Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Ella Enchanted

Ella Enchanted is another movie based off of a book. This book is one that you would find at a book fair in junior high school. It is still a really good read as you get older, nonetheless. The movie is really very different than the book. It has the same basic idea behind the plot but they added an evil uncle, an unjust society, and a couple odd song and dance scenes. The stars are, Anne Hathaway as Ella, Cary Elwes (of the princess bride) as Sir Edgar, and Hugh Dancy as Prince Char. Ella Enchanted is the cinderella story of a girl whose mother died as a child, but with a slight twist. Ella had a fairy godmother and at her birth another fairy gave her a gift. Lucinda was known for her bad gifts, however, and if anyone protested she would turn them into a squirrel. Ella was granted with the gift that she would always be obedient. If anyone gave her an order she was forced to follow it, including those orders no one really means. This gets her into a couple bad situations and could prove amusing, such as when one classmate says "Bite me," to Ella.

Prince Char is quite obviously the prince but he's been decieved all his life and is unfit to really rule the kingdom. Sir Edgar is his OBVIOUSLY evil, stereotyped uncle. Insert annoying, comic-relief pet snake here. The movie in itself is very funny and this is aided by the narrator, Eric Idle, from Monty Python, speaking in rhyme.

This is partly a children's movie but the type that could be enjoyed by everyone. PG with Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Pump up the Volume

Pump up the Volume is a movie starring Christian Slater as a teenager, Mark Hunter, who was forced to move from a big city to a small town against his will. His parents gave him a radio though by which to contact his friends which he had to leave behind. However, as a joke he starts up a pirate radio show, broadcasting lewd humor as "Hard Harry". Later he starts to provoke the administration of his high school which is corrupt. They try to hide all the little scandals involved with their school to make it seem to be the perfect school. There are even scams to get more funding from the government.

All of this he exposes in his radio show which is becoming increasingly popular with the teenagers at the school. The administration has caught them selling tapes and when Harry broadcasts there is a field where everyone gathers in their cars to hear what he has to say. Everything is going good until one day something terrible happens and Harry is upset that he was the cause of it.

The movie is definitely for an older audience. I couldn't find a rating but it would probably be at least PG-13 if not higher than that. Definitely a movie with a message that will make you think it gets Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Oceans 11

Here is another of my absolute favorite movies. It's a remake of an old movie from 1960 that caught my attention. It's a story about a thief and for once you aren't cheering on the person he's going to rob. The movie was jam packed with stars incuding, George Clooney as Danny Ocean, Bernie Mac as Frank Catton, Brad Pitt as Rusty Ryan, Elliot Gould as Reuben Tishkoff, Casey Affleck as Virgil Malloy, Scott Caan as Turk Malloy, Eddie Jemison as Livingston Dell, Shaobo Qin as the amazing Yen, Carl Reiner as Saul Bloom, Matt Damon as Linus Caldwell,Don Cheadle as Basher Tarr,Julia Roberts as Tess Ocean, and finally, Andy Garcia as Terry Benedict.

The plot of this movie is that Danny Ocean has just gotten out of jail and he has a big heist he wants to pull. He gets together a group of the best thieves and sneaks out there to rob the impossible; 3 casinos. It's never been pulled off before but this crew is going to give it a shot with the most elaborate scheme ever!

This movie is excellent because it has a lot of comedy but also a lot of mystery. You think you know the whole scheme at the beginning? You don't know anything! Rated PG-13 I give it Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

In the final movie, Frodo and Sam finally get to Mordor and you find out more about who Aragorn is and why. Some of this was revealed in the second movie but it all comes together here. There is also the final battle between the lands of men and Mordor's armies. Pippin and Merry manage to get into the usual trouble and Gandalf comes to the rescue again.

The majority of the movie is a struggle at Gondor. Aragorn brings new allies into play and it is shown that not all the evil is inhuman. The elves leave on the ships to their far land beyond the sun with several friends as well. Not much else can be said you'll have to go discover the rest.

