P.S. I Love You

P.S. I Love You

Rating: 4/5

Premise:

A young widow discovers that her late husband has left her 10 messages intended to help ease her pain and start a new life.

Review:

I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by this movie, as I don’t usually go for tearjerkers at all. It was on tv on a sunday afternoon so I figured eh, why not.

I was even more shocked by the fact that I actually cried on a few occasions. The movie is a romance with hints of humour and corny bits, but it addresses heavy subjects as well: what do you do when the love of your life is gone or how do you deal with the regrets? It also makes you think about the other side of the coin: if you knew you were going to die, what would you do? Would you make preparations? Would those focus on yourself alone or would you do something for the ones you love?

When Gerry found out he had a brain tumour and was going to die, he arranged for a series of letters to be delivered to his soon to be widow. Those letters would arrive at critical times in her life and were meant to help her move on. Not everyone in Holly’s life thought this was a good idea, as instead of moving on she seemed to be stuck in the past, but they respected his wishes.

As the movie unfolds, we find out more about Gerry and his relationship with Holly. So as we follow her and watch her grieve for him, we also get to know how he felt about her. There were some very endearing scenes and the one I found the most emotional was when Holly finally broke down and openly questioned the point of finding a new reason to live when the love of her life was gone. She had everything she wanted and it was taken from her.
It’s even more painful when you remember the beginning of the movie, the petty argument, her constant ranting about how their life never seemed to kickstart, that they were stuck, and Gerry telling her that it had already started and they were living it and it made me think… How many of us go through life like that? Wondering when our big break will come? How many times have I kept holding on, taking each day for granted, hoping for something better?

So yes, I was surprised that such a movie would make me question these things. Despite the sappy/corner scenes and dialogues, which weren’t that many to be frank, the fact is it was very well made and both Butler and Swank were very, very good. The chemistry was obvious; the relationship was very believable and I could connect to both of them as individuals.

Despite the light, funny, hopeful moments, I have to admit I finished the movie feeling quite sad. However, I also felt richer and that made it all worth while.

Watch it if you’re needing a good cry.

The Martian

Title: The Martian

Author: Andy Weir

Genres: Adventure | Science Fiction | Thriller

Length: 369 pages

Source: Purchased

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

Mark Watney was part of a crew of 6 astronauts on a mission in Mars. Due to an accident and a case of extremely bad luck, he’s stuck alone on the planet with no way of communication with Earth or his colleagues. This is the story of Watney’s fight for survival.

Review:

I have been hearing great things about this novel for a while now and since the movie adaptation is about to premier I figured I would get to the book before watching it.

When I first started reading The Martian I was pretty confused. There were several technical terms that I had no idea what they meant and it took me forever to grasp from the concept what those things were. I actually had to google their meaning.
Also, I kind of wish I had got a bit of an introduction explaining how life was on Mars on those few days the rest of the team was there.

However, Mark’s character grabbed my interest from the get go. At first, I was quite shocked by his unwavering resilience in such a situation and found his optimism unrealistic. But the fact is his sarcasm was as good a form of denial as ever and his charisma is what reeled me in. He faced such dire situations and his humour was always there, thrusting him forward. I admired him.

I am not sure how feasible it would be to move so many resources to save one man but the entire concept is very american dream taken to extremes. It was amazing how it practically turned into an outer space reality TV show. The entire world seemed to want to see Mark pull through.
The NASA scientists and admins’ discussions also seemed plausible and the humour was a great plus that kept the nerdy talk from getting unbearably boring.

All the science talk still got a bit dull, and that is mostly why I am rounding it down to 4 stars. It was just a but much at some points. I did not always understand, agree or foresee a good outcome out of Mark’s decisions, at least one that would compensate the risk; in fact, I had to skip a few ahead because it did get tiresome.

However, for several periods of time I would only put the book down when I absolutely had to. I laughed out loud reading Mark’s words on numerous occasions. His ingenuity and resilience never ceased to amaze me, nor his ability to be plainly inconvenient.

I had a great time reading The Martian and vividly recommend it, though I have to say… I have no idea how Matt Damon could pull this character off in the movie adaptation. I simply cannot see him capture the obnoxious but endearing character of Mark.

Read from Sep 26 to Sep 28, 2015

GR Review

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
After having escaped the Maze, the Gladers now face a new set of challenges on the open roads of a desolate landscape filled with unimaginable obstacles.

Review:

I am not quite sure what I was expecting from this movie but I left the room with an odd sense of a lot having happened but… not really. Let me try to elaborate.

Considering where the first movie left off, I expected this one to be filled with dismal landscapes, high-tech facilities, saviours who I was pretty sure the gladers should not trust. I got all that.
I liked those first scenes when they were at the facilities and tried to figure out what was going on. New characters were met, alliances formed when Thomas realizes something fishy is going on and then atrocious things discovered.

