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Emma Roberts Shines in the Feminist Fantasy ‘Paradise Hills’

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Genre : Scifi-Fantasy
Rating : Unrated
Director: Alice Waddington

Cast:
Emma Roberts
Milla Jovovich
Eiza Gonzalez
Awkwafina
Danielle Macdonald

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.

Rating 7/10
Links : IMDB

Paradise Hills is now in theaters and on VOD

Action

Monster Hunter | Exclusive Official Trailer

A portal transports Lt. Artemis and an elite unit of soldiers to a strange world where powerful monsters rule with deadly ferocity. Faced with relentless danger, the team encounters a mysterious hunter who may be their only hope to find a way home.

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Genre:

Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Release Date:

December 30, 2020

Director:

Paul W.S. Anderson

Cast:

Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa, T.I., Meagan Good, Diego Boneta, Josh Helman, Ron Perlman

Plot Summary:

When Lt. Artemis and her loyal soldiers are transported to a new world, they engage in a desperate battle for survival against enormous enemies with incredible powers. Feature film based on the video game by Capcom.

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Comedy

Could Howie Mandel Return For A Sequel To The 80’s Comedy, ‘Little Monsters..’

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When I was growing up, 80’s actor Fred Savage was one of the biggest child stars around. With films such as, ‘The Princess Bride,’ ‘The Wizard,’ and of course ‘The Wonder Years,’ a television series which ran from 1988-1993. All of these projects made Savage one of the most recognized faces in Hollywood.  Yet, after all these years, my all-time favorite is ‘Little Monsters.’

‘Little Monsters,’ hit theaters in 1989. And has grossed more than $790 mill (USD) worldwide. It tells the story of Brian Stevenson (Fred Savage) who finds out, there is a world of monsters living underneath his bed. He in turn, befriends one of the monsters named Maurice, played by Howie Mandel. Throughout the film, the pair become best friends and embark on a journey to save Brian’s kidnapped little brother Eric, played by Ben Savage.

GameSpot recently reported on some blu-ray extras where the America’s Got Talent judge Howie Mandel talks about his experience on set.

“Physically, it almost killed me. And I wouldn’t have done that. It’s not good to spend a summer in the Carolinas wrapped in latex.”

Mandel says he enjoyed the cast and crew but he probably wouldn’t have taken the role if he knew exactly what it entailed.

“Do not try this at home. Don’t wrap yourself. I mean it’s a wonderful–Maurice is a wonderful character. It was a fun time; everybody was great. And there were funny scenes, but I was wrapped in latex. Do you know what humidity and latex does? After I did that movie. I wouldn’t even put a condom on. I was so anti-latex. I know that doesn’t sound safe, but I was married and happy but I would not, I don’t even want to say the word latex anymore. But now I feel like I wouldn’t do that again.”

Mandel says, till this day, he has a hard time with the word latex. One could only imagine, as Mandel has been very open about his OCD (Obsessive–compulsive disorder) and ADHD(Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.) On set, Mandel was required to spend long hours in a makeup chair with people touching and applying prosthetics all over him. This had to have been very difficult for a person with the above mentioned disorders.

“I don’t have a GED because I can’t sit in class. I can’t sit. But you have to sit. Not only was it four hours of sitting, but four hours of–I don’t want to be touched. And four hours of [being touched], I thought I was going to snap. And once I was finished, I had to be this happy and joyful Maurice. I really wasn’t that happy and joyful. I didn’t know what I had gotten myself into. They cut like, ‘Oh my god. I’m gonna die.’ At night, it’s an hour to get it off; it was glued on me and my skin.”

Howie mentioned he would be open to playing Maurice again. Considering the modern advancements in cinema technology since 1989, production could possibly remove some of the tediousness from the process of applying prosthetics. It would definitely be fun to see Fred Savage, Howie Mandel and others return to the big screen for a sequel to the 80’s comedy.

What do you think, would you like to see ‘Little Monsters’ return for a sequel?

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Action

Final Fantasy XVI | Official Reveal Trailer – HD | PS5

Check out the debut trailer for FF16 (Final Fantasy XVI), revealed during the PS5 showcase in September 2020.

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Genre:

RPG

Producer:

Naoki Yoshida

Console:

PS5, PC

Release Date:

2021

Plot Summary:

“The legacy of the crystals has shaped our history for long enough,”

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