There is a certain magic in the air when going to the movies. The smell of popcorn, a feeling of anticipation as the lights dim, then the audience is transported to other worlds, the past, a fictional present or become a silent observer on a journey. When this happens, then the film has accomplished its purpose and the film maker’s theirs.
The film Hugo directed by Martin Scorsese, takes us on an exquisite journey of discovery and wonder. The intrepid adventurer in this story is a boy named Hugo, who winds the clocks at the train station in Paris, France. Hugo is attempting to unlock the secret of an autonomous man made of clockworks and in doing so he becomes friends with Isabelle, the daughter of the toy maker named Papa George.
While uncovering the secrets of the clockwork man, the two children make a discovery so wondrous and delightful that revealing it would only ruin the magic. Suffice it to say that they learn there is more to Papa George than meets the eye. Hugo also finds a strength within himself he did not know he had.
The beauty and majesty of Martin Scorsese’s film is not only in its presentation—the 3D effects are impeccable—but in it endearing story and how that tale is brought to life through the loveable characters of which this film is about. Asa Butterfield plays Hugo so splendidly that he is captivating. Chloe Grace Moretz fills Isabelle with a wonder and curiosity that seems almost tangible, and Ben Kingsley as always, delivers a magnificent performance as Papa George.
Through the inspired direction of Martin Scorsese and the dedication of the films cast (including Sascha Baron Cohen as the Station Inspector) Hugo captures the magic of story-telling through the medium of film and reminds us that it is the “stuff dreams are made of”. Whether you are a child, adult, film enthusiast, or simply a person who enjoys a good story; Hugo is not a film to be missed.
In my review of Rise of the Planet of The Apes on Examiner.com I state that the film is “a prequel to the original Planet of the Apes (1968) and tells the story of how the apes became intelligent.” In other words, it is not a remake. Instead, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a coming of age story for Caesar. Before I get ahead of myself, allow me to explain my statement with a bit of film history. Be forewarned, there are spoilers ahead for readers who have not seen the original five films.
The original Planet of the Apes (1968) that starred Charlton Heston only mentions Caesar as being an ancient leader of the apes who lead them to enlightenment. Little is said about how that happens. We don’t see anything of Caesar until Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) where Cornelius and Zira end up on twentieth century Earth after escaping the destruction of the planet at the end of Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970). Trapped in a time when humans are still the dominant species, Cornelius and Zira attempt to integrate and Zira gives birth to a male chimpanzee who they name Caesar. Sadly, their son is orphaned after the parents are killed.
Caesar’s story is told in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) and Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973). Conquest depicts Earth twenty years after Escape from the Planet of the Apes; taking place in 1991. In this alternate time line, Apes are kept as either pets or slaves. This troubles Caesar, because he believes their intelligence makes them equal to humans. He eventually leads the apes in a revolt. The ape revolution leads to a war between those who believe apes should be free, and those that believe—like Caesar—that humans and apes can coexist. The story of that war is told in Battle for the Planet of the Apes.
While some might say that Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a remake of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. It is a fallacy to think so. The Caesar in Conquest is the son of Cornelius and Zira, who are intelligent apes descended from the original Caesar mentioned in Planet of the Apes. In Rise, Caesar inherits his intelligence from a drug developed by Dr. Rodman meant to be a cure for Alzheimer’s allowing the brain to repair itself. The drug had been given to Caesar’s mother whose intelligence increased due to the drug and passed the drug through her DNA to Caesar who surpasses his mother in heightened intelligence. Thus, the difference in origin is what sets the two Caesars apart. Therefore, the Caesar in Rise could only be the original Caesar mentioned in Planet of the Apes.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is an incredible movie both visually and in scope. The premise alludes to the idea that the oppressed will always rise against the oppressors. The cast is superb and Andy Serkis gives the performance of his life as Caesar. James Franco stars as Dr. Will Rodman and John Lithgow stars as Rodman’s father Charles. Also check out the original five movies which are available on DVD and Blu Ray.
In just three days Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two has raked in over $162 million dollars, largely in part to enormous amount of people who viewed the midnight release. Once again, the beloved franchise breaks its own records and makes a few new ones, including the worldwide opening weekend record according to Box Office Mojo.
The film begins where Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One ended: Voldemort is in possession of the Elder Wand and our heroes Harry, Ron and Hermione have just buried Dobby, the House Elf who helped them escape the clutches of Bellatrix LeStrange. In many ways the situation is grim and the odds are overwhelming, but Harry and his two friends know that there are only three of the cursed items left. With their goal to stop Voldemort still in sight the trio carry’s on; determined to see it through to the end.
