Whale of a Tale Productions

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American Sniper, by Clint Eastwood (2014)

Clint Eastwood has done it again. This is easily a best picture nominee, and Bradley Cooper has proved he can act. Not only is this a brutally violent and true war story, but it is an incredible and moving story. Easily one of the best films of the year, and an incredible story of family, and war, and how war can effect soldiers.

Bradekey Cooper plays Navy Seal Sniper Chris Kyle, the most effective US sniper in the history of the military. The film opens like the trailer, with Kyle in Iraq providing up high sniper cover for a US convoy. At the time, all men are considered enemy combatents, and he sees a man make a phone call, then step out of site. A woman and child then walk out of the building and towards the convoy, and Kyle sees a russian grenade, but no one else has eyes, so he must make a call.

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The Imitation Game by Morten Tyldum (2014)

I had wanted to see this film, as I have always been interested in the story of Alan Turing the original creator of a modern computer, and am a fan of both Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, but had heard bad things about this film. Luckily that bad word was all wrong and this is quite a well done and enjoyable film about this strange but brilliant man and what he did to end World War II. This film is quite enjoyable and well worth seeing!

The film starts in 1951, with a robbery at mathematician Alan Turing’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) house, for which he claims nothing was stolen. Detective Robert Nock (Rory Kinnear) is suspicious though and begins to look into Turing’s seemingly classified past from World War 2, suspecting Turing may be a spy. We then go back the beginning of the war, with Turing applying for a job at Bletchly Park, the secret codebreaking facility run by commander Alastair Denniston (Charles Dance) who takes an instant disliking to Turing. Major General Stewart Menzies (Mark Strong) sees something different though, even when Turing wants to fire the rest of the department Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode) and John Cairncross (Allen Leech).

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The Theory of Everything by James Marsh (2014)

I was excited for this film as soon as I heard about it, and the trailer even brought a tear to my eye. Stephen Hawkings story is just so sad and amazing, that I could not have been more excited to see this film, and it did not disappoint. While not the best film of the year, it is certainly one of the best, and Eddie Redmayne’s transformation into Stephan Hawkings is absolutely amazing. In fact it would a real crime if he doesn’t win best actor, because he does such a good job with physicality. This film is really worth seeing.

Based on the book Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Wilde Hawkings, this book stars Eddie Redmayne as a young Stephen Hawkings. Hawkings is a graduate student at Cambridge trying to figure out his subject for his doctorate when he meets the beautiful Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones) a student studying romance languages, and they fall in love, but Stephen has a problem. His clumsiness and falling turns out to be Amotryophic Lateral Sclerosis also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and it fatal, and he is not given a year to live.

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Interstellar by Christopher Nolan (2014)

As a huge sci fi nut and  fan of Christopher Nolan I had been very excited for this film for some time, but was depressed when I heard the reviews, but still wanted to experience the film in IMAX and see the world that Nolan had created. We saw it in IMAX, and I was dismayed not only by the awful IMAX experience (yes the IMAX shots looked great, but the rest of the film had so many extreme close ups that just looked awful blown up huge on the screen), but also the awful story and bad execution of the film. The huge and interesting real sci fi elements become too grossly entangled in a the family story that I didn’t care about and which really didn’t make sense at the end. The plot just has too many ridiculous holes and idiotic elements that drag everything down so the visuals can’t help the awful story. And the film doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be, having a huge shift with the big twist in the middle, that does nothing but drag the film down. I was ultimately disappointed by this film, which tried way too hard and keeps shifting, with parts trying to be 2001 a Space Odyssey and different genres and never making a cohesive film that makes any sense.

In the future the Earth has regressed after a blight that has killed all crops except corn, and which will eventually kill the earth. All of mankind has reverted to farming, and even the militaries have disappeared (which makes no sense, as they would have taken over with Martial Law). A former NASA pilot named Cooper (Matthrew McConaughey) runs a farm with his father in law Donald (John Lithgow), farmer son Tom (Timothée Chalamet) [who Cooper ignores as he hates farming] and loved daughter Murphy “Murph” (Mackenzie Foy). Murph thinks  her room is haunted, with books moving to make messages, and the dust moving, but Cooper ignores her. While they are driving to school, they see a military drone, and chase it and Cooper hacks it and brings it down to steal the electronics. Murph then gets in trouble at school for claiming the moon landings were real, which they now teach were fake to make people only believe in farming. After a big dust storm Cooper sees strangeness in the dust in Murph’s room and realizes it is gravitational waves, and gets coordinates from it, which lead him and Murph to a hidden secret NASA facility.

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Birdman by Alejandro González Iñárritu (2014)

Honestly I had been wanting to see Birdman since I originally saw it’s awesome trailer, so I had high hopes for the film, and surprisingly they were blown out of the water. In fact this film is easily the best film of the year before I have even seen everything. In fact I think this film will sweep except for best actor, and not because Michael Keaton is not awesome, but because Eddie Redmayne just did such a good job with the physicality of Stephen Hawkings in The Theory of Everything. And this should especially win for the cinematography Emmanuel Lubezki which is stunning. The fact that most of the film is done to look as if it is in a single continuos master shot is amazing. It can be likened to Hitchcock’s Rope, though with more seamless special effects to help the effect. And that shot is stunning, as are the performances. I would say that Edward Norton and Emma Stone are likely to win awards here for supporting actor and actress, and overall this film deserves best picture and best director. Even the strange drumming jazz soundtrack really works. This film is just amazing, and really the first absolute must see film of the year!

Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is a washed up film actor known for playing the early superhero Birdman in 3 films, but not known for much else. He is now in New York staging his own adaption of the Raymond Carver short story WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT LOVE, which he has written and is directing. Also staring in his play are his possibly pregnant girlfriend Laura (Andrea Riseborough), first time broadway actress Lesley (Naomi Watts) and the awful actor Ralph (Jeremy Shamos). Ralph gets hit by a light from the ceiling falling on him (which Riggan claims to have done, and we do see him floating while meditating and moving objects with his mind through the movie, as well as hearing Birdman mocking him and what he is doing). Lesley then brings in her boyfriend Mike (Edward Norton) a well known and well reviewed actor, who is great, but bullies Riggan and starts changing the play right away. Riggan is being helped by his daughter Sam (Emma Stone) a recovering drug addict, who he was never a good father too, and he wants to reconnect with, but just doesn’t know how. Riggan is also financing the play (and Mike’s high rates) on his own, with only the help of his friend and lawyer Jake (Zach Galifianakis).

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Fury, written and directed by David Ayer (2014)

Now I do enjoy war films, so this seems right up my alley, and I did really enjoy the tank stuff, which I have never seen in a film, but overall I still felt this film fell a little flat. And it can really be chalked up to two things in my opinion. The first is that none of the characters are given any back story at all, so they are only what you see and that is caricatures. You have the Latino Guy, the Religious Guy, The Redneck, the Surly but secreted affected Boss, and the kid that is supposed to be your pathway into the movie. No more depth than that. And the second major point is a scene out of the tank in the middle of the movie that actually brings me away from many of the characters instead of making me closer to them, and really doesn’t fit. So while I did like the tank scenes, the lack of character and the main central scene of the film really drag this film down making it much more mediocre than it could have been. I would only see this is you love war movies, otherwise stay away, or see a better one.

Te film follows a M4A3E8 Sherman Tank dubbed Fury, and it’s 5 man crew as they head into Germany on the final push of World War 2. We have their leader Staff Seargant Dan Collier (Brad Pitt), Bible thumping gunner Boyd Swan (the always awful Shia Lebouf), the redneck loader and mechanic Grady Travis (Jon Bernthal), the driver Trini Garcia (Michael Peña) and newly added, barely trained replacement gunner Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman). Collier is hard as hell on Ellison as he is not as good as the rest of the crew who have been together since North Africa, and gets people killed because he won’t shoot. Collier goes so far as to force him to shoot a German prisoner in the back.

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Hector and the Search for Happiness, by Peter Chelsom (2014)

I had wanted to see this film after seeing the trailer as I am a fan of both Simon Pegg and Rosamund Pike, and it looked a bit like Walter Mitty from last year which I loved. Had missed the initial run of the film, but AMC gave out 2 free tickets for AMC Stubs member for last weekend, so my mom and I went. I was surpised at how much I enjoyed the film considering how awful the rating on rotten tomatoes is. It has a score of 33%, and yet I would have given it at least a 70%, or higher. Simon Pegg is great, and you just like him. Sure he is being a selfish idiot for much of the film, but overall I really did enjoy the film, mainly because of him. And Pegg does excell at playing an eternal child who has never really grown up.

Simon Pegg stars as the titular Hector. Hector is a psychiatrist who always has business as he charges very little. He has a lovely girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike), but his life is the same every day, with Clara taking car of him, and day in and out at his office, and he has started to wonder about life and happiness, as he is no longer happy. He even dreams of his childhood dog who died (probably because of him) and admits to having no friends, not even the people he flies his model airplanes with. Hector decides to go on a journey to search for happiness, but also to reconnect with his college friends and love. He doesn’t know how long he will be gone and Clara is crushed, but packs for him and hides a notebook to log his journey. Clara knows something is up as she saw a photograph of him with his college friend and girlfriend in his sock drawer, and it is gone when she packs, so he has taken it with him.

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The worst season of Doctor Who ever?

I was excited to see a new older Doctor, though I was hoping for John Noble, but was excited to see what Stephen Moffat and Peter Capaldi could pull off. Unfortunately it was not good. In fact it was really really bad. Bad stories, bad acting, a bad twist. And Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) the worst companion ever, worse than Mel! In fact it makes me wonder how Moffat pulled off the amazing 50th anniversary episode.

Not one episode of this season was well written, and the overall arch with the evil Mary Poppins Missy was just awful.

