My Thoughts on: Terminal (2018)

If you watch enough films, you’ll realize that there are some films that cannot be explained; they have to be experienced. After last night, I’m convinced that Terminal is one of those films. The film can best be described as an extremely twisted take on Alice in Wonderland (as the film is permeated throughout with references to the book). Terminal is mostly set in a train station late at night and follows a mysterious woman named Annie (Margot Robbie); a dying English teacher (Simon Pegg); two contract killers (Dexter Fletcher and Max Irons); and the peculiar cleaner that works at the station (Mike Meyers) as their paths converge in unexpected ways.

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One undeniable positive about Terminal is that it looks amazing from start to finish. Based on the noir style, the scenes contain vibrant pops of color set against dark backgrounds (my particular favorite is Annie’s bright red coat). There’s also a wonderful use of neon lighting. On the other hand, I spent most of the film watching this beautiful display of color and wondering what on Earth I was watching. The film’s biggest weakness is it takes a very long time to connect the dots and reveal how these characters are all connected. Now, that being said, once the film does reach this point, things begin to make sense very quickly.

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The final twenty minutes of the film are where things really get crazy (and that’s saying something in a film that’s full of crazy moments). Several twists are revealed in succession, from the expected (I pegged one twist about halfway through the film) to the “oh my god I did not see that coming.” In fact there are so many reveals at the end that it’s almost like watching a mini-movie separate from everything that just happened. There was probably a more straightforward way to incorporate these last twists but I can’t complain too loudly because the film made sure to cover every loose end.

If you’re willing to wait for the payoff, Terminal is a very enjoyable film. It’s not perfect by any means, but the flaws aren’t big enough to ruin the experience. If you’ve seen Terminal, what did you think about it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

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My Thoughts on: The Meg (2018)

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When I first saw the trailer for The Meg, I thought one of two things would happen if I saw this movie. One, I would be scared out of my mind or two, I’d be laughing like crazy because of the ridiculous material. It promised to be a semi-interesting film at any rate, as it featured the oft-visited  science fiction scenario of a prehistoric Megalodon wreaking havoc in the modern world. Well, having returned from seeing The Meg, I wish I could say the film did one or the other, or was even a combination of both.

But I can’t.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some good elements to The Meg. There are some gorgeous underwater scenes showing life in the Mariana Trench and a shot of a shark cage appearing very small in the vast ocean. Actually, the film even starts with a semi-plausible scenario that sets up how a Megalodon could have survived all these years in the modern ocean. And in terms of the cast, Jason Statham does an admirable job with the material he’s given. In fact, the show is almost completely stolen by child actor Shuya Sophia Cai. However, despite these good qualities, I can’t overlook the messier aspects of the story.

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The big problem with The Meg is, it doesn’t seem to know what sort of film it should be. At times it feels like a dark comedy, with any tension relieved by humorous quips (including a Finding Nemo reference). And yet there are also moments where it seems the filmmakers were trying to emulate the terror of Jaws or the scarier aspects of Deep Blue Sea (which might not be the best example but I got strong reminders of that film in particular). If the film had just committed one way or another, The Meg would have been a comfortably enjoyable B-film. Unfortunately it just didn’t work out that way.

And those are my thoughts on The Meg. What do you think of this film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

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My thoughts on: Sunshine (2007)

Sunshine is a notable science fiction film for several reasons. For one, it has one of the best scores you will ever hear in the genre (it even gives Interstellar a run for its money). For two, it’s actually built on a fairly realistic premise; like Discovery in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Icarus II is a believable-looking ship with plausible technology onboard. Unfortunately, the third thing that makes it notable is that the entire plot goes to pieces in the last act (more on that in a little bit).

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The plot of Sunshine takes place in 2057 and centers on a plot to restart the sun after it begins to die, slowly freezing the Earth in the process. The plan is to launch a massive nuclear bomb into the Sun with the goal of bringing the star back to life. The Icarus II is the Earth’s last chance, as the Icarus I mysteriously disappeared seven years earlier. Predictably, the second Icarus discovers the first Icarus and things become weird once they link up with the other ship.

The fact that the ships are called Icarus should be a pretty big clue that things are going to end badly for the crew. In Greek mythology, Icarus was the sun of the inventor Daedalus, who could build all kinds of amazing things. In order to escape captivity, Daedalus built two sets of wings using feathers and wax. While flying away, Icarus flew too close to the sun causing the wings to fall apart and Icarus fell to his death.

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Just like in the myth, the Icarus ship gets right up to the sun and in the end, everyone dies. But it’s how the story gets to that point that bothers me. The thing is, up until the last act begins, Sunshine is a fantastic science fiction film with no real problems to speak of (it even includes Chris Evans in a pre-Captain America appearance). But when the film addresses what happened to the crew of the Icarus I…that’s where things go sideways in a hurry. In a matter of minutes, Sunshine goes from a reasonable sci-fi story to a slasher horror film where a mysterious killer picks off the crew one by one (the ones who don’t die by the killer’s hand perish due to a number of reasons, the most gruesome being exposure to the vacuum of space). I could almost forgive this sudden shift in the film were it not for the fact that it comes almost completely out of left field. There’s a small piece of footage early in the film that hints at a problem, but no real indication that the plot will go in this direction. It’s almost like the writers hit upon a great concept but weren’t able to come up with a satisfactory ending so they copped out and went the sci-fi/horror route. And this is why I will always say Sunshine is a good film that could’ve been great.

