Jack Ryan (TV series)

tcjr1Jack Ryan is an action-thriller series, produced by Amazon Prime. The characters originate from “Ryan” series authored by Tom Clancy, and have been through numerous film adaptations in the past.

The show stars John Krasinski as the titular character. He is a former marine turned CIA analyst whose instincts and intellect place him at the tip of the anti-terrorism sword in the US. In season one, he travels all over the world trying to identify and pre-empt Yemen-born Syrian terrorists.

I just binge watched season one on Amazon Prime in a couple of days. There are eight episodes in the first season, and I am assuming there will be roughly the same number of episodes in season 2, which releases on November 2nd.

Jack Ryan is an excellent show, that I would highly recommend to anyone interested in political/military/action/thriller entertainment. Although it is American-based and draws story from current flash zones and news headlines, the characters are fictional – you are not going to see a Donald Trump look alike in the Oval Office. And unlike typical military dramas such as Seal Team Six, The Unit, or 24, I don’t find it to vomit American patriotism all over the audience, a huge turn-off to most non-American viewers, like moi.

A second aspect that helps set this show apart from other counter-terrorism entertainment is that Ryan is a reluctant hero. He has flashbacks to his Marine deployment which ended in a fiery helicopter crash that he blames himself for, and comments multiple times that he prefers when he is behind the desk, not gunning down terrorists in crowded plazas. Jason Bourne he is not.

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Finally, the producers have dedicated screen time to developing backstories and relationships for the terrorists, and explaining how and why they were radicalized. The picture isn’t as black and white as one might think, and it really drives home what a mess the whole system is. Trying to eliminate one threat has repercussions that last generations and often just spur on a whole new crop of terrorists.

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I highly recommend this show, and am eagerly awaiting season two. I thought it was already out when I started watching, so now I will have to find something else to entertain myself while sick.

Season one trailer

Season two trailer

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xx

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The Hate U Give (film)

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The Hate U Give was released in 2018 and it is based on the award winning best-seller of the same name.

I read this book a few months ago and decided to watch the movie, which I had heard from others was also amazing. I think that the producers and cast did an amazing job of adapting this book, especially since they began the process long before the book was released.

I totally bought all of the actors who were betraying these beloved characters. Starr’s father and King were not as I imagined them, but this didn’t take away from my movie experience at all.

I did feel like the ending was rushed, and not as true to the books. Understandably, sections of the book will always need to be removed for film, but I felt that they altered the ending too much, and in ways I did not agree with.

Otherwise though, I really enjoyed this movie and will definitely watch it again. It wasn’t nearly the tear-jerker that I was expecting, but maybe I got all my tears out through the book.

Watch the trailer here.

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I would love to watch a film adaptation of Angie Thomas’ book On The Come Up one day as well, but so far, no news has been released on its production.

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xx

 

The longest ride – a film review

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The Longest Ride is the newest romantic-drama based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks. It follows two generations through the trials and tribulations of falling in love and merging two lives. The main characters are Luke and Sophia.

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Luke, played by Scott Eastwood, is a good ol’ country boy, with the morals and manners to match. And the stubborn, pig-headedness and toughness that goes along with “being country”. He is a professional bull rider, and let me tell you, it would torture me to date someone who did something so dangerous all the time. Sophia on the other hand is a New Jersey girl in the South for school, ready to head for a prestigious fine art internship in NYC.

I may have a little crush on Luke. So sexy!

The other couple followed in the story is Ruth and Ida Levinson, who fell in love in the 1940’s. Sophie and Luke rescue Ida after a car accident, and their stories become interwoven throughout the movie, flashing back and forth between the 40’s and modern day.

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Although I loved both stories, I would have personally preferred to see more of Sophia and Luke’s. Luke is very country and he influences Sophia to become more that way herself. I am also a country girl so this story-line was more appealing, IMHO.

I love the way that Sparks writes his male characters. Although they are all different, and certainly far from perfect, they also depict many of the characteristics that I appreciate and look for in a man. Physical and mental toughness (not to say that they don’t need someone to lean on at times, everyone needs someone). Protectiveness towards women and children. Someone willing to plan a date or surprise his girl. Come on guys, “netflix and chill” requires zero imagination. There is nothing sexier than a man you can rely on.

