Film Review: The Martian


Please note the following review contains spoilers throughout. 

“I’m gonna have to science the shit out of this.”

The Martian starring Matt Damon as Astronaut Mark Watney, is a tale of survival. It contains great wit and spirit by Damon, and is a great film to watch. The film centres around Watney accidentally being left behind on a mission to Mars, presumed dead. If anything, it was lucky that Watney was the one left behind, as a Botanist he has the ability to increase his food supply, and have a real chance at surviving the harsh environment that is Mars.

It is an incredible tale, centring on Watney’s ability to keep himself sane enough to survive on a planet, alone, and deemed unsurvivable for humans. Watney goes against all odds, and totally “sciences the shit” out of Mars. However, if anything could go wrong, it most certainly would do.

Damon is an incredible actor in this film, and it is an amazing story to be witness to. In all honesty, it is amazing that someone has the emotional strength and determination to survive, and survive he does. Along with that, there are many facets of information that you learn from within the film. I found it fascinating, to see the workings of NASA and how it functions. Although the film is heavily dramatised, it was still an interesting portrayal of the inner workings of the agency.

The film effects are incredibly realistic, especially that of the tolls Watney’s body undergoes with rationing his food supply, and going over a year without a shower.

“It’s space… It doesn’t co-operate.”

The Martian is a film that evokes emotion from you. Whether it be a chuckle, or a tear you will definitely get some feels from the experiences undergone by Watney. The film is out in NZ theatres this Thursday, so have a look at the trailer below if you are interested in viewing an alternative space adventure.

Film Review: Maze Runner The Scorch Trials


This review is based on the film adaption of James Dashner’s book ‘The Scorch Trials’, and not on the book itself. The review is from the perspective of someone who has not read the book. 

Just like the first film, The Scorch Trials, is a bit of a slow starter that builds up to be filled with action, betrayal, and new discoveries.

There is a lack of character development, but the performances of the young cast is grand. The story line still has massive holes in it – in the sense you aren’t entirely sure what’s going to happen next, or what has happened (prior to the memory wipes) – which is good as it will keep you on the edge of your seat in anticipation to discover the truth and see what unfolds.

The cast is amazing, and I definitely missed Minho’s quick wit and one liners that we had in the first film, he seems to be more so a background character in this film. The landscape is great, and makes it feel otherworldly and a tad scary. It seems to reflects the vastness and uncertainty of the fate that the Gladers face.

I really enjoyed the film and can’t wait for the next / final instalment. The most driving force of engagement for me, is how great the actors are that portray the characters, along with the fact that the director, Wes Ball, does a great job of reeling you in and keeping you wanting more.

The film ends with a curious note for the viewers as to what will be in store for us (and the Gladers) in the third instalment. The Scorch Trials hit NZ cinemas today, so check out the trailer below

The Scorch Trials | Film Review

THE SCORCH TRIALS TM and © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.  All Rights Reserved.  Not for sale or duplication.

TM and © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.  All Rights Reserved.  Not for sale or duplication.


This The Scorch Trials review is written for those who have read James Dashner’s Maze Runner Trilogy. If you don’t mind spoilers then, by all means, read ahead: 

I must say this one felt like it ran on a lot longer than the first film, but Wes Ball does a good job of making sure there aren’t too many lulls in the movie. However by the end of it, the whole film winds up feeling like a futile race to an uncertain destination. Much like the journey had by our protagonists.

Having escaped the maze in the first film, our remaining ‘Gladers’ must face new challenges and obstacles in the open roads/deserts of a dystopian landscape where the world has been ravaged by the Scorch (climate change on crack) and most humans have been infected with an illness called the Flare where people become violent and zombie-like. Ball threw in some sudden pop ups to make sure the audience doesn’t fall asleep, there are some creepy dark room scenes in seedy abandoned living areas now occupied by zombie-like cranks.

Things happen rather differently from the book, but we reach the same point by the end of the film that we reach at the end of the book, mostly anyway. There are some things that have been omitted, probably for clarity and ease of storytelling. They’ve done away with the tattoos that tell everyone their roles as well as the continued experiments by W.C.K.D.

