Tomorrowland: A Review

Note: There are spoilers contained in this post. If you don’t care either way, keep reading. 😉

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I’ll be honest. I saw Disney had a hand in this and immediately kind of looked the other way, hoping something better would come along for me to see.

But my little sister was dying to see it, my cousin from Canada (GUYS, THE STEREOTYPES ARE TRUE. CANADIANS ARE VERY POLITE.) and a cousin from Naples came over, so we planned an outing and went to see this.

I was (mostly) impressed but mostly by the “bad” guy, who wasn’t so bad as apathetic, which is arguably the worst kind of bad there is. (Contradictory? Maybe.)

If you’re fuzzy on the plot line, basically this girl finds a pin and whenever she touches it, it transports her to another world. She runs into a man who had lived there for some time and he wants nothing to do with her or that world. But a series of unfortunate events (read: robots try to kill them) leads them both into that world where they find out that Earth is going to end.

The man, Frank Walker (played by George Clooney), comes to believe that the girl, Casey Newton (played by Britt Robertson), is special and can save the world.

Pros

>> David Nix (played by High Laurie) says something that really hit me. A transmitter from Tomorrowland is sending a signal to Earth with a message of death and destruction. He meant it to be a warning, but when Newton says they need to send a message of hope instead, he tells a striking truth: it doesn’t matter what you say. People are so obsessed with the end. He sent a warning message, but people ate it up and turned it into fantasy. They turned it into a t.v. series, movies, books — entertainment. They resigned themselves to it because they thought, “what can I do? Nothing. So let’s all do nothing together and laugh ourselves to the end.”

Why? Because “it requires nothing of them today.” People will sit in their comfortable apathy believing they can do nothing and they’re cool with that. And when the end of the world comes, they’re throw their hands up and say they couldn’t have stopped it anyway.

That was the salvation point of the whole movie for me because it was so truthful. We turn into comedy and entertainment that which we “can’t” change so we can accept it when it comes with a numb and comfortable apathy.

>> I’m conflicted on characterization. They did a relatively good job developing the characters, but I felt like Newton was a little too optimistic for me to entirely believe. She was fun though. Walker was a bit of a stereotypical grumpy old man who was too optimistic once, and comes to believe in good again because of the undaunted happy-child who shows up on his doorstep one day and turns his life inside-out. Nix was kind of brilliant, but still felt a little lacking (what motivation did he have to shoot [censored]?).

>> The concepts were pretty neat! I really enjoyed some of that sci-fi stuff going on. If you could learn what day and time you were going to die, would you want to know?

Cons

>> They kind of explain everything. It might have been for context, but it didn’t leave me wondering anything really.

>> They ended in a kind of abrupt way, but it wasn’t a cliff hanger sort of way. It was more like, “we have room for another movie, but it would make no difference to you if we followed up with it because you know all our secrets and the gist of what happens next.”

Bottom line: I would recommend going to see Tomorrowland! I wouldn’t say for you to go in expecting anything out of this world (my pun may be lost on those who haven’t seen it *laugh/gag/cough* Ahem.) but it’s entertaining for a couple hours and David Nix’s words do get you thinking: what am I doing to contribute to this apathy? Am I comfortable with that? Is there anything I can do to change it? If so, will I?

It’s definitely one of the rare Disney-involved films that I don’t despise and would recommend. 🙂

God bless!

Rana

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The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies: Review

For the past three years, I have gone to see The Hobbit in theaters (twice for each film). Now, last night, I saw The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies in theaters #onelasttime. I came close to crying. Again. I laughed. Again. And I caught things I didn’t notice the first time around. It was so good, I stopped popping candy a little after halfway through, I think… Now, I’ll just sit here like this, wondering what to do while I’m waiting for it to come out on DVD:

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Excuse how freakishly large my hand looks. It was obviously too close to the camera.

WIN_20150201_181449 WIN_20150201_181452 WIN_20150201_181458 WIN_20150201_181514 Ahem. But what did I notice? Well, grammatical errors for one thing. The line, “Die now Wizard” should have been “Die now, Wizard.” But let’s overlook that. Let’s take a look at the bigger picture – starting off with things I didn’t like (because that will take much less time) and then go ahead and address what I did like. Cons

  • Grammatical errors (but I already addressed this and said I’d look over that)
  • PJ’s love of battle scenes (they are necessary – I mean, we’re talking about Tolkien here. But I feel that PJ knows he does well with filming fighting scenes and so he uses them. Too much. This film did a much better job of spacing the fighting scenes out and not letting them last too long. Whoo hoo!)
  • It wasn’t a Tolkien-purist’s cup of tea.
  • The end.