Also PG-13, much like the others I give it Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

The second and next continuation of the Lord of the Rings trilogy the second involves Frodo and Sam continuing on their journey into the vile land of Mordor realm of Sauron. Also at the end of the last movie was the abduction of Pippin and Merry by a band of Orcs and Urukhai. Both were races bred from elves captured by the evil armys. They were bred together with other races simply to be the brute strength of an army that were driven entirely by bloodlust. Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas are chasing after the two hobbits to try and rescue them. Introduced in this movie was a new race, the Ents. The Ents are tree guardians. They live in the depths of old forests to protect them from the ravages of men and orcs; both of which have destroyed forests for their own means. Also there is a new country of men. The riders of Rohan. They are the cavalry of the world born to ride horses and also great warriors.

Not much can be said about this movie without giving too much of the plot away. The secret observer from the first movie is revealed and you also learn of Boromir's brother Faramir, the last defense against the orc hordes emanating from Mordor.

This movie is also rated PG-13 and has Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

The first of an epic series well known by anyone who reads a lot of fantasy. Almost everyone has at least heard of the series and the prequel The Hobbit. The casts of these movies are almost too huge to list. They included huge casts of people in armies and cities everywhere, giving them a more human, realistic feel than if these background people had been created with graphics.

This first movie ends the story of Frodo's uncle Bilbo and begins the true story of the fight for the one ring. The one ring... it holds a mystery around it in the beginning. It holds a power released when you wear it. It turns the wearer invisible. However, the ring holds more than one secret, especially the one of why it was created and the horrible things it can do to the people that have it. I won't say anything here but it was decided that the ring must be destroyed and that can only happen at one place. In the lava of the volcano where it was first created. So a fellowship was created, a representative of each people of Middle Earth was sent with Frodo, a hobbit, to bear the ring across the world to destroy it and to end the danger that it presented to the world. Included in this fellowship were the hobbits, Frodo, Pippin, Merry and Sam. The men, Boromir from Gondor and Aragorn, a mysterious ranger. Lastly there were the elves and dwarves. Legolas from Galadriel's forest and Gimli of the dwarves.

The set meet with much danger and trials on their journey as well. Unfortunately some of my favorite novel parts were cut out. They weren't very major parts so I took it with a grain of salt, understanding that in the end there just wasn't enough time to include it all.

The movie is very fun to watch and can transport you to a world very different from our own and is an enjoyable escape from the everyday. It's rated PG-13 and I give it Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Also eagerly anticipated was the second Harry Potter movie which came out about a year later. There was only a couple new cast in this movie, mainly featuring the latest DADA, defense against the dark arts, teacher, Gilderoy Lockhart played by Kenneth Branagh. His character was excellently played, clearly full of himself just like in the book. Especially interesting were the portraits of himelf that adorned all the walls of the classroom, and his fun take on detention, having Harry answer his fanmail. This second movie melded well into the first, both being directed by Chris Columbus.

Harry was warned not to go back to Hogwarts this year. A house elf came to the Dursley's purposely to try to get Harry expelled from Hogwarts. He claimed that there were dark plots going on this year and it would not be safe. Harry ran into trouble all this year, including having trouble getting to the Hogwarts Express.

The movie was very entertaining, including parts where the actor's voices cracked appropriately throughout the movie. It happens to all of us but can still add a slightly realistic quality to the movie. This movie was also fairly true to the book and contained some amazing graphic effects which did not stand out excessively.

Also PG I give it Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

The first of the Harry Potter movies that was ever produced. Also known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone depending upon where you are. Mostly called that in Europe. Here was the first, so eagerly anticipated by everyone who has ever gotten sucked into the book series. I have to say it lived up to my expectations.

Harry Potter saviour of the wizarding world and he doesn't even know it. Starring in this movie are Daniel Radcliffe as Harry and also Rupert Grint and Emma Watson as his faithful friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger respectively. In this film Harry discovers that he is a wizard and starts learning magic. As usual there are strange things going on, partially heralded by Dumbledore's announcement that the third floor corridor was off limits to anyone not wishing to die a most painful death. He says that almost like he thinks someone might want to!

This movie was pretty faithful to the book. Mostly things were just cut out in the interests of time because no movie can contain EVERYTHING a book has. All of the scenes were amazing and the graphics melded in perfectly except for a few scenes where things began to look much more like CGI. Of course there is only so much you can do and this is understandable considering the nature of the film.

