Tag Archives: Milla Jovovich

Every Rose Has Its Thorns

Paradise Hills

by Cat McAlpine

We open on an extravagant wedding scene that could be mistaken for the 1920s were it not for the quick cut to a hover car. Welcome to the future!

A whimsical sequence features Uma (Emma Roberts, “American Horror Story,” “Scream Queens”) singing a promise of fealty to her new husband. This is the first of Paradise Hill’s three small singing performances, all of which you’ll wish had been either cut or dubbed.

The newly wed groom coos to his wife, “It’s as if that girl never existed.”

Wow, that sure sounds like a hint. We soon meet the girl he means in a time jump to “Two Months Earlier.” At this point I have decided not to hold the hover car against Paradise Hills, but there is only so much you can forgive in 95 minutes.

Uma (Roberts) awakens in a behavioral facility for young women, where girls are sent by their families to be convinced to be thinner, more socially acceptable, or well mannered. The mysterious circumstances of her arrival and the elaborate setting point to something much more nefarious under the surface.

Director Alice Waddington, in her feature debut, is best known as a fashion creative and photographer and it shows. The film itself has a dreamy aesthetic that interweaves holograms and LEDs with manicured gardens and all-white corseted ensembles.

The complexity of this film ends with its costumes and set. The line delivery is awkward and stilted despite a promising cast. The setting and dialog allude to a kind of Oscar Wilde repartee, where members of proper society throw witty jabs while holding tiny tea cups. But the script is tragically lacking and the stage is set only for the weak writing to fall flat.

More than an hour is spent navigating a dreamy, floral landscape before anything interesting really surfaces. Writing team Brian DeLeeuw, Nacho Vigalondo, and Waddington can’t decide which threads to pull. There’s another love interest, the tragic death of a family member, the crushing pressures of fame, and the strength and importance of female friendships all to be explored.

Paradise Hills could have been an interesting delve into the ways that the solidarity of sisterhood allow us to rise above our circumstances and pasts. Instead it’s a weak nod to an old idea: “You don’t need to change to be accepted.”  

Your teen daughter might enjoy this movie, but you should challenge her with something better.

Boy, Oh Boy


by Hope Madden

It has been 15 years since Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman first brought Mike Mignola’s cat loving, iron fisted, soft hearted son of Satan to the big screen. You’ve got to feel for any filmmaker tasked with following in del Toro’s steps, especially when the film in question is a monster movie brimming with innocence and wonder. That is really his wheelhouse.

But Neil Marshall is no slouch. His first film out the gate back in 2002, Dog Soldiers, offered a wickedly funny war movie with werewolves. This gem he followed in 2005 with what may be contemporary horror’s scariest monster movie, The Descent.

Since then? Nothing to write home about. But that means he’s due for a comeback, eh? And Hellboy’s ready for a reboot. Right?

No to both.

The first difference you’ll note, maybe 15 words into the film with the first of many f-bombs, is that Neil Marshall’s Hellboy is rated R.

It’s also a horror movie, make no mistake. Hellboy is lousy with limb severing, blood gushing, intestine spilling action.

Also, it’s just lousy.

Hellboy (Stranger Things’s David Harbour, who does an admirable job) struggles against a prophesy and a lifetime in the shadows to decide his destiny for himself. Milla Jovovich is a witch. There is a boar monster, a scrappy teen medium, a were-cheetah and some seriously sketchy CGI.

Yikes, this movie looks bad.

There are those who will complain about Marshall’s gleeful gorefest, but not me. Demons ripping the flesh from the faces of innocents? Others may be hiding their eyes from the carnage, but what they’re mercifully missing is digital animation on par with Disney’s The Haunted Mansion (the 2003 film or the amusement park ride, take your pick).

Aside from two creepy images—one of Jovovich’s Blood Queen in flowing red robes beneath a shadowy, skeletal tree; the second a quick sideways glance into Baba Yaga’s pantry—Marshall’s vision is weak.

His storytelling is not much stronger. Working from a script by Andrew Cosby, the film opens with exposition, repeats that exact exposition midway through Act 2, and halts at least three additional times for one character to stand still and articulate a big block of story for us.

Often that character is dead and attached to the mouth of a young girl via a long, gurgly, worm-like body, which probably the most laughable element of the film.


For Your Queue: Two that are…”Hemsworth” a look!


The needlessly underseen Rush – one of director Ron Howard’s very best films – gets a second chance at an audience today as it’s released to DVD and BluRay. So do yourself a favor and see it. Character driven without sacrificing sport spectacle, the film proves an engrossing drama and boasts an award-worthy performance by Daniel Bruhl. Plus you get to look at Chris Hemsworth, which is never a bad thing.

Speaking of non-Thor Hemsworth, we’d recommend pairing this with a fun and surprisingly well written if little seen 2009 thriller A Perfect Getaway. The film follows Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich on their Hawaiian honeymoon, where tourists are being murdered. It’s a slick, well-paced and fun flick with great turns from Zahn,  Hemsworth, and the always reliable Timothy Olyphant.