“The moment seizes you.”

Before the first frame of Richard Linklater’s Boyhood comes to light, you hear Coldplay’s Boyhood 2“Yellow” playing. Moments later you meet Mason (Ellar Coltrane). He’s five years old, and without any care in the great big world which surrounds him he looks up at the clouds, waiting for his mom to pick him up from school. Isn’t that a wonderful beginning? I’d like to think so, like the world is just so ready for Mason to grow up in it, change him, teach him, and give him a perspective to call his own. The only matter is that he’s not thinking about any of these things, conversely he just is, small and content without any knowledge of what the future holds in store for him.

Many are already calling Linklater’s film his masterpiece, and after seeing it for myself I find that it is increasingly difficult to disagree. Boyhood was filmed over a twelve year period, something I’ve never heard of being done before. In this respect the film stands as something original, frankly a blessing in a culture with unrelenting repetition. One may argue that the film’s story cancels out its originality, a story one would say blandly that is merely about life, just with more time taken. Indeed many movies take that greatest of all gifts, life, for their story, but what makes Boyhood different, and more special is not just the innovative and enduring approach, but the raw and un-adulterated picture of growth that has never been represented with more clarity.

It is for this reason that Boyhood is a film for everyone. We are all continuing to grow, to Boyhood 3age, to endure through life’s losses and challenges, and relish our triumphs and rewards that follow. Ethan Hawke’s character known as “Dad” claims early on in the film to Mason as he just suffered a gutter ball at the bowling alley, “Life doesn’t give you bumpers!” Boyhood’s painting of life is not just an unromantcized one, but one that diligently attempts to remind and clarify to the viewer that life is hard, and that it’s meant to be hard. One might even say that one who doesn’t understand this has not yet begun to live life, not on their own.

Mason and his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) live in a house divided. They live withBoyhood 4 their mother in financially meager conditions where their mother (Patricia Arquette) is forced to work two jobs, and yet they still struggle greatly. They see their father on the weekends, and while their mother is constantly busy, and worn out, their father is one who while unable to initially gather his life together does try hard to be a dad they can love. Both of them are unable to see each other without sparking argument, which as it almost always does takes it greatest toll on the kids. As children they are a handful, yet between the two parents’ seemingly endless struggles there is never any indication that either don’t love their children unreservedly.

One might argue that without the existence of such conditions, even not comprehensively, Boyhood 6that there is thus little for him to relate to in watching this movie, thus discrediting my comment that this film is for everyone. I grew up in a house where my parents struggled with money, who often got up early and worked late, but who despite their fatigue and stress never failed to make time for my siblings and I. One does not have to reflect the familial conditions as penned by Linklater to understand and or appreciate the humble circumstances, conversely one need only realize that no family is without struggle, obstacles, or setbacks. I’ve realized that much of Linklater’s work contains often thorough analysis of either youth or family, and now he has combined both into this beautiful film that is a comprehensive look into everything that makes up a family.

As I watched this movie, and watched Mason grow and mature, I was put back into my oldBoyhood 5 shoes, the ones that come with those most important years of age. I was reminded that it seems like they’re always changing, that they change with you. They get bigger, wider, more colorful, more stylish and more cultured until you’re sure that you’ve found the perfect fit. Boyhood reminds one watching that though he may have a shoe size that he’ll never establish perfection. Boyhood is full of imperfect people in an imperfect world, one that remember “doesn’t give you bumpers.” Like the script of a film which upon finishing may seem so perfect in every way, one realizes life’s imperfection when the characters come into play, and thus that world around them isn’t perfect. So what do you do? You live it anyway.

Mason is not a hero, he’s not spectacular, he’s not unblemished and he’s not always thoughtful or polite, again, he just is. He is a human being, he is capable of error, he is capable of learning, and whatever life is prepared to either throw at or confer upon him he is ready to take because what else are you going to do? Dodge it? By the time one is eighteen one is an adult, ready to learn about independence, humility, and taking the next step. Boyhood is about a young man who by this time can say that sometimes life sucks, but that in the end this is my life and that now, on my own, I’m warmed up and ready for the next chapter.Boyhood 1

Boyhood is a special movie, for a number of reasons mind you, but truthfully what makes it so memorable is that it doesn’t feel like a movie at all. It’s something more. What that “more” is I cannot completely describe, so what I will say is that perhaps the reason so many are claiming that there has never been anything quite like this is because of how the movie makes you feel. It makes you feel wonderful, it makes you feel unforgotten and that you have purpose. It warms your heart effortlessly and by its beauty prompts one to not just look at life, but to never forget that it’s yours, and you need to live it.

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“War has already begun…”

With yesterday’s release of the anticipated Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I being one of Apes 1the many anxious to see it, I prepped by rewatching 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the reboot after what was the tragic debacle of Tim Burton’s own powerhouse reboot. With how surprisingly superb 2011’s take on the classic franchise was, my hopes were raised even higher for the newest installment which fell into a category of rare sequels, namely when the sequel surpasses the first film with an iron fist.

