Sunday, March 31, 2013

How THE SWAN PRINCESS Stands Out from Traditional Disney Princess Movies

DAY 11: A favorite movie from childhood

“The Swan Princess” begins in a traditional storytelling manner: The narrator introduces us to the main characters in a once-upon-a-time format.  The rest of the movie appears to be a Disney princess movie at first glance but it’s not.  “The Swan Princess” is not even a Disney movie – it’s made by Nest Family Entertainment and Rich Animation Studios. 

“The Swan Princess” differs from Disney in the following ways:

The story is actually mainly from Prince Derek’s point of view.  We follow him on his journey to find Princess Odette and we learn that he genuinely cares for her.  Disney princes vary in their role to princesses – some are actively in the story and others are not – but Derek is a different kind of prince.  His purpose in the movie is to find Odette and he does so because he cares for her as a person and he can’t live without her.

Princess Odette is proactive.  She constantly searches for a way out of Rothbart’s spell.  The “No Fear” song adds to this: Odette is not afraid of danger and she’ll risk everything to break the spell.  When she was younger and Derek and Bromley threw tomatoes at her, she threw tomatoes back at them.  Also, after Derek says that “you’re all I ever wanted” and said to arrange the marriage, Odette asked him, “what else?”  Being treated like an object was not all right with her.  She needed to know that he was in love with her and not her kingdom.

Derek is a prince and Odette is a princess.  Their parents want them together to bring their kingdoms together.  Neither Derek nor Odette gains anything significant over each other by marrying and neither loses anything significant (except for the merging of their kingdoms).  They are already equals because they are in the same class.

Odette has purple eyes!  How many people do you know with purple eyes?

Can you think of any more differences?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

17 Reasons Why Pan's Labyrinth Works

Day 10: A Favorite Director: Guillermo del Toro
(minor spoilers of Pan’s Labyrinth included)

Guillermo del Toro made the fantastic Pan’s Labyrinth.  Here’s why the movie works so well: 

1.      The looks:  The moments when a character turns and looks at a space in the distance in a serious way.  These “looks” indicate a moment when a terrible revelation occurs and the look is all about being in that moment with the character.

2.      The stoic, unbending Captain Vidal.  This is a man who is merciless, unforgiving, and has no concern for anyone but himself.  He is incredibly meticulous and lives to remain in charge. 

3.      Mercedes is a strong character.  She is placed in a subservient position as the servant of the Captain’s household and is a woman.  She refuses to allow her status to dictate her life and is the person the Captain depends on for running his home while she brings food and medicine to the rebels hiding in the hills, waiting to strike against the Captain.

4.      The rebels fight back against the dictator-like Captain.  These are people who are willing to risk their lives for a better future.

5.      Haunting lullaby: The humming is mystical, mysterious, soothing, and has a sense that it is waiting for something awful to happen.

6.      The faun: He actually grows younger throughout the movie.  At first meeting he is grown into the walls of the labyrinth and shakes free to greet Ofelia.  His movements progress from slow to quicker, like he became young again.  He also looks younger as the movie goes on.

7.      Complex characters: Every character lives for different reasons and acts differently in similar situations.  They are all their own persons; they are not easily defined because they are all unique individuals.  The character development for each character progresses at different paces, but every character changes throughout the movie.

8.      Ofelia’s acceptance of the world, but desire to escape it.  She knows that her mother is now pregnant after marrying the Captain and that the Captain is a cruel man who has no consideration or fatherly compassion for Ofelia.  She reads fairy tales to make her life her own.

9.      Contrast of the real and imaginary world – they are both dark and dreary for different reasons.  The imaginary world (fairy tale world) promises hope but gives Ofelia arduous tasks to complete before she can regain her status as Princess Moanna.  The real world has no such hope for Ofelia.

10.  Merging of imaginary world and real world: Both worlds come together by the end combining the hope of the fairy tale world and the reality of the real world.

11.  The doctor’s compassion: he treats one of the rebel’s infected legs and euthanizes a torture victim (per the victim’s request) even though he knows that he could be killed for such treason.

12.  The labyrinth, although the title focuses on it, is not at big of a “main character” as you would assume.  It provides the grim backdrop for the faun’s world.  Although it is an uncertain maze, it is navigable for Ofelia because she has choices there unlike in the real world where the Captain dictates her life.

