Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Logan

I have been an X-Men fan ever since I was a child. My father owned a comic book store when we were growing up. The X-Men were my heroes since I was old enough to walk. I wanted the courage of Rogue, the power of Storm, and the strength of Wolverine. I own every X-Men movie that has been released in the past 17 years. When I heard that this was going to be Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewarts last X-Men film, my heart sunk. It was the end of an era. Now the film has received mixed reviews from people, here is my take.

I loved Logan. I thought it was a righteous end to a brilliant character. Logan was designed to be darker and more daring than any other X-Men film. An R rating might have made families with kids disappointed, it did not make me as a fan disappointed. It gave the film a deeper sense of reality in a fictional world. It was rated R for a reason there are gallons of blood, tons of fowl language and brief nudity. Logan showed the true violence behind the adamantium claws. What actually happens when indestructible adamantium is forced into someone's skull. Sound graphic? It was!

The film was beautifully directed by James Mangold. He was following up from the previous Wolverine film. Mangold had such an eye for filming the loss and pain in the characters via the landscaping and images on film. The dry dirt and despair of the desert. Wide open fields engrossed in green as a symbol of new life. The hopeful forest filled with new beginnings. Every element of the film was parallel to the emotions of the characters. Every shot had meaning and purpose.

Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart gave award winning performances. Let's face it, it's a comic book movie, they will not get the recognition they should. Jackman wore every vulnerable emotion on his sleeve. His character endured an emotional internal battle with himself the entire film. We could see the pain in his eyes and the turmoil in every release of his adamantium claws. Logan's passion and fierce loyalty is to be commended and admired. I completely forgot I was watching Hugh Jackman as Logan. He WAS Logan. It brought truth and darkness to a beloved character. Stewart is also to be commended. He was frail in form but fierce in screen presence. Jackman and Stewart were so brilliant at feeding the other's acting. My emotions were pulled in so many directions and I cried multiple times. Brilliant and haunting performances.

Stealing the entire movie is new comer, Dafne Keen. Keen plays a new mutant with similar abilities to Logan. This little girl has a massive amount of talent. She is fierce and beautifully in pain. A constant struggle between what is right to society and what is right to her survival. Keen is going to be the actress to watch for. Years of talent wrapped in a 12 year old girl!

Overall if you like X-Men and can ignore continuity with the other films, you will love it. I recommend you forget everything you remember from the previous X-Men films. Go in with new eyes, open to a new side of the story.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Star Wars The Force Awakens


A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, a group of people decided it was time to make a new Star Wars. Now these writers were excited to take the story beyond Return of the Jedi. The only problem was, they were still trapped in a legacy of a New Hope. Let me explain.


Star Wars The Force Awakens is the first of three new Star Wars films being made by Disney. The will say that the film is very good. My only real issue is that the film is just a retelling of A New Hope.

We start with a rebel fighter Poe needing to hide a secret message in a droid called BB-8 and leave him on a desert planet. In this film, it is a map to Luke Skywalker instead of a map of the Death Star. Poe is then captured by a man dressed in black, wearing a breathing mask and talking of the Dark side. His name is Kylo Ren (Hello Vader wanna be)


 After Poe is tortured, we meet Finn the Storm Trooper. Finn was brainwashed by the Empire...oh no wait...I mean The First Order. Finn decides to help Poe escape after Kylo finds out about BB-8. Finn and Poe fly away but get separated when they crash.


BB-8 runs away and just so happens to find a young person named Rey. Rey is the only person in the entire universe that has a secret connection to the Force and the Skywalker family. (Sound familiar anyone?) Rey meets Finn. I really liked Finn, he brought a new element to the Star Wars films. Finn and Rey have BB-8 and now they are being hunted for it. They must escape but in what vessel? Why the Millennium Falcon of course! Finn and Rey meet Han Solo and Chewy who have been trying to find the Millennium Falcon because it was stolen. Now they must go to a local alien space bar and try to find passage to the rebels. (A New Hope cantina scene anyone?)


Thankfully, there is a little more to this scene. We find out that Rey has a stronger connection to The Force. She finds Luke Skywalker's lightsaber and when she holds it, she sees flashes of the past. Battles and voices. If you listen carefully, you can hear the voices of Obi Wan and Yoda calling out to Rey. Pretty sweet actually. This freaks out Rey and she runs away in fear. Han and Finn take the lightsaber for her and then a battle breaks out.


Kylo Ren, the new Vader wanna be, is the son of Han and Leia. Makes sense that he would have such a connection to the Dark Side. Darth Vader was his grand father. For some reason, Kylo feels like he must finished Vader's work. Kid doesn't know his own family history because Vader brought balance to the force by killing the emperor. I'm just saying, it made me mad because that should be Vader's legacy!


During the battle Han sees his son and Rey tries to fight and then the rebels show up. Rey has a little fight with Kylo and he captures her and flies away in his ship. Kylo knows the Rey has seen the map and is trying to pull the information out of her. Kylo tries but can't seem to get very deep in Rey's head. Come to find out, the force is strong with Rey. She is STRONGER than Kylo. She over takes him and gets in his head. She has ZERO training and this is very impressive. Kylo was trained by Luke himself and Rey is kicking his mental ass....Well Done! It's about time we had more female ass-kickers in Star Wars. He freaks out and goes to his leader guy to ask when to do.


