The Fault In Our Stars  

The_Fault_In_Our_StarsThe Fault In Our Stars is a mostly satisfying adaptation of the novel with the same name. It was downright witty and unconventional for a love story, but it didn’t bring with it the gravity and the depth of the story about two teenagers with cancer who fell in love with each other. The actors were really good in their roles but the shortness of the script as compared to what happened in the book limited what they could have brought more onto the screen.

I liked Shailene Woodley here more than in Divergent. It’s pretty amazing how she attuned herself to become the lead character Hazel Grace, making me think hard about what she looked like and how she acted on Divergent. Her fragile-looking yet really tough demeanor in this movie really captured how I pictured out her character while reading the book. Furthermore, the movie won’t be as good as it was without the great chemistry Woodley has with her onscreen partner, Ansel Egort. Egort was able to embody Hazel Grace’s love, Augustus Waters or simply Gus, with good conviction. His charm was contagious, which was the definitive description of his character in the book. The mere presence of these two together demanded the audience to look at them with earnest. More importantly, they’ve shown convincingly the exuberance of falling in love and being in love against all odds.

The movie was full of promise at the start. And it ably relived the wit, the sarcasm, the punch and the spirit of the book. Dealing with cancer could never be easy, much more so with dying. But love, even though complicated and such, would always bring light amidst this darkness caused about by dying. The film had successfully balanced the seriousness of the themes and the delight (and sometimes foolishness) of being in love. That is, at least before the final 30 minutes of the film.

When Gus and Hazel Grace went back to the United States after their trip to The Netherlands that made up of searching for their favorite book’s author (the enigmatic problematic alcoholic Peter von Hauten as portrayed by Willem Dafoe), learning about Anne Frank and enjoying each other’s company and more, the plot went downhill. The story suddenly felt rushed and some details could have been included even if they’d lengthen the film a bit more. A major character’s death felt like it was hastily put in. This part in the book made a lot of readers cry, but in the movie, it felt like it was just let out in the open very loosely.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed watching the film. That feeling of happiness amidst adversities always brings out something great inside of me and I thank the movie for that. Mind you, though, The Fault In Our Stars is not a feel-good movie in the strictest sense of the word. The movie is about the tragedy of dying, which was mostly glimpsed upon by the touching performances of the lead stars. However, the movie is not just about dying. It’s about trying to love and live amidst dying.

The Fault In Our Stars’ movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 3.5 out of 5

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X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men_Days_of_Future_Past_posterX-Men: Days of Future Past is the most exciting, most compelling and most beautiful X-Men movie since the first X-Men film in 2000.

As a fan of the X-Men comics, cartoons and video games, I was in such a wild ride (again) while seeing the characters that I love battling each other and manifesting their powers on the big screen. It was sort of like a dream come true! Just imagine the euphoria I would feel if this movie was several hours long!

Moving decades forward since the conclusion of the X-Men: First Class, Days of Future Past presents the greatest threat to mutants that could wipe them all out: the sentinels. As mutants seem to die one by one because of the indomitable and powerful sentinels, Professor X and the remaining members of his team take action by doing what seemed to be impossible: sending a mutant to the past. The chosen mutant, Wolverine, would be tasked to change what has been done that has led to their current predicament. Will Wolverine be successful in changing the events that coursed through time?

Bryan Singer is a perfect fit for the X-Men movies. With his delicate and classy presentation of the characters, the engaging battle scenes, from the funny and light moments to the oh-so-awesome-how-did-they-do-that action-laden sequences, you would know he really loves and cares for the whole X-Men saga. The great camerawork and editing of the scenes paved for a very engaging film. And needless to say (but still I will say it), the visual effects used are superb. I have never been so happy while watching an X-Men movie.

Both senior and younger actors really impressed with their great portrayals all throughout the film. With the calculated and careful ways of the old Professor X and Magneto made alive by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, firmness and persuasiveness of the young Magneto by Michael Fassbender, careless ladida of Quicksilver by Evan Peters, the fragile yet still fighting young Professor X by James McAvoy, the cool shifting aura of Mystique made possible by Jennifer Lawrence, the tough, charismatic presence of Wolverine by Hugh Jackman, the unyielding determination of Bolivar Trask by Peter Dinklage, the smart, funny and engaging characterization of Beast by Nicholas Hoult, the classy moves of Storm by Halle Berry, the delicateness of Blink (Fan Bingbing), the  perseverance of Kitty Pride (Ellen Page), the coolness of Iceman (Shawn Ashmore). The list of awesome characterization of the actors  just goes on and on.

Days of Future Past, though, is not just an entertaining film. It comes with a powerful message. In the film, mutants are feared because of their abilities and this is why they’re persecuted or even killed. In real life, people in all kinds of minority are persecuted because of the others’ fear of their potential: what they can do and how they can do it. This film does not merely suggest equality, but right treatment people deserve no matter what or who they may be.

X-Men: Days of Future Past’s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 5 out of 5

Maleficent

Maleficent_posterMaleficent marks an age in Disney as they embark on making an iconic villain in their famous fairytales as a heroine. It would be probably seen as unbelievable if such a notion of making a villain somehow a protagonist in a movie-for-children many, many years before. But the powers-at-be in the gigantic mouse company might have wanted to push boundaries with this notion, and it’s a good thing to say that they have succeeded. Malefice
nt is a beautiful reimagining of the fairytale about the popular sleeping princess and the avenging fairy who cast upon her the sleeping curse.

Angelina Jolie is Maleficent, the supposedly evil fairy who cursed Aurora, a princess in a faraway kingdom, to sleep on her 16th birthday until only a true love’s kiss would wake her. Maleficent wouldn’t be as good as it is without Jolie, who’s able to embody a character that’s been embittered into deep hatred yet still yearning for redemption. The seemingly evil character’s story was told very well, making the audiences understand more her actions and her reasons for doing them.

Thankfully, the supporting cast is able to carry on and channel Jolie’s outstanding acting. Elle Fanning (Dakota Fanning’s younger sister) is good as the beautiful, graceful and curious Aurora. Sharlto Copley (better known as the protagonist in District 9) delivered well as Maleficent’s friend who turned into a power-lusting king and Aurora’s father. Sam Riley is funny and entertaning as Maleficent’s raven shapeshifter sidekick Diaval. Imelda Staunton (known as Professor Umbridge in Harry Potter is Knotgrass in this movie), Juno Temple (as Thistlewit) and Lesley Manville (a frequent collaborator of director Mike Leigh is Flittle here) are fun to watch as the three bickering fairy godmothers who are tasked to take care of Aurora until her 16th birthday.

I had reservations before watching the movie. The critics didn’t like it, some people I know did and yet still a few really did not. But after removing all doubts and just letting myself drown into the movie, I was smitten by it. I am pretty sure it’s not only me; the children in the audience were smitten as well. They liked what they saw as I even heard them shouting, jeering or laughing at some moments in the film. Maleficent has that fairytale feel that Disney movies can only give. It seemed like the time stopped and only the moving pictures in front seemed to matter. The impressive visuals and beautiful cinematography made Maleficent really enchanting and captivating. And have you listened well to the poignant musical score? It is very much effective in carrying out the mood of the scenes that the audience is sure to have ridden well along.

The slow pace at the start and the bits and pieces of sloppy writing prevented this movie from being an exceptional one. A reimagining of a classic story is such a hard task to do, and people who essentially know the story might not that be easily impressed. But still, just with Angelina’s brilliant performance and the appealing visuals, Maleficent is a good film to watch.

Maleficent’s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4 out of 5