SOLO POST: BIG HERO 6 (2014)

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Christopher

I’ve mentioned before it’s hard to get Elizabeth to watch horror movies but getting her to watch kids movies is even harder. Because of that I watched Big Hero 6 on my own. And I’m glad I did cause I really enjoyed it. It’s interesting though because I feel like animated movies today can only be successful if they have very sad emotional plotlines. I feel like Wall-E was the first time I really noticed that and with movies like Up and Wreck-It Ralph are in the same category. I’m still unsure how those minions are so popular but in Despicable Me, again, there is that very sad plotline. It’s not necessarily that I dislike that but I find it interesting.

Big Hero 6 is a movie I wish I had seen in theaters because I really like the animation and city design of Tokyo Francisco, or whatever the town was that they lived. I really need to check out these comics now. And I am glad I watched this on my own because I do no think Elizabeth would of enjoyed it as much as I did.

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THE MAZE RUNNER (2014)

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Elizabeth (spoilers!)

Before this movie came out I had never heard of The Maze Runner, so I haven’t read any of the books. The trailer seemed interesting, but I was genuinely skeptical with the whole “young adult novel adaptation” thing. Now don’t get me wrong, I read and loved some young adult novels (The Giver, The Perks of Being A Wallflower) buuuuuut that was back when I was a young adult, so I just wasn’t sure about this whole thing.

As I’ve said, Cube has always been a movie that really stuck with me. But as much as I love it, Cube has serious problems in that it does not seem to have a handle on its own world. In Cube, people wake up in a cube with no idea how they got there, who put them there, or how to get out. But as a viewer, you don’t really get the sense that there are answers, that there’s anything to figure out or discover – and the ending of the movie proves that.

The Maze Runner does something about that. It starts with a cold open of a teenage boy waking up in some kind of elevator/cage. Just as he thinks the elevator is going to reach the top and crush him, doors above him open and he finds a group of boys staring down at him, sort of chuckling. The boy is Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and he has no memory beyond waking up in the elevator – even his name takes time to return to him. He and the other boys all woke up in the same situation – in an elevator with no memory, placed in what the boys call The Glade, a forest-y piece of land surrounded by incredibly high stone walls, which in turn is surrounded by an elaborate, ever-changing maze. All of the boys are trapped there and no one knows who put them there, why they’re there, or how to get out.

One of the most interesting things about Maze Runner is everyone in question is a child; it doesn’t seem like anyone is older than a teenager. That poses an interesting problem: how do you rally scared children to defeat an obstacle they don’t even know exists? From almost the moment he arrives, Thomas pushes back against the status quo the boys have created for themselves. The boys have established a certain amount of order and peace and seem fairly content with just making life work in The Glade. On the one hand, I can’t blame them; they’re literally frightened children. But on the other hand, it’s hard not to side with Thomas, who is constantly questioning what’s happening and wants to get out. I think if the boys had been adults it would have felt way weirder for everyone to just be cool with living in The Glade forever.

I had never seen Dylan O’Brien before this movie and I have to say I was completely drawn to him. Even though he’s almost 10 years older than Thomas is supposed to be (at 16), he immediately struck me as a teenager from the get-go. All of his reactions felt extremely natural, even in situations where you don’t even know what a natural reaction would be. One of my favorite elements of Thomas was how often he says “shit.” He never says any other curse word, but does say “shit” a whole lot. It’s a small thing but made him feel so much more like a real 16 year old to me.

But overall, by far the biggest triumph of The Maze Runner was its own understanding of its own world. Not once did I get the feeling that this was all bullshit, that there wasn’t anything beyond the maze, or that Thomas wasn’t exactly the way he was presented to us. And that’s the beauty of having your main character’s memories start the moment the movie starts; one of the boys points out that it doesn’t matter who Thomas was before the maze, because that person is gone. So while we may find out things about Thomas we may not have known, Thomas didn’t know about them either, so there’s no fear of our hero secretly being evil or anything other than what we know.

We watched this the day after we saw Crimson Peak and it was infinitely more terrifying. I could say so much more, but I would have to go so deep into the plot that I would honestly rather just recommend everyone watch this. I was skeptical, but holy shit was this amazing.

Christopher

I suggested we watch this just cause it was on HBO GO and I heard it wasn’t the worst. Maybe ten minutes in? I was hoooooked. This movie is fun as shit! Maybe it was because I wasn’t expecting anything but I was super into the world that was created in this movie. There is a lot of mystery but they also give you enough so that you just ask more questions. It kind of reminds me of Lost/The Leftovers in the way that I just want to know everything that’s going on and even if I only find out a tenth of it, I’ll still be satisfied.

