Movie 411: Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Director: Mel Gibson

Screenplay: Robert Schenkkan (TV stuff) and Andrew Knight (TV stuff)

Released: November 2016

Genre: Action/drama

Rated: R

The hook: History! And “based on actual events.”

In Summary: Hot-headed Desmond Doss learned a hard lesson at an early age, that unchecked anger is dangerous. He vowed to never hurt anyone and that includes using weapons. But then war happens and the desire to serve his country pulls him to enlist which tests his beliefs when he is ridiculed for not wanting to fire a weapon, even if his intent is to be a medic. 

Random thoughts: 

I was hesitant to give this movie a shot only because war movies tend to be intense and I really shouldn’t be doing intense right now. But curiosity got the better of me. One, because it deals with historical events and two because it’s based on a true story which takes place during historical events. And three, I love a story where the one who gets picked on gets to throw it back in his aggressors face. And this one was a big one. 

The Plot:

Since it’s based on actual events, scratch creativity and originality. I appreciate the screenplay though. Dialogue, scene setting, story progression, all was well done. I think movies covering historical events and the story is based on actual events, a certain blend and balance needs to happen for a movie so the movie isn’t too heavy, but displays a seriousness not to be taken lightly. I think Schenkkan and Knight did a good job with this and Gibson executed it well.

and Presentation:

As I mentioned, I think Gibson did a great job executing the script. He captured the moments that really brought the story to life–the hostility towards Doss because of his beliefs, the ridicule, and embarrassment he had to endure because he refused to use/carry a gun. The relationship, and hardship, with his family and the love that grew from a chance meeting. I think the cast did a great job as well. Garfield held the role well and did a good job capturing the tension between his father (Mr. Anderson) and himself, the love between Dorothy (Teresa Palmer) and himself, and his military unit. Vaughn (Sgt. Howell) and Wellington (Capt. Glover) did a great job being the hard@*S and jerks who singled Doss out among his fellow soldiers. Well done.

Verdict

I wouldn’t add this to my library only because war movies, while some are really good, can be too much for me. Enough so that I don’t think I’d choose to watch it again. If someone suggests it or if it happened to be on television, I may stop to watch parts of it, but I don’t think it would be worth my investment.

However, the story has a great plot, great tension, and growth and worth seeing at least once.

Progress Report: The past nine months

With the year close to its last quarter and the fact that I haven’t been as diligent with posting this year, I decided to give an overall general progress report on some of the books, tv, and movies I’ve checked off so far.

Let’s start with TV.

Television

  • Scorpion: I slacked off with Scorpion! By the time school and life had settled down enough for me to notice that I hadn’t watch Scorpion in a while, CBS had closed access to two episodes. Two! Sighs. Of course, I can’t watch the unlocked ones without watching the missed episodes first so I’m stuck until I can get access to the rest of the season.
  • Big Bang Theory: My goodness! Did you catch that season finale?! I can’t wait to see where this is going come the next week or so when the series premieres start happening.
  • Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries: I am so far behind it’s going to take me awhile to get back to it.
  • The Heart of Dixie: I finally got the courage to finish it. I was apprehensive to go any further once one of my favorite couples … even when I knew it would work out … yeah, well, I got over it and pressing forward! 
  • Shooter: Binge watched season one and love it! I’m very curious to see how this show will keep running.

<

p style=”text-align: center;”>Movies
Going back to the last five movies I watched …

  1. Sing– cute if not a little predictable, but it doesn’t surprise me that it was. Plus, it didn’t take away from the entertainment. Rating: to borrow or Netflix it
  2. Hacksaw Ridge – still can’t decide what I feel towards this one. I enjoyed the story, the acting was good, the effects were good l. I guess there just isn’t much to it really. Rating: Netflix it
  3. Dunkirk – glad I got to see this in theaters because I really liked it since it covered an event I didn’t know about. Rating: Netflix it
  4. Valerian – loved it. Rating: Add
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – gotta say, I enjoyed this one. Rating: Add 

