Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Photo and Bible Verse

I took this about a year ago. It seems fitting for today because it's snowing! Winter has arrived. -Kyle
Matthew 6: 19-20 NLT

"Don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal."

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Review

As much as I hate to say it, the second of four films in The Hunger Games book trilogy was pretty darn good.

I was far from a fan of the first movie, but Catching Fire has made me care about this series. I honestly may go see it again.

The film's pacing is one of its strongest attributes. The movie has no slow parts and the story's action never stops rising.

When the movie tries to be funny, it's funny. When the movie tries to be dramatic, it's dramatic. And the fighting is finally well shot. No more nauseating shaky cam.

My only complaint is that there are multiple scenes during 'the games' that are shot at night. I'm just guessing, but I assume that they did this so they didn't have to make the special effects so detailed and so the violence wasn't so violent. I've seen other movies do this but none have done it so well. At least the scenes are shot well and the reason for it being night makes perfect sense.

Not having read the books, this movie is still a great stand alone flick, unlike the first Hunger Games in my opinion.

3.5/4 stars


Movie Review: Being John Malkovich

Nothing seems to be new anymore. These days all books, T.V. shows, and movies all seem to be the same; they all have the same basic story structure. They are all a shadow of something else, an all too familiar echo of an old sound. Half way through any movie, I bet you can predict its conclusion with a 99% degree of accuracy. We know that the good guy will defeat the bad guy in the end. We know that the guy will win the heart of his beloved with an impassioned speech about love. We know that the guy will rescue the girl in the nick of time.

By the way, what's up with women being so efficient at getting themselves captured and needing rescuing? I mean, just who do they think they are? I was planning on guzzling some Bud Lights today and watching Sports Center. I don't have time to rescue damsels. Heck, I currently can't locate my pants. Do you really want me to slay a dragon?

All jokes are the same too.

How did this come about? When did things become so stale? Is it because we, as an audience, are intolerant of unhappy endings? Or perhaps mankind's well of creativity has simply run dry. I mean, given the number of people who have lived on this Earth and bothered to think about things from time to time, is it any wonder that mankind may no longer have an original thought pop into his head ever again?

Ah, but then there comes along a movie like Being John Malkovich that is unlike any movie you've seen before. It's like a breath of fresh air in a smog of sameness. Here's a movie that's not only extremely witty, but is also extremely intelligent.

Being John Malkovich is movie that is so offbeat it's a little difficult to describe. It is about a man, Craig (played by John Cusack) who works at an office that is located between the 7th and 8th floor of a skyscraper. This makes the total height of the office somewhere around 4 to 5 feet, causing everyone to squat down and stoop around the office. Here, Craig meets a secretary who acts like he speaks nothing but gibberish and an exotic woman who desires to be worshiped. He eventually discovers a small portal hidden in the office that sucks you in and allows you to experience the world from the eyes of actor John Malkovich for 15 minutes at a time.

This movie is a comedy and what's unusual about this comedy is that it has both laughs and depth. Most comedies only go for laughter. While the movie's themes of manipulation, identity, and celebrity are nothing new, the way in which it approaches these themes is unique. I particularly like how the film suggests that some of us are only comfortable when our identity is completely hidden. The film also questions how much of our day to day lifes involve pulling the strings of others, or having our own strings pulled.

This is a surreal movie, and is one not to be missed.

Rating: 3.5/4 Stars


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Movie Review: The Girl Who Played With Fire

The second installment in the Millennium Trilogy, The Girl Who Played with Fire, continues the crazy story of Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This is the Swedish version of the movie that is, as of now, still available steaming on Netflix, as is the other two Swedish versions of the series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

I watched this movie because I was curious how the story of Lisbeth Salander progressed. To be honest I wasn't particularly fond of either the Swedish or American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The American version upon release was highly acclaimed, and is generally considered to be the better film. I would agree with that. The movie certainly has great cinematography, acting, and production value. Overall, Rooney Mara plays a more expressive (and arguably better) version of Lisbeth, but I find Noomi Rapace brings a little more "toughness" to the role, making it more believable that she can hold her own. Noomi seems to have grown more comfortable as Lisbeth in this movie.

Despite what I've just typed, my beef with both films is that they're both pretty typical and predictable. We've all seen too many of those murder-thriller movies where the bad guy pontificates on and on about his masterful evil plan to the tied-to-a-chair good guy until, it turns out, he's spoken too long and another good guy comes along to save the day. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo didn't add anything new to this tiresome formula, even though it's suppose to with an edgy female protagonist. The problem with Lisbeth is that she's arguably the biggest cliche of a character the universe has ever seen. She's not suppose to be, she's suppose to be "different." Seriously though, if you told a bunch of different people to make up a character who was "a bad girl," I bet you most of them would come up with a character like Lisbeth. Everyone would think "Umm ... okay ... let's see... someone different...Oh! I know! She's got to be dark! Yeah! Like, she's just all broody and stuff! Like, she has to have had bad stuff happen to her. Yeah, that's good. Oh! And she has to have piercings! Heck yeah! Lots, and lots, of piercings! And tattoos! What kind of bad girl doesn't have tattoos? Amirite fellows? Yeah! And she's got to be bisexual, because all "bad girls" are bisexuals. Yeah! And she to have crazy hacker/ninja skills because, hells bells, that's awesome!"

The Girl Who Played with Fire falls into the same pit traps. It's predictable and cliche, but the problem is this movie is even worse than the first. It's soooo slow in sections I contemplated about stopping and going to bed. 

This movie differs from the first in that it focuses on Lisbeth's past, particularly her relationship with her father. The first movie dealt with Lisbeth and Mikael working as detective duos, but here they do their detective work separately.

Oh, and the movie ends on a massive cliff hanger, which is just infuriating.

If you're on the fence about seeing this movie I would recommend skipping it. Wait for the American version if you have to see it. Though I believe there's been some scheduling issues between Daniel Craig and Rooney, so it may be a while before an American version is made, if ever.

Rating: 2/4 stars