The sequel takes place ten years after the events which occurred in the first film, specifically when the ALZ-113 virus spread across the globe, bringing about the collapse of human civilization with the exception of a very limited number of survivors, survivors who we learn have little time before they slip back into madness. As the virus began in San Francisco, the few survivors who reside there, holed up in what looks to be City Hall, are about to run out of fuel which means they’ll be out of power once again. A man called Dreyfus, (Gary Oldman) alongside another named Malcolm (Jason Clarke) seem to be the ones who, since the outbreak, have organized this band of survivors. Accompanied by a small group, Malcolm heads up into the redwoods as there is a dam located there that could be his and his fellow survivors answer to their power problem. When they find themselves deep in the woods, however, they are greeted by a startling obstacle, namely Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his fellow apes.

Until this time neither Caesar nor any of his followers were even aware that there were any Apes 3humans left, and it is unclear whether or not the humans were aware of the apes’ existence, or at least how numerous they were. In light of this confrontation, the very next day Caesar and his followers make their way into the city where they offer a peaceful deal to the survivors; they explain that they are not looking to start a war, but will not hesitate to defend themselves if necessary. As a viewer one knows that a war truly is inevitable, which prompts the question “Who will start it?”

It’s clear that between the apes and the humans that there is no reason for a war to commence, particularly when either party was either completely or mildly ignorant of the others existence, but to reiterate one knows that a war will happen, and it is in this respect that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ story shines, as it boldly resonates with humankind’s capacity, even desire for conflict, in spite of there being peace and little triumphs along the way.Apes 4

The Apes do indeed live in peace, and while the human survivors are extremely limited in resources and even hope, they are nonetheless able and still connected as a species. That being said, and in conjunction with a knowledge of war, one asks again “which side started it?” The film does an excellent job in building upon the numerous fears and insecurities that exist in both parties. The apes for example are mindful how they were treated by their human counterparts, how they were captured, some tortured, and either withheld or put on display, whereas the humans are decidedly fearful of how the apes are not reliant on the resources they are, that they are stronger, and that between the two of them, the apes have a better chance of survival.

With all this said Caesar’s big quote “war has already begun” could actually be supported Apes 2as it showcases every reason either party could justify going to war, therefore realizing that even without physical violence that there is more of a silent war going on, which means that the possibility of escalation is already dangerously high. Back to the “who” though, the true brilliance of the story is that it emphasizes that dramatic or true change occurs from the passion of individuals, a sentiment so commonly associated with peace, and rarely with war. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes proves this point however, as well as that so much can be started by one soul, but also stopped for that matter.Apes 6

I was pleasantly surprised by Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and therefore was definitely looking forward to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. I did not expect to be disappointed, but then I also was not expecting the sequel to be as strong as it was. Bringing together a list of impressive actors with equally impressive performances, particularly Andy Serkis’ masterful work as the head ape Caesar, as well as a strong story with significant points regarding humankind’s resilience, flaws, and fears, Dawn of the planet of the Apes is thus an exciting, entertaining, and well done picture that is indeed a must see.

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“…We have our dragons!”

I only first saw How to Train Your Dragon but a few months ago, and to my surprise I wasDragon 1 thoroughly impressed by it, enough even that I watched it again a few days later. That being said, I purchased a ticket for How to Train Your Dragon 2 last night and could not wait for the trailers to cease so that the movie could begin. I was obviously excited, an my excitement was wholly supported by the second film, one that critics far and wide are declaring outdoes the original. Admittedly I have to agree. How to Train Your Dragon 2 contained the same mammoth-like size and scale that its predecessor did. Everything from the characters, to John Powell’s composition, to the landscape were simply gargantuan, but the sequel still managed to rise above all that mainly due to a more emotionally involved story while meticulously furthering the already impressive character development.

Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) in the opening moments welcomes us back to Berk, a land once determined to eradicate surrounding dragons that now participates in what has become a most popular contact sport: dragon racing! All of the riotous youth we came to know and love are now older (five years we learn) and wiser, though thank goodness none of them have lost their hysterical flair. While everyone cheers them on, however, Hiccup is noDragon 2 where to be found, mainly because he’s far too busy exploring with Toothless. Over these five years the two have been working hard so as to leave no stone unturned in the surrounding areas. One day though, joined by Astrid (America Ferrera) of course, the two stumble a group of dragon catchers/trappers. Hiccup in his inquisitive manner finds out they’re working for a figure named Drago Bloodfist (Djimon Hounsou), who is determined to capture as many dragons as possible in order to build up his dragon army.

After narrowly escaping, both Hiccup and Astrid are then faced with the no nonsense, Dragon 3forceful command of Stoick (Gerard Butler) who actually knows Drago, and knows him to be a ruthless and vicious man who we learn repeatedly cannot be reasoned with. Stoick then orders a fortification of Berk and for all the dragons to be locked up from Drago, but once again Hiccup an Astrid in their ever defiant manner fly off in hopes of reasoning with this unreasonable monster of a man. Their peaceful plans though are interrupted not only by their peers, but further by an concealed figure whose motives at first look unsavory, until she comes face to face with Hiccup.

