Tag Archives: movie

MTV Awards No Longer Rewarding Just Movies

mtv_movie_awards

After rewarding movies only for 25 years, the MTV Awards are now including television nominees. The actual award may no longer be the bucket of popcorn.

The MTV Movie Awards have been a source of intrigue of mine for many years. Sure, I have an interest in the Oscar race and the Golden Globes but I like the MTVs as they would deliver surprising results. Even if I was disgusted with what won what category, it would still capture my intrigue.

This year is a new chapter in the awards. After 25 years, they are no longer giving awards to movies only. This time they are making their awards a mix of both movies and television. It’s a question of why. Some would say it’s because the Movie Awards in past years have been sagging in the ratings. Some would argue these are an awards that’s just there, without any legitimate relevance. Others would say that MTV having an awards for TV are long overdue. I admit I too thought there should be an MTV television awards many years ago consisting of categories of MTV shows and shows from other networks.

This year, there is a change in the way of doing things. For the first time, television shows and performances are included in an MTV awards show. However the awards are part of the movie awards; kind of like the Golden Globes. Unlike the Golden Globes which has all their movie and television categories separate, the MTVs have a mix of movie-only categories, TV-only categories and categories where movie and TV performances are mixed together. Those would be categories like Best Kiss, Best Villain, Best Hero and Best Comedic Performance. However some categories from the movie awards days had to be taken away like the Best Breakthrough Performance, Best Fight and Best WTF Moment. As for nominations, Get Out is the most-nominated film and Stranger Things is the most-nominated show.

Anyways here are the nominees for this year’s MTV Movie and TV Awards. Categories where movie performances and TV performances are mixed together are marked with an asterisk:

MOVIE OF THE YEAR

  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Get Out
  • Logan
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • The Edge of Seventeen

BEST ACTOR IN A MOVIE

  • Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
  • Emma Watson – Beauty and the Beast
  • Hailee Steinfeld – The Edge of Seventeen
  • Hugh Jackman – Logan
  • James McAvoy – Split
  • Taraji P. Henson – Hidden Figures

SHOW OF THE YEAR      

  • Atlanta
  • Game of Thrones
  • Insecure
  • Pretty Little Liars
  • Stranger Things    
  • This Is Us      

BEST ACTOR IN A SHOW

  • Donald Glover – Atlanta
  • Emilia Clarke – Game of Thrones
  • Gina Rodriguez – Jane the Virgin
  • Jeffrey Dean Morgan – The Walking Dead
  • Mandy Moore – This Is Us
  • Millie Bobby Brown – Stranger Things

BEST KISS*

  • Ashton Sanders and Jharrel Jerome – Moonlight
  • Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling – La La Land
  • Emma Watson and Dan Stevens – Beauty and the Beast
  • Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard – Empire
  • Zac Efron and Anna Kendrick – Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

BEST VILLAIN*

  • Allison Williams – Get Out
  • Demogorgon – Stranger Things
  • Jared Leto – Suicide Squad
  • Jeffrey Dean Morgan – The Walking Dead
  • Wes Bentley – American Horror Story

BEST HOST

  • Ellen DeGeneres – The Ellen DeGeneres Show
  • John Oliver – Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
  • RuPaul – RuPaul’s Drag Race
  • Samantha Bee – Full Frontal With Samantha Bee
  • Trevor Noah – The Daily Show

BEST DOCUMENTARY

  • 13TH
  • I Am Not Your Negro
  • O.J.: Made in America
  • This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous
  • TIME: The Kalief Browder Story

BEST REALITY COMPETITION

  • America’s Got Talent
  • MasterChef Junior
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race
  • The Bachelor
  • The Voice

BEST COMEDIC PERFORMANCE*

  • Adam Devine – Workaholics
  • Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson – Broad City
  • Lil Rel Howery – Get Out
  • Seth MacFarlane – Family Guy
  • Seth Rogen – Sausage Party
  • Will Arnett – The LEGO Batman Movie

BEST HERO*

  • Felicity Jones – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Grant Gustin – The Flash
  • Mike Colter – Luke Cage
  • Millie Bobby Brown – Stranger Things
  • Stephen Amell – Arrow
  • Taraji P. Henson – Hidden Figures

TEARJERKER*

  • Game of Thrones – Hodor’s (Kristian Nairn) Death
  • Grey’s Anatomy – Meredith tells her children about Derek’s death (Ellen Pompeo)
  • Me Before You – Will (Sam Claflin) tells Louisa (Emilia Clarke) he can’t stay with her
  • Moonlight – Paula (Naomie Harris) tells Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) that she loves him
  • This Is Us – Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Randall (Lonnie Chavis) at karate

NEXT GENERATION*

  • Chrissy Metz
  • Daniel Kaluuya
  • Issa Rae
  • Riz Ahmed
  • Yara Shahidi

BEST DUO*

  • Adam Levine and Blake Shelton – The Voice
  • Daniel Kaluuya and Lil Rel Howery – Get Out
  • Brian Tyree Henry and Lakeith Stanfield – Atlanta
  • Hugh Jackman and Dafne Keen – Logan
  • Josh Gad and Luke Evans – Beauty and the Beast
  • Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg – Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party

BEST AMERICAN STORY*

  • Black-ish
  • Fresh Off the Boat
  • Jane the Virgin
  • Moonlight
  • Transparent

BEST FIGHT AGAINST THE SYSTEM*

  • Get Out
  • Hidden Figures
  • Loving
  • Luke Cage
  • Mr. Robot

 

Show will be held at the Shrine Auditorium on May 7th and hosted by Adam deVine who starred in two hit movies from last year. Remember this year is a trial year for this new format. It’s interesting to see how this will work out. It’s even possible MTV may add categories for other media forms in future years, like for video games or online movies or videos. We’ll have to wait and see.

MTV Movie Awards Holds Its 25th

mtv_movie_awards

The MTV Movie Awards, the awards that’s been come to be known as the anti-Oscars, will hold their 25th edition this year.

Back in 1992, producer Joel Gallen founded a movie awards show for MTV completely unlike the Oscars. It may not have reached to same status as the Oscars but it has grown over the years as an event of significant popularity.

MTVs

The first MTV Movie awards were held in 1992. The film reel was the award and Terminator 2: Judgement Day was the big winner. It was obvious these awards were going to send a message to the Oscars.

Now back in 1992, MTV had already been known for their Video Music Awards. The event which was started in 1984 was seen as a music awards that appeared more relevant with what was happening in music as compared to the Grammys. It also offered notorious on stage events, either planned or spontaneous, that would get people talking. While such events would threaten the popularity of some musicians or even make the Grammys nervous, it made MTV.

The first MTV Movie Awards were held in 1992. Its nominations featured movies that the Oscars would either turn their noses up to or just relegate to nominations in the technical categories like Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Backdraft, Boyz N The Hood and Wayne’s World. In fact the Silence Of The Lambs which was the apple of the Academy’s eye that year did not even receive a single nomination. The event also featured unorthodox categories like Best Kiss, Best Villain, Best Action Sequence, Best Breakthrough Performance, Most Desirable Male and Female and its Lifetime Achievement Award which went to Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th infamy. Instead of Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress, they had categories like Best Male Performance, Best Female Performance and Best Movie. Even animated performances could be nominated in the various categories. On top of that, they had people call in to vote for who they felt should win the awards in the weeks leading up to the event.

