Category: Movies

I’m Back!

I’m happy to announce that I’m back to blogging. Of course, the break was longer than I anticipated, but it was great, and I really needed it. While I was away, Chad and I worked on our Wreck This Journal which has been a lot of fun. We are far from finished, but it’s coming along nicely. I’m not sure if I will post pictures or not. There’s always a chance though. Other than that, I did finish two books, Fangirl and How Not to Write a Novel. I’ll have both of those in my June Wrap-Up. The May Wrap-Up will also be coming soon once I get back on track.

In my Taking a Break post I said I was going to work out a schedule for my posting. However, I decided that I won’t have a specific schedule for when I post anything. I’d rather not have days where I’m forced to post something when I’m not in the mood. Even without a schedule, I’m going to do my best to post a few times a week.

As a coming back gift, I have a special giveaway that I’m planning to do. Be on the lookout for a post with more details about this in the next few days. Hint: It’s a book that was recently released and may or may not have been signed by the author.  ; )


Taking a Break

Lately, I’ve been really busy and have found myself neglecting the blog a bit. In order to get back on track with posts, I’ve decided to take a break for a week or so to sort everything out. I’m planning on having a new post schedule when I get back, so I can focus on quality over quantity. Nothing major is going to change. I’m still going to blog about books and movies.

I just recently finished Pivot Point and Monstrous Beauty, so I’ll be starting new books on my time off. I haven’t decided which ones I’m going to read yet, but I’ll post an update once I get back. Happy blogging, everyone!

Godzilla (2014) Review

Rating: PG-13

Godzilla was released in May 2014 and was directed by Gareth Edwards. It’s a science fiction monster movie for obvious reasons. The movie stars Ken Watanabe, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Juliette Binoche, Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins, and Bryan Cranston. I have to say that I was incredibly excited to watch this movie, and even though my only experience with Godzilla leading up to this was the 1998 version, I was still optimistic about this new installment.

Two scientists Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) discover unusual objects within a strip mine. Meanwhile, a nuclear plant supervisor Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche) are at work when a disastrous event occurs, destroying the plant and rendering the surrounding area under quarantine. Years after these events, Joe Brody believes the disaster was not natural and that the government is covering it up. When Joe finds evidence, his son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) becomes involved as well. Ishiro Serizawa is still researching the objects that were found years before. All of their stories intertwine when disaster strikes yet again.

I went into this expecting to see giant monsters fight, and I got that and much more. There’s a great plot with intriguing characters, and there’s plenty of action to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. The tone of this movie is much more realistic and serious than previous versions. Godzilla is set up in a way that makes it seem plausible. Instead of a mindless beast destroying the city, it’s much deeper and far more complex. The creatures in this movie are more animal like than monster. They are driven by instinct, and they’re trying to live in a world populated by humans. It’s interesting to see them with animal instincts rather than just destroying everything around them just because they can.

There are many engaging characters in Godzilla. Joe Brody’s character is by far the most interesting and well-rounded. He’s believable as a person and reacts in ways that are expected, and as a result, he is my favorite character. The only complaint I have is that I wish he had more screen time. Ishiro Serizawa is also well-developed. He’s the voice of caution, and he wants nature to take it’s course without human intervention. Even the secondary characters are enjoyable to watch, and they contribute to the plot in interesting ways. Ford, on the other hand, is the weakest character and comes off a bit flat. He’s likable and it’s easy to root for him, but he lacks charisma.

Godzilla is a great summer movie. If you were worried about seeing this because of previous versions, don’t be because Godzilla has been redeemed in this movie. It’s the perfect blend of action and suspense and contains great acting and special effects. Of course, I wanted to see more Godzilla, but it makes it more enjoyable when he is onscreen. I’ve read that there’s a possibility of this becoming a trilogy. I’m excited for future installments and hope to see Godzilla in all his glory.

My Rating: ★★★★½

May 2014 Movie Haul

Here are all the movies that Chad and I bought over the weekend. This haul consists of mostly DVDs, except for three VHS. Some of the movies we have seen and loved and others are ones that are new to both of us. Hopefully, some of these will show up in my wrap-up at the end of the month.

*All descriptions taken from IMDb.

Sleepy Hollow
Rating – R

Ichabod Crane is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate the decapitations of 3 people with the culprit being the legendary apparition, the Headless Horseman.

Director: Tim Burton

Writers: Washington Irving (story), Kevin Yagher (screen story)

Stars: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson


Rating – PG-13

M.I.T. professor John Koestler links a mysterious list of numbers from a time capsule to past and future disasters and sets out to prevent the ultimate catastrophe.

Directed by Alex Proyas

Writers: Ryne Douglas Pearson (screenplay), Juliet Snowden (screenplay)

Stars: Nicolas Cage, Chandler Canterbury, Rose Byrne


Minority Report
Rating – PG-13

In a future where a special police unit is able to arrest murderers before they commit their crimes, an officer from that unit is himself accused of a future murder.

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writers: Philip K. Dick (short story), Scott Frank (screenplay)

Stars: Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton


Jerry Seinfeld: “I’m Telling You For the Last Time”
TV Special

Live from New York City, Jerry Seinfeld, aided and abetted by a host of friends and fellow comedians, performs his 1998 Emmy-nominated performance on Broadway.

Director: Marty Callner

Writer: Jerry Seinfeld

Stars: Jerry Seinfeld, Michael Barryte, Grace Bustos


Devil’s Advocate
Rating – R

A hotshot lawyer gets more than he bargained for when he learns his new boss is Lucifer himself.

