Stranger Things: Season 1 (2016)



What I liked:

  • The score. Like really. It was awesome, and very reminiscent of Drive. It resonated every step of the way, and was so important.
  • The opening credits. They are dead simple, no frills, bells, and whistles, and yet it is awesome. That music, the neon, the letters? I really liked this.

stranger things intro

  • The child actors. These kids were good. Usually kids in movies annoy me, their acting is stiff and unbelievable. But here? These kids were compelling. I am particularly a fan of Dustin.
  • Hopper. Initially you meet this dude that wakes up, brushes his teeth, chains a cigarette, washes down pills with a beer, all at the crack of dawn. However, as lost as this man appears in the beginning, it does not detract from the fact that he has a cop’s mind, and it is amazing to watch it kick into gear.

stranger things hopper wake up

  • The references and vibes! Carpenter, King, Hawkins, Stand By Me, everything!
  • The humour. It is just fantastic. Really had me laughing at times.

stranger things hopper mornings are for

  • The character development. People were not left to stagnate – while the kids were learning about themselves and El, so were Jonathan, Steve, and Nancy learning about themselves and changing. Joyce and Hopper discovered things and had to adapt the way they saw things, and embrace it. Brilliant. Everyone was involved here.
  • Mr Clarke. Seriously, this teacher was the best for so many reasons, and a character I absolutely adored! Here are some.

What I didn’t like: 

  • There are leaps and bounds in the logic that aren’t always explained, and don’t always make sense.
  • Nancy annoyed me endlessly. She was selfish and grating and silly. What an annoyance. However, her character changes and grows so much that she actually becomes someone decent later on.

stranger things nancy slap

  • I love less is more when it comes to the monster, and while this show managed that for the most part, I still feel that we saw too much of it, and it sort of killed the creep factor for me.

stranger things kids meet bad guys

I was so eager to check this out. I saw a trailer for it a few months back, and thought it looked like something that was totally up my alley. Then it released, and the reviews came back really positive, so I knew that I just had to get on it. Well, my husband and I watched it in three consecutive work nights, and then we were done. Done, and sad, because it is over now for a while. The minute this show started, I was pleased. It had a dark, creepy intro scene, some unseen monster, and then some ridiculously simple, cool opening credits. Everything was so eighties and old school and horror like, I was happy. The characters are introduced to us, and they are quite sweet, or interesting, or strange, depending who you meet. The boys and their Dungeons and Dragons tournament was endearing, and from there, the show kicks in.

stranger things dungeons and dragons

Stranger Things features a lot of heart, and that was cool. Yes, shows have relationships and you get invested, I am not disputing that, and great friendships. But Stranger Things shows you about the deep bonds that kids form as friends, their innocence at adding a latest, mysterious addition to their little ensemble, the love a struggling mother has for her child, and the ties between brothers. It was quite multilayered, and worked wonders.

stranger things johnathan nancy steve stranger things steve bat

Let’s talk about some characters I really liked. I was a big fan of Hopper – no matter the washout you think he is, the man has a cop’s brain, and is extremely good at what he does. He is also a tortured dude, but does his best to help people, even if he would prefer it happen after coffee and doughnuts. Then there is Mr Clarke, and he is just awesome, and brings a lot of humour to the screen, which I love. He is also a great teacher, and encourages passion for these kids, which is awesome. Winona Ryder is in fine form here as Joyce, and totally brings a lot to the table.

The kids need their own paragraph. Eleven is a great character, and Millie Bobby Brown played her so well. You pity her, but you also sort of fear her (because let’s face it, she is a bit of the unknown). She learns about all these totally foreign concepts (friendship, promises, etc.) and picks up on these things and embraces these concepts with open arms, without questioning, as only a child can, despite whatever has happened to her. Let’s not forget about Dustin, Michael, and Lucas here. These kids had their friendships with one another tried and tested, and are all at that age where things start to change in their lives. They learned more about trust, honesty, courage, and bravery in a short period of time than they would have even if years had passed. Of the original group of boys, Dustin was, without a doubt, my favourite. He is hilarious, has heart, tries to keep everyone happy and together, and has a real smart mouth. Definitely love!