I couldn’t stand one character, this little chubby kid who I think might be the worst actor I have seen in a film in a while, but other than that this movie is gold. I enjoyed watching this more than the Hunger Games films.

REDEEMED (2014)

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Elizabeth

When I think of a movie about adultery, the first thing that comes to mind is Fatal Attraction. Fatal Attraction has all the elements of a movie about adultery: the establishment of the marriage, meeting the woman, the affair, the horrible aftermath. So when presented with a movie like Redeemed, which is about a man who has an affair with a woman, would essentially have all of that, too, even being under the pretense of it being a Christian movie. But oh terrible Christian movies, you strike again!

Ted McGinley plays Paul, a terrible person. I say he’s a terrible person because he owns a failing business and pretty much refuses to do anything about it and ignores his (admittedly fucked up looking) wife. He meets Julia (Ana Ayora), some kind of consultant or something for a company that wants to buy Paul’s company. Julia is beautiful and foreign. She’s a little flirty with Paul, but nothing over the line. We hear her tell her boss that Paul is vulnerable, which may or may not indicate that she is going to use Paul’s attraction to her against him.

Well, let me spoil it for you: it does not indicate that. In fact, it turns out that Julia really is only interested in Paul’s company (because it’s her job to be interested), not Paul at all, and especially not in any romantic way. Instead, Paul literally hallucinates about Julia flirting with him, coming on to him, etc etc.

But they never have an affair. Let me repeat: a movie about this Christian dude being unfaithful to his wife in order to be REDEEMED afterwards never has an affair. So what else is there to really say about this movie, then? A Christian movie about adultery that never has adultery (or God – God never shows up! so that’s doubly misleading!) just ends up being a super boring Christian movie.  Luckily Paul overcomes this nonexistent obstacle and everything works out, because that tends to happen to the white Christian men in these movies. Go figure.

Christopher

The strangest part about these religious movies is how unlikeable the main characters generally are. Redeemed is no exception. Actually it might be the worst. The main character has zero redeeming qualities so when he decides to try to change, who really gives a fuck.

This movie was a lot of fun to watch though. It was definitely a film that had something wrong or strange in every single scene.

 

GOD’S NOT DEAD (2014)

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Christopher

Wowowowowowowowow, this movie! It’s funny how all of these religious movies have been popping up these past few years. After we saw Heaven Is For Real, I really wanted to make sure we saw this too, since they came out around the same time and Hercules (Kevin Sorbo) is in it. This movie did not disappoint.

It’s so funny in these films because they already have the difficult task of trying to prove something that is impossible to prove definitively, does god and the afterlife exist. But these movies make it so hard on themselves because they create situations that would never actually happen in the first place. For example, God’s Not Dead is about a college student who takes a philosophy class and before the class starts the teacher asks them to write God Is Dead with their signature. Of course, our main character does not want to do that. But absolutely everyone else in the class does? Well okay, let’s pretend that in this giant college class only one person believes in God. So after that the teacher doesn’t like him and for whatever reason they decide to have a debate. Each week the teacher will discuss why God’s dead and the following week the student will talk about why God’s not dead. WHAT? If I had gone to college and it ended up being half taught by a student, my own age? I would of been so pissed and would of tried my best to get that teacher removed. Why the hell would anyone allow that?

This movie has so many situations like this where it’s constantly reminding you that you are watching a movie. This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen ad I loved every minute of it. WATCH THIS!!!! I think it was better to see than Heaven Is For Real.

Elizabeth

God’s Not Dead, like so many of the Christian movies we’ve watched, takes place in a world in which Christians are persecuted in America. Christians, especially white, male, heterosexual Christians, have such a tough time in movies like God’s Not Dead. Whether you believe in God or not, or have any feelings about it at all, it’s just a straight up fact that the majority of Americans identify as Christians. So does God’s Not Dead take place in an alternate, unnamed universe? It’s really the only way any of it makes sense.

Shane Harper plays Josh Wheaton. I want you to think about that character’s name for a second. Maybe say it aloud to yourself. Do you think maybe they could have found a name for the character that didn’t sound nearly identical to Joss Whedon? It was so distracting, especially at first when Chris and I both thought that his name was literally Joss Whedon.

