Tess Jennings

Aspiring writer living one day at a time.

Tag: cinemaista (page 1 of 3)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Rated: PG-13
Grade: A-

starwarsThe force is strong with this one. Despite the hype and strategic marketing campaigns aimed at literally every demographic, The Force Awakens actually didn’t disappoint. J.J. Abrams successfully revived the series with witty, refreshing characters and old-time favorites…looking at you, Chewie.

The film follows the long-fought battle of the light and dark thirty-years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire. A new evil, The First Order, threatens to destroy life and the Resistance (which seems pretty easy because there are no Jedis…nor Yoda). Rey, a scavenger on the planet of Jakku discovers a droid (BB8) who secretly holds the key to finding long-lost Luke Skywalker…and a new order of Jedis. Rey runs into Finn, a First Order Storm trooper turned traitor (cue cutesy romance) and they set out to return (BB8) to the Resistance.

Long-story short, the trio finds Han Solo, Chewbacca, and “General” Leia who ban together to defeat the dark. Stellar action scenes, imaginative characters and a decent plot make this one a must-see. Having said that, the “new” Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, wasn’t as menacing as I would’ve hoped. Maybe it was because I can only imagine Adam Driver as Adam from Girls…or maybe it was because he just has SERIOUS daddy issues. What’s with Star Wars and daddy issues?

via GIPHY

Star Wars: The Force Awakens was originally published on CINEMAISTA

Merry Christmas!

elfRated: PG
Grade: A

It’s Christmas Eve! I think it’s only fitting to review one of the greatest Christmas movies to have ever graced the silver screen…Elf. It’s got everything you could possibly want in a Christmas movie: a seriously confused man-child, syrup, pre-bangs Zooey Deschanel and SANTA (screamed in a Will Ferrell-esque manner)! Elf goes together as well as spaghetti noodles and chocolate sauce.

Anyways, the film follows Buddy the Elf who’s one of Santa’s workers in the North Pole. Despite being roughly four feet taller than his brethren, he finally discovers that he’s actually a human when he turns about 40. After talking his problems out with his elf family and Santa, he travels through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then walks through the Lincoln Tunnel in to New York where he searches for his father. Hilarity ensues as poor, naïve Buddy finally finds his father, falls in love and saves Christmas.

In retrospect, Elf could’ve gone terribly, terribly wrong. Could you imagine Elf with someone other than Will Ferrell playing Buddy? Disaster! What makes this movie such a classic is Will Ferrell’s comic genius and the witty one liners. There’s a reason we’re still quoting “Son of a Nutcracker” twelve years later. If you haven’t seen Elf, (I’d be a little concerned) but I would seriously consider dropping every festive plan you have and watch it immediately.

Have a wonderful holiday and treat yo’ self to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup!

Merry Christmas! was originally published on CINEMAISTA

Ant-Man

Rated: PG-13

Grade:
B-

Marvel

Marvel

Ant-Man? More like, I Can’t, Man. Having said that, there’s no denying that Marvel is fantastic at producing visually stunning movies with spectacular special effects and humored storylines, and Ant-Man is no different. Marvel had everything they needed to make their moneymaking formula hit the jackpot again with Ant-Man. They had the amusingly relatable hero (Paul Rudd), the sidekick clown (Michael Pena), THE Michael Douglas, and a comic-book plot that pitted good against evil. Unfortunately, Marvel failed to factor in one variable, one little detail that foiled their attempts at making another blockbuster…You can’t make ants cool. You can argue with me all you want, but no matter how you try to jazz up those six-legged creatures with shiny lights and cute names (R.I.P. Ant-tony), they will never be as cool as a spider or a worm. If it had been any other insect, Ant-Man would’ve been a success. I’m thinking Silverfish-Man would’ve rivaled Thor, easily.

Looking past that minor issue, Ant-Man was entertaining. The movie follows the life of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a self-proclaimed cat burglar daddy who finds himself behind bars for the umpteenth time. Dr. Hank Pimp (Michael Douglas) recruits Lang to wear a special suit that  allows him to shrink while having the force of a 200 lbs. man…he can also talk to ants, cause you know, everyone can. Lang, Pimp and their allies ban together to defeat another super-shrinking-suit-making-scientist. Overall, Ant-Man was definitely compensating for something…but stellar fight scenes, a few laughs and an adorable Paul Rudd made Ant-Man worth watching, but not a must-see. But don’t you worry, Ant-Man 2 is totally happening. Hopefully by 2018 Marvel will finally learn how make ants cool.

