Haymitch Abernathy: You really wanna know how to stay alive? You get people to like you. Oh! Not what you were expecting. Well, when you're in the middle of the games, and you're starving or freezing, some water, a knife or even some matches can mean the difference between life and death. And those things only come from sponsors, and to get sponsors, you have to make people like you. And right now, sweetheart, you're not off to a real good start.
Uncle Ben: If anyone's destined for greatness, it's you son. You owe the world your gifts. You just have to figure out how to use them. And know that wherever they take you, we'll always be here. So come on home Peter. You're my hero, and I love you.
People who go for this sort of thing will find Pride and Prejudice exactly the sort of thing that they go for. People who don't go for this sort of thing will get exactly the sort of thing they expect - and yet there's a very good chance that they'll still find some enjoyment in Pride and Prejudice. Transcending beyond the assumed audience is key for a movie like this. Because lets be honest, a (somewhat) stuffy 18th century drama about love between two levels of the British class system is not something that would tickle the fancy of most male moviegoers. And yet this movie, at least for me, was entirely enjoyable and far better than most films of similar ilk.
And I guess the movie has Jane Austen to thank for that. I was required to read the 1813 novel (that this movie is an adaption of ... bet you couldn't have figured that one out) this year for school. What started out as a requirement quickly turned into something genuinely enjoyable, much to my chagrin. My preconceived notion of the book turned out to be completely false. In its place, I found a witty, sarcastic, endearing, and engrossing novel that brought me to the realization that, "maybe this book is popular for a reason." I really enjoyed Pride and Prejudice.
And yet, going into this movie, I had the same expectations. Sure, by that point I knew that the director, Joe Wright, had great source material to work with. But than the classic question arose, "how can they adapt a book that's three or four hundred pages long into a two hour movie?" I twice doubted this story, and I was twice proven wrong. I'm still not quite sure how the filmmakers were able to cram so much into this movie, but I can't deny that they do. It's a streamlined version, but everything that was significant in the novel is brought successfully onto the screen. I really enjoyed Pride and Prejudice yet again!
The story revolves around Elizabeth and Jane Bennet, and their relationships with Charles Bingley and his friend, Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth and Jane are charming individuals, but they live below the upper class. Bingley and Darcy are rich, and the latter gives off a distinct aura of contemptibility. The story masterfully intertwines a couple of different interpersonal relationships.
As I mentioned before, screenwriter Deborah Moggach and director Joe Wright do an exceptional job of condensing are rather large book into a concise and digestible movie. Because the vast majority of the book is just conversations, you can tell that Wright made the conscious effort to add interesting aspects to these scenes of dialogue. For instance, in the classic first marriage proposal scene between Elizabeth and Darcy - Wright moves the action from simply inside a house in broad daylight, to rain and overcast skies, outside, under a beautiful stone gazebo. It's little tweaks like this that add a certain level of freshness to this well-known story.
Wright also uses very slight zoom-ins during scenes of dialogue. They feel a bit weird, but they do bring focus to important parts of scenes. I'm guessing that was his aim. In addition, the cinematography present here turns simple shots into things of beauty.
The performances in this movie are spot-on, and casting in this movie is pitch perfect! I'm not just talking Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen (who are both fantastic!). No, the filmmakers here are totally in tuned with each and every character. Starting at the top, Keira Knightley was worthily awarded an Academy Award nomination for her performance as Lizzy Bennet. It's not really out of her range to play a classical character like this - she's done it many a time - but she is, nonetheless, very good.
Matthew Macfadyen is not only playing a fantastic character, but he's also playing him fantastically well. While both Darcy and Elizabeth have unique character arcs throughout the story, I think Darcy's is the more difficult task to pull off. And Macfadyen is up to the challenge. He can be thoroughly unlikable at times, but the good heart of the character manages to shine through as the movie progresses.
In casting Elizabeth's sisters, Joe Wright seemed to have had a knack for plucking talented actresses before their careers took off. Lydia and Kitty are played by Jena Malone and Carey Mulligan. Long before Malone started lighting up the screen as Johanna Mason in The Hunger Games, she was totally embodying the frivolous and shallow Lydia Bennet. And long before Mulligan was playing Daisy opposite Leonardo DiCaprio's Jay Gatsby, she was making her film debut as Kitty. Rosamund Pike is given perhaps the most uninteresting character in the movie. In both the book and the movie, Jane is 100% good natured throughout the entire duration. Still, Pike does what she can with the material.
The Bennet parents are both played to the hilt, but in different ways. Brenda Blethyn is disgustingly shallow as Mrs. Bennet ... exactly as she was in the book. And playing my favorite character in the movie, Mr. Bennet, Donald Sutherland does what he always does. He's such a phenomenal actor, and Mr. Bennet is such a funny character. He definitely has the funniest lines in the movie! In addition, Tom Hollander, Judi Dench, and Kelly Reilly are all perfectly cast in supporting roles.
Dario Marianelli's score rises above the genre standard for classical scores for historical movies. It's become one of the most iconic things about the film. His theme for piano that often crops up, played by the actors on screen, is excellent. The score is well worthy of the Oscar nomination it received.
