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
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore – New Teaser Trailer
You are invited back into the Magic! as Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, audiences will be taken back into the familiar and immersive world of magic, fun and excitement, featuring even more compelling and unique magical beasts in an all-new story that truly expands the iconic Wizarding World in surprising and unexpected ways.
Professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) knows the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) is moving to seize control of the wizarding world. Unable to stop him alone, he entrusts Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to lead an intrepid team of wizards, witches and one brave Muggle baker on a dangerous mission, where they encounter old and new beasts and clash with Grindelwald’s growing legion of followers. But with the stakes so high, how long can Dumbledore remain on the sidelines?
Dive into the complex, high-stakes relationship between Grindelwald and Dumbledore and unlock the story of these two legendary wizards.And for the first time, audiences will get an inside look at the complicated and enigmatic Dumbledore.
The film is also the ultimate wizard heist as what follows in The Secrets of Dumbledore is an action-packed cat-and-mouse game of secretive plans, mysteries and fun twists and turns. Our unlikely heroes – Newt, Jacob, Kama, Lally, Bunty and Theseus are brought together by Dumbledore in an attempt to defeat Grindelwald.
From the teaser trailer it looks like this film will be magical on the big screen as it’s a richly realised expansion of the story fans have been craving, a transportive cinematic experience for all ages that features familiar connections to Harry Potter, whilst also keeping the classic Magical elements like the whimsy humour as well as the heartwarming moments and heart-stopping action.
The film features an ensemble cast led by Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”), two-time Oscar nominee Jude Law (“Cold Mountain,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley”), Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Callum Turner, Jessica Williams, Katherine Waterston, and Mads Mikkelsen.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” was directed by David Yates, from a screenplay by J.K. Rowling & Steve Kloves, based upon a screenplay by J.K. Rowling. The film was produced by David Heyman, J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves, Lionel Wigram and Tim Lewis. Neil Blair, Danny Cohen, Josh Berger, Courtenay Valenti and Michael Sharp served as executive producers.
Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” is the newest adventure in the Wizarding World™ created by J.K. Rowling.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore will be released in cinemas across the UK & Ireland on 8 April 2022 by Warner Bros. Pictures.
The Wheel Of Time | Season 1 – An Excellent Translation From Page To Screen
The Wheel of Time is a book series spanning 14 novels, 15 if you include the prequel by Robert Jordan. The books calculate to have over 4.4 million words which throughout the series takes place over the span of two years in a very expansive world. It really intrigued me when I heard that a show was in development and then in September 2019 went into production.
Amazon Studios have truly crafted a phenomenal adaptation, In fact having a life-long fan at the helm of the series makes The Wheel of Time a worthy one indeed as Rafe Lee Judkins sprinkles every speck of detail as having now watched episodes 1-6 he manages to create an impressive start with a richly detailed world, high-fantasy magic, phenomenal visual effects on the Trolloc’s and Dark One. It also tells a gripping fantastical adventure as a group of friends from a secluded village discover their roles in an upcoming battle where existence itself is at risk.
Set in a sprawling, epic world where magic exists and only certain women are allowed to access it, the story follows Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), a member of the incredibly powerful all-female organisation called the Aes Sedai, as she arrives in the small town of Two Rivers. There, she embarks on a dangerous, world-spanning journey with five young men and women, one of whom is prophesied to be the Dragon Reborn, who will either save or destroy humanity.
With a reported $10 million budget per-episode, The Wheel of Time spares no expense to create Jordan’s fantasy world that drew heavily from Tolkien, cultures and religions. The world Amazon Studios have created is truly expansive and everything was high quality with immersive locations hosting these detailed sets, especially the Two Rivers. The breathtaking landscapes also play a magnificent part in this epic fantasy as the bulk of the series was shot in Prague, Czech Republic, and its surrounding areas. The city which was eastern European was perfect for the ancient and mystic aesthetic which the show needed. But also the surrounding forests and mountains helped portray and showcase the long heroes journey the characters go on.
