The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This movie is about high school students. And it’s actually somewhat good. Shocking, I know. Charlie (Logan Lerman) is a wall flower. I know. You are totally floored because the connection between the story and the title wasn’t more obvious. Charlie, very shy, lives on the sidelines, watching, rather than participating. When he starts high school, however, things begin to change when he meet Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson). Charlie’s new friends not only bring him into the center of his life but teach him about himself.

Okay, with a summary like that, I’m sure you are wondering how this is an interesting movie, but let me assure you, there is a lot more to it. The film was released in 2012 and directed by Stephen Chbosky. Interestingly, Chbosky not only directed the film but also wrote the book it was based on of the same name. Which is probably why the film is such a close adaptation. I read the book before seeing the film. I enjoyed it so much I stayed up all night to finish it. For a book about high school students it has some very raw, powerful prose. Chbosky is somehow able to put the spirit of that into his film.

What I believe is so resonating about this film is that it tells s story everyone can relate to. We all get lonely at times, or wish we were accepted more, or by different people, or that our romantic relationships were different. All of those ideas are here, and more. Which makes the film feel very honest, and sincere, and definitely not as contrived, as, say, a John Hughes movie. This is not that surprising, considering that both the novel and the film are based on the life of Stephen Chbosky.

It is a bit of a tragic film, but I don’t feel that it necessarily qualifies as a tragedy. As the film unfolds, viewers learn Charlie is on the sidelines of life so much because of a traumatic moment in his past. Towards the end, when the audience learns exactly what happens to Charlie, it’s very shocking and sad, but what the movie is really about is how he deals with it. Which really makes it a beautiful story.

The film is also edited very well. There is a moment Charlie kind of breaks down, and the editing starts skipping around so the audience starts having an experience comparable to what Charlie’s going through, which is very powerful.

As far as the acting, Emma Watson is great, and does a very convincing American accent. I want to be the new best friend of Ezra Miller. I did enjoy the performance of Logan Lerman, but he kept reminding me of a young Michael Cera. I guess it could be worse.

So, for a very artistic movie that is able to make high school students interesting, (probably because they are not cheerleaders) I give this movie an 8, and highly recommend people to read the book and/or see the film.

A Guide to Summer Movies, 2014

For all of us summer can be a very confusing time regarding to movies. All of these big blockbusters are coming out, and those of use that are complete lemmings have no idea which ones to watch. Never fear! Your fearless Squid Leader is here to guide you through the summer quagmire and give you the in on what movies are actually worth seeing. Though I must say I have higher film standards than most, so respond accordingly.

Godzilla

Out in theaters

 

Once again, a new version of Godzilla, the famous Japanese monster! I personally do not enjoy most monster movies, but if you are an adrenaline junkie who just wants to see buildings get destroyed, this is the film for you!

 

Recommendation: eh, meh. Translation, take it or leave it. A new version will be made in ten years anyway.

X Men: Days of Future Past

May 23

 

I have pretty much given up on the X-Men franchise. I hated the third X-Men, despized the Wolverine X-Men whatever you call it, and thought X-Men origins was mediocre at best. However, this film intrigues me. It looks like a very fresh take on it and I think it has the potential to be a very cool film. Perhaps the only reason that X-Men Origins sucked was because it didn’t Hugh Jackmen. Come on. Sex appeal is a real thing.

 

Recommendation: See it!

Maleficent

May 30

 

This is the latest Disney revival of turning a classic animated film into live action. The last one I am referring to is Mirror Mirror, Disney’s twist on Snow White. This film seems very promising. Mainly that has to do with Angelina Jolie. Whether or not she is a home wrecker, I respect her power as an actress. I am also very interested in seeing the character of Maleficent being played out in live action, being what I believe is the most evil Disney villain. In the original Sleeping Beauty Maleficent is just evil for no good reason, so I am eagerly awaiting to see how Angelina Jolie and Disney filmakers will provide her more depth.