Back with the Rebels, we find C3PO with Leia, who now goes by General instead of Princess. Poor R2-D2 is non responsive ever since Luke disappeared. Leia and Han have a sweet but awake hey Honey I'm home moment. Finn find Poe and everyone is like "Oh no, there is ANOTHER Death Star.....I mean Star Killer. Seriously, yet another planet destroying ship the size of a planet. We've seen this before people. Come to find out, there is ONE SPOT on the ship that will destroy the entire planet. These Dark Side people really need to hire better engineers.


Finn, Han and Chewy must get on board to save Rey. To be honest, Rey doesn't need saving. I loved that she could handle herself. She uses her newly discovered Jedi powers to talk a Storm Trooper into letting her go. Fun trivia I found on imdb, the Storm Trooper was Daniel Craig. FUN!

Then we see Kylo the bridge and Han decides to confront his son. He yells BEN at the top of his lungs. Aww his name is Ben Solo..... like Ben Kenobi. At this point, my stomach was in knots. I knew what was going to happen. I knew there would be a sweet moment between Ben/KyloHan then Ben/Kylo would give in to the dark side and kill Han. WHY JJ ABRAMS WHY?!?!?!!?!?


As an audience, we hold hope for just a moment. Maybe Han is not really dead. I mean Luke fell from into a massive hole in Empire Strikes Back and he was still alive. Even when Han falls down the tunnel, we are hoping he can make it. Then the scene goes to Leia as she suddenly feels pain and has to sit down. We all know the Force is strong in her and she sensed Han's death. BUT WHY HAN SOLO!?!!?!? He was everyone's favorite human character. Funny and Charming. Plus Harrison Ford is THE MAN! I'm still pissed about this. Yes, it made Finn, Chewy, and Rey hate Kylo and want to kill him. They didn't need to kill Han for that. The worst was the sound that Chewy made when Han falls. That totally broke my heart.

As our main characters are running for the explosions set by Han and Chewy, the Rebels are firing everything they have at the Star Killer. Rey and Finn find Kylo in the woods. His lightsaber is ready and he knocks Rey out by throwing her to a tree. Finn panics and grabs Luke's Lightsaber and start to fight Kylo. It's obvious that Finn has never used a lightsaber in his life. He is quickly knocked out by Kylo and Luke's saber goes flying. Kylo tries to use the Force to summon the lightsaber but it won't come to him. The lightsaber flies past Kylo and into the hands of Rey. At that moment, we all know for sure that Rey has Skywalker blood in her.

Rey fights and kicks some serious butt against Kylo. She cuts up his face and body and she barely has a mark!!! It was pretty freaking awesome! Then the planet breaks apart and they can't reach eachother. Rey and Chewy grab Finn and take off in the Falcon.

As soon as Rey lands on the Rebel base R2D2 wakes up. He and BB-8 can complete the map. Rey leaves Finn in the hospital to heal and she takes off with Chewy and R2D2 in the Millennium Falcon. They land on a planet covered in mountains and water. Alone, Rey climbs the stairs to find a hooded figure. He turns and it's Luke. YAYAYAYY LUKE'S BACK!!! FINALLY!! SO EXCITED!! Rey holds out her hand with Luke's lightsaber in it. He stares back and then...CREDITS ROLL!!! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! I literally yelled out loud when the credits started. Luke is my second favorite character and he didn't even say ONE WORD!!!!!! Aahhhhh!! Yes, it makes me want more but the next Star Wars isn't coming out until May 2017! That's too far away!!!

Ok here are some of my theories

Personally, I think Rey is the daughter of Luke Skywalker. In the flash back stories, we know Kylo tried to kill Luke. I think someone hid Rey from Luke and Kylo. Kinda like the way Luke and Leia were hidden from Vader. Whoever hid Rey, knew she was going to be more powerful than any of Jedi. Rey claimed she had been waiting on her planet from someone to find her. Maybe that someone died before they could tell Luke where Rey was.

The other theory I heard is Rey is Han and Leia's daughter. That she was Kylo's twin sister. That doesn't work because they are way too far apart in age and because there is never mention of another child by Han and Leia. That one didn't make sense to me. I'm sticking/hoping Rey is Luke's daughter. It would make sense why the force is stronger with her. Luke was always more connected to the Force than Leia was.

Over all I enjoyed the movie. It felt like the original three Star Wars. It used lovely animatronics instead of CGI. JJ did a beautiful job of directing and staying loyal to the story. I was annoyed that it is basically a retelling of A New Hope. I hope that episode VIII will be more original. JJ left a ton of questions unanswered but I'm hopeful they will be answered in the next film.

