Live Action Movies

Hero

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It’s time for a Chinese film which depicts the assassination attempt on Qin’s King from way back when. I definitely don’t know much about this time period so it’s pretty neat to learn more about it. We also get a lot of fight scenes along the way and it’s pretty stylized which is fun. I also haven’t watched a lot of subbed live action films either so that was certainly different. It’s a pretty fun film and the movie did a good job of making each character feel like a threat.

The film starts off with our nameless protagonist being ushered into the throne room of the King. He never gets a name which should remind you of the classic video game protagonists. The King asks him how the cop ended up defeating the world’s 3 greatest assassins who has even conquered the army and eluded all attempts to defeat them. This leads to the protagonist giving 3 stories where he explains how he foiled each one. The first story has him go up against Long Sky. Long Sky’s gimmick is that he’s the world’s greatest swordsman and simply cannot be defeated. The hero was able to defeat him through pure technique as music played in the background. The King is skeptical, but listens further.

The second story had him go to the final 2 assassins, Flying Snow and Broken Sword. He brought up past romances and controversy to psyche them out so he could defeat them with ease. It was a foolproof strategy apparently and everything went perfectly. The stories were all pretty realistic, but the film has a big plot twist as the King debunks all of the stories and explains that the 3 assassins were actually in cahoots about murdering him. The main character confirms this and then decides not to murder the King because the story has also moved him. The King vows to help unite the country even if he has to be evil to do so. It’s a very mixed message and I wasn’t thrilled about the ending. Of course, it’s not as if there is much the film can do about the ending since it’s based on a true story.

So, I definitely didn’t like the ending. Let me just put that out there. The other assassins let the main character murder them so he could get close to the King through their convoluted plan and it was successful. They gave their lives so the country could be saved by the dictator and then the guy decided not to go through with it. It’s rather tragic if you ask me. That wasn’t satisfying.

On the positives side, the fight scenes were pretty good. Maybe there were too many moments of the characters just flying around and ignoring physics as I preferred the actual swordplay more. The first fight is the best example of how grounded swordsmanship is the best. At least in this movie it was the most engaging. Still, the aerial fights will remind you of Naruto as the characters fly with each jump and still manage to fight. The battle of heroines was interesting with this even if the fight was very lopsided. In general, the film just had a lot of action and that was fun to see.

The romance wasn’t handled quite as well. Of course, this was fake in the end as it was part of the fake story, but it was still pretty rough on the characters. Rebounding just to make others jealous is always a rather petty strategy and didn’t make any of the characters look good. Since it’s fake though, it won’t count against them. The cast was actually pretty solid with all of the characters being rather likable. Even the King was pretty solid as he was apparently quite intelligent since he saw through the plan. It’s good to see a king who is competent for once, even if he noticed a little too late to save himself. That’s how it goes sometimes.

The film had fun with the visuals and they were handled well. There were subtle changes in the attire for the characters based on who was telling the story and where they were. The film took advantage of the cherry blossoms at different moments to have the characters blend in with them. Sometimes everything would be the same color which was interesting. It was nice to see and you can tell that it was important to the film to get all of the colors on point. There wasn’t much of a soundtrack to go alongside it at least for me, but I’m sure they also put effort into that part. The visuals were just more impressive since I’m not really into soft music.

Overall, Hero was a good film. I don’t know how accurate it was to the real life events. I suspect it was a little exaggerated, but I could certainly see the general plot running pretty close to it. Maybe the characters didn’t dodge thousands of arrows with ease or block them all with 1 sword, but I could see 3 assassins deciding to die on purpose so that a cop could get inside and take out the King. Whether the assassin decided to fail on purpose or he was foiled is another story entirely. Still, I’d recommend checking this film out. It maybe takes itself a little too seriously at times like when the characters live the whole battle in their heads before fighting or listen to the music first to get in the mood, but the exaggeration may be the point. It’s a pretty good way to learn about the past without going to a complete documentary. Don’t get me wrong, Documentaries can actually be quite interesting and engaging, but watching a film version can typically be even more so. It depends on your preference I suppose and there can be bad movie adaptions and bad documentaries. It’s a case by case basis.

