Friday, December 19, 2014

The Hobbit: 5 Armies Battle and an Era Ends

This holiday seasons marks the final time we return to middle earth, at least as far as new material is concerned. Peter Jackson has taken audiences on an amazing journey and now that trip is over. The Hobbit trilogy will come to an end and hopefully for most, it’s worth the long ride.  These movies are loved by critics and audiences alike. So does the final film exceed expectations or fall short?

We pick up where the last film ends. Smaug is attacking Watertown and the dwarves have reclaimed the mountain. Jackson opens the film with a big battle sequence and the film really doesn’t slow down. The various races learn quickly that the dwarves are back in the mountain with a treasure that everyone wants a piece of. Thorin is surrounded while madness, magic, orcs, battles, and tales of things to come immediately follow and it is every bit worth the ride.

The conflict between the characters is played well. The love triangle that exists between elf and dwarf might not be in the novel, but it plays well on the screen. We get to see what we come to expect from Legolas. He plays a large role and considering he was not in the original story, commands a fair share of screen time. The final battle is not quite as epic as the Two Towers or Return of The King, but it is fun to watch unfold.

Peter Jackson has done an incredible job of letting us into a world that was better described on paper. People have tried live action fantasy for years, but they seldom get it right. Jackson opened a world and let all types of audience into it. The collective work is truly one of the best ever. This final film blends seamlessly with The Lord of The Rings Trilogy. The Hobbit has been a fun journey. It’s sad that it comes to end, but it is definitely a great film in a collection that will remain timeless. The trip back to middle earth is beyond worth taking #onelasttime.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mockingjay Part Stretched Too Long To Drag Out The Franchise

 Teen novels turned into movies are capable of making big money. Twilight, Divergent, The Fault in Our Stars, and of course The Hunger Games are box office gold. The first two movies in this series struck a chord beyond tween girls. Action, pageantry, and above all else a good story. Now the final chapter begins. Will it continue to captivate or play better in the pages of a novel?

 The film opens a few months after the last movie ended. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is now recovering in District 13 after the games and District 12 are all but destroyed. She is angry over Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), confused about whether she loves him or Gale (Liam Hemsworth), and made into a propaganda machine with the help of Effie (Elizabeth Banks) and Haymitch (Woody Harrelson). Katniss must become a symbol of the rebellion and free the oppressed people of Pan Am from the evil President Snow (Donald Sutherland.)

We get a good look at the world of Pan Am beyond the Capitol and it really looks like a horrible place to live. The film does a good job of painting the picture of oppression. It lacks the action the games provided, but compensates with a good cast. Julianne Moore, Natalie Dormer, and the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman all shine. We also get more of Gale this go around. The film is supposed to open us up to a bigger world, but for some reason it feels small. A lot of time is spent in the underground bunker of District 13 and it has a claustrophobic feel to it.

   I think this film suffers from two major problems. The over the top costumes and fun of the capitol are just not present. I am aware that the tone of the book and film are different this go around. It just needed a couple of things to bring us more than doom and gloom. The films biggest problem is the stretch for one more sequel. The majority of the visits Katniss makes to other districts could have been done in montage. We spend a lot of time going no where and it feels like the pacing is off. I know the sequel will make more money and that is all that matters in Hollywood. It's not a bad movie, but it isn't my favorite. Stretching this film into two feels like it is happening at the cost of the things we loved about the first two. The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part One is a game that doesn't play as well as it's predecessors.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Diary Of Fat Kid

