Why “Edge of Tomorrow” is what the Summer movie season needed.

When one looks at the usual slate of Summer blockbusters, it is realized that we have definitely been living in the age where sequels and reboots have taken over the market. We’ve reached a point where besides the independent circuit, there are little to no original films in the mainstream industry released during this time of year.

Thus, moviegoers have been given “Edge of Tomorrow,” based on the Manga “All You Need is Kill.” Director Doug Liman (“The Bourne Identity”) takes us to a near future where mankind is at war with this unbeatable alien race. Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is an officer who despite having no combat experience is sent into what eventually becomes a suicide mission. Cage soon realizes that he has been infected with an alien gene that forces him to relive the same day over and over again, in the hopes to win this battle against this alien race.

I was never really excited for this film to be honest. The marketing made this film seem like another “Oblivion” – a film that was dull and uninspired. Also, “Edge of Tomorrow” isn’t anything entirely original, as we have seen plenty of its plot elements in other films before like “Groundhog Day” or “Source Code.” But I am ecstatic to say that Liman has crafted the type of Summer blockbuster that I have been waiting for quite some time for: an enthralling piece of sci-fi entertainment. Sure, “Edge of Tomorrow” may borrow from other well-known films, but it is through its remarkable execution that keeps these ideas fresh and of course, entertaining.

As sold through the trailers, “Edge of Tomorrow” promises an action-packed sci-fi special effects extravaganza. And as someone who wasn’t impressed by the marketing, I was blown away by the scope and unnerving entertainment value that was projected. The visuals throughout the film are outstanding and even feature some really inventive creature designs that are more interesting than the designs found in the MUTO creatures in Gareth Edwards’ “Godzilla.”  But it isn’t just because the action sequences were so well executed but rather that the story and characters wrapped around them are done so well. Inherently, the idea of reliving the same day over and over again can get pretty repetitive and quite ridiculous. And thankfully, the film is completely aware of that factor  and even uses that element to great comedic effect. It plays on the frustrations one goes through when playing a video game, in which every time you die, you get sent back to the first level. And when you would expect the film  to get old real quick with its repetition, it intelligently swerves around those cracks through its inventive structure and terrific editing.

And say what you want about Tom Cruise in his personal life, but you cannot deny the commitment he gives to his roles, particularly his action roles. And “Edge of Tomorrow” is no exception. Also equally solid is Emily Blunt, in a particularly strong female role that serves as Cruise’s counterpart throughout the film. Both Cruise and Blunt share terrific chemistry and their characters’ motives are truly felt especially as the film reaches its third act.

“Edge of Tomorrow” is the film that this Summer blockbuster season needed the most. In a time where saturation of sequels and reboots just continues, it is quite a relief to see an original non-sequel/reboot (albeit a book adaptation) that is simply put, a completely entertaining popcorn fare. In fact, it’s more than just that – it’s clever and surprisingly intelligent but not to a point where it becomes too confusing to follow. I implore you, go see this movie because I fear it won’t get the attendance and box office figures it deserves. If you are someone like me who has been looking for a non-sequel/reboot in a Summer where there is almost nothing but sequels and reboots, then “Edge of Tomorrow” is for you.

“Edge of Tomorrow” earns a 4.5/5

 

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Review

Phase 2 for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been quite interesting to say the least. First off, we had the very entertaining – yet really polarizing Iron Man 3, and secondly, we had the good but still underwhelming Thor: The Dark World. And while I still reap quite a bit of enjoyment watching these characters in their solo adventures, I feel that there is this feeling of fatigue of these solo films knowing that we have already seen these characters assemble together in one of the most enthralling Summer blockbusters of all-time, and although they are still interesting characters on their own, there’s a sense of desire to see them assemble again. Granted, following up The Avengers is a tough battle to climb, but that shouldn’t stop these films from adding more layers and pushing the superhero film genre.

