Emma Roberts Shines in the Feminist Fantasy ‘Paradise Hills’
Genre : Scifi-Fantasy
Rating : Unrated
Director: Alice Waddington
In the not-so-distant future the rebellious Uma (Emma Roberts) suddenly finds herself on an isolated island known as Paradise. Part reform school and part conversion therapy Paradise is a re-education camp run by the The Duchess (Milla Jovovich) and her all-male staff. Greeting Uma as she wakes are her roommates, the overweight Chloe (Patty Cake$‘s Danielle Macdonald) and metalhead Yu (Awkwafina). With her friends by her side she is forced into several different regiments ranging from make overs and yoga to “mirror therapy” with The Duchess and brainwashing sessions meant to turn Uma into the kind of subservient wife her mother and her rich suitor dream of. Things seem bleak for Uma and her companions until they get to know Amarna (Baby Driver‘s Eiza Gonzalez). Sent to Paradise for her lesbian tendencies she has concocted a plan to escape.
Perhaps the most noticeable part of Paradise Hills is how absolutely gorgeous it is. Opening to a lavish reception for newlyweds Uma and sleazy socialite Son (Arnaud Valois) you are immediately sucked in by its mix of tradition and opulence as revelers twirl around Uma with streams of white chiffon creating abstract shots as beautiful as a painting. All of which is topped when Uma reaches Paradise. With obvious inspiration from Alice in Wonderland and 1960’s television show The Prisoner it’s pastel flowers and deep primary colors are able to make the film look idyllic without ever really losing that bit of magic. Even as trouble begins to rear its head you can’t help but marvel at Waddington and production designer Laia Colet were able to do on their limited budget. As much as Paradise Hills excels visually its story can feel lacking at times.
With writing duties handled by author Brian DeLeeuw (Some Kind of Hate) and Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo (Colossal, Time Crimes) high expectations are to be expected. Vigalondo in particular has done a great job playing with sci-fi tropes in films such as Colossal. Instead what get is a pretty thin science fiction tale. Vaguely mentioning a class system and insight any attempts at commentary are brief. For the most part it follows a cliché-ridden story more appropriate for a YA novel than some of the more imaginative minds in genre film today with most of the story being fairly underwritten. Our world lacking any detail with hints like why The Duchess runs Paradise or the background of Uma’s new friends being vague and quickly glossed over. Instead most of the focus is on Uma who follows the same heroes journey we’ve seen a thousand times over.
Despite being given a role Emma Roberts could sleepwalk through she does an admirable job as Uma. Her evolution from rebellious prisoner to the leader of a prison escape never feeling forced thanks to her relationship with Amarna. Bonding over their need to break free of Paradise their companionship builds naturally with any hints of Amarna’s romantic tendencies never feeling too exploitative with their sisterhood taking a much bigger role. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same of Chloe and Yu. Despite being brought to life by the always good Danielle Macdonald, Chloe never really rises above playing supportive friend before blending into the background. Yu is given more to do but not much. Sent to the island by her family for anti-social tendencies before moving to mainland China. Whether intended or not it could have been a particularly poignant role had a the always game Awkwafina been given more screen time.
There’s no denying how beautiful Paradise Hills is. Showing herself to be a real visionary director Alice Waddington and production designer Laia Colet use a mix of Elizabethan glamour and futuristic technology to create a gorgeous world that looks unlike anything in movies today. Sadly, the same can’t be said for the story which feels like it came from the YA novel starter pack. With a story carried by some great performances Paradise Hills ends up being an engrossing, if somewhat hollow, experience.
Links : IMDB
Paradise Hills is now in theaters and on VOD
‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ Adds Oscar-Nominee William H. Macy
The Planet of the Apes trilogy headlined by Andy Serkis from the 2010s can be argued as one of the best trilogies of all-time. The technological advances made from motion capture helped actors completely transform into the apes with their interactions with human characters making the story rawer and more emotional. Now, 20th Century Studios will jump back into the world of apes with their latest, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes. Deadline reports that William H. Macy (Shameless, Fargo) will round out the cast for the newest chapter of the franchise.
Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes takes place many years after the conclusion of War for the Planet of the Apes being led by an entirely new cast that includes Owen Teague, Freya Allan and Peter Macon. Details are currently unknown on whether Macy will be playing a human character or an ape. The film series has grossed almost $2 billion dollars for the studio so it’s no surprise that they’re aiming to make more Apes fims.