Basically the point of the awards was to have a movie awards show that was current and more in line with the people’s movie tastes. Especially young people since they made up most of the movie-going crowd. The awards didn’t simply want to give accolades to movies that made big money but gave people their enjoyment and their money’s worth. In fact Terminator 2: Judgement Day, which won four Oscars in the technical categories, was the big winner at the first MTV Movie Awards. Basically the focus is on movies instead of films and stars instead of actors. MTV turned out to be only domain likely to start such a movie awards show at the time. In fact the award which is a golden bucket of popcorn is meant to symbolize its rewarding of crowdwinning.

There’s also the entertainment factor of the awards too. There were frequent movie spoofs, often starring the awards’ host, that still happen quite often. The event was also used to promote upcoming summer releases with presenters often people starring in movies to be released later that summer. Also the musical performers would often have nothing to do with the movies and more to do with summer album releases. Performers of movie songs were more commonly featured in the 90’s editions of the awards show as movie music was bigger then than it is now.

There would be category changes and category drops of awards categories. However the standard would be the same where performances and movies that gave people their enjoyment would get top wins. Only three times has the Oscar winner for Best Picture won Best Movie. In addition, nine movies that didn’t receive a single Academy Award nomination won Best Movie including Scream, There’s Something About Mary, four of the five Twilight movies and the most recent Movie Of The Year winner, The Fault In Our Stars. That’s another thing too, how the MTV’s aren’t afraid to even give teen movies accolades. No wonder the show has been come to be known as the anti-Oscars.

There have even been times when the MTV Movie Awards would appear to ‘make right’ what the Academy did wrong as most saw. In 1995 when Hoop Dreams was snubbed of a Best Documentary Oscar nomination, director Steve James would receive the Best New Filmmaker Award: an honorary award from 1992 to 2002 which honored filmmakers whose debut film would introduce a new element to film making. In 1998 when most people thought Leonardo diCaprio was snubbed of a Best Actor Oscar nomination for Titanic, he won Best Male Performance at the MTVs.

Now onto this year’s Awards. This is the 25th annual MTV Movie Awards. As noted, it’s come a long way. It’s still a big public event where a lot of big stars show up. Stars from upcoming summer releases are planned to be among the presenters. However the list is still incomplete even among musical performers. Categories from the first Awards are still here like Movie Of The Year (retitled from Best Movie) , Best Male and Female Performance, Best Breakthrough Performance, Best Comedic Performance,  Best Villain and of course their trademark category: Best Kiss. New categories this year are Best Documentary, Best Action Performance, Best Ensemble Cast and Best True Story. Returning categories not at the first Awards are Best Fight and Best Hero. In addition, the category of Best Virtual Performance returns this year.

This year’s Awards are again focusing on big crowd winners. One trivia note: the highest-grossing film of the previous year would always get at least one MTV Movie Awards nomination. This year is far from an exception as Star Wars: The Force Awakens received eleven nominations including Best Movie. Deadpool is the next-most nominated with eight and Avengers: Age Of Ultron is next with six. Four of the six movies nominated for Best Movie are sci-fi or action movies and none of the Best Picture nominees for this year’s Oscars, not even Mad Max: Fury Road, were nominated for Best Movie. Mad Max still got four nominations as did The Revenant. Five of the eight Best Picture nominees have received at least one nomination but Spotlight didn’t get a single one. Can you believe it? While the hard-to-watch Room got a nomination with Brie Larson for Best Breakthrough Performance. In addition, this year’s nominees are way more mixed in terms of race and gender than this year’s Oscars by far.

Also you may remember I talked about a Best New Filmmaker category? That was there during the first Awards but was dropped after 2002. Now the honorary award at the MTV’s is the Generation Award: like a ‘lifetime achievement’ award but going to a star whom the generations born and bred on MTV made. The first one back in 2005 went to Tom Cruise. This year, it goes to Will Smith. Even though he’s not my favorite actor, I wonder what took MTV so long to award it to him.

Now onto my predictions for this year’s MTV Movie Awards winners. Note I’m better at prediction the Oscars than predicting MTV winners. With this being a ‘people’s choice’ awards, they can go any which way. So here goes:

Movie of the Year
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Creed
Deadpool
Jurassic World
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Straight Outta Compton

Will Win (WW): Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Most Likely Upsetter (MLU): Straight Outta Compton

Yes, Star Wars mania returned. However underdogs have come and taken the Best Movie award before. People’s tastes may surprise you. I predict Straight Outta Compton to be the movie most likely to pull an upset.

True Story
Concussion
Joy
Steve Jobs
Straight Outta Compton
The Big Short
The Revenant

WW: Straight Outta Compton

MLU: The Revenant

I strongly believe with this being MTV, Straight Outta Compton will rule this category. However The Revenant could upset.

Documentary
Amy
Cartel Land
He Named Me Malala
The Hunting Ground
The Wolfpack
What Happened, Miss Simone?

WW: Amy

MLU: He Named Me Malala

It’s a surprise to see a documentary category for the MTVs. I thought the awards were about movies instead of films. With this being MTV, I think Amy is the hands-down winner here.

Best Female Performance
-Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina
-Anna Kendrick, Pitch Perfect 2
-Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road
-Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
-Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
-Morena Baccarin, Deadpool

WW: Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

MLU: Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road

Looking at the nominees, I feel the biggest star-buzz would go to Daisy Ridley. However Charlize could win because of how she stole the show from Max.

Best Male Performance
-Chris Pratt, Jurassic World
-Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
-Matt Damon, The Martian
-Michael B. Jordan, Creed
-Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool
-Will Smith, Concussion

WW: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

MLU: Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool

Leo has already won this award before in 1998 for Titanic (of course) and 2005 for The Aviator. He may seem like a guarantee here since everyone wanted him to win the Oscar. However don’t count out Michael B. Jordan or Ryan Reynolds as they charmed crowds too.

Breakthrough Performance
-Amy Schumer, Trainwreck
-Brie Larson, Room
-Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
-Dakota Johnson, Fifty Shades of Grey
-John Boyega, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
-O’Shea Jackson Jr., Straight Outta Compton

WW: Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

MLU: Amy Schumer, Trainwreck

Interesting how both Amy Schumer and Brie Larson were co-stars in Trainwreck and they’re now competing against each other in this category. However I feel this is Daisy Ridley’s for the taking.

Best Comedic Performance
-Amy Schumer, Trainwreck
-Kevin Hart, Ride Along 2
-Melissa McCarthy, Spy
-Rebel Wilson, Pitch Perfect 2
-Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool
-Will Ferrell, Get Hard

WW: Kevin Hart, Ride Along 2

MLU: Amy Schumer, Trainwreck

It seems like Kevin Hart is the comedy phenom right now. However Amy Schumer is the one having him look over his shoulder.