Pros

  • PJ’s ability to know when to cut off battle scenes. He did a much better job on The Battle of Five Armies. I never felt like the fighting just… got old in this one. ^_^
  • The characters (even Tauriel was used to show us a part of ourselves).
  • The story-telling.
  • Thranduil’s sass.
  • Bilbo’s sorry-not-really apology to Thranduil (“…ysh. Sorry about that.”).
  • I am totally fine with it not being a Tolkien-purist’s cup of tea. I’m kind of glad it strayed from the book. I think we got to see parts of Middle earth Tolkien never got to write. Also, keep in mind that this is a film adaptation. It’s adapted. It’s not going to be word-for-word from the book. 😉
  • Okay, you know what? I’m going to stop with the bullet points and just go ahead and tell you what I loved about each character that made an impression on me.

Balin taught me that you should probably know the history of the person before you give advice about them. Everyone has gone through some major change that has shaped them into the person they are now. Until you know that history, all you’ve got is the end product. You don’t know what’s made a person the way they are. You don’t know what challenges they’ve faced. I really don’t think we can know someone well until we’ve seen their darkness and fought with them through it.

Bard taught me that you should always give someone a chance (*cough* Alfred. *cough*). Whether you like them or not, they need the opportunity to be better than what they’ve become. After you’ve done what you can, leave them be. Don’t let weasels drag you down. Keep your sense of humor and point out that their slips are showing.

Bilbo Baggins taught me that adventures, no matter how uncomfortable and how late for dinner they make you, if you can grow, learn, help others, and become a better person, it’s worth it. We need to stretch our horizons and go farther than we’re comfortable with before we can know what we are. He didn’t know he was brave until he risked his life for his friends. He didn’t know he was a friend until he was willing to lose a friendship for the sake of the other’s well-being. He didn’t know he was a hero until he made difficult decisions in the interest of many lives.

Dwalin taught me that crowns don’t mean a thing if you act lesser with it on. Being king doesn’t mean having a bunch of stuff. It’s a responsibility. It’s about putting your people before yourself.

Tauriel taught me that love hurts. I’m not a fan of the love story going on between her and Kili, but I think it was redeemed by just Tauriel and Thranduil’s exchange of words after Kili’s death. I wonder if that wasn’t more for us than it was for the romance…

“If this is love, then I do not want it. Take it from me, please! Why does it hurt so much?”

“Because it was real.”

Thorin taught me that greed is not okay. Now matter how much you have, it’s not satisfying. Think about it. He had a sea of gold. He had his father’s halls back. What did he do? What did he become? He was terrified that someone might come and take a little bit of it. After trusting his friends and family with his life multiple times, he lost sleep doubting their loyalty. He became a selfish son of a gun. He was willing to let hundreds die for the sake of gold. But… what good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? (Mark 8:36) He also taught me that it’s possible to redeem yourself. It’s never too late to become a better version of yourself.

He also taught me that the world is not overrun by evil because of its strength. It’s run over by evil when good people fail to fight against it.

Thranduil taught me that heroic actions without love mean nothing. He’s a king. He’s immortal. He’s gorgeous. But he’s been hurt too. He lost his wife and now he’s afraid to love. He’s afraid to love someone who can leave just like that. He prefers to play it safe. If you’ve seen the film, recall the time when he received the death threat from Dain. He seemed pretty excited to me. Someone passionate about life shouldn’t have looked like that. When he told Tauriel that love hurt because it was real, I think we definitely got to see why he was so careful about not getting emotionally involved in anything that could drain him. “Love will leave a mark” – RED (look up that song, guys. It’s a tad heavy, but RED has a habit of pinpointing emotions and writing about it in a real way).

I think we’ve all been a little scarred by love. We need to get past that. We need to get past the risk of getting hurt again. It’s easier said than done. And it’s not going to happen overnight. It could take years. It certainly did for Thranduil. Apathy is a beast that corrodes a person from the inside out. It’s easier to deal with life through an apathetic lens, but then you’re merely existing. You’re not living. You’ll miss out on both the bad and the good. You’ll miss so many opportunities.

I think Bilbo was probably sitting in comfortable apathy before he was shoved out his door. No one hears the story about the man who was comfortable and took care of his own. No. We hear the stories of the broken. The wounded. The uncomfortable. They’re the ones who show us what we can be.

What we should be.

