Review Club #6 – Agora

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To switch things up a little, here’s my review first (I know, I’m a wild one!):

Mel’s 10 Things About: Agora (2009)
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Max Minghella, Oscar Isaac, Ashraf Barhom, Rupert Evans, Homayoun Ershadi, Michael Lonsdale, Sami Samir

agora

So this was a pretty hard movie to watch. It had a hard time finding distributors, and yeah, I can understand why. I’m having trouble completing full ideas today, so here’s a list of my thoughts about the film. {SPOILERS AHEAD}

1. I like Rachel Weisz. She’s hot.
2. The young slave is also hot. Who’s he, and where’s he been all my life?
3. The acting ranged from decent to good.
4. The sound mixing was AWFUL. The music would blare one second and then the talking was so low it was ridiculous. My tv volume went from 12 to 34 regularly. It’s annoying.
5. I don’t understand why Davus turned so fast and became a murderous dick. Did I miss something? And don’t say it’s because she called him an idiot in the heat of the battle. He’s smarter than that.
6. It made me angry and sad to see the Library of Alexandria get trashed. “We don’t need all this stupid science when we have God”. Ugh. So much knowledge, destroyed. How much more advanced would we be now if all of that needn’t of been relearned?
7. The film just fueled my disdain and, shall I dare say, hate?, of organized religion. All of them, not just Catholicism. “It’s written in a book, so it must be so”, right? In that vein of thought, vampires are real, we’re all pod people, and werewolves occupy positions in government offices. Ridiculous.
8. The film was shot beautifully, the sets and costumes absolutely gorgeous.
9. You’d think the most disgusting character would be the Bishop in black, but he’s not. He’s evil, yes, but always was. The worst character is Hypatia’s friend, the Bishop in white, who turns on her in the blink of an eye after hearing a quote from that damned book.
10. It’s a real shame Hypatia didn’t have a Davus to kill her peacefully at the end in real life. The poor woman was stripped, stoned, dragged around town behind a horse, her body being skinned and torn to bits, then she was burned. This lady didn’t have a good go of it.

8.5/10

M.

 

Up next is Eric, from over at The IPC.

Agora AKA One Million Angry Christians in the House

I had never heard of this movie before Mel assigned it to us but I saw that it had Rachel Weisz in it so I got a little excited – I think she’s super hot and can act well sometimes. My semi-chub was reduced to nothing pretty quickly as this movie started and NOTHING happened for any amount of time. The only thing I could think of was “fuck these Egyptians are awful white” and I couldn’t keep track of any of the male characters because they ALL had white skin, black hair and had a name that were five syllables long and ended in “ius”. Erictheopolius. Ericmeniopolius. Ericmomonius, etc. So there was that and the fact that this was REALLY boring so I didn’t care. The most interesting and bizaare thing to happen was when Weisz’ character brings one of her suitors a blood stained rag and says “this is the essence of my womb” or something which I guess was her way of saying “I don’t want to go out with you”

blood rag

Then the Alexandrian Whites got angry and started killing the Christians who got mad and then started killing the Alexandrians and destroying everything so the Alexandrians converted to Christianity and then they all started throwing rocks at Jews who threw rocks back and then the Jews were all killed or exiled and Weisz figures out that the earth revolves around the sun so they stone her to death. I have to admit that this movie looks really pretty but the dialogue is atrocious and silly and it was kind of embarrassing to see Weisz commanding her slave to “Grab the bag! Just grab the bag! Do as I say and grab the bag!” during the big siege scene. Oh well – I didn’t like this very much. Say – someone once told me that my first Gravatar image looked like a “period stain” – what do you think?

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2 bloody rags out of 5

 

Up next we have my darling husband Francois, over at FrankishNet.

Agora – a short review

I have mixed feelings about Agora.

The first feeling is love. I loved it. The historical accuracy and setting, the costumes, the actors. It is also original in the sense that it is an “Historical religious move”, and yet not, since it’s about science. I position myself with our heroine: there is science, the rest is not really worth believing in, as it is a tool to serve a political agenda, or to justify hate and murder. On this account, this movie brilliantly demonstrated the relationship of hate and horrifying acts justified by religion, that we live in daily still today.
No wonder they had troubles distributing the movie…

The second feeling is hate. I hated it. Already charged with political, scientific and religious turmoil, the movie was already heavy for the regular watcher. Then add in the mixed opinions on slavery and possession. Our heroine is gentle and intelligent and respects the slaves. Yet, they are still slave and are meant to obey. And that is totally normal given her birthright, upbringing and era.

