Ant-Man : A short review

antmanSo, I saw Ant-Man a few days ago. While I did try to avoid the major spoilers, I ended up reading that a lot of people felt that Hope Van Dyne was underused and her character felt shortchanged and the father-daughter relationship also felt somewhat superficial.

To be fair, Ant-Man was a fun and entertaining film, it was also a very ‘un-superhero’ like superhero film this year. A large part of the film is the heist which was a very pleasant change: the heist involved getting the Yellowjacket suit out of Darren Cross’ hands and also making it impossible for him to replicate the Pym Particles.

What really works for this film is the humour. It is genuinely funny and Michael Pena deserves special mention, he was wonderful and absolutely hilarious. The cast was good all around, while i was initially more than a little unsure about Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, he did a fairly good job. Sadly he was lacking in charisma and screen presence. His character too, felt a little weak.

Evangeline Lilly’s Hope Van Dyne, on the other hand, worked wonderfully well. She commanded the scenes she was in. What I loved about her was that she was strong and capable and was more than capable of being the Ant-Man (Ant-Woman?) But then the film would have been over before it even began. Now about her character, did i think that she deserved better? Yes, definitely. Would it have been great to see her put on the Wasp suit? YES! But that would have felt very rushed and then we would have been complaining that there was no character development. I want to see a Wasp film and a Black Widow film and a Captain Marvel film but I want to see them done well. Not a ham-handed job. Having said that, we know that there isn’t a Wasp film in the works and there isn’t another Ant-Man film in the near-future, so I am curious how Feige plans to include her and still do justice to her character. I guess she and Scott Lang will be part of the new Avengers (and on Captain America’s team)

Michael Douglas was good though considering that he doesn’t have a multi-film contract like the rest of them, I wonder if we’ll see any more of him. Ideally, there should have been more emphasis on Hank’s relationship with Hope. They still hardly seemed to spend any time together and when they did, Scott was always around. It was easy to see Hope’s frustration with her father for trusting an absolute stranger over her and I felt that that was glossed over. It took Scott to go to her and tell her why Hank chose him over Hope, it would have been better for Hank to tell her himself. He didn’t communicate with her. He simply told her how he wanted to do something and expected her to fall in line.

Judy Greer felt wasted in yet another film. She is a good actress so it’s a little sad to see her short-changed. Corey Stoll as Darren Cross/Yellowjacket was the just amount of disgruntled protégé and evil scientist. Though I felt that he met his end a little too quickly. A quick mention, the action scenes in the film were extremely well done and made excellent use of the characters’ miniscule size. They were quick yet never confusing and even made time for some comic-relief. 

Though not as good as some of the other Marvel films (Captain America and Captain America – Winter Soldier, Iron-Man and last but certainly not least The Avengers) it is nonetheless a good film.The film suffered from a weak script so that didn’t help. Add to that it almost felt like a filler film, before it was announced, nobody saw an Ant-Man film coming. We didn’t need an Ant-Man film but considering it’s out, it is certainly worth a watch. It may be far from perfect but it does have a lot of heart.

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Blood Bound (Unbound #01) by Rachel Vincent Review

bloodboundMeh, I found myself more annoyed by the characters and their stupid decisions than anything else. And the romance bordered on obsession. Olivia broke up with Cam and ran off without offering any reasons and he decided to follow her. He knew where she lived, her phone number (which she changed regularly) and what was going on in her personal life. But nothing wrong there because he loved her. Yeah right!

Olivia gave him no indication that she was still in love with him. Cam looked at her sparse love-life and concluded that she was still in love with him. Wow, overconfident much? The fact that she was still in love with him is secondary. He invaded her privacy and that was NOT okay.

Olivia spent so much time whining about Cam and what they had. Why didn’t she bother hanging around and telling him what the problem was. There was no conversation, she just upped and ran. She also liked the moral highground which she clearly didn’t have. She tracked people for Ruben the same way Cam did for Towers but somehow, because she didn’t actually pull the trigger, she was better than him.

Now, onto Cam, the knight in shining armor, NOT! He loved Olivia and even after she left him, he still carried a torch for her. In the meantime, he got involved with Jake Towers’ syndicate and started working for him doing whatever was asked of him. He freed girls from the sex trade and got them to work for Towers. But don’t hate him because he felt bad the entire time.