My favorite actors were Harrison Ford as Han (Duh, he's Han!) and Adam Driver as Kylo. Adam was brilliant at bringing emotional turmoil to the character. I really believed he was torn between his two worlds. Should he stay with the Dark Side or go back to the Force and his family? Adam's acting was also important because we rarely saw his face. When we did see his face, he had tomake it count. He certainly made it count.

If you like Star Wars, you will like this movie!





Friday, November 6, 2015

Spectre

Yet another James Bond film. I should admit that I have never been a big fan of James Bond. I find the movies entertaining and the cars sexy but the movies are not my favorite. I'm in a love/hate relationship with these films.

Spectre tries to tie all of the Daniel Craig Bond films together. We have James following a group of assassins all over Europe, trying to untie their secret society web. My favorite part of the whole movie is the opening scene. The beginning scenes take place in Mexico City. These scenes have some of the best cinematography I've seen in a while. James goes to Mexico city during the Day of the Dead. There are people dressed in skeleton costumes and huge skeleton figures all over the city. It gives this magical field to a city that is always portrayed as a drug and cartel run slum. It was a wonderful change to see. There are also kick ass explosions and awesome fight scenes.

I'm always surprised at how many brilliant actors appear in James Bond films. Spectre has no shortage of brilliantly talented actors. We have Daniel Craig who is very good that playing the cool and collected James Bond. Ralph Fiennes is the new M and he is an old school spy who hates that he has to follow the rules. Ben Whishaw is the lovable and brilliant Q. Q has no problem putting James in his place but also trusts him with his life. Monica Bellucci was in the movie for 10 minutes as a "Bond Girl". They really wasted a talented actress as a minor character with no character development. The second Bond Girl was Lea Seydoux as Madeleine. She is a smart girl on the run from some villains. Christoph Waltz plays the big bad villain who runs the secret society. My personal favorite actor in the entire movie is Andrew Scott as Max. Max is the new head of MI6 and he is trying to bring the spies into the modern age. To be very honest, Andrew Scott was not used as much as he should be. Personally, I would have loved to see Andrew as the villain. He has such a talent for tapping into the dark side of a character.

I loved the cars in the movie. There are so many classic and expensive vehicles. These cars were sexier than the women and the men put together. Every James Bond film has to have sexy cars that James blows up or breaks. He shouldn't be allowed to have nice things because he can't take care of them!

Ok here are a few problems I have with the film. My biggest problem is that not matter how hard James gets hit, he walks away. There is no possible way that he could be beaten between an edge of his life and not walk away with a mark. The man would be in the hospital or in a coma! He wouldn't be jumping into the sack with some chick. It bothers me so much!

I also am annoyed at how much of the film is a cliche. So many cheesy one liners followed by the James Bond Theme playing in the background. I think the special effects and stunts are brilliant. The cars are lovely  and the actors are beautiful. If you like Bond films, you will love this movie.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Crimson Peak

Beware of Crimson Peak. I would say that is the understatement of the day. The film is a gore filled, Gothic/Victorian romance, dripping with blood and fueled by ghosts. Crimson Peak is the new film by Guillermo Del Toro starring Mia Wasikowska as Edith Cushing, Jessica Chastain as Lucille Sharpe, Tom Hiddleston as Thomas Sharpe, and Charlie Hunnam as Dr. Alan McMichael. The film starts in the early 1900's in New York City and then hops over to Cumberland, England. Edith is a young girl, who has been able to see ghosts since she was 10 years old. These are by no means Casper the friendly ghost. These are horrible, tortured souls that come in all their terror to try and warn Edith about the future.

The ghosts are not the main focus of the film, they are merely a tool of story telling. To quote Edith in the film, "It's not a ghost story, it's a story with ghosts in  it." Crimson Peak is about the people and how dangerous we are without the help of the dead.

I'm debating back and forth whether to go spoiler free on this post. How about this....I won't give any major plot points away but I will give little details of what I liked. Seems fair...a review with a small dash of spoilers.

My favorite part of the movie was the cinematography and costuming. Del Toro did a sensational job of building the beautiful and yet terrifying house that we come to call Crimson Peak. It's massive, dark, and filled with deep blues, rustic greens and raven black. The manner was built on red clay that comes up from the ground. The clay leaves red markings in the snow and that's why the town calls it Crimson Peak. The Crimson of the clay stands out so vividly red that you have to let your eyes adjust.

If this movie does not get an Academy Award nomination for Best Costuming, I'm going to be mad! Mia's stunning blonde hair is like a mane flowing in the wind. Her yellow and white outfits contrast the darkness of the house. The details on the clothing are so stunning. Edith wears an amazing belt that is two hands holding. It seems so out of place but also exactly where it should be. During the New York scenes, Del Toro does a brilliant job with costuming with Lucile and Thomas. He places them in black or dark crimson. All of the other characters are in browns and whites. It portrays how much Lucile and Thomas do not belong to that culture or city. Little details are what makes this film brilliant.

One must also be impressed with the casting. Jessica Chastain is a chameleon in every film I have seen her in. She becomes the character and you forget that it's Jessica under all the make up and sensational acting. She brilliant, scary, mysterious, terrifying and tragic as Lucille. She's like a snake moving slowly around you. You are never sure what Lucile will do next.

