Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Disney has produced a wide variety of films that present different cultures and people;  they also provide an interesting moral that applies to the story. This time, Disney/Pixar has taken its audience to the 10th century Scottish Highlands where we meet Merida, the bushy red haired princess who is determined to not abide by her royal customs. This act of retaliation stirs chaos in the kingdom, causing Merida to seek the aid of a clever old witch. Hoping her act of desperation will indeed alter the mindsets of the kingdom, and ultimately her fate, everything crumbles apart when a dreadful curse falls upon her family and will remain permanent unless Merida can mend the fractures between her family (hence the title of the movie, Brave).

Brave is one of Disney/Pixar's finest. It has a great story line that provides a right balance of humor, action, intrigue, intensity and tenderness all melted into one fantastic film. I've always been interested in Scottish culture, and I was excited to see how they would portray this very archaic and ancient heritage. I personally am a fan of the accents, FYI. The film was funnier than I expected it to be, and in a few incidents appeared to appeal to more adult-related humor to gain their interest without losing the younger audience. All in all, it was very funny.

The characters are all fantastic. The heroine, Merida, represents the basic rebellious teenager who wishes to go down her own path independently. However, she also is a clear depiction of how just one decision can alter your entire life, and future, forever. She is a uniquely crafted individual who many young people, especially girls, can connect with. Her boisterous father, King Fergus who is obsessively bent on destroying the beastly bear Mor'Du (who is also the antagonist) who claimed his right leg, is quite a comical  and youthful figure who creates a few laughs throughout the movie. Queen Elinor is the typical stressed mother who is trying to harness her rule in the kingdom as well as heal the broken relationship between her and Merida. Unfortunately, the witch's curses effects her directly. However, you see the splintered relationship between Merida and Elinor reconcile and flourish as they each try to beat the clock before the curse becomes permanent. All the clansmen are war and honor obsessed, conceited, burly and just simply hilarious. And although they have no vocal dialogue, the three brothers will be a surprising treat for those who have not seen it yet.

This was a rather short review but I wanted to keep it brief and to the point because I'm sure you have much more exciting things to do than sit in front of a computer screen all day and read movie reviews. Or I would hope you do. Anyway, Brave is one of the best films Disney has made in a long time and is definitely worth going to see....or perhaps more than once. I'll probably be doing that in the next few days or so. Simply put, it's a great movie so stop reading this review and go see it for yourself!


Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Raven

I love reading, to be blunt. I love books in general and Edgar Allan Poe has always been one of my favorite writers of the 19th century that has inspired many of my own writings. So when I saw the trailer for The Raven (which is an excellent poem, by the way), excitement swelled up in me like a balloon and I couldn't wait for the opportunity to go and see it. I was curious to see how they would portray such a well-known and rather mysterious author who wrote some of the most convoluted and lugubrious stories of our time, as well as how his last few days would play out on screen. So I walked into the movie theatre, a mixture of fascination and anxiety keeping me ready to see how the greatest works of the great Edgar Allan Poe would be brought to life. 

I thought the movie was an excellent collage of Poe's most recognized works (The Cask of Amontillado, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Mask of the Red Death, for example). The story line was brilliantly written and very intriguing from beginning to end. Only about an hour and forty minutes, it was not too short nor too long; just the right amount of time to show a very gripping drama and horror story unfold on screen. I was on the edge of my seat from the very first second the movie began and did not relax my tense posture until the lights in the theatre came back on. The suspense keeps you engaged and it is impossible to not be hanging onto every word and new twist and turn in the movie.

John Cusack was amazing as the famous Edgar Allan Poe. I was very impressed by the character of Poe that he created-a very conceited and haughty author who enjoyed flaunting his work and helplessly smitten with his love interest, Emily Hamilton. Cusack took on a very complex role and nailed it flawlessly. You see many dimensions of Poe-a stubborn and arrogant writer, romantic and gentle when with Emily, passionate and determined when a quill and parchment is before him. Poe is definitely not a one-dimensional character, but a very interesting and diverse man torn apart by this madman as he searches for his kidnapped love. Cusack was simply amazing.

Detective Fields (Luke Eaves) also performed excellently as the man behind the hunt for the copycat killer. He commanded the screen with such a presence of authority and control. He and Cusack complimented each other well and shared the screen together in great unison. You see many sides to him, as well, which provides a very interesting character.

Alice Eve (Emily Hamilton), Poe's love interest, plays a very important role although her screen time is very minimum. You can really sense the love between Emily and Edgar, and their on-screen chemistry was very believable. Her shining moments were obviously some of the most intense in the movie, when she is trapped in the coffin. I'm very chlosterphobic, and so I cringed the whole time I watched Emily writhe and suffocate in that cramped space. Eh. Bottom line, you didn't question her love for Edgar or her agony as she awaited her fate buried in the wooden box. Great job.

