Archive for the 'Features' Category

American Sniper
First Person Shooter

American Sniper is a return to form of sorts for director Clint Eastwood, following a couple of underwhelming releases in J. Edgar and last year’s Jersey Boys. The new film is based on the 2012 book that came with the subtitle “The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History.” The book and the movie tell the story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, a trained sniper who served four tours in Iraq. During those four tours, Kyle would be credited with 160 confirmed kills, making him, as the subtitle to the book suggests, the most deadly sniper in American history.


Selma
The Story of Dr. King’s March

It is difficult to believe that there has never been a theatrically released movie about Martin Luther King, Jr. There have been a few versions on television, but none that have debuted on the big screen. That changes this year with the release of Selma, an affecting drama about Dr. King’s fight to secure equal voting rights in the south. Director Ava DuVernay focuses on the events leading up to the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, and she creates a powerful drama, somewhat amazingly, considering she did not even have the rights to use any of Dr. King’s famous speeches.


The Imitation Game
A Hero’s Story Told

The characters in the new movie The Imitation Game are constantly reminding us and each other that “sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.” One such person is the movie’s true-life protagonist, Alan Turing, an English mathematician who broke the Nazi’s Enigma code during World War II while almost single-handedly inventing the computer. Despite this, Turing was chastised by the British government for being gay in a time when that was considered to be a crime. Because of this, the general population—especially that outside the United Kingdom—is not as familiar as they should be with Turing’s accomplishments. This movie, fortunately, is set to change all that.


The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
The Final Chapter?

The final chapter of The Hobbit trilogy, The Battle of the Five Armies is billed as the final film in director Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth film series that included both this trilogy and the three original Lord of the Rings films. The shortest film in the series, The Battle of the Five Armies works both as a final chapter and as a prequel to the original trilogy. Although certainly a better effort than a prequel trilogy for another major film franchise that shall remain nameless, The Hobbit does not quite stand up to its predecessor. Still, there quite a lot of entertainment value in this final film that is essentially two hours and twenty-four minutes of non-stop battle sequences.


The Christmas Secret

Have you ever taken a road trip to someplace like the Grand Canyon, or Disneyland? I’ve done both, and have discovered that the journey there can be just as much fun as the destination itself. Some movies are like that. You know exactly where the plot is going—either because you’ve seen the movie already, or one very much like it—but you don’t mind at all because the getting there is pretty darned pleasant. The Christmas Secret is that kind of movie, particularly when you’re holding a bowl of fresh-popped popcorn. It’s a Hallmark original production in which nothing very surprising happens; but heck, you’ve tuned in to Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, right? You’re there for a reason!


Big Hero 6
Fun with Robots

While the Marvel Cinematic Universe is dominating the live-action box-office with some of the publisher’s more well-known characters, some of the lesser-known characters are finding a home in the animated world. Disney’s latest animated effort is based on a lesser-known Marvel property. They may have been lesser-known characters going in, but the heroes of Big Hero 6 likely won’t remain so obscure for long as this movie is primed to be a major hit.


Nightcrawler
Morals Need Not Apply

Jake Gyllenhaal is quickly becoming one of our better actors. After bursting onto the scene in 2001’s indie cult hit Donnie Darko, Gyllenhaal earned his first and (so far) only Oscar nomination for his performance opposite the late Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain. Since then, the actor has delivered many more quality performances in movies like Jarhead, Zodiac, and End of Watch. Sure, he has also had a few duds (Prince of Persia, anyone?), but for the most part the actor has shined. Nightcrawler is just the latest in a long line of good work… and it just might be in best.


St. Vincent
Bill Murray for Sainthood

Bill Murray has been one of our most loved actors for over thirty years now. He’s starred in many a classic comedy and even earned an Oscar nomination for his performance in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. Lately, his roles seem to fall into three distinct categories: Wes Anderson character parts, cameos (think Zombieland), and parts designed towards earning him an Oscar, like last year’s Hyde Park on the Hudson. His latest movie, St. Vincent, seems to fall in the latter category.


Gone Girl
From Bestseller to Blockbuster?

Adapted from the best-selling novel by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the screenplay, Gone Girl is one of the most anticipated movies of 2014. After seeing it, I certainly anticipate that it will also become one of the most talked about movies of 2014. The material is a perfect fit for director David Fincher, even if the tone of the movie seems very familiar to that of his last novel adaptation, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.


When the Game Stands Tall
Overcoming Adversity On and Off the Field

If I were to tell you that they were making a movie about a team that won 151 consecutive football games, you might assume that the movie would be about how this team came together to accomplish that feat. When the Games Stands Tall is about the team that experienced that tremendous winning streak, but instead of focusing on what went into the streak, the movie focuses on what came after: how the team bounced back from an onslaught of adversity that hit them all at once.


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