There are countless adults and children who know the story of Jack and the Beanstalk and others who know the story of Jack the Giant Killer, but are any of us positive that the two stories are just two different perceptions of a much larger event? The new film Jack the Giant Slayer seeks to answer that exact question.
By blending the English tale Jack and the Beanstalk and the Cornish tale Jack the Giant Killer with Hollywood storytelling, the result is a fantastic legend of heroism and bravery centered on a farm boy who is anything but simple. Yet it is the simplicity of the film that makes it so enjoyable.
Here we have a story about a boy sent to do an errand for his Uncle and disappoints him only to rise–literally–to new heights and stature by facing the very Giants that had faded into legend in order to rescue the Princess.
The most endearing thing about the story of Jack the Giant Slayer is that Jack faces insurmountable odds, his own fears and rises above his status to save and protect a girl. The implications of that are tremendous. If we could all be so brave and selfless, everyone of us could be heroes to someone let alone an entire kingdom, or even a multitude of future generations. For that very reason Jack the Giant Slayer is far more than a simple fairytale. It is, in fact, legend.
Of the many films that were released in 2012 there were three that could be said to be the most anticipated throughout the year up to their release as the year came to a close. Those three films are The Hobbit, Les Miserables and Django Unchained. Each of these motion pictures has either breathed new life into an aging genre or has been innovative in some way that may change how films are made in the near future.
Hundreds, if not millions have been waiting for a number of years for this film to finally make it to the big screen; especially after Peter Jackson returned to the Director’s chair. Jackson not only accomplished the same dramatic scope and majesty with The Hobbit as he did with The Lord of The Rings Trilogy, he also did something truly innovative. He and the rest of the crew on The Hobbit chose to film at a higher frame rate of forty frames per second—the standard is 35 fps—this resulted in a picture that is so clear, the viewer is hard pressed to believe that the characters are anywhere else but in the same room. Truthfully, the “hyper-realism” took some getting used to. Nonetheless, it only served to bring the story to life—literally.
For those familiar with the process of filming a musical, they understand that the standard way is to have the actors lip sync to pre-recorded tracks of themselves singing. This sometimes results in a less than authentic emotional performance from the actors/actresses because they may have made different character choices when they originally sang than when they are filming. Director Tom Hooper—wanting to capture a more authentic musical experience on film—chose to have the actors sing while filming with only the music to sing to. The result is astronomically moving performances by Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Eddie Redmayne and Amanda Seyfried. Every cast member had the ability to respond to the moment as they normally would while filming a speaking part making each character seem much more genuine in their emotionality. This was truly an original way to approach a generations old genre and give it new life.
Any genre that Quentin Tarantino touches is going to be changed from old and dry to new, edgy and purely entertaining. This is something that Tarantino does well and has his entire career. Django takes the western and flips it on its head. What we get is a story with as many twists and turns as the best thrillers, mingled with ingenious dialogue that intrigues instead of bores and Tarantino’s own brand of brutal, fast-paced and bloody action. This one is bound to be as popular as Inglorious Basterds and Pulp Fiction. Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio give effortless performances. Django Unchained is a film worth seeing for any fan of Tarantino’s work.
If you haven’t seen any of these three films yet, stop hesitating. Regardless of which you choose they will leave you breathless, inspired or just plain exhilarated.
Finally had a chance to see Taken 2 that was released last week on October 5. The film reunites Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace and Famke Janssen from the first Taken film. For those familiar with Taken, they would remember that Neeson’s character, Bryan Mills takes matters into his own hands when his teenage daughter is kidnapped by white slavery traders while vacationing in Paris.
In Taken 2, Murad Krasniqi; the leader of the group who kidnapped Kim Mills, has chosen to take out his revenge for the men who were killed by Bryan Mills. Instead of kidnapping Kim, Murad and his men set out to take the entire family to exact their revenge on the man who took friends and family from them. Murad is portrayed by Rade Serbedzija
Without divulging too much about the plot, it is sufficient to say that things do not quite go the way Murad has planned resulting in Mills practicing his own brand of justice. Two other points about Taken 2 that can be made: 1) The film is not as gut wrenching as the first because the first Taken involved Mills venturing into the world of white slavery to find his daughter and in Taken 2 the premise is slightly different though it still involves kidnapping. 2) Once things get rolling, the action and suspense is non-stop.
In conclusion, this was a thoroughly enjoyable film. There is a strong plot and with a PG-13 rating this is a good film for families with teens. Additionally, it may be fun for fans of the first film to see how Bryan Mills deals with the consequences of his actions in the first Taken.