The supporting cast (Brendan Gleeson-Captain Hamilton, Oliver Jackson Cohen-John Cantrell, Sam Hazeldine-Ivan, etc) all did very well and added to the suspense.

The movie surprised me in many ways. I didn't expect the humor that was presented in the movie. I didn't think I would be laughing at all the entire time, yet I found myself on more than one occasion bent over in my seat unable to breathe. You would think that such a dark movie would not have any humor in it, but the very flamboyant and sarcastic Poe certainly provided some comic relief and gave a small break in the tension. Like the random pet raccoon was my favorite part. I tip my hat to the brain who thought of that. The action did not fail to please. The mystery element was flawless; just a classic horror film that keeps the senses engaged and eyes glued to the screen the whole time.
The blood and gore was definitely very graphic, I must say. The mutilated bodies and the torture scenes were depicted in full detail and they did not hold back on how gruesome they could make it. I covered my eyes on many parts. So if you're one of those easily-queasy people who have the urge to vomit at the very sight of bodily fluids, you might want to wait awhile after you eat to prevent your last meal from making a reappearance. Or just don't watch....or listen.

I didn't see many things I didn't like about The Raven expect a few minor things. The effects were a little cheesy and poor, but not too bad that it was absolutely terrible. Some things were a little hard to understand and their dialogue was complex and old-fashioned, so if you are not familiar with intricate English it might be a little hard for one to keep up with what they're talking about. The gore was a little unneeded in some places, but if you don't like it you can always turn away.

Overall, The Raven is an excellent film that accurately depicts the true facts of Edgar Allan Poe and his stories. Obviously the killings and plot were mostly fictional, but  many aspects of the film were true. It has a mixture that any person could enjoy; romance, mystery, action, horror all nicely rolled together into one. I would recommend this film to anyone who enjoys a variety of aspects.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Hunger Games

So, we've gone from wizards, to madly in love vampires, to now having kids go into an arena and fight to the death on live television. What a transition! Well, The Hunger Games was a very intense book series and I thoroughly enjoyed them. Now that is is a movie, it only seemed fit that I make a trip down to the theatre and see how well it could be portrayed on the big screen. Since practically everybody in the world knows what The Hunger Games is about due to its soaring popularity, I'll just get straight to the point and do some reviewing.

First off, nobody can deny the allure of this film and book series. What exactly draws people in to this very frightening concept of a country that forces our children to kill one another? It's that unnerving quality of life or death and how people would deal under these circumstances. It really allows the reader, or movie goer, to imagine themselves in a scenario such as this. Watching the film, you can't help but wonder how you would act if you were tribute, what you would do, and would you even possess the ability to ruthlessly murder another innocent person. Fear stirs within you, and you can't help but be dragged into the enticing magnetism of The Hunger Games. It's one of the best book series I have had the priveledge of reading, and as people flood into the theatres decked out in fan gear and decorative posters, many are wondering did this film do the book justice.

I hate to say it, but I slightly was disappointed by the movie. I know they cannot follow the book 100% and have every single detail on screen; that's logically impossible. However, the changes and tweaks that were made didn't exactly necesarrily enhance the theme or the characters. Even for somebody who read the book, I found myself a little confused at times about where they were going with this, how they were explaining it, etc. There were many parts of the film that I found myself a little picky about, but I'll just discuss a few of the ones that made me itch.

One of the things that seemed very unexplained was Katniss and Peeta's relationship. In the film, it wasn't clarified that Katniss was only prentending to be in love to gain sympathy from the audience, and how Peeta was actually in love. It appeared that Katniss was just a hopeless romantic, which clearly was not an accurate portrayl of her character. Plus, I didn't feel any emotional connection between them. I wanted to see the relationship blossom as it did in the book, but since it's a movie and you can't have a six hour film, I guess it had to be a little rushed. It just seemed to me very unanswered about how they each really felt; were they pretending or were they really in love? As the book worms, such as I, know that Katniss was faking it but Peeta was not, this concept was not entirely answered. This was really my biggest complaint, because it depicted our two "star-crossed lovers" in a way that was contrary to the book.

Also, the connection between Katniss and Peeta before the Games was also very vague and unclear. I felt as if it should have been a bigger deal than what it was in the film; about how Peeta's act of kindness and compassion kept Katniss from losing all hope and succumbing to death after her father's untimely death. Of course you have the small snipets of that particular moment, but it did not specify the significance or how this affected both of them. There just seemed to be alot of loose ends in the film that were not resolved.

