My 2 Cents… Ex Machina

ex m

Title: Ex Machina
Director: Alex Garland
Writer: Alex Garland
Stars: Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, and Sonoya Mizuno

SHOW RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Acting: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★ (5)

Blurb:
A young programmer is selected to participate in a ground-breaking experiment in synthetic intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breath-taking humanoid A.I.

Storyline:
Caleb, a 26-year-old programmer at the world’s largest internet company, wins a competition to spend a week at a private mountain retreat belonging to Nathan, the reclusive CEO of the company. But when Caleb arrives at the remote location, he finds that he will have to participate in a strange and fascinating experiment in which he must interact with the world’s first true artificial intelligence, housed in the body of a beautiful robot girl. Written by DNA FILMS

My 2 Cents:
OK, I’ll admit – I did not see this one in the theatre. Big surprise, right? I mean it did come out back in 2014 and I’m just now reviewing it. I had never even heard of Ex Machina until the image of it scrolled across my Netflix feed.

I had no clue what to expect, but I tend to like AI movies so I gave it a shot.

Ultimately, this movie is about a computer programmer, Caleb – played by Domhnall Gleeson, who “wins” a chance to be flown to the estate where the owner of the company he works for, Nathan – played by Oscar Isaac, lives. Caleb gets there… to what is basically this massive, underground bunker where Nathan lives, works, and creates. His boss makes him sign an NDA and then shows him this beautiful AI woman, Ava – played by Alicia Vikander, that he created and keeps locked up – secluded from the outside world. He explains that the reason he brought Caleb there was to spend a week talking with Ava, questioning her, etc. to see if she is a real AI or just another robot.

Tension… tension… tension…

This really was a tension filled movie. Basically, because the acting was fantastic!!! I was captivated by the acting AND the dialogue. I have to hand it to Alex Garland, the writer and director, for such a well thought out, thought-provoking script. I was so surprised to find out that this was the first movie he had ever directed. WHAT?!?! Yup, its true.

As the viewer, you don’t know who to trust… who to believe… who to care for. That is part of the genius behind the writing. It also gives credit to the execution of the acting and directing.

I’m not going to tell you what happens, and I really won’t tell you the twist at the end. Yes, there is a twist. What I will tell you is – this is an EXCELLENT MOVIE!!!! If you haven’t seen it, you need to rent this one, it will not disappoint.

You can watch the official trailers here:


 

My 2 Cents… The Nun

The Nun

Title: The Nun
Director: Corin Hardy
Writers: Gary Dauberman (Screenplay)
Story by: Gary Dauberman and James Wan
Stars: Demian Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, and Bonnie Aarons

SHOW RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★
Story: ★★★
Acting: ★★★
Overall: ★★★ (3)

Blurb:
A priest with a haunted past and a novice on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate the death of a young nun in Romania and confront a malevolent force in the form of a demonic nun.

Storyline:
When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together they uncover the order’s unholy secret. Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of the same demonic nun that first terrorized audiences in ‘The Conjuring 2,’ as the abbey becomes a horrific battleground between the living and the damned. Written by Warner Bros.

My 2 Cents:
I was hoping for more. More scares, more story, more plot, more acting. Just more.

Ok, before you get the wrong I idea, I do still think this movie is worth watching. Rent it, don’t buy it. The story is subpar and the acting is just ok, but there were a few good jump scares – my favorite part of scary movies. Although, the best part wasn’t the movie at all – it was who I was watching it with. My daughter says she loves scary movies, but she screams the whole time. THE WHOLE TIME – even when it isn’t scary. So, her fear and excitement at being scared made the movie that much more fun for me too.

So, find a friend or a loved one who loves to be scared and jumps at everything and watch this movie with them.

I guess the only other things I can say about the movie is that the special effects were better than I expected and Bonnie Aarons, the actress who played The Nun, was awesome! I’m not going to lie – she was pretty creepy scary looking.

You can watch the official trailers here:

The Selection by Kiera Cass

Selection

TITLE: The Selection
AUTHOR: Kiera Cass

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★ (4.75)

 

 

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
Fall in love—from the very beginning. Discover the first book in the captivating, #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series.

Prepare to be swept into a world of breathless fairy-tale romance, swoon worthy characters, glittering gowns, and fierce intrigue perfect for readers who loved Divergent, Delirium, or The Wrath & the Dawn.

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape a rigid caste system, live in a palace, and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her, and competing for a crown she doesn’t want.

Then America meets Prince Maxon—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Buy it HERE on Amazon! 

THE CRITICAL POINTS
I didn’t make the choice to read this book, my daughter did. She picked it out of a hundred other books in the school library while deciding which book to write her book report on. She isn’t a big reader, and I knew automatically that she wasn’t going to finish such a large book on her own. So, we made it our latest Mother/Daughter book club selection and read it together. To be honest, I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did.

WRITING: Kiera Cass’s writing style is very easy to grasp. She is fluid, moving from one scene to the next perfectly. It’s almost as if she were writing the story for screen, rather than a book shelf. She keeps her language simple, so that younger readers would easily understand the story and everything going on within the world she has created.
Her world building is left more to the reader’s imagination than laid out through her descriptions and although I can see how some readers might not like that, I personally love it.