Looper is the sort of film that is enjoyable; not because it has plenty of action and violence, but because the story is solid and well thought out. As the story goes, Joe is a “Looper”-a type of contract killer in the future. Through narration, Joe explains that time travel is invented and outlawed thirty years from the time set in the story. He says that the crime bosses are the only ones who use time travel illegally in order to dispose of troublesome individuals who exist at the time. So, Joe and other Loopers are contracted to kill those people sent back in time and dispose of them.
Joe is one of the best Loopers in the business, but his job and future are threatened when his thirty years older self is sent back and escapes. This creates a number of paradoxes which are all addressed by the films end. We do learn that the reason old Joe escapes has to do with a man from his timeline called “Rainmaker” who has been sending the aged Loopers back in time to be killed by their younger selves.
The action gets intense and the visual effects are top-notch however, the most astonishing achievement visually is how the film makers made Joseph Gordon-Levitt; who plays Joe, resemble Bruce Willis (Older Joe) so closely. There were moments where they looked identical. Levitt should also be praised for his ability to mimic Willis’ facial expressions and even his manner of speech. Emily Blunt and Jeff Daniels play integral roles in the film as well.
Looper is definitely worth a watch though it might be a good idea to leave the kids at home. This film has quite a few bloody scenes, plenty of swear words, some female nudity and themes that children will not understand.
In 2002 Columbia Pictures released Spider-Man the Motion Picture starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and James Franco. At the time, it was a highly anticipated film and did very well in the box office. However, the following two films in the franchise were met with disappointment despite their box office success due to weak plots and character development that did not make sense—especially in regards to Peter Parker.
Ten years later Columbia partners with Marvel to reboot the franchise and the result is The Amazing Spider Man with Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider Man and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy instead of Mary Jane Watson. In a number of ways this version is superior to the version released a decade ago. A Better plot and story arc, characters in touch with their humanity and fight sequences that seem to have leapt out of the pages of a Spider Man comic are the elements that make this a superb film.
An intriguing aspect of the newer Spider Man story is that this one attempts to answer the question that has burned in our minds for the last forty or so years: What happened to Peter Parker’s parents? Ultimately Peter is lead to his destiny while in search for that very answer. Unfortunately, finding a key to his past also brings unforeseen consequences that only Spider Man can vanquish.
A story this good needs characters that the audience can become vested in. Fortunately for all the cast in this movie pour every ounce of talent and experience into the people they portray. Especially of note are Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben, Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield. However, each member of the cast seems born to portray the characters they embody. It will be difficult to see any of them in any other movie for a while.
For more than five generations Spider Man has been in comics, cartoons and video games. Anyone who has read the comics, watched the cartoons or played the video games knows that Spidey has a certain way of fighting—flipping, jumping and shooting webbing with the accuracy of a marksman—and we have all come to expect it. Spider Man’s fighting style is so accurate in the film, it is easy to believe that this is truly the Spider Man from the comics. It suffices to say that it was a joy to watch.
In the wake of the epic battles in The Avengers Movie, The Amazing Spider Man seems a tad smaller. That is far from being a flaw because this film is nothing short of amazing. Truly a must see this summer.
Most individuals who have been alive since Disney first released the now classic animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs are very familiar with that version of the Snow White fairy tale. Snow White and the Huntsman is not that version. Nor is it remotely close. In fact, the only piece that might have been inspired by the Disney version is the dress that Snow White wears throughout the film.
The basic elements of the story are still there. The evil Sorceress Queen hires the Huntsman to kill Snow White and bring back her heart and the Huntsman of course, spares the fair and beautiful Snow White. Beyond those well known themes Snow White and The Huntsman is a story about a woman corrupted by her fears and a lust for power. A corruption so severe it taints everything and everyone in the kingdom with decay, bitterness and sorrow.
By contrast, there is the story of Snow White; who loses her father and is imprisoned by the Queen, only to become the very thing the Queen needs to extend her own life indefinitely. A fugitive in her own kingdom, Snow White flees the castle with the help of the Huntsman who has pity
on the Princess despite his orders from the Queen. As they travel towards the Duke’s castle, they learn of Snow White’s true destiny and meet the Dwarves who are nearly destitute after the near decimation of their proud race. Together these unlikely comrades determine to take action and rise up against the oppression of the Queen in order to return the kingdom to its former glory and place Snow White in her rightful place as Queen.
Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth star in the three principle roles. Each does so extremely well bringing life to these characters that one can’t help but believe that they are real. Combined with a great supporting cast and visuals on par with those in The Lord of The Rings movies, Snow White and The Huntsman is a film destined to be the best incarnation of a well loved fairy tale.
