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REVIEW: Aquaman (2018)

Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) is of two worlds. Half-human and half-Atlantean he’s the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis but has grown up on land. When his half-brother King Orm (Patrick Wilson) threatens to destroy the surface world, Arthur must become the king and hero he’s meant to be, so that neither world is destroyed.

The film does spend some time setting everything up, introducing new characters, their relationships and the world of Atlantis. The film opens with Arthur’s parents, lighthouse keeper Tom (Temuera Morrison) and Queen Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), meeting and falling in love. Their relationship is one that’s very easy to get attached to very quickly, and somewhat unfortunately, Morrison and Kidman have more chemistry than Momoa and Amber Heard who plays Mera.

Once the story actually gets going, Aquaman is good fun. Momoa is a charismatic lead and as the plot develops you see that Arthur isn’t just brawn but is also a sensitive and kind guy. There is a lot going on in Aquaman. There’s the political intrigue and Orm’s desire to attack the land-dwellers, but there’s also a quest for a mystical item, and another foe for Arthur in the shape of Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). Black Manta’s character introduction is impactful, but then he becomes a character that’s there to pop up and inconvenience Arthur and kickstart an action sequence.

Aquaman is visually spectacular. The whole underwater world is so beautiful and colourful, and Atlantis feels like its own technologically advanced society, completely different to what we know. The scenes underwater are action-packed and exciting, though it’s almost easy to get overwhelmed by all the computer-generated creations.

Aquaman may be a bit overlong and overstuffed, but it is completely bonkers and a lot of fun. It’s pure escapism with it’s kingdom under the sea, feuding royalty and political intrigue. 3/5.

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BOOK BLOGGER HOP: Do you listen to music while you are writing your blog posts?

Book Blogger Hop

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly feature hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, to find bookish blogs and to learn more about the bloggers themselves. You can find more info on the feature here.

This week’s question is: Do you listen to music while you are writing your blog posts? If so, what genre of music do you listen to?

The short answer is sometimes. I like listening to music while I write as it’s sometimes too quiet if I don’t, but I can write without music too. Sometimes it depends on the blog post – if it’s a review when I’ve got a lot to say or the subject is a bit more complicated or sensitive, I might forgo the music to make sure I concentrate.

As I type this post I’m listening to Imagine Dragons latest album (I’m liking it a lot, but I love pretty much all of Imagine Dragons music though so maybe I’m biased) and it’s that sort of music I listen to when I write a blog post. I like to listen music that has guitars and is upbeat but not too catchy because if it is catchy, I’ll end up singing along instead of focusing on what I’m writing. I like listening to music I already know too so it can be a pleasant background noise.

Do you listen to music when you write blog posts? Or when you do any writing in general?

Thoughts on… Foreign Language Films

I’ve realised that this year I’ve watched way more films that aren’t in English, than I have in previous years. In fact, in the Spring I watched more films in a foreign language than I had in the last couple of years combined.

I’m not sure why I don’t watch more films that are in another language because there’s so many films out there that could be great and to not watch them just because I’ve got to read subtitles is just silly.

I’ve noticed that when I watch films with subtitles, I pay more attention to the film and can therefore get absorbed into the story and characters more. I don’t know about you, but when I’ve found some random film in English on Netflix that I’m not super excited about and it’s just something to watch, I often find myself scrolling through Twitter etc as I can still hear and understand what’s happening even if the film doesn’t have my full attention. When I’m watching a film that’s not in English and has subtitles, I don’t touch my phone for the full runtime of the film and I get so much more out of it because of that.

One of my favourite foreign language films is Banlieue 13. It’s a French action film full of brilliant stunts and it’s a lot of fun. The first time I saw it, I watched it dubbed as it was playing on a coach on a school trip to France. I loved it as soon as I saw it and bought my own copy, including the sequel, as soon as I could. Ever since then I watch it with the subtitles.

I prefer to watch films not in English with the subtitles, as then you get to hear the voice performance of the actors as the filmmakers intended. I get pulled into foreign language films and barely notice the subtitles once I’m 10 minutes into the film.

Some of my favourite films not in English that I’ve watched this year is the South Korean Train to Busan and the Danish The Guilty. Both are fantastic and super tense and, or course, they are both set to get American remakes. It’s a shame that so many people don’t step out of their comfort zone and won’t watch something that’s not in their native language. There’s so much out there and I know there’s more I want to catch up on so give me all your foreign language film recommendations!

