The Giver

The_Giver_posterAlong with the rise of superhero movies, it has been Hollywood’s recent trend to take popular books and turn them into films. With the success of A Fault in Our Stars, there was significant momentum going into the release of The Giver, an award winning young adult social science fiction story by Lois Lowry. It tells the story of a utopian society turning more and more into a dystopian society, eliminating emotional depth for sameness.

The film stars Brenton Thwaites as Jonas, the story’s protagonist, who is selected to inherit the position of Receiver of Memory, the person who stores all the past memories of the time before sameness. Jonas learns the truth about his dystopian society and struggles with its weight. The book itself has been met with a range of reactions from schools in America, some of which have adopted the book as a part of the mandatory curriculum, while others have banned the book’s inclusion in classroom studies.

Although being met with mixed reviews similar to the novel, The Giver takes the filmgoer on a metaphoric journey to question the meaning of thought, memories, feelings, and appreciate its importance in making humans different and unique. It is a film that is not meant for the oblivious, as they would not appreciate its purpose. It is an intense mental journey that makes you question the purpose of society – is one already born with a purpose? If we question the status quo, are we then shunned because we will go against the grain? And if we do go against the grain, will we eventually seek paradise or be shunned by society?

What is love? What is the power of a kiss, or touch? “If you can’t feel, what is the point?”

Is The Giver a metaphor for Jesus? Why was the Chief Elder dressed in white? Is Meryl Streep Jesus? Because really, can she do anything wrong?!

As if there was a question, Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges deliver suburb performances as The Chief Elder and The Giver, respectfully. Thwaites is remarkable as Jonas. And one can’t ignore that he is strikingly handsome.

What The Giver allows the viewer to experience is deep thought and reflection into their own life on Earth – are we really living for the memories? What the film lacks in cinematographic elements it makes up in depth. This film is a phenomenal adaptation of the novel, adding to Hollywood’s continued success of adaptations, and also adding itself on my list of favorite films. | A+

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn_of_the_Planet_of_the_ApesRecently, Hollywood has been rebooting many franchises. The Amazing Spider-Man has done pretty well, unlike Transformers, which has failed miserable and needs to end. And let’s not get started with horror movies… However, one of Hollywood’s greatest franchises, Planet of the Apes, was rebooted in 2011 with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the prequel to the series a generation before mine may be better acquainted with. This week, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes continues this reboot in a way that is equivalent to modern cinematic genius.

Two things stuck out to me from the beginning. We, as humans, do not realize the importance of nonverbal communication. (It’s 93% of the way we communicate.) The first 10 minutes or so shows Caesar, the leader, communicating with his “ape wife.” (I’m not really sure what you call an ape’s wife…) It is fascinating that one can completely understand what is being communicated, as well as understand the emotional connection being shown.

Secondly, let’s take… for example, Independence Day or Armageddon. When they were first released, they were applauded because of their special effects. Now, we notice how… dull they are because we have movies that make things look sooo real. The creators of Gollum from the Lord of the Rings help create extraordinarily looking apes, to the point that the viewer forgets that the apes are computer generated images.

This film takes the viewer on a compelling cinematic ride of rooting for apes, then rooting for humans, then apes again. Few films are able to capture your attention spans for over an hour and a half, but this films keeps your interest from beginning to end. And there are two…yes, two ape vs. ape fight scenes that are extraordinarily tense and visually amazing.

Similar to a book, there is a massive turning point (climax) in the middle of the film that completely takes the viewer on a hard right turn, and amps the film into serious overdrive. There are also numerous metaphors that elaborate on humanities love for guns and violence, as well as their mistrust for other human beings. More than anything, this film may make the audience realize that we are just animals…

In a summer with few blockbuster films, this film has given me faith in Hollywood that rebooting a much loved film series is possible, and these film makers have done it perfectly. Through its CGI effects, storyline, leaving the audience satisfied, and opening the option for a third prequel, this film captivates in a way blockbusters should. | A+

Transformers: Age of Extinction

These films need to stop! That was said after the third Transformers film, which was also panned by critics. This film, the fourth in the Transformer series, should be the nail in the coffin. There were so many issues with this film, but we will begin with the casting. Mark Walhberg, however amazingly sexy he may be, was a horrible choice for this film. The character was supposed to come off as a nerdy inventor dad. However, when I see Walhberg, all one may really want to do is… take his shirt off. He is far from what the character was meant to be.