This movie was sweet enough to distract me from the project I was working on while watching, and a great way to spend a quiet evening alone. During Luke’s big championship ride, I was biting my lip, praying that he would be ok because you really never know when Nicholas Sparks is the writer!

Spoiler below the picture, letting you know.

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Thankfully, yes Luke is okay. This is another Sparks movie that has a happy ending, at least for the couple.

Definitely recommend! Probably just for the girls though.

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xx

The Lucky One – a film review

The Lucky One is a romantic-drama, based on the book of the same name, written by Nicolas Sparks. Released in 2012, it stars Zac Efron (“Logan”), Taylor Schilling (“Beth”), and Blythe Danner (“Ellie”).

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Trailer (via Youtube)

While I don’t think that any “Sparks” movie could ever come close to topping the masterpiece that is The Notebook, The Lucky One is another favourite of mine, and one that I have watched numerous times. Especially this time of year (I live in cold, snowy Canada), it is relaxing to watch a movie based in the South, and I do love me some southern accents. The Carolinian scenery is breath-taking. I think I need to take a trip down that was sometime.

Efron plays an American Marine recently returned from Iraq where most of his buddies died. He escaped a fatal blast by stepping out of range just seconds before, to pick up a picture he noticed fluttering in the wind.

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Upon his return to the States, he decides to track down the girl in the photo and return it to her, and thank her for saving his life. He doesn’t expect to fall for her, and her son, before he can figure out how to explain.

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The Lucky One is a sweet movie. I love how Efron depicts his character. Although Logan seems to suffer from PTSD, it isn’t the focal point of the film. He isn’t depicted as being a danger to himself or anyone else, and is certainly more stable than Beth’s ex-husband, a local cop.

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You wouldn’t want to me alone with this guy

It is amazing to see how naturally Logan takes to being a father-figure to Beth’s son and just what a good man and hard worker he is. He inspired me to work hard in my own life, and to look for a man with many of the qualities that he depicts. Beth and her son will never need to wonder about their security in the future, because Logan will make sure they don’t want for anything, and that they are safe and happy together.

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I loved how he was there for Beth as a friend, before they became romantically involved. She is initially an unpleasant character, filled with pain, and verbally lashes out at him multiple times, but is more than redeemed shortly on. Her brother, the one who lost the photo in Iraq, didn’t make it back alive, and Logan can certainly relate to her grief and anger. Together, they help each other through and grow.

** Minor spoiler, as to whether the movie ends happily or not:

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The Lucky One is a great romantic comedy. It has drama, and tears, but ultimately, the film ends positively, with Logan and Beth’s relationship in-tact. I have watched this movie multiple times and definitely recommend it to you.

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Star Wars: the force awakens – a review

Warning: This post does contain spoilers from the movie.

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I have mixed feelings about this film. I loved, loved, loved the first half to three quarters. The Force Awakens is fast-paced but I could feel a connection to the characters. It has a very old-school feel; it is styled after the first trilogy which is pretty much universally recognized as better.

In some ways, it almost felt like a reboot of the original movies. Fiftyish years on, the story is the same but the costumes and special effects are incalculably better. In The Force Awakens, I didn’t come out of the movie-verse to think on the special effects as characters go hurtling through space because in the moment, I forgot that wasn’t real. That a camera-man wasn’t hanging out in a spacesuit picking it up. Those are some good special effects.

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The issues with the movie, in my opinion, were very small. Certainly The Force Awakens is a successful return to a series that is much beloved. It is awesome that whole new generations are being brought into this universe and Disney did a great job with a project that came along with so many expectations. So did the actors. Both new and known to Star Wars.

** Here is where the spoilers really start. **

My problem is that I knew who the new Dark Lord was the whole time. Pretty much. Okay, so I know that in the book/comic book world, Luke Skywalker struggles with the balance between the Light and the Dark. I also know that Leia and Luke’s son does cross over the Dark side. So the whole time, I was expecting it to be one of those two characters.