Ant-Man was originally published on CINEMAISTA

Saving Mr. Banks:

You’re going to want to hug your dad after this tearjerker. Saving Mr. Banks follows Mary Poppins author, P.L. Traverse, during her long fought battle with Walt Disney over the movie rights to the children’s classic. Traverse, played by a fabulous Emma Thompson, manages to be both raving bitch and sensitive, broken-hearted woman who just needs a friend (I’ll be your friend). Walt Disney, played by a middle-aged Tom Hanks, is everything I’d imagine the magical businessman would be.

The movie is shot in flashbacks, showing Traverse as a young girl having a jolly time in Australia with her father played by Collin Farrell (who is beautiful by the way and can effortlessly jump onto a horse). Farrell eventually succumbs to alcoholism (cue tears), and we’re brought back to 1961 where Traverse desperately clings to the memory of her father through Mary Poppins. Traverse keeps threatening Disney that she will take away the movie rights because he just doesn’t get it. Mary Poppins didn’t come to save the children…she came to save…her dad (at this point I’m fairly certain the whole theater was in tears). Well, we all know what happens next. Mary Poppins hits the big screen and Julie Andrews becomes America’s sweetheart.

Saving Mr. Banks hit all the right notes and perfectly captured the essence of Mary Poppins. Although it wasn’t nominated for any awards this season, I would most definitely suggest a trip to the theater for any Mary Poppins fans. 

The Village: 

      As I was channel surfing the other day, I stumbled across M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village. Panic rushed through me as my ten-year-old self screamed to change the channel (when the trailer was released back in the day I was absolutely mortified), but curiosity won out in the end. I hunkered down and watched the suspense-thriller that I had originally believed would be a paralyzing horror movie that would leave me sleepless for weeks. Instead, it only left me sleepless for a few nights.

     The Village follows an Amish-like community that lives in fear of the porcupine-y monsters that reside in the ominous woods. The community and monsters have an uneasy truce that is shattered after a slow-minded boy played by Adrien Brody crosses the border into the woods. All havoc breaks loose as monsters attack at dusk and leave haunting red slashes on the doors of every building. Of course the people of the village are terrified, but that doesn’t stop a love story from forming. A blind Bryce Dallas Howard falls in love with a fairly stable Joaquin Phoenix. About halfway through the movie, fear of the monsters becomes secondary as a deadly love triangle surfaces with Brody stabbing Phoenix in the stomach because he likes Howard and she doesn’t like him back (so high school). Howard must then venture into the woods to the other towns to get medicine for her dying love. No one believes she can do it, but she can!…because of love. Anyways, long story short, the monsters turn out to be fake as does the village. The village actually resides in a modern day wildlife reserve that no one enters nor leaves. The elders of the village decided years ago that society was evil, so they decided to start over from scratch…because who wouldn’t? A bunch of other superfluous stuff happens, but that’s the gist of it. In retrospect, I have no idea why I was so terrified by The Village as a youngin’.

       This was most definitely not M. Night Shyamalan’s best work, but Bryce Dallas Howard was absolutely spectacular in her star-making role. You can watch the entire movie below in celebration of The Village’s tenth birthday!

The Village: 

      As I was channel surfing the other day, I stumbled across M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village. Panic rushed through me as my ten-year-old self screamed to change the channel (when the trailer was released back in the day I was absolutely mortified), but curiosity won out in the end. I hunkered down and watched the suspense-thriller that I had originally believed would be a paralyzing horror movie that would leave me sleepless for weeks. Instead, it only left me sleepless for a few nights.

     The Village follows an Amish-like community that lives in fear of the porcupine-y monsters that reside in the ominous woods. The community and monsters have an uneasy truce that is shattered after a slow-minded boy played by Adrien Brody crosses the border into the woods. All havoc breaks loose as monsters attack at dusk and leave haunting red slashes on the doors of every building. Of course the people of the village are terrified, but that doesn’t stop a love story from forming. A blind Bryce Dallas Howard falls in love with a fairly stable Joaquin Phoenix. About halfway through the movie, fear of the monsters becomes secondary as a deadly love triangle surfaces with Brody stabbing Phoenix in the stomach because he likes Howard and she doesn’t like him back (so high school). Howard must then venture into the woods to the other towns to get medicine for her dying love. No one believes she can do it, but she can!…because of love. Anyways, long story short, the monsters turn out to be fake as does the village. The village actually resides in a modern day wildlife reserve that no one enters nor leaves. The elders of the village decided years ago that society was evil, so they decided to start over from scratch…because who wouldn’t? A bunch of other superfluous stuff happens, but that’s the gist of it. In retrospect, I have no idea why I was so terrified by The Village as a youngin’.