There’s no question that How to Train Your Dragon created some truly lovable characters, both human and dragon alike, but the sequel now has managed to unveil even more great characters who are just as entertaining to watch, one of which is Hiccup’s long lost mother Valka (Cate Blachett). Blanchett of course is just one of the major stars who lend theirDragon 4 voices to this movie, and it turns out that her role here is one of the most integral to the story; she may even be at the heart of the impressive character development earlier mentioned. She is a protector of dragons, an in her twenty year absence she’s kept dragons of the land free from violence in a protected enclosure, one watched over by the Alpha, an enormous ice blasting dragon who we learn is responsible for consistently foiling Drago’s malicious plans.

The interaction between Valka and Hiccup also happens to be how the sequel establishes its excellent emotional involvement. The two coming together sets off this tightly knit sequence of love and interaction for Hiccup’s family, who are now finally a family once again. Valka has the ability of only continuing to soften Stoick’s heart as well as remind him and their people of the importance of the peace they have at last established, that isDragon 6 until their peace is utterly threatened.

Drago is a violent usurper, who under the guise of peace has been for years building his dragon army as earlier mentioned in an attempt at world domination. As the war commences, Drago and his both men and dragons, versus Hiccup, and his family and friends, the film masterfully establishes the building emotionality with a drastic shock which ultimately signifies the loss of good and the triumph of evil in this war. It was at this point that I declared How to Train Your Dragon 2 to have surpassed its predecessor, as it then broke the characters down while also brilliantly lifting them back up.

I loved the first movie, and I loved it mainly for its entertaining and bracing story, a story that was nicely moved along by its sequel, craftily developed, and one that ultimately had a lot of payoff. Part of that payoff is due to the fact that the dragons are just as significant of characters as the humans are, and the one dragon whose role was far greater in the sequel was of course Toothless, who, with Hiccup, solidify a triumphant finish in the existing battle between humans and dragons.HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2

My expectations, particularly after seeing the first movie, were decidedly high, and I am especially pleased to convey that my expectations were most assuredly met. Even though I only saw How to Train Your Dragon fairly recently, I have declared it my favorite animated film from Dreamworks, and after seeing the sequel, I believe that it is going to take something truly remarkable for me to highest favor any other Dreamworks animated movies than both How to Train Your Dragon‘s.

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The grand irony that accompanied me in seeing the new movie The Fault in our Stars was Stars 1that as I was sitting among what was likely two hundred some odd teenagers, I felt as though I were in my early, perhaps even mid thirties, as opposed to my early twenties, and yet while watching the movie I was so effortlessly transported back to my teenage years, with all the motley emotions included. This was both a troubling and remarkable phenomenon. Truthfully I’ve no wish to return to my teen years, but my being smacked with my memory of that time by this movie says a great deal, including that, for me at least, this movie was a reminder of those disconcerting years, how painful, how joyous, and even how meaningful they were.

Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley), and Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort) are two teenagers who one day meet outside the room of where a cancer support group they attend is about to begin. Gus being the taller of the two looks amorously down at Hazel, clearly already captivated by her beauty, in fact entirely Stars 3entranced as even after the support group begins their meeting we see that he can’t take his eyes off Hazel. It seems apparent that after only a very short while, his constant stare is less about affection than it is about annoying and or making Hazel as uncomfortable as possible, and he just relishes in it. Even after his introductory statement to the group, which prompts Hazel to uncharacteristically and emphatically raise her hand so as to shatter his bravado, it turns out she’s not made a dent in it.

Outside, after the meeting is over, and after Hazel seemingly couldn’t be more perturbed by Gus, she becomes so indeed when she sees him ready to light a cigarette. It turns out, however, that Gus carries a full pack with him only to never light one, that his putting the cigarette in his mouth is a rather unnecessary but facetious metaphor about being in control. By this point he’s easily won the crowd with his confidence and wit, and it seems Hazel is already falling under his spell, though she may not yet be aware of it.Stars 2

After but a short period of time, the two have now exchanged numbers and are anxious always to hear from one another, particularly Hazel as she’s restless about Gus’ opinion of her favorite book, which she lent him. The novel, “An Imperial Affliction” by Peter Van Houten, (Willem Dafoe) now serves as the gas that fuels their relationship, as seemingly every progressive step they make with one another revolves around or merely has something to do with the book, including Hazel’s excitement over the reclusive author’s response to Gus’ commendation of it. The two even come back to the book at a most pivotal moment, the moment when Hazel realizes that she has indeed fallen under Gus’ spell, and that he, Gus, knows it.

This particular moment is when the two realize they’ve neglected the time, and see thatStars 4 they’re still talking to one another at 1:00 a.m. I imagine, because I unfortunately have not yet read the book, that this particular scene was crafted precisely, as it serves as the introduction to the movie’s big quote, which happens to be one word: “Okay.” It was also at this moment that the memory of my teenage years which I mentioned earlier really started flooding back. As they are caught up in one another, it now becomes relatively simple to become caught up in them, a circumstance that stirs you effortlessly, but also reminds you of the film’s tragic center.