 

Recommendation: See it!

A Million Ways to Die in the West

May 30th  

 

I’m not really sure what to make of this film. It looks funny, though I usually like more than just humor in my movies. But I have to say it has a very interesting cast. I think Seth MacFarlane is a master commedian, though I did want to kill him over Ted. And I am a huge fan of Neil Patrick Harris. Just the fact that he’s in the movie might make me want to see it, if it were not for the fact that Sarah Silverman were also in it. I find her so annoying she cancels Neil Patrick Harris out. So, anyway, from the trailer, this film appears to make fun of traditional western movies, and looks like it could possibly be fun. Those of you who have high standards for movies like me, don’t touch it with a ten foot pole.

 

Recommendation: Uh… Maybe?

How to Train Your Dragon 2

June 13

 

For those of us who loved the first How to Train Your Dragon. According to the trailer, it appears the dragons that have become the beloved pets of the vikings face a new threat. Adventure is mixed with witty humor and light-hearted fun in this film appropriate for all ages! All my squid readers know I am very wary of sequels, especially from film companies that always make frnachizes for children, but I enjoyed the first one so much, I think this one is worth the risk.

Recommendation: See it!

 

 

 

Transformers: Age of Extinction

June 27

 

NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why????? What did I do? Michael Bay, I understand that you seem to like masturbating to explosions and mind numbing, pointless action, but please don’t force your porn on the masses!

 

This is the fourth installment of the Transformers Franchise. It is also the first one without Shiah LeBouf. Perhaps he finally got a spine. The fact that Tranformers could be so easily revived without their usual protagonist just shows how in depth their characters are.

 

Go see this if you like movies with no real story or character development to speak of.

 

Recommendation: AVOID AT ALL COSTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

July 11

 

Wasn’t a Dawn of the Planet of the Apes already made? Oh, wait, that was Rise of the Planet of the Apes, my mistake. Honestly, I did not see the Rise of the Planet of the Apes, because it just did not appear very interesting to me. Although I must admit the trailers for this film make the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes somewhat interesting. You have a large civilization of apes (obviously) with a small pocket of human survivors. What makes me want to se this is you have the usual plent of the apes story combined with dystopian, post apocalyptic humans fighting for their lives. The trailser make it appear very epic, so i think it could be worth a viewing.

 

Recommendation: Why not?

Jupiter Ascending

July 18th

 

After viewing the trailer, my response was “What?” There seems to be a hell of a lot going on in this film. What seems to be going on, Mila Kunis is a royal alien who has to save the world with Boromir and a guy with pointy ears/ From what I saw, it appeared to be a very typical sci-fi movie. I didn’t really see anything that would make me want to see it. But if you love sci-fi movies, give it a chance.

 

Recommendation: I think better movies are coming out…

 

Hercules

July 25th

 

Okay, just picture this, the Rock (yes, Dwayne Johnson is still trying to act) holding a sword with a lion on his head and smiling open mouthed like a maniac. Enough said, but I sha’ll continue. This appears to be a strange combination of 300 and Clash of the Titans. I can actually think of a good reason to see this movie. Sneak alcohol in with you and mock it as you watch it. that is how absurd it looks.

 

Recommendation: Don’t waste your time.

Guardians of the Galaxy

August 1st

 

This trailer made me laugh a couple of times. It appears to be making fun of super hero sci-fi films. That said, it also seems to have really intense scene of action. That said, I didn’t see much I would consider riveting.

 

Recomendation: Take it or leave it.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

August 8th

 

The trailer that I watched did not tell me much of anything about the actual story of this movie. But considering this movie is produced by Michael Bay that is probably more than I need to know regrarding this film’s quality. The trailer made it look like just a bunch of mindless action. I was never a fan of the original stories of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles anyway. Though they have cool names.

