Tag Archives: movie

Fifty Shades of Grey – condoning abuse?

After serious thought, reading the books, and hearing everybody’s uber-enthusiasm about “Fifty Shades of Grey,” I can’t help but think: that this story is seriously messed up.

The trilogy is titled Fifty Shades of Grey because the main man is named Christian Grey. He’s definitely a complex, rounded character (“rounded” because his personality changes quite a lot during the story). However, I think the “grey” should also be applied to the gray area that is the type of BDSM relationship between him and the female protagonist Anastasia Steele. While many girls and women have read this story and been intrigued, entranced, and in all forms interested in the Grey-Steele encounters, it seems that the more serious, eerie aspects of the two have gone either unnoticed or ignored. . But here’s the reality: Christian Grey and Ana Steele are in an extremely unhealthy relationship that should not be coveted by anyone.

For example, Christian Grey is incredibly jealous. He loses his mind when Ana gets stared at, hit on, or if other men are friendly to her. During Ana’s friend Kate’s photo gallery exhibit, Christian buys all the pictures of Ana because he “does not want anyone else to see [her].”

Christian also compares Ana to his mother. If you don’t know the story, sorry to ruin it, but Christian’s mother was a reported “crackwhore.”He’s not a fan of women at the beginning of the story.Grey was sexually abused by an older woman for the majority of his adolescence, leading him to see women as objects and luring him into the BDSM fantasy lifestyle.

Christian stalks Ana on more than one occasion. When she goes out with a friend to a bar against Grey’s wishes, for example, he flies out to confront her about it.

There are a few moments in the books where Mr. Grey is so rough with Ana that she cries and screams and leaves him until he comes begging her back.

Grey does not let Ana consult a lawyer about her BDSM contract before signing it.

Christian is possessive. When Ana asks him why it’s so important to him for her to change her name, he says it’s so everyone will know she is his. Ana has incredibly low self esteem. It seems she only stays with Christian because she feels sexy with him.

Everyone has been raving about this movie and I’ll  probably go see it too — mostly because I want to know how this erotic trilogy could possibly be shown on the big screen.Christian Grey’s control over Ana does NOT show love, but something else entirely. This isn’t a relationship that should be hashtagged “relationship goals” or coveted in any shape or form.

Guardians of Galaxy wins the summer box office

The Guardians of the Galaxy, not just another sic-fi movie. Graphic from IMDB
The Guardians of the Galaxy, not just another sic-fi movie. Graphic from IMDB

All right everyone, it’s time to smash our piggy banks again and go out to see the most recent big Marvel movie, “Guardians of the Galaxy.” As usual, the story follows some well-known formulas. We peer into the life of a misunderstood, yet hunky, main character, much like our good Captain Kirk. There’s always some new girl he’s been showing up with throughout the galaxy and he, along with his crew, has the fate of a planet resting on his shoulders.

Although this new movie falls under the Marvel name, it felt like it took a little bit more time to go through the motions. The audience is really able to piece together through the movie what made Star Lord the leading man. Not only that, but unlike Kirk’s crew in the new “Star Trek” movies, each crew member was given a chance to show their own motivations, giving us time to care.

This film was able to take us back as listeners with its older music, which complemented much of the style that was more “comic book” than newer, flashy science fiction, while holding onto the aliens and big space ships. Many scenes seemed to jump right off of the screen; each environment the characters were put in was visually beautiful and interesting.

Despite all of the new efforts going into emotional development and attachment, there was a scene that was somehow disconnected. Again, this is where we come back to the problem of the love stories in Marvel movies. It was hard to digest and seemed almost random in the flow of the story. Even though we weren’t given much time to understand this or gain an interest, it was sort of thrown into the background. Only a sequel will be able to try and make sense of where this could possibly go.

Overall, there were a few lags in the story, but they were worth it to see what would happen to the characters that had been brought to life by more than just animation, but by the writing. The villains were power-hungry thugs, as usual, but they were ruthless enough to be cool. This movie makes an impact with its comic book humor and style.