More so, what Michael Bay has a tendency of doing is forgetting about the cinematic aspect to his films. Blow some shit up, add some nice cinematography, get some actors to talk, then you got a film? It was the little things such as: the time of day changed in the same scene sequence (this happened numerous times), they were in Chicago during one fight, and then in a field, then back in Chicago, in a matter of minutes. The editing, and frankly, the entire story line was horrid.

What is extremely sad and telling about current American films is the power of cooperate America. From Lambougini to Victoria’s Secret to Bud Light, there were numerous cooperate sponsorships throughout the film, so obvious that it made me feel stupid for seemingly watching a short Bud Light commercial during a Transformers film.

Lastly, similar to the scene at the end of Man of Steel where they destroy Metropolis, how the hell is Hong Kong going to “come back” after Transformers destroyed their city?! This was the exclamation mark to the fact that the entire film was just…quite ridiculous and horrid.

There were only two good things about this film: the action sequences, although they didn’t make sense, were very well done, and the appearance of the brand new Camero. Other than that, this film was horrid. | D

Captain Phillips

Captain_Phillips_PosterBased on a true story, Captain Phillips tells the story of Captain Richard Phillips and his crew, as Somali pirates took hostage of their ship in 2009 of the coast of the African horn. Staring the can’t-do-no-wrong Tom Hanks as Phillips, the film is a Hollywood depiction of a horrific experienced – pirates actually really do exist. The film shows the incredibly tense moments from when the pirates board the ship, to when they took Phillips hostage, to when the US Navy use their tactics to get him back. Toward the end, the pride America and our forces begin to re-surge, as they successfully take Phillips back with incredible … tact. (Because this is a true story, I doubt I really ruined the film. The story has been out for a while…)

I mention that it was a Hollywood depiction because in a New York Post article, members of the crew say that the film is a “lie,” criticizing the real Phillips for his arrogance and prior negligence. Needless to say, taking the film itself into consideration rather than comparing it to the real story, it was an enjoyable film to watch, and highly regarded. | A-

Gravity

 

220px-Gravity_PosterA couple of years ago, Hollywood became obsessed with putting every movie into three dimensions. Few have successfully done so, as it is a way of enhancing a movie visually but may not really work. However, Gravity needs to be seen in 3D. The film tells the story of a doctor who has been chosen to go into space and install her prototype research development. While installing her device, Dr. Ryan Stone, played by Sandra Bullock, and Lieutenant Matt Kowalski, played by George Clooney, are hit by debris that causes them to be detached from their space shuttle. Similar to Will Smith in I Am Legend, the majority of the story is focused on one character, which can be dull. However, with magnificent cinematography, along with tense moments, this movie captures your attention and takes you on an anxious ride toward trying to figure out how to survive in a space that nothing can survive. Bullock beautifully captures the screen for the majority of the film, holding her own throughout the daunting task of having the entire film focused on her character. I thoroughly believe that this film will see awards come award season, especially for direction and lead actress. | A-

Prisoners

Prisoners2013PosterPrisoners allows the viewer to ride along a thrilling ride with a father to find his children after they have been kidnapped. Although long, this film is one that required the viewer to pay attention to every aspect of the film, trying to solve the mystery before the producers expose it. And frankly, as much as you try to solve the mystery, the end result is one that you may not see coming. Both Hugh Jackman and Jack Gyllenhall give very emotional performances that can easily add to their collection of already amazing films. Be prepared to sit for a while – although long, it is a movie that will thrillingly keep you entertained throughout it’s nearly 2 ½ hour run. | A-

jOBS

Jobs_(film)When you go into a theater to watch a film about the greatest computer company in history, you expect a film comparable to it. So frankly, the moviegoer’s expectation is not created by the film. Consequently, it’s created by the grand impact Apple and Steve Jobs had on society, which leads to the disappointment one may feel when they leave the theater. Many critics have [negatively] reviewed this film in comparison to the greatness of Apple and Jobs, and rightly so. You won’t see the greatest movie on the greatest technology company in history. Nevertheless, you will watch a good biographical film about an amazing individual’s contribution to the world played wonderfully by Ashton Kutcher. More so, anyone apart of Generation Y will ask, “What about X,Y, and Z?” The film seemingly leaves out the exponential rise of Apple and Jobs after his rehire. However, it adequately tells the story of its blueprint, but maybe not an adequate portrayal of it’s architects. | B+