Rated PG I give it Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Hotel Rwanda

As the last days for seniors drew near, we watched another very good movie in my government class. This one was a true story made in 2004 entitled Hotel Rwanda. Here's some background information on what this is really about. Rwanda is a country in Africa that was under the control of the Dutch for a period of time. At this time when they first arrived the country was all one people. The Dutch changed this and split the people so they could put some of them in power as their loyal followers. They chose these characteristics physically, the favored ones were those who looked more European. They would even measure the size of a persons nostrils and also how light their skin color was. These selected were called the Tutsis and those not chosen were the Hutus. When the Dutch left the Tutsis lost all their power and the Hutus gained a lot of power. Previously the Hutus were treated like serfs. About 20 years later the Hutus and Tutsis were fighting for power and the Hutus began executing all the Tutsis.

This story takes place when the Hutus are first beginning to become very militant. Tutsis were often harrassed, but not to the point of killing them yet. There are several hotels in the city for white tourists and also for affluent Hutu army officials. Paul Rusesabagina played by Don Cheadle, works at this hotel and basically keeps it running. The manager who is white leaves when the Hutus start becoming very much like the german Nazi party and he leaves Paul in charge of the hotel. Paul is a Hutu with a Tutsi wife and children. He has been bribing generals and army officers for year in the hopes that one day he can call those favors in and save his family. When the killings start, however, he's trying to save more than his wife. Tutsis who know him all turn to him for help. They know he is Hutu and they know that they can trust him.

This was another very touching movie that I enjoyed incredibly. It was all the more interesting because it was a true story and at the end you learn the fate of his family and some others in the movie. This movie is dominated by Don Cheadle who is an amazing actor who can do a variety of accents. He has played equally in comedies and heavy dramas and is incredible in both.

This was a very touching movie for people who can enjoy a more adult storyline. It's rated pg-13 for violence and I give it

Dead Man Walking

A note to all readers before continuing, this is a rated R movie about a very graphic subject.

At school, it isn't very often that you get to watch a movie simply for enjoyment. Mostly you watch biographies or something of that sort. Occasionally though, a teacher goes out of the way to alleviate the senioritis and finds interesting everyday movies that relate to the topic, but also have a plot. Government class is one of those times. We were discussing delinquency and also the death penalty and watched the film Dead Man Walking.

This is an older movie that came out in 1995. It gives a somewhat shocking look into the things that people will do when put under peer pressure. Matthew Poncelet is played by Sean Penn. He's a man who was locked away for murder and rape. His sentence? Death. He and a friend often harrassed couples in "quiet areas". One day it went too far and the young woman was raped and murdered along with her boyfriend. Matthew's friend however was not given the death penalty but rather life in prison. The truly controversial part is that Matthew's friend had a better lawyer and Matthew was given one who had never before tried a murder case. During the entire trial he did not make one objection.

The story focuses on Sister Helen Prejean who is a nun played by Susan Sarandon. (side note for my relatives: she looks just like Aunt Jan with a southern accent) She works in a predominately African American area working with the kids and giving them someplace to go rather than being on the streets. I believe it is also a small time school. One of the members of the community comes to her with a letter from a man soon to be executed, Matthew. He's studied up on law and has come up with a case that could possibly reduce his sentence to life in prison rather than death. He's terrified and is begging for help to find a lawyer that would take his case pro bono; a.k.a. for free. Sister Helen answers his letter and later goes to meet him to try and help him come to terms with what he had a hand in. She doesn't ever condone what he did but she believe's that in his heart he is tormented by it and doesn't believe it was justice for him to be given the death penalty.

Whether he actually had any part in the murder is actually question as well. This was a very moving film. I think that it seriously could make you consider the things you value in life and the question of how just are the decisions that are made in court about these cases. It also delves deeply into the idea of closure and also forgiveness, and whether a person can be angry and hurt and incredibly upset, but can still find it in their heart to forgive. It takes a strong person to do that, especially in the case presented in this movie.

