Review – The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion

The Witch starts out with a bang – including eerie opening credits that feature archival (real or fake, who knows?) images of human experiments and cruelty: witch hunts, the Holocaust, and more. As if that didn’t set the tone enough, you’re then greeted with a ridiculously bloody aftermath scene. There is blood splatter galore, but all seems quiet… men with bats catch their breath as something or someone twitches underneath a tarp. You quickly deduce this facility has been experimenting on children and that one of them has escaped.  A cold, cruel-seeming woman shrugs it off, saying the child won’t live long anyways… and a blood soaked girl runs through the night.

The Witch quickly shifts from the dark, bloody, and tension filled opening to a misty morning on a small farm. An older man spots the runaway sleeping and scoops her up, calling for his wife as he runs towards the house.

Eight years later and our runaway is now a teenager. The country town is bright and filled with lovable characters. The movie is now about a young lady who is trying to help her aging parents as they deal with financial and medical problems. Our teen witch seems perfectly ordinary, a nice young woman who jokes around with her best friend and cares for her parents. Yet there is tension in the air, built with small hints that something dreadful is just around the corner… her increasingly crippling headaches… her unexpected participation in a national singing contest… her mysterious abilities. You know something is about to happen… but what? When? What sort of experiments were they doing in that creepy building from the opening scene? What sort of powers does our innocent girl have…?

I’ve watched this three times now and each time I marvel at how well crafted this film is. The balance of action and humor, the dark scenes and the light ones. Like a Cohen Brothers movie, this film is packed with side characters and each one of them is memorable. They’re given small character quirks, signature elements that make them distinctive. And they’re all drawn together at the end for a high stakes showdown between multiple parties with multiple interests. It’s bloody and violent without being shockingly so – and the end is satisfying while also leaving you wanting more.

Rating: 5 stars. Go watch it.

More musings on The Witch including SPOILERS…. so you are warned….

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Review – Fight My Way

Review – Fight My Way

There’s nothing spectacular about this drama – it’s middling at best – the plot isn’t intricate and the characters aren’t necessarily as developed as they could be – but it still manages to be charming.  Simple and charming.  A straight forward love story with light obstacles and people overcoming their hardships rather easily.  Not that I didn’t still enjoy it – cause I did.  Park Seo-Jun is a great actor and really killed it as a mixed martial arts badass with a tender heart.  And Kim Ji-Won was lovable as the country girl with big ambitions to be an announcer that just needed to find her place.  They had great chemistry and it was delightful to watch them come together, moving from long time platonic best friends into lovers.  Also, the second romance of the second leads was equally engaging – the long time couple who were struggling with their relationship and status as they moved through life.  It felt very real and believable and my heart was genuinely moved by both of their stories.

But this show is popcorn.  A tasty snack.  It didn’t try too hard.  And I didn’t try too hard either.  I just enjoyed it, as a delicious treat but not a real meal.  I think after viewing a lot of K-Dramas you get spoiled on the potential of what 16 hours of storytelling can actually provide a viewer.  I mean… that’s a lot of time.  A LOT can happen.  Or a little can happen, and it can still be fun, if it’s done right.  I had fun watching this show, but it didn’t challenge me or make me think or offer me any new insights into humanity or relationships.  So in a way, I’m a little disappointed in it.  Cause the story line could have been so much more than it was.  But as it was… I still wouldn’t skip it.  Check it out.  It’s pretty freakin’ adorable.  And it was cool to explore a little more of the professional fighting world, even though honestly I feel even that could have been done better, too.  There were a lot of funny moments and a lot of cutesy “rescue” scenes that I loved.  The little vignette stories at the end of each episode were particularly fun to watch.  The coach, in particular, was my favorite side character… gah, what a cutie!

Plot:  Four teenagers with big dreams become young adults who have settled for lower expectations due to varying circumstances.  They each try to find their way back to their passions as their relationships further develop.

Overall Rating – 8/10.  Mixed Martial Arts Means More Shirtless Men.