Justin Reviews: Coco

‘Coco’ is Pixar’s latest feature film, but does it live up to its critical acclaim? Read more to find out! (Spoiler-Free)

A mini-rant before I start. I’ve never understood why people tolerate low quality in films intended for children. Their rhetoric can be summarized with: “But it’s just a kid’s film!”. Hmmm, we put so much effort in creating a healthy, safe environment for children, but when it comes to entertainment it’s okay to put out bare-minimum, ‘passable’ movies? I don’t think so. Luckily, Coco is fascinating enough to wipe all those awful Disney sequels we saw as wee lads out of our memories.

Coco’s greatest strength comes from its simplicity and the introduction of high ‘stakes’. If this project had fallen into the wrong hands, it would have been a tensionless, corny story about a boy named Miguel and his love for music, culminating in an overblown cover of Ricky Martin’s Livin La Vida Loca. But Pixar succeeds where others fail by adding in a new aspect – the Mexican Land of the Dead. Once Miguel ends up here, things start to get interesting. Miguel has 24 hours to return to the real world, or else fade from existence – but also to find out the secret behind his ancestry. If he gets caught by the countless security guards, he’s toast. If he gets caught by his dead relatives, who believe music is a curse, he’s toast as well. Again, easy-to-understand high stakes – that’s the backbone for Coco’s brilliance.

Aesthetically, Coco also triumphs most movies. Pixar did their research correctly, spending months in Mexico, wondering how to elevate a culture that’s foreign to them. The results are stunning. The streets of Mexico are not portrayed as colorless, crumbling slums, but rather individually unique houses that are scattered amongst displays of Mexican clothing, music, food, traditional art, and most of all – the bright orange leaves placed on every path for ‘Dia de Los Muertos’, providing navigation for spirits in search of their former homes. The Land of the Dead which Miguel explores is equally beautiful. It reminded me of a Miyazaki film, in that the spirit world and the real world are able to exist in harmony, with macabre and human aspects combined, reflected in the colorful buildings and creatures inhabiting a world that is, ironically, refreshingly alive.

 

Coco-2017-15-News
Similar to Lunar New Year, Mexicans honor their ancestors on Dia de Los Muertos.

 

But what surprised me the most is how much momentum this film had left, even after Miguel’s family secrets are revealed. He even proves himself as a musician, performing for hundreds of the dead. You’d think that these two moments the premise promises would be a suitable conclusion, but there are many twists after that point. They’re executed so well that even if you have a vague idea of what they might be, they still land like a hammer to the head. My favorite twist? When the audience learns why the movie is titled Coco – and not Miguel – tying several themes (death, family, childhood innocence) together perfectly.

Now back to my opening rant. I love Pixar because they don’t pander to a certain demographic or the lowest common denominator. Case in point: Coco is one of the most anti-kid kid films I have ever seen. What kind of animation studio builds their movie around grievance and death? Yet Pixar pulls off this incredible feat by sticking to a tried-and-true formula: a simple story and complex details. Shame on the parents who chose Ferdinand (starring John Cena… as a bull?) instead. 

Good movies can make a 6-year old laugh and a 60-year old cry. Coco is one of them.

Featured Image 

Image #1 

 

La La Land: A Review

Simultaneously the biggest hit and the most heated debate of 2016: La La Land. Does it deserve its glory? Read what writer Hope Yoon has to say about it.

Seven Golden Globes. Fourteen Oscar nominations. Endless critical acclaim. With all the colors and nostalgia a movie can muster, La La Land marked a fireworks-ending to 2016.

But for a movie so successful, it was not a universal pleaser- in fact, it turned into a downright divisive topic amongst audience members who rated it differently, from a life-changing movie to a mediocre disappointment. The 21st-century Hollywood musical left us with a looming question few dare to answer: was it overrated?

I am no critic, nor am I an extraordinarily frequent movie-goer. And, admittedly, I have next to no knowledge about films. But I am a lover of words, music, theatre, and most importantly, stories. So I will give what I have on this movie, including my takes on the criticisms it has received. Read further for an entirely personal review of La La Land– unprofessional, subjective, and heartfelt.

To begin with: in terms of cinematography, the film reached a level of excellency that even its harshest criticizers find difficult to disagree with. It was a technical and visual delight, with breathless shots and fearless use of bold color in both the sets and the costumes. What’s more, the impeccable acting by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling made the scenes and characters seamlessly believable. Everything was perfect to the eye.