So I think a lot of us go through life without realizing what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes. We might show some sympathy or empathy, but the world has made us all more self-focused. I guess by writing this I am part of that group. I don’t have a good reason for writing beyond needing to release some pent up feelings.  
My job allows me to meet individuals from all walks of life. In the corporate radio world, it’s the one thing that really hasn’t changed. I have noticed that all of those walks of life seem to have similar focus. All get caught up in their own world. We get on people for judging others, but isn’t that what society does? We have become so appearance driven that we don’t always allow for individuality.
Let me elaborate. I see so many different diets and health plans out there. Some are great and others are money making schemes. It’s for you to decide which is which. I see people who have lost weight and the social media world congratulates them and rightfully so. I can’t help but wonder if some of those people feel like I do.
 I am someone who has struggled with my weight for a long time. I was close to 320lbs at my heaviest. I have lost well over 80lbs the old fashioned way. Workouts and eating better. I said better, not perfect. The people closest to me say I was happier when I was bigger, but I am not so sure.
 As a bigger person, you find clothes that still look trendy and do your best to look good before you leave the house. When you’re the life of the party, let me tell you how much more difficult that is. You squeeze into sizes you shouldn’t and tell yourself that tomorrow you’ll lose some weight. You head out, drink like a fish, increase your tolerance, and cruise Taco Bell at 2am for an extra 1000 calories before bed time.  I look back and hate that I left the house some nights. You see pictures and are sad, but never seem to be able to do anything about it.
In college, I would eat a large Papa John’s Pizza, a bucked of fried shrimp from Long John Silvers, double quarter pounder, fries, 6 piece mc nugget, milkshakes, and a foot long and a half. Not in one sitting, but I ate the same things my friends did. They just didn’t carry the same baggage. Disgusting right?

 Let’s fast forward. Bike rides, aerobics, yoga, and gym visits and that person should be a lot happier right? Not really. See the fat kid is in a new world. He still has clothes in his closet that are bigger. Are they there in case he blows up and eats a whole large pizza? Are they there as a reminder of where he never wants to be again? The truth is probably someplace in the middle.
 We are interesting creatures. I for one count calories on a daily basis and keep a food journal. I don’t think I could eat a whole pizza if I tried and I haven’t had a quarter pounder since 97. Here is where the unhappiness comes in. Every picture is scrutinized. Appearance dominates my life and in the worst way. I look at every line and shadow. I take a dozen selfies and not because I like how I look, but more because I constantly feel like I am getting fatter.
I am a smaller size than I have been since college and it’s still not good enough. Life is about enjoyment and I don’t enjoy it. While I like spinach salads, I don’t want to eat them every day. I hate feeling like a criminal for having a milk shake once in a while. It’s not fun to freak out if clothes fit a little tighter. You wonder if they shrank in the laundry or you ate that pumpkin spice donut you shouldn’t have. It sucks to criticize every photo and not to display the ones from events you’re really proud of attending. I feel like life was meant to be filled with more than that.
Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to weigh less and I enjoy trying to live a healthier lifestyle. What I don’t like is the mental behavior that comes along with it. I wonder if anyone else feels like this. I wonder if people really take a long enough look at someone who is overweight might be going through? I wonder if people look a little deeper at someone who looks immaculate.
I guess in the end, I just wish I was a little more average some times.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Maze Power Walker

 What happens when you combine the casts of Game Of Thrones, Teen Wolf, and We're The Millers? You get a group of boys trying to figure out why they are in the middle of a maze that changes nightly. That is the Maze Runner. Based off a popular teen novel and now getting the movie treatment like Divergent and The Hunger Games. Adapting teen novels is becoming as popular a movie trend as comic books. In this case, Maze Runner is ahead of the pack in some cases, but it does get a little complex. Complexity works with this one. 

Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) wakes up in an elevator and is deposited into a strange campsite type community of other boys. He's got no memory and no idea what he is doing there. He meets the rest of the group and learns that they are surviving by a set of rules. After he learns they are trapped in a maze, he begins to violate the rules in the hopes of finding a way out of their "prison." He quickly develops a rivalry with Gally (Will Poulter) and when Theresa (Kaya Scodelario) shows up the group begins to divide. Thomas believes that if they don't find away through the maze, they will all die.  


 The beauty of the story comes in the fact that you are as confused as Thomas is. It takes some time to figure out what is going on and that is almost the fun of it. It has several "Lord of The Flies," influences and a few that seem to borrow from ,"Divergent." Marrying these concepts work well and the film really only has a couple of flaws. The camera work during the fight scenes make it really hard to figure out what is going on. The monsters look cool , but the scenes are really busy and hard to follow. There are also a few things left unexplained and I am sure they are discussed in the book. The one issue with books being adapted is things being cut for pacing. Things get removed, but pieces are left on screen and the audience gets confused. 

  I liked the cast a lot and Dylan O'Brien is a future star beyond this and Teen Wolf. I thought it was cool that Will Poulter stretched beyond comedy, but after We're The Millers, I kept waiting for him to start singing TLC'S "Waterfalls." The movie is pretty good and like it or not, a sequel has already been green lit. I am not sure it will see the success of The Hunger Games, but it runs ahead of some of the bad movies that were released in the summer of 2014. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Brown Rice

   Today the video of what actually happened in that casino elevator was released. Ray Rice was terminated from the NFL and opinions have begun to fly. Why did the video just now surface? Who knew about it? Why would anybody defend that type of behavior? All logical questions, but I don't know if we'll ever get the answers we want.