Tom Hiddleston, the breaker and thief of hearts. This whole movie you are left trying to figure out who he is. Is he good? Is he bad? Is he a pawn or is he the chess player? Tom's acting is haunting as always. He can talk you into doing anything. His character is so charming and full of secrets. Is the secret filled with rage, shame or fear? I found myself lost in his character and wanting to know more. Tom has the ability to capture an audience with a single glance. The man can break you heart and seduce you with one look. Be careful Tom, with great power comes great responsibility.

Mia Wasikowska is so talented for such a young girl. She keeps you on the edge of your seat. You are terrified for her and just want her to find the truth of all the secrets in the film. She's stunning and wonderful as always. And then there's Charlie Freaking Hunnam. He plays a Doctor that has a very clear crush on Edith. He's charming and admires her for being an outspoken woman. He is one of the first to not trust the Sharpe family and is willing to dig a little deeper. Charlie really isn't in the film enough but he does very well in the scenes he is in.

Is Crimson Peak a scary movie? Yes and No. I say yes because I screamed and jumped a few times. The main focus of the movie is not to scare but to thrill and intrigue you. It's filled with more gore than terror. This movie is rated R for a reason....Blood Blood Blood. The ghosts are creepy and grotesque by horror movie standards. What got me was all the blood. Let me put it this way, I saw the movie an hour ago and I still have a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. That's impressive to say the least.

Over all I really liked the movie. It was twisted and left me wanting to know more. I wanted to know more about the manner called Crimson Peak. I wanted to know more about the Sharpe family and I wanted to know more about Edith's ability to see the dead. I was impressed by the film and the acting. To be fair, Guillermo del Toro has never let me down. Brilliant piece of film making.



Thursday, October 15, 2015

Man Down

Going to the Venice Film Festival was always a dream of mine. I never, in a million years, would have thought I could go. I was lucky enough to not only go but get tickets for a viewing of the Dito Montiel film Man Down. There will be some major spoilers below.

Man Down stars Shia LaBeouf as Gabriel, Kate Mara as his wife Natalie, Jai Courtney (Swoon) as Devin, and Gary Oldman as Captain Peyton. The movie takes place in several different time periods. The beginning starts off with Gabriel and Devin roaming the streets trying to find Gabriel's wife and son. It seems to be some type of post-apocalyptic United States. We don't know what happened, we just know that something went very wrong. The special effects and cinematography are so lovely and haunting at the same time. Dito uses a lovely gray effect that makes everything seem foggy and in a haze. It reflects the confusion in the characters minds very well.

Another section of the movie focuses on typical day to day life for Gabriel before everything changed. We see Gabriel and Natalie raising their son. We see the day to day life of helping your kids deal with bullies, to wives worrying about their husbands. It's so fantastically human.

Gabriel and Devin go off to train and then off to war. We see them fighting for their lives in the dessert. Then it flashes to an office with Gary Oldman playing Captain Peyton. He is talking to Gabriel about the events during his last tour. We find out that Captain Peyton is there to help Gabriel talk through everything. SPOILERS.......
We find out that Devin was shot in an attack and Gabriel feels responsible because he didn't check the room. He is also traumatized because it was a mother and son who shot Devin and then Gabriel shot them. We see that Captain Peyton is trying to help but he really only offers medication and slight counseling for assistance.

Flash back to Gabriel heading home and finding out that Devin and Natalie had an affair while Gabriel is over seas. We slowly see Gabriel start to mentally fall apart......

We see that the post-apocalyptic world is all made up in Gabriel's mind. Devin has been dead for months, he was killed from the gun shot wound. Gabriel is living is a fantasy world within our own real world. He tries to kidnap his son and doesn't realize that his wife is his wife. He thinks she is the woman he shot.

The movie ends in a blaze of glory and gun fire. It's beautiful, tragic and very real.

The stand out performances in the film are Jai Courtney and Gary Oldman. Jai plays this character that give everything for his friend. We see that he loves Gabriel's family like they were blood. He brilliant and intense. He scared me in the best possible way an actor can. I never knew what he would do next.

Gary Oldman is brilliant all the time and this film was no acceptation. He had a smaller role in this film but it was so important. He had to play a character that was both caring but harsh and blunt. Peyton was there to find the truth. He was a one man good cop/ bad cop show. Gary is an actor who can act with his eyes. His eyes can tell you more of the emotion of his character than words can. He displayed every emotion possible but in a very calculated manner. I was impressed with his acting ability.

Now don't get me wrong, Shia and Kate were great. Kate wasn't given a ton to work with but she did well in her moments. Shia plays Shia well. It was a character we have seen before up until the end. His performance at the end of the film really hits the emotion hard. It was refreshing to see him dig a little deeper than we have seen in his mainstream performances.

I wouldn't call the movie a military bashing movie. I would say that it is trying to bring attention to a subject that gets swept under the rug a lot. Is the military taking care of those that fight for them before and after they are in the force? I have my opinions on that and I'm sure you do as well. I'm not here to push my opinions but I am urging you to think and act. This movie is a call to arms in America. Keep in mind, I saw this film in Venice with an Italian audience.