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Luke has a very dark intensity. I’d believe his turn to the Dark side

I have to admit, I was hoping for it to be Luke. And it made sense with the plot-line, because the bad guys were trying so hard to prevent the Rebel Alliance from getting the map that lead to Luke. There was no clear admittance that they needed the map to find him themselves, just that the rebels couldn’t get a hold of it. Clearly Luke could tell from the Force that bad things were happening, and several planet systems had been incinerated. But he didn’t return.

These circumstances made me hope that the new Dark One was Luke and that he was desperately trying to control the map so no one followed it to him, before he was ready to declare himself.

Alas, I was mistaken.

My second choice was accurate. But I didn’t love him as the bad guy. Throughout the movie, his loyalties waver as he struggles with the call of the Light. You see it in his prayers to his Grandfather, Darth Vader, and in his relatively gentle treatment towards Rey. He seems to have a crush on her and is trying to persuade her to join him, much as Anakin felt towards Padme in the end.

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*Minor interlude. In the end Darth Vader returned to the Light. He died saving his children and the universe from the Sith Lord. Surely Kylo Ren knows the true story of his Grandfather’s end. So it didn’t make any sense to me that he prayed to him to give him the strength of the Dark, no matter what else Vader had done.

 

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Ok, back to what I was saying.

The problem is, I just didn’t buy Kylo Ren¬†as a such a major character. I would have preferred that he had rare shining moments of good intermittent in his overwhelmingly evil activities. But the only true evil he committed was killing his father, Han Solo. (I was temporarily inconsolable by the way). Instead he was written as more of a middle-ground character.

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If you are a regular reader of Mackenzie’s Mountain, then you know I love it when the writer takes a character who is seemingly past the point of redemption and then has him/her do something that stops the viewer from writing him/her off completely. Like a truly despicable Dark Lord who falls in love with an enemy aligned with the Alliance. But I didn’t get those goosebump-inducing feels.

I also expected him to be over-overwhelmingly handsome, when that mask was finally removed. Fantasy has largely moved past the trope that good guys are handsome and bad guys are not. Look at the Lannisters. However, Star Wars seems to have not, which disappointed.

Another problem I had with The Force Awakens was the power that Rey held. It felt too similar to the Anakin story that has already played out.

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I would have preferred that Rey lost her battles with Kylo Ren, that he let her live for his own purposes, much as he does in the forest when he uses the Force to knock her out and carry her onto the ship. The idea that a completely untrained person could go up and win against such a formidable opponent is a little too unbelievable. It is a one in a billion chance, and one that the Star Wars universe has already done. Not to mention her inauspicious beginnings replicate Anakin’s, right down to living on a desert planet, destitute and more or less a slave to scrappers. It made this movie seem more like a reboot. In less of a ‘yes this is an awesome return to the glory days’ way, and more like they were retelling the same story.

Overall, I loved the first half or so of the movie, as I said. I sat in my seat and giggled because I loved it so much. But all these little plot points and character reveals turned the tide in the second half, and unfortunately, that disappointment is the impression that I was left with when the film ended.

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xx

Sisters – film review

Sisters is the hilarious new comedy from Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Two sisters struggling to move on in their adult lives come home to Mom and Dad’s to clear out their childhood rooms in preparation for the sale of the house. While reminiscing, they decide to throw one last epic high-school style party with all their old friends. Cue the shenanigans.

Trailer (via youtube)

Ok, I have to admit I didn’t think this movie was going to be all that great. I went to the theatre with my Mother and oldest niece (14) to see something else but tickets were sold out and this was the only other film playing¬†at the right time.

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It. Is. Hilarious. I freaking loved this movie. I almost had to leave the theatre because I was seriously worried I would pee my pants from laughter.

Now, it was also completely INAPPROPRIATE for a ¬†14 year old girl. I was worried about that but the theatre said it was rated 14A. Um, no. After seeing the movie, I definitely feel it was Rated R and now I can see that is what the trailer was rated as well….. So my sister might be a bit mad but thankfully that will fall on “Nana’s” shoulders, not mine. Phew.