13.  The knife 3-beat complication:
1.      Mercedes chops onions with a knife in the kitchen and rolls in in her apron for safe-keeping.  She later peels vegetables with the knife. 
2.      When Mercedes is caught by the Captain, she immediately uses her knife and slits his mouth and stabs his body. 
3.      When she is caught by Garces, she uses her knife as a weapon pointing at the men on the horses and then at her throat.

14.  The farmer and son with the rabbit: The Captain brutally murdered the farmer and shot the son because they were hindrances.  He checked their story (they were shooting rabbits for their sick family members) afterwards and felt no remorse for his actions.

15.  The broken watch that the Captain meticulously rewinds is a gift from his father who smashed his watch on a rock when he died so that his son would know the exact time that he died.  The Captain seems to not have any emotional ties to his father except for duty: when the Captain is caught at the end, he wants to give his son a way to remember him by, as his father did for him.

16.  Time period: 1944 Spain is much more exciting than present day.  The clothing, mannerisms, societal roles, and general living is foreign to us now, making us release any inhibitions and believe in the story.

17.  Second chances and redemption – the faun gives Ofelia one more chance to do the third step to prove that she is the long-lost princess.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Princess Bride Quotes

DAY 9 – A Movie You Practically Know the Whole Script Of

“The Princess Bride” is an incredibly quotable movie – which is why I know almost the whole script of it.  The “inconceivable’s” and “as you wish’s” of the movie is what makes it so memorable.

Grandson: A book?
Grandpa: That's right. When I was your age, television was called books. And this is a special book. It was the book my father used to read to me when I was sick, and I used to read it to your father. And today I'm gonna read it to you.
Grandson: Has it got any sports in it?
Grandpa: Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles...
Grandson: Doesn't sound too bad. I'll try to stay awake.
Grandpa: Oh, well, thank you very much, very nice of you. Your vote of confidence is overwhelming.

Having the story-within-a-story heightens the suspense.  At pivotal moments in the story, the grandfather stops reading and we go to the grandson’s bedroom and the grandfather reassures his grandson.  He tells him what will happen, which makes us want to watch the rest of the movie because we want to know what happens next.  If Buttercup is not eaten by eels, then what will happen to her?

Grandpa: She doesn't get eaten by the eels at this time.
Grandson: What?
Grandpa: The eel doesn't get her. I'm explaining to you because you look nervous.
Grandson: I wasn't nervous. Maybe I was a little bit "concerned" but that's not the same thing.

Vizzini is in the process of trying to start a war between two countries, so you would think that he would have some brains behind him.  However, when he engages in a battle of wits with Westley (Man in Black at this point in the movie)…

Man in Black: Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.
Vizzini: Wait till I get going! Now, where was I?
Man in Black: Australia.
Vizzini: Yes, Australia. And you must have suspected I would have known the powder's origin, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
Man in Black: You're just stalling now.
Vizzini: You'd like to think that, wouldn't you? You've beaten my giant, which means you're exceptionally strong, so you could've put the poison in your own goblet, trusting on your strength to save you, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But, you've also bested my Spaniard, which means you must have studied, and in studying you must have learned that man is mortal, so you would have put the poison as far from yourself as possible, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.

 And one last quote for you:

Hello.  My name is Inigo Montoya.  You killed my father.  Prepare to die.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Why the Green Mile Works

DAY 8 – A Movie that Makes You Sad

“The Green Mile” takes an innocent man, falsely accused of murdering two girls when he was trying to save them, and places him on death row.  Tom Hanks plays Paul Edgecomb, a corrections officer who believes in John Coffey’s (played by Michael Clark Duncan) innocence. 

The inmates are all uniquely quirky, adding intrigue to the general atmosphere of Cold Mountain Penitentiary.  Mr. Jingles, the mouse that Del (one of the inmates) kept as a pet, provided a light relief from the long days at the Penitentiary. 

There was not much to do there but wait to die and that waiting feeling pervaded the movie from start to finish.  The climactic moment (I won’t spoil it; although It is amazing how far some people will go for a little bit of revenge - Percy Wetmore, a new guard with a strong temper plays a key role in this part) releases the viewer from waiting, only to watch the ending scene where we learn that Paul is still biding his time until he dies, making him essentially on death row himself.