3.5/5 Stars

The Fault In Our Stars offers a brutally honest take on life

The Fault In Our Stars — a tragic romance that urges readers to enjoy every breath they take.

John Green’s novel follows the tale of two adolescent cancer patients Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters. The plot is effectively simple; these teenagers fall in love while suffering from the harsh realities of cancer.

Hazel begins the story depressed. She loves watching bad reality television and doesn’t care much for activities outside of that and sleeping. At her mom’s request, she goes to a support group for other children dealing with cancer, where she meets Augustus Waters.

Augustus is that kid in high school who just couldn’t be knocked down. Even after losing a leg to cancer he can’t stop smiling. He’s alive and intends on enjoying life’s splendors. Of course, Hazel along with seemingly every female reader, eats this up.

Green gives Augustus a distinctly existential frame of mind. He wants to live his life and have it stand for something. When Augustus plays video games, he doesn’t care if he wins so long as his character dies with valor, and heroism; representing his attitude after supposedly beating cancer.

Hazel wants to isolate herself to minimize the amount of pain she causes those around her. Image from emmswaan
Hazel wants to isolate herself to minimize the amount of pain she causes those around her. Image from emmswaan

Hazel is the opposite of this; her diagnosis is a grim one. She’s experienced her share of miracles just to be alive. As previously mentioned, she begins the story in a state of depression. Hazel doesn’t want friends because she considers herself a grenade. The closer people are to her, the more pain she’ll cause when she inevitably dies.

So, there you have it: a boy who is wants to go out in a blaze of glory and a girl who would rather pass quietly into the night. It’s the make of a great heart-wrenching tale, which Green executes on every level.

Green knows his audience and doesn’t attempt to make his book into something more than it is. He’s aware it’s a young adult novel (don’t harp on young adult books, it’s everyone’s guilty pleasure and we all know it) thus keeping it very easy to read. Fortunately, he doesn’t let that limit him.

Between the existentialism and the brutal honesty of the book, Green uses famous masterpieces of fiction like “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and “The Red Wheelbarrow” to further this book’s theme of hope and acceptance.

This young adult novel became a blockbuster hit earlier this summer by earning $48.2 million in its opening weekend, but is the movie better than the book?

Of course not.

Not to undermine the performances of Shailene Woodley (Hazel) and Ansel Elgort (Augustus), they were both brilliant, but once again the theatrical adaptation fails to fully showcase everything the book was.

As a certain character (who won’t be named in the interest of avoiding spoiler) gets sicker he or she under goes a number of personality changes. Green made the toll of the disease, pertaining to who they are as a person, very tangible. In the cinema, this level of detail was glossed over and nearly forgotten.

The chemistry between Woodley and Elgort was near perfect. For the most part, the writing was flawless. It’s unfortunate that somewhere in the translation, between paper and film, some of the brutal honesty of the novel was lost.

The Fault in Our Stars isn’t just a love story, but of course pop culture doesn’t see it that way. This book is about teenagers learning to grieve, and accept their lives as they are. The love story between Hazel and August is merely the path Green takes in expressing this concept.

This idea seems to have been lost in the cinematic production, making irony of this issue is astonishing. In the novel, Hazel and Augustus become deeply invested in a fictitious book called “An Imperial Affliction.” Hazel has (to put it softly) a small obsession with discovering what happens to the characters of the book after an abrupt ending to the made up novel.

Upon meeting the author, Peter Van Houten, he pushes to give them a philosophical meaning to the book. Van Houten refuses to explain what happens to the characters (this resistance is explained later on) even as Hazel aggressively pries him for answers.

Isn’t it ironic that, just like hazel, most of America has clung to the most physical part of the novel? Characters are easier to understand than the hidden messages they carry. Thanks to this, the movie adaptation pays a lot of attention to the romantics while losing some the lessons of acceptance.

While the movie still made its audience cry, it wasn’t as poignant as the old fashioned pen and paper.

