Tag Archives: book

My 2015 Movies: Goosebumps (#25)

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I have zero experience with Goosebumps. Never read the books, and never watched the show aside from occasional scenes while I was waiting for the other Cartoon Network shows to come on. I guess as a kid I was scared off, and by the time I realized how nonthreatening it actually was I was too old to care. So, I had no intention on seeing this movie. However, after seeing the movie recently I decided to add it to the countdown. It’s a movie worth talking about. Continue reading My 2015 Movies: Goosebumps (#25)

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My Quick Thoughts on Go Set a Watchman

I’ve been meaning to talk about literature for the longest time. That’s one topic off my to-do list!

If you were a student in high school within the last 40-50 years, then you’ve probably read a book called To Kill a Mockingbird. Furthermore, if you were watching movies within the same timeframe, you’ve probably also have seen the Academy Award winning movie by the same name. Case and point, I’m most of us are aware of this book’s existence. The novel was written in 1960 by Harper Lee, and has become an American classic, particularly for its views on racial injustice.

The novel has been gaining a new relevance in the past couple of days. It was announced that on July of this year the sequel will be published and available to the public. The first wave of release is said to be two million copies. The book, titled Go Set a Watchmen (which I will now shorten to GSAW), takes place 20 years after the events of To Kill a Mockingbird. where Scout returns to Waycomb, Alabama and revisiting aforementioned events.

This story has a fascinating and ironic history behind it. The original book actually stemmed from this manuscript being rejected by publishers. Lee retooled the story under recommendation by the publishers, which became To Kill a Mockingbird (which I will now shorten to TKAM). Before we even knew of the existence of the story, Lee had on several occasions refused to release a sequel to TKAM as it would take away from the story. 55 years later, she seems to have finally agreed.

Among what some consider excitement or shock was some controversy. See, Harper Lee is currently 88 years old and resides in a nursing home. After a stroke she has been left deaf, near-blind, and in a wheelchair, with her only connection to any media sources being her recently deceased sister (who was also her lawyer and caretaker) and her current lawyer (the one who discovered the manuscript in fall last year). Due to these factors which follow five decades of ruthless resistance for GSAW’s release, fans and speculators came to the theory that this sudden agreement was made under foul play. It may be possible that Lee signed this off without her legitimate consent.

In response to the suspicion, some have called for boycotting the book release to express disapproval of such a practice. Others remain curious and excited to see what the new book is about.

I like many others have read TKAM in school during Freshman year. That book was probably my favorite of the stories I read that year. I really do admire the story for what it was and the issue it was tackling. To me, any work that dares to be different has my support in one way or another. I haven’t had the chance to see what I hear is an incredible movie, but it’s on my movie bucket list. (Yes, I have one of those).

By the time you read this, the news would’ve been introduced to me yesterday in my English class. I was curious to find out more, and when I did the controversy put me in a tough spot. The million dollar question is, of course, whether or not this was Lee’s decision or was it manipulation.

I thought a small while on it. It would be rather dim of me not to acknowledge the jarring coincidence of this sudden change of heart while she is in such a frail state. It’s not even so much an age thing as it is a vulnerability thing. It’s very easy to imagine someone giving her the contract and telling her it’s for something entirely different so she’d sign it. 55 years is also a milestone year; the perfect opportunity to capitalize on what can now be a franchise.

Something in my heart wants nothing more than to believe that she had something in writing somewhere giving consent. But until she herself comes out and verbalizes it (which will probably never happen), we can never know for sure. All that’s left is the moral predicament: do you support a work that may or may not have been released without the author’s permission? Feed curiosity or stand opposed?

This is something I continue to struggle with. Normally scandals in something’s development never stops me from buying or experiencing any medium I wanted to experience. However, it’s probably different since this was probably never meant to be seen. Granted, today I was going to go searching for the leaked original pilot for Big Bang Theory which was never meant to be seen. I was first in line to see “Dexter’s Rude Removal” when Adult Swim uploaded it online; again never meant to be seen (though CN gave consent, so it may be different).

As of right now, I’m not gonna lie, curiosity is getting the best of me. I may not read it when it comes out as I already have Ernest Cline’s Armada to read during the summer. My possible solution will be to get a copy which will inevitably be available in the library in order to avoid moral conflict; but only if and after I get around to seeing that TKAM movie. I need a refresher.

What do you guys make of the situation? Do you care to read the book eventually? Do you think there’s reason for concern or boycotting? Let me know in the comments, because I’d love to discuss this further.