 

Recommendation: No

The Giver

August 15th

 

Does this title sound familiar? That is because this film is based off of a book that has been read by students in middle schools for a good number of years. I think I personally have read the Giver 5 times. Honestly, I’m surprised it took this long for a film interpretation to be created. In the near future people live in a utopian society that deprives people of their basic choices. Jonas discovers just what such a society deprives its citizens and tries to find a way to escape. From what I saw in the trailer the only real positive thing I saw was Meryl Streep. I think it is very likely that this film will end up bombing. However, I love this book, so I am going to see it anyway.

 

Recommendation: See it!

 

While I do enjoy sharing my opinions about movies, I am very aware others do not share mine. Whatever summer movies you want to go see, even if it is Transformers, I hope you all have enjoyable film eperiences!

Top Ten Movie Speeches

10. “I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich.”

Actor: Billy Crystal as Harry

Movie: When Harry Met Sally

 I believe this is the best speech of any romantic comedy, which gave it a spot on this list. Everyone who has seen this movie simply knows it as the When Harry Met Sally Speech for good reason. In this speech, Billy Crystal runs through all the reasons why he loves Meg Ryan in a both funny and yet heart-felt enough way to even make a cynic like me go gushy.

9. “What is there to explain?”

Actor: Hillary Swank as Alice Paul

Movie: Iron Jawed Angels

Of all the movie speeches on this list, I would wager this is the one you have never heard of. Iron Jawed Angels is one of the few HBO feature films with some actual quality. It is about how women passed the 19th amendment. The speech in question is performed by Hillary Swank, playing the true life character of Alice Paul. She gives this speech when she is questioned by a doctor in the mental ward of a prison she is in after picketing a war time president. She eloquently explains her position as a suffragette, revealing that all she really wants are the same thing men want as well.

I couldn’t find a youtube video of just the speech so skip to 5:32 on the video to get straight to it.

8. “If I asked you about art I bet you could give me the skinny on every art book ever written…but I bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel.”

Actor: Robin Williams as Sean Maguire

Movie: Good Will Hunting

Good Will Hunting, an impeccable film, has multiple good speeches, but I think this is the best one. Robin William’s character is speaking to Matt Damon (Will) about how even though he is extremely intelligent, he has really never experienced anything in his life.

7. “You’ll never write well if you fear death.”

Actor: Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway

Movie: Midnight in Paris

 Corey Stoll’s great performance as Hemmingway makes this speech unforgettable. It is so powerful and also kind of funny in a very subtle way. The first time I saw this scene, I thought, “I’m not quite sure what he said, but he said it beautifully,” which just goes to show the power of his words.

6. “The Lambs Were Screaming”

Actor: Jodie Foster as Clarisse Starling and Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lector

Movie: Silence of the Lambs

 The power in this speech (and really the whole film) is how the actor’s feed off each other. You have Anthony Hopkins playing Hannibal Lector gazing at Jodie Foster (Clarisse) so intensely, and Jodie Foster respinding with raw emotion as she tells him about her childhood trauma when he came across screaming lambs.

 

 

5.  “My Name is Maximus”

Actor: Russell Crowe as Maximus

Movie: Gladiator

 You all know this rivetting scene, when Maximus faces Commedus with eyes of glaring hatred and completely tells him off in a tour-de-force diatribe that leaves you shivering.

4. “Here’s Lookin’ at you kid.”

Actor: Humphrey Bogart as Rick

Movie: Casablanca

 There was no way I could leave Casablanca out of this list. This is at the end of the movie when Rick persuades Elsa to get in the plain with Victor even though they love each other in the most beautiful scene on the silver screen.

3. “They May Take Our Lives, but they will never take our freedom!”

Actor: Mel Gibson as William Wallace

Movie: Braveheart

I am not a particularly large fan of Braveheart, but I have to admit that this is a very awesome speech. I think that every speech a general gives in front of his troops in a movie goes back to this powerful scene that pretty much every Western man knows by heart.

2.  “And You Will Know My Name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee!!”

Actor: Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield

Movie; Pulp Fiction

Do I really have to explain this one? Come on.

