Archive for the ‘ Movies ’ Category

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.

42

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.

Hollywood often seems to suffer from a lack of originality. However, I have enjoyed the trend recently of taking myths and fairy tales and making movies out of them. Usually there is a twist to the story, something that makes it different from the original.

In the new movie, Jack the Giant Slayer, Jack the farm boy is the hero who saves a whole kingdom from giants. He is helped by the princess Isabelle and some of her guardians. The story is helped, as many today are, by special effects. The story is also helped by the acting, especially Stanley Tucci and Ewan McGregor.

Jack the Giant Slayer is an entertaining twist on the old story, and it appropriate for most audiences, although there may be a bit of unnecessary gore.

John McClane has been a well-loved movie cop since he first appeared on-screen in the ’80s. Maybe it’s a combination of his “die-hard” personality, his quirkiness, his humor, how he gets the job done, or his loyalty to his job and family. Regardless of why he’s popular, there are now five movies starring McClane, played, of course, by Bruce Willis.

The newest one, A Good Day to Die Hard is set in Russia, where McClane travels–while on vacation, as he keeps pointing out–to find his son, Jack. If you thought Lucy, from Live Free or Die Hard, was angry at her dad, Jack’s anger is worse. It is one of the conflicts in the movie.

The other main problem in the movie is how to stop the Russians from getting uranium. Of course, since this is a Die Hard movie, the viewer should know that the McClanes will succeed. There are numerous explosions and gun battles along the way, of course.

I think the main thing that has kept the franchise going for so long is Bruce Willis. He has consistently played McClane with a sort of “aw-shucks” charm and rugged individualism, managing (barely, sometimes) to keep away from caricature and to keep McClane an interesting character. However, they do seem to be now scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to plot.

A Good Day to Die Hard is a good action movie, and will be especially liked by those who enjoyed the previous Die Hard movies. It may, however, be a little too ridiculous or violent for everyone. But I’m sure McClane would have a joke about that, maybe something to do with cowboys.

Warm Bodies – Movie Review

Warm Bodies is an adaptation of a novel of the same title, written by Isaac Marion. The plot-line could be summarized by saying it’s a modern-day Romeo and Juliet–with zombies. That makes it sound ridiculous movie, but it’s actually quite humorous.

Nicholas Hoult plays R, a zombie who can’t remember his life before being a zombie, but still clings to aspects of his humanity. He encounters Julie, and ends up saving her life. The movie may sound silly, but the writing is humorous and the story is rather unique.

An interesting aspect of Warm Bodies is the discussion of things that emphasize our humanity, things that R has mostly lost but still longs for. It’s not a movie for everyone–after all, some people don’t like zombie stories–but it was far more humorous and engaging than I thought it would be.

Warm Bodies was released in time for Valentine’s Day, and why not? Who needs to see a typical romantic comedy when there’s one with zombies to watch?

Zero Dark Thirty – Movie Review

Kathryn Bigelow has done it again. In Zero Dark Thirty she manages to do again what most impressed me about The Hurt Locker–she tells the story of the “boots on the ground” people objectively, and without judgment. She has done the same thing in Zero Dark Thirty.

Zero Dark Thirty deals with the CIA intelligence work that led to the death of Osama bin Laden. Much of the work was done by Maya, a young, obsessed agent who believes that the key to finding din Laden is tracking down his courier. Maya is played by Jessica Chastain, who is able to show the character’s growing determination with humanity and depth.

The movie does a good job of showing the time it takes to gather important intelligence, and the toll it takes on those gathering it. It also shows the part played by those who act on the intel–everyone from cabinet members to the Seals who have to put their lives on the line.

Zero Dark Thirty is an engaging, interesting, and well-made movie. It is definitely worth watching, if only for the depiction of an important moment in history.

Les Miserables – Movie Review

As a general rule, I do not like musicals. The lyrics are often sappy, and it seems ridiculous how, in the middle of a life-changing event, the characters will burst into song and dance around. The new version of Les Miserables does not fall neatly into the musical category. Yes, there is singing; however, it is not typical. In some instances it’s not even that good. And yet I liked it, far more than most musicals I’ve watched.

What is good about Les Mis is that it follows the book fairly well,which is saying something, since Victor Hugo could be long-winded. But the heart of the story is intact in this movie. The cinematography and costuming are wonderful, too.

The singing is the part that most people are talking about, though. Most of the dialogue of the movie is done through singing, which has an interesting effect. It actually adds emotion in parts, like Fantine’s song “I Dreamed a Dream.” Anne Hathaway was brilliant in the role of Fantine, and her version of “I Dreamed” was heart-breaking.

Les Miserables may not be the easiest or most comfortable movie you could watch, but it’s an important one, and the story is well-told. I would recommend watching it in the theater, too, to get the grand scope that Victor Hugo had in his book, and Tom Hooper was able to keep in the movie.

Parental Guidance – Movie Review

Many modern comedies quickly sink into vulgar humor, never to recover anything resembling sanity or even real humor. Parental Guidance is, thank goodness, not one of those comedies. It’s actually about the inter-workings of families, and how our parents can affect how we raise children.

It may be a predictable movie in many respects, but it’s still humorous and even heart-warming. There is a redemptive aspect to the movie which makes it appealing, but it’s not without depictions of some of the worst things about families.

Parental Guidance is an interesting movie, and one that I would recommend for the whole family.