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+

The Heartbreak of Being a Teacher in Texas

On Aug. 15, teachers in the Del Valle Independent School District return to the classroom, but most of us will go back earlier. We love our students, and we cannot wait to prepare for their arrival. As we return to our classrooms, we always notice those who do not: experienced teachers who have left, whose loss is a loss for our students.

Read the entire opinion at the Texas Tribute!

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

Multi-Language Coke

Last night during the Super Bowl, Coca-Cola debuted its “It’s Beautiful” commercial, which included a rendition of “America the Beautiful” in various languages. It quickly set off a firestorm on social networks with users who were live-tweeting the event. Many claimed they were switching over to Pepsi. Read the comments at BuzzFeed.