Following that, I felt that character development was a weak spot in the film. Effie Trinket, the spoiled announcer of the reapings and pompous helper for Katniss and Peeta, did not exactly have a formal introduction. They never really explained who she was and what she was doing. Haymitch, their drunk and dreadful mentor, was also slightly overlooked and whose purpose in the film was not elucidated. Those are just a few examples, but some of the characters simply were not covered thoroughly.

What I did admire was the commentary from the Capitol hosts and the Gamemaker headquarters, giving a different angle as to how the actual Games are constructed. I thought that was very neat and showed just how corrupted the whole setup is. The scenes between Seneca Crane and President Snow were also a nice touch to give the audience insight as to how the two men in control operate the Games. I was a little skeptical about how the film would squeeze in other aspects, rather than just focus on the Games the whole time. But those added views were very beneficial, and did help clear up some of the confusion.

The acting, however, was quite phenomenal. Jennifer Lawrence as the independent and brave Katniss Everdeen was a perfect selection; she made you feel like you were right in the arena with you. You felt physical anguish when she was in pain, hatred for the Capitol for their sick and twisted choice of entertainment, sorrow when she was there in Rue's final moments of life. They could not have found a better "girl on fire."
Josh Hutcherson did not fall short as Peeta Mellark. He was very convincing as the troubled boy, determined not to be used by the Capitol, and determined to protect Katniss in any way. I can't wait to see him take on a much more challenging role in Catching Fire. I have to admit, I wanted some reference in the film to be made to "The Boy with the Bread," since that pratically was his official title in the book.
Though he did not possess much screen time, Liam Hemsworth as the loyal Gale Hawthorne defintely showed potential in the few moments he had. Gale was not a major character in the first book, but in the second film I hope we can see alot more of him.
The other minor roles : Stanley Tucci (Caesar Flickerman), Wes Bentley (Seneca Crane), Elizabeth Banks (Effie Trinket), Willow Shields (Prim), Lenny Kravitz (Cinna), Donald Sutherland (Presidenot Snow), Woody Harrelson (Haymitch) and the main tributes all performed great, as well.
Bottom line, all the acting was simply terrific.

Overall, I feel like there were several dents and cracks in the film that could have been touched up. However, the intensity of watching 24 young teenagers becoming enclosed in an arena and being forced to kill one another in a gory blood bath, kept the audience in rapt attention. You were on the edge of your seat, eyes glued to the screen, and certainitly was not lacking in intruige and action. If you're a fan of heart pounding scenarios such as this, The Hunger Games would appeal to you. If you have read the book and haven't seen the movie yet, I'll leave it up to you to decide whether or not you feel the film has done the book justice or not. The movie is defintely different from the book, but we have to keep in mind there's a time limit, and things here and there are going to be altered in some way. As a whole, the movie guarantees alot of action, intense battle scenes, and leaves all of us biting our nails in anticapation for Catching Fire.


And may the odds be ever in your favor.

Ok, I had to say that at least once. That is the coolest slogan ever! Too bad it refers to either your death or your life.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


WOW. Talk about a roller coaster of a movie; never in all my life have I seen a film that made someone reach for their tissues and then twenty seconds later make them roll in their seat with hysterical laughter. The drama of this film was intense, far more than I expected. The humor was well-balanced out that made my stomach hurt from laughing, and the spiritual message that all people can take out of this fantastic movie is amazing.

I don't want to give the movie away, but the movie follows the lives of four police officers and another man who is struggling to provide, and how they try to live their lives as fathers. When an unexpected tragedy falls upon one of the officers, he is forced to come to terms with how he has been leading in his house as a man of God for his children and family. This also entangles the other men along the way, and how their seperate circumstances cause them to make difficult choices, and how in the end, God does answer prayers and all men are called to be leaders in their families.
This movie is AMAZING. I absolutely loved it! There is nothing wrong with Courageous at all. It has everything that someone craves in a film; it pulls at your heartstrings, then aims for your funny bone, and gives you the chills that erupt down your spine. Ok, so that last sentence was a little cheesy, but nevermind my bad jokes. This film company has came out with some of the best films our generation has seen; Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and now this....simply phenomenal.
I absolutely love how we are finally introducing Godly movies into society, which are desperately needed, if you haven't noticed. I just simply adored this film. AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME.
The intensity of this movie starts from the very beginning and doesn't stop till the end. You never know where this film will take you next. You emphasize for the characters, and you can really relate and feel their emotions and feelings. Gosh. I wish I had more to say.