As the lights went up, people cheered. They clapped and I saw grown men weep. I was lucky enough to watch the film with Dito and Shia in the room. Dito was very cool and gave me a big hug. Nice guy. I thanked him for making a movie that ripped my American heart out and made me think.

If you have an opportunity to watch this film, I suggest you try it. You might love it, you might hate it. It's not a film for everyone. It will evoke strong emotions in you.


Man Up

As some of my readers may know, I'm a big fan of all things British. I adore British Films, television shows, actors and everything in between. Whenever I have an opportunity to see a very British film, I get excited. I had the opportunity to see the film Man Up. The film stars Simon Pegg as Jack and Lake Bell as Nancy.

The film follows Nancy, a 34 year old journalist who is just trying to survive being single in London. She has all of her family and friends pushing her to date and take chances again. She is very afraid to put herself out there. When she does, it ends up hilariously awkward.

Nancy meets a girl named Jessica on the train. Jessica tells the very harsh Nancy that she needs to read a self help book called Six Billion People and you. Jessica is meeting a blind date at Waterloo Station and they will recognize each other because they will have the same book.

Nancy falls asleep and wakes up to Jessica's book left in front of her. Nancy takes it upon herself to return the book but instead gets mistake for Jessica by the blind date, Jack.

Anyone who has seen a Simon Pegg film knows that he can be very charming. In the first 60 seconds they meet Nancy decides she is going to pretend to be Jessica and steal her date because Jack seems wonderful.

The rest of the film is filled with hilarious moments of misunderstanding and witty back and forth with Nancy and Jack. Think of all the crazy and good things that happen on a first date, this movie has them. We run into ex's and old friends from high school. We get our butts kicked bowling and racing around town. We laugh, we cry, and we swoon.

The movie was filmed in London and has beautiful scenic cinematography. I adore the city of London. This movie made me miss fish and chips and cold walks over the Thames.

The film is brilliant at comedic timing. It's hilarious and awkward but has a bunch of heart. Lake Bell is the stand out as Nancy. She is so quick witted but also very vulnerable. As a single girl. I found myself relating to Nancy. Dating is hard and scary. What would I do I a wonderful man thought I was his date. Who Knows? Well....I know that I would have gone for it if he was as charming as Simon Pegg. Plus he's an adorable nerdy British ginger, what's not to love?

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Furious 7

Welcome Welcome one and all. I have seen a ton of movies this year. More than most people see in ten years. I love learning about actors and seeing all their films. I get attached to actors and really come to admire them. Paul Walker was one of those actors. I remember watching him back in middle school and falling in love with his dreamy blue eyes, sexy smile, and charismatic attitude on screen. When he died last year, my heart broke into a million little pieces. I remember reading the news feed and crying. No I did not know him but no one should have to die so young. I have not been able to watch a Paul Walker movie since he died. It was too sad to see this man on screen and know he was no longer with us. I knew that I would have to see Furious 7 and I'm happy that I did. It was a great way to have closure to an actor who entertained us for so many year. Thank you Paul Walker, you will be missed.

Furious 7

The movie is what we have come to expect over the years. There will be sexy cars, impossible stunts that no one would survive, half naked women, cheesy one liners, and comments about not being friends but family. I will fully admit that I love every cheesy moment of it.

This movie starts off with Owen Shaws big brother coming back for revenge. Who plays the perfect British villain when you need one? Well Jason Statham of course! He is the man in black, the secret military man that no one can control. He kills without question and he is good at what he does. In all honesty, he held his own pretty well in this film. Shaw is coming to our Furious gang because of what they did to his brother.

Our new family member Hobbs, played by The Rock, is there to help Dom and the gang fight back. He helps get them in touch with a secret government group run by Kurt Russel. All these teams must come together, to fight a common enemy.

This movie does not have a ton of story to it. I was a little disappointed that there was not more heart to the characters. This movie was all about the action and fighting. Don't get me wrong, the stunts were crazy cool! The camera angles were amazing flipping around and down on the screen. There was not a lot of quiet times of reflection. You could tell that the film had to rearrange some stuff because of Paul Walkers death. Scenes didn't always flow as smoothly as they used to. Every once and a while you could tell that it wasn't Paul Walker. His two brothers came in to help the director finish his scenes. Considering what they had to work with, it was good.

This is a movie for action and suspending your disbelief. Go into this knowing that it is about over the top cars and stunts that no one would ever walk away from. Get ready for Sexy ladies, expensive cars, beautiful men, guns, missiles, and maybe a few helicopters. It was very entertaining and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Was it worth seeing, Yes it was. If you like the other 6 Fast and Furious movies, you will be very happy with this one.