But when it came the the ear, the debates picked up volume. Being a musical, the songs had significant weight in the overall progression of the movie. While for some, it was the best original soundtrack of recent years, for others, it lacked any memorable tunes that carried themselves beyond the theatre into nodding heads and tapping feet. But in the end, music can only be evaluated through individual taste, and it happened to strike my chord. I thought the soundtrack was a delight, and this opinion intensified as I listened to the songs on repeat after watching the film itself. In contrast to songs that have hit me with a catchy boom upon the first listen and then turned increasingly boring as I put them on repeat, the La La Land soundtrack drew me in further every time I played it. In other words, the addiction deepened instead of tapering off. And what more can be said about the lyrics- especially in the climax piece “Audition”, which seems to embody everything the film is about?

Some people found dissatisfaction in the fact that Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling were not Broadway-level singers (or dancers), but I found it to be a deliberate choice. It would have been easy to cast doubles for a “perfect” musical, but the film chose to forgo that to prioritize reality and genuineness. Personally, I felt that the slight drawl of Gosling’s voice and the subtle quiver of Stone’s notes made the characters mesh with the music better. The music was a vehicle and an enhancer for the film as a whole, not a purpose in itself. If what I was looking for in La La Land was extraordinary vocal prowess, I would be browsing Youtube covers of the songs instead. And besides, La La Land sets itself apart in that the songs blend effortlessly into the scenes and dialogue, escaping the often choppy talk-then-sing transitions of other movie musicals.

Another pick that viewers had on the movie was its lack of diversity, questioning the casting choices as a mere result of star power or an attempt at gathering a bigger audience, sometimes getting into the question of white privilege. But I feel that this is a separate debate from analyzing the movie itself, and for convenience, will keep my scope to the content of the film.

The biggest point of contention is, almost certainly, the plot- and especially the ending. (At this point, I advise readers who have yet to watch the movie to skip to the final paragraph in order to avoid spoilers.) The broken romance between the two leads left many heartbroken and some simply puzzled. The heartbroken argue that the ending was unsatisfactory and turned the build-up and the excellent chemistry into a sham- a hollow ending that only leaves what never was. The puzzled wonder why the break-up was necessary in the plot, questioning whether the ending was a stretch to add an artistically sad element to the movie. And to make matters worse, the ending swerve wasn’t the only part of the plot put into heat. Many simply found the character development shallow and the scenes riddled with cliches. Plainly put, not deep enough.

I have personally found it difficult to admit to such people that I loved the film and its plot, including the ending. Liking something popular despite such criticism makes me feel somewhat juvenile, or that I’m possibly missing something that deeper thinkers see, having shallower ideals. But the plot did not present me with any issues, and I was certainly happy with the ending. I agree that the story uses many well-trodden tropes and themes, including the starving artist, obsessive passion, and the contrast between dreams and reality. The romance between Mia and Sebastian was built with a series of meet-cutes. But cliches are cliches for a reason- because they are widely relevant, impactful, or relatable- and even the same theme can be portrayed for a thousandth time and still be a great work of art if it is crafted with skill. That is the job of the storyteller.

Personally, I found Mia’s struggle as an aspiring artist in society and especially her breakdown as she began thinking that she simply wasn’t talented enough to be deeply touching. The dialogue had no fancy symbolism but was honest and real- almost as if the lines were searching for that one artist sitting in the audience, just to deal a singular gut-punch and leave the rest of the crowd wondering where the depth was to be found. And Emma Stone’s complete embodiment of the character brought the emotions to a culminating explosion in the climax. We’ve all heard this story before. It’s only because the storyteller was talented that it was able to bring tears to so many eyes.

Some blame the movie for being sugarcoated, but it takes plenty of picks at Los Angeles and the irony of the performing arts industry. Yes, the film decided to make both Mia’s and Sebastian’s dreams come true, and it frankly did leave me wondering if the film would have changed for the better had that not been the case, but after a length of pondering, I came to the conclusion that the decision to deal individual happy endings was inseparably tied to the ending and the message. The movie wouldn’t have worked out this way and sent the same message had only one of them realized his/her dream, or neither.

To me, the ending didn’t feel like a stretch to squeeze in some sadness. While most commonly cited as a romance, the film isn’t ultimately about the romance. It is driven by the relationship and certainly says something about relationships in general- but the more important story is that of two individual artists. The cutting forward into the split ending illustrated that so many things in life really could work- and if something doesn’t work, we would like to demand a reasonable and understandable problem as to why it doesn’t work- but the reality is that some of those things just don’t. Life is defined less by perfect clicks and cause-and-effects and more by subtle nudgings of different circumstances or pure chance, guiding the ball down the hill in one of its millions of paths.

