Colleen Houck


“Chapped rats and bats' wings, brandied worms and adders' stings, Goat's wool and owl's hoot, fish's tongue and dog's foot. Into the potion, all you go, add clockwork hearts, positioned so…" The Lantern's Ember

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  • Double Feature Movie Review: Cinderella & Insurgent

    April 22, 2015


    Cinderella

    Colleen’s Movie Review

    I always give spoilers so consider yourself warned. =)

    Romance: So…I loved Prince Charming and the way the two of them met and the fact that he saw her and not the pretty dress when she came into the ball. I liked that they had this little bonding moment on the swing, but other than that, the depth of their romance was pretty much the same as the original cartoon. They see each other, they dance, they chat briefly, and that’s it.

     

    Special Effects: I loved the CGI mice and the lizards and the goose. Pretty much the whole transformation for the ball was outstanding. The setting was beautiful and breathtaking. It’s visually very beautiful.

    What I Liked: The costumes were glorious. I really enjoyed the little touches from the original fairy tale such as the father bringing back a branch. I liked the attention to detail in the home. Loved the lizards. I liked the nods to the cartoon. Seeing Lucifer was fun, if too brief. I liked the music soundtrack.

    The wedding dress/scene was interesting. Prince Charming was very handsome and the everyone was excellently cast. The butterflies on the dress were cute and the slippers were gorgeous! Did you know the set used in the movie was made by Swarovski and didn’t actually fit the actress? I loved Lady Tremaine and the Fairy Godmother. She was wonderful.

    Oh! And did anyone else see the CGI stag the prince was hunting and think what I what I was thinking? BAMBI?!

    What I’d Change: Hmm well we were hit over the head with the theme a bit too often. If you didn’t walk away quoting, “Be kind and have courage,” you weren’t paying attention. Cinderella was a bit too one dimensional for me. The cartoon version actually showed a bit more emotion. I would have appreciated seeing Cinderella actually struggling to be kind to her stepmother and stepsisters. Maybe see her get mad and then calm herself down. Instead, she comes off a little naive at best and not all there at worst.

    I read that Prince Charming was so happy that he would be much more fleshed out than the cartoon prince. Heck, just having an extra scene would help that cause. As it was, I appreciated his relationship with his father but other than that, there wasn’t enough screen time for him either alone or with Cinderella to make me appreciate much more than his pretty eyes. Oh, and they are pretty.

    There was an excellent moment when Cinderella asked her stepmother why she was so cruel. It started out fantastic! Lady Tremaine began telling us about how she was once in love but then she lost him and…then she leaves the room. This was a wonderful opportunity to add something new and different to the story and to show that there is more going on with the villain than just that she’s evil. I was hoping Disney would do something magical here like they did with Maleficent but it didn’t turn out that way. 

    I hated the end where Cinderella just sits up in her attic singing while the mice busy themselves trying to save her. I get that being trapped in the attic is what happens in the cartoon but having her sing instead of struggling to escape like the original did seems strange to me. It feels like a step back for empowered women. It sends the message that if we just sing and are nice and hope for the best then everything will work out for you. All the little girls in attendance loved it and loved her and she seems to be the perfect Disney princess but she’s just a bit too perfect for me. There’s not enough character there.

    Also they should have cut more. The movie was way too long.

     

    The Tagline: Midnight is just the beginning. 

    Well…that would have been nice if it was, but actually after the ball was done, there wasn’t much else going on. 

    Hunky HeroLike I mentioned before, I think Prince Charming was well cast. Richard Madden played a smitten prince very believably. He danced well, was very charming, and was a doting son. I just wanted to see more of him.

     

    The Villain: First, let’s deal with the stepsisters. They were pretty much the same vapid, snobbish, bores they were in the cartoon which was disappointing. I would have liked to explore their characters just a little bit more. I loved Cate Blanchett. All the emotion and the expression packed into just a pose is outstanding and yet they didn’t exploit her backstory like they should have. She was sufficiently yummily evil but they didn’t give her enough meat to flesh out the character. Having said that, she was the most interesting character in the entire movie unless you count the brief scene with the Fairy Godmother.

    Best Line: 

    Lady Tremaine: Who’s this for ? Is there someone we’ve forgotten ?

    Cinderella:  It’s my place.

    Lady Tremaine: Oh, it seems too much to expect you to prepare breakfast, serve it and to sit with us. Wouldn’t you prefer to eat when all the work is done, Ella ? Or should I say Cinderella? Hmm ?

    Best Scene: The whole transformation of the pumpkin and the dress and the animals into servants.

    Recommended for YA Fans: Sure. Though it skews more elementary in themes and character.

    Compared to the Book: I do like that they added parts of the original fairy tale into the film.

    Trailer:


    A Guy’s Perspective

    2014-02-01 22.54.02

    Bio: I’m Colleen’s husband, Brad. I’m the youngest of four kids. I’ve been Deaf since I was five so I watch every movie with caption glasses. I love sports and reading (I’ll admit I’ve read Twilight but prefer thrillers like Jack Reacher). My favorite ice cream is mint chocolate chip. I’ll never turn down a taco. I write poetry. My man credentials include: a high school career in wrestling, watching sports every time my wife is too busy to notice, a receding hairline, two repaired ACL’s, and a stockpile of Axe body wash.

    Review: 

    Live Action Cinderella

    Because I had no expectations for this film, I went with an open mind. I was left mildly surprised and somewhat satisfied with the retelling of this Disney classic. The actors and actresses were well cast and the storytelling did not reveal anything particularly fresh or new. Lily James as Cinderella and Richard Madden as Prince Charming were fine. It is Cate Blanchett, as the wicked step-mother, that really saves the movie. Her emotional/mental abusiveness of Cinderella as well as her disgusting fawning over and criticism of her two inept daughters is a tantalizing performance that is worth seeing.

