Tag Archive: movies


The only thing I knew about Me Before You prior to seeing it was it had a pretty solid cast (Emilia Clarke, Jenna Coleman, Brendan Coyle, and Charles Dance were my standout stars). I knew the main character, Will Traynor (Sam Claflin) was paralyzed, in what turned out to be a rather convenient turn of movie events to get the story rolling. However, I was optimistic, given the cast. Thankfully, that optimism paid off.

As previously mentioned, some pretty quick and simple events happened with the first five minutes to get the story started. I won’t give anything away, but if you have seen the trailer, you will know Will Traynor is paralyzed, with limited movement in two of his fingers. This allows him to still be able to move in his electric wheelchair using the control stick on the armrest. He’s not the most

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Will Traynor (Sam Claflin) and Lou Clark (Emilia Clarke) 

inviting person, which isn’t wholly a surprise, given his current situation.

Across town is Lou Clark (Emilia Clarke), a small town girl, trying to help out her family (she lives at home with her parents), and as Will likes to say, she has a lot of potential. She needs a job, finds Will’s parents are looking for a Carer for him, and then gets the job. She’s fun, energetic, talkative, friendly, and has an eccentric choice of clothing. Fairly basic setup, and I think you all know what will happen next.

Yes, it is true, there’s not much in the way of originality here. Is that a bad thing? Not at all. Not every movie has to break new ground. Instead, this movie allows the actors to take center stage. Unlike in Game of Thrones, Emilia Clarke is allowed to show emotion in Me Before You. Yes, there are the heartfelt moments, which she does well with, but more impressively, her eyebrows steal the show. It really is like they have a mind of their own. I now apologize if you see this movie and can’t stop being distracted by that.

Without going into major plot points, the main question for a movie like this is: does the viewer care about the characters? For the most part, yes. Of course you will feel bad for Will. We learn he is usually in pain, either physically or mentally. He doesn’t easily open himself up to others. We see him start to open up to Lou, which is nice, and she becomes attached to him as well. Again, all very typical, but still enjoyable to watch. Luckily, the movie leaves room for some comedy, often in the form of sarcasm from Will or socially awkward situations created by Lou (and her unique outfits). Truth be told, they both have good chemistry. And then there are the funny moments when Lou’s boyfriend, Patrick (Matthew Lewis) is jealous of Will or going on about running some sort of triathlon in Norway.

635899219648350647-MBY-07030r.jpgMidway through, you do basically know the ending. At that point, it becomes more about the journey. Luckily, there are plenty of entertaining scenes to keep the viewer interested. However, the actually ending doesn’t fully take advantage of the weight of the situation. The film discusses an important topic, but it is rarely explored, instead focusing on the relationship between Will and Lou. Sometimes Will’s parents, played by Janet McTeer and Charles Dance, start to explore moral and ethical issues, but that quickly gets pushed to the side. The better moral issues are brought up by Lou’s sister, Katrina (Jenna Coleman) and her dad, Bernard (Brendan Coyle), but they are more to do with whether or not Lou should continue seeing Will (both professionally and emotionally).

I know I said not all movies have to be groundbreaking, and I still stand by that. I enjoyed the characters, their development, and their relationships with each other. It would be a lie to say I did not feel for these characters, especially in the second half of the movie. I actually enjoyed the majority of the movie. While I am not familiar with the book the movie is based on, I cannot help but feel their was a missed opportunity to address a topic that isn’t often addressed in movies. My only other issue with the movie was the use of so many pop songs. They felt awkwardly placed and at times too loud, making it hard to hear some of the dialogue.

If you want to see a well made and heartfelt movie with some genuinely funny moments, this will not disappoint. Every actor is very well cast and they become their characters (I still found it amusing to see past Emilia Clarke and Charles Dance not being mortal enemies like in Game of Thrones).