SPOILERS
A little word to people like me. I ended up crying at the end. The movie does a wonderful way of saying goodbye to Paul Walker.  There is a tender montage of his clips from the other Furious movies while Vin does a great voiceover about his friend and brother. No joke, I'm starting to tear up thinking about it. The actors/characters watch as Brian/Paul plays with his son on the beach. They talk about not saying goodbye but see you later. How family never really leaves you and you must keep them in your heart always. It ends perfectly with Brian and Dom driving side by side down the road. At the very end Brian's white car turns left and Dom's car turns right. The sky goes white and they are two words across the screen
For Paul
*Queue Amber's ugly cry face*

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Exodus: Gods and Kings

It seems the past few years we have had a small shift in the film industry. This shift has been slowly leading to more religious and spiritual films. We have had both sides of the spectrum with the very religious like God's Not Dead and we have had loose biblical interpretations with Alfonso Cuaron's Noah. I find myself on a fence with these films because I am both a film critic and a Christian. I try to be open minded to the film content even if I don't agree with it from a religious perspective. I am telling you this because I tried very hard to go into Exodus: Gods and Kings with an open mind.

Let us begin with a wonderful Ridley Scott. When I hear the name Ridley Scott I think of everything from Alien to Legend to Prometheus to Gladiator. I know his film style, I know the epic scale of his films and I know his respect for the Christian faith. Exodus fits into all these things. Be warned that I am about to give away spoilers of the movie. I'm guessing that several people may have read The Book.

The movie starts with Moses (played by Christian Bale) and Ramses (played by Joel Edgerton) going to battle as men. We see how close they are and we see the special bond they share. We also see the close bond that Moses has with Seti, Ramses' father. Later, Moses meets with Hebrew leaders to see the state of the slaves. He meets Joshua, played by Aaron Paul and Nun, played by Ben Kingsley. They tell Moses that he is not a prince of Egypt but a slave that was sent down the river in a basket. His mother is not his mother and his nanny, Miriam, is actually his sister. In a fit of rage Moses leaves and kills two guards that mistake him for a slave. Later Ramses is made Pharaoh and finds out about Moses story. Moses, his mother and Miriam are all  banished and sent in different directions. 

Moses wanders in the dessert then finds a village. A little while later he gets married, has a kid and then sees God. He flees to Egypt where the plagues follow and the story continues. I won't get into much more. From that point it follows the book of Exodus very well. Now to the review portion of this blog. 

Let me start with the things I was disappointed and then jump into the things I loved. The one heads up I will give you is that it is long. A running total of 150 minutes and we could do with about 15 minutes off of it. There are several scenes that Ridley added in that I didn't feel added much to the film. There is a whole 15 minutes where Moses trains the Hebrews in combat and it really never leads anywhere.

Personally, Moses story is my favorite in the entire Bible. (Oops Sorry J.C. you're story is great and I literally wouldn't be here without you) Moses is the character that I relate to in the Bible. His story has pulled at my heart since I was a child. My favorite part of the story is when Moses sees the burning bush and hears God. Ridley did a VERY BAD interpretation of this. Basically, God comes in the form of a child after Moses is hit on the head. There is nothing about removing his shoes because the land he is on is holy ground. There is nothing about Moses taking the staff and there is nothing about God telling Moses that he will be with him. It is a kid telling Moses that he has to go back to Egypt and see what is happening. I mean where is the connection that God shows Moses? I didn't believe that Moses would be willing to leave his family after such a simple vision. God was suppose to speak to Moses in a way that touched his heart. I was disappointed that Ridley didn't follow the biblical text. 

After the burning bush scene I was very worried about how the rest of the story would go. To his credit, Ridley did a great job with the rest. I really enjoyed the way he portrayed the plagues and the havoc they caused in Egypt. I loved the large scale of water to blood, frogs, and hail. The final plague, when death comes for the first born was haunting. As the darkness spreads we see the life get sucked out of the first born. We hear the screams of Egypt and we see Moses completed distraught over it.

Christian Bale did a wonderful job in his portrayal of Moses. I believed he was raised a prince of Egypt. I could feel his inner turmoil about being a Hebrew or being an Egyptian. There was also wonderfully human in the way he interacted with God. In the film, God comes to Moses as a young slave boy. There are wonderful times with Moses shows he is a true Israelite. The translation of Israelite is one who wrestles with God, Moses certainly does that. He struggles with having faith at all and he struggles with the pain he is bringing to Egypt. The Egyptians were his people and the city was his home. Now he must stand aside and watch as the innocent suffer because of Ramses' anger and stubbornness. There is a fantastic moment where God looks at Moses and tells him to step aside because he will show Ramses his true power. Bale did a stupendous job showing that personal pain must come second to the greater needs of others. He knew that the Israelite needed to be free and that he could free them with God's help. 

The other actors in the movie did a fine job. Sigourney Weaver seemed a little out of place as Ramses' mother but she was hardly in it, so I'll let that pass. John Turturro was an interesting choice for Seti. He made him compassionate and a loving father figure to Moses. Turturro was a quiet but important presence in the movie. Aaron Paul was the character I would have liked to see more with. He portrayed Joshua and brought an intense soul to the character. He is filled with rebellion and anger towards the Egyptians, yet in the face of God, he knees and fears God's power. I wanted so much more of Joshua's story. We hardly get to see him and once we see him as a God fearing man, the movie is over. I think it was a total waste of wonderful potential talent.  Joel Edgerton as Ramses was good. I say good because he was very one mood for almost the entire movie. The mood was a mix of arrogance, jealousy, and self fulfillment. He seems to always be jealous of Moses, even from the beginning. Moses is completely devoted to Ramses but Ramses see him as someone the people love more. There are some wonderful scene with Ramses and his son. We see that he could be a loving father and we know that is what will drive him to the edge. 

