Movie of the Month: Inside Out

Check it out! I actually made it to a show before it left the theaters!  Yippee! And the kids sat through the whole thing, which means I got to watch the whole thing from beginning to end without having to leave for a potty run or break up a fight. This, my friends, is a small miracle in itself.

INSIDE-OUT-18What can I say about this movie that hasn’t already been said? Being a Disney, it’s gotten more than it’s fair share of media attention. People are calling it revolutionary and unique. And they’re right. We haven’t seen anything like this before.

The story of Inside Out is layered.  The inside layer is a story all about Joy, one of the emotions that live inside of Riley’s head. Joy is determined to help Riley always be happy no matter what happens. Joy lives along side her fellow emotions anger, sadness, fear, and disgust. Each of these emotions can use the master control panel that control how Riley reacts in any given circumstance.

io_Joy_standardThe outside layer is Riley’s story, a happy eleven-year-old, who loves her family and being silly and playing ice hockey. However, everything changes when Riley’s family moves from the Minnesota to San Francisco.  Riley finds herself in a new school and new surroundings, everything is different and for any child, different is stressful and scary.

Still, Joy is determined to make things work and help Riley put on a happy face, even when she has some very real problems that need to be addressed. Joy forces Sadness to stay out of the way and refuses to let her take the controls. Joy’s efforts only make things worse and she and Sadness accidentally both get sucked out of headquarters and down into long-term memory storage.

This means that Riley can’t feel either joy or sadness and is stuck with fear, disgust, and anger.

Joy and Sadness must find a way back to headquarters before Riley makes a decision that might destroy her life.

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My Review:

I thought Inside Out was adorable and perfect for my young kids. It opens up avenues of discussion about what different emotions are and why each are important at the right time. The movie is clever, funny, and poignant and will send you home thinking about it for a long time.

One of my favorite parts (don’t worry, no spoilers here) is when we are allowed to see the headquarters inside different people’s and animal’s heads. Everyone and everything has the same set of emotions but each act very different depending on who or what they are. It comes at the very end of the movie and is hilarious.

If you like cute, imaginative, feel good movies with a message then you will love Inside Out. It’s not just for kids, it’s good for anyone who likes to think and feel.

However, there is a silliness warning. There are a few parts that do get a bit silly. If you get uncomfortable with things that are silly or childish then you might want to proceed with caution.

Movie of the Month: The Hobbit, Battle of the Five Armies

I’m ashamed to say that I’ve put off seeing the last installment of the Hobbit trilogy. It’s not that I didn’t want to see it, but I was disappointed with the first two and so when the third finally rolled around  the excitement simply wasn’t there to rush out and see it.

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Most Lord of the Rings fans agree that turning the Hobbit into a trilogy was a huge mistake on the part of the lovely people at New Line Studios. The book of the Hobbit is tiny and the choice to turn it into an 8+ hour-long saga was purely a marketing decision. They thought it would bring in the same huge crowds and mania that LOTR did.

It might have worked, had the world of Middle Earth been new.

Because we are all very familiar with the sights and spectacle of Middle Earth it doesn’t hold our attention as long. That, and there simply no epic setting reveals like there were in LOTR. In LOTR there was the introduction of Hobbiton, Lothlorien, Rivendale, Gondor, and the halls of Moria, to name a few. These settings were dramatic and beautiful and captured the imagination. In Hobbit there really isn’t anything that can rival them. The halls of Thranduil don’t quite measure up to the other Elven realms and the the Dwarvish interiors of the lonely mountain are not as impressive as what we saw before in Moria.

Which brings us to the story. Because the Hobbit was a short book, and one of the rare instances where it would actually be faster to read the book than to see the movies, lots of extra material had to be added to flesh out the story. Much of this material is pulled from Tolkien’s supplemental material and stays true to the history and cultures of Middle Earth, and to that effect makes the Hobbit an enjoyable movie to anyone who is a fan of Tolkien’s works.

However, for those who need a movie that doesn’t drag along through lengthy exposition and introductions, the Hobbit was a bit of a chore to watch. Much of the scenes that were supposed to create sympathy for lead characters ended up being forced and well, boring.