“The Green Mile” is an incredibly tragic story, but worth the watch.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Why The Polar Express Works

Day 7:  A Movie that Makes You Feel Happy
(Yes, another Christmastime movie following Day 6’s “Elf”)

“The Polar Express” follows a young boy’s journey to the North Pole on a train called….the Polar Express.  The boy doubted Santa Claus’ validity and travels to the North Pole, where he experiences many unexpected surprises, makes new friends, and learns to believe.

Tom Hanks plays the Hero Boy’s father, Conductor, Hobo, Santa Claus, and Narrator in this movie and performs spectacularly in each role.

The musical numbers add to the fantasy of riding a train to meet Santa, but it does not make it a musical.  The hot chocolate sequence makes hot chocolate sound very tasty whenever I watch the waiters dance on tables and pour the steaming drinks.

The reappearing Hobo that hitches a ride on the roof of the Polar Express presents himself as an unlikely authority figure – you never know what the next encounter with him will bring.  He knows how to set up camp and make joe on top of a train, gives the boy advice (seeing is believing), and can ski the Polar Express roof (how amazing is that!).

The sleigh bell is a beautiful reminder of Christmas spirit:  "At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Elf's Originality Transcends Format

Day 6: Comedy

When you watch a movie, sometimes (alright, a lot of the time) you know what’s going to happen.  Depending on the genre, you’ll know if a couple gets together at the end, if someone’s going to die, etc.  This is because of the strict format that movies follow.  The screenplay has the movie divided into specific sections.  When a movie follow this format, but still is inventive and original, it is spectacular.  “Elf” is one of those movies.

“Elf” appeals to all ages and is hilarious to everyone.  It is the realistic portrayal of a man that finds out he is adopted and goes on a journey to find his birth father.  Only the man was raised as an elf, has never left the North Pole, and now experiences New York from an innocent, sugar-loaded viewpoint.

What makes “Elf” so great is that it places Buddy the Elf in unique situations.  We find out what he can excel at and what troubles him.  If the Christmas theme was gone, it would still be a heartwarming story.

And of course, we have two excellent actors from the “The [Insert Name Here] Show” generation.  Bob Newhart from “The Bob Newhart Show” and Ed Asner from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (both shows are fantastic, by the way.  I am a fan of the “The ___ Show” shows).

If you haven’t seen “Elf” yet, you need to.  It is a new Christmas classic, year-round.

Memorable Elf Quotes (more found here)
1.      Buddy: We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup. 
2.      Buddy: What about santa's cookies? I suppose parents eat those too? 
3.      Buddy: [out of breath from chasing Michael] Wow, you're fast. I'm glad I caught up to you. I waited 5 hours for you. Why is your coat so big? So, good news - I saw a dog today. Have you seen a dog? You probably have. How was school? Was it fun? Did you get a lot of homework? Huh? Do you have any friends? Do you have a best friend? Does he have a big coat, too?... 
4.      Gimbel Manager: Why are you smiling like that? 
Buddy: I just like to smile, smiling's my favorite 
5.      Buddy: Francisco! That's fun to say! Francisco... Frannncisco... Franciscooo... 
6.      Nun: But the children love the books! 
7.      Buddy: You sit on a throne of lies! 
8.      Buddy: Actually, I'm a human, but I was raised by elves. 
Carolyn: I'm a human... raised by humans. 
Buddy: Cool. 
9.      Emily: You like sugar, huh? 
Buddy: Is there sugar in syrup? 
Emily: Yes. 
Buddy: Then YES! 
10.  Buddy: I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel.
11.  [reacting to sign saying "World's Best Cup of Coffee"] 
Buddy: You did it! Congratulations! World's best cup of coffee! Great job, everybody! It's great to be here. 
12.  Buddy: The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.
13.  Buddy: I'm a cotton-headed ninny-muggins. 
14.  Buddy: [reading the note he left on the etch-a-sketch] "I'm sorry I ruined your lives, and crammed eleven cookies into the VCR." 
15.  Emily: So, Buddy, how'd you sleep? 
Buddy: Great! I got a full 40 minutes!  

What's your favorite "Elf" quote?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Why Good Will Hunting Works

Day 5:  A favorite drama movie

Before Ben Affleck directed “Argo” and before Matt Damon was Jason Bourne, they wrote and starred in “Good Will Hunting.”  Will Hunting was incredibly intelligent, but did not apply himself.  He worked as a janitor at MIT instead of going to college or finding a viable career.  After solving a difficult math problem at MIT that was meant for the students, Professor Gerald Lambeau took Hunting under his care and attempted to teach him and guide him towards an intellectual path.  Sean Maguire, played by Robin Williams, is a counselor and community college professor that actually places Hunting onto the right path. 

