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One of the things that I have always stressed to my English students is that there is a difference between goals and dreams. While goals may be difficult to achieve, they are not impossible if you really work hard at accomplishing them. They can be either short-term or long-term, but it is definitely important to have them. Dreams however, are a lot harder to achieve. In fact, they may never even happen in our lifetime. They do have a very important function in our lives though: they motivate us and inspire us to keep reaching higher until we make them a reality. Now imagine that your dream has been to make a movie. You may not have the most clear vision of how you’re going to make it, and what it will take, but that’s your dream. So the best thing to do is to give it your best shot with all that you have. That is precisely what popular Mexican actor, director, and producer Eugenio Derbez has accomplished with the release of this film; and he did quite a remarkable job with it. Imagine what the perceptions of films would be today if every director took that same type of enthusiasm to make films in the most original ways. I certainly hope that Derbez will continue the success of his directorial debut.

Do you ever stop to think about how there’s a manual that tells you how to operate many things, except your life? As we get older and mature, sure, we get tips and advice from parents, friends, bosses, teachers, and everyone you come across; but the reality is that we receive no instructions on how to live our lives. Perhaps the phrase that sums this up the best is to always expect the unexpected. Life is full of surprises and unexpected letdowns and disappointments that in the end prepare us for what’s coming later. It would be great to know what those things are before we experience them, but that’s the beauty of surprises. You just don’t know what’s going to happen until you live it at that moment. Which is why we always have to act fast but responsibly. Try understanding that at a time when you are a teenager in high school, and your only responsibility is to do well in school. I can imagine that your state of mind was that you were going to stay young for a very long time, and that you would not have to pass through life as a hard-working and responsible adult. Well, as we’ve all come to see, life has other plans for us that we simply have to accept.

Given that this is the directorial debut of Derbez, perhaps it makes it easy for the film’s critics to point out any flaws that it may have. As a first time director of any film, I am sure that it is always going to be a learning experience. You can’t strive for perfection in film or in life because it’s just not possible. Everything is always going to looked at subjectively. Just the idea of making a full-length, feature film is a tremendous task. Regardless of any flaws, what is absolutely essential is the delivery of the message. To me, that’s what separates the good films from the great ones. Of course, all of the other elements are critical as well, but as a whole, they should deliver  a message to the audience. The way that message is delivered will always vary depending on the style and approach of the director. More importantly, when you deliver a message that everyone in the audience can relate to, that is a blueprint of success for future films.  Derbez fortunately has the advantage of knowing other directors from Mexico such as Guillermo Del Toro, Alfonso Cuarón, and Alejandro González Iñarritu to share some directorial and filmmaking techniques with.

Despite the lack of a well-known star in the film, it has no affect on the outcome. Anyone can watch this film and be entertained by the charisma that both Derbez and Loreto Peralta showed on screen. I had never even heard of her, but I am sure that it is safe to say that her acting career will take off from this. She has tremendous charisma and on-screen presence; you can tell that she was born to do this. More importantly, it has a message that absolutely everyone can relate to. This isn’t a film that is geared towards a certain age group or crowd. Perhaps Latinos can identify with it more because they make up the majority of the cast, but the message certainly goes out to everyone. Just the other day, after I finished watching it, I mentioned that this film may not win an Oscar or any major awards. The truth is that it doesn’t need to in order for people to spread the word about how great and entertaining it is. When a movie is great, you tell your friends and family that they need to see it. This film is no exception. In fact, I kept hearing from friends and family how much they enjoyed it. So it was only a matter of time before I would see it, and do the same.

For some actors, it is difficult to make the transition from stage or television to film acting. As far as Eugenio Derbez, who also directed this film, I think that he has executed a great transition. Not to mention that this is also the first time that he has a directed a film. Doing this was a dream come true for him, so I can only imagine how much better working on a second film would be. Comedy has always been his strength, so I’m curious to see what he does with his next film; of course, I’m hoping that he will do that since he does have the talent for it. I also hope that other directors and young directors will get inspired from this and do some original work. It would be great to see a lot more original films than reboots and adaptations. I’m sure there’s a great wave of young directors coming up, and they can all learn from what’s being done now. This is a movie with tremendous heart, and a must-see for the entire film. You don’t really see a lot of these aside from animation movies; but this is definitely an exception. Please take the time to enjoy this heart-warming comedy-drama that will surely entertain you in many ways.

 

 

 

Her

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It really is interesting how as great as a film can be, sometimes you are just not in the right mood to see it and enjoy it. Sometimes there is a certain message that you want to take from a film that another simply doesn’t have. As entertaining as they can be, romantic comedies simply aren’t realistic enough to leave with you with a good feeling about love. Maybe this has happened to you, but how often have you seen a romantic comedy and think to yourself, how often have I seen this in my life? Perhaps never. I don’t think it would be something that you see every day; as far as what happens to the characters in the film. You can almost always associate these types of movies with fairy tales, and the timeless quote, “and they lived happily ever after.” In that sense, romantic comedies can be very predictable as you watch a trailer or read the synopsis. However, when you combine the genres of drama and romance and add some humor, it is a very good combination as showcased in this great film by Spike Jonze.