  The Rice issue is part of larger problems. We are a society that forgives far too easy. Regardless of how their incident began, she was never treated like the victim. He played football and made a lot of money. He could have helped to win another Super Bowl so there are those who forgive the unforgivable. Rice isn't the first. Chris Brown can sing and dance so he still has a record deal. It's more than just the two of them. Google "celebrities with domestic violence arrests," and watch how many names come up.

  The world is moving faster, technology is forcing kids to grow up faster, and we don't want to be like our parents or grand parents. There is nothing wrong with advancing ,but there are things that we shouldn't lose. How to treat people with respect being a big one. Men are physically stronger in nearly every instance. Arguments with spouses or signifigant others will happen, but men do not hit women. Most of us learn that rule fairly early in life. So why as a society have we become  so accepting of those who break it?

   Our world is dominated by our need to feed the celebrity beast. I would never say don't be entertained, but don't forget basic values for celebrities or athletes. We let them live as exceptions to rules rather than hold hem to higher standards. We forgive the unforgivable because they entertain us. What does that make us? In a word, pathetic.  The ability to score touchdowns, sing songs, or play characters on the screen do not provide entitlement to beat their spouse. Regardless of how much we are entertained, they are not worthy of our forgiveness.

   Shame on the NFL for not having stronger penalties in place. Shame on record labels for still allowing Chris Brown to have a career. Your actions are teaching the future that their actions are ok. Ray Rice will live with his actions. Millions of dollars will go away and he will be tested. He, Brown, and countless like them are cowards. A line needs to be drawn in the sand and it can only be drawn by us. The people. Stop being so accepting of things that are unacceptable. We are not immortal. We have a finite amount of time and we are wasting it. We are not leaving the right lasting impression and in many cases we are failing at simply being human while using the excuse, "I'm only human."

Friday, August 22, 2014

When The Game...Provides Movie Material


    Sports movies come around pretty frequently. Some are really good and others fail to live up to the ones that come before. When The Game Stands Tall is the latest to take on football. In this case, high school football. It's the story of legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur, who took the De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151-game winning streak that shattered all records for any American sport. He has a different style of coaching and surprisingly doesn't preach the streak, but attempts to teach his players about life. When the streak ends his players must discover where the important things in life begin. 

    The movie has it's share of drama and emotional moments. Jim Caviezel is solid as the coach who is so committed to the team that his family takes a backseat. He is joined by Michael Chiklis who looks like he was born to play some form of football coach.  The film does a great job of demonstrating the power of the legendary win streak. If you have seen Friday Night Lights, then you're aware of how big high school football is in places around the country. Kids in some programs become local celebrities before they graduate.

    The film balances football with the drama that the players deal with. Father and sons collide in moral battles. Pressure to get beyond where you live. Violence that takes people too soon and pressure to live up to the incredible winning streak.

     The football is fun to watch and the film has it's share of dramatic moments. I don't think it will ever be Remember The Titans or Friday Night Lights, but it doesn't have to be. It is a different story. A legendary streak from a coach who set out to teach his players more than the game of football. A guy who tried to create men who knew what it meant to give back to their team and there community. It's not a big summer blockbuster. It will draw plenty of comparison to similar movies, but it in the end it does stand tall enough.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Missed Opportunities

     It has been a summer filled with mostly lackluster movies. Let's be honest X-Men, Captain America 2, and Guardians are the only movies that really deserve a summer movie mention. People will argue a few more, but I am going with the undeniable winners. I don't have the hatred for Michael Bay that a lot of people do. The first Transformers movie didn't ruin my childhood. Now Bay and company tackle Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It is a tough one and I learned after watching this that not every cartoon merits live action. 

    The city of New York is being corrupted by the foot clan and the evil Shredder. The turtles fight crime in the cover of darkness until discovered by up and coming reporter April O'Neil (Megan Fox). She tries to convince people of their existence only to lose her job and accidentally confide in her fathers former employer Eric Sacks (William Fichtner). She eventually discovers that the turtles were part of her fathers lab experiment and develops a friendship with the outcasts. They learn that the Shredder and Sacks plan to release a deadly toxin on the city and it is up to the turtles to stop them. 