What makes “Good Will Hunting” so great is the classic American dream story.  Will Hunting rises from having no money, no connections, to getting what he wants in life.  He does this, however, in a realistic way.  After being “discovered,” he does not let the attention go to his head.  His best friends have realistic expectations on what life would be for them – they know that they will not have the same opportunities as Will because they are not as smart as him.

Breaking free from a society that expected nothing from him, Will Hunting set himself free.  He realized his potential, not as a mathematician, but as a human being.

Great clip of Chuckie Sullivan (Will Hunting's best friend) telling Will why he's different from himself:

Stay tuned for Day 6: A favorite comedy!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Psycho Shower Scene Not at the End - Why this Works Incredibly Well

Day 4: A favorite horror/suspense movie

When I first watched “Psycho,” I assumed that Janet Leigh was the main character from the promotional pictures.  I knew about the famous shower scene, but I did not know sequentially when it took place – I assumed the shower scene was the climax.  I was wrong for both assumptions.

Why was I wrong?  Because of Hitchcock’s excellent marketing.  He intentionally promoted Janet Leigh as lead actress (which she was, just not in the way that people would think of) and kept details about the film away from the public.  The suspense of “Psycho” began before the audience found their seats in the movie theater.  No interruptions were allowed once they were in the theater, as well.  Posters were placed in movie theaters with Hitchcock gesturing to his watch and saying no admittance after the film started playing.

The face of the police officer face that pulls Marion over is a universal image.  The face’s only distinguishing mark is the dark aviator sunglasses.  The officer could be anyone, transplanting Marion’s fear of being caught onto an intimidating face.

Regardless of whether you knew or suspected that Norman Bates was a…psycho from the beginning, he comes off as a likeable character.  He’s sweet, wants to be helpful, and is lonely.  No one comes by his motel after the new highway was built.  Norman eats candy and plays innkeeper, like an innocent young boy.  Sure, he stuffs birds but what else is he going to do with his free time?  Kill people?  Hmmm...

There are numerous bird references in “Psycho,” and it isn’t even Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”  Marion CRANE, the STUFFED BIRDS in Norman’s office, Norman pointing out that Marion EATS LIKE A BIRD when he offers her a sandwich, and Marion lives in PHOENIX.

Chocolate sauce was used for blood because of the thicker texture.  Yum!

Watch “Psycho” for the suspense-filled story!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

7 Similarities between The Dark Knight and Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl

Day 3: A favorite action/adventure movie

1.  Opening images:
  • Dark Knight: The men in Joker masks, robbing a bank.
  • Pirates: Elizabeth Swann and her father rescue a boy floating away from a burning pirate ship.
  •  Both opening images bring the main person or type of person into play – The Joker and pirates.

2.   Elizabeth Swann and Bruce Wayne live in their father’s houses.

3.  The pirate coin is a symbol of well…pirates.  Batman’s signal is a symbol of…Batman. 

4.  Love interest – Elizabeth and Will, Bruce and Rachel.

5.   Jail Breaks: Will breaks Jack out of jail and The Joker breaks himself out of jail.

6.  Belief in the Wrong Person
  •  Elizabeth believes that Jack knows the secret of how to get off the island because he did so before.  It turns out that he escaped by a lucky chance so Elizabeth gets them rescued, instead of Jack (the great pirate captain).
  • Batman takes the fall for Harvey Dent and the police chase him, believing that Batman is responsible for the people Dent murdered.
7.  Main Character becomes the “Bad Guy.
  • Will chooses to help Captain Jack Sparrow escape a hanging and becomes a pirate.
  • Batman and Jim Gordon believe in Harvey Dent.  When Dent becomes Two-Face, Batman takes the fall.
Can you think of any more similarities?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings: Fantasy Movies, Day 2

Some Thoughts (only pertaining to the movies, not the books): 

Both film series have intensive storylines, but “Harry Potter” is more plot-based, while “The Lord of the Rings” is more action-based.

Both films have a remarkable number of similarities from wizards to swords to the title images.

The running storyline of “The Lord of the Rings” is will Frodo be able to destroy the evil ring? The characters make a pact to protect Frodo, inevitably become separated, and each character must fend for himself (or in small groups). They are reactive – when one thing goes wrong, they must fix it and keep going.