stranger things better runstranger things she's crazy

Stranger Things is a tense watch, and draws you into this fictitious world effortlessly and completely, and while you know that so much that is going on is fantastical and bizarre, you totally just give in and take it on. You get invested. While they did not show too much of the monster, I still feel that they showed too much. I am all for the less is more when it comes to monsters. Give me flashes, give me more atmosphere, and while the show handled that successfully for the most part, I still feel that we saw too much of the monster, and it totally killed the freaky vibe with it. Anyway, all that said and done, Stranger Things is fantastic, and I enjoyed the heck out of it. All I  can say is watch it. Watch it now.

stranger things van flip

Rapid Review: Heathers (1988)


“Dear Diary, my teen-angst bullshit now has a body count.”
– Veronica Sawyer

SYNOPSIS: A regular girl, Veronica, tries to survive the social jungle of high school by sticking with the three most popular girls at school who are all called Heather. As she meets a sociopath named JD, her life spirals into a continuous cycle of hate, unintentional murder and indifference, as she exacts revenge on her enemies, also known as her best friends. – via IMDB

heathers relationship

GRADE 7.5So I actually finally got to seeing it! What a weird, quirky, entertaining flick it was, too! I don’t even know when last I watched a movie with Winona Ryder in it, so it was quite cool to see her in something again. I kept putting this movie off because I was convinced it was some silly chick flick, but then Natasha told me to chill my monkey and check it out, it wasn’t what I thought it would be. Right from the off, you cannot help but be drawn to JD (he just had that something to him). Initially you just think he is the bad boy, and when things take a change for the worse, you cannot help but be fascinated by his sociopathic side and his creepy reasoning. The movie is funny – darkly so (so you all knew I was going to enjoy that). It has some social commentary to pass, and it does so in a smart and witty way. I really, really liked the relationship between JD and Veronica, though it popped up out of nowhere. I was willing to let that slide because, well, teenagers, they can meet the love of their life in under a minute and be certain they cannot survive without this new person. I was glad to see that Veronica was not simply drawn in by JD and all his crazy. Their relationship has this Bonny and Clyde sort of  feel to it, minus the major commitment, and they certainly didn’t see eye to eye on most things. However, they were both smart and intelligent, and had all the potential to work. Hell, they really were crazy about each other in some sick and deluded sense, you just would like to see everything work out well for them. Heathers is so extremely eighties, but it works, and the score is suited so well for the movie and the style. The humour is sharp and vicious and the movie is hilarious to watch and much smarter than I thought it was going to be. It isn’t a long movie at all, though it is sad to say that there are a few places that feel like it is just dragging on a little bit. However, this is not extreme enough to detract from the experience, and I will certainly be watching this again. I can understand how Heathers is a cult classic, ir is truly entertaining and I would highly recommend it.

Review: Alien: Resurrection (1997)


“There’s a monster in your chest. These guys hijacked your ship, and they sold your cryo tube to this… human. And he put an alien inside of you. It’s a really nasty one. And in a few hours it’s gonna burst through your ribcage, and you’re gonna die. Any questions?”
– Ellen Ripley

SYNOPSIS: Two centuries after her death, Ellen Ripley is revived as a powerful human/alien hybrid clone who must continue her war against the aliens. – via IMDB

alien swimming

GRADE 6Alien: Resurrection is, without a doubt, infinitely better than its predecessor. Not that the film needed to be amazing to trump the last, but still. This movie isn’t the most amazing for me though because I was not a fan of the Ripley portrayed in here. Not because Sigourney Weaver wasn’t good, but because this is not Ripley, and yeah, yeah, I know this isn’t the Ripley. She was just too different, which is sort of the point, but still.

The story is pretty interesting in its own right, what with continuing about two hundred years after the fiery incident on Fiorina 161. Ripley has been cloned so many times to perfect her as the carrier of the xenomorphs and the scientists successfully manage to birth one from Ripley. I loved seeing super smart xenomorphs again, because a slower one is just not as terrifying. This lot? They were ridiculously smart and scary and dedicated to escaping and taking over the world, muahahahahahahaha! Oh, excuse me, let me just get back on track. Anyway, Ripley is super in tune with these new xenomorphs, and they have a whole bunch of things that make them super creepy (seriously, their swimming skills were scary!) and a force to be reckoned with.

