Bad Boys for Life
I Am Not Okay with This
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At first glance, this film seemed like the work of a person tossing random ideas into a blender. A talking tree-man? An anthropomorphic raccoon wielding giant guns? Someone had to be joking. At second glance, I realized that the genre-blending master James Gunn was directing, and I quickly reexamined the material. When I finally saw the film, I was completely blown away. The film takes an approach that I very much like: it displays a world with characters and settings that look straight out of comic books and ancient myths, but quickly demonstrates that underneath the bizarre exterior are elements of humanity. The film may look like a live-action Saturday morning cartoon, but even when the characters engage in activities that one might find appalling, there is nothing to stop us from learning to sympathize with them. Please do not judge this film by its cover. We do not come across films like these every day, and this one in particular should be experienced in theaters while its still here.
I pity the poor souls who were deprived of the opportunity to view this film on the IMAX 3D screen, because to see it any other way destroys the overall effect. Much like the original classic "Gojira", this is a story about the rampage of two giant monsters who cross paths with the king himself, displayed from the point of view of the human beings who just happen to be in the way. To me, the best aspect of the film was the exquisite use of the camera, which does a phenomenal job of capturing the size and scale of the events taking place that, especially in 3D, left me feeling as though I was trapped in the middle of the carnage with the rest of the terrified people. I was so convinced that Godzilla was right in front of me that I was clinging to the arm rests of my chair for dear life. Further heightening the experience was the humanity of it all. Not only are the people sympathetic in their own way, the monsters themselves are displayed as creatures who are merely trying to live and do what feels natural. Even though I was genuinely pleased with the outcome, I could not help but feel sorry for everyone, including the villains. "Godzilla" is not only an excellent apology for the American film from '98, it is an excellent giant monster movie all-around.
When "The Amazing Spider-Man" was released, many people refused to give the film its due because it was a "reboot that came out too soon". When "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" was released, people continued to discriminate against the film not just because its part of a reboot series, but because they obviously do not fully understand what Spider-Man is all about. They also do not appear to understand the meaning of words like "surreal", "tongue-in-cheek", or "to be continued". It also amazes me that with all sorts of interviews with the cast and crew floating around the internet, only a select few critics bothered to look them up in order to get a sense of director Marc Webb's approach to the material. Beginning with the first film, Webb decided to play up the fantastical elements of the Spider-Man universe, while making the extra effort to ensure that everything feet like it was built upon rules. Webb is also very much aware that with the magic of camera angles, special effects, and musical motifs you have the potential to make the audience feel as if they are experiencing it as a particular character is experiencing it. Through this process, Webb was not only able to combine elements of many different genres into one film, but also deliver not one, but two solid Spidey experiences. Once again, we have a film that celebrates the potential of the source material, but comes down to earth when necessary in order to remind viewers that these human characters are driven by wants and needs that do not always lead to happy endings. Spider-Man is constantly at war with himself but remains cocky and upbeat, his girlfriend Gwen Stacy refuses to be held down and fights for success, Max Dillon (Electro) is a tragic soul who just wanted a little appreciation, and Spidey's old friend Harry Osborn is driven by the desperation to avoid death at the hands of a genetic disease that he will try anything. These themes of rising above limitations escalate the feelings of fun and excitement, with the added bonus of superpowers and gadgets that serve as an extended metaphor for each character's individual emotions. Admittedly, some scenes felt a little rushed and incomplete, but I think this is due to the fact that many scenes were removed to make for a quicker running time, but also because this is only the second chapter in a much larger story. I am sure the deleted scenes on the blu-ray release will fill in some of the gaps, while the rest of them will most likely be answered in the next film. If you are bored with Spider-Man or superheroes in general, please do not ruin it for those of us who are not. If you are among the many people confused by the so-called muddled narrative, uneven tone, unanswered questions, and frequently quirky humor, it might be in your best interest to do a little research and watch the film in the appropriate context.
"Gojira" was a landmark in Japanese cinema, it introduced the world to one of the most famous monsters in history, to this day its anti-nuclear warfare message resonates just as effectively as it did in 1954...and yet, in America there are still a number of people who can only talk about how cheap the special effects look. Shame on them. "Gojira" was made with the very best of time and money that Japan had to offer, particular in the wake of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and it was just what the people needed to see. The effects used in the film may have seemed primitive to some people back then, and especially today, but the symbolism of the titular character and the tragic conclusion is what the film is really about. This was never meant to be a B-Movie, or just another giant monster flick. "Gojira" is a cautionary tale that used elements of the popular giant monster movies of the time to express a very important message that should not be ignored. To me, it is high time for certain people to lighten up and watch the film again with an open mind.
This Disney classic is the reason I began to pursue the idea of becoming an artist! Although it does not quite match the quality of "Mary Poppins", (the film from which many of the creative minds were reunited) "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" comes very close with excellent effects, songs, creativity, and the impeccable chemistry between David Tomlinson and Angela Lansbury. Need I say more? I can remember being four years old and being so uplifted by the final sequence when the suits of armor from a London Historical museum that I just had to try and capture it on paper. I have been drawing diligently ever since. All I can really say about the film is that I love watching it, and my gratitude for all it has done for me will never cease.