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Live Action Movies

Awakenings


It’s time for another true story and one that is just as sad. This one is about a group of people who suffered from encephalitis lethargica. This is essentially a form of coma where the patient is technically alive, but just barely. They are almost completely immobile and brain functions are down to nearly 0%. They are essentially trapped within their own bodies and may not even be aware of what is going on around them. It’s quite close to being in a state of death and there had been no cure for it. A doctor decides to try administering higher doses of the L Dopa drug to see if it would help the patients get better. It helps a little in the short term, but ultimately the bodies become immune to it and shut down once more.

Part of what makes this film so tragic is that the patients know that it is only temporary after they see the first one revert back to normal. It’s like being given a second chance at life only to suddenly be told that you actually only have 2 days before you revert. It really ends the celebration abruptly and as there is nothing that can be done about it, the patients simply have to accept it. It’s emotionally taxing not just on the individuals, but on their families as well. It’s just a very sad film. At least they were given a chance to live a little thanks to the doctor though. Getting a few days to talk with your family after being immobile for over a decade is nothing to sneeze at and while L Dopa was not a permanent solution, I like to think that it got scientists closer to getting a full cure. Unfortunately, there is still no permanent cure once it is serious enough. I’d need to give the Wikipedia page a deeper read, but it sounds like it is a condition that is still relatively incurable. It’s always a shame to see that we’re in 2017, but there are still so many illnesses which cannot be treated completely. Science can never know everything, but it would be great if we could make some real progress. It feels like a long time since there have been any major breakthroughs.

It’s definitely a film that is pretty hard to watch if you’re not a fan of somber titles. I avoid sad films on principle because I watch movies to just have fun and relax for a while. This film is certainly not relaxing, but it’s good for these issues to get more exposure. Even if it’s not my idea of a fun time, if it gets more people to donate to the cause then it’s worth it. It doesn’t add anything like animal violence or unnecessary subplots and mostly plays it straight. There is a very tragic romance that takes place with one of the patients that makes the whole thing a little more sad though. It’s yet another time where I would have preferred if they hadn’t added this angle into the film.

This film can also let you appreciate how tough some people have it and make your own troubles not seem as bad. Everyone has challenges and trials in their lives. No matter how perfect a life can look from afar, you can be absolutely certain that the individual has gone through some trials and likely has more to go. I don’t believe that anyone ever runs out of challenges as they will pop up at some point or another. Some people may just be strong enough where they can handle their challenges really well. If you have complete faith in God and are always communicating to him, it stands to reason that you would handle a challenge a lot better than the next person, but it will still be there. Your life can always be tougher so be grateful for your current situation and pray for those who seem like they have a hard struggle at the moment. Praying for this illness to be curable someday is something that only takes a minute, but can help ignite some miracles. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be blind or deaf, let alone being completely paralyzed and losing all 5 senses. It’s a very dark fate and one that will hopefully not be with us for too much longer. I am confident that while we may not be able to completely eradicate every illness, that we can get most of them. Cures that may seem like science fiction now can become practical in the future so never count anything out. One way or the other, there is always hope in even the bleakest of circumstances.

Overall, Awakenings is certainly one of the sadder movies that you’ll see. The Awakenings were very brief and it shows how quickly strong feelings of joy can turn back to sadness. Sometimes it can feel even worse to get a brief glimpse of hope only to have it taken away than to have never seen it at all. While it can be easy to get that mindset, you have to grab the good while you can. Think of the possibility that maybe some of these people got to say their final good byes, become Christians, or take care of other unfinished business before going back into coma. Then the few minutes were certainly well worth it and some patients did have days or maybe even a week or two. If you want to learn more about the story then this movie is informative enough for your purposes. Honestly, I think it would be a lot easier to read the book version or just study online, but supporting the movie is also good for awareness so whatever you’re comfortable with should be your priority.