Director: Taylor Hackford

Writers: Andrew Neiderman (novel), Jonathan Lemkin (screenplay)

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino, Charlize Theron


Die Hard
Rating – R

John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save wife Holly Gennaro and several others, taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.

Director: John McTiernan

Writers: Roderick Thorp (novel), Jeb Stuart (screenplay)

Stars: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia


Rating – R

A gunslinger is embroiled in a war with a local drug runner.

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Writer: Robert Rodriguez

Stars: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Joaquim de Almeida



Rating – PG-13

A not-so-nice man rescues passengers from a crashed airliner, only to see someone else take credit.

Director: Stephen Frears

Writers: Laura Ziskin (story), Alvin Sargent (story)

Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Geena Davis, Andy Garcia



Agent Cody Banks
Rating – PG

A government agent trains Cody Banks in the ways of covert operations that require younger participants.

Director: Harald Zwart

Writers: Ashley Miller (screenplay), Zack Stentz (screenplay)

Stars: Frankie Muniz, Hilary Duff, Andrew Francis


Rating – PG-13

In a future where the polar ice caps have melted and most of Earth is underwater, a mutated mariner fights starvation and outlaw “smokers,” and reluctantly helps a woman and a young girl try to find dry land.

Directors: Kevin Reynolds, Kevin Costner (uncredited)

Writers: Peter Rader, David Twohy

Stars: Kevin Costner, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Dennis Hopper


The Pebble and the Penguin
Rating – G

A lovable but introverted penguin named Hubie plans to present his betrothal pebble to the bird of his dreams.

Directors: Don Bluth (uncredited) , Gary Goldman (uncredited)

Writers: Rachel Koretsky (screenplay), Steven Whitestone (screenplay)

Stars: Martin Short, James Belushi, Annie Golden


The King and I
Rating – G

Traveling to the exotic kingdom of Siam, English Schoolteacher Anna Leonowens soon discovers that her most difficult challenge is the stubborn, imperious King himself.

Director: Richard Rich

Writers: Oscar Hammerstein II (adapted from the musical by), Arthur Rankin Jr. (conceived and adapted for animation)

Stars: Miranda Richardson, Martin Vidnovic, Christiane Noll


Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Rating – PG-13

Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson join forces to outwit and bring down their fiercest adversary, Professor Moriarty.

Director: Guy Ritchie

Writers: Michele Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney

Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Jared Harris

April was a fantastic month for me! I read eleven books and watched seven “new” movies. Most of these movies were not new releases, but they were new to me. I’m surprised I did this well. It’s really exciting, and now, I know that it’s possible for me to read a bunch of books at once.

*All descriptions for books taken from Goodreads and all descriptions for movies taken from IMDb.

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
Genre – Science Fiction
My Rating – ★★★★

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune–and remarkable power–to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved–that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt–among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life–and love–in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

Review: I have a full review for Ready Player One on my blog. Overall, Ready Player One is an enjoyable read. There are plenty of 80’s references to satisfy anyone’s need for nostalgia. While there are a few issues, the novel is entertaining and keeps the reader wanting to find out what happens next. The finale is intense and should be quite fulfilling for most readers. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is looking for a unique story.

Skary Childrin and the Carousel of Sorrow – Katy Towell
Genre – Children/Fantasy
My Rating – ★★★

Twelve years ago, for 12 days straight, the town of Widowsbury suffered a terrible storm, which tore open a gate through which escaped all sorts of foul, rotten things. Strange things and strange people were no longer welcomed in Widowsbury, for one could never be sure of what secrets waited under the surface . . .

Adelaide Foss, Maggie Borland, and Beatrice Alfred are known by their classmates at Widowsbury’s Madame Gertrude’s School for Girls as “scary children.” Unfairly targeted because of their peculiarities—Adelaide has an uncanny resemblance to a werewolf, Maggie is abnormally strong, and Beatrice claims to be able to see ghosts—the girls spend a good deal of time isolated in the school’s inhospitable library facing detention. But when a number of people mysteriously begin to disappear in Widowsbury, the girls work together, along with Steffen Weller, son of the cook at Rudyard School for Boys, to find out who is behind the abductions. Will they be able to save Widowsbury from a 12-year-old curse?

Review: Skary Childrin and the Carousel of Sorrow is an interesting story. While there are very stereotypical characters such as the overly mean head mistress or the almost too sweet librarian, it has enjoyable main characters that are unique in their own ways. The plot was entertaining, and I loved the spooky aspect of the story. The villain is predictable, but it was fun to see the girls solving the mystery of the missing people. The novel is definitely targeted at younger audiences, and it won’t be for everyone but children should enjoy it.

The Archived – Victoria Schwab
Genre – Young Adult/Fantasy
My Rating – ★★★★

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what she once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

Review: When I first started reading The Archived, I felt extremely confused. I kept thinking Da was Mackenzie’s father and had to go back to reread certain parts. There did seem to be a lot of information given to the reader at the beginning of the story to explain the world, but once it gets passed the first chapter or so, the story picks up. Even though the novel had a shaky start, I liked the world building. Everything felt as though it could exist. The story has a nice mystery theme throughout. Although the villains are predictable, it has likable characters and an engaging world.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone – Laini Taylor
Genre – Young Adult/Fantasy
My Rating – ★★★★

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hairactually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone is beautifully written. The story and the world are so well-crafted with some great characters. Each character has a distinct personality. It’s easy to have characters blend together in some stories, but Taylor has a way of describing them that makes them stand out. They are unique and different from the rest. There is a large focus on the romance in the story with the two characters, mainly, pointing out that the other was very attractive. Near the end, when everything is being explained, the story was sort of sluggish, and I wished the unraveling was placed at a different part of the novel. However, it didn’t take away from the story. I’m excited to read the next one.