Best Action Performance
-Chris Pratt, Jurassic World
-Dwayne Johnson, San Andreas
-Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2
-John Boyega, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
-Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool
-Vin Diesel, Furious 7

WW: John Boyega, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

MLU: Vin Diesel, Furious 7

Best Hero
-Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road
-Chris Evans, Avengers: Age of Ultron
-Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
-Dwayne Johnson, San Andreas
-Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2
-Paul Rudd, Ant-Man

WW: Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

MLU: Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road

This seems to be the year of the heroine instead of the year of the hero. Rey and Furiosa. Rey seems like the best bet but Furiosa could overtake her for the win.

Best Villain
-Adam Driver, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
-Ed Skrein, Deadpool
-Hugh Keays-Byrne, Mad Max: Fury Road
-James Spader, Avengers: Age of Ultron
-Samuel L. Jackson, Kingsman: The Secret Service
-Tom Hardy, The Revenant

WW: Adam Driver, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

MLU: Hugh Keays-Byrne, Mad Max: Fury Road

This seems like another category where it’s a foregone conclusion Star Wars will win. Mind you there have been surprises in the past. Hugh Keays-Byrne could upset.

Best Virtual Performance
-Amy Poehler, Inside Out
-Andy Serkis, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
-Jack Black, Kung Fu Panda 3
-James Spader, Avengers: Age of Ultron
-Lupita Nyong’o, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
-Seth MacFarlane, Ted 2

WW: Amy Poehler, Inside Out

MLU: Lupita Nyong’o, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

This category only existed once before: back in 2003. Andy Serkis, I mean Gollum, won. I think Amy Poehler will take it here as she was the most charming.

Ensemble Cast
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Furious 7
Pitch Perfect 2
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2
Trainwreck

WW: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

MLU: Furious 7

Now this is one category I’d like to see at the Oscars. Hey, the SAGs have it. I’m surprised Straight Outta Compton didn’t get nominated.

Best Kiss
-Amy Schumer & Bill Hader, Trainwreck
-Dakota Johnson & Jamie Dornan, Fifty Shades of Grey
-Leslie Mann & Chris Hemsworth, Vacation
-Margot Robbie & Will Smith, Focus
-Morena Baccarin & Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool
-Rebel Wilson & Adam DeVine, Pitch Perfect 2

WW: Dakota Johnson & Jamie Dornan, Fifty Shades of Grey

MLU: Morena Baccarin & Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool

This is the category that separates the MTV Movie awards from all other movie awards. Hey, the biggest stars want to win this. The winning kisses have ranged from innocent kisses (My Girl) to romantic kisses (The Notebook) to same-sex kisses (Cruel Intentions) to unique kisses (SpiderMan) to threeways (Starsky and Hutch) to even humorous kisses (American Pie 2). I think the Fifty Shades of Grey kiss will take it.

Best Fight
-Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) vs. Ajax (Ed Skrein), Deadpool
-Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) vs. The Bear, The Revenant
-Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) vs. Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), Mad Max: Fury Road
-Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) vs. Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Avengers: Age of Ultron
-Rey (Daisy Ridley) vs. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Star Wars: The Force Awakens
-Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) vs. Lia (Nargis Fakhri), Spy

WW: Rey (Daisy Ridley) vs. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Star Wars: The Force Awakens

MLU: Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) vs. The Bear, The Revenant

This is always a hard one because any fight could end up a winner. However I give it to Star Wars. You can’t beat Star Wars in this category.

Hey, I told you the categories were unorthodox. Anyways those are my predictions for the 25th annual MTV Movie Awards. Tune in Sunday, April 10th to watch who wins what, who’s performing and what notorious acts happen.

 

 

Movie Review: The Peanuts Movie

The Peanuts Movie is full of surprises. Especially for Charlie Brown.

The Peanuts Movie is full of surprises. Especially for Charlie Brown.

Charlie Brown and the Peanuts characters are some of the most beloved cartoon characters in history. The Peanuts Movie brings them back into action in 2015. And in winning style.

It’s winter. While the kids are having fun skating and playing hockey on the ice, Charlie Brown is nervous. A family has moved into town and with them is a girl– the little Red Haired girl– he wants to win the attention of. However he has a track record of bad luck in the neighborhood and among his peers. He sees Lucy for ‘professional help.’ She advises him to make a winner of himself and be more confident.

First chance is at the school talent show. Charlie has a magic act planned with Snoopy and Woodstock assisting. Charlie’s last up. Sally is second -last up with her cowgirl act. However she gets ridiculed by the crowd. Charlie decides to help her win the contest at the expense of his own humiliation. It works. She wins and he makes a fool of himself.

Next chance is the school dance which consists of prizes going to the winning solo dances for both boys and girls. The little-red haired girl wins the female prize.  Charlie Brown appears to have winning form but a slip causes him to fall and disrupt the sprinkler system which disrupts the whole dance. Again a blockhead!

Next chance is a book report which he’s partnered with the little red-haired girl. Then comes aptitude testing which Charlie Brown is believed to score the highest. Just before Charlie Brown is to receive a medal for his perfect score, he learns the truth and declines his medal on stage. To make matters worse the book report Charlie Brown wrote for the little -red-haired girl is destroyed in the air by Snoopy’s plane.

Summer approaches and classmates are assigned to be pen pals. The little red-haired girl chooses Charlie Brown. The thing is she’s to spend the summer at camp. Charlie Brown has one last chance to meet up with her. Does he do it or doesn’t he? Those who saw the movie will know for sure.

What the filmmakers had in terms of bringing the Peanuts back to the big screen was a challenge. The first challenge was for possibly the first time, the Peanuts characters were 3D in a 3D world. The second challenge was what to include in the film. No doubt the film was to include the common traits of the characters as well as the common lines used by the characters throughout. The other challenge would be what kind of world would The Peanuts be in? Would they be in their past world consisting of common things like books, playing baseball and Snoopy using a typewriter? Or would they be in the modern world where kids use iPads, skateboard, hop onto Wikipedia for whatever info they want and save their essays as Word Documents?

I believe the writers and animators made the right choices to have the story situated in the traditional world of the Peanuts characters. That’s how fans of the cartoon series best remember them and converting them into the modern world would be very tricky stuff and may turn long-time fans off. Another element I liked is that it maintains a lot of familiar situations from Peanuts cartoon strips and Peanuts cartoon shows of the past. The humor of Charles Schulz had to be kept with the story as well as the familiar personality traits of all the characters.

However with this being a feature-length movie, it had to present a legible story with a beginning, middle and end. This was a challenge to write out such a story and mix in the common humor of the Peanuts characters and familiar moments of the Peanuts history. I feel it did an excellent job of creating a consistent story with mixing in the humor of the Peanuts franchise as well as giving all the other characters their moments too. It can’t all be about Charlie Brown. Plus I’m sure all of us wanted to see Charlie Brown win the ‘little red-haired girl.’

Kudos the Charles Schulz’ son Craig, grandson Bryan and Cornelius Uliano for writing an excellent story true to the Peanuts series as well as entertaining from start to finish. Additional kudos to director Steve Martino. To make such a movie work, they had to put it in the hands of someone who knows how to direct animation. Martino has proven himself in the past with Horton Hears A Who and Ice Age 2: Continental Drift. Here he delivers again. I also give the animators credit for making 3D characters of the peanuts characters for possibly the first time. That was another challenge: keep them 2D or make them 3D? They took the risk with 3D and it worked very well. I will admit I did see a few glitches in terms of speed but the form of the characters as well as the settings were flawless.

