THE AGE OF ADELINE (2015) movie review

You may live forever but you’ve never really lived.”adaline 1

The Age of Adeline, aptly titled, takes an age to get through as narrated details couple with worrisome looks down long hallways and  winsomely whispered lines. It feels like a feature-length Chanel ad. Tall blonde in beaded gown or period attire eludes the handsome stranger and potential danger.ada 5

Potential danger never really materializes. And handsome stranger becomes boyfriend. Forgive me if I feel the need for a deeper plot line than…will she reveal the truth that she is stuck being beautiful for life? Waa waa waaaaaa.

Narration ala Book Thief or 500 days of Summer sets us up for action, leads us to believe that something will happen to her, but it doesn’t. She cuts her hand in a flashback… That’s something, I guess. Sadly, the presence of narration does not make up for the absence of characterization. Neither does a brilliant performance by Harrison Ford make up for the pulse-less lackluster dream-voiced Blake Lively. I don’t know who she studied for her character development, but almost all of the elderly women I’ve met, yes often thoughtful and demure, still get more interesting with age, more unique, less apologetic for their quirks. This character was more like Kristen Stewart’s Bella on Prozac. With the illusive “THEM” on her tail, she relocates and redefines every decade with a new hairstyle and name. This minimal transformation does the trick for threat level minimum.ada 8

For a girl who “can’t deal with change,” she doesn’t seem to mind being constantly on the move. She has some Groundhog Day moments when we realize that she’s used her time learning languages and escape techniques. She can read braille and kill at Trivial Pursuit. Aye, the rub. Game theory on point: her life is a trivial pursuit until she can learn to love and truly live. It’s essentially another “About Time” without the quirk and great accents.ada 7

The plot puzzle never quite takes shape. The most emotion they squeezed from actors and audience alike came in small whimpers from both when she finds out she has to put her dog down. The rule of thumb with a less-than-likable hero: give him or her a pet that they can be nice to. (See Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat).

The one stroke of genius by the filmmakers was in casting veritable newly Anthony Ingruber as the young Harrison Ford’s character. His vocals and facial expressions were so spot on that I heard a girl near me in the theater ask if he was actually Harrison Ford in CG. B22_RVqCQAAEP3h.jpg-large

Hoorah for sentimental journeys…if they lead us somewhere. Anywhere. But this was pointless. Beautiful but blank. Adeline and her love interest have this in common. They know nothing about each other, just the simple sexual impulse and likability of a first date. Hard to root for that love to last, especially for as long as she has. She also had far more chemistry with the contractor who relayed a message for her on the telephone and with Harrison Ford for that matter. the-age-of-adaline-harrison-ford-600x399

So many wonder what they would do with an eternity, with immortality. With her Holy Grail, she chooses to switch librarian jobs around the city for three lifetimes, an age. Spare yourself her exhaustive self-searching. There must be something new on Netflix. But if you must go, watch for Harrison Ford’s toast at the party. His performance was at least worth the price of the ticket.

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Filed under Chick Flick/ Rom Com, Drama, Skip It

SONG OF THE SEA (2014) movie review

song of the sea 20 Moving in Mystery

Mounting in Myth

Wild with Wonder

This Sea Song a gift

song of the sea 15Gasp at the color

Sigh with delight

Sob for the story

A motherless plight

song-of-the-sea-002-birthday-partyThe parallel stories

Of two frozen men

Whose hearts are stone-hardened

When love has to end

song of the sea 9GrandMamas well-meaning,

Imprisoned themselves

In cages without feelings

So their hearts will not melt

song of the sea 14A boy and his sister

The saviors reluctant

Head off on a journey

of purpose, importance

song of the sea 6The selkies, the fairy men,

A magical robe,

The music, the bubbles,

The search for true home

song of the sea 23Sorrow and laughter,

Color and grey,

The story seems simple,

The landscapes homemade.

Both screenplay and screenwork

Surpassed this year’s films

The heartbreak and artwork

Almost overwhelm

song of the sea 5Director Tomm Moore

Deserves accolades

For this musical fairytale

So perfectly made.

Delve deeply in heritage

For the beauty you’ll weep

At this legend in masterpiece

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FURIOUS 7 (2015) movie review

fast-and-furious-furious-7-770x430I attended the most unconventional funeral this weekend…twice. The theater held showings every 1/2 hour, and still our theater was packed. People flocked to pay homage to the deceased actor Paul Walker after his tragic death this past year.paul-walker-furious-7Fueled by vengeance and loyalty, the gang reunites for one last ride. “You ride, I ride. You fight, I fight. You die, I die.” With a call out for no more funerals, they succeed with zero body count.

fast-and-furious-7The FF franchise is known for shocking car stunts, fast action, insane fight scenes, catchy one-liners, and throw downs starring The Rock, Jason Stathem, and Vin Diesel.