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 by Marc Webb, 2014

Spider-Man has always been my favorite comic book character. His was the first comic book I ever picked up and read, and has always been the hardest for me to stop reading when I have had to give up comics at various times (with X-men a close second), so of course I have to go see Spider-Man. And these films are oh so much better than the Sub Par Sam Raimi films, even if I don’t think Andrew Garfield is good enough looking to play Peter Parker, though his performance is pretty good. I did like the first Amazing Spider-Man reboot, though this film is as not as good as that one.

Emma Stone is just perfect as Gwen Stacy, though there is still something not quite right about these films, as compared to the true Marvel comic books. Really the only good part is the Peter and Gwen Stacy sequences. The music is totally forgettable and doesn’t add much to the films. Paul Giamatti is just too over the top, even for a comic book villain. And having to introduce Harry Osborne lessened his impact. As does having 2 big end villain battles, both with people driven crazy by getting their powers.

And while I do enjoy the film in it’s way, there is just something not good about it. Still I do love how much they did follow the comic book for the big event of this film, down to the character costumes! The 3D is fantastic though, and really does give you the feel of being the web slinger, going through Manhattan, which is amazing. Overall I do recommend this film, and did like it very much. I just wish Marvel themselves were doing it instead of FOX (then Spider-Man could show up Avengers too), as they would do better.

The film starts with us seeing more of what happened to Peter’s father Richard (Campbell Scott) and mother Mary (Embeth Davidtz) that was just hinted at in the last film. We see Richard recording a video message, saying not to believe what they would say about him, when he left. Then we see from the last film where his office is ransacked and they leave young Peter with his Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle. They get on a private plain and take off, and he is transferring his data from his laptop, but they are betrayed. Mary is killed, and Richard manages to fight off the guy and knock him out of the plane and transfer the data before the plane crashes and the Parkers are killed.

In the present, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is Spider-Man and has broken his promise to Police Captain George Stacy (Denis Leary) and is seeing his love Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Spider-Man captures armored car robber Aleksei Systevich (Paul Giamatti), and saves OsCorp worker Max Dillon (Jamie Fox), who is obsessed with Spider-Man. This makes him late for his High School graduation, where Gwen is giving her speech. Peter keeps seeing Captain Stacy in visions and he goes to see Gwen that night at a restaurant with her family and is going to break up with her, but she breaks up with him as she can’t take it anymore.

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Article on new Star Trek Films I totally agree with

I know this is normally just movie reviews, but this article on What Culture, “10 Ways Star Trek Just Isn’t Star Trek Anymore” by David Hooks is just something I 100% agree with. JJ just totally screwed up Star Trek and it is unlikely we will ever get our old Star Trek back. Not that all of it was always amazing (I am talking to you Enterprise), but it was still Star Trek, and JJ has broken the entire Star Trek universe!

Well worth a read!

The Croods by Kirk DeMicco and Chris Sanders (2013)

DreamWorks has created an alright 3D animated film. A bit too much of a lame rom com feel to it, but at least it isn’t a musical, and has some funny, if forgettable scenes. The obvious for 3D action scenes don’t add much in 2D, but the characters are like-able enough for one viewing. Certainly better than Frozen, but not nearly as good as Epic!

The Croods are a Neanderthal family who have survived thanks to their adherence to their old rules that are kept on their cave walls. Never to go out at night, nothing new is good, to always hide, etc. The rules are enforced by the father Grug (Nicholas Cage). The family is wife Ugga (Catherine Keener), chubby son Thunk (Clarke Duke), rabbid baby daughter Sandy, hated mother-in-law Gran (Cloris Leachman) and the curious and headstrong daughter Eep (Emma Stone). Eep hears something and goes out at night and meets Guy (Ryan Reynolds), who is clever and inventive and learns from new things. He tells Eep that the world is ending and tries to get her to go with him, but she has to return to her family, but he gives her a shell to signal him. Eep returns hone, but catastrophe strikes, and their cave is destroyed. They end up in a new green land, and Grug wants a new cave, but Eep signals Guy who is traveling to a far mountain to be safe.

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Frozen by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee (2013)

Disney has returned to the Disney princesses in full force with this 3D animated dud. Not only a bland storyline, but the songs, which I am never a huge fan of will leave even a Disney fanatic flat. This is a total waste of time, and makes me lament that Disney has not learned more from Pixar. I can’t believe this film has done so well because it is just awful.

In a snowy fairy tale Northern Europe, the eldest daughter of the King (Maurice LaMarche), princess Elsa (Idina Menzel) has developed ice powers, and accidentally injures her younger sister Anna (Kristen Bell). To save her the King and Queen take Anna to the trolls, who save her by erasing her memories of her sister’s magic. Not long after the King and Queen are killed on a journey, and Elsa locks off the castle, and locks herself in her room, leaving Anna all alone, and not understanding why. When Elsa is to turn 18 there is to be a coronation, where they will have to open the palace. Anna quickly falls for Prince Hans of the Southern Isles (Santino Fontana), and tries to get Elsa to agree, but the emotions make her powers go crazy, and the Evil Duke Weselton (Alan Tudyk of Firefly) declares Elsa a menace. Elsa flees into wilderness, causing an eternal winter to fall on the kingdom.

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