Teresa and the betrayal. While the little that Thomas is beginning to remember makes him feel guilty and uneasy about his former involvement with W.C.K.D, Teresa’s memories seem to inform her reasons for her betrayal at the end of the episode. Something you almost see coming, they drop a few hints in the film for those who haven’t read the books. A lot of hints, faraway stares, not meeting intense stares-

We meet Brenda, she’s a better character than I remember from the books. Physically strong, it would seem, with a sad backstory and a no nonsense attitude that’s required to survive. Jorge is well casted and written, a good father-figure to Brenda and calling everyone ‘hermano’ to avoid learning names.

There were less awkward laughs and less Minho. There needed to be more Minho. There always needs to be more Minho.

Visually it’s great, the landscape is pretty epic and a bit scary. The casting was brilliant, everyone worked well together.

I’m glad they made Janson every bit as crazy as his book counterpart.

The film comes out in NZ cinemas this Thursday, 10th of September.

Check out the trailer below:

Book Review: Pivot Point & Split Second by Kasie West

Kasie West’s Pivot Point  has been on my mind for a while being one of those books that keep reappearing on Goodreads and Amazon recommendations. I recently picked up Split Second, the conclusion to Pivot Point, pop-up book sale thinking it was the first novel. Luckily, I discovered my mistake immediately and did not spoil the book for myself. It meant I had to patiently wait for the Pivot Point to arrive from because I have developed an aversion to eBooks of late, having read consecutive paperbacks for a while. It was worth the wait, Kasie West’s fun and heart-warming duology about alternate realities was a thoroughly enjoyable read.


Pivot Point introduces us to a secret community of people, ‘the Compound’, that are living amongst us with special abilities that range from telekinesis, lie-detection, memory-manipulation, mind-reading, mass manipulation and precognition. Addie Coleman is a divergent, that is, when presented with a choice, she can search into the future and foresee the results of choosing either paths and thus armed with that information, make the correct choice in the present.

So when Addie’s parents announce that they are getting a divorce, she is encouraged to search the future in order to decide she who wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the secret paranormal compound to live among the “Norms” in Dallas, Texas  or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. Not so much.

Her two potential futures essentially show her two different lives with two different parents, two different schools and two different boys but amidst the same mystery, a murder in the Compound investigated by her father.

With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through… and who she can’t live without.

Split Second deals with the aftermath of the choice Addie makes in Pivot Point. Addie shares the narrative with Laila this time round, who Addie entrusts with a massive task, that she struggles to complete in Split Second.

What I liked:

I was immediately weary of Pivot Point despite its intriguing premise on alternate realities/parallel lives, thinking it was yet another YA love triangle in a different packaging. However, once I cracked it open I was pleasantly surprised at Kasie’s unique treatment of the trope.

Addie is a very likable protagonist: awkward, witty, charming, smart, compassionate and refreshingly pragmatic. It was nice to read about a female lead who did not get caught up the melodrama and wallowed in teen-angst. She was very communicative and expressed her doubts and discomfort, which not only made me adore her all the more but pushed narrative forward at an even and interesting pace.

The secondary characters, Laila, Trevor, Duke and Addie’s parents were also quite well fleshed out and their different dynamics with Addie were delightful to read. I particularly enjoyed the the witty dialogue between this great ensemble of characters.  I must admit that I liked Laila a lot better in Split Second. She was a tad bit infuriating in Pivot Point but seeing things from her perspective in Split Second, definitely changed my opinion of her. Trevor was delightful in both instalments, a very understated yet lovable secondary character. Duke, for the insufferable bastard that he was, facilitated the narrative’s twists and turns well, mainly because Kasie made him quite unpredictable. Split Second introduces us to Connor, who was another great secondary character with a rich background that made Split Second as wholesomely entertaining as Pivot Point.

The respective overarching mysteries in the both books were well developed and gave the narrative structure, transforming it from a mere sci-fi high-school drama to a more widely appealing YA read.

What I did not like:

Like I said, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I found little to nothing of consequence that hindered my enjoyment.

In conclusion, Pivot Point and Split Second was a fun and easy read. If you a looking for a light-hearted yet a slightly nuanced and entertaining read, Kaise West does not disappoint.