“Divergent” brings a popular dystopian series to the big screen

The Regal Cinema in Christiansburg, Va. was packed March 20 for the premiere of the highly-anticipated movie “Divergent.” Fans were filling up seats over two hours in advance to the 8 p.m. showing. By the time the film started, nearly every seat in the house was filled by an anxious fan waiting to see his or her favorite book become realized on the big screen. Continue reading “Divergent” brings a popular dystopian series to the big screen

Hungry for a good book? Try The Hunger Games

I will start by admitting that the plot in The Hunger Games is a little crazy and far-fetched. This fictional government makes 24 teenagers ranging from ages 11-19 compete in a televised killing match. As crazy as the story line is, millions of copies of this book have been sold, and it is becoming a mania with such great frenzy as to make children play their own version of the hunger games in the school’s playground. In my opinion, you should read this book (not just watch the movie on Netflix)! Continue reading Hungry for a good book? Try The Hunger Games

Lion King’s the Best: I’m not LIONing

Simba-2-(The_Lion_King)
If you ever get a chance to see Lion King on Broadway, take that chance, it is fantastic! Photo from Disney.wiki.com.

Recently a friend brought me back to my childhood by making me re-watch some classic Disney movies. After many heated debates about which Disney Princess was better (cough, cough, Cinderella), we’ve both come to the conclusion that Lion King is the best Disney movie (granted, this doesn’t include the princess movies, for they are in their own category altogether). In my opinion, “The Lion King” is the best animated movie Disney has ever made–better than “The Little Mermaid”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “Aladdin”, “Snow White”, “Lady and the Tramp”, “Robin Hood”, and everything else. Continue reading Lion King’s the Best: I’m not LIONing

“Spring Breakers”: The greatest bad film ever

Let me start off with this: “Spring Breakers” has done something that no film has done before.

This is the first film I’ve ever seen where I can’t tell if it was horrible or strangely genius. It’s a film that is absurd moment after moment and then follows it up with beautiful shots and amazing cinematography.

“Spring Breakers” is the story of four college girls who are so bored and tired at the sight of their school that they rob a restaurant in order to pay for their spring break trip.

Spring-Breakers-Movie-Poster
I wish my spring break was like this. Photo from Gizmorati.com.

Where the film struggles is the fact that it may have one of the worst screenplays ever written. Every solid piece of dialogue is followed up with multiple examples of why the movie came out as bad as it did.

The script is full of pointless monologues and way too many weird moments that just don’t seem to work. However, this film is saved about 35 minutes in when James Franco finally shows up. Continue reading “Spring Breakers”: The greatest bad film ever

Whim’s staff Halloween treats

The staff at Whim have been working hard to provide the daily content you, as readers, have come to thrive on. In the spirit of this Halloween season, each staff member has provided you with their favorite thriller movie to get you through these chilly Halloween nights. Unfortunately, there seems to have been some sort of radiation leak in our offices, leaving most of our staff members … well … see for yourself. Continue reading Whim’s staff Halloween treats

“Real Steel” making use of some real steel

"Real Steel" movie poster. Photo from Creative Commons.

It is commonplace for the majority of special effects in modern movies to be rendered through computer graphics, and the movie “Real Steel” is no exception. But the director of “Real Steel“–Shawn Levy–decided to take the special effects one step further, recruiting Legacy Effects to make full-sized robotic puppets to act alongside the actors.

When audiences hear of puppets, they probably think of something akin to the Muppets or the hand-held puppets of Jeff Dunham. The 24 puppets produced by Legacy Designs are full-scale, gadget-filled animatronic puppets. These puppets had over 350 individual machine parts, which allowed the puppets a full range of motion in their limbs. Each of the 24 puppets ended up weighing around 250 pounds apiece.

The puppets could be controlled by any one of Legacy’s operators through a system of remote controls. While the puppets were not used for every scene of the movie, they did play a key role in the filming. The puppets could not be used during the fast-paced combat scenes and were swapped out for their CGI counterparts.

The puppet robots were primarily used during close-up shots with the actors, allowing for greater detail to be added in later with CGI. The additional detail added to the robots during the final stages of film editing were things like cosmetic damage to the bodies of the puppet or electronics. The use of the puppets, according to Levy, allowed the actors to express the emotions and actions of their characters in a more realistic way, which would not have been as easy if the robots had been purely created from CGI.