Sometimes, low expectations can be a movie's best friend. Sometimes, being thoroughly well made can propel a movie beyond one or two shortcomings. And sometimes, a movie that fits squarely into the last genre in the world that would appeal to this reviewer, actually turns out to be a great film!
"Well, if Jane does die, it will be a comfort to know she was in pursuit of Mr. Bingley." 8/10
To read my incredibly long winded review of the seven series of Doctor Who, visit this page: www.rottentomatoes.com/user/970979/blogs/?id=780149
For those who don't want to wade through that review above (that spans thousands of words), let me reiterate a few points. After the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, and after years of hearing nothing but good things about the show, I finally decided to give The Doctor a shot. Series one was shaky, but by the end of series two, I was completely hooked. The show tries to make you love it for quite a few different reasons. And I personally love it for every one of those reasons. As fun as it is to see aliens and heroics week in and week out, the relationship between The Doctor and his companion is what makes the show so darn effective. It's hard to explain, but if you give it a shot, it's entirely worth it.
So for me, giving it a shot started in December of 2013, and it concluded in April of 2014. That's almost four months to get through seven series of a show. It all balances out at about one episode a day. And at the end of watching this undeniably fun, emotionally draining, and inexplicably addicting show, I can say with a huge smile on my face that Doctor Who was more than well worth my time. It's one of my favorite shows. I just can't get enough of it!
So on to the topic of the day, the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special: The Day Of The Doctor. This 75 minute special is a gigantic payoff for those who have made it through (at least) the last seven years. This is definitely not something you can jump in to. But those who make it this far will be exponentially rewarded. I was completely in awe and completely giddy as this special gave me payoff after payoff after payoff!
The story brings together three Doctors in a quest to right "The War Doctor's" greatest wrong. Along the way, they'll have to prevent a Zygon invasion of Earth. The timey-wimey adventures of the three Doctors is not to be missed!
First things first, the bad. The main flaw rests in the Zygon invasion. Sure it would be totally fine as "just a regular episode of Doctor Who." But this is the biggest special they've done yet. I think it deserved more than just a decent villain. Thankfully, the majority of the story centers around The Doctor's biggest regret. THAT storyline is worthy of the special. Other than that, the only other flaw I have with this is the fact that the special is only 75 minutes long! If you're going to bring back David Tennant, and bring in John Hurt, please give me more than an hours worth of material!
Small flaws aside, this special is so phenomenal! Bringing together three Doctors did nothing less than put a massive smile on my face! Sure this is Matt Smith's gig, and he is given his due diligence as the leading man. In his second-to-last appearance as The Doctor, Matt Smith shines! The incomparable David Tennant returns as the 10th Doctor. Gosh, I just love him! And it's completely obvious that Tannant is having an absolute blast, coming back to a character he perfected for three years. It's just so fun to watch him allons-ying his way through the episode! And newcomer John Hurt provides such a fantastic new element to the show. He's obviously an older, more cynical Doctor. And his reactions to 10 and 11 are priceless! "They're screwdrivers! What are you going to do? Assemble a cabinet at them?"
The only addition to this cast that could possibly have made it better is Christopher Eccleston as the 9th Doctor. I really wish he had come back. Oh well...
The supporting cast boasts two companions. The current one, Clara Oswald - Jenna Coleman, is as marvelous as ever! She seems to anchor even the most massive of situations. And returning for the first time in since Series 4, my favorite companion, Rose Tyler - Billie Piper, is given her moment. The character isn't presented in a traditional way, with the War Doctor being the only one to come in contact with her. But I love Billie Piper, and more Rose Tyler is good Rose Tyler.
Steven Moffat's story is one "stand up and cheer" moment after another! The interaction between Doctors leads to quite a few hilarious lines! Plus the story carries enough weight to make the whole endeavor worthy of its 50 year heritage. It's really a mind-blowing feat that Moffat accomplishes. I'm quite in awe!
So at the end of the day, The Day of the Doctor is essentially every Doctor Who fans dream. If you want payoffs: visually, emotionally, and just plain fanboy-y, than that's exactly what Steven Moffat provides. I personally couldn't have asked for anything more!
"My journey is the same as yours, the same as anyones. It's taken me so many years, so many lifetimes, but at last I know where I'm going. Where I've always been going. Home. The long way around." 10/10
Marvel has never been the kind of studio that tries to reinvent the wheel. But in the case of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, they take that wheel and put the flashiest possible set of rims on it! It's still a wheel, but it looks and functions on an incredibly higher level. Watching this movie really made it undeniably clear how great the Marvel Cinematic Universe can be (but often isn't, taking the Thor and Hulk movies for example).
Watching this movie was pure bliss for me. Captain America has been my favorite Avenger since The First Avenger. I had the highest of hopes for this movie. And while sitting in the theater, I was quite literally thrilled on multiple occasions that directors Joe and Anthony Russo were able to pull off the improbable: making a movie that's every bit as good as the first, a movie that makes an incredibly strong case for being the best Marvel movie yet!
