Video game movies… the bane of every video game geek. So many turn out to be terrible movies and they fail to capture what people loved about the games in the first place. The latest gamble is Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time based on the 2003 game of the same name.

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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Dastan, the titular prince. Dastan was originally an orphan, growing up on the streets and rooftops of the empire’s capital city, until one day after standing up for a friend on the marketplace, the king notices him and takes him in. Years later Dastan and his brothers are sent to the holy city of Alamut, ruled by the stubborn princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton). After being blamed for a crime he didn’t commit, Dastan is forced to flee the city with Tamina and prove his innocence.

I really enjoyed Prince of Persia, although it’s not without its faults. From the trailers, I was expecting a fun entertaining action movie, similar in vein to Pirates of the Caribbean or The Mummy (if you haven’t seen the trailer, check it out here). And it pretty much lived up to those expectations. If you didn’t like either of those movies, chances are you’re going to hate Prince of Persia too. If you loved those movies (which I did), I think you’ll be in for a treat.

Jake Gyllenhaal is great as prince Dastan. I had my doubts about him when his casting was announced, but he was exactly what I had imagined the prince to be. Charming, but at the same time rough and mischievous. Gemma Arterton is much better here than in Clash of the Titans, showing that with a decent script she can actually deliver. I loved the banter between her and Dastan!

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The story is similar to the Sands of Time video game with Dastan finding a dagger with which he can travel a few seconds back into time. While not used frequently within the movie, it gives us a couple of gorgeous scenes where Dastan falls apart into sand while ‘traveling’ back. The rest of the plot is pretty okay, although a little bit on the predictable side and at times not as polished as it could have been (like bad guys suddenly appearing without any explanation). I like that they added the orphan backstory, giving a reason to why a prince would be jumping from ledges and rooftops.

And those action scenes where Dastan is jumping all over the place are fantastic. Both Gyllenhaal and the kid that played the younger Dastan did most of their stunts themselves, having trained closely with Parkours legend David Belle. I didn’t like the way most of these were filmed though: an overuse of slow-mo and angles that didn’t really work for me. Still the stunts were amazing to watch!

Is it a good video game to movie adaption? Yeah, I think it is. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a fun summer action movie with great action sequences that harken back to the video game. The plot is a bit simple, but it’s a good 2 hours of fun entertainment. And want to bet we’ll get a sequel soon?

I adore the first two Terminator movies. I was born in the year the first one came out and was only 7 when the second one came out, but I do feel as if I’ve grown up with these stories. These are the movies that made me think and dream about time travel and timelines, and I still enjoy theorizing about these type of plots. I was really looking forward to this latest installment of the Terminator series, and while it’s not everything I hoped it would be, it’s still a great action flick.

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Terminator Salvation focuses on Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington), a man who wakes up in 2018 with no recollection of how he got there. Judgment Day has come and passed, and the human survivors are struggling in their war against the machines. John Connor (Christian Bale) is part of the resistance and knows he has to find his “father” Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), still a civilian trying to survive.

The main problem with Terminator Salvation is that this isn’t the movie every Terminator fan has been waiting for. Anybody who has seen the other movies wants to see one thing: the final battle between the machines and the resistance. What happens after they’ve sent back Kyle Reese and the terminators? Does John Connor and the resistance finally win the war? When does everything finally come full circle? This isn’t that movie. This movie is but a chapter in the whole saga, where Kyle Reese and John Connor meet. And that would have been fine, if they were the main two characters. If this movie was truly about the birth of their friendship. But it isn’t. Instead Terminator Salvation revolves around Marcus Wright, a new mysterious character, whose story line you see coming from a mile away. 

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It kind of works. I mean I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and I came out of the theatre thinking it was awesome. But reflecting on it, I just think it could have been better. I mean, you’ve got these characters that the fans love and whose stories they want to hear, but instead we get a movie about this Marcus Wright. I don’t see why they needed this new character; why couldn’t they have focused more on Kyle Reese and John Connor? Or Connor and his wife? Or the rise of Connor in the resistance? It just didn’t feel necessary to have this movie revolving around this character whose story we’re not really interested in.

