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The Lucky One: Cheesy Chick Flick
We’ve all seen, at the very least, one Nicholas Sparks film which is enough to figure out the formula that has probably made him into a millionaire by now. While they’re usually super cheesy, they sweep you along in a torrent of emotion. You laugh, you cry, you swoon and you leave the cinema happy. But even with adjusted expectations, The Lucky One isn’t particularly entertaining.
The film is completely centred on the romance and so there’s absolutely nothing to distract from Zac Efron’s zombie-like state. Or from the film’s frightfully cheesy dialogue. Or from the fact that it packs a whole hoard of clichés into an hour and a half in a desperate plea to activate our tear ducts.
Efron plays Logan, a marine stationed in some Arab country (turns out to be Iraq) fighting the scary brown men. The morning after an ambush, he finds a picture of a blonde chick with the words ‘keep safe’ on the back. He carries the picture around with him everywhere, like a talisman, and lo and behold, he cheats death several times while a ton of people around him die. Traumatized, he returns to America with the aim of finding the girl in the picture and thanking her for being his guardian angel. He tracks her down, is unable to show her the picture or tell her why he’s there, takes a job near her and they soon fall in love. The blonde girl turns out to be a single mum by the name of Beth (Schilling) who has an abusive ex who keeps threatening to take their kid away from her and who doesn’t like the fact that she’s seeing Logan.
Out of the two leads, Taylor Schilling is definitely the least offensive, though Blythe Danner, as Beth’s grandmother, despite being the most watchable person on screen, was a rather head scratching piece of casting. Beth’s mother would be understandable but grandmother? Either she’s found the fountain of youth or Beth looks far older than she actually is. Schilling’s character fluctuates between brave, selfless mother and helpless female, both of which only require her to stand around looking pretty which isn’t exactly difficult for someone who looks like Katy Perry’s blonde twin. All in all, she’s pleasantly bland. Efron on the other hand looks like a buff, tanned corpse. His character is supposed to be grieving for all the friends he lost on duty but what we get from Efron is a complete lack of emotion. When he’s not showing off just how nice he is by playing with Beth’s kid, he’s standing around blank faced, looking stiff. Resembling a teenager isn’t helping his cause much either.
The lack of tension is what really does the film in though. The Notebook had a sense of urgency about it. You genuinely rooted for the couple to be together even though they weren’t necessarily pleasant characters. Part of that was Amy McAdams and Ryan Gosling’s chemistry which Efron and Schilling lack but on the other hand there was an actual obstacle keeping them apart. In The Lucky One, their troubles are more hiccups than roadblocks.
This film is really only recommended for die hard Nicholas Sparks fans or people who don’t mind staring at beautiful actors, sun drenched scenery and a gaggle of adorable dogs in lieu of a decent story. Stay away if you’re prone to incessant eye rolling.
Since George A. Romero's 1968 Night of the Living Dead, flesh-eating Hollows – aka Zombies, Lurkers, Biters or the Undead – have become a part of a phenomenon that is still dominating the horror-scene today.
However, with the release of Nick Lyon's Rise of the Zombies, one can’t help but wonder: who in their right mind would allow for this TV movie travesty to be released in cinemas in Egypt?
Set in a run-down and abandoned San Francisco, Rise of the Zombie's opening scenes show a group of panic-stricken folks trying to escape from the hungry hands of the infected monsters. Their mission, unfortunately, soon fails and – thanks to a badly executed CGI car crash – everyone, apart from one young pregnant woman who manages to escape, is left behind as food.
The film then shifts focus to a different group of people who have taken refuge in the infamous Alcatraz Prison. The troop is led by the sturdy Dr. Lynn Snyder (Hemingway), fellow scientist Dr. Dan Helpern (Burton) and the barmy-looking Caspian (Trejo). While Dr. Helpern continues to do his research and find a cure to kill the 'virus' which has been spreading like wildfire, Dr. Snyder believes that it's the peculiar researcher, Dr. Arnold – who has been sending in video transmits from the mainland – has all the answers.
However, it's not long before the zombies – who have apparently learned how to swim over the years – infiltrate the prison, forcing its refugees to flee and search for another safe-house and quite possibly the cure for the fast-spreading 'infection'.
The producers and the distributors for this film – The Asylum – are known for their exclusively B-list, straight-to-DVD productions, and Rise of the Zombies is a complete mockery of a film from minute one. Apart from the plot being completely unoriginal, the characters – whose survival and well-being is imperative to drive the story – fail to register with the audience and the poorly scripted dialogue, and its flimsy delivery, only adds to the absurdity of it all, though the make-up isn’t entirely dreadful
Unfortunately, the cast – which includes a few recognisable faces – can’t rise above the shabby material. Hemingway, an actress who has been seen in a good share of mindless action flicks, has never been worse. Failing to add an ounce of personality to her character, she is almost robotic in her delivery, while badass Trejo looks embarrassed the entire way through.
Predictable, cheesy, and downright upsetting, Rise of the Zombies is definitely like no other zombie-fest you'll ever see – and that is not a compliment.
Is love stronger than the laws of gravity? Well, that's one peculiar question that the Argentinean director, Juan Diego Solanas, attempts to answer in newest trippy sci-fi adventure, Upside Down.
Upside Down begins with an informative voiceover explaining the story of two parallel planets – Down and Up – that are stationed exactly opposite each other, existing in the same solar system, with shared yet opposing gravity. All physical matter must obey the gravity of the world from which it comes; both planets exert an equal, but opposite, pull and messing with these laws of physics can potentially result in deadly consequences.
While Down is poor and rundown, Up is rich and affluent; going Up or interacting with the people from Up is deeply forbidden, and the only thing bridging the two is the sinister company, TransWorld.
As a child, Adam (Sturgees) – a hopeful young boy from Down – climbs to the top of Sage Mountain to get close to Up, only to meet the pretty young blonde, Eden (Dunst), from the planet Up. The couple’s affections soon blossom; however, they also attract unwanted attention from the authorities. A bloody confrontation occurs, leaving the soul-mates stranded on their own individual planets for the next ten years.
The story then moves forward and Adam – who is convinced that Eden is gone forever – is working in a run-down lab, trying to perfect a secret, pink bee pollen ingredient he’s inherited; one that allows matter to detect the gravitational fields of both planets at once.
Soon, he lands a job at the intimidating TransWorld and finds that Eden is working there as well. However, in order to get to her, Adam needs to fight against strict corporate rules and against the forces of gravity to find his way into her arms again.
The concept is definitely unorthodox, but not entirely ridiculous. It's a rather creative concept, yes, but perhaps a little too grand for its own good.
The backdrop is not the problem here – it's the story itself. To begin with, this is a tale of star-crossed lovers who will do anything – even challenge the laws of gravity – in order to be with each other. However, their story never really gets a chance to develop, and thanks to a couple of ridiculous subplots and the overpowering presence of their parallel worlds – shot beautifully using CGI effects – it never gets a chance to evoke any sympathy from, or connection to, the audience.
Both Sturgees and Dunst share a decent amount of on-screen chemistry, but the characters get a little lost in their parallel worlds. With no real story to work with, Sturgees looks flustered and Dunst lacks the charisma and allure to draw the audiences in.
Packing in an enormous amount of visual thrills, Upside Down is quirky, original and pleasing to the eye. However, its overly ambitious approach manages to forsake the heart of the story – or rather, lack thereof.