However, her acts of kindness toward a slave, who is very intelligent and kind as well, are twisted and transformed in his heart, making him fall in love with his mistress. How is this represented? He asks the gods to “own” her, and ultimately kills her himself, after betraying everything he had learned with her, because she had reminded him of his slavery when the library was being taken.
Yes this adds a lot of dimension to both the movie and the character. But with a movie that was already heavy with subject matter, this felt too much and out of place. They should have left the topic of “Slaves wanting to own their mistress so badly that only them are allowed to kill them, and that is fine” out of the movie and kept it as background noise. “There are slaves. Slaves are slaves. Its the era, its fine”, and let us cry horribly when she is stoned to death, as happened in history.

So here, a good mix of hate and love. It was a very heavy movie, that does not leave you feeling good with yourself, but it did a great job at making us reflect on just how much pain are we ready to take or inflict for our believes, and if those believes aren’t just in truth disguised lust for power, or survival.

I’ll give it a solid 8/10 in its “historic” category, and a mixed 5 in “I enjoyed watching it”.
(Except for her ass. Her ass is 10/10).

 

And finally, rounding things out is Rob, from over at MovieRob.

Before Mel chose this as the next Review Club entry, I had never even heard of this and upon reading the summary, it definitely seemed interesting.

This movie does a very interesting job of trying to discuss modern seemingly contradictions between religion and science set in an ancient world.

Many people nowadays still believe that these two subjects cannot coexist in society in the same way it was believed during the time that this movie takes place 1700 years ago.

Unfortunately, despite it revolving around a very interesting subject matter, the story itself is less interesting and I actually got tired of the soap opera-esk storyline.

I didn’t find any of the male characters compelling enough for a story like this and as great a job as star Rachel Weisz does here, her role isn’t ‘meaty’ enough and in some parts of the movie even seems like she is completely wasted.

As far as historically accurate movies go, I have no idea what really happened or not in real life. Personally, I don’t go to the movies for historically accurate depictions on the big screen, I go to be entertained by the stories. If I did, I’d be better off just watching ‘The History Channel’ all day. 😉

Some of the effects in the movies were done well, but the coolest effect is the use of ‘Google maps’ to zoom in and out of cities and magnifying things to minute details.

This could have been so much more interesting, but instead it was a wasted storyline that comes off quite mediocre.

5/10

And that’s it folks! Join us again in two weeks for when we review Chef!! 🙂

 

PS, what do you guys think of my new review format? I was having trouble making a coherent paragraph for Mel’s 5 Second Review, so I came up with Mel’s 10 Things About. Do you like it? Which format do you prefer? Let me know please! 🙂

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Review Club #4 – Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

Sea of Monsters

 

First up is my baby sister, Amanda, over at Isolabella101:

I liked the movie. It was quite interesting on how they had mixed Gods with humans, centaurs, a part-cyclops like Tyson, a cyclops and a son of Poseidon, Percy Jackson, who is half human. There’s another character, Clarisse, the daughter of war god Ares, and then Annabeth, the daughter of Athena. Clarisse is sent out on a quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece when the Talia guardian tree is dying due to a poison that was inflicted by Luke, the son of Hermes. His desire is to bring back the titan Kronos in hopes of destroying the Olympians. Clarisse is sent out on a mission to retrieve the Fleece, but Percy and his friends Annabeth and Grover, who is a satyr, decide to go after it as well. I thought it was quite annoying how Annabeth continued to be harsh towards Tyson, who had only one eye. Yes she had a grudge against the cyclops’ who had killed her friend Talia, but she shouldn’t have taken it out on him. Despite the fact that he was a son of Poseidon and a cyclops who appeared to clearly be ordinary (despite the one-eye thing). I could also tell that Clarisse had a “winning” ego and thought of herself to be the “top dog”. But, as the movie went on, I was pleased to see that her heart had slowly begun to change.

I liked this movie because it showed that you may appear to be different then everybody else, but that does not prove that you are what you appear to be. “Nothing is what it seems” is a quote that fits right in the puzzle of this movie. Percy Jackson is a story of teens going on a dangerous adventure with people they did not wish to be with at first, but had a change of heart in the end. I wish that all teens will watch this movie and take it to consideration towards racism. Appearance is just the cover of the book. You must read the content in order to have full rights to judge.

9/10

 

Next up is Rob, from over at MovieRob:

One of the things that I don’t like about many sequels is the fact that the movies aren’t made to stand alone. It’s perfectly acceptable when a movie in a franchise has some connection to the previous movies, but when watching this one, I felt that it relied too much on the events of the first movie. I realize that this is mainly due to the way the books were written, but had I not watched The Lightning Thief right before watching this one, I think I would have felt completely lost.

Lately, Hollywood has gone a bit overboard with their love of YA books being turned into films. Ever since Harry Potter became such a success, they have been churning out adaptation after adaptation in order to try and find the next YA franchise that they can milk for as many movies and money as possible. Few have been overly successful (with The Hunger Games being the most successful so far).

