Saturday, November 28, 2015

Movie Review: Brooklyn

I rarely get the chance to write reviews just after seeing a movie, but Amazon has a couple Black Friday deals that are coming up, so I’m looking for reasons to stay online for a bit.  In all honesty, this is not the type of movie I would never see.  As the trailers rolled, I was reminded of this, as not one of those was catering to me in any substantive sort of way.  It might have been in my best interest to read some of the reviews just to get a better idea of what I was getting into.  Having said that, I still enjoyed the movie, to a degree.

The movie follows the story of a girl who has no prospects, financially or romantically, in her home of Ireland and moves to America, with the help of her sister.  At first she hates it in America, being homesick, until she meets with priest who enrolls her in night school.  As she gets acclimated to life in Brooklyn, she meets a boy and much to my surprise, he was an actual gentleman (something we seem to lack nowadays).  The unfortunate happens, as is often the case in these sorts of movies and her sister dies suddenly and when she goes back to Ireland, everything seems both foreign and unfamiliar.

Without spoiling the crux of the story, the viewer is taken on this adventure with the young protagonist as she tries to make sense of her life.  What I thought startling was how selfish I viewed her behaviour (in concert with my mother’s views).  Nothing the young girl does really benefits anyone but her and while that does seem to be the American way, her family helped her make a life abroad and one would think she’d show some accountability for that.  In that respect, I found her greatly unsympathetic, at times wondering when the movie would be over.  I did eat an entire bag of popcorns (large) and that was both impressive and troubling.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Movie Review: Peanuts

Raise your hand if you thought I would have since this on opening night.  I should have, but I was running a race in FL, then the next week a race in CA, so I couldn’t quite find time to dedicate to the Peanuts crew.  If you grew up on Peanuts or are new to the characters, the movie picks up almost from the beginning, as if the audience has some idea of who the characters are, but it doesn’t seem heavy-handed in the least.  The movie follows the story of Charlie Brown, the hero of the piece, and how he struggles with what is usually a lot of bad luck.

This is a kid’s movie, so I don’t feel like a huge plot synopsis (SPOILERS) are really needed.  The animation was a nice mix between CGI and the classic structure that Schulz is known for.  It was interesting being able to almost see the fur on Snoopy and the feathers on Woodstock.  While the voices had changed, which was a little strange, I really did enjoy the movie.

The movie centers around Charlie Brown trying to work up the nerve to speak to the Little Red-Haired girl.  For those of you that aren’t familiar, this is an ongoing struggle for Brown in the comic strips.  I don’t remember ever seeing her in the comic, but the audience is treated to quick glimpses of her before seeing her fully.  In most of the comic strips, Charlie Brown is the unlucky, unlike one.  This movie took much of that away, which was an interesting dynamic.  No longer was he the butt of every joke, but just unfortunate circumstances.  In a wonderful scene at the talent show, he has to give up his shot to impress the Little Red-Haired girl to save Sally, his younger sister, from complete embarrassment. This isn’t the old Peanuts, but a newer version that somehow still felt right.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Movie Review: Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2

I’ll give it to AMC for hosting a double-feature for the final two movies.  I honestly didn’t remember what happened in the last movie.  I read the books, years ago, and beware there are SPOILERS ahead.  The biggest spoiler, though, is knowing that the movie stayed pretty closed to the characters who don’t make it to the end credits.  Some of the details I was a bit fuzzy on, but that’s to be expected with a book I wasn’t crazy about.

If you’re not familiar, the world of Panem is under fire and our heroine, Katniss Everdeen (played ably by JLaw, for once, I’m not a fan), is losing her mind and has to decide whether to continue to back the morally questionable President Coin (Julianne Moore has an Academy Award).  The two are often clashing, but the story does focus more on Katniss trying to save Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) as well as overthrowing that little thing called the established order in their world.  The novel was much more concise, in some ways, even if I skimmed the last 50 pages of the book.

While the special effects are beyond belief, especially given the rich world Suzanne Collins has created, the story still seemed empty.  And while I’m not a huge fan of Jennifer Lawrence, this was, by far, her best performance in this series since the opening movie, and even that entry was passable at times.  The supporting cast seemed to meld better together, or perhaps the story came together better, I’m not sure.  I can’t say I enjoyed Mockingjay Part 1 all that much, but this one was nice just to have closure.

With these bigger blockbusters, I can’t help delving down the well-trodden path about diversity.  For those of us that have read the books, Katniss wasn’t supposed to be white, so there’s strike one for this series from the beginning.  That isn’t to say that Lawrence doesn’t do a good job bringing Katniss to life, but it does make one wonder how Hollywood couldn’t find someone to match the book.  I also do take some issue in the fact that Katniss seems to only be romantically interested in people based on how useful they are or have been to her.  It isn’t until she sees Peeta completely destroyed because of her that she gets an ounce of self-awareness.  The whole movie reeks of Twilight vibes in a lot of ways.  Yes, I do realise there is a major political undertone in the books, but the movies focuse on whether Peeta or Gale will win Katniss over?  How is that not Twilight?  This series could have been great, could have been Potter great, but it got lost somewhere along the way.