Archive for the ‘ Movies ’ Category

Into the Woods–movie review

I’m glad I didn’t realize Into the Woods was a musical before I went to watch it, because I don’t always like musicals. One of the few previous exceptions is Les Miserables. 

Into the Woods, however, was quite funny, and the singing was generally excellent. It is an amusing movie, one that combines a number of fairy tales into one story. The princes may be especially funny, although there are darker undertones there: “I was raised to be charming, not good.”

If you are looking for an entertaining movie, one that you can probably watch with the whole family, Into the Woods could be a good choice for you.

Unbroken–movie review

The hardcover version of Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken was on the New York Times Bestseller list for over four years, and the paperback debuted at number one on their list. It seemed like an obvious choice to make a movie based on such a popular book. However, the flip side to that is problem with making a movie that would be enjoyed by the people who have read the book.

I enjoyed the movie Unbroken, but it fell short of the book. Obviously, it is hard to take such a long and involved book and do it complete justice in a couple of hours, but it can be done. The story of Louis Zamperini is such a powerful and moving one, and the movie didn’t seem to capture all of it, and perhaps not even the spirit of Zamperini.

Unbroken is still a good movie–that tells about a man who survives torture as a POW (among other events)–and one that I would recommend. However, if you haven’t read the book yet, you should do that. You will find there is a lot more spirit and heart to the story than was portrayed on the screen.

Movie review

I recently came across a notebook in which I had written a number of movie reviews. I thought some of them were interesting, and decided to share. The first one I want to share is a review I wrote of Little Miss Sunshine in 2007.

Here it is:

Little Miss Sunshine

Starring Greg Kinnear, Toni Collete, Steve Carell

A strange, yet touching, story of a disturbed and dysfunctional family. It is also an ironic depiction of beauty pageants. Although all of the family members have issues, a trip brings them together and helps them grow in strange and unexpected ways. This movie is both comedy and drama, and illustrates how one can love family members and not be able to stand them, all at the same time.

Four stars

The Judge–Movie review

To use Robert Downey, Jr.’s own description, The Judge is a “movie about people.”

It may seem a relative typical set-up: big-city hot-shot must return to small home town and deal with estranged family. What makes The Judge different is that the characters all seem more realistic than the run-of-the-mill movie and the acting and writing is excellent.

The Judge is also about family. Downey plays Hank, a big-city lawyer, who returns to his hometown where his father is a judge. Hank has to deal with his father and the rest of his family, and it’s not always pretty or comfortable. However, the characters grow and gain an understanding of one another. Again, it’s not always easy or pretty, but it is real.

The Judge is an entertaining and refreshing movie, one that I would highly recommend. It is a realistic, yet hopeful and encouraging movie. I think those who are fans of Downey’s action movies wouldn’t be disappointed, either.

The Giver–Movie review

The Giver, directed by Phillip Noyce, is based on the book of the same title, written by Lois Lowry. The book is an early young adult dystopian novel, but it seems much different from the typical dystopian YA novels written today. For one thing, it is more similar to something like Brave New World than it is to The Hunger Games. Why do I say that? Because in The Giver, everyone thinks they are living in a utopia, even though the reality behind the facade is quite chilling. No one, except perhaps some of those in The Capitol, would ever think that in The Hunger Games.

The movie version of The Giver follows the book well in the important areas. As usual, there are a number of changes, but most of them are understandable due to the issues of compressing a book into a movie length.

The actors were well-suited to their parts, especially Jeff Bridges as the Giver. It seems that he has gotten much better over time. Even if he isn’t as old as I imagined the Giver, his performance is thoroughly convincing. The movie also contains some good cinematography and photography.

If you are looking for a movie that combines action with thought-provoking ideas, you should check out The Giver. After all, you might be curious to see a portrayal of what happens when everything is decided for you. Would you be in the majority living in the utopia, or would you be on the fringe, be different?

Odd Thomas

A while back, a friend recommended Dean Koontz to me. I added him to my mental list of writers to read, and eventually I picked up a couple of his books from the library. I wasn’t impressed by one of his books–Velocity, I believe–but I went on to read Odd Hours anyway. I enjoyed the main character, Odd Thomas, so much that I went back and started reading the series at the beginning, with the book Odd Thomas.

I’m still not entirely sure why I enjoy the series so much, especially since I still don’t care for Dean Koontz’s other books. It’s probably due to the character Odd. The books are strange, bizarre even, with a lot of paranormal themes, but Odd’s narration and wit carry the story through any difficulties. He is a believable character, sometimes stuck in unbelievable situations. And yet I continue to read the stories.