Live Action Movies

Paths of Glory

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It’s time for an old war film that takes place in France. It certainly doesn’t make the country look all that good though and it’s not exactly a feel good film. The movie is based on true events so I won’t be giving a rating on this post although you can probably get the jist of what I thought of it anyway. It’s a rather shady part of French history although every country seems to have a dark path at this point.

The plot of the movie is that France is unable to advance during a key battle. One of the commanders is pretty upset about this and orders that three French soldiers be executed for cowardice. Whether the charge is true or not is immaterial as he merely wishes to make a demonstration out of them to spur the rest of the force into action. One captain argues in their defense, but it is too late as the court hearing is just for show. Their executions are to remain and remain they do. It’s a rather somber ending to the film as a result and the captain has to head back to the barracks and prepare for more fighting.

It’s easy to see why a country like France didn’t do so well during the World Wars if they were engaging in these kinds of acts. They had the soldiers draw straws to see who would be executed in one division because none of them had actually run from battle. It was merely an empty charge, but one that had to be obeyed nonetheless. It’s a shame that none of the soldiers could be saved. They really got the raw end of the deal here and the rest of the soldiers would definitely be pretty bitter about this. If your only two options are a suicide run into enemy territory or being executed at home for not trying hard enough, it’s easy to also see how soldiers could just defect to the enemy side.

Making the movie even more somber is that one soldier’s friend is gunned down by the general by mistake and then the general submits him to be one of the soldiers to be executed so there are no witnesses. The general even ends up being one of the guys who gives the command to be fired. This was done intentionally to completely sow the seeds of the hierarchy. It showed that the soldiers had to follow any order, no matter how over the top and crazy it could be.

It goes back to the question of when it is acceptable to disobey an order. In the army, you are expected to listen to your commander without reservation, but anyone with a lick of common sense should know that this isn’t always the case. If you are given a morally wrong order, I should hope that you would not listen to it. Even if everyone tells you it is the right thing to do, it doesn’t mean that it is. Unfortunately, group think and mob mentality are two very real concepts and in the end nobody was able to step in to save these men in the film. It’s unfortunate, but they really didn’t have much of a chance. There was always going to be a scape goat in this situation and hundreds of soldiers died in vain. We try to forget these bleak moments in history, but there’s always another one around the bend. It’s why history is always fascinating, but depressing at the same times. The further back in time you go, the more tales of horror you will end up hearing.

Overall, I don’t know how faithful of an adaption this was, but it got the message across pretty smoothly. If you’re interested in history or strongly believe that the army was infallible back in the day, then this could be an educational watch for you. Just keep in mind that this film is very somber and since it is based on the true story, there is no happy ending. The situation just gets bleaker and bleaker until the film just ends. There are no winners in this tale and no perfect climax. You just see the soldiers grow saddened as their execution grows closer and closer. They panic and do everything that they can to get out of it, but there’s just no escape…and then it’s the end for them. The other soldiers go back to partying as their way of coping and you’re left to be reminded of why war is always a bad thing. It should also help you appreciate America’s democracy a little more. I like to believe that our Court System wouldn’t have allowed such a case to have gone so far and would have overturned the charges. I am somewhat bias for America though.

Live Action Movies

The Walk

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It’s time for the final film based on true events for now. This one’s an intriguing case due to the fact that what Philippe is doing is illegal. In Everest, the film was made because the Captain did a good job of helping most of the people get off safely. In Captain Phillips, Phillips defended the crew from pirates. In The Perfect Storm, it was because of how unique and incredible the storm was. In this film, we’re celebrating the fact that Philippe…broke the law and walked on the highest tight rope? Erm…wait a second…

Granted, it’s not something that you may think of right away, but it’s an odd thing to be celebrating. The film also makes sure to constantly mention the fact that this is illegal so they’re certainly not trying to hide that. The film doesn’t even go out of its way to try and make Philippe a likable character. I was puzzled at that since I’m sure that his family may not be thrilled at his portrayal here. He shifts from one emotion to the next very quickly and is very unreasonable. He also yells at the person he was flirting with the entire film a few times because she’s trying to let him know that he’s going crazy.