Anyway. Josh is a freshman at an unnamed college, though it’s so obviously LSU in real life considering everything around them is purple and yellow. Josh takes a philosophy class taught by Jeffrey Radisson, played by Hercules (Kevin Sorbo), a very vocal atheist. So vocal in fact, that on the first day of class he makes every student write GOD IS DEAD on a piece of paper, sign it, and turn it in as the only way to pass the class. Even though this is not a religion class? Somehow, the vast majority of the students immediately do this with no hesitation. A few hesitate and then do it anyway. Um, what? Did Hercules magically get the right combination of students in his class to somehow make it majority atheist? Or are we actually supposed to believe that none of the people in this huge class have any real opinion on God and therefore have no problem writing it?

When I was in 10th grade English, we read Dante’s Inferno. A question that plagued me from way back in Sunday school, which was never answered, came up again. I couldn’t understand why Judas was so hated. So, he turned on Jesus, I get that. But his turning on Jesus started the chain of events that led to the crucifixion of Jesus, which we all (including Jesus!) know had to happen. It was written in the cards! And yet everyone hates Judas for doing something that, to me, seems like God had total control over the entire time in the first place. I raised this question in my English class, which I think my teacher was happy about, but he very quickly had to send another girl to the office because she totally lost her fucking shit over me asking that question. Before she left she said “You really don’t understand that Judas murdered Jesus?” Anyway, my point is: if me, a 15 year old student, asking that question in a class got that kind of reaction out of one person, how can I truly believe an auditorium full of 18 or 19 year olds would have 0 problem with and be totally on board with this guy A.) Declaring that God is dead (rather than not real, which I kind of don’t get) and B.) Forcing his students to also declare that God is dead in order to pass the class??? FUCK THIS MOVIE.

Well, of course, Josh/Joss Wheaton/Whedon doesn’t sign it, much to the dismay of Hercules, his classmates, and his girlfriend. Then, for some reason, Hercules challenges this child to a series of debates over God, which the entire class will have to sit through. He dedicates every final 20 minutes of class to these debates. If I was a student in this class I would be like, “So I don’t have to stay for this debate shit right? Because I’m paying for a philosophy class? Not whatever this is?” At every debate, Hercules has a counter-argument for Josh/Joss. Until . . . Josh/Joss asks Hercules why he hates God. This question causes Hercules to totally break down and totally blow his cover. What cover? Oh, I mean the fact that he’s an atheist, but has failed to mention he was once a strong Christian who gave up on religion when his mother died. Hercules, this hard-ass professor, was brought down by one child’s stupid question. This movie also implies that all atheists are just former Christians that need to be brought back to the good side. Naturally, Josh/Joss calls Hercules out by asking how he could hate something that’s not real. BAM! SOMEHOW HERCULES DIDN’T SEE THAT ONE COMING AT ALL!

A bunch of other shit happens, including the Duck Dynasty assholes showing up. But none of that stuff really matters. What matters is that, in the end, Hercules is killed by a car running over him at the end. Instead of anyone helping him, Josh/Joss and his reverend kneel over him and the reverend makes Hercules admit that he believes in God, and then he dies. THE END!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This movie makes Christians seem like terrible people who live in a totally alternate reality. This isn’t the case, so why would anyone support this awful, piece of shit movie? I’d rather watch Hercules and forget this ever happened.

 

THE BABADOOK (2014)

The Babadook

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

Overall, I think the biggest problem I have with horror movies is that so often they have great, even amazing ideas that almost never seem to follow through in the end. The biggest exceptions I can think of off the top of my head are The Vanishing and Let the Right One In. Even when critics say exactly what I want to hear about a movie, that it’s unique and realizes its idea through to the end, that almost never seems to happen. The Babadook seemed like a good candidate for a while, but like so many others just fell flat in the end.

The Babadook starts out sad and ominous. It follows Amelia (Essie Davis) as she tries to take care of her young son, Samuel, while also battling extremely intense depression. Her depression is exemplified because Samuel’s birthday is coming up, which is also the anniversary of the death of Amelia’s husband (and Samuel’s father), Oskar. Oskar not only died the day Samuel was born, he was decapitated in a car accident while driving in-labor Amelia to the hospital to give birth. So, Samuel was not exactly born under the brightest of lights. To make it worse, Samuel . . . sucks, I’m sorry. This kid is like a demon child from hell. He screams a lot and is violent and terrible, but then is also creepily dependent on Amelia; it seems like he’s constantly hanging on her or right next to her in some way. He’s so terrible that Amelia takes him out of school, which is probably not the best idea but she obviously feels like she doesn’t have many options. One night before bed, Samuel asks Amelia to read to him from a book they haven’t seen before, Mister Babadook, about a monster that torments people forever once they acknowledge his existence. Samuel freaks out, convinced that the Babadook is real. Weird things happen that Samuel blames on the Babadook, like Amelia finding glass in her soup. Although because Samuel is an awful demon child, Amelia is not really buying it, she destroys the book anyway. Not long after, the book is reassembled at her doorstep, with new pictures of Amelia killing her dog, Samuel, and herself.