And it is for that reason to why Captain America: The Winter Soldier is not only the best film of Phase 2 of the MCU, it may be the best film overall – with the exception to The Avengers. This film is the first sequel of these standalone films that exceeds its predecessor on virtually every aspect. Captain America: The First Avenger was an enjoyable war film injected with the signature Marvel blood. It served as a well-done origin story to Cap and definitely set up The Avengers well. However, The Winter Soldier just takes the best elements of its predecessor and takes them all to just another level of pure blockbuster excellence.

Anthony and Joe Russo take over Joe Johnston’s directing chair and passionately created a great adaptation of the character of Steve Rogers. When I first heard that these two were set to direct this film, I was thinking that this was an odd choice knowing these two mainly from having writing contributions two of my favorite sitcoms, Arrested Development and Community. But from watching this film, I no longer doubt their sensibilities behind the camera, knowing that these two not only know how to create a brilliant final product, but are also able to show love and respect to the fans – much like what Community has also done for appeasing its fans (there’s also a great nod to Community fans in this film).

Chris Evans has always been excellent as our titular character, giving amazing sensibilities in his sequences that demand his physical prowess, and more importantly his lovable attitude. He perfectly embodies Steve Rogers’ patriotism and well-being to a tee. Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow is also terrific in her most complex role as this character. In this film more than any other, she proves to all the naysayers why she is a vital member of The Avengers and truly takes this role as her own. The back-and-forth between these two characters showcases some of the best chemistry that we have seen in the MCU. Also, Samuel L. Jackson is finally given more to do as Nick Fury as he plays quite an integral role to the film’s story. Also, numerous newcomers from Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon and Hollywood icon Robert Redford both give excellence in their roles throughout the film.

But where this film truly shines is the way this film not only transcends the superhero genre, but also how it brings Steve Rogers to his most vulnerable state he has been in. First off, this film isn’t your typical superhero film. In fact, it’s very much an espionage/political thriller that happens to have enough action to satiate your appetite. And thankfully, these non-conventional aspects are just as entertaining, if not more so than the action sequences which are enthralling to see. But it is through The Winter Soldier’s story that truly elevates this film from a great comic book film to something quite special in this MCU. The character of The Winter Soldier poses a threat to Steve Rogers not only in the physical side of things, but more importantly through the personal side. Without giving much away, when the film explores the threat that the antagonist brings, it rings through our minds that this is truly the toughest situation that we see Cap face in these films. It’s personal, thought-provoking, and gives quite an emotional pull-off for the character that is the most satisfying we have seen him experience.

The Winter Soldier is the in my mind the best standalone film in the MCU, even beating out the original Iron Man. With terrific performances by its ensemble, impeccable direction by the Russo Bros, mind-boggling action setpieces, and an incredible watermark on Steve Rogers’ character, it is definitely one that all fans need to see.

And by the way, the two scenes during the credits will only make you even more excited for Avengers: Age of Ultron. 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier earns a 4.5/5

Noah – Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky’s Noah has had quite a lot going for it ever since its production began. Following his critically-lauded films, The Wrestler and Black Swan, Aronofsky was originally set to direct The Wolverine (which ultimately went under the helm of James Mangold), but instead departed that film and decided to pursue this passion project that he had been wanting to develop for years. Paramount came into play and gave $130 Million to this incredible auteur in cinema and now, we finally see his vision of the biblical tale on the big screen. However, this film has been enduring a wave a controversy for months ever since reports from three test screenings consisting of Catholic, Jewish, and general audiences have projected negative buzz, especially from the religious audiences. Worried from these reactions, Paramount went out of their ways to appease religious audiences by placing a disclaimer in all of the film’s promotional materials – without Aronofsky’s permission. Paramount and Aronofsky had been in heated situations together throughout the film’s marketing campaign and soon led to this compromise: Aronofsky’s original cut would be released instead of the alternate cuts that Paramount had screened.

And kudos to Paramount for not meddling with Aronofsky’s original vision, for that we are given quite a remarkable cinematic experience that is truly told in – well, biblical proportions. The film just exudes breathtaking visuals, whether it is through the exquisite cinematography, or the incredible use of set design, it squeezes a sense of meticulous passion within nearly every shot. And remarkably enough, even with a budget of $130 Million, Aronofsky’s signature trademark style is still in place. Sure, the film showcases his technical sensibilities seen in his acclaimed, yet smaller-scaled films like Pi and Requiem for a Dream, but above all, it is the film’s immersible craft that sucks you in even more so than his established filmography has already proven to do so.

