It’s been almost a year since I had an Everyone’s a Critic post! I shall try to have this a bit more regular, perhaps more of a quarterly feature on this blog. Special thanks to Mike Beery (check out Mike’s contributor page), my Twi-mom friend Marianne Lemire, and FC’s frequent guest blogger Ted S. for their awesome reviews!
Life as We Know It (2010)
By Mike Beery
If you’ve seen the trailer on this one you know pretty much all there is to know about the story. Holly Berenson (Heigl) is a bakery owner and Eric Messer (Duhamel) is a playboy who works as a TV director for the local NBA team. Back in 2007 the couple is setup on a blind date by their best friends that goes bad fast and is never to be forgotten. These same best friends that later marry and have a super cute little baby girl. When tragedy strikes, Holly and Eric are left as guardians to the orphaned child. The will states they must live under the same roof in order to care for her. That’s when this flick kicks into overdrive.
The next hour is spent stringing together gag after gag showing how hard babies and toddlers can be to raise. How they can get in the way of your love life – if you have one to begin with! Eric is still a crazed bachelor that seems to only be doing this because he has to. Holly, a very desirable woman can’t seem to get his attention. As the movie wears on Eric is slowly transformed into this awesome Dad, that finally seems to be noticing Holly’s charms. Yes it seems that a wild ladies-man can be conquered by the lure of a good woman and “family life”.
The tension of forced parenthood and the chaos of trying to live with someone you’re not involved with climaxes just when Eric gets a job offer that takes him to the other side of the country. This is a welcomed break from all the toddler antics and it’s where the films develops some drama.
The film turns “feel good” after that conflict is resolved then quickly moves into happy ending mode. The remainder of the movie is a chick-flick fantasy come true with Eric becoming a dashing prince that has changed his player ways.
If you love babies, sexual tension, a relationship that seemed doomed but ends happily then this one if for you. As a chick-flick, this will do well as a rental. It’s got all the essential elements wrapped up into one neat package.
Twilight Saga: ECLIPSE (2010)
by Marianne Lemire
[Review may contain spoilers]
A while back my sister asked me if I wanted to read the Twilight series. I said ‘no thank you’ – I’m not interested in some teenage hype books. However, when the first Twilight movie series trailer came out – well, let’s just say my whole perception of the series changed. I watched the movie when it came out on DVD and that’s all it took for me to become a fan. I’ve since purchased the books series and read them twice. I now own all 3 movies and watch them multiple times. And I can’t wait for the two upcoming Breaking Dawn movies to come out.
Let me tell you why I love the story so much. What I see between Bella and Edward is rare and you don’t see in movies any more. A love and respect for one another. Bella Swan is a girl who is clumsy and insecure. Edward Cullen is a guy so handsome that you are not able to tear your eyes away from him. Bella and Edward are drawn to one another by an unnatural union of love. Their emotions for each other are so vivid, so intense, that you feel you are a part of their lives and you are drawn to their characters. What makes this unusual is that Edward is a vampire. There is also Jacob, someone that Bella became friends with when she first moved to Forks. Their friendship strengthened when Edward had left Bella for awhile thinking he was keeping Bella safe from the vampire Victoria. Victoria became the enemy when Edward killed her lover, James, while trying to protect Bella. During the time of Edward’s absence, Bella and Jacob’s friendship grew, but Bella couldn’t deny her love for Edward. Bella is still real adamant about Edward turning her – he would only agree to do it if she became his wife. He presented Bella with his grandmother’s engagement ring and proposed to her. Bella seemed hesitant. First, there’s the whole idea of getting married at her age and she was also concerned about the rumors going around. But it also mean that she would be with Edward forever as a vampire. So she said yes, but she wouldn’t wear the ring just yet.
Jacob was going through a rough time and was been keeping his distance, part for because of his love for Bella, but also because the turn of events in his life. Jacob is a werewolf along with the other members of his tribe. Now with the latest killings in Seattle, he has resurfaced to make sure that Bella is safe. The group behind the killings are newborns (newly turned vampires) and the person behind this new army is Victoria, her mission is to avenge James’ death. But they also had to worry about the Volturi’s involvement – the group who police the activities of all vampires – where the newborns were not hiding any of their actions. The Cullen family have come to terms with Jacob and his wolf pack to form a truce to end the killings and destroy the newborns and Victoria.
The battle between the groups was action packed, intense and engaging. While the fight was going on – there was only Edward and Seth (who is part of the wolf pack) to protect Bella in a secluded area, but Victoria along with Riley (the leader of the newborns) was successful in their quest to find them. Between Edward and Seth – they were able to fight off and kill them both – Bella is now safe. The Volturi showed up after the battle to make sure everything was taken care of – and Bella announced that a date has been set when she will be turned. Edward and Bella can now continue with their lives knowing the relationship between the Cullens and Jacob and the pack seems to be working itself out and they have a better understanding of each other and have mutual respect.
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I guess I am a hopeless romantic.
The Thin Red Line (1998)
By Ted Saydalavong
After 20 years absence, Terrence Malick came back to Hollywood and made, in my opinion, one of the best war films ever. It’s on my top five favorite films of all time. It tells the fictional story of United States forces during the Battle of Guadalcanal in WW II. The film focused mostly on the five soldiers in The C Company, these soldiers were played by Sean Penn, Jim Caviezel, Nick Nolte, Ben Chaplin and Elias Koteas. The men of C Company have been brought to Guadalcanal as reinforcements in the campaign to seize the island from the Japanese. The film was based on a novel by James Jones. The original cut of the film ran over 5 hours long and after trimming it down to two and half hours, the footage of the performances by Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Sheen, Gary Oldman, Bill Pullman, Jason Patric, Viggo Mortensen and Mickey Rourke have been removed.
As with most of Malick’s films, we get to hear what each character is thinking and we see some flashbacks of their lives back in the States. Out of all the characters in the movie, I thought Nic Nolte’s character was the most important one. He played an aging Lt. Colonel Tall, who’s been passed over for promotions too many times and wants to win this battle so he can impress his superiors and maybe getting that promotion finally. Nolte’s performance was so intense that you’d think his character is a lunatic, but to me it’s his last despiration attempt to prove to his superiors and to himself that he can still command and win a battle at his age.
Jim Caviezel (left) in The Thin Red Line
There’s a great scene in the movie where he orders his captain played by Elias Koteas to attack the hills but the captain refused because his men are dying and outnumbered, the expression’s on Nolte’s face was just pitch perfect. You can tell that he can’t believe one of his men is disobeying him and that he cannot do anything about it. I thought it was Nolte’s greatest performance and he should’ve gotten an Oscar for it. There’s also another great scene by Nolte after they took over the Japanese base camp, he was sitting by himself and he looked around at the corpses and started crying. Is he crying because he won the battle or was it from regret that he pushed his men too hard and a lot of them lost their lives? I’m leaning towards the latter.
Another great thing about this movie was that Malick decided to show the horror of war through emotional and psychological side instead of gore. The film has lots of violence but it wasn’t as graphic as most war films. Also, the score my Hans Zimmer is so haunting and beautiful at the same. Last but certainly not least, is the great cinematography by John Toll. The film looked spectacular. Malick wanted to shoot the whole film on 65mm but found out that there aren’t many theaters that can project 70mm prints. So he and Toll decided to just shoot it in 35mm.
If you’re a fan of Malick and haven’t seen this film yet, please check it out. And if you a Blu-ray player, I highly recommend you get the Criterion Collection (watch for a CC related post tomorrow). The picture and sound is just amazing.
Have you seen any of these movies? Love ’em or hate ’em, chime in below.