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Life (2017)

Life (2017) was directed by Daniel Espinosa. The film was written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. The cast includes: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Olga Dihovichnaya and Ariyon Bakare.

Life is about six astronauts in a space station after a trip to Mars to collect samples to prove that there is biological life living on Mars. As they interact with the alien specimen things go terribly wrong.

The film does an excellent job at portraying feeling of the claustrophobia and tension the crew is experiencing while they are trying to battle this unknown alien that can survive anything. 

The death scenes are particularly good at taking your breath away, because the alien feeds off of the astronauts not only externally, but internally as well. But, the aliens killing spree is not the only thing that takes your breath away, but the feeling of being trapped in space, where there is no oxygen, is scary enough in itself. 

The film did not add any emotional backstory to the characters any more than it should have, which I definitely liked. The film makes you sympathize enough with the claustrophobic feelings and the sense of no escape.

The alien in this film, in my opinion, looks fantastic. Not overly done, fake-looking CGI. 

The ending, however, was extremely predictable. It does leave some things unsaid, and I am glad it did. Not knowing and using your imagination is almost better than getting all the answers.

That said, I hope they don’t make a sequel, the movie ended the way it should have.

I recommend this movie, if you haven’t already seen it.

Power Rangers (2017): The Whiny Generation

Power Rangers was directed by Dean Israelite. The screenplay was written by John Gatins. The cast includes: Dacre Montgomery as Jason aka Red Ranger; Naomi Scott as Kimberly aka Pink Ranger; RJ Cyler as Billy aka the Blue Ranger; Ludi Lin as Zack aka the Black Ranger and Becky G. as Trini aka the Yellow Ranger.

The Power Rangers are based off the 90s television show The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. In this version, the cast of outsiders (in their own way) meet unexpectedly at a mining site outside of their town. After an explosion caused by Billy, because that’s his thing, they discover different color stones and discover that they now have superpowers and have been chosen to be the Power Rangers and save humanity.

I watched the Power Rangers as a kid growing up in the 90s. I was even the Pink Ranger for Halloween probably five years in a row. And I can tell you, I remembered nothing about the story, characters or premise. (Probably goes to show how old I am getting).

This film was definitely made for the millennial generation. The constant whining about everything was about all I could take. The bad boy who gives up his football scholarship because he’s lost (oh and he’s on house arrest that is mentioned once, and then he just galavants around like there’s no more house arrest), the girl who is a mean girl and passed out a nude photo of her friend (side note: I know cases where girls and boys who do this in middle school and/or high school that have gotten charged), the autistic kid who is just happy to have friends (he’s the best character and actor, by the way), the one boy who wants everyone to know he’s crazy and skips school but really is a sweet heart and loves his mom and the girl who moves around a lot and her parents just want her to be ‘normal’.
I know I said that I didn’t remember the old show, but I definitely don’t remember whining or pornography.

But this is what the market is right now: millennials and connecting with what they are ‘feeling’ and their constant whining. That’s all these characters did, whine. Whine about how they can’t morph or how they can’t stand each other or know each other. Stop, okay?

Like I stated above, Billy is the best character. He’s the only genuine character and actor. The actor definitely knew what kind of movie this was, and played it well. The rest of the cast, well, they had no likeable features whatsoever. Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa was another actor who knew what to do with a movie like this, and she did it well.

As the film progressed, the lines just kept getting cornier and cornier. My eyes got stuck in the back of my head with the eye rolls during the third act.

We see these characters in their armor for about a total of five seconds, then they all get into their zords, which are barely seen. The scene that they finally get their zords the original score is used *cue eye roll* it felt so misplaced. Then they all make megazord and the climatic fight scene lasts about a total of fifteen minutes.

The Krispy Kreme product placement was another terrible addition to this film. It may as well have been named Power Rangers: Hot Now.

This is what we get now, corny 90s tv shows turned into corny, whiney millennial films. 

I felt no nostalgia when watching this film, but then again I may be too old for this crap.

But, let me tell you how I really feel.

Edge of Seventeen or the Edge of Being Full of It

Edge of Seventeen was written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig. The cast stars Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Kyra Sedgwick and Woody Harrelson. 

The film revolves around Steinfelds character, Nadine. No really, the whole story in her eyes revolves around her. Nadine considers herself the black sheep of the family and even more so after her father passes away. Her brother is the typical popular athlete. Nadine has one friend Krista, but soon learns that her brother and Krista like each other and want to date, making Nadine spin into a whirlwind of bratty emotion. 

The entire film is about how everything terrible (or how she sees it) happens to her and never happens to anyone else and no one will ever understand her. A typical teenager who thinks the world revolves around them story. Everything that happens is the end of the world and nothing can be fixed.

There is one scene where is an unfortunate circumstance of teenage girls trying to get attention of boys by saying that they will do certain things just so the boy will notice them. That was a powerful scene and unfortunately does reflect on some people’s views of ‘liking’ someone and just to have them ‘like’ you back, you say things you normally wouldn’t say. 

