Sunday, February 23, 2014

Movie Review of The Monuments Men - Review by Daniel Kilgallon

Run Time: 118 min

Written and directed by George Clooney, “The Monuments Men” is an action/drama film taking place during the closing stages of World War II. Clooney also stars in the movie alongside an ensemble cast featuring Matt Damon, Bill Murray and John Goodman amongst others. With such a great group of actors and an intriguing premise, I was really looking forward to this film. “The Monuments Men” wasn’t quite as monumental as I hoped, but it is still makes for a pretty good time at the movies. 
The film focuses on the true story of an unlikely World War II Allied squad. This unique band consists of seven men, including museum directors, curators and art historians. The group calls themselves “The Monuments Men” as Franklin D. Roosevelt appoints them with the task of rescuing artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves. They must save as many pieces of this art as they can and return them to their rightful owners before Adolf Hitler destroys all of it. 

In order to save the art and preserve important pieces of history, this brave group of men must travel to Germany with the Allied forces. Their mission seems nearly impossible as all of the artwork is trapped behind enemy lines. Furthermore, none of the men in the group have much military experience. Nevertheless, they are all willing to risk their lives to protect and defend many famous pieces of art. I loved the message that this film delivered as it did a great job of showing just how much those men cared about some of mankind’s greatest achievements. 

Unfortunately, one thing that this movie struggled with was establishing a mood throughout the film. At times the film was very serious and heartfelt, but on the other hand, there were was an awful lot of humor mixed in. This was expected with actors like Bill Murray and John Goodman playing major roles, but I still wish that the movie picked one mood and rolled with it. However, to no surprise this movie showcased some fantastic performances from its impressive cast. 

Despite a rather slow build up and quite a few dull moments, “The Monuments Men” still tells a good story and as I mentioned earlier, delivers a great message. It wasn’t exactly the most exciting way to depict the greatest treasure hunt in history, but the humor coupled with top notch acting helped to keep the story moving.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - PG - Review by Heath Chase

A good trailer will win me over most times, though, never in my life have I seen a better trailer than the one that this movie produced last fall. I began telling myself that in no way would this movie live up to that groundbreaking minute long teaser-spot that caused me to make a six minute long video on YouTube expressing how well-crafted it was. Now, after finally seeing the movie, I can say truthfully to you all that it is even better. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty does something that I cannot put into words, it made me want to change as a person, to step out from the shadows and live...but we'll get to that in a minute.

Ben Stiller directs, produces and stars in this "Dramedy" as Walter Mitty, a daydreaming, yet, caring man who loves his career at Time Magazine, but fears what others think of his seemingly "mundane life." Soon after the start of the film, we see Walter become captivated by a new co-worker at the office named Cheryl (Kristen Wiig) which is presented in a very humanizing way that only makes us want to see Walter succeed. Through a turn of events (Which I will not spoil) Walter leaves his comfort zone and ends up on the other side of the world, embarking on an adventure that both revolutionizes an amazing character and flows without a hitch.

Like I said before, this film is inspiring in every way and really made me want to go on a similar journey. It is helped greatly by the heart that went into the makings of this film--something that cannot be overseen--and its absolutely eye popping cinematography. This film also had me belly laughing at least every five minutes, which is a sparse trend nowadays in cinema, but Ben Stiller has always shared my sense of humor. What I'm trying to say here is this: See this movie. The film breathes something we haven't seen in movies in a very long time, making--yes, I'm going to say it--one of the best film's I've ever seen in my twenty years of life.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

I, Frankenstein (PG-13) - Review by Daniel Kilgallon

Run Time: 92 mins

Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight) stars as the title role in I, Frankenstein, or what I like to call, “I, Harvey Dent with a couple of scratches on my face”. This fantasy action film portrays the origins of the iconic Frankenstein monster and the centuries old war that he gets caught up in. Because of extremely negative critic reviews and underwhelming trailers, I wasn’t excepting much more than some mediocre action from this film. Unfortunately, this movie didn’t even meet those low standards. 

In the year 1795, Dr. Victor Frankenstein creates a monster out of various parts of corpses and electricity. This monster then enters a rage and in his fury kills the wife of the doctor. Frankenstein’s monster then flees to the Arctic and is pursued by his creator, who freezes to death before he can get his revenge. 

The monster eventually comes across the body of Dr. Frankenstein and decides to bury him. While doing this, he is attacked by a group of demons. However, a couple of gargoyles come just in time to save him. He is taken to the queen of the gargoyles who decides to name him Adam and invites him to join her forces. 