But seriously, I highly recommend that you go and watch this movie. Both my Mum and I agreed that it was the most we had laughed in a theatre in a very long time.

The part with the music box, between Maura and her beau …. good lord. You can’t get funnier than that.

There were two things that really stood out to me in this film.

John Cena’s part actually should have been expanded. He does have his tough guy-bouncer moment but it was very comedically done. Not bad since this is a comedy but I think the film could have afforded for him to be a bit more … well more, in that moment.

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I also would have loved to see him and Kate (played by Tina Fey) develop a relationship. I thought he was going to help her rescue Hayley; it would have been cute to see them together in the “post-script”, and would have been in keeping with Kate’s personality. Sure, she learns a little more responsibility, but no one changes overnight. He might not have been the best parental role model, but that wasn’t really the moral of the story.

Secondly, and as I said to my Mother as we walked out of the theatre, “I didn’t take you and Dad selling the house that badly”. If you don’t know, I am highly resistant to change, and didn’t exactly handle it well. In fact, when they sold my childhood home I stopped speaking to them for a bit and it took several years before I was completely over it.

Because I am.

Over it.

Totally.

As I was saying … Sisters is cute. It’s funny. It is even romantic. And it reminded me that I’m all grown up when the sexiest point in the movie was James repairing the ceiling he fell through for Maura, while the party rages on around them.

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xx

 

Tomorrowland – film review

Tomorrowland (2014) is a futuristic movie about a second dimension that is inter-layed over Earth. The people who live there are the brightest and most optimistic from our planet, and are selected by highly advanced robots mandated to seek them out.

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From imdb:

Bound by a shared destiny, a teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory.

Trailer

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Tomorrowland’s magic stems from the enthusiasm of the young teenage protagonist and the wonder of the technology of the future. It was inspiring to see such a clean city full of life, to witness the jetpacks and trackless sky-trains and space travel.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see very much of that. In “present day”, the city of Tomorrowland is collapsing and seems nearly empty except for robots and security personnel. The residents of Tomorrowland know that our world is collapsing and despair and depression seem the dominant attitudes among them. Many of the former wonder-kid inventors have been expelled from the city, including the character played by George Clooney.

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What I didn’t like about this movie is that it didn’t live up to the fabulous potential of such an¬†imaginative idea. The writing was sub-par and sort of unravelled half way through. It felt like someone got lazy, like they came up with a great idea and then didn’t have the motivation to see it through.

It is established that Tomorrowland will continue on unimpeded even though our world is ending, but everyone seems to have left it anyway. There are a few robots here and there and the city’s ruler and his minions. That’s it. Most of the city is in a state of disrepair. There is never any explanation given except for “they built something they shouldn’t have”.

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Athena: “They built something they shouldn’t have. And I think you can fix it”.

But that isn’t entirely true. And even if it is, their world isn’t being destroyed by this invention, ours is.

In many ways, Tomorrowland feels like the technological version of Neverland. You don’t have to grow up there. Emotionally, “creationally”, or even physically. I wish that the wonders of that world – what surely drew in audiences from the trailer, especially adults – had been explored further.

Unfortunately, between the lazy producing and writing, the movie fell far from expectations. It is supremely disappointing to see a fairly original idea fall flat, especially from a powerhouse like Disney.

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xx

North Pole: Open for Christmas – film review

Open for Christmas is the 2015 sequel to last year’s Christmas movie, North Pole. It stars Lori Laughlin (Aunt Becky from Full House) and the adorable Bailee Madison.

A successful businesswoman, Mackenzie, inherits her beloved aunt’s inn, and chooses to restore the hotel to its original grandeur only to sell it right before Christmas. Unbeknownst to Mackenzie, she receives some unexpected help from a team of elves headed by the cheerful Clementine, who help Mackenzie rediscover the true meaning of Christmas.

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This is such a cute and entertaining Christmas movie! I really loved it and am so thankful I recorded it on television. I liked it much better than the first movie.