Me Before You succeeds because of its characters and their chemistry. If Lou wasn’t eccentric her character could have fallen into the territory of forgettable. Instead, she’s fun and the audience can root for her. We want her to succeed in bringing Will back to the world. At the same time, it is easy to understand Will’s point of view. Again, I have not read the book, but as a movie, I was entertained throughout, which ultimately is the reason I go to the movies.

About Time Review

about-time-posterTime travel is heavy stuff, and About Time knows this.  Instead, it is a movie about family.

Main character Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) starts off the movie at home, explaining the relationship he has with his Mum (Lindsay Duncan) and Dad (Bill Nighy) and his sister Kit Kat (Lydia Wilson).  We learn how they have longtime traditions, often involving the whole family, such as scheduled tea or watching movies outside (rain or shine).  Not long into the film, Dad let’s Tim in on a little secret: the males in the family can time travel.  Tim goes on to test it out and change some little things, such as kissing a girl on New Years Day.  So it is set, Tim simply wants to use time travel to find love.

When Tim leaves home to go off and become a lawyer he is ever more aware that he is yearning to be with someone.  Eventually he meets Mary (Rachel McAdams) and they hit it off quite well.  Except one minor detail: Tim is still getting used to time travel.  When he meets Mary again she has no idea who he is and after a series of enjoyably awkward attempts at time travel and Mary, Tim starts to get it.

During these scenes the movie does something all movies should do: create not only realistic characters but characters the audience can relate to.  Tim is clearly awkward, especially when trying to woo Mary.  During these scenes I could see myself, and it was really nice to see a main character not be a suave, dashing, ideal man.  He’s someone the majority of people can relate to, after all, he’s just a guy trying to win over a girl and be happy.  Now, Mary is kind of similar to Tim, and when they hit it off, multiple times, on similar dates (time travel and all that) it really is easy to cheer them on.  They’re just two average people looking for love.  There’s no over-the-top craziness.  There is no cheating on each other just to cause a plot point that needs to be solved.  No, this is a slow burning and really quite charming love story.

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The ideal position for time travel

Again, the overarching theme is family, and this comes back as Mary meets Tim’s family.  While Mum isn’t an outspoken woman, she does say a few powerfully kind words to Mary, which further show how close Tim’s family is.  Speaking of Tim’s family, Nighy nearly steals the film as Dad.  I don’t meant to say the rest of the cast isn’t great, because they are, but Dad is the heart of family.  There’s a presence he brings to the screen even when he’s not talking, as if his character is silently saying he will always selflessly be there to help the family whenever need be.  This comes in part due to his playfulness.  Seriously, watch him play table tennis and tell me he’s not a fun guy.  When he’s serious he carries himself with calmness and honesty (as well as some clever sarcasm to lighten things up).  There’s no yelling or theatrics.  He’s simply a man who is there to care.

Over the course of the film, Tim slowly takes on the selfless nature of his father, and it’s nothing short of the most heartfelt transformation in cinema this year.  Choices have to be made as the film reaches its end, and without giving anything away, they will instantly make you incredibly happy and sad at the same time, and I think that’s fitting for a film about time travel.

So then, what is About TimeAbout Time is a magical movie about the heartfelt nature of selflessness and family.  A film which will have you fall in love with movies all over again.

Do yourself a favor and see this film now, or if you’re reading this at night, tomorrow.  I don’t use a star scale or anything, but if I did this would be a 5/5 all the way.  Isn’t it About Time you’ve seen this movie?

Oscars 2013 Review

Let’s take a look at each category, the winner, and what I think of it, shall we?

Best Picture: Argo

Well, honestly I have yet to see many movies on this list, but I did expect Lincoln to take the award here.  I’m not quite sure why I thought that, but from the previews and what I heard it seems like it was a really good movie.  I wanted the win to go to Les Miserables, but that’s more due to my love for Les Mis, as I didn’t really expect a musical to win.

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis

Here it wasn’t really a surprise.  From the trailers alone it is obvious he put on a great role.  Granted, Hugh Jackman would have been a good choice to win this, as would Bradley Cooper, but in the end it’s not a bad choice.

Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrencejennifer-lawrence-wins-best-actress-falls-on-stage-29

I can’t complain at all with this one.  All the haters out there saying she only gets noticed because of the movies she’s in, well you need to be good to get in those movies and she is.  Plus, how is it possible to not like her, she’s probably one of the most real people in Hollywood right now.

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz

From what I gather from fans of his roles this was a solid choice.  I trust they’re right, and winning out over Tommy Lee Jones and Robert De Niro has to count for something.

Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway

Yeah, this had to happen.  Thanks to her Les Mis really kicks off as the emotional journey it is.

Best Director: Ang Lee

There is a tiger in a boat in the middle of the ocean with whales jumping over the boat, that is reason enough to win an award.  That is all.  Oh, he directed Life of Pi.

Animated Feature Film: Brave

I wasn’t sure if this or Wreck-It Ralph would have won, but I’m glad Brave won.  Merida is the newest Disney princess and having Pixar be a part of that should please Disney and hopefully allow them to allow Pixar to delve into their creativity again.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay): Argo

Right on, I know nothing of this movie but it has been winning a lot.

Writing (Original Screenplay): Django Unchained

Either this or Moonrise Kingdom was my prediction, so yeah, cool.

Cinematography: Life of Pi

Must I say it again with the whole tiger on a boat and a whale jumping over the boat.  Exactly.

Visual Effects: Life of Pilife of pi

Tiger.  Whale.  Boat.  You know the drill.

Music (Original Score): Life of Pi

Tiger. Whale. Boat.  Music video.

Makeup and Hairstyling: Les Miserables

Hi Anne Hathaway, today we’re going to be cutting off your hair, please don’t mess up the only take we can do, thanks.

Original Song: Skyfall

See Les Mis, this is what happens when you add a random song to try to win an award.  Good job Skyfall and Adele.

Film Editing: Argo

I get the feeling this is a good movie.

Costume Design: Anna Karenina

The previews created a three way tie between this, Les Mis, and Lincoln, so in the end I can’t really say one was better than the other.  Congrats Anna Karenina, the movie very few people probably heard about but from what I hear it is a good movie, I’ll be checking it out when it comes out on DVD.

Production Design: Lincoln

Them producers and people, they know what they be doing.

Animated Short Film: Paperman

Loved it when I saw it and still love it.

Live Action Short Film: Curfew

I don’t exactly know what that means.

Sound Editing: Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty

Explosions everywhere!

Sound Mixing: Les Miserables

Do you hear the people sing?  I sure do, and so does the Academy!   Whatever they did it sure brings on the emotions, so they deserve this award.

Foreign Language Film: Amour

I hear nothing but good of this film, so nice.

Documentary Feature: Searching for Sugar Man

Awesome.

Documentary Short: Inocente

Groovy.

So there you have it.  As you can tell I’ve been a diehard movie fan this past year and am passionate about my cinema.  I did rather like the Les Miserables performance and the rest of them were also pretty good.  Despite what anne hathaway oscars dress 2013I’ve been reading, I thought Anne Hathaway looked good (and I don’t like short hair, but she pulls it off).  Jennifer Lawrence decided to drag around a mile of dress and proceed to fall going on stage and then manage to pull it off without being awkward (which may be because she’s naturally a bit awkward so it didn’t seem out of place).  Seth Macfarlane and Kristin Chenoweth were entertaining.  And to top it all off Kristen Stewart decided to not use her crutches when going on stage, looked like she was going to fall, and sometime between the red carpet and then decided to give herself sex hair.  All in all a good Oscars for all.

To be honest, I didn’t like the previous movie in the trilogy, The Dark Knight.  I thought it was very lacking in plot and it just seemed to drag on forever, especially by throwing Two-Face who didn’t do much of anything.  However, I enjoyed The Dark Knight Rises substantially more than its predecessor.  This is in large due to better plot progression revolving around Bruce Wayne rather than the villain.