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

My 2014 Movies: The Maze Runner (#13)

A lot of people were excited about this movie when the trailers started to roll out for the Maze Runner. I remember looking at the trailer and actually going “eh”. It didn’t look bad by any means, but it was pretty hard to get as excited as I possibly should. Then I watched the movie in its second week in the theater with cautious yet hopeful expectations. While I probably wasn’t blown away by the film, I must say it was much better than I expected. It’s actually wicked good! (Get it?)

The Maze Runner is based on the book by James Dashner. The film takes place in an isolated area called the Glade, which is the center of a large maze. Every month or so, a new boy arrives up a basket-like contraption. They have no previous memory besides their name. They don’t know who placed them here or why, but nonetheless they must cooperate and survive.

The newest member of the Glade is a boy named Thomas. He gets the traditional welcome and orientation, while getting familiar with the community. Each member, including him is assigned a role to play by the group leader, Alby; however, Thomas becomes fascinated by the maze. The maze is considered dangerous with biologically engineered creatures called Grievers, and its ever-changing pattern. So, the maze is studied and traced by what are called “runners”. As the result of an accident, Thomas becomes one of these runners and searches for a way out of the maze.

The Maze Runner is one of two new movie franchises on this list that is based on popular novels. Unlike Divergent, my expectations were a bit higher for this film. However, I was 100% ready for the film to disappoint. I’m happy to report that there is no need to worry about the quality of this movie. It’s actually pretty good.

Now this movie is based on a book, and an apparently good book from what I hear. So the movie’s writing is already a proven concept to that end, at least in terms of how the story plays out. Where the movie’s writing is able to be judged is in how loyal it is to the source material, its ability to portray itself to newcomers, the movie’s pacing, and its dialogue. All of which work very well.

I do very much like the concept of the movie. Sure comparisons to the Hunger Games are almost inevitable, but that shouldn’t bother people too much, because this movie is very kind to people who haven’t read the books before (like me). The film has an excellent pace of which you receive information of the maze and its known history. You’re never kept waiting too long to find certain explanations for why things are the way they are, yet such information isn’t thrown at you all at once. And as far as suspense and events are concerned, they are also excellently paced.

The screenplay is also handled pretty good. The script is very down to earth and is light on the melodrama. It speaks particularly to young adults and teens effectively, which is good since you’re entire cast comprises of teens and young adults. Even when the movie tries to make a joke, it doesn’t sound hokey or forced. But that’s also because these characters grow on you over time.

Camerawork is pretty well executed. The Maze Runner is surprisingly not guilty of overusing shaky-cam. That is mainly due to most of the potentially graphic scenarios are cleverly hidden off-screen or covered with CG effects that fade out. It’s hard to explain, but it makes more sense on screen than it does on paper.

That’s not to say the action is dumbed down, though, because that’s one of The Maze Runner’s best aspects. All the fights in this film, minus one or two, involve the Grievers in some shape or form. Firstly, the Grievers look awesome! Very intimidating, dark and scorpion-like. The slightly mechanical aspect to them also gets points for design, but also make their movements all the more unpredictable and calculated. These things are pretty worthy foes and were awesome to see on the screen. When the group ends up fighting these creatures, it’s both suspenseful and fun to watch.

Acting is ideal for this movie. I wouldn’t say there’s a stand-out performance or that the acting is Oscar-worthy, but neither is necessary for this film. Everyone does there job well and pulls off the ideal amount of personality, emotion, and relatablilty. I guess the only area of note is Dylan O’Brien’s portrayal as Thomas. I underestimated him due to his role in Teen Wolf (a show I find incredibly cheesy and generic). Not that I thought he’d suck, but I questioned how good he’d be at a lead action role. But he really does it in this movie and is worthy of my kudos.

And with all of that said this is a fun and enthralling movie to see. This movie is probably best suited to kids, teens and young adults, but any adult action-adventure fans can also get into the film’s story. I can see why a person probably wouldn’t care much for it, but there’s nothing I can think of here that would be deemed terrible. Really it comes down to whether you’re interested in the concept and plot. Then again, if you are then you probably will see it anyway. But if you skipped it for whatever reason, I’d say you’re in good hands with this film.

View #12 here!

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

My 2014 Movies: Divergent (#16)

It’s been three years since the Harry Potter and Twilight movie series, two of the most profitable film franchises of all-time, ended. Ever since then, the search was on to find the next big movie franchise based on a book. Many have tried, but very few have reached anywhere near Harry Potter or Twilight levels of success.

Enter Divergent, one of two book-to-film adaptations on this list who attempted to be the next big thing. I saw this movie through VOD in July; its ambitions high but my expectations low. Seriously I was expecting a sappy, stupid bomb of a film before I even pressed play. However, boredom had the best of me, so why not be adventurous?

