Reviews: Hobbit, Wolf of Wall Street, Catching Fire and More


Long time no see! Reviews have been irregular lately but I wanted to start 2014 with an easy round up to get back on track. I’ve seen a lot of movies over the past few months and I wanted to write down a few quick thoughts on each one. Moving forward the review schedule will be a lot more lax than it used to be but I’m aiming to get back to writing more than I have these last four months. Somewhere along the way I felt like these reviews became very mechanical and emotionless which got away from what I really loved. I want to dial it back and focus less on formality and more on writing about films I enjoy. Anyway, here we go. First up, Ender’s Game.

Ender’s Game

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Ender’s Game was a major disappoint for me. The two weeks leading up to the film’s release I read the novel and was instantly hooked. I fell in love with the characters and was immersed in the constant struggles Ender faced. The movie does away with a lot of this struggle and instead focuses more on flashy action scenes. The battle room, which served as a major chunk of the novel, is skimmed over rather quickly along with all the relationships Ender cultivated with his time there. I never got the sense of Ender becoming the respected leader he was in the books. Also the dynamic between Bonzo and Ender is completely ruined due to a rather unfortunate casting choice that causes far more unintentional humor than it should. Simply put, the film hits the high points that were in the book but without the proper time to breathe it felt like a waste of time amounting to nothing more than popcorn fluff. I wish I could remember the Reddit user to give them proper credit but they summed it up perfectly. The Ender’s Game movie is as good an adaptation as watching someone’s vacation slideshow is a good vacation.

Thor: The Dark World

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Thor: The Dark World was satisfyingly entertaining, far more so than Iron Man 3. It was nice to get a deeper look at Asgard and how that side of the universe lives. The movie started off a little slow for me but it definitely picked up once Thor and Loki partnered up. My only concern is the film’s understandable love affair with Loki. Despite their dynamic stealing the show and being the source of the film’s fun, I felt like the film dropped all other aspects of the story to showcase them. I like Loki enough that I don’t want his character to outstay his welcome. For what it is though, Thor: The Dark World is a solid action film. I was a little surprised how much the early parts of the film reminded me of the Star Wars Prequels, in a good way of course.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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I was caught off guard with how much I enjoyed The Hunger Games when it first released in 2012. It was a decent film and covered enough of the books for me to be happy with it. Although my interest in the film didn’t make it through all the books, specifically the third entry, my interest was still piqued for the films. Catching Fire is an incredible follow up to The Hunger Games and delivers on intense action guided by strong performances. I was impressed with Catching Fire’s ability to incite so much anxiety within me, particularly in a scene involving a swarm of Jabber Jays that did a wonderful job of conveying great panic.

One of my complaints with the first film is the way it got away with a lot of the violence by quick cutting before a character died. It was somewhat of an understandable distraction but it was still off-putting nonetheless. Catching Fire’s strength this time around is the fact that the dangers Katniss faces is more elemental based than combat based allowing for the film to be more lenient with its violence and action. It was a much more immersive experience for me this time around it made the film a lot more enjoyable. Doubt it’ll convert any new fans but it’s definitely worth the time for those who already bought in the first go around.

Frozen

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Frozen was far more enjoyable than I expected and I happily ate crow for all my previous doubts. It’s a great throwback to traditional Disney musicals and features an impressive track of catchy songs, some of which I may or may not have had on repeat in my car for days after. The story plays wonderfully on old Disney princess tropes and provides a nice message for young audiences. It’s a simple story but the execution is charming enough to be entertaining for all ages. The animation itself is wonderfully done and features incredibly beautiful scenery. I wasn’t completely sold on the character models themselves, which at times felt too clean like they were something straight out of a direct to DVD Barbie movie. However this could have been a creative choice, as the character models feel more natural as the movie progresses further into its adventures outside the fairy tale setting. If you’re a fan of animation, especially old Disney films, than this film is a must see film.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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I’ve been conflicted on my feelings for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug for quite a while. The same old song and dance is that the decision to split this simple story into three films would be too much of a good thing. The Jackson Lord of the Rings fan boy in me was thrilled for a new trilogy but it’s never been more evident than with Desolation of Smaug that this may not have been the right choice after all. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my time with Desolation of Smaug but it’s far from a film I would recommend to anyone. It feels like a series of inside jokes or stories that fans will enjoy but for everyone else it feels like it spends a lot of time accomplishing nothing.

The biggest crime the film commits is the gradual shift in focus from Bilbo to the dwarves almost completely. It’s somewhat understandable given that the Dwarves’ quest translates more to exciting cinema than Bilbo’s story but it’s only frustrating when the film decides to spend it’s screen time on superfluous subplots instead. The Legolas, Kili, and Tauriel love triangle is completely unnecessary, especially given the fact that we’re rushed through great moments from the book like Beorn’s House, Mirkwood, and the Wood Elves prison. It’s just a shame that for a movie called The Hobbit, the time we spend with the hobbit has slowly diminished. Overall it’s a narrative mess that feels like it’s obviously been spread way to thin.  Despite these troubling decisions, the film more than makes up for it with the outstanding River Barrel scene and it’s wonderful depiction of Smaug.

