Photo Credit: vividlife.me

Philomena (2013)

Emotional, dramatic, humorous. The journey taken by the characters is a fascinating one and Judi Dench perfectly executes Philomena’s more quirky moments where the film would be otherwise very dry. Recommended? This may not seem like the most exciting drama out there, but the story is eye opening and definitely one that should be seen.

Photo Credit: IMDb

Photo Credit: IMDb

The movie is based on the real life work by Martin Sixsmith about the journey of Philomena Lee in searching for her son from whom she was separated by the nuns at the abbey where she lived when he was only three years old. A few liberties were taken with some characters, but the story is a fascinating one regardless. Bouncing from one of hope to tragedy to determination, Philomena’s journey is unpredictable and entertaining all the way through.

This movie is driven by the strong performances from its two main cast members. Judi Dench truly steals the show as the title character. Playing this woman who has repressed her emotional baggage her whole life and is experiencing a major shift in her life, she delivers every line to perfection and knows how to balance Philomena’s more serious scenes and her quirky ones. Also impressive was her co-star Steve Coogan, who also wrote the screenplay and produced the film. His character, Martin Sixsmith, is also experiencing trouble in his life at this time, but he goes on a journey of his own, rediscovering the power of love and forgiveness and redefining success for himself.

At first glance, this movie looks like it is just a boring upper class drama about a woman who gave her son up for adoption many years ago and goes on some journey of personal exploration to find him. But in reality, the movie uncovers a major historic cover-up and said woman coming to terms with the injustice laid upon her in her past in her journey to reconnect with her son. The film is driven by strong performances and a story and dialogue that balance drama, emotion and humour perfectly.

Photo Credit: geek-lantern.com

Pacific Rim (2013)

Fun, simple, forgettable. While the story is not very original or interesting, the focal point of this movie is the visual effects which were completely on point here Recommended? This movie is fun and should only be seen in a fashion that will best portray the stunning imagery.

Photo Credit: IMDb

Photo Credit: IMDb

The only real reason to see this movie is for its special effects. From the aliens to the robotic sequences, from the ocean floor to outer space and down to the centre of the Earth, the effort put into the visuals for this movie left for a true success. The fight sequences alone make this movie worthwhile. If not for the visuals, this movie would be no better than the average 80s second rate science fiction movie, for here, the flawed storyline is supported by effects that actually look realistic.

The performances in the movie are, overall, unimpressive. The only one who seemed to have some grasp of what he was doing was Idris Elba, whose poise, and sense of compassionate seriousness drove his performance further than any other in the movie. The main star, Charlie Hunnam, could have shown some of his character’s emotional growth and development if he wasn’t more focussed on looing sexy. On the same token, more people would be drawn to him in a movie like this for his looks as opposed to his acting. Many of the other characters seemed more like tokens, written and brought to life superficially and offering nothing unique to the story.

This movie is ultimately not as bad as you would expect it to be. Sure some of the dialogue is not quite up to par, a few of the characters are irritating and the story is extremely far-fetched and convenient. It is clear that this movie was the product of a lot of money spent in the hopes of making a lot more in return. The result was a visually impressive and oddly engaging experience. While the story presents itself as complex, it is important to just take it for what it is a movie about robots fighting aliens.

Photo Credit: myviewscreen.wordpress.com

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Dark, serious, fun. The tone follows in trend of the post-Avengers Marvel movies being darker than the original ones, and while the story and characters lacked in certain areas, the visual effects were the true focal point of the movie. Recommended? This movie could be enjoyed by fans of the Marvel franchise or action/fantasy movies in general.

Photo Credit: IMDb

Photo Credit: IMDb

The most impressive element of this movie by far was the special effects and artistic production. The visual effects team created the illusion of multiple worlds and heavy destruction in each one. While many of the effects in the first Thor movie were unrealistic and suffered from lens flare, the technology has finally caught up and the results were beautiful in the landscapes, destruction and the galactic creatures. It was also interesting to see an American film where the destruction was focussed in London, England as opposed to New York.

In terms of performances, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki once again seems to triumph above an A-List cast, consisting of Oscar Winners Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman and other popular choices like Chris Hemsworth, Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarsgard. Loki’s wit, cleverness and comedic timing have become a hit among fans and Hiddleston’s range within the character is truly impressive. That being said, those listed above were not particularly unimpressive either. If anything, the entire cast brought even more to the plate than in the first movie. Notably having done so was Kat Dennings. She brought the same spunk that she gives her character in 2 Broke Girls to the big screen, and while she had a tendency to come off as annoying at times, she also added a few laughs that would not have otherwise been there.

