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Showing posts from November, 2013

Review - 12 Years a Slave

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12 Years a Slave (2013), R, 134 minutes - I saw this film a week ago and it has taken me a few days to figure out how I felt about it, and I'm still not sure.  Actually, that's a lie.  I know that it sickened me.  It sickened me on a number of levels.  Not because it isn't a well made film - it is, it's one of the best I've seen this year - but because the content it brings to life is just that appalling.

12 Years a Slave is based on the memoirs of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free man in a pre-Civil War United States who was abducted from his home and family in upstate New York and sold into slavery.  Just hearing a story like that is disturbing enough, but then you see the circumstances in which it occurred it is that much more sickening.  Solomon wasn't taken from his home in the middle of the night, he was conned.  An able musician, he thought that he was entering into a business arrangement with two men, Brown (Scoot McNairy) and Hamilton (Taran …

Review - The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), PG-13, 146 minutes - Followers of my blog know how much I enjoyed the books and the first film in The Hunger Games franchise (those who don't can catch up here).  They also know that I try to be relatively spoiler free but as one could probably guess, that can be hard with sequels.  Especially when they are clearly planned as a multi-installment story.  If you haven't either seen last year's The Hunger Games or read the books, not only do I highly recommend that you do, but I also warn you against reading further as there are just some things that I won't be able to avoid.  Ok, now that that's out of the way...

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire picks up almost a year after Katniss (Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) were declared co-victors of The Hunger Games.  They are about to embark on a Victor's Tour leading up to the next Hunger Games when President Snow (Donald Sutherland) pays Katniss a visit.  He not-so-kindly r…

Trailer Talk - Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

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Captain America is my second favorite comic book character (behind only Daredevil), so my excitement for a Cap sequel really shouldn't surprise anyone.  Especially not after how much I loved 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger.  I couldn't have known that it would come to fruition so soon, but I've been hoping for this story line to make it to the big screen since before The First Avenger even finished.  Those familiar with the comic books can probably pick out the scene I'm speaking of, but for those that aren't, I won't spoil anything by getting too specific.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is inspired by one of my all-time favorite story arcs: The Winter Soldier written by Ed Brubaker.  I have no doubt that this film will differ a bit from the source material so that Marvel can fit it into their current cinematic universe continuity, but the fact that they are adapting such a great story is a good sign.  The Winter Soldier tells a very personal…

Review - Thor: The Dark World

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Thor: The Dark World (2014), PG-13, 120 minutes - I've stated at differing times in the past that both Thor (2011) and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) were my favorite films from Marvel's 'Phase One' of their cinematic universe.  Apparently it depends on what day it is as to which is my favorite (sue me).  I may be a little wishy washy on that, but there's no floundering in this statement: Thor: The Dark World has been the film that I've enjoyed the most in 2013 to this point.

The Dark World picks up after the events of both Thor and last year's billion dollar smash The Avengers.  Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is fighting battles across the Nine Realms to bring about peace in the wake of Loki's (Tom Hiddleston) attempts to overtake Earth (Midgard) in The Avengers.  Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) continues her research on Earth in efforts to find Thor.  After all, he had promised to return for her, but it has been two years and she's only seen his…

Review - Ender's Game

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Ender's Game (2013), PG-13, 114 minutes - This year has been the year of the sci-fi film in Hollywood, and the latest entry to the genre is Ender's Game.

Based on the 1985 novel of the same name by Orson Scott Card, it takes place on a future Earth in a time after humanity barely survived an alien invasion.  The surviving population of Earth has implemented a development program that takes young boys and girls and molds them into the soldiers of the future in hopes of discovering the next great leader who will neutralize the alien threat for good.

Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) is the youngest of three children.  The other two of which have already been dismissed from the leadership school.  Older brother Peter (Jimmy Pinchak) is too violent, and middle sister Valentine (Abigail Breslin) is considered too compassionate.  The students are run through various battle scenarios in a programmable, zero G environment - did I mention the 'school' is in space? (think the dange…

Rental Review - The Way Way Back

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The Way Way Back (2013), PG-13, 103 minutes - I saw the trailer for this film earlier this year but missed it once it was released.  I was able to catch it on the plane on the flight back from our honeymoon and it made two hours of the nine hour flight quite entertaining.

The Way Way Back is a 'coming of age' story, but it manages to do so without seeming run of the mill.  It uses the same formula that made Little Miss Sunshine the darling of a film that it was: a great cast, funny dialogue (despite some very serious moments), and a strange family dynamic.  Bear in mind, these components make it difficult to mix correctly, but The Way Way Back gets it right.

Duncan (Liam James) is on a summer 'family' trip with his mother Pam (Toni Collette), her boyfriend Trent (Steve Carrell) and his daughter Steph (Zoe Levin).  He's a shy kid and is completely out of place.  He doesn't trust or like Trent and feels increasingly outcast in this home away from home.  The girl …

Trailer Talk - Divergent (2014)

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Divergent is based on the young adult novel of the same name by author Veronica Roth.  It is the first segment of a trilogy that just ended with the release of Allegiant a couple of weeks ago (the middle segment is called Insurgent).  A former co-worker of mine first mentioned it to me a year or so ago and with a little motivation from this initial trailer, I finally read it a couple of weeks ago.

Taking place in Chicago sometime in the future, society is now split into five factions (Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite).  Every citizen fits into one of these factions, determined by their aptitude for the traits each faction holds dear.  Divergent follows Tris Prior, a teenage girl who is about to make the biggest decision of her life (whether she will devote her life to her born faction - Abnegation - or attempt to pass the trials to become part of another faction).   If a citizen chooses to switch factions and does not pass the initiation, they become 'factionles…

Rental Review - Silent House

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Silent House (2011), R, 86 minutes - This will be fairly short and quick as I wasn't a big fan of this flick.  I did think that Elizabeth Olsen was surprisingly good for a movie of this genre.  Not too often does an actor/actress really portray absolute terror, but she does the job well in Silent House.  So well that even though I didn't necessarily buy into the plot, there were a couple of points where her character was so beside herself that she could barely breath and that feeling got to me as well.

Olsen plays Sarah, a teenage girl who is helping her father and uncle clean up their family's old lake house so that it can be sold.  The house is old, cluttered, and creepy but are the events she's experiencing real or in her head?  Silent House is not one of the better thriller/horror movies that I've seen, but Olsen's portrayal of fear and paranoia make it worth a look.  The disturbing back story that comes to light towards the end helps to make up for some a…

Rental Review - Warm Bodies

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Warm Bodies (2013), PG-13, 98 minutes - This is not your typical zombie flick and the easiest way to describe it is probably by borrowing the tagline from Shaun of the Dead - a romantic comedy with zombies.  It tells the story of R (Nicholas Hoult), a zombie in a post outbreak world.  He's a relatively new zombie who still has some brain function and humanity intact.  In the Warm Bodies world, the virus is degenerative and he knows that one day he'll become a 'bonie' a zombie with no humanity left that will prey on anything it can get it's hands on.

One day the group of zombies he is roaming with crosses paths with a group of humans that are making a provisions run.  During the altercation he sees Julie (Teresa Palmer) and is instantaneously smitten.  He saves her from the zombie horde and provides her with shelter (he has taken up residence in a plan at the deserted airport).  She turns out to be the daughter of the leader of the area's human population, a ma…