Adam declines the offer and goes out on his own after being gifted weapons that allow him to kill demons.
200 years later, Adam lives on and the societies of the gargoyles and demons continue to exist in our society. Both groups have been racing to discover the technology behind Adam’s immortality. The demon army intends to recreate Frankenstein’s monster in hundreds of human corpses and take over the world while the gargoyles must do everything in their power to prevent this from happening. The rest of the film is basically an all-out war between these two immortal groups. 

As I previously mentioned, Frankenstein’s monster looked awful and hardly even resembled the famous character. The gargoyles and demons looked just as bad as they appeared extremely cartoony. Furthermore, the acting performances were horrible across the board and the story was incredibly choppy. I thought that the action scenes would save this movie, but they were all just poor CGI garbage. Other than a couple of decent fight sequences, there was nothing I enjoyed about this film. I, Frankenstein is the worst movie I have seen in a very long time. Do yourself a favor and avoid this film at all costs.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Book Review - The Fault in Our Stars - By Josh Green

Review by Sierra Yost

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is a young adult book about two teenagers in love. Sounds pretty stereotypical, right? Not the case at all. The circumstances that bring these two teenagers, Augustus and Hazel, together are the opposite of ordinary. They meet at a cancer support group, Augustus is in remission after having a leg amputation and is there supporting his friend Isaac. Hazel is there to appease her parents, because she has stage 4 thyroid cancer and lung issues which forces her to be on oxygen. They have a staring contest, talk about oblivion, and realize they like each other. 

This book wrestles with major themes, such as mortality, love, courage, and what it means to exist in the universe. Both Hazel and Augustus learned to deal with mortality with their cancer diagnoses, but they look at the universe differently. Augustus wants to make his mark on the world, to affect people, to cause a positive change. Hazel goes through life trying to make as little a mark as possible, so she does not hurt anyone when she dies. 

With illness, death, and consciousness always on people’s minds, it is a wonder that this book isn’t morbid and depressing. In fact, it is just the opposite. Yes, it does make you look at the world and yourself differently. It makes you question your existence and what happens when people die. However, John Green manages to include comedy throughout the book. The Fault in Our Stars will have you laughing one page and tearing up (or bawling) on the next. The plot is an emotional rollercoaster, not only for the characters in the book, but for the readers following them on their journey.

On a side note, The Fault in Our Stars is coming out as a major motion picture on June 6, 2014. In order to avoid having someone spoil the ending for you as soon as they see the movie, you should read the book now. Plus, the book is almost always better than the movie, so why risk having the movie ruin the entire plot for you (though it looks as though the movie will be very good). I would highly recommend reading this book, even if you do wait until you have seen the movie.

* Note to parents: This book includes some PG-13 content.

Movie review - Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (PG-13) - By Daniel Kilgallon

Run Time: 105 mins

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is an international spy movie based on the character Jack Ryan created by the late Tom Clancy. This reboot marks the character’s fifth film appearance. However, unlike previous installments, the movie is not an adaption of any specific book in the series. Instead, it is a completely original story which chronicles the origins of the title role. 

Chris Pine (Star Trek) is the fourth actor to portray the character of Jack Ryan, following in the footsteps of Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck. In the beginning of the movie, Ryan,   a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps, is shown serving as a platoon commander in Afghanistan about a year and half after the tragedy of 9/11. He is critically injured after his helicopter is shot down and must participate in a rehabilitation program. 

During his rehab assignment, he catches the attention of a CIA agent named Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner). Ryan is soon recruited by Harper and is sent back to college to earn his PhD in economics. Harper thinks that Ryan’s ability to recognize complex patterns could make him a valuable covert analyst for the CIA someday.

Ten years later, while working on Wall Street for the CIA, Ryan begins to notice that the Russian government has been making some suspicious transactions. Ryan researches the case and eventually uncovers a Russian plot to crash the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack. The mastermind of this plot is Viktor Cheverin (Kenneth Branagh), a veteran of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. 

Jack Ryan must travel to Moscow in so he can infiltrate Cheverin’s offices and prevent this terrorist attack from happening as it could lead to a second Great Depression in America. In order to do this, Ryan must step out of his comfort zone of economic analysis and take on the role of a fully operational field agent.

For the most part, I found this to be a fun and exciting film. I enjoyed the performance of Pine as Ryan and that of his love interest, Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley). However one thing this film truly lacked was originality. I felt as if most of the scenes in this movie came right out of a James Bond, Mission Impossible or Jason Bourne movie. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a decent action flick, but it just isn’t nearly as good as the films it emulates.