Over the years I have had less and less faith in the quality and entertainment of romantic comedies. At times it feels as though there is so little that really sets them apart from each other. Which means that in order for me to go see one in theaters, it needs to phenomenal. Well that is the precise adjective that I had seen used to describe Her on many occasions. Of course, you should always judge a film for yourself. No matter what the critics or other people are saying, everyone has their own taste and opinion of the films they watch. However, when it becomes difficult to hear any negative commentary about a film, you know that it is worth going to watch in theaters. Not to mention that given the synopsis, I quickly discovered that I would definitely have an emotional connection to this film. It is the emotional connection with audiences that film makers and directors should aim for when making great films. Sometimes it is not enough to enjoy the visual elements that come with an action/adventure movie. When you have a much deeper story and screenplay, having an emotional connection to the film can really make a difference in how you see the film when it has finished.

I have often said that we are living in a time when I am really begging to see more originality in films. Pixar for example, one of the giant animation studios, has been criticized lately for not coming up with new and original films as opposed to coming out with sequels. We know that the last film they released was Despicable Me 2. The next film will be an anticipated sequel to Finding Nemo. In cases like these, it is quite understandable to see sequels or trilogies. However, I believe that the number of modern remakes or reboots of films is what is causing the bleeding so to speak. The classics are called as such because they all have something that has contributed to pop culture, our lives, and film. The really isn’t a need to retell those stories. It almost seems as though no one wants to take the challenge of taking on a film with a very fresh and original approach. Even films that are based on novels can take a break. The truth is that there isn’t anything original coming from those films either. Those types of films will probably never end, but so will the habit of bringing their stories to life on the screen. I am sure that the biggest word of advice for aspiring film directors is that they need to take a risk on a film with being original.

Before watching this film, I don’t think I had ever seen a romantic comedy or any film focused on love, question what love truly is or how far love can push a person to unimaginable heights. That is the bold type of risk that all film makers should take with their films. It is a shame that Spike Jonze was left out of the nominees for best director, but the fact that film is nominated for best picture makes up for that. Going back to the bold directing that Jonze did, it truly is remarkable to know that you can have a very deep discussion with yourself or with someone else about your perceptions of love after watching this film. When a director takes a topic like love which everyone knows about, but really questions how we come to feel it in our own lives, that really inspires, opens eyes, and lifts hopes. Those are things that you will rarely take from romantic comedies because more often than not, they lack the emotional attachment and connection between the audience and their characters. When you actually want the characters in a film to accomplish something, you can easily feel how much more engaged you are watching the film than if you feel nothing at all.

What else can I say about Spike Jonze? To say that he is selective about the films that he does is an understatement. A previous film that he did that earned him a best director Oscar nomination is Being John Malkovich. So with the addition of this film, it is safe to say that you can expect great films from him, and it is with great anticipation that I look forward to seeing what’s next from this fellow Marylander. You can’t ask for a more talented cast. Another person from this film that was very deserving of an Oscar nomination is Joaquin Phoenix; delivering a very charming and outstanding performance. Even though we never get to see her on screen, it is Scarlett Johannson who provides the voice for Samantha, the unique operating system that enchants, intrigues, and pulls you in. It is her voice acting that really blows you away; it shows how important a character’s voice can be. Performance is huge, but the voice is something that can be completely overlooked. Joining her in the supporting cast are Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, and Olivia Wilde. The music, directing, acting, screenplay, everything about this film is worth enjoying again and again.

 

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From acclaimed director Steve McQueen, this is definitely my top, if not, one of my top films of the year. There are very few directors in this world that just have an extraordinary ability of raising the bar of expectations with each film that they make. Steve McQueen is definitely of the directors on that list. At this moment, he has only directed three full-feature films, and you can arguably say that each one just keeps getting better and better than the last one. The two films that he directed prior to this one are Hunger (2008) and Shame (2011); both are films that if you have not seen yet, you definitely should. Which brings me to this film that is based on a true story, and that is a highly anticipated best picture Oscar contender. When you take a history-based film like this one and say that other films of that genre can really learn something from it; that really speaks volumes about what McQueen has accomplished with his work on it. It is one of the movies that I was definitely anticipating  to see this year, and I could not be happier that I got to see it in theaters. 

