Tag Archives: Ellen Page

Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men_Days_of_Future_Past_Poster2Sentinels, good, bad, future, past, who cares? This movie needs more Quicksilver!

The year is 2023 and the world is in ruins thanks to the mutant-hunting machines known as the Sentinels. You’d think Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), Bishop (Omar Sy), Colossus (Daniel Cudmore), Blink (Bingbing Fan), Warpath (Booboo Stewart) and Sunspot (Adan Canto) would make an unbeatable team, but back in 1973, Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) fit his Sentinels with Raven/Mystique’s (Jennifer Lawrence) DNA, so now they’re able to adapt to anything, essentially making them immune to mutant-powered attacks. With the Sentinels closing in fast, the only chance the surviving X-Men have is to send Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to stop Trask from ever getting his hands on Raven’s DNA in the first place.

“X-Men: Days of Future Past” opens exceptionally well with the aforementioned team of mutants going head-to-head with a group of Sentinels. Not only does the sequence have the benefit of rocking the thrill that comes with bringing back X-Men favorites and uniting them with a few new players, but the action itself is remarkable. The fire, ice and purple portals pop right off the bleak background, the combat is tense, exhilarating and also builds character through mid-fight decisions and reactions before ultimately culminating in a string of moments that proves that in just a few minutes, you’ve come to care about all of these characters. Unfortunately, we don’t get much of that last element through the rest of the film.

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Review: The East

The-East-PosterThoughtful and slick, “The East” functions both as a highly engaging and riveting thriller, and also something that’s deeply conflicting, forcing you to juggle all angles of the scenario while the film is rolling and long after, too.

Sarah Moss (Brit Marling) left the FBI and is now a new recruit at Hiller Brood, a private intelligence firm dedicated to protecting some of the biggest corporations in the country. Sarah is hand selected by her boss, Sharon (Patricia Clarkson), to infiltrate an anarchist group known as The East in an effort to stop them from sabotaging the Hiller Brood clientele. At first, Sarah is determined to do the best she can to impress Sharon and jumpstart a successful new career, but after infiltrating The East and spending a significant amount of time with its members, she can’t help but to recognize that stopping them outright might not be the answer.

Like its promotional campaign, “The East” reels you in right from the start via a viral message from the group. In mere minutes the film manages to both relay The East’s motives and goals, and captivate the viewer, making for the ideal transition into the meat of the story.

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8 Great … Kids Behaving Violently

We’re about to see kids killing kids and the world loves it. There’s certainly a lot more to The Hunger Games than violence, namely honest relationships and exploring the effects of excessive government control, but hey — it’s a movie about 24 teens fighting for their lives in a televised battle to the death. So let’s have some fun with the idea of seeing a group of kids arming up in hopes of taking each other out by looking back at some of the most ruthless little ones cinema has to offer.

Hit Girl – Kick-Ass

I wouldn’t say violent children ever really went away, but Kick-Ass’ Hit Girl certainly made them cool again. This pint-sized superhero is as vicious as they come, showing no mercy, slicing off a guy’s leg, reloading her guns on the fly to take out a room full of Frank D’Amico’s henchmen and, my personal favorite, forcing someone to somewhat self-inflict a gunshot to the head via a knife rope.

To top it all off, Hit Girl makes her kills that much more memorable, dishing out obscene dialogue, like telling Kick-Ass that in order to get in touch with her “You just contact the mayor’s office. He has a special signal he shines in the sky; it’s in the shape of a giant c*ck … ” and many other lines not at all appropriate to reprint.

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Review: Super

I’m all for bizarre and outlandish comedy. When Napoleon Dynamite hit back in 2004, I fell in love. The difference between that film and James Gunn’s Super? Whereas Napoleon Dynamite was innocent silliness, Super is insulting madness. Perhaps the films would be comparable had Napoleon’s Liger jumped off the page and mauled Pedro to death.

Super stars Rainn Wilson as Frank, a lame loser who happened to get lucky in the romance department and marry Liv Tyler’s character, Sarah. Sure enough, Frank’s luck runs dry and Sarah’s drug addiction creeps back into the picture along with a sleazy dealer name Jacques (Kevin Bacon). When Sarah leaves him for Jacques, Frank breaks down. He wants to get her back, but has no chance with Jacques and his goons in his way. Frank comes to the conclusion that the only way he can fight back is as someone else, as a super hero and so the Crimson Bolt is born.

