Valentine’s Marathon: The Choice (2016)

Next up in the Valentine’s Marathon is the annual Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation visit to stay on track and up to date with this. What started off as something that I thought would be torturous actually wasn’t as bad. A ton of you are going to disagree with me. I know already. Every year I post one of these, most people hate these Nicholas Sparks movie adaptations and would just like them to stop. While I can see where everyone is coming from, I actually don’t mind them at all, except for The Last Song…I really don’t like that one. But can you believe, The Choice is the 10th Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation? But from what I’ve read, this is the last movie adaptation.

Let’s check it out!

The Choice (2016)

The Choice

Director: Ross Katz

Cast: Teresa Palmer, Benjamin Walker, Maggie Grace, Alexandra Daddario, Tom Wilkinson, Tom Welling

Travis and Gabby first meet as neighbors in a small coastal town and wind up in a relationship that is tested by life’s most defining events. – IMDB

Nicholas Sparks movies have a formula. Its also this formula that really drives non-fans away from it, in my opinion. There’s always lovers who meet under less than desirable circumstances who find a way to be together then some disapproving factor drives them apart and then they somehow find the strength to reunite. Some times, they are able to be together and sometimes, other things will keep them apart (ex. sickness, death, bad timing, etc). You get my drift, right? Whenever I review one of these movies, I think its important to push away that formula. Think about the factors they put together from the characters to their chemistry (a big one for romance) and the supporting roles and what it does, maybe even the setting. The formula won’t change, we all know that and if it does, like the first time I saw a character survive the ordeal without some bittersweet twist, I was actually pleasantly surprised. So we’re going to do this for The Choice, okay? It sounds stupid to brush the story aside but that isn’t exactly what I’m doing, just you know glazing over the familiarity and looking more at how it carries itself.

The Choice

The Choice is not my favorite Nicholas Sparks adaptation. In fact, I don’t think A Walk to Remember has ever been beaten in my guilty pleasure romance movies. However, The Choice does also give us two very cute characters. There are some supporting characters that could’ve done with a little more development but still had its purpose. The setting itself is beautiful and the chemistry was done quite well. The story could have been delivered a little better and probably the run time could’ve been shorter as well to make it more compact. The Choice isn’t anything great to the movie adaptations however, there is one thing that I liked a lot about it other than the beautiful setting making me want to seek it all out for myself but our two main characters. There are very familiar mechanics they use, like setting up the story in a way that we’re at a certain point and then recounting the events and then getting to the present and continuing on from there to the conclusion. I can’t say its particularly useful to do it like this but its not a bad way for it to unfold.

The Choice

The Choice’s primary strength is its couple, Gabby and Travis played by Teresa Palmer and Benjamin Walker respectively. Like I mentioned before, it didn’t really hit it off for me right away but in the interaction that Gabby and Travis has in their bickering, they start to grow a little (for me at least). Teresa Palmer’s character seemed to work out better for me but then there’s always a question of judgement and passion. Nicholas Sparks likes to embrace the somewhat “forbidden” love type of thing. Our characters need to have courage and they need to feel some security. In this case, the point of most of the story is Travis’s character not fighting for something he loves and always taking the easy route even if it means heartbreak and being lonely. Up till that point, the story still kind of worked because the message worked for me. However, the third act diving into a dramatic twist somewhat seems a little forced. It does also talk about guilt and holding on and fighting and believing but in many ways, the way it unfolds seems a little manipulative, I guess. I can forgive most of it but just saying that it would objectively be in that area to evoke some sort of sentiment and its where we are tested on how deeply we feel for this couple (which for me, wasn’t a whole lot) whereas, the idea of what is going on about churning up the thoughts of whether to let someone go is probably the bigger question here that really gets emotional. Probably because I’ve been in a relatable situation that it hit me a little harder than it probably would.