The Visual and practical Effects are also created magnificently, we see spells, creatures and magic throughout the series and beginning with an onslaught from the Trolloc army. Trolloc’s are a type of shadowspawn, they comprise the bulk of the Dark One’s army. They’re huge with the body of a man, and the head and feet of an animal such as a bear, bird, wolf or goat. Practical up-close then enhanced with VFX CGI doubles when in a swarm of them.
With Lightning and practical effects and visuals the Ae Sedai cast, they ward off these gigantic creatures. the smoke effects also create an alluring environment.
Casting for any large series like this is daunting as you need to find actors who fit the part and most will have to be in seasons for the long haul. Every actor in The wheel of Time gives their best in the series and each inhabit their character remarkably well.
Rosamund Pike is stellar in the role of Moiraine, she’s often stoic as the Aes Sedai are known for. but its the emotion in her performance that truly captures the essence of her character. Moiraine is a powerful Aes Sedai of the Blue Ajah and is on a quest to find the dragon reborn. In the first three episodes she’s following a prophecy about this reincarnated figure and wants to find him or her before the Dark One can. She is reserved and overflowing with quiet wisdom but she can truly fight against a whole army of Trolloc’s by herself as she possesses the strong talent of the One Power.
Alongside Pike is Daniel Henney who plays Lan Mandragoran. He is a warder to Moiraine, but is so much more than meets the eye. stoic and often serious. Lan is magically bonded to Moiraine who protects her and fights by her side, his sword skills are phenomenal . He shows loyalty to his traveling companions but it’s the bond between these two actors that I have plenty of praise for. Both embody their characters and have a relationship that is far greater than friendship. Henney is brilliant in the role.
Supporting these two on their journey are the core group of characters from Emond’s Field. Madeleine Madden plays Egwene. She is strong-willed and determined. she’s the innkeepers daughter too but she wants more from running her fathers inn and marry her childhood sweetheart, a sheepherder. during the episodes she’s more ok with having to suddenly leave home with Moiraine, as she wants to see more of the world.
Barney Harris plays Mat Cauthon, a rogue and a gambler with a cheeky sense of humour. He has a devil-may-care attitude as he’s always ready to throw a dice or pull a prank on some unexpected person. He also gets himself into trouble all the time, he’s curious and not at all worried about consequences. Harris is good in the role throughout season one so far and balances Mat’s humour and the darkness that grows within him.
Marcus Rutherford plays Perrin Aybara, the local blacksmith. He’s kind and gentle and constantly moving and thinking deliberately. Taller and burlier than his friends, Perrin is slow to anger but rage overtakes him in these episodes I was given.
And finally there’s Josha Stradowski playing Rand Al’Thor, who’s is the sheepherder and Egwene’s childhood sweetheart. he adores the simple life and his father Tam. He looks forward to a future where he can marry Egwene and raise a family of his own in Two Rivers. His character always strives to do the right thing even when what’s ahead is completely unexpected. Stradowski truly excels in the role and fully embraces the character with these complex layers.
Every character in The Wheel of Time is deeply connected. This group of friends have been together their entire lives and you can truly see that in every exchange. They work really well as an ensemble and the chemistry among all the actors is excellent.
The score for the show was truly outstanding and one of my favourite aspects of each episode, Lorne Balfe has truly delivered a grand epic score.
Overall, The Wheel of Time is an excellent translation from page to screen. It honours the source material and elevates the story with powerful cast and an EPIC engaging story which is gripping and fully immersed in FANTASY.
The Witcher Season 2 | Netflix – Official Trailer
Destiny is a beast. Watch the official trailer for Season 2 of The Witcher. The Witcher Season 2 debuts December 17, only on Netflix.
Fantasy, Action, Adventure
December 17, 2021
Henry Cavill, Anya Chalotra, Freya Allan
Destiny is a beast. Watch the official trailer for Season 2 of The Witcher. The Witcher Season 2 debuts December 17, only on Netflix.
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