Set in a futuristic utopian society where everyone wears the same dull clothes, are told what lives they will live, and mostly all human emotions are removed, The Giver revolves around a young man named Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) who has just been selected to be the next Receiver. You see, in this society, only 1 person is allowed to store all knowledge of the previous way of life. This person knows about wars, colors and love. They know about music, relationships and family. However, as time passes, this person must “give” their knowledge to the next person selected by the Elders, and Jonas just so happens to be this person. What will he do with this information? Will he embrace the new found knowledge or will it haunt his (newly discovered) dreams?
I remember when the book came out back in 1993 and won many awards. It was even on school reading lists! What baffles me is why did it take over 20 years for a movie to be made when so many other books since then (on the same basic idea of a brainwashed Utopian society) have all gotten movies. As I sat and watched this movie, I kept thinking to myself, “Been there, done that!” However, the truth is that this came before The Hunger Games or Divergent as far as books go, but as far as a movie goes, it’s coming in last.
As far as a movie goes (and no I haven’t read the book,) its drab, predictable and boring. I felt like many of the characters in the movie as I watched it… emotionless. The story is simple. The ideas are simple. The plot is simple. Too many things that happen are expected, and, compared to what else I’ve seen lately on the same subject, it’s nowhere near as exciting. It’s hard to explain but you know when you watch a movie and it plays out just like it said it would, without any plot twists or unexpected occurrences? Well this movie has little changing and little to surprise you. It is dull and boring and from what I’ve heard, I’d say read the book. Skip the movie. Co-starring Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Alexander Skarsgard, Katie Holmes, Odeya Rush, Taylor Swift, and Cameron Monaghan.
5/10 Stars – Not horrible, but dull, boring and way too predictable. Shame it had to come AFTER other movies of the same idea.
The Giver is another teen flick that aims to please The Hunger Game and Divergent loving group but fails to hit the mark in terms being an intelligent film with something new and enlightening to offer the genre or its audience. I think the real stumbling block for The Giver is its story. You can tell that there could be depth, a political agenda, a true message for the youthful audience viewing it but none of that comes through. Instead you get blah and bland much like the grey tones that are present for the majority of the film. Seriously where was the wow factor, the surprise? Where was the true push against authority that would make me want to stand up and be a rebel? Maybe I missed it but based on my sister’s reaction who saw the movie with me I don’t think I did.
5/10 Stars – Just go watch The Hunger Games again, you will get a better result even if you have already seen it more than once.
Mathias Gold (Kevin Kline) is not a happy man. He is 57, broke and has been divorced 3 times. When the father whom he hated dies, Mathias is left a very nice apartment building in Paris worth a lot of money. Mathias travels to Paris in order to sell it, but what he doesn’t expect is for a 92-year-old woman (Maggie Smith) to still be living in it with her daughter (Kristin Scott Thomas). What comes as even more a shock to Mathias is that the apartment that he now owns is a Viager investment (look it up, it’s a French thing) which mean he owes HER money monthly until her death, at which time he can be free from the financial contract. With no money and no place to go, Mathias “rents” a room in his own apartment building for several days as he looks for someone to buy out the Viager contract, but in the mean time, he learns things about his father and his own life that he never knew were possible.
After seeing the previews, I was expecting a light-hearted semi-funny English drama that put Kline and Smith in their stereotypical roles, but what I got was something much more dramatic and deep. My Old Lady is the kind of movie that starts off simple and gets more involved with each passing scene. This movie touches on subjects from family tragedies to grudges between father and son. It also touches on true love and the unraveling of secrets that can change a person even at the age of 57. Kevin Kline and Maggie Smith might be in their comfort zone as far as roles go, but they are great together. My Old Lady might have run a little long for my taste, but for what it has to offer, I didn’t care too much. Now, I will say that this movie is mostly for a the ladies that watch Downton Abbey and stuff like that (seeing as there were mainly 50+ year old couples in the theater I was in), but some guys will appreciate the story and depth. At the end of the day, I was glad I saw this movie and appreciated it very much… plus I like Kevin Kline and his quirky ways.
7/10 Stars – Becoming more complex with each passing scene, Kline and Smith shine in this dramady with depth.
