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 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

Movie 411: LaLa Land


Directed by:

Damien Chazelle

Screenplay by:

Damien Chazelle

Rated:

PG-13

Release Date:

December 2016

Genre:

Musical, Drama

The Hook:

Musical!

 

An aspiring actress and determined jazz pianist cross paths while pursuing their careers in the heart of Los Angeles. They fall in love and together they weave through the ups and downs of the entertainment business.

The Review

As soon as I saw the preview I just had to watch it. In theaters. Because I’m a fangirl of musicals. Well, most musicals. The really good musicals. Anyway. Not only was it a musical, it was the kind of music that got me. I’m a sucker for this type of sound and couldn’t wait to see how this enhanced the movie. Never mind the plot! Oh, and it had two of my favorite movie people, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Sold!

The Plot . . .

It’s your typical boy meets girl, they fall in love, they have some problems, they have some big problems, they have a big decision to make, dot-dot-dot to be continued. It wasn’t really a “to be continued” in the normal sense of the phrase. Ah, I’ll explain that in a bit. So, it’s your typical romance plot. In this case, it follows an aspiring actress and an aspiring musician and it’s set against the backdrop of LA.

It’s pretty straight forward as far as the story goes. Where it shines is in the presentation.

. . . and Presentation

It’s a musical. The End.

Of course, I’m kidding.

There are so many good things about the presentation that I’m not sure where to start. The story unfolds at a good pace from  the beginning. From the first meeting (traffic!) to setting the character background (a café, an audition, a restaurant, another restaurant) to the moments of song scattered throughout the movie, fabulous.

Before I go any further, however, I would like to say that Emma Stone (Mia) and Ryan Gosling (Sebastian) are awesome! I think when your focal point of the story is a romance, you hope to see that chemistry between the leading lady and the gentleman because, well, that’s your whole movie. And they nailed it (unlike some other movies I know off. Disappointing, really, they are, but not this one!)! Stone has this . . . feisty? . . . energy that shines through this movie and Gosling balances and grounds it, which results in a really solid on-screen duo and a wonderful Hollywood romance.  A modern day Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

The music score is awesome. I can’t say enough about it. It has that old-school jazz with a modern day edge to it and I absolutely love it. It works. It just works. And these musical moments are well executed. It was just so fun to watch!

And here is where I’m throwing a spoiler alert warning because it is this moment that I think is pure genius. The moment that had me #mindblown.

#SpoilerAlert

So, yeah. Good acting, check. Good music, check. Good story, check. Check, check, check.

The Verdict

This is an absolute must watch, must own for anyone who is a fan of movies and who can handle musicals. It’s so well done. I can see why it’s won the recognition it has. It’s brilliant!



Photo Credit: ClickTheCity.com

Movie 411: Legend of Tarzan

Director: David Yates (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
Screenplay: Andrew Cozad (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit), Craig Brewer (Footloose 2011),
Rated: PG-13
Released: July 1, 2016
Genre: Adventure
The Hook: I never considered or have seen the story of Tarzan told from this perspective before.

This Tarzan story is about Tarzan returning to the Congo. He’s already been saved, married Jane, and reclaimed his estate as a child of wealthy parents in England. Things are happening in the Congo that are causing some concern for some of the higher-ups of England. A government official recruits Tarzan to go take a look at what’s going on since, you know, he’s from there. He’s hesitant but he misses his homeland enough to give it a shot. He takes Jane with him, since she pretty much grew up there as well. That’s when the fun begins (of course). It really is an adventure piece and I love the presentation.

As I mentioned, I never seen this angle of the Tarzan story before so it was something that really piqued my interest. And I’ll admit it, I never read the book so if this perspective is old news its new to me. I also can’t recall older Tarzan adaptations coming in from this angle, where Tarzan returns, so, again, new angle for me. With the entertainment world big on retellings nowadays, I’m not surprised the story of Tarzan is among the many. With all retellings, reboots, etc. it’s nice to see this a new angle, especially when it’s the same story but different, you know?.

Alexander Skarsgard (Tarzan/John Clayton) easily takes the spotlight. He does well portraying Tarzan/John Clayton. I cannot help but thing he’s getting a bit type casted, playing the brooding and silent protagonist, but you will not be disappointed. Acting along side Skarsgard is Margaret Robbie (Jane Clayton). I’ve always felt that Jane was . . . rambunctious. She has this restless energy which I suppose fits in with being raised by an adventurous father. Robbie captures that personality very well and being the leading couple in this film, she complements Skarsgard nicely. Samuel L. Jackson (George Washington Williams) adds that humor to balance out the seriousness (in his own no-nonsense kind of way) and Christopher Waltz (Leon Rom) plays the antagonist to the tee. The other cast members add to these starring roles and makes for a pleasant on-screen experience.