STORY: The story is not unique, as girls we’ve all read Cinderella… A prince falls in love with a common girl who is poor with nothing to give but her heart. However, The Selection puts a twist on the classic and brings in a more modern reality show ‘The Next Bachelor’ feel. At first, I didn’t think I would enjoy this, but it turned out to be a fun twist leading to a lot of character development and choices right away.

I also feel like this book has a lot of good life lessons for the younger female readers to include, how to stand up for yourself (see favorite quote below).

APPEARANCE: I’m not sure who designed the cover, as the cover artist’s name wasn’t listed on the copyright page, but it is truly stunning.

MY FAVORITE QUOTE:
My favorite quote comes from a conversation between America (the lead) and her friend Marlee. America basically asks Marlee how to handle the other girls – we all know someone who falls into this category – the MEAN GIRLS.

Marlee’s response, and my favorite quote, is: “I ignore it. I know one girl at home who gets so irritated when she can’t bother you, she just ends up sulking. So, don’t worry,” she said. “All you have to do is not let them know they’re getting to you.”

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

https://youtu.be/jVIQrgBcMro

My 2 Cents… Brain on Fire

Brain on Fire

Title: Brain on Fire
Director: Gerard Barrett
Writers: Gerard Barrett (Screenplay) & Susannah Cahalan (Memoir)
Stars: Chloe Grace Moretz, Thomas Mann, Richard Armitage, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jenny Slate, and Tyler Perry

 

 

SHOW RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Acting: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★ (5)

Blurb:
A young, capable professional cannot explain her newly erratic behavior.

Storyline:
The film follows the harrowing experience of a writer struggling with a rare neurological disease from when she first suffers symptoms to the many attempts at diagnosing it and the eventual discovery of the real cause of her illness. Based on the book, ‘Brain On Fire’, the true story of Susannah Cahalan, a journalist for the New York Post. Written by Danny

My 2 Cents:
WOW! I can’t say enough good things about this movie.

First let me start by explaining something I didn’t know when I hit play… This movie is based on a true story. It’s not fiction and wow did the actors and director nail it! I wish there were more movies being made that touched on such important topics as mental illness in such a way that people can relate and yet learn.

The acting was amazing – breathtaking. Chloe Grace Moretz was perfectly cast and brought her character to life in such a heartbreaking way. Richard Armitage and Carrie-Anne Moss played Chloe’s parents, a divorced couple struggling to move on from their failed marriage and still support their sick daughter through her time of need. They fought valiantly for their daughter’s rights and to provide her with the best treatment available.

I’m not going to give anything else away. However, I think it needs to be said that the negative reviews I’ve read online seem so miss placed. This movie is definitely a MUST SEE!

You can watch the official trailers here:

The Children of Lot by Vic Kerry

Children of Lot

 

TITLE: The Children of Lot
AUTHOR: Vic Kerry

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★
Story: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Appearance: ★★★
Overall: ★★★ (3.5)

 

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
Life as a middle school principal can be humdrum, and so was the case for Suzanne Clay. Every day it was the same thing, filling out detention slips and dealing with fist fights between boys and the cliquishness among prepubescent girls.

Everything changed when she met the Children of Lot and got caught up in their strange prophecy.

Along with Suzanne, the special education teacher and a handful of students find themselves locked in a potentially deadly and mind-altering encounter with the Children of Lot.

It is an encounter that will test everything within Suzanne just to survive and get her students out of harm’s way. At every step, a new danger rears its horrible head, and she battles wits with the sly and crafty leader of the cult, who will stop at nothing to make sure God smiles on his people.

Buy it HERE on Amazon!

THE CRITICAL POINTS
Let me start by saying that I purchased this book from an author event where I got to meet and discuss the story with the actual author. He explained it as a horror story dealing with a cult. Intriguing, right? I thought so too. After reading it, I wouldn’t classify it as horror, it wasn’t scary – at least not to me – but it does deal with the gruesome details of a cult.

WRITING: The Children of Lot was Vic Kerry’s debut novel and although he has some wonderfully developed characters, the novel is riddled with editing issues and typos. This did not dissuade me from finished the story, but I know that there are many readers out there that would have put the book down after the first chapter. I only point this out because if you like cult stories, I want you to keep reading. Don’t give up just because of some typos and missed words.

Although this book wasn’t really my cup of tea, and I did find it to be a bit predictable, I will say that Kerry has created a solid story. There are no plot holes – he resolves every issue you can come up with – and his character development is perfect. You can picture each character and you know what their life was like before the book and even imagine what it will become long after the story within the books pages.

STORY: The Children of Lot takes place in the deep Alabama south, and tells the story of the Hassle family – A CULT – as they try to fulfil the scriptures found in the Book of Lot (a new book of the bible that their ancestors wrote). I won’t give anything away, you’ll have to read the book to find out what the Book of Lot says, but trust me you won’t find anything like it in the bible at church.

