Friday, June 5, 2015

The Age of Adaline - 7 stars out of 10

The Age of Adaline - 7 stars out of 10

“The Age of Adaline” is one of those movies that is exactly what you expect while still managing to break the mold of the typical chick flick.  While comparisons to “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” are inevitable, the concept is the only similarity.  Adaline is forced to stay detached from generations of friends and family as they grow old throughout the decades.  The key to the film is Blake Lively, whose timeless look is perfect for this role.  She fits into the 1920’s, 50’s, 80’s and modern styles without ever appearing to be out of place.  Her acting progresses the character through compounding emotions that permeate her consistent appearance.  I was not familiar with Lively before this film but I am now anxious to see her over and over again on the big screen.  Another reason to see this film: Harrison Ford.  He has been pretty hit or miss in recent years, but he’s definitely a hit in this one.  There’s a little plot twist that is slightly disturbing and we all have to decide to just look the other way, but the emotion and chemistry between Ford and Lively make this film worth watching.  The story is not without fault.  I am very good at suspending my disbelief, even at some of the most unrealistic concepts out there, but I had to roll my eyes at the “frozen heart defibrillated by lightning,” as well as the predictable ending.  The film breaks the mold of the chick flick, but it is still predictable.  If you are searching for a life-changing drama, look elsewhere; however, if you are looking for a unique chick flick with great acting, “The Age of Adaline” will quickly grow on you.



[Pictured: Blake Lively’s timeless appearance fits every era with perfection]

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Tomorrowland - 8 stars out of 10

Tomorrowland - 8 stars out of 10

Don’t listen to the critics when it comes to “Tomorrowland.”  Maybe my perspective is skewed after developing a low expectation from so many negative reviews, but I can’t find anything glaringly wrong with this movie.  In fact, I loved it.  It has action, imagination, an interesting story, a good message, and indescribably amazing visual effects.  One of the largest criticisms is the film’s “too preachy” message that “urges humanity to end war and save the environment.”  These critics could not be farther from the actual message.  This story is about looking for the inherent good in the world and how focusing on wars and environmental issues will make the problem WORSE.  If you can get past the critics, you will find a script that delivers everything that we hoped for from the first teaser trailer.  I love the backstory of Tomorrowland, the tribute to the 1964 World’s Fair, and the perfectly placed comic relief.  This film is full of Disney references without being overtly Disney.  They include the song “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” from the Carousel of Progress, you can see Space Mountain in the skyline, and they even called the robots “Audio-Animatronics.”  There are some cheesy moments (like the opening narration), but the story can be enjoyed and understood by all age groups.  The action may be too intense for the youngest Disney fanatics (particularly the disintegration of humans) but I don’t find it to be any more extreme than the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” films that define the childhood of the last generation.  The balance between the world that we know and Tomorrowland makes the futuristic land believable to younger viewers, which will provide this generation with some amazing Disney World memories.  The acting is better than what I expect from a typical family film.  George Clooney and Hugh Laurie are good, but I was particularly impressed by Raffey Cassidy as Athena.  She has amazing facial expressions and made me love her character, even when we are skeptical of her integrity.  Additionally, Britt Robinson plays the character of Casey in a way that makes her a likeable heroine, even before she does anything important.  It was fun to watch her act and I hope that this is the first of many roles for her.  The biggest draw of this film is the special effects.  From the vivid CGI world and realistic new technologies to portals and robotic facial glitches, you can’t help but believe every frame of this fantasy adventure.  Even if you aren’t a Disney park fanatic or a family film fan, you have to see this one for its visual mastery.  In spite of its creative story and landmark special effects, the negative reviews will turn “Tomorrowland” into a box office flop… but don’t let that stop you from experiencing its message of hope and a great, big, beautiful tomorrow.

[Pictured: One of the most interesting fantasy settings that I have ever seen!]

Monday, June 1, 2015

Waking Life - 7 stars out of 10

Waking Life - 7 stars out of 10

Take “Before Sunset,” subtract love story, convert all conversation topics to existentialism, spread conversations between hundreds of characters in minute-long vignettes, add trippy animation, and voila: You have “Waking Life”!  You can definitely tell that this is a Richard Linklater film from its conversational style.  Rather than being tied together by a plot or a small group of characters, the film is tied together by the existential conversations of its hundred unnamed characters.  As a result it feels too disjointed for my taste.  This film requires a lot of focus in order to wrap your mind around its high-brow philosophical concepts, especially since there is basically no reprieve from the constant flow of ideas.  The conversations will truly challenge your mind, but it’s a lot to digest during a 100-minute movie.  The film is immediately recognizable from its surreal rotoscoping animation technique.  There is truly no other movie that looks like this one.  While the visual appeal is a strong point of the movie, there are definitely points where the film would work better as a book on tape so that you could focus on the concepts without being distracted by the images.  With so many surreal philosophical concepts, “Waking Life” makes it difficult to be sure about anything… lest one thing: This movie is entirely unlike any other that you will ever see.

[Pictured: Every frame is a work of art]

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Last Action Hero - 5 stars out of 10

Last Action Hero - 5 stars out of 10

“Last Action Hero” is an interesting play (and partial spoof) on the stereotypical action film.  It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger alongside a young movie fan who is transported into an action film to help him bust the bad guys.  It is full of great movie references including “Amadeus,” E.T.” a black-and-white Humphrey Bogart, and even “Terminator 2”!  While the film isn’t anything amazing, it is worth watching for the movie jokes and is a must for movie buffs.  Seriously, the whole Salieri thing is hysterical.  In a sense, it becomes the ultimate action film because they purposefully filled it with every sort of shootout and chase scene imaginable.  Even though it is tongue-in-cheek, the action is still awesome.  Things go a bit south toward the end.  When you’re using a gimmick, 2+ hours becomes way too long and they just couldn’t keep it fresh.  “Last Action Hero” probably won’t appear on most people’s list of favorite action films (including mine), but it’s definitely worth watching for the action sequences, movie references, and unique concept.

[Pictured: Everything that you expect from Schwarzenegger and more!]