Despite its less than perfect ending, I still recommend Sunshine to anyone who hasn’t seen it before. Trust me when I say the music will blow you away. The cast also does an admirable job with what they have to work with.

What do you think of Sunshine? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

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My Thoughts on: The Hollow Crown ‘Richard II’ (2012)

There are many film adaptations of Shakespeare that I enjoy, but my favorite would have to be The Hollow Crown, a BBC production of Shakespeare’s second tetralogy of history plays. The story begins with the reign and downfall of Richard II (grandson of Edward III) and concludes with the reign of Henry V as he attempts to conquer France. The series features an all-star cast and is a must see for fans of Shakespeare’s history plays.

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Richard II stars Ben Whishaw (the new Q in the James Bond films) as the titular king in the last few years of his reign. Richard, in my opinion, believes that he is a good king, but his actions are so ruled by his whims that it eventually drives the kingdom into rebellion against him. This rebellion is led by his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke (Rory Kinnear), the future Henry IV, who is incensed that, after his father John of Gaunt (Patrick Stewart) died, King Richard ransacked his estate to pay for a war in Ireland. Henry returns from exile ostensibly to claim his birthright as Duke of Lancaster, but it quickly turns into an outright war for the throne of England itself. Stewart’s role as John of Gaunt (a younger son of Edward III) is well-played but ends rather quickly. It’s a shame, because it’s a pleasure to see Patrick Stewart performing Shakespeare.

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The contrast between Whishaw’s Richard and Kinnear’s Henry could not be more striking. Richard is presented as preening, elegant, almost effeminate. For most of the play he wears immaculate white robes, and on the one occasion that he does wear armor, it’s gold-plated (not exactly practical for fighting). Henry, by contrast, is burly and muscular, not afraid to get dirty if the job requires it. It is emphasized that Henry does not want to hurt Richard (who is his cousin after all), but is only doing what he believes is best for the kingdom. In the course of a monologue, Richard finally concedes the crown to his cousin and Henry is crowned Henry IV of England.

There are several liberties taken with the depiction of certain characters, most notably with Richard’s queen. Presented here as a grown woman, in truth she was only 10 years old at the time of Richard’s death (they got married when she was 7). There is also an appearance by David Bradley (Walder Frey in Game of Thrones) in the small role of a gardener.

In conclusion, Richard II is a good start to The Hollow Crown, one that I highly recommend. If you’ve seen Richard II, what did you think about it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day 🙂

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My thoughts on: The Merchant of Venice (2004)

When you hear about Shakespeare being adapted to film, you generally think of three plays: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Macbeth. And to be fair, there have been several outstanding film adaptations of all three plays over the years. But allow me to draw your attention to one of Shakespeare’s comedies that was brought to the big screen in 2004: The Merchant of Venice.

The story is lesser known today compared to some of the other plays (this is the first time the play has ever been adapted specifically for film) but the story is no less powerful. Bassanio (Joseph Fiennes) is an impoverished nobleman in love with the wealthy Portia (Lynn Collins). Portia is bound by her late father’s will to marry whoever chooses which of three caskets contains her picture. To get the money necessary to woo her, Bassanio uses the credit of his friend Antonio (Jeremy Irons) to borrow money from the Jewish moneylender Shylock (Al Pacino). Shylock is one of Shakespeare’s great villains and in this film he is played to perfection by Pacino as not only a villain, but also a tragic figure.

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The first part of the film revolves around Bassanio as he plans to woo Portia and several suitors who attempt to win the heiress for themselves only to choose the wrong casket. As this is a comedy, naturally when Bassanio arrives he chooses the correctly and Portia is his. It all seems too easy, but I think it’s meant to be that way to provide the audience with some happy, romantic moments before the drama unfolds. The latter part of the film deals with Antonio’s trial before the Duke of Venice. When Shylock lent the money to Bassanio, it was under the condition that, if Antonio could not pay it back, he would have to give up a pound of his flesh in recompense (hence the phrase “He took his pound of flesh.”) I don’t think Shylock actually intended to follow through…at first. But after his daughter Jessica (Zuleikha Robinson) runs away to elope with Lorenzo (Charlie Cox), the moneylender has turned very bitter and is determined to have revenge on Antonio no matter the cost.

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Al Pacino really brings his acting skills to bear in the trial scene, where he (as Shylock) persists in demanding the letter of the law be fulfilled, even when Bassanio returns with twice the money necessary to repay the loan. Shylock firmly believes that the law is on his side (even if his actions are morally reprehensible). Underneath his bitterness however, you can see that Shylock is deeply hurt that his daughter has left him. Unable to accept that his daughter is happy with a Christian man, Shylock firmly sticks to his demand of a pound of flesh from Antonio (I have to point out that Jeremy Irons delivers an excellent performance in this scene as a man who is trying very hard to steel himself for the inevitable but who deep down is terrified of the painful manner in which he will die).