Sam Worthington is okay as Marcus Wright, and by the end of the movie you are rooting for him. There’s nothing wrong with his acting (although at times his Australian accent slips through), it’s just you’re not as invested in his character as some of the others. Christian Bale is a bit of a disappointment as John Connor. When I heard he was cast, it just seemed perfect; who else could play the fierce, yet tortured resistance leader? And yet, it didn’t really work. There’s just something in him that doesn’t make you truly believe that this is a continuation of the same John Connor, although that may be due more to the way his character was written than Bale’s performance. The highlight of this movie for me had to be Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese. After seeing him in Star Trek as Chekov, I didn’t think he could pull this character off (he just looks too baby faced there and not at all like Reese). But you get the feeling he must have watched and studied Michael Biehn’s Kyle Reese in The Terminator for hours, cause he’s spot on with his performance. 

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The other characters don’t add much to the movie. Bryce Dallas Howard is fine as Kate Connor, but she doesn’t get that much to work with. She has this whole back story and history with John Connor and she’s pregnant with his child, but all she gets to do is stand on the sidelines and be a sounding board to his worries. Moon Bloodgood is introduced as a love interest for Marcus Wright, but it feels rushed and very unbelievable. 

I did really like the look of Terminator Salvation. After Judgment Day, the world is practically a bleak, deserted wasteland and visually they’ve managed to capture that. It’s gritty and barren, and exactly what you’d expect the world to look like after a nuclear winter. The action and special effects in this movie are also superb, with enough explosions and fights to do justice to the previous films. I loved the design of some of the new robots, even though some seemed a bit more advance than what you’d expect at this point in time.

Terminator Salvation is a great summer action flick. Story wise it’s not fantastic, but for most people I guess it doesn’t have to be. Unlike some, I didn’t hate this movie, and I think McG managed to deliver a fun enjoyable film. I’m just disappointed it’s not the Terminator movie I was hoping for, but if it does well at the box office, we might see one in the near future.

The last time I saw a movie in 3D was 4 years ago at some cheesy theme park attraction, where you got visually assaulted by biting snakes and roller-coasters. I’ve been meaning to see a “proper” 3D movie for some time now, but some of the produced stuff still looks pretty gimmicky (like Journey To The Centre Of The Earth). Coraline, however, was something I was really looking forward to and it was only on the day of the screening itself that I realized it was in 3D. Cool!

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Coraline is about Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning), an adventurous girl who moves with her parents to a new village and into a weird, creaky old house, called the Pink Palace. Both her parents (Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman) don’t have time for her and Coraline keeps herself busy by visiting the Pink Palace’s other inhabitants. Downstairs is taken by an eccentric duo of bickering old performers, Miss Spink and Miss Forcible (Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French),while upstairs is the amazing Bobinsky (Ian McShane), a Russian circus star with performing mice. But then Coraline finds a door to a parallel world, where everything is strangely idealized with doppelgangers of everbody she knows.

I’ll start things off with the 3D. So far all 3D movies (and photos) I’ve seen have all used the standard one-red-glass-one-blue-glass type of glasses (from which I always got pretty dizzy). This movie however was in RealD; you get a different type of glasses (polarized, light beige for both sides) and the projection feels way better. There were some shots in the movie that just looked amazing! And unlike what I saw from Journey to the Centre of the Earth, the 3D effects in Coraline weren’t for the sake of 3D (as in: the writers didn’t go: “ooh, let’s add a dinosaur, cause that would look so coool in 3D!”). 

Coraline is directed by Henry Selick, who previously directed The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach. The style looks pretty similar to those two, yet still having very much an ambience uniquely it’s own. While it looks animated, everything is stop-motion, but shot in 3D. There are quite some beautiful scenes, but my favourite’s got to be the trapeze scene; it just seems like a dream sequence (which it kind of is).

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The strength of the movie mainly comes from it’s great ensemble of characters. Coraline is an interesting and likable character, and you understand the reasons behind everything she does. Her normal parents are boring and have no time for her and you can see why she’s so charmed by the attention of the Other parents. The Other parents are creepy from the start, with their button eyes and eerie perfectness. Mr Bobinsky, Miss Spink and Miss Forcible are all weird characters in the real world and their Other world versions are even stranger.

Story wise I wasn’t too impressed. I know it’s meant as a kids film, but I wish there was a bit more depth and explanation to the story. I loved the whole set-up; the weird characters, the other world and it’s inhabitants, but I would have loved to see a more satisfying wrap-up.

Coraline is a beautiful movie and definitely one you’ve got to see in the cinema in 3D. The characters are all intriguing and different than anything you’ve seen before. Tip: stay seated until after the credits, there’s a little tidbit (really tiny) after it. 