Red Dragon – Thomas Harris
Genre – Horror
My Rating – ★★★★

In the realm of psychological suspense, Thomas Harris stands alone. Exploring both the nature of human evil and the nerve-racking anatomy of a forensic investigation, Harris unleashes a frightening vision of the dark side of our well-lighted world. In this extraordinary novel, which precededThe Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal, Harris introduced the unforgettable character Dr. Hannibal Lecter. And in it, Will Graham — the FBI man who hunted Lecter down — risks his sanity and his life to duel a killer called the … RED DRAGON.

Review: Red Dragon was a nice introduction to the Hannibal world. Even though Hannibal is barely in this novel, it’s entertaining to read. The characters were realistic. There was a lot of characterization that really made the story. Although I didn’t like Will’s side of the story, getting inside his mind was cool, and I liked his meeting with Hannibal. I loved learning about the Red Dragon and his past. He was an interesting character, and it’s possible to even feel sorry for him at some points in the novel. I enjoyed the writing style and the plot. I’m excited to read The Silence of the Lambs, and I want to learn more about Hannibal since readers only get a tease of him in this novel. I want to finish reading the books before I watch the movies, but the Red Dragon movie is getting harder to resist watching every day.

The Moth in the Mirror – A. G. Howard
Genre – Young Adult/Fantasy
My Rating – ★★★½

An original ebook-only novella in the Splintered series, told from the points of view of both Jeb and Morpheus. Morpheus wants to know more about his rival for Alyssa’s affections, so he digs into Jeb’s memories of his time in Wonderland. But he may be surprised by what he finds.

This brand-new story and perspective from A.G. Howard’s dark, magical world stands alone, but also provides a tantalizing glimpse of what’s to come in Unhinged, the sequel to Splintered.

Review: I’m glad I read this novella because it helped me understand Jeb better. Of course, he still isn’t my favorite character (Team Morpheus!). I felt that this helped explain what Jeb thought of Alyssa and how he only wanted to protect her, instead of control her, which is how it seemed in the first book. I did wish there were more moments with Morpheus, but I will settle with what I got until I read the second book, Unhinged. I really need to buy Unhinged soon, so I can continue reading. Plus, I just found out it’s going to be a trilogy!

The Broken – Shelley Coriell
Genre – Romance/Thriller
My Rating – ★★★

He took her life, but left her alive.

Three years ago, reporter Kate Johnson was the first victim—and only survivor—of the Broadcast Butcher. Scarred both physically and psychologically by the brutal serial killer, Kate lives life on the run, knowing that one day, he will find her and finish what he started.

In the pursuit of justice, you sometimes have to step outside the law.

Agent Hayden Reed spends his life chasing monsters. The only way to stay sane is to detach, but the second the Broadcast Butcher case crosses his desk, Hayden knows this is the case that might just cost him his soul. To catch this vicious murderer before he strikes again, Hayden must find Kate and earn her trust. For it’s her darkest secrets that hold the key to stopping this madman once and for all . . .

Review: Full review for The BrokenThe Broken was an entertaining read. The characters were likable and provided some great moments in the novel. There were some problems I had with the plot, but I did end up liking the overall story. The killer was not the best or most memorable, but the plot was enjoyable. I would recommend this book. I will most likely be picking up the second book The Buried because it tells Hatch’s story. The synopsis sounds really interesting, and I’ll get it when it’s released later this year.

We Are the Goldens – Dana Reinhardt
Genre – Young Adult/Contemporary
My Rating – ★★★★

Nell knows a secret about her perfect, beautiful sister Layla. If she tells, it could blow their world apart.

When Nell and Layla were little, Nell used to call them Nellaya. Because to Nell, there was no difference between where she started and her adored big sister ended. They’re a unit; divorce made them rely on each other early on, so when one pulls away, what is the other to do? But now, Nell’s a freshman in high school and Layla is changing, secretive. And then Nell discovers why. Layla is involved with one of their teachers. And even though Nell tries to support Layla, to understand that she’s happy and in love, Nell struggles with her true feelings: it’s wrong, and she must do something about it.

Review: I’m planning on a having a full review of this up tomorrow. The writing style is different in We Are the Goldens. Nell is speaking directly to the reader as if she is talking to her sister Layla. Although I didn’t fully understand the “obsession” with the older sister, I did appreciate Nell and Layla’s relationship. Nell looked up to Layla, and Nell only wanted what was best for her sister. The characters are realistic and the plot is engaging. It makes you keep reading to find out what happens next. We Are the Goldens is still available on Netgalley, if anyone wants to read it before the publication date May 27th, 2014.

Red Bang – Brandt Monroe
Genre – Fiction
My Rating – ★★★★

Adam Murphy is a Hollywood screenwriter who has clearly lost his way. His wife, Jess, is a Los Angeles publicist who just lost her job. With the bills mounting and nowhere to turn in the City of Angels, Adam takes a chance on a complete life reboot – taking a job in Seattle at a billion-dollar, Fortune 500 technology behemoth and bringing his family along for the ride.