First-off, way better Santa. Why do producers keeps casting homeless¬†looking Santas??? Santa is Santa people. It works for a reason. Don’t mess with my Santa.

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Secondly, Clementine’s positivity and laughter are¬†just infectious. She raises my spirits and I really hope they make another movie in this series for next Christmas. I think Bailee Madison (who plays Clementine) and Candace Cameron Bure would make a great pairing.

Open for Christmas has a more unique plot than most Christmas movies have so I won’t ruin it by discussing in depth here. I loved the idea of the red ribbon game throughout the inn and the reminder to slow down and enjoy every moment.

It is important year round but especially this time of year, when we are so frantic, it can be easy to lose track of the real meaning behind the season.

I definitely recommend tuning into this film!

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xx

On Strike for Christmas (film review)

On Strike for Christmas is a tv movie that airs often on the W network this time of year. Starring Daphnie Zuniga, David Sutcliffe, and Julia Duffy, it was released in 2010.

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Essentially, a group of neighbourhood women band together and go on strike for Christmas to show their families how much work it is to put together the magical holiday experience. They are attempting to gather a little empathy for the time and energy spent doing things for loved ones and encourage said family members to keep in mind the true meaning of Christmas: to give thanks for what you have, and give of yourself unto others.

A lot of tv movies are pretty blah. Not something to hold my attention certainly, but a nice bit of companionship/distraction to play in the background while doing something else, whether that is writing, decorating, cleaning, baking, etc. However, On Strike for Christmas is hilarious.

I was laughing out loud. I LOVE the boys’ baking scene in particular. This movie is genuinely funny and actually has a pretty heartfelt message.

In particular, the women’s realizations that maybe it isn’t such a black and white situation. Sometimes others don’t help in the way we want, maybe they don’t do things how we would, but it doesn’t matter. If someone serves with a gentle and giving heart, appreciate their efforts in the spirit with which they were given.

I’m probably not who anyone would describe as a feminist, but in my own way, I am. I firmly believe that women should just be true to themselves and follow their hearts. As I tell my teenage niece, just “do you”. If you are a career woman, girl take on the world. And if that means being a stay at home mom, then change the world through your kids, by teaching them to be shining stars and empowering them to follow their own hearts too.

In terms of the “holiday effort” referenced in On Strike for Christmas, most of the time we ladies could do a lot less at the holidays and our guys and children would still be perfectly happy. There is something in me that drives the need for perfection, as if I am failing otherwise and the holidays are ruined. We as women, put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make sure that everything is perfect. But it’s not really the external demands of others causing this pressure, it’s in us. Maybe we learn that as young’ins, but it definitely is something that burns hot and hateful in me, and most of the other women I know as well.

If the tree isn’t perfectly decorated and fluffed, I doubt my Dad would notice. My uncles won’t care if I make both regular and sweet mashed potatoes. If I don’t perfectly pipe chocolate name-cards for the dining table, my family probably won’t boycott the next holiday I host.

So kick back with loved ones and enjoy a great movie. Try not to let the little things tear you down with holiday stress. Because life is short and it really doesn’t matter. If it isnt something you are going to think about on your deathbed in eighty years, it doesn’t matter now. Let it go and relax!

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xx

Movie Review – We Are Marshall

We Are Marshall (2006) is an amazing movie.

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It is based on a true story.

In 1970, a plane carrying the university’s football team, athletic staff and assorted other members of the community crashed just outside of town, on a return trip from an out-of-state game. All 75 people on board died. I think¬†this remains the deadliest sports tragedy in American history.

We Are Marshall is about the community grieving this loss and coming together to form a new team. Even though it’s a “football movie”, it is so much more.

The film was so well done. I’ve seen it at least a half a dozen times, and I still get goosebumps every time that plane goes down. And teary-eyed throughout. The loss the entire Marshall/Huntington community must have been feeling is unimaginable but you get a sense of it. This movie is endearing and uplifting, something I can watch over and over. You can feel the power and emotion behind the story. I certainly believe that the actor and producers¬†creating it really cared about the people involved.

It stars Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Fox and Kate Mara (who is my favourite actress). Here is the trailer.

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