This movie is being widely hailed, and actually this was the first time in a long time that I did not read any of these love letters from various critics, but went into the film totally fresh, so I could see what all this pandemonium was about. I did read something, a pithy little comment only that compared this romantic movie to horror movies, specifically how there are good movies in both genres, but that there are also so many that are appalling. The point was that it is difficult to make an efficient one, and this particular author wasStars 5 hoping desperately that The Fault in our Stars would please him. I believe he will be pleased.

I asked myself, what does make this movie an efficient and credible romance? One might argue that there is nothing to be felt but pity and adulation for the two as they are both stricken by cancer, and that to be insensitive to their particular romance is to be insensitive to those who are afflicted. More colloquially one might say that it’s a cancer love story, of course people will be enchanted by it. I would say that the reason for the movie’s success as a romance and a drama is that while yes, their love truly is doomed, but that the more, even most significant aspect of the romance is the choice to love, and to be loved. Hazel and Gus are not the only two who have ever loved in the looming shadow of death, but that being said their relationship represents all who have, those who have suffered yet wholly loved and lived nevertheless. Calling their love beautiful is not a brash criticism, conversely it is an accurate and significant one.

Once the audience has realized this, the movie breaks each member down before the gradual buildup. Hazel and Gus share this treatment as well, being broken down when they have reached the top of the peak they were climbing to. Admittedly there were moments in this movie that came across as unrealistic or unbelievable, but it was this moment that took everyone out of the enchantment of young love and put them in the real world. It was at this particular moment that the story won me over, where there were no embellishments but just blunt reality.

That being said, this movie did not end as I expected it to, but the impact present was altogether significant. I could feel the pain of the characters, the tragedy of the circumstances, and the vigor of the greatness and privilege of life.Stars 6

Truth be told I did not go into this movie as either a skeptic or pessimist, looking for what would assuredly be the corny and annoying cliches that light a teen movie aflame; I went into this movie looking for an admirable love story, and I was greeted with one that was yes romantic, but was more genuinely tender, endearing, and moving. The story of Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters is one that stands with many other love stories, but one that also manages to encapsulate why love is so important, and why it is needed.

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“We need you to hope again.”

In light of its release just this last Friday, X Men: Days of Future Past, under what hasX Men 7 been decidedly declared the superior direction of Bryan Singer, has had the coveted criticism “The best superhero movie ever” conferred upon it with no hesitation, and utter certainty. Indeed the X Men are one of the most recognized, as well as sizable superhero teams in comic book history, and with Marvel’s seemingly ever expanding muscle on the big screen it’s hard not to catapult them directly to the top of the superhero totem pole, provided they deserve the ranking. The newest X Men film, following the success and much needed relief of Matthew Vaughn’s exciting X Men: First Class, should not be called the best based the number of X Men, but of course by the quality of the film in which they star. This is a quality, however, that resonates masterfully with fine filmmaking.

In a dismal, scourged future where both mutants and humans alike have been almost completely obliterated by a seemingly unstoppable force known as the sentinels, a man made army once designed for humanity’s protection, only a handful of some of the strongest mutants remain, including Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian X Men 1McKellan). Among the mutants who accompany them is Shadowcat (Ellen Page) who has the remarkable ability to thoroughly adjust one’s consciousness. At this time, as the mutants are on the brink of extinction, they formulate one last desperate attempt to not only save themselves but all of humanity from the dread that is the future shared with the monstrous sentinels. As Wolverine is the only mutant among them who could survive the undertaking, he is the one who is sent back fifty years into the past to bar the events which will ultimately write this horrible future into existence.

This film takes place ten years after the events which took place in X Men: First Class, and almost every mutant who we came to know then is now profoundly different, including Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). She’s the Mystique we were introduced to in Bryan Singer’s first X Men film; she’s bitter, resentful, relentless, and worst of all, determined. She’s set toX Men 5 kill Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) founder of Trask Industries, and incidentally the company behind the production of the first sentinels. He has essentially declared a one man war against mutants, maintaining his definitive fascination with them and their abilities, but truly acting in the good name of his fellow citizens both national and international. While not given the screen time of a villain, he is nevertheless an enthralling one that is definitely enjoyable to hate.

We cut to Wolverine again who’s greeted with a shocking sight, namely Professor X walking around. I already had questions before this moment, but seeing Charles walking around his mansion raised several more. As per the brilliance of Hank “Beast” McCoy, X Men 6(Nicholas Hoult) Charles is able to walk temporarily when given a clever medical concoction, something that along with his loneliness, guilt, and anger, he treats like an addictive drug. He’s a sad character to look at, and after recognizing him as a distinguished professor and an exceptional mutant, he thus becomes a much more three dimensional character, not that he wasn’t to begin with.

