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The Independent

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

August 22, 2014

  5.0 out of 5.0 Stars If I could have one life goal after watching this new age of Marvel...

All The Captain’s Men

All The Captain’s Men

April 15, 2014

  4.0 out of 5.0 Stars Out of all of the Avengers to star in their own franchise, Ol' Cap...

A Scary Bad Movie

A Scary Bad Movie

April 23, 2013

  0.5 out of 5 Stars Holy flying monkey poop, Batman! Unfortunately, that is the nicest way to describe the latest installme...

Review: Olympus Has Fallen Dies Hard

Review: Olympus Has Fallen Dies Hard

April 11, 2013

3 stars Let’s have a round of applause and welcome back, from his abominable stint in the world of horrendous romantic comedies, Gerard Butler. And not a m...

Oz, Not so Powerful, Not so Great

Oz, Not so Powerful, Not so Great

March 26, 2013

  3.5 out of 5 Stars James Franco’s performance as the con-magician Oscar (Oz) was neither great nor powerful. The movie starts off in Kansas with Oz working as a carnival magi...

Trouble with the Curve

Matthew Greenberg, Sports Editor

October 3, 2012

Filed under Movie Reviews

  Rating: 3 out of 5 To say this movie is the “feel good hit of the season” would be somewhat of a stretch, but it certainly has moments that will bring a smile to a viewer’s face. Clint Eastwood stars as Gus Lobel, an aging baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves whose best years are definitely behind him. Eastwood’s performance could be characterized as somewhat pleasant. This film is a far cry from his commanding roles as Dirty Harry or the Man With No Name, but Eastwood’s experience and natural talent add flavor to his character. Eastwood provides a few laughs and enough frustration and conflict as Gus for the audience to grapple with and stay interested. Amy Adams, on the other hand, delivers a home run performance as Gus’s daughter, Mickey (named after Mickey Mantle), a blossoming lawyer up for a partnership at her law firm. The trials and tribulations the audience endures with her as Mickey struggles to make sense out of her tense relationship with her father keeps us eagerly anticipating her next scene. Quite simply, Adams sweeps her co-star under the rug, as Alison Willmore of Movieline says, “[Adams] does it while steering clear of the stereotypical ruts that could have mired her performance in mediocrity.” Unfortunately, even the help of impressive supporting actors such as John Goodman, Justin Timberlake, and Matthew Lillard could not pull this movie out of its predictable storyline and repetitive, for lack of a better word, action. The audience gets tired of the film trying to be too many things. Is it a father-daughter relationship drama? Is it an inside look at the scouting world of major league baseball? Is it a romantic comedy? Or is it simply about an old man looking for his last hurrah before retirement? Needless to say, there were a few too many themes that were far too incomplete. But who is to blame? Certainly not Adams, as her banner needs no more toting, nor is it Eastwood, although a slightly better role choice in the future would be appreciated. Perhaps director Robert Lorenz, Eastwood’s longtime assistant director, wasn’t able to handle moving up the totem pole to the director’s chair. More likely, however, it is writer Randy Brown’s sorry excuse for a script, that yields little more to work with than the same scene played out five different times in five different locations, and dialogue that an audience could complete before the conversations even take place. At least we get to enjoy seeing Clint Eastwood yell at multiple inanimate objects. At the end of the day, Trouble with the Curve earns itself 3 out of 5 stars....