Thoughts on… Film Award Season

It’s mid-December and that means only one thing – film award season is heating up.

Award season is interesting to say the least and it can be annoying, overwhelming and relentless. I do have a vague interest in award season and what films get nominated for Golden Globes, SAG awards, Oscars and everything else. Part of it is because I’m a part of #FilmTwitter as there’s no escape from it all. It can be annoying and all the arguments when different films are slated or snubbed or praised can make me dislike a film. Which of course is not a good thing because the film should be judged on your viewing experience of it, not what awards it has or hasn’t been nominated for or what other people think about it.

One year when I was at university, I think it was the 2013 to 2014 awards season, I decided to try and watch all the films that would be nominated for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress at the Oscars. Living in the UK that meant that I would get the “Oscar bait” aka all the films that was likely to be nominated for the big awards a month or two after America. It was an interesting experience but not one that I want to repeat any time soon.

I watched films that I wouldn’t normally watch. For instance, Nebraska which I can’t remember anything about and August: Osage County and the only thing I remember about that film is disliking every single one of the characters. Attempting to see all the films that will get Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress nominations was something I did to be able to say, “I’ve seen that film!” and when the nominations actually came out, I could have an opinion on all the nominees in a category. Now though, I can’t be bothered to be honest. I would rather watch films that I think I’m going to enjoy or are something I want to see no matter what nominations it does or doesn’t get and while there can be some very enjoyable and interesting “Oscar bait” films I don’t want to force myself to watch them if I don’t want to.

I think this time of year with all the awards it is sometimes just a bit much. Everyone has an opinion and there’s so many films out there, so naturally some of the films and the performances that are being talked about I haven’t seen but now I don’t feel that I must catch up. That’s because the films or performances are ones I don’t want to watch or are in horror films or are other genres that I’m not interested in and am 99% sure I won’t enjoy.

I’ll admit I’m a bit surprised that Widows isn’t getting more nominations, as I thought the performances and script were top notch, but I’ve learnt not to get too caught up in awards season. Though, I do readily admit that I love that The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is one of three films (the other two being Ben-Hur and Titanic) to have one 11 Oscars and, I believe, is the only film to have one an award in every category it was nominated in. But besides that little titbit, I’m not going to let awards season, and the 2019 Oscars, get me down.

Do you try to have an opinion on every film that gets nominated for the big awards? Or does Oscar-season just pass you by?

READ THE WORLD – Romania: The Fox was Ever the Hunter by Herta Müller

Translated by Philip Boehm.

Set in Romania during the last months of Communist dictator Ceaușescu’s regime, people struggle to keep their minds and bodies intact in a world that’s permeated with fear. Adina is a young school teacher, Paul is a musician, Clara works in a wire factory, and Pavel is her lover. But one of them is working for the secret police and is reporting on the others.

The Fox was Ever the Hunter was a bit of a difficult read for several reasons and the way it was written was the main one. There were little things like how there are no speech marks when someone is talking, so you definitely needed to pay attention to what’s going on – especially when there was more than one person talking in a paragraph. Then there’s the attention to detail the author has. There’s so much focus on tiny things like the creases in a dress, how ants move, or how the chalk is like on a blackboard, but when it comes to the characters, they don’t get much description or backstory at all. It’s almost like it’s an intense study of the time period it’s set. This writing style makes the characters very distant and hard to connect with, as it’s as if the environment they live in is more important than themselves.

The main plot of the secret police, and someone in their friendship group not being trustworthy, doesn’t really kick in till halfway through the book. The first half of The Fox was Ever the Hunter is more of a study of the environment the characters live in. The intense descriptions make the town feel like a very cold and unwelcoming place to live. It seems almost hopeless and when Adina, Paul, or Clara make an appearance they feel like they’re sleepwalking through their lives.

I could see some people loving how The Fox was Ever the Hunter was written as its prose is often poetic and strangely beautiful, but for me it made it a bit of a slog to read.

REVIEW: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

After their universes collide, Miles Morales meets Peter Parker and a whole lot of other spider-people. As Miles starts to get to grips with his spider-powers, they all must work together in order to get home to their own universes.

