Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Anne Hathaway Appreciation Post

Anne Hathaway in some of my favorite movies.
     While watching Becoming Jane (movie review coming soon!), I came upon the realization of how many Anne Hathaway movies I've seen and love! I counted at least 10 and I own about 7 of them. She really is a remarkable actress, from her breakout performance as gawky to gorgeous Princess Mia Thermopolis in The Princess Diaries (at only 19) to her Academy Award winning performance as Fantine in Les Miserables. Her versatility is really what defines her as an actress that can jump from comedy (Bride Wars) to drama (The Other Side of Heaven) and character personalities such as sweet Jane Austen (Becoming Jane) and sultry Selina Kyle//Catwoman (The Dark Knight Rises).

Here are my top 5 favorite Anne Hathaway roles:

1.) The Princess Diaries//The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement 
as Princess Amelia 'Mia' Thermopolis Rinaldi 
The Princess Diaries (2001)
     Like with most people, the first movie I saw her is was the Princess Diaries. I mean, those movies are absolute Disney gold for the millennial generation (kids born and raised in the 90s). The world fell in love with the gawky high school student Mia Thermopolis whose only expectation in life was to be invisible, but that expectation very quickly changes when she discovers she's the future queen to the European country of Genovia. I loved seeing Mia's transformation, but that it didn't change who she was as a kind and sweet person. 

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004)
     In Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, it's five years later, Mia is about to ascend to her family's throne, but finds out that to do so she must marry. So begins a romantic comedy of Shakespearean and Austen proportions of Mia's constant battle for her throne, her country and above all, her heart. I remember getting this movie for Christmas and my family all sat around in my sister's living room and watched it that day. Great memories!

2.) Becoming Jane
as Jane Austen
Becoming Jane (2007)
     This movie!!! It really needs to be on my my top 10 favorite movies list! I watched it for the first time in ages this week and was so struck by how engaging this film is. Anne portrays the legendary author Jane Austen whose quiet life as a poor Reverend's daughter in Hampshire, England is turned upside-down with the arrival of roguish and penniless lawyer, Tom LeFroy (James McAvoy) and their tragic love story that became the inspiration of her novels. I laughed and cried (like crazy) and Anne and James' onscreen romance was so captivating and thrilling (that library scene alone was so filled with sexual tension it was practically jumping out of the television screen).

3.) Les Miserables
as Fantine
Les Miserables (2012)
     Like a great many Les Miz fans, I was skeptical when I had heard that Anne Hathaway was cast as Fantine, but I would give her the benefit of the doubt. I was glad I did too, because her performance was extraordinary! She really brought to the role, the actual misery and despair that Fantine was in and the small spark of hope that she had in seeing her little girl again. I only cried two times in the film and both times included Fantine! I was so excited when she won best supporting actress at the 2012 Academy Awards, it was definitely an award well deserved. 

4.) The Devil Wears Prada 
as Andrea 'Andy' Sachs 
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
     Similar to the style (no pun intended) of The Princess Diaries, The Devil Wears Prada is about a raggedy nobody who gets an extreme makeover and finds an unexpected place in the world of fashion and glamour. Anne had a balanced mix of comedy and drama that made this a great watch and her acting against Meryl Streep was fantastic. You could really feel the loathing admiration that Andy had for her overbearing boss and how Andy herself was an up-and-coming model of the fashion editor. A great story that gives the inside look of the materialistic world that can either make or break you as a person.

5.) Bride Wars 
as Emma Allan
Bride Wars (2009)
     Another role where Anne plays a shy, but smart, working girl who has a surprising amount of sass and bluster when given the opportunity. When two best friends Emma Allan and Liv Lemer (Kate Hudson) find out that their dream weddings were accidentally scheduled on the same day, it's all out WWIII of the ultimate bridezillas one-uping one another with pranks and disasters. Both Anne and Kate are hysterical in a film the exaggerates the drama of weddings and brings to light the true importance of marriage, companionship and friendship.  

~ ~ ~

Anne Hathaway
     Whether comedy or drama, period or modern, Anne Hathaway's compelling personalities and acting talent in her wide array of films have just gotten better and better over the years. I'm still always going to remember her as Princess Mia, though! And a princess who eats pizza and dreams of her foot popping when she gets that first real kiss, isn't a bad role to be remembered as.

Friday, April 24, 2015

X-Men Overview

     I was introduced to the X-Men world when I was 9 years old; before that I really had no interest in anything superhero related. When my older brother and sister found out that there would be an X-Men movie series, they were thrilled, but my parents were somewhat confused as to what X-Men was (they grew up with Batman and Superman). Since then, X-Men have been a staple superhero franchise in our household.

     The reason I enjoy X-Men so much is the idea that is constantly enforced that no matter how strange or different you think you are, there will always be someone stranger. There is also the familial aspect with the X-Men as well; remember it takes place out a school, where you have your parental figures, your older siblings that are being trained to lead and your up-and-coming youngsters. Everyone has their place.

The X-Men franchise is very large, there are the first three movies: X-Men, X2 and X3: The Last Stand

The prequel: X-Men: First Class – Can be watched before or after the trilogy

X-Men: Days of Future Past – a stand alone story arc and is probably best to watch after the trilogy and the prequel.

And the Wolverine franchise: X-Men Origins: Wolverine - Logan’s story, pre-X-Men that can be watched before the X trilogy and The Wolverine - better to watch after the trilogy.

So, I’m going to try and pack all information that I can in one overview post.

~ ~ ~

Hugh Jackman as Logan//Wolverine
     This character holds the title of managing to make an appearance in every single X-Men film, which also includes his own film series. Hugh Jackman plays the part of Logan so well that you never really get tired of seeing him.