546b4ee64d5ff_-_ff7_trailer-lgSomehow these films define the all-American culture. I haven’t decided if that’s a good thing. Competing for bigger-and-better somehow allows the freedom to objectify women, to race for hierarchy, to do things “your own way and with your own crew.” America. Sinatra would be proud.  I asked a friend how The Rock can get away with such sexist speeches “I can leave when I want to, woman!” He smiled and said that The Rock is just playing that guy… He’s a super nice guy…plus he’s huge.

dwayne-johnson-in-furious-7-movie-1These films go so over the top, they succeed in satirizing these otherwise very serious sins. I’ll admit I laugh. Hard. These films are, above all, just plain fun. Walloped by lead pipes and no bruises. Head-on collisions, and step out unscathed. Explode out of a second story window and land on a car: fractured elbow that heals overnight. Furious 7 FilmSuper cars are expendable. The streets know and obey the kids who grew up on them. And cars fly. Not since Chitty-Bang-Bang and the Delorean have cars been known to fly, but Vin believes, like a Peter Pan of motors, and his car lifts into the air, floats out of planes, runs off of cliffs, and drifts from one skyscraper into another. Seamless.
furious-7-poster-396x600hero-car-launch-pike-peak_wide-9a2b57e9202518939b136f7ee7ffe89abc083d2c-s800-c8506-flying-cars.w529.h352.2xKurt Russell brings some surprising and much needed fatherly encouragement and grounding to Furious 7. Vin and the rest of Paul Walker’s screen family memorialized him well on the big screen. A true American tribute.

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EXODUS (2015) movie review

exodus-gods-and-kings-movie-poster-1Exodus has moments of beauty and potential greatness, thoughtful on so many levels. But Bale is no Charlton Heston. Exodus: Gods and Kings lacks the pizzaz and joy of the original Ten Commandments. Prince of Egypt may not have had a doe-eyed Aaron Paul but at least it never diminished the miracles by making Moses the God-whisperer and attempting to explain the plagues scientifically: alligators, so blood, so frogs, so flies, etc.

False beliefs prevail in Biblical films of late. The heroes must be A-listers, never mind the fluctuating accents, as long as they can wield a blade and train the peasants to retaliate. Why would God bother to intervene when Christian Bale or Russell Crowe can lead an army?exodus-gods-and-kings-3

I shouldn’t be surprised that so many renowned directors, like the brilliant, detail-driven Ridley Scott would look to the Greatest Stories Ever Told in the Bible for great screen fodder. To grasp the immortal seems the quest for most Hollywood greats. The gods of myth thought that eternal life is for those who live on in legend. Stories live on, so they must work as conduits…flux capacitors for a new age of inventors who visualize and create widescreen and digital IMAX.

Some also sadly believe that special effects will cover any sub-par plot points or dialogue, or anything that the filmmaker thought too potentially religious. Visual accuracy over biblical. The Pharaoh can look like he grew up in Texas as long as he cuddles with Cobras and paints a mean eyeline.

Egypt is sepia toned, to color the Caucasian cast. And the wilderness a Prometheus blue. The burning bush burst into a less than stunning blue flame.D0ObgKhviA

I’m sorry to say, it’s not the biblical inaccuracies that tanked the multi-million dollar project. It was…boring. Slow and unsteadily paced. It lags so desperately that in the end you almost hope the Red Sea will take them all. But they cross…waist-deep, then the armies drown in a tidal wave.

Many Christians cry and run from theaters over these kinds of oversights. If only the same crowd of movie goers would cry over poorly made films in the B-genre known as Christian films and seek to correct the problem with excellent filmmaking. The Bible will continue to provide a wellspring of stories. The era of Bible-based movies will continue.

So many filmmakers and viewers alike continue the search in a bottomless grave looking for a frozen Savior who they hoped would come to save the world. They have yet to find that He is risen. He is risen indeed.Exodus1

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CINDERELLA (2015) movie review

Kenneth Branagh masterfully directs Disney’s newest live action adaptation of the beloved children’s classic fairy tale Cinderella.75

In contrast to this year’s Into the Woods, no cheesy princes seek with fickle vengeance to woo winsome woeful indecisive scullery maidens. Cinderella_2015_3You need never flinch in fearful disgust. It’s appropriate for all ages but not so slapstick that adults can’t stand it. Marvel at the costuming and at Cate Blanchett’s truly wicked stepmother. CINDERELLADelight in each scene, drenched in artful Victorian symmetry which would do Jane Austen proud.