Smaug in particular is truly a great spectacle and is the series greatest animated character since Gollum. The dragon is emanating with power and ferocity that commands your attention every second he’s on screen. The dialogue between Bilbo and Smaug is wonderfully playful and conveys such a great sense of power Smaug holds over Bilbo. The film (surprise surprise) takes liberties with the Lonely Mountain scenes but by that point I was more than willing to forgive it and enjoy the ride. As enjoyable as these films are, in the end I can’t help but wish for a tighter film that focuses more on adapting The Hobbit than being inspired by it.

The Wolf of Wall Street

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The Wolf of Wall Street is vile, unapologetic, and downright immoral, but I loved every second of it. It’s definitely not a film for the faint of heart but if you’re willing to join the ride it’s an incredibly bizarre trip. Sex, drugs and alcohol dominates the life of Jordan Belfort and watching the slow descent into depravity and madness is a train wreck that you can’t look away from. The film’s humor is definitely dark and often reaches such ridiculous levels that you can’t help but burst out laughing. American greed through the eyes of Scorsese is extremely uncomfortable and brutally savage. Leonardo DiCaprio gives an absolutely remarkable performance that blurs the line of insanity and absurdity, undeniably making Jordan Belfort DiCaprio’s craziest character yet. Jonah Hill also delivers a wonderful performance that shows the actors incredible range of talent. Hill and DiCaprio share a wonderful on screen dynamic that is the heart of the film’s humor.

The thing I loved the most about this film is the way it’s able to bring the audience crashing down to reality no matter how bizarre the rampant drug fueled escapades ran out of control. There’s such a stark contrast between the seemingly invincible wolves of Wall Street and the real world people that they’re affecting as well as the real danger that they’re putting themselves through. It’s these brief reminders throughout the film that provides a quick realistic glimpse of the self-centered protagonist that the film seemingly shines a glamorous light on. It’s a subtle touch but it’s the point of the film that there is no moral compass here. We’re supposed to be upset and bothered by the film.

I’ll concede the movie isn’t for everyone though. Much like Jordan Belfort, the movie doesn’t know when to quit. I felt like the film could be trimmed down to make a tighter movie, and the excessive narration can feel a little spoon-fed at times. The Wolf of Wall Street may end up being my guilty pleasure, but it’s a film that more than deserves your time at least once. Oh, and trust me when I say this film earns it’s hard R rating.

Interested in writing reviews or news posts for Thinking Cinematic? Contact me at ThinkCinematicReviews@gmail.com! You can also send your guest reviews there too!

Connect with me at:
Twitter: @TreyRSolis
Twitter: @Think_Cinematic
Email: ThinkCinematicReviews@Gmail.com

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Wreck-It Ralph


Summary:

Wreck-It Ralph is a colorful and lively movie with a solid cast of characters. The voice talent from John C. Reily and Sarah K. Silverman help create characters with irresistible charm and interesting personalities. The movie does a wonderful job of keeping the spirit and history of gaming alive and it’s easy to see the passion behind the film. The plenty of video game Easter eggs are exciting to point out and never become overbearing. The animation is gorgeous and the movie goes out of its way to make sure that each of the four video game worlds created operate and stay true to its theme. Predictable plot progression give the film a too familiar feel, but its clever script and emotional journey helps Wreck-it Ralph to not only be the best video game movie ever made, but an incredible standalone film.

If you’re reading this then it means I had to take a dip into my emergency review reserve but that’s okay because I’ve wanted to do this review for quite a while. Wreck-It Ralph originally came out back in November last year but I never got the chance to sit down and write a proper review.  Video Games have been a consistent presence in my life from a very young age, so the draw to Wreck-It Ralph was instantaneous. Wreck-It Ralph not only captures the spirit and history of gaming but it crafts a loving and interesting world of its own.

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Wreck-It Ralph tells the story of a video game antagonist, Ralph, who is fed up with being the bad guy in Fix-It Felix Jr. The other members in his game constantly mistreat him and have forced him to live in a near by dump while they live together happily in their nice apartment. When the other members of the group throw a 30th anniversary party without inviting Ralph, he vows to prove to his worth to the game and change the outlook of his peers.

There’s a great amount of detail put into the world of Wreck-It Ralph and it’s hard not to wipe the smile from your face even when things get a little corny. The movie does a wonderful job of inserting a lot of video game references without ever becoming overbearing. The lengths at which they go to keep the spirit of gaming ever present is amazing and truly pays off with the numerous of Easter eggs scattered throughout the movie. Despite the massive amount of video game properties that they were able to represent, Wreck-It Ralph creates five of its own unique and lively worlds to set the movie in.

