Dedicated Post: How to Train Your Dragon 2

DreamWorks Animation and Mad Hatter Entertainment - How to Train Your Dragon 2 - movie poster - from http://www.moviecasefiles.com/21-movies-in-2014/

Spectacular.

DreamWorks Animation’s latest feature takes nearly everything that was great about the first How to Train Your Dragon film and expands on it. The characters are funnier, and none of them are nearly as annoying as they sometimes used to be. The setting was gorgeous to start with, but its scope now seems to accommodate the viewer’s imagination instead of feeling more restricted to what can reasonably be shown in a movie. Most importantly, regardless of the story’s remaining flaws, it does way too much right for me to call it anything less than excellent.

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Movie Review: From Up on Poppy Hill

Studio Ghibli et al. - From Up on Poppy Hill - from http://www.wildaboutmovies.com/2013_movies/From-Up-On-Poppy-Hill.html

Studio Ghibli continues to overwhelm. From Up on Poppy Hill is a masterpiece of animation from director Goro Miyazaki, and it gives me great confidence that he will someday be able to carry on the legacy of his famous father Hayao, who co-wrote this Tetsurō Sayama-adapted screenplay with Keiko Niwa and was responsible for films such as Kiki’s Delivery Service and Porco Rosso.

An artistically and emotionally beautiful period piece set in an early-1960s Yokohama, the film is incredibly moving both as a love story and as an ode to historical preservation and is easily one of the most spectacular successes I’ve witnessed in years.

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Movie Review: The Artist

The Weinstein Company et al. - The Artist - movie poster - from http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/risky-business/artist-official-poster-hits-web-226497

Don’t let the name bother you–The Artist is not a complex work, and you need not be a film expert in order to appreciate it. A French, silent, monochrome production might or might not have been the most obvious choice to win the “Best Picture” Academy Award, but director Michel Hazanavicius and an excellent cast tell a classic if occasionally simplistic story of a cinema legend adapting to a bold and unfamiliar time.

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[NSFW - graphic imagery warning] Movie Review: The Passion of the Christ

Icon Productions - The Passion of the Christ - movie poster - from http://oaktreeonline.org/2013/the-passion-of-the-christ/passion-of-the-christ-movie-poster-original-1872-2/

Despite the poster and the film, Easter is a joyous occasion. Jesus is risen indeed.

I really don’t know how much I actually need to say. Mel Gibson’s blockbuster arrived to mixed reviews, made a boatload of cash on a small budget, and laughed at the face of any sort of “bad publicity” it may have gotten, earning a few well deserved Academy Award nominations for the effort. The story, though still slightly embellished, is a simple retelling of the final hours of Jesus Christ’s life and is relatively predictable compared to Scorsese’s own rendering of the event.

The Passion is not primarily about narrative, which for some viewers may serve to be its undoing, along with the sheer amount of blood and gore that literally fills most of the movie’s running time. Is it necessary to watch this, as an adult or particularly as a teenager, to comprehend and appreciate what Jesus went through? That’s not an easy question for me to answer, but the film has a macabre talent, and it shows it off all too well.

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Movie Review: The Last Temptation of Christ (marked spoilers)

Universal Pictures and Cineplex Odeon Films - The Last Temptation of Christ - movie poster - from https://id.celebrity.yahoo.com/blogs/shinta-  setiawan/lima-film-yang-pemutarannya-dilarang-karena-menyinggung-agama-  071819348.html

We are not off to a happy start.

“Is there a story,” I once asked myself, “where instead of an ordinary person being propped up on a pedestal and touted as a Christ figure, the reverse happens?” I’d long imagined Jesus and Mary Magdalene enjoying an evening in a corner diner, savoring life at its most mundane as any of us might do.

Director Martin Scorsese, who himself loves The Robe and introduces the fiftieth-anniversary edition, places on the screen a book adaptation that I must first describe as “riveting.” For better or worse, the story openly acknowledges and embraces its scriptural divergences, which it uses to create an original if sometimes reckless narrative that mostly remains powerful all the way through.

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Movie Review: The Help

DreamWorks SKG et al. - The Help - movie poster - from http://resugoreads.blogspot.com/2011/07/help-movie.html

When a recently hired columnist begins to speak out against the cultural and economic injustices endured by her city’s maids of African descent (“the help”), she establishes herself not as a white messiah but as an amplifier for the opinions and ideas these disenfranchised yet intelligent women hold. The Help smartly rises above its own civil-rights trappings, becoming a memorable and exceptionally well written character drama.

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Movie Review: Silver Linings Playbook

The Weinstein Company - Silver Linings Playbook - movie poster - from http://www.fandango.com/movieblog/exclusive-silver-linings-playbook-poster-premiere-720480.html

It doesn’t take much to make a story feel fresh. Take the concept of a time-honored romantic tale, then start it in a mental hospital, focusing on a penitent hero with a difficult past, some major mistakes, and scars to show for both. He’s not perfect, but it makes no difference–he’s already got our attention, and he’s desperate to win his wife back.

For our heroine, consider a young woman who grieves over her husband’s untimely death and lives as though she’s still married. She makes some counterproductive decisions, but her own needs are all too clear to see. Maybe she’ll find love again someday.

While some of Silver Linings Playbook’s character and narrative decisions seem unwise or downright neglectful, the story arguably has its heart in the right places, even if it’s taking those intentions and giving them meaning that often proves the toughest. In the end, sometimes a man just wants to see his beloved again. Sometimes that causes its own problems.

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Movie Review: Moon (spoilers, especially in conclusion)

Moon - Sony Pictures Classics - movie poster - from http://www.creativebloq.com/movies/iconic-movie-posters-712378

Yes, the given distance is wrong, but the minimalist design really works.

Peace of mind is a precious thing. Sam Bell, nearing the end of his three-year work contract on the far side of Earth’s natural satellite, has every reason to cherish his understanding of himself and his life. He’s a devoted and lonely father with a beautiful wife and child waiting for him back home, and all he has to do is to hold out for a few more weeks until he is relieved.

Peace of mind is a fragile thing.

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Movie Review: Hanna

Hanna - Focus Features - movie poster - from http://impawards.com/2011/hanna.html

What if you grew up as an assassin?

Remove all romantic notions of such a life from your mind, and try to imagine that your combat skills were the foremost thing you understood about the world. Concepts such as love and innocence would be foreign to you, and you would have to learn to appreciate the vast difference between intellect and experience.

Hanna is an uneven but conceptually remarkable story of a teenager who embarks on a journey to discover what there is to see and do in the world outside of her unfortunate upbringing. Does this sound like a fairy tale? In a way it is, if the late Tom Clancy had penned it. The film is almost as much of an old-fashioned but realistic “fantasy” as a modern-day thriller, and the clash of moods and settings makes for a fairly creative product.

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Movie Review: RoboCop (1987)

Orion Pictures - RoboCop - movie poster - from http://www.aintitcool.com/node/64137

The original RoboCop is a delight of an action film that boasts total mastery over its tone and intent from moment to moment. It knows when to be subtle and to be excessive. It knows when to be exciting, thought-provoking, or even heartbreaking. It revels in unsophisticated fun and at times becomes downright goofy, but the movie is always well aware of its purpose, which it simply keeps on expanding. It likely won’t appeal to viewers who shun depictions of intense violence (which are present even in the edited-for-television version, which was my only viewing option at the time), but moviegoers who can accept these gruesome yet exaggerated moments may indeed find themselves laughing.

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