  1. “You Can’t Handle the Truth!”

Actor: Jack Nicholson as Col. Jesip

Movie: A Few Good Men

 For the best movie speech, I chose the one Jack Nicolson gives in A Few Good Men. I realize that saying “You can’t handle the truth” is kind of a joke now, but that is only because it is from a very memorable speech that sticks in people’s heads. In this scene, Col. Jesip is explaining the role he plays as a colonel heading Guantanamo Bay. His speech is so intense and deranged that it goes beyond awesomeness. Just watch the clip. it says it all.

Being that there are some really amazing movie speeches out there, please speak up if I forgot some great ones. Or, feel free to argue with my choices!

Feminist Disney Princesses… Or Not

This is no recent hot off the press news that for many years, Disney has been heckled for putting very antifeminist messages into their movies. Since the Disney Renaissance, it seems the Disney film makers have been doing cartwheels to try and create a Disney Princess that aren’t, well, to say it truly, subservient and misogynist. It seems that with every new movie Disney creates with a Princess, it is celebrated as the first feminist Disney princess, and finally a whistle blower scholar says, “Wait, they did it again. This princess isn’t feminist at all.” In this post, I will go over each Disney princess beginning with Ariel from The Little Mermaid at the height of the Disney Renaissance to show how these princess movies are somewhat feminist, but not quite enough. More to the point, why Disney has still not created a true feminist Disney princess.

 

Ariel

The Little Mermaid (1989)

Why the Movie Seems Feminist

 

Ariel was the first deceptive attempt of the feminist Disney princess, and for a first try, Disney got closer than most people could reasonably expect. Here is why Ariel at first glance can be seen as somewhat feminist. Compared to the Disney Princesses before her (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella) Ariel is very assertive. She defiantly challenges the will of her father. She shows multiple acts of courage, going up against a shark, and being close to humans when in her upbringing she was taught they were dangerous. She goes against normal court life.

 

Why It Really Isn’t

 

So, yeah, Ariel has some good spunk. But when you come down to it, she is still pretty anti-feminist. This is mainly because of the myth of a mermaid entirely. According to the myth, a mermaid can only become human if she is kissed by a male, has sex with a male, or if a male tells her he loves her. In all these variations, it is pretty much saying that a woman cannot be considered a valuable member of society unless she is accepted by a man. More than this, we also must consider that Ariel feels the need to change herself for a man. And to do so she is willing to give up her voice, the main source of her assertive power. You could even say that by the end of a movie, Ariel is given back her voice by a man.

 

Belle

Beauty and the Beast (1991).

 

Why The Movie Seems Feminist

 

Belle is Disney’s first intellectual Princess. She is an opinionated, avid reader, who also desires to expand her horizons and encounter adventure. She also rejects a proposal of marriage.

 

Why It Really Isn’t

 

While Belle has a lot of strength, she still, in the end, is an anti-feminist princess. Because in the end, she still has to be saved by a prince, albeit, a very hairy one. And she still has one of those iconic scenes in almost every Disney princess movie when she throws herself on the bed and starts sobbing uncontrollably. Also, it is a bit strange that Belle desires adventure, has a little of it, and then gets married. By normal standards of the 1800’s, other than childbirth, her adventures are over.

 

Jasmine

Aladdin (1992)

Why the Movie Seems Feminist

 

Very similar to Ariel, Jasmine has a lot of spunk and disobeys her father’s will. She almost violently opposes marrying someone she does not love. She is also very adventurous and opinionated.

 

Why It Really Isn’t

 

Two words: the outfit. How can she be seen as anything but an object in those skimpy clothes? But, more than that, just like Belle, Jasmine also, in the end, needs to be saved by a man.

 

Pocahontas

Pocahontas (1995)

Why the Movie Seems Feminist

 

Pocahontas is probably the closest to a true feminist princess thus far. Mainly because rather than John Smith saving her, she saves him. It only took Disney six years to get that right.