Macy is coming off his biggest role ever in Showtime’s series, Shameless for which he played Frank Gallagher and was nominated for 6 Emmy Awards for his performance over 11 seasons. Macy is also a former Oscar-nominee for his lead role in the Coen Brothers classic, Fargo. Since then, he’s amassed tons of parts including most recently in Hulu’s The Dropout and a guest spot on the ABC sitcom, The Conners. Macy will next appear in the film, Maybe I Do with Emma Roberts, Diane Keaton, Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon.
Rawson Marshall Thurber to Headline ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ Series for Paramount+
Dungeons & Dragons seems to be the next major IP finding itself across multiple media formats. The move of bringing the iconic fantasy franchise will start in March on the big screen with the release of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, however, the TV series which has been in development has found its new streaming home. According to Deadline, the Dungeons & Dragons series will head to Paramount+ with Rawson Marshall Thurber (Red Notice, Skyscraper) writing the pilot and directing the first episode of the eight-episode season order.
The fantasy role-playing game has been ripe for an adaptation for years with many celebrities and actors being fans of the property since its inception. Honor Among Thieves already boasts a starry cast led by Chris Pine, Hugh Grant, Rege-Jean Page and Michelle Rodriguez, but there are no details on whether the streaming series would feature any of their characters crossing over. Dungeons & Dragons is yet another franchise starter over at Paramount in the game of streaming supremacy which will join Halo on their streaming service having done great numbers for Paramount+.
Dungeons & Dragons features multiple creatures, elves, human warriors and other fantastical entities engaging in campaigns, wars and quests to build out their respective armies. The massive Hasbro property was acquired by eOne to develop a media universe across film and television making it a priority due to its popularity and fan base that features over 50 million players.
Rawson Marshall Thurber most recently directed the Netflix action film, Red Notice starring Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds. He previously teamed with Johnson for Skyscraper and Central Intelligence, but his career began in comedy helming popular films such as Dodgeball and We’re the Millers. Before moving into features, he also directed the very popular online short, Terry Tate, Office Linebacker. The filmmaker has also been attached to Netflix’s video game adaptation of The Division which will star Jake Gyllenhaal and Jessica Chastain.
Henry Cavill to Headline ‘Warhammer 40K’ Series on Amazon Prime Video
With much of the talk surrounding Henry Cavill regarding his exit from Netflix’s The Witcher along with the shift of mentality from new DC Studios leadership, the actor is in need of a new franchise to jumpstart. It appears that Cavill has done just that with the latest news that comes from The Hot Mic podcast via Above the Line.
It appears that Cavill (Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice) will steer head an adaptation of Warhammer 40,000 for Amazon Prime Video. Cavill confirmed the news this morning via his Instagram. The property started as a miniature war game akin to Dungeons & Dragons where players control different characters across a battle board, so to speak. The game was a staple in England where Cavill played it much as a kid and his passion for the property has stuck ever since. So much so, that the actor still paints figures to this day for when he engages in play.
The property which is often abbreviated to Warhammer 40K, features a fictional war set 40,000 years into the future between humans and other mystical beings that include orcs, gods, demons, elves, aliens and supernatural entities. The game eventually was brought to the video game space where it amasses tons of players across the sci-fi fantasy gaming landscape. The property also lends itself to novels leaving a lot of room to grow as a franchise in the entertainment space with lore to play with.
Amazon continues to take steps towards building out large franchise plays for their streaming service, Prime Video. In addition to the acquisition of the rights to Warhammer 40,000, the streamer has recently made deals for video game properties like God of War, with creators like Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House) and of course, a 2022 that was massive for the streamer with the launches of the pricey Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and Thursday Night Football. As they look to compete with Netflix, Disney+ and other streaming services, it’s a clear shift from Amazon to take some bigger risks for bigger rewards.
Cavill was most recently seen reprising his role as Sherlock Holmes in Netflix’s Enola Holmes 2 starring Millie Bobby Brown. In 2023, Cavill will star in Matthew Vaughn’s Argylle which aims to kickstart a new spy-based franchise similar to Mission: Impossible which Cavill also appeared in. He will star in Argylle alongside an all-star cast that includes Catherine O’Hara, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Cena, Ariana DeBose and Dua Lipa.
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