their lack of human decency. But that’s not a bad thing for Sam - I’m a strong believer that narrators don’t need/have to be liked - it just set the stage for what happens later. Sam dies in the first chapter so it doesn’t give you this lingering feeling of anticipating the inevitable which I liked. 

As she relives her last day over and over, I start to get a feel for the sides of Sam that I didn’t get to see initially and how everything that happens is connected in weird ways. The second and third and even fourth or so Friday don’t interest me much, if at all (minus Kent), but about halfway through the book, things start to pick up. I start to care what’s going on and I realize I care what happens to Sam and the people around her. It doesn’t matter if I’m not the biggest fan of them - I still care and I like to see how Sam’s perspective changes. How it changes in respect to herself, her friends, and her non-friends. Her character arc is easily one of my favorites. 

That being said, the first half of the book was slow and held very minimal interest for me. I thought things felt kind of jumbled.

Would I recommend this book?: I think there are a lot of great take-aways from it so yes, I would.

The Marine Next Door by Julie Miller

3 ½

So first off, I should make all of you jealous and tell you that I picked this one up for about a penny. A used bookstore called Once Sold Tales was having a warehouse sale. When I showed up, I expected a warehouse. I got three warehouses, filled with rows and rows of books that only one person could go down at a time. AND THE BEST PART WAS: bring a bag, fill it up and get it for 10 bucks. Seriously, any bag. There were people there with sleeping bags.

*ahem*

Okay, enough about the shopping trip from heaven. 

The point is, I picked this one up on utter whim, there was no real reason and I had not heard a word about this one so I wasn’t expecting much. Surprisingly, this is probably one of the best romance novels I’ve read.

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1/365 - Mirror Mirror (2012)

IMDB - 2012 - TRAILER

SUMMARY: An evil queen steals control of a kingdom and an exiled princess enlists the help of seven resourceful rebels to win back her birthright. watched on: 01-01-2013

Mirror Mirror was an absolutely beautiful movie, honestly the biggest highlight of this film was the use of colors in the scenes and costumes. It was the costume design, especially that of the nobles, that made this movie an interesting one to watch. However, there is something to be said for the story. I loved the little quirks they added in the script and to the characters.

I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys quirky scenes and costumes along with anyone who enjoyed the movie Ella Enchanted.