50 Shades of Grey’s New York City premiere that we were invited to was exciting. The cast was here, and so were screaming hormonal fangirls and more mature women (mostly mature women). 50 Shades of Grey has been the topic of fangirls worldwide who have been craving their metropolis and rather far-fetched erotica from the popular novelist E.L. James. Being part of a larger trilogy, the first iteration of Fifty Shades of Grey is utterly terrible in terms of not just the acting, but also the storyline in general.
Despite not being a personal fan of the novels, especially after having read the first one, I can see the allure for the sexually repressed teenagers / older women past a certain prime worldwide. Most of the target audience of Fifty Shades of Grey remains primarily women in their 35+ age group according to research done. The novel itself is about an ‘innocent’ virgin girl Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) who has never had sex with any man, but decides to sign a contract with Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) who also happens to be a neurotically creepy and utterly weird millionaire with a penchant for bondage.
After the presumed innocent Anastasia, who has never had sex before for reasons we never entirely know or whether or not she even had opportunities, signs a contract with Christian, she gives it all up for this random guy and his money. He promises to be loyal to her, even if nothing substantial will ever come from it and she’s A-OK with that (remember she’s innocent?). Like the truly innocent women she is as the movie portrays, Anastasia loves exploring bondage with a complete stranger and the journey begins rampantly for her.
The novel itself at least to me is very utterly terrible. I strive to be as unbiased as humanly possible in my reviews of anything as my lovely readers know, and this is no exception. 50 Shades of Grey has an audience that love it, and I am almost certain they will hate the movie as it just simply cannot compound the inherent thoughts and seductive words of Anastasia Steele’s thoughts without overdoing a voice over per scene. The movie is relatively very tame compared to the book, with a rating of Restricted. In a way, I prefer it this way, as I cannot honestly see this being any other rating other than AO (bordering on pornography) if women/fans of this book were hoping that it would do the book justice. Seriously ladies?
Despite what it does have going for it in its Hollywoodization (my own term for this), the acting is horrible and the plot is even more unbearable on screen than the book itself.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water sounded like another great SpongeBob movie concept by Nickelodeon Movies, and yet we cannot help but feel it has entirely failed in that aspect. Despite being a kids movie, Sponge Out of Water abandons a lot of the cultural lore of Spongebob in his ability to go out of water, and even makes children ask: how can he (Spongebob) go out of the water?!
In terms of the storyline, the Krabby Patty formula is stolen in a bid by Plankton, or at least that is what the Bikini Bottomites think. Rather the real formula is stolen by a pirate above water who just happens to know that the Spongebob community exists (oddly enough). As if this was not bad enough, he steals the formula from the ocean and begins to sell it above water. Plankton and Spongebob (having been accused of working together to steal it) team up to get the real Krabby patty formula in a time-traveling mess. Somehow they build a time machine, they manage to go back to the day it is stolen, and eventually transform themselves magically into superheroes with the uncanny ability to breathe air.
Despite the beautiful visuals of The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, everything has been sacrificed to the confusion of even the intended audience: children. Out of the 3 screenings we begrudgingly went to – not many kids were seen laughing or enjoying the movie. It even went as far as some kids yelling out “this makes no sense.”
If you want to see a good movie with your kids – we recommend Paddington over this mess.
Paddington is the latest computer generated (CG) family movie from the producer who brought you Harry Potter and is all about warm and fuzzy feelings that the whole family can enjoy. The movie has the perfect elements of comedy, success, and personification all wrapped up in a cuddly package of a Bear named Paddington.
Paddington starts off with an old time movie from the Geographers Guild by geographer Montgomery Clyde (Tim Downie) who meets some very odd bears and ends up giving them his hat and teaching them the proper way to speak English with English customs to boot. The culturalization carries through to Paddington (Michael Brown), a small but loveable bear who finds himself at Paddington Station where he is taken in by the Brown Family. The dynamic between Paddington and the Brown family creates a bulk of the movie in a search for an identity and a place to call home, while the symbolism with the blossoming pink flower tree as the Brown family wallpaper was beautiful when it properly reflected the moods on screen. The main antagonist Millicent (Nicole Kidman) is a taxidermist who wants to add Paddington to her extensive collection of stuffed and rare exotic animals, and Nicole Kidman acted this scene out with a great level of believability and insanity, though we did wish it was slightly more comedic and PG friendly.
The cinematography of Paddington is memorable, while the storyline pacing was clever and always entertaining with each scene. Every scene has a resemblance to Harry Potter’s cinematography in terms of the brightness of the colors and set-direction with the way the actors are portrayed against the backdrop elements. Hilarity ensues in quite possibly one of the most original movies to come out in 2015 so far in terms of family fare. The only downside to Paddington that we found was that it was irrevocably short, and even after the credits were rolling we were left wanting more and generally not satisfied enough.
Paddington is cleverly written, brilliantly acted, and stunningly portrayed with every minute on screen and is quite possibly a must see for people who love a good family movie, even if it is probably shorter than it should be.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Clint Eastwood returns to directing another big-screen film since 2012’s Trouble with the Curve with the introduction of the biopic American Sniper. There is tense wartime action mixed with citizenship drama that amalgamates into the core of the story written by Jason Hall and based on the book by Chris Kyle – the original American Sniper who the film is based on.