In life, we must all learn that we can never take anything for granted. After watching this film, it should be an immediate reaction to stop and think about just how lucky we are to have freedom.  Just to have the opportunity to write this review is a gift of freedom that I whole-heartedly value and enjoy. And I’m just talking about the ability to write freely on my computer; which may not seem like a big deal, but think about how dependent we are on technology today versus centuries ago. Technology was something that people must have dreamed night and day about to make life a whole lot easier to live. What about the freedom we have of not having to work shedding blood, sweat, and tears for other people? Can you honestly imagine what life would be like if we had to be slaves for an entire week? That would seem like an eternity, but in reality, it doesn’t even come close to serving as a slave for 12 years. Perhaps we can look at our lives as a form of slavery because once we enter the real world after high school, our lives become consumed by the need to work to pay bills which will never end. We do it because it is what we must do in order to survive. That is a choice that we make; a choice that is driven by a need. However, what I think long and hard about is that slaves never had the choices that we have to make. Their options were as clear as black and white: do I want to live or do I want to die?

When killing yourself seems to be the only option of getting away from the misery that you are living, that is the time when you have to realize that you are not alone in this world. However, that is the terrifying and unflinching reality of slavery. I have no words to describe the effort that it takes to portray the pain, agony, and despair of the characters in this film who are slaves. How can you possibly value the gift of life when that life that you are forced to live is not of your choosing?  It takes the extraordinary physical, mental, and emotional strength of a person who would value and care more about the lives of the people they love than their own to survive that torture of slavery. It is not very often that you come across a film that combines terrifying and uplifting tones at the same time. Despite all of the pain, suffering, and hopelessness that life sometimes throws upon us, there is always light to be found at the end of the tunnel. All it takes is a positive thought or emotion within all of the misery to make the impossible a reality.

Pacing is one of those elements that can really influence the reaction that people will have to a film. More often than not, it tends to pick up in the second half. That is not the case here. As he has done so well in his previous films, the pacing that McQueen uses here is what we should all expect from every film. It gives us the perfect opportunity to feel for the characters. Whenever you have a villain that you truly don’t like, that also has to do with the emotional connection between the audience and the characters. This is credit that should be given to the outstanding screenplay. Not only do you feel as though you are in that historical time period because of the costumes and cinematography, but the dialog also captured the historical setting in tremendous fashion. From the smallest of supporting roles and cameo appearances, to the lead stars, you can really appreciate the ensemble cast and the acting from everyone because they all contribute to the flow of the story. Like taking nothing for granted in life, there is nothing that you cannot appreciate from the full body of work that is presented here.

You can’t help but feel respect and admiration for what Steve McQueen is doing with his directing resume. It just continues to get better with every film that he releases. Needless to say, I am anxiously waiting to see the next one. I cannot say enough about the ensemble cast in this film, which is being nominated for outstanding cast awards. Michael Fassbender delivers a vicious performance of a villain that truly gets my vote for villain of the year. He is a rising star, and continues to be one of this generation’s great actors. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o are absolutely phenomenal and inspirational in their performances. It is only a matter of waiting to see where their acting careers go from here after being a part of this masterpiece. Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Alfre Woodard, Sarah Paulson, and Brad Pitt also star in not just one of the best films of the year, but of all-time.

 

It is hard to believe that come next week, we will now be in 2014! This year has already become a record-setting one at the box office. So we shall see what films are in store for us next year.

As far as this year’s films are concerned, there are quite a few that deserve to be recognized and rewarded for their incredible cast, crew, and amazing viewing experience that they have. This is always a bittersweet post to write because there are still some films that I have not seen, that probably would be on this list: The Wolf of Wall Street, Inside Llewyn Davis, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Philomena, and Nebraska. Hopefully sooner than later, I will have a chance to see those films. However, here are in alphabetical order, my top films of 2013!

American Hustle

Captain Phillips

Dallas Buyers Club

Ender’s Game

Fast and Furious 6

Frozen

Gravity

Her

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Out of the Furnace

Pacific Rim

The Place Beyond The Pines

Prisoners

Side Effects

Star Trek: Into Darkness

12 Years A Slave

 

Gravity

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If you have a bucket list, what are some things that you have on there? I have never written one, but if I do, it would be a dream come true to be in space. Space is the best visual example of what a movie watching experience should be for anyone that goes to see one in theaters: an escape. Our daily lives are filled with so much noise, change, repetition, and drama, that sometimes it feels amazing to escape our every day lives for at least two hours. When you are watching a great film, time is irrelevant. You don’t think twice about how long it is, or how much time is left in it. You should feel as though you are part of the action. Look no further than this film for a full and complete immersion into the fascinating, and breath-taking place that we call space. When it comes to using adjectives to describe the beauty of what space is, I am at a loss of words because you simply cannot say enough about how amazing it really is. The more you think about it, you know that you have seen a great film in theaters when you are already thinking about adding it to your collection. More importantly, you have so many words that you want to say about it, but you are not sure about how to put it in writing.

