Saturday, November 5, 2022

REVIEW: Paradise Hills (live action movie)

Paradise Hills is a dystopian SFF movie. I bought my copy new.


The movie starts with socialite Uma's wedding to wealthy Son, who later comments on how much more obedient she now is. Then the movie flashes back to two months prior, when Uma first wakes up on an island called Paradise. Paradise is something like a treatment center for rebellious young girls. Although they initially appear to have free will and can choose to accept or reject the changes Paradise is trying to make in them, Uma gradually realizes that there's something more sinister going on. She and several of her new friends attempt to escape.

I really liked most of the sets and costumes, although the girls' Paradise "uniforms" looked a bit like princess dresses made out of mattress pads. Whoever did the Bluray cover design didn't present the movie at its best - the costumes weren't quite that bad and Uma's hair looked better on-screen.

The core cast of characters was relatively appealing. Aside from Uma, there was Amarna, a popular singer who'd been sent to Paradise after she attempted to go against her record label's plans for her career. Chloe's parents sent her to Paradise because they wanted her to lose weight. Yu, meanwhile, struggled with anxiety after being sent to live with family members who were "Uppers" (upperclass) after initially growing up with her Lower parents. Milla Jovovich played the Duchess, the person in charge of Paradise, who presented herself as a sympathetic character who only wanted what was best for the girls, but who had occasional menacing moments.

The overall tone/mood wasn't handled well, unfortunately. Emma Roberts (Uma) and Eiza Gonzalez (Amarna) did great with what the script gave them - they had enough chemistry together that I was left wondering whether there'd be a lesbian romance almost from the moment they first met. It's too bad that that aspect of the story was handled so sloppily, however. Later in the movie, Uma mentioned that one of the reasons she didn't want to marry Son was because she was in love with someone else, a guy named Markus, who she happily embraced when he somehow found a way to get to Paradise and see her. I could tell that Amarna was jealous, but Uma's own thoughts and reactions were a mess and didn't seem to follow any sort of logic. I didn't even get "I'm struggling because I simultaneously love Amarna and Markus" from her, although I'm guessing that's how viewers were supposed to interpret her confusing behavior.

The developments with the Duchess were a bit over-the-top, and I wish more time had been taken to lay the groundwork (any sort of groundwork at all, really) for Uma's team-up with Anna. I also had difficulty believing that Uma could just show up at home again like that after what happened at Paradise, without anyone suspecting anything or asking lots of questions.

For a bargain bin purchase I'd never heard of before, this was better than I expected, but I don't know that I'd recommend it. Also, a word of warning: the English subtitling includes a spoiler in its first few seconds.


Behind-the-scenes featurettes that I opted not to watch.

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