Now, this is definitely going to be a film that many people of faith may not be pleased with. Artistic license has been taken in some aspects of the Genesis story, particularly in the Noah character himself, and there are aplenty of Aronofskian moments that may cause the more mainstream audiences to turn their heads. But all-in-all, I feel that the most important morals taken from this story are present through-in-through. And if you were to ask me, I view this film more as an interpretation of the story rather than a word-for-word adaptation. But I feel that one should be reminded that the story of Noah was definitely darker than the story we remembered from our Sunday School days. This is the Noah that immerses you into right in the story. It’s a provocative look into the evils of mankind described in Genesis.

Regardless of all the controversy surrounding this film, I feel that Noah is a film worth seeing on the big screen. It promises remarkable performances by its actors (Crowe, Connelly, Watson, and Winstone in particular), incredible visual storytelling and another haunting score by Clint Mansell. But above all, it’s the first blockbuster in the longest time that reaches deeper than just standard entertainment – it’s also one that purely demands discussions to be had after viewing it. Sure, it may not be 100% accurate, but I also don’t see it as one that preaches against faith. But I will say, that it is the most thought-provoking film of the year thus far.

Noah earns a 4/5.

Green Ark Reviews’ Official Oscar Predictions

With the 86th Annual Academy Awards presented live tomorrow night, film aficionados left-and-right are preparing themselves for the biggest night in Hollywood. Whether it is through catching up on the nominees, preparing their parties, and of course, making their predictions. To film buffs, the Oscars is the equivalent of the Super Bowl – with people sitting in front of their TV’s hootin’ and hollerin’ about who will be taking home the coveted gold statue honoring their work within an entire year of cinema.

So without further ado, here is Green Ark Reviews’ First official Oscar Predictions. I will be putting focus on the 8 major categories.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Before Midnight – Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, and Richard Linklater

Captain Phillips – Billy Ray

Philomena – Steve Coogan

12 Years a Slave – John Ridley

The Wolf of Wall Street – Terrence Winter

John Ridley’s screenplay adaptation of Solomon Northup’s inspiring memoir holds a considerable frontrunner status over the other nominees. Sure Captain Phillips took home the WGA but in that category, Ridley’s screenplay wasn’t eligible for a nomination. If there is a sure-fire category that 12 Years a Slave is emerging victorious with, it is this one.

Predicted Winner: 12 Years a Slave – John Ridley

Alternate: Captain Phillips – Billy Ray

Best Original Screenplay

American Hustle – Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell

Blue Jasmine – Woody Allen

Dallas Buyers Club – Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack

Her – Spike Jonze

Nebraska – Bob Nelson

Unlike the race for Best Adapted Screenplay, this category is definitely in a dead-heat two-horse race between American Hustle and Her. For a while, Spike Jonze’s script has been keeping a consistent lead over Singer and Russell’s script throughout the entire award season. Her has been gifted with countless accolades from critics groups nationwide and also had taken both the Golden Globe and WGA. However, because of American Hustle’s 10 nominations, it seems that the Academy wants to award it some way and this category (along with another to be discussed in a moment) seems to be a good fit. Also, this is a way to award David O. Russell who has 0 Oscars at the moment after three consecutive films. The race may be in a dead-heat, but I still think Spike Jonze will be the one to win. “Original” is the perfect way to describe Her and it is fully deserving of the statue.

Predicted Winner: Her – Spike Jonze

Alternate: American Hustle – Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell

Best Supporting Actress

Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine 

Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle

Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave

Julia Roberts – August: Osage County

June Squibb – Nebraska

Similar to the Original Screenplay race, this category is down to two contenders: Lawrence and Nyong’o. While I wouldn’t say it is as neck-and-neck as the previous category, the race is still fairly close. The argument that can be made for Lawrence is her Golden Globe win along with her BAFTA. Not to mention the fact that because the Academy has nominated American Hustle in all four acting categories, it seems plausible that they would want to award at least one of the performances and out of the four, this one seems to have the largest chance at victory. However, Lawrence already won the Lead Actress Oscar last year in Silver Linings Playbook, and it is because of this fact that I feel that Nyong’o is taking home the Oscar. When one watches her scenes in 12 Years a Slave, you cannot help but feel such a soul-crushing feeling of sorrow for her character. This performance is too much of an emotional powerhouse that you just have to mark her on your ballot. A new star has been born in Hollywood, and her name is Lupita Nyong’o.

Predicted Winner: Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave

Alternate: Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle

Best Supporting Actor

Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips

Bradley Cooper – American Hustle

Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave

Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street

Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

I believe that if Fassbender had been campaigning more throughout award season for his performance, he could have a solid chance at being a more considerable threat for the Oscar. He was expected to win BAFTA but interestingly enough, lost to breakout star, Barkhad Abdi. But really, this is one of the sure-fire locks of the night. This is Jared Leto’s award to lose. From the complete physical transformation, to the subject matter surrounding his performance, you cannot deny that this is Leto’s time.

Predicted Winner: Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

Alternate: Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips

Best Lead Actress

Amy Adams – American Hustle

Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine

Sandra Bullock – Gravity

Judi Dench – Philomena

Meryl Streep – August: Osage County

And in the same case as Best Supporting Actor, this award is an absolute lock. Cate Blanchett will accept her second Oscar for her unprecedented performance in Blue Jasmine. Not even the recent controversy with Woody Allen and Dylan Farrow will bring her down from this.

Predicted Winner: Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine

Alternate: Amy Adams – American Hustle

Best Lead Actor

Christian Bale – American Hustle

Bruce Dern – Nebraska

Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street

Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave

Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club

This is without a doubt, one of the most stacked Best Actor races I can remember in Oscar history. The actors who came up close to receiving a nomination gave such incredible performances as these five listed, but can anyone argue that these performances are not worthy of being on this list? All-in-all, 2013 was a splendid year for leading actor performances, but the way I see this race, I feel that it may be closer than many pundits have been analyzing it as. Ever since his Golden Globe victory, Matthew McConaughey has emerged as the frontrunner in this category taking home the Critic’s Choice, SAG etc. The odds definitely seem to be in his favor from taking home those trophies and to top that all off, this “McConassiance” is only going to continue for years to come. In many ways, this is a way for not just the Academy, but the film industry as a whole to award him for taking his career from being that likable guy in all those romantic comedies, to becoming one of the most prestigious actors in the business right now.

But even though the Oscar is going to McConaughey, there are two potential spoilers in this race: Chiwetel Ejiofor and Leonardo DiCaprio. Ejiofor carries the emotional weight of 12 Years a Slave right on his shoulders and with a BAFTA win, he is catching up behind McConaughey. And then, you have DiCaprio – a performance that reaches such incredible versatility that hasn’t been seen from him before. On top of that, this is his fourth acting Oscar nod in his career in a total of 0 wins. The overdue factor definitely boosts his chances up, and despite of all the controversy, the campaign that The Wolf of Wall Street has been working for has peaked at just the right time to give DiCaprio a chance to finally win an Oscar (and possibly put an end to all those internet memes). But overall, I still think McConaughey is winning the Oscar. His role is the kind that just screams “Oscar” with his character dying from AIDS as well as his considerable weight loss.

Predicted Winner: Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club

Alternate: Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Director

David O. Russell – American Hustle

Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity

Alexander Payne – Nebraska

Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave

Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street

Here’s the thing: when you spend years on a project that boasts technical innovations that not only stimulate the eyes and ears of the audience, but completely set in the next groundbreaking step of the filmmaking medium, then you reach a directing feat. And through the incredible production value, telling a story of survival that focuses mainly on one character through the magic of awe-inspiring visual storytelling is fully deserving of the highest honors. Not only is Alfonso Cuaron going to win, he’s the only choice to win.

Predicted Winner: Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity

Alternate: Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave

Best Picture

American Hustle

Captain Phillips

Dallas Buyers Club

Gravity

Her

Nebraska

Philomena

12 Years a Slave

The Wolf of Wall Street

This is the most nail-biting Best Picture race the Academy has faced in years. And the tension only continues on building as we come closer to the ceremony. But out of all the nominees, two are fighting for the coveted title. Those two films are Gravity and 12 Years a Slave. Both have been receiving countless accolades left and right and for the first time in history, they both tied for Best Picture at the Producer’s Guild Awards. But of the two films, which one is going home with the gold?

The argument in Gravity’s favor is that Best Director almost always goes with Best Picture. Plus, with all the technical awards that are pretty much in-lock for the film, Gravity definitely has a solid shot. However, is the Academy finally willing to embrace a sci-fi film as the Best Picture of the year? I’m not so sure about that yet, but if any film in Oscar history has the biggest chance at defeating that prejudice, it’s Gravity.

Then, we have 12 Years a Slave. The award season for this film has been quite interesting to say the least. It was considered the frontrunner ever since it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was even considered by some as the Schindler’s List of the decade. But is the film simply too hard to watch for some Academy members?

This is such a heated race between two completely different in genre, yet both incredible in their message of promoting the human spirit. One is a film that embraces the limitless possibilities the future of filmmaking has to behold, and the other is a film that serves as a harrowing reminder of one of the most shameful time periods that has faced American history. No matter which film between these two is chosen as the Best Picture, the Academy will have chosen a film that embraces the beauty of the human spirit – whether it is through the willingness to survive or the willingness to live, the potential Best Picture winner will be remembered for those reasons above everything else.

Predicted Winner: 12 Years a Slave

Alternate: Gravity

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Nebraska – Movie Review

After getting a sweepstakes letter in the mail believing that he has won $1 million, Woody Grant (Bruce Dern), an aging alcoholic father/husband pleads to his son David (Will Forte) to take him to Lincoln, Nebraska to earn his winnings. Although he believes it is a scam, David reluctantly takes his father on a road trip as a means to reconnect with him knowing that this may be the last time he can share an intimate father-son experience as they embark on a hilarious, yet heartwarming journey spanning four states that also serves as a beautiful portrait of reflecting back at one’s past.

When looking at the nine Best Picture nominees, Alexander Payne’s newest film Nebraska doesn’t immediately stand-out in terms of what presence it emotes on the screen. It doesn’t have the innovative visual splendor of Gravity, nor does it have the heart-wrenching historical significance of 12 Years a Slave. It also doesn’t have the euphoric groove of American Hustle, and above all, doesn’t possess the insane drug-addled debauchery that The Wolf of Wall Street has. An outsider may look at this lineup of nominees and quite possibly dismiss “Nebraska” for not looking nearly as exciting or innovating as its other fellow nominees. But what those outside naysayers might not realize is that with this slate of BP nominees, sometimes after sitting through films like the ones mentioned above, it takes a film of such beautiful simplicity to remind us that one does not need a complex story or the premium bells and whistles to make a film worth the investment for. 

It’s funny that I mention that Nebraska is full of such beautiful simplicity – but that is all from the external view of the film. It is shot beautifully with the black & white cinematography and has characters that may feel somewhat traditional in that facet. And while this may feel like such a small film on that scale, the simplicity really just ends there. Because internally, this film reflects such an emotional complexity that makes these characters that seem simple off of just reading the premise and make them feel so real. And that is a credit thanks to the intimate direction of Payne, the blissfully hilarious screenplay by Bob Nelson, and above all, the remarkable performances by the leads.

Bruce Dern gives quite possibly the performance of his life as Woody Grant – giving such complexity as the aging man who you can’t help but love thanks to the perfect amalgam of hilarity and heartbreak his performance promises. Will Forte also gives a remarkably nuanced performance that was definitely snubbed for a Best Supporting Actor nod. It is the relationship between these two that definitely serve as the heart that beats through this film. June Squibb is also irresistibly hysterical as Woody’s overbearing, yet downright caring wife who electrifies the screen every time she appears. And of course, the supporting ensemble that also includes Bob Odenkirk among others all help serve this beautifully intimate portrait of a family that has definitely distanced themselves from eachother over the years.

It is refreshing to see a film like Nebraska to come out during this awards season. Not only as a beautiful love letter to the importance of the family dynamic – no matter how dysfunctional, but also as a wonderful tribute to the old days of Hollywood. While this film may take place in a modern-day setting, the black & white cinematography alongside Nelson’s charming screenplay give this film such a timelessness that the films good ol’ Hollywood era had. All-in-all, Nebraska is nothing short of incredible. Well done Payne. Well done.

Nebraska earns a 4.5/5.

Her – Movie Review

When asked about my all-time favorite romance film, without hesitation I would respond with Michel Gondry’s unprecedented opus, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. For me, no film has blended so much artistry, intimacy, or even the life-affirming philosophical ideals as great as that one. Inventive in its meticulous craftsmanship thanks to the surreal direction of Gondry, the limitless imagination of Charlie Kaufman’s screenplay, and such genuine, realistic performances by the ensemble. It is films like “Eternal Sunshine” that made me fall in love with film in the first place – not only as a simple form of entertainment or escapism from the real world, but as an art that can enlighten the hearts and minds of audiences all thanks to the unparalleled beauty that visual storytelling can accomplish.

You may be wondering why I prefaced this review of Spike Jonze’s Her by mentioning my unflinching adoration of “Eternal Sunshine”. Well for me, Her is not only reminiscent of that film in terms of artistry, it is also the single best romance film I’ve seen since then.

Now I have a hunch that you may be wondering why I would say such high remarks. Simply put, there hasn’t been a film within the genres of romance or even sci-fi in years that delved within the essence of the human heart alongside the ideas to why we fall in love in the first place.

Set in Los Angeles during the not-too distant future, Theodore Twombly (played brilliantly by Joaquin Phoenix) is an introverted, yet loveable man who lives a lonely life having recently separated with his wife Catherine. His life soon turns upside-down when he purchases an artificially intelligent OS named Samantha (portrayed by an unseen Scarlett Johansson). What starts out as just simply an assistant to help organize emails and even play video games with, a relationship starts to brew.

From an outsider’s perspective, the film’s premise may come off as pretty obscure. But it is a credit to Jonze’s incredible direction and screenplay that not only analyzes the human spirit, but also serves as a social commentary on how outsiders may view other people’s relationships along with the ever-growing disconnected society that continuously spend their lives on technology. I mention the outsider’s perspective because what makes relationships so beautiful is that no matter what others may see differently, it is the intimate interaction between you and another individual that makes it so precious. And that’s what Jonze flawlessly accomplishes when we see Theodore and Samantha interact. Sure on the outside it may seem abnormal to some, but when you finally get to know both of these characters, that outsider’s perspective is thrown out the window once you realize that this relationship may possibly work despite Samantha not having a physical form.

And that’s why this film leaves you in such a whirlwind of emotions and philosophical questions to ponder over. We often rely on technology to help us with our needs – whether it is through assignments needed to be accomplished, information desired to be researched, and of course social interaction. And as we see with Theodore and Samantha’s relationship, it permeates within it all and is only amplified to 11 thanks to the sentient nature of Samantha. But really, even though Samantha may be “the perfect girlfriend” and may satisfy Theodore just as a complicated human relationship would, it is through their own experiences where the audiences come to realize that technology will continue to advance and unfortunately, humans are only capable of so much. And regardless of what may seem satisfying to Theodore in this situation, in the big scheme of things, his relationship with Samantha is strictly based on their vocal interaction. And it is through those conversations that we as an audience feel the realness of their togetherness. But unfortunately, language is limited and communication is more than letter and word combinations. And while communication is vital to a healthy relationship, there is still so much desired by the human heart that Samantha just cannot satisfy. Sure, they both attempt to reach those levels of their romance, but only to reach awkwardly unsettling results.