The bittersweet truth about "Mary Poppins" is that her creator P.L. Travers was never thrilled about handing the rights to a film adaptation to anyone, in particular Walt Disney. Travers wrote the character in response to her complicated upbringing, and she was certain that Disney's sparkling demeanor would tarnish the material for sure. "Saving Mr. Banks" lovingly explores the difficult journey of bringing the classic character to the big screen and, to me, it was so thoroughly entertaining that I wish I could have stayed to watch it again. Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson disappear into their roles and are 100% sympathetic. Travers is so positive that her vision must stay as it is in order to do justice to her beloved father, and Disney is so in love with the material that he is just longing for Travers to lighten up and learn to let go of the past and embrace something new. Of all the films ingredients, the one that seemed to throw a lot of people off was Traver's reaction to the finished work. Some have said that "Mr. Banks" is taking the classic Disney route and ignoring that facts to make way for a solid, happy ending. I can see where they are coming from, but I have a hard time accepting that idea. Maybe when taken at face value it can seem that way, and all one has to do is watch it again and take the time to look just a little deeper. On a personal note, I find it hard to believe that aside from the classic song "Feed The Birds", Travers found nothing enchanting about the film, in particular the happy ending for Mr. Banks that comes when all appeared to be lost. To me, the trick to watching a biopic is not to judge the historical accuracies, but rather the examination of the main idea behind it. "Saving Mr. Banks" is so handsomely crafted and so willing to explore the good and the bad that it is most definitely a winner in my book.
I think even the most cynical of viewers will have to confess their love for "Mary Poppins", and there is nothing wrong with that. It is very clear that Walt Disney loved this story and desperately wanted to bring it to the big screen with as much of his Disney-flare as possible. Even though the film is very different from the source material, it still manages to capture the original theme and it does so in a way that is completely unique and not a bit of screen time is wasted. There honestly is not much more that can be said other than the fact that "Mary Poppins" has always had the power to send audiences on a roller coaster of emotions regardless of age, and it seems clear that that will never change over the course of time. This is undoubtedly a film no one should ever miss out on.
This movie should be happy that when I first praised it I was too young to know any better...
There was a time when I thought this film was amazing. It's called early adolescence.
Roland Emmerich never cared for Godzilla, but when offered to direct an American movie version, he agreed for no other reason than an opportunity to make a film and a few bucks (and also to take a cheap shot at Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert for panning his earlier works). It shows in every frame. The least I can say about the film is that Emmerich was fortunate enough to find supporting actors with enough talent to at least pretend to be interested. Imagine what could have happened if a more qualified filmmaker had been offered the project...
If it were not for the fact that I watched the MST3K version of this film, I would have fallen asleep.This is not only bad, it is boring.
Whoever thought that a handsomely computer generated film about dinosaurs could be so boring? The "Rite of Spring" segment of Disney's "Fantasia" was less than 20 minutes long, animated 60 years before "Dinosaur" was released, and 100 times more innovative and engaging. One look at the trailer is all you really need to get the jest of this picture.
Hilariously bad. Enough said!
Considering that fact that I am a devout atheist, I could very easily say that Fred Phelps and his congregation are pure evil and need to be locked away for the rest of their lives, but it would not do any good because it obviously is not going to happen any time soon, therefore I will try to be a little more rational. Admittedly, you do have to admire the Phelps clan and how they will not hesitate to go out and tell the world what they believe is wrong despite how much money it will cost and what they risk when facing the opposition. It is just a shame that they cannot put their skills and determination to better use, such as tending to the needy or encouraging love and acceptance. Putting aside my belief that Christianity is no different from the rest of the religious myths in existence, Phelps is clearly twisting the true meaning of the Bible to fit the doctrine of his own creation and is passing it on to his family. Therefore, it is easy to see why so many people despise the Westboro Baptist Church and are always willing to fend them off. It is uncertain whether or not K. Ryan Jones is a Christian himself, but he does an excellent job presenting the WBC members as they are, and collecting the views of other Christians who have studied the Scripture and can easily see that Rev. Phelps is determined to extinguish the homosexual and secular lifestyles for his own personal gain. For the non-religious, this will be further proof of the effect of faith-based belief on individual families and the outside world, especially at the hands of extremists like Rev. Phelps. For Christians, I sincerely hope that they can see for themselves how important it is to not only study what the Bible says but what it means, so they can learn to show compassion for everyone, including those who are substantially different.