   The heroes in a half shell have seen the big screen on four occasions. The most notable are the rubber suited classics from the 90's. The turtles are famous for immature comedy and silliness and the movie does hold true to that. They love pizza and are taught the art of the ninja from a talking rat. The movie is faithful to all of those source points. Make no mistake, the new turtles look much better.

   The redesign is the best part of the movie. The turtles are different sizes and their looks reflect their personalities. They still use their classic weapons and keep the distinctive colors intact. The fight scenes are fun and the movie has a few moments that work well. Shredder looks a bit robotic, but still better than the older movies. 

  The plot feels like a cartoon and is acted out accordingly. Fichtner isn't threatening, but it feels like it was on purpose. The movie seems to treat the audience like they are always nine years old. It never gets to intense on any level. I literally felt like I was watching a cartoon without the animation. 

  The plot is silly and simple and I am not a Megan Fox hater either, but it feels like she is the only one trying to take things seriously. Will Arnet seemed to need a pay check or has kids that he did it for. Fox seems to really try to convey emotion and it just seems even more cheesy. If they make Sharknado 3, Fox should be the lead. 

   It could have been more fun. The origin will anger fans of the original. I think the best turtle movie was the animated TMNT from a few years ago. To me, this is a franchise that really doesn't translate beyond a cartoon. It will make money and people will see it, but in the end it just lacks turtle power. 


Wednesday, July 30, 2014


  It's been awhile since I have wrote something that angered people. I guess I am due. The NFL is hands down my favorite sport to follow, but the NFL has really let me down. It has happened before, but now it has happened in epic fashion.  Obviously the Ray Rice suspension has caused some people to talk. He got a two game suspension for a "domestic incident." He has never been in trouble before so we will go easier on him. WTF!!!!!!!!

  I don't know Ray personally. He might be a great guy and a pillar of his community. Guys who are truly in that character, don't knock their girlfriends/wives unconscious and drag them through a casino. Most men are taught to not beat up the weaker sex. When we grow up as boys, we learn that we are supposed to be stronger and protect our ladies. Apparently our set of values and beliefs have really changed.

  I find myself trying to figure out when beating up girls became OK to forgive. In my book, it's just not. I understand that some people, myself included, are prone to volatile relationships. Relationships can cause both sides to get angry, but as MEN we really need to exhibit some better control. I am not saying it gives women the OK to get physical, but most men are a lot physically stronger.

   I think this started for me with the Chris Brown/ Rhianna situation. I didn't and still can't forgive, but the way I see it, Jesus is the one who forgives. We give celebrities too much slack. They make millions of dollars and we forgive because of who they are. The coach and the city applaud Ray for how he's handling the situation now. WTF!!! If he's a real man there wouldn't be a situation to handle.

   The NFL wants to make sure that you don't swear and use bad language on the field during the game, but go ahead and beat your girlfriend or wife. Only if you haven't had any prior incidents. It should be one and done. Most domestic violence counselors will tell you that it isn't a one time thing.  You were given a chance, Ray Rice, to something very few people get to do. YOU wrecked that opportunity. YOU did. They both blame alcohol? That's the excuse we are going with? If your drunk, beat up who you want! No!

  Grow up and look at what you have. You get pay beyond normal standards. Live beyond the mistakes that come with normal standards. As a public figure, you should be doing it better than the average guy. Yes people are human, but sometimes there shouldn't be second chances. By applauding and supporting how Ray deals with the situation, you are essentially saying it's alright. 

 What the NFL missed is the opportunity to be the leader. The opportunity to hold it's players to a higher standard. The chance to say, "domestic violence is not OK." The Ravens missed the chance to put it's team to a higher standard. Manning and Brady don't end up in theses situations because they get it. There is a segment of the population that seems to OK situations like Ray Rice and Chris Brown. A segment that lets too much slide. People don't stop becoming statistics until the rise above. People don't get better unless they learn to live better. 