Amelia and Samuel start seeing the Babadook, and Amelia in particular starts to see him everywhere, including at the police station where she tries to get help (and fails). Amelia can’t sleep and it becomes clear that the torment of the Babadook is driving her crazy. It’s also clear that Amelia is sort of possessed by the Babadook, or at least it appears to be inside her somehow. She sees a vision of Oskar in the cellar, who tells her to bring him Samuel. So, at this point, I thought it was fairly clear that the Babadook was some kind of manifestation of Amelia’s grief over Oskar and her resentment toward Samuel. Eventually there’s a bit of a showdown; Samuel stabs Amelia in the leg and has her come to the cellar, where she is finally able to force the Babadook out of her while nearly choking Samuel to death. She tells the Babadook that it’s her house, and the Babadook appears to disappear into the cellar. So, this is all making sense to me. The Babadook is Amelia’s grief/resentment/pain that is threatening to consume her, which would inevitably lead to her killing Samuel and then herself. It takes Amelia and Samuel working together, using their love for one another to ultimately defeat the Babadook/Amelia’s pain so they can finally move on.

But then in the last few minutes of the movie, we see happy Amelia and Samuel in their backyard, collecting earthworms and celebrating his birthday. Seems normal. Amelia tells Samuel to stay outside and she goes into their cellar, where she puts the bowl of earthworms on the floor. A force pulls the bowl into a shadow because . . . the Babadook is living in their cellar now? And they have to feed it? What?

So, I guess the Babadook wasn’t a manifestation of Amelia’s pain? Or it was and then it turned into something real? I could see the ending meaning something like now Amelia and Samuel know how to live with their pain and move on, but why does the Babadook have to be alive and literally living in their cellar like a living monster? So it was a monster tormenting them? The Babadook was real and had nothing to do with the fact that Amelia was grieving and in pain? I don’t know. This ending just totally ruined it for me. Was the Babadook a real thing or not? Was it caused by Amelia’s loss or not? Everything is pretty clear until the last few minutes turns it upside down, and then the movie just ends. It was really unsatisfying and I wished the filmmakers had stuck with the Babadook just being an idea rather than an actual creature that you can feed. UGH!

Christopher (spoilers!)

I was super excited about this movie and I was really into it all the way through until the end. I was expecting this movie to build more on the loss of the father but in the end I don’t think it really did that. Or if it did it did a terrible job of showing it. The whole movie is about a single mother trying to raise a kid with issues. He’s annoying and hard to handle and the mom is losing her mind. While this is going on the kid one night finds a book on the shelf of his room about the Babadook. It’s a creepy book and ends up scaring the kid. We end up learning that the husband was killed in a car accident on the way to the hospital to give birth to the son. So I kind of wanted this Babadook character to end up being the guilt she has toward her dead husband’s death or something along those lines. As far as I know it just ends with them taming it for some reason and feeding it and being happy that it lives in their basement. If this is wrong please leave a comment and let me know. But even if it is still supposed to be that they do a terrible job of showing that. It’s way too up in the air which creates a very anticlimactic ending to an otherwise creepy/stressful film.

NO NO: A DOCKUMENTARY (2014)

DockEllis

Elizabeth

For a few years now, ever since Chris showed me this Youtube short on Dock Ellis, the short was one of my favorite Youtube videos I had ever seen. Animation is played over Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis as he describes the situation leading up to, and then performing, a no-hitter while tripping on acid. It’s super funny and amazing.

So I was excited to watch No No: A Dockumentary, which is sort of an extended, non-animated version of the short. It goes deep into who Dock Ellis was when he was an MLB pitcher and who he was after, along with the context that made him that way. Now that I’m really into baseball, the idea of someone today pitching a game while on LSD just completely blows my mind on multiple levels. It’s so crazy and interesting to watch old baseball footage; players’ bodies are different, their language is different, the atmosphere is different, the attitude is different.

No No does a good job of lending time to the event that gave the movie its name while also making it clear that Dock Ellis was more than just that guy who pitched a no-hitter on acid (though that’s a hard title to beat, I must say). He may not be the most famous ever player in baseball history, but he was certainly important and this documentary does him and his game justice.

Christopher

I first heard of Dock Elis from this animated short. I loved it and was definitely interested in trying to watch a game where the pitcher threw a no hitter while on acid. I showed Elizabeth this at some point and she and I have gotten really into watching The Orioles these past years so when we saw this on Showtime it was like it was made just for us.

