Life and 100 Films – Charlie’s Film Review of The Perks of Being A Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a dramedy film adaptation of the novel of the same name. It stars Logan Lerman (from Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief) Emma Watson (of Harry Potter fame), and Ezra Miller. The film was directed by the novel’s author, Stephen Chbosky.

Wallflower was one of the films that I highly anticipated seeing this year, and it delivered on every level. It provided everything we look for in entertainment, which shockingly isn’t easy to come by these days. The film follows a freshman named Charlie who is taken under the wings of two seniors who welcome him to the real world. Although the story may seem basic at first glance, it may be the most believable and relatable of its genre.

One of the coolest things about this film adaptation is that the author of the book is the director! I mean, it doesn’t get better for fans of the book than that, right?. Book fans will appreciate the way its been wonderfully translated to film.  The cast in this film is superb as well. You will recognize a lot of the actors portraying the supporting characters, but the primary trio of actors is what really brings this film to the next level. They all deliver outstanding performances with my girl Emma is leading the pack. In her first major role after the Potter series, you totally forget that she even played Hermione Granger! She is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the film world. She portrays a perfect flirtatious teenage girl, but also an insecure free spirit (and she even has an American accent in this one!). Ezra Miller is such a great character as well, and his character really makes the story come full circle on an emotional level. I hope we see him in more films to come. Last, but not least, Logan Lerman is great as the main protagonist, Charlie (pretty awesome name, isn’t it?) As the central character of the story, you really take the journey with him through high school. You feel for him, especially as his story unravels through all of its ups and downs and twists and turns. It’s extremely nostalgic for not only my generation, but many others as well. Finally, Chbosky’s direction is also top-notch, and he really looks like a pro with what he’s done with his source material. Throw in the PERFECT soundtrack and AMAZING dialogue….and I can’t praise this film anymore than that!

YOU NEED TO SEE THIS FILM. Everything about it is brilliant, and it’s definitely on my list of top films of 2012! Better yet, if you haven’t already, read the BOOK as well!

5 out of 5 Stars

The Perks of Being A Wallflower (2012)
Summit Entertainment
PG-13,102 Minutes

Life and 100 Films – Charlie’s Film Review of The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games is a science fiction action drama film directed by Gary Ross and based on the WORLDWIDE PHENOMENON novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins. It stars Jennifer Lawrence (LOVE HER) Josh Hutcherson (Finally is a household name), Elizabeth Banks, Liam Hemsworth (Thor’s lil bro and future father of Miley Cyrus’s kids), and Woody Harrelson. So yea, the cast is pretty awesome. Some fans at first were a little skeptical of some of the producer’s picks, especially Jennifer Lawrence as the beloved Katniss, but no one is complaining anymore.

Some people say the plot is unoriginal, and it’s been done, but I still think it’s awesome and original in its own right. The basics of the plot are that it’s set in a post-apocalyptic/future where people are distinguished by district and every year the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the twelve different districts to fight to the death on live television for everyone to see.  The games are to set an example to remind the people who’s in charge. The story’s main protagonist, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take her younger sister’s place when she is selected to participate in the Hunger Games on her first year of availability.

There was no doubt in my mind that this movie was going to break records, and give the likes of Twilight and Harry Potter a run for their money. This is the first HUGE book series to come to the big screen after them, and it has major appeal. You all know I am a huge Potter fan, but the Hunger Games is a force to be reckoned with, and I feel has the broadest appeal out of them all.. When the film was released, it set records for opening day ($67.3 million) and opening weekend for a non-sequel. At the time of its release, the film’s opening weekend gross ($152.5 million) was the third largest of any movie in North America but now is fourth behind The Avengers, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, and The Dark Knight. I have a feeling the Dark Knight Rises is going to bump it down to fifth. It is also the first film since Avatar to remain in first place at the North American box office for four consecutive weekends.

For all you die-hard readers who aren’t always too keen on these types of adaptations, this is as faithful as they come. I may be going out on a limb saying this, but I think this is even better than the book. This series appeals to everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, which is why it has been so successful. The demand for the second film in the series, Catching Fire, is ENORMOUS, and is only growing bigger by the day. This is a MUST SEE in my eyes, not only because it is just great, but it also is one of the more gorgeous films cinematography wise that I have seen recently.  It’s a little upsetting that Gary Ross will not be returning for the next installment, but Francis Lawrence, director of I Am Legend and Water For Elephants is on-board this time, so I think we are in good hands.