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As for the final chapter of the Hobbit, it has its fair share of thrills and spills and emotionally charged material. We finally see the defeat of the dragon, but with it comes the near downfall of Thorin, the Dwarvish king. With Smaug out of the way, Thorin can take the lonely mountain throne at last, and with it, its massive trove of dragon gold. Dragon gold brings with it intense greed and paranoia which infects Thorin, turning him against his kin.

The mountain hold and it’s treasure attract the armies all fighting for what they believe they are entitled to. Men, elves, orcs, dwarves, and eagles all join in the fight. Thorin, with the help of Bilbo and his kin, is reminded what is really important and leads the charge against the orcs. The fight doesn’t go well, there are heavy losses on all sides. Thranduil hates that elvish blood is being spilled for what he deems a fruitless endeavor. Bard, the reluctant leader of men, does his best to protect his people. In the end it’s the dwarves who pay the heaviest price.

In a scene much like when Boromir dies in LOTR, Thorin pays for the victory against the Orc general, Azog, by sacrificing himself. The movie ends on a bittersweet note where the good guys win but we ask ourselves, was it worth it?

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After everything, I give the last installment of the Hobbit a 6 out of 10. I liked it, it was enjoyable, but in the end it didn’t quite meet my expectations. It moved slowly, many of the emotional scenes felt forced, and in the end we didn’t get our happy ending.

Did you see The Hobbit? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.

Movie of the Month: Interstellar

interstellar-3840x2160This month’s featured movie is the sci-fi adventure Interstellar, a hard-hitting space drama that’s torn between the efforts to save humanity and one man’s fight to stay connected to his family.

If you like movies similar to Inception, where there is plenty of brain bending to make the story work, then Interstellar is right up your alley. It’s not as far out as Cloud Atlas, so don’t worry – but there are a few 2001: Space Odyssey type elements floating around that make it a little strange.

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Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper, a pilot turned corn farmer in Earth’s last desperate attempt to continue to feed itself. Humanity is indeed on the brink as blight kills off crops, much like the great potato famine. It is clear that the situation is not going to improve and so an undercover NASA program is tasked to find a way of preserving the human race.

Their solution is to find a new world to colonize. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong. The nearest habitable worlds are light years away and any efforts to find them are futile simply because of the amount of time it would take. Interstellar had a whole team of astrophysicists figure out how it could be done and then used their calculations to generate the imagery in the film, cool eh?

In Interstellar, there is a singularity located conveniently within our solar system that leads to a different system with several potential habitable worlds. However, due to a bunch of theory of relativity issues, any landfall the explorers make results in epic time loss for those on earth and also anyone who remains on the ship. This results in a very fast paced film as Cooper fights for every second lost in order to reunite with his daughter.

It’s the last third of the film that gets a little screwy. The explorers find themselves in a hopeless situation. There is no way to return important data back to earth for NASA’s colony ship to be able to break free from the surface (another plot strand…) and there is no way for the explorers to survive on the current alien world. They have to decide if they are going to sacrifice themselves to save humanity or save themselves but doom civilization.

interstellar-anne-hathawayThe only way to get the needed data back is to send a probe into the black hole. Cooper and Amelia (played by Anne Hathaway) must separate to give the greatest chance at success.  Amelia’s ship has colonizing equipment to set up another home world and can ensure the survival of the species should the worst outcome happen, so her success is critical. Cooper takes the other part of the ship and heads into the blackhole.

He ends in a time bent fifth dimentional tesseract that enables him to pass on the needed information to NASA. I said it got trippy –  this is the epicenter of trippy here and why I reference Space Odyssey.  Turns out that all the strange phenomenon that they had seen in the beginning of the film was actually Cooper in the fifth dimension trying to communicate with his daughter in the past.

Do I recommend Interstellar? Yes, with caution. This is a film meant for people who love to think in an abstract and twisted way. Those who just like a good story that doesn’t demand much of the watcher will find themselves lost and confused quickly. If you like time travel paradoxes, you’ll like it. If you don’t, then I wouldn’t recommend it.