The movie is shot well, though it does, naturally, suffer some sketchy CGI, but at least not like the last film. I really liked that horror clone room that Ripley entered – that was some seriously sick and grisly stuff. Something that really put me off of the movie, too, is the inclusion of Ron Perlman. I just don’t get why the guy is so famous – he irritates the crap out of me and is so corny, and not in the good way, either. My fiancé reckons he looks like a bulldog. Not far off. The man is a freaking annoyance of note. Then there is Winona Ryder, back before she was robbing the world blind. She was pretty good here, but this is certainly not her finest role. The humour was exceptionally forced in places, too, which sucked. Oh yeah, let’s not forget that weird final xenomorph o.O

Not a bad film, but it is a long way away from brilliant. It has some decent moments, but overall some of the writing and characters just let the film down.

Review: The Iceman (2012)

the iceman poster

Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon) meets and marries the woman of his dreams, Deborah Pellicotti (Winona Ryder). Kuklinski claims to have worked for Disney, though it comes out much later that he was actually in the porn business. One night the tapes are not ready, and Roy Demeo (Ray Liotta) and his crew comes calling. Kuklinski promises to have the tapes ready, and goes for a meeting with Demeo the next day where Demeo asks him to come and work for him after shutting down the porn business. He feels that Kuklinski is cold and efficient, and asks him to murder a homeless man as proof. Kuklinski does as he is told, and Demeo keeps the gun as evidence.

the iceman getting into business

Kuklinski now works exclusively for Demeo, and is not to take jobs on the side. Kuklinski is happy with the arrangement, and becomes a renowned and respected assassin in his field. Kuklinksi and Deborah now have two children together, Betsy and Anabel (McKaley Miller). Kuklinksi gives his wife everything she has ever wanted and his daughters are in private Catholic school. Life seems to be going well for Kuklinski. However, trouble breeds on the horizon when Demeo has problems with one of his guys and when Kuklinski refuses to kill a seventeen-year-old girl at one of his jobs. Robert “Mr Freezy” Pronge (Chris Evans) tells Demeo that he had to sort out the girl, and ultimately the mob politics lead to Kuklinski becoming unemployed. He is not allowed to take jobs on the side but desperate to stay in the game, he is good at what he does.

the iceman stiarcase
“You see the Iceman crying?” – Richard Kuklinski

Kuklinksi becomes bitter and increasingly angry, scaring his wife and children. He needs to get back into the game or he will lose his mind. He visits his brother who makes the ominous prediction that Kuklinski will end up in prison just like him, with his family writing him off completely. Kuklinski still works very hard to keep his personal and his professional life separate, but since being laid off caution is thrown in the wind. He notices the need to get back to work in fear of scaring his family off, which means the world to him. Striking a deal with Mr Freezy, Kuklinski is now the assassin behind the veil, the person no one knows about. Freezy pulls the jobs, Kuklinski executes the targets, and they both get paid. Together they will then cut up the victim and freeze them, making it impossible for authorities to determine time of death.  It goes without say that Demeo cannot know that Kuklinski is working with Mr Freezy. Slowly but surely though people start talking, and Demeo starts asking questions, and just like that Kuklinski’s perfectly created façade starts to crack, and he works hard to pull it all together again and remain in control.

the iceman kuklinski at work
“I only feel alone around other people. Couldn’t be truer.” – Mr Freezy

Will Demeo figure out that Kuklinski is working with Mr Freezy, despite his strict ban on working with others? Will Kuklinski be able to keep his family life and business life separated, as much as he wants to? Will his wife and children remain clueless as to his daily activities? Will his past deeds eventually catch up to him?