The vocal talent from the young actors were all there as they not only sounded like the characters but they personified them as we commonly knew them. Additional kudos for Christophe Back for providing the score familiar with Peanuts animation of the past as well as adding some things of his own.

The Peanuts Movie is an excellent movie with all the right moves to win over fans of Peanuts cartoons and introduce the Peanuts kids to a new generation of children.

My 2015 MTV Movie Awards Predictions

Movie (640x306)Of course I’m better at predicting Oscar winners than MTV Movie Awards winners. Nevertheless it’s still fun to predict and it would be interesting to see who wins.

MTV Movie Awards have always a ‘people’s choice’ type of awards and they can go to anyone. Even the surest of the sure don’t always happen. One example is in 1998 right when Titanicmania was happening,  Leo & Kate’s kiss in Titanic lost to the kiss between Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore in The Wedding Singer. Even though the MTV Movie Awards hail themselves as an awards show ‘about movies, not films,’ independent films like Menace 2 Society and Napoleon Dynamite would win the Best Movie award. Even though sure bets have won, there have been some sure bets that weren’t really all that sure.

Anyways before I predict the nominees for the 24th MTV Movie Awards for Sunday, my comments about the nominees. The MTV Movie Awards have been commonly known in the past as the ‘Anti-Oscars’ for the show to give awards and nominations favoring towards popcorn movies with big fanfare that normally get Oscar accolades in the more technical categories like sound mixing or visual effects. Even categories like Best Kiss, Best Villain, Best Hero and most recently Best WTF Moment are an element that separates the MTV’s from the more stuffy Oscars.

This year I’m surprised to see a lot of Oscar fare among the nominations. Just look at the movies with nominations: Selma, Whiplash, Foxcatcher, American Sniper, even Birdman has some nominations. Sure there’s popcorn flavor like Guardians of the Galaxy, The Fault In Our Stars, The Hobbit and of course the latest Hunger Games movie but seeing more Oscar fare than usual this year is a surprise. I often feel it’s because it’s a reflection of the movie year that just passed. If you remember the 2014 movie year, it didn’t give the most memorable of movies. Good fare but not much that would remain beloved over time. I have to say that if there were people complaining about how lackluster this year’s Oscar fare was, they should remember how lackluster the popcorn fare of 2014 was.

Anyways without further ado, here are my predictions for the 2015 MTV Movie Awards. My prediction who I feel will win the bucket of popcorn will be marked with an * and my prediction for the most likely upsetter will be marked with an +. So here goes:

Movie of the Year
“American Sniper” (Warner Bros.)
*“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1″ (Lionsgate)*
+“Guardians of the Galaxy” (Disney)+
“Gone Girl” (20th Century Fox)
“The Fault in Our Stars” (20th Century Fox)
“Boyhood” (IFC Films)
“Whiplash” (Sony Pictures Classics)
“Selma” (Paramount Pictures)

While the Academy has eight Best Picture nominees, MTV has eight Movie Of The Year nominees. This year there are four that stick out: Mockingjay because of the Hunger Games following, The Fault In Our Stars because this is the mushy romance with the biggest following since The Notebook, Boyhood because of a story that is a reflection of so many young people and Guardians Of The Galaxy, the summer movie of 2014.  I would still have to go with Mockingjay as the buzz is still active despite lower box office take-in.

Best Female Performance
*Jennifer Lawrence – “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1″*
Emma Stone – “Birdman”
+Shailene Woodley – “Fault in Our Stars”+
Reese Witherspoon – “Wild”
Scarlett Johansson – “Lucy”

Jennifer lawrence has been going strong. I think her only real threat would have to be Shailene Woodley as The Fault In Our Stars turned out to have a bigger following than expected. Nevertheless I expect Jennifer to hang on strong.

Best Male Performance
Bradley Cooper – “American Sniper”
+Chris Pratt – “Guardians of the Galaxy”+
*Ansel Elgort – “Fault in Our Stars”*
Miles Teller – “Whiplash”
Channing Tatum – “Foxcatcher”

No doubt about it. This has been the year for newcomer Ansel Elgort. Already I’ve seen his face on magazines and The Fault In Our Stars still has the buzz that it first had when it hit the theatres. It’s his for the taking.

Best Scared-as-S*** Performance
+Rosamund Pike – “Gone Girl”+
Annabelle Wallis – “Annabelle”
Jennifer Lopez – “The Boy Next Door”
*Dylan O’Brien – “The Maze Runner”*
Zach Gilford – “The Purge: Anarchy”

I admit I’ve only seen one performance: Rosamund Pike. So this has to be a random guess. I predict Dylan O’Brien because of the young following of The Maze Runner. Like I say, don’t take my word on these predictions.

Breakthrough Performance
*Ansel Elgort – “The Fault in Our Stars”*
+Rosamund Pike – “Gone Girl”+
David Oyelowo – “Selma”
Dylan O’Brien – “The Maze Runner”
Ellar Coltrane – “Boyhood”

Let’s face it. Ansel is definitely the breakthrough of the year. Even Rosamund doesn’t stand too much of a chance.

Best Shirtless Performance
+Zac Efron – “Neighbors”+
Chris Pratt – “Guardians of the Galaxy
Channing Tatum – “Foxcatcher”
*Ansel Elgort – “Fault in Our Stars”*
Kate Upton – “The Other Woman”

Ansel again. Besides Zach is becoming yesreday’s news according to the young set and Channing is neither a superhero nor Magic Mike.

Best Duo
Channing Tatum & Jonah Hill – “22 Jump Street”
Zac Efron & Dave Franco – “Neighbors”
+Shailene Woodley & Ansel Elgort – “The Fault in Our Stars”+
*Bradley Cooper & Vin Diesel – “Guardians of the Galaxy”*
James Franco & Seth Rogen – “The Interview”

Duos are always a hard call. Couples, partners in crime, partners in biz or buds? I went with the Guardians duo here.

Best Fight
Jonah Hill vs. Jillian Bell – “22 Jump Street”
Chris Evans vs. Sebastian Stan – “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
+Dylan O’Brien vs. Will Poulter – “The Maze Runner”+
*Seth Rogen vs. Zac Efron – “Neighbors”*
Edward Norton vs. Michael Keaton – “Birdman”

Admit it. Often comedic fights win us more than the intense fights. So I went with the Neighbors fight.

Best Kiss
*Ansel Elgort & Shailene Woodley – “Fault in Our Stars”*
+James Franco & Seth Rogen – “The Interview”+
Andrew Garfield & Emma Stone – “The Amazing Spider-Man 2″
Scarlett Johansson & Chris Evans – “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
Rose Byrne & Halston Sage – “Neighbors”
This is one where you don’t know where it will go. Will it go to the more romantic kisses or will it go to the more humorous kisses? I still have a feeling the Ansel & Shailene kiss will win.