My Old Lady is an adaptation of a stage show is a directorial debut for Israel Horowitz who is adapting his own play. As a film, My Old Lady isn’t quite as compelling as I hoped it would and it stretches the bounds of plausibility in terms of some plot lines but overall it worth seeing – if only for getting a taste of my beloved Maggie Smith!
Based on play I couldn’t find fault in the film for its dialogue. The dialogue is witty, interesting and compelling. I think of my favorite lines has to be one from Maggie Smith’s character, “I’m 90. Subtlety is not something that interests me.” Maggie Smith has some of the best lines for sure just like her character in Downton Abbey. Kevin Kline is annoyingly likable in this movie. Troubled and not afraid to share there is some great character development for Kline to strut his stuff on-screen. I think there is something to appreciate about these older stars still holding their own on-screen and presenting not just passable performances but performances worthy of notice and acclaim in certain instances.
I did however find two parts of the film tough to swallow. The first was length. Sorry but while my counterpart could let the length pass I won’t. For a dialogue driven film it was far too long. A good portion of the beginning could have been tightened up to shorten it and really add punch to the rest of the film. I am all for building up to things but the build up here wasn’t all necessary. Get to the point already! My second beef with My Old Lady were certain implausible plot elements. I won’t go into detail because that would mean spoilers but I had a hard time dealing with certain plot elements and twists if you will that come to light or take place near the end of the film. A few of them were just a bit much for me and bothersome in many ways.
Still, My Old Lady hits a sweet spot for the over 50 crowd looking for an adult drama in this sea of teen dramas with which we are faced today. The sophistication and intelligence of this film can’t be denied and the lead performances don’t just promise entertainment but deliver on many counts.
6/10 Stars – A complex and compelling film that highlights the strengths of its talent but rubbed me the wrong way with certain plot elements.
Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) lives a quiet simple life. He works at Home Mart, has few friends and can’t sleep at night so he spends his nights at a local diner. Every night at the diner he chats with Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz), a young girl under the control of Russian gangsters. When after a few evenings she doesn’t show McCall learns she has been hospitalized after being beaten almost to death he can’t stand idly by. He decides to help her. He takes out the men who controlled her only to bring the men who controlled them into his life. Despite the power he is up against McCall manages to equalize the situation and serve justice. Starring Marton Csokas, David Harbour, Haley Bennett, Bill Pullman, Melissa Leo, David Meunier, Johnny Skourtis, Alex Veadov, Vladimi Kulich, James Wilcox, Mike O’Dea.
The Equalizer is a definitely a low key action flick – if there is such a thing – that plays to its lead actors strengths but manages to over do it with a long run time coupled with a slow-burn style of delivery.
I tend to forget sometimes that Washington has a resume filled with as many action thrillers as dramas. His role in The Equalizer won’t let you forget that fact any time soon however. I think there are few actors who could pull off the perfect combination of deadly yet compassionate. Denzel does. Chloe Grace Moretz plays a small role but she does it well. Especially considering she is playing a prostitute, something not quite in her usual line of work. Thankfully her on-screen relationship with Denzel is treated sensitively so it doesn’t detract from the film.
What does detract from the film is the way the director chose to milk the moments before, after and sometimes during the action sequences. A slow motion walk by McCall a few times is okay but every time becomes a bit much. It gave me the feeling that everything is staged and pulled me out of my nice happy place of suspended reality where I could believe that this guy is really that bad ass. Cut out half of the slow-mo, close up thinking shots and the film would be much tighter and far better. As far as the actual action itself goes I have to say I quite enjoyed Washington’s character turning anything in a hardware store or just from his surroundings into a weapon. Although I could do without the barbed wire noose. That was a bit gruesome.
Basically when you break it all down The Equalizer is pretty much a blue-collar version the super hero flicks. It does its job adequately but definitely has some room for improvement should they choose to make a sequel which seems to be the thinking out there – that this will be the Denzel franchise.
7/10 Stars – Not everything I expected but still a solid film and Denzel is still his fabulous self!
To put The Equalizer into perspective on what to expect, director Antoine Fuqua has made other action flicks such as Training Day (also with Denzel Washington), Olympus Has Fallen, Shooter and Tears of the Sun.