But then it sort of went downhill for me because it felt like the characters were being pushed from one place to the next in a rather pointless way. There were a lot of Come on, hurry up!! or Let’s go, follow me! and running, lots of it. There were narrowly escaped near-death experiences, a few very suspenseful scenes, which was nice, and very scary ones, particularly when people who had contracted the flair were involved – but mostly I was tired and wanted more plot-wise.

I guess The Scorch Trials suffers from that which seems to be present in pretty much all, if not all, movie adaptations of books. I am sure it all makes sense in the book, but in the movie it felt like they were trying to cram too much stuff in its relatively short duration, which took meaning from it.

I am glad I got some answers, and new questions which I am sure I will want to see answered in the third movie, but I guess I wanted a bit more background and coherence to the story. I wanted the narrative to take its time being established and instead there was just a lot of running and I was left wondering things like when and what do these people eat? or where to they get fuel, not to mention other supplies?.

It was an exciting movie and it made me want to read the books.

If you are looking for an action packed adventure movie with teenage characters this will do the trick. Make sure you watch the first one, though.

Eeny Meeny (Helen Grace #1)

Title: Eeny Meeny (Helen Grace #1)

Author: M.J. Arlidge

Genres: Crime, Mystery, Thriller

Length: 420 pages

Source: Negalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 2.75/5

Premise:

All over Southampton, odd crimes are occurring: two people are abducted and imprisoned in a remote location with a gun and an ultimatum: if you want to live, you must kill.
As days go by and despair kicks in, can they resist this sick game?
Who is worst off – the one who dies or that who has taken a life?
Do these victims have anything in common or are they randomly picked?
It is up to DI Helen Grace to face her own inner demons while trying to figure out who is behind the whole thing and bringing them to justice.

Review:

Eeny Meeny is an extremely dark book. That does not usually bother me but in this case it felt a bit forced.

For instance, the main character. While the concept is refreshing, the fact is I felt pushed into liking this hardcore cop with a secret heart of gold and a sado-masochist side looking for redemption. I lost track of the times I read that she was the perfect female cop because she was so committed to her job and wanted nothing to have with either alcohol, men or babies.
The constant remarks about how attractive her colleague Charlie Brooks was and how that was a nuisance to her being able to perform her job were equally annoying.

I wondered for a long time what the book tried to be. I am not that used to reading procedural books but I have watched several TV series and I have to admit the novel sounded weak on that front. A lot was left unexplained and several things felt simply much too convenient.

The narrative was well written. We follow several characters around, not just DI Helen Grace, and those are interspersed with moments from someone’s childhood. The way the chapters were started and ended was extremely intriguing and made me want to keep reading.
Little hints are given here and there to make the puzzle all fit in the end. At some point I did see where it was headed (mentioning the top bunk was a major lead for me) but I would still consider the revelation surprising.
There were a few inconsistencies, like us being told that Amy’s nails had been bitten to the nick and then they were long when she was brought in after escaping. Or the serial killer’s description. She turned out to be extremely muscular and neither of the survivors described her that way.
I was not a fan of the red herrings. It felt like filler.

The formatting of the book hindered my enjoyment as well. Often times, there would be a new paragraph with a change of voice and not a single thing would tell you that. And I don’t just mean that there wasn’t a new page with a new chapter numbered and all. There wasn’t even so much as a new paragraph. Two sentences back to back, one from a previous chapter and the other the next one. Can you imagine how confusing that was and how you’d have to keep backtracking?

In the end, I did enjoy the mystery. I enjoyed trying to figure out who was doing it and why, while at the same time exploring the limits of human desperation. Watching the survivors try to cope with guilt and the outside world was even more daunting than all the gross stuff (ew, maggots).
I had actually never read a British crime novel and thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere, as well as the British slang.

I just was not sold on the procedural front and felt the book could have been much better. The ending left me quite unsatisfied, after all that build-up. At the very least, I like to finish a story knowing how the killer had access to the means and resources required to performed what they did, not just why they did it. There were just too many times when I felt the author took the easy way out telling the story and it really could have been great one. Shame.

Alas, I enjoyed it, but know there must be other books of the genre far more satisfying than this one.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Sep 21 to Sep 26, 2015
GR Review

The Visit

The Visit

Rating: 3.75/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
A single mother finds that things in her family’s life go very wrong after her two young children visit their grandparents.

Review:

The Visit is a suspenseful, thrilling movie, as M. Night Shyamalan has grown us used to.

