Friday, June 13, 2014

Bite-Size Movie Reviews

Nowadays, many of the movies I see don’t make it onto the blog because I don’t love them enough or consider them of enough account. Besides, movie reviews usually take longer to write. But here and there throughout the past few months, I’ve encountered a movie or TV show that needs to be mentioned. So here they are, in the same bite-size manner.

TV Series: Sherlock (season 1) – 9
Everyone always said I’d enjoy it – everyone was right. I did indeed quite love Benedict Cumberbatch as a modern and witty Sherlock, and Martin Freeman as his delightful side-kick! The mysteries were engaging, there were funny quirks and lines in each episode, and I was entirely obsessed – the three episodes flew by way too fast. I can’t wait to watch the other seasons of this wonderful show. The only drawback I would mention is that each episode contained some reference to homosexuality, which I really didn’t appreciate. Other than that, it was most delightful!

Movie: Avatar – 7
The only reason I decided to review this one was because of the graphics. As far as the story goes, it wasn’t amazing. I didn’t fall in love with the giant blue creatures, nor did I form a huge connection with any of them. I’m glad I watched it, if primarily for the reason that now I can say I did. The graphics were absolutely amazing and that’s what scored this movie a 7 from me.

Movie: Jack Reacher – 8.5
I think I originally stumbled across this movie because it starred Rosamund Pike (who was Jane in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice). Somewhat to my surprise, I greatly enjoyed it! The action sequences were fast, the mystery compelling, and Rosamund (as Helen) was delightful to watch. Such a different role from Jane, but wonderful none-the-less. Finally seeing the famed Tom Cruise was also delightful. Good movie!

Movie: Captain America: the Winter Soldier – 9.5
Yay! Captain America is back on the big screen! I really enjoyed this movie. Pulled me in from the start and I was glued to the screen. Captain America is a delight to watch once again…ah, I do love that guy. Scarlett Johansson was a great heroine – full of impressive crazy stunts and the like. Captain America is such a wonderful soldier and superhero. Love. I can’t wait to watch this one again on DVD!

TV Show: Castle (season 1) – 8.5
After getting hooked on this show in season 5, I knew I wanted to go back and see the original meeting of Beckett and Castle. So as soon as the library got season 1 on reserve for me, I settled in to watch – and was not disappointed. Watching the beginning of Kate & Richard’s relationship after seeing it in maturity in the later seasons was delightful! This is one series I’m eager to watch through. Castle is incorrigible, Beckett is adorable (and a great cop), and the whole show is a favorite of mine.

Movie: The Host – 7.5
I was disappointed. After reading and enjoying the book, I hoped the movie would be something I would enjoy just as much and was thrilled to discover it checked-in at my local library. But sadly, I didn’t. My main problem with it was character development – I know, converting an 800 page book packed with detail in a two hour movie is a gigantic challenge. But after how I fell in love with the book characters, I felt like they were all woefully misrepresented in the movie. I’m not sorry I watched it, but I don’t think I would watch it again.

Movie: White House Down – 9
This movie has been on my to-see list for over a year, and finally getting to see it – well, it did not disappoint! Primarily because really – who could protest watching Channing Tatum for two hours? But better than that, the plot was riveting and full of surprise twists. The chases and suspense were fascinating and I couldn’t stop watching. A great movie!

TV Show: The Bible (season 1) – 8
This was so interesting. What to say? All in all, it wasn’t entirely Biblically accurate, and that bugged me. I think where the Bible says one thing, that’s how it should be portrayed, whether in movie or book. But for people who are grounded in the Bible and know the stories well, I would recommend this as an interesting visualization of the places and people. It also gives interesting perspective on some of the stories.

Movie: Much Ado About Nothing – 8.5
I went into this one not sure what I was going to think. Here’s the gist of it: (1) It’s set in present day; (2) It’s filmed in black and white; and (3) They use all their lines directly from Shakespeare (though I believe a few of them may have been slightly changed). To my surprise, I quite enjoyed it and was amazed by the dexterity with which the actors pulled the clunky lines into present day smoothness. I loved seeing Castle (from the show of the same name) and Agent Coulson (from Agents of SHIELD) in this too! So cool. While some parts were a little confusing and it took me a little bit to get my bearings, overall I enjoyed it! If you’ve enjoyed this story by Shakespeare or if you’re a sucker for interesting films – this is a must-see.