The Choice

The Choice however does have some other familiar faces in the supporting role. We have Maggie Grace as Steph, the sister of Travis who really is his guiding light of logic. She sees more about Gabby and her impact on Travis and how he actually feels, just like a close friend would be normally. We have an ex-girlfriend (or something) played by Alexandra Daddario who really doesn’t ever build up to much but to eventually tell Travis something important that encourages him. Tom Wilkinson plays as Travis’s father who in the second half probably understands more about what he is going through than others would. Most of these supporting roles are there for their one moment that really builds a connection or enlightens our character. These characters are also usually expected in these adaptations.

Overall, The Choice works okay for me. Its not my favorite but it is also far from the worst one out of the ten Nicholas Sparks adaptations. The charming characters of Gabby and Travis may get me to revisit it eventually. There are however many moments where it does fall flat, even if you look past the formulaic plot. The supporting characters are weak and could probably be fleshed out more. The story itself drags much longer than it needs. The chemistry between the characters are a little rushed in the first place so never quite meet the potential even if there are some good moments there. There are issues with this one but I’m pretty forgiving on these adaptations so I can see things that can redeem it. However, its not going to work for people who has never quite enjoyed any of them. If thats the case, you might probably not want to start here.

Valentine’s Marathon: Romeo & Juliet (2013)

Next up in the Valentine’s Marathon is a tale really as old as time and probably one of the first Shakespeare plays I had to read in school but super renowned and adapted a ton of times and that is Romeo & Juliet. This version is the 2013 one with Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth.

Let’s check it out!

Romeo & Juliet (2013)

Romeo and Juliet 2013

Director: Carlo Carlei

Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Douglas Booth, Damian Lewis, Paul Giamatti, Kodi Smit-Mcphee, Ed Westwick, Christian Cooke

Romeo and Juliet secretly wed despite the sworn contempt their families hold for each other. It is not long, however, before a chain of fateful events changes the lives of both families forever.-IMDB

 Its always hard to review Romeo and Juliet adaptations. We all know how the story will go and the tragic fate of these lovers. It becomes even harder each time to feel moved by the characters and the story somehow because of that familiarity. I’m not sure if this is the most recent movie adaptation but I think so with these young stars playing the popular roles. In reality, it feels like quite the task and one that I’d eventually like to do to talk about the play and all adaptations (or as many as I have access to). Maybe I’ll give that a go one day. However, we’re here to look at this adaptation and to be fair, it was fine. There were some familiar faces, some good performances, the set was pretty decent and so were the costumes. I’m not a Shakespeare extreme connoisseur so I don’t know the play front and back. It been a long time since I’ve read it but from what I remember, its seems pretty close (if not the same) in dialogue.  However, something seems missing which I can’t quite pinpoint so maybe as I write this out, I’ll figure it out.

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet are played respectively by Douglas Booth and Hailee Steinfeld.  I haven’t seen a lot of Hailee Steinfeld but I have seen Douglas Booth in few of his previous roles, probably the one I remember most is LOL and Jupiter Ascending (review HERE). To step into Romeo and Juliet is a big task (like I mentioned before), there was to be passion and believability in their roles. Perhaps one of the things I didn’t quite feel was their connection. Sure, they were passionate in their lines and I could see it working but when they were together, something just didn’t click. Although, I feel that it progressed a little fast also. I get that its supposed to be a few days of events like most Romeo and Juliet movies are set in but it took two seconds to jump to seeing each other, dancing and then going to to the back and kissing. I never felt like other Romeo and Juliet movies progressed the love arc that fast for them and maybe its why those movies had a more impactful performance. Oh, and I actually did like Hailee Steinfeld’s performance. I feel that she has potential to do more and that’s where I think I probably should check out The Edge of Seventeen from last year.

Romeo and Juliet 2013

Talking about the Montague boys now, we’ve already discussed Romeo as the lover boy but possibly a great bromance trio goes to these guys who felt naturally good together. Somehow they worked well in showing their different personalities of Mercutio, Romeo and Benvolio. It was easy to believe that they all held different views of the rivalry between the Montague and the Capulets but also that they each also had different values. Mercutio is played by Christian Cooke, who is a familiar face and I liked him in the role. However, I love Kodi Smit-McPhee ever since I saw him in Let Me In (review HERE). This guy has some really great acting chops. He did a great job at Benvolio even if it was just a supporting role.

