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This article was originally posted on Examiner.com:
Insurgent combines a grim world, gripping action, and fierce pain to carve new paths in the dystopian genre.
Insurgent is the second film in the Divergent trilogy, based on the books written by Veronica Roth, and though the world building has unmistakable similarities to dystopian flicks (also based on novels), like The Hunger Games and The Giver,Insurgent offers many wholly unexpected turns and paths that set it on its own.
In the wake of genocide from the last film, the dark world comes under the assault of the power hungry from the Erudite and Dauntless factions and the underbelly of the quaint faction-based society is revealed to be hungry and teeming with anger.
The scenes depicting the concrete rubble and steel skeletons of the city resonate the state of this world after the last time war erupted, two hundred years prior.
Tris and her brother Caleb, her love, Four, and her Loki-like nemesis Peter have very little respite before their quartet is under attack just as the factions system itself is threatened by an impending war deemed necessary to procure peace.
The main character is nearly destroyed, as Tris is put to the breaking point.
Very rarely can a film depict just how close someone comes to the edge before losing their sanity, yet still retaining sympathy and a painful amount of empathy for the character. Insurgent does this in a manner that tests the audience and Tris again and again in surprising, twisted, dark, and terrible ways.
This film is a dystopic force.
It plays on the audience’s emotions and rivets viewers with numerous tightrope action sequences, and *Spoiler Warning* the prolific Sims from the previous film return to threaten to undo Divergents’ sanity while breaking their soul and ultimately the physical body.
The ruthless Jeanine orchestrates this, as she seeks the means to take over the Chicago city and its ruins while hunting down all Divergents.
This proves to be far more than the protagonist and Divergent Tris can handle as the film measures out a tremendous amount of guilt, self-loathing, and fear in her.
The gritty thrill ride has some shocking and thought provoking actions at its ending as well that leaves the audience hungry for more!
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This article was originally published for Examiner.com.
The Nolan brothers have done the impossible with Interstellar: they have created their own innovative glimpse into the future of space exploration that is starkly different but still akin and on par with Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick’s vision in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
This movie is not 2001; it is its own animal.
And rarely has physics, time, and space been so gritty or intense.
At some point Christopher and Jonathan Nolan will go down as two of the greatest writers of the twenty-first century, and Interstellar is an awe-inspiring and stunningly real tribute to creative story telling, science fiction, and humanity’s responsibility to pioneer the universe.
What will Stephen Hawking say?
The visuals, plates kept turned over to prevent dust from covering their eating surfaces on our own planet to the black hole Gargantua, are some of the most powerful cinematography and special effects to ever grace the screen.
But is it realistic?
It certainly invokes such stomach clenching fits and such poignantly sad emotional journeys through the main characters’ lives that it could be.
And there are scenes of flying in Interstellar that put flight and space simulators to shame.
The artistic feel and trauma surrounding the unknown reaches of space, wormholes, black holes, and foreign galaxies leave an everlasting impression.
This film is deep, impactful, and transcendent in every sense of the word, and it is very moving.
Philosophy is evident in nearly every scene, but the genius of director Nolan is in bringing forth so much feeling along with the messages and thought-provoking themes.
Emerson, Omar Khayyam, and Joseph Campbell would surely have loved the sense of one-ness and existentialism that the wormhole and later on the black hole invoke in Interstellar; it is hard not to.
Notions of carpe diem, what it means to be conscious in the universe at large, and glimpses into the inner being that can at times go beyond the three dimensions we know and force the laws of time and gravity to bend to a human will pervades the film.
And there is nothing quite as grim as an earth where over-use of the land and frequent storms make farming a battle with blight and dust, where over-use of harmful carbon emissions has made such drastically extreme weather – and that is really what global warming and climate change does: alter the currents and bring about more extreme weather than anyone has ever seen – that the world’s people are starving irrevocably as the levels of oxygen fall to threaten the starving generation's ability to breathe.
It is in this dark scenario that philosophy blossoms and takes shape in myriad forms throughout this picture.