Screenshot from the movie "Real Steel." Photo from Creative Commons.

Levy spoke with reporters on one of the major setbacks that happened when working with these robotic puppets. Early in filming, one of the robots, Ambush, suffered some hydraulics issues. These hydraulics issues caused the robot’s head to continue to lower until it crushed its own collarbone and its chin got stuck in its chest-plate. After a quick reset the shoot was back up and running.

Levy looks to have successfully fused CGI and puppetry in “Real Steel,” something that is becoming increasingly uncommon as producers are more likely to go the route of pure CGI when offered the chance to create a hybrid of special effects. This is done in favor of the sureness that CGI will come out as intended, where working with something non-computer operated increases the chance for something to go wrong.

Effects like the puppets used in “Real Steel” give the audience and actors something new to enjoy. Film audiences are becoming increasingly picky over the quality and realism of CGI effects, and actors are asking to work with tennis balls as stand-ins for their CGI-created counterparts. Hopefully more directors will do as Levy has done with “Real Steel” and attempt to strike a balance between CGI effects and traditional special effects.

Harry Potter comes to an end…sort of

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

Ever since I saw the first “Harry Potter” movie when I was 11 years old, I’ve been dreading this day. As dorky as it sounds, I’m going to miss Harry and all his deadly fun. It’s been over a decade since the beginning of the book series and movie franchise; most of us have grown up with these movies (whether you like that fact or not) and Nov. 19 will signal the beginning of the end. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1″ will premiere that day, followed by “Part 2″ July 15, 2011. So in honor of the newest installment, let’s take a look back the best moments from the previous movies and get you excited for the next one.

1.”Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”

Let’s face it, there’s nothing like the original, and to pick a best moment is hard to do. But if I have to choose it would have to be every single moment Harry (Daniel Radcliff), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) were together on screen. They were so little and cute; you just can’t help but love seeing them together and knowing it’s just going to get better from there.

2. “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”

Right up front, best part about this movie, the fact that the boys’ voices were cracking the whole time. It’s pretty distracting actually, but you can’t help but laugh.

3. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”

This is one of my favorite out the franchise. The best moments out of this film are those between Sirius (Gary Oldman) and his godson, Harry. The moments are intense, sad, happy and dark. Every emotion is pulled between these two characters and it honestly makes the movie. A good runner up would be when Hermione punches Malfoy (Tom Felton) in the face. Epic win for Team Potter.

4. “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”

If you think I’m going to say the best moment in this movie is anything with Robert Pattinson, then you’re wrong. The best part was the massive amount of flippy hair. Almost every male character had flowing locks. I’m not sure why this is so entertaining, but it is. Oh, and I guess the epic return of Lord Voldemort could be in that category too.

5. “Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix”

If you’re thinking Cedric Diggory flashbacks, you’re reading the wrong article. This one is all about Harry and Dumbledore’s (Michael Gambon) confrontation with Lord Voldemort. Harry sees visions of what Voldemort sees and what he wants him to see, which leads to a monstrous fight at the Ministry of Magic between Death Eaters and the Order of the Phoenix, along with Harry and his crew. The effects are great and the fighting is pretty intense for people swinging twigs at each other.

6. “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”

Hands down the best and saddest part of the entire series is the death of Dumbledore. I cried in the theater when it happened. I don’t say best because I wanted it to happen; I say best because of how it was done. Dumbledore went down like a hero and there wasn’t a single person not crying. An honorable mention would have to be the Inferi in the cave scene. They’re just plain creepy.

Movie seven appears to be the best movie yet. Hopefully it will give us real closure, unlike so many movie series before it.

A simple CD review: “Garden State” soundtrack

The Garden State soundtrack album cover. Photo from Creative Commons.

