Holiday Movies

Whether it’s at home with family, or snuggled up with hot chocolate and a blanket in your dorm room, there is something special about watching movies that celebrate the holidays. Students around campus were asked to submit their favorite holiday movie they watch every year. From classics to current, these suggestions will leave you without question on what you need to watch this season.

Hocus Pocus- Katie McCorkle

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Home Alone – Brooke Rayburn

Elf – Landon Porter

How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Rebekah Drennon

The Polar Express – Sharda James

Christmas in Connecticut – Victoria Marshal

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation – Misty Jones

White Christmas – Rebekah Drennon

Die Hard – Austin Powers

Original Ghost Busters / New Years – Misty Jones

Thor Ragnarok: Calm Before the Storm

Rated PG-13 for Intense Sequences of Sci-Fi Violence and Action, and Brief Suggestive Material

Thor Ragnarok represents the calm before the storm – the latest in the ever progressing Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), it works to answer lingering questions while setting the stage for the highly anticipated Infinity War films. Unfortunately, it isn’t much aside from that – Ragnarok tries to be some sort of 80’s film homage and succeeds, much to its detriment.

Underneath the highly appealing aesthetic, Ragnarok is chiefly concerned with Thor saving Asgard from, well, Ragnarok – the prophesied apocalypse he’s been receiving visions of since prior MCU films. The film moves full speed ahead to resolve this plot, quickly tossing aside plot points from The Dark World to make way for new dilemmas, such as whatever happened to the Hulk or to throw out there that the antagonist of Ragnarok is Thor’s heretofore unmentioned sister.

It isn’t as though the film is inherently bad – the fight scenes are nice to look at, the music adds to the energy of the film and the chemistry between characters (such as Thor and the Hulk, who can now speak) makes for great laughs. It’s more so that the only aspects of the plot that feel like they were thoughtfully done are those related to Infinity War and unfortunately, they’re the sort of things that make Ragnarok a required view for those fans of the MCU that want to keep up to date for it. But that Ragnarok seems so keen on doing away with old plot points for the sake of progressing the MCU makes me a little concerned that these portions of the movie will be just as simply discarded for the sake of Infinity War.

Thor Ragnarok – come for the Hulk, stay for the post-credits scene!

Review – Annabelle: Creation

October is known as the month of ghosts, goblins, and other paranormal phenomenon.  What better way to celebrate, than watching a scary movie, such as Annabelle: Creation.

Though the remake of Steven King’s classic, It, has gotten a lot of attention, the creepy clown has nothing on Annabelle.  In Annabelle: Creation, written by Gary Dauberman, a former doll maker and his wife had lost their 7-year-old daughter, Annabelle, in a horrible accident.  A demon, posing as Annabelle, preyed on the couples vulnerable state.  Desperate to see or speak to their daughter again, the couple unknowingly gave the demon permission to inhabit their daughter’s doll.  Years later, thinking the demon had gone, the couple allows a young nun and six orphaned girls, to stay with them in their farmhouse.  The horrors that awaited the girls were unimaginable.

Annabelle: Creation was released in theatres on August 11, and grossed over $301 million worldwide.  The film had relatively positive feedback from critics.  The average critic rating was 6.1/10 stars.

I completely agree with the critics.  Annabelle: Creation did not disappoint.  The film produced multiple, jump-out-of-your-seat, scream out loud moments.  Between the victims being young children, rather than teens or adults, and the top-notch special effects, this movie was a horror buff’s nightmare come true.  As for this horror-buff, I would take the creepy clown, Pennywise, over the terrifying doll, any day.  I give this film two thumbs up.

This Weekend in Theatres

As one weekend draws to a close and we all begin to expect the next, let’s take a moment to consider any weekend plans that need to be made for a trip to the box office. Here’s three movies releasing this Friday you may consider seeing – Only the BraveThe Snowman and Geostorm – and two that you may have missed, The Foreigner and American Made.

Only the Brave – 2hrs, 13 min

Rated PG-13 (for thematic content, language, some sexual references and drug use).

Only the Brave is a biographical action drama film directed by Joseph Kosinski. It tells the story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a team of firefighters who fought the historic Yarnell Hill Fire in 2013. Fans of Jeff Bridges might consider giving this movie a go – but it must be said that this does cover real events from less than 5 years back. Emotional investment may vary.

“All men are created equal… then, a few become firefighters. Only the Brave […] is the heroic story of one unit of local firefighters that through hope, determination, sacrifice, and the drive to protect families, communities, and our country become one of the most elite firefighting teams in the country.” – Rotten Tomatoes’  Movie Info

The Snowman – 1hr, 59min

Rated R (for grisly images, violence, sexuality, some language and brief nudity)

The Snowman is a British crime thriller directed by Tomas Alfredson, based on the novel of the same name by Jo Nesbø. The film sees detective Harry Hole in a race against time to find and catch the serial killer “The Snowman” before the next winter sets in completely. The movie stars Michael Fassbender – you may want to resist finding the book to avoid spoilers.

“When [detective harry Hole] investigates the disappearance of a victim on the first snow of winter, he fears an elusive serial killer may be active again. [Harry] must connect decades-old cold cases to the brutal new one if he hopes to outwit this unthinkable evil before the next snowfall.” – Rotten Tomatoes’ Movie Info

Geostorm – 1hr, 49min

Rated PG-13 (for destruction, violence and action)

Geostorm is a disaster sci-fi film directed by Dean Devlin as his directorial début. It starts Gerard Butler as he races to avert a catastrophe being caused by manipulation of the Earth’s weather. Not much to get spoiled on here – it’s a disaster film, which by nature tend to put their weight behind impressive special effects – so sit back, relax and enjoy the fireworks!