Nadine wants everything just to happen to her. She does not see why she would have to change, that everyone else should bend and change to her personality. That shecan be awful but no one can be awful to her.

Woody Harrelson’s character in the film is the best. He does not put up with Nadine’s dramatic bullshit. And boy, do I mean dramatic. He points out her selfishness, her dramaticism and lack thereof genuine nice personality. 

The rest of the cast was fine, not a performance to ride home about. They did what the story called for. 

This film was the perfect representation of every self-obsessed, full of it teenager.

Arrival (2016)

Arrival (2016) was directed by Denis Villeneuve. Eric Heisserer penned the screenplay based on the story, “The Story of Your Life’, written by Ted Chiang. The film stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker.

The film is about a linguistic professor who is enlisted by the Army when unidentified spacecrafts make first contact with Earth. Louise (Adams) and Ian (Renner), a scientist work together to communicate with the aliens and figure out their purpose.

Adams performance is nothing short of spectacular. She is able to convey such complex emotions, as any human would, when seeing and experiencing something dramatic as communicating with another life form. Renner also does a wonderful job as her co worker and their chemistry is perfect. 

The films atmosphere does a fantastic job at increasing the paranoia of the situation not just within the confines of where the main characters are, but all over the world with news reports. The news reports that seem so scary because you actually imagining that happening in real life if a similar situation happened. Paranoia and mistrust are conveyed perfectly, and really bring a sense of urgency to the film.

What I liked most about the film is the little twist that I thought was done beautifully with cut scenes. 

If you have not already seen this, I highly recommend it.

Holy Self Awareness, Batman!

The Lego Batman Movie (2017) directed by Chris McKay,  stars Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Ralph Finnes, Rosario Dawson and Zach Galifianakis. 

The film is a continuation of the Lego Batman character from The Lego Movie (2014). 

The film is self-aware, chock full of self referential humor and references to classic pop culture.

The message was clear, however, the film started to drag by the second act. And the constant pop culture jokes over and over, made each joke less and less funny. 

The film also (like everything else nowadays) referenced 80s music and film. Hollywood obviously knows what is selling right now, 80s nostalgia. And quite honestly, (for better or worse), it’s working.

‘How’s ya Chinese Food?’ 

My Cousin Vinny (1992) stars Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei and Ralph Macchio. Directed by Jonathan Lynn and written by Dale Launer. 

Marisa Tomei won Best Supporting Actress Award for her absolutely fantastic and hilarious portrayal of Mona Lisa Vito.

The film is about two men while driving across country from New York to California are accused of murder in a rural Southern town. One of the men’s cousin, Vinny Gambini (Joe Pesci) drives down with his fiancée Mona Lisa Vito (Tomei) to represent the men at trial. 

Gambini has never represented anyone at trial and finally passed the bar exam after 6 tries. Not only that, but the Southern town, judge and prosecutor doesn’t take to kindly to what they presume is a big shot fancy New York lawyer. Obviously being from New York and having no experience, hilarity ensues.

Being from New York myself and moving to the South, I related to this film. The opening scenes of Pesci and Tomei driving into the town and they stick out like ‘a sore thumb’ as Pesci’s character says, hits the nail on the head. Not understanding people because of their accents, and people not understanding me! 

However, this film is also a great representation of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover.’ And that message is never, ever too old to remember.

I love how relateable this film is for me. It’s a perfect explaination for people who ask me what it was like to move to the South. 

And my never ending search for good Chinese food and pizza.

My Trip to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

All Photographs are taken and edited by me. 

I had the pleasure of “vacationing” at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure last week. I use the word vacation very loosely; I am absolutely exhausted. And all I could think of is the scooter tipping episode of South Park. Well played, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, well played.

Besides the scooter tipping, it really was a great time, and the Harry Potter parks are absolutely breathtaking. The amount of detail is impeccable. Even if you aren’t a Harry Potter fan, you can appreciate the detail and hard work that went into these parks.

As a self-proclaimed film buff, it was fun for me to find some Easter eggs. I am not talking the obvious Hogwarts castle or the Jurassic Park entrance, I am talking the subtle references to films found in the New York side of Universal.

1. Mel’s Drive-In:

Okay, so this is probably one of the biggest landmarks in Universal. But I have to say, most people did not know (especially young kids) knew where this reference came from. And for those of you reading this article, it’s from American Graffiti.

2. Kitty Kat Club: 

Another ode to classic films is the Kitty Kat Club, or the Kit Kat Club used in Cabernet.

3. Stillman’s Gym:

Stillman’s gym is a real-life famous boxing gym in New York City, known for its unsanitary facilities and the famous boxers who trained there. However, this gym is also a reference to two classic films Somebody Up There Likes Me, the autobiographical film about famous boxer, Rocky Graziano. And was also host to a musical number in the film, Its Always Fair Weather.  