APPEARANCE: The cover shows a red barn off in the distance and a hanging dead pig in the forefront. It is gruesome, but it does relate perfectly to the story held within its pages. It isn’t a book I would have picked up if I had passed it in the book store, but I’m glad I stuck with it and read the full story.

MY FAVORITE QUOTE: I don’t have one with this book.

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

NOT YET RECORDED

My 2 cents… Riverdale

Riverdale

TV Show Title: Riverdale
Creator: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Stars: K.J. Apa (Archie Andrews), Lili Reinhart (Betty Cooper), Camila Mendes (Veronica Lodge), and Cole Sprouse (Jughead Jones)

SHOW RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★
Story: ★★★★
Acting: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4)

Blurb:
A subversive take on Archie and his friends, exploring small town life, the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath Riverdale’s wholesome facade.

 

Storyline:
After the death of one of the rich and popular Blossom twins on the 4th of July, the small town of Riverdale investigates the murder. The series starts in September, the beginning of a new school year, that brings with it new students, relationships, and reveals the mysteries of the past 4th of July. Written by ahmetkozan

My 2 Cents:
I grew up reading the Archie comics… I loved them! The characters were fun, relatable, and I enjoyed the banter back and forth and the constant rivalry between best friends Betty and Veronica to see who would Archie liked best.

Although I am enjoying the show, Riverdale, which is based (loosely in my opinion) on the Archie comics, it seems to be missing something.

In the comic, the character of Archie, was a clumsy teen boy who loved music and girls.
In the show, he still loves the girls and music, but he seems more teen angst than anything else. He had an affair with his teacher, Ms. Grundy who the show cast as a pretty young woman. Let me tell you – if you don’t already know – Ms. Grundy was an old, grey haired, mean woman in the comics. Weird choice for casting if you ask me.

Betty Cooper – The girl next door. Yeah, the show got her right. The actress, Lili Reinhard even looks like the Better Cooper in the older comics. She, and jughead, are probably my favorite characters in the show.

Veronica Lodge – She was a snooty, rich girl in the comics and she is a snooty, rich girl in the show! She says she is Betty’s best friend, but just like in the comics there are times where she treats her terribly. She is the stereotypical ‘Mean Girl’.

Jughead Jones – Probably the most different in terms of character changes from comic to show. In the comic he was a lazy guy who didn’t care about girls, relationships, working… anything. In the show, he writes – all the time – and is in a relationship with Betty (Spoiler Alert). He even joined a gang… Didn’t see that once coming.

I don’t remember the comics having nearly the amount of crime either. Sure, there were small things, but they always worked themselves out. Riverdale is full of sex, murder, cover ups, drugs, and mob activity. Not the most wholesome show to be presenting to kids and yet it is marketed as a kid show – pre and young teens.

You can watch the official trailers here:

Four by Veronica Roth

Four

TITLE: Four
AUTHOR: Veronica Roth

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★
Story: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4)

 

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
Fans of the Divergent trilogy by #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth will be thrilled by Four: A Divergent Collection, a companion volume that includes four pre-Divergent stories plus three additional scenes from Divergent, all told from Tobias’s point of view. This collection also makes a great pick for fans of the blockbuster movies who want to delve deeper into the character played by Theo James.

Readers first encountered Tobias as “Four” in Divergent. His voice is an integral part of Allegiant. Readers will find more of this charismatic character’s back story told from his own perspective in Four: A Divergent Collection. When read together, these long narrative pieces illuminate the defining moments in Tobias’s life. The first three pieces in this volume—”The Transfer,” “The Initiate,” and “The Son”—follow Tobias’s transfer from Abnegation to Dauntless, his Dauntless initiation, and the first clues that a foul plan is brewing in the leadership of two factions. The fourth story, “The Traitor,” runs parallel with the events of Divergent, giving readers a glimpse into the decisions of loyalty—and love—that Tobias makes in the weeks after he meets Tris Prior.

Also includes three additional scenes from Divergent, told from Tobias’s point of view!

Buy it HERE on Amazon! 
THE CRITICAL POINTS

WRITING: Veronica Roth takes us deep into Four’s perspective with this one, and she doesn’t disappoint.

STORY: Four, the 4th book in the Divergent Series is actually a set of novellas. What it reminded me, after the disappointment of Allegiant, is that I really enjoy Roth’s storytelling and the world she created within the Divergent Series. Seeing her world through Four’s eyes was a great way to wrap up the series and give her readers the closure we didn’t get with Allegiant.

I won’t give anything away, but I will say even if you were disappointed with Allegiant, you have to pick up Four! Give Roth another chance and read these awesome novellas. It’s a fast-paced read, I think I finished it in one night… maybe two. You won’t be disappointed.

If you’ve already read Four, what did you think? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

APPEARANCE: The cover blends well with the rest of the Divergent series books and fits the story VERY WELL! I love the imagery as well as the meeting behind the Ferris wheel.

MY FAVORITE QUOTES:

“One thing I know: For helping me forget how awful the world is, I prefer her to alcohol.”

“Dead people can be our heroes because they can’t disappoint us later; they only improve over time, as we forget more and more about them.”

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

NOT YET RECORDED