“Harry Potter” is more plot-driven and has complex storylines. The recurring mission to defeat Lord Voldemort appears in every movie, in a different way each time. He does not come onscreen in several movies and even when a big battle with him does not happen in a movie, the underlying tension that he is waiting and getting stronger is still there and in full force.

Each “Harry Potter” movie is a separate story with an overarching story and “The Lord of the Rings” is more of three films continuing the same story. One way this is demonstrated is that there is much more talking and discussing in “Harry Potter.” Conversely, many scenes in “The Lord of the Rings” have no words (you follow the action) and if there are words, they are brief directions, not lengthy discussions.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Why The Matrix Works: Day 1

The Last Movie I Watched
was...The Matrix

What if you lived in a world that is made and organized by someone outside of that world?  Like a computer program?  What if the world outside the world you lived in was the real world?  And what would happen if your mind was freed and you gained access to the real world, found out you were destined for greatness, and had a powerful enemy?

Neo (or Thomas Anderson, as he was known inside the matrix) finds this out.  He discovers that his whole life has, essentially, been a lie.  He was living in a matrix until he woke up to the real world.  People (especially Morpheus, the leader of the rebel group, and Trinity, a member of the group) believe that Neo is “the one,” who will fight the machines that have caused the matrix and get rid of them for good.  Does this happen?  Watch and find out. J

Morpheus: “That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.

Morpheus tells Neo that he is a slave.  Neo had no real choices in his original world, but he searched for a way out without realizing what he was looking for.  Decisions became available to him when Trinity and Morpheus found him and gave him the option of leaving the matrix and joining the real world.

Morpheus: “Do you believe in fate Neo?
Neo: “No.” 

Morpheus: “Why not?” 
Neo: “Because I don't like the idea that I'm not in control of my life.

Neo makes the choice to control his life.  Does this mean the Oracle’s visions into the future are false?  I don’t think so.  She sees what could happen based on people’s choices, even if they haven’t made them yet.  The future changes frequently because the decisions that are made change every day, making fortunetelling something that could also change.  The future is not set.

“The Matrix” is an action-packed movie that delves into philosophical thinking and asks questions like slavery, fate, choices, and what makes a world “real.”  Watch it.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

30 Day Movie Challenge

For the next 30 days I will write about a movie (or several) in each of the following categories:

Day 01 - The last movie you watched
Day 02 - A favorite fantasy movie
Day 03 - A favorite action/adventure movie
Day 04 - A favorite horror/suspense movie
Day 05 - A favorite drama movie
Day 06 - A favorite comedy movie
Day 07 - A movie that makes you happy
Day 08 - A movie that makes you sad
Day 09 - A movie that you know practically the whole script of
Day 10 - Your favorite director
Day 11 - Your favorite movie from your childhood
Day 12 - Your favorite animated movie
Day 13 – A favorite love story
Day 14 – A favorite quote from any movie
Day 15 - Least favorite book adaptation
Day 16 - The last movie you saw in theaters
Day 17 - The best movie you saw during the last year
Day 18 - A movie that disappointed you the most
Day 19 – A favorite actor
Day 20 - A favorite actress
Day 21 - The most overrated movie
Day 22 - The most underrated movie
Day 23 – A favorite character from any movie
Day 24 – A favorite villain
Day 25 – A favorite hero
Day 26 - A movie that is a guilty pleasure
Day 27 – A favorite classic movie
Day 28 – A favorite friendship in a movie
Day 29 - A favorite remake
Day 30 - A least favorite movie

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Why Children of Men Does and Doesn't Work

“Children of Men” has a great premise.  In 2027, humans are infertile.  No one has been born for about twenty years.  The world is dismal, bombings everywhere, and the U.K. is one of the last functioning places on the planet.  So when Theo Faron’s ex-wife Julian Taylor persuades him to get transit papers for Kee, he receives the shock of his life – Kee is pregnant.  Now Theo has to make sure that she gets to safety.

The cinematography is dark and dreary, reflecting off the unhinged world.  The shaky camera movement adds tension.  The style of “Children of Men” can first be seen in parts of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” where it works incredibly well because it is not overdone.  In “Children of Men,” however, there is no break from the darkness and grittiness.  It works and it doesn’t all at the same time because there is no break from it.

The long single-shot sequences work well, capturing pivotal moments in an unblinking time frame. 