For the past couple of years, I’ve come across some CDs I could listen to all the way through without skipping any song. Sure, there are songs I don’t listen to often like if I’m driving in a car or just doing homework with music in the background. Nonetheless, this is certainly one of those albums. It might take a couple tries, but once you understand the concept of the song, you’ll appreciate it. Here’s the playlist for the CD if you care to individually look up the songs.

1. Coldplay – “Don’t Panic”

2. The Shins – “Caring Is Creepy”

3. Zero 7 – “In The Waiting Line”

4. The Shins – “New Slang”

5. Colin Hay – “I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You”

6. Cary Brothers – “Blue Eyes”

7. Remy Zero – “Fair”

8. Nick Drake – “One Of These Things First”

9. Thievery Corporation – “Lebonese Blonde”

10. Simon & Garfunkel – “Only Living Boy In New York”

11. Iron & Wine – “Such Great Heights”

12. Frou Frou – “Let Go”

13. Bonnie Somerville – “Winding Road”

The first song is Coldplay’s “Don’t Panic,” which actually fits right into the movie. I’m not going to spoil it for those who don’t know the movie, but this song’s title fits in with the scene, because the main character, Andrew, finds out some information that is quite unsettling.

Everyone might recognize the two songs by The Shins. “Caring is Creepy” is a song where you wouldn’t know what the lyrics are talking about, unless you go to my favorite lyrics website, which is very trustworthy and has thousands of artists in its library.

There’s a song in between the two Shins songs, “In The Waiting Line” by Zero 7. I’m not too thrilled about this song, however, it seems to fit well between the two songs. It’s very trance-like, and it’s a song to zone out to and just ride it out.

The song after that, Colin Hay’s “I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You,” is a very slow, meaningful song. It’s very touching because only Colin Hay is singing with an acoustic guitar as the sole instrument. All I can say is this is one of those songs you’d play to a significant other or a dear person who is close to your heart that you have no idea how you’d live without.

Cary Brother’s “Blue Eyes,” to me, is the “Brown-Eyed Girl” of the other color. It honestly touches the heart and it’s basically saying that the singer would do anything to help this girl out because he loves her.

Remy Zero’s “Fair” is certainly the song that gives me goosebumps on this album not only because of the way the guitar is played, but also the emotion that Remy and his band portray in this song. It’s quite captivating and most certainly strikes the biggest chord in me.

Nick Drake’s “One of These Thing’s First,” Thievery Corperation’s “Lebonese Blonde” and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Only Boy In New York” are the songs where you zone out because they seem to mesh together into three parts. Nick plays this song in a way that would be perfect in a car, just driving around and enjoying the scenery. Theivery Corperation’s song is very trippy because the instrument, possibly a mandolin, is being played throughout. Simon & Garfunkel, well, are Simon & Garfunkel. Simple, but meaningful. I enjoy this song for that sole purpose. Nothing else can explain this song but those two words.

My favorite song is “Such Great Heights” by Iron & Wine. Personally, I used to be able to play this on the guitar, but I think it’s two guitars playing at the same time. I personally love this song because of the lyrics, and this is the original “Such Great Heights” to me. Sure the Postal Service is a good band and all, but it seems way too complex with the electronic sounds and effects. This song is made to be soft, meaningful and filled with heart.

Frou Frou is quite the underdog here, with her song “Let Go.” What attracted me to this song in the first place is the incredible bass line when the chorus picks up. I began to respect the entire song, the simple saying of ‘let go’ is certainly one of the better sayings if something is troubling you and you’ve tried everything to fix it, then you just have to ‘let go’. It grew a little bit on me, but once that chorus hits I think you’ll get goosebumps.

Bonnie Somerville’s “Winding Road” could possibly be the best ending song to an album ever. It signifies that life is a ‘winding road’ filled with twists and turns and in the end you’ll find your way home no matter what you stumble across on your journey.

The whole movie is very thought-provoking and this soundtrack compliments it and makes it sound beautiful, wondrous and even spiritual. You could say the movie is wrapped around the soundtrack, or the that the soundtrack is wrapped around the movie. Either way, one cannot live without the other. The soundtrack itself tells a story through its songs, but once you see the movie, the soundtrack will bring the movie to life.