 

Why It Really Isn’t

 

Yes, Pocahontas saves John Smith, but the film is still very dependent on a romance. In the context of the film, Pocahontas is not being strong and independent just to stop bloodshed, but for her love of john Smith. A true feminist story would be her doing this without love in the picture.

 

Esmeralda

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

Why the Movie Seems Feminist

 

Esmeralda stands up for her oppressed Gypsy kin against the vicious Lord Frollo. You go girl!

 

Why It Really Isn’t

 

Please tell me you know this one, because these are getting very repetitive. Because like all the other movies, there needs to be a romantic subplot, and she needs to be saved by a man in the end.

 

Meg

Hercules (1997)

 

Why The Movie Seems Feminist

 

Meg is the first sassy Disney princess. She’s even quite overtly sexual. In fact, I’m not quite sure this movie was made with kids in mind. She is intelligently witty and fights to stand up for herself even while she is owned by Hades.

 

Why It Really Isn’t

 

Surprise surprise, she gets saved by a man.

 

Mulan

Mulan (1998)

Why She Seems Feminist

 

Mulan is very close to the real deal. Like Pocahontas, rather than being saved, she saves herself. More importantly, she dresses as a man, works as a soldier, and becomes the type of hero that the prince figure usually is in Disney movies.

 

Why She Really Isn’t

 

They were so close! But of course, in the end, Mulan is a love story, as if Disney is saying, no matter how strong you are, every woman must have love in her life with a strong man you can rely on.

 

Tiana

Princess and the Frog (2009)

 

Why the Movie Seems Feminist

 

Tiana is close to a modern aspiring business woman who wants to better herself.

 

Why It Really Isn’t

 

But of course, she just has to find love. It is impossible for her to be happy without it.

 

Rapunzel

Tangled (2010)

Why the Movie Seems Feminist

 

As a girl who has been locked up and cloistered all her life, Rapunzel dreams of freedom and independence. God, who he hell wouldn’t?

 

Why It Really Isn’t

Despite Rapunzel’s spirit of independence, she is willing to give that up for a man.

 

Elsa and Anna

Frozen (2013)

Why the Movie Seems Feminist

 

When Frozen was released there was huge hype in the media of it being the real first feminist Disney movie. First off, Elsa is queen in her own right, and has magical powers. She is very easily the most powerful Disney princess to date. Even more so, Frozen sets up the true-love’s-kiss trope to save Anna, but makes an unexpected twist. Anna is saved by her sister’s love rather than the love interest.

 

Why It Really Isn’t

 

Okay, I will admit that with Frozen Disney really tried their best to make a more feminist film. And the twist on the true-love’s-kiss was definitely a step in the right direction. However, there are other issues. The song Fixer Upper almost explicitly sends the message that everyone’s problems are perfected with love. Go on girls! Lower your inhibitions! Get married right now despite any reservations so you can procrate! And, once again, despite everything, in the end, this movie still has a love interest.

 

What it all Means

 

I’m sure my readers have noticed that these summaries became very repetitive. The fact that all Disney princess movies have a romantic subplot sends the message that women cannot be happy without love. Disney is perfectly capable of making movies around male protagonists without a romantic subplot (Brother Bear, a good portion of the Pixar films),  and yet they have never done this with women protagonists or princesses. At least not in their animated films. It really begs the question, is Disney convinced that romance sells movie tickets, or are the writers just plain misogynists?

 

Donnie Brasco: Forget Aboud’ It!

I’ve watched gangster films before: The Godfather, of course, the biggie, The Untouchables, Public Enemies, American Gangster, for the most part, I don’t find this film genre especially riveting, except for some shining gems. When I say gems I mean The Godfather. Donnie Brasco is by no means a bad film. But it is not The Godfather. Then again, so few films are.