Princess Hours/Goong Review – JiHoon & EunHye are Goals

Princess Hours (2006)

Hangeul: RR: Goong; lit. “Palace

I’ve been meaning to write this post for months now (since Mata first brought up me writing it), and haven’t done so due to my laziness. We’re going to be reviewing some old-school (ish) K-dramas because why not?

Now let’s get started, shall we? I’ll state it right now that this review will be hella biased, so deal with it.

Goong’s plot is pretty cliche, a forced marriage with the two main leads, the Crown Prince, Lee Shin (Ju Ji-hoon) and commoner, Shin Chae-kyung (Yoon Eun-hye). Immediately you know these two are going to end up together at the end of the show, because they’re END GAME. But just because they’ll obviously end up together, it doesn’t mean they won’t make us ship them with other people along the way or make us want to just kill the main leads, *cough cough* Lee Shin *cough*.

From the beginning of the show, Lee Shin is in love with ballerina Min Hyo-rin (Song Ji-hyo) and Shin Chae-kyung overhears him proposing to Hyo-rin, only to be rejected and now forced to enter a marriage with Chae-kyung (who he can’t really stand, and I still don’t fully get why).

Chae-kyung only agrees to help her family’s financial situation, because she’s a caring person. But does that matter to Lee Shin? Clearly not because 90% of the time, I wanted to punch him in the freaking face. Chae-kyung started to like him (duh -_-) as she spent more time with him, and he started to realise she wasn’t all that bad (HOORAY), but Hyo-rin in all her bitchy self realised she wanted Lee Shin back and weasels herself back into his life, despite having rejected him for ballet and ignoring the fact that he’s now married to someone else!?!?! And you know what else? She didn’t even care that she would be the side-chick. Like??? Freaking damn this all to hell.

Now, I didn’t have a problem with her rejecting him for ballet, because ‘YOU GO GIRL! I’m so proud that you thought about your life and career before a damn boy!’ but then she decides to drop everything(!!!! THIS MEANS HER BALLET, TOO LIKE REALLY?!) once she realises he’s not gonna sit around and hang on to her. And Lee Shin doesn’t exactly make up his mind on whether he should get back with Ballerina Bitch or be with Chae-kyung. I hella disapprove.

Chae-kyung doesn’t want to get caught up in all that, and I get that, because she only agreed to this marriage for her family and now, because of this marriage, she rarely gets to see them. Along with struggling to fit in at the palace, and liking a prick who’s giving her mixed signals along with continuously hanging with Ballerina Bitch, Chae-kyung relies a lot on her friend Lee Yul (Kim Jung-hoon) who was the original Crown Prince, before he was cast out. And yes, he’s the SLS (second lead syndrome).

Lee Yul, the person Chae-kyung should really be with, falls for her. And it’s hard not to, because if you ignore all her horrible hairstyles and outfit choices, she’s really beautiful and loving and disgustingly cute. And Chae-kyung would return his feelings, if she wasn’t falling for Lee Shin. And Lee Yul knows that, so he decides to cut in, much in the same way Ballerina Bitch does.

Really guys? Do y’all not know that this marriage was for TWO people? Y’all are so freaking extra. Bye.

This was really upsetting for me, because Lee Yul was such a great guy, y’know? But because he’s stuck wanting to be with Chae-kyung, he suddenly feels cheated out of a marriage that was originally set for him and her and tries to pry them apart. Again, I hella disapprove.

Lee Shin eventually realises how much he loves Chae-kyung, and how much he needs to stop being a prick, and how hard everything is for her. He steps in and acts more worthy for her which is something she’s been needing for a while because she was suffering due to of all of them, and the least he can do is finally be with her and love her the way she loves him.


.-. side eyes the director and writer.

I got so attached to all the characters, and all the SLS feels destroyed me because Lee Yul was the complete opposite of Lee Shin, y’know? He was kind and caring, and he matched Chae-kyung so well, but the heart wants what it wants, and Chae-kyung wanted Lee Shin. If Lee Shin wasn’t in the picture, it would’ve been Lee Yul.

And Lee Shin is a real idiot, because he would take one step forward, only to go slamming backwards into an ocean of shit because he didn’t know how to make up his mind and be good. But when he finally ditched the bitch, and stepped up, I literally cried tears of joy, because fina-freaking-lly!!!