Romeo and Juliet 2013

The Capulets are much more individual but also has a lot more screen time. We have Tybalt, played by Ed Westwick who is incredibly known to me as Chuck Bass in Gossip Girl and I loved his character there. Ed Westwick does have some good acting and in the right roles, he can do quite a bit. As Tybalt, he really just does the cocky guy with a ton of anger issues who has incredible hate for Montagues who can barely keep his actions in control. Plus, he does a whole lot of odd grunting angry voices and always has a grimace, which I get is in character but something about his character felt a little overacted perhaps. I can’t say that its his best performance in my book. The other part of the Capulets is Damien Lewis as Lord Capulet. I honestly haven’t had much contact with Damien Lewis but he seems like a really powerful actor because Lord Capulet’s role really carried especially when he was having the whole scene with Juliet and making his point clear of her marrying Count Paris. That was a fantastic scene.

Overall, Romeo and Juliet in this 2013 adaptation was okay. It probably won’t be memorable but its not horrible either. The pacing of the script could probably use some work to help make us care more about Romeo and Juliet especially when everyone already knows how this all works out and pretty much knows what to expect. There are some decent performances that I haven’t even mentioned other than Hailee Steinfeld, Damien Lewis and Kodi Smit-McPhee but also we have Paul Giamatti who plays as the Friar and as always, he does a nice job in the supporting role. Its hard to not compare Romeo and Juliet adaptations to each other especially since there’s already been so many but here’s my shot at it.

Have you seen this adaptation of Romeo and Juliet? Which adaptation is your favorite?

Netflix A-Z: How I Live Now (2013)

Next up in the Netflix us How I Live Now! I have been meaning to watch this since its release. I am a huge fan of Saoirse Ronan. I have yet to see a movie I dislike of hers. I am hoping to catch Brooklyn soon. With this indie focus on this round, this was the obvious choice.

Lets check it out!

How I Live Now (2013)

How I Live Now

Director: Kevin Macdonald

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, George MacKay, Tom Holland, Harley Bird, Anna Chancellor, Danny McEvoy

An American girl, sent to the English countryside to stay with relatives, finds love and purpose while fighting for her survival as war envelops the world around her.-IMDB

How I Live Now is a good indie drama. The standout is the attention it takes to build its characters, particularly Saoirse Ronan’s Daisy. Her character is one with a lot of inner conflict and as the world embarks on the brink of World War 3, her control is lost as she finds someone worth her distraction and worth her fight and focus. In comparison, many other characters don’t have as much with the exception of her little cousin, Piper. This aspect of relationships is where it gets a little blurry. What is acceptable, is her love interest her cousin, her mother’s sister’s son? That had me a little confused but quickly pushed it aside.

How I Live Now

The setting of How I Live Now is also quite good. While it takes us in an indie drama and adds in a young adult romance, it is more of a coming of age story for Daisy as she learns what is worth her time and embraces what she wants for herself and how she wants to live. Hence the title. At the beginning, we follow Daisy gain a fondness and break out of her control and focus on whatever it is that fleets through her mind. It is carefree until it isn’t. How I Live Now puts in a fictional situation (because it is World War 3) of living in the times of war that makes it desperate and escalates the danger and obstacles. The war aspect is also treated in extremes especially in various scenes. There is a dramatic take (as it should be) when approaching the effects of war as the country salvages what they can and it never draws out what is actually going on but definitely highlights on turmoil.