And what a great bunch of friends, nobody was honest with the others. Anne invoked the pact when she came to Olivia instead of telling her what had happened and letting it be her choice. Didn’t she think that Liv would want to find her missing daughter? When Liv asked Kori for her help and was actually nice about it, Kori stabbed them in the back.

What a dismal affair all around….

Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams Review

ruthless-9781481422628_hrRuthless was actually a pretty gripping read, just not quite as gripping as I thought it would be. It painted a grim picture of a girl kidnapped by a serial killer, and with six victims down, there’s nothing hesitant about him or his methods.

Ruthless was a fast-paced narrative that kept the reader at the edge of their seat. It was the quintessential cat-and-mouse game and one where you didn’t always know who would win. When Ruth first escapes, she is injured, naked and in a forest, the odds are stacked firmly against her. Add to that, the forest is her kidnapper’s backyard and he is a hunter and tracker. Ruth has only her own intelligence and resilience to rely upon. For the most part, Ruthless features only Ruth and her captor, though we meet other characters through a series of flashbacks: Ruth’s family and Caleb (her friend) and gave us a glimpse into Jerry’s (the kidnapper) life.

What I liked was Ruth was that she was very human. She made mistakes and she wasn’t necessarily the nicest person to be around. This made her very relatable. She was highly competitive and liked to win which didn’t give her a lot of time to be sociable, nor did she care to be. It was her competitive streak which gave her the edge she so desperately needed to survive, both the environment and her captor. She quite literally had just her wits to rely upon when she does come upon a cabin but those inside refuse to help her, fearing for their own lives and safety. I liked her attitude and her spunk.

Jerry’s flashbacks were meant to give us a glimpse into the man he was and to an extent they did do that, they made him human. But he was no blundering fool. He had everything planned and things would have gone his way but for that one misstep; he picked the wrong girl. For one, she was older than his previous victims and she had the ability to think things through even when she was terrified.

My other complaint was that Ruthless seemed a tad too long, a bit stretched. It could have been shorter. After a point, I saw a pattern and I could almost predict what was going to happen. But it was still a fun and thrilling read.

Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris Review

silence of the lambsI think this is one of those books that I should have read before I saw the movie based on it. As it was, my expectations and by extension my enjoyment of the book were largely influenced by the movie.

The film itself was so iconic and is so memorable is that it is difficult to divorce the book from its adaptation. Hannibal was the best part of the film and it was no different in the book. The parts with him in it were rife with tension and they had an energy that I found lacking in the rest of the book. Also, having seen the film, I already knew how it would end and though there were small differences, there was still no apprehension. Some books don’t suffer so much from their adaptations but this book was not one of them. That is also because good adaptations are hard to come by and this was brilliantly adapted.

I liked Clarice Starling. She was a strong character and I liked her relationship with Ardelia Mapp. They were supportive of each other. The other thing I liked about Clarice was that she spoke her mind. For instance, when Clarice goes to examine a body for the first time, Jack Crawford makes a comment about talking separately, away from the women, she isn’t happy with that. And when Crawford brings it up in the car, she lets him know.

Hannibal was deliciously ambiguous. You could tell he was twisted and that he liked to jerk people around for his amusement and you could also see his razor-sharp intellect. He saw so much and he used it to his advantage. He could look at a person and immediately know what made them tick. That’s why he was so skilled at manipulating them. He didn’t make them do anything they weren’t inclined to do on their own, they would have done those things anyway but were held back by something. He just gave them a gentle push in that direction and made them think it was their idea entirely. The way he handled Chilton was amazingly satisfying.

Silence of the Lambs was a fine book, it just didn’t blow me away the way I expected it to. In that regard, sadly, it fell very short.

Hannibal: The Women

Now, lets talk about the women on the show because they are absolutely amazing. Some of the best written women are on TV and this show is no exception.They are Beverly Katz, Freddie Lounds, Alana Bloom and Bedelia Du Maurier.

hettienne-park-as-beverly-katz-hannibal-tv-series-34285886-3746-5000Let’s start with Beverly Katz. She was one of the few people who reached out to Will in the beginning, having had no prior relationship with him. She saw his differences but didn’t make him feel different. She was also very good at her job. While she did believe Will to be guilty, she was still willing to listen to him and was the first person who saw he was telling the truth. The other thing I liked was that there was no romantic element in that relationship. They were friends or at the very least, they each respected the other enough to rely on them. Beverly Katz was not a love-interest, nor was she a damsel-in-distress, she was an intelligent and capable woman who could hold her own. Very sad to see her go.