Movie: Alex Cross – 7
Disappointed. I had hoped for an action movie that I would fully enjoy, as this has recently become a favorite genre of mine. While this one wasn’t bad, I didn’t enjoy it fully. It was a little more disgusting than some films, and that definitely docked my rating. There were some great fight scenes and some brilliance, both from the criminal and the others. But all in all, not one I’ll watch again.

Movie: Oz the Great and Powerful – 7.5
Admittedly, I did like this one more than Alex Cross and I wouldn’t mind allowing my siblings to see it. However, it wasn’t my new favorite. That being said, it was creative and had an interesting story and colorful characters. I neither loved nor hated it.

Movie: Maleficent – 8.5
As I headed into the theater to see this one, I didn’t know what to expect. But I enjoyed it! It was easy to empathize with Maleficent herself. The animation was stunning, where it was used. The whole story was almost predictable (due to being a classic fairy tale) – but then not quite. It was always take some turn or other that was liable to surprise. The dragon was a nice touch, and most impressive. All in all? A good movie that I’ll watch again on DVD.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bite-Size Book Reviews

As the spring ended and I am preparing to head to Montana for the summer, I discovered that, while I had time to read several books, full size reviews weren’t coming to me. So I decided to steal an idea I’ve seen used on other blogs and write one post with bite-size reviews instead – and here it is. Enjoy!

In Every Heartbeat by Kim Vogel Sawyer – 9
I had anticipated reading this one ever since loving My Heart Remembers several years ago. And now that I finally obtained the book and had the time to sit down and dive in, I was naturally delighted. While it didn’t reach my “favorite books” list, it was a delightful story from Kim and one that will stay on my shelves. Colorful characters and a unique setting (college in the late 1800s or early 1900s) made it a great book.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer – 8.5 high
This book got the “high” added onto the rating for one simple reason – it’s 829 pages long and I was hooked for every single one of them. Now, first of all – I can tell you’re looking at me with horror because of the fact that I read a book by Stephenie Meyer. I was reluctant to pick it up, and prepared to put it down – but I couldn’t. It’s well-written, an engaging story, main characters who I really connected to, and great creativity. I recommend it, despite the first person tone. (Take heart, I am still violently opposed to Twilight, books AND movies.)

Petra: City in Stone by T. L. Higley – 8.5
I am rapidly reading every book by Higley that I can put my hands on! She has become one of my favorite authors. Her Biblical and historical fiction is excellent. This last semester in college, I took a New Testament Archaeology class, which included a brief overview of Petra. So reading about it here jolted details in my mind, so to speak – Higley was historically and geographically accurate through-out in a most impressive manner. I really appreciated that. A delightful read!

Sweet Sanctuary by Kim Vogel Sawyer – 9
Yet another delightful book from Kim! This isn’t your stereotypical Christian romance in one major way – the characters aren’t 20. A few years adds good maturity to both Lydia and Micah. Besides that, Lydia has a son who unwittingly bring them together. A surprising but heart-warming redemption story rounds this book out. The characters (and I’m thinking especially of Lydia’s father and Micah) were so vivid to me – my mental images of them are still clear, weeks after finishing this read. Again, I can do nothing short of highly recommending this book!

The Irish Healer by Nancy Herriman – 8
 A sweet book and worth a one time read, but I’m not sure that it made my (over-flowing) keeper shelf. While I liked the people of the story and the setting, it didn’t grab as much as some others that I read recently. However, I still think it was a good book, if not worth buying.

Full Disclosure by Dee Henderson – 8.5
I’m not sure either (a) why I picked this book up at the library or (b) why I haven’t read anything by Dee before. I was pleasantly surprised and will definitely be reading the O’Malley series as soon as I have time! Kate and Paul drew me into their world from the first page, and I read this one almost obsessively. The story is so complex (yet clearly explained) that I am amazed by Dee’s skill here. I really loved the first 2/3 or 3/4 of the book. After that, it wasn’t as much of a favorite of mine as it had been previously. I’m not sure why – just didn’t grab me as much. That’s what pulled the rating to an 8.5 instead of a 9. But all in all? I greatly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it!