Divergent is based on the book by Veronica Roth. This film takes place in a utopian, gated society sometime during the apocalypse. The society utilizes a type of class system with five major “factions”: Erudite, Abnegation, Amity, Candor, and Dauntless. A person in the society takes a test at a certain age to determine which faction they will belong to. At the end of the test, they must choose their correct faction. If they fail to meet the standards of said faction, they are casted out and are classified under a sixth category known as Factionless (the lowest possible class).

The story follows a girl named Beatrice (later Tris), an Abnegation-born who comes of age for the faction test. Her results are dangerously unusual. The administrator informs her that there is yet a seventh faction type known as Divergent. Divergents show qualities of all five factions, but are outlawed out of fear. She keeps this a secret as advised and blindly chooses the Dauntless faction. From there she must attempt to prove herself to be a member of Dauntless while keeping her abnormal quality a secret. To make things more difficult, there may be a war between two of the classes which may affect the Dauntless faction.

As I said, I didn’t expect to like this movie a single bit. My untrained impression was Twilight meets Hunger Games. It didn’t help that no one I knew was talking about the film so I could get a feel for what I was getting into. To my relieving surprise I was more than wrong. This movie provides an interesting world, a good amount of action, and a captivating story.

The story in many ways is kind of a mixture of popular ideas which is off-putting at first glance. But when you’re actually watching the movie and going through its motions, you’ll jump right in be invested by the half hour. The first thirty minutes is mainly introduction and exposition followed by the action provided once you enter the Dauntless faction. This is where the story itself picks up. If you plan to watch this, give it time before giving up on it.

The story is helped by what I would consider a fascinating society. While I totally wouldn’t buy such a society existing, it’s a fantastical scenario that you can’t help but get into. It’s a society based on efficiency to aid coexistence in the limited land you learn they have left. I’m very interested to see how they handle what lied beyond the walls when its sequel comes out in March.

With that said, the film has very interesting set-pieces that capture the community they live in. The sequences with the artificial test simulations are also nice looking. CG effects aren’t used all that much in the movie, but they do well in the few areas where their required.

The acting is decent. It won’t win any awards, but it’s effective enough to where you see the character rather than the actor. That’s all the film really needs after all. Shailene Woodley (best known for Secret Life of the American Teenager) plays Tris, and does great as the relatable protagonist. She is very convincing in the struggle to attempt to be someone she’s probably not while also trying to be herself. Theo James portrays Four, one of the Dauntless leaders. His performance is also commendable especially when he starts showing a surprising amount of depth.

The film sports a pretty intense score as well. The tune that probably sticks most is when Tris enters the test simulations. Very ominous and suspenseful. And basic production values are also impressive as expected, including camerawork and lighting.

I really feel that this film could use a little more love than it deserves. Glad to see it has enough of a following to continue as a series. If you were initially turned-off by this film for whatever reason, maybe it’s worth a gander if you run into it on Netflix or VOD. It’s a definite rental if you have any inkling of interest in the plot I described, I’d seek it out. You may be as surprised as I was.

View #15 here!

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

Analysis: “Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them” Movie (A Harry Potter Spin-Off Trilogy)

Who doesn’t know the story of Harry Potter? He’s the everyday London boy who is informed one day that he is a famous wizard and will go to the most prestigious wizard school in the world in order to one day defeat the evil Lord Voldemort. He’s been in the limelight for a pretty long time. He has a bestselling book series that started in 1997 spanning seven epic books. He took the world by storm in 2001 and onward to 2011 with the blockbuster movie series of eight. Since then, where hasn’t he been?

The Harry Potter movie franchise is my favorite movie series of all-time. Sorcerer’s Stone is one of my favorite individual films of all-time. I love every second of the films, all the characters, the lore, the stories, and pretty much everything about them. I can even recite several of its fictitious spells. Seriously, I love the movies.

When the series finally ended, I was in the camp of optimists that hoped for another Harry Potter book/movie. Since then we’ve heard many things about whether J.K. Rowlings would continue the series and if we’ll ever see another Potter adventure again. Though we may never get another Potter film in the style we have always known, we are getting our wish in a way.

Enter Rowling’s 2001 book titled “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”. This is a textbook used by Harry sometime within his first four years at Hogwarts. A film adaption in the form of a trilogy was announced in 2013 which will share a universe with the Potter series. With its recent release date announcement of November 18, 2016, I feel the need to investigate.

Due to the nature of the book, the story doesn’t have much of a synopsis at this time. What we do know is that it will take place 70 years before the Harry Potter movies- specifically in 1920’s New York. We will naturally have a new protagonist, Newt Scamander, the fictitious author of the textbook the book is based on. The films will follow his life story.