One of those subtle workings of life may have been that I watched this movie exactly at the point in my life when its lines would hit me over the head. Apart from countless viewings of Youtube clips and songs, I have watched this twice in theatres and have cried at exactly the same points throughout (there were four); of course this review would have to be biased. I would say La La Land is not a sad film. It reaches out to certain people, and it doesn’t for some others. It was a fearless revival of classic movie musicals rendered with modern brilliance, dancing with colors and music and life, ultimately giving hope to millions of people worldwide to chase their dreams- no matter what they are and how slim their chances may be. This may be a naive or reckless message- but the film doesn’t shy away from showing the pitfalls, failures, and sacrifices. Besides, the whole point of the movie is that the message is indeed naive and reckless, but that you should go for it anyways. A dream-lender, spark-sender, reality-bender. The world needs more of this.

-Jisoo Hope Yoon (’19)

Cover Image: La La Land poster

Upcoming Disney Movies

(Most) of your favorite characters are coming back to the big screen.

Okay. It’s hard to refuse Disney movies, which captivates youngsters, relieves teenagers, and excites adults. Really, who doesn’t love Disney?

Disney has been pure magic to many of us, in fact, all of us. Disney movies were the source of every girl’s very first dream to become a princess. Whether it was deliberately dropping a shoe behind just to check, gaping at the mirror for longer than usual, just incase you miss it talking, our imaginations equally participated in this role of daydreaming. It built (albeit useless) desires of wanting to talk with animals like Mickey, Bambi, Stitch, Jaq and Gus, and the list goes on and on. On top of that, Disney dropped its four series of Pirates of the Caribbean craze with renowned Johnny Depp getting a new and even more noted identity, Captain Jack Sparrow. Frozen and Inside Out, recent additions to the Disney movie franchise, did not disappoint — children giggled and adults wept. With every movie adding more and more to the Disney fantasy and expectations getting higher than ever, the fans (such as yourself) isarepatiently waiting for the next movie release.

Let’s see what more magic Disney will bring to us!

(saddahaq.com)
(Walt Disney Studios)

1. The Finest Hours (2016)

Based on a true story, The Finest Hours guides you through the mission of the Coast Guard, intrepidly attempting to rescue other lives during a winter storm. Chris Pine from a 2009 film Star Trek takes the role of the protagonist. This is one of the handful of Disney movies with physical castings, and it’s unmissable.

2. Zootopia (2016)

This might not be familiar to you because it’s “like nothing you’ve seen be-fur,” but don’t worry, because a new kind of fun is guaranteed. Zootopia is another Disney movie where the animals talk. Not just talk, but walk. Not just walk but live together in a society built upon just by different animals. The filmmakers even visited Kenya just to observe various animals and their movements. The story revolves around an optimistic main character, a rabbit, Judy Hopps, surviving Zootopia, with her phrase, “anyone can be anything.”

3. The Jungle Book (2016)

The Jungle Book is no longer a poorly animated, but now it is returning with an all-new-action movie. Mowgli, you’ve heard of the name, adventures in the jungle developing both foe and friend relations with animals.

4. Finding Dory (2016)

It was not long ago, Disney released its Finding Nemo that gave all clown fish, the name “Nemo.” Now it’s back again with Dory, the talkative blue tang fish. Instead of helping Nemo as an extra, in this new film, Dory takes the role of the protagonist that quests to collect pieces from her past.

5. Moana (2018)

Is Elsa getting too outdated? Do you want something new? Then Moana will definitely be your new favorite character. Meet Moana, Disney’s first Polynesian princess and the newest, and somewhat odd, addition to the original eleven, elegant princesses .

6. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)

It’s the return of Captain Jack and Captain Salazar. Beginning with the escape of Captain Salazar, this series will, again, show us the invincible and fearless Jack Sparrow. Don’t miss out on Johnny Depp’s newest adventure!

With these exciting movies soon to be released, either next in a series or completely brand new, Disney will forever be our dream. Now, get your emotions ready cause you’re never too old for Disney!

– Yoo Bin Shin (’18)

Featured Image: Disney

Inside Out: A Movie Worth Your Tears

Meet all your emotions come to life on the big screen.

(Disney X Pixar)
(Disney X Pixar)

The current motion picture industry is suffering from an unquestionable scarceness of originality. Sure, it may encompass a variety of genres, fulfill the spectator’s tastes, and guarantee an unwavering audience. Yet a movie that exhibited the director’s flair for creativity has not been presented for a long time; the lack of uniqueness is clearly present in the cinema as can be seen from the bland, repetitive plotlines and characters. Pixar has managed to overturn this bleak recurrence in the movie theatres with its latest production – Inside Out. Satisfying audiences ranging from young toddlers to adults, this innovative movie offers entertainment to children and conveys intense and touching emotions of childhood memories to adults.