All in all it was a very good portrayal of the story of Moses. Ridley did a pretty good job of sticking to the Bible and not straying too far from the text. He made the plagues and miracles believable without making them too over the top. Yes, it is a little on the long side but we expect that from Ridley. Was it as good as Gladiator? Sadly, it was not on a Gladiator scale but it was must better than Noah. Is it worth seeing, I would say yes if you are a Moses fan like I am. 









Friday, December 20, 2013

Saving Mr. Banks

Winds in the East, mist coming in. Something is brewing, about to begin. I remember those words being sung to me by Burt right before we meet Mary Poppins. But what is the story behind the movie? How did this magically story go from book to Disney legend? Saving Mr. Banks takes a look at the difficult task it was to create Mary Poppins. The author P.L. Travers is played by Oscar winner Emma Thompson. Mrs. Travers, as she is called in movie, is strict, protective, and a no nonsense woman. She has a large fear that if she sells the rights to Mary Poppins, Walt Disney will turn her into a cartoon character with no real heart. Walt Disney is played by everyone's favorite man, Tom Hanks. To be perfectly honest, there is no one who could have played him better. Personally, I don't think Walt Disney Studios would have approved of any one except for Tom Hanks to play Walt Disney. Tom Hanks brings so much heart and life into Walt. He was a family man that wanted to create magic for children. Hanks shows us the Walt Disney we saw on tv and film but also portrays him as the brilliant filmmaker he was.

Saving Mr. Banks is really two stories in one. The first is about a young girl and her family living in Australia during the early 1900's. We see a beautiful young Travers and her larger than life, full of joy father who is played by Colin Farrell. He has a large imagination and treats his daughter with love and magic. As the story progresses, we see that things are not always as they seem. We learn of Travers real family problems and see that her father is not the perfect man we think he is. We see where the inspiration for Mary Poppins began.

The second part of the story is of Walt Disney Studios in 1961. Walt has been trying for 20 years to buy the rights to Mary Poppins. Mrs. Travers will only agree if she has final script approval. Most of the movie is about the very negative relationship that Travers has with Walt and the fellow creators. For most of the movie I found Travers to be so harsh but thankfully Thompson does a great job of showing her real heart. She was so protective of her story because it was also her life.

I will warn you in advance, bring tissues. The last 30 minutes of the movie has so much heart and truth that I could barely contain myself. I was a crying Hot Mess but every moment was pure magic. This is a film for the Mary Poppins lovers and the Walt Disney Lovers. I am a very big fan of Disney, I think he was a brilliant man that made it ok to believe in magic again. Hanks brings him back to life on screen and we notice how much we miss the real Walt Disney. I say this movie is for the fans because there are so many little tid-bits for you to enjoy. For example, Walt Disney holds the record for the most Oscars ever won in History (22 according to imdb.com) When we first meet Walt, we see all of the Oscars behind the desk. Walt was also a chain smoker but never smoked in public because he didn't want to tarnish the family image. This issue is also addressed in the movies, it's very subtle but it is still there. To it's credit, the film gives truth, life, and magic to the characters. If you love Disney and you love Mary Poppins, this is a film for you.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Conjuring

Who doesn't love a good thrill and chill?! The Conjuring is a scary movie about a family that moves into a house and weird ghost things start to happen.....very original. The movie stars Vera Farmiga as Lorraine a powerful clairvoyant and her ghost hunter husband Ed played by Patrick Wilson. They meet Roger and Carolyn Perron, played by Ron Livingston and Lily Taylor. They have a very haunted house and ask Lorraine and Ed to come check it out.

This movie takes a little while to get going. It starts slowly and has a few jumping moments. It takes about 35 minutes before the movie really gets creepy. I thought the movie was about Ghosts but it turns out to be more of a spiritual battle. That brought a whole new level of scary to the movie. There are a few things I don't mess with and Spiritual battles is one of them. This movie stayed with me because I believe there are forces we don't understand, nor should we.

It's very difficult to do a review on a scary movie because I do not want to give anything away. Let me say that yes it is creepy but it takes WAY to long to get scary. Once the movie gets going, it keeps your attention well.   If you like scary movies, you will enjoy this film. It is like The Exorcist meets Insidious. Over all it was good, I won't buy it because it creeped  me out a little too much to have in the house. I give it a B

The Way Way Back

I have been waiting for The Way Way Back for about a month and a half. I found the trailer on Youtube and knew I would love this movie. I love when films are not afraid to touch on some raw and real emotions. I also really enjoy Sam Rockwell as an actor and was excited to see him in this drama yet comedic role.