This will slightly give away the movie, but I think that the movie could have added another aspect of the movie to enhance the overall theme. When one of the officers experiences tragedy, he goes through a time of confusion and hurt. Perhaps he could have ventured out to find the man who caused the tragedy (who I believe they mentioned he was still alive) and gotten some closure? I think that would have fitted nicely into the movie, but the film itself is amazing.

HILARIOUS. AMAZING. PHENOMENAL. Need I say more? I will quit talking now. Go see Courageous and be absoultely moved and inspired. This movie is really directed towards men and how they are meant and designed to be the spirtual leaders of the family, so I recommend ALL men going to see it. And while you are at it, bring a box of tissues with you.....Can't wait to see what other movies this company will produce in later years. They truly are changing the world.
God Bless!!!!!!!!!!


Monday, September 26, 2011

Contagion by Steven Gonzales

Contagion seemed to be a movie of epic proportions when I first saw the commercials on television. And it proved to be just that.

The movie follows in the footsteps of viral related movies of the past. The virus was not one that would ultimately turns its victims into the brain hungry Undead that we all love and adore, but a virus of absolute and unavoidable death.

The movie started out absolutely confusing because of its use of chronologically timed events, but in time it became more intriguing and caused me to worry less about how the virus started, but instead to become more focused on the people dropping like flies. No matter how annoying the people who sat behind us may have been, it was a very well explained movie and easy to follow.

Now, let me begin to go on about how devastating and amazing effects of the killer virus. The story follows after Matt Damon’s wife and stepson die suddenly around the same time that a video of a man, suddenly dropping to the floor of a bus and seizing before he died suddenly dropping to the floor of a bus and seizing before he died shortly afterwards, that had gone viral (no pun intended). I found Damon’s intense denial of their deaths to be quite humorous and extremely disturbing. I thoroughly expected him to cry like a baby after he learned about the deaths of his wife and stepson.

The autopsy of Damon’s wife was one of the more interesting parts of the movie because it raised several questions but it also showed how horrible the virus had become. The virus had an apparent ability to inflame and dematerialize the lining of the brain which caused a total homeostatic meltdown of the human body, destroying the lungs and brain which shut off all ability to live. The most notable effects of the virus are displayed by the speed at which it reproduces and the sheer number of deaths that it is responsible for. So many people are killed in fact, that one northern state completely runs out of body bags. It becomes a viral holocaust.

What the movie lacked in my opinion, was chaos. There was a considerable amount of destruction around the world, yet there wasn’t as much as one would imagine considering that a plague of death is roaming around every corner. There was indeed people roaming the streets killing, looting and breaking into buildings to obtain food and supplies. And as people would expect, the government shut down major cities and quarantined people and reserved supplies for the highest bidders, causing certain people to speak out against government officials and create mass propaganda.

Overall, the movie was how I expected it to be, and it was good. Matt Damon served a very small role in this movie however, and I believe that human beings would go far more insane than the movie portrayed. As well as the fact that the movie didn’t display enough infected cities to prove how devastating or how fast the virus was. I still found the movie to be very good and recommend that everyone go and see it.


This review was written by Steven Gonzales, a correspondent for Makenzie's Movie Reviews

Saturday, September 17, 2011


I am not much of a germaphob, but from the time this movie started until I finally started typing my review I had applied a generous amount of Germ-X to my hands five times and counting.

So, where do I begin? Well it is obvious that this is a film about a mysterious virus that begins to take thousands upon thousands of victims world wide, and there appears to be no known cure to stop it. Mass hysteria sparks fear into people all over the planet, and all the inflicted people all suffer the same symptoms but from where it originated is annoymous.

One thing that I particularly liked about this film is that from the get-go, the 'contagion' had already began. You didn't know how it was spreading, how people were susceptible to it, and from where it is was coming from. The theme of fear was very heavy and happened very early on. Like, Gwenyth Paltow dies within the first ten minutes. That really surprised me that people were going to start dying that fast! At first I was a little skeptical that they had done that too quickly, back after watching the entire movie it is self-evident and needed.
Also, speaking of Paltrow's death, her husband (Damon) didn't seem too upset, in some ways. He just seemed really mad and didn't show emotinal anguish. I was expecting tears and weeping when he discovered that his wife and step-son had mysteriously perished, but it was just really anger. So I wanted to see a little more reaction out of that. It is seen later on, but not initially.

The acting was pretty good. Damon was alright, Gwenyth Paltrow was great for the short amount of time she was on the screen; I think Kate Winslet did a fantastic job as the doctor driven by her goal to find a cure for the virus that she allowed herself to be vulnerable. Laurence Fishburne was also very good as the agent who worked alongside Winslet. Jude Law was also fair in the film, and overall, the acting was decent; I think it was a great cast selection, though most of them I would have never imagined in a science thriller sucha as this, so I found it slighlty ironic!