This is by no means all I have to say about The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies. This is a Tolkien fanatic’s gushing about- EXCUSE ME, THE LAST GOODBYE IS PLAYING ON SPOTIFY AS I FINISH THIS UP. I NEED TO CRY AND EAT LEFTOVER CANDY.

God bless!

Rana

The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay: Part 1: A Review

SPOILER WARNING. CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED.

Last night, I had the privilege of seeing The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay: Part 1. I read the books a while back and don’t remember if it followed the book closely, but I feel that it had a huge impact.

The first two books/films were necessary in setting the scene for the third installment in the Hunger Games trilogy/series and definitely had impact, but this one just seemed like a major wake up call. As I watched, I kept seeing parallels between that world and ours.

I’ve written about it before – we read to see ourselves. And I definitely saw us.

  • I saw us in the pain and hunger – not so much for food as much as hope. Hope is something we lack so much in today’s day and age. We’re constantly being bombarded by noise and products – we’re constantly wrapped up in the superficial. Things that make us happy for a fleeting moment. But in the long run, we’re left empty. Our energy has been sucked dry by nothing and we allowed that to happen.
  • I saw us in the murder. In the scene where rebels were shot, all I could think of was ISIS. You either convert or you die. You either do as President Snow wants or you die. Seeing any connections?
    • Is it true faith if it’s forced? Is it true patriotism if it’s done out of fear?
  • I saw us in the massacres and death. The hospital in District 8. I thought of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta tending to the wounded, dying. And now, as I think about it, the Rwandan Genocide. Guys, we’re all equally human. But, I suppose, not equally humane.
  • I saw us in Peeta’s (or was it Peeta’s? 😉 ) urging for peace (peace or submission?). I think it was too late for peace. I think there does need to be a rebellion before we can attain a long-lasting impact with positive effects. People are dying, there’s injustice, morals grew corrupt and that’s what we need to combat.
  • I saw us in the relationship issues. Okay, I promise this isn’t going to be cheesy. I try to steer clear of that. Oh, and please get over the Team Gale and Team Peeta spat.
    • Gale + Katniss = mutual need for survival. Take away the mutual need. What have you got? Maybe two friends. Maybe not. The glue between them was a recipe of one part need and one part time (they had a lot of history – supporting each other, feeding their families, etc.). I don’t know that their ideals were always the same. But maybe more on that another time.
    • Peeta and Katniss, however, I believe embodied true love. Love in the most realistic sense. They’re not a Cinderella and Prince Charming. They’re both messed up and they both are willing to give up their life for the other. That’s love.
  • I saw us in the corruption. The people have less power than the government and that’s always a recipe for disaster. As the old quote by Lord Acton goes, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I don’t think I need to expound on this point.
  • I saw us in the selflessness and sheer humanity. When we’re suffering, when we’re all stripped of our titles, riches, popularity points – everything – we see what we really are. We’re either monsters hungry for death or we’re people fighting for the ones we love.
    • Katniss isn’t a very likable character, but she embodies certain ideals we all want. When it comes down to it, she’s courageous – scared, but going to push forward. She loves – not perfectly, but selflessly. Oh, and she can sing. I’m so jealous of Jennifer’s voice.
  • I saw us in Peeta. Though he was tortured, he still loved, he still risked it all. And, just as in the book (if I remember correctly), the longer he was in the enemy’s clutches, the worse he looked. It’s so true with us. Smoking could be an enemy. Negative thoughts could be an enemy. While not all of our demons have physical effects, they all have internal ones. They all hurt us ’till they get down to our souls and, if we’re not strong enough to destroy them, they’ll destroy us.

I hope that was comprehensive and left you with something to think about (as is always my hope).

A huge thanks to Suzanne Collins for her time and effort in writing The Hunger Games trilogy as well as to the whole film team in bringing it to life. You can read about death and imagine it, but until you see it, it’s hard for it to have as large of an impact. I cannot wait for the last installment in this film series. The books were amazing with a message to match and now the films are doing a great job in helping us visualize horror and truth.

Listen. I can’t get enough. I think I’m going to buy this when it comes out tomorrow on iTunes.

Don’t forget to like, comment, rate, and follow!

God bless!

Rana

The Maze Runner: A Review

Hey, you!