Overall, Thor: The dark World was a major improvement over the first film, but while the outcome seemed to follow in trend with Iron Man 3 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the overall quality of the story didn’t. If the future Thor movies are to be taken as seriously as the other films in the Marvel’s Cinematic Universe Saga, the writers will need to smoothen out the plot holes and get rid of the character inconsistencies.

Photo Credit: interaksyon.com

Maleficent (2014)

Dark, magical, beautiful. Angelina Jolie was perfectly cast as the title character in this new interpretation of the classic Disney fairy-tale, and while some of the effects were a little dodgy (but not most of them), the story did bring about some noteworthy character traits and interpretations. Recommended? This movie is better than it looks, but don’t expect too much here.

Photo Credit: IMDb

Photo Credit: IMDb

The movie follows in line with two recent trends: strong and independent female leads and humanizing villains that are otherwise considered despicable. The story puts an alternative spin on the classic story of Sleeping Beauty that holds up in consistency with the original Disney film until the ending. The character of Maleficent had a strong build up and journey throughout the whole film that a darker ending may have added to her character more than the Frozen-esque one that was chosen.

Going into this movie, anyone could guess that Angelina Jolie would be perfect in the lead role and she definitely did not disappoint. Her dark elegance and vengeful but thoughtful approach brought out both the best and worst in Maleficent’s character. Also impressive in the film is Elle Fanning as Aurora. When you factor in that Aurora is given the gifts of beauty and happiness at birth, Fanning plays the young woman with elegance and brings out those qualities with ease. It is, however, a lot like her real life personality, so it is safe to say that she was the perfect actress for the role.

The artistic direction and visual effects were a little scattered in terms of quality. Some of the special effects were really well done and truly brought Maleficent’s world to life. One such example is the constant changes in animal form of one of the characters. The artistic direction, however, left more to be desired. A lot of scenery just looked very fake. It was almost as if the production design was rushed and thrown onto a green screen. It was not particularly bad by any standards, but if Disney had put as much work into this as Pixar or their animation studios do, the end result may have been a little more impressive.

There are a few reasons why someone might be interested in watching this movie, whether it be childhood nostalgia or simply childhood. Maleficent is not a bad movie, but that’s not to say that there are a few alterations which could have made it better. But what couldn’t be made better in hindsight? As it is, Maleficent is an engaging and beautiful movie to watch with real emotions and lessons to be learned.

Photo Credit: designedbyhollywood.com

World War Z (2013)

Exciting, mysterious, far-fetched. The action kicks in early and the tense nature of the film holds through right until the end. Recommended? This thriller is quite fun to watch.

Photo Credit: IMDb

Photo Credit: IMDb

The story is probably a lot better than many uninformed skeptics might believe it would be. (more…)

Photo Credit: toutlecine.com

Air Force One (1997)

Predictable, fun, entertaining. This movie offers no more than the average action movie in terms of plot or development, but it still has some exciting moments and is fun to watch. Recommended? This is a movie which viewers should know exactly what they are going to get out of it. (more…)

Photo Credit: staragora.com

Body Image: Men vs. Women; Inspired by John Legend’s “You & I (Nobody In the World)”

A few days ago, the music video for John Legend’s “You & I (Nobody In the World)” was uploaded to his Vevo account and has since accumulated more than 6.5 million views on YouTube. John Legend once explained that the inspiration for this song came from seeing his wife apply makeup before going out and it was his way of telling her that she does not need makeup to look beautiful. The video (below) begins with his wife, Chrissy Teigen, preparing her makeup, but then goes on to showcase many other women in similar scenarios. Featured in the video are women of different ages, races and sizes, many of whom struggling to find beauty in themselves, some after major life events. One woman in particular shows the result of a double mastectomy; another fixes a wig, possibly after surviving chemo. Even Laverne Cox, star from the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black”, makes some face time in the video (she is shown in the YouTube thumbnail, her presence drawing myself and probably many others to watch this video).

Upon watching this music video, I caught on to its message almost instantly. The video is a unique take on a message that is quite common in the media today (no matter how ironically). That being said, I definitely did not expect a lot of what I saw in the video and some of the featured struggles to be present. Many different walks of life for women are represented. I really had no complaints after watching it, but I cannot say the same about many of those who commented on the video. Excluding the average YouTube comment spam and those who appreciated the video’s message, there was quite a variety of criticisms coming at the video. (more…)