So one last time: make sure you check out The Hunger Games film, and jump on the AWESOME bandwagon. Stay tuned for the Blu-ray release on August 18 and for Catching Fire’s release on November 22, 2013.  You can bet I’ll be at the midnight showing.

MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOR…

5 out of 5 Stars

The Hunger Games (2012)
Lionsgate
PG-13,142 Minutes

Charlie’s Review of Meridienne Drake: Secrets of the Truth (Meridienne Drake #1) by Jessica Dragon Cheramie

For those of you who have been following my reviews, you know that I am a HUGE fan of the fantasy genre.  When I was offered the chance to read Meridienne Drake by Jessica Dragon Cheramie, I welcomed it with open arms.  I’m going to tell you right off the bat that this is a good book with an interesting storyline that is only going to get better as the series goes on.  However, I feel as it is written more for fans of  Twilight rather than fantasy fans as a whole.  I am someone who can easily get immersed in anything so it didn’t deter me from reading, but I think that people of the female persuasion will enjoy this more than the male.  Summary from Goodreads:

When trying to find out who you are, you may just get more than you bargained.

Meridienne Drake thought she had it all figured out, but her parents had other plans for her. Thrown on a plane to Portland, Oregon to spend the summer with family she never knew existed, Meridienne realizes she didn’t know the people who raised her at all. More than that, strange things are beginning to happen to her.

Meridienne wants to be anything other than strange especially when her summer begins to take a turn for the better because of Will, the mysterious new boy. But the strange and unusual just keep occurring until she discovers an even bigger secret. Magic. Her fourteenth birthday reveals secrets and realities that Meridienne had only dreamed about, literally. Will Meridienne accept this secret life and face what comes with that? Or, is all this heat too much for her?

The story at its core is all about a teenage girl in search of herself and her mysterious family. Even though I am a 25-year-old male, I have plenty of experience with the female persuasion.  (I have a younger sister)  Cheramie gets it exactly right when it comes to her depiction of teenage girls. Our main protagonist, Meridienne (Meri for short), has everything you would expect for a girl in this particular time of her life.

Meri’s journey takes us to her grandfather and uncle’s during the summer, both of whom she never knew existed since her parents kept that part of their lives a secret from her. Little does she know that this is only the beginning of all the secrets, lies, and hidden truths that her family has kept from her over the past 13 years. How Meri handles all of these twists and turns in her life is going to hopefully shape her into the person she is meant to be.

With all that being said, Cheramie has constructed an exciting new series in the world of fantasy. It is well written, detailed, and has great character development.  It’s obvious that she has a great plan in place for the rest of the series. She makes readers want to know what is going to happen next. While I do think this is intended for an audience  younger than myself, I still found if enjoyable.  When have adults ever been deterred from reading a young adult novel I ask?  If you recall Harry Potter was found in the children’s section, while The Hunger Games was in the teen section. While Meridienne Drake is by no means the next Harry Potter (which we are still desperately in search of)  it’s my hope that this series can generate a nice little fan base.  I think there is potentially one out there, and with good word of mouth you never know (look at the Fifty Shades of Grey series).  All in all, I think we have something good here. The verdict is still out on whether or not I’ll  read the next part in the series, but that is only because I don’t feel I am the intended audience.  But if you fall into that category (I am talking to you girls) please check this out and spread the word.

3 out of 5 Stars

Meridienne Drake by Jessica Dragon Cheramie
Dragon’s Dream Publishing (2011)
Paperback: 366 pages
ISBN: 9780983634706

Special thanks to Jessica Dragon Cheramie for sending me my review copy!

Blood Sword (Lost Princess Series: Book 1) by L. J. Maisen

From the publisher:
His Oath…
My loyalty and sword to Rhaetia are true.
I lend my wit and might in fealty to you.
Neither through words, nor actions and deeds, will I dishonor thee.

His Quest…
One by one, the heirs to the Rhaetian throne have fallen, and now the future of the kingdom rests on the champion of the realm—the Blood Sword—finding the missing daughter of the king—the Lost Princess.

Blood Sword (Lost Princess Series Book 1)…
On the island nation of Xa’aia, the Blood Sword is enslaved as a gladiator and forced to fight to entertain the masses. However, to continue the search for the Lost Princess, he will do anything to gain his freedom.

Seeing a chance for escape, Zelayra, whore to Prince Calyl of Xa’aia, purchases the barbarian gladiator—so unlike the usual J’Haran prisoners and her Xa’aian captors in looks. But there is no time to ponder her similarity to the stranger and no time to explore the distant memories and unusual feelings his presence inspires, for she’s not the only one who’s been scheming in the island kingdom.