    One surprising element was the special effects that effectively and believably transformed animals into footmen, coachmen, and horses and a wagon into a carriage, preparatory to escorting Cinderella to the ball. The moment she enters the grand ball room inside the castle, for some reason, all eyes are already fixed on her in a way that made her entrance unnatural.

    The theme–be kind and have courage–was repeated ad nauseum, as though we didn’t get it the first or second time around, to the point that it became clichéd rather than a fresh mantra. Although the film was a tad long, director Kenneth Branagh did a reputable job, and demonstrated respect for the story itself, that is, he exercised great restraint that he didn’t feel the need to alter or rush the narrative.

    The one thing I wish he would have added was the Stepmother’s backstory as to why she became so heartless and cruel. The mere death of her husband as the reason for her viciousness was weak and unconvincing. Here was a chance for the audience to feel sorry for her, but the opportunity was missed completely. Overall, a pretty good film. 

    I give this film a generous 7 out of 10 Hulk Smash Fists.

    Brad

     


    Insurgent

    Colleen’s Movie Review

    I always give spoilers so consider yourself warned. =)

    Romance: To be honest, as much as I like Four (I’m a big fan of the actor they chose) I was weirded out this time around with the romance. I was fine with it in Divergent but now every time I see Ansel Elgort I want him to grab Hazel, I mean Tris, and kiss her. This is what happens when Hollywood shifts young actors from film to film haphazardly, taking no regard for the emotional fragility of YA readers like myself. Maybe if her hair was different?

            

     

    Special Effects: The special effects were great. I loved the octopus virtual reality thingie. I found the Tris leaping from tall buildings in a single bound way too over the top but because it was happening the way it was, I was okay with it anyway.

     

    What I Liked: The actors were great as usual. I actually appreciated the changes to the story and understand why they went that route. There was a lot more action with what they did so it makes sense to bring in viewers. Like I said, I enjoyed the special effects as well. Loved the casting of the Amity and the Candor leadership. Really cool choices. Loved Peter’s character. Liked seeing Chicago all dystopianized. That was really awesome.

     

    What I’d Change: Not sure there’s anything I would change which is pretty rare for me. Everyone did a good job. The set was great. I guess if I had to pick one thing, it’s the hair. I love the cut but I don’t understand why she did it and with giant sheep shears or something she found outside. Doesn’t really make sense. 

    The TaglineOne Choice Can Destroy You

    Not bad.

     

    Hunky Hero: Four is just as much a hunky hero as he was in the first movie, though, in Insurgent, he took more of a backup role to Tris. Have I said how much I like this actor choice? He’s pretty much perfect in my opinion. 

     

    The Villain: Though it was easier this time around to see Kate Winslet as a villain, I still have a slight difficulty with her as a bad guy. Her actions were certainly villainous. The shocking turn of events involving her at the end of the movie were certainly interesting to see. 

     

    Best Line: 

    Peter: Hey, Tris I really like your hair by the way. Did you try to cut it all short and weird like that?

     

    Best Scene: I think it was the storming of the Candor building when they were hunting Divergents. That’s really the only scene in the movie I recognized from the book.

    Recommended for YA Fans: Yes! Go support YA movies. 

    Compared to the Book: It’s very different from the book but not necessarily in a bad way. It still feels true to the world.


     

    Trailer:


    A Guy’s Perspective

    2014-02-01 22.54.02

    Bio: I’m Colleen’s husband, Brad. I’m the youngest of four kids. I’ve been Deaf since I was five so I watch every movie with caption glasses. I love sports and reading (I’ll admit I’ve read Twilight but prefer thrillers like Jack Reacher). My favorite ice cream is mint chocolate chip. I’ll never turn down a taco. I write poetry. My man credentials include: a high school career in wrestling, watching sports every time my wife is too busy to notice, a receding hairline, two repaired ACL’s, and a stockpile of Axe body wash.

    Review: 

    Surging for Insurgent? Nah.

    Insurgent was kind of how I expected it would be, that is, a film high on far-fetched action and low on story development. Much depended on its ability to adequately flesh out why the dystopian society is based on the five factions and how the government has such power over them. This film fails on both counts such that the storyline was implausible and the action fantastically unbelievable.

    I mean, I have to give them props for attempting to beef up a sequel, which we know from history, usually falls short of the original film. Many story elements were added or changed. This created sub-plots that weakened the storytelling rather than making the central story stronger—a challenge for any director.

    This wasn’t a terrible film, it was okay, just not great. I enjoyed the cinematography and the actors were adequate: the chemistry between Tris (Woodley) and Four (James) was somewhat believable, but Jeanine (Winslet) was not a terribly frightening villain. As much as Woodley attempted to hold the film together, I thought the responsibility of carrying an entire action movie was too big for her. Overall, the film was an admirable attempt that left me unsatisfied.

    I give this film 6.5 Hulk Smash Fists.

    Brad

    This entry was posted in A Guy's Perspective, Movie Review.

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    Colleen Houck
    Colleen Houck

    New York Times Bestselling author Colleen Houck is a lifelong reader whose literary interests include action, adventure, paranormal, science fiction, and romance. When she's not busy writing, she likes to spend time chatting on the phone with one of her six siblings, watching plays, and shopping online. Colleen has lived in Arizona, Idaho, Utah, California, and North Carolina and is now permanently settled in Salem, Oregon with her husband and a huge assortment of plush tigers.