Trumbo

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Trumbo depicts the life and career of iconic but controversial screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, portrayed fantastically by Bryan Cranston. In the ’50s, during times of the Cold War, Trumbo and many other Hollywood  celebrities were jailed and blacklisted for being part of the Communist Party, but against strong odds, Trumbo fights for what he believes is right and what he loves throughout the movie.

Trumbo is a one-of-a-kind film this year, with great performances, an entertaining story, and has an important history lesson. Bryan Cranston delivers a marvelous performance with every move he makes, every word he speaks, and every step he takes, literally, and forward into time. Cranston transforms into the character and is able to deliver the personality of such a complex icon. Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, and the rest of the cast are also great. Trumbo’s adventures and struggles throughout the movie are fascinating and entertaining. It was very exciting to discover the background of many classics such as Roman Holiday. Everything that had to do with movies was extremely interesting for such a film love like me. It may have felt longer than 2 hours, which is the film’s run-time, but I enjoyed the hell out of its nonetheless. In fact, I barely wanted the film to end at times.

Trumbo is able to also convey an important history lesson about a dark time for Hollywood stars, as thousands were blacklisted for their beliefs, something unjust for the American Congress to do. People like Dalton Trumbo had a hard time going through being blacklisted, and this movie does an excellent job conveying that. Trumbo’s redemption story is told very well throughout the film, and is boasted by Cranston’s outstanding performance. This is a movie that requires some patience and will to feel affected by such a thoughtful movie. It’s not a movie you go out to enjoy, but more of a film you see to learn, to understand, and to be touched.

Trumbo is an entertaining, moving, fantastic biographical film with a thoughtful message, great performances, and has a somewhat entertaining factor that still requires patience, but ultimately you will find yourself touched and very entertained by this movie.

Trumbo (2015 film) poster.jpg

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The Good Dinosaur

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The Good Dinosaur brings an alternate timeline in which the asteroid that wiped dinosaurs off the face of the Earth missed the planet completely and giant dinosaurs never became extinct. Pixar Animation Studios takes you on an epic journey into the world of dinosaurs where an Apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend after a tragic accident that sends him on a journey to return to his family. While traveling through a harsh and mysterious landscape, Arlo learns the power of confronting his fears and discovers what he is truly capable of.

This year has been the first time Pixar, the best studio to ever make animated films, has made two films in the same year. I am quite impressed with how amazing both this film and this summer’s Inside Out turned out to be. With some of the best animation I have ever seen, and a touching and fantastic story, The Good Dinosaur once again brings the magic of Pixar to the big screen. The character development, especially of our protagonist Arlo, and his pet human Spot. In case that sentence confused you, in the film’s alternate timeline, dinosaurs have become more advanced in lifestyle and less primitive than humans. Both Arlo and Spot are developed fantastically, with the film being a coming-of-age story for Arlo, as he strives to “make his mark”, or accomplish something huge, according to Arlo’s “Poppa”, very well portrayed by Jeffrey Wright. Arlo is played by breakthrough actor Raymond Ochoa, who delivers a great performance, especially for a young actor like Ochoa. Arlo and Spot’s friendship was delivered fantastically, as I was convinced and incredibly touched by their chemistry. Arlo learns to love Spot and forgive him for a tragic event that he feels Spot was responsible for, and Spot, having lost his family years before, learns that he isn’t alone as he bonds with Arlo. Eventually they mean more to each other than anything else, delivering a heartwarming story from both sides.

The movie feels rather short, but fortunately this was not an issue at all, as the length of the film was perfect, always delivering a great amount of fun and heart. The film never dragged, and the ending gave me such a great feeling. However, it did take me a while to get attached and feel that it wasn’t going to continue like a cliche film. There was one tragic moment  that sets up the rest of the film, and I needed more gut-punching emotion during that moment in order for it to feel more conveying of its emotion. However, the film is later able to convey a fantastic story line that so often made me smile. The animation in this film is some of the most beautiful and photo-realistic animation ever put to film. The CGI had me in awe at a large amount of times. It is a beautiful spectacle and feels so real and perfected.

The Good Dinosaur is overall a fantastic, heartwarming, and touching animated film, once again bringing Pixar’s magic to the big screen for good, with great character development, beautiful animation, and a positive story about family and bravery. It is a must-see on the big screen, ideally to be experienced as a family, and with the glorious 3D effects of the film.

The Good Dinosaur poster.jpg

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

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In the final installment of the Hunger Games saga, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) teams up with her closest allies for the ultimate mission. Together, they leave District 13 to liberate the citizens of war-torn Panem and assassinate President Snow, who’s obsessed with destroying Katniss. What lies ahead are mortal traps, dangerous enemies and moral choices that will ultimately determine the future of millions.

As a conclusion to a strong and beloved series, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is quite satisfactory. It is able to deliver great action sequences and a better premise than its predecessor.