Books

So much to say here, but for now, out of the 61 books I read, here are my top five picks so far this year:

  1. The Battlemage (Summoner #3) by Taran Matharu – final installment. It was awesome!
  2. The Knight and Moon series by Janet Evanovich – pleasantly surprised and can’t wait to see where it goes
  3. The Cinder & Ella series by Kelly Oram – absolutely love this duology. I must have reread their story and revisited their world about four times now.
  4. The Duff by Kody Keplinger – the rare occasion I can’t separate the book-to-movie relationship. The book was so much better.
  5. Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum – so good

There you have m it. Progress report in a nutshell. Some of these are pegged for a more thorough review so stay tuned. 

At the Movies: Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2

So, reporting live from my seat in the theater. With all the studying and stuff it’s nice to head to the world of make believe for just a little bit. Mental break!

We’ll see how it goes!

Movie Moment: Huh? Processing in progress

Have you ever watched a movie where you were thinking, through the entire movie, “okay, this is pretty good,” “not bad,” “I’m liking it” and then in the last fifteen minutes or so you’re like “what the heck?”

And then you’re thinking “no, but I liked it” and you have another part of your mind going “did you? did you really?” and you answer back “I did. Seriously. Well, I think I did?”

This. All of this. Like, an hour ago. 

I’m still not feeling well. My mind is still in static mode (remember the snowing TV? Yep, still there). Still tangled and, therefore, a lingering mild headache is still present. So I decided to journal a bit. Which helped. But now and then the slight pounding takes precedence so I stop. I decided to watch a movie while dozing in and out of consciences.

Sliding Doors starring Gwyneth Paltrow (remember her?), written and directed by Peter Howitt. Like I mentioned earlier, I was looking for a distraction, but it started to get a bit interesting. Especially dealing with themes that portray the “what ifs?” and “by chance?” story lines. I’m a sucker for that only because, really, all it takes is a moment to change the course of life. But I won’t get into it just now. So, back to the point of this post.

So, like an hour ago I was really getting into this movie. I like the story it was telling (and I’m not going to go into it because that will be like movie reviewing, which really should be its own post). And then we get to the last fifteen to thirty minutes and I’m thinking “what just happened?” when the credits start to roll.

Reflecting upon this, it could be one of two things. Either a major plot twist through you off-balance, changed the atmosphere so to speak, or a plot point just didn’t make sense and it ended too abruptly for your mind to process it naturally. I’m sure I’m missing other possibilities, but these are the two I could think of with a mild headache and a major “what just happened?” 

I’m still trying to figure out which one is it, but wow. I mean, wow. One moment I’m watching the movie and cautiously enjoying it and then BOOM! “huh?” I did feel that’s the direction the movie was taking so I wasn’t surprised, but I was. Surprised and not surprise. At the same time. It’s an interesting and puzzling feeling, but there it is. 

And if I decide to review this one . . . well, hopefully, I’ll figure it out by then.

Here’s to “huh?” moments!

Movie 411: Beauty and the Beast (2017)


Directed by:
Bill Candon (Mr. Holmes)
Screenplay by:
Stephen Chbosky (Perks of Being a Wallflower

and

Evan Spiliotopoulis (The Huntsman: Winter’s War)
*based on Disney’s 1991 ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Animation
Rated: 
PG
Release Date: 
March 2017
Genre: 
Musical, Fantasy
The Hook:
Nope. No hook. I went with my mom 😊

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Review

A few random thoughts

I will be straight forward and say I did not want to watch this version. 

What?! You’re kidding me!

Nope. Not kidding. I love the animated one and I think it’s safe to say out of all the Disney animations, Beauty and the Beast was my favorite until The Princess and the Frog. But when I heard they were going to do a live action I was so apprehensive about it. 

Will it be as good as the animation?

Are they going to do all the singing?

Will this one have “Human Again?”

Who’s going to do Lumiere? They cannot get my favorite Disney character wrong!

Emma Watson? As Belle? Are we sure?