Let me begin by saying what a remarkable job director Alfonso Cuarón did with this film. He may not have several directing credits doing these types of films as some of his colleagues do, however, that becomes completely irrelevant after watching this movie. In fact, he dreamed of being an astronaut and director growing up in his native Mexico. I think that it is safe to say that he is a very respectable director who can do some fine work with sci-fi thriller films. There is also the very lucrative Harry Potter franchise that he was also a part of. In case you may not know, Cuarón was the director of the third film in that series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. What is interesting to know is that while it was the only film that he directed in the franchise, many have said that they liked his film the best. Personally, I still wonder why that was the only film that he directed given all of the positive support and feedback from die-hard Harry Potter film fans.  One thing that I have come to learn from great actors and directors is that it is not so much about the extensive work that has been done, but the quality of  their work. Cuarón has been very critically selective of what he does, and it shows in his work. The greatness of his films just continue to get better with each new film that he directs.

To this day, I continue to be very critical of Avatar. It was the first film that I watched in a 3-D format, and needless to say, I did not enjoy it. I have refused to watch any films released in that format since. Having said that, I received the good word about watching Gravity in IMAX 3-D. Despite my strong dislike for that format, I can honestly say that I would love to watch Gravity again that way. Simply saying that this film was breath-taking is an understatement. Keep in mind that I watched it on a regular screen. So I can only imagine what it must be like to see this on an IMAX screen. You have to believe me when I say that although you will pay extra money to see it that way, it is worth it! Even though it may seem as though there are so many films that have shown some great scenes of space, you have to tip your hat off to the cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki. So from a visual perspective, that is already one big expectation that has been met. Everyone should have great story and visual expectations of films when watching them in theaters. Listening to the hype is one thing, but having the expectations is another.

At some point I may run out of adjectives to describe the beauty of this film, but I must say that it is definitely one of the most emotionally gratifying films of the year. On a personal level, I measure a film’s greatness by how much I reflect on it after it is done. I’m not just talking about mentally, but how much spread the word about it to others. I even think about how I am going to review it. The film may have ended, but when you find yourself deeply thinking and reflecting on things well after it has finished, then you have watched one incredible film. Life speaks to us in very different and mysterious ways, but the constant reminder that you will always hear is that when you have the will to do something, you can do it! The beauty of success or achievement is knowing that you may have fallen countless times, but your success overcomes all of those failed attempts combined. Recognizing and accepting failure is one of the best things that we can do because it is going to happen to us all at some point. After all, we are only humans living in a world that requires our undivided attention in order to succeed. When I say succeed, I’m talking about living life not just surviving it. We have to embrace the rewards and hardships life has because that’s what makes us all stronger.

As the fall movie season continues its full swing in the holidays, if there is one movie that is worth watching at the movie theaters it is Gravity. Director Alfonso Cuarón has given us a sci-fi thriller to love for the ages. He is a director that really chooses the films that he does carefully. Two of his other films that I would recommend are Children of Men and Y Tu Mama También. I am excitedly waiting for the next feature film that he will direct next. As for the acting power in this film, that credit goes to the two stars that shared the amazing dialogue in this film, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. I must say that it was great to see Ed Harris as the voice of mission control in Houston. His casting reminded me of his Oscar-nominated performance in Apollo 13. The Bullock and Clooney on-screen pairing worked very well in this film. I would gladly watch them share the acting spotlight in another film. However, this is a film in which Sandra delivered her abilities with such grace and heart. Her performance, the visual spectacle, the music, Cuarón’s work, and everything about it is what makes this film a must-see in theaters now!

Just a few days before the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King delivering his famous “I Have A Dream” speech in the nation’s capital, and marching for civil rights, I am reminded of how far we come since that historic date. That is in terms of how far we come as far as accepting cultural diversity; which has been a tremendous achievement. However, that achievement is terribly overshadowed by the presence of racism that never seems to go away. As many issues as there are in the world today, racism is one that has been around for a very long time and probably will continue to be. It is terrible to see how just the color of a person’s skin can influence how we think and act; especially in very critical situations. It sounds ridiculous and unacceptable, but even in times of life and death, racism has shown its face. Racism is not something that should be classified as superiority and inferiority. Different races should be looked at with great appreciation because cultural diversity is what really makes this country special. The day that everyone embraces these differences, I am very sure that the world we live in will be a much better place.