This movie and its franchise is a retelling of the history of the Greek Gods and some scenes work much better than others. I can’t say I was bored with this movie, but I also can’t say that I was overly entertained either.

The characters were ok, but when comparing this to the previous movie in the franchise, this one just doesn’t pull its weight at all and feels quite mediocre.

The effects aren’t done so well and some of it really looks and feels like they used archaic FX methods which detracts from the believability of the story and brings us back to reality instead of keeping us in this magical world on screen.

I’m not sure if they plan to continue the franchise or not, but I still would be interested in seeing where the story goes because there is potential here.

5/10

 

Continuing on, here’s my dear hubby, Francois (who’s French accent you can just hear while reading, hehe), from over at FrankishNet:

Not having seen the books, everything that happens in the Percy Jackson movie is always a surprise to me. And generally speaking, the story told by Sea of Monsters was really good.

What I liked about the movie? First, the fact that it layers the myths and legends of the Greek gods with our own world and reality. And they do touch the concept that these supernatural creatures are veiled from normal mortal eyes, without going at length to explain it. It’s quick, subtle, and works very well. One reference here is the scene in Washington when the barista was making the coffees with 6 arms in the the satyr’s point of view, but only 2 arms seen from a regular customer.

I also liked the struggles of personalities for each characters, and their development. Although, being a double-edge blade, this also made some characters seem fake in their reactions. The Scion of War being overly aggressive and rude was obviously destined to learn some humility by the end of the movie. Percy’s gorgeous follower suddenly turns out to be a foul racist, to later on realize that not all cyclops’ are alike. A lesson that should have been learned given their very nature (scion of gods, and all…), but a teenager movie calls for character development and personality struggles, so there…

I loved the humor (Aye Aye!… Huh… sorry) and loved the amount of it.

What I did not like is what you usually expect from this class of movie. That “class” being Fantasy movie based off novels and destined to younger audience, like Narnia (bullet points incoming!!).

Plot Holes! Small but frequent:
  • After Percy conjured a storm to shake the boat around… the manticore beast is still sleeping… Really?
  • Also… Why did Luke hang up their bag there? WHO DOES THAT? You capture a good guy with a backpack, who happens to tell you he swung by Hermes before coming… And you DO NOT SEARCH THEIR BELONGINGS? No… Luke is not that dumb. That is a huge plot hole… I assume it could only have been in the book too.
  • More of this. Last combat scene. Why does Percy have his sword in his pocket? Luke knows what the sword looks like. They tied him up, and did not take the sword? These bad guys were really asking for it…
  • Percy conjured a storm and a minute after the sky is clear blue. Why? Shouldn’t they be slowly retracting, going back where they came from, as clouds do? That would have been more realistic.
  • And Luke… He got a sense that something was going wrong, since there was a scene of him looking up and going “Why the heck the boat is rocking?” Yet… They don’t go below deck to check it out. No. “The sea is going nuts… It is probably not related to the 2 scions of Poseidon I got below deck. SURELY NOT”. Dumbass…
  • Kronos… Didn’t you learn the first time around to CHEW your FOOD. Idiot titan, you deserve to be cut in pieces.

Last thing I didn’t like… SO MANY HOT LADIES, NOT A SINGLE KISS. I was saddened by the last scene… I guess Percy doesn’t get involved with his sidekicks just yet…

So all in all, very nice movie. If you can overlook plot holes here and there, and survive the satyr satires (hee hee), I was rightly entertained. I would rate it a solid 8/10 in its category (PG13 Fantasy based on novels), and a generous 6/10 overall movie.

 

And closing out, as always, is mine:

Mel’s 5 Second Review: Percy Jackson Sea of Monsters
Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, Brandon T Jackson, Douglas Smith, Leven Rambin, Jake Abel, Anthony Stewart Head, Stanley Tucci, Nathan Fillion

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What a fun little film this was. Not as good as the first one, but I wasn’t really surprised by that, they rarely are. While it’s true that movies based on YA books need to pretty much die out now (I stopped paying attention after the first Hunger Games film), I enjoyed these books very much, so I really couldn’t help myself. And I’m glad I finally got around to it. It’s not perfect, there are some groan-inducing moments, some “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?” moments, and at least one moment where what happened shouldn’t have happened (to be as vague as possible, I’ll just say the healing waters moment near the end). I missed Pierce Brosnan in the role of Chiron, but Anthony Stewart Head (Giles!!!) filled his hooves perfectly. The boys were cute, the girls pretty, the action fun, and the villains villainous. All in all, a fun teen fantasy film. I give it a solid 8/10.

M.

 

And that’s it for this outing! Join us again in 2 weeks when we review Jessabelle! 🙂