THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2012)

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Elizabeth (spoilers!)

The Cabin in the Woods is legitimately scary, but in a way that not many horror movies are. It’s also legitimately funny, which, again, not a lot of horror movies are. It also actually succeeds in being a pretty original story, rather than just trying to be original. So, basically, I think The Cabin the Woods is an all-around success.

People get murdered in The Cabin in the Woods, and those scenes are really gruesome and scary, but what’s scarier is why they’re being murdered. We know early on that the whole thing is orchestrated by some kind of secret governmental sect. But it’s slowly revealed throughout the movie that they take so much pleasure in successfully torturing and killing these kids because doing so is necessary to save the world. The last two survivors, Dana (Kristen Connolly) and Marty (Fran Kranz) catch on that someone (besides the zombies chasing them around) is actually doing this to them. Once they find this out, the movie goes from an interesting, horror-movie-with-a-twist to a supernatural gorefest. In the end, it turns out that they have unwillingly been part of an ancient ritual to sacrifice them to evil gods who used to rule earth. Without these sacrifices done in a specific order, the gods will rise up and kill everyone on earth. Various other countries have failed in their attempts to get it right, and the US is the last one standing before time runs out. It ends up being up to Dana; if she kills Marty (as he has to die first and her death is optional as long as she suffers), the world is safe. But, in the end, she doesn’t kill him, and the two friends sit together and share a joint, realizing that if this is how humans rule the world, maybe we shouldn’t.

It probably sounds cornier on paper, but it’s just a really interesting concept. And the movie causes interesting feelings; you’re scared at first because of scenes like the one where a couple is interrupted during sex by zombies, after which the zombies hold down the girl and decapitate her in front of her boyfriend. But in the end, you’re scared because the whole bigger picture is really creepy and you can’t help but think of the old question regarding the importance of one life against the lives of many. It’s also nice that the reveal is done slowly; there’s no surprise twist at the very end, nothing to pop out for one last scare. It successfully plays with horror cliches while still coming out as original in the end.

Christopher

This movie really did scare me. The killing scenes were so intense. But that being said I loved this movie! I’ve been wanting to watch a horror movie lately and this looks to be one of the best from the past few years.

I was really hoping though that Chris Hemsworth was going to pull out a giant hammer and start killing everyone though!

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STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (2013)

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Christopher

I was so excited to see this and it easily met all my expectations. I think what did it the most was the ending. It truly has me pumped for the other films to come! It was has me interested in the new Star Wars films, a franchise I generally have fun disliking.

Elizabeth

Although I’m not anywhere near a Trekkie, I was pretty excited to see Star Trek Into Darkness because I really liked the first movie. I didn’t really know anything about the plot of the sequel, but I actually ended up liking it more than the first movie, which sort of surprised me.

The movie was a lot more violent than I had expected; there’s a terrorist attack and a lot of mass explosions that cause bodies to fall out of spaceships. I sort of wish there was less of that, not because it disturbed me necessarily, but because I like how intellectual Star Trek can be and it would have been nice to have more of that. But that being said, like the first one, my favorite part of Star Trek Into Darkness was the characters and the way they interact. I think that’s the most realistic thing in the movie, and I also think when you have a story based on something that seems very unreal (like space exploration in the future), it’s really important to have realistic relationships as a means of grounding the story and making it relatable. Star Trek Into Darkness¬†does that well, and it also does a good job of walking the line between not taking itself too seriously and taking itself seriously enough. This is especially true with the relationship between Kirk (Chris Pine) and Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban). I know the relationship between Kirk and Spock (Zachary Quinto) tends to get the most attention, and it deserves it, but Bones is overdramatic to the point that it annoys Kirk, and Kirk lets him know that. He lets Bones know when he’s using too many metaphors when they’re in a crisis, for example. It’s just stuff like that I love here: funny, realistic, but not overly goofy.

And I guess it’s no surprise that Benedict Cumberbatch is super scary here. He’s kind of Hannibal Lector scary (not that he eats people); his scariness comes more from him being so composed all the time than just being violent. I’ve never seen Sherlock, but I’ve seen Atonement, where Cumberbatch plays a child rapist, so ever since then I’ve never seen him in a positive light. It definitely works to his advantage here. Also, I know he’s a redheaded Englishman, but they make him look ultra pasty here, which ends up being ultra creepy.

I have to say though, I was sort of disappointed that there wasn’t a Tyler Perry cameo the way there was in the first movie. You can’t have everything, I guess.

MISS DIAL (2013)

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Elizabeth

The above picture is an actual screenshot from Miss Dial, not anything myself or anyone else spliced together. I say this because it’s an important point; the majority of the movie is shown via split screen like that. I think it’s worth mentioning because it’s so stupid and gets old so fast.