While working at The Company is a gloriously heady, benefit-laden playground for today’s smartest minds, Adam quickly realizes he has descended into a foreign land where the language, customs and politics will either make him stronger or cause a meltdown of epic proportions. Faced with a ‘win or fail’ attitude, Adam must find a way to deliver an innovative new product, defeat his political nemesis, align with a mysterious Company founder, and save his wife from a weather-induced depression all before The Company finds out he has no idea what he’s doing.

Inspired by the unbelievable things that go on behind closed doors of America’s largest companies, and bolstered by a warm-hearted, humorous look at one family’s fight against a Stepford-like culture, RED BANG will take you on a hilarious journey into the ridiculous hive mind of today’s tech giants.

Review: Full review for Red BangRed Bang has relatable characters and takes place in a realistic world. I enjoyed watching Adam develop through the story. While the story is based off of real life companies and products, it refrains from being predictable and has a satisfying ending. If you’re looking for an interesting story with lots of real-world references, you should definitely check out Red Bang. You won’t be disappointed!

Casting Shadows Everywhere – L. T. Vargus
Genre – Young Adult/Thriller
My Rating – ★★★★

In his own words, 15 year old Jake is a “huge pussy.” He flinches. Always. He’s too timid to make a move on Beth, the buxom girl of his dreams, and too busy getting face-slammed into lockers by bullies to do much else. He seeks the guidance of the biggest badass he knows, his cousin Nick.

Nick is a professional burglar and makes Jake his apprentice. They stalk suburban neighborhoods night after night, ransacking houses for jewelry and sweet valuables. Nick teaches Jake the finer points of breaking and entering along with his dark philosophy – that there is no right or wrong in the world, just a series of events that happen without meaning.

At first, adopting Nick’s callous worldview helps Jake get over his fears and confront his tormentors, but he also unleashes an aggression in himself he never thought possible. And as he learns more about his cousin, he realizes that Nick’s crimes go way beyond burglary.

In the end, Jake must face not only the monster in his cousin but also the one in his own heart.

Review: I’m planning on doing a full review of this novel as well. Casting Shadows Everywhere really surprised me. I, honestly, was not expecting to like the story as much as I did. The novel is written like journal entries without dates. The main character Jake is writing about his experiences with his cousin Nick and his friend Beth. It is crude at times, and there is some strong language, but it adds to the realness of the story. I loved the ending, and I’m sure all of the twists will shock a lot of readers. I would recommend this to anyone that enjoys surprises and interesting characters within their stories.

Trapped – Michael Northrop
Genre – Young Adult/Survival
My Rating – ★

The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive. . . .

Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn’t seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then the power goes out, then the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision. . . .

Review: This was such a disappointing story. Honestly, I didn’t enjoy anything about Trapped. I wish I did because I was looking forward to a survival story, but it didn’t impress me. The characters were flat and some were hard to distinguish from each other. A lot of unimportant events were talked about such as going to the bathroom. I don’t need to know when and where the characters go to the bathroom. One explanation would have been fine, but it was discussed at a lot of different points in the story. Scotty even talks about his zit on more than one occasion. This mainly seemed to show that he was a teenager and had no other reason to be there. The novel had no surprises. Since Scotty says that not everyone survives at the beginning of the story, it’s easy to tell who doesn’t make it as soon as they are put in a life or death situation. The ending was unsatisfying, and it left so much unresolved. I normally can handle an ending with some unexplained events, but it felt as though some chapters were ripped out. It was a frustrating read, and I don’t recommend it.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Rating – R
My Rating – ★★★★★

A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery.

Review: What an amazing movie! I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this. While the movie was playing, I was trying to get some work done, but I ended up focusing all my attention on the film. It’s a pretty long movie at 161 minutes, but it doesn’t seem like it. No events drag on, and every scene has a purpose that adds to the story. All of the characters were fantastic and had great characterization. That ending! I was on the edge of my seat while the confrontation was happening. I was constantly asking Chad what was going to happen. Of course, he wouldn’t tell me, so I was even more anxious. This was such a incredible movie, and I can’t believe it has taken me this long to finally watch it. I would highly recommend this!

Planet of the Dinosaurs
Rating – PG
My Rating – ★★

A space-ship gets lost and is forced to make an emergency landing on an unknown planet. The planet looks much like Earth, only with no trace of civilization. Soon the crew discovers that there are dinosaurs on the planet, and blood-thirsty buggers at that. The crew hopes to be found and rescued, but they have to struggle to survive until then.

Review: Chad and I did a full review on Planet of the Dinosaurs. My review was especially silly because I felt it matched the movie. Planet of the Dinosaurs is far from a well-made movie, and it’s quite terrible at some moments. If you do plan to watch it, just be aware that you will most likely laugh. A lot. It’s one of those films where it’s so bad, it’s funny. Of course, it’s unintentional, but we enjoyed ourselves while watching.

Cannonball Run II
Rating – PG
My Rating – ★★

The original characters from the first Cannonball movie race across the country once more in various cars and trucks.

Review: This was such a disappointing film. After loving The Cannonball Run, I was looking forward to the second installment. I’m used to sequels not being as good as the first, but this was not even close to the original. There were a ton more famous celebrities involved, and it took away from the story because everyone had to have a longer amount of time on screen. A lot of these characters were pointless and the scenes were even more pointless. It mostly felt like the creators were like “let’s see how many famous people we can shove into one movie.”  The plot was lacking and about half way through, it completely changed into something else. I know that it was probably just a movie for fun, but I would recommend The Cannonball Run for that. It’s an entertaining movie while maintaining plot and characters. Overall, Cannonball Run II is worth skipping.