This time the search takes them to Gringott’s bank and Hogwart’s. When the three of them return to the school, they learn that Sevurus Snape is the new Headmaster. Harry does not hesitate to confront the man responsible for Albus Dumbeldore’s death. After a brief altercation between Snape and Professor McGonnagle, the new Headmaster flees the school. By then however, Voldemort has gathered an army and comes knocking at the doorstep of the castle in search of Harry, completely aware of where Harry’s search for the horcruxes will take the young man. Thus, Hogwart’s becomes the final battlefield in this war between good and evil.
With little time to spare, Harry, Ron and Hermione race to destroy the final horcruxes so that they may end Voldemort’s campaign of terror. Amidst the battle, new heroes emerge while others meet their end. Yet even amongst death and destruction, love is reaffirmed and in one case, finally requited.
Harry learns that he will need to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to save everyone else. As he bravely goes on alone to face the very man who seeks his destruction, Harry finds that in addition to his love for Ginny, his two best friends and schoolmates and their love of him; the love of his departed family members has always been with him. Armored with the strength he draws from this knowledge, Harry takes a stand against evil though it may cost him his life.
A magnificent end to what has been one of the most popular franchises since Star Wars. Stellar performances by Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes and Alan Rickman. Surely the Harry Potter movies will be loved for generations to come. Those generations will learn the message that the rest of the world has been shown these past ten years: Love is the most powerful of all magic and they will also come to know that when light stands before darkness, it is light that prevails.
If you need an excellent family film to see this Memorial Day or any day, then Kung Fu Panda 2 is it.
Jack Black returns as Po, the lovable panda from the first film. This time, Po has been busy working alongside the Furious Five; Tigress, Monkey, Viper, Mantis and Crane keeping the valley safe from bandits and other evil.
Upon learning that Lord Shen has developed a weapon that can defeat Kung Fu, the Dragon Warrior and the Furious Five travel to a distant city to end Lord Shen’s quest for dominance over China and protect Kung Fu.
This will not be easy however, for along the way Po begins to question himself and his origins. Haunted by visions from a past he does not remember, Po becomes unfocused and more like the Panda he was. Not the Dragon Warrior he is.
In order to successfully stop Lord Shen, Po must come to terms with his past and find inner peace.
Kung Fu Panda 2 is as entertaining as the first film, however the story could have used a little more depth because it is difficult to truly empathize with Po and his lost memories. Still, the film provides many moments of laughter and excitement, which is really why most of us go to see it anyway.
Also returning to the film are: Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu and David Cross in their roles as Master Shifu and the Furious Five. Michelle Yeoh, Jean–Claude Van Damme, Gary Oldman Dennis Haysbert, and Danny McBride lend their voices too.
Go see Kung Fu Panda 2. At the very least you’ll be entertained. At most, you find inspiration to gain inner peace.
Rango is a one of a kind film. In fact it is such a special addition to modern cinema, that assuming it is just another computer animated movie is a fallacy. The reason is because Rango isn’t the kind of animated production that is tailored to make us laugh-though there are quite a few moments that are funny. It is simply a vehicle for telling a story. This particular story happens to be about a lizard who becomes the legendary Rango.
When first we meet Rango, there is no evidence of anything but a lonely lizard who has nothing to keep him company except his frequent day dreams.
This all changes when his terrarium is flung from the back of a car and smashes to bits. Now a free lizard, Rango is told by an old armadillo that he must find the city of Dirt before he can find his destiny. Rango arrives in Dirt after he hitches a ride with one of the locals. Rango discovers a town that is so behind that it is still in the Old West. Within the first few hours of his arrival, Rango establishes himself as a hero who killed seven outlaws with only one bullet. The tall tale earns him the admiration of the townsfolk and after he manages to dispose of a hawk that preyed on the inhabitants of Dirt he is made Sheriff.
The newly appointed law enforcement officer soon realizes that Dirt isn’t just in a drought, but doesn’t have any water at all. Determined to be the hero that he has convinced everyone he is Rango sets out to solve the water problem. Along the way he learns what a true hero is and the sacrifices he must make to be that man…or lizard.
There are a number of reasons to see Rango. One may be to hear the superb voice acting of Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty, Bill Nighy and Timothy Olyphant to name a few. Another is two view the incredibly photo realistic CGI. Whatever your reasons, Rango is the film to see because it tells the tale of how an otherwise self absorbed individual can become the selfless hero willing to protect the weak and innocent at any cost.