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As this is a comedy, the story ends well for everyone except Shylock. Due to a careful reading of the law, not only does he not get his pound of flesh, but he also loses his wealth and his place in the Jewish community. Despite being the nominal villain of the story, you can’t help but feel bad for Shylock at the end. He pursued vengeance and lost everything in the process.

The film uses Shakespeare’s flowery language but please don’t let that put you off. The play contains two of the best monologues ever written (“The quality of mercy” during the trial scene and “Hath not a Jew eyes?”) and if you give the story a chance I believe you’ll fall in love with the story as I have. I also want to highlight the music of the film, there are several examples of late Renaissance music throughout the film, with lutes, guitars and singing. I really hope you give this film a try, you won’t regret it.

And those are my thoughts on The Merchant of Venice. If you’ve seen it, what did you think of the film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

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My Thoughts on: Sailor Moon Super S: The Movie (1995)

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This weekend I got to see the third and final Sailor Moon movie, Sailor Moon Super S along with the animated short “Ami’s First Love.” This…slightly strange short follows Ami/Sailor Mercury as she studies for her high school entrance examinations. Ami becomes obsessed when another student (known only as “Mercurius”) consistently earns the same score as her. It’s mostly cute, but it turns weird when a spirit decides to possess Ami and she thinks the spirit is Mercurius. Still, it’s cool to see a new Sailor Moon short.

Sailor Moon Super S focuses slightly more on Chibi-usa than the other two films. The relationship between Chibi-usa and Usage has always intrigued me; Chibi-usa is Usagi’s daughter from the distant future yet they behave more like siblings when they’re together (I know Usagi is only a teenager right now, but if I knew I was with my future daughter I’m pretty sure it would affect my behavior). At any rate…the plot of Super S reveals that children all over the world are disappearing. In fact they’re being lured away by flute-playing fairies onto large airships that bear them away to parts unknown. Meanwhile, Chibi-usa meets a strange boy named Pearl (who is also a fairy) and the two bond.

When the mysterious fairies come to Tokyo, Chibi-usa is one of the children lured away, drawing the attention of Usagi and the other sailor guardians. A fight ensues, but Chibi-usa is forcibly taken away and the rest of the story is devoted to rescuing her from Marzipan Castle (where the other children have been taken).

I enjoyed this film, but not quite as much as the first two. I’m not sure if it was because of the candy-themed villains or something else, but I couldn’t get into the story as much (though it’s always fun to watch the guardians transform and do their attacks). There’s still plenty of humor to be found, including a moment where Sailor Moon and Sailor Chibi Moon both awkwardly fall to Earth after the magic of the Legendary Silver Crystal wears off. I’d also like to think that Pearl and Chibi-usa meet again in the future (they’re clearly quite taken with each other).

And those are my thoughts on Sailor Moon Super S. What did you think of this film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great evening!

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Thoughts on Sailor Moon R: The Movie

My thoughts on: Sailor Moon S

Animated Film Reviews

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My thoughts on: Sailor Moon S: The Movie (1994)

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Last weekend was a lot of fun because I got to spend part of Saturday afternoon watching a Sailor Moon double feature (something I never thought I’d get to say if I’m honest). The theater was showing Sailor Moon R and Sailor Moon S back to back (with Sailor Moon Super S coming this weekend). While I got to see Sailor Moon R for the first time last winter, this was my first time watching Sailor Moon S and I really enjoyed it.

Sailor Moon S is set during the winter break when Usagi and all of her friends are on vacation from school. But…as normally happens with Sailor Moon stories, something evil is approaching from outer space. Princess Snow Kaguya, an ice creature, is determined to freeze the Earth solid and rule as its queen. However first she has to find a special crystal that broke off and fell to Earth ahead of her.

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If you love Sailor Moon you will easily love this film, it features plenty of action from all of the sailor guardians including Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. It also features Sailor Moon transforming into Super Sailor Moon with the power of the Holy Grail. That being said, there’s one moment in the film that I thought was absolutely corny. Just as Sailor Moon and Chibiusa engage Kaguya’s snow henchman for the first time, Santa Claus appears to come out of nowhere. It’s actually Tuxedo Mask in disguise, but the way he comes out with the line “We wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy new year” just had me shaking my head. I get that Tuxedo Mask can literally appear from anywhere but…seriously?

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The sub-plot of Luna falling in love with a human scientist honestly made me cry. Having experienced heartache multiple times, I can identify all too well with how Luna feels, knowing that she can never truly be with Kakeru. And when Usagi grants Luna’s wish to be human for one night so she can spend time with the scientist, it made me cry even more!

I really enjoyed Sailor Moon S because it helped me feel like a kid again (when life was a lot simpler) and it helped me forget how messed up the world is right now. I highly recommend going to see it if you get the chance.

If you’ve seen Sailor Moon S, what did you think about it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

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Thoughts on Sailor Moon R: The Movie

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