On the surface, The Equalizer is a vigilante revenge flick about a kind-hearted man who has a nice set of skills to kick ass against the Russian mob. However, the more I think about it, The Equalizer is a gritty, bloody, rated R, reincarnation of Batman. I’m serious, don’t laugh… Robert is quiet, calm and a genuinely good guy. He is a model citizen and believes in what is right. When a friend of his is put in the ICU, Robert snaps and takes to the night to clean up the corruption in Boston. Instead of super powers, Robert has excellent fighting skills and can make a weapon out of almost any normal household item which makes working at the local Home Mart (Home Dept/Lowes) a convenient place to aid in his crime fighting. Even without a black rubber suit, Robert is practically indestructible to a comic book style fault. So basically The Equalizer is a graphic-novel action-hero movie like Kick-Ass or Punisher.
As far as the story and movie itself goes, The Equalizer starts off drab and slow as characters are developed. We see what kind of man Robert is and the kindness he has for others. As the movie moves along, the action ramps up and the tensions rise, but I couldn’t help but feel like he was just an errand boy. A problem would arise and he would put out the fire. Simple and sometimes comical, but nothing in-depth. As the movie moves into the 3rd act, the story mainly focuses on Robert (aka The Equalizer) and the Russians who want him dead. This is where pretty much every scene is making you yell “Awesome” while at the same time you’re rolling your eyes from how ridiculous the action has become. I can’t tell if this movie is suppose to be a satire or something to be taken seriously. The beginning is way more serious than the end, but whether you like that or not is up to you. My best advice is to roll with the change in tone so your experience will stay at a higher level.
7/10 Stars – Just like Man on Fire, Denzel snaps and everyone dies in horrible ways!
The Boxtrolls are mysterious and mischievous little creatures who wear boxes and live below ground. They have lovingly raised an orphaned human boy they call eggs in their world beneath the streets of the city called Cheesebridge. The disappearance of this young boy has caused quite the panic in Cheesebridge thanks to the evil workings of Archibald Snatcher. Snatcher has hatched a plan to rid the town of the Boxtrolls all in order to obtain the coveted white hat only the elite town members are graced with. A now grown Eggs must save the Boxtrolls, the only family he has ever known, with the help of the feisty Winnie. Starring voices of Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan, Dee Bradley Baker, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Elle Fanning, Steve Blum, Nika Futterman, Pat Fraley, Fred Tatasciore, Maurice LaMarche.
Based on the children’s novel by Alan Snow called “Here Be Monsters,” The Boxtrolls brings to life such a unique world through old fashioned yet updated animation but somehow even the beautiful animation and the interesting world of characters doesn’t seem to be quite enough. The Boxtrolls starts rather slow. There isn’t much dialogue as you watch the creatures run around and well…do what they do. As you watch you are left wondering where is it all going. And while this certainly isn’t a bad thing it drags on for far too long in order to remain compelling. Possibly for the younger crowd it might hold more interest but I was looking for the story development and wasn’t finding it soon enough. When the story does develop more it is very simple. Again not a bad thing for the target audience – young kids – but any really great kids film will hold subtle interest for the adults who are required to bring the kids to see it. This film does not. Honestly the whole movie felt like it was just a means to show of some really cool new animation techniques.
Speaking of animation that is one area where I can’t fault the film at all. Laika studios, who created ParaNorman and Caroline, pulled out all the stops for this new stop animation film. Everything about the film is detailed and beautiful. Read an interesting article in Wired about the animation studio and how they revolutionized the stop animation techniques for this film. The animation is almost mesmerizing and you can hardly comprehend all the details and subtly that is there. I was impressed.
Still as an overall film, despite the fantastic animation, The Boxtrolls tends to disappoint more than thrill. The younger generation will however find it easy to understand and follow with some quirky characters to love and adore afterward. Parents be warned though this isn’t for you so bring a book…well okay maybe you can’t read in the dark so just be prepared to not be entertained.
6/10 Stars – Not quite fun for the whole family but beautiful and intricate with some adorable little characters.
Made by the same production company (Laika) that did Coraline and ParaNorman, The Box Trolls features the same waxy animation style Laika is known for. Both Coraline and Paranorman are very good “older” children’s movies, but does that mean The Box Trolls will be too? I will start off by saying that the animation is superb! It is clean, crisp and colorful with plenty of details. However, it might be too much detail for some people’s liking since this movie is about trolls and the nasty filth who try to catch them. The drab colors and ugly characters might turn some people off, but still, it very well done. Speaking of characters, this movie has more diverse characters with well created personalities than any I’ve seen since the Lego movie, and that’s counting non-animation too. The voice acting is very well done as Sir Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris and Elle Fanning shine in their leading roles. Elle Fanning as Winnie was my favorite as she brings the energy to every scene. Who doesn’t like a spunky, bossy redhead telling everyone what to do? Other voice actors that lend their talents include Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Tracy Morgan, Richard Ayoade and Isaac Hempstead-Wright as Eggs.