Vintage Views – The Natural

Nell Greaney, Staff Writer

September 20, 2012

Filed under Movie Reviews

    The craze of making vintage fads popular again is no longer limited by merely a decade. This trend has hit every popular medium since at least the early 20th century. Perhaps this renewed fascination with the old is because of a frustration with the new. With that in mind, following this vintage trend is a vintage movie review. “The Natural” starring Robert Redford (“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”) Robert Duvall and Glenn Close, is a double whammy in the vintage field. “The Natural”, released in 1984, delves into the time period of the 1920’s-30’s and even makes viewers feel like they are in that time period. Many movies can’t evoke the feeling that the audience is back in time. Most films come off as a modern reproduction. “The Natural” is about a baseball player named Roy Hobbs, played by Redford. With this saga about Roy Hobbs described as “an average baseball player [that]comes out of seemingly nowhere to become a legendary player with almost divine talent,” by IMDB, the movie plays true to form by surrounding Redford’s character with eerie circumstances and almost supernatural coincidences. A quote from Hobbs’ father, that “talent is not enough,” haunts the film with its cyclical reoccurrence and truth in the lives of the players. But the movie isn’t just about balls and bats, it has its fair share of femme fatales too. The story begins in 1923 with the 19-year-old main character, Roy Hobbs, traveling on a train with his manager to try out for the Chicago Cubs as a pitcher. On the same train is an all-star pitcher who challenges Roy at a rest stop to strike him out. A mysterious woman on the train named Harriet, previously fawning over the all-star, turns her attention to Roy. Harriet seems to fixate on the person who will be “the best there ever was” in baseball. When Roy arrives in his hotel room in Chicago, Harriet promptly phones his room and tells him to come down to hers. He finds her standing by a window, ominously dressed head to toe in black. As she turns to face him with a smile, Harriet drops a black veil over her face and asks him, “Roy, will you be the best there ever was in the game?” “That’s right,” He states. What happens next changes his life irrevocably. Time skips to 1939 and Roy has been signed to the New York Knights. Roy is middle aged and has never played in a professional game. His teammates and his coaches ask him where he’s been all these years and what took him so long to make it this far. Roy tells no one the truth since he’s too embarrassed and ashamed. He finds himself in the middle of a war between the head coach Pop Bailey (who once owned the team) and “the Judge” who now financially owns the team. One particular scene from this part of the movie has been the basis for many a dramatic sports spoof –Roy hitting a home run into the stadium lights. “The Simpsons” also spoofed Roy’s “wonderbat.” This movie may take a little time to get viewers rooted, but once it happens, they will stay put until the movie is over....

Exorcism of Hollywood

Syed Ahad Hussain, Senior Staff Writer

September 19, 2012

Filed under Movie Reviews

  With the recent release of The Possession, a new take on the Exorcism sub-genre of horror, the 1973 horror masterpiece The Exorcism comes to mind. While The Exorcist is a horror masterpiece with some genuine scares and spine tingling moments, the film spawned a franchise which lasted from 1973 to 2005 with five films. The franchise has its share of really scary movies and some laughably bad ones. William Friedkin’s The Exorcist was based on the novel by William Peter Blatty, who also wrote the screenplay of the film. The film redefined the whole horror genre by giving it a new sub-genre ‘exorcism horror’, a simple premise about a 12-year-old girl (Regan MacNeil) who is believed to be possessed by the devil. Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) is assisted by Jason Miller’s Father Damien Karras to perform an exorcism. It’s then we witnessed some of the most memorable scary scenes of the motion picture history. Critics lamented on the film’s reliance on psycho-sexual overtones, a greater amount of special effects, lesser character development and a lesser psychological thrill elements which made the original a true classic. Others praised the film for its visual imagery and fast pacing, an element necessary for any horror thriller. Exorcist II didn’t have any “nail biting on the edge of your seat” sequences. It has its moments but they are very few and far between in the film’s 118 minutes. The Exorcist III(1990) was the third film of the Exorcist series written and directed by William Peter Blatty. The movie, based on Blatty’s novel Legion, was more of a serial killer film with supernatural thriller elements and strong religious undertones. Although this film is better then its predecessor, The Exorcist II, in so many ways; people remained divided in their opinions about a serial killer being possessed instead of a helpless woman which was being the case of earlier films. The film can also be seen as a dark comedy because of its rather cheesy description of the killer and some sequences including one in which a Jesus statue opens its eyes. Exorcist III didn’t work much as a sequel to Exorcist II or as a follow-up to the 1973 film, but it is an effective murder mystery and crime thriller. The next in the series is Exorcist: The Beginning (2004). Intended as a prequel to the 1973 film, it was directed by Renny Harlin. The film suffered the same fate as Exorcist II and has been lamented by both audience and critics ever since its release. The film gives audiences the back story of the first film’s Father Lankester Merrin (Stellan Skarsgard), his World War II experiences, his journey of self discovery, his redemption in Africa and his first encounter with the demonic Pazuzu. This entry in the Exorcist series is the most painful to watch and hysterical due its heavy emphasis on special effects and a seemingly impersonated scene from ‘The Matrix’. While Exorcist II grossed out viewers, it still made them cringe. Exorcist III made viewers laugh or turn it off halfway through. The reason for this was simple: commercialization which slays creativity and originality. Exorcism: The Beginning will always be regarded more as an idiotic B-rated horror movie which mocks the sensitivity of issues like rape, racism, the Holocaust, child abuse, and imperialism for the sake of cheap scares which aren’t even scary, the result is an utter mess of a film. The last of the Exorcism series is Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005), another prequel. Dominion is definitely the second best of the franchise after the 1973 original, with scarier and exorcism scenes. It depicts Father Lankester Merrin’s tormented mind mirroring the demons he encountered, portraying him as a more sympatric and disturbed individual. The Exorcism franchise will remain as one of the most talked about and impactful horror film franchise ever to come out of Hollywood....