I would argue that Batman is Brett Farve, because it always seems like Batman is retiring one minute and then the next he’s back in the action.  This is how the movie begins, with Wayne having given up being Batman, but soon enough he is back cleansing the streets of Gotham.  But first he decides to follow Catwoman across the city.  I don’t know if I really like how she is implemented in the movie, because she’s not there often, but when she is there I was hoping she’d be there longer.

At the same time I didn’t seem to care when the villain, Bane was on screen.  Now, I know special effects are everywhere in the movie, but the really annoying part was how Bane’s voice was mixed in a bass heavy way making it difficult to understand him in a movie that is already heavy on the bass.  More importantly, his character was not interesting.  The past two movies there was Scarecrow and The Joker.  Both interesting villains and the movies allowed these villains to develop.  However, Bane never does much developing and his back story was just sort of there and felt thrown in to create a twist at the end (a rushed twist, but a twist).  Ignoring the lack of development, after you tear away all the superficial stuff, Bane’s super villain plan isn’t all that super villain.  I won’t be surprised if his ultimate evil plan is the same plan a generic villain will have in an action movie this year.  Though, it wasn’t all bad, as Bane wasn’t useless or anything, he just wasn’t as interesting as past villains.  In all honesty he was interesting until a last minute twist made him a lot less useful.  This leads me to a tough situation, as I didn’t like the second movie due to the lack of plot but this movie’s lack of a villain makes me question which one I’d rather have a lack of.

I still think I’d rather have a lack of a villain.  Batman was rarely in The Dark Knight Rises, and I enjoyed seeing Wayne for once.  Yes, the first movie does, but that’s an origin story, so it’s not like it is anything major we have not seen before.  Not to say his story in this movie is complex, but it’s a fitting story of basically getting over the past in order to do what is right.  It may sound cliche, but it’s a superhero movie and a very well acted one.

The Dark Knight Rises is dripping with atmosphere.  We’ve come to expect nothing less, but here it’s taken to a new level.  Unlike the past movies, the action here takes place during both night and day.  The final act is mainly during the day, and the bleak winter setting mirrors the dire situation Gotham is in yet again (at this point wouldn’t it be better just to move?).  Just for good measure a sunny day scene was put in there, but by then it feels awkward since the rest of the movie is shrouded in dark.

If you pay attention you’ll end up noticing a large inconsistency towards the very end of the movie, and I’m sure there are other plot holes.  Some of these issues arise due to a lack of character development, not only with Bane, but with Catwoman.  Rather than trying to explain anything about her, the writers thought it would be better to have Batman/Wayne simply say something along the lines of there’s more to you and then cut to the next scene.  That’s a cop out, but I guess they didn’t want to break the three hour mark.

The ending was particularly jarring, and it’s obvious somebody wanted to force a happy ending.  Not only that, but an awkwardly placed potential for a sequel sneaked into the final moments.  I know Batman is popular amongst kids, but this is supposed to be a more mature take on Batman, and rather than having a more daring ending, we are left with a rather simple ending.

Ultimately, The Dark Knight Rises is my favorite of the new Batman movies.  It has its shortcomings, but an interesting plot, fantastic effects, strong use of atmosphere, and a strong cast made it a very good superhero movie and summer blockbuster.  I appreciate the ambition of these movies, but it seems like they could have drawn this out into two movies in order to properly explain all the characters or maybe less characters would have worked.  A story following Wayne brings it back to reminding us he really isn’t super, he’s just a normal (granted super rich) person trying to help the city he loves, and that human element makes The Dark Knight Rises more compelling than many other superhero movies.

My Week With Marilyn Review

Magical is the best word to describe this film.  I often try to stay away from worn out cliches, but in this case I have to make an exception.  Watching My Week with Marilyn felt like being transported right on the set with her during the filming of The Prince and the Showgirl.  This is fully thanks to the superb acting by the entire cast ranging from tried and true Judi Dench to Michelle Williams as the star herself. 