The first 30 minutes of the film are as bland as Mockingjay – Part 1 was, but instead of going downhill after that, it brings in very exciting action scenes and some convincing emotion that redeems the film and brings in a strong level of suspense. Jennifer Lawrence once again brings her character to life fantastically, and gives the role her best. Josh Hutcherson does a decent job, as he doesn’t amaze anymore as Peeta, and his character often feels all over the place, as he constantly struggles to recover from the events of the previous film. Donald Sutherland is a great villain, being able to portray the hate but also soft side in President Snow. Woody Harrelson and Philip Seymour Hoffman are given enough time to shine in their roles, the latter of which’s last role was in this film,  but many key characters, a few of which lacked screen time in the previous film, are not given too much development in this film, including Effie, Johanna, Annie, Caesar, and even Prim. I needed more development from these characters for their actions to be more effective and for them not to feel neglected. Gale, portrayed by Liam Hemsworth, once again feels too forced into the film, with lots of unnecessary development on his character, and he becomes more uninteresting throughout the film. This time should have been used to develop characters I wished more from.

Like I said before, after the first half hour, which is often rushed and feels too much like the previous film, with lots of unnecessary drama and an imperfect plot buildup, the film warms up a tad, bringing some more excitement, but still focuses on uneven development, like the first Mockingjay film. The cinematography is polished up but not quite perfected, and the visuals were alright. Throughout the film, the war against the Capitol is set up like a Hunger Games, and this felt very effective to both audiences of the film and the characters. The movie often rewards us with great sequences, and those that fans expect the most from often pay off. The way the movie concluded the saga lacked a lot. It was a tad rushed, and didn’t offer everything we still wanted from the saga’s setting and large story. I felt that the end should have tied some loose ends with a few of the characters.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is a nice treat for fans that makes up for the disappointment of Mockingjay – Part 1, although not as strong as Catching Fire. With some exciting scenes but lots of problems with characters, it’s ultimately worth checking out on the big screen, only if you’re a fan.

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Spectre

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Daniel Craig returns as James Bond in his most likely final film as the iconic spy. In Spectre, Bond discovers that everything he has fought to this day has linked up to one organization – SPECTRE, lead by the menacing Franz Oberhauser (a magnificent Christoph Waltz), who has a dark past with Bond.

Spectre is everything I wanted from a possible Bond finale with Daniel Craig. Enormous, packed with excellent action and wonderful performances, and putting you on the edge of your seat, Spectre brings Bond to the big screen in a way that couldn’t be more satisfying for die-hard fans like me. It includes very familiar elements from the old Bond features, including the awesome gun barrel opening, which hasn’t been used in the very opening since the Pierce Brosnan days. The movie isn’t even afraid to make fun of some of these elements, including the famous “shaken, not stirred” Martini cocktail, and even includes some humor in the fight scenes. Sam Mendes once again does a great job in the director’s chair, previously having done a fantastic job with SkyfallRoger Deakins did a great job shooting Skyfall, but in Spectre, Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography is something far magnificent. Having previously shot Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi epic Interstellar, Hoyte van Hoytema once again amazes with his ability to capture scale, perfect angles, and the need for as little takes as possible throughout scenes.

Daniel Craig once again delivers a strong and badass performance as the iconic hero that has been in and out of cinemas for over 50 years. He is able to convey the character’s emotion, motives, determination, and merciless tone. Léa Seydoux surprised me with such a deep, emotional, and strong performance as the new Bond girl. Christoph Waltz is by far the greatest Bond villain of the century. Having won two Oscars within 3 years, it’s no surprise that here, Waltz delivers a menacing, ruthless, extremely intimidating performance as such a fantastic and convincing antagonist. The movie did a perfect job saving up his character up until the last hour of the film, although he has a brief appearance before. It was very thrilling to see Bond get tortured psychologically by Waltz’s villain, rather than physically.

Sam Smith’s theme “Writing’s on the Wall” is not a great song, but is made such great use of in the opening credits of Spectre, with such amazing imagery like nothing I’ve seen in a Bond film before. The action is movies is so exciting, using such amazing cinematography, sound, and choreographed so well, I could never take my eyes off the film. By the time Waltz was onscreen, I was on the edge of my seat. I couldn’t believe how thrilled I was when Craig finally confronted Waltz, and what comes afterwords. The film ends very well, and I would be glad if it would end the saga, or at least Craig’s story. My one complaint of the film is that this movie and this summer’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation felt extremely similar, with very similar plot points, but I found Spectre to be a far greater film, much more thrilling, exciting, and nostalgic to fans.

Spectre may not be as great as Casino Royale, but it brings back Bond in such an awesome, exciting way, that’s definitely worth a trip to the movies, especially for fans.

James Bond, holding a gun in front of a masked man, with the film's title and credits