The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate

Linda Monacelli, Staff Writer

September 6, 2012

Filed under Movie Reviews

  Jet Li stars in the latest film by Director Tsui Hark The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate. The film, a 3-D remake of King Hu’s 1967 Dragon Inn and Raymond Lee’s 1992 New Dragon Inn, is considered a wuxia film. The genre wuxia, literally “martial hero,” and films of this genre center on the adventures of martial artists/warriors. Typically, the heroes in Chinese wuxia fiction do not serve a lord, wield military power or belong to the aristocratic class. They are often from the lower social classes of ancient Chinese society and are usually bound by a code of chivalry that requires them to right wrongs, especially when the helpless or the poor are oppressed. The wuxia hero fights for righteousness and seeks to remove an oppressor, redress wrongs, or attain retribution for past misdeeds. This type of character compares with the samurai of Japan, chivalrous knights of medieval Europe and cowboys of the American West. The film takes place during China's Ming Dynasty, and the nation is divided into two governing bodies, the West and East Bureaus, who answer to the Emperor. Flying Swords opens with a cool 3-D panning over a shipyard leading to a fortress where we meet the corrupt leader of the West Bureau Wan Yulou (Gordon Liu). Jet Li soon enters the picture as Zhao Huai'an, the leader of a small guerrilla group that monitors and acts against the corrupt activity of the West and East bureaus. East Bureau leader Yu Huatian (Chen Kun) plots to find and kill outlaw warrior Zhao Huai'an after an incident in the opening scene. However, this does not prove easy since another outlaw is running around posing as Zhao Huai'an. We soon discover who the doppelganger is. The doppelganger first appeared while rescuing a concubine from the emperor. The two are now on the run from Yu Huatian and his army and soon end up hiding at Dragon Gate Inn where the majority of the story and action takes place. Dragon Gate Inn is known as a “black inn” where many brawls take place and sometimes human flesh is served. A great sandstorm is approaching, and the innkeeper tries to close down the place and move to a safer location, but a group of Yu Huatian's men arrive and insist on staying in order to track down the concubine. Also staying at the inn are tough Princess Buludu (Guey Lun-Mei) and her Mongol gang, and female warrior Gu Shaotang (Li Yuchun) soon arrives with her crew of bandits, which includes Wind Blade (Chen Kun), who bears a striking resemblance to Yu Huatian. A sub-plot soon surfaces wherein we learn that the approaching sandstorm only occurs once every 60 years, and when it hits, it will unveil the ruins of an ancient city. Princess Buludu and Gu Shaotang's respective crews are actually plunderers who anticipate raiding the palace for treasure. Meanwhile, the real Zhao Huai'an (Jet Li) shows up. Plots and characters mingle and swords soon start flying—people start flying, too! With a gripping storyline, mesmerizing acrobatics, surreal sword-fighting, strong acting, and, of course, 3D effects, this film is definitely one to check out, especially for enthusiasts of wuxia, martial arts, and/or Eastern culture....