Luckily, Philippe gets friend zoned at the end and you definitely have to agree with the decision there. As it stands, the romance didn’t start off on the healthiest note anyway as they met because Philippe was immediately flirting with barely even a pretense of wanting to be friends first. The only silver lining about that is that we all know the whole “friends” line is just fake and only meant to lower your guard so you shouldn’t bother with it, but it’s still not a great romance and luckily it ends.

Finally, Philippe is also portrayed as being a little dangerous at the very end. It is heavily implied that he was willing to seriously injure someone if it meant that he would be able to do the walk. Someone happened to notice him getting ready for this illegal endeavor, but Philippe grabbed a weapon and the guy decided to just walk away from it all. In the narration, Philippe said that he didn’t know how the weapon got in his hand…but nobody would ever actually buy that. It’s obvious what the implication is and it’s another scene that I was surprised made it into the film.

At the very least, you can’t say that The Walk wasn’t a straight adaption I suppose. The planning phase of the film was fun to see and that’s always very technical and impressive. Naturally, it would be a lot harder to do this nowadays thanks to cameras and everything so it’ll be very tough to break the record of the highest tight rope. How interesting the film is will naturally depend on how much you like tight roping and if you will actually like the characters or not. Most of them aren’t that good, but this is based on a true story and since a lot of real people tend to not be as likable as the ideal fictional leads, it makes sense.

Of course, back to the main point of the plot. So, Philippe is illegally doing this endeavor and after he succeeds…then he’s essentially given a medal. It’s a very dicey string of events. If he had failed, it would just go down in the news as another foolhardy endeavor that was doomed to fail and Philippe would certainly not be heroized at all. However, he succeeded so everyone acted as if he did something incredible and awesome. Sure, it’s a new record by a long shot, but it’s illegal, which is why it hadn’t been done yet. I think it’s safe to say that other people could match that feat if not surpass it, but they’d be breaking the law.

As DVDs are always sure to tell you in the beginning, there are no victim-less crimes. Acts like this one embolden others to try and accomplish similar feats whether they are legal or not. For every person who succeeds, there will be many who do not and that’s where the true danger of something like this comes into play. Of course, everyone in the film is pretty happy about this for the most part as well since they’ll be stopping the big wigs and that is actually super accurate when you think about the citizens of New York, but it’s definitely sad for the cops. It’s pretty hard to keep law and order when people are subtlety encouraged to break the rules. Not to mention that one of the cops even gives Philippe a pat in the back at the end for accomplishing this. Gee….that’s charitable.

Not undermining the feat of course. It’s still impressive that he managed to pull this off, but it’s not something that should really be glorified. I wonder if people realize just how illegal this was. Those who watch the film certainly do, but for those who just remember the event, it would be fun to ask them. Well either way, he ended up setting the record and it is unlikely to ever be broken. Especially if you’re wary of heights like I am. If you want a similar adrenaline boost that’s legal, try going to Mount Everest. Just keep in mind that you may not survive the experience so write your will beforehand. Meanwhile, I’ll be getting my hype and adrenaline through Super Smash tourneys.

It’s also worth noting that I much preferred this film to Captain Phillips and The Perfect Storm. Everest was better, but this film was definitely entertaining. If you look at it more like a film and less like an adaption of felons breaking the law, you’ll also enjoy it a lot more. It’s like Ocean’s Eleven you could say. I also liked the cats that appeared, although dogs would have been even cooler. The friend zone was also pretty hype. So, check out the film and then think about whether or not you agree with the public’s reaction and the legacy that has survived this feat.

Live Action Movies

42

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Jackie Robinson is one of the most legendary figures in sports. He played a good role in getting African Americans a step closer to equal right by proving his mettle in Baseball. It may seem like participating in a sport is hardly an important feat in the grand scheme of things, but it certainly was. Robinson showed that regardless of his skin color, he could keep up with any of the other players. He endured the ridicule and taunts of opposing players and it paid off. I am certainly familiar with Robinson’s life through several books, but it is fun to see it in movie format. (There are probably several more, but this is the first one that I have seen on Robinson) The film does a great job of chronicling his life.