Man versus man is always a theme we can appreciate and you can add The Legend of Tarzan to the mix. It gets redundant unless executed well and I believe that was the case in this film. With the narrative mainly coming from Tarzan, it was amazing to watch how his character handles his homecoming and the challenges he comes up against when he finds his home, and family (both animal and human), threatened by greedy and callous men. The narrative unfolds nicely as well, shifting between the present and past with flashbacks to fill in the blanks.

I did get a bit confused with the timeline a bit, but it could just be that I wasn’t paying attention. For the sake of not being too spoilery I’ll just say it had to do with two events, Tarzan’s injuries and his mother. And if you don’t want spoilers, look away! 

#SpoilerAlert

Overall, I liked this movie. The story line was good, the acting was good, the execution was good. Plus, plus, plus. It’s definitely DVD-worthy (if you’re still keeping a library. With all the streaming services now days, I don’t know if DVDs are still a thing ;).

Random 411: What to do at 3 in the morning

Well, insomnia isn’t much of a surprise to me and I’ll probably pay for it dearly come tomorrow, but for now … killing time.

So, what can you do at 3 in the morning that will allow you to stay under the covers (because it’s finally feeling like autumn) yet pass the time until the Sandman finally comes.

This!


I decided to combine my love of the cinema and history. The infamous Hollywood Ten. Those who were caught up in the politics of the Cold War. It’s a pretty interesting topic, considering I’ll be focusing on the impacts of the Ref Scare for my major research paper.

Nothing like research to get the mind going (even though I should be resting it) 🙂 .

Пока, пока!

Movie 411: The 5th Wave

Director: J. Blakeson
Screenplay: Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich), Akiva Goldsman (Fringe), and Jeff Pinker (Amazing Spinder Man 2LostAlias)
*Based on the books by Rick Yancey
Rated: PG-13
Released: January 22, 2016
Genre: Sci-Fi/Action
The Hook: With all the post-apocalyptic/alien stories scattered among mainstream entertainment, this one appealed to me.

Summary

Aliens have attacked Earth, with every intension of taking it over of course, in a series of waves. In the midst of an attack, Cassie gets separated from her brother. Fending for herself among this hostile and violent landscape, Cassie is determined, and desperate to find her brother.

The Review

So I mentioned appeal. The concept of this post-apocalyptic/alien invasion movie was different from the rest in the idea that the aliens attacked in waves. It seemed more strategic than past alien invasion movies where they kind of just take up space in the sky, or plant themselves on Earth eons ago in preparation for an attack, or aliens inhabiting the bodies of humans. I was also interested in seeing where Cassie fits into all this. I mean, it’s not like she’s overthrowing a government or liberating civilization from the oppression of a higher power (well, sort of but not like that. Ah, you know what I mean. Hopefully). In this one, aliens have attacked in waves and have successfully thinned down the population, so now what? Curiosity got the better of me.

Portraying our leading lady, Cassie Sullivan, is Chloe Grace Moretz. I am glad to see that she’s carving out some space in Hollywood for herself. It’s hard to believe she was that girl in Kick Ass. She did good. I mean, I’m not one to talk because I can’t act to save my life, but I liked the energy she brought the screen. She made Cassie relatable.

I’m not harping on the other cast members, but this movie really focused on Cassie so the rest of the characters, for me, dropped into the background so I’m sorry about that. All did a good job to bring the story to life, though. And this really seemed like movie #1 of a whole other movie franchise, considering the book series comprises of three books, so I feel that the other characters who were mainly secondary will start to suss themselves out in the next movie.

Considering that this is really the beginning of a longer story, I thought the movie moved along nicely. The narrative moments were good. I mean, it’s hard to make a movie when the main story line is a first person narrative in the books. If you didn’t already know that. So I like that the screenplay did a really good job to capture the story behind the narrative to make it enjoyable for those of us who haven’t read the book. And I haven’t read the book so I can’t comment on the book-to-screenplay angle but going in not knowing, I still found the movie enjoyable on its own.

I mentioned the narrative of the movie went along nicely. You don’t get lost or confused. Things are pretty straightforward, which I like. Not that I don’t mind a little thinking involved, but sometimes it’s tiring trying to think of “where are you leading us to?” when you’re just trying to enjoy the movie.

Overall, I liked this movie. It hooked my interest enough to see it to the end of the franchise. And if they never make a second one, I can live with that. That’s not to say the movie tied all the knots, remember, it’s the beginning of a longer story, but I’m not going to be immensely disappointed if they don’t continue it. Just saying. And with that said, I could see myself watching this a few more times. It’s not where it’ll come to mind when I want to watch a movie, but if it’s on cable TV or if a friend wants to watch it or if it just so happens to be . . . on, I would watch it.

Feature Image: Impawards.com