Movie Review of Paddington

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Last weekend the kids and I saw a preview of the new movie Paddington, releasing today.  I was *this close* to not attending. I was never a huge Paddington fan as a child.  Not that I didn’t like it. I just don’t remember being into it much.  I really thought the movie would be too childish for the kids (9, 10 and 12).  But man, was I wrong.  Paddington was fantastic–for all ages! In fact, I’d love to see it again.

The movie was whimsical without being outrageously silly.  I loved how everyone in the town accepted there was a bear walking around town like it was normal and yet, he was the only one.

All the characters were unique and even though perhaps one-dimensional a bit, they played that one dimension perfectly. Nicole Kidman made the perfect evil nemesis. It was also fun watching her in such a different role after watching her and all the awkward with Jimmy Fallon just a few days before.

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And Downton Abbey fans, listen up, because you’re going to want to see Hugh Bonneville play the part of the uptight, yet loving dad in a modern British setting. He was phenomenal.

The plot was action-packed and  the pacing was spot on.  It moved from one fun adventure to the next. I didn’t find any lulls to the movie at all. In fact, about 2/3 through the movie I regretted needing to run out to the restroom. I went as fast as I could so I wouldn’t miss a thing!

But best of all, the entire movie had such great themes about family and adoption.  The main ideas walking away were our unique qualities are the best parts about us and family can be put together in all sorts of ways, as long as we accept and love each other. After just adopting these last months, I couldn’t have found a better movie to watch with our family.  Of course, though, when the movie ended all three kids just wanted to adopt a bear!

I can’t say enough good things about Paddington and hope you and your family get a chance to watch it–you will ALL love it!

Mockingjay Part 1 Movie Review

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Here’s the short version: Neither my sister nor I were wowed with Mockingjay Part I and do not recommend you spend your money on it in theaters.  For those that have read the book,  I know you will probably see it anyway because your curiosity will kill you and you want to form your own opinion.  Fair enough. But at least watch a matinee and save a little money. Please don’t scramble for a sitter this weekend and brave the crowds.  I’m telling you, it’s just not worth it. If you can wait, I’d recommend waiting until Part 2 comes out and watching the two back to back in theaters if you must watch in a theater. Otherwise, wait for Redbox.

So let me explain why I didn’t like it so much.

About 45 minutes into the movie, I leaned over to my sister Heather and said, “This is so boring.” She agreed.

On the way to the theater, I mused that although Mockingjay was depressing to read, that the action might come across really well on screen.  And it did.  Some of my favorite scenes in the movie were action scenes.  Two in particular.  One was when Katniss goes to visit a hospital in one of the districts.  The Capitol ends up bombing the hospital and Gale and Katniss shoot the planes out of the sky with exploding arrows.  That was awesome.  Seeing Katniss strong and capable is good stuff. The other scene is when everyone is going to the bunkers for the bombings and Prim nearly misses it because she goes back for her cat. Katniss goes after her. Gales goes after Katniss and they almost miss the bunker. Total nail-biter.  Loved it.

What I didn’t love is that most of the movie is political.  A lot of the movie is watching Katniss and her team film political ads for the rebellion.  There’s a lot of “this will be a great opening scene” and “Katniss, look at this camera.”  And then, not only do we watch her film it, then we have to watch everyone watch the ad together.  It was so entirely boring I wanted to poke my eye out with a fork.

When we finally get to the climax of the movie (which is to save Peeta) it was so uninteresting that I looked at Heather and said, Oh, I think this is the whole point of the movie.  It was so unclimatic that I can’t explain to you.  I mean, think about the first two movies. Those climatic scenes were AMAZINGLY CLIMATIC.

And I know this is just Part I of Mockingjay, but if you’re going to break up a movie into FOUR HOURS and make me wait a YEAR in between each one, you better be able to deliver a solid stand-alone Part I that will have enough resolution in it to make it worth my time and money.

Part I just didn’t deliver on that.

And not only was the end not climatic enough for me, the movie ended without a redemptive ending, but a downright DISTURBING ending that left me wtih a grimace on my face when the credits rolled.

IT WAS TERRIBLE.

Now, I’ve talked this out with my friend ohAmanda and she loved the movie.  She admitted she likes movies with sad/depressing endings. I do not.  I need all the happy feelings walking out of the theater.  So, perhaps if you don’t mind a bunch of angst the entire time without a payoff until next November, this movie might be just fine for you.

It just wasn’t for me.

Now, I will say there are many redeemable qualities about the movie I’ll leave you with.

Jennifer Lawrence is downright amazing as always.  She was in a terribly ugly gray jumpsuit without makeup for most of the movie and played the angsty, depressed mockingjay with perfection. For what she was given, she was outstanding.

The special effects were outstanding as well.  Nothing cheesy about all the bombings or shelter or anything else. Cheese wasn’t the problem for sure.

Effie in particular gave a wonderful performance. She was still in character, making do with the jumpsuit and head wraps and no wigs and makeup.  I actually enjoyed her much more this time.

It kind of reminded me of the exact opposite of how I felt about Twilight’s first movie–terrible acting, terrible effects but a great story.  This had the opposite–great acting, great effects but not enough redemptive story for my liking.

As I said, readers of the book will probably go and see it anyway, so if and when you’ve seen it, I’d love your take on it.

 

Divergent Movie Review

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Looking for a short thumbs up or thumbs down?  Look no further: GO SEE IT!!!

 

For all the others looking for the scoop:

Y’all. I always know when my sister and I look at each other with cheesy grins throughout the entire movie that we have a fangirl-worthy movie on our hands.

So, forewarned, my inner fangirl is writing this.

So, the beginning of the movie was pretty strong on its own.  I thought the writers did a great job of setting up what was going on for those that hadn’t read the book.  Ashley Judd does a wonderful job of playing Tris’s mom. 

 

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Surprise #1: “Fitz” from Scandal is Tris’s dad.  Clearly I didn’t do much fangirling research on this movie beforehand. When he showed up on stage, both of us were whisper-screaming, “FITZZZ!”  The only thing that would have made this even better is if Olivia Pope was involved somehow.

I loved watching the scene when Dauntless members were jumping off the train.  Very classic book moment realized on screen.

 

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Watching Tris pick Dauntless, jump off her own train and then jump down into the Dauntless headquarters were all great moments too.

Then.

Four shows up. 

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Holy cow, y’all.  This is the part my sister and I look at each other and were like, yeah, this movie just got good

Surprise #2: Four is Mr. Pamuk from Downton Abbey that died in Mary’s bed!

 

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So, yeah, I’m not sure what to say here except that I’m a fan of Mr. Theo James. 

 

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He’s quoted as saying, “I know I often get a job because of how I look. I hope that I keep the job because of how I act.” From someone in the audience, I’d say he does. I heard that Veronica Roth basically swooned when he auditioned.

He was the perfect amount of coolness to Tris and yet showed just the right amount of interest in her as their relationship progressed. It really was a journey watching them through the movie.  Even though their romance was actually secondary to the main plot, it was my favorite part. Of course.

 

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The writers also did a great job of including pivotal moments like Christina getting nearly killed and Tris getting saved by Four from a band of guys trying to hurt her.

The Ferris wheel scene was just great too.

 

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Oh, and all the dream stuff where you were watching their fears was just wonderful too.  I was wondering how they would handle that and they totally pulled it off.

One of my favorite scenes, though, is at the end when Tris and Four are saving the Dauntless members from killing Abnegation and Tris and Four face off.  Watching them fight after he couldn’t even stand watching her fight the others was equal parts riveting and terrible.

My only complaint about the movie is that Peter’s character didn’t come across the way I remembered him.  He was much less intimidating and more Class Clown looking than I-could-kill-you kind of looking and acting.

Beyond all that, I love the movie for the reason I loved the book—I like exploring the idea that we’re all a little of everything.  We don’t have to fit in a box (or faction) and we can be who we really are and that can, in fact, save us.  Watching all that through an action-packed, romantic lens…sigh…well, it just makes a girl happy.

I’ve rambled a bit here because it’s been two days since I saw the screening and I’m trying to remember all the wonderful things about it.  Suffice it to say that if you read the book, you should definitely check it out and I’ll be shocked if you’re not pleased.  If I think about it enough, I might even be willing to say that in some ways, I liked the movie better.  Yes, I’m gasping too.  Perhaps I couldn’t like it so much had I not the read book, but still.  I’m pleased with the movie to say the least.

Check it out this weekend and let me know what you think!

 

 

Oh and one other unrelated note…it’s now going to be super weird seeing Tris and her brother Caleb play Hazel and Augustus in Fault in Our Stars. Right?! At least we have until June to work that out.

 

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I was provided two free tickets to the screening.  All opinions are my own.

All Divergent images: Photo: Jaap Buitendijk © 2013 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman Movie Review

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If you want the short review, consider my kids’ responses.  Lexi: Awesome!  Emma: I want to see it again!

As a mom, I will tell you that I had a few reservations about the movie.  In fact, I nearly walked out halfway due to some serious disrespect from one of the children towards authority figures…BUT.  By the end of the movie, the storyline had fixed itself and in fact, given a strong statement to kids about how important obedience to their parents is.  They were clear about why it’s important and really, the whole movie is about bad consequences when you fall to peer pressure and don’t obey.

I also appreciated so much the attention to history instead of being all fluff. Rarely can you say you learn something from an animated movie at the theater.

And I didn’t know it until I recognized his voice in the theater, but Mr. Peabody is played by Ty Burrell who plays Phil Dunphy in Modern Family.  As you might know, he is HILARIOUS.  His dry humor was perfection to play the genius dog.  I adored the puns.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman offered many other things to love like time travel, letting kids grow up, the best things about dogs, adoption, anti-bullying and even a great Clinton joke for the grown-ups.

Check out the PluggedIn review for a more in-depth look. The Bennetts are giving this one 5 paws out of 5 for parents and kids alike.

 

 

We were given 4 tickets to the screening.  All opinions are my own.

A Girl on Fire

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I’ve just returned from watching Hunger Games: Catching Fire and aside from the fact that it was a brilliant adaptation of the book, I feel like the girl on fire.  Except the fire is not in a twirling skirt, but in my bones.  I was awakened to a reality that I have been glimpsing for years but today–today it is more apparent than ever.

For those that haven’t read or seen the movie this will make little sense, but I must say it anyway.

We are the capitol.

I am the capitol.

We like to think we are Katniss, brave and fighting strong, but for most of us, it is not the reality.

We are the ones with outrageous outfits and outrageous amounts of food and a sickening self-absorption.  We are the ones obsessed with entertaining ourselves at the cost of others. We revel in opulent surroundings and we ignore the ones hurting around us. 

We pretend that there are not people who are hurt and oppressed and dying of hunger when we have so much.  We are in the midst of the holiday that is about God coming to this earth and sacrificing his life and we have turned it into a free for all and excuse for more, more and more.

Yes, there is a movement for social justice, but we have so far to go.

We are the Capitol.

We love Katniss because she fights against the powers holding the districts down.  She’s willing to give her life to protect the ones she loves.  She hurts when the downtrodden are hurt.  She self-sacrifices when it is for the betterment of someone else.

How many of us really and truly do that?

We think our enemy is corporations or the government, but our true enemy is not an institution.  We are our own worst enemy.

Our greed. Our selfishness. Our gluttony.  Our indifference.  Our time and money prove our allegiance.

In the movie at an opulent engagement party, the game maker says to Katniss, “If you put your morals aside, you can enjoy yourself.”

That is what we have done in America.  We’ve put our morals aside and have been enjoying our lives, ignoring a world that is hurting.

Put your drinks down.  Take the masks off.  We need saving from ourselves first.

Wake up, friends!

We must first fight to realize and overcome we are the capitol so we can do the true work like Katniss we love so much—saving others in spite of ourselves.

We do not celebrate Katniss by braiding our hair and buying makeup from CoverGirl.  We celebrate the beauty that is The Hunger Games by laying down our pride and giving up our lives for the least of these.  It is a shame if we take anything else away from this series.

I sit in my suburban house with all of my stuff without all the answers.  I don’t have a 12 step program to getting this right.  But I do know I’m going to try.  I’m asking myself these questions.

What is one thing you can do to wake up from the materialistic culture we’re in?

Who is one person you can reach out to this season?

What is one gift you can buy from an ethical source to help someone else?

What can you say no to buying for yourself this week?

We must be asking these questions of ourselves because, friends, WE. ARE. THE. CAPITOL. and I know we don’t want to be.