How I Live Now

We can however take some of the blurry plotlines as perhaps a lost in translation deal. How I Live Now is adapted from a novel of the same name. While I haven’t read the novel yet, it does beg the question as to whether the scenario itself was half hidden or that some issues were not highlighted, leaving questions like what is the actual relationship between Daisy and her cousins, especially the love of her life Eddie. There are questions as to why the war all started and why there seems a division between the military and perhaps rogue gangs that took advantage of the turmoil. There was a questions as to what happened to Daisy and why she has all those thoughts in her head. There are a lot of questions that could be answered and perhaps if it was all added into an 100 minutes movie, it would make it convoluted. However, there is a part of me that felt like something wasn’t complete at the end. And perhaps that the focus wasn’t built enough for us to care about some of the younger cast in order to feel for them when they were all split apart.

how i live now

Regardless of its minor flaws, How I Live Now is a good independent drama. One that takes a different approach to young love in a brutal near-future setting when the world is collapsing at the brink of war. It is a coming of age story for Saoirse Ronan’s outstanding performance as Daisy as she finds her focus and hope for things that truly matter to her and turn them into a motivation. Its her choice how to live as her world falls apart and slowly comes back together. A very good message portrayed in a pretty effective way with some great performances: How I Live Now is worth a watch, especially if you are like me and adore Saoirse Ronan.

Have you seen How I Live Now?

Next up is I selection! Any guesses?

Fantasia Festival: I Am Not A Serial Killer (Canadian Premiere 2016)

Next up in Fantasia International Film Festival is an absolute treat. I Am Not a Serial Killer is a little independent film. What does make it even more special is that it was hosted by  Christopher Lloyd. Are we even surprised at this point? The roster at the 20th annual Fantasia Festival has been incredible and the last comment from the audience during the Q&A wraps it up perfectly. When we think back of Christopher Lloyd’s career in over 200 movies, a lot of those roles have never been attempted again and he is irreplaceable.

Fantasia Festival

Christopher Lloyd deserved the standing ovation he got and the feeling in the theatre of hearing him talk about his career was enlightening. After so many roles, we can still hear how grateful he was for each role that he has taken on.

I Am Not A Serial Killer (2016)

I am not a serial killer

Director: Billy O’Brien

Cast: Christopher Lloyd, Max Records, Laura Fraser, Karl Geary

In a small Midwestern town, a troubled teen with homicidal tendencies must hunt down and destroy a supernatural killer whilst keeping his own inner demons at bay.-IMDB

I Am Not A Serial Killer is an adaptation from a series of novels by Dan Wells (one that I don’t know much about before).  However, it has a really intriguing premise. Our main character is John, played by Max Records. If that name rings a bell but you can’t pinpoint him, he was the little boy in Where the Wild Things Are. In many ways, I Am Not A Serial Killer is a character study. We learn about John (Max Records) and on the other side, we learn about his neighbor Mr. Crowley, played by Christopher Lloyd through his observations. At the same time, this movie is also an extremely slow movie. It takes its time to set up, execute and build everything it needs for us to connect with these characters. At all times, there is a sense of uneasy even under its bizarre humor. One of the most notable parts of the movie in the opening was the music: something like rock and alternative or whatnot. During different parts of the movie, it also cues in and then we mix it with a lot of silent moments.

I am not a serial killer

 I Am Not A Serial Killer has a small cast. In fact, the other players such as Laura Fraser who plays the mother and Karl Geary who plays the psychiatrist is there but never enough to take away from the main journey of John Cleaver played by Max Records. It is amazing to see that the young adult that Max Records has become and how his acting has matured as well. His performance in Where the Wild Things Are was quite enjoyable. In this one, it is a completely different beast. One that probably would be hard to imagine. In many ways, John Cleaver is like a normal teenager except right from the first scene, we already realize that his is fighting a battle against an obsession with death. It isn’t his death but rather one where he stops himself from the desire to kill. His psychiatrist early in the movie in one of the sessions says that he has the predictors of being a serial killer, something like a diagnosed sociopath or something along those lines. Can you even imagine what it is like to fight the thought of being a serial killer, trying every day to be a nice person and feeling like you have no feelings? In fact, Max Records does a great performance in showing the struggle. His performance doesn’t end there because he soon learns that his neighbor might be a serial killer and wholeheartedly sets out to stop him. Can you see the conflict in his character already? However serious this movie does become, it never forgets to put in these random humor areas. One of the best is when John Cleaver explains why he compliments and smiles to a bully at a party. It is funny and creepy all at the same time.