Donnie Brasco came out in 1997, and stars a young Johnny Depp and an aging Al Pacino. An FBI agent, Joseph Pistone,(Depp) who uses the alias Donnie Brasco, goes undercover to crack open the New York Italian mafia. Eventually, the middle manager, Lefty (Pacino) takes him under his wing. But the closer Joseph gets into the mob, the more he begins to identify with it, and even become the very same people he is trying to expose.

I enjoyed this film more than most gangster movies I’ve watched, and others have agreed. Donnie Brasco is considered as one of the iconic gangster movies in film history. It is based on a popular novel by Richard Woodley, is based on a true story, and was nominated for best writing and best screenplay based on material previously produced or published at the 1997 Oscars. The film does have some definite strengths.

The beginning is set up in total en medias res. For a while the audience really has no idea what is going on, which I think is meant to make viewers have a similar experience to Joseph as he’s absorbed into the mafia, a world so different from anything he’s ever known. It also creates the needed feel of tension and excitement. The character of Joseph is fleshed out in a very interesting way. The audience learns just enough about Joseph to barely understand him, so when he begins to be lost in the mafia world, we really start questioning him. The ending was blunt and powerful.

 

The only critique I have of this film is that I got quite bored for a good hour in the middle. It just didn’t hold my interest enough. And perhaps that is not a bad thing. Perhaps it just says I am just not quite so interested in most gangster films.

I feel like I want to give this film a 6, but it does have some really big strengths, but I don’t think it deserves a 7, so I will settle with a 6.5. It deserves that extra .5 if only because in the film Lefty forces Joseph to shave off his god-awful mustache. Let’s all thank him for keeping up Johnny Depp’s appearances.

I’M BACK!

Dear Squids! I know I have been pretty much MIA for two years. My life has been crazy. I just finished my first year of graduate school, and now I am on summer break and have some free time, so I thought it was time to revive my blog.

So, for my first new post, I thought I would go over the movies I saw in theater since my absence, provide a rating, and a breif explanation. So, here we go.

 

Anna Karenina: 2012

Rating: 8

 

I loved this movie. The acting was enthralling. The two main characters (Kiera Knightley and Jude Law) create such tangible, raw emotions more powerful than few other films. What I loved most about this movie was the way director Jon Wright makes it look like a play. The film begins with a curtain going up, and characters have extravagant gestures and motions in a delightful way. Also, the adding of the repetitive sound of the train that will eventually kill Anna Karenina (sorry for the spoiler alert if you have not yet seen the movie or read the book).

That said, This film is not without flaws. It is very long. A very reasonable problem considering this movie was adapted from a Tolstoy novel, but anyway I think the editing could have been just a bit tighter to shave off at least a half an hour.

 

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunter: 2013

Rating: 2

I don’t remember too much about this movie, except for the amazing face that I was actually able to be dragged to see it. That said, this movie was entertaining, not a bad way to kill an hour and a half. That’s really it. It didn’t stick with me. It was predictable, unchallenging, and a clear formula action movie. All though I will admit the costumes were pretty cool.

 

Iron Man 3: 2013

Rating: 5

I believe the first Iron Man is actually a pretty good movie. I haven’t reviewed it on this blog, but I think I’d give it a rating of 7. I despised Iron Man 2. My favorite thing about Iron Man was the witty banter that Tony Stark (Robert Downy Jr.) has with Pepper Pots (Gwenyth Paltrow). The second movie completely loses it, is not near as innovative, was sloppily put together, and quite frankly, I found it boring. However, while I know a lot of fans hated Iron Man 3, I thought it was much better than Iron Man 2. I was relieved to see the witty repartee restored. I also found myself sitting on the edge of my seat like the first one. However, I still think Iron Man the original is the best of the trilogy. The third one had a few problems. I found the motives of the villain not very clearly established. And Pepper Pot’s moment in danger was very predictable. Still so much better than the second one. Then again, it’s not hard to make something better than complete crap.