Many Christians today will tell you that homosexuality must be regarded as a crime against God himself because the Bible tells us so. Or does it? This documentary dares to suggest that maybe Christians are not fully understanding what the Bible truly says about homosexuality, if it says anything about it at all. Yes, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of the sins of their people, but the sin was the refusal of hospitality to one another, not same-sex relationships. The male-on-male rape mentioned in this passage had nothing to do with God's decision to vanquish the cities, and yet Christians claim that America will be similarly exterminated if we allow same-sex coupling. As for the "abomination" of homosexual relationships, the infamous verse of Leviticus 18:22 discusses the violation of the custom of procreation in order to keep the human race alive. In fact, other such abominations listed in this chapter include working on the Sabbath Day, eating crayfish, planting various crops side-by-side, and wearing clothes made of different materials. If these are just as mortifying in the eyes of God, why is it that all of them are ignored save for homosexual unions? Also included in this picture are interviews with families affected by homophobia, practicing gay and lesbian Christians who came out of the closet out of love for their friends and families, religious figures who refuse to believe that God would not only create a group of people just to hate them but condemn them to showing true love to someone of the same gender, as well as a quirky animated segment illustrating the biological argument for homosexuality. This is not a film to be swept under the rug, everyone needs to watch this so we can move one step closer to eliminating the hate and scorn directed at those who cannot help but show love for the same gender.
I always feel a little strange on the inside whenever I say this, considering my background, but Christianity is dangerous. In fact, I consider it the most dangerous and manipulative of all faith-based beliefs this side of Scientology. For those who, like me, were raised in Christian households and began to question the doctrine, this brief but thought-provoking documentary is a must-see. Director Brian Flemming takes us on a journey to uncover the origins of Christianity and its similarities to Paganism, look inside the lives of modern Christians and their obsession with blood sacrifice and the end of times, as well as Flemming's own history as a Fundamentalist. This includes his controversial interview with the Superintendent of Village Christian Schools where Flemming was educated as a boy. Some have considered it childish and embarrassing that he would corner a "poor old man" with questions about his faith and then outright deny the existence of the Holy Spirit in the VCS Chapel. All I have to say on the subject is that people need to lighten up and get the picture. Fundamentalist Christians teach their youth that it is not only imperative to accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior in order to be saved, but to never question anything or else they will be eternally damned. Worst of all, they must believe this on faith with no evidence to support it other than the Bible. On the other hand, this begs the question: if this really is the way the world works why must we rely on faith as opposed to evidence to believe it? With this in mind, which of these two possibilities seems the most accurate: Flemming is nothing more than a whiny child wanting revenge against a school that sentenced him to eternal fire and brimstone, or that Sipus realized that he had no leg to stand on and wrongfully accused Flemming of dishonesty so as to avoid coming to grips with the reality of the situation? In my opinion, not only would I choose the latter, I would also describe Flemming as very brave for being able to ask these difficult questions and to say without fear that he does not believe Christianity in the very chapel where he was told he would go to hell for uttering such blasphemy. All in all, this film will provide a tremendous amount of relief for all those who wish to speak truthfully about their feelings regarding Christianity but can not because of their fear of suffering for all eternity.
Brittany Murphy, oh, how I miss thee...
Much of what went wrong with "The Dark Crystal" Henson managed to do better this time around. While this is not a film I would watch over and over, it is one that I would happily watch every now and then. The story is inventive, the technical effects really heighten the suspense, and the characters feel so much more alive, especially David Bowie and his crystal ball tricks. It may have it's flaws, but "Labyrinth" definitely deserves a little more respect than it receives and I look forward to being able to revisit it once again.
I apologize to the great Jim Henson, but I have to be honest here. A lot of hard work and imagination was poured into this production, but it just could not help feeling empty to me. The characters did not come alive quite like the Muppets, the story appeared half-baked, and I spent more time admiring the design work and and the more technical aspects of the film than I did the overall experience. I firmly believe that Henson's gifts were the art of puppetry and variety television, and working on a higher budget in a feature film studio were something of a hindrance. Maybe with a revised draft of the script and a stronger emphasis on characters, this film really could have become one of the greatest fantasy films in my book. However, as much as I love and admire Henson, I just cannot do it.
I admit that I was among the many fans who wondered why we had to have a "Spider-Man" reboot so soon, but I will say without hesitation that I am glad it happened. As far as I can tell, the only reason why most people are not getting into it is because they are too well aware of the previous three films, which is a shame because this film gets right what the originals tried and frequently failed to do. Yes, even "Spider-Man 2". The characters feel like actual people, the story is multi-layered and makes plenty of room for the sequels, nothing comes across as unintentionally funny, and the humor is priceless. In fact, if you look at the behind-the-scenes documentary, not only do the producers admit that even they felt it was a little too soon for a reboot, they realized what a tight hole the last three films placed them in and were determined to do better this time around. Mark my words, the amount of research, trial-and-error, and planning that went into the project is astounding. Something in particular that I loved was that the action scenes were not done for show, but rather to display the conflict between real people with different motivations. You may not always agree with what they do, but it is easy to sympathize with them just the same. With nearly everything I like to see in a Hollywood movie, and everything I have wanted to see in a Spider-Man movie, I think it is safe to say that this new franchise is off to a great start.