Christopher Lloyd

The neighbor Mr. Crowley is played by Christopher Lloyd. His character shows that people have different layers, whether its physically or mentally. On the outside, Mr Crowley is a silly man that is completely in love. He is the sweet grandfather that still does all the gestures. However, he holds a deep secret and we soon learn that he is a serial killer and causing a havoc in the small town that hasn’t seen such frequent killings ever. No one knows who he is except John but they also have a good relationship. Mr. Crowley’s character is learned through the eyes of John Cleaver. We see what he does and his personality and the conversations they have in different scenes. Just like Max Record’s character is conflicting, Mr. Crowley’s also is. In fact, perhaps there is some kind of parallel meant to be created.

I am not a serial killer

I Am Not A Serial Killer is a movie that will be interpreted differently to many. In fact, it is a slow paced movie. Some might not have the patience to see what happens. The ending itself is a shocking one. It turns the movie around. Although it never is talked about explicitly, as the audience, we get to see how both of these characters are quite similar but also opposite. We actually might catch the nuances of their characters even before they realize it in the movie. Especially as we watch John Cleaver’s character struggle, in many ways, we might ask ourselves why he cares so much to stop the killer, isn’t that feelings or is it to fulfill his obsession with death? The main question that will keep the audience intrigued is the clever pacing of never quite letting us in on the secret and revealing anyone’s intentions. We keeping doubting whether there is a danger.

I Am Not A Serial Killer is a serious movie injected with dark humor. It has great performances all around specifically with Max Records and Christopher Lloyd. The setting definitely emphasizes the isolation. It is for those ready to study and follow a character as it develops throughout the story and takes us for a dangerous adventure of following a killer, one that no one would suspect is any danger. This may be the hidden gem of 2016.

Return to Oz by Cinema Schminema – Ultimate 80s Blogathon

Our last guest to join us for the Ultimate 80s Blogathon is none other that the lovely Misty from Cinema Schminema.  Misty is possibly one of my earliest blogging friends after I started jumping into the movie reviews world.  She posts creative and fun reviews on a lot of low budget movies and a lot of B-horror.  I’d be lying if she didn’t introduce me to what Asylum is and found the joy and tolerance in watching some of those features. Remember to head on over and check her site out. 🙂

Let’s pass it over to her with her choice, Return to Oz!

Return to Oz (1985)

Return to Oz

The year was 1987 and I was but a wee slip of a thing who had a thing for dark fantasy films (at least those in the kids’ section of the video store – do you guys remember video stores??). I was also obsessed with Oz. It obviously started with The Wizard of Oz but I went on to read several more of the books (Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz – book 4 – being my 2nd favorite). Imagine my delight when I discovered the movie called RETURN TO OZ (and imagine my mother’s dismay when I made her rent that and LABYRINTH, every single week – why she didn’t just buy the damn things, I’ll never know).

In case you’re not familiar, RETURN TO OZ is based off books 2 and 3 of the Oz series (The Marvelous Land of Oz and Ozma of Oz), though be it a bit loosely with Dorothy being the sole protagonist and Tip being erased entirely. It picks up approximately 6 months after the events of the first book. Auntie Em and Uncle Henry are rebuilding their house after the destruction of the tornado and Dorothy (played by Fairuza Balk, so yeah, just freaking imagine the girl from THE CRAFT as Dorothy Gale, y’all. Just picture that in your head, I’ll wait) is feeling a bit lost and melancholy. And who wouldn’t be? Sure, Oz was a little f*cked but it was a hell of a lot more exciting than Kansas. Unfortunately, Auntie Em and Uncle H are a bit worried about her, so much so that they decide to cart her off to the scariest freaking “doctor’s office” on earth for some really nice old-fashioned electroshock therapy (which was, at this point in time, not at all old-fashioned, but very newly IN fashion). Auntie Em has the f*cking nerve to LEAVE her there all alone on a dark and stormy night, with some creeper of a nurse lurking around (a really tall and terrifying woman who is CLEARLY up to no good). Dorothy is TWO seconds away from getting her first “treatment” (literally, she’s on the table) when the lights go out. She’s left alone (strapped down on a table on a dark and stormy night in the dark in a scary building with creepy adults who want to shock her brain, just sayin’) and a mysterious little girl appears and tells Dorothy that they must run for it! Thank god for that girl. Except creeper nurse sees them and chases them down to the river where Dorothy falls in and gets separated from the mystery girl. And when she wakes up? You guessed it – she’s back in Oz!