 

Ender’s Game: 2013

Rating: 6

I was really looking forward to this movie. I loved the book. In fact, I read it in about two nights. I actually really enjoyed the film. I thought it was a very good book to film adaptation. Of course, some stuff was left out, but that is always the case. I think Gavin Hood kept what was needed to keep the themes of the book alive.

That said, I am not sure I would have enjoyed it as much as I did had I not read the book. I have a feeling without reading the book the film would have been very hard to follow.

 

Hunger Games: Catching Fire: 2013

Rating: 6

I preferred this film to the first one, which really surprised me. I found this movie was better put together, easier to follow, and the action didn’t give you a headache. I also found that this film is much stronger in resonating emotionally. It’s hard for me to explain why I gave it a 6 because it has been a number of months since I saw it, but I am clear I did not think it was a perfect film.

 

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 2013

Rating: 4

So if you have read my review of the first Hobbit, you know I was very disapointed by the movie. I do think this film is better, but only because of one thing: Smaug. Smaug the dragon was amazing. Benedict Cumberbatch was the perfect casting, just as much as Andy Serkis was for Gollum in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

That said, I found other aspects of the film bad enough to have made Tolkein turn in his grave. I will only write about one, because it really pissed me off: the romantic relationship between Killi and the female Elf, whatever her name was. I don’t have such a big issue that this story-line was not in the book. I understand that book to film adaptations need to make changes. However, I think it is possible for film makers to make these changes while still keeping the most important themes from the books alive. For example, was Tom Bombadil really necessary in The Fellowship of the Ring? No. So my question is, what the hell is this interspecies relationship attempting to do? It’s admirable if Jackson was trying to give a nod to interracial romance, but it seems so implausible after the LOTR trilogy taught us that elves and dwarves are at each other’s throats. For God sake. It took Legolas and Gimli three films to trust each other ad become friends. A hundred years before, a dwarf is going to fall in love with an Elf and vise versa in all of two minutes? I’m sorry Jackson. Think again.

 

Saving Mr. Banks: 2013

Rating: 10

I loved this movie. It is rarely that a a film makes me cry at the end not because of sadness, but because I am so overcome by the beauty. But I did that at the end of this film. I found no faults. I think the strongest aspect of this film was the cast. Emma Thompson is one of my favorite actresses, and she was amazing. As far as I am concerned, Tom Hanks is now the only man who can play Walt Disney, and Colin Farrell and Paul Giamatti were impeccable as well. However the film was also put together seamlessly as throughout the story are frequent flashbacks. Also, there is a powerful subtlety that really made this film a joy to watch.

 

Monuments Men: 2014

Rating: 4

I really wanted to see this movie because of it’s all-star cast and the historical narrative it is presenting. However, I was disapointed. The film suffered from the common issue of too many characters. It was plot driven, not character driven, so I couldn’t get as emotionally connected. Also, the plot continually going in different directions was incredibly hard to follow.

However, for a WWII movie this film has a good amount of enjoyable, clelver humor.

 

Jack Reacher: 2012

Rating: 2

I’ll be honest. The only reason I saw this film was because one day when I was living in Korea I took my host sisters to Daegu. We went to a theater and I told them we would see any movie they wanted. They picked Jack Reacher. I was disapointed, but I kept my word. I don’t seem to remember finding anything redeemable about this movie. A very typical action movie, down to the seemingly dark and corrupted hero to the villain who persuades his hench men to eat their fingers.

 

Epic: 2013

Rating: 7

I am often wary of going to see children’s movies, simply because a large portion of them are only meant to satisfy an audience of five-year-olds that it lacks any real depth. I still want to get the hour I lost watching G-Force. However, Epic left me presently surprised. While it seemed enjoyable to children, the story was complex enough to keep me enthralled. The creation of a microscopic civilization was detailed to the point that it almost seemed to reach LOTR standards for me. The animation was also very well done. I would say one of the best children’s films I have seen in the last few years.