Let's get into it. The Way Way Back is a film about a 14 year old boy named Duncan, played by Liam James. Duncan is spending the summer at a cottage belonging to his mother's boyfriend (Pam and Trent). Played by Toni Collette and Steve Carrell. Within the first two minutes of the movie you know that Trent is a giant D-bag to Duncan. For example Trent tells Duncan that on a scale of one to ten, Duncan is a 3. He's horrible to the poor kid. Duncan is already shy and slightly awkward.

The Cottage is on the ocean and all the locals are big drinkers and party animals. It's like spring break for grown ups. Duncan keeps avoiding family and even the cute Susanna next door, played by AnnaSophia Robb. One day, Duncan shows up at the local water park called The Water Wizz. There he meets Owen, played by the charming Sam Rockwell. Owen takes Duncan under his wing and get's him a job working at the water park. Owen becomes the only real friend that Duncan has. Duncan can be himself and have fun for the summer.

The movie is filled with tons of heart and real emotion. It dealt with everything from verbal abuse, to infidelity, to friendship, to first love, to growing up and growing down. Sam Rockwell is so raw and pure as Owen. You miss him when he is not on screen. He brings this fantastic humor and real heart. He helps people embrace who they are, flaws and all. He also has great comedic timing with Maya Rudolph who plays Catilin. They bounce off of each other so well but still have this emotional connection that is the real center of their relationship.

Toni Collette and Steve Carrell do a sensational job playing a couple in love but also a couple confused in what they want. Trent is this man who is so hurtful to Duncan but caring to Pam. He does not act like a parent, he acts like a cliche college party jock you want to punch in the face. Poor Pam doesn't know which day to turn. She wants to be a good mother but she is trying to play this perfect girlfriend. She also tries so hard to fit in with Trent's immature friends, it's almost sad to watch.

Over all it was a great movie that I really enjoyed watching. I laughed so hard I had tears coming down my face. Sam Rockwell stole the story for me, I missed him when he wasn't on screen. I wish the whole movie could have been about Own and the water park. Duncan was adorkable but still managed to pull off this torn teenager.

If you are looking for a good summer movie with tons of heart, this is it. It has a great message and a real story that everyone can relate to. GO SEE IT!! I loved it and I know I will buy it when it comes out.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Host

I will admit, the only reason I read The Host is because Stephenie Meyer wrote the book. The book was a little slow getting started but I really enjoyed the characters. Most of the book has an internal struggle between Melanie and Wanderer. I didn't know how the book would transfer to film. I must say that I was very impressed. I think I might even have liked the movie more than the book!

The Host takes place in the not so distant future. An alien race comes to earth with the goal of taking over the bodies of the people and creating peace and order. A girl named Melanie is part of a small group of human runners trying to stay safe. Melanie is played by Saoirse Ronan and she does a great job playing a duel role. Melanie is running with her brother Jamie, played by Chandler Canterbury and her boyfriend Jared, played by Max Irons. One night Melanie is caught by a Seeker played by Diane Kruger. Melanie jumps out of a window instead of being taken. She survives and the aliens put Wanderer inside Melanie's body. Melanie is still fighting from within. The director did a great job of having Melanie's voice over be in a different accent than Wanderer's.

Melanie talks Wanderer into going into the desert to find Jamie and Jared. Melanie believes that they are hiding with her Uncle Jeb somewhere. Uncle Jeb, played by William Hurt finds Wanderer and decides to take her with him. Jared and Jamie are there and do not believe that Melanie is still alive. Then we meet my favorite character, the charming and lovely Ian, played by Jake Abel. Ian is conflicted because he hates the aliens but Wanda, as they start to call her, is not like the others. I should stop there because I could ruin the whole movie for you.

This movie has a little bit for everyone, it has action, science fiction, and romance. One thing I will warn  you is it is 2 hours and 5 minutes long. There is a small moment in the middle where the movie gets a little slow but give it a minute because it picks up again. The same thing happened in the book too.

Saoirse is fantastic as always, this girl is an amazing actress. She is able to play two people in one body and it makes total sense. She bring a purity and grace to Wanda and a ruthless never ending need to survive in Melanie. Max Irons does a smashing job of playing the sexy yet conflicted man. Most of the movie he is angry and confused about Wanda. Max does a great job of making you hate him one minute and then feel sympathy for him the next. William Hurt is the perfect Uncle Jeb, he brings this sense of compassion and open minded spirit to the group. He is willing to take a chance on Wanda and has faith that something good can come out of all the chaos. My favorite character is by far Ian and Jake Abel is fantastic. Ian is a character that learns to love a person by who they are and there actions. He is willing to keep an open mind and allows himself to feel for an alien that everyone else sees as a murderer. It also helps that Jake is very easy on the eyes. He is more than that, he is full of compassion, love, and pain. Jake is going to have an amazing career ahead of him.

Over all I loved this movie a bunch, I really want to see it again. I know it will for sure be apart of my vast DVD collection. If you feel like Science Fiction and a splash of romance, this is a great movie for you. Make sure you enjoy every minute of Ian on screen because he is MY FAVORITE!!

Over All B+