  Ray Rice will address the world and will have sadness and regret in his heart. Too late Ray. Real men don't go there in the first place. Real men walk away. Real coaches cut players for this type offense. Real teams hold there players to higher standards. You missed the opportunity to make a statement NFL. Yes, you did make a statement, but it was the wrong one. You failed the fans, future players, and more importantly the kids who look up to the men who are a part of your organization. Roger(Goddell), you did not protect the shield. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gaurdians Of The Next Marvel Box Office Smash

    Marvel has a pretty good track record in recent years. Everything they are doing right now is working. Most of people, myself included, are not really familiar with The Guardians Of The Galaxy. It's a good thing because it keeps the expectations low. It's a bad thing because the Avengers they ain't. They are unrecognizable and it's not quite the same thrill as seeing heroes you grew up with brought to life. Unfamiliarity doesn't matter. This is the movie that Green Lantern should have been. It is a movie that is set in space, but grounded with earthy references. Trust me it makes sense when you see it.

   Peter Quil is taken into space by aliens as a young boy and pretty much lives in galaxies far far away. His only ties to earth is a Walkman with an awesome mix tape. The galaxy is highly populated. The Nova Corp keeps the peace and Ravagers steal and sell things. Quil is kind of the latter. While stealing an ancient artifact, he gets stuck with a female assassin, genetically altered raccoon, plant like creature, and tattooed warrior. All with their own agendas. Aliens are at war and one of the most ruthless is bent on destroying a planet. The unlikely team of outlaws must decide to profit or do what they can to save the universe.

  Most people will have not heard of the villains in the film, but they are solid Marvel characters and introduce us to an even bigger cinematic universe. If you watched the end of the Avengers than you got a glimpse of Thanos. He is a very well known comic villain and gets more of a tease in this one. Ronan The Accuser is the main baddie and it's comparable to the dark elf in Thor: The Dark World. Her isn't the strongest of villains, but he is more than serviceable for the film. The movie does a better job of convincing us that there is a real threat than Fantastic Four or Green Lantern did.

   Bradley Cooper steals the show as Rocket Raccoon. The look is fantastic and he finds himself the center of the comedy. Chris Pratt gives a good run as Star Lord. He can play emotional, comedic, and obviously went through a super hero work out plan. Zoe Saldana works as Gamora, and Vin Diesel doesn't say much, but makes three words speak volumes. Bautista was a big hit. Not quite the Rock, but he was a solid choice for Drax. 

   It's fun. The cosmic setting works. The space ships are cool and there are plenty of character references to the rest of the Marvel Universe. Casual fans should recognize items from the previous Marvel films. Guardians worked because it wasn't afraid to be what it was. It's a space epic that accepts it cheesiness and can appeal to a large audience. The soundtrack is incredible and it's promised that they will return. Hopefully sooner than later. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Transformers: Age of A New Trilogy

       As far as franchises go, none are more polarizing than Transformers. People love to hate Michael Bay. I admit, I hated everything about the first film...until I actually saw it. People complained about everything, the robot designs, too many humans, bad story. I disagreed with all of that. Revenge of The Fallen was week, but Dark of The Moon was pretty darn good despite what some people think. Michael Bay is back with the promise of a new trilogy. The last film killed off the majority of the villains, marked the last appearance of Shia Labouf, and could have wrapped the existing franchise. We are taking another ride with the autobots, but the question for a lot of people is what are we getting this go around?

   Autobots are in hiding and have been hunted down and killed. Lockdown is a transformer bounty hunter and Optimus Prime is his target. The government has cut ties with the robots after the destruction of Chicago and are searching for Prime. Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is a down on his luck inventor who is trying to raise a teenage daughter (Nicola Peltz). He accidentally discovers Prime and finds himself caught in the middle of a deadly conflict. He uncovers the government's plan to build transformers from an alien metal all while discovering the boyfriend (Jack Reynor) he wasn't aware his daughter had. Prime and a small group of autobots must decide whether to flee the planet or help the humans who have been hunting them down. None of them are aware that Megatron has been reincarnated in the form of Galvatron.

  The new human cast works pretty well. They give the franchise a bit of a shot in the arm. No more misadventures of Sam Witwicky. Wahlberg easily pulls off the action scenes and is believable as the struggling single father. Kelsey Grammer is a good lead villain, but I found Stanley Tucci's character a little on the annoying side. The film at times all most has too much comic relief. The dynamic between Wahlberg his daughter and boyfriend provided enough.

