Film Reviews

Movie Review: An Impressive Battle Royale in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”

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After an on-going controversy stemming from its initial production and casting, the highly anticipated Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice finally opened up last Friday. Although the gladiator matchup of the ages left critics with a bad taste in their mouth and less than kind reviews, the film racked up a little more than an astonishing $420 million at the global box office last weekend—grossing more at the cinema during its opening than the first collaborative Marvel film, The Avengers in 2010.

As of Wednesday, Variety reported that Batman v Superman ranked in a grand haul of $501.9 million worldwide. It seems the more critics hamper down on the allure of the DC Universe’s efforts to create their own box office success and cosmos on the big screen, the more audiences are determined to see what all the fuss is. Evidently, the film, which is an appropriate set-up for future DCU films, has polarized critics and audiences alike as fans are more receptive of the film than the media who seemingly wants to deter audiences in favor of familiarity, ie. the Marvel movie franchises.

We already know the history of Clark Kent/Superman and Bruce Wayne/Batman, but in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, we are given a peek into the preliminary coupling between the two. While the title of the film may give it all away, this film is not at all tale of The Dark Knight and Man of Steel sitting down for shawarmas after a sweaty battle and buddying it up. The film pays homage to the duo’s dynamic from the darker comic books, exploring their rivalry, partnership, and ultimately, friendship. Of course, all of that encompasses grit and darkness, something most are not use to seeing on the big screen when it comes to superhero films. But it is a superhero film nonetheless, and one that really stands on its own in the most positive way.

If you’re interested in watching the film for yourself, there are some spoilers beyond this point, so read at your own discretion.

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Movie Review: A Defining and Bold “Testament of Youth”

One of the beauties of cinema is how it can so beautifully encapsulate and highlight what has affected us most. In paying respects to war, Hollywood films have helped throughout the years to acknowledge the sacrifice so many before us have made for our freedoms. The twentieth century’s pervading legacy has been about war, with two of the largest wars in the history of our world happening in the first half of the century.

Testament of Youth is based on the popular memoir of English writer, feminist, and pacifist, Vera Brittain’s experiences during the First World War. The film is a powerful and moving impassioned story of love, war, and remembrance from the point of view of a woman trying to find her place in the world. From a wide-eyed young woman with youthful hopes and dreams, to the edge of despair and back again, the British film perfectly captures the ineffectiveness of war, young love, and how to find light in dark times.

The film follows young Vera Brittain (Alicia Vikander) on the cusp of adulthood and a modern new era. Despite the wishes of her conservative parents (Dominic West, Emily Watson) to get married, young and self-taught Vera is determined to attend Oxford University and become a writer. Vera finds support from her younger brother, Edward (Taron Egerton) and his prep-school friend, Victor (Colin Morgan). But when she meets her brother’s other friend, the dashing and robust Roland (Kit Harington), her view on what she thought she believed significantly alters.

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Julianne Moore is Unforgettable in “Still Alice”

Hollywood has long been fascinated with bringing a tinge of real life to film in hopes to connect with audiences. While it is a fundamental element in successful film-making, it’s also prised by many who value the subject matter in hopes to spark a discussion that is important.

Based on the 2007 New York Times best-selling novel of the same name by neuroscientist and writer Lisa Genova, Still Alice is more than just a film about the struggle of Alzheimer’s. In many ways, it is a harrowing tale of family, love and the effects on our lives from this debilitating disease.

Focusing on Dr. Alice Howland (Julianne Moore), the film finds us getting to know an accomplished professor of linguistics who is happily married to Dr. John Howland (Alec Baldwin) with three grown children (Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish, and Kristen Stewart). When Alice begins to forget words and people, nor recognize her surroundings, she is then diagnosed with “Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease”. It comes as a shock to the barely 50 year-old Alice and her close-knit family as the case is rare for someone of her age. As she comes to terms with the diagnosis day-by-day, her family finds their bonds thoroughly tested as they reflect on the situation and help Alice in her struggle.