As he grows up, Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) learns about the difference in defending people and being a bully/wolf from his father and their early hunting trips. The real-life sniper enlisted to protect people from terrorists and ended up being the most feared marksman in history – being referred to as “Legend” with his wartime buddies. While American Sniper has a lot of tense moments from early on in the movie, it follows a string of cuts in the sequences within chronological order after every tour. This storyline construction is rather abrupt and feels a bit disconcerting to the viewer’s sense of immersion in the storyline, which is something we are surprised that both the director and writer did not consider. What has been mistaken for a tool of more suspense only serves to make the audience disconnected from the experience – which is a shame. When the tense scenes (of which there are 2 notable ones highlighted in the trailers) continue, the struggle of Kyle coming back from war is apparent but nothing entirely individualistic or memorable. Bradley Cooper’s performance is incredible and the direction by Clint Eastwood seems to be decent enough.
American Sniper reveals a struggle between impending fatherhood with a lovely wife (Sienna Miller), the need to protect people from harm, and the tumultuous difficulty in maintaining a balance with family. As a result, American Sniper seems to juggle a lot of things without fully branching out into the storyline of every motif it tries to touch upon – leaving a lot more to be desired in the characterization of wartime struggle and the never-ending internal battle of returning from war for good.
Rating: 3/5 stars
Tim Burton’s Big Eyes is an interesting departure of the director’s famed portfolio from the gloomy scenery animated type stylization films of his past. The story of Big Eyes is engaging to another level for Tim Burton as it is based on a true story, and though that does not always make a film great, it works to make Big Eyes relatively enjoyable as well in a different sense.
Big Eyes underscores the true story of Walter Keane (Chrisopher Waltz) who was an artist that received national acclaim for his art that centers on children with ‘big eyes’ in a sort of morbid portrayal of the world in which the eyes tell a thousand stories. Eventually, everyone finds out that Keane is not the charming salesman with a talent in painting that he tried to represent himself as, but one of the most popular plagiarists of his time considering his wife Margaret (Amy Adams) had been drawing the iconic style of paintings all along. Big Eyes not only works to provide a look into the social stratum of the 1950s and 1960s, but also serves as a biopic into Peggy Hawkins aka Margaret Keane’s life and struggle. Big Eyes veers towards the awakening of an artist, along with giving a general glimpse of her tough and difficult situation with her husband trying to take credit for her drawings and putting her down due to the gender politics of the time. It was a “man’s world” and Margaret Keane’s ethical stance grew stronger the more fame accumulated.
Suddenly, Margaret was the one seeing Big Eyes everywhere in the world as her life and struggles became chaotic in her pursuit to be recognized for her talents along with being truthful to her daughter as a modern day feminist example of never letting society define who you are. As predictable as the stoyline was, Big Eyes is all about telling a story which happened in the real world even if it is not entirely engaging and feels shortchanged from the years of struggle of the primary protagonist of Margaret. Big Eyes carries an intense legal and real-world plot prose with terrific acting by the cast and a storyline that may deviate from complete details, but is nevertheless a decent enjoyable narrative.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies has arrived and with it comes the finale to the longest running franchise this side of planet earth. Middle-earth is still the ever-expanding fantasy land of mountains, lush greenery, and tons of factions each with their own agenda. The action is all here in the final chapter of Jackson’s prequel trilogy, and though it does exactly what it says in the title – it sadly falls short of its own ambition.
The mood that Peter Jackson embeds within the start of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is one of sullen shock at the impending doom of Lake-town by Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), completely upset at being made an object of revenge for the Dwarfs ever since he took the Mountain. He sets off and sets Lake-town ablaze, for an opening of quite catastrophic proportions. The set pieces of the opening were rather small, but at the Mountain there was no set piece bigger than the acting performance by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) in a delirious state of having finally acclimated to the impending kingdom that lays before him. Bilbo Baggins argues that they have ruined Lake-town, and the scene is cut short with its harsh discordant cut to Lake-town burning, thereby adding more tension and prose to the opening.
After Smaug is dealt with (we won’t spoil how here), Jackson shows a Middle-Earth clearly divided amongst the line of broken promises, and the salvation of people in a role-reversal as the refugees come pouring in from the now ravaged Lake-Town to an embittered and delusionally greedy Thorin who “would rather have war.” Luckily for all involved, Sauron’s army of orcs descend upon everyone for control of the mountain, which is said to be strategic point. The storyline pacing remains rather simple in its plot focus towards the beginning which is appreciated, but just seems to lose all sight of character development that was the grace of the original Lord of The Rings Trilogy as the Battle of the Five Armies begins. As a result, the majority of the film was an uninteresting war with a predictable storyline of redemption as a leader all while falling by the wayside of a lesser scope to the original trilogy in terms of the Battle of Helm’s Deep. After the huge war is over, we cannot help but feel the central concept of this finale to the The Hobbit trilogy as completely underwhelming to the audience and something that leaves nothing but more to be desired for all the wrong reasons.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars