Film #22: The Terminal

Ahhh, I’ve been waiting to do this review for some time now. As with most movies though, you need to be in the correct mood for them. The Terminal is a movie that I could talk in length about, and if you have seen it, you might be asking, “How? It wasn’t really that interesting.” Well, I guess context and perspective have a lot to do with your opinion of this film…allow me to give you some.

The first time I saw The Terminal, I was with my best friend Corbin Elliott, who now lives in New Zealand, where he is from. I began to really get to know Corbin around sophomore year in high school. By senior year, it seemed that we were inseparable. “Awww, precious…” Yeah, I thought I’d get that out of the way. Anyway, we did everything together, and our friends and family can attest to that. In the summer of Junior year, we started to become bored and decided to got to the local cheap theater to watch a movie. Movies were $3 then, and we spent $3 on the ticket, and another $15 on arcades, ha. The film we wanted to see was The Terminal. 

As the lights dimmed and the Coke commercials featuring music by ‘Queen’ cycled behind trailers for upcoming movies, the movie began to play. We left the theater liking the movie and pleased with our choice. The next day I went to Corbin’s house and we were hit with the same felling of bordom. So…..we went back to the cheap theater….and watched The Terminal again. We left the theater loving it. Pretty soon, going to the Ogden 6 Theater was a ritual, and seeing this movie became a strange obsession. We saw that movie 5 times before we watched something else! To this day, I am not too sure why we sat down and watched a film, that in no way resembles Lord of the Rings (A movie I saw 8 times in theaters). So why The Terminal?

I love this movie, for nostalgic reasons of course, but also because after watching it tonight I realized some deeper things I hadn’t before.

The Terminal follows a man, Victor, who is stuck in an airport terminal after his home country is overrun by rebels. Without a valid visa, he can not return to his home country OR enter onto United States soil. He must therefore live in the airport until the problem is resolved in his country. This film is so interesting to me. I love the interactions that he has with the airport staff, security staff, and supervisors at the airport. You follow Victor on his adventure through navigating the confusing waters into gaining a visa, surviving on next to nothing, gaining employment, and chasing his love interest in an almost impossible situation.

Victor is in New York to fulfill his father’s dying wish. I find that Victors resolve in the entire story to be humbling. Not many people are as determined as the character that Tom Hanks plays in Victor. Victors determination to carry out his fathers dream is strong and so pure. [SPOILER] Near the end of the movie, Victor visits the Jazz lounge where his father wanted to go and receive and autograph from a famous musician. As the din of the Jazz music plays, the camera pans to Victors face which is absolutely heartbreaking, in a good way. You see that he has completed the task, you see that after months and months of uncertainty…He did it. The joy, relief, sadness for his father, elation, pride, and accomplishment is clearly expressed on his face. It’s a perfect, beautiful moment [SPOILER]

The Terminal is a very unique and fascinating journey, one that I have not seen portrayed in film before, and I think Steven Spielburg hit it on the head. Some people say that this film was boring and uninteresting. I say, look past entertainment and become enchanted with a story.

Film #21: Wrath of the Titans

[MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR CLASH OF THE TITANS] So if you haven’t seen Clash of the Titans before you see Wrath of the Titans, you aren’t going to be missing out on much. The two films don’t exactly follow a linear storyline. I have seen Clash of the Titans and have to say that I liked it better than Wrath of the Titans. 

Basically, the film follows Perseus, a demi-god and son of Zeus, 10 years after defeating the Kraken. There is a new problem in Greece and it is one even too powerful for his father Zeus to take on. Zeus comes to his son for aid, but Perseus refuses. Bad things happen, chaos ensues, explosions absolutely happen.

I love a good action movie, and one with a little comedy thrown in there is not too bad either. This film was fast and slow throughout. What do I mean by that? Well..it would pick up and then go on a far off journey through the desert, then pick up, then everyone would talk for a while, then pick up again. I know that ALL films do this to an extent, but it seemed more pronounced in this movie for some reason.

Like I said, I liked it regardless of the faults. I love Greek mythology, and so any film that has that in it is fun to me. Disney’s Hercules was and is still is one of my favorites. Wrath of the Titans was an adventure through Greece with historical figures, to fend off ancient evil. If you enjoyed watching the prequel, definitely check out the sequel.

Film #20: Chronicle

Well, we’re half way there through my film challenge. I admit, it is getting less and less methodical as I go. Anyway, tonight I watched Chronicle with the boys in the house. I found that the movie was sporadic, shaky, and the writing was so-so. I still enjoyed watching a unique perspective from a style that is fairly new, which is filming from a steady cam.

Chronicle is about following three young men in high school as they sojourn through their brand new abilities to move objects with their minds. After coming into contact with a strange glowing blue crystal…yeah, I’m not kidding…they find that they all of a sudden have strange new abilities.

I liked the movies perpective as they followed the boys in the discovery, questioning, testing, and limits of their new powers. It illustrated the danger in the powers as well as how to control such absolute power.

The effects in this movie were pretty good and even included a flying scene where the boys discover that they can not only move objects in the air, but themselves as well. The scene is beautiful and very raw in the “we-just-discovered-something-absolutely-brand-new” kind of way. Not the best movie in the list, but it was fun.

Film #19: The Count of Monte Cristo

Tonight I watched The Count of Monte Cristo, adapted screenplay from the novel by Alexandre Dumas, the same writer who wrote ‘The Three Musketeers.’ I had seen this movie from an early age, and found it hard to keep up with all of the technical aspects of this film. Who framed who, who did what to whom, why this was being done, why this person was doing this, and so on. Watching this movie for the tenth time or so, it is refreshing to have watched the film with some years and experience in the world. The added knowledge aids in my understanding of the plot and why certain things are happening.

I have to say, I absolutely love this movie and always have. The story is so intriguing and romantic, that it is difficult to resist the draw created in mystery, plots of revenge, romance, and betrayal. The film does a wonderful job illustrating the books ancient art of painting a picture of the human condition. These aspects of the film that I mentioned are all things we experience in this lifetime. The brilliance of what the film does is demonstrating how we respond to betrayal and hurt and injustice. How we respond is what makes us.

Without giving anything away Edmond Dantès, played by Jim Caviezel, is convicted of a crime he never committed. He is imprisoned for a very long time and plans revenge on those who wronged him. That is about as far as I’ll go describing the plot of the movie. The rest is for you to experience. Trust me, this film is worth checking out.

Aside from my raving review of this film, I don’t exactly rejoice in the path that Dumas takes in writing this story. With respect to the historical context of this period and understanding that the 17th century was quite a different time…I personally think the inscription that was carved into Edmond Dantès’s prison cell, “God will grant me justice,” is not what the viewer should take away from the film. I feel that they showed this at the end of the film to illustrate to the viewer the long road that Dantès had to take to get to where is now, and that vengeance is ultimately hollow.

If you’ve seen this film, let me know what you thought.

Film #18: Whip It

Tonight I watched Whip It featuring Ellen Page, Drew Barrymore, and Kristin Wiig. I first watched this movie after it appeared in my sister’s collection of DVD’s a few years back. I have to admit that I really liked it. I’m not sure if it was the unveiling of a piece of American culture that I hadn’t known about, women in contact sports, or Ellen Page that I liked more. (Ellen Page is a boss).

Whip It follows the life of a girl in Bodeen, Texas, and her journey to find something in this world that she loves and is truly good at. We find her Mom living vicariously through her daughter in beauty pageants. You can tell that Ellen’s character is not 100% into it and is kind of going through the motions. She finds out about ‘Roller Derby’ and goes to a game with her friend in Austin, TX. She falls in love with it and tries out for the team. This time, no chaos ensues and there aren’t any explosions in this movie, ha. Still, I love it.

I found myself getting sucked into this sport that I knew next to nothing about, and I liked it. Essentially the idea is this: Roller derby is a contact sport played by two teams of five members roller skating in the same direction around a track. Game play consists of a series of short matchups (“jams”) in which both teams designate a scoring player (the “jammer”) who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team. The teams attempt to assist their own jammer while hindering the opposing jammer — in effect, playing both offense and defense simultaneously.

Ultimately, I found the movie making me feel excited and optimistic to try something new. There is a spontaneity about the film that just makes you want to jump in the car, strap on some skates and rough someone up on the rink. It also gives confidence to the skeptical and unadventurous. In the beginning of the movie, Ellen’s character is a scared little puppy  without her friend right there next to her. The movie brings you along on her journey to becoming a strong, confident, and sure women. Check it out. It’s a fun flick.