Review: Fifty Shades of Grey

I will see you now, Mr. Grey.

The movie I have been waiting for what seems like forever finally came out today and I could not have been happier to see the first session at my local cinema. Fifty Shades of Grey was finally made into a movie!

Starring Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey himself and Dakota Johnson as the most boring character in the world, Anastasia Steele, the film follows the first novel of the Fifty Shades series, documenting their first meeting along with their interesting business agreement and other exciting ventures. As someone who has the entire series, as well as being a fond admirer of Mr. Grey, I had big expectations to live up to. How did the movie fare?

Surrender yourself to this film. See what I did there?

Surrender yourself to this film. See what I did there?

Well, I’d just like to say that I was not disappointed. The film did the story pretty well and the events in the novel were captured greatly; it took me back to when I was reading the novel and it was pretty much exactly how I pictured it. The problem that most movies face that are based off books are inconsistencies and staying true to the book, however I feel as if this movie captured the book pretty well with no real noticeable mistakes made.

My issue with Jamie Dornan heading into this movie was that he looked too friendly to play Christian Grey. Jamie is a handsome young gentleman who seems very approachable and charming, while Christian Grey is dark and brooding and is meant to intimidate you right down to your core. Dornan wasn’t my first choice for Christian at all. In saying that, he played his role pretty well, and I found him to be a good Christian. Sure, there’s always room for improvement but I think he took the ball and ran with it and I commend him for his performance.

Dakota Johnson, however, was quite underwhelming in her role, and I can’t tell whether it’s because her acting skills leave little to be desired, or Anastasia is that boring of a character that putting in no effort is exactly the way to go. She showed some signs of fire when playing the “cheeky Ana” but other than that, her acting did absolutely nothing for me. And she also needs to invest in some nice underwear. Those saggy whites gotta go. Girl bye.

One of the biggest talking points of this film was “how are they going to make this movie and not turn it into a porno?” Well, I think they did well in that aspect also. The sex scenes were quite steamy and there was some chemistry evident between the two main characters. The way the cameras changed and the different angles used in the sex scenes concealed everything they wanted to conceal and it was done in a tasteful way that made it less porno and more “movie that happens to have sex in it”. Some of the bits were quite surprising and even startled me, someone who admittedly has an open mind to almost everything. There was one bit where I was sitting there watching them getting at it and then suddenly there was a quick shot of Dornan’s wang, and I was like “Oh good golly, where did that come from?”

Storyline: 7/10
Casting and acting: 6.5/10
Experience: 8/10
Overall: 7.5/10

For those who have read the novel, and for those of you who haven’t but have a curiosity about Fifty Shades, I recommend this film to be watched as soon as you have the pennies to do so. It was a good watch and I found myself crying at one point (don’t ask why). There’s always room for improvement but I wasn’t disappointed… well besides the ending, but let’s not get into that.

– by Noah La’ulu

Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service

I’ve paid to see this movie twice already so I should have a pretty clear idea of my reaction to it.

Before I begin this review, I’d just like to point out that last night and last Saturday night, I did the exact same thing: ate two lots of spring rolls and chocolate cake at Sushi Bay, and then watched Kingsman: The Secret Service, in that very order. The only difference is last night I was by myself. It wasn’t even out of choice either. Can you say bizarro?

Enough about my stellar social life… Kingsman: The Secret Service is a new British film starring Colin Firth, Samuel Jackson, Michael Caine and Taron Frotherton… oh I mean Egerton. The film puts Egerton in the role of Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (because we all know someone with the nickname Eggsy), a young charming-yet-aggressive Brit who is thrust into a world of secret missions and high-tech weaponry when he utters the words “Oxfords, not Brogues”. Under the tutelage of Harry Hart (played by Firth), can this juvenile delinquent turn into a proper British gentleman and, in turn, save the world?

Much kill. Many badass.

Much kill. Many badass.

I thought this movie was brilliant. It was funny, wild, explosive, violent and quite confronting in the right dosage. Egerton, who I would go out and say was relatively unknown before his first major film role, played his role spectacularly and I truly thought he was from that part of England, so I was surprised to find out that he’s actually Welsh and is a master of several accents. Colin Firth is Colin Firth, which in laman’s terms, means he was spectacular as per usual. I think all of the main characters were portrayed very well and I didn’t question any of the acting at any point of the film.

If I had to say something bad about the film, I’d have to say that the genre of the film had me confused at several points. It would be an action movie and then comedy elements would be introduced, making it an action-comedy. Not too farfetched. But then it would have very violent elements and the action-comedy turned into a slasher-action-comedy. And then the “happy” ending made it a slasher-action-comedy-porno. After I finished watching it the first time, I wasn’t sure whether this movie was done 100% seriously or it was made to take the piss on other spy-action movies.