GRADE 6.5Michael Shannon was completely amazing to watch, and is probably what saved this movie in the long run. Not that it was bad; there were just a few issues with it. I also enjoyed Chris Evans, his character gave me a bit of a sadistic giggle, though there is really nothing that should actually be amusing in here, you can’t help but find the moments where it happens. Michael Shannon played the family man role down pat, and got the icy and sinister side of his character down too. Ray Liotta was decent for what he did, but there were moments where it simply just didn’t work. The style that the film was shot in was good for what it portrayed. The plot was laid out just fine, and it was not an issue following what happened. However, I really feel that more effort could have gone into wrapping the film up at the end; it left a lot to be desired. It just felt like a bit of a missed opportunity for me, which was really a pity seeing as the cast was fine, and the story was interesting.

Review: Frankenweenie (2012)

frankenweenie poster

“Science is not good or bad, Victor. But it can be used both ways. That is why you must always be careful.”
– Mr Rzykruski

Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) is a young genius – a scientist and a filmmaker to boot. He is a little odd and his only friend is his dog, Sparky, which worries his holiday salesman father Edward (Martin Short). His mother Susan (Catherina O’Hara) is very supportive of Victor, no matter how things are for him. At school they get a new science teacher, Mr Rzykruski (Martin Landau), who instantaneously captures the minds of his ward. He is just a little bit off of his rocker and looks like Vincent Price – what’s not to love? He sets forth a science fair, and Victor is in demand with creepy Edgar “E” Gore (Atticus Schaffer), who wants to work with Victor.

frankenweenie classmates
“Ladies and gentlemen. I think the confusion here is that you are all very ignorant. Is that right word, ignorant? I mean stupid, primitive,unenlightened.” – Mr Rzykruski

Victor approaches his parents to parents to sign his permission slip, and his father meets him halfway. He will sign it if Victor tries baseball. Victor eventually gives in and tries out baseball. Weird Girl (Catherine O’Hara) tells Victor that her cat dreamed about him and that it signified something big happening. Victor brushes this off, but his heart is shattered at the baseball game when Sparky chases after the ball and gets killed by a car. Victor slips into a deep depression, and nothing seems to pull him from it. One day in class, however, Mr Rzykruski demonstrates the effects of electricity on a dead frog, and Victor hurriedly creates and conducts his own experiment on Sparky after having brought him back from the cemetery. Miraculously, Sparky recovers, but now Victor has to keep him a secret.

frankenweenie frankenstein family
“When you lose someone you love they move into a special place in your heart.” – Mrs Frankenstein

After a dash out one day, Edgar sees Sparky, and meets up with Victor and threatens to spread the word of Sparky’s being alive if he does not tell him how he did it, or show him. Picking up a dead fish, he returns to Victor, who recreates the experiment. Instead of just coming back to life, the fish is also invisible. Soon competitive class members Toshiaki (James Hiroyuki Liao), Bob (Robert Capron), Nassor (Martin Short) and Weird Girl all want in on the experiment to win the science fair. Instead things go horribly wrong, and their deceased pets are brought back as monsters that need to be sorted out.

“Your dog is alive!” – Edgar “E” Gore

Will Victor be able to save the town? Will the experiments simply come to a conclusion or will they have to be battled? Why is Sparky so different from the others? What are the other classmates prepared to do to figure out how Victor did his experiments, as well as top his to win the science fair?

A 4/10 for Frankenweenie. This was one of my biggest disappointments. I don’t even want to burn my cinema down anymore for not having brought it to us last year (and I was so unhappy that they didn’t). Now I know it took me forever to get to – again, I love animations but getting me to watch one? What a mission. So my afternoon off and all and I wasted it on this?! I was outraged. This was a total desecration of the original, and by the creator no less! That should be unforgivable! Tim Burton really screwed this one up here, and should have left well enough alone. If that was not bad enough, it appeared that the movie ranged from claymation to proper animation, and all I could think is that it was done so in your face, no subtlety. I did like the way it was done in black and white, and there were some distinctly Tim Burton feeling things for this film. There were only a very select few things that worked, but more often than not I was left scratching my head wondering why this was even allowed. I really feel cheated of my off afternoon, and extremely unimpressed with how this went. What can I say? I feel Burton is losing his originality and plot… I cannot think of a good and original thing that he has done recently, and that sucks because I really like his older works!