Charles though isn’t the only one to receive more thorough development, in fact the whole of the cast is evaluated and drawn with discerning detail. Kind of in a backwards way as X Men: Days of Future Past involves several timelines, we’re greeted with the X Men weX Men 4 came to know in the early 2000’s, and then those from just a few years ago, culminating in a comprehensive swing of character development and appearance, which may be this film’s greatest strength. Not to disregard other qualities such as the dazzling special effects, or the enticing humor such as that which is exuded during Quicksilver’s (Evan Peters) wonderful screen time, but it is the characters who make this movie great.

The cast of characters is simply so multifaceted; there are the true good characters, those who are dreadfully evil, and then there are those who walk an incredibly fine line between the two, such as Magneto and Bolivar Trask. Apart from the diversity of the characters though, each one is excellently analyzed, and those who carry the most major roles,X Men 2 primarily Mystique, Professor X, and Magneto, hook us not only into the thick of the battle going on between humans and mutants, but into their own personal battles as well, battles that existed in the past, exist in the present, and as we saw, exist in the future.

In every X Men film there has always been the war between humans and mutants, but now for the first time we see the seemingly impossible quest to bring mutants and humans together come into play. This has been present in other X Men films, this desire for peace, but is has always been overshadowed by the greater war. Now, however, it appears there might finally be a chance for the elusive peace, because mutants are no longer at the forefront of conflict. X Men: Days of Future Past puts a human at that forefront, one acting in the name of security, whilst wielding a force that neither party can control. This X Men film isn’t about the war between humans and mutants, as much as it is about finding and establishing a peace between the two. For that reason alone this film could actually go as far as being called important, while also being a thrilling, and exciting Summer blockbuster.X Men 3

To reiterate, it has been called “The best superhero movie ever,” and the reason for that is not merely for the superhuman action that so loyally accompanies the genre, but because of the role superheroes play in our world today, whether that be from page to page, on the big screen, or on the prime time small screen, X Men: Days of Future Past has given respect to superheroes as beings who are symbolic of peace in a world of destruction.

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“Let them fight.”

There is a problem with Godzilla, and that is that he just cannot seem to catch a break. HeGodzilla 1 is known throughout cinematic history as the true king of monsters, and yet in light of the newest film by Gareth Edwards, he’s being called uninteresting and even obese, which may be slightly unfair when one considers he stands taller than a skyscraper, as well as wider than three or four of them put together. Why is he getting such a bad wrap? Truth be told, and it pains me to say this, the film in which he has to graciously share quite a large portion of screen time with is wrought with what were decidedly flat characters, and a story that too, is rather flat. In spite of these unfortunate qualities, however, Godzilla is still a monster movie, and I have to say I disagree with these gruesomely bashing critics. Godzilla is a king, and he’s not prepared to let us forget it.

In 1999, the skeleton of some enormous beast is discovered in the Philippines, where scientists Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) are then called to evaluate it. We’re then whisked away to Japan where we see Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche) heading to work at the city’s nuclear power plant which shortly after is destroyed by what was called by the news a severe earthquake, something Brody knows to be a gross lie as his very wife was taken in the midst of the destruction.Godzilla 4

For the next fifteen years Brody goes in and out of the now quarantined area, desperately searching for answers and always being escorted out, if he wasn’t merely arrested. It turns out he has been, and now in San Francisco, Elle Brody (Elizabeth Olsen) gets a call about her father in law’s latest arrest, a matter his son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) couldn’t be more irked to hear as he just got home from a deployment. He goes to Japan though, and now with two Brodys, they make their way into the quarantined area once again, this time for a more revealing and consequential visit. A beast that has been kept secret for a number of years is now about to hatch, and once it does it will be virtually unstoppable. It does, and it is. Though they don’t refer to it by its proper name, the beast is Mothra, (Look for the Mothra Easter egg folks; it’s in there long before the creature’s born!) and he’s in search of radioactive material, which he finds in bulk.

Now is the time to reveal Godzilla, and while a major complaint about this movie isGodzilla 5 Godzilla’s lack of screen time, the manner in which he slowly comes onto screen is indeed comparable to the eerie and terrifying presence of Jaws, who too slowly but surely builds his screen time. I admit though that while I appreciate the technique, that his screen time indeed could have been a bit more plentiful. However, I will say that when he’s elected to show, his dominating and ferocious presence is not only not missed, but hailed. Like Smaug in the latest Hobbit film, Godzilla is a scene stealer; it’s hard not to cheer him on against his mighty opponents.

Admittedly when the first battles in Godzilla took place I was reminded of last year’s Godzilla 2summer blockbuster Pacific Rim, and while Godzilla is being labeled as a boring monster against the gigantic robots of Pacific Rim, I would point out that he’s not piloted by two individuals. He’s a genuine, pure monster who abides by a different set of principles. For years scientists have disgraced creatures like monsters and aliens as their primary comparison relies on referencing human qualities. We can’t help but compare monsters’ mannerisms and personalities to that of humans as that’s all we have to attribute. Michael Crichton masterfully analyzed this in his terrifying novel Sphere in the 1980’s, and I would use him as a defense for Godzilla, who must be looked at as a monster whose purpose is different from ours.