Best WTF Moment
*Seth Rogen & Rose Byrne – “Neighbors”*
Jonah Hill – “22 Jump Street”
+Jason Sudeikis & Charlie Day – “Horrible Bosses 2″+
Miles Teller – “Whiplash”
Rosario Dawson & Anders Holm – “Top Five”

Best Villain

*Rosamund Pike – “Gone Girl”*
J.K. Simmons – “Whiplash”
Jillian Bell – “22 Jump Street”
Meryl Streep – “Into the Woods”
+Peter Dinklage – “X-Men: Days of Future Past”+

It’s hard to pick out which villain most kept moviegoers spellbound. I picked Rosamund for Gone Girl because it was her story of how clever she was that really had people at the edge of their seats.

Best Musical Moment
Jennifer Lawrence – “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1″
*Chris Pratt – “Guardians of the Galaxy”*
+Seth Rogen & Zac Efron – “Neighbors”+
Bill Hader & Kristen Wiig – “The Skeleton Twins”
Miles Teller – “Whiplash”

Musical moment doesn’t necessarily mean singing or performing a straigh number. That explains why none of the numbers of Into The woods are nominated. It can include goofy karaoke or just dancing around. That’s why I went with Chris in Guardians. He had us all laughing.

Best Comedic Performance
Channing Tatum – “22 Jump Street”
Chris Pratt – “Guardians of the Galaxy”
Rose Byrne – “Neighbors”
+Chris Rock – “Top Five”+
*Kevin Hart – “The Wedding Ringer”*

Hard call between Chris Rock and the man many believe to be his heir apparent. I’ll go with Kevin.

Best On-Screen Transformation
Eddie Redmayne – “The Theory of Everything”
Elizabeth Banks – “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1″
+Zoe Saldana – “Guardians of the Galaxy”+
Steve Carell – “Foxcatcher”
*Ellar Coltrane – “Boyhood”*

This is interesting to see who will win. My best hunches are with either Ellar and Zoe. I think Ellar because of how Boyhood has a following with the young.

Additional category added after original nominees announced:

Best Hero

Shailene Woodley – The Divergent Series: Insurgent

*Jennifer Lawrence – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1*

Dylan O’Brien – The Maze Runner

Martin Freeman – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

+Chris Pratt – Guardians of the Galaxy+

The buzz over Jennifer Lawrence and the Hunger Games hasn’t died yet so I assume a win here.

And there you have it for my predictions. There will also be three additional awards given out:

  • MTV Trailblazer Award: Shailene Woodley
  • Comedic Genius Award: Kevin Hart
  • MTV Generation Award: Robert Downey Jr.

Anyways stay tuned for the winners. Comedy Central star Amy Schumer will host. There are five musical performances lined up. Tomorrow should be an exciting night.

LATE Movie Review: The LEGO Movie

Emmet Brickowski (centre) becomes the unlikely hero in The LEGO movie.

Emmet Brickowski (centre) becomes the unlikely hero of the Lego world in The LEGO Movie.

You will all be pissed off with me. I actually saw The LEGO Movie when it was first out around the first weekend in March. The reason why I never wrote a review about it is because I was so tired out from doing a multitude of Academy Award articles. You can understand that I felt enough was enough back then and I lacked the ambition. Well ambition to write a review on it sparked in me already, especially with the Oscar season coming up and the multitude of accolades it’s received. Now I can say my thoughts.

This is another review where I won’t be giving a synopsis of the plot. I don’t feel it’s necessary since most people have already seen it by now. Nevertheless I’ll focus on how the movie worked.

This is a film that needed to have a winning script in order to make it work. It starts simple about a guy who does what he can to be liked only to learn he’s not well-liked. He’s the ‘chosen one’ despite the surprise of everyone but ends up victorious in the end. Sounds like a formulaic story that been done endlessly before, right?

In order to make a story like this fly, it has to add its own quirks and elements to make it fly. This movie succeeds in creating a Lego world beyond a toy lover’s imagination. On top of it, it had to make the Lego toys very animate and full of character. Remember the Legos are the focus of the movie. The film also did a smart job in adding in characters that are exclusive to the Lego toys and in including the Lego characters based of off movie characters. It does seem like the writers did a lot of research about the characters to have in the movie.

The film adds in a lot of humor. Firstly it creates a humorous world with the wizard Vitruvius, a villain in the Lord Business and a superweapon called Kragle which is actually Krazy Glue. However its other great asset is including the human world in the story with ‘the Man Upstairs’ and his son. It’s that twist at the end where we are all shown that this Lego world is all part of a giant Lego diorama created by the Man Upstairs. Whatever the situation, it had to make the two worlds mix in the end in order to make the story work and it did. Not to mention give a surprise humorous ending.

Now it’s not just the story that had to work. Not to mention having ‘Everything Is Awesome’ the movie’s theme song. The film had to make the animation believable. They had to make the Lego characters fluid in movement rather than wooden and choppy. They also had to be given the perfect animation in their faces while remaining Lego characters. Finally the Lego world had to be animate and 100% Lego from the building world Emmet works in to the sea the Lego galleon sails on. When you have a Lego movie, the world and the characters have to be 100% Lego-like from start to finish. One glitch in the animation and that would have blown it.

Kudos to Phil Lord and Christopher Miller for writing and directing an excellent entertaining film for all ages. In addition, great job on the vocal talents of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman. Also great job of Will Ferrel for delivering a live-action character that’s a refreshing alternate from his more idiotic characters.

It’s no wonder The LEGO Movie has been so loved since it opened back in February last year. It’s also no wonder it’s still beloved by people of all ages even now. It’s only those under a rock that haven’t seen it that don’t know why.

 

Movie Review: Anna Karenina

Keira Knightly plays Anna in the latest film adaptation of Anna Karenina.

Keira Knightly plays Anna in the latest film adaptation of Anna Karenina.

How many of you are familiar with the novel Anna Karenina? I’m sure a lot of you are. Mostly because it was required reading in high school in a lot of schools. Did you know that Anna Karenina has been adapted to the cinema a total of thirteen times including twice starring Greta Garbo? Now Anna Karenina returns to the big screen again directed by Joe Wright and with Keira Knightly as Anna. The question is can you make a movie that’s been done twelve times before winsome to present crowds?

The films prime focus is on Anna living a privileged life thanks to her marriage to a government official but she is unhappy in her marriage. It showcases her fling with cavalry officer Count Vronsky whom she falls for at the train station which starts a fling that not only threatens her marriage but her social status and mostly chance of ever seeing her son again whom she dearly loves. She continues to see the count and even bear his child only to have her heart broken and ultimately fated to a tragic end.
 
The films subplot is on Kitty, Anna’s 18 year-old sister-in-law, and Kostya who prefers country life to the aristocracy. Kostya proposes to Kitty but she wants to have her fun at her young age, especially since she’s being pursued by other men like Count Vronsky. She becomes heartbroken when Vronsky leaves her for Anna and Kostya if left for months to labor in the country yards. It isn’t until months later that he is able to confront Kitty and convey his feelings to her. It is then that Kitty and Kostya were meant to be.

The point of the movie wasn’t simply to tell the story of Anna Karenina again but to tell it in a creative and styled manner. At the beginning you could tell that this would be a movie with a different twist to telling the novel. I mean a novel that’s already been adapted to the big screen twelve times before needs to have the latest adaptation anything but redundant. It presents the scenarios of Anna as a stage and frequently going from scene to scene as going from stage to stage. It creates a lot of the acting and dancing in a stand-out method, even quirky and eccentric. It gives the audience the impression of what’s really going on even if they’re dancing or ‘not really’ having sex.