For those of you who don’t know, I am a huge fantasy/sci-fi fan. So, reading Blood Sword by L.J. Maisen was a no brainer for me, and I must say, it has promise. As you have already read above, it tells the story of a fierce princess heroine and a sword fighting hero. One thing that I loved about this short story was that it gives you two very strong characters to help immerse you in the story.  The fact that one is a female and the other male is something that is not very common in fantasy stories, which will make this appealing to a wide range of readers.

Blood Sword was a quick read, and I am still trying to figure out how I feel about that. It’s good because it allows you to read it rather quickly and enjoy the story  At the same time when I started reading, the length had me worried that there wouldn’t be much substance to it, which in my mind is the most important part of a fantasy story. The world that an author creates is one of the biggest aspects and key ingredients in making it successful. Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, just to name a few, are perfect examples of this. They bring you to a place that you never imagined and do so in such distinct detail. While this isn’t in the same league as either of those, I must say I was still satisfied. There was just enough detail for everything to come together and leave you wanting more.

With all that being said, my opinion on the book as a whole was easily swayed from when I first began reading. As a matter of fact, I think L.J. Maisen may be on to something. Rather than bombarding readers with too much detail, which is sometimes a lot to handle, she has introduced us to a world that unfolds slowly and yet still leaves us satisfied. I love the fact that this is a new short story series. I know fantasy isn’t the easiest of genres to create, and it often lacks new material, so this new work is definitely welcome. While I am not ready to call the Lost Princess series the next big thing in the fantasy world, I am intrigued at the small form factor of this series, as it provides us with something unique and different in a world that can at times lack originality. Ultimately, the verdict is still out, as to how well I’ll like the series.  I’ll definitely be reading the second story before I give it my final judgment.

3 out of 5 Stars

Blood Sword by L.J. Maisen
Twenty or Less Press (2012)
eBook: 70 pages
ISBN: 2940033136636

Special thanks to Twenty or Less Press for my review copy!

Charlie’s Review of This Haunted World #2 by Mark Powers, Rahmat Handoko, and Chris Lie

From the publisher: In This Haunted World readers see a world awash in conflict and suffering.  Some believe the Biblical End Times have arrived; others believe a civilization too often driven by greed has simply begun the inevitable process of devouring itself.  Amid the fear and chaos walks a shadow.  He is in the war-torn hills of Afghanistan, in the tragedy wracked hills of Hiroshima.  He is called by many names in many places – and where he walks, he brings death.  Two men – one whose ivory tower has been shattered by scandal, the other sprawled on life’s rock bottom – unknowingly hold mankind’s only hope for survival.  For a war unlike any other is about to be declared – one in which 10,000 years worth of sins and pain come back to haunt us…

The second issue of This Haunted World picks up sort of where we left off in issue one.  (My review of issue one is here)  Its main focus is on Daniel and his wealthy “friend” Tom, who obviously have some issues with each other.  In reading a flashback sequence, we learn that they were both part of a study group during their school days which researched “the other side”.  Unfortunately, as happens too often in life, they went their separate ways and grew apart.  They are now embarking on a new journey together which will hopefully bring them back to together.

Besides the continuous character development of Daniel we are also introduced to a new character, Samantha.  She just so happens to be part of the same group as Daniel and Tom.  Things don’t look too bright for her however, as on a normal day at work (she works in a bookstore) disaster hits, which the group initially thinks is a tornado hitting their area.  I however think it is something more supernatural if you get my drift!  She is later hunted down by a CIA agent, who says her presence is being requested by the nation’s capital.

Meanwhile, Daniel and Tom are on their way to Hiroshima to investigate the destruction that took place in the first issue of This Haunted World.  Daniel’s past, particularly his parent’s passing, is why I believe he is so invested in this.  There is continuous destruction going on when they get there, and they aren’t looked too kindly upon by the local military.  Although Daniel and Tom don’t seem to be welcomed, they insist on searching for what they came for.  The action definitely increases as they come under attack from ghosts and creatures from the sky.  Will they escape with their lives?

There are a few other minor things that went down in this issue, but for the most part that is the gist of the main plot/sub plots.  Something big is obviously being set up in this series, as it seems like it is one big massive story that is being slowly revealed.  Unlike the first issue, which I felt was crammed, this issue progressed really slow.  It was way too broad as well as jumbled at the same time.  A lot of what I really enjoyed about the first issue seemed to be missing the second time around.  Additionally, I also felt the illustrations, while drawn well, didn’t catch my eye as much as they did before.  I still hope that in the upcoming issues they try to incorporate sexual themes into the story, but I am not sure if that is on the horizon.  Maybe with the introduction of Samantha we will get something, but who knows?  Like I have said earlier, sex always makes a story better, especially in the horror genre.