Easily one of this years most anticipated movies, The Avengers has already broken box-office records by earning over $200 million in just the first weekend. It really is not so surprising when you think about it. The film has Thor, The Hulk, Iron Man and Captain America. All four are characters from the last few years of summer box office hits. The most recent being Thor, Captain America and Iron Man 2. Add in highly advanced secret government organization–S.H.E.I.L.D–and a power hungry demigod set on ruling the world, it all amounts to an epic superhero movie.
Summarily, Asgardian Loki (Tom Hiddelston) is in search of the Tesseract also known as the cosmic cube, which has the power to open a bridge between worlds. He intends to use this power to bring an army from another planet in hopes to subjugate the people of Earth. The Tesseract is the same cube that The Red Skull used to power Hydra’s weapon in Captain America. As an act of desperation, Nick Fury decides to put “The Avengers initiative” back into action and recruits Bruce Banner (The Hulk), Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Steve Rogers (Captain America) to join S.H.E.I.L.D agent Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) in an effort to recover the Tesseract from Loki. Thor and Agent Clint Barton (Hawkeye) join of their own volition. Once the team is put together, they find that Loki’s plans are not the only threat the heroes must deal with. Each of the heroes are loners in their own respect and used to doing things in a certain way without having to consult with anyone else, thus they must learn to work together if they are to have any hope of bringing down a fanatical Loki and his insurmountable horde of alien assailants. Oh the incredible things that happen when the heroes finally work as a team! Pack a wallop indeed! Perhaps that is an understatement, but the action is certainly epic.
However, the epic nature of the film is not solely due to the unification of seven of Marvel’s greatest heroes, but the unwavering portrayal of the characters by Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo; Jeremy Renner, Scarlet Johannson and Samuel L. Jackson who fill their shoes and the skilled collaboration of action, humor and drama within the story. It is in the dedication of Director Joss Whedon and the crew behind him to bring the fans a film they will love. They certainly succeeded. The Avengers is entertaining in every way. It has been a while since this movie goer has heard the entire audience cheer and laugh together. With certainty that will be the experience of any who goes to see this film.
Disney’s new film John Carter (starring Taylor Kitsch) is far from the usual everyday Science Fiction film. Sure, it has many elements of science fiction films that we’ve seen before however, John Carter has one thing nearly every science fiction film ever made doesn’t. The book on which the film is based–A Princess of Mars–was originally published in 1912 under the title:Under The Moons of Mars and later novelized and given the current title in 1917. As a matter of fact, Edgar Rice Burrough’s Barsoom series has been credited as the inspiration for such works as The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. It could be said that Burrough’s Barsoom series became the model of modern science fiction, or science fantasy. At its very core, John Carter could be–in essence–the first science fiction tale. However, the story is more than simply a man gets transported to another planet and sees aliens.
John Carter is a tale of a late 18th century man lost among the human race with no purpose for life other than becoming filthy rich. He intends to do so by finding a cave a gold. In almost an ironic sense, it is that cave of gold that changes his life completely. Just not in the way John Carter had envisioned. Instead he is transported to a world with two moons. A dying world, whose inhabitants are in turmoil; desperately in need of a savior–Mars. John Carter is that savior. He discovers this as he seeks a way to return to Earth only to find that he must fight for the freedom of Mars if he is ever to get back to Earth.By losing himself in the service of those who call Mars home John Carter finds himself.
John Carter shows us the Mars we all dream of. Complete with green men and ancient civilizations. One can only wonder while watching this film, if the story of John Carter inspired the likes of such films as Dune, Flash Gordon, or even Star Wars. It is well worth watching on an enormous screen as the cinematography provides some gorgeous views. With John Carter, Disney gives us a special tale different from the usual science fiction audiences have become accustomed to. In many ways the film reminds one of those old Sinbad movies from the Golden Era of film, only with 21st century computer graphics. Delve into a story with century old sensibilities that somehow speaks to our modern day ones. Allow yourself to be transported to another world.
If you are looking for an action comedy that actually has some really good laughs, then This Means War is the movie to see. The film stars Chris Pine (Star Trek 2009) and Tom Hardy (Inception) as two of the CIAs top agents who are also best friends who would do anything for the other. All bets are off however when the two of them begin dating the same woman (played by Reese Witherspoon).