Prime and Bumblebee return with a new group of autobots. The film does a good job of explaining why the rest of the old cast are gone. I wasn't too crazy about Drift, but Crosshairs was a pretty cool bot. They are definitely a different group than what the franchise has offered in the past. I think most people will love Hound ( John Goodman). He has a great look and is the bot that truly steals the show. 

   While the new autobots work, the decepticons really don't. Galvatron is kind of a let down. I really hated the design of him. Transformers purists will hate the lack of arm cannon and he really isn't much of a factor. This is a set up of things to come, but he just doesn't do it for me. The remaining decepticons are pretty much useless drones that get blown up. Lockdown is pretty cool, but he isn't exactly a decepticon. He is lethal and is the central villain.

   The dinobots deliver and I liked the way Bay explains their origin. People waiting for some, " Me Grimlock," speech will need to keep waiting, but they are fun to watch even with limited screen time. The story slows at points and then feels a bit rushed in others. The action is top notch and people who like seeing lots of destruction will not be disappointed. The robots have been redesigned and are a little easier to see when transformed. They fail to explain a few things, but not enough to make you hate the film. Peter Cullen's voice is still epic as Optimus Prime. There are hints at Unicron or Quintisons, but people wanting glimpses of either will be let down. The door is left open for some of the original characters to return and it sets up a whole new world of possibilities for the franchise. It isn't my favorite. I still like Dark of The Moon, but Age of Extinction is a big summer pop corn movie and it is good enough.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Fault In Our Stars :A Movie Without Fault

         Let me begin by saying that I thoroughly loved this movie. It based on a book that it's written for me. It is a film designed for an audience that is anything, but me. I truly loved it and can really find no real flaws. I haven't read the novel so others might differ in opinion. I liked this movie for being more than just a love story. More than a story about cancer. More than a exercise in sadness. I love this movie for the overall message or at least the one that I took for it.

        When the movie began, I couldn't help but think of myself in another place. It could explain the reason the film made me feel the way it did. When I am not pretending to write or be a blogger, my real job is radio. A job which led me to do some work for Children's Miracle Network. I couldn't help but think of a teenage girl named Makenzie. When I met her, she was laying in bed very sick. She had no hair and was the image of what dying looked like. I watched as an outsider what her and her family were going through. I suppose it
gave me a clearer understanding of the characters in The Fault In Our Stars. Makenzie's story has a much happier ending and she is doing great. Lets talk about this film.

           Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is a teenager living with cancer who doesn't have much of a positive outlook on life. Her parents urge her to go to a support group where she meets Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort) a fellow cancer survivor and amputee. They share a similar wit, love of a book, and fall in love. Together they take a journey that teaches them the value of life and spontaneity of death. 

        The film is full of colorful characters. They make jokes about there afflictions and attempt to deal with the hand they were dealt. It covers the struggle their parents endure daily. A struggle that I have seen closer than I ever thought I would. It tackles the unfairness of life and shows us the happiness found in simple things. Every generation seems to have a movie like this one. The 80's had Terms Of Endearment. The 90's gave us My Life, the 00's A Walk To Remember, and now The Fault In Our Stars. 

       This is a movie that has more of a message. The audience clapped at every kiss and cried at several moments. It is an emotional ride that reminds of us of a few things. Our heroes aren't always how we imagine, every one's life has it's own special meaning, and sometimes we fall short of the life we imagined for ourselves. All of these things are OK. Life is about being loved deeply and not widely. Maybe you are lucky enough to have both, but being loved at all is truly special. The things we take for granted are usually the special moments that life gives us. We all sometimes forget how little time we all actually have. It shouldn't take a death to remind us of that. Makenzie gave me a lesson in priorities and it's one that she probably didn't realize she was teaching. So again maybe I am seeing this one a little differently. 

       People who haven't read the book will not see the twist coming. People who read the novel seemed to truly love the movie. A life lesson and a good cry are needed once in awhile. It's no secret that I love a big summer action flick, but this is welcome decompression. I appreciate this film for everything that it is and everything else that it doesn't intend to be. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Edge Of Tomorrow :Cruise Into A Really Good Movie

  Let's be honest, Tom Cruise is very polarizing. I love the guy. He makes pretty solid movies, save for a few. He is believable in a drama, romantic comedy, or as a guy who kicks some ass. His resume speaks for itself, but there are those who cannot get over the couch jumping, Scientology, or Katie Holmes. Originally this movie was call All You Need Is Kill. Based off a comic of the same name, but a comic most haven't read. Edge Of Tomorrow became the new title and it is a bit more user friendly. There are rumors that this movie is supposed to flop, but I am here to tell you it is anything but a bad film.