There was just too many reservations for me so I decided to skip it for as long as I could. Which wasn’t long, laughs. My mom really wanted to see it and we had an afternoon free of obligations so to the theater, we went.

Now, do you really need a summary? For the newer generations, one should be written.

So, there once lived an arrogant boy who was too much into looking good. When an old, ragged woman knocked on his door one rainy, stormy, wintery kind of night he balked at her and shooed her away. Turns out she was a witch! Or at the very least a magic-wielding woman. She cast a spell on this arrogant boy, turning him into a beast and his entire household into household objects. The only way the spell can be broken is for someone to fall in love with the beast, despite his monster-like appearance. 

Enter Belle.

The Plot . . .

 

What can I say about the plot? It’s a classic. At least, I think of it as a classic. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast came out in 1991 and even before that you had the French film La belle et la bete directed by Jean Cocteau (which I’ve never seen and didn’t know of its existence until this. post.). And with further research (because it wasn’t until I decided to write this when I thought “Hm, where did Disney pick up this French tale) I found this fascinating article, “The History of Beauty and the Beast”, posted by Pook Press that gives an overview of the history of the story and it’s possible origins (and I’m not using “fascinating” in the sarcastic sense. Historian wanna be, remember?) and it has a relatively short history when compared to other fairy tales. The article mentions that the first appearance of the tale was in the 1700s.

So, I didn’t mean to turn this plot-review into a history lesson, but since this plot is a classic fairy tale all I can really comment on is the theme. As most fairy tales go, there is usually a lesson to be heard and in this case, it’s to not judge outward appearances. It’s a good lesson to learn. And while we cannot always stop our minds from being biased at first glance, we can push those thoughts to the side after those first few seconds. 

. . . and Presentation

“Oh, you’re a villain, all right? You’re just not a super villain.”

“Oh yeah, what’s the difference?”

“Presentation!”

Sorry, sorry. This movie has been on my mind and I watched parts of it the other day. Couldn’t resist putting this in  😛 .

The live action adaptation, together with good directing and good acting, was done well. The pace moved along nicely and almost matched the animation scene for scene. It was interesting to see how some animated parts would translate to live action, like the scene where LeFou hides as a snowman while spying on Belle’s father. I’d say the spirit of the animation was captured in this live action which is always a plus. There are just some things that you just can’t translate into live action, but Candon and his team done good.

And as apprehensive as I was about casting, it was . . . pretty good. I was going to write decent, but I think that’s too light of a word. I was unsure of Emma Watson as Belle. For whatever reason, she did not seem quite like a Belle to me but it worked. Watson always does a good job and she didn’t disappoint in this one. Whether she matches as Belle is another argument, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t pull off the character. And I have to say Matth–I mean Dan Stevens did a good job as Beast (because he is still Matthew to me–Downton Abbey, if you’re wondering) 

They were the leading actor and actress, but really, the cast did an amazing job. Luke Evans was hilarious as Gaston. It really was hard to picture him like that since he’ll always be Aramis (Three Musketeers [2011], just in case) to me. And Josh Gad did well as LeFou. It was good to see Kevin Kline (Maurice) as well. Everyone did an amazing job.

While we’re on presentation, the storyboard layout was good as well. I’m not really that techie, but I like the shooting sequence (does that make any sense?) of the scenes. I know they had a blue print, but I cannot help but think that it the camera work and editing could have gone wrong and they didn’t in this case. 

The Verdict

Ah, the verdict. Well, let’s start with this:

Will it be as good as the animation?

As with most comparisons, I don’t think it’s fair to compare the two. While telling the same story and almost matching the animation, it’s live action. I mean, animation you draw the smiles, the laughs, the anger. Live action it falls upon the actors. It falls upon the backdrops, the set design, the right camera angles. It just wouldn’t be fair.

So to say that it was as good as the animation? No. They are both good in their own right.

Are they going to do all the singing?

They sing. You are warned. It was so much fun to hear this soundtrack again and seeing it on the big screen (since I didn’t watch the animation in theaters). Needless to say I was singing softly to myself during the movie. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. 