I imagine it is no easy task having to play such an icon, but you wouldn’t know that when watching the flawless performance of Williams.  I’m glad the movie is low on the melodrama, but rather focuses on a mix of realisitic dialouge and more importantly, real emotion.  By this I mean there are not any over-the-top moments, there are no villains for the sake of having a villain, everything feels like it is grounded in reality.

This is potentially hazardous in an era when every movie seem too overblown or artistic for their own good.  However, I think that’s what makes it so good.  It’s not even a glorification of the star.  We get to see the dark side, the drugs, alcohol, and vulnerability of Monroe.  I especially enjoyed when she talked about the real her and how nobody wants to see anything other than Marilyn Monroe as a star.

By the end of the movie I felt sorry for her and the people around her.  There’s a sense of desperation about her character that makes you question why nobody tried to help.  But then, that’s not all there is to the movie, as the title suggests there is someone who spends a week with her.  This lucky (or unlucky depending on how you look at it) guy is Colin Clark, who leaves his parents and becomes part of the film crew on The Prince and the Showgirl.  He ends up, you guessed it, spending a week with the girl herself.

Clark acts as a vehicle for the viewer to go along and see a glimpse into the life of Monroe.  He’s not a bad character, and without his real life counterpart there wouldn’t be this film, but the wonder that is Monroe greatly overshadows him, and I’m alright with that.

Also worth noting, there’s a wizard, well witch, well a particularly smart witch that makes a guest appearance as part of the crew as a costume designer.

All in all, this is a fantastic film.  Williams will take you away from reality, which is what movies are meant to do, and often fail.  These characters aren’t fake, and its clear both the writers, director, and actors really understood their roles and cared about the characters they were portraying and supporting.

My Week With Marilyn is a rare movie in today’s era, and it is one that reminds us of the charm and magic movies once and still can have.

The Tourist Review

Some movies lack direction, and this is a prime example of such a movie.  Johnny Depp never seems to care that he’s in the movie.  His soulless performance becomes aggravating as the movie wears on, and the ultimate twist feels like it’s put there just for the sake of a twist.  Surprisingly, Angelina Jolie wasn’t as annoying as she can be, but there were far too many shots of nothing other than her walking, which probably isn’t a problem if you think she’s as attractive as the media would have you believe, but I am not one of those people.

At least Venice looks nice as always

Apparently the movie was supposed to be a sort of comedy, but it never worked.  This is due in part to Depp not caring about the movie, but also because it simply wasn’t funny.  Sure, the police officers were confused the whole time, which as a little bit funny, but then Jolie would come on and it would turn back into following her around doing a lot of nothing.  The first half of the film played out as a low-rate romance with hints of action that never amounted to anything worthwhile.

On a positive note, much of the panning over Venice looked really good.  That is until Depp ran across the rooftops and did the exact same run that Jack Sparrow does in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.  The list of things Depp did to annoy never really ends in this movie, and it didn’t help any that Jolie just isn’t that good of an actress (note, I said above she wasn’t as annoying as can be, I never said anything about acting).

I suppose I should talk some more about the plot, but there really isn’t one.  The whole time I was waiting for a plot to take off, but then I realized the plot is as paper thin as it begins.  I don’t think this would have actually mattered if the movie was funny, but it wasn’t, and I think it tried to be.

I’m usually not a critique of little words, but for this movie I am.  The soulless acting by Depp and the never great acting by Jolie left me with two characters I couldn’t care less about in a story with zero substance.

Winter’s Bone Review

Thriller: a work of fiction or drama designed to hold the interest by the use of a high degree of intrigue, adventure, or suspense (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

Winter’s Bone managed to do none of those three things.  To be honest I really was not expecting a thriller, but the back of the box told me it would be, so I thought it would be an added bonus (originally I was expecting a sort of mystery).  However, coming in at just over an hour and a half, I can honestly say the movie could have been told in thirty minutes without taking anything away from it.  The story revolves around Ree, a 17 year old girl who lives with her mother (who has somehow developed a mental illness between graduating high school and being somewhere around 50 years old) and younger brother (Sonny)and sister (Ashlee).  Her father got busted for making drugs (I believe it was crystal meth, but I’m not sure since they called it “crank”), and after running away from his family he puts the house up to meet his bond.  So, Ree goes off to find him so that he can go to court, if not the house will be taken from them. 