This movie is definitely a tear jerker. (read: I cried my eyes out and my friends called me on it) This movie is rated R for VERY graphic scenes of death and rape, I give it

The Interpreter

The Interpreter is this year's latest murder thriller. It takes place in the U.N. where they are up in arms over killings in Africa. A controversial African head of state is coming to the U.N. embassy to discuss the current events in his country. This leader rose to power basically by inciting a rebellion and taking control at the head of an army. There are three main warring factions involved in this, the largest is the current leader better known as The Teacher. Silvia Broome is a young woman, played by Nicole Kidman, who was born in Africa to a British mother and a white African father. She grew up there during the time when the Teacher was a liberator of their country from a tyrant, until one day he set land mines out on a road and Silvia Broome's life changed for the worse. She now works as an interpreter for the U.N. with dual citizenship. One day she goes back to work late and in the sound booth she hears something rather odd. There was talking on the U.N. floor in an African dialect known to only about 4 people there.

Sent to investigate this threat is Tobin Keller, played by Sean Penn, who doesn't believe that the threat could be real. He still acts on it, however, under the maxim, better safe than sorry. Is the threat real? Does the victim die? Why does it seem like Silvia might have a bigger stake in this than she's saying? I'm not saying any more.

I'm not usually a big fan of murder movies or books. It's generally not my cup of tea. However, driven by boredom and needing an idea to go hang out with a friend of mine, we turned to our usual resort... watching a movie. This movie is very enjoyable, however. I was interested in everything and was surprised at every twist. Almost every twist anyway. This movie wasn't just a thriller though. The whole story had a much deeper meaning that draws you in. If you listen carefully to a lot of customs you might be surprised by some things later in the end if you put 2 and 2 together. This story also has more than just the plot involving the murder threat. You sneak a peek into the sordid backgrounds of both Silvia and Tobin, and both are worth the look.

This movie is rated Pg-13 with Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

(note: to have spots and other such important things added later)

The past weekend I saw a couple of new movies, and, to take a break from the updating past entries which I have been avoiding, and also, since I have nothing better to do, you get two new entries, or more! today.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is yet another entry in another popular trend; Converting books to movies. This series I haven't read, but have heard rave reviews about. Most of them I knew were thrilled to see it made into a movie.

My own opinion? It was a really good movie if you went to watch it for comedy. The lines are amazingly funny and will keep you laughing to the point of tears throughout. The actors were incredibly well cast. Ford, galactic hitchhiker extraordinaire, was played by Mos Def. This was often questioned mostly because Mos Def is better known for his hip hop career. However, in this role he was incredibly well cast and played it off to perfection. Also in this movie were Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent, the protaganist thrown into galaxies of bureaucracy he never knew existed. Also starring are Zooey Deschanel as Trillian, Sam Rockwell as Zaphod Beeblebrox, and Alan Rickman as the voice of the very depressed robot Marvin. Alan Rickman is becoming much more well known in the U.S. for his role as Professor Snape in Harry Potter. One other character, that I didn't recognise at first glance is John Malkovich as Humma Kavula. One small interesting fact is that Marvin the robot isn't CGI. Inside the suit was Warwick Davis, better known to some of us as Professor Flitwick, or Willow. It is amusing to think that Professor Snape was the voice of Professor Flitwick.

Unfortunately there are a few downsides to this movie, perhaps not noticed at a first glance. You laugh your way through the movie and it's enjoyable when you're there, but after leaving the theatre you come to one main conclusion.... There wasn't a plot. Now this seems kind of odd, and something you might notice, I mean seriously, a plotless movie? But it's true. There a couple small plots to draw parts together but overall, there isn't anything else there.

This could probably be drawn into one main conclusion, where the story came from. Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy is not one book, but rather an entire series much like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. Unlike those two examples, however, only one movie was made to encompass the entire series. I've spoken with several friends after they've seen the movie and, having read the books, they were left feeling unsatisfied. One told me that they took the plots from the books, mixed them up squished them together and then came up with the script. I can understand why this would upset people who have seen the movie before.

In it's entirety this was an enjoyable movie, but, being left without a plot, or perhaps too many jumbled in one movie, this would be something more to rent just for the jokes, much like Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail. Rated PG I give it

Always remember... Don't Panic.