Let me start by saying that the actors were extremely well cast. I don’t believe I had ever seen young people portrayed quite like this – the 13-year-old boy was so very refreshing – and both the grandparents could turn from endearing and loving to creepy and spooky in a heartbeat.

I have to admit I felt the movie was slow-paced for the most part. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of suspense as I mentioned and some parts were quite scary but I thought it was odd that the days kept rolling by when they would only be at the house for a week and nothing much seemed to be happening.

The entire flick is filmed as a documentary by both teens. They both have a cinematography interest, but I suspect the purpose of doing said documentary was to reunite their estranged mother with her parents.

So there’s plenty of funky perspectives, realistic monologues and a lot more humour than I had expected, though some ironies I did not appreciate at all (ex.: the kids playing a car game where they make up people who live in a building, one of them makes up a policeman named Jerry who is never around and when the police station is actually rung by a character the call gets picked up by voicemail and yep you guessed it, it’s a guy named Jerry who isn’t around)..

The humour was quite refreshing for the most part; it compensated the slow pace. But I kept wondering when I was going to get a clue as to what the heck was happening. The two kids notice some funky stuff happening but they brush it off as old people stuff and that takes up much too long.

In the end, I was extremely disappointed that there was actually not a supernatural thing whatsoever happening there. But getting to that conclusion and then putting all the pieces together was quite exciting.

It was an odd mixture of feelings, this one. But I definitely recommend it, if only for the originality of the story and set up of the whole situation.

Flatliners

Flatliners

Rating: 3.75/5

Premise:

A group of med students want to know what happens during the time a person’s brain is dead, so they flatline themselves at a turn. The consequences will be terrifying.

Review:

This movie is so very deliciously 90s. I loved watching the clothes and the hairdos and, well, everything.
But most importantly the fact is that, fifteen years later, Flatliners is still exciting and chilling.

This group of medical students is interested in death and what is beyond. So they set up a clinical environment in a secluded place where they proceed to take turns going under. It was nerve-wrecking how they kept competing on who would go next by topping up the last person’s time they said they’d go under.

Well, obviously killing yourself and coming back cannot be good for you. So each of them starts having hallucinations related to the bad things they did in the past. Incredibly vivid hallucinations. Soon enough they cannot tell what is real and what is not.

It was amazing how each of them kept such a thing to himself. I guess they did not want the others to think they were nuts or had brain damage and were in plain denial, but at the same time there was a conflict when they’d realize they would be putting another of them in danger.

I enjoyed all characters but Kiefer Sutherland as the lead was mind-blowing. He played the part of the ruthless scientist guy who will not look at means to achieve his goals so well. His unravelling was insane and I was utterly gripped. He was just one of those pricks you cannot help but feel sorry about because he is so haunted, and hope will end up seeing the error of his ways.

This movie is proof that you don’t need all the special effects that are used these days to make a real good movie, horror or otherwise. A good, solid plot, great cast and a few light shows and you have an extremely entertaining piece which never gets old. And even with a moral.

Watch it, if only to reminisce on the good ole days.

Bricks (Halfskin #3)

Title: Bricks (Halfskin #3)

Author: Tony Bertauski

Genres: Dystopia | Science Fiction | Speculative Fiction

Format: Mobi

Length: 325 pages | 4854 locations

Source: Author

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

After Halfskins, now come Bricks. Bricks don’t have a single clay cell; that is, they are entirely composed of biomites, the synthetic stem cells people initially used to tweak their defects.
The Government has declared that all Bricks be gathered in The Settlement, where they are sentenced to spend the rest of their lives.
That is where Paul and Raine are. Will they ever escape? Who is the “powers-that-be”? Why is he sentencing Bricks to isolation and blaming them for dream disease? Can Marcus Anderson, their enemy who caused so much pain in the previous books, answer these questions and actually be their salvation?

Review:

Tony Bertauski never ceases to amaze me. Just when I thought things could not get worse in the world he created, they do. And again, he raises important questions, where you just cannot pinpoint one view as the bad one.
At what point does one stop being human? In the previous books of the series, it had been decided that the mark was hit when you had 50% biomites. If half or more of you was not clay anymore, then you were terminated.

Now Bertauski takes things to a whole new level, with bricks. Bricks are fabricated humans. They look like humans, behave like humans and apparently think and feel like humans but they are, nonetheless, fabricated. Amongst bricks, there are clones, who are copies of someone and don’t have their memories; then there are transplanted humans, or plants, who have their memories transferred to the new fabricated body.

The world has evolved quite a lot from the previous book. People succumb to dream disease and Bricks are blamed for it. I have to admit I never quite got why, how exactly that flew with public opinion, but I guess it’s the fear of the unknown and, as a character said, people needed a scapegoat. One thing that did puzzle me was that we kept being told that Bricks had been stripped of their rights and yet they seem to have some, like to hold patents. Where the line was drawn was not clear to me.