       This was most definitely not M. Night Shyamalan’s best work, but Bryce Dallas Howard was absolutely spectacular in her star-making role. You can watch the entire movie below in celebration of The Village’s tenth birthday!

Frozen: 

     Was the theatre full of kindergartners? Yes. Did I cry? Maybe…No…Umm…Yes…Yes, I did cry. Frozen was fantastic and one of the best Disney movies I’ve seen in awhile. Of course it follows the typical princessy story with one of the main characters eventually falling in love, but Frozen has an interesting sisterly rivalry that adds some dimension to the typical Disney tale.

            Frozen follows sisters Anna and Elsa who have recently lost their parents. Elsa, the elder sister, has the ability to freeze anything (hence ‘Frozen’). Elsa pushes Anna away, becomes a ‘snow’ queen, has a minor breakdown and leaves the kingdom to create her own frozen oasis. Anna takes off after Elsa and meets a host of characters on her journey to bring her sister back. Anna’s comrades include Kristoff (hello mountain man), Sven (a reindeer) and Olaf (the sassy-talking snowman). Olaf is by far the best character and has a hilarious song-and-dance number about summertime (he doesn’t realize he’ll melt). I was a bit hesitant at first about Olaf, but how can you not like a lovable frozen friend? No offense to Olaf, but the ultimate star of Frozen was Idina Menzel who voiced Elsa. Her stellar vocals brought songs like Let it Go and Do You Want to Build a Snowman to life. If you’re in the mood for some syrupy sweet Disney goodness, go see Frozen with a bunch of 7-year-olds like I did. Also check out the video below of a little girl singing her rendition of ‘Let it Dooo!’

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Happy New Year my movie lovers! Apologies for my long absence. My past semester in college was fairly hectic, but I’m back now and ready for a bloggin’ 2014.

To kick off the New Year, I thought I’d start with Peter Jackson’s second epic installment of The Hobbit, and I must say, it was highly entertaining. If you want an action-packed movie filled with tons of bearded men, I would suggest heading to theaters to see The Desolation of Smaug.

As any Lord of the Rings or J.R.R. Tolkien lover would know, The Hobbit follows the journey of a gaggle of dwarves who seek to over-throw a malevolent dragon that took over their mountain home. With the help of the almighty Gandalf and the pure-hearted hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the dwarves make their way past gobblins, orcs and a sexily voiced dragon to finally make it back to their home. Although the movie ends before the dwarves can finally defeat Smaug and take back the Lonely Mountain, there’s loads of visually engrossing action scenes that’ll keep you entertained.

Overall, Peter Jackson did another fantastic job bringing Middle Earth to life. Martin Freeman, who plays Bilbo Baggins, is absolutely fantastic as the hobbit burglar. By far the best scene is when Bilbo finally faces Smaug, played by his Sherlock co-star Benedict Cumberbatch (if you haven’t seen Sherlock yet, you’re seriously missin’ out). Smaug surpassed my expectations, but I felt the Bilbo/Smaug scene lasted a bit too long.

Other standouts included Legalos (not in the book) played by Orlando Bloom who was just as elftastic as he was in the Lord of the Rings. Evangeline Lily as the kick-ass-elf-in-love-with-a-dwarf was also a superb addition to the plot. But the real winner of The Hobbit was most definitely Lee Pace’s eyebrows (pictured above). Pace plays Thranduil, the cold-hearted elf king and Legalos’ father. If anything, go see The Hobbit just to see his incredible brows.

If you want to see what the actors look like without all that facial hair, checkout a few of their interviews below. 

Hello fellow Cinemaistas and Cinemaestros!

Hope you’ve all been having a fantastic start to summer time. I’ll be going on a much needed hiatus over the next couple of weeks and will not be posting, but don’t you worry! I’ll be watching movies on movies during my vacation, so be prepared for reviews ranging from the newest blockbusters to the classic oldies. I’ll be taking any suggestions on movies you would like me to review, so just leave recommendations in the comments. Until then, enjoy summer and let me know what movies you’ve watched recently!