It is no secret that a film like this has had many similar films before and after its release. The truth is that Hollywood is well-known for recycling things by now. If there is one negative comment that I have heard with regular frequency about the film industry, it is the lack of originality. The only differences are the directors and actors people say. You can also argue that the message that is trying to be told is different too. Everyone is entitled to sharing their version of a story. We can either accept or ignore the repetition of similar films that we see released from time to time. In fact, most of us have a favorite genre of movies, so watching so many similar films is nothing short of what we enjoy. What matters is that you enjoy the drama and entertainment that the film has. This is especially true when you have never seen the film before, or it has been many years since you last saw it. In my case, I had never seen this film, so I was completely focused on it throughout its entirety. If you pay close attention, when you see a film like this for the first time, there is always a message that you can take from it. The message is what separates good films from great films. The message is what separates the best films from the weak ones when they are within a particular genre.

If there is one question to reflect on about this film, it is this: how far are you willing to go to protect your family? your children? I think that when we are pushed to the limit, we are very unpredictable. The truth is that most, if not all of us, will do whatever it takes to keep our children and families safe. It is obvious that the times have changed between today and many decades ago. The consequences we face for our violent or fatal actions may be even more severe now than what they were many decades ago. Regardless of a person’s race, there are things that should not be tolerated or accepted. This is why we are taught right from wrong when we are young. No one should be exempt from that. The problem is that we continue to live in a world where superiority is defined among different races. It truly is disappointing to see that reality when there are so many more urgent and critical issues that should be addressed. An even bigger problem is that crimes can often lead to another; depending on the nature of the crime. It all has to do with that eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth philosophy, or what goes around comes around. Walking away is truly the best solution, and yet some people refuse to accept that given the situation they are in.

One thing that is incredibly remarkable about this film is the cast itself. For the first time in a long time, I truly enjoyed watching a film with an all-star cast that was great on many levels. It may be hard to believe, but it is not just the stars that make films great. The stars in these films may be a great motivation for us to see them, but more importantly, it is the great story that will help us to remember and appreciate them. I am sure that there have been quite a few instances where you have seen films with some great stars in them, but for some reason, you just did not enjoy the film. Perhaps the film did well enough for you to not hate it, but you also were not praising it either. So when you do come across star-studded film that works, you really can’t help but want to promote its greatness to others for them to watch it as well. What’s truly amazing is when you have a star-studded cast in which all of them are at the peak of the prime. Therefore, the on-screen chemistry that you see between them all is nothing short of brilliant entertainment. This is what we all pay big amounts of money nowadays to see.

When I talk about an all-star cast, this is as good as it gets. This is a powerful, emotional, and gripping drama that reminds us all of the dark realities we have in society today on so many levels. Especially the flaws that are in the judicial system, courts, and so forth. While it was only the fourth film that director Joel Schumacher did, it is definitely my favorite of his work that I have seen so far. As I mentioned, the film is a joy watch thanks to the powerful performances from the all-star cast that it has. Matthew McConaughey and Samuel L. Jackson lead this amazing cast that also includes Ashley Judd, Sandra Bullock, Kevin Spacey, Chris Cooper, Kiefer Sutherland, Donald Sutherland, and Oliver Platt. The year that his film was released has nothing to do with whether or not you will enjoy it. The message is one that withstands the test of time, and from an entertainment standpoint, you will be at the edge of your seat from start to finish. If this was a film that was released today, it is one that you should definitely go to see at the theater!

Pacific Rim

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One of my favorite lines from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is: “Life goes pretty fast; if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” A very fitting quote for the most recent film from visionary director Guillermo Del Toro. Based on the amazing attention to detail, you can tell that a film of this scope and magnitude is what Del Toro has been dreaming of doing for a long time. This is the same director of the Hellboy series, and my absolute favorite from him, Pan’s Labyrinth. Perhaps it was just a few years ago when Del Toro stopped and thought to himself, what do I need to do to make this dream a reality? Directing major motion pictures is not an easy task. I am sure you can come up with a few directors who you believed would do pretty well, but whose careers have suddenly gone extinct. So the reality is that time is precious with film making. Even though a film may not make it close to the budget it cost to make, I’m sure there is a tremendous feeling of achievement for a director when they have gone through the process of making their dream a reality. So I ask you, do you stop, look around and think about your childhood dreams? Time is a resource that you must use to your advantage. Never give up in your pursuit of making your dreams realities.

Just watching the trailer of this film, it seemed very easy to categorize this film as a mix between Independence Day and Godzilla. Contrary to what the Mayan calendar predicted, we are still here and we are still strong. Apocalyptic films however, still continue to be produced at a very predictable rate. There have already been quite a few of them this year, and I am sure that they will continue to be shown in theaters between now and the end of the year. What these films showcase tremendously is the strength of the human spirit. There is nothing like it, and when it is done well, it is quite a sight to behold. The reason that I mention when done well is because there are many examples of directors that have persistently worked on this genre, and have always seemed to focus on style over substance. Substance is much more important than style in my opinion, but of course, this is a form of entertainment, so people like to see some quality substance as well. This is why I give a lot of credit to directors that have consistently delivered successful films year after year. Successful of course can be broken down into box office numbers and overall appreciation of movie fans worldwide. So I am hoping that directors that are well-known for working on films like this have taken notes at how Del Toro mixes the style and substance elements. Are there loud and bombastic scenes? Of course there are when you think about the type of film that this is. However, that does not dominate over the film in its entirety.