Barbarella: Not Your Average Movie Experience

Juan Manuel Gonzalez

September 6, 2012

Filed under Movie Reviews

  Old movies are still worth checking out. For example, Barbarella was first introduced into the world in 1962 as a small comic strip in a French magazine. As its popularity and notoriety increased, the artist of the comic, Jean-Claude Forest, decided that Barbarella should become a full-time outlaw. On Oct. 10, 1968, Dino De Laurentiis, Roger Vadim, and Jean-Claude Forest, released Barbarella worldwide and the world did not agree with Forests’ decision to allow Barbarella to become a movie adaptation. According to the movie’s IMDB page, the film made an estimated total of $613,285, when it cost a roughly estimated $9 million dollars to make. After the film’s release Barbarella has grossed more than $5 million on rentals after the film came out. The film quickly became a cult classic, and several decades after its release it had a surge of sales. With its monetary intake aside, lets delve into the film itself. When first looking at the cover of the movie, and its off-handed description, one would mistake this for a poorly done adult film, but beneath that , Barbarella, is really not that bad at all. The film opens with a woman (later revealed to be the title character) floating in zero gravity in what resembles the fur of a bear, stripping. The scene, especially in zero gravity is quite riveting, because of how well the special effects appear on screen despite the fact that at that time they didn’t have half of the technological advances we have today. After doing some searching one will find that they used a sheet of plexiglass, and shot the scene from above so that it mimicked the effects of being in zero gravity. After being told of an evil scientist aptly named Durand Durand, (The last d is silent) she begins an unplanned journey to the planet of Tau Ceti and ends up crashing on an icy plain where she is held captive by harmless looking children with demonic and cannibalistic dolls which feed on the unsuspecting visitors who land in their domain. After she is saved, she rewards her savior with adult relations, after which she is dropped off at her crashed spaceship beginning her journey to the city of Sogo. If one analyzes the name of Sogo, one’s mind might think of Sodom and Gammorah. Barbarelladoes a great job ,for the most part, at remaining blind to the intentions of every pervert she encounters until she willingly provides Pygar, the last living ornithanthropes, with some “motivation” to get him to fly. After he regains his motivation to fly, they set off to the city of Sogo where she gets captured,again, and Pygar is bestowed the honor of becoming the great tyrant’s plaything. After some horrible dialogue and very uncomfortable scenes, the Mathmos, the essence of evil which powers the city, is released trapping Barbarella and the great tyrant. Apparently, Barbarella’s “innocence” forms a bubble around Barbarella and the Great Tyrant and they fall to saftey upon a floating rock where they find a passed out Pygar, Seran wrapped by his innocence. The film ends with them flying off into the sunset; and cue the tears. Despite it’s cheesiness, and its in-your-face sexuality, the film is not that bad and will be watched again....