It starts off with his induction into the major leagues as he starts from the bottom and works his way up, before concluding with the end of the season. While Baseball is a big part of the film, there isn’t a whole lot of Baseball action. That can be a good or a bad thing for viewers, but minor issue regardless. I would have liked more Baseball action myself, but it certainly doesn’t stop the film from being really good. The actual story is the important part after all.

Jackie is a likable main character. My only gripe with him, was his treatment towards the reporter. I felt that it was rather uncalled for and the reporter really tried to be a nice guy. Robinson gave a reason as to why he acted in such a way, but it still felt a little out of character. It is an issue that you would expect a person to keep on the inside as opposed to letting it out. Still, Jackie Robinson recovered from this and ultimately got along with his reporter. He was a fun lead.

The owner of the Dodgers, Mr Rickey, is the character who stole the show in this film. He was an incredible owner and I am glad that the film showed his Christian values. Rickey quotes the Bible on several occasions and he is a really upstanding character. It goes without saying that he was my favorite character in the film. Without him, Robinson may have never gotten a chance in the pro leagues and if he did, it wouldn’t have been this soon.

Naturally, we also have some characters who are here to stir things up. Several of Robinson’s teammates signed a petition to get him off of the team and a manager from another team harassed Robinson the whole game. A lot of these characters don’t change their tune, but some do and that’s the important thing. Slowly, but surely, Robinson got people to come around and root for him instead of against him. Pee Wee Reese was one player who had Robinson’s back during the film and it always makes a difference to at least have one ally on the team. Another vocal player helped Robinson out when he was being harassed by the other team. Whether it was because the guy felt bad for Robinson or because he felt like he needed to help a fellow teammate, it was a good act.

There really isn’t much of a soundtrack here, but that is really to be expected. I suppose that this film didn’t need one, but a few good songs during a film have never hurt one. Perhaps a theme from Rocky or an inspirational theme from that style would have been fitting. We never got to see Jackie train aside from one brief scene so that would have been good. The film would have just needed to add on a few extra minutes although it was already over 2 hours.

One reason why the film was so enjoyable was that it was focused. The average film would have started off with Robinson as a kid and then cram in the rest of his life into the 2 hours. This film decided to wait until he was ready to be scouted and that’s good since we get to have a more detailed encounter with this period of time. We even see some scenes with danger as Robinson had to get out of town right away. There were certainly many dangerous mobs back in the day and we can thank Robinson’s reporter once again for getting him out of trouble. (Rickey as well of course)

If there’s one thing that can help to break down racial barrier quickly, it’s sports. Once a player is doing well, his fans will start to accept him. After all, they want wins no matter what and if the Dodgers end up winning the World Series with an African American player, the fans will still want to keep the World Series. I believe that this is one of the reasons why things started to work out for Robinson. If he had been a terrible player, the whole strategy would have fallen flat. Naturally, Robinson trained his heart out to make sure that he did well and it really paid off. It’s certainly way different from nowadays when sport athletes are incredibly diverse. There will always be some racial elements around, but by and large, things have certainly gotten a lot better.

Overall, 42 is a great film and I highly recommend watching it. This is a story of perseverance and an example of how one person can always make a large difference in society. The cast of characters is good and the epilogue was fun to see because a lot of the figures were actually real besides the well known ones. 42 is a number that you will likely not forget after watching this film and this will be the example that I use when telling people how to effectively make a film based on a true story. Films based on true stories typically have a reputation of being dull or simply uninspired, but that shouldn’t be the case. Real Life can be just almost as exciting as fiction and when handled right, that ends up being the case with films. I’ve seen interesting documentaries on GMOs, so I’d expect one on Baseball to be even much better. Furthermore, this is a film and not a documentary so it should be another step above that. Now, we just need a film to be made on the Dallas Cowboys!