Will this one have “Human Again?”

No. They did not  😥 . 

Who’s going to do Lumiere? They cannot get my favorite Disney character wrong!

Ewan McGregor. And as far as voice overs go, he did do live-action Lumiere justice. And of course, you have his partner in crime, Cogsworth, who was done by Magne–I mean, Ian McKellan. They had the right chemistry for partners-in-crime.

Emma Watson? As Belle? Are we sure?

Yeah, I answered this one. But to the point, not too sure, but she did well. She always does a good job with the roles she plays and this one was no different. And just think, to one generation she’ll always be Hermoine and to the other she’ll always be Belle. #mindblown

As for the verdict, to add or to pass. It’s a good movie to watch, but I don’t think I would add it to my library. But it’s not my kind of movie, I don’t think. I mean, for me, I don’t think I would ever say “Ah, let’s watch Beauty and the Beast!” For me it would be like, “you didn’t watch Beauty and the Beast? Oh, you have to. At least once.”

Photo Credit: Amazon.com

Movie 411: The Great Wall

Directed by:

Yimou Zhang (Hero)

Screenplay by:

Carlo Bernard (Prince of Persia), Doug Miro (Prince of Persia), and Tony Gilroy (Rogue One)


Rated: 

PG-13

Release Date: 

December 2016

Genre: 

Action, Adventure

The Hook:

Nothing really. Just action, adventure, and the need to catch a movie.

On a quest to hunt down black powder, a group of mercenaries find themselves caught in the desert lands hunted by nomads. Their party of four is quickly cut down to two people when something attacks them. A day later they find themselves at the Great Wall (of China, in case you’re wondering), the violent nomads at their backs and a whole army in front. Taking their chance with the army at the wall, these two mercenaries find a whole lot more than black powder.

The Review

This was another of those movies that weren’t exactly on my to-watch list, but in need of something to do this was the number one choice. And it made for a fun evening.

The Plot . . .

Very interesting story. Cough it up to the history buff in me mixed with the myth and legend side of me and you have the me that totally geeks out. That’s what this story was. As I admitted, this movie wasn’t exactly one I was dying to watch (and I’m admitting it now. Asian movies is that particular genre that I have to be in the mood to watch. They just aren’t my cup of tea, so to speak) but the idea of a myth or legend explaining the Great Wall of China did appeal to me. And I’m don’t know much about Chinese myths and/or legends so wether or not this particular myth is unique or not, I cannot say, but I did like the concept of it. An elite army defending all of China not agains the Huns, but . . . other things, is just fascinating. It seems a unique and original story, at least to me. It’s the first movie I’ve seen, or even heard about, that addresses a myth or legend about the Great Wall so . . . high marks in my book.

. . . and Presentation

The portrayal of medieval China (I’m taking a stab at the era and I know I’ve probably made an incorrect guess, but I’m too lazy to look up this fact right now. I have an excuse. I’m typing this through a headache) was amazing. The costumes, the weapons, the personality. I loved it!

Matt Damon (William) and Pedro Pascal (Tovar) worked well together. And I’ll be honest, I wasn’t too sure about Matt Damon starring in a Chinese-ish movie, even though he was playing the part of European mercenary. And I’ll be honest (times two), I really hope to see more of Pedro Pascal. He did a great job playing the comic relief and the added tension to the plot.

Tian Jing (Commander Lin) was brilliant! I haven’t seen her act before this and she did such a good job standing up with actors like Matt Damon and Willem Dafoe (Ballard). It was nice to see this dynamic.

Action shots were well done. Not too fast and not drawn out either. It moved the story along nicely and kept things interesting. Great work!

The Verdict

If we’re talking a must watch, yes. This movie definitely is a must watch. If we’re talking about a must add, that’s a tougher one. I think this is worth adding to your movie arsenal. It’s a great action flick, the plot is unique, and the acting isn’t horrible. It’s a great movie for those kinds of nights (or days, or whatever) when you have no clue what to watch. I think it’s worth the investment.

Photo Credit: Impawards.com