Return to Oz

Welcome to Oz, bitches!

But this time, things are WAYYYYYY more f*cked up than before. Oh, and her chicken from her farm is with her – Billina (not sure what kind of name that is really) – and the chicken can talk (in Oz, not in Kansas) and the chicken is kinda sassy. So. In THE WIZARD OF OZ, there was a scary Wicked Witch, right? Two, technically if you count the one the house fell on. And those flying monkeys were pretty scary. Wanna know what’s scary in RETURN TO OZ?

  1. The Deadly Desert – This surrounds Oz and anyone who touches it immediately crumbles into sand themselves. As evidenced when 6 Wheelers run into it chasing Dorothy. Bye-bye, Wheelers!
  2. Wheelers -People who have wheels in place of their hands and feet. Move around on all fours but are tall as if on stilts. Scream a lot. Pretty much like being on a bad acid trip and if you’re a child, the most terrifying thing in the effing world. (I LOVED IT).Return to Oz
  3. Mombi – Most terrifying till you get to Mombi, that is. I mean screaming wheely people are one thing but a witch who turns people to stone so she can steal their heads, that’s something else entirely. Sure, it doesn’t really SOUND scary when you put it that way. But then you have that scene where her room of 30 heads in cases get woken up by Dorothy and all start screaming “Dorothy Gale!!!!” at once, which in turn awakens Mombi’s headless body that runs around trying to find a head so she can catch Dorothy. Do you know how traumatizing that is for a child? NO idea what these filmmakers were thinking…

    Return to Oz

    DO YOU SEE THIS???

  4. The Nome King – He’s a LITTLE less scary – mostly more creepy. Something about faces moving around in rock walls with human looking eyeballs is just…*shudders* Although he IS allergic to eggs, so that’s pretty damn funny.
Return to Oz

Right…okay…maybe he’s a little scary too…

You also get to see the Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man looking not only incredibly different from the original (and kinda lame looking) but completely turned to stone (then ornaments); some light S&M; a guy made out of limbs and a giant pumpkin (also kind of creepy) and a sofa attached to a moosehead that flies and talks. Seriously, this is one of the best f*cking movies EVER.

Return to Oz

This (and LABYRINTH) fueled my imagination and love of fantasy like nothing else. And possibly my love for the macabre because this is a REALLY dark movie. Like, no child ever should have watched this thing (and my parents wonder why I started reading Poe the next year, writing crazy stories involving pumpkins and strange lands a few years later, and grew up to love the strangest, most off-kilter movies I could find). This movie wasn’t what you’d call “well-loved” when it came out but it quickly became a cult classic (and with good reason).

If you somehow HAVEN’T seen this (then we’re no longer friends), I highly suggest you go rent this from your local Hollywood Video, like, ASAP. Dark, acid trippy af, like Dorothy really WILL need therapy after this adventure (not the electroshock kind though, tyvm) TOTES, it’s a must see classic of a decade where Hollywood could get away with putting pretty much anything in kids’ movies. Seriously though.

Room (2015)

During the duration of the Ultimate 80s Blogathon, it will be my chance to do a lot of 2015 movies catch-up.  Focus will mostly go to Oscar nominated films.  The choices are limited as some are stuck in between home release and theatres.  Still, I’m going to try my best to get to as many as possible.  Moving right along with the Oscar nominations (since I already looked at Bridge of Spies before, Room is nominated for 4 Oscars including Best Picture. Its also filmed in Toronto and the little boy Jacob Tremblay has been on The Ellen Show recently.  I read Room (review HERE) a few years ago in my earlier blogging days so maybe that review is not a fun read.  Still, it is a great book.