What makes this film so entertaining is that you can really appreciate seeing these actors do things that they really don’t do in their daily lives. This can be so inspirational for you to fight the battles you have outside of the theater that you have temporarily suspended by watching a movie!  That is what makes the art of acting and performance so special. You have the amazing opportunity to look at the world with different eyes; to look at the world from a different perspective. It is so easy to just lose yourself in your daily and weekly routine that you don’t give yourself the time and moment to look for change or an adventure. Risks are fun when the result doesn’t affect you in the most terrible way. However, you cannot appreciate the feeling of accomplishment if you do not take a risk that is within your capabilities. No one likes to be told that they cannot do something because it is the most rewarding feeling to prove that person wrong. Sometimes it is difficult to admit, but we all know when something is too overwhelming and challenging. But when the salvation of humanity is at stake, there really is no tomorrow for one to not fight with all that they have. That is the type of world that we live in: you either celebrate victory or you must reflect on the pain of defeat or failure.

There is no doubt that this is a society that is being dominated by technology. If things continue to move at this pace, it is kind of difficult to imaging what the future holds in terms of what technology will do for us. The jaegers (hunter in German) as they are brilliantly called in this film, are the greatest combination of man and machine that I have ever seen in a film. You can look back at a lot of films over the years and see how we have worked with machines and make your own statements, but this is a whole other level to me. It is the perfect summary of what each can bring to the table: humans will bring instinct, heart, courage, and fearlessness. The machines have what it takes to help you to stay in battle with the weaponry and protection that you need. Together it makes an amazing team that is extremely difficult to defeat. Figuratively speaking, we all have to be hunters of what we need to get rid of in our lives. They say that what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. Well I would say that you should always do what you can to stay on top of your challenges. There are many battles to fight, but the good thing to know is that you never alone because there are many who fight the same battles as you do.

While he has many more producing credits to his name than directing credits, Guillermo Del Toro is one of the most visionary directors in film, and his work is really something to appreciate as he showed us with this film. He is director that really blends the style and substance qualities very well, and those are things that you can always expect from any project that he works on. His next film could very well be the darker version of the classic Disney tale, Pinocchio. So it is safe to say that I’m very curious about how he will dazzle us with that film. In terms of the cast, it is a brilliant one. Idris Elba is an actor that has some amazing screen presence. That is very difficult to accomplish when just the presence of an actor alone piques your interest. You can see his leadership and character from the moment he is introduced, and he is an actor that always delivers a strong performance regardless of his role. While I had no previous knowledge of Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi, they worked incredibly well together. It is always great to see young, rising actors have that type of chemistry. Supporting cast members including Ron Perlman, Charlie Day, and Burn Gorman add the humor to this great sci-fi fantasy film that is worth the watch in theaters now to cancel the apocalypse!

This Sunday, July 7th,  I will have the pleasure of hosting the latest edition of Movie Talk On Sunday #MTOS! The topic of discussion will be Batman aka the dark knight.

The last time that we saw the alter ego of Bruce Wayne was last year, in the epic conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises. Hopefully by now, most if not all of you have seen the film. We know that Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan have both bid their farewells to the character and the franchise; which only raises the bars of interest and curiosity even higher for the next films about this iconic hero of DC Comics.

So I invite you to participate in the movie talk on sunday discussion starting at 8:00 pm GMT (3:00 pm EST). I will post the first question via twitter, and then I will ask the rest of the questions every 10 minutes. Please remember to respond to the questions with the letter A, followed by the number of the question. At the end of your answer, please include the hashtag #MTOS. Don’t forget to favorite or RT your favorite answers so that we can all enjoy this amazing experience to the fullest. Here are this week’s questions for #MTOS about Batman/dark knight:

Q1- Of all the Batman films that you have seen, what is your favorite scene that took place in Gotham City?

Q2- Only Leslie H. Martinson, Tim Burton, Joel Schumacher, and Christopher Nolan have directed Batman films. Who should be next?

Q3- Between Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, and Christian Bale, who is your favorite Batman and why?

Q4- How would your reaction to The Dark Knight Rises change if a reference to The Joker’s whereabouts had been included?

Q5- Who is the villain that you would most like to see in the next film, and who should play the role of that villain?

Q6- Air, land, or water? What are your expectations for the modes of transportation that Batman should have next?

Q7- In Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, Batman worked alone for the most part. Would you like to see the casting or Robin in the future?

Q8- Whether they are cast as villains, heroines, or love interests, who are the actresses that you would like to see next?

Q9- What are you expecting in terms of story, tone, and connections to a Justice League film in the next film?