The plot of the movie revolves around the life of a 12 year old girl named Riley, but mainly revolves around the five emotions that supervise Riley’s daily life — Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust. The emotions, along with the so-called memory balls that contain Riley’s memories and are stored at the brain’s headquarters, shape the thoughts, memories, and future actions of Riley. From preventing Riley from eating disgustingly green broccoli to bursting to tears after losing a hockey game, the emotions, as characters, have a say in Riley’s every move. Joy, however, predominantly leads the other emotions to make the best decisions for Riley.

The conflict begins when Joy’s leadership, which has previously been perfectly on point, begins to slip when Riley’s family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco. Riley’s utter confusion in a completely new environment overwhelms her, hence putting her emotions in chaos and keeping them alert on full time with the problematic assignment of keeping Riley the cheerful Riley she has always been. (In other words, Joy is occupied full time while Sadness is wallowing over the fact that she cannot do anything to help.)

(Disney X Pixar)
(Disney X Pixar)

On top of Joy’s overflowing list of things to do, Sadness accidentally tampers with one of Riley’s core memories — which refer to the memory balls that characterise Riley for who she is — and modifies her gleeful, carefree emotions contained in the memory ball, altering it to become a melancholy memory ball. This leads to a major quarrel between Joy and Sadness over the now seemingly permanently dispiriting memory.

When things seem like they can’t get any worse, Joy and Sadness are sucked into ‘long term memory’, a maze that stores millions of Riley’s memory balls. The headquarters falls into panic mode as Joy and Sadness are whisked away. The film further progresses as Joy and Sadness futilely attempt to find a way back to the brain’s headquarters and as the other emotions hopelessly strive to keep Riley content without Joy’s leadership.

The reckless journey they confront is filled to the brim with both childhood innocence and psychological and emotional complications. From the train of thought, presented in the movie as a literal train, to Riley’s childhood imaginary friend Bing Bong who fades away from Riley’s coming of age, metaphorical elements are used throughout the movie to attract the wide variety of spectators. Directors Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen finds the flawless balance between the elements of child psychology and the heart-wrenchingly beautiful story of Riley’s coming of age and swept away the movie industry with yet another blockbuster.

 

– Serim Jang (’16)

Movie Review: Inside Out

Satisfying audiences ranging from young toddlers to adults, this innovative movie offers entertainment to children and conveys intense and touching emotions of childhood memories to adults. A movie 100% worth your tears, no matter how old you are.

(Disney X Pixar)
(Disney Pixar)

The current motion picture industry is suffering from an unquestionable scarceness of originality. Sure, it may encompass a variety of genres, fulfill the spectator’s tastes, and guarantee an unwavering audience. Yet a movie that exhibited the director’s flair for creativity has not been presented for a long time; the lack of uniqueness is clearly present in the cinema as can be seen from the bland, repetitive plotlines and characters. Pixar has managed to overturn this bleak recurrence in the movie theatres with its latest production – Inside Out. Satisfying audiences ranging from young toddlers to adults, this innovative movie offers entertainment to children and conveys intense and touching emotions of childhood memories to adults.

The plot of the movie revolves around the life of a 12 year old girl named Riley, but mainly revolves around the five emotions that supervise Riley’s daily life — Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust. The emotions, along with the so-called memory balls that contain Riley’s memories and are stored at the brain’s headquarters, shape the thoughts, memories, and future actions of Riley. From preventing Riley from eating disgustingly green broccoli to bursting to tears after losing a hockey game, the emotions, as characters, have a say in Riley’s every move. Joy, however, predominantly leads the other emotions to make the best decisions for Riley.

The conflict begins when Joy’s leadership, which has previously been perfectly on point, begins to slip when Riley’s family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco. Riley’s utter confusion in a completely new environment overwhelms her, hence putting her emotions in chaos and keeping them alert on full time with the problematic assignment of keeping Riley the cheerful Riley she has always been. (In other words, Joy is occupied full time while Sadness is wallowing over the fact that she cannot do anything to help.)

(Disney & Pixar)
Joy! (voiced by Amy Poehler)

On top of Joy’s overflowing list of things to do, Sadness accidentally tampers with one of Riley’s core memories — which refer to the memory balls that characterise Riley for who she is — and modifies her gleeful, carefree emotions contained in the memory ball, altering it to become a melancholy memory ball. This leads to a major quarrel between Joy and Sadness over the now seemingly permanently dispiriting memory.

When things seem like they can’t get any worse, Joy and Sadness are sucked into ‘long term memory’, a maze that stores millions of Riley’s memory balls. The headquarters falls into panic mode as Joy and Sadness are whisked away. The film further progresses as Joy and Sadness futilely attempt to find a way back to the brain’s headquarters and as the other emotions hopelessly strive to keep Riley content without Joy’s leadership.