From the brilliant performance of Matthew McConaughey, playing Cooper, and his heart-wrenching relationship with his children in a broken world that is failing him and forcing him to leave them behind in the hope of saving earth’s people and meeting them again beyond all hope to the epic designs of salvation via the hands of science in Michael Caine’s great portrayal of Professor Brand, whose dilemma regarding a dying world versus the fate of the species, philosophy delves deeply and painfully.
The thought of loneliness overcoming all sense of damning and possibly murdering one’s entire planet wreaks havoc on the mind of Dr. Mann, played by Matt Damon, and his own philosophical mind is overrun in an attempt to justify his bleak decisions.
Spoiler warning over
There is the strongest display of humanity here, in all of its beauty and bruises amidst utterly surreal landscapes of planetary and interstellar space.
Interstellar as a film is a timeless work of art that will continue to change people’s lives for a long time to come.
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In a world far grittier and dangerous than our own, Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame To Kill For breathes new life into the force of reckoning that is Miller’s graphic novel of the same name.
This is not a sequel in the traditional movie sequel sense.
And that is a great thing.
Like The Godfather Part II, one of the greatest films ever made, the second installment in the Sin City series from directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller is an innovative and independent masterpiece all its own.
Roughly two thirds of A Dame To Kill For goes back in time to events before the storylines in Sin City and depicts, often panel for panel, one of Frank Miller’s legendary graphic novel stories, as it was written and drawn by himself.
Each story taking place in and around Sin City’s shadowy towns are Frank Miller’s babies, his love.
Often considered one of Sin City’s deepest storylines, A Dame To Kill For depicts Ava, played perfectly by Eva Green, one of the all-time earth-shatteringly brilliant, ruthless, transcendent heroines ever crafted as a character in a fictitious work, and it also has a fierce monster of an anti-hero in Dwight McCarthy (played by Josh Brolin).
Make no mistake this is one of Miller’s best stories and that is saying something.
It is no wonder that many critics have glossed over this movie without praising it, because what goes on between Dwight and Ava alone is far beyond the normal cookie-cutter stereotypes that Hollywood revels in understanding in just two minutes of seeing them on-screen.
This is a smart movie with depth, fun, and gore.
Some reviewers have even commented that the flick might have been great if the overwhelming violence toward women did not completely turn them off.
The violence of striking women is actually far less than it was in the first movie (that the same critics loved once flocks of readers brought millions into the box office).
Domestic violence is nothing to consider lightly, but the world in which Sin City resides is a magnified look into our world’s ugliest and most beautiful intricacies, and with that, in Sin City women are treated more equally than they are in the misogynistic western society of the real world, and so they are actually kicking ass themselves, as strong people.
In Sin City, strife seems to find everyone, just as it does in the books.
Though the hooker with the heart of gold, Gail (reprised by Rosario Dawson), comes from a long line of western movie character types, in Sin City she is a smart, active leader that thoroughly fights for what she believes in, decimating those standing in her way.
Gail blows the mold to smithereens.
For those that loved the first movie and wanted new material to follow-up certain events, Miller and Rodriguez intertwine a new storyline of “the lucky guy” Johnny, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and this crosses back and forth between Katie’s Bar where Nancy Callahan, depicted by the stunning Jessica Alba, is seeing Hartigan’s ghost after his untimely death in the first film.
What happens to the girl who only ever loved one man and lost him abruptly?
HINT: It is not good.
The remaining Roarke is at the heart of her troubles and after losing big poker hands to Johnny, the good senator is his thorn as well.
The new writing from Miller is every bit of Sin City that any of the graphic novels or the first movie was, and it does not disappoint.
Many great new characters are brought to the screen, such as a demented Dr. Kroenig played aptly by Christopher Lloyd and crime boss/living rock formation Wallenquist played by Stacy Keach.
But often stealing the show is one of Miller’s favorites, Marv!
The character Marv, reprised by the living embodiment of the graphic novel drawing Mickey Rourke, is back in all of his short quips, coat-wearing do-good-through-bashing-badguys glory.
How is this possible?
Well if the storyline of Marv in the first film took place after all of the others, than he would still be cracking heads and helping out his pals, as he does so damn well.
Impulsive Review Grade: A+
By R.J. Huneke