The DUFF & The Scorch Trials Movie Reviews 

Welcome to my “Young Adult Movie Adaptation Review Special“! I read one of these books (the movie was awful) and didn’t read the other book (the movie was surprisingly fun). Let’s see which was which…

The DUFF (2015)

Directed by Ari Sandel

Based on The Duff by Kody Keplinger

Starring: Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Nick Eversman, Skyler Samuels, Bianca A. Santos

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A high school senior instigates a social pecking order revolution after finding out that she has been labeled the DUFF – Designated Ugly Fat Friend – by her prettier, more popular counterparts.

My Opinion:

Even at my advanced age, I still enjoy a good teen comedy. Obviously, nothing will ever compare to my 80’s John Hughes classics but there have been a couple post-1989 ones that haven’t been too bad (Clueless, American Pie, etc). But the majority are bad and full of hateful teens (like in stuff such as Project X and, sadly, Dope – a movie I was hoping to love). However, The DUFF is easily one of the better ones I’ve seen from this genre in a long time & I really enjoyed it.

Mae Whitman (the voice of Tinker Bell in all those Tinker Bell movies! You’ll know them well if you have a daughter 😉 ) plays the DUFF, aka the “Designated Ugly Fat Friend”. I liked her in the fantastic The Perks Of Being A Wallflower and she’s a lot of fun in this & totally relatable as a “real world girl”. I hate saying that as it sounds so rude but, yeah – unlike the girls in all other Hollywood movies, she looks like a normal person. Hollywood movie girls are too ridiculously attractive and it sets a bad example (especially in teen movies).

Whitman’s two best friends in this are of the unrealistic ridiculously attractive variety but I suppose they were trying to make her look less attractive in comparison. But, anyway! That’s not entirely relevant as this movie isn’t really trying to make as big of a statement on superficiality as I was expecting. Whitman’s character is, at first, entirely content with how she looks & dresses – she only changes when someone calls her a “DUFF”. So I guess the main message is more about how we treat people but there’s a bit of a moral about accepting yourself the way you are.

Anyway… Forget I said all that! This isn’t some annoying teen movie that thinks it has an important message or something – it’s just a lighthearted comedy & actually quite funny compared to a lot of current teen flicks. The humor is a tad on the raunchy side (fine by me) so this is probably aimed more at the mid to late-teen age range. Although certainly not at the same level as something like Heathers (nothing is!), The DUFF is smart & sassy like a lot of the 80’s teen classics. Hopefully more teen movies go in the same direction as this one since I’ll probably still be watching this genre when I’m 90.

My Rating: 7/10

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015)

Directed by Wes Ball

Based on The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Ki Hong Lee, Barry Pepper, Lili Taylor, Patricia Clarkson

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot of The Scorch Trials takes place immediately after the previous installment, with Thomas (O’Brien) and his fellow Gladers battling the powerful World Catastrophe Killzone Department (W.C.K.D., or WICKED), while facing the perils of the Scorch, a desolate landscape filled with dangerous obstacles.

My Opinion:

WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL?!?!?! I’m so damn confused by this movie! I’ve read The Maze Runner trilogy (I did a recap & review of the final book HERE last week) and, although I have some major issues with it and it often annoyed the hell out of me, I thought it was a decent enough story overall. I read the books after seeing the first film, which I found quite enjoyable (much more enjoyable than the books, actually). So I finally watched The Scorch Trials after finishing the books. IT BARELY EVEN RESEMBLES THE BOOK!!! ??? Why ???

I would assume that books can be quite hard to adapt into films, especially long books that must be reduced to a roughly two-hour running time. The Scorch Trials isn’t a long book, however. Plus, the first movie was faithful to the book so it’s even more confusing that they’ve decided to take things in such a different direction in the sequel. I’m not overly bothered about a 100% faithful adaptation as I know things sometimes need slight changing or need to be left out due to running time. As long as there are no major changes that completely mess with the storyline, characters’ intentions/personalities, or the overall themes, I’m fine with them.

Well, The Scorch Trials has major changes. No, wait – that’s not exactly right as you can’t even really call them changes… It has completely new stuff added in. It’s so drastically different that it feels like the screenwriter(s) didn’t even read the book & instead based the story on its back cover synopsis or on some weird ass “Chinese whispers” version of the story.