The movie is long and drawn-out, which places the audience in the mindset of the people, especially Theo – there is no hope until he has something to live for (getting Kee to safety). 

Good performances by Clive Owen (Theo Faron) and Michael Caine (Jasper Palmer). 

The story itself is where the problems lie.  “Children of Men” is a simple story placed in a complex environment.   I wanted to watch a complex story in that complex environment.  Theo passively lives his life until he actively works to save someone else.  This is a wonderful transformation and the saving grace of the storyline.  The other characters’ interactions are discombobulated and don’t seem to fit in Theo’s life.  Which is why he’s thrown into a new world and the other characters are so different.

How the movie is made makes sense and it works, but I wanted more from it.

What did you think of "Children of Men?"

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Why Les Miserables Works

Les Misérables is a stunning musical movie.  A man who stole a loaf of bread went to prison for nineteen years, is finally released, and this is only where the story begins.

What Works
  • Excellent singing/acting from Eponine (Samantha Barks), Marius (Eddie Redmayne), Enjolras (Aaron Tveit), and Gavroche (Daniel Huttlestone).
  • Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen were excellent character actors as Madame Thenardier and Thenardier.
  • The epic story of redemption and love.
  • The ending was the best part.  It brought everyone together and reaffirmed the themes of love and redemption.

What Didn’t Work
  • The first hour was a long introduction before the story started rolling.  After that initial part everything went smoothly.
  • The close-ups didn’t do the actors any favors.  The fixation on their faces felt abnormal.
  • I had no problem with the live-singing technique, but it did highlight the singing ability of the people involved.  Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway are actors who sing.  While this is the movie version of “Les Misérables,” it is a musical.  They performed decently, but the stand-out performances came from Samantha Barks and Eddie Redmayne – singers. 

The complex, emotional movie is a must see.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Why "Safe Haven" Works

“Safe Haven” is a forgettable, but charming, romance.  It follows the format of other films based off Nicholas Sparks books – simple, sweet, and with a canoe on a lake getting caught in the rain.

What Works
-          Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel are likeable leads and work well together.
-          Love the setting of the small beach town.

What Doesn’t Work
-          The first ten minutes is a montage of sequences that do not show us enough information at one time for us to actually know what is going on.  This is intended to create suspense, but I think the suspense would have been heightened, and certainly more effective, if the major events had been shown in the beginning and the flashbacks lessened as the movie went on.  This is opposite of what the movie actually does.  I would have had the major event in the first fifteen minutes and then showed minor details as the movie progressed, especially considering that there was another major revelation at the end.

What Sort of Works
-          For being abused for so long, Erin (or Katie, as she first calls herself) overcomes it quite quickly.  She seems to have adjusted extremely well.  Perhaps this is a long time coming and she has empowered herself enough that when she escaped, she was able to become confident in herself.  She does startles easily, particularly in the beginning, but soon relaxes.  It’s great that she was able to do this, but I question the easy process.  It must be that she is finally able to be herself after so long that makes her overcome her abuse.

There are better and more intriguing romance movies, but this one is a nice escape if you can’t find anything else. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Why "The Impossible" Works

“The Impossible” is about an impossible situation.  Imagine spending Christmas vacation in Thailand with your family (mom, dad, and three sons).  It’s the perfect place for relaxation with a beautiful hotel, the beach, ping-pong tables, and palm trees.  But in the matter of seconds your world changes – a tsunami hits and there is no way to escape it.  This film, based on a real family, shows the events leading up to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and what unfolds afterwards.

What Works

-          Excellent acting from all the actors – especially from Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, and Tom Holland.

-          There is an ominous undertone from the very beginning.  You know a tsunami will hit, but you don’t know when.  The suspense is high.

-          Your heart will be pounding for the entire tsunami sequence.  It is incredibly realistic from the waves, water, sounds, makeup (the leg), and the power of the ocean.  It is crazy to watch

-          The stressful reality of being separated from your family and not knowing when (or if) you will be reunited.

-          The kindness of strangers.  Everyone in the same terrible situation coming together to help each other out.

-          The ending – I won’t spoil it, but it makes you think of all the other people caught in the tsunami.

An intense film, “The Impossible” will have you gripping the edge of your seat from start to finish.  The horrific situation, suspense, and action were backed up by director J.A. Bayona’s prior experience in horror filmmaking.

I recommend watching this on a full stomach.  But definitely see it.
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