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Fix-It Felix Jr., Sugar Rush, Hero’s Duty, and Game Central Station comprise most of the settings in the movie, all of which have rules and styles of their own. The style and feel of Fix-It Felix Jr. is a wonderful homage to the 1981 classic Donkey Kong. Much like it’s 8-bit inspiration, the characters within the world all move on limited plane and if you pay close enough attention you can catch the fact that a lot of the world is comprised of sharp square edges. Cake splatters, brick dust, and mud smears are represented by square pixels and it helps round off the 8-bit feel. Sugar Rush is a sickeningly sweet homage to racing series akin to Mario Kart and a lot of the animations are a nice throwback to early cartoons. The over exaggerated gestures and motions are comical and fluid. Hero’s Duty is a darker more ‘realistic’ representation of the world and its inspiration draws from modern day first person shooters. The gritty nature and fabricated epic-ness of Hero’s Duty offers plenty of avenues for gentle and humorous jabs at modern day gaming.Finally Game Central Station is the busiest of the worlds and helps bridge the gap between the video game worlds. THe population is massive and it’s not hard to point out the various different characters from both games and previous Disney works.

Wreck-It Ralph

The strongest aspect of Wreck-It Ralph is hands down the wonderful cast of characters and the impressive voice work behind them. Ralph’s identity journey is a fulfilling story that takes us on an emotional adventure. John C. Reily brings a gentle giant cadence to Ralph and easily sells his role as the reluctant antagonist turned protagonist.  Ralph’s counterpart, Vanellope von Schweetz, just might be one of the cutest characters ever created. Sarah K. Silverman, most notable for her against the grain humor, brings an adorably cute voice and charming personality to Vanellope that creates an irresistible charm. Her rambunctious spirit and confidence in who she is really helps to bring out the good in Ralph. The comrade between Ralph and Vanellope is an extremely strong connection that provides plenty of laughs and tear jerking moments throughout the film. Rounding off the cast is Jack McBrayer who voices the amicable Felix, Jane Lynch as the rough soldier Calhoun, and Alan Tudyk as the lively King Candy. The solid voice work and loveable characters help fill out and create the wonderful world of Wreck-It Ralph that is accessible to both gamers and non-gamers alike.

Wreck-It Ralph isn’t a perfect movie. The story follows a very predictable progression and characters develop in a deus ex machina fashion. There are a few moments in the film that border the line between blatant product placement and clever jokes but luckily these are mild. The thing that takes me the most out of the film is the inclusion of Scrillex djing a party. Music tastes aside, the quick shot of Scrillex on a turntable takes me out of the film and question why the heck a live person is within the game world. It’s very reminiscent of the scene in Tron Legacy where the film cuts and focuses on a shot of Daft Punk. It’s a nice shout out but ultimately breaks the illusion.

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Drawbacks aside, the film still manages to create a wonderful experience. The colorful worlds are gorgeous to look at and the animation is top notch. The fact that each world gets its own stylistic rules is an admirable effort and it really adds to the over all quality of the film. There’s a lot of life and dedication in this movie that it’s easy to get lost in its colorful world. The movie’s script is tightly written and features a clever sense of wordplay and dialogue. Video games haven’t been the easiest source material for Hollywood to adapt and as a big fan of gaming it’s always been slightly disappointing that these games have never gotten the big screen treatment. Although it’s not a straight adaptation of a video game, Wreck-It Ralph is easily one of the best video games ever made.

Wreck-It Ralph is a colorful and lively movie with a solid cast of characters. The voice talent from John C. Reily and Sarah K. Silverman help create characters with irresistible charm and interesting personalities. The movie does a wonderful job of keeping the spirit and history of gaming alive and it’s easy to see the passion behind the film. The plenty of video game Easter eggs are exciting to point out and never become overbearing. The animation is gorgeous and the movie goes out of its way to make sure that each of the four video game worlds created operate and stay true to its theme. Predictable plot progression give the film a too familiar feel, but its clever script and emotional journey helps Wreck-it Ralph to not only be the best video game movie ever made, but an incredible standalone film.

Interested in writing reviews or news posts for Thinking Cinematic? Contact me at ThinkCinematicReviews@gmail.com! You can also send your guest reviews there too!

Connect with me at:
Twitter: @Treyrs20o9
Twitter: @Think_Cinematic
Email: ThinkCinematicReviews@Gmail.com

Movie Monday Update Week of April 22st


Hello and Happy Monday TC readers! A lot to choose from on the retail front but another pretty lax week at the theaters! Don’t forget to check out my Community review Intro to Knots (4.10) here! Also don’t forget to read my review on Oblivion here if you haven’t done so already! Alright let’s get right to it!