You know what? I don’t care. I’m not going to waste my time reviewing this. It lost my interest after it started going so completely off the rails that I went & did other things around the house while it kept playing in the background. I’m not sure what the hell was going on. After this movie, I’m not going to bother with the next one since I sure as shit can’t be bothered to re-watch this one to figure out what the hell was going on. BAH! What a stupid waste of time. Either be faithful to a book or, if that fails, don’t follow it AT ALL & just steal the name (like World War Z). At least I knew beforehand with that one that they ignored the book….

My Rating: 4.5/10 (Not lower than that since I guess I still like the characters and think Dylan O’Brien & Thomas Brodie-Sangster are good in these films)

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The Dead Pool (1988) Review

Welcome to Day 3 of Clint Eastwood Week! On Monday I reviewed Play Misty For Me and yesterday I did a double review of A Fistful Of Dollars & For A Few Dollars More. Today I figured I should do at least one Dirty Harry film. Here’s The Dead Pool (the one with Clint Eastwood, not Ryan Reynolds). 🙂

The Dead Pool (1988)

Directed by Buddy Van Horn

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Patricia Clarkson, Liam Neeson, Evan Kim, Jim Carrey, Guns N’ Roses

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Dirty Harry Callahan must stop a sick secret contest to murder local celebrities, which includes himself as a target.

My Opinion:

Okay, I can’t pretend that The Dead Pool is exactly “good” but I really did thoroughly enjoy it! There’s so much cheesy 1980’s goodness going on in this one & I always have a huge soft spot for that because of my age. Liam Neeson as a horror movie director with an embarrassing ponytail! Guns N’ Roses looking totally out of place in awkward cameos! The most amazing remote-control car ever! Jim Carrey giving a massively cringeworthy performance while lip syncing to Welcome To The Jungle! Patricia Clarkson, um, doing a decent job! (But she’s probably a bit embarrassed as this isn’t the sort of movie she does nowadays).

I know this probably isn’t the Dirty Harry film I should’ve started with. Actually, though, I know I did see at least part of both Dirty Harry & Sudden Impact. My dad is a big Clint Eastwood fan (it’s a requirement by law for American males his age) & I know I saw plenty of Eastwood’s Dirty Harry types of films on TV throughout my childhood as he watched them. I remember very little of them now, though, and wanted to start with Dirty Harry but The Dead Pool is the only one I had available and I don’t have the money to go buying movies just for blog reviewing purposes. Sorry! 😉 So I’m reviewing this one now but I’ll certainly re-watch Dirty Harry if it pops up on TV.

I have a feeling I’ll “like” this one the most of the Dirty Harry films anyway, although I doubt I’ll consider it the “best”. I just liked the feelings of nostalgia I got watching it – I wish I’d seen it at the time. Although I later went off of them, I was a big Guns N’ Roses fan in 1988. And the exact car that we had throughout my childhood was in this! Well, in a different color… Ours was gray & black. Check it out!

Was that a Monte Carlo? I know nothing about cars. I just remember that my dad never took the protective plastic cover off the backseat (probably due to my car sickness & tendency to throw up on car journeys) and, man, that plastic burned my legs in the summer! I hated that. Anyway, back to this cheesy movie… Oh! I really liked Clint Eastwood’s partner in this (Evan Kim). They’re great together so I assumed maybe they were partners in all of them but, damn, I guess not.

So, yeah, Liam Neeson is in this and he’s pretty funny with his ponytail but, let’s be honest – it’s not like this movie is really any cheesier than stuff like Taken so he doesn’t feel totally out of place. Patricia Clarkson plays a news reporter slash love interest for Eastwood slash damsel in distress. She’s fine in this – her character isn’t too annoyingly “in need of rescue”, which is all that female characters often were in these types of movies back then & is probably why this genre has never really connected much with me (or with most women).

Eastwood is good – he’s his usual Eastwood self. I mean, I have no memory of other Dirty Harry films so can’t compare them but get the feeling this one is a little less intense than the others? He seemed angrier in the others. I did read that he didn’t make any more of these after this one as he felt he was too old to keep playing Dirty Harry & that it would start to feel like a joke (he was 58 in this). He didn’t feel awkward in this movie but I think he quit at the right time. Then there’s Jim Carrey… Holy hell! I’d heard his role mentioned before but didn’t realize just how bad he was in this. Hilarious! His lip syncing is probably my favorite bit of the movie, though. Either that or the remote control car… I love the cheesy crap that movies got away with in the Eighties!