Q10- You have the power! Name your ideal title, director, actor, supporting cast, and location for the next Batman film!

Man of Steel

superman-man-of-steel

The time has finally come to see the newest film in the DC Comics Universe of Warner Bros. Pictures. We all know just how unsuccessful The Green Lantern was in theaters, so no need to discuss this further. Last year, we saw the ending to an incredible trilogy dedicated to Batman from the brilliant mind and vision of Christopher Nolan. It is only a matter of time before we find out how future films of the dark knight will be brought to life on the big screen again. However, in the mean time, we have anxiously waited for the newest film dedicated to Super Man. It is no surprise that disappointment summarizes what many felt about Bryan Singer’s Super Man Returns. Therefore, a new film dedicated to this iconic super hero with a different approach was inevitable. A solid film like this is what it will take to expand the number of films under DC Comics since the Batman franchise has been holding it on its shoulders for the last decade at least. When it comes to films in the super hero genre, Super Man always has a special place within that genre because he truly is the perfect example we have of a super hero in films.

To say that I was shocked to see the rotten rating this film received on Rotten Tomatoes, (57% currently), is an understatement. I truly believe that people are giving that rating much more value than what it really is. There is a strong point to be made when people really love and enjoy a “rotten” rated movie; and the same can be argued when people watch a “fresh” rated movie and simply hate it. If beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder, the same should be said about films. As an art form, we should all see a movie for ourselves and make our own conclusions. How can we judge a film just based on the opinions and negative commentary of others? Furthermore, if you truly are a fan of this iconic super hero and the long-lasting history of his character in films, then you will make an effort to see the film regardless of what the critics and people are saying. The fact that this is a new film with a new approach should tell you that there is much more to come from this film even though the certainty of a sequel isn’t exactly understood. From an origins story perspective, this is in a similar league with Batman Begins. There are many answers at the conclusion, but there are also many questions that raise interest in what this caped-hero will do in the next film.

Are there flaws in this film? Yes. It is not the perfect film that we all were expecting for Super Man. However, that does not mean that it has no strengths that keep this from being another summer blockbuster hit at the movies. Behind all of the action, CGI, and effects, there is a heart that beats strongly in this film. There is no question that we know who Super Man is. The more pressing question to ask is what do we know of the man wearing the suit? I have to assume that there is a feeling of excitement and nervousness in an actor when you are given such an iconic role in a movie. From the public’s perspective, there is an enormous amount of pressure placed on that actor to deliver the goods that we have come to love from this Kryptonian hero. However, every actor that delivers such roles has his own agenda so to speak. It his job to take this character and bring him to life in his own way. Henry Cavill is the latest actor to play this iconic role, and he definitely left a very lasting impression. While his physical characteristics fit in the suit just fine, it is the personal aspect of his character that make him stand out most of all. It is a remarkable achievement when you can show the audience the human side of a man that is incredibly out of this world in terms of his strength and abilities. It is not the incredible feats of strength of these super heroes that impress, it is the small, heartfelt things that they do that make you cheer for their victories and feel their pains. There is no question that they do feel pain. It is the hope that they inspire in humanity that earns them their super hero title.

Perhaps it is a coincidence that Man of Steel is being released on Father’s Day weekend when there were such huge roles of father figures in this film. In contrast to Batman, who was devastated by the loss of his parents, Super Man had the fortune of having two fathers. Both of them had a tremendous influence in his life, and on the man that he would become. The casting of Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner was perfect. Aside from the similarity of being fathers, they are two characters that are very well developed in the film. The development of the story is done in such a way that you can appreciate how they played a role in the development of Super Man the hero of Earth. In stark contrast to the the warm, father figures in the film, the cold villain is played wonderfully by Michael Shannon. Even though it is his first time in a comic book film, he was very much a worthy adversary to Super Man’s size and strength. Not only did he look the part of a ruthless villain, but he possessed the right combination of physical and mental strength to challenge Super Man in a number of battles. This is one of the trademarks of great super hero films: a worthy adversary that is both strong and challenging.

You can’t say enough about the cast in this film, especially about the role of Lois Lane played by Amy Adams. She is much more than a damsel in distress as she plays a key role along side Super Man throughout the film. I would say that in addition to Cavill, she is another actress that should be kept for the sequel as she has great on-screen chemistry with him. It has been quite a long time since we were last able to appreciate a series of Super Man films; we have to go back to the times when he was played by Christopher Reeve. There is no question that Zack Snyder wanted to emphasize the action sequences as there are many throughout the movie, but going forward, you just have to wonder how much emphasis will be placed on the story and dialogue. It is very easy to assume that there is no heart in the film when there is so much action and CGI effects going on, but there is also a strong commitment to the emotional aspect of Super Man’s heroism. This is a great start to what I hope will be the process of releasing more films under DC Comics at Warner Bros. Studios. The promise of a Justice League films depends on how well this film is received. Regardless of the negativity you may have heard, this is a film that gives you a reason to believe in Super Man again!