4. Louie’s and Genco Imports:


 

Louie’s and Genco Imports are references to the Godfather Trilogy. Scenes where the rise and murder of the mafia and corrupt police officers take place.

5. Hudson Street Home for Girls:


The Hudson Street is not only a home for girls, but is home to one of the most famous redheaded orphan, Annie. Hudson Street is a reference from the musical and movie, Annie.

6. Priscilla Hotel:

 

The Priscilla Hotel is home to the film Thoroughly Modern Millie. Millie moves into the hotel for single ladies in hopes to marry rich. Times never do change, do they?

7. Adrienne’s Pet Shop:

 

I stared at this for a long time, convinced that this was a definite reference to a film. I looked it up, and found out that this (although, a terrible reference) is a reference to the film Rocky. In the film, Rocky’s future wife Adrien works at a pet shop. I appreciate the effort, but her name is spelt incorrectly and the pet shop she work at was called J&M Tropical Fish. 

8. Embryo Books:

This reference is a tricky one. Embryo Books is actually a reference to an Audrey Hepburn musical, Funny Face. In the film, she is a book store clerk at an obscure bookstore, Embryo Concepts. Hepburn’s character is discovered by a fashion magazine photographer and is catapulted into the modeling industry with her unique, somewhat nerdy look.

9. Blues Mobile:

I know, just like Mel’s, I’m kind of cheating. But, this is a classic prop and, admittedly comes from one of my all-time favorite movies. The Blues Brothers, is a film based on a Saturday Night Live skit, and would have to be the best film to come out of SNL.

After visiting Universal and seeing all these references, I quickly came home to sit down and watch them. Next time you are in Universal, check out all the old references, I bet you can even spot some Jaws references in Harry Potter.

Harry Potter and the Change in Plot Elements

Currently, I am rewatching all of the Harry Potter films. And I can’t help but notice (or get angry) at the very obvious element or plot changes from the novels. This has bothered me since I first started reading and watching this franchise. Why the hell would you leave out extremely important characters and even change subtleties like how Harry acquired the Marauders Map in the Prisoner of Azkaban.

I have started to research and dabble in Screenwriting myself. And realized that a movie can only be so long. It can hold only so many plot elements at once, even if readers would love to see everything on screen, it’s just sometimes not possible. Harry Potter, if you have ever read the books, have a TON of characters. The character development alone would take forever.

It is also up to the director to make his creative decisions. You may not agree, but hey, he’s making a movie of one of your favorite series’.

So as angry as I am when certain elements that I looked forward to when reading the books, I have to look at it at a more practical way.

Besides, you still have the books (they aren’t going anywhere), and you still have your imagination. And quite honestly, you still spent money to see the films.

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day!

Valentines Day is the one day of the year you are required to either do something nice for your loved one, or be reminded that you are still single. 

In my opinion, this day is awfully commercialized and quite frankly, you should not have one day or one reason to do something nice for your significant other. Furthermore, if you are single, don’t worry about it, and definitely don’t make others feel bad about being in love and being with their significant other (because they don’t care what you think anyways). Don’t be a hater.

Film always makes me feel better (whether or not it’s a holiday). But there are some films I would recommend you not watch on this day. Purely for the sheer fact that they are terrible movies, a total misrepresentation of love or the science disputes it.

1. The Twilight Saga (2008-2012)

These films portray a sickening manipulation, control and stalking in the guise of love.

2. Fifty Shades of Gray (2015)

Twilight is the reason we are plagued with Fifty Shades of Gray.

3. Titanic (1997)

Jack could have fit on that door with Rose.

However, there are other films that are (in my opinion) fantastic films about love, break ups and everything in between. There are way more films that are great representations, but for now, here are few:

1. Annie Hall (1977)

This is a film that shows us opposites attract, but they can certainly lose their magnetism after awhile. Little idiosyncrasies become painful annoyances. The film shows us that although it’s hard to go through relationships, it’s necessary to learn and grow from them, other than dwelling and obsessing over them.

2. (500) Days of Summer (2009)
This film shows us that there are always warning signs in relationships, and we can be so blind to them, only realizing those signs after the relationship.

3. When Harry Met Sally (1989)

It’s true, male and females cannot just be friends. Just ask Harry and Sally.

4. Casablanca (1942)

The ultimate sign of love and the age old statement: “If you love something set it free.”

5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

This film is a priceless example of: if you knew how terrible the ending would be, would you still do it? Do the good times completely outweigh the horrible times?

6. The Princess Bride (1987)

Classic fantasy film that shows us true love conquers all – except for a nice MLT.

9. West Side Story (1961)

This film is classic for all times; that no matter where a person comes from, what they look like and the prejudice they may face – love is always more powerful than hate.

These films show us that people and love are not perfect but, it’s worth the heartache.

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