The Nut Job
Rating – PG
My Rating – ★★

An incorrigibly self-serving exiled squirrel finds himself helping his former park brethren raid a nut store to survive, that is also the front for a human gang’s bank robbery.

Review: When I first saw advertisements for The Nut Job, I didn’t have high hopes for it. However, I decided to give it a try. Sadly, it was not impressive. It’s not a very unique story and the characters are generic. There is not much for an adult to enjoy, but I’m sure children will like it. It’s a pretty straightforward plot and doesn’t have too many surprises. There is supposed to be a sequel to this movie coming out in 2016, so some people must have enjoyed it.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Rating – PG-13
My Rating – ★★★★

The dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, continue their quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from Smaug. Bilbo Baggins is in possession of a mysterious and magical ring.

Review: This sequel was quite entertaining. I really enjoyed getting to know the dwarves more, and I liked watching Bilbo grow as a character. It’s full of action and fast-paced scenes. There were some moments where the plot dragged on but that will happen when you make three movies based off of one book. I’m looking forward to the third installment of The Hobbit that is supposed to come out in December of this year.

Top Secret!
Rating – PG
My Rating – ★★★★

Parody of WWII spy movies in which an American rock and roll singer becomes involved in a Resistance plot to rescue a scientist imprisoned in East Germany.

Review: I really enjoy parodies. Anything that pokes fun at something while also being witty and educated about the source material is always entertaining for me. Top Secret! was a fun movie. The movie combines spy movies and musicals that featured Elvis. Every scene is filled with something funny, and it’s easy to find yourself laughing out loud during some. This was also Val Kilmer’s first feature film so that’s always interesting to know.

Rating – PG
My Rating – ★★★★

An airplane crew takes ill. Surely the only person capable of landing the plane is an ex-pilot afraid to fly. But don’t call him Shirley.

Review: I figured since I watched Top Secret!, I might as well watch Airplane!. This is also a pretty hilarious parody movie directed by the same guys who directed Top Secret!. I enjoyed the random moments or the scenes where the character would look at the camera as if the character knows he/she is in a movie and goes along with it anyway. I would recommend this to anyone wanting to have a fun time while watching. Just don’t eat the fish.

My Obsession

I’ve watched quite a few movies and even read a few books that have a main character with psychological problems, and they are some of my favorites. That sounds kind of morbid, but I will explain. I absolutely love psychological thrillers, especially ones where the main character is searching for the killer or trying to solve a mystery and finds out that the culprit is himself/herself. An example of this would be that the protagonist has dissociative identity disorder (multiple personalities) but doesn’t realize it until the very end. I love when there is a high re-watch value for a movie or I can reread a book and find all of the clues I missed the first time.

I’d rather not mention any of the books or movies with this twist because I don’t want to spoil any of them for anyone. It would ruin the fun of finding out.

Which brings us to my dilemma. While reading or watching a new thriller, I seem to be obsessed with the idea of the main character being the perpetrator. I will be reading or watching a thriller or some type of mystery, and my first thought will be that the main protagonist is the killer or the person everyone is looking for. I will then pick out clues as I go along and create this elaborate ending that goes with my guess. Of course, when it turns out to be someone else, I’m a bit disappointed. I guess in my mind, the protagonist should always be the murderer or offender.

I just wanted to share this to find out if I’m the only one with this strange obsession. What are some unusual movie/book obsessions that you have?

April 2014 Movie Haul

Today, Chad and I went to yard sales. I didn’t have any luck finding books, but we did buy a lot of great movies. All of these movies are VHS except for Red Dragon which is a DVD. We also bought another VCR (which works perfectly), so now we have a total of three. All of the movies and the VCR cost us under $15. I think that’s pretty awesome. There are more yard sales next weekend, so I might get more goodies. Here are the movies that we got today:

*All descriptions taken from IMDb.

The Silence of the Lambs
Rating – R

A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.

Director: Jonathan Demme

Writers: Thomas Harris (novel), Ted Tally (screenplay)

Stars: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence A. Bonney


Red Dragon
Rating – R

A retired FBI agent with psychological gifts is assigned to help track down “The Tooth Fairy”, a mysterious serial killer; aiding him is imprisoned criminal genius Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter.

Director: Brett Ratner

Writers: Thomas Harris (novel), Ted Tally (screenplay)

Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes


The NeverEnding Story
Rating – PG

A troubled boy dives into a wonderous fantasy world through the pages of a mysterious book.

Director: Wolfgang Petersen

Writers: Wolfgang Peterson, Herman Weigel

Stars: Noah Hathaway, Barret Oliver, Tami Stronach



The Rescuers
Rating – G

Two mice of the Rescue Aid Society search for a little girl kidnapped by unscrupulous treasure hunters.

Directors: John Lounsbery, Wolfgang Reitherman

Writers: Margery Sharp, Larry Clemmons

Stars: Bob Newhart, Eva Gabor, Geraldine Page


Doug’s 1st Movie
Rating – G

Doug and his pal Skeeter set’s out to find the monster of Lucky Duck Lake. Though things get really out of hand when some one blurts out that the monster is real.

Director: Maurice Joyce

Writers: Ken Scarborough, Joe Aaron

Stars: Thomas McHugh, Fred Newman, Chris Phillips


The Flintstones
Rating – PG

In this live-action feature of the cartoon show, Fred Flintstone finally gets the job he’s always wanted, but it may just come at a price.