     When Logan is introduced in X-Men, he’s a solitary loner looking for answers in his life. A strange freak of nature (otherwise known as a mutant), who has the ability to self-heal, advanced senses and Adamantium claws that can retract from his fists, Logan isn’t the type of person you would befriend immediately. When given the chance though, Logan proves to be a generous and self-sacrificing man fighting against injustice, a protector of innocent children and a leader who will not compromise or surrender no matter the situation.

     All throughout the X-trilogy you see Logan’s widening character development as he begins to embrace this unexpected future as a teacher, a fighter and a member of the X-Men. Prior to the X-Men series is the prequel movie, X-Men Origins: Wolverine which answers all the questions about Logan’s life, who he was, where he came from and the choices that made him the mutant and man he is by the time we meet him in X-Men. The Wolverine is separate storyline about Logan’s life in Japan after X3: The Last Stand.

     Like any character Logan has his flaws, he’s arrogant, sarcastic, heavily judgmental and knows no boundaries when it comes to getting what he wants. Yet, it’s those flaws that make him all the more real and his strengths all the more admirable.

~ ~ ~

Professor Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr
Right: James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier
Left: Michael Fassbender and Ian McKellan as Erik Lensgerr
     All stories and legends have a beginning and X-Men begins with two young men in 1962 who wanted to change the world. Except both had very different ideas on how the world could change which ultimately led them to be enemies, with an intense mutual respect for each other. To say that Charles and Erik have a complicated relationship is an understatement.

     In X-Men: First Class, we see the foundations of their lives and how their vastly different backgrounds molded them into the men they became by the time they met. Charles was born into a wealthy family in upstate New York, where he lived comfortably, but had a distant relationship with his mother and abusive step-father. Erik grew up in Nazi Germany with two loving parents, but his once idyllic life was cut short when his family was sentenced to live in a concentration camp; Erik was the only one that survived.

     Separation and loss of parents were the crucibles for both boys that forged them into men determined to challenge that powerful for the bettering of mankind. Both believe in gathering and teaching other abandons to hone their powers, live bravely and fight fiercely, but where Charles wants to help humanity and have mutants as equals to humans, Erik wants to dominate humanity and make mutants the superior species.

     In the X-Men trilogy, they are old men with a lifetime of history between the two of them. Erik has spent the last 50 years in planning an eventual war between all mankind. Charles is head of a thriving school for young gifted children and the creator of the X-Men (former students, who have stayed on to gather, teach and train other mutants). Throughout the trilogy, Charles remains strong in his moral convictions, whereas Erik is a loose cannon that isn’t always pointed in the right direction.

     The overused metaphor of ‘the two sides of the same coin’ has never been better applied then when it comes to describing the complex relationship of these two adversaries. One is led by hope, while the other is led by hatred.

~ ~ ~

The X-Men
James Marsden as Scott Summer//Cyclops, Famke Janssen as Jean Grey//Phoenix and
Halle Berry as Ororo Munroe//Storm
Scott//Cyclops, Jean//Phoenix and Ororo//Storm

     An unlikely group of reluctant heroes, some runaways, some from loving families, are brought together for one common purpose, to use their abilities to protect humanity while trying to preserve the mutant species. While under Xavier's care, they come out from their fearful shadows that the world has put them in and find themselves in a stronger light that leads them to their futures as heroes, friends and legends.

     Scott Summer//Cyclops: Scott is to the X-Men what Captain America is to the Avengers. That is basically who he is, the calm, quiet leader, who does his job with perfect execution and will not tolerate an form terror or misguidance. His mutation is the use of powerful rays coming from his eyes, which renders him unable to use eyes for seeing and must wear glasses or a visor with a ruby quartz lens to protect himself and other people. In the story, Scott is Professor X's second in command and everyone at the school is under the belief that it will be Scott who will one day take over the school and lead the next generation of X-Men. 

     Everything is running for smoothly for Scott until Logan is brought in (X-Men) and his once perfect world has gone haywire. Logan with his bad boy nature and sarcastic attitude at the school is trying enough since he doesn't want to be there, but when he starts hitting on Scott's beautiful fiancee, Dr. Jean Grey, then it gets real. Scott isn't possessive of Jean and trusts her judgement, but it's difficult when he's seen as the golden boy and Logan is a dark mystery man from the other side of the Canadian tracks (Logan is Canadian). 

     Scott is a great character, but he hardly had any character development as all! In X2 and X3, he only has a sum total of 15 min. of screen time and neither really didn't do him justice as a possibly cool character. His brother, Alex, had more development in X-Men: First Class, then Scott did in all 3 trilogy movies. 

~ ~ ~

     Jean Grey//Phoenix: A beautiful and brilliant doctor with the gift telekinesis and developing telepathic abilities. Although she possesses a kind and generous personality, Jean is somewhat of an introvert who lets few people into her private life. Scott Summers in one of those people whom she loves dearly and trusts above anyone else, Professor X, who is her mentor and father figure and Orora (Storm) she considers her ally and friend. 

     When Logan is brought to the school, he is immediately smitten with Jean, but she has a harder time dealing with it, mainly because she's faithful to her fiancee, Scott and also because she is not what one would call, a risk-taker. When her telepathic powers become to powerful, Jean almost becomes a detriment to human and mutant society and understands that to save humanity she must sacrifice who and what she is if it means protecting the ones that she loves as well as preserving the small hope that humanity can still exist in a prejudiced world.