Besides that, I thought the storyline was quite unique: the evil mastermind wasn’t that hateable and was actually quite adorable. His scheme to take over the world was one that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before and his method was unusual. The plot of the movie was quite easy to follow, although several things I didn’t understand the first time were made clear to me the second time, and the payoff was well worth it.

Storyline: 8/10
Casting and acting: 8.4/10
Experience: 7.8/10
Overall: 8.2/10

I definitely recommend this movie to anyone who is a fan of either a comedy, action, slasher or even porno flick, if that’s your kinda thing. It’s great in all the right places and is definitely not one of those movies you walk out of thinking “OMG I can’t believe I wasted money on that ticket.”

Oh and Taron Egerton, if you by any chance are reading this, please e-mail us at We love you.

– by Noah La’ulu

Controversy in Neverland

There has been an upward trend in Hollywood recently, with studios jumping in on live action remakes of beloved Disney films. Two years ago, we saw Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror Mirror, and this year Maleficent will make it to the big screen. It’s the same-same but different formula; films taking a classic tale, but twisting it in such a way that challenges our understanding of a children’s fairytale.

The boy in the tights is back! (SOURCE: Dandelion Moms website

The boy in the tights is back! (SOURCE: Dandelion Moms website)

And that’s exactly the case in the latest Warner Bros. project, Pan, to be directed by British filmmaker Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice, Anna Karenina). Pan is being billed as the Peter Pan origins film, telling the story of an orphan boy who is spirited away to the magical Neverland where he takes on grand adventures that shape him into the hero we know as Peter Pan. It was all good and done. The film is slated for a 2015 release, and initial reactions were positive. Hugh Jackman (X-Men franchise) and Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy) had signed on as Blackbeard and Captain Hook respectively. People were excited. But then it all came crashing down when it was announced Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon TattooHer) had landed the role of Tiger Lily.

Rooney Mara, a white actress, landing the role of Tiger Lily, a Native American character.

Apparently, Warner Bros’ “new take” on Peter Pan involves the whitewashing of people of colour.

This is simply not okay. Casting a Caucasian actress in an Indigenous role is at its core, wrong. For centuries, Indigenous people have faced oppression from settlers and have worked hard to gain respect for their customs and traditions, to try and reestablish their equality, only now to have it, for lack of a better phrase, thrown back in their face. It’s a clear indicator of Hollywood’s obsession with entertainment over authenticity, history, and discrimination.

For once, Warner Bros. Studios had an opportunity to be the bigger person. Native American actors and actresses are alarmingly underrepresented in Hollywood. This was a chance for the studio to elevate a Native American actress to a high-profile, top billing project and gain positive publicity for doing so. Instead, the studio is facing severe backlash from critics and the public, and what started out as a promising profitable box office release could now end up as a box office bomb. In fact, there’s an online petition calling for a recasting of Tiger Lily with over 10,000 signatures already.

It might be argued, “it’s only a movie – a fantasy movie – and filmmakers can do whatever they like…how much harm can this do, really?” A lot, actually. Think about the audience demographic the film is being targeted at – children. Films are a mirror of our society and reflect our changing cultural landscape. How can children stand to learn about the progress of multiracial equality in schools if such education is not repeated in popular culture? Watching this film will simply sends children the message that people of colour and the cultures don’t matter, and that their role models should be white. Ultimately, this will feed into the ever damaging cycle of bullying, body image, and low self-esteem.

Look, I don’t have anything against Rooney Mara. I don’t doubt her talents. In fact, she is one of the industry’s most refined actresses. In Her, she perfectly showcased the entire range of the emotional scale by body language alone. But it is not enough of a reason to justify her in the role of Tiger Lily. By accepting the role, she has symbolically okay-ed the cultural appropriation of Indigenous (and by extension, other ethnic) cultures. Jump ahead to the filming. Think about the sensitivities of a white person dressed in a Native American outfit. It is highly disrespectful. Mara has no understandings of Indigenous cultures and the struggles they faced, and continue to face, by colonisation in wider society. In fact, it is offensive for Mara to even have accepted this role, let alone audition for it.