2016: Obama’s America—A Hypothetical Future with Doubtful Legitimacy

Patrick McIntyre, Staff Writer

September 6, 2012

Filed under Movie Reviews

    The era of “That’s your fact, here’s mine,” is among us, snidely waving goodbye to the archaic days of opinions based on agreed-upon facts. In the documentary 2016: Obama’s America, director Dinesh D’Souza weaves and bobs while taking potshots at President Barack Obama’s “questionable” past, his motivations and who has inspired them. In doing so, assumptions become the driving force in this agenda-laced documentary aiming to evict Obama from the White House and witness his one-term. The electorate does not need this. No informed voter benefits from falsified generalizations to steer politics. The audience receives nothing more from this film than D’Souza’s hypocrisy rampantly masquerading itself as factual and credible conspiracy theories. The crux of the film lies in exposing Obama’s true past and his resonating ambitions to torpedo America into third-world-country status as a result of his ravaging anti-colonialism, supposedly instilled by his father’s absence in his life as well as left-wing mentors. D’Souza’s primary curb while writing and producing this film, which is based on his previously published books, clearly depends on a lack of factual evidence to support claims—Obama’s policies are intermittently discussed. Instead of factual information, the audience receives black-and-white representations of wildly complex, multi-faceted decisions and pursuits. Discussions involving Obama’s middle-ground policies, policies far from the left, are abandoned by the narrative. Fortunately for D’Souza, utilization of fact omission and double-standards flies right over less-discerning audiences’ heads and pulls them in. D’Souza claims America isn’t racist or sexist, that people of color and women, compared to their white, male counterparts, have complete equal opportunities at success. We are encouraged to take D’Souza’s words as gospel because of his Indian background. D’Souza’s self-loathing, ignorant theories comply with our new racism of denying racism. While holding his hand up next to a black man’s hand, he claims, “You can’t tell the difference.” He attempts to permeate American society with the idea that racism no longer exists, in an effort to eradicate from our minds that racism still exists and permeates our society so he can use himself as proof of the endurance of the fabled “American Dream.” Inadvertently, the most intriguing aspect of the film becomes D’Souza himself. Who is funding this man’s work to be the token Indian guy, propping himself up as proof anybody can win in America? His tactics are clearly deceitful, regardless of his likely conscious complicity. His actions and ideas directly contradict the ideas of freedom that he claims to be championing. Intolerant tones saturate the narrative despite, once again, the use of himself as an example of an outsider. For example, he fails to achieve validity in the demonization of the Muslim faith and its followers. This is the most heinous form of D’Souza’s insipidly exposed anti-multiculturalism. An image depicting the “United States of Islam” in the Middle East closes the film, solely blaming Obama for this hypothetical and prejudiced scenario. Obama’s sympathy for other cultures, not murderers, does not represent a complicity in terrorist sects banding together. Distrust of other cultures and religions because of stereotypes and generalizations tend to promote that path, D’Souza. While facts have been overtly distorted on the campaign trail, 2016 is appropriate in complementing this tone and is, unfortunately, discovering a following of like-minded, xenophobic fans willing to ignore vast amounts of information—these peons and inchworms long for D’Souza’s skewed narrative to align with their own insulated and ignorant lives. While sifting through the drivel, an appropriate argument emerges when D’Souza’s tactics are scrutinized, thus forcing an (ideally) informed electorate to analyze the detrimental affects of well-funded, agenda-driven propaganda documentaries. D’Souza’s Prop-Doc is just one of many, from all sides, with vast exclusions. Our body of voters must be efficient at identifying these desertions of accuracy....

Review: Blue Like Jazz- An Odd Tale of Self Discovery

Syed Ahad Hussain and Desiree Dylong

April 28, 2012

Filed under Book Reviews, Movie Reviews

    Blue Like Jazzis a 2012 adaptation of the celebrated Christian author Donald Miller’s semi-autobiographical book of the same name, directed by Steve Taylor, Miller co-wrote the screenplay with Ben Pearson and Taylor. Both the novel and film Blue Like Jazz follow author Donald Miller as he struggles with his growing and sometimes turbulent faith in God. Although the novel is less plot-driven than the film, both work to show how Donald’s resolution towards his Christian faith is not only due to his own self-reflection, but also due to the stories and experiences of those around him. Both works help to portray how seeing the passion and experience of others can impact the way we see ourselves. The film is reminiscent of the Coen Brother’s 2008 dark comedy A Serious Man in many ways. Just like Larry Gopnik, A Serious Man’s protagonist, Don (played by Marshall Allman, based on Miller) questions God’s existence, religion’s implications, limitations and reflections on his miserable life. After being unable to find eternal solace and peace in his life, Don leaves his hometown when his promiscuous, separated parents refused to accept his religious beliefs, and he ends up in Reed College, a liberal arts college in Portland, Oregon. According to some of Donald’s fellow Christians, Reed is known as a godless and heathen school. In the novel, Donald has no shame in telling fellow students about his Christianity. The film takes a different approach and showcases Donald hiding his faith out of fear of being judged by his fellow classmates. Don soon finds his place though when he develops a crush on a classmate named Penny (played by Claire Holt), a rebellious, free-spirited and sympathetic girl who hated the corporate culture and their apparent corruption. The college’s current ‘Pope’ (played by a humorous Justin Welborn) also acts as Don’s guardian angel. The Pope’s own ambiguity towards religion, overshadowed by his molestation by a priest as a child, makes Don even more stubborn and assertive in assisting the Pope with his random mockeries of the local church The on-off relationship of Don and Penny comes to a serious halt when she finds out about his mother’s pregnancy by the church’s married bishop, a sad truth that left Don bitter and at odds with God. Blue Like Jazz is a courageous, honest, comic, yet tragic account of a young man with religious upbringings discovering himself and his relationship to God. The theme of both loving and resenting something bigger than yourself is part of what makes the book and film relatable to a larger demographic other than those of the Christian faith. The emotions that come with being passionate about a way of life is something anyone can relate to.  ...