I’m sure this unique twist is what the director and scriptwriter had in mind. Both of which have already established themselves. Joe Wright has been renowned for directing Pride And Prejudice, Atonement, The Soloist and Hanna. Tom Stoppard has established himself in writing with a multitude of plays and has even won an Oscar for writing the screenplay of Shakespeare In Love. The film’s styling and sometimes quirky way of playing out the novel would remind many of Moulin Rouge. The only thing is it makes it look like they’re trying too hard to make this adaptation stand out and be original. There are many times in which the quirkiness and the stylings don’t work their best and we’re unsure whether the film is trying to portray a message, tell the story or just simply put on a show.

One thing that went well was the acting. Keira again delivers a good performance even though I’ve seen better from her. She’s no stranger to Joe Wright’s movies as she played the leading female in Pride And Prejudice and Atonement. The latter earned her first and only Oscar nomination. Jude Law was also impressive even if a backdrop character. This is the most mature role I’ve seen Aaron Taylor-Johnson perform in and he was good. The cinematography by Seamus McGarvey was not 100%. But the music by Dario Marianelli fit the movie well.
 
The recent release of Anna Karenina tries to not be your typical film adaptation of the legendary novel but it tries too hard to be creative and unique. It becomes evident when the creative elements just don’t mix. 

Movie Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games is a novel that has taken today’s young by storm. You can bet that the release of the big-screen adaptation has attracted the young and old alike to attend. There has already been a lot of attention directed to it. The big question is does the movie deliver to the hype?

The movie opens in a post-apocalyptic world. North America is now one nation consisting of a Capitol and twelve poorer surrounding districts. The Capitol has punished the poorer district for a past rebellion by holding a contest called the Hunger Games. In this contest, each district has one boy and one girl from 13 to 18 drawn by lot to fight to be the one to survive and live a life of fame and wealth.

The core of the movie focuses on Katniss Everdeen of the mining District 12. She is already a well-skilled outdoorswoman who knows how to survive outdoors and even hunt for her own food via bow and arrow. When the draw happens, her younger sister’s name is pulled but she volunteers for her, knowing she doesn’t have what it takes to win. The male winner is Peeta Mellark: a shy baker boy who met Katniss only once when he gave her bread. The two are taken by train to the Capitol where they are given instructions from former winner Haymitch Abernathy.

At the Capitol they are given styling from stylist Cinna who wants to make them look like something not from a mining town. The two learn this contest is as much about style and winning the audience as it is about gladiating skill. ‘Sponsors’ can also send gifts to contestants they like. They’re dolled up in stunning costumes for the opening ceremonies and also impress during training where Katniss has the highest score of all. As all the contestants are interviewed by Caesar Flickerman, Peeta confesses that he always had a crush on Katniss, much to Katniss’ discomfort. Nevertheless they remain aware of the Games and what they have to face. They also know they will face a formidable challenge from the two from District Two known as the ‘Careers’ as they are trained since birth to win the Games. A Career has won the Hunger Games the past eight years and this year’s top ‘Career’ is Cato who is well-trained, merciless and confident he will win.

The contest begins in an open gladiation of all twenty-four. At the end, half are killed. Katniss is left on her own to fend for herself. In the meantime the ‘Careers’ Cato and Clove form an alliance with some of the contestants to get Katniss. One of the members is Peeta. The alliance is successful in getting her to climb up a tree for her life. As they wait at the bottom for her to get down, she notices Rue: a small frail girl from District 11. Katniss is able to come down after she’s able to free off a branch containing a nest of bee-like tracker jackers and causes the surviving allies to flee as the jackers sting. Katniss develops a caring friendship with Rue as she gives her ointment for her sting. The friendship ends tragically as Rue is fatally wounded by a contestant. After Katniss kills Rue’s killer, she lays flowers over her body as a sign of respect.

The Games continue. There’s the medicine round where each of the surviving district has to have one contestant take the medicine. Katniss has a duel with Career Clove but Clove is killed by District 11’s Thresh in respect of what she did to Rue. Katniss discovers Peeta, wounded by Cato’s sword in a fit of rage. As she puts ointment on him he learns all the group’s supplies are captured by Cato and held in an area protected by landmines and an ally. Katniss succeeds in igniting an explosion destroying all the supplies. Now all that remains is the Cornucopia for the last survivor, or two surviors from a single district, to battle for the win of the Games. The ending consists of a battle involving two ‘created’ man-eating beasts. The ending leads to a thrilling battle with moments of intensity and a surprise twist at the end with a rule change. The ending also leads to set the stage for the follow-up movie, due for release November next year.

I’ll admit that I have not read the book The Hunger Games but I will say that the movie is very good in expressing a popular theme of drama in front of a world audience. We have the popular theme of fighting to the death just like it was done during the times of ancient Rome. We have the theme of drama created to stir popularity, intrigue and support. We especially have the theme of brawn vs. brains as best shown by Cato and Katniss. The two are an interesting study in opposites. Cato represents brawn. He comes from a district where children are trained to win from birth. Cato has all the traits of a trained competitor: confidence, skill, lack of mercy and even a lust for killing his rivals, and especially the charisma two win some of his rivals over to form an alliance to defeat his top rival Katniss, even making them forget they would have to be his victims if he wants to win. Katniss is the smart one. She knows how to fend her herself. She knows how to survive on her own. She knows the Games are stupid. She also knows how to show compassion to those she feels shouldn’t be in the Games. She knows how to play to the crowd in her natural way. She also knows how to rebel as she also is willing to give her life if it means losing Peeta. It’s no wonder Katniss’ edge is noticeable and could prove victorious in the end.

Even if you haven’t read the novel, you would notice how the world present in the Hunger Games represent a lot of barbarianisms of civilizations past. You have the Hunger Games itself where children are elected to fight to the death like the Gladiators of Ancient Rome. We have Distirct 2 which trains children to win the Hunger Games: reminiscent of both Ancient Sparta where children are raised from birth to be soldiers and of Communist countries that took children and trained them to be Olympic champions. We have The Capitol dictating these games on the twelve districts, reminiscent of Ancient Rome.

Also included in the Hunger Games are the many elements that remind us of our current voyeuristic culture. We have a reality show of these teenagers in these blood games that are broadcast to live audiences in each district. We have an image analyst and stylist who encourage and assists Katniss and Peeta in winning the crowd. We have a past winner giving the two hints on how to win. We have Gamemakers creating elements of drama and death like the forest fire, the man-eating beasts and the change of rules for two of the same district to win. We also have Katniss receiving instructions and drama directions with whatever ointment and food she receives. We have all contestants being shown off in an pre-games interview and given scores before the contest: reminiscent of weigh-ins before boxing matches. Bloody gladiator matches of the past combine with the voyeurism and media-savvy of the present.