The reckless journey they confront is filled to the brim with both childhood innocence and psychological and emotional complications. From the train of thought, presented in the movie as a literal train, to Riley’s childhood imaginary friend Bing Bong who fades away from Riley’s coming of age, metaphorical elements are used throughout the movie to attract the wide variety of spectators. Directors Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen finds the flawless balance between the elements of child psychology and the heart-wrenchingly beautiful story of Riley’s coming of age and swept away the movie industry with yet another blockbuster.

Take a look at the trailer:

 

– Serim Jang (’16)

Best and Worst Films of 2014 by Mr. Joo

Mr. Joo is back with his latest movie reviews for 2014.

10.  John Wick

“Satisfying action flick that’s like a good round of a shoot ‘em all video game.”

 

9.  The Interview

“It felt good to exercise my democratic right to laugh at some Seth Rogen crude humor.”

 

8.  Draft Day

“Kevin Costner is at his best when starring in sports films…reminder of his glory days.”

 

7.  American Sniper

“Politics and controversies aside, Bradley Cooper’s superb performance is enough to make this one of this year’s best.”

 

6.  Boyhood

“Pretty hard not to be impressed by Richard Linklater’s 12 year effort.”

 

5.  Grand Budapest Hotel

“Been waiting a long time for the second Wes Anderson film I liked (first since Royal Tenenbaums).”

 

4.  Two Days, One Night

“Simple honest look at ordinary people and their reaction to difficult situations.”

 

3.  Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

“A blockbuster with substance.”

 

2.  Foxcatcher

“How this was snubbed for the Best Picture Academy Award is a mystery.”

 

1.  Gone Girl
“Flawless movie…David Fincher’s best since Fight Club.”

 

10 MOST DISAPPOINTING FLIMS OF 2014

10. Into the Woods

“Forgettable…other than Meryl Streep’s performance.”

 

9.  The Theory of Everything

“Most overrated film of the year…a mediocre biopic at best.”

 

8.  300:  Rise of an Empire

“Violence couldn’t be any more tedious in this failed attempt to revive the original.”

 

7.  Noah

“So dull…Evan Almighty didn’t seem all that bad after watching this.”

 

6.  The Fault in our Stars

“Relentless force-feeding of sappiness too exhausting to sit through.”

 

5.  Lucy

“Hard to believe Scarlett Johansson was once in gems like Lost in Translation and Ghost World.”

 

4.  Godzilla

“It was 90 minutes into the film until anything happened…and so many talented actors wasted on nothing roles.”

 

3.  The Angriest Man in Brooklyn

“Such a shame this had to be Robin Williams’ last film.”

 

2.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

“There was no need to reopen the manhole to let these reptiles see the light of day again.”

 

1.  Transformers:  Age of Extinction

“No surprise here.”

 

TOP 5 KOREAN FILMS OF 2014

5.  The Divine Move (신의한수)

“Never knew a movie about baduk can be so exciting.”

 

4.  Han Gong-ju (한공주)

“Upsetting but intriguing story about a girl’s struggle to find herself after a traumatic event.”

 

3.  Miss Granny (수상한그녀)

“Same old Freaky Friday story…but a darn funny one.”

 

2.  My Love, Don’t Cross That River (님아, 그 강을 건너지 마오)

“Haven’t shed so many tears in a movie theatre since I watched ET as a 2nd grader.”

 

1.  Whistle Blower (제보자)

“Based on the true story of Dr. Hwang Woo-Suk’s fabricated stem cell research…Park Hae-il delivers a great performance to add to the screenplay’s take on Korea’s modern history and social criticism.”

 

5 MOST DISAPPOINTING KOREAN FILMS OF 2014

5.  The Royal Tailor (상의원)

“It’s about as fun as you’d think a film about tailors would be.”

 

4.  My Dictator (나의독재자)

“Expected more for a film with such interesting premise.”

 

3.  Sea Fog (해무)

“Perfectly titled for such a haze of a movie.”

 

2.  Scarlet Innocence (마담뺑덕)

“More ridiculous than even the most outrageous Korean drama plot.”

 

1.  Big Match (빅 매치)
“Dullest movie ever for a film that was billed as an “action” flick.”

– Mr. Joo (Teacher)
Header: Mr. Joo (Teacher)

Top 10 Movies of 2015 We Can’t Wait For

With these movies, you’re going to be practically living in the theaters.

[WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD]

#1: Furious 7 // April 3, 2015

Fast cars, pretty ladies, guns of all sizes, rich men, and lots of action. As the seventh installment of the Fast and Furious movie approaches the theaters this year, it’s clear from the trailer and from the plot that this movie will not stray from the same factors that have been shown consistently through the entire series. Many of these anticipated movies seem to be sequels or additions to already existing movie worlds, and the Furious 7 is not to be left out of the mix. The last movie that Paul Walker will be starring in, the co-stars and fans of this franchise were devastated with the actor’s sudden passing in November of 2013.