In spite of this though, our focus ends up being more on the humans who are beneath the fight taking place between Godzilla and Mothra, as well as another spidery looking creature who looks like a jacked up version of the Queen alien from Aliens. As mentioned, they are themselves quite flat and thus for the amount of screen time they have are rather disappointing, but in a somewhat hollow turn of events, it simply makes the battle sequences more enjoyable as that is what we truly came to see. The climax is not a disappointment, but rather a fantastic and enthralling sequence that did actually make the crowd in my theater legitimately cheer. Why? This is a monster movie with gigantic, terrifying monsters that, after a lot of build-up, do indeed pay it off.Godzilla 6

Critics are shaming this movie, but, in spite of the faults it does have, I give this movie a thumb’s up. Even though its focus is not always in the right place, it is still a monster movie at its heart, and I had even more fun with Godzilla than I did with Pacific Rim. My friend, whom I saw the movie with, with a huge smile exclaimed, “Holy Guacamole!” at Godzilla’s conclusion, and I am here to say I support this exclamation.

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“The list is life.” A Special Review of “Schindler’s List”

Schindler’s List is a film that up until now I have never seen. I’ve never even seen parts Schindler 1from the film, as I have others that I eventually got around to watching, but now I see that there is a difference between those films which permit individual viewings and Schindler’s List, and that is that if I am to watch Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece again it will be from start to finish, and nowhere in between. I classify this film as one of the rare few that permit such reverence from a viewer, because the intimacy of the subject matter is so neatly and masterfully crafted that the three hour and fifteen minute running time should begin from the first second.

The story is framed around Oskar Schindler, a Czech businessman who by his wealth, confidence, and impeccable business prowess looks to the Jews in Poland as an easy source to grow his fortune. It is apparent that the one thing which is most important to him, even in light of the expansion of the holocaust, is his business. His concern over his wealth, how much he has and how much he can make, takes precedence over all other matters, culminating in an almost obsession with success which causes him to disregard the most basic of human decency, even the gratitude of one worker, who humbly expresses, “God bless you.”

It is not his wish to be lifted up by the thankfulness of his workers, nor is it his desire orSchindler 7 intention for those who work for him to think of him as a savior whose factory is a haven in the midst of such inhumanity. As an initial anti-hero, it’s difficult to praise Schindler in light of his self-interest, despite his actions being primarily, almost solely in the name of business. There’s also his apparent blindness to consider, a blindness that unfortunately compliments his selfishness. We’re left to wonder how can his concerns be what they are when people are being killed at will in the very streets outside their homes?

It is because he wants his name to be remembered; he wants to do something extraordinary, something never done before, and as per his business will his name be documented in history. For as miserly as he appears, however, the gradual metamorphosis he undergoes in the subsequent years will indeed be his most extraordinary endeavor, a course of action whose beauty is as unbridled as the terror which unfortunately occurred Schindler 2while producing it.

Schindler’s List is not a picture meant purely to depict the condemnable actions which took place during the holocaust, but instead the alterable perspective of a single man who truly witnessed those horrors, and how it changed him. Nevertheless, Spielberg’s depiction of the terrors which took place from the families being stripped from their homes to the death camps, is grossly unromantic. It is decidedly accurate, and as the terrors convey what were or many the final moments of life, a brilliant depiction of humanity is drawn in what is a profoundly moving manner. The fear they feel, the fearlessness. The hope, hopelessness, confusion, surety, sorrow, and acceptance of evil. To even consider the true accounts of the survivors, some who actually visited with Spielberg on set, seems truly impossible. I believe a goal of Spielberg’s was to give viewers the best, most accurate depiction of life in the ghettos, the Jews themselves, and the controlling Nazis in order to establish what could be considered even a remotely authentic account of what to survivors might be considered indescribable.

What could be considered paramount among that which seems impossible to believe areSchindler 4 indeed those crimes against humanity, chiefly manifested through Amon Goeth, an uncompromising and sadistic member of the National Socialist Party whose value of life is seemingly nonexistent. There are several business exchanges between he and Schindler, and it is with each exchange that we see Schindler’s transformation turning more and more to the side of good, whereas the purity of Goeth’s evil only becomes darker from an already overwhelming darkness. What came to my mind was the shortage of time, that this man who used Jews in the camps for target practice lived less than one hundred years ago, less than one hundred years ago was he in accordance with a most supreme evil. It is the supremacy of his and the whole holocaust’s evil however, that illuminates the beauty of Oskar Schindler, and the 1,100 Jews that lived under what became his magnanimous practice of a love he once did not possess.

From a man who once condemned a worker for his one arm, grew a man who was at once willing to relinquish everything he possessed if it meant saving one more soul. At the end of the war, after the unconditional surrender of the Germans, the message of Schindler’s List exists around the edge of a gold ring: Whoever saves one life saves the world entire. It is now after seeing the film that I realize what that truly means, namely that one life saved is hope saved. One life saved is humanity saved. One life saved is an entire people saved.Schindler 3

Schindler’s List is indeed a film whose beauty is remarkably profound, one that I am overjoyed that I have now had the privilege of seeing, because I firmly believe that this is one film that should be seen not just because of the horrifying history it depicts, but because of its thorough and intimate depiction of what is the tender human spirit.