I found the movie to be very interesting. They had some good footage of his career as well as interviews and he really did do a lot in his life. You also find out his skeletons which were very dark at times but as a whole his life seemed nice.

I’m glad we watched this and I liked it but I don’t think it was a great movie. I feel like you would have to be interested in the subject in order to find this movie enjoyable. But I would recommend that shit anytime!

LEFT BEHIND (2014)

Nicolas Cage In Left Behind HD Stills

Christopher

This movie is as big of a mess as the original but at least we get to see a crazy-looking Nicolas Cage changing into the good Christian he was always meant to be. The worst thing about these movies to me is that fact that I find the aftermath of everyone disappearing far more interesting than the actual event. It reminds me of all the Superman/Batman/Spiderman movies. Every time they reboot them they have to retell you the origin so you never get past the beginning and into the juicy stuff. I have no clue if they will make another one of these but if they do and it makes it to Netflix I’ll watch it for sure!

Elizabeth

So I’m sure you know the premise of Left Behind, right? The rapture happens. And before we move on any further, let’s just think about that for a second.

Left Behind is supposed to give you this feeling that non-Christians know at some point that, if Christianity is correct, the rapture will occur, causing all believers to disappear to hang out with God and avoid his wrath. Except in the real world, no one knows any details about this, even among Christians. The kind of rapture they’re even talking about (where some people are left behind) didn’t even really come about until like 200 years ago. And yet the left behind characters in Left Behind keep talking about how they just should have listened to their Christian friends/family members, that the Christians were right, they predicted this exactly, etc etc. Um, no. This is a world in which Christianity is the same across the board, and also I guess a world in which the Bible goes into great detail about this rapture. So really, Left Behind is almost beyond fantasy because even the idea of Christianity this movie has is not real.

So now that we’ve established that the people behind Left Behind don’t even understand the concept of the rapture (or possibly even Christianity itself), that doesn’t leave much room for any of the movie to be any kind of good. Nicolas Cage and his absolutely terrible hair play Rayford Steele, which is a name that also lends itself to this being a fantasy. Ray is a pilot married to Irene (Lea Thompson), a born-again Christian. They have a daugher, Chloe (Cassi Thomson) and neither Ray or Chloe consider themselves Christian. But Irene seems prettyyyy insane and definitely annoying, so you can see why they’re turned off by it. Cassi flies home to surprise Ray on his birthday but gets a phone call from Irene telling her that Ray was called to a last minute flight to London. Now, why Irene was not at the airport to pick up Cassi is beyond me. Cassi decides to hang around the airport to try and catch Ray, whom she sees flirting with a flight attendant and not wearing a wedding ring. While there Cassi runs into Buck Williams (Chad Michael Murray) an apparently super famous journalist (because there are so many of those). It’s somehow love at first sight (basically) between Cassi and Buck, but alas Buck boards Ray’s flight to London.

Cassi goes back home then takes her little brother to the mall. While she’s hugging him a flash of light appears and he disappears, leaving his clothes and backpack and everything else. The same thing happens to people all around Cassi and in about 2 minutes the entire mall devolves into total chaos, complete with looting and violence. Now, I understand that something like this would cause a panic on a huge scale, but would people turn into crazy animals that quickly? I think everyone would be too caught up in what the hell just happened to think about looting, but who knows. Anyway, people everywhere disappear, including on Ray’s plane. At first no one knows what’s up until gradually people start saying what I was talking about before, shit like “This is exactly what Mom described” as if there is a Left Behind-rapture scene in the Bible. Eventually Ray safely lands the plane and is reunited with Cassi (who is also reunited with her apparently new boyfriend, Buck). THE END! Except not really, since I guess we can expect the apocolypse next.

Besides everything I already mentioned about the rapture, and the insanely terrible acting and pace of the movie, I also had a huge problem with the way Cassi’s character is portrayed. She’s skeptical of religion, but she clearly loves her family (she’s frustrated with her mom, yes, but you never get the feeling that she doesn’t love her) and seems to be a decent, responsible person. And yet, not good enough for God. I feel like Cassi’s skepticism, as opposed to outright 100% athiesm, should be enough for God to have some wiggle room. But nope! I guess all these Christians who so perfectly described this rapture failed to mention that only born-again Christians get to hang out with God – everyone else is fucked.

I mean, of course this movie is bad, but you knew that right? It’s actually not as bad as the terrible Kirk Cameron version from 2000 if for no other reason than the production is slightly better. But this movie is unbeliveably terrible and I would hope anyone going into this would expect nothing less. Just look at this fucking poster:

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