When the first trailer for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse came out, I found it a bit disconcerting as the animation seemed to be so different to the animation style I’m used to seeing in Disney and Pixar films. I stand corrected though as the animation style is stunning and it works perfectly for the story. The animation is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. All the colours are so vibrant, they pop from the screen and make the films New York setting come alive in a totally different way. The blend of animation styles is wonderful, especially how each character from a different universe looked so unique. The whole film feels like a visual comic book with the way there’s words on the screen to emphasise a sound, and there’s moments where the screen is split up into comic panels.

But don’t think Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is style over substance, its story and characters are just as brilliant as its animation. Miles is a great character. He’s a realistic teenager with parents he sometimes finds annoying, struggling to fit in at a new school, and then he has superpowers to deal with. For a film with so many characters, and a lot of things happening, it never loses the focus on Miles. Miles is the heart and soul of this film, he’s the audience’s stand-in but he’s still a fully fleshed-out character.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is funny, touching, and exciting. It is action-packed and fast-paced, there’s always something happening whether it’s family drama or a big fight sequence, but it also has so much heart.

I loved Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It’s one of my favourite films of the year, and I can’t wait to see it again. It’s a stunning film that made me tear up multiple times and for different reasons. There’s a lot of references to different Spider-Man films which is a lot of fun. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a film that knows how to poke fun at its comic book roots while still making a believable world full of heroes and villains. Oh, and make sure you stay till the very end of the credits! 5/5.

Thoughts on… Audiobooks

Before this year I had never listen to an audiobook for before. Well, that’s kind of a lie. I remember listening to cassette tapes of the Animal Ark books by Lucy Daniels when I was a child. I word listen to them on a walkman and I had a cassette player by my bed and I would sometimes listen to them at night before falling asleep instead of reading a book.

Back from the age of say 7 years old to nearly 20 years later I haven’t really listened to audiobook but that was until this year. At the end of 2017 I started a new job where I could walk to work every day, instead of getting the train as I had previously. When I was commuting to work by train I would read on the train, but now I didn’t have that time I wasn’t reading as much. So that’s when I started looking into audiobooks, so I could listen to something as I walked to and from work and also maybe when I was walking around town on my lunch break. Obviously, I’d heard of Audible but when I looked into that it’s kind of expensive and I rarely read physical books more than once so I doubt I’ll ever listen to an audiobook more than once so when I joined local library I discovered they have audiobooks you can borrow from the library.

I downloaded a couple of apps one is called Borrow Box and another is called RBdigital and these are the two I use the most. Obviously different libraries have different catalogues, so some have more choice than others but since January I’ve listened to two audiobooks a month on average depending how long the audiobook is.

I’m finding that audiobooks are a great way for me to read more books during a month or a year. And it’s a way for me to read books that have been on my shelves for a long time that I was perhaps intimidated by. For instance, I listen to the audiobook of The Three Musketeers over the summer, a book that I’ve had on my shelf for at least 15 years and I had yet to read it and I doubt I would have read the physical copy. Last month I listened to the audiobook of Dune by Frank Herbert and that was definitely a book that was so big and such a classic that I really don’t think I would’ve read it if it wasn’t for the audiobook. I listened to Bleak House on audio this year and I think that made it an easier book to understand because listening to the characters talk and the description made it less dense than the few times I’ve tried to read my paperback copy of Bleak House.

I find audiobooks are not only good way of reading intimidating books that I’ve had my possession but also to find new books I hadn’t heard of before. It has been audiobooks that I’ve listen to a lot for my Read the World Project and because I’ve borrowed them through the library, they haven’t cost me any money.

I think once upon a time I believed that audiobooks weren’t “real books” and if you listen to audiobooks you weren’t reading but I stand corrected. Whether you read a book that’s a physical copy or an e-book or you listen to an audiobook, you are still consuming the story and I think that’s the most important thing.

I am now an audiobook convert I think they’re brilliant and so handy and such a great way to get stories to people that might not have the time to sit down and dedicate time to reading a physical copy. I can listen to a least an hour each day of an audiobook on my walk to and from work. If I’m doing the cleaning or cooking, I’m usually listen to my audiobook then as well so I’m still paying attention and I’m still consuming the story, but I don’t have to dedicate all my time to the action of reading when I’m listening to an audiobook.

Do you listen to audiobooks? If so, where do you get your audiobooks from? I’m always looking for cheap and new ways to listen to audiobooks.