Director: Brian Levant

Writers: Tom S. Parker, Jim Jennewein

Stars: John Goodman, Rick Moranis, Rosie O’Donnell


Good Will Hunting
Rating – R

Will Hunting, a janitor at MIT, has a gift for mathematics but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life.

Director: Gus Van Sant

Writers: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck

Stars: Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck


Total Recall
Rating – R

When a man goes for virtual vacation memories of the planet Mars, an unexpected and harrowing series of events forces him to go to the planet for real, or does he?

Director: Paul Verhoeven

Writers: Philip K. Dick, Ronald Shusett

Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside


A Beautiful Mind
Rating – PG-13

After a brilliant but asocial mathematician accepts secret work in cryptography, his life takes a turn for the nightmarish.

Director: Ron Howard

Writers: Akiva Goldsman, Sylvia Nasar

Stars: Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly


Mad Max
Rating – R

A vengeful Australian policeman sets out to avenge his partner, his wife and his son whom were murdered by a motorcycle gang in retaliation for the death of their leader.

Director: George Miller

Writers: James McCausland, George Miller

Stars: Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel, Hugh Keays-Byrne


Double Jeopardy
Rating – R

A woman framed for her husband’s murder suspects he is still alive; as she has already been tried for the crime, she can’t be re-prosecuted if she finds and kills him.

Director: Bruce Beresford

Writers: David Weisberg, Douglas Cook

Stars: Ashley Judd, Tommy Lee Jones, Bruce Greenwood


Lethal Weapon
Rating – R

A veteran cop, Murtaugh, is partnered with a young suicidal cop, Riggs. Both having one thing in common; hating working in pairs. Now they must learn to work with one another to stop a gang of drug smugglers.

Director: Richard Donner

Writer: Shane Black

Stars: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Gary Busey


Lethal Weapon 2
Rating – R

Riggs and Murtaugh are on the trail of South African diplomats who are using their immunity to engage in criminal activities.

Director: Richard Donner

Writers: Jeffrey Boam (screenplay), Shane Black (story)

Stars: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci


Lethal Weapon 3
Rating – R

Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh pursue an arms dealer who is a former LAPD officer.

Director: Richard Donner

Writers: Jeffrey Boam, Shane Black

Stars: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci



Lethal Weapon 4
Rating – R

With personal crises and age weighing in on them, LAPD officers Riggs and Murtaugh must contend with a deadly Chinese crimelord trying to get his brother out of prison.

Director: Richard Donner

Writers: Shane Black, Jonathan Lemkin

Stars: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci


A Bug’s Life
Rating – G

A misfit ant, looking for “warriors” to save his colony from greedy grasshoppers, recruits a group of bugs that turn out to be an inept circus troupe.

Directors: John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton

Writers: John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton

Stars: Kevin Spacey, Dave Foley, Julia Louis-Dreyfus


Rating – G

A collection of animated interpretations of great works of Western classical music.

Directors: Norman Ferguson, James Algar

Writers: Joe Grant, Dick Huemer

Stars: Leopold Stokowski, Deems Taylor, Corey Burton

Chad and I recently watched Planet of the Dinosaurs. I’ve never seen it before, but Chad used to watch it as a child. He agreed to review it with me, and believe me, it’s an “interesting” movie.

*Contains Spoilers


 A space-ship gets lost and is forced to make an emergency landing on an unknown planet. The planet looks much like Earth, only with no trace of civilization. Soon the crew discovers that there are dinosaurs on the planet, and blood-thirsty buggers at that. The crew hopes to be found and rescued, but they have to struggle to survive until then.

Chad’s Thoughts:

Planet of the Dinosaurs was one of my favorite movies as a child. I remember watching it pretty often. It was a movie about dinosaurs and the VHS case was green (my favorite color), so it had all the things my 8 year old mind wanted. I obviously wasn’t concerned with quality, plot, or characters as a child because this movie lacks all three. Planet of the Dinosaurs had a very low budget so some of the issues are understandable, but it looks like something a high school film class would’ve made.

We start out with our characters in a damaged spaceship on a crash course with an uncharted planet. The science officer confirms that the atmosphere is breatheable as they begin their descent. The ship crashes into a lake and the team swims to shore with what little equipment they can carry. After the first character falls victim to a crocodile-like monster in the lake, they decide to head inland and find somewhere safe to hide out until they’re rescued. Along their journey they encounter dinosaurs, giant spiders, and lots of desert.

The characters are all very under-developed. Each one seems to exibit just one trait. You have the well educated leader who thinks every idea he has is the best option, the experienced “soldier” who thinks every decision the leader makes is wrong, the demanding employer, his dimwitted assistant, the buff guy who goes around shirtless the entire movie and one or two others who are just there for filler. The only growing the characters do throughout the film is simply learning to live with one another, and we only see that in a flash-forward conclusion scene that shows the surviving members attempting to build a settlement and begin a new life.

If there’s a silver lining to this movie it has to be the stop-motion dinosaurs. This movie was released the same year the first Star Wars movie came out, and the special effects are absolutely terrible in comparison. The use of stop-motion, however, definitely gives the movie a unique feeling. Several scenes where the dinosaurs are fighting one another are actually quite detailed and I imagine they were pretty difficult. In several cases the dinosaurs appear to behave more realistically than the humans.