However, he becomes immortalized on the big screen as the Fast and Furious gang are back together again, the story continuing from the end of Fast and Furious 6 when Owen Shaw dies. In Furious 7, Shaw’s brother, Ian Shaw, is back to seek revenge of the team by first murdering Han Seoul-Oh, a member of the Dominic Torretto’s team who was currently situation in Tokyo as seen in the movie The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Partially to avenge Han’s death, but also to eradicate the threat that comes with Shaw, the team work together to fight against him while trying to protect the group that came to be known as family.

#2: Avengers: Age of Ultron // May 1, 2015

When the first Marvel’s Avengers released in May of 2012, it broke box office records in countries all across the world. According to the Box Office Mojo, it beat Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2’s opening weekend stats, reaching a cool $207.4 million in record time. Since then, a number of single Avengers movies have come out: Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Thor: The Dark World, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (a TV show on ABC), and recently, Marvel’s Agent Carter, a TV show spin-off of the first Captain America movie.

And now, after much waiting and constant teasers in Comic Con, not one, but two trailers of Marvel’s next movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron, have been released.

According to Entertainment Weekly, The Avengers 2 movie is about a villainous Ultron, a peacekeeping Artificial Intelligence created by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) gone awry, who tries to destroy Earth and mankind. The plot does seem a bit bland, and almost like any other superhero movie, but knowing the chemistry between the returning cast members, the two new cast member and super heroes (Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, Aaron Taylor Johnson as Quicksilver), and the knowledge by Marvel that this movie will set up for the next Marvel movie, Captain America: Civil War, we’re pretty sure it won’t disappoint. Let’s hope it’s worth all the hype!

#3: Tomorrowland // May 22, 2015

Todayland is pretty bad so Tomorrowland must be pretty good! –Austin Kim (’16)

Austin couldn’t be more correct. It’s possible that the name sounds familiar if you’ve ever visited Disneyland, as there is a section of the park with this exact same name. The movie itself is related to the attractions in the theme park, but it’s better. You know why? Because it stars George Clooney. I could end it there, since I believe that’s reason enough for this movie to be labeled as one of the most anticipated movies of 2015, but I’d be selling this movie short if I did.

Tomorrowland is about a scientifically gifted, curious young teenager whose fate brings her and a has-been boy genius inventor together. The two embark on a journey to an other-worldly place called “Tomorrowland”, but it is there that they discover things that change their lives and ultimately the world.

Like the plot for Avengers 2, the plot for Tomorrowland seems a bit blasé, but the star studded cast and the fact that this movie will reveal the behind story, inspiration, and structure for the creation of Tomorrowland puts this in the #6 position of the most anticipated movies of 2015.

#4: Pitch Perfect 2 // May 25, 2015

With the incredible popularity that came with Pitch Perfect circa 2012, the trend of Anna Kendrick’s Cup Song, and attaching the term “a ca” in front of every single word (i.e. a ca-amazing, a ca-shut up, etc.), Pitch Perfect 2 is finally back, and you better believe Fat Amy’s is coming along (or was it Fat Patricia?) as well as its newest cast member, Hailee Steinfeld.

For this installment, the Barden Bellas are back, and go for a nearly impossible mission to win an international competition that no American-originated team has ever won before because, as Gail (Elizabeth Banks) and John (John Michael Higgins) so eloquently put it, “They hate us. The whole world.”

With rumors that there will be yet another Riff Raff (the first one was aca-amazing, so to speak), return of almost all the cast members, and (apparently) a “death-defying stuntwork” done by Rebel Wilson herself, according to Entertainment Weekly, this movie is definitely one to be looking forward to. And there could be a third Pitch Perfect if the second one is a success!

#5: Jurassic World // June 12, 2015

Chris Pratt seems to be everywhere nowadays, from the silver screen to the big screen. Although he debuted from his lovable role as Andy Dwyer of the popular TV show Parks and Recreation, Pratt found his debut on the big screen as the main character of the Marvel movie Guardians of the Galaxy. And now he’s returning with a slightly different role in the highly anticipated addition to the Jurassic Park franchise, Jurassic World.

Jurassic Park has been a film essential to many, and considered one of Steven Spielberg’s most timeless creation. However, Jurassic World will take a more modern spin off to the original idea. Taken place 22 years after the first Jurassic Park movie (1993, so it would be in modern day), the island of Isla Nublar is the host of a now fully operational dinosaur-themed park, Jurassic World as dreamed of by John Hammond. But after nearly a decade has gone by and there is a clear decrease in customer attraction, members of the on-site staff geneticists take part in creating a genetically modified dinosaur by the name of Indominus Rex, but the plan backfires when the dinosaur becomes out of control and runs free in the park.