When the Crimson Bolt isn’t plotting against Jacques, he’s fighting a variety of crimes ranging from child molestation to “line butting.” His weapon of choice is a massive wrench and rarely thinks twice before using it regardless of the severity of the offense. Eventually a local comic book store employee, Libby (Ellen Page), connects the dots and pegs Frank as the Crimson Bolt. Rather than reveal his secret identity, she begs to join him in his fight against crime as his sidekick, Boltie. Frank reluctantly accepts the offer and together, they forge ahead with Frank’s primary mission, to get his wife back.

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Review: Inception

Why do we dream? Does anyone really know for sure? Probably not, but writer-director Christopher Nolan takes a stab at breaking down the structure of a dream and the influence of the subconscious in Inception. There’s nothing more perplexing than the unknown and Nolan uses that to his advantage. It’s one thing to simply make up a story about a theoretical concept, but it’s another to come up with a scenario and actually make it feel real and that’s exactly what he achieves in Inception. It may be Nolan’s dream world, but it’s so exciting, so disturbing and seems so authentic, you might start to wonder.

Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an extractor. He’s employed to sneak into people’s dreams and steal their secrets. Turns out the gig comes with some serious baggage and Cobb wants out, but the only way he can safely return home is by completing one last job for a businessman named Saito (Ken Watanabe). The problem is, Saito doesn’t want Cobb to snatch someone’s secret information, he wants him to do the unthinkable, plant an idea in a subject’s mind – inception.

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It’s Time To Grow Up: Books To Read Before Seeing The Movies

I hated reading in high school. In fact, I don’t think I ever read a book assigned in its entirety. It wasn’t that I was rebelling against being forced to read a particular book; I was a good student and almost always did what I was told. I could have picked up a book in my spare time, but I had better things to do. It wasn’t until I had nothing better to do with my free time, that I gave reading a chance.

My first job after graduating from college was a News Assistant at NY1 News. Being a News Assistant is an extremely physically demand job – I’m a small girl who was carrying 60 lbs. in camera equipment ten hours a day – but there’s also a ton of down time. One day, I waited over four hours for a perpetrator to be escorted from a prison to a waiting car. (Yes, capturing a perp walk is that important in local news.) I was desperate for entertainment and that desperation was sated by the medium I despised most, books.

I didn’t do a complete turnaround and become an avid reader. There’s one rule to my book selection process: the book must be in the process of being adapted to film or optioned for adaption. Clearly my passion is film. Combine the entertainment of reading a book with a passion and you get the ultimate source of pleasure. Even beyond the immediacy of the entertainment derived from reading, having read a book before seeing the film adaption is one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever experienced.

The whole process is fascinating; to see who’s cast, what they look like in full costume, seeing the story unfold on screen, even assessing what portions of the book are translated and what parts are removed. When you read a book without accompanied imagery, you’re creating a world using your imagination. Yes, a good author will provide a detailed narrative so the reader can properly assemble the environment the writer strives to convey, but every reader’s world differs to a point. Then, when you see that world come to life on film, the wheels in your mind spin nearly out of control. You’re not just a spectator; you’re part of the film. It’s not just the author’s story being brought to life, it’s yours too.

Most of you will get this experience when you check out Where the Wild Things Are on October 16th, but there’s a whole bunch of movies coming out soon that find their origins in fantastic books. Here are a few you might want to read before seeing the movie.

ShutterIslandCoverShutter Island
I currently have a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to Shutter Island. Not that I don’t expect the film to be any good, I’m just bitter that I have to wait so long to see it. The film adaption of Dennis Lehane’s novel was due to hit theaters this month, but recently was pushed back to a February 2010 release. Maybe I’ll just have to read the book again. It’s about two U.S. Deputy Marshals, Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule, who are sent to Shutter Island to investigate a missing persons case. This isn’t just any missing person; Rachel Solando is a patient at Shutter Island’s Ashecliffe Psychiatric Hospital, home of the criminally insane. This book makes your head spin so much you’ll feel like an Ashecliffe patient yourself.
(In Theaters February 19th, 2010)