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HANNIBAL — “Mukozuke” Episode 205 — Pictured: (l-r) — (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

Freddie Lounds is probably the most hated character on the entire show and truly despicable. Yet, she is not without complexities. She is ambitious and isn’t afraid to make her own way. She knows she’s not held in high regard within the journalistic circles and she doesn’t care. But, when she finds Beverly’s body, she tells Jack to send someone else in, she tries to warn him and spare him some pain. She’s ambitious, ruthless and opportunistic and willing to do whatever it takes to get the scoop before anyone else and she doesn’t apologise for it.

Hannibal-Episode-1-08-Fromage-hannibal-tv-series-34333555-3000-1996Then there is Alana Bloom. This character doesn’t even exist in the book, instead we have a Dr. Alan Bloom, a psychoanalyst who occasionally consults with FBI but has no relationship with either Will Graham or Hannibal Lecter. Alana Bloom is the heart of the show, in the sense that, the only truly decent character. While she is curious about Will and they way he thinks, she also sees his fragility and wants to protect him. She wants to be his friend, someone he can rely on without feeling any kind of obligation. She may have feelings for him but she also recognizes his instability. One of the things I liked most about her in season 1 was when she and Will kiss, she realises that it would be a bad decision and she is the one to step away. It was so refreshing to see her choosing not to get into a relationship with Will because it would have been unhealthy for him but just as damaging for her.

I know there are people who are bashing her for not seeing Hannibal as he truly is, for even getting romantically involved with him but there is a reason for that as well. Hannibal is her one constant. She has known him longer than Jack or Will and moreover, he mentored her and therefore she respects him and even though they are now colleagues, he probably still occupies a place of deep respect in her life. At the same time, Will tries to have Hannibal killed and Jack starts acting erratically both due to his wife’s illness and that fact that he’s never truly convinced of Will’s guilt. Both of them shake her foundation in what she believed of them, making her turn to Hannibal who seemed so stable. She thought, here is someone whom I can depend on, who can hold me up when everything around me is crumbling. It, therefore, makes complete sense that she would get involved with him and would be the last to believe him to be capable of doing what he’s done. I am curious where her character is headed in season 3, more so if she turns a little darker herself. Bryan Fuller better not kill her at the end of the season or I will be very disappointed. Also Caroline Dhavernas plays her really well.

HannibalS01E08-0624And finally there is Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier, Hannibal Lecter’s psychiatrist. She is somewhat ambiguous. In seasons 1 and 2, one thinks that she doesn’t know Hannibal as well as she thinks since he isn’t completely honest with her. You don’t see much of her in but in what little you do, she leaves an impression. The character is memorable. She is also the very first person (outside of Will) who sees Hannibal’s true nature. In season 1, she recognises that he wears a person/people suit. That it’s not really him one sees but rather what he wants to them to see. She also recognises that he is dangerous. Clearly, something changes since she goes to Italy with him. I am curious to see where their relationship is headed in season 3. Also is Gillian Anderson getting more beautiful with age? She is positively radiant and part of why Bedelia is as memorable as she is is partly because of how Anderson plays her.

I love the women on this show because they are all different from each other, flawed and complex. They aren’t easy to put into any category and they continue to evolve.

Hannibal: Hannibal Lecter

maxresdefaultI recently started watching Hannibal and I haven’t been able to stop since. When I started the show, I kept an open mind and tried to not compare this to the film or Mikkelsen’s portrayal of Hannibal with that of Anthony Hopkins. As it turns out, it was actually very easy.

Here’s why, the way Bryan Fuller begins the first season is key. He builds Hannibal very slowly. In fact, watching the first two or three episodes, one might actually be led to believe that Will is the central character, you see the world through his eyes, his life and his struggles. Fuller reveals Hannibal very slowly, as if he has all the time in the world. This gives the audience the time to get used to Mads Mikkelsen’s Hannibal.