“A satellite designer (Gerard Butler) must race to avert a catastrophe when the planet’s climate control satellites begin to malfunction.” – Rotten Tomatoes’ Movie Info

All three movies are playing at your local Cinemark, along with two movies you may have missed – The Foreigner and American Made. Below you’ll find information on both – if either sound like your kind of movie, see them now and not later!

The Foreigner – 1hr, 54min

Rated R (for language, violence and some sexual material)

The Foreigner is an action thriller film directed by Martin Campbell. It starts Jackie Chan as Quan, a business person whose daughter is killed in a political terrorist attack that prompts him to hunt down the men responsible. Nothing that the trailers tell us about The Foreigner show that this is your average Jackie Chan movie with a large amount of martial arts involved but it’s probably safe to assume that if you’re a fan of the man himself, you won’t be disappointed.

“The Foreigner […] tells the story of humble London businessman Quan, whose long-buried past erupts in a revenge-fueled vendetta when the only person left for him to love [is taken from him in an act of political terrorism]. […] Quan is forced into a cat-and-mouse conflict with a British government official whose own past may hold clues to the identities of the elusive killers.” – Rotten Tomatoes Movie Info

American Made – 1hr, 55min

Rated R( for some sexuality/nudity and language throughout)

American Made is a biographical crime film directed by Doug Liman. Starring Tom Cruise, it tells the story of American pilot turned CIA drug-runner Barry Seal, who worked secret operations during the 1980’s which would eventually be publicized as the Iran-Contra Affair. A biopic like Only the BraveAmerican Made tells its story in a high-energy and entertaining way, making this a great choice for Tom Cruise Fans.

“Barry Seal, a TWA pilot, is recruited by the CIA to provide reconnaissance on the burgeoning communist threat in Central America and soon finds himself in charge of one of the biggest covert CIA operations in the history of the United States that spawned the birth of the Medellin cartel and eventually almost brought down the Reagan White House with the Iran Contra scandal.” – Rotten Tomatoes Movie Info

If any of the above films piqué your interest, make plans sooner rather than later – in particular, American Made has been at your local Cinemark since around the last week of September so it may likely leave very soon, while Only the BraveThe Snowman and Geostorm will likely be around for a couple of weeks yet, having just released. Sit back, relax and enjoy!

Blade Runner 2049: The Perfect Successor

Blade Runner 2049 is rated R for Violence, some Sexuality, Nudity and Language.

Sitting in a theatre for an extended period to watch a film, no matter which it is, is becoming something of a miracle for me. Whether I’m excited for it or not, it just doesn’t seem to influence me buying the ticket, setting the time aside and going. Blade Runner 2049 started as that kind of movie – I was more aware of its lengthy runtime than I was its source material, more aware of the cost of the ticket than I was that Harrison Ford or Ryan Gosling starred in it. I was also aware of the praise being given to it and of a particular term – ‘The Perfect Sequel’. Happy as critics were to label 2049 as such, I don’t know if I could say the same. What I can tell you is that this movie is, in every sense, a must watch – Blade Runner 2049 an example of what a film can truly be when free of its obligations.

Yet let us not throw away the term of ‘Perfect Sequel’ too quickly, as I agree that on its face, once could see Blade Runner as such. One main reason for its labelling is that 2049 doesn’t attach itself to its official predecessor, the Final Cut of the original Blade Runner. Another is that 2049 does not franchise Blade Runner – over the course of its 2 hour, 40 minute runtime, 2049 tells its own, unique story. This is correct – there are no deliberate omissions of closure to help anticipation for another film. However, to say that 2049 lacks attachment to its predecessor is an understatement – frankly, 2049 acknowledges the age of its source material and almost expects you to have never watched the first film. In fact, 2049 is perhaps best viewed without a refresher of the original. What it does with that material works best when seen from the perspective of Ryan Gosling’s character, K. 2049‘s inciting action, a chance discovery of a secret long-buried, sets the Blade Runner on a journey to unravel a mystery of identity and a collision course with original Blade Runner protagonist Rick Deckard. Deckard’s inclusion in the film, along with any mention of earlier events, are pieces of the puzzle as opposed to things you would’ve known before watching 2049. You’ll learn what you need to from them and move on.

In watching the performances of the film’s main cast, it struck me that every character in some way felt important. 2049 is, much like its stance on the original material, not content to weigh itself down in traditional methods. Its runtime certainly lends itself to this – every character has ample time to sell their performances and be fleshed out. You come for Ryan Gosling’s K, you stay for Sylvia Hoeks’ Luv – a powerhouse in her own right, much like Harrison Ford and Jared Leto are. Considering Ryan Gosling’s ability as a silent actor and the brief screen time of Ford and Leto, it’s clear 2049 wanted to play as much with audience’s expectations of actors as possible – the result is tasteful and not necessarily disrespectful, although I would’ve loved for Leto’s character, Niander Wallace, to have been given more time to keep doing his thing.

Lending itself to the stellar performances is the visual treasure trove and cinematography. Everything in 2049, from sweeping cityscapes to intimate imagery can only be described as worthy of pause. More than once, or twice, or a dozen times even, 2049 tells a story and sells you a lifestyle on its imagery alone. The protein farm of Sapper Morton; the downpour of an overcrowded and despondent Los Angeles; the vibrant yet lifeless Las Vegas – each place speaks to a facet of this world never explicitly stated. It never needed to – director Denis Villeneuve shows incredible skill with the camera throughout, almost never using the same trick twice to keep the film as much about the film as possible.

Blade Runner 2049 is perhaps not the Perfect Sequel it’s lauded as. 2049 doesn’t want to be held back by such terms. It would be accurate to call it the Perfect Successor to Blade Runner – it’s stood on its own two feet, unconcerned with merely elevating the original or placing the franchise on some pedestal for the future. It’s an investment for the present – no long-term contract required.