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A World of Charm and Mystery: Checking Into “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

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There’s always something magical about Wes Anderson’s films, and The Grand Budapest Hotel might just be the director’s finest film to date. He truly is one of those rare film-makers with the ability to make unique and fresh films. I was first introduced to Anderson’s filmography by one of my best friends who insisted I watch the acclaimed director’s film collection because I would fall in love with the overall writing and development of characters—he was right. (How is he always right?) Upon watching The Royal Tenenbaums, I fell in love with Wes Anderson and was completely smitten by the writing, setting, production, and overall feel of his films.

Last month, Anderson’s highly-anticipated eighth feature, The Grand Budapest Hotel made its theatrical premiere, and I was lucky enough to catch a viewing last week as the film opened in more cities! (more…)

Following the Signs with “Silver Linings Playbook”

When life gets us down, it can be hard to pull yourself back up and figure out where to go next. At times it can feel like a long process of wandering through bouts of depression and anger; resentment of misunderstanding personal purpose and a sense of overall frustration, but those bends in the road we see are not the end of the road, simply opportunities to change the path of life. In plain terms, all bends in the road still lead us somewhere through signs. The question is where? And what are they trying to show to us?

In David O. Russell’s Academy Award nominated film, Silver Linings Playbook, the director presents Matthew Quick’s best-selling debut novel in an endearing and honest approach, proving that signs are all around us and the closer we get to manifest our dreams and desires, these signs, accompanied by synchronicity will occur outside our normal perception where an infrastructure between one’s dreams, desires, and faith exists.

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Dickens Rises with “The Dark Knight” in Gotham City

The most anticipated film of 2012 opened up this past July and is still stunning audiences, staying at the top spot of the box office this summer! Raking in about $834 million, the film is now the 30th most lucrative production of all time. The Dark Knight Rises is the compelling conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s Batman series. The three films he created changed the face of blockbuster filmmaking and breathed a brand new life into how superhero films and scripts are produced. Nolan’s world of Batman is real, gritty and relatable and not at all comes off cartoonish like Schumacher’s Batman & Robin. Don’t get me wrong, but when George Clooney donned the Batman suit—sure, Clooney was handsome, fresh-faced and debonair in a Cary Grant sort of comic-book way, but the costume came off ridiculously like a caricature, complete with a jockstrap and nipples. The nipples alone were distracting!

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Movie Review: The Adjustment Bureau

It is said that each man is the architect of his own fate as he dreams of his destiny, without fear and yearns to make it a reality for when the time is right. However, we are guided through life with the notion that we have our own decisions to make, tinkering with the thought of choices and freewill. But is freewill a misconception? Is our fate already predetermined?

George Nolfi’s directorial debut The Adjustment Bureau dabbles with the concept that there is only an appearance of freewill and that all of life’s major choices are predetermined by a higher authority and the path they’ve chosen for us. Nolfi, who also wrote the screenplay loosely based on Phillip K. Dick’s short story, “The Adjustment Team”, dives deep into the age old debate of freewill vs. fate with a fresh spin on the philosophies of life and theology, with regards to fate, destiny, chance and the greater picture of our very being.

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Movie Review: The Company Men

In recent years, America has faced a great recession that has left the jobless with not only profound psychological and emotional scars but with slim hope of finding themselves out of the ditch they were put in. The economic catastrophe has affected more than 15 million people and they feel disheartened and quite weak as their financial reserves grow exhausted, their job hunt becomes strenuous and their place with their family, community and society befalls strain with the battle for their shifting identity becoming a newfound challenge.

A film that is showcasing the current economic forecast and the realities of it all is The Company Men directed by long-time television producer, John Wells (ER, The West Wing). In his directorial debut, Wells who also wrote the screenplay for the topical film illustrates an unyielding, clever and poignant piece of work for the audience, bringing the bleak realities to life.

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