Monday, June 26, 2017

Cars 3 - Movie Review

Genre: Animated, Comedy

Director: Brian Fee

Starring: Owen Wilson, Armie Hammer, Cristela Alonzo

My Rating:  ★★★★☆

Synopsis: Lightning McQueen sets out to prove to a new generation of racers that he's still the best race car in the world.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed Cars when it first came out in 2006. Pixar had been on a roll with their movies (Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles). Their animation was unbelievable and had a reputation for being above and beyond what other studios were doing. Pixar has been and continues to be known for coming up with creative, new ideas that other animation studios would never imagine. Then Pixar started making sequels, with Cars 2 being one of the first of their "tests". I did not enjoy Cars 2 all that much and it was for this reason that I was very hesitant about Cars 3. I just didn't feel like another sequel was necessary and I couldn't figure out where Pixar was going to go with the story. 


With that being said, I was very pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed Cars 3. I have no idea if Pixar is planning other Cars movies or if this was intended to be the finale, but I would love for this to be the end of that story. I thought that Lightning McQueen's story came full circle and set up for "the end" in a perfect manner. Cars 3 presented real life problems in such a relatable manner. Lightning is essentially having a mid-life crisis and he needs to figure out what to do with the rest of his life. While animated movies are usually intended for children (although Pixar is SO good at creating stories that appeal to a variety of ages), this movie felt like it was more written for the older audience that grew up with the Cars franchise. And this all worked for me! The introduction of new characters (particulary Cruz Ramirez) while pushing some of the more familiar characters to the background (i.e., Mater and the whole Radiator Springs gang) allowed the story to breathe new life into the Cars franchise and ultimately conclude Lightning's story in a believable and admirable way.

Overall, I enjoyed my time watching Cars 3 very much. The animation was stunning and felt realistic and almost life like. The jokes and the overall story was tight and very well written (I noticed no plot holes - I mean you have to accept that no humans exists in this world and that things work a little differently, but otherwise nothing felt out of place). I had lower expectations for this movie because of my feelings about Cars 2, but I never doubted Pixar's ability to reel me back in. The Pixar company is one that I have been following since the beginning and they have provided the world with some of the greatest content of all time. It makes me so happy to know that they brought the Cars franchise back around and that fans can finally love these movies again. If this were to be the end of Lightning McQueens story, I would be more than satisfied.

Wonder Woman - Movie Review

Genre: Superhero, Action

Director: Patty Jenkins

Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, David Thewlis

My Rating:  ★★★★★

Synopsis: Before she was Wonder Woman she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

My Thoughts: WOWZA! This movie was phenomenal. As a woman, I have rarely watched something and left feeling such an overwhelming feeling of awe and empowerment. While DC's movie universe has been all over the place (Man of Steel was good but a little boring and slow, Batman vs. Superman had all kinds of problems, and Suicide Squad I found to be fun but also very problematic), Wonder Women absolutely kicked it out of the park and started something fresh and new for the comic company. 

I really don't even know where to start gushing about Wonder Woman. Everything was so , so good... the cinematography, the acting, the pacing, etc. I would honestly consider to be one of the best movies of the year! While I would consider myself to be a HUGE Marvel fan, I will be the first to admit that Marvel has problems with their villains as well as hitting emotional marks. Wonder Woman has everything that makes a Marvel movie great plus those two very crucial items (sorry to be comparing Marvel and DC... I'm just trying to note the importance of how well this movie killed me with my emotions!). My favorite part of this movie has to be the fight scenes though. They are perfection and Gal Gadot is my hero (I literally cried every time she used the lasso of truth).

Overall, I cannot recommend this movie enough. It is about time that women have a kick-ass role model to represent them. This movie proved that men and women can work together and both be bad ass at the same time. Usually if the man was the superhero, the woman would be put into a situation in which she needed to be rescued. However in Wonder Woman, even though the roles were reversed, there was never a moment that I thought Steve was put into a distressing situation. Both Diana and Steve fought next to each other and with each other and that is representation that is hardly ever shown (sorry for the rant lol)! If you haven't seen this movie, please do yourself a favor and go see it right now!!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Hunted by Meagan Spooner & Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz - Retelling Book Reviews

HUNTED

Genre: Fantasy, Fairytale, Y/A

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

Synopsis: Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them. So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance. Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

My Thoughts: I received Hunted in my March Uppercase subscription and I was very excited to read this book. It had been one of my most anticipated books of the spring and I knew that Hunted is a Beauty and the Beast (BatB) retelling. I have read a couple other BatB retellings, and while Hunted was good, I would not call this one my favorite. On the plus side, Hunted sticks very closely to the original BatB story line. It also has a kickass Beauty that is a trained hunter! However, those positives did not outweigh the negatives for me. I thought Hunted was a little slow, with very little action happening throughout. This book probably could have benefited from being about 50 pages shorter. I also thought that there was no chemistry between Beauty and the Beast, which is a big no-no for me. Overall, I did enjoy Hunted but it is definitely not a tale as old as time.
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ALEX AND ELIZA 

Genre: Historical Fiction, Y/A

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Synopsis: Their romance shaped a nation. The rest was history. 1777. Albany, New York. As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball. Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.

My Thoughts: I had been anticipating this book so much because it is a retelling of Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schyler's love story! What Hamilton fan would not be excited for this book? And it was a great story. I absolutely love Eliza. She is spunky and outspoken and a complete role-model. She was a woman way ahead of the 1700's. I really enjoyed how slowly Alex and Eliza's love story blossomed. They seem like an unlikely match, Alex is from an unknown family and has very little money while Eliza comes from a highly respected family (including her father who is in the military). I think it is these odds though that ultimately make them the perfect match. They didn't care about backgrounds or families... Alex and Eliza just found perfection in each other and what more can you ask for. I also got a lot of Pride and Prejudice feels from this book, so that also added greatly to my experience. I would highly recommend this book, as it was a fun quick read.