 

OK, so I am hoping to get some new posts going in the next few days. Unfortunately, being a graduate student, I am quite poor, so I don’t know how much I will be able to review new films. I guess you’ll all have to be complacent with what I can access on Netflix.

 

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Low

I have been living in Korea for almost six months, and I have only seen two movies in theaters. The first was Step Up Revolution (because my young impressionable host sister wanted to). It took me three months but I finally got that wretched taste out of my mouth by seeing the Hobbit.

After the wild success of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the Hobbit has been one of the most awaited films this year. An avid LOTR fan myself, I have been waiting just as eagerly. The Hobbit is based on the book that came before the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the story of how Bilbo Baggins discovered the Ring.

Having read the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, I knew to expect a different flavor. While LOTR was dark and depressing and full of death, the Hobbit was pretty much a children’s story that foreshadows the doom that approaches Middle Earth. These stories are very different, so I’m trying not to compare the two, but that’s kind of impossible. I didn’t exactly hate the Hobbit, but I didn’t enjoy it near as much as I did any of LOTR.

First, the bad. What I loved about LOTR was that when I watched, it never felt like I was watching a fantasy movie. It was so rich in detail and artistry that nothing felt fake. It was more like watching a historical documentary, but much more entertaining. As I was watching the Hobbit, I knew I was watching a fantasy movie.

For more specific complaints, I had a huge problem with a scene in which two giant men made of stone were ripping mountains apart. During this sequence, Bilbo and his party of Dwarves are split up and have to jump across a huge rift. Sound familiar?  Almost the exact thing happened in the Fellowship of the Ring when the Fellowship was in the Mines of Moria, but that was better done. Come on Peter Jackson, get a little more creative.

I hated the Goblins. The monsters in LOTR were awesome. In my head, I knew they had a lot of make up and CG, but they were still scary and real. They were believable.  The goblins were not. The Goblin king was also given a few zinger lines that were supposed to be funny, but they weren’t.

The Hobbit was also filled with too many very cliche moments. I know LOTR had moments with cliche ideas in them, but they were done in a subtle enough way that didn’t make you want to groan. There were too many times in the Hobbit when I was being clobbered over head. Okay, Thorin is going to go battle his arch enemy. I get it. He doesn’t have to run through flames for 15 minutes. Yes, the Hobbit was brave and the Dwarves are surprised. Guess who isn’t?

I also think the beginning of the movie took too long. I know the introduction of The Fellowship took forever, but at least it was entertaining and interesting. In The Hobbit, not so much. I understand why Jackson brought back Elijah Woods and Ian Holmes. That was a great nod to the fans. However, it wasn’t really needed, at least, not as long as it took. A lot of that could be cut and no one would miss it.

Okay, now to the nicer part. Regarding the Dwarves. In LOTR, you only really get to know one Dwarf: Gimli, and he only serves as comic relief. Good comic relief, but I enjoyed how in the Hobbit, you get to see more of Dwarvish culture and get to understand them more.

And somehow, Jackson was able to make Dwarves sexy. I don’t know how he did it, but Legolas who?

The bits of the Dragon that you see were done very well. I am so glad Smog was not revealed completely. Viewers saw just enough to want to come back for more.

By far, however, my favorite part of this movie was the Riddle in the Dark scene, or the scene with Bilbo and Golem. That scene was straight from the book, and it was great seeing such an iconic moment from the book come to life. Golem was one of my favorite parts of LOTR, so seeing him again was great. Andy Serkis made an interesting acting choice here. We saw a different Golem, kind of. His Smegol side and his Golem side were more divided, as if the Ring hadn’t taken complete control over him yet, which added a whole new depth to his character, or characters depending on how you think of it.

As a huge LOTR fan, what I really loved was getting to go back to Middle Earth one more time, and see characters I fell in love with and meet new ones. However, had this movie been made before the Lord of the Rings, I am not sure I would have become such a huge fan. I give The Hobbit a 6. Although I do not regret seeing it.