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  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier

    Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

    April 05, 2014

  • Frozen

    Frozen (2013)

    March 21, 2014

  • The Wolf of Wall Street

    The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

    March 18, 2014

  • 12 Years a Slave

    12 Years a Slave (2013)

    March 14, 2014

    Solomon Northup -- once a free man, next is detained as a slave.

    Steve McQueen, with his third directorial outing, crafts a powerful social commentary/biopic about slavery, a topic that's been covered through almost all mediums rigorously, but none is quite as commanding as "12 Years a Slave".

    Now, a quick glance at McQueen's filmography can make even the coldest person sigh a sigh of sorrow ("Hunger" or "Shame" anyone?). It's a no brainer that McQueen has delivered dismal films and quite honestly, "12 Years a Slave", which is based on a book named, you guessed it, "12 Years a Slave", is no different. You will be uncomfortable. You will squirm in your seat. You may or may not cry; I'm not judging the macho men out there. It's all a testament to McQueen's incredible expertise in concocting narratives with absurdly palpable emotion. The techniques don't feel cheap, overused, or a ploy to simply stir the audience's heartstrings. McQueen delivers an incredibly powerful narrative -- nothing more, nothing less.

    Which is another reason to commend McQueen -- he solely leaves the narrative power to the actors and screenplay. I've always had issues with Chiwetel Ejiofor after his disappointing performance in "Children of Men" or "Four Brothers". But after seeing the quieter moments, as he stared off into space in despair, that's when I knew that this is his best performance to date. McQueen trusted Ejiofor. He was unafraid to leave the camera rolling as Ejiofor conjured up emotions of grief and hurt. And what more can I say about Michael Fassbender? Though I've got to admit that he couldn't quite hold up a Southern accent, he was captivating nonetheless. But the real power came from behind the camera -- Steve McQueen himself. He directed "12 Years a Slave" masterfully, orchestrating and juggling different emotions one after the other. As a result, the ending brought a tear to my eyes, a first for a movie, ever. Yes, I admit it. Don't hate.

    On such topics such as this, it's real easy for filmmakers to get lost in the depression of it all. The whippings, the harassment, the yellings, and all the hurt can really get to you and as a whole, make the film just feel like a bash fest. "The Pursuit of Happyness" falls victim to this and ends up becoming a movie that is simply about Will Smith's character going through crap. But perhaps the greatest part about this film is the ending. This is quite possibly one of the greatest endings put to film. All the emotions that generated from the beginning of the film to the end culminate and are fully realized in the last few scenes. It's absolutely overwhelming and one that is bound to move many.

    "12 Years a Slave" is arresting, a film that needs to be watched and is easily the best movie that touches on the topic of slavery. Even more so, it is a film that is both informative, extraordinarily emotional, and an incredible eye-opener to slavery's mental destruction to man.

  • American Hustle

    American Hustle (2013)

    March 03, 2014

  • The Heat

    The Heat (2013)

    February 28, 2014

  • Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

    Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (2013)

    February 28, 2014

  • Captain Phillips

    Captain Phillips (2013)

    February 27, 2014

  • Elysium

    Elysium (2013)

    January 15, 2014

    After the wildly refreshing "District 9", Neil Blomkamp's back to bring yet another gritty vision of a dystopian future ala "Elysium".

    "Elysium" consists of the same bread and butter formula of "District 9": Cathartic, entertaining action coupled with a cautionary tale that's relevant with today's world issues. And what breathtaking action it is; it's quick, blunt, and visceral. Where action flicks like the James Bond films entertain audiences by harmoniously balancing the fisticuffs action, gunplay, and the cunning use of environmental dangers, "Elysium"'s action is best when it displays the imaginative weaponry of its universe -- it's that simple. Of course, it wouldn't be as entertaining as it is if it weren't for its dazzling special effects.

    But what helps "Elysium" stand on its own amongst its competition within the action/sci-fi genre is its message -- a message that's relevant to contemporary times. The future, much like "District 9", is dark, dreary, and left with even more problems than we have it in 2014. Despite the rawness and dizzying violence that Blomkamp portrays, the cathartic action and ingeniously crafted weaponry envisioned by the crafty mind of Blomkamp interestingly shows Blomkamp's inner child -- a sucker for cool guns and awesome exploding bodies which helps tone down the dreariness of its narrative. For the most part, the message is clear and direct, easy enough for the average joe to spot, but this message and the cathartic action is all "Elysium" devotes to. Audiences soon realize that the characters are crafted as mere cogs in a machine, all in the name conveying a message relevant to contemporary times. Yes, the characters undergo the same emotional tropes a real person may feel, but their side of the story gets lost in the dust.

    Where "District 9" had an incredibly captivating universe, a relevant message, and character development that was truly commanding, "Elysium" has all but the latter. Thus, "Elysium"'s lasting effect is a bludgeoning one -- one that will be quickly forgotten especially when Oscar season hits. Don't get me wrong: "Elysium" was fantastic fun, but even though the message had good intentions and may be relevant with our times, it's simply not relevant on a personal level.

  • The Guilt Trip

    The Guilt Trip (2012)

    January 12, 2014

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