So, she goes around to various members of her close and very extended family to see if anyone knows where to find her father.  I don’t know if the point of the movie was to show how life is in the poor parts of the Ozark Mountains, but it kind of did that.  Most of the people were on drugs and those who weren’t really couldn’t care less about anyone but themselves.  Life in the movie seems difficult, but at the same time the cast of characters are so sterile that I never found myself caring about any of them.  Having Ree’s mother never talk due to her illness essentially made her uninteresting as she just sat there.  However, Sonny and Ashlee sometimes had personality, but I think it had more to do with not wanting children to grow up in that type of world that made them have more of an impact.  Though, even then the impact was small because I couldn’t help but think the director was trying too hard to be artsy.  We get a lot of drawn out shots of scenery and a really awkwardly black and white scene that does nothing to progress the plot.

I will stress plot progression, because it was at such  a slow pace that I don’t understand how this is called a thriller.  And again I go back to characters, who were almost all carbon copies of each other.  Though, I did like Teardrop (Ree’s uncle), who was not as bland as the rest of the people in the film.  It helps that he is the brother of Ree’s father, so he is able to supply real insight into the man being chased after and does so with more believability than anyone else in the movie.  Well that’s almost true, as the army recruitment officer was a really good character and was the only one to offer logical advice.  Back to Teardrop, he was one of the few characters who understood the world they lived in and rather than just living in it seemed to want to have something to live for.  I would argue by the end of the movie he was glad he did what he did, as it opened the doors to a stronger bond with Ree, Ashlee, and Sonny.

I wanted to like this movie.  However, it was far too sterile.  The slow pacing could have worked, but there were never any moments that had an emotional impact and there were not any memorable scenes.  The main character was strangely distant, and I never felt for her.

Ultimately, I think the lack of interesting characters and relatively simple story made the movie falter far more than it misleadingly being called a thriller.

District 9 Review

Anytime I see Peter Jackson attached to a movie in any way I’m hoping it doesn’t turn out to be a drawn out movie (King Kong) or a poor movie adaptation (The Lovely Bones).  Yes, he did very good with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but since then it seems he’s been running off that success without matching it.  It seems as a producer he didn’t introduce these problems to District 9.  Director Neill Blomkamp (who along with Terri Tatchell wrote the movie) clearly knew how to control the pacing of a movie without drawing it out. 

Prior to seeing the movie I recalled the commercials, which weren’t very clear on what type of movie it would be, and I really wasn’t sure what to expect.  I don’t think I was the only one feeling this way, as the movie itself didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be.  Most of the time it focused on being a social commentary of sorts, showing how humans would react to aliens living right next door to them.  In theory this isn’t a bad concept, but the execution seemed like it tiptoed around issue.  Most of the time the government was not involved, which is a shame since world governments would probably have a lot to say about a giant space ship full of aliens showing up.  I was hoping for some discussion such as in Torchwood: Children of Earth when various political leaders had a heated discussion with the the Prime Minister.  Instead the movie has a lot of clips of local people around the alien camp and a few professionals from researchers to the main character’s co-workers.

Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley) is our protagonist, works for Multinational United (MNU) which is basically set up to control the alien population since the government is apparently useless.  Nearly everyone else exists as a collective antagonist.  We get both the generic company mastermind who is all for killing and experimenting on aliens and the cliche-to-the-max leader of the soldiers hired by MNU (really, I don’t think this guy knows how to think, all he does is run around shooting stuff).  Somehow the movie manages to get past this (though, I’m confused why not a single person at MNU (scientists included) or the government did not want to try to talk to any of the aliens.