And then there’s the thing about killing people who had biomites when they entered a biomite-free state. Why not just escort them outside? Why is it ok to kill them? It upset me and that is good, that the story stirred my emotions, and the fact is that is just how Bertauski’s world works; the government can do pretty much anything to the citizens.
I did want to get more of an idea of public opinion regarding those matters but at the end of the day those things did not hinder my enjoyment much.

I was engaged in the story for the large majority of the book. There were some bits and pieces that confused me and I finished the book still feeling a bit confused because at some point it got quite trippy. It made me question so many things, not the least of it what reality is.
Some things got a bit repetitive, particularly towards the end. One thing I felt I kept reading was when Paul found out what he could do. It got to the point where he was doing it and wondering if he had really done it before. And it wasn’t even just that it was repetitive, but that I could never watch him develop this ability so it felt a bit rushed.

If there is one thing I would have like to seen better wrapped up it is the events in the first two books; more specifically, how Cali and Nix played into the big scheme of things.

I am not sure I was 100% sold on the ending either but it was appropriate enough. I just hate it when I am told a character dies (or his consciousness is wiped from existence or whatever the way you want to say it) and then they’re back. Especially when you consider the implications if the same is true for the villain. And I wondered why Cali’s daughter wasn’t with her, after everything that happened in the first book.

The fact is the entire Halfskin series is an amazing dystopia and the stories are guaranteed to take you away. As in the previous books, there were lots of surprises in this one, plenty of twists and turns that I did not see coming and I feel so fortunate to have had the pleasure of reading these books. I highly recommend them and am confident that the entire series has what it takes to become the next big thing. And I am looking forward to reading other books by the author. Don’t let this one slip from your radar, get the entire series now!

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the author for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Listened to from Sep 15 to Sep 20, 2015
GR Review

Absolutely Anything

Absolutely Anything

Rating: 0.5/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
A group of eccentric aliens confer a human being with the power to do absolutely anything, as an experiment.

Review:

What an absolute waste of money.

I was so excited to see this movie. It takes place in England, not USA as is the norm. So british humour, yay!
Aliens.
Special powers.

Yeah…

There was one good thing in this movie – ONE.
The dog.

The flick was reminiscent of really bad 90s comedies but in a way even worse.
Everything was just so forced and lame. I don’t even know what the movie was trying to be. If it was nonsense, there is a right way to do it and this wasn’t it.

I am not even going to waste any more time reviewing this movie.
If you are looking for a light movie that you don’t have to think much to enjoy, look for something else.

Day 212: Celebrations and Updates

Hey folks!

Since I missed my 6 month anniversary last August 19th, I figured I would make a post about other achievements I got in the meantime today, the 7th month anniversary.
Since the last update, Ana’s Lair got the following badges:

1337 likes!

200 Followers!

200 Followers!

Updates:

– I decided to get rid of the Authors text index in Books page. It is just too time-consuming updating two indexes, so I figured people would rather see the book covers and kept that one.

– The Polls page was pretty useless so I took it out.

– Added a new page: Chats. At the moment, it only features an index of my Random Chats feature posts. If I ever get around to doing other Chats, I will be keeping track there as well.

 

Thank you all who helped Ana’s Lair achieve these marks. It helps keep me motivated to blog.

As always, any and all suggestions are welcomed.

Hitman: Agent 47

Hitman: Agent 47

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
An assassin teams up with a woman to help her find her father and uncover the mysteries of her ancestry.

Review:

Oh my gosh there was so much wrong with this movie.

I totally see why it was based on a video game. Mega corporation evil mastermind wants to create an army of super soldiers and already has a pretty nasty bad guy of his own; assassin good guy who kicks ass; good, naive girl who has awesome powers she does not know of; good scientist who is as frail as a porcelain doll… Focus on special effects, lots of shooting and running away from bad guys and that’s about it.

There were so many holes to the story and so much stuff that made no sense but you know what? I had fun!
I liked 47. I love it when a guy does not have to say much to get the point across. I loved the way he moved and, well, pretty much anything that came out of his mouth up to half a dozen words at a time.

I liked Katia and how she never tried to be something she was not but was bent on finding answers.

Most of all, I loved the humour. It was strategically placed throughout the movie and it got a few laughs out of me.
I truly enjoyed 47 and Katia’s sarcastic banter. It did not feel forced at all.
And I loved how they didn’t get romantically involved.

There was not much character development at all, as I said the plot was dreadful, and the ending was lame beyond description. Not just the sappy monologue by 47 but the two bad guys that showed up in the end.

But overall I had a good time and recommend it if you want a fast paced, action packed no-brainer of a flick.