The story finds Steve Rogers fully thrown into the 21st century. In a day and age where almost every single person has their personal information available to anyone smart enough to find it, S.H.I.E.L.D starts a preemptive program that will eliminate threats long before they have a chance to do any damage. Steve seems to be the only person who realizes that this is living in fear, not freedom. So when his world is literally turned upside down, Captain America must gather his closest allies to free the world from living a life of enslavement.
I was in the minority in my unabashed love for the first Captain America movie. Most people seemed to like it, but they also seemed to agree that it didn't hold a candle to Tony Stark's adventures. But in my case, I found it just as good as my favorite "Phase One" movie, Iron Man. While I loved the characters, the action, and the story, it was the Patriotism that made it such a favorite. So my biggest concern going into this movie was how they would update that Patriotism without being hokey or dated. But the filmmakers succeed so thoroughly in making Steve's noble love for his country current. It's by all means a 21st century movie, but the "flag waving" isn't degraded in the least! The good people of America will stand for what's right, Captain's orders!
Another thing I had reservations about going in was the action. The Russo brothers are known for creating TV sitcoms. I was really skeptical about a pair of directors who's only past feature-length directing experience was a couple of middling comedies. How could they possibly handle the challenges of directing such a huge action movie? Well I can happily say that they pass every test with flying colors! And specifically, the action is phenomenal! The Winter Soldier is by far the most gritty and hard-hitting Marvel movie to date. The action takes a massive leap from cartoony to Bourne movie-esque. Yes, there's shaky cam. No, it didn't make me nauseous. In fact, it works wonders! The action in this movie doesn't look like anything we've seen from Marvel before. It's a huge plus! And I'm happy to report that it is brutal! The body count of people killed in cold-blood in this movie is definitely the highest of any Avenger movie. It makes sense to make Cap's movies the most realistic. It all works so very well. And the Russos' shoot the action so effectively. We can feel every punch. And they use Captain America's shield in a ton of different ways. Even Joss Whedon didn't make Steve Rogers look this cool!
But perhaps the very best thing about this movie is the story. It's really (and almost uncomfortably) up-to-date on the current state of America. What S.H.I.E.L.D. is doing in this movie gives off an undeniable NSA vibe. It shows that while Captain America might not be living in a black-and-white world, going up against Nazis, he's still fighting for freedom - the world is just grey now. And what really sets this movie apart is how it not only develops Cap's story, but it also develops the world around him. Lets be honest, Thor: The Dark World and Iron Man 3 were good fun and all, but the Marvel Universe is exactly the same after those movie as it was before. Without going into spoilers, I will say that The Winter Soldier takes the Marvel Universe, and completely blows it up. These Avenger movies can never be the same because of what happened here. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is by far the most significant Marvel movie they've done so far.
Now onto another one of the movie's many huge strengths. The cast is so very flawless at every turn! Chris Evans and his perfect Captain America jaw-line are back and better than ever! I didn't need another reason to dub Cap as my favorite Avenger, but the movie still gives me another five solid reasons. No disrespect to Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, or Thor, but Steve Rogers is far and away the most relatable Avenger of them all. I love a superhero with an uncompromising moral character. Evans has this character down to a tee. He is a pleasure to watch.
Scarlett Johansson. Oh my gosh! Black Widow has so many unbelievably cool moments in this! And what's really nice is that Natasha is also given her fair share of significant development. She's awesome. Other returning S.H.I.E.L.D. agents include Nick Fury and Maria Hill. Sam Jackson and Cobie Smulders return in fine form. Also on the returning side of things, Sebastian Stan's performance isn't given a whole lot of leg room, other than villainy. But still, The Winter Soldier is an unstoppable force!
But what really distinguishes this cast is the new additions. Robert Redford, Anthony Mackie, Frank Grillo, and Emily VanCamp are all tremendous! Redford is great, but what else would you expect. Mackie might be the best addition as Sam Wilson/The Falcon. He's really cool, and he effortlessly steps into the Captain America/Black Widow dynamic. They make quite a team! It's additions like this that make The Winter Soldier so much better than other Marvel sequels. All the Iron Man movies are Tony, Rhodey, and Pepper saving the world. Thor is always about Thor and Loki going at it. But this movie introduces some legitimately significant new characters. It freshens the whole thing up. Frank Grillo made a huge impression on me in Warrior - and he's just unbelievable here! The Russos' really know how to cast em'. Emily VanCamp isn't given a whole lot to do, but I look forward to seeing her in future Marvel movies.
The musical score by Henry Jackman has been thoroughly thrashed by the film score community. And yes, on album without the context of the movie, it might not seem appropriate for the most heroic superhero ever. But in movie, Jackman's music pumps scenes up to their fullest potential!
I've said more than enough. If you haven't figured it out yet - I was completely in awe of Captain America: The Winter Soldier! It's a movie equally rich in action as it is in character moments. Oh, and what cool action it is! The story holds so much weight, especially compared to some of the Avengers latest outings. The Holy Grail of Marvel movies has added a forth member ... My ranking looks like this now: The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Iron Man, and Captain America: The First Avenger. Good luck topping this hype-fest, other 2014 movies.
"The price of freedom is high ... and it's a price I'm willing to pay." 9.5/10