DerbyGirlCover
Derby Girl
You’re probably more familiar with the name of the feature film version of this book, Whip It. The book is about a young girl named Bliss Cavendar who’d rather get rowdy on the roller derby track than participate in beauty pageants. Knowing her parents will not approve of her new hobby, Bliss sneaks off to the Doll House to kick some ass as Babe Ruthless of the Hurl Scouts. The character Bliss screams Ellen Page. Think a non-pregnant Juno with athleticism. A fun side note, the author of Derby Girl, Shauna Cross, is a member of the Los Angeles Derby Dolls roller derby league. She also wrote the screenplay for Whip It. The movie already hit theaters, but Derby Girl is a quick read and still worth checking out post-film.
(In Theaters October 2nd, 2009)

UpInTheAirCoverUp In The Air
With all of the Oscar buzz surrounding Up In The Air, reading the Walter Kim novel the film is based on is a must. George Clooney plays the lead character, Ryan Bingham, a guy who travels the country working as a career transition counselor. Simply put, he flies around the country firing people. Ryan’s somber line of work and lack of a social life are of no concern to him. He has something much more important to worry about, earning one million frequent flyer miles. After reading the book it was very hard to imagine it being successfully translated to film. It has a plot, but it doesn’t seem strong enough to drive a feature length film. I guess when you have Jason Reitman behind the lens and George Clooney in front of it, anything is possible.
(Limited Release on December 4th, 2009. Opens Wide on December 25th, 2009)

TheLovelyBonesCoverThe Lovely Bones
Alice Sebold’s novel The Lovely Bones is one of the most moving pieces of literature I’ve ever read. By the time you finish it, you’ll have gone through an incredible range of emotions. It’s about a young girl named Susie Salmon who’s brutally murdered on her way home from school. From there we see her watch over her family from heaven and how her passing changes their lives. While the book may be perfect for film, it’s also a very temperamental piece. Depicting heaven on the big screen can go one of two ways; it can be completely rejected or wholeheartedly embraced. Based on the trailer and early buzz about the film, Peter Jackson will not disappoint. On the other hand, I can’t say the same for Mark Wahlbeg. Thanks to his performance in The Happening and Andy Samberg’s portrayal of him on Saturday Night Live, it’ll be difficult to take his performance seriously.
(Limited Release on December 11th, 2009. Opens Wide on January 15th, 2010)

TwelveCoverTwelve
Now this is a film that deserves much more attention than it’s been getting. Not only does Twelve have a fantastic cast, but the book that it’s based on is phenomenal. It was written by Nick McDonell when he was just 17-years-old. It’s about a bunch of kids, mostly wealthy, living in Manhattan and the impact drugs, sex and violence have on their lives. Chace Crawford will play the main character, White Mike, an extremely bright student known for selling the best marijuana money can buy but never indulging in any alcohol or drugs himself. I certainly wasn’t picturing White Mike to be as pretty as Crawford, but I’ll sacrifice my imagination to be able to look at Crawford for a couple of hours. Another unusual casting choice is Rory Culkin. I think he’s a fantastic actor, but for obvious reasons, I just don’t see him playing a tall basketball player. Anyway, the best part of the book is the climax. You become so absorbed with the characters that when that grand ending comes you’ll be in a serious state of shock. Seriously.
(In Theaters 2010)

YouthInRevoltCoverYouth In Revolt
If you read any of these books before seeing their film counterparts, Youth In Revolt by C.D. Payne should be the one. A movie with a cast including Michael Cera, Justin Long, Zach Galifianakis, Ray Liotta and Steve Buscemi sounds like a guaranteed success, but it can also turn the tale from a humorous yet meaningful coming-of-age story into a comedic absurdity. Cera plays Nick Twisp, a kid who takes teenage rebellion to the extreme. He starts out as a guy who isn’t thrilled with the parents he’s been given and turns into a wrecking crew when his love for a girl he meets on a family trip drives him insane. With the help of his alter ego, Francois Dillinger, Nick is willing to do just about anything to win Sheeni’s heart. Removing portions of a lengthy book to turn it into a movie is necessary but can be detrimental. Taking out particular parts of Youth in Revolt can easily strip the story of its warmth and turn it into any old teen comedy.
(In Theaters January 15th, 2010)

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