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“You saw heaven?”

Like many of the characters in this movie who are skeptical over the protagonist’s clearHeaven 1 and sure vision of heaven, I was skeptical about this movie because when I first saw the trailer I saw it as something that had the potential to be decidedly controversial, especially considering that it is adapted from the first hand account of its protagonist Colton Burpo. That’s a rather unfortunate name, Burpo.

What’s looming over everyone’s head and seeming to either bring out the best or the worst in the citizens of Imperial, Nebraska, where the film takes place, is four year old Colton’s account of heaven, where he visited as his life hung in the balance in the hospital. Among all these people and perhaps the most troubled is his own father, who happens to be a pastor at the local church. The trouble between the two of them is that it’s Colton’s completely innocent explanation of heaven that surfaces a long slumbering doubt in his otherwise perfectly faithful dad.

As a respected and well known figure of the town it’s as if the growing doubt in ToddHeaven 3 Burpo slowly filters down into all the rest of the townspeople, and it just seems to gain speed with each passing minute, evolving to a point where the respected leaders consider finding a new pastor to lead their church, as they’re beginning to doubt Todd’s resolve. From what we see Imperial appears to be a small town, the kind in which everyone knows everyone, and in this case, where the church seems to be the heart of it all. The implication at this point seems to be if one person’s faith dwindles then everyone’s does. Not only that, but some citizens seem to not even want to believe Colton’s account. Again, everyone knows about it.

A movie like this comes across as one that comes on on a Sunday afternoon on a channel like Oxygen or Hallmark. It’s syrupy, kind hearted, and special, and one that’s tailor made for families. That being said this is a great family movie and it has all the features for warming the hearts of both the kids and the adults watching. Its message of faith is the paramount theme, ranging from those whose faith was once strong is now weak and those whose faith never shifted. Both these facets of faith are manifested through Todd and Greg KinnearColton, who are the force that leads the movie.

From Todd’s perspective faith is something he realizes may not be as possible as he once believed as per his numerous sermons, whereas with Colton it is something that is not only possible but is real. The movie on the whole is a test of Todd’s faith, and for many in the audience probably becomes a test of their own faith. It asks the question what do you believe in and how strongly do you believe in it.

The time spent on earth is perceived by many as an ultimate test, and this perception isKelly Reilly entirely present in the movie, conveyed through such scenes as Todd going over the recent trials that have befallen his family while his son’s life hangs in the balance in the hospital. The hopelessness and anger he not only feels in this scene but for much of the movie afterward reveals him as an extremely human character, whose state is contrary to his God. In authoritative positions in religion the members of whatever the congregation may be often look to their leader as though he is different from them, as though he is capable of more than they. Todd is the perfect representation of how that is not true, of how leaders and members are equal.

Considering the tightness of the townspeople they don’t come to this realization easily, but the message of faith wins out, that by Colton’s continued assurance of the reality of heaven and his unwavering faith, the town is once again molded closely together.Heaven 5

This movie has low marks by several critics, and that may indeed be because of the sappiness of it all, but it’s still a tender movie that aims to help people realize that faith and hope are integral parts of our lives as both individuals and family members, whether that family be yours immediate, your church, your friends or your town.

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“On your left!”

I remember seeing Captain America: The First Avenger, and being decidedlycaptain america 1 disappointed by it. One minor thing I learned that day is that midnight premieres are for those who already love the film being shown, as opposed to those who just hold interest in it. Now with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I attended a day early showing, and as of opening day here, I would gladly go and purchase another ticket for a film that was not only profusely better than the first, but, to agree with a friend who attended last night as well, might even be better than The Avengers which Captain America leads.

Captain Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is back, and now, after the previous disaster in Manhattan, is simply attempting to fully adjust into the world as a ninety-five year old super soldier, who at this point has given new meaning to the word “super,” accomplishing feats such as running through double doors, kicking people so hard they fly backward between twelve and fifteen feet, and falling from what looked to be about twenty stories where he emerges without so much as a sprained ankle. All of these dazzling acts of physicality however, are but a breeze to an equally if not superior being known only as “The Winter Soldier.”

He, the winter soldier, is not only a superior villain to Hugo Weaving’s “Red Skull,” but he is perhaps the most appropriate and deceptive villain to ever come across Captain America’s path because the two are both matched, and friends…captain america 2

Other superhero films, such as the completely unacceptable Spiderman 3 have failed miserably in conveying the condemnable nature of their villains, simply because they were dealing with more than they could handle. In the newest Captain America here, the villain role is not just reserved to The Winter Soldier, but is extended to all of S.H.I.E.L.D as well. It’s now that S.H.I.E.L.D is unveiled as a security measure whose invincibility and reach is far weaker and shorter than it looks, as it’s been compromised, taking us back to the desired ruling of “Hydra” that we met in Captain America: The First Avenger. The question now is “Is there anyone we can trust?”