Her reminds us of what we are missing out on in our lives because of our fixation with technology. What should be used to explore more about what society can be capable of has been almost bombarded by satisfying ourselves whether it is through emotional or even physical desires – only to be reminded that it was all thanks to simulations that satisfy temporarily and only feel real, yet isn’t real.

When the credits started to roll, the tears wouldn’t stop flowing. I was in a state of overwhelming emotions that I haven’t felt ever since “Eternal Sunshine”. And it was all the more evident knowing that I stayed through the credits wanting to read all the names that have taken part of this awe-inspiring masterpiece that I will continue to remember for as long as I continue my passion for not only film, but life. I can go on and on about how much this film has resonated with me as a person, but seriously, just as I expressed above, language is limited. All I can do now is to implore you to go see this film. This is not only 2013’s best film, it is one of the best films of the decade and truly feels so perfect for the times we are living in right now. It’s a film that I can now put as a companion piece to my all-time favorite romance film. Thank you, Spike Jonze. Thank you.

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Her earns a 5/5.

Why is “Frozen” a success?

In the final box office weekend of 2013, we found that The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is #1 for the third consecutive week followed by Frozen at #2 both taking in about $29.8 Million and $28.8 Million respectively. But what I find to be truly stunning to see is that Frozen was in its sixth weekend in its domestic release. That’s right, usually for films, it is difficult to keep such a hold consistently every week – even for the more popular blockbusters which soon find themselves earning much of their gross in front-loaded terms only to find themselves in at least a 50% decrease the following weekend.

According to Box Office Mojo, the Disney film has remained consistent within its weekend grosses. Although the film in its first weekend earned $243,390, that was in the Disney-owned El Capitan theatre in Hollywood alone. Soon, Thanksgiving weekend came along and during the 5-day period, the film had earned about $93.9 Million and ranking at #2 behind Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The next three weekends follow along, and while Frozen had a decrease of about 53% after Thanksgiving weekend, the film remained consistently leveled during the next two weekends.  And now, in a mind-boggling turn of events following new releases during the week of Christmas like The Wolf of Wall Street and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Frozen managed to accomplish the following weekend not only earning #2 after the current reigning Hobbit, but in fact gaining an increase of nearly 47% from the previous weekend. From where it stands domestically as of December 30, 2013, it has earned roughly $248,366,000.

I think it’s safe to say that the film has been remaining so successful financially mainly due to the enthusiastic response from both critics and audiences alike earning an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes and an A+ on Cinemascore. Not to mention that it is widely viewed to be the frontrunner for Best Animated Feature. But why is everyone responding to the film oh-so highly?

Before I delve into what I believe for that case, I would like to say that Frozen is indeed a magnificent film and another home run from the Walt Disney Animation Studios. The voice acting was superb, the animation was top-notch, and the music is truly sublime. And yes, while those do play factors to the film’s attainment of critical and commercial acclaim, I feel that there is more to be explored within those realms.

Was it the marketing? Somewhat. It did follow the footsteps of Tangled by not being titled with a princess’ name and emphasizing more on the non-princess characters to appeal more to boys. Marketing does play a huge role in many animated films’ success. Because really, if it weren’t for those yellow minions running everywhere, Despicable Me wouldn’t even be as successful financially. Also, it can be discussed that because of the time of year the film was released as well as the Winter setting, it brought more audiences to fill up the seats because they were ready for the excitement they crave for during the Holiday season.

But above all, while the marketing did play a role into the film’s success, I feel that Frozen has amassed its appeal because it truly is Disney’s return to its Renaissance era. Audiences were given a timeless fairy tale that was endearing in all aspects within characters, animation, and music. A film that simultaneously took advantage of the old Disney tropes that we have become accustomed to, but were utilized in such a creative exercise that manages to both pay tribute to the Renaissance era, but also bring something truly refreshing. All of this balances out into a work of art that may be the final step into the beginning of a new era for the studio. If Snow White and the Seven Dwarves represented the beginning of the Middle Ages of Disney and The Little Mermaid that began the Renaissance, it is the journey that slowly started from The Princess and the Frog all the way to Frozen that finally begins the studio’s Reformation.