Despite all that’s created, concocted or built up, we also have Katniss and Peeta representing the realness in all that’s staged. We have Katniss who wants to win but feels it’s an unnecessary threat for someone like Rue to be a forced warrior. We see Katniss representing the feelings and sensitivities of most trying to do battle with the charismatic but diabolical and controlling Cato. Even before the Hunger Games lottery, there was a connection between Katniss and Peeta, albeit from a long distance. It was only through the luck of the draw that the two could meet and Peeta could get the girl he always wanted to notice her. Even without the staging and set-up of events, the love and feelings between the two are real.

We also have Katniss’ sense of rebellion. Her moves during the Games, both of defiance and compassion, have sparked a lot of discomfort to those who call the shots in the Games. First act was before the Games as she volunteered to replace her younger sister for the Games. During training, she shot an arrow at an apple awfully close to a Gamemaker to get some notice.  During the Games, she developed a caring bond with Rue and laid flowers over her body. Her act of respect sparked a riot in Rue’s District 11 and caused producers to change the rule of allowing two from a single district to win. When the rule was rechanged to one winner only, she and Peeta were ready to eat fatal berries together in defiance. Even the deaths of both Cato and Clove could spark outrage from the Career’s district as they’ve been trained since birth to win and this is their first loss in years. Katniss’ rebellion definitely left the Gamemakers with a nervousness even after the Hunger Games were over. This sets the stage for what could happen in Catching Fire.

The acting in the movie was very good. Jennifer Lawrence gave a performance in a role that was beyond your typical teenage heroine role. She has already proven her acting excellence in the past and she continues to impress here. Josh Hutcherson also did a good job playing the boy-next-door type Peeta. His role wasn’t as complex as Katniss but he still managed to impress and come across well as the shy sensitive type. Alexander Ludwig succeeded in making Cato hateable on screen but his role as the charismatic killing machine was underdeveloped in the movie and given less screen time than it should’ve had. The adult actors in the movie did well with their supporting roles and the characters that came with it, but most were limited to being only minor supporting roles often consisting of stock characters. Of the adult actors, it was Woody Harrelson who did the most with his role. Gary Ross did a very good job of directing even though he has not been known to direct and epic movie before. His first effort pays off well. He also did a good job in scriptwriting with Billy Ray and the book’s author Suzanne Collins although there were some key elements missing. Costuming was also well-done even though there were some outfits that could leave one thinking they were at a Lady Gaga concert. The visual effects were also excellent.

 The movie had a lot of great qualities but the best thing about it is that the filmmakers kept from making a Twilight of itself. I haven’t seen any of the Twilight movies but I know enough about them to know it’s mostly about ‘hot guys’ and teen romance. The box office successes of that formula as well as the huge teen fanfare made me nervous that the Hunger Games might take those steps to gain a huge box office draw. Instead The Hunger Games doesn’t stoop to that low. It’s able to keep an intriguing story with the drama without having to resort to sex appeal for the sake of money.

The effort has payed off both on screen and at the box office too. Its opening weekend of $152.5 million made it the third-highest opening weekend ever. It spent four weekends at #1 at the box office and currently ranks #3 with a total gross of $380 million. None of the Twilight movies have been able to achieve either box office result. It’s no wonder there were even older adults in the audience the time I went. Unlike Twilight, The Hunger Games goes beyond the expected targeted teen and its pays off.

The Hunger Games does have its flaws and imperfections but it does an excellent job in creating an intriguing story that does its best to avoid distractions and most typical box-office gimmicks. The result is a quality epic that’s as smart as it is thrilling.

One last note: Okay I know it’s been weeks since The Hunger Games opening. The thing is I only saw it three weeks ago as I normally wait for big hit movies to have the crowds die down. Also I have been mentally exhausted for weeks and have had a lack of ambition to write. Finally I got it back.

VIFF 2011 Review: BumRush

The gangsta film BumRush played at the Vancouver Film Festival. I know what you’re going to say: “I’ve seen gangsta movies before.” BumRush is different. Firstly, it’s Canadian and set in Montreal. Secondly, it’s based off a sting and of events that really happened. Whether it can compare to other hood movies or gangsta movies of the past is one big question mark.

The film is set in Montreal in a strip club. In the past, the neighborhood of the club has had its dealings with rivalry from biker gangs and the Montreal mafia. Now comes a new messy chapter for the club as the neighborhood sees a crossfire between two rivaling street gangs. Soon they want to seize power over the club. This leads to a huge mess on all sides and the condition of the club in jeopardy. Soon the IB11 gang declares the club their property.

To end it all, the leader of the sting, Le Kid, finds an opportunity in five tough men who have had a brotherhood for many years. They also see it in Catherine, a girl who was imprisoned for her activity in relation for one of the gangs. She wants out of gang life but is having trouble with her criminal record being checked. Le Kid sees her and the brotherhood as an opportunity to get the gangs out of the club. It starts with a sting where Catherine gives the leader and his girlfriend spiked shooters. Later one of the gang members takes the drugged up girlfriend out to make out, only to have a cop videotape it with a phone and send it to the gang members. The video leads to more heated friction between the gangs. Then the brotherhood kidnap the two leading gang members to a mortuary to force them to tell the whereabouts of two men they’re after. This leads to an ending that has a small amount of action and some amount of cheeseball moments.

If there’s one strength about the movie, it’s that it shows a lot of forgotten truths that most gangsta movies or hood movies leave out or neglect. One often overlooked truth is girls involved with gangs like Catherine. Catherine’s role shows an angle of girls who want out of the gang system and start a better life. It also shows the ill misogynistic treatment girls get from gang members like the vulgar treatment of the strippers and the girl that was ‘gangbanged.’ That’s it with gangs. They think that because they have all the gun power they can treat women as mysogynistically as they want. That part happens to be the movie’s biggest strength.

Another thing is that it doesn’t show a completely happy ending. It shows the ugly reality that gangs have taken their street activities online and expanded their territory greatly. It’s a new truth that gangs have gone from just their own hood to anywhere online. There’s even talk on the news in Vancouver about gangs going online. That’s one thing that we often forget is that even after a sting is made, there’s still a lot of things left behind or things that don’t go away.

Another thing about the movie is that it features the final acting performance of Montreal musician Bad News Brown. He was famous in Quebec for being a harmonica-playing hip hop blues musician and was a opening act for many big name hip hop stars in Montreal, even accompanying some on stage. Brown was murdered in Montreal on February 11th or this year at the age of 33. This movie could possibly be English Canada’s first introduction to him and Quebec’s last time they’d see him on the screen.

Director Michel Jette did an excellent job in researching the story and creating a good script that was as smart as it was thrilling. He doesn’t rely completely on too much action or too much shootouts but rather focuses on the scenes leading up to the big moment and the people surrounding it. Nevertheless for all of the script’s intelligence, there were a few flat points and noticeable glitches. There were also some corny moments with the harmonica playing of Loosecannon. I often wondered if having a harmonica playing gangsta was such a good idea. The acting was imperfect and often overdone from some. Also the timing of this movie being out at a time when the popularity of gangsta movies have faded over time makes me question whether this would make for a good commercial release.

BumRush’s best quality is its truthfulness about gang activity and those around it. Its weakness is its lack of professionalism from many of the actors and a script that gets confusing over time. This one left me questioning its potential in the end, especially for English Canada.