When pressed for a comment, Warner Bros. wrote “Wright is planning to create a world that [is] very international and multi-racial, effectively challenging audiences’ preconceived notions of Neverland and reimagining the environment.” Sure. So that’s why French actress Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Colour) was also in consideration for Tiger Lily. Oh wait, no, she isn’t Native American either! Alright, so maybe what Warner Bros. meant by “international and multi-racial” extends to the lead cast. Maybe by casting a Caucasian in a Native American role, Wright hired a non-Caucasian for a Caucasian role. Nope. It’s an all white lead cast – Jackman, Hedlund, Mara, Amanda Seyfried (Mary), and Levi Miller (Peter Pan).

As the A.V. Club writes, it becomes clear now that Wright’s claim of diversity lies in those actors and actresses who won’t be billed above the title. That is, all the “multi-racial” cast members have been relegated to supporting roles, not stars. I’m not sure what dictionaries Warner Bros. and Wright have in their collection, but “diversity” in my books is the even representation of all persons across all positions in play.

If one was going to “challenge [the] preconceived notions of Neverland” by having Tiger Lily represented as a Caucasian race, it would only be fair to completely reverse the representation by having the normally Caucasian characters played by actors of colour. Only then would this film have some hint of balance, and actually challenge our preconceived notions of Neverland. Because right now, Pan is proving to be far from spectacular.

We need to take a moment to remember that this is 2014. Why are are studios like Warner Bros. using outdated media representations of persons of colour? Why do we still live in a world where Hollywood deems it okay to perpetuate racism, even if in its subtlest forms? Frankly, these are questions we shouldn’t even be asking.

– by Nicole Lam

Review: The Other Woman

With all this free time on my hands on the long Easter weekend, I was glad to see that the movies were still open. Even better? The Other Woman was showing; a movie that I had actually wanted to see, which is saying a lot considering I’m not a big movie person. I’d rather just wait til it’s on Foxtel or DVD or something.

Headed by a star cast including Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann, I was expecting big things from this movie. And I wasn’t disappointed.

These three bombshells (and Nicki Minaj) made quite the trio (and Nicki Minaj). (CREDIT: Team Minaj Twitter page)

These three bombshells (and Nicki Minaj) made quite the trio (and Nicki Minaj). (CREDIT: Team Minaj Twitter page)

The Other Woman details the unfaithful life of Mark King, who is stringing along a number of women, including wife Kate, lawyer Carly, and young busty bombshell Amber. The unusual circumstances brings the three women together and, instead of getting mad, they decide to get even. Claws are out, Mark. Oh and somewhere along the way, Kate’s hot brother played by Taylor Kinney is thrown in.

I thought this movie did what it set out to – make people hysterically laugh. Not only was I in fits of laughter but the entire movie theatre (which was pretty packed, IMSAHO) were in fits of laughter. To borrow a wrestling term, the comedy “spots” in the movie were fantastic and on point. The film had that edgy sense of humour to it, where it was almost borderline too far but it never went that step further that it became inappropriate. While the main catty parts of the film came at the second half of the movie, the film’s humour was placed squarely on the shoulders of one character – Kate, played by Leslie Mann.

Leslie Mann played her character to perfection. The chatty, too-comfortable wife whose beauty is barely highlighted was made very evident in the first couple of minutes Mann’s face was on screen. Mann’s acting was on par, and I would go as far to say that if she wasn’t in this movie, it wouldn’t have been good. The character of Kate was practically made for Mann and she owned it. Cameron Diaz’s performance in the movie was acceptable; it was good but not crash hot that I have any particular comment on it. Kate Upton, God bless her little soul, wasn’t too good in the movie. She’s got a great rack and a pretty face but, like, I felt nothing from her. The star of the trio was, without a doubt, Leslie Mann. I didn’t get the point of having Nicki Minaj in the movie besides “OMG it’s Nicki Minaj”, and she wasn’t too believable as an actress either.

The storyline was very chick flick-esque with a somewhat predictable ending. Without giving too much away, I knew where Kate, Carly and Amber were all going to end up by halfway through the movie. The methods of revenge the ladies used, however, kept me laughing, and the acting on behalf of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (who played the cheating, rotten bastard) made it all the more glorious to watch. As an audience member, I felt satisfied every time he… well, I won’t spoil too much. One thing I was quite skeptical on was the fact that all three women just became friends without even having a single catfight. In reality, women in this situation would have been very bitter towards each other and it would’ve taken a lot more than one D&M to get in the same book, let alone same page.

Oh, and did I mention Taylor Kinney was in this movie?

Casting and acting: 8/10
Experience: 8.5/10
Overall: 7.5/10

I would definitely recommend this one to both ladies and gentlemen. It’s a light-hearted, fun movie that all will enjoy. The ladies have Taylor Kinney and the guys have Kate Upton. It’s pretty much a win-win. You will be rolling around laughing when this one is done.

– by Noah La’ulu