Merwe ends up being a very interesting character, as he has a lot of screen time and appears to be the only character written with any thought.  I can’t remember a fictional protagonist I’ve recently watched that has gone through so many horrible situations in such a short period of time.  This is when the movie shines, as it goes into a somewhat generic but entertaining story of friendship between the two most unlikely people.

At its heart, the movie seems to really want to be a social commentary.  But the ending falls a bit short, as the last twenty minutes are non-stop action, which admittedly I zoned out during since it was obviously just put there to please those who wanted it to be an action movie.  For the other two hours I was hooked, and was glad to see an alien movie when the aliens weren’t there just to blow up Earth.  Though, it would have been nice if they did more than simply have the humans wanting to blow up the aliens (though, it seems every alien weapon literally blow up people, just leaving a cloud of red, which got old rather quick).

All in all, it is a good movie that tried to be too many things, and fails at trying to add elements (such as action) to please everyone, but is substantially more successful at doing what it was written to be, a drama.  Maybe one day there will be a science fiction movie that realizes it doesn’t have to involve a giant action sequence or intergalactic war.

Nowhere Boy Review

I’m always a bit nervous when sitting down to watch a movie about a famous person’s life.  There’s always a chance that it’ll end up trying to make it just on the fact of having a famous person portrayed in it.  However, this is not the case for Nowhere Boy, the story of a young John Lennon.  That’s important, because it is not a story about The Beatles, or even about the early formation of the band.  Sure, it has Paul McCartney in it for most of the second half (and he’s a pretty nice contrast to Lennon, much like their music balances each other out) and George Harrison is there for a few minutes, but at its heart the movie is about Lennon.  Before I go on I have to say I was amazed how similar the actors – Aaron Johnson (Lennon), Thomas Brodie Sangster (McCartney), and even the members of Lennon’s first band The Quarrymen– looked to the people they were meant to represent.

The days when dressing like a hipster was mainstream

Going into the movie knowing nothing of Lennon’s early life (aside from his first band and some other music related information) I was surprised to see his family life.  Aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas) is possibly the best aunt in any movie and amongst the best parent figures I’ve ever watched on screen.  She makes you understand her being bitter and abrupt because when the smoke clears she always comes through and shows her caring side.  By the end of the movie, and by end I mean very end, I really did feel for her.  Though, I can’t say as much about Lennon’s mother.

I won’t give anything away for those who aren’t aware of Lennon’s early life, but I think a quote by his mother, Julia will help fill you in on what type of girl she was in her younger days:

“Do you know what it means, rock ‘n’ roll?  Sex.”

Needless to say, she was what I would politely refer to as promiscuous.  Then somewhere along the line she seems to have gone a little kooky and her relation with her son ends up being awkward to watch.  Still, it is an interesting relation, but one that is never fully addressed.

The movie has a problem of getting caught up in being too artsy at times, making some sequences make you wonder why they’re there.  Particularly, there are donkeys in Lennon’s dreams/flashback sequences that seem to serve no purpose other than being artistic or something (kind of like but not as annoying as the lizards in Nic Cage’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans).  Luckily there are very few of these types of scenes, but there is another problem.  At times the pacing feels awkward and forced.  It’s obvious there were a lot of ideas and important moments they had to work with, but some of them either just pop up or there are sporadic mood swings by characters just to continue the plot.  Yes, this may seem like a big complaint, but as a whole, these moments don’t take away from the drama and emotional connection between the viewer, Aunt Mimi, and Lennon.

Is this a perfect movie?  Well no.  Is it an emotionally involving movie that makes you forget it’s a John Lennon movie?  Yes, and I like that.  I didn’t want to sit there and watch him go collect band mates, fly over to America, be famous, and all that stuff.  Seeing the drama made it more personal, and because of that made it more accessible to those who are not big fans of The Beatles (such as myself).  At the very least, you will definitely come away from the movie with a greater appreciation for Aunt Mimi’s influence on Lennon’s life.