  The movie takes place in the near future. Earth is under attack by aliens that landed as part of a meteor shower. The soldier of the future wears this really cool exoskeleton which allows them to be all they can be and then some. Tom Cruise is Bill Cage. He is the Jerry Maguire of the U.S. Army. He sells the war to the public and handles public relations. Cage, without warning, finds himself on a suicide mission to storm a beach and dies within minutes. His death is just the beginning. Cage is somehow able to repeat the same day over and over each time becoming a better soldier and closer to defeating the alien threat. He meets Rita (Emily Blunt) who, for a while, had the same power and used it to become the greatest soldier in any army.
The two of them are able to formulate a plan that could end up saving their planet.

   Edge of Tomorrow is a combination of a lot of things. It's a little bit Groundhog Day, mixed with some anime type mech, and Starship Troopers. Cruise living the same day over provides a lot of comedy, both physical and verbal. The comedy works. It finds away to ground the movie when it really is an end of the world scenario.  It's repetitive, but it doesn't drag at all. The movie is great at repeating the day, but bringing you back in at different places. It's a complex movie that is easy to follow and I know that doesn't make sense.

   The action scenes are top notch and are big when they need to be. The combat suits are really cool and are anything but Iron Man rip offs. Emily Blunt is believable as a hardcore soldier. She really compliments Cruise and none of their scenes come across as forced. The drop ship sequence is really impressive, but if I had one complaint it would be the look of the aliens. They are not horrible, but they are just tough to follow and look at. They reminded me of the machines in the Matrix merged with the harder to distinguish Decepticons from Transformers. 

     You most likely won't recognize too many of the cast, save for Cruise, Blunt, and Bill Paxton. I think that helps the movie. It is a Tom Cruise movie and that is what makes it work. He has charisma and even though he is aged, can still deliver. Good action, solid cast, interesting story, and a good balance of comedy make Edge of Tomorrow a good summer flick that is worth your time. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Maleficant :Not The Sleeping Beauty You Remember

         Taking a classic animated film and bringing it to life isn't an easy task, even for Disney. They tried this before in some capacity with the Sorcerer's Apprentice and while I didn't hate it, it didn't move the needle. This go around they tell the story of Sleeping Beauty through the eyes of one of Disney's greatest villains, Maleficent. Angelina Jolie is cast in the title role and she brings with her some baggage. She is a great actress, but there are people who dislike her for the sake of it. Rumors of tension between her and director Robert Stromberg, a inflated budget, and people not crazy about the concept in general makes it a high  risk endeavor. Will the risk pay off?

       Two neighboring kingdoms have their issues. Maleficant is a care free fairy living in a magical forest. She meets a human, falls in love, and grows to be a protector of her forest kingdom. She is betrayed by her only love and grows cold and evil. Upon learning that the man who broke her heart and robbed her of one her most precious possessions, has become the king she becomes more angry. She curses his first born daughter and builds a wall of thorns. The king grows mad while Maleficant watches and befriends his daughter. Soon she begins to regret the curse that cannot be broken and discovers that she is both the hero and villain of the story.

    Angelina Jolie looks the part. She can play dark and lonely, but at the same time is great when she brings comedy to the classic villain. The look of the film is incredible and it really does a great job of bringing the character to life. She is the villain of the story, but you cannot help but sympathize with her plight. The magic is fun and it's tough to imagine anyone, but Jolie in the role.

     The rest of the cast is fun too. Sharlto Copley is such a good villain. He is a great actor that I think a lot of people over look. He is the bad guy, but he does a great job struggling with the evil side of himself. Copley is the king, but is so good at being crazy that it's fun to watch. He is great when he begs and believable when dishing out threats.

      Maleficant is visually stunning. The story takes what you loved about the classic and creates depth. It makes the old new again. Great cast, great balance of action and story, and fun for nearly every age and gender. Disney has lost a lot in the last few summers. John Carter, The Lone Ranger, and a couple of others. Maleficant was a risk, but some risks pay off and this one should. It is definitely worth the reward and truly is a beautiful film. It's not the classic Sleeping Beauty, but it offers up so much more.