CINDERELLA

No longer just once upon a Time, it’s now once upon our time as Downton’s best take center stage. Lily James’s portrayal is demure, deliberate, ethereal. And Daisy of Downton is the perfect pompous step-sis. Already a fan of Agent Carter in her Marvel Fame, I believe Hayley Atwell was perfectly cast as the tragic mother figure. Shockingly, even Helena Bonham Carter underplayed her toothy froofy Godmother. The film as a whole was like a lovely well-paced waltz. Caring characters suffer loss but seek to prove always that bravery and kindness win the day for good. Well done.cinderella3

Spend an evening getting swept up in the array of gowns and Swarovski’s best. Ah, the glass slippers! cinderella4See Cinderella and believe in magic again.

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Filed under Classic, Comfort Film, Family friendly, Fantasy

BIG HERO 6 (2015) movie review

1405130453000-BAYMAX-BIG-HERO-6-MOV-JY-965--65727092Capitalizing on anthropomorphism is not a new story for Disney. In conjunction with Pixar, they introduced a small trash compactor with big heart in Wall-e. They keep reviving the Toys of our childhoods giving them lives and attitudes. Now Big Hero 6 gives the State Puff a huge heart and one prime directive: to protect and keep young Hiro after he experiences a tragic loss.

Big_Hero_6_sneak_preview_event_article_story_largeGrief counseling never looked so appealing. Big Hero 6 achieved what no other A.I. could. Where films like iRobot, Prometheus, Robot & Frank, and Transformers fail to make huggable machines, this film succeeds. With his program downloaded to help and heal, Baymax brings together the team of six super friends who challenge the lurking evil madman currently threatening the city.  Instead of taking out the masked man in a death-match, however, like true heroes they seek restoration and willingly sacrifice in an Interstellar scenario to bring ultimate justice and harmony back to the world.  I laughed out loud. I understood Hiro and felt the Baymax hug.

BIG HERO 6This film wraps you up in it, flings you out the window to fly on the wings of adventure landing you back home gracefully pillowed in promise.  Oscar well-earned.
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JUPITER ASCENDING (2015) movie review

jupiter_ascending_pushed_2015_lWhat’s in a name?
Everything, apparently.
Channing Tatum lures an audience of lonely women, Step Up dance fans, and heart throb honeys looking to him to fill their Saturdays with shirts-off eye candy. In that case, Jupiter excels.
Mila Kunis‘s name promises dark eyeshadow dreams and daylight sighs. Her teen impressions are spot-on every time.rs_560x415-140327073050-1024.Jupiter-Ascending-Mila-Kunis-JR1-32714_copy
Sean Bean, ever Boromir, brings the sci-fi fans a quick thrill with his original accent and scenes of hard punching. Though he tries for the likable space-rogue status, he can never quite reach his inner Han Solo. Not enough comedy…even his smiles look angry.

And sweet Eddie Redmayne‘s big bang into stardom began with his role in Les Miserables and evolved into larger roles. He is currently up for an Oscar for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. In Jupiter, however, he whispers his way to the purest dark side as this film’s Hitler, trading bones for soap stones in effect by managing the factory that turns humans into liquid life. A sort of advanced anti-age serum.jupiter-610x350

And finally the big names: The Wachowski‘s, of the Matrix fame. Ironically, they wrote and directed this film in which yet another advanced life-form chooses to liquefy people into a product worth killing for. Decent plot repeat on the sci-fi syndicate.
I left feeling adequately sci-fi satisfied with endless kicking and sky-skating. My dad loved it. Aliens. Kicking. Explosions. Yes. Yes. Yes. He had to agree, however, that the dialogue was junior high driven, if not written, and when the plot lacked, shooting commenced.
You obviously won’t go for an intellectual boost. You won’t have to think at all, in fact. It feels very Men in Black minus the quirky duo and catch phrases.
“Say it again.”
“Your highness.”
“Yeah. I like that.”

Wow.

Oddly, the costumes and creature creations were almost worth the ticket. I enjoyed the sequence of alien waiting lines and red-tape best, even though it led to another poorly executed scene in which lycan bodyguards wrestled dragon dino slaves to free the helpless virginal beekeeping princess from a fate worse than death. Good thing they brought their flying boots along.jupiter-ascending-boots-01

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