~ ~ ~

     Ororo Munroe//Storm: The soft-spoken, but pragmatic history teacher whose mutant powers of the control of the natural weather elements, literally makes her a force to be reckoned with. Ororo (or Storm as everyone calls her) has a fierce loyalty to the Professor X and the school. She is never one to question Charles' authority and is hardly someone that will compromise in a tight situation.

     Storm has a deep maternal nature that sets her apart from from Scott and Jean. Like Charles, she has the ability to see the goodness and potential in other mutants, even when they may not see it themselves. Storm is hardly a judgmental person and tries to give everyone around her the benefit of the doubt before she makes a final conclusion on their character. In a nutshell, Storm is a wonderful and strong female heroine that brings a good amount of balance to the X-Men story. 

~ ~ ~

Shawn Ashmore as Bobby Drake//Iceman, Anna Paquin as Marie//Rogue and
Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde//Shadowcat
Bobby//Iceman, Marie//Rogue and Kitty//Shadowcat

     The most prominent and best of the best in Xaviers' school. These are the students who will one day run the school and lead the X-Men. Bobby and Kitty are sent to the school by their parents, while Rogue is a lively young run away with the powers to steal another person's life force and in a mutants case, temporarily take their powers. Therefore, she is unable to have any physical contact with anyone. Her storyline is the basis of the first film as also the first person that Logan opens up to and reveals his rarely seen emotional side. (major sweet scene!)

     Bobby has the ability to create ice whether from his body or from water and immediately befriends Rogue and eventually becomes her boyfriend. The lack of physical contact between Bobby and Rogue becomes a difficult barrier for them to handle, especially when Rogue becomes jealous of Bobby's growing relationship with Kitty Pryde. 

     Kitty has a two-fold ability, she can phase through any solid barrier as well as the power of mind control, that can allow her send someone's sub-conscience back in time, for a short period. Her phasing is her prime use in the X-trilogy, while her mind control is the crux of Days of Future Past when she sends Logan back to 1973. 

~ ~ ~

X-Men United

     I was going to do a Mystique//Raven profile, but really didn't know where I was going to put her. Anyways, she's pretty much Magneto's henchman in the trilogy until she loses her mutant abilities in the last film and turns him into the government for abandoning her. All ends well with Raven. She has a more dominant role in First Class as Charles' adopted sister and Erik's student on acceptance in the world (because as a German Jewish mutant, he knows all about personal acceptance) and is the primary antagonist in Days of Future Past (see movie review). 

     Well, that's seven movies in one overview post! I focused primarily on the characters and their roles in the films, rather than the films themselves, because the storylines are very complex, but I didn't want to do seven separate reviews. X-Men is an absolute classic for me and re-watching the films just brought back all those great childhood memories of theses wonderful superheros that overcame adversity by simply wanting to make the world a better place for the generation the follows. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Vlog #4 - April

Good-Bye Jonathan Crombie (Gilbert Blythe)

     On April 15, Jonathan Crombie died of a massive brain hemorrhage. He's most well-known for his role as Gilbert Blythe in Kevin Sullivan's Anne of Green Gables series and for mot fans, will always the the quintessential Gilbert! At only 48, this is beyond shocking for someone so young.

Twenty year old Jonathan Crombie talks about his big break.

Jonathan Crombie, Anne of Green Gables actor, dead at 48
Actor best known for playing Gilbert Blythe in TV movies, also played lead in The Drowsy Chaperone

Jonathan Crombie, who played Gilbert Blythe in the Anne of Green Gables movies, has died at the age of 48.

He was also the son of David Crombie, who was mayor of Toronto from 1972 to 1978 and served as a federal Progressive Conservative cabinet minister in the 1980s.

The actor's sister, Carrie Crombie, told CBC News on Saturday that her brother suffered a brain hemorrhage and died in New York City on April 15.

"He was funny, he was sweet, he loved acting, he loved comedy and singing and dancing," she said. "As a little kid, he just loved Broadway shows and all of that kind of stuff and would sing and dance in the living room."

Answered to the name Gil

Jonathan Crombie will be best remembered for his role in the CBC TV movie Anne of Green Gables in 1984 and its two sequels in 1987 and 2000.

Carrie Crombie said her brother never shied away from the fame that came along with playing the role of Gilbert Blythe, and happily answered to the name Gil when recognized by fans on the street.
'I think he was really proud of being Gilbert Blythe ... he really enjoyed that series and was happy, very proud of it.'- Carrie Crombie
"I think he was really proud of being Gilbert Blythe and was happy to answer any questions ... he really enjoyed that series and was happy, very proud of it — we all were," she said.

"[But] I think his proudest part was when he played the lead in Drowsy Chaperone on Broadway. That was just an amazing thing for him to be able to do."

Crombie's co-star and onscreen love interest Megan Follows, who played Anne Shirley in the movies, said his unexpected loss was "a big shock."

Jonathan Crombie is best known for playing heartthrob Gilbert Blythe in the Anne of Green Gables TV movies. In this photo from Sullivan Entertainment, Blythe tugs on Anne Shirley's braids. (Sullivan Entertainment)
"He was incredibly funny, Jonathan just had an amazing sense of humour," she said.

"Truly I just remember at times just laughing so hard that you'd just be crying. He was so playful and silly and as I said really bright, so his humour was always informed with that, which made him even funnier."

Follows called Crombie a "sweetheart" and said a lot of the chemistry onscreen was natural during the filming of the movies.

"He had that beautiful face. He was a lot of fun he was very open so you just felt he was someone who really wanted to play and it really was a new experience for him," she said, adding that the project was one of Crombie's first.

"We were all just in it to do the best that we could and we had a lot of fun."

'A devastating tragedy'

Anne of Green Gables producer Kevin Sullivan said Crombie and the on-screen character he came to embody were actually pretty similar. 

"I think for legions of young women around the world who fell in love with theAnne of Green Gablesfilms, Jonathan literally represented the quintessential boy next door, and there were literally thousands of women who wrote to him over the years who saw him as a perfect mate," Sullivan said.
'Jonathan was as generous, as kind, as sensitive and as ambitious, in some ways, as the character he came to be identified with.' - Kevin Sullivan, producer
"I think there will be hundreds of people who will be floored that this has happened. It's such a devastating tragedy. In reality, Jonathan was as generous, as kind, as sensitive and as ambitious, in some ways, as the character he came to be identified with."

"I think there will be hundreds of people who will be floored that this has happened. It's such a devastating tragedy. In reality, Jonathan was as generous, as kind, as sensitive and as ambitious, in some ways, as the character he came to be identified with."

'Kinda quirky'

Jonathan Crombie also performed with a sketch comedy troupe featured in the Canadian TV series Comedy Now! in 1998. Carrie Crombie said her brother was incredibly passionate about improv and sketch comedy.

"John was funny. He was kinda quirky in some ways," she said.

"Like he would only take the bus back and forth from Toronto to New York. And, to be honest, that's how we are going to be bringing him back. We felt that it was an ode to Jonathan. He would never go on a plane, so we're going to make the trek from New York to Toronto on a bus with his ashes."

Crombie said her brother just didn't feel it necessary to spend the money required to make the journey by plane.

"He always seemed to attract interesting people on buses. He always had great stories about characters on buses, so we always had fun listening to his impersonations."

Carrie Crombie said she didn't think her brother had any major health issues, and was committed to staying healthy. She said his organs have been donated, which is something he would have been proud of.

She said a "huge, wonderful celebration of life" will be held in his honour some time in the coming weeks.

Source: CBC News

Saturday, April 18, 2015

X-Men: Days of Future Past

     Before I start my blog series (which will be early May), it would probably be a good idea to catch up with the X-Men series. My first actual movie review was X-Men: First Class and it's a little rough, but I don't have the heart to change it! I like to think I've come a long way since 2011! This movie was fantastic, though! It was another movie I had wanted to see last summer, but never got around to the theater. After I watched it on our DVR, it's what gave me the idea to do the blog series. (I'll also be doing a general overview of the X-Men trilogy soon!)

     In the not to distant future (roughly 25 years from now), mankind is at war with mutants and the humans that aid them. Professor Charles Xavier and his former nemesis Erik Lensherr (Magneto) have allied together along with what is left with Charles' mutant army, the X-Men. Worn down with fighting, Charles reveals to everyone the beginnings of the mutant war and how it started with Mystique. In 1973, she murdered a sadistic scientist of which became the catalyst for the destruction of all mutants from that point on. Charles believes that if someone can be sent back to 1973 and stop Mystique then the fear, the death and the ultimate war may be stopped. Only it can't be just anyone.

~ ~ ~

Hugh Jackman as Logan//Wolverine
     Due to his abilities of regeneration, Logan is the only mutant strong enough to withstand the travel 50 years back in time. His job is to convince a young Professor Xavier to find Mystique and stop her and her quest for blood. That's not an easy task when Logan finds Charles at his closed down school, drunk and with no abilities to read or control minds. A side of Charles that Logan has never seen before. Taking out enemies is easy, but trying to save your friends is much harder. 

     When they try to stop Mystique at the destined place and time and only make things worse, Charles can no longer take it. He's angry with himself, with the world and above all with humanity that he was naive enough to believe in. Logan refuses to give in and insists that the Professor read his mind to find his way to the future and see the world of happiness and hope he creates for mutant children. Logan tells Charles that there was a time that he was his most helpless student and that Charles did not give up on him. 

     Logan's personal experience and ultimate redemption through Charles Xavier and the X-Men is what ultimately saves humanity, not just his regeneration. The once angry and lonely fighter, desperate for family and home, found his place fighting for people, not against them. All that was due to one formidable teacher that saw the good and honor in him when no one else did, and when Logan himself didn't see it either. 

     I love Logan! Ever since I first saw him in the first X-Men movie (when I was 9), he was always such a complex and confusing character. I've been following Logan's journey from the very beginning for over 15 years and you would think I would be bored by now, but I'm not and probably never will be. Logan is one of those characters that I think every person at one point in their life aspires to be. The loner who is given one chance and exceeds everyone's expectations including their own and (in the words of Dr. Erksine), remains a good man.

~ ~ ~

Professor Charles Xavier//Professor X
Patrick Stewart/James McAvoy as Professor Charles Xavier
     Being my favorite superhero (EVER!!), I could probably go on and on about the incredible Charles Xavier; his enviable gift of telepathy and mind control, his refusal to let his disability deter him from his mission-driven purpose or his constant understanding of the human (mutant) heart. can imagine my surprise when I found out that my beloved Charles in Days of Future Past isn't exactly the Charles Xavier I'm use to seeing. 

Background Info from X-Men: First Class

     In 1962, energetic and brilliant, Charles Xavier graduates from Oxford University with a degree in genetics and human evolution. What he hides though, is that he is a profoundly gifted mutant who has the ability of telepathy. When he reveals himself to the CIA, in hopes of stabilizing human/mutant relations, they commissioned him to throw together mutants as a plan B initiative for world disaster. 

     Charles gathers a rag-group of individuals, such as his independent sister, Raven (a changeling), Hank McCoy (a genius scientist gifted with super speed due to his abnormal feet) and Erik Lensherr (a vengeful man who can manipulate metal) and other young mutants who are lonely, abandoned and afraid. He takes them to his family mansion in Westchester County, New York and trains them to hone their abilities, to live as proud individuals and above all, never be afraid of the world. 

     When Charles and his group succeed in stopping the Cuban Missile Crisis, he believes there is hope, but it is shattered when Erik betrays him by putting a bullet in his back during a fight, therefore crippling him for life. Erik leaves and takes Raven with him, having her believe that a life of fighting for their kind is better than protecting a world that hates and fears them. 

Caught up?

~ ~ ~

     Now eleven years later, the hope that Charles once had is gone. Shortly after the first semester, the war in Vietnam became worse and teachers and students were being drafted into service. All of Charles dreams were shattered as he saw young promising lives leave and never returns. He closes down the school, with only Hank to take care of him (great friend, but horrible enabler), and lives as a recluse. Using a special serum that gives him back the use of his legs, but also wipes away his telepathic ability, Charles lives day by day alone in his office or room, with no sense of purpose. 

     That changes when a hulking stranger barges into the house (gets into a brawl with Hank) and informs him that he was sent by Charles' future self to stop an incident that will cause catastrophic events in the future. Although skeptical at first, Charles reluctantly agrees and goes off to find and prevent his sister from starting the war that will end mutants. 

     Just when they think they may have succeeded, Erik (who they brilliantly break out of a secret prison in the Pentagon), once again, betrays Charles and only makes events worse. Now angrier than ever, Charles sinks deeper into sorrow and despair. When Logan tells him to read his mind and see the future he eventually creates for young mutants, Charles comes face-to-face with his future self who tells him that the suffering he feels (he also has the ability to feel people's emotions, especially pain, and can even take that pain away from them) is what fuels him to be the leader that the world will need, to be the teacher who teaches courage, kindness and compassion, and always, hope. Finally, Charles has the incentive to track down Raven and end her diabolical plan before it even begins.

     James was! He's a great actor to begin with, but as Charles, he's just amazing! Like I said, seeing Professor X as a angry and frustrated man with no mission or purpose was a shock for me and I don't think many people could have done it, but James was brilliant. And his one scene with Patrick Stewart (his older self) almost had me in tears! That is the second time that James McAvoy has made me cry in a superhero movie!!

~ ~ ~

Erik Lensherr//Magneto
Ian McKellan/Michael Fassbender as Erik Lensherr//Magneto
      He's rated as IGM's #1 comic book villain and it's understandably so. Magneto is the absolute paragon of the tragic villain and the enigmatic character that always keeps you guessing. In First Class we witness Erik's despairing life as a German Jew in 1944 who is forced into a concentration camp and is separated from his parents. While trying to reach for his parents, Erik unleashes his ability to move metal, which marks him as a mutant and a lab rat for the cruel Nazi scientist Klaus Schmidt. Erik's life as Schmidt's project plants inside him a seed of growing hatred against humans and puts him on a path of revenge to track down Klaus and murder him to avenge his mother who was shot by Schmidt when Erik didn't fulfill his purpose as a mutant. 

      20 years later, Erik crosses paths with young Charles Xavier whom he befriends while finding mutants to train for the government. In spite of Charles' attempts to dissuade Erik from his destructive nature, Erik lives by his own rules and after he kills Schmidt, he separates from Charles, taking with him several other mutants, and starts his own life as a mutant against the world. 

      In Days of Future Past, we meet up with Erik in 1972, where he is in a top secret prison in the Pentagon for allegedly killing JFK (he was actually trying to save him, because JFK was a mutant). Charles, Logan and Hank all break him out (with the help of a super speed mutant) all with the hope that he will convince Raven to stop herself from  murder and self-destruction. Except, instead of helping Raven, Erik tries to kill her and the time loop goes from crazy to insane. Erik's one fatal mistake almost becomes the world's future destruction, but even he is not invincible and underestimates Charles belief in humanity which puts his plans of world domination on hold...for now at least. 

     Michael Fassbender as Erik//Magneto is what sealed Magneto as my favorite villain. As wonderful as Ian McKellan is, I had a hard time seeing him as the bad guy (especially since I was also watching him as Gandalf). Michael brought out every emotional aspect you would want in an up and coming anti-her/villain. Revenge, anger, compassion, joy, sorrow, betrayal and ultimately loyalty to the man who never gave up on him.

~ ~ ~

Jennifer Lawrence as Raven//Mystique
     Considered to be one of the most extraordinary mutants to ever walk the earth, all Raven ever wanted was to be ordinary. Her ability to shift into any human form is incredible, but the flip side is that her true form is a blue, scaly creature that isn't beautiful in human standards. In the beginning, Raven despised being mutant, but overtime, she became proud of her natural blue form and passionate for the preservation of mutant life. Her passion to protect other mutants becomes ignited when she discovers that her friends have been killed and used as tests for scientific and evolutionary research. 

     Filled with hatred and rage (similar to Erik's), Raven goes on an endless crusade to track down the scientist responsible for the inhumane slaughter of her friends. Just when she think she's gotten her chance to avenge the mutant race, she is stopped by Charles and almost considers putting an end to her plans. Only when Erik tries to kill her instead, she is only more determined to carry out her former desire to hunt down and kill. 

      Raven gets one final chance to kill that will be mutants future destruction or she can show mercy which will be the salvation of all mutants. In spite of her anger and fear, there is still a good heart and a good soul and Raven herself cannot deny that. In her darkest moment, Raven must find her humanity or the race she is trying to save will ultimately be destroyed by her own hands. 

     This was the first role I saw Jennifer Lawrence in and (like I said in my First Class review) I found Raven somewhat annoying, but also there was a relataeable element to who she was. Everyone feels insecure, out of place and wants to fit in and be accepted. Jennifer Lawrence brought a wonderful dynamic as Mystique as a person who can never be understood, not even by herself, but is always that one person that is on the balance between good and evil. 

~ ~ ~

     So, now I've caught up with the prequel X-Men universe! This movie was brilliantly done, but I've also never read the comics, so I'm looking at it from a movie perspective. What I enjoyed about Days of Future Past is that oftentimes, sequels tend to be darker and more serious than the former movie and First Class had a great amount of charm and whimsy, and that same charm was found in the sequel as well. Of course, it had its deep and dramatic moments, but everything was balanced out very well. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Coming Soon...

“Assemble & Unite”

The Avengers and The X-Men and the lessons they teach.

1.) The Voice of the Father – Talking about the heavily emphasized role of fathers.

2.) Feminine Feminists – The role of women and how they balance strength and beauty in their positions along side the men in their lives.

3.) One Man’s Victim, Another Man’s Villain – Analyzing three of MARVEL’s most tragic villains, Erik Lensherr/Magneto, Loki and Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier.

4.) Defending Fathers – Taking on two of the most controversial fathers in the MARVEL Universe, Odin Allfather and Howard Stark.

5.) Love Changes Everything – True love abounds whether from outer space or across the office.

6.) Always There, Old Friend – Understanding the dynamics of the broken friendships of Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr, and of Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes.

Monday, April 13, 2015

15 and Pregnant

     I had randomly come across this YouTube page one night and watched this vlog diary of Sierra Watts and her journey through her pregnancy.

Sierra Watts: YouTube, Instagram, Twitter

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

Friday, April 10, 2015

Andrea's Swift Cancer Diagnosis

Taylor and Andrea, December 2014
       I know I've made it public that I don't care for Taylor Swift and her music, but yesterday it was revealed that her mother, Andrea (51), has been diagnosed with cancer. Taylor and her mother are very close and I know that Andrea is the backbone of her daughter's career. My thoughts and prayers with the whole Swift family! No one should have to go through this.

Taylor and Andrea in New York, 2008
Taylor Swift shares: My mom has cancer
Ann Oldenburg, USA TODAY 3:01 p.m. EDT April 9, 2015

Now, writes Swift, "The results came in, and I'm saddened to tell you that my mom has been diagnosed with cancer. I'd like to keep the details of her condition and treatment plans PRIVATE, but she wanted you to know."

Swift says that her mother wanted to urge fans to remind their parents to get CHECKED to "possibly lead to an early diagnosis and an easier battle."

And also for "peace of mind in knowing that they're healthy and there's nothing to worry about. She wanted you to know why she may not be at as many shows this tour. She's got an important battle to fight."

Source: USA Today

"The Best Day"

Taylor's beautiful music video dedicated to her mother back in 2008.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Trailer Music (Cinderella and Pan)

     I love trailers! It really is one of my favorite parts of going to a movie. What I love better than a really well done trailer is the music accompaniment, but often times they can be hard to get a hold of. I must not be the only one who enjoys trailer music, because now studios are releasing the songs used in the trailers!

     When I first saw the trailers for Cinderella and Pan, I went crazy for both the films and the music! So I was able to find them both on YouTube.

"Aeon" by Nick Murray

"Sun and Stars" by Really Slow Motion

Monday, April 6, 2015

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

     This movie was on my to-see-in-theaters summer movie list last year, but I never got around to it. Now with Avengers: Age of Ultron just around the corner, I thought it would be best to get The Winter Soldier. The movie was least that was my thought when I viewed it the first time, then after watching it again, I found that I really did like it! Now, it's nothing like the first movie which takes place during the charming WWII era, but now we're thrown into a modern day setting and like Steve, it can be more than one can handle.

~ ~ ~

Capt. Steve Rogers//Captain America
Chris Evans
     About a year after the battle in NY where the Avengers were first assembled, Steve Rogers is still trying to adjust to 21st century life. His work as the only super-soldier at S.H.I.E.L.D is wearing, strict, too secretive and almost mundane. Steve realizes that he is in the same position he was in seventy years ago when his new-serum being was only being used to sell war bonds. To top that off, all of his friends are gone or almost gone. Putting it simply, Steve Rogers is lonely and bored; with no actual war to fight and no reason to use his abilities. 

     That changes when his ever-secretive boss, Nick Fury, reveals to him new machines that will satellite the world and inform S.H.I.E.L.D of any enemy plans. Steve himself doesn't approve and sees it as terrorism, but Steve's somewhat outdated opinions are almost always ignored. When Nick is attacked by secret S.H.I.E.L.D forces, he asks for Steve's help, knowing he is the only good man he can trust.

     Steve's once monotonous life is soon thrown into a ring of fire as he and Natasha race the clock to track down the secret faction that attacked Nick and discover their plans for world destruction. While (literally), in the fast lane, Steve comes face-to-face with the last person he never imagined he see again, his old friend, Bucky Barnes, now known as the illusive Winter Soldier who is the brainwashed, famed assassin for recreated HYDRA.

     Steve's mission becomes two-fold, save Bucky-save the world. The world is easy, but trying to save his friend who doesn't remember him is another story. For Steve, the loss of his friend seventy years before was bad enough, but finding him again only to realize that he's his enemy is a nightmare. His morals and decisions are put to the final challenge and does sacrifice the needs of the many to save the needs of one?

     The great thing about Chris Evans as Steve Rogers is that he plays the character in such a personable way that you feel Steve is really your friend throughout the whole story! I love that! Chris' characterization of one of Marvels oldest superheroes gets better with each film as Steve Rogers struggled to adapt in a modern day world while living by old age ideals.

~ ~ ~

Natasha Romanov//Black Widow
Scarlett Johansson 
     Lovely and lethal Natasha returns as Steve's co-worker, confidante, sordid matchmaker, and S.H.I.E.L.D's best woman for the job (or two jobs). When Steve finds himself in the middle of Fury's mess, Natasha doesn't waste anytime in aiding him, even if it means risking her own life as well. When she learns that S.H.I.E.L.D was nothing short of a lie, Natasha finds herself recalling her former past as an assassin and wonders if her time there was even worth all the trouble that people went through for her. Even in the midst of danger and destruction, Natasha remains ever solid and dependable. She's probably about the best ally one could ask for.

~ ~ ~

Sam Wilson//Falcon
Anthony Mackie
     A military vet returned from two tours of duty, Sam is ready to relax and takes orders from only person, himself; especially since he lost his wing-man and best friend in his second tour. Sam now offers counseling sessions to help other veterans get through their new lives in America, one of them being Captain America, When Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanov end up on his doorstep asking him for aid, he can hardly say no. Sam joins forces with the two of them if it means stopping a war that took his own friend and preventing the loss of millions of innocent people. A really good addition to the story; Sam harkens back to the memory of Bucky Barnes and becomes the friend that Steve has missed and desperately needs.

~ ~ ~

Nick Fury
Samuel L. Jackson
     The once indomitable Nick Fury finds himself in one tangled web of secrets and lies, when he discover that S.H.I.E.L.D's leader, Alexander Pierce, has been using S.H.I.E.L.D as a front for the harboring of the second HYDRA division. With this new knowledge, Nick must find his closest friends to warn them, but is attacked before he can even reach them. The only person he can rely on is Steve Rogers, who had warned him about the up-coming terrorist motives of S.H.I.E.L.D, to stop Pierce and HYDRA before they find themselves plunged in a nuclear WWIII.

~ ~ ~

Alexander Pierce
Robert Redford
     The Nobel-nominated leader of S.H.I.E.L.D, Pierce is nothing but a body of secrets and a house of lies. For years he as actually been the head of the re-created HYDRA, brought back by Schmidt's scientist, Dr. Zola. Upon realizing that Nick Fury as well as Steve Rogers are becoming suspicious about his motives, he sends the famed Winter Solider to wreak havoc on the both of them so he can complete his warped and diabolical plans. Cold and ruthless, without an ounce of humanity, Pierce is truly the stuff of HYDRA beliefs and will torment and kill to get what he wants in the end.

~ ~ ~

Bucky Barnes//The Winter Soldier
Sebastian Stan

     The once handsome, charming, blue-eyed soldier who fought bravely by Captain America's side and died honorably, isn't as dead as everyone thought. The former testing done on him when he was captured with the 107th in Austria, saved him from death, but gave him a new life as an assassin and an enemy of humanity. Bucky is treated with the same serum as Steve, giving him the same super-abilites and making him a lethal fighter and killer. Never-ending brainwashings prevent him from remembering his former past as a war hero and a good man, but something is triggered when the man that he was sent to kill says one name, "Bucky?" Now he's in a limbo state trying regain the memory of his past, but also completing the assignments that his life depends on. A heartbreaking victim of evil that leaves you with more questions than answers; it's made clear in the end of the movie that Bucky's story is only the beginning.

~ ~ ~

     I think MARVEL (or whoever does the promoting) should be called on for false advertising. This movie was being toted all around as the continuation of Bucky's story, but he only had a sum total of 15 min. in the film and to be honest, the film had nothing to do with him at all. That aside, I really did enjoy it. It is definitely darker and more violent (even I was surprised at certain scenes), but it really does inform the audience of the times that we live in and you get to go on that journey with Steve as he witnesses the degrading of humanity and how the world is willing to turn a blind eye to evil.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

The resurrection gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over no matter what my circumstances. 
~Robert Flatt

Cinderella (2015)

Cinderella (2015)
     "Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved her father very much..." so begins one of the most beloved fairy tales of all time. Long before Disney created the lovely cartoon princess who became the idealized paragon of all things 'princess' Cinderella was already a great favorite among all children's stories. Her tale of tragic youth, horrible stepmother and sisters, dreams and wishes, and above all, a happily ever after is international and almost every culture has their version of who Cinderella is.

      Disney's 2015 remake has gone above and beyond the expectations of the long-awaited film. They took an already loved story and made the fairy tale come to life in a rich and beautiful film that scraps the modern day ideals of 'believe in yourself' or 'make your dreams come true' but rather focuses on the deep moral truths of kindness and courage

~ ~ ~

Cinderella and Prince Kit
Lily James and Richard Madden
     Ella's beautiful, idyllic childhood in her family's country estate comes to a heartbreaking halt when her dear mother becomes ill. Before she dies she tells her daughter the great secret to finding true happiness, "Have courage and always be kind." These words become the cornerstone of Ella's life after her mother's death and especially after father remarries the cruel Lady Tremaine and brings her and idiot daughters to his and Ella's home. All three bring nothing but consternation and endless cruelty to Ella's life which is only made worse when her father dies and she is left alone to care for the family's estate.