Let’s check it out! 🙂

Room (2015)

room

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Cast: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, Joan Allen, William H. Macy

After five-year-old Jack and his mother escape from the enclosed surroundings that Jack has known his entire life, the boy makes a thrilling discovery.-IMDB

Room is very good movie.  Its a well done adaptation of the book.  Watching endangered kids always has this somewhat manipulative aspect to it but Room and its cast rearranges (or at least I think of what I remember) the screenplay so that it makes it a little more cinematic.  IMDB’s description is a little skewed.  Room focuses on entrapment in the first half and escape/rehabilitation in the second half, almost through the eyes of a five year old.  During the movie, I was a little shocked that they split the movie almost down in the middle, allocating more time on Ma and Jack recovering and adapting to the real world.  It felt like the source material spent more time building it from Room.  Is that a good choice? Let me tell you that when the credits rolled, I couldn’t help but compare the enjoyment I had of this movie to Gone Girl (also one I loved the novel and was not sure how they’d make it work in a movie).  With that said, the credits listed the author of the book Emma Donoghue also to be responsible for the adapted screenplay and for that, I think is the similarity of what keeps the content true to what the heart of the novel is about.  I’m not one to nitpick on details on expanding or diminishing of the source material.  It honestly doesn’t bother me too much but how they dealt with it held my attention for the movie.  The tension, the urgency, the sacrifice, the fear of adapting, and other feelings were all apparent in this drama.

room

One of the best things was giving us a believable story lead by an extremely competent cast. There is no doubt of the exceptional performances of Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay playing Ma and Jack respectively.  Their attachment and relationship was depicted beautifully. The part I loved the most was those little monologues where the audience got to get an honest glimpse of what Jack was thinking of from the little world he lived in to his transition into a bigger world.  In a story like this, even being saved is still a struggle to heal for everyone and not just the victims.  Jack has the bigger world and building a connection with others and not just his Ma.  On the other hand, Ma has to get over the years she’s lost and people questioning the decisions she made.  Joan Allen is fantastic as Grandma, especially when contrasted with a much shorter appearance of William H. Macy as Grandpa, who for that short time sent out his feelings perfectly. However, among all the praise, I truly think that Sean Bridgers was casted wrong.  I don’t know who could have done it better or maybe its not even a casting issue but the lack of build-up for the villainous character of Old Nick.  It seemed a little rush and there was really one scene that gave him a more menacing feeling.

Room

Room is a truly eye-opening experience, especially when the movie does a fantastic job of opening and closing it the way it did.  Its an experience of really seeing what two sides of the coin (or the other side of the wall?) is all about. Room may be a prison for Ma because she knows what else is out there but for Jack, its not.  This is his world and he is happy because he has Ma.  That attachment takes time to maintain and it won’t be easily broken.  Does leaving Room behind mean that they are free? The amazement and fear in Jack as he learns to connect with others but still have that unbreakable bond with Ma is a precious one.  In all the hardships they’ve gone through, Room isn’t completely a depressing movie.  Its a thrilling and tense but weaved in with some genuine heartfelt moments that give hope and a different point of view.  Maybe sometimes, the eyes of a five year old can see more because they know less.

Have you seen Room? How did you like the performance of Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay?

The Little Prince (2015)

Have you ever read The Little Prince? I remember it being one of the first books my mom gave me when I was young.  Its been so many years that I haven’t read it.  From the moment I saw the trailer of The Little Prince, I just fell in love with it and it shot up my list of to-see films.  The problem was that The Little Prince didn’t have a set date as to when it was hitting theatres in the Montreal area.  By accident, I was checking out hours for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and it had hit theatres just this past Friday.  Imagine the joy I had! Hello, movie theatre and the best part is my husband volunteered to go with me even if its not really something he knows anything about.  Right before we went to the theatres, I even found time to read the book also! On that note, you should be expecting a review of that soon.