Since it has been 14 years since the release of the last movie in the Jurassic Park franchise, it is not hard to guess why this movie is so well anticipated. And if the plot hasn’t intrigued you, the intense trailer will catch your attention for sure — make sure to check it out.

#6: Inside Out // June 19, 2015

What’s the last good movie Pixar has released? Frozen? That’s not a Pixar movie. Neither is Brave, nor is Tangled. Disney has released its fair share of animated movies, but strangely enough none of them came from their Pixar department. In fact, many fans have had thoughts that Pixar seems to have been on a bit of a decline of decent movies since, possibly by coincidence, the passing of Steve Jobs, Pixar’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. But not all hope is lost! Pixar released the trailer of their latest project, Inside Out, and it’s adorable but in a way that makes people our age feel okay to watch it.

Inside Out features the voices of many well-known actors and actresses, including Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation), Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project), Bill Hader (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs), and Phyllis Smith (The Office).

The movie is told from a Riley’s perspective, but quite literally—there are emotions inside her head that are really the main characters, and they include Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Joy (Amy Poehler), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), and Sadness (Phyllis Smith), as announced on the Pixar website. Riley is a young girl who’s had to recently move to San Francisco, and is faced with the classic challenges of being the ‘new girl’ in a school or a neighborhood, and the emotions that deal with these challenges are taken care of in The Headquarter, where all the emotions—Fear, Anger, Joy, Disgust, and Sadness—must operate together to help Riley get through.

#7: Minions // July 10, 2015

From the people that bought you the lovable Despicable Me franchise comes the spin-off movie, Minions, which entirely focuses on the characters that won the hearts of millions of fans across the world. These yellow creatures who speak a dialect we cannot understand are notoriously famous for their cuteness, and even a year after the Despicable Me 2 movie there are still more than enough products portraying these ‘Minions’, from phone cases to pouches.

According to IMDb, Minions will focus on the origins of the cute alien-like characters, way, way back to the time of the dinosaurs. It explains the urge that the Minions posses to serve only the world’s most evil, including everyone from the T-Rex to Dracula. But the real journey and story of this spin-off begins when the Minions meet Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock), the world’s first female super-villain. The Minions have, quite literally, found reason and purpose to live once more.

#8: Fantastic 4 // August 7, 2015

You may have watched the first interpretation of this Marvel comic in 2005 featuring Jessica Alba and Chris Evans (who now plays Captain America!), but fans of this fantastic superhero group were initially excited find out that this comic will be revived this year with a fresh new cast of Hollywood’s up-and-comers such as Michael B. Jordan as Human Torch (Chronicle, That Awkward Moment), Miles Teller as Mister Fantastic (That Awkward Moment, Whiplash, Divergent), Kate Mara as Invisible Woman (House of Cards), and Jamie Bell as Thing (Snowpiercer). The movie was met with disapproval when the casting list and synopsis came into play, upset that the people cast for their respective roles were much younger than portrayed in the comic series, and there was much controversy surrounding Michael B. Jordan’s addition to the bunch (which, I personally can’t quite understand, seeing as how stupendous of an actor he is).

Furthermore, director Josh Trank’s interpretation of the movie was met with displeasure as well. According to IGN, this movie will “center on four young outsiders who teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe, which alters their physical form in shocking ways. Their lives irrevocably upended, the team must learn to harness their daunting new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.” But the roles are still the same, the group still together, and the anticipation is still very much heated from all the buzzing fans and non-fans who are curious as to how this movie will fare.

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Lionsgate

#9: The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay – Part 2 // November 20, 2015

The book-series-turned-movie-franchise responsible for a heart wrenching love triangle, curious ship names, and the frequently asked question: “Team Peeta or Team Gale?”, The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay – Part 2 will make the final installment to the extremely popular movie series starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth.

This last movie is following the trend set by the Harry Potter franchise to divide the last movie into two, a pattern also followed by The Twilight Saga’s last movie Breaking Dawn. The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay – Part 1 set quite a stir with the (literally) painful cliff hanger, Josh Hutcherson’s amazing acting, the make up artists’ stunning work, and Jennifer Lawrence’s as always Oscar-worthy performance. Although true fans to the series have already read every single book and know the ending, they still can’t help but anxiously wait for the final installment, which will focus on the final revolution led by Katniss and District 13 against the ever oppressive President Snow and the Capitol.