      Now a servant in her own household, Ella has nothing but her animal friends and her mother's words to get her from one harrowing day to the next. When Lady Tremaine goes to far and pushes her to the limit, Ella runs off to the forest where she meets a handsome hunter, simply named Kit who tells her he works at the palace. Literally enchanted by him, Ella's hopes to see him again, whenever that may be.

      Unbeknownst to her, Kit turns out to be the heir presumptive to the throne who is trying to come to terms with his royal heritage. His dying father whom he worships and reveres (and in return loves him dearly) only wants to see Kit married well and an heir produced for the security of the kingdom. Albeit Kit's notions to marry for love, the king plans a great ball for Kit to find a bride are made and the invitation is sent out for eligible young maiden in the kingdom to attend the ball.

      Ella, her stepmother and stepsisters are elated at the news and Ella's only notion is to see Kit again, but Lady Tremaine steadfastly refuses to let Ella leave the house. When she mocks and insults Ella for her desire to go as well as destroying her mother's gown, Ella has every opportunity to give into anger and resentment. Instead she holds her tongue and watches as they leave without her. Even in the midst of her grief and sorrow, Ella's kindness is her center-point and is rewarded when an unexpected person arrives and gives her a chance, not for dreams and wishes, but rather for staying true to her mother's words of courage and kindness.

      Of course I'm not going to give you the whole story, but a few flicks of a wand brings together the ultimate stuff of fairy tales which lead up to the ultimate happily ever after. What I loved so much about this story was Ella and Kit's devotion to their parents. Ella's remembrance of her parents become her salvation and while Kit and his father may not always see eye to eye on thoughts of marriage, Kit still respects him greatly.

      Both Lily James and Richard Madden were exceptional in their roles as the the raggedy waif-turned princess and her handsome prince. Lily had every single aspect one would want in Cinderella and her prettiness was just the icing on the cake. She made a true heroine who rather believed in having a good and moral heart, then instead of believing in herself and only thinking of making her dreams come true. Richard Madden brought a new life and energy to the famed 'prince charming.' Although, charming he was. their was a great deal of depth to him, that oftentimes isn't found in storybook princes. He wasn't just a piece of royal eye-candy, he really had an emotional storyline that made him real and relatable, instead shallow and unattainable.

~ ~ ~

Lady Tremaine
Drisella and Anastasia  
Sophie Mcshera, Cate Blanchett, and Holiday Granger

      Lady Tremaine, an evil, conniving and manipulative woman who is only fueled by social climbing and her hatred for Ella. Her daughters, Drisella (Sophie McShera) and Anastasia (Holiday Granger) lazy, idiotic, and downright worthless. All three have nothing better to do than lie around and make Ella's life miserable.

      Tremaine's disdain for Ella springs from the love that Ella's father had for her and how he clearly loved his biological daughter more than his new wife and how he still holds his former wife in great love and adoration. Angry at this, Lady Tremaine makes it her crusade to make sure Ella never knows happiness or joy. She humiliates her by turning her into a servant and allows her daughters to harass her every waking moment. She neither defends Ella or gives her a chance to defend herself. She takes advantage of Ella's kind character and tries to make it her weakness and downfall.

      Yet, no matter how hard she tries, Lady Tremaine cannot break Ella. She is unaware of the secret truth that Ella's mother revealed to her daughter on her deathbed. She refuses to see Ella's strong sense of duty and loyalty to loved ones even when they're gone. Tremaine's ultimate destruction becomes Ella's well-deserved happy ending and even after all the evil stepmother has done to tear her stepdaughter down, make her unhappy, and give up on life, Ella forgives her and walks away from her stepmother forever.

      Cate Blanchett was amazing! I've never seen her in a villainous role before, but she really became the wicked stepmother. She gave a sense of a woman who was once happy, but loss and desperation, which became eventually disappointment made her heartless beast with no capability to understand the human heart and turn a blind eye to the sadness of others. Drisella and Anastasia are the comic relief of the story. They're both as shallow and insipid as the fairy tale stepsisters come and neither one has a clue about actual living or loving, but in the end you see that even they gain redemption in Ella's eyes, even though, they know they don't deserve it.

~ ~ ~

The Fairy Godmother
Helena Bonham-Carter
     She was only in one scene, but being played by Helena Bonham-Carter, one scene is all one needs. The famed fairy godmother who made absolutely sure that sweet Cinderella made it to the ball is truly a magic confection off wit, sass, and pure love. One can safely say, without the fairy godmother, their would be no princess at the end of the story! The transformation scene of a pumpkin becoming a golden coach, mice becoming snow-white horses, lizards becoming footmen, and of course a torn, treasured gown becoming an elegant dress (worthy of any girl's dreams) was possibly the best scene in the movie.

~ ~ ~

"Have courage and always be kind." 
Cinderella (2015)
     After seeing this film, I knew that there were going to be audiences out there that were going to absolutely despise it. Second-wave feminists may frown and think Ella weak and spineless, but in my way of thinking, it takes more courage to forgive those who have wronged you and let your kindness rule your heart, than any female-empowered belief of thinking only of yourself.

     The costuming is nothing short of extraordinary, especially Cinderella's ball gown followed by her wedding gown. Everything costume was rich in detail and design from Ella's simple servant outfit to Lady Tremaine and her daughter's outrageous over-the-top dresses. The music was beautiful and had a modern touch that I wasn't expecting, but I loved.

     Still the best quality about Cinderella was the simple truths of kindness, courage and ultimate forgiveness that I think young girls need. It's not enough to take on the world with the mindset of being better than everyone else or using the excuse "I'm different, so the world doesn't understand me" mentality, but rather through working hard, creating a good heard and making a better world for others around you.