Category Archives: Howling at the Stars

The Favourite: Who Should I Root For?

Some movies like to tell of grand adventures. The Favourite starts in the mud and tells a “small” story instead, and then expands to give a political power play between cousins, one at the pinnacle of society, and one fallen from those heights and trying to reclaim her position.

Released on the 23rd, The Favourite didn’t see a wide release, so you may have to do some looking around to find it, but to me it was worth the search.

Spoilers after the trailer, of course.

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Solo: A Star Wars Story – Likely an Unpopular Opinion

From the beginning, I had my reservations. Sadly, they were well founded.

Ehrenreich’s hair was that of someone in a boy band, and looked too styled to be a scruffy nerfhearder.

His voice to high pitched and whiny.

His smile lacking too much boy like charm.

But it went further than that. The character had no real connection; there was no earned relationships. What should have been moments of “oh my lord what did I just see?!” were played way to casually “oh you again”.

I don’t want to say too much – I know I am in the minority and worry I will ruin it for others, so I will just say this:

This is a good movie to watch on USA Network when they get the eventual rights and you have nothing else to watch on a Saturday afternoon.

Avengers Assemble

Well, that time is almost here. In just a few short weeks, we will be watching as the Avengers (and Guardians of the Galaxy) try to stop Thanos from killing half of all living beings in the universe in Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War.

If you are considering watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies leading up to this event, there are two options: watching all of the films, or just the ones that reference an Infinity Stone.

For your convenience, here is a list of both viewing options, with times for each movie. Additionally, they are ordered in chronological time, not original release order.

Enjoy!

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Tomb Raider: Strength

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Tomb Raider official poster

Lara Croft is strong. 

Lara Croft is a problem solver.

Lara Croft is what we all want to be.

This week, Square Enix’s video game Tomb Raider saw a new iteration born on the big screen, and unlike the last time we her on the big screen, this time we got a woman we actually care about.

Minor spoilers ahead.

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Red Sparrow: Dance of Death

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Red Sparrow starring Jennifer Lawrence

For all the positive stereotypes (strong, agile, dexterous) that surround dancers, there are many negative ones as well (lack common sense, unintelligent, flighty). I once dated a dancer who specialized in modern dance, and I can tell you that not all dancers fit these categories, especially the negative ones.

Red Sparrow, released this week in the United States, shows the general audience what I learned long ago: don’t underestimate dancers.

Spoilers ahead.

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Fury: War is Hell

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“Fury” starring Brad Pitt

“Ideals are peaceful. History is violent”

Brad Pitt

“Fury” is an honest portrayal of the brutality of war, the toll it takes on soldiers, and how those soldiers manage to fight on in the face of overwhelming odds. Make no mistake, this is not a movie for the squeamish. “Fury” tantalizes us with calm, and then hits us square in the jaw; and this happens from jump street.

As always, very minor spoilers below the trailer; nothing that will give away the overall plot or ending.

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The Judge: Honesty and Anticipation

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The Judge

Tis no secret among those that know me – I love movies. I always have had, and always will have, a soft spot in my heart, mind, and soul for a well written and well acted performance. 

I have been looking forward to The Judge for quite a long time. After reviving his acting career as the (in)famous Tony “Iron Man” Stark, Robert Downey, Jr. was given a second chance – a chance to prove the potential everyone knew he had before his personal demons ruled his life. He has vanquished those demons, and realized the potential he showed as a younger man. The Judge is proof positive of this.

The Judge is not a courtroom drama – though it has courtroom drama. The Judge is not a love story – though it has one of those as well. The Judge is, at its heart, the story of a boy and his father.  Interestingly enough, it is a coming of age story for a man already grown.

I would describe the theme of The Judge to be one of reconciliation; a story of “tough” love; a story of compassion. The Judge will sway you, and hopefully make you think. It will make you feel. The movie is long at over two hours, and some might feel it is slow paced – it’s not an action movie. This is a character study – this is the story of a man and his father. While these things are true, there is suspense, and not just of the courtroom variety. 

I often find myself saying about movies that I would recommend them to my friends, and I worry that I over say this at times. Even so, I recommend you see this movie.

If you are a person who dislikes knowing what is going to happen in a movie, I’d like to caution you now. If you proceed below the following trailer, you’ll learn more about the movie than you might have preferred (though you will need to continue to understand the title of this article).

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The Maze Runner: Makes Your Mind Run

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Courtesy of the official movie website

This week, I decided to give The Maze Runner a trial run (see what I did there?). It was a last minute decision, and I was sure I was about to see another knockoff Hunger Games movie (I’m looking at you Divergent). 

I was wrong.

The Maze Runner is an intelligently written, and well acted, adventure mystery. Full of unknown actors (though the actor playing Gally did look like he could Chipper Jones’ son), I was very pleasantly surprised. This movie does a great job of asking the question, “What is home?” Gally really raises a great question. He was a great catalyst in the movie and lent credence to  a theme other than just “teens versus monsters”. 

Home is different for each of us. We all come from different walks of life – we all acclimate to our surroundings as we grow – we all internalize and identify with our environments. Even prisoners.

Do you ever wonder what life would be like elsewhere? Do you have the curiosity of Thomas, the main character, or are you content with a static environment? Themes like these are fantastic motivators and instigators of internal and external challenges. The Maze Runner does a great job of characterizing these challenges, while not skimping on the action.

This movie was definitely not Divergent; it wasn’t even Hunger Games. This movie lived and breathed on its own, and succeeded.

The Equalizer: What Defines You?

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Columbia’s “The Equalizer”

Do our circumstances define us? Or do we define our circumstances?

Can we change our world in order to change ourselves?

These are the questions I am left with tonight, and not exactly the questions you would expect to be considering after watching a movie you expect to be an action adventure. Tonight, my expectations were turned around.

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Back with a Bang

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Courtesy of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.LD.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returned today, not with a whimper, but with a bang (please forgive the cliche – or not).

ABC’s super-hero adventure about non-super heroes had a tumultuous first season, starting slowly and then ramping up as it approached this spring’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The show kept the pedal to the medal through the end of the season. One episode into season 2, and I’m inclined to think that the pedal is still firmly cemented to Lola’s floorboards. 

Familiar characters that were viewed negatively (I’m looking at you Skye) have had gone through some radical changes. Skye was the “victim” of the hairdo make over showing their new badassery; guess what? She lived up to it. She was enjoyable, engaging, and real. Ward is apologetic for his actions last season – but only time will tell if the show-runners are willing to rehabilitate a character many feel is beyond redemption.

New characters added to the feeling of speed out the gate. The story flow was outstanding, new mysteries were introduced, a feeling of the team being more than just the characters we know, and intelligent use of special effects culminated in the desired resutl (with me anyway): I was on the edge of my seat throughout, literally.

If you aren’t a fan, or you’ve heard bad things about the first season – I recommend you give this a try. I predict you will be pleasantly surprised.