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

DISCLAIMER: Okay, I’ve been saying that I have a lot of catching up with my summer movie reviews. This should be the last of my catching up.
 
What was expected was that the final novel of the Harry Potter series would be made into a feature-length film. What wasn’t expected was that the final novel would be divided into two parts. Obviously it was for the sake of more money for the Potter franchise. Nevertheless, Deathly Hallows Part 2 was a very good trilling movie in itself as well as a fitting end to the biggest movie franchise ever.
 
For the record, this is only the second Harry Potter movie I have seen. The only other I have seen is the very first: The Philosopher’s Stone. For my review, I will base it off what I have seen instead of comparing to the book or the other movies.
 
The dark mood of the Harry Potter movies starts right at the beginning. The movie starts as the fate of Hogwarts is in jeopardy.Dumbledore is dead and Lord Voldemort has retrieves his wand. Snape is now the head of Hogwarts. Dobby is dead and is now in the accompaniment of the goblin Griphook. Now Harry must destroy Lord Voldemort’s horcrux.The first place he suspects is a vault Gringott’s bank. The threesome along with Griphook go to the vault and learn that Horcrux is Helga Hufflepuff’s cup. After Harry takes the cup, Griphook steals the sword, leaving the three to face security. The three are able to escape after releasing the dragon guardian.
 
Harry has a vision tof Voldemork killing goblins including Griphook and learns that the Drak Lord knows of the theft. Harry also learns there is a horcrux related to Rowena Ravenclaw. The apparate into Hogsmeade which starts an alarm. They are rescued by Aberforth Dumbledore who instructs the paining of his sister Arianna to fetch Neville Longbottom and lead them through a secret path back to Hogwarts.
 
As Snape controls Hogwarts, it paves the way for the anticipated battles for the movie. The whole story is a maze in which Harry has to lead through and piece through in order to confront Snape in the final battle over Hogwarts. It’s a maze involving battles, dreaming, going through Voldemort’s thoughts and retracing Snape’s personal thoughts and Harry’s mother’s personal history. It even involved facing Snape and going through a temporary death in order to succeed in his battle. It’s bound to leave one who hasn’t read the novel or seen the other movies confused. Harry Potter fans however should be able to understand it all.
 
One note about the ending. The movie ended as was done in the novel in being correct with its facts. It had a mix of darkness and sweetness but I felt it ended on too sweet of a note. Nevertheless I’m happy it ended well instead of dragging on the way Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King did. I know both are ends to a remarkable book series, but still.
 
Director David Yates did a very good job in directing the final chapter. For the record, he has directed the last four Potter movies and was best at making the characters mature and maintaining the darkness of each story. In this final movie, he’s excellent in keeping the intensity of the fate of Hogwarts and the battles that await the many including Harry. The acting was also very well done if lacking in being spectacular. Daniel Radcliffe has done an excellent job over the years making Harry grow in both age and character. The same can be said of the two co-stars Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. The chemistry between the threesome is still there after all these years.
 
The Harry Potter phenomenon is arguably the biggest entertainment phenomenon of the 21st Century. Although the first novel–The Philosopher’s Stone–was released in 1997, the phenomenon first made notice in 1999 and grew to what it is now. The big question is if this movie will mark the end of a phenomenon. I remember there was a picture at the London Premier of Hallows Pt. 2 saying “The End Of An Era: 1997-2011”. Whatever the situation, the Harry Potter franchise has left a permament mark in pop culture. It started as a book series that actually made kids start reading and made J.K. Rowling a celebrity. Then it went to a movie series that would attract many big-name British actors and would become the highest-grossing movie franchise ever. It has even made household names of the three main actors: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. Now that it’s over, it remains in question whether there will be another pop culture phenomenon the size of Harry Potter ever again.
 
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 is a fitting end to a fitting book series and a fitting movie series. It took a risk in splitting the final novel in two movies. But in the end, it did everything right.

Movie Review: Pirates Of The Caribbean – On Stranger Tides

DISCLAIMER: Hi. This is my second-last summer movie review where I’m playing catch-up on my reviews. When I give my review of Harry Potter, I will finally be all caught up. In the meantime enjoy yet another late summer movie review.

Jack Sparrow.   

There should be a “Captain” in there somewhere.

As I said before, the summer movie season is usually about the tried-and-true making big box office results. It’s at the box office where we learn if it’s tried-and-true or tried-and-tired. Up for this summer is the fourth installment of the Pirates of The Caribbean series: On Stranger Tides. Returning is Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow, his most popular role of all-time. The big questions are does Jack still have the winning charm at the box office? Also does the latest Pirates adventure still have what it takes to thrill and charm and keep the Pirates phenomenon active?

This time Jack’s quest is the Fountain Of Youth. King George wants Jack to guide it to beat the Spanish. The one surprise is that his nemesis from the first movie, Hector Barbossa, is now a privateer in the British navy and now heading it. Already the intrigue would start for the die-hard POTC fans. Another interesting thing that he would be foiled by an imposter of himself: former lover Angelica who is Blackbeard’s daughter.

The part of the mission involving capturing a mermaid’s tear and a captive falling in love with a mermaid is probably the only thing in the movie that’s even close to fresh. The tear being collected by Blackbeard starts the rivalry scenario all over again. The main rivalry in the movie is different, if not unique. This time Jack Sparrow and Barbossa join forces to defeat Blackbeard. Barbossa has a grudge match of his own against Blackbeard for his amputated leg. Meanwhile the Spanish battle the Pirates for the sake of killing the fountain because they believe it’s cursed. Often rivalry upon rivalry upon rivalry gets too confusing unless it makes sense. Not here..

One glimpse at the storyline is that you could easily see it was hatched together in an instant. We see the typical formulas of the Pirates movies: Jack being his flamboyant cocky self, rival pirates, lands to conquer, new nemeses and new loves. This has been common ever since the first Pirates movie burst on. Its winning formula is now starting to become stale and predictable. Even the character of Jack Sparrow has lost his charm over the years. When he first arrived, he was arrogant, eccentric but charismatic and was able to charm the audience. If it weren’t for Jack’s personality, the first Pirates of The Caribbean movie could have been seen as a joke. Now Jack looks like a rehash that’s getting tired out and only tries to be entertaining. Penelope Cruz plays the typical lover of Jack. Villains are practically predictable. Often when an action scene or a battle comes on, I often question “Who didn’t expect that?” The only things close to being fresh was the mermaids and the surprise of Barbossa being an ally of Jack instead of a rival. Outside of that, it remains formulaic.

As for the business, it’s already showing signs of waning. The first movie, Dead Man’s Chest is the biggest grosser with almost $425 million. The follow-up, The Curse Of The Black Pearl had a record-setting opening weekend but its overall gross failed to top Chest. On Stranger Tides is the lowest-grossing of the Pirates movies with only $240 million. The future of the Pirates franchise should make a lot of Disney execs think whether the fifth movie is worth it or not.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is a movie that will only excite Pirates fans at the most. It offers little freshness or anything unpredictable. So unless you’re a fan of Jack Sparrow, I believe it’s not worth it.

Oh yeah, just to let you know you’ll only have one more summer movie review after this. Then I’m finally caught up.