Summary:

The Dead Pool is an entertaining Dirty Harry movie. It feels older than it actually is – it’s weird to think that this was 1988 when, in a lot of ways, it feels more like it’s from 1978. It’s not a bad film but, when compared to big blockbusters of the day, this seems very low budget in comparison. I suppose that cop drama TV shows were very popular in the 80’s & this movie almost feels like a long episode of Miami Vice or Magnum, P.I. Oh! Or Simon & Simon! Lol! Remember that?? Actually, no – The Equalizer is probably a better comparison. What’s my point? I have no idea! I mean, a lot of people liked those sort of TV shows so, if you were a fan of those, you’d probably enjoy this movie. I guess my point is that this movie hasn’t aged well. This was out a year after Lethal Weapon yet looks & feels much older. I think Eastwood made the right decision to move on from the Dirty Harry films but I did really have fun watching this one.

My Rating: 7/10

**For a laugh, here’s the clip of Jim Carrey lip syncing Welcome To The Jungle. You have to watch this if you’ve not seen the movie. How utterly embarrassing!

Shutter Island (2010) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. Thanks so much for all the reviews, Zoe! 🙂 Now let’s see what she thinks of Shutter Island, IMDB rank 235 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

shutter island poster

Sanity’s not a choice, Marshall. You can’t just choose to get over it.” Dr John Crawley

SYNOPSIS: A U.S Marshal investigates the disappearance of a murderess who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane. – via IMDB

Yes! You better believe it! I am back again, I just cannot resist this IMDB Top 250 challenge at all, and I just want to thank the lovely Miss Mutant for allowing me to submit so many reviews to her site for it. Well, we all know what goes here, so now we will move on to the movie reviewing bit itself – I am talking Shutter Island today.

Now, I know there are a few people that are not overly enamoured with this endeavour by the dream team that is Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio (super cough directed at you, Eric). But you know what? I guess we will leave this at each to their own.

shutter island the island

I have read Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name, and I loved that, too. Lehane is a gifted writer and I have enjoyed all his work so far. Granted, I read the book after the movie, but I would like to mention that it is one hell of a loyal and great adaption of the book. Shutter Island was a trip to take; it was just wonderful for me. It was suspenseful, very well acted and I loved the cast. The CGI may not have been perfect, but that was really peripheral for me in all honesty. I have always said that I can deal with crappy effects provided that the story is gripping and captivating. Now, these effects were by no long shot dreadful, but they were quite a way from being on the level of something like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The score for this was loud and in your face, building suspense, though at times I even thought that it was a little excessive (yes, defender of the film that I am and all). Most people complain about how heavy and loud it is in the beginning, but I thought that it served its purpose perfectly there – it was going out of its way to make you feel uncomfortable and jangle your nerves.

I did not see that plot twist coming really; I was more interested in experiencing what was going down as it was without thinking too far forward. That is usually unlike me, I call these things rather quickly, and I know a lot of other people did call it early for this movie, but still. Maybe it is because the first time I watched this I was distracted with other things I was doing at the time, either way, it was a really pleasant surprise for me. Now, let’s talk about the performances. We all know that I am extremely taken with the super-talented Leonardo DiCaprio, and what he did in Shutter Island was no exception to his wonderful repertoire of roles. He came in as US Marshal Teddy Daniels and just… worked that role. He was angry, upset, driven by his work though definitely had some undertow of grief due to the loss of his family and a side project he was working. Mark Ruffalo complemented him fantastically as Chuck Aule, the two working back and forth, engaging and entertaining. DiCaprio came in and lent credence to Teddy, giving us some intense flashbacks of the things that he has seen in the past, the places he has gone.

shutter island sick world

The flashbacks are broken apart by the main story, which is also broken by the flashbacks. They come together so well, and give the movie a cool way of storytelling. The partnership between Teddy and Chuck was something different. Suspect, trusting, devolving into the mad crusade that Teddy is so preoccupied with… it is presented as a locked box mystery, but that in itself is such a side measure to the real issue at hand: Teddy and Shutter Island.

shutter island which would be worse

Martin Scorsese might not have delivered his finest work with Shutter Island, but he did deliver a solid adaptation of Lehane’s novel as well as a highly entertaining and undervalued film exploring the lengths that the mind will go to in order to protect itself. I find it to be a extremely enjoyable watch and something I will always recommend to people.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iaYLCiq5RM

The Green Mile (1999) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. Zoe is loving this IMDB project – she’s already reviewed The Departed (which you can read HERE) and she’s planning on doing more! (And may have done another one already…) 😉 Thanks so much for the reviews, Zoe!