A little background on Newt, he is what is known as a magizoologist (a person who studies creatures of a magical quality). He like most other Harry Potter characters went to Hogwarts as a Hufflepuff. (Finally, the first major Hufflepuff character). He ended up working for the Ministry of Magic soon after. His career is quite diverse having worked briefly in house-elf trade, the beast division, dragon research, law passing, and creating the “werewolf register”. As a connection to the original movies, his grandson Rolf would become the husband of Luna Lovegood. (Poor Neville).

I was initially skeptical of a movie talking place that far before the Potter films. At that point, how much connection would you have to the initial series? Now that I got a little more insight, I actually do see where you can go with this kind of story.

I like the idea of this character. While I don’t exactly have much grasp of his personality yet, his experiences could make for some good possibilities. We have little to no major Hufflepuff characters in the entire series so far. Seriously! We had pure pandering to Griffindor and Slytherin in the HP films and at least a couple Ravenclaw characters. This could bring about a new perspective.

They also picked a pretty good time period for the film. 1920’s New York brings can highlight a great era in American history. Speaking of which, Harry Potter took place almost entirely in the UK. There are now additional opportunities with a US setting. It’ll be cool to see how the magic is handled in other parts of the world.

But what will the movie’s plot specifically be about?

Given that Newt was born in 1897, he would be at least 23 in this movie; far from Hogwarts age. This will probably be his misadventures during his early career as a Minister of Magic. What particularly? Maybe we’ll see him in house-elf trade for a short time, bringing a conflict of morality subplot. However, I think the main cluster of the first movie will be him in the Beast Division. That’s just my prediction.

Will there be cameos? There better be!

You need every opportunity to tie this into the HP series to get the casual viewer interested. If you go with his house-elf trade thing, you could easily make a Dobby and/or Creature cameo. If you flash back to his Hogwarts days (which they probably will), Dumbledore is a shoe-in. Maybe you can have the ancestors of the HP characters.

But enough predicting and dreaming on my part. Now we get into the technical aspects. As of right now, we have a couple of essential components already in place.

The screenwriter is none other than J. K. Rowling herself. There is no better fit. When you think about it, this movie series is kind of like her making 3 new books only on the big screen by default. I say this because the Newt trilogy can’t exactly be found in any of her books. So, we’re in good hands.

A director has been selected for at least the first movie: David Yates. Yates directed the final four Harry Potter movies. The best decision you could of made with director is to get someone who knows the Harry Potter series. This is also a great pick just for the sake a familiarity. On that note, David Heyman returns as the movies producer.

Filming will take place at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, where all the Harry Potter movies were filmed. It conveniently also houses the “Making of Harry Potter tour”. I would also predict that filming could take place in-part in New York. That’s probably not happening because of how different 1920’s New York is from 2010’s New York. However, it could happen for the sake of area convenience for simple walking scenes or edited panoramic views.

We also know the release dates for all three movies. The first movie will release November 18, 2016, the second on November 16, 2018, and the third on November 20, 2020.

The first one has a lot of competition. The weeks before its release will have DreamWorks’ Trolls,  Universal’s Skull Island, and Marvel’s Sinister Six. The weeks after has a Disney movie by the name of Giants followed by a Star Wars spin-off. Coincidentally, Fantastic Beasts is a spin-off movie among a bunch of other spin-off movies. It’ll be interesting to see which is more successful. If you ask me, it depends on which franchise has the most star-power: Harry Potter, Star Wars, Spider-Man or King Kong? the DreamWorks and Disney movies are beasts all their own. I think Fantastic Beats could outdo Sinister Six, but not Star Wars.

2018 could be a piece of cake for Fantastic Beasts 2, but that’s contingent on what ends up being announced around it. It’s too far to give an accurate picture, but the only major threat it can have is with the Marvel movie that comes out 2 weeks earlier and the Disney movie that follows it the week after.

The third movie is impossible to predict. It is practically the only movie announced for 2020. DC’s cinematic universe announcement doesn’t even go that far. So who knows?

There is only one big thing beside the plot that we don’t know: the cast. We do know who is apparently not in the film, Daniel Radcliffe. He has already stated he has no involvement with at least the first movie. That may also scratch off Rupert Grint and Emma Watson as potential cast members. To be honest though, I kinda saw that coming. What I’m interested to find out is who they get to play Newt. My guess lays with a fresh new face. I’d actually be surprised if they get a known actor, but that’s not out of the realm of possibility either.

Overall, I see some pretty great things coming from this spin-off trilogy. As long as they at least try to make some ties to the original films and show that in the marketing, I believe this can be a successful movie. Either way, I’m clearing my calendar for this movie.

What do you guys think? Are you excited for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? Will you see it? What do you hope to see in the films? And do you think that it can compete? Let me know in the comments and we’ll discuss it together!

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!