Coraline – Release Date: 8 May UK

I try to go with an open mind into any movie I see; how can you really judge a movie without watching it first? Despite that though I do catch myself disregarding movies, because of the first impressions of the plot or the actor. I had that here with 17 Again: a starring vehicle for the new Disney poster child Zac Efron, with a Freaky Friday twist? Nah, not for me. And yet surprisingly it was.

In 1989, Mike O’Donnell (Zac Efron) is the star of his high school basketball team, with a bright future and a college scholarship almost in his grasp. He throws it all away though when he finds out his girlfriend Scarlet is pregnant and asks her to marry him. 20 years later Mike’s (now Matthew Perry) life is falling apart: his marriage to Scarlet is on the brink of a divorce, he’s got no real relationship with his teenage kids and he’s living with his high school nerd-turned-billionaire best friend Ned. But Mike gets a second chance when he is magically transformed to 17 again.

The age transformation gimmick has been rehashed so many times in Hollywood: kids wanting to be older, adults wanting to be young again, we’ve seen it all before. Freaky Friday. Big. And now 17 Again. Add to that plot lines borrowed from other ‘teen’ movies, like the Back To The Future “must not attract the family member” and you’ve got a movie that reeks of unoriginality. Regardless of that though, 17 Again is a funny and entertaining teen movie.

As much as I hate to admit it, that mainly comes because of the likability of Zac Efron. In all previous movies I’ve seen with him, he comes off as a little too charming, a little too smug; I never got why so many teenage girls were so hysterical about him. But with 17 Again his charisma carries the entire movie. Zac Efron just charms the socks off of you and you can’t help but like him.

The rest of the supporting cast are great too. While Matthew Perry doesn’t get that much screen time, it’s his performance at the start of the movie that makes you begin to care for the character of Mike. Most scenes with Mike’s best friend Ned are hilarious: he has the best pop culture one-liners, his entire house is full of geeky memorabilia, his wardrobe is outrageous and his antics to woo the high school headmistress are awkwardly funny. There’s a brilliant scene at the start of the movie where Ned and Mike have fight with Ned’s Lord of the Rings and Star Wars props. Leslie Mann is great as Scarlet, although she doesn’t get as much comedy time as we’ve seen from her in previous movies.

The only drawback I had with 17 Again is it’s wrap-up. After the predictable reveal, the movie ends pretty quickly, giving almost no screentime to the stories of the other characters.

17 Again is a light funny movie, which deserves a wider audience than just hysterical Zac Efron devotees. Yes, teenage girls are going to love it, but there’s more in this movie that will attract others too. I was expecting a movie I’d hate, but instead I discovered I actually did enjoy it. 17 Again never reaches the heights of teen classics, like Mean Girls or Clueless, but it’s an entertaining 102 minutes and well worth paying a cinema ticket for.

Week 2: Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.

I’m running way behind with these 52 Movies blog posts. I have been keeping up with watching a movie every week, I just haven’t found the time to blog about them too (plus the internet connection here is still sucky; fingers crossed it’ll be solved tomorrow). Hopefully I’ll manage to write the reviews for Week 2, 3 and 4 this week, and then next week I’ll do Week 5 and Week 6.

The movie for week 2 was The Shawshank Redemption, currently ranked as the number 1 film on IMDB. I’ve been meaning to watch it for at least the past 10 years, but every time it appeared on TV something managed to get in the way of watching it. Exams, delayed trains, or just plain forgetting what time it was on. It was a movie I knew I had to watch from start to finish, so I really didn’t want to jump in after missing half an hour. Frankly, I have been quite successful in avoiding seeing or hearing anything about this movie and not being spoiled at all (a rare feat considering the amount of movie blogs I read; I think I know at least the endings to half of the 52 Movies we’ve chosen).

The Shawshank Redemption tells the tale of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), a man who is convicted and sentenced to life in jail for the murder of his wife and her lover. He’s sent to Shawshank Prison, where he learns how to deal with prison life.

So what did I think of The Shawshank Redemption? To be honest, I wasn’t that impressed by it. I mean, I can see and understand why it would be ranked so high; it’s a movie with not a lot of faults, and the type of movie almost no one can not like. That being said though, I don’t see it as “THE best movie ever” and that’s what this list of 250 Movies should represent, right? Especially the number one.  

It is a good movie though and for those of you who haven’t seen, it definitely is a movie you should see. It’s full of hope and the lengths that we can go to when we have hope in ourselves, in our futures, and in others. The acting is superb; both TIm Robbins and Morgan Freeman are great in their roles. Personally though I just didn’t find it deserving of that number one spot. 

Next week: Psycho

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