All in all, this issue didn’t really give me enough information to be curious about what is going to happen next.  The premise no longer gives me that hook feeling that I once had.  I feel like this graphic novel is struggling with its identity.  Hopefully they find the proper pace in the upcoming issues that allow the reader to get emotionally invested in the characters and story.

2 out of 5 Stars

Special thanks to Sea Lion Books for sending me my review copy!

Our Oscar Vlog Part IV

It’s Oscar day!! Below is the last part of our four part vlog series on the Oscars. (Yes it is in black and white. It’s our small homage to The Artist!)  In it we discuss the best picture and best picture nominations! We hope you’ve enjoyed them as much as we did making them!  Enjoy the Oscars!

2012 Oscar Vlog Part IV from Kimberly Denny-Ryder on Vimeo.

Life and 100 Films – Charlie’s Film Review of This Means War

This Means War is a romantic comedy/action film directed by McG, best known for directing the Charlie’s Angels film series. The film stars Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, and Chelsea Handler (who I NORMALLY DESPISE, but found she was tolerable in this movie). It also features Abigail Spencer, who I LOVE, especially in her role in Mad Men.

This film hasn’t gotten good reviews, but as far as romantic comedies go it was one of the most enjoyable that I have seen in years. It was very funny, and even delivered in the action department. Some people may initially think this is a chick flick, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes it has those elements at times, but trust me guys, if you want to have a night out at the movies with your “lady friend” this will not disappoint. You will be killing two birds with one stone.

The film has a very basic plot, but I feel that the spy aspect included in the film adds some originality. FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) are not only lifelong best friends but they also work together as CIA agents. We are also introduced to Lauren (Reese Witherspoon), who is a working professional that hasn’t had much time or luck in getting back into the dating world after a very nasty breakup. On top of that, she is constantly pressured by her best friend (Chelsea Handler) to do so. To make a long story short, with a little help from the world of online dating, Tuck (the single dad looking for love) starts dating Lauren. FDR, the playboy, picks up Lauren in a movie store and after being denied at first wants her even more. The best friends realize they are dating the same girl and decide to proceed in a way that will not affect their friendship. Even so, there is an unspoken understanding that the best man will win. While Lauren is struggling with whom to choose, both FDR and Tuck are battling it out with the help of their CIA training to win her over. I will let you all watch it to find out the rest…

I could be being biased because I love Chris Pine (aka Captain Kirk) and Tom Hardy (of Inception fame, and soon to be Bane in The Dark Knight Rises),  but without them in the cast, I will be the first to admit I probably wouldn’t have been as interested in this movie, and would have probably just checked this out on blu-ray. However, since their combined star power was enough to make me see this film in theaters, I felt that they were the perfect combination (at least in my book) for these roles. Interestingly enough, Sam Worthington and Bradley Cooper were attached to star in this originally, but dropped out. This is a perfect example of why Pine and Hardy made the film for me because if it had starred Worthington and Cooper instead there would have been no chance that I would have seen this film. Seth Rogen also turned down the role (you can bet your bottom dollar though that I would have been in a seat if he was in this movie).  As for Reese Witherspoon, while I think she is an awesome actress, I would have liked to have seen a less talented, hotter actress in this role. Maybe Blake Lively?

With all that being said I highly suggest you check this film out. If you are looking for a fun and entertaining night at the movies, then this film will give that to you. If you’re looking for a masterpiece, skip this and go see The Artist.

3 out of 5 Stars

This Means War (2012)
20th Century Fox
R, 97 Minutes

Our Oscar Vlog Part II

For those of you that enjoyed part I of the Oscars vlog rejoice! It’s time for part II!  We discuss the nominees in the two writing categories, as well as go on tangents about the Muppets and fashion!  As usual – leave us your picks and comments in the space below! Enjoy!

2012 Oscar Vlog Part II from Kimberly Denny-Ryder on Vimeo.

Our Oscar Vlog Part I

Adam, Charlie, and I recently got together to put together a vlog about our Oscar thoughts.  The three of us are pretty big film lovers and wanted to share out thoughts on the snubs, pics, and surprises of this years nominations.  Part I of our IV part series is below.  Part I discusses our thoughts on the best actor and best actress nominations.  Make sure to leave us a comment! Enjoy!

2012 Oscar Vlog Part I from Kimberly Denny-Ryder on Vimeo.