 

fast and furious 6

Aside from the holiday season in the winter time, this is arguably my most favorite time of the year. People are going to theaters in masses to see the year’s best summer blockbusters. If you’re not going to barbecues or the beach, pretty sure you can find people in theaters around this time every year. Most of the people that make up a large percentage of the younger crowds are most likely out of school by now, so there is always something for everyone to see at the movies every summer. It is very difficult to top last year’s summer blockbusters The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, but the summer movie season is really starting to pick up its contagious momentum. I say contagious because it is an amazing feeling when there are so many movies you want to see, and they are being released in theaters in one week after another! This is what love for movies is all about. An opportunity to go outside of your normal, day-to-day routine, and enjoy some amazing film making on the big screen.

Whether you are a fan or a hater of this franchise from Universal Pictures, one thing that we cannot deny is that it has been a tremendous financial success for those studios. Regardless of the genre, it has long been believed that more than three films in a franchise is just dragging the story along. However, there is always an exception to everything, especially in film. There is a reason why the best film franchise in history celebrated its 50th anniversary. There is always a way to keep improving something, or keeping something classic as entertaining as ever. Yes, on the surface it may be difficult to look beyond the fast cars and street racing that have taken place in this franchise throughout the six films, but there is a lot more to it than that. If you have followed this series closely, ever since director Justin Lin took over the franchise for the third film, they have progressively gotten better with each next film. There are very few directors that have the amazing ability to do that with a series. It is already a tremendous challenge to outperform the first film, but to do that consistently with four films is quite a remarkable achievement; regardless of the genre of the series. I have never been a fan of seeing a director leave to have another director come in to finish a successful series. He will not return for the seventh film which is already in the works to happen. However, I can understand his reasoning behind tackling other film projects because you do not want to be known for just working on one particular series. It is your body of work that should matter more.

Consistency and creativity are perhaps two of the most overlooked traits that some directors in film have. It is consistency that has taken this franchise to six films, and taking it to a seventh film next year. Even though there are people out there who are adamant critics of this series, you cannot deny the fact that this is the type of entertainment that people will pay to see time and time again. No, this is not a reflection of a lack of good taste in people for films. If you have followed this series from the beginning, you can see and appreciate how far it has come from the first film in the series. It is amazing to see that the cast has been kept intact throughout all of these films. From a story perspective, it has been remarkable to see how the series has been able to maintain a level of freshness so to speak. Yes, you will see very fast cars, but it is not simply about that any more. With each new film, the stakes are higher, the risks are higher, and they incorporate more suspense, action, and humor. This is the reason why we are still watching these movies in theaters, and why Universal Pictures continues to make them. It has been a very lucrative franchise for the studio, and it will continue to be because it is starting to relate to a much wider audience.

What I love most about this film is its intensity. This is not one of those movies where you talk about hating the first half but loving the second half, or vice versa. This film is an intense car ride from the very beginning. There is never a time where I wish things would pick up the pace, or that certain parts of the film dragged along. The variety in the film is also top notch, which makes it one of the great summer blockbusters that you want to watch again and again. There is plenty of action, suspense, humor, and amazing effects that will keep you at the edge of your seat throughout the film. The movie has an amazing feeling of a finale to it, but we know that the story will continue in the next film. This is only fitting given the way that things have happened in recent films. As recent history suggests, just because it may be the seventh or eighth film in a franchise, it doesn’t mean that people will not come out in huge numbers to see the movie in theaters. This is a series that has been able to maintain elements of its beginning film, but it has also come a long way as far as adding things that keep it relevant with each new movie that is released.

I must tip my hat off to Justin Lin. He has a had a tremendous run of taking this series to heights that I did not think it would go. Since Rob Cohen did not come back to direct the sequel, I had the feeling that the sequel would be the end of it. It is difficult to keep a franchise successful when there are so many changes in the director’s position. However, Justin Lin changed that since directing The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, and every film in the franchise since. The fact that he is not returning to direct the next film as he moves on to work on another project shows that Hollywood has seen his talents, and they are wanted. So I wish him the best in his future projects. The addition of Dwayne Johnson to this franchise has been a very valuable one. Since joining in the fifth movie, things have really stepped up in terms of the actions sequences done. He is a great compliment to the persona of Vin Diesel in this series since they both bring a lot of muscle to the fast and slick cars that we have seen throughout the series. You can really appreciate this series when you see that the cast has been maintained for so long. The character development has been great, and as I mentioned before, with each new film that has been released, it keeps getting better on a variety of levels. So fasten your seat belts and race to the theater soon to watch this film on the big screen!