Contrary to everything I mentioned above, we really enjoyed ourselvse while we watched it. We went in knowing it was a pretty lame movie so we laughed and made jokes the whole time. The unintended sexual tension and horrendous acting alone made for quite an enjoyable movie. That said, if you go in expecting a decent plot and well developed characters, you’re going to have a bad time. This simply isnt that movie. With a bigger budget and better writing/acting, it had the potential to put dinosaurs on everyone’s mind. Instead it faded into the past without even a second glance.

My Thoughts:

I feel like a silly review is required for this film. As Chad has described, the movie is lacking in a lot of features. After the first few minutes of dialogue, I knew this would be a movie to joke around with. There are plenty of moments to laugh at, and the acting is just terrible. In some of the scenes, it even felt like the actors/actresses were about to burst out laughing themselves.

Once we gave up taking the film seriously, we ended up giving the dinosaurs dialogue to make it even funnier. The dinosaurs were just enjoying their day when humans had to ruin everything. To demonstrate this, Chad made a Gif:

See! These poor dinosaurs were just chatting about the weather, when Boom! humans are there to wreck the day.

Here is another one we titled “How I Act When Killing Spiders:”

I’m not entirely sure what the guy is waiting for. I guess he is trying to psych the dinosaur out before he decides to finish it. I do tend to do this when trying to kill a spider though, or I run away screaming for Chad to kill it.

Planet of the Dinosaurs is far from a well-made movie, and it’s quite terrible at some moments. If you do plan to watch it, just be aware that you will most likely laugh. A lot. It’s one of those films where it’s so bad, it’s funny. Of course, it’s unintentional, but we enjoyed ourselves while watching.  I would love to know if anyone has seen this. I’m not sure if anyone will want to watch it after this review, but if anyone is going to I would love to know.

Our Rating: ★★

March was a much better reading month for me. Of course, the beginning started off slow. I was still in a reading slump, but by the end of the month, I kicked the reading slump’s butt! I read 5 books, which is an improvement from the past two months. I’m hoping to read even more in April, so we shall see how it goes. I also watched two movies I haven’t seen before. They are quite old, and I’m sure most people have seen them. As always, I’m behind on pretty much everything. I’m slowly catching up though.

*All descriptions for books taken from Goodreads and all descriptions for movies taken from IMDb.

The Trap – John Smelcer
Genre – Young Adult/Survival
My Rating – ★★★★

Seventeen-year-old Johnny Least-Weasel knows that his grandfather Albert is a stubborn old man and won’t stop checking his own traplines even though other men his age stopped doing so years ago. But Albert Least-Weasel has been running traplines in the Alaskan wilderness alone for the past sixty years. Nothing has ever gone wrong on the trail he knows so well.

When Albert doesn’t come back from checking his traps, with the temperature steadily plummeting, Johnny must decide quickly whether to trust his grandfather or his own instincts.

Review: This was an enjoyable read. I liked the tales at the beginning of each chapter, and I love that they related to the overall story. The main characters were likable, and there was good characterization. The Indian traditions and stories the characters told built the environment and world. The story was a bit slow at times, but it didn’t take away from anything. I thought the ending was really great, though others might not think this. I won’t spoil it but just prepare for some intense moments. Overall, The Trap was entertaining, and I would recommend it.

How I Live Now – Meg Rosoff
Genre – Young Adult/War
My Rating – ★★

“Every war has turning points and every person too.”

Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.

As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.

Review: I was disappointed with this novel. Of course, I was prepared for Daisy and her cousin’s “bond” so that aspect didn’t bother me. I wanted to see how the author dealt with it, and I feel the relationship was handled well, which I appreciated. However, the writing style bothered me to no end. It’s written how a teenager would speak. It’s a lot easier to listen to than it is to read. There are long sentences with no pauses and lots of ands. I mean lots of ands. Example: First I did this and then I did this and then this and this and this. It was a lot of telling instead of showing, which is fine for the writing style, but it made me feel emotionless towards all of the characters. I didn’t really care what happened to any of them, even though this is a war story with dire consequences and heartache around every corner. I wouldn’t recommend this, but others have liked it.

Hyperbole and a Half – Allie Brosh
Genre – Humor
My Rating – ★★★★★

This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative–like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it–but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:

Stories about things that happened to me
Stories about things that happened to other people because of me
Eight billion dollars*
Stories about dogs
The secret to eternal happiness*

*These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!

Review: This is a fantastic novel! I have officially added this to my favorites list. This book is perfect for getting out of a reading slump. It has such a great sense of humor while still being realistic. All the stories are relatable and down to earth. There were many points where I was laughing out loud and had to tell Chad why I was laughing so hard. I would highly recommend this book, and I feel like everyone should read it.

Endless – Amanda Gray
Genre – Young Adult/Fantasy
My Rating – ★★

Jenny Kramer knows she isn’t normal. After all, not everybody can see the past lives of people around them.

When she befriends Ben Daulton, resident new boy, the pair stumble on an old music box with instructions for “mesmerization” and discover they may have more in common than they thought. Like a past life.

Using the instructions in the music box, Ben and Jenny share a dream that transports them to Romanov Russia and leads them to believe they have been there together before. But they weren’t alone. Nikolai, the mysterious young man Jenny has been seeing in her own dreams was there, too. When Nikolai appears next door, Jenny is forced to acknowledge that he has travelled through time and space to find her. Doing so means he has defied the laws of time, and the Order, an ominous organization tasked with keeping people in the correct time, is determined to send him back.

While Ben, Jenny and Nikolai race against the clock – and the Order – Jenny and Nikolai discover a link that joins them in life – and beyond death.