But because there is a film and now a show it is hard to not draw comparisons of some kind. I am drawing a comparison on the character itself. The Hannibal from the films was someone you could root for. He ate people who were twisted to begin with, for instance, with Mason Verger, we are led to believe that Hannibal did what he did to him because of Verger’s own sadistic tendencies, especially those with regard to children. This may be untrue or simply something that I felt watching the film, which is why i said ‘led to believe’. Even Pazzi, Hannibal had no plans to kill him, it is his betrayal that Hannibal cannot stand.

The show Hannibal, on the other hand, is just as twisted as those he treats. He is the unseen puppet master who sets the scene and sees what his patients would do. He pushes them to make choices they normally would not have. In the absence of an actual mental malady, he engineers one, like in the case of Will Graham (but more on Will later.) Take for instance, his sessions with Margot and then Mason. He subtly encourages Margot to kill her brother and when she becomes pregnant, he lets Mason know. There was no reason to do this except to see how Mason would react, except, even that isn’t explanation enough. There was always going to be only one outcome, only the execution was a mystery.

Film Hannibal was someone you rooted for, you wanted him to get away, to win. The show Hannibal is more despicable, playing with people’s minds and lives simply because he can. He truly doesn’t see them as any more than cattle, to be played with for his amusement. He isn’t misunderstood. He has no redeeming qualities (except exceptional taste, if that counts) and therefore someone I, personally, can’t root for. He kills for amusement (or because he’s hungry or wants to throw a party)

Show Hannibal’s relationship with Will, is an altogether different matter. He sees in Will someone he can mold to see the world as he sees it. He sees in Will, a kindred spirit, someone who could understand him. He is Hannibal’s chance to not be so lonely any more. In that regard, he truly cares for Will. But the Will that he wants and the one that currently exists are two different individuals. It is why, as the second season progresses and he sees Will’s darker side come to the fore, as Will starts acting out those fantasies, one can almost sense Hannibal’s anticipation. He thinks that Will is finally becoming (embracing) his inner psychopath.

He fails to see Will’s true motive. He hasn’t changed or rather he has, just not in the way that Hannibal’s hoping. He is certainly darker, he’s just not a psychopath. He accused Hannibal once and wound up in an asylum for the criminally insane for it. No one believed him. He’s not going to make the same mistake twice, so he changed his tactics, tricking Hannibal into believing what he wants to believe about him. Baiting Hannibal and waiting till he bites the lure.

I do love the way Mikkelsen plays Hannibal. He is very subtle, the cues are all present, you just have to watch closely. It’s in his eyes, he is constantly assessing and yet there is a sense of detachment that’s also present. Almost as if he is removed from the world around him and that’s perhaps because Hannibal is removed from the world. He is not a part of it the way normal people are, he doesn’t see the world as others do. In that sense, he is truly alone.

Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy #01) by Danielle L. Jensen Review

StolensongbirdEh, it was okay. Honestly, I found myself more interested in the secondary characters Elise, Zoe, Victoria, Vincent, Marc and Anais (they better all live through the next book)

Cecile and Tristan, yet another case of unexplainable love. How did they fall in love? They spent so much of their time not trusting each other and with Tristan being mean (I’m talking about before Cecile found out his secret) but even after she did, he didn’t trust her. Even when she told him she loved him, he thought she was lying to him and if not to him, then she was lying to herself (wow, what a nice guy) Maybe, it was the bond that made them fall in love, at least it makes a wee bit more sense.

I also think that the Trolls are Fae who can no longer return to their realm of Faery. I may be wrong but I doubt that since Tristan mentioned the King of Summer and Queen of Winter and the fact that Iron makes them weak and separates them from their magic. Add to that, they can’t return to their homes because of the iron in their blood which also stole their immortality.

I almost gave up reading this one but figured I’d stick with it a while longer and while I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it either. It was quite ho-hum. Also, I’m convinced that Cecile’s mother is Anushka, but I guess I’ll have to read the next book to find out. Anyway, I sincerely hope the characters I mentioned above, make it alive. Actually, come to think of it, Anais was probably the most selfless of all the characters. She stuck her neck out and helped out Tristan because she loves him knowing that he doesn’t love her and can’t be with her. (I don’t think she has the same problem as her sister but we’ll have to wait and see)