Most of the laughs occur while the two friends are using their resources—something that would most likely get them fired in real life—to one up each other, or in attempts to ruin the others date with Lauren (Reese Witherspoon). FDR (Pine) and Turk (Hardy) find the bounds of their friendship tested and Lauren discovers that she has to choose between the two men. The two spies manage to uncover this truth thus, the stakes become higher.
The action element of the film is achieved at the beginning of the movie where we see FDR and Turk on a mission, when FDR and Turk have a “disagreement” and when the consequences of their earlier mission catch up with them through a man named Heinrich. There is also a great scene during a paintball game that is action filled and funny at the same time.
The action comedy formula seems to be a genre that is growing more popular despite some missteps (Starsky& Hutch) and more memorable successes (Cop Out, Rush Hour, The Other Guys). This Means War is a very welcome addition to a relatively short list. Unless you count Lethal Weapon’s 1-4 as action comedies—which some might. Nevertheless, This Means War is a vastly entertaining film that blends comedy, action and a touch of romance. Well worth the money to see it.
I originally posted this on my Tumblr Blog, but thought it might help to post it here. If you read it and like it please share it. Heck, share it even if you don’t like it. I wrote this because it seems to me that some fans of the Star Wars franchise–which in my opinion has defined an entire generation and their children–need to be reminded of just what George Lucas did. Who knows, some film industry folk may even read this and go: “Oh yeah, he did do those things.” So here it is below. Enjoy!
A Few Words About George Lucas
After reading an article on The Hollywood Reporter website in which George Lucas says, ““I’m retiring. I’m moving away from the business, from the company, from all this kind of stuff.” (The Hollywood Reporter Erin Carlson, 1/18/2012) I became dismayed that a man who has greatly contributed to the film industry as it is today would feel the need to stop. Further disappointment set in as the reported reason for this decision is the constant negativity and outrage from fanboys and girls aimed at him for making changes to HIS films that are blasphemous in their eyes. I’ve added the link to the article for those who wish to read it: “Star Wars” Creator George Lucas Fires Back at Fanboys’, “Red Tails” Snub.
The idea that individuals who are fans of one of the greatest sci-fi franchises in the last thirty-five years would be so willing to be hateful towards the creator of that franchise is mind boggling. Are these “fans” so wrapped up in their own narcissism that they can’t see the value in what George Lucas has done by adding to the Star Wars films and making the Star Wars prequels? Are they really that upset because he wanted to make the films what they were originally intended to be? That’s like getting mad at Domino’s Pizza for improving their pizza or Infinity Ward for making yet another multi-player map pack to Modern Warfare 3.
The point is that George Lucas made those changes and added scenes because he wanted the fans to get the full product not just an incredibly close representation of it. Consider also that he mad the films despite not having the technology he needed to make them the way he had originally intended and the result was mind blowing. Not only did Star Wars define the “blockbuster film”, but George Lucas and those who were on his visual effects staff had to invent methods for achieving certain effects. Thus, ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) was born.
Today, ILM has helped to create the visual effects in numerous science fiction films and continues to be innovative in that respect. Some of the films that ILM has worked on includes: Avatar, The Abyss, Back To The Future Trilogy, Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and the Harry Potter movies. For the entire list, go to http://www.ilm.com/ If it hadn’t been for George Lucas and his desire to create spectacular visual effects and do it in ways that others weren’t at the time, Industrial Light and Magic may never have existed.
Besides ILM Lucas created THX and Skywalker sound simply because he wanted the audience to experience the best in sound quality while watching his movies. If you remember, THX sound became the standard in theater audio and still is to this day. Is it any stretch of the imagination to think that by creating THX George Lucas paved the way for Digital Surround and IMAX?
The long and short of it is that George Lucas is an innovator. He invented Star Wars, thought up Indiana Jones, was brave enough to change the way special effects were created—also put the credits at the end of the movie instead of the beginning—and made it possible for the audience to “feel” like they were in the middle of the action because they could hear every blaster sound, x-wing engine, light saber ignition and explosion in clear pristine audio. Best of all, George Lucas inspired an entire generation of filmmakers, video game developers and novelists.
His Star Wars franchise is one of the largest in the world and we have enjoyed the Star Wars universe at the movie theater, in the books we’ve read and the video games we’ve played and do we show him the respect and admiration he deserves? Well, there are millions of us who do, but it seems that some “fans” are hell bent on ruining it for us and the man who invented the franchise these fanboys love so much.
To the fanboys: Give respect where respect is due and leave your negativity and narcissism to yourselves.
To George Lucas: I would sure hate to see you retire under these circumstances and I am sure there are millions of fans and many filmmakers who share that sentiment.
Jonn H. aka Trippyjedi