Goong was a really enjoyable kdrama, with all the feels and gross cutesy stuff, but be prepared for the terrible outfits and hairstyles, butt-faced friends and screaming because half way through it, I was just about ready to skin somebody. Lol jk, I’m not that psycho.

Another plus, was the kissing scenes because Yoon Eun-hye really knows how to kiss and she’s goals af and her chemistry with Ju Ji-hoon was lit!! They slay me.


And on that weird note, I’m out.

NZIFF – Tale on Tales review

Caught Tale of Tales directed by Matteo Garrone during the New Zealand International Film Fest.

One may walk out of the Civic either wondering ‘what did I just watch?’ or ‘that was bloody well brilliant’. I went in not knowing what I was in for, my friend said spare NZIFF tickets to a fairy-tale horror and I thought, sure.

Here’s what I came out thinking, Grimm Brothers and Hans Christian Anderson would have loved it. I know now the narratives were based on three stories from 17th century Italian poet Giambattista Basile’s Pentamerone.

Super dark and super bloody, with no clear happy endings.

There were three narratives running throughout the film, a classic tale of a barren queen (Salma Hayek makes quite the overbearing queen, no?), the worst love game show since Black Eyed Peas’ ‘Don’t Phunk With My Heart’ (Toby Jones makes a great altogether absent father/king who cares more about a flea than his offspring), and the tale of the most coyote ugly one night stand meets Extreme Makeover.

One might say it’s pseudo-intellectual drivel, others might say it was a beautiful piece of work portraying different kinds of love and obsession in a dark fantasy setting.

You can’t deny that it’s beautifully shot, there are some rather stunning visuals of fantastical settings. Although watch out, they’ll catch you off guard and you’ll find yourself squinting a bit as the film switches from dark to light in zero seconds flat. The same could be said for the pacing, it’s slow before something happens at lightning speeds and before you know it you’ve killed your overbearing mum who’d turned into a giant mole-bat.

The story of the princess and the ogre is my favourite only because the princess got pretty badass by the end- sure it took a few unnecessary deaths (here’s a hint, to survive in this world don’t help others out), but she got through it. Like, heeeyyy- you survived! If anything it could have ended here and I would have been happy.

Three out of Five Silent (?) LOLs. Question mark because I laughed out loud at some things, as did the rest of the audience.

Honourable Mentions:

– The Queen of Hearts was sometimes every islander mum ‘I am your queen, do not forget that’ and sometimes not ENOUGH islander mum- I mean if Elias had made MY mum run through that maze looking for him let’s just say Elias should be glad his mum’s not Samoan.

– So much boobage.

– Also, there were some weird incesty undertones.

– “Flea”

Check out the trailer below:

The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki Are Epic

Miyazaki Set

Hayao Miyazaki, one of the founders of Studio Ghibli, one of the most famous directors in his field and a renowned artist has a box set of 11 of his feature films. At age 73, Hayao Miyazaki retired after stating that 50 years is a long time in his industry. So his films like Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro released in 1979 to The Wind Rises, his latest to date in 2013 can be found in his collection, which can be purchased here.

As expected of Hayao Miyazaki, one of the most admired animators ever, all his films were great with strong female characters that develop throughout the film which contrasts in comparison to other animated females who too often portrayed as weak, and one-dimensional with no character development.

And the absence of the typical “bad vs good” plot in his animations is replaced with ones that show characters surviving among the “bad” as realistically, the “bad” is not something that can be so easily gotten rid of.

The animations themselves were well done with it’s characters moving with human-like movements, and drawn either by hand with the use of water colours with little computer graphics used.

The environment in his films are always so detailed and they’re so beautiful, especially the sky. The sky in Hayao Miyazaki’s films are absolutely amazing.

And of course I’m being completely biased when I say that Spirited Away was my favourite film as it was the first animated film I ever remember watching. It made me want to be just like Chihiro, a strong and kind girl. I was in love with the colours and I never really understood a lot of the characters until now. The themes are so well thought out and carefully shown throughout the film. Hayao Miyazaki’s films always leave a strong impression and he more you think about the meanings of his films, the deeper they seem.

The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki is a box set that I’m super happy that we have and I’ve grown so attached to the characters with well thought out storylines. I highly recommend it and they’re never boring.