#10: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens // December 18, 2015

The Force Awakens indeed! Just the announcement of this new installment to the Star Wars franchise itself was enough to awaken Star Wars fans everywhere, who expressed their excitement on Facebook and Twitter. Since Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith in 2005, the hype on Star Wars has definitely cooled down, as Lucasfilm and Twentieth Century Fox adequately tied any loose ends of the movie and brought the entire series together—but a decade’s worth of hiatus was not nearly enough to kill the entire fanbase. Disney ended up purchasing Lucasfilm for a whopping $4.05 billion according to Cinema Blend, in October of 2012.

Episode VII is to be directed by J.J. Abrams, a renowned director on the Hollywood scene. Does the name sound familiar? It could be because you’ve heard his name alongside Star Trek, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Lost, and Super 8. Fans, however, are worried that Abrams could quite possibly ruin what is one of the longest running movie franchises of all time with Episode VII, especially as it was pretty clear that the Star Wars chapter had satisfyingly closed with Episode III.

This episode will focus on the Star Wars world 30 years after the Battle of Endor, and post-events as seen in The Jedi Awakens, according to Cinema Blend. But perhaps what is most exciting about this return is that many of the cast member from The Jedi Awakens will be returning, such as Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo). If the movie is no good, at least we get to see most of the original cast back on the big screen again.

 

 

– Faith Choi (’16)

Header: Universal Pictures

 

Best Movies of 2014

They don’t call them the ‘best’ for nothing.

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IFC Films

Ranked number one on Rotten Tomatoes, rated a whopping 98% on the Tomatometer, is Boyhood, directed and written by Richard Linklater. What’s so cool about this movie, though, is that it was filmed over a twelve year-period, following the perspective and life of a boy named Mason, acted by Ellar Coltrane. Think about this for a moment here; this project took twelve years to complete! Isn’t it absolutely insane and unusual? Of course, this film does have a common theme as many, many other movies; coming of age. And coming of age is definitely an extremely, if not the most, relatable theme of a movie us teenagers can watch and enjoy. Boyhood takes a whole new step on a common idea of the portrayal of a child slowly growing up, tracing the mesmerizing, yet difficult moments of maturing. As Sundance Film Festival words it, “it’s impossible to watch Mason and his family without thinking about our own journey.” As audiences watch the ambitious experiment come to life, they get completely glued to the screen; after all, they have never seen anything like it!

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Warner Bros.

Now, take a look at what IMDb asserts as the one movie released in 2014. With the rating of 7.7 stars out of 10, American Sniper took the lead on IMDb’s “Most Popular Feature Films Released in 2014.” The ranking has been based off of IMDb’s very own MOVIEmeter, a ranking system based on the opinion of “experts” within the movie category. American Sniper, following Chris Kyle (performance by Bradley Cooper), a Navy SEAL sniper, beautifully illustrates the sniper’s life and major difficulties he must face on the battlefield of the Iraq War. The film has been nominated for twenty two nominations in total, winning six of them. Though American Sniper does hold the statistics it needs to be titled “Best movie of 2014” on IMDb, there still are mixed reviews on the filmography. Nonetheless, there are positive critiques that dominate most of the reviews, praising the director, Clint Eastwood, of well crafting this action movie. Why not give this adaptation of Chris Kyle’s autobiography a try?

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Fox Searchlight

Not so long ago, TIME Magazine came out with the magazine’s famous “Top 10 Everything of 2014”, which of course, included “Top 10 Best Movies”, written up by TIME’s movie critic, Richard Corliss. On this list, The Grand Budapest Hotel ranked first, topping both Boyhood and American Sniper; in fact, Eastwood’s American Sniper didn’t even make it on to the list! The Grand Budapest Hotel, starring Ralph Fiennes as Monsieur Gustave H., the concierge at the Grand Budapest Hotel in the Republic of Zubrowka between the first and second World Wars, comically portrays he and Zero Moustafa’s, a lobby boy, friendship. As Corliss words it, “Grand isn’t good enough a word for this Budapest Hotel. Great is more like it.” Wes Anderson, the director, fantastically creates inspiration dream throughout this movie, while shooting extreme character development of both Gustave H. and Zero while they cope with death, love, and gloom. Ridiculous yet full of compunction at the same time, The Grand Budapest Hotel will not let you down.

And here, I have three (so called) best movies as claimed by three different, credible sources. Now you are left with the question you may ponder upon; which film is one that truly deserves the title of  “Best Movie of 2014”? There really is no definite answer, for what one perceives as “best movie” differs among each individual. I mean, sure I named a few movies that are potentially number one filmographies, but there are so many more first-rate movies out there, released in 2014.

So here’s my question to you: What do you think was was the best movie released in 2014?

Header: Bēhance, Pinterest, Pinterest