Just a heads-up: this post may or may not contain spoilers concerning the film, The Maze Runner. You have been warned. 😉

Disclaimer: I didn’t finish the book before I saw the movie. I know! I’m such a loser. *hides face in shame*

My dad took my sister and myself to see The Maze Runner last night. I really, thoroughly, enjoyed it. There were several parallels between the film and our lives that I noticed throughout the screening. To me, it was sort of a wake up call and a shot of hope. Let’s take a look at a few different scenes and what I took away from them, shall we?

The Elevator

My dad actually pointed this out. He said that he found The Elevator sort of represented life and death. Before we were born, we came from another place. We don’t remember it (praise the Lord). We know nothing about this strange new world and we’ve got to make the best of it. As for death, if you’re religious, you believe you go to another place when life here is over. It, too, will be a strange new place.

Thomas’ Curiosity:

This section can be split into two parts:

1) We can either live or we can exist. Most of those boys in the Glade were content to be there. They were comfortable (and afraid of angering the Grievers which kept them from making any risky moves).

But then Thomas came. He wanted out. He was scared and uncomfortable, but he was willing to risk a lot to actually live while the others were simply existing. Thomas showed them a new way of life.

And I think a lot of us are those other boys. We’re comfortable. We go to school, we do our work, we hang out. That’s it. Shouldn’t we be living for so much more? If that’s all there is to life, then it’s worthless. But I think there’s more. I have to believe there’s more. If there wasn’t, then why the heck have we been surviving all this time? For Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? I think not.

Humans are survivors. We find a way to live. We always make it.

Thomas shows us that there is more to life than just existing. I want that. I want to be the Thomas in a world of goodhearted but merely existential Albys, Newts, Minhos, and Chucks.

2) The second point here is that it’s always good to get a fresh perspective on something. Minho and Alby – they thought they knew every inch of the Maze and the Glade. But Thomas came with a new idea. He wasn’t going to be held back by fear. He knew who the enemy was and he fought them.

The Grievers: Our Daily Demons

           I think the Grievers can be interchanged with our personal demons. Society? The kids at school? Now, I’m not saying go get them squashed in whatever metaphorical maze you’ve got going on in your head. 😉 I’m saying that it’s okay to disagree and think for yourself.

Society’s screwed up. It’s obsessed with fake. Show them something real.

Are you faking it for the kids at school? Why? Are what they stand for worthy enough for you to not be who you are? I’ve fallen into that trap. I used to hate myself because I wasn’t like the kids at school (and then I started homeschooling and, suddenly, the students were all too similar). Nothing I did was cool enough, funny enough. Nothing I wore met their ridiculously low standards (“You don’t know what Limited Too is??? You must be so sheltered!”). None of the shows I watched were good enough for their tastes (“You don’t watch Hannah Montana? Does your mom even let you watch T.V.?”). I wasn’t skinny. My hair wasn’t cut like theirs. I didn’t eat white bread with no crusts.

I didn’t eat white bread with no crusts.

How petty was I?

It Doesn’t Matter What We Did Before…

…it matters what we do now. People change, learn, and they move on. Be the best version of yourself, baby. The world needs it.

Chuck is Your Little Sibling/Cousin/Niece/Nephew…

Chuck, I think, represents the kids of today. Who do they look up to? Us. What are we showing them?

All you have to do is starve yourself to be cool.

All you have to do is eat white bread (when you eat).

All you have to do is wear Abercrombie & Fitch.

All you have to do is not be single (because you have no identity if someone else isn’t constantly defining you).

All you have to do is be addicted to [fill in the blank].

All you have to do is listen to everything everyone else is listening to.

All you have to do is rebel against your parents because they’re stupid and know nothing.

All you have to do is be the popular kid in school.

All  you have to do is swear up a storm because you’re not mature if you think for yourself and choose not to go with the flow.

All you have to do is be diagnosed with some “cool” disorder. When did depression become cool? When did a lack of hope become cool? When did no reason to live become cool?

Is that what we’re showing Chuck? If so, what’s he got to live for, hm? Nothing on that list gives me hope.

“Cool” is such a subjective concept. If that’s what standard you’re holding your life to, I’m sorry. Chuck knew only what the other boys told him. How much hope do you think they really had of getting out? If they were smart, I doubt if they had any. Thomas gave them hope.

Conclusion

You don’t have to risk your life to be a hero like Thomas. All you have to do is think for yourself and do what you believe to be right because the rest of the world is screaming lies at you, darling. And when the truth is only a little whisper, we need to listen hard. But the more Thomases we have, the easier it is to know the difference.

If you saw the film, what did you think? Do you agree with my thoughts? Any I looked over? I’d love to hear about it in the comments, lovely!

God bless!

Rana