Vilifying the hero has probably been greatest utilized by Christopher Nolan, who turned CAPTAIN AMERICA THE WINTER SOLDIER_FZ-18519_RA.JPGthe caped crusader into the bad guy, leaving him downgraded from and entire city behind him to a handful of people. The same can now be said for Captain America, who along with both Nick Fury and Black Widow are enemies of S.H.I.E.L.D. Like I said, the role of the villain wasn’t just extended to the winter soldier, and while it may have been intrepid of Marvel to cram so many bad guys against so few good ones, I’d like to remind you that I would go see this movie again in a heartbeat.

Every villainous role is given time and room to bring down not only Captain America but the integrity of S.H.I.E.L.D as well, all lead by the deplorable boss known as Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) who like the movie as a whole doesn’t keep secrets, but conversely plunges you head first into the action, drama, and deception.captain america 3

Rare is the movie that enthralls you from the moment i starts to the moment it ends, and this can too be extended to superhero films, who are commonly characterized as being unflinchingly exciting, despite those which unfortunately have bored us to tears, not to bring up Spiderman 3 again. Captain America: The Winter Soldier has strength, direction, and aptitude. It’s about Steve Rogers, it’s about The Winter Soldier, it’s about the future of S.H.I.E.L.D, it’s about national security, integrity, and it’s about the true identity of heroes and villains, two parties which may be at times wearing the wrong title.captain america 4

This movie is a red hot superhero flick that combines all the great chemicals of the genre and masterfully mixes them into a lively, and powerful combination that, in my opinion, is fail safe. You might just find yourself, like me, purchasing a second ticket.

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“Dominic Bad Guy”?

Muppets Most Wanted is, in case we were unaware, the sequel to The Muppets from backMuppets 1 in 2011. They, the Muppets, have taken the pleasure of informing us that they are back for another movie, though while the movie commences, they have no idea what their fantastic sequel should be about. It’s not until a handsomely shifty tour manager named Dominic Badguy, (he’s French you know) hints to Kermit that the sequel should involve them going on a worldwide tour, an idea which the Muppets welcome with open arms.

Ricky Gervais is Dominic Badguy, and while he’s winning the Muppets over, a fiendish villain named Constantine, currently held captive in Siberia, Russia, has just escaped from prison, and with Dominic in cahoots is looking to pull off the ultimate jewel heist whilst simultaneously ruining the Muppets for good. The key to his plan? Well, he looks just like Kermit!

I feel as though I’m informing a six year old of the plot, and perhaps the reason I feel that way is because while this movie does possess its strong points which will appeal to the adults in the audience, the kids sitting in the seats are being given ninety-five percent of Muppets 2the attention. On that note this is a wonderful movie for kids, filled with the familiar crazily humorous mannerisms the Muppets have effortlessly mastered, but the adults in the audience are left somewhat high and dry. It pains me to say the theater was rather sparse, however, in the movie’s defense the scenes which are tailored for the adults out there are as equally funny as the mass amount of scenes made for the kids.

Virtually everything the Muppets do is richly comedic and fun, and the sequel here is no Muppets 4exception. Despite the overabundance of kid friendly humor, there are numerous moments where I found myself laughing nonetheless, not just because of the comedic value, but also because I was reminded of watching the Muppets when I was younger, and then laughing hysterically. The Muppets in their newest film remind us just how honest and forthcoming they are, always providing laughs and always acting like sensible maniacs.

Still, the name of the game with this movie is family, and what each Muppet realizes that means. Early on Kermit is kidnapped by Constantine and then wrongfully taken back to the prison he once occupied, where he’s politely thrust into his cell by who was probably the funniest character in all the film, Nadya, played by Tina Fey. None of the MuppetsMUPPETS MOST WANTED realize Constantine is an imposter, including Miss Piggy, who nearly marries the most dangerous frog in the world! To reiterate, family is what’s at the heart of this movie, and while at moments it seems more glossed over than focused on, the Muppets still come through in fine style, conveying simply to the kiddos in the audience that it’s family that’s most important, no matter how diverse, wild, or bizarre that particular family might be.

I always appreciate such a message, even though it springs up quite often in animated films in particular, but the frequency is reflective of its importance, and luckily the Muppets can deliver the message in an antic fashion while still keeping the good hearted message center.MUPPETS MOST WANTED

There’s only so much one can say about the Muppets because, as one observes in this movie, they just do their own thing. The lot of them are so goofy and ridiculous that structure just seems out of place for them, and in a way the movie fell into this principle as well, seeming at times to be rather sporadic and loose. There was the foundation to consider, as well some of the over the top jokes and maybe one too many child-like segments, but Muppets Most Wanted still had a number of goals in mind, and despite its flaws did manage to accomplish them nonetheless. This is definitely a movie for the kids, and for perhaps the kid in all of us.

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