In Case You Missed It:

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A trailer for the movie The Hunger Games: Catching Fire hit the web last week and you can check it out here! After the events of the previous movie Katniss has stirred a new feeling of hope within the districts.  Fearing a revolution President Snow begins to conspire again Katniss and the rest of the previous Hunger Games victors! The Hunger Games: Catching Fire stars Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, and Jennifer Lawrence. The movie is set to hit theaters on November 22nd, 2013!

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A new trailer for the Man of Steel hit the web last week and you can check it out here! This third trailer reveals more footage and additional plot points. Man of Steel stars Amy Adams, Russel Crowe, Kevin Costner, Michael Shannon, and Henry Cavil. Man of Steel is expected to hit theaters on June 14th, 2013!

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A new trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness hit the web last week and you can check it out here! The newest trailer shows off additional footage and more plot points! Star Trek Into Darkness stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Zoe Saldana, and Chris Pine. The movie is expected to hit theaters on May 17th, 2013.

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A new trailer for the movie The Long Ranger hit the web last week and you can check it out here! The newest trailer shows off additional footage and more plot points! The Lone Ranger stars Armie Hammer, Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp. The movie is expected to hit theaters on July 3rd, 2013!

That does it for a glimpse of last week’s trailers. Which one is your favorite? Leave a comment below and let us know! Let’s go ahead and move on into home releases.

Coming to Blu-ray/DVD:

April 23rd:

Coming to Theaters:

April 26th Wide Releases:

See anything that’s missing? Comment and let us know!

That does it for this week! Be sure to keep coming back every Monday and Saturday for new Thinking Cinematic content!

As always, I want to end with this. Thinking Cinematic is looking for more writers. Feel like sending in a guest post? Want to be apart of the Thinking Cinematic team? Send your emails to: Rrsolis@me.com

Connect with me at:
Twitter: @Treyrs20o9
Twitter: @Think_Cinematic 

Movie Monday Update Week of December 3rd


Hello and Happy Monday TC readers! It’s finally December and we’ve got a lot of exciting releases to the theaters this month as well as a lot of favorites coming to home release for the holidays! This week we got a couple of big home releases so let’s jump right into it!

In case you missed it:

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Last week a couple of posters for Pixar’s Monsters University were released and you can view them up above! Monster University is scheduled to release on June 21st, 2013!


Those who got a chance to check out Wreck-it Ralph were also exposed to the wonderful animated short Paperman. It was one of the best shorts I’ve seen and so beautifully done. Here’s a chance to check out some behind the scenes work! Although Paperman hasn’t made it online yet, you should try and make time to see it in theaters in front of Wreck-it Ralph! They’re definitely worth your time.


Here’s a trailer for a new movie called, Now You See Me, starring Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fischer, Mark Ruffalo, and Morgan Freeman! Check out the trailer up above. Now You See Me is set to release March 15th, 2013.

Coming to Blu-ray/DVD this week we have:

December 4th:

Coming to Theaters December 7th:

Special Events Coming to Theaters (Check Local Listings):

See anything that’s missing? Comment and let us know!

That does it for this week! Be sure to keep coming back every Monday and Saturday for new Thinking Cinematic content!

As always, I want to end with this. Thinking Cinematic is looking for more writers. Feel like sending in a guest post? Want to be apart of the Thinking Cinematic team? Send your emails to: Rrsolis@me.com

Connect with me at:

Twitter: @Treyrs20o9

Twitter: @Think_Cinematic 

Movie Monday Update Week of Nov. 5th


Hello and happy Monday TC readers! Got a lot of great things to catch up on this week! A lot of big news as well as some big releases! Let’s start things up with a quick glance of movie news!

In case you missed it:

Last week Disney bought Lucasfilms for 4 billion dollars but that’s not all. They have confirmed that they’re moving forward with Star Wars VII with 2015 release schedule! Reactions have been mixed but I for one am excited and welcome Star Wars back to the big screen! Click here for more information on the deal!

Wondering where you’ll be able to enjoy The Hobbit in 48 FPS like Peter Jackson intended? Well it’ll be in 3D only and you can check the list of theaters that will be supporting the experience here!

Here’s a look at this week’s releases!

For Blu-Ray/DVD we have:

November 6th

November 9th

Coming to theaters November 9th:

Wide release

Limited Release:

See anything that’s missing? Comment and let us know!

That does it for this week! Be sure to keep coming back every Monday and Saturday for new Thinking Cinematic content!

As always, I want to end with this. Thinking Cinematic is looking for more writers. Feel like sending in a guest post? Want to be apart of the Thinking Cinematic team? Send your emails to: Rrsolis@me.com

Connect with me at:

Twitter: @Treyrs20o9

Twitter: @Think_Cinematic