Review: I have a full review of this novel posted here. Overall,  the book was well-written, and it had potential, but sadly, this story wasn’t for me. I didn’t enjoy the romance, and most of the story elements were lost. The story was okay, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it. Others have enjoyed it though, so it’s always up to the reader.

Cinder – Marissa Meyer
Genre – Young Adult/Fantasy
My Rating – ★★★★

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Review: I really enjoyed this story. I’m usually skeptical about fairytale retellings, but I was pleasantly surprised with this novel. Cinder was likable, and she had good characterization. She was also pretty tough and was able to take care of herself. Although there were some oversights, and it was quite predictable, Cinder had a certain charm about it. The story was pretty exciting, and I found myself being immersed in the story. I did want more world building, but I love the details that were given. I would recommend this novel.

The Cannonball Run
Rating – PG
My Rating – ★★★★★

A wide variety of eccentric competitors participate in a wild and illegal cross-country car race.

Review: It has taken me forever to watch this movie. Honestly, I didn’t even know this existed until Chad showed it to me. This is such a great movie. I love all the characters and how random this movie can be. Everything about it was funny and entertaining. It reminded me of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and Rat Race, both of which I love. I would highly recommend this movie, but I’m sure everyone else has watched it. I would love recommendations for more movies like this one. I did get my hands on Cannonball Run II from a neighbor, and I plan on watching it soon.

National Lampoon’s Vacation
Rating – R
My Rating – ★★★★

The Griswold family’s cross-country drive to the Walley World theme park proves to be much more arduous than they ever anticipated.

Review: This was such a strange movie but in a good way. I loved this crazy family vacation. However, I would not want to be a part of it. It seemed that everything that could go wrong did go wrong. It would be one epic vacation. The ending was even better and fit well with the overall tone of the movie. Now I finally get all the references Family Guy makes to this movie.


Rating: PG-13

The Wind Rises was released in July 2013, in Japan and February 2014, in North America. It’s an animated historical fantasy directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It has been said that this was Miyazaki’s last film; however, there has been speculation that he’s not retired anymore. I’m not sure how accurate this information is, but if it’s true, I’m glad this wasn’t his last project.

The movie is about the life of Jiro Horikoshi and his accomplishments designing airplanes during World War II. He has dreamed of being involved with airplanes since he was a child, and even though he’s nearsighted and unable to become a pilot, he still joins a major Japanese engineering company to become an airplane designer. The Wind Rises covers a large portion of Jiro’s life while also showing historical events such as the Great Kanto Earthquake, the Great Depression, and Japan’s involvement in the war.

As the title hints at, I ended up watching the subbed version (Japanese with English subtitles) of The Wind Rises. This was not by choice but due to the theater’s poor advertising. Once I knew the movie would be subbed, I accepted and prepared myself for a Miyazaki film. However, there were a few problems. I’ve watched plenty of subbed animes, and I have quite a few favorites that I would not want to watch dubbed because I feel it would ruin the anime. With this film, however, I felt that the subbed dialogue was shortened so the audience was able to keep up. Since there is no option to pause the movie, there were only a few small lines of dialogue to read at a time. There were a lot of quiet moments, and at times, there were people mouthing words, but no sound came out and the audience received no subtitles. There were also no translations for the German dialogue, so I missed out on even more of the story. It sort of took me out of the movie because I had no idea what was being said, and I missed out on some of the sound that I normally get with a dubbed version. This will likely not be a problem for most viewers that saw the dubbed version, and I am planning on watching with English dialogue to see if my opinion changes at all.

Aside from the movie being subbed, I felt the story covered a bit too much in the time it was given. I know that it was about Jiro’s life from childhood to adulthood, but the viewers only saw small portions of each stage of his life. There was not a lot of time allotted to getting to know certain characters at different points. I wish it would have focused more on one time period of his life with hints at other stages. While I appreciated the representation of historical events in Japan, the movie seemed to only show the tragic events to a change in time periods because it was sometimes hard to know how much time had passed. Some of the events had little to no effect on the main character except to show what was happening around him.

On the other hand, I enjoyed the overall theme of the movie, to never give up and keep pushing forward no matter what happens. It was rather encouraging, and watching Jiro succeed at his dream was refreshing. The Wind Rises was beautifully crafted like always, and the visuals live up to Miyazaki’s other films. I always love watching his films because of this aspect. The dream sequences were a nice addition to show how passionate Jiro was about designing airplanes. While the animation was great, there were plenty of humorous moments and jokes about the Japanese airplanes that were funny. I liked how the creators were able to poke fun at the Japanese military and how far behind they were compared to other nations.

There was a romance between Jiro and Nahoko that was sweet, and I would have loved to see the movie focus on when he got involved with her and show his struggle trying to deal with work while being there for her. That brought up another issue I noticed while watching. There was no conflict. I never really knew when the movie was going to end because there was no build up or climax. While there were plenty of small issues, there was never anything to drive the story or the character besides Jiro’s passion for airplanes. There was nothing that was presented to the audience that hindered Jiro from following his dream besides his nearsightedness but that was only discussed during the beginning. 

I’m sad to say that The Wind Rises will not be added to my Favorite Hayao Miyazaki Films. I’m hoping that Miyazaki is back from retirement, so he can continue to make wonderful movies. Although, I was not a huge fan of this movie, I can’t wait to watch Miyazaki’s next film.

Feel free to let me know what you thought about the film or if you’re going to see it.

My Rating: ★★★