But that’s not the most interesting part of Miss Dial. That would be the relationship between the movie poster and the actual movie. The poster shows Robinne Lee, who plays the main character of Erica, appropriately in the foreground. Her name is also appropriately listed first. Before I move on, a little background: Erica is customer service rep for a company that makes a variety of products and her job is to take calls from home and answer questions. So, okay. Next on the poster, the second most prominent figure is Dul√© Hill. Hill’s character doesn’t have a name (he’s listed in the credits as “Popcorn Caller”) because he has maybe two minutes of screentime, playing someone who calls Erica to complain about popcorn. His name is also second on the poster. The third name on the poster is Gabrielle Union, who is also third in line on the poster. Her character also doesn’t have a name (“Long Story Caller”) and she has maybe 2-3 minutes of screen time. The next name on the list is Hill Harper, whose picture is not on the poster. He’s also a caller, “Political Nutcase.” The next name, Amanda Crew, is also not pictured on the poster. Her character, creatively named Amanda, plays the woman that Erica’s boyfriend is cheating on her with. Though her character is mentioned throughout the movie, she only shows up toward the end for a few minutes, for one scene. The last name on the poster is Sam Jaeger, whose picture is not on the poster, and who plays Kyle, Erica’s main love interest. The last person pictured on the poster is Jon Huertas, who plays Erica’s comically mean boyfriend, Alex.

Okay, so why did I take the time to list out who’s who on the poster? Because in the movie, except for Erica, the bulk of the main characters are white. Her love interest, Kyle, is white. Her best friend, Sam (Sara Rue), is white. Her unbelievably forgiving boss, Mr. Koffsky (the hilariously named David H. Lawrence XVII, the numbers apparently only an IMDb distinction that he kept for the film credits), is white. But the movie poster chose to only show non-white, mostly black, actors, most of whom are barely in it. A couple of white actors get credit on the poster, only in name. Now, please don’t misinterpret this as me trying to make a point about white actors getting suppressed, because that’s not my point. My point is that this movie, which is relatively racially diverse and features a biracial central romance, is obviously trying to market itself to a black audience. If you look at the poster, you would think the entire cast was black or Hispanic. I’m making a big deal about this because I just think it’s so weird. Miss Dial is not a good or groundbreaking movie in any way; it’s actually extremely boring. But it does stand out in its diversity and for making the main love story between a black woman and a white man without ever drawing attention to that in the plot, but, at least going by the poster, marketers tried to forgo all of that and aim only for a non-white audience. You’d think it would not only be way more accurate but more effective to have the actual featured actors on the poster: black, white, and Hispanic, to try to bring in all of those groups. Why they went a weirdly untrue route is beyond me.

But yeah, despite all that, Miss Dial is super boring and not at all worth watching.

Christopher

Definitely one of the worst movies we have ever seen. The whole movie is just watching actors on the phone. They are never not on the phone, except for the last two minutes. I think what made this movie kind of hard to watch though was how awful the main character was. She was mean to her boss, she was rude to customers at her job, and she likes an asshole guy for no reason. I think her being in an abusive (mentally) relationship was supposed to make us feel for this girl but it really did do the opposite.

THE HUNGER GAMES (2012)

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Christopher

This was my third time watching this movie. I was able to see it twice in theaters. I love it! It’s no award winner but it’s pretty much everything I want in a summer blockbuster. I think the only thing I really don’t like is that Lenny Kravitz is in it. It’s not that I don’t like Lenny Kravitz but it’s really distracting. It’s a lot like having Tyler Perry in the first Star Trek movie.

What I’m really excited for is the second movie. It was by far my favorite book and I cannot wait to see Philip Seymour Hoffman in it.

Elizabeth

What struck me most about The Hunger Games was how brutal it was. Even though I’ve never read the books, I still roughly had an idea of what the plot was, but I was still surprised when I saw kids murder other kids. I think some of that has to do with how well-paced the movie was. There’s a good amount of build-up before The Hunger Games starts, showing how the tributes are prepared and shown off to the rest of the country. By the time the games start, it’s easy to forget that the games are not so much about showmanship but mostly about punishment; punishment that children must take for wrongdoings committed generations in the past. There are a lot of parallels you can make with that, too.

I also really like Jennifer Lawrence, especially here. She does a good job of playing someone who looks and seems young, but still mature and capable of manipulating and winning The Hunger Games. Also, Jennifer Lawrence has an incredible body. Just saying. It also took me at least 3/4 of the way through the movie to realize Peeta’s name wasn’t Peter. I guess it fits in the world of the movie, as most characters don’t have what we would consider standard Anglo-Saxon names. But it was still weird that his name wasn’t Peter.