Oblivion

Oh Tom Cruise, you tried so hard to save this one. But I hate to say it, Oblivion just couldn’t be rescued. Cruise (and the special effects) were the only things that made Oblivion’s utterly confusing plot worth watching. Where to begin? Well, the movie opens with Jack Harper (Cruise) living on a post-apocalyptic earth that has been obliterated from the destruction of the moon by an alien race known as the Scavengers or “Scavs” for short. Harper and his partner, Victoria report each day to a Texan named Sally who lives with the rest of the human race on Saturn’s moon, Titan. Their job is to repair the drones that protect these ginormous water pumps that harvest energy for the people on Titan. The Scavs try every which way to destroy the energy pumps and Harper does a stellar job at fighting off the feathered masked aliens. Lost yet? Just wait, it gets better.

Harper keeps having dreams of a woman before the earth was destroyed at the Empire State Building. And what do you know!? Harper just so happens to stumble across the decaying Empire State Building where the Scavs were sending a signal from their planet to the earth. Well, Harper decides to head to a house on a lake in a meadow that he supposedly built where he would love to spend the rest of his days. (Why is everything on earth sand and water and a few miles a way there’s a beautiful, unscathed meadow?) While Harper is at his dream house, he sees a ship crash and goes over to investigate. There he finds…hmm…the woman from his dreams! Gasp! No, it can’t be! He saves her and takes her to the Empire State Building where he discovers that she is his wife.

The happily married couple is ambushed by Scavs…and is that Morgan Freeman? Yes, yes it is. Turns out, the Scavs don’t exist and they’re humans trying to survive drone attacks and rescue their planet and they have to wear masks because…they want to look bad ass. Freeman is the leader of the survivors and is literally on screen for ten minutes (Question: You were able to cast Morgan Freeman for your movie and you only put him on screen for ten minutes? That’s just wrong.) Anyway Harper and his wife are released and are attacked by lone drones. They crash land and discover someone who looks eerily similar to Harper. Oh he’s just a clone. No big deal (just an excuse for Tom Cruise to fight himself). Lost yet? Well, at that point I was, so I hand you over to David Edlestein’s review who seems like he understood it better than me: http://www.npr.org/2013/04/22/178415429/tom-cruises-latest-headed-for-oblivion

Have you seen Oblivion? If you have, tell me what you think of it! And if you haven’t, I would suggest spending your money elsewhere on a movie where your brain can follow what’s happening. Oh, and on a side note, didn’t Cruise just release a movie named Jack Reacher? Smart decision-making on his part, go for the Jack roles…That’s not confusing at all.  

Monday Marathon: Pretty Little Liars

I have a secret…I’m A. (Insert threatening text about how I’m gonna get you…and your little dog to). Just kidding, I’m not A, but at the rate Pretty Little Liars is going I don’t think we’ll ever really know who the anonymous creep is (or who’s on the A-team for that matter). It’s been 4 seasons, and I don’t know how much longer they can keep the whole “who’s A game” going for much longer. Granted I’ve never read the books and those novels must hold the answer to A’s identity, but I seriously suggest that ABC Family needs to speed up that reveal, because the show is losing steam. There’s only so many times those four girls can look stunned at the threatening text they just received while dressed in glamorous outfits that no high school girl realistically wears. Plus, (I was wondering about this during season 4’s finale) who in the world has time to follow around four teenage girls and blackmail them for three years? A, whoever you are, you could be doing so much more with your time.

If you’ve never seen Pretty Little Liars, here’s a quick summary: There are five best friends. The leader of the pack (Ali) is murdered. No on knows who killed her, but the four remaining girls begin to look awfully suspicious. After the shock from Ali’s death wears down, her friends begin to receive threatening text messages and notes from an anonymous individual named A. This masked miscreant somehow knows all the girls’ secrets. Now you might be wondering, “How many secrets could a few high school girls possibly have?” Answer: too many to count. From affairs with teachers to abandoning a police car in a river, you name it, they have a secret about it. How many more lies do these girls have left? It can’t keep going on forever! Pretty Little Liars has a fairly large fandom, so I don’t think it’ll be going anywhere anytime soon, but the writers definitely have to step it up soon, or else… 

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