Round up them little flicks

24 Jul

It’s been a busy summer what with working and wedding planning and attempting to socialize so I haven’t been keeping up with regaling you all with my movie reviews as much I should.

Begin Again

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This is an excellent little film about two people who meet each other in their own times of crisis and something wonderful develops from it. Mark Ruffalo plays alcoholic dad and music producer Dan who meets Keira Knightly’s character Gretta just after he’s been fired. Gretta has been dumped by her rocker boyfriend whom she followed to NYC and is one mouse click from booking a flight back to England when a chance meeting throws Dan and Gretta together. Dan convinces her to make an album on the streets of NYC and such begins a journey of connection and healing through the power of music. This is such an interesting film because it’s story is non linear and it doesnt follow romantic comedy tropes. Really, it’s for anyone who loves music and has been moved by it and formed relationships through it. It defies the temptation to be a typical romance and has an excellent supporting cast. I highly recommend it.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

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I really did not want to see this movie because I so disliked the first but Ken was chomping at the bit to see this and I didn’t want to abandon him to brave the cinematic experience alone so I went, expectations low. I can’t say if James Franco was entirely the reason I hated the first but it was definitely a big part of it.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes finds tens years passing since Caesar left the lab and the intelligent apes started a colony of their own. A virus has wiped out much of humanity but a small settlement survives in San Fran. However they are about the run out of power and the apes colony is blocking access to a dam that can restore power and continue to keep human society stable. The apes and humans do not hit it off, to say the least.
This movie has a rather epic scope and carries it off very well. There are two family dramas brewing, one in the apes and one in the family of human protagonist Malcolm, and these two dramas parallel each other harmoniously. The themes of trust, betrayal, looking past appearances to trust who is worthy and not just familiar ring authentic throughout the film. The special effects are awe-inspiring, especially in the way that they don’t detract from the film, just make it possible to exist and be believable. The only critism I had was that Gary Oldman’s part was a little distracting and unnecessary but still, it’s Gary Oldman and I can make exceptions.

How to Train Your Dragon 2

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Dreamworks sequel to the first film finds Hiccup and Toothless exploring new lands together, while Hiccup shirks his father’s intentions to have him become the next chief. The further the pair travel, the more they find they are not alone in their corner of the world, and dragons possess more magic and complications than they ever thought.
There is a lot to love about this movie, but really Toothless pulls the whole thing off for me. I don’t know if everyone’s dog is like Toothless but mine is and it’s incredibly adorable and endearing. The film really goes for Hamlet levels of family drama which I don’t think it pulls off very well because it tries to jam way too much family drama story in with the message it’s also trying to send about respecting different species and taking advantage of power. It feels way too long at points and places where it feels like it would be a good idea to wrap the story up, it just tramples past it and goes on and on. For me, Toothless and the dragons are really the saving grace for the human malarkey.

The Fault in our Stars

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I read the book so I knew what I was in store for with this cry fest. Because I read the book it’s hard for me to separate the two but there isn’t much need because it was adapted pretty well. Hazel is a teenager with cancer who meets Augustus in a teenagers with cancer support group. Augustus likes her immediately and she is charmed by his charismatic personality and willingness to read her favourite book. After Augustus reads the book and finds it as puzzling and frustrating as Hazel does, the hunt to find the author is on.
The book is deeply philosophical and pulls it off incredibly well for a young adult novel. Judging by the fact that almost everyone in the theater was crying I would say the movie managed to touch hearts and evoke attachments to these characters as well as the book. If you need a reminder how precious and short life can be, don’t miss this movie.

Maleficent

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This Disney film follows the life of young Maleficent, powerful fairy and friend to her magical community. One day she meets a greedy human, Stephan, but grows to love him anyway. Ultimately her heart is broken and she suffers a terrible betrayal by him when he steals her wings. Many years later she curses his daughter to die when she pricks her finger, and the little princess is sent to live with three incredibly incompetent fairies.
This film has some fascinating characters, such as the raven who becomes human, and of course Malefient herself, but the humans are utterly boring. While the special effects are spectacular, they are distracting and mostly irritating. One of the worst choices the movie made was to try to make the three guardian fairies humorous. The attempts at comedy come across painful and made me grimace in embarrassment for Disney. The movie is way too long for the kind of narrative here and lacks charm where it should be leaking with it. If you enjoy a highly stylized movie with little plot, this may be your dish.

22 Jump Street

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Schmidt and Jenko are back in this hilarious movie about friendship and law enforcement. The pair must go undercover at college to find a drug distributor, but that’s just a side story because what the movie is really about is friendship and the different struggles that come along with it like growing apart, jealously, exclusion, and trust. 22 Jump street is self referential to great comedic effect (seriously don’t bother watching this until you’ve seen the first) and mixes fun actions sequences with unexpected plot twists. Terrifically funny and smart, I highly recommend this film.

As far as the rest of the summer, I am incredibly excited for Guardians of the Galaxy, the One Hundred Foot Journey and What If. Hopefully I’ll be so excited about GotG I’ll just run home and write a review!

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