The question you all want to know is did I like it? I would have to go with Yes, but with a few minor comments. First of all, this movie isn’t for everyone. It’s marketed as a kids movie but be aware that it’s content should be for older kids 8+, as I would have said the same for Coraline and Paranorman. This is due to the nature of the characters and ugliness of some of the people. This is not a “pretty” movie by any means so be aware of that which is what I meant above when I said it’s too detailed. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there is anything in this movie that is going to scare kids like the other 2 could, but it has the potential to turn people off, mainly the mothers taking their kids, but it’s for the kids right?
As I sat in the theater watching this movie, I kept saying to myself, “Who comes up with this stuff and agrees to make it into a movie?” There are definitely things in this movie that make you ponder just who imagined this, but at the end of the day, just like the other 2 movies I’ve mentioned, The Box Trolls is an entertaining movie with great animation and wonderful characters. Just watch the trailer before you see it…
7/10 Stars – Just like Laika’s other 2 “kids” movies, The Box Trolls has great animation with wonderful characters, but might be to “ugly” and strange for some.
Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) have been partners for 39 years. They live in Manhattan where George is a music teacher and Ben paints post retirement. When their dreams come true and they are finally married, George is shocked to find out he is being fired from his job at a Catholic school. With the real estate market the way it is in Manhattan, George and Ben are forced to live apart while looking for a place to live. Ben moves in with his nephew and wife where he has to room with their 14 year old son, and George stays with a couple who lives in their apartment building on their couch. If living in these new circumstances isn’t hard enough, the two men have to deal with their unwanted separation for an unknown amount of time.
What I found when watching Love is Strange is that it is strongly dependent on its 2 leads. When these men are on screen together the movie shines. They are happy, charming and funny together. They seem like two people in love and I chalk that up to these 2 veteran actors doing a superb job. However, for most of the movie, Ben and George are forced to live apart, and thus the movie isn’t as charming and funny as we watch these 2 men struggle through days, out of their element. George is unhappy that he was fired for marrying a man who the school knew he was with for almost 40 years! He is forced to sleep on a couch while the couple he lives with throws parties all night and has many guests over which limits the amount of sleep he gets. In Ben’s living arrangement, he feels the opposite of George. No one pays attention to him as their busy lives cause Ben to be more of an inconvenience than welcomed company. Because most of the movie is focused on their new living situation, I felt like the movie was annoying and boring, just as the men do about what happened to their lives. I understand it shows us that sometimes love is worth changing your life for and that you have to make time for love if you want it to work, but as someone watching a movie, it was drab. Sometimes we want the fairy tales to be nicer onscreen than in real life. I’m not knocking the realistic nature, but as you, the person reading my thoughts, I felt that you should be warned that this movie can be dry at times. Now don’t get me wrong, there are many moments that stir emotion and allow you to feel the love these 2 men feel, but their wasn’t enough for me to sing the praises of this movie.
For what it is and wants to be, this movie is very well made and acted. Alfred Molina and John Lithgow shine in these roles and I only wish they could have been on the screen together more often. For now, I say this movie is a decent watch but be prepared for some moments to be slow. Co-starring Marisa Tomei, Darren E. Burrows, Cheyenne Jackson, and Charlie Tahan.
6/10 Stars – Strong chemistry from the 2 leads, but that is only when they are together, otherwise is often dry.
His Review: Set in a futuristic utopian society where everyone wears the same dull clothes, are told what lives they will live, and mostly all human emotions are removed,…
His Review: Mathias Gold (Kevin Kline) is not a happy man. He is 57, broke and has been divorced 3 times. When the father whom he hated dies,…
Her Review: Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) lives a quiet simple life. He works at Home Mart, has few friends and can’t sleep at night so he spends his…
Her Review: The Boxtrolls are mysterious and mischievous little creatures who wear boxes and live below ground. They have lovingly raised an orphaned human boy they call eggs…