I do like how they showed the chronological order of how the virus all began and the cycle that followed. That was really good! It really showed in detail just show quickly the virus could spread, and I really liked the very end....which if you are curious you must go to the movie and see for yourself.

What I really wanted to see out of this movie was the fear of the virus, and the effects it had on people. This area was met partially. I just wanted to see more of the mass hysteria and more of the viral spreading; sure, I know it spread throught the whole world, but it never presented that evidence. It mainly focused on 4 or 5 major cities where the contagion was believed to be harboring and passed, but if it was infecting millions of people I wanted to see it. So I think a portion of the film was lacking in some ways. I wanted to see more. Yes, it did show some ruckess and chaos, but not what I was picturing in my mind.
I think the final destruction of the virus died out too fast; yes, it did take more than a year to finally find a cure, but I feel the contagion dwindled too quickly. I wanted to see it linger perhaps a bit longer or something. What I am really trying to say is....SHOW MORE OF THE GERM!!!

The movie just appeared to be lacking in some ways; there seemed to holes that needed to be filled. But on the contrary, the other portions of the movie were met excellently, such as the scientists working to acutally find out what this virus really was. I think that was explained pretty well. I never was confused throughout the movie, so they did a good job of explaining in full detail.

Overall, it is a good movie; I would recommend it to virtually anyone who isn't a germaphob, and you can decide for yourself. There wasn't anything astronomically phenomenal about this film, and at the same time I wouldn't mind going to see it again. It falls right in between of the two categories. So in the end, I feel they could have made some slight adjustments to enhance and improve the movie, but for what they presented I was impressed. Now I am going to go wash my hands......


Sunday, September 11, 2011


I never really had intentions to review this film, since I had only heard it a few times and had absolutely no idea about what this movie was about. However attending a friend's birthday party and this was the film of choice, I sat back in my chair and tried to watch attentively. I said tried because it was slightly hard to hear over the mingled voices and the extremely boisterous voice of my friend Gonzo shouting out the movie's plot =D. Nevertheless, I was indeed able to watch the movie, with a little help now and then from my friend Troy giving me the insight as to what was going on when I couldn't hear (lol). So I will cease my aimless rambling and begin my review.

At first, I was a little confused about the film being all from a video camera and it being a documentary. The beginning was a little slow, I have to say but it picked up tempo as the film progressed. After a while, I began to enjoy the first-hand encounter side and thought it made the movie interesting. It produced another side to the movie that I don't think a regular set film could produce. It gave the illusion that you were experiencing the horror right along with them. However, I would be lying if I said it didn't make me dizzy a few times :).

It would be an understatement to say the film was intense. I was on the edge of my seat from the time that the "earthquake" had happened at the party. It was suspenseful, and had me guessing what was going to happen next. It had a right amount of humor that thankfully wasn't too overwhelming, plenty of enough action and just a hint of romance to make a very well-rounded movie. Which leads to my next discussion topic....the plot.

I actually really liked the plot. At first I didn't understand really where this film was headed, so if one wasn't observant the whole entire time you may not understand where the film will take you. So attentivness is required for this film, but that isn't really a setback. It is pretty obvious that a huge unknown beast is completely tearing NYC to shreds. But I like how they were able to intertwine the aspects of the movie together, i.e. the humor, terror and romance.

The visual effects were pretty awesome, I must say. It looked believable, and if I was to see a HUGE prehestoric monster make a buiding fall down like it is a pile of cards, I would have had a heart attack right then and there.

So the CGI was convincing, yet I wanted to see more of the monster. I don't think they showed quite enough of it. Also, I really wanted to see the actual attacking of the monster take place. I was looking forward to the bombings and and army shooting at it and the whole enchillada! I think, too, that perhaps the origin and/or the type of species of the monster could have been discussed. I would have been interested to know things like that, but I know that would have been difficult. But overall, it was pretty well put together.

So, since this is obviously not a new movie, I am going to basically say that I thoroughly enjoyed this film and would recommend it to pratically anyone. When I say anyone, I refer to people who like horror/sci-fi films. Those who are all googley-eyed over romance movies should look elsewhere, because even though the movie does have somewhat of a love story, it is not that heavy.
My overall review of this movie is that it is really good, but I think it could have been a little longer. A little bit more length could have given it time to use more explanation and perhaps made the idea alot more clearer.
Regardless, it's a good movie where a hideous thing decapitates the Statue of Liberty...need I say more? Go see it and be terrified!