Now let’s see what she has to say about The Green Mile, IMDB rank 65 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list HERE. See the full list & links to all the films that have been reviewed HERE.

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Here’s another entry for Table 9 Mutant’s IMDB Top 250 challenge. I have been having so much fun with this, revisiting some movies, checking them all for her, some of them I have been meaning to look into again for so long, and now I finally have the driving factor. This is a movie that I hold most dear, who lived up to every inch of the book, proving that you can, in fact, adapt a book successfully if you just know what you are doing.

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“On the day of my judgment, when I stand before God, and He asks me why did I kill one of his true miracles, what am I gonna say? That it was my job?”
– Paul Edgecomb

The Green Mile is an absolutely stunning tale of the supernatural, faith, the strange things, horror, hope, miracles and all sorts of things. Naturally, when it begins, you don’t really know what is coming. I mean Stephen King is renowned for horrors, but what some people forget is that he is an exceptionally talented author who has more skills than just to terrify the pants off of you. From his strange mind he brought us an account, one that makes you smile, one that makes you sad, one that evokes anger and pity all at once. John Coffey is portrayed by Michael Clarke Duncan (R.I.P.), and I think he was superbly cast to play the giant that was accused of the disgusting slayings of two young girls. He is a monster of a man, not the most intelligent person in the world, but shy, wholesome and well-mannered, very incongruent to the hulking monstrosity his physical exterior represents.

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“People hurt the ones they love. That’s how it is all around the world.” – John Coffey

Coffey’s character can only grow on you, and if it does not, then there is something fundamentally flawed in you. He was pure innocence in a world of cruelty, anger and hatred, and even though he was wronged, he did not take it out on anyone once. I loved the relationship he developed with the guards Paul Edgecombe (Tom Hanks), Brutus “Brutal” Howell (David Morse), Dean Stanton (Barry Pepper) and Harry Terwilliger (James DeMunn). It was great to see how they interacted with this man on death row. Then there was Tom Hanks, again pulling together a great drama role right here as Paul, the man who had to get to the bottom of whatever was going on, who was drawn in and fascinated by Coffey, a peaceful and pure human being. Naturally not everyone was going to be so nice, and Dough Hutchison did a fine job as Percy Wetmore… in other words, I really did just want to climb over somewhere and kill him. He was inhumane, he was cruel and he deserved so much more than a big, fat slap. He was revolting and evil to the core, and was intent on throwing his weight around and bullying everyone no end. People like that sicken me, and he was incredibly convincing, always selfish, putting himself ahead and being resentful at every available opportunity.

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“Try it! You’ll be on the bread lines before the week is out!” – Percy Whetmore

Sam Rockwell was simply brilliant as “Wild Bill” Wharton, and impressed me with his portrayal of the malicious and wicked man. He was undeniably cracked and never once let you forget about it. He was the very embodiment of what I expected from King’s character. I also enjoyed David Morse, whom I find to be an underappreciated actor. He lent dignity and morals to Brutus and gave him real flesh and character. The movie’s pacing was gradual though never boring, but you must not expect something gushing action in every scene, never relenting or letting you breathe. This is a film designed to make you chew over it, think about it and make decisions based on that.

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“All I wanted me was a little cornbread, motherfuckers! All I wanted me was a little cornbread!” – William “Wild Bill” Wharton

I enjoyed how the film was set in the thirties, and the appearance of the prison, the uniforms, the way of life… things was done so much differently. Coffey’s gift being discovered was a thing of beauty. Paul had been suffering for a while with a severe bladder infection, and in a moment of fear and pain, Coffey had healed him, fixed the problems. Such is the nature that shows that Coffey is special, that he is amazing and that he should not be where he is, though he is there now and will have to make the best of it. The guards all become rather protective of Coffey and develop a respect and friendship with him, though not everything is destined to go that way. Paul’s relentless need to get to the bottom of what really happened is touching, and it shows you how one person can change your perception in life as well as how you go about it.

I honestly believe The Green Mile is a classic, and most definitely something that everyone should see at least once in their lives. Frank Darabont again gave another striking vision of a King novel, something I am starting to feel only he fully grasps.

I just can’t see God putting a gift like that in the hands of a man who would kill a child. – Paul Edgecomb