As a side note, this movie definitely has the most amount of smoking I’ve seen in any recent movie, it’s like an inside joke or something amongst the cast, as I don’t think there’s a solid minute of screen time without someone smoking.

The Amazing Spider-Man Review

This may look like a Twilight moment, but the relationship scenes are some of the best around for a superhero movie

I used to think Tobey Maguire was our generations Spider-Man, well not anymore.  In The Amazing Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield brings the character of Peter Parker more life than Maguire ever did.  Now, I’m not saying Maguire was bad, as I enjoyed the first two of his movies (and like to ignore the third), but too many times he seemed weak when being Peter.  On the other hand, Garfield is able to take the geekiness of the character while maintaining a more believable character.  Though, this may be in part to Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, who together with Garfield played off the awkwardness of their characters to make them rather likable.

Honestly, this movie reminded me somewhat of Cowboys & Aliens, since Spider-Man was a pretty good drama/rom-com and Cowboys & Aliens wasn’t a bad western.  Being able to establish a familiar basis allowed the unique part of each movie (super hero and aliens) to mesh into the story rather than being forced into it.  It seemed like a good hour before Parker began to realize the potential of his powers, which may seem like a long time, but it allowed characters to develop.  Of course there were the obligatory scenes with Parker’s Aunt May and Uncle Ben, but I was relieved to see these two actually have entertaining and often funny banter between each other.  It’s hard to explain, but each character really was likable (well, except the villain of course), and I think it’s because the characters were never forced on the audience.  There were no “with great power comes great responsibility” drawn out nonsense that real people wouldn’t say and no upside down kisses in the rain.

The movie didn’t go out of its way to have those sort of memorable moments.  Instead, it created characters, portrayed by an all around fantastic cast, that will not soon be forgotten.  Though, there was one particular scene leading up to the final battle that I felt was a bit over-the-top, but it did remind me at one part of The Other Guyswhich is always good and it wasn’t that long so I’ll forgive it.

It’s not just the promo pic, this Spider-Man is not a fan of his mask

However, I don’t think I can forgive another part of the movie.  Apparently we’re still in the whole fad of making everything 3-D, and there was no exception here.  Several scenes swinging around the city were seen through Spider-Man’s eyes, which probably would be interesting to see in 3-D, but it will be really odd when watching at home and in fifteen years or so will seem really dated.  Luckily, there wasn’t much swinging around, as noted earlier this movie was strongly focused more on drama than action. Likewise, the scale of the movie didn’t feel quite as large as Maguire’s trilogy.  Even discovering his spider powers required no more than a warehouse, leaving behind the running from rooftop to rooftop of Maguire’s first film.  Again, this led to more time for a character driven story.

I nearly forgot to mention, there is a villain, The Lizard (aka Dr. Curt Connors when in human form).  He has some plan to take over the world, which is actually somewhat annoying since the first half of the movie he wants to do the complete opposite.  Really, he only seems to be there to have a villain and is a friend of Parker’s father.  It was nice have some insight on his parents, and from a short clip during the credits it seems like the second movie will go more into his father’s back story.  I think I was so uninterested in the villain because I was more caught up in Parker and Stacy’s relationship, which really goes to show how super hero movies can have a soul and make you root for the main characters (there were a few scenes in which Parker nearly died as Spider-Man and showing not only his vulnerabilities but also his human element of being more than an over-the-top superhero).  This is odd, since I never had that feeling when watching either of the past two Batman movies, even though he really is just a human with a bunch of cool gadgets.

Basically what I’m trying to say is please go see this movie if you have any interest in superheros, Spider-Man, a rom-com, or most importantly a good drama.  For me, The Amazing Spider-Man may be the best superhero movie I have ever seen, and I look forward to seeing more Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone together in the future.

On a side note, I’m pretty sure you can make a good drinking game out of how many times Spider-Man takes off his mask.  Really, I’m amazed more people don’t know who he is.