Let’s check it out! 🙂

The Little Prince (2015)

The Little Prince

Director: Mark Osborne

Voice Cast: Jeff Bridges, Mackenzie Foy, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Riley Osborne, James Franco, Paul Rudd, Benicio Del Toro, Ricky Gervais, Paul Giamatti

A little girl lives in a very grown-up world with her mother, who tries to make sure she’s prepared for it. Her neighbor, The Aviator, introduces the girl to an extraordinary world where anything is possible, the world of The Little Prince. – IMDB

I don’t think any story has ever captured youth and being a child like The Little Prince.  The novel, I mean.  I guess its why I was a little nervous about how this would turn out.  Reading the novel before I went to see this movie was a good move though.  It wasn’t necessary to understand the story at all but it does justify the need for having a side story of the Little Girl and her meeting The Aviator next door who tells her the story.  Some of the art was taken from the book which helps us connect the stories.  The best part of The Little Prince has to go to using CGI for the modern day story and The Little Prince’s story of his travels was done with stop motion animation. I loved the contrast of that because it gives it a storybook feeling for the recounting of the story.  It was a lovely touch.

The Little Prince

Before we talk about the next point, go back up to the voice cast names up there. The talent embedded in this movie is amazing.  Marion Cotillard played The Rose and her elegant voice matches that role completely.  Then we have The Fox who was James Franco.  I feel like Jeff Bridges hasn’t been in any commendable live-action movies in a while but his voice for The Aviator was just fantastic.  As was the voices for young actors doing The Little Prince, Riley Osborne and The Little Girl  by Mackenzie Foy.

The Little Prince

Another aspect that was done really well for The Little Prince was the music.  It was beautiful from the score to the soundtrack. My favorite has to be this one called Equation.  I watched it in English so it had the English version but I love this French one even more!

Light-hearted, soft, warm, sweet, cute.  These are all terms I’d associate with The Little Prince.  It knows when to tug at our heartstrings also with the little side story regardless of its The Little Prince or the parallel of The Little Girl finding her youth when her mom has truly been raising her to look into the future as a grown-up before she’s even experienced enjoyed being a child. The Little Girl really finds herself with the story of The Little Prince and spending time with The Aviator.  Their friendship together is really a sweet one and grows in a beautiful way.  It uses gentle hints at the more dreary things that as an adult we can understand.  The Little Prince plays around a little with the original though by inserting their own little adventure of The Little Girl and The Aviator and extends to her going out to find The Little Prince.  I won’t expand on what happens after there as to keep it fresh.  I’m a little hesitant on how that part is contributing to the story itself but it did hold its message well enough.  I’m not sure if it keeps the subtle message that the novel The Little Prince was trying to say and for that, I’m not exactly sure die hard fans of the book might like this change, but while I question that decision, it didn’t stop me from fully falling in love with the characters and catch myself tearing up at certain parts. I’m not one to nitpick on making adaptations exactly like their source material and for that, I could enjoy this one quite a bit.  It adds something extra while telling the beautiful story of The Little Prince that we are familiar with.

The Little Prince

Overall, The Little Prince is a beautiful animation.  It handles the source material well and adds something different to help us resonate the message it holds.  With a masterful mix of computer graphics and stop motion animation, it brings a new touch. The voice cast is stellar and brings life to each of its character.  The unexpected friendship between The Little Girl and The Aviator is a special one that connects well. At the same time, it never makes us forget about the heart and imagination of being a child.  While I feel that the last segment felt a little weird and the part where maybe it might make some fans of the book hesitate to enjoy this movie as much as others, it did its best to expand upon the source material in their own way and for that I enjoyed the heart behind it. The Little Prince is definitely worth a watch if you enjoy beautiful animation and soundtracks mixed with an imaginative story.

Have you seen The Little Prince? Did you ever read the novel? What are your thoughts on it?