There is now a movie out, also called Odd Thomas, and based on the first book. Anton Yelchin plays Odd, and does a good job of portraying the character without making the story silly.

I would recommend both the books and the movie to anyone who wants to enjoy a humorous, engaging story told by a likable chap. Even if you’re not a fan of paranormal stories, you should give Odd a chance!

A Man for all Seasons–Movie review

There haven’t seemed to be many new interesting movies recently, so I’ve been watching some classics that have been recommended. One that I watched last week was the 1966 version of A Man for all Seasons, starring Paul Scofield as Sir Thomas More.

A Man for all Seasons is the story of More and King Henry VIII, who were friends. However, the story ends with More’s execution because he wouldn’t go against his conscience and agree with the King’s divorce, remarriage, and creation of a new church.

Scofield does a good job of showing the influence that More had in his day, and why it was so important to King Henry that he had More’s “blessing.” More’s silence spoke louder than the words of agreement or disagreement from many others.

It is refreshing, in our age of political pay-offs, to see an official who was truly honest. In fact, More was so honest he couldn’t go against his conscience, and it cost him his life.

A Man for all Seasons may not be as action-packed as most modern movies, but it is a good story. It has the benefit of being a true story, and it is one that we can learn from today.

Frozen–Movie review

I am not always a fan of animated movies, especially Disney animated movies. I went to Frozen anyway, and it turned out to be much better than I was anticipating. In fact, it almost seems that they listened to some of the complaints that many people have voiced over the years, and changed how the heroine is saved in the climax of the movie.

Another thing that is enjoyable about Frozen is that it takes place in Norway, which is not the usual setting for a Disney movie. How do I know it was Norway, and not a different Scandinavian country? Well, it is full of Fjord horses, the main city is built next to a fjord, and they mention lutefisk.

The story is better than many animations, as well. It deals with family issues and with the subject that Disney often ruins or makes absurd–falling in love. Of course, there is also a lot of comic relief, available in the form of a silly reindeer, a talking snowman, and, of course, trolls.

Frozen is a movie that a whole family could enjoy, especially at this time of year. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the soundtrack is quite excellent, too!

Recent movies

I have been remiss about updating lately. Once the weather turned nice, I began spending as much time as possible outside instead of doing other things. But with the rainy days recently, I’ve been able to catch up on a few things. I thought updating this should be one of them.

I am going to give a brief review of the movies I’ve watched recently.

Iron Man 3–While the movie received some negative reviews from critics, it was well-attended when I went, and everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. I know I did. Tony Stark has some anxiety problems, due to “what happened in New York” (see Avengers). He has to work through them and track down a terrorist who calls himself Mandarin. Since it is an Iron Man movie, there is a lot of humor and action. It is an enjoyable movie.

Star Trek: Into Darkness–The adventures of the brash James Kirk continue. He gets in a lot of trouble, finds ways to get out of trouble, and motivates his team. I heard a number of Trekkies complaining about how this movie was too similar to Wrath of Khan, but since I hadn’t seen that movie, I enjoyed Into Darkness. In fact, I have enjoyed the two new Star Trek movies more than any of the old ones I’ve watched. After all, they have managed to bring Leonard Nimoy into the new ones.

Now You See Me–This movie uses the concept of magic and illusion to keep viewers guessing until the big reveal at the end. That was the intention, anyway. Despite the fact that I had some major things figured out and was not surprised by the ending, I enjoyed the movie a lot. It showed both the slick, tricky side of magical illusions, and the psychology of tricking the mind into looking at the wrong thing. It was an interesting movie.


I enjoy baseball movies–sometimes even bad ones–so I was certainly willing to watch 42, which is about Jackie Robinson integrating professional baseball.

The movie could have easily become a sappy bio-pic, but it was well done. The acting and writing were good. It is a story about determination and courage, and illustrates quite well how trying it was for Jackie Robinson to remain professional in the face of vile discrimination and contempt.

Robinson could easily have sunk into despair and responded to the actions of some of the people he came up against. His ability to overcome such situations without publicly reacting is part of what made him a great person. And he was an exceptional baseball player, too. In fact, his base-stealing ability seemed to be a pretty good combination of speed and ability to mess with the other players.

42 is an excellent movie, and it’s about more than just baseball. It’s also about history and courage, and the power of faith and the durability of the human spirit. It would recommend this movie to anybody, even those who don’t like baseball.