Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Dark Knight - Movie Review

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to type up the review for perhaps the movie of the year. I had been forewarned by a friend or two about the sheer epic-ness of this movie. Meer words cannot do this film justice.

Obviously, the acting should be the first thing talked about. These were some huge characters roles to fill and every single one was nailed. Starring in the latest edition of such a popular story line is daunting in itself. Christian Bale is all angsty badass again. I think the switch from Katie Holmes to Maggie Gyllenhaal worked very well, almost better than before. The introduction of Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent is brilliant for his physical and character contrast to Bale’s Bruce Wayne. And of course the person America’s been freaking out over: Heath Ledger. I would say all the hype is worth it. I have never seen an actor so in to character like this before. All the little nuances, mannerisms, speech, appearances just complete the character, making the Joker completely believable. Award winning performance, most definitely.

Now for the screen play. Holy cow? The story was so dark and deep and insane. I always knew the Batman series was dark, but this movie takes it to a whole new level. The action, the drama, the excitement, the intrigue, the tears… this movie had it all. The several epic fight scenes were well choreographed and placed within the movie. They were rough and tough but still managed to pull out a few comic-book-esq moments. The psychoanalysis going on throughout the movie amazed and delighted me. Psychology and violence never fought together so well as in this movie. It really makes you question yourself and society and our heroes. Yet there is still an uplifting moment of pride in being a member of human society. Visuals were above par. Very little if any CGI was obvious, though you know they had to have used it. Even some of the in-your-face CGI moments were realistic. And big-badda-booms were very pretty. Woe are the tears, though. I haven’t ever cried over a comic-book movie. This one made the tears well up.

On a note that is rarely talked about, the musical score is amazing. Normally I don’t pay attention to the music, which is bad to say, I know, but it usually blends into the movie like background noise. But that’s impossible to do with this movie. I was well aware, during the whole movie, of the scores being played because they made the scenes complete. There’s even a bit of a surprise in the music if you actually pay attention!

So in conclusion: holy cow, zomg, wtfbbq, so freaking amazing. This movie is worth multiple viewings at full price. Can you say movie of the decade? Let’s see if the next movie can top this.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hellboy II: The Golden Army Review

*** Spoiler Alert! Huge spoilers at the end of the review! I ruin the end of the movie!***

This movie was definitely kick-ass. From the fight scenes to the character development, Hellboy II rocked my socks. This time around, the producers included a few different twists that I was totally not expecting from a comic book movie.

As usual, the fight scenes are worthy of supernatural creatures and comic book glory. I particularly enjoyed when the extra comic, over the top, hilarity ensued during fights such as in the Troll Market, with all the tossing around and face slapping. These kinds of fights are definitely worth the laughter. Yet there is still the epic boss fight at the end of the movie with it’s ‘on the edge of your seat’ holy-cow-ness that leaves you anticipating the final outcome. And of course there are a few moments of Hellboy hilarity that ease the tension of the fight scene. All of the fights are well choreographed and showed the particular talents and flaws of the characters involved.

I was forewarned that the movie is quite long but flows well. I would have to agree with this person’s opinion. Coming in at just under two hours long, Hellboy was one of the longest movies I’ve seen lately, but I was definitely not bored during any part of it. The producers and writers did a fairly awesome job of filling up every moment with meaningful material relevant to the story-line and characters. Even if these moments were totally cliché or excessive or absolutely adorable, they were there and well played.

The one thing that threw me off most within the movie was the central theme of love and family. The theme is almost pounded into you at every turn. It was a bit excessive to me, very contradictory to what I think of concerning comic book stories. That said, this theme is well played throughout the movie, being infused to every aspect of the plot. From the beginning short of Red and his ‘father’ to Liz’s pregnancy to the twin royals to Abe’s falling for Princess Nuala, the theme of love and family influences everyone’s decisions and eventually the outcome of the story. Liz’s love of Red leads her to decide to condemn the world to hell in his hands and the knowledge of her pregnancy to bring him back to life (aw!). The cliché of Abe’s love of Princess Nuala leads him to deliver the last piece of the crown into Prince Nuada’s hands to save her, which, again cliché, doesn’t happen anyways (poor Abe). And Princess Nuala’s love of Abe takes her own life and that of her twin, saving the world for the love to come. I do absolutely love the use of these themes as a way to connect humans and mutants through the universal weakness and strength of love. Through the movie we see Red’s apparently failure to become a part of human society, yet in the end he achieves this goal through his love of Liz. Even Abe’s very human infatuation-turned love of Princess Nuala and the things he does for her is a mirror of a human relationship. This connection in itself is what made sitting through all the unusual yet cliché lovey-dovey moments in the movie, which were obviously several.

So in the end I would definitely give this movie a double-thumbs-up. It’s worth the money to see in theaters and makes a most excellent sequel to the first Hellboy movie.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Occupation: Homemaker

In this day and age, women are pressed to go out and bring home their own share of the bacon. The household has become a dual income situation. Couples are bringing in more income which betters the finances. However, is it truly better for the family as a whole?

Until the Women’s Rights Movement and through most of the century, there was no taboo against a wife and mother staying home to take care of the house and raise the children. It was expected! Well, if your man’s bringing home the bacon, the least you could do is clean house. I’ve heard the grumbling about the unfairness of this arrangement. After working even a short while in this full time job and seeing my mom the homemaker’s schedule on a normal day, I’d say each job is pretty equal. My mom stayed home and raised us, never going back to work except to take in kids to babysit. Raising and cleaning up after three children is a lot of work.

Speaking of children, how would they react to both parents working? It seems like it would harm the kids, especially young ones, to have only “nighttime” parents. The first few years are integral to a child’s development, which means it’s crucial that either or both of parents are there in the child’s life to mold and teach and bond with the child. In my situation, my older sister and I developed a wonderful relationship with our mother. Of course puberty threw us a detour when mom just wasn’t cool anymore, but overall having my mom here when I needed her was a blessing. Even to this day she’s there to be called upon. In my dad’s defense, he is the more easy-going of the two, so when he got home the reins were loosened.

There are a few alternate options that can go along with being a homemaker. This would of course assume that you can find free time! If you can find time, pick a hobby! There are several to choose from that can benefit your sanity and offer a chance for group and one-on-one projects. Another good option is to return to work once the kids are in a stable school environment, if you think you’re ready for it. No pressure though! Or if you’re not ready to return to the workforce but still want to make a little spending cash, offer to start babysitting other kids. My mom did this for several of our relatives for several years and managed to put that aside for saving (which helped her buy a new car after the storm!).

Now there will always be setbacks with your decision to be a homemaker. Obviously with one parent working, there will be a… well, not a shortage of money but not a surplus of it either. Just plan your budget wisely and it’ll be fine. My family made it! Another problem is an overbearing mother! Just because you stay home all the time doesn’t mean you have to do everything for your kids. It’s very important that your kids learn independence before leaving the nest because that can affect their ability to cope in the wide world. Most importantly, moms, don’t let yourself go! Put on that dash of makeup, borrow a yoga dvd from the library, walk around the block, involve the kids and hubby. There’s no excuse!

So, see, it’s not so bad being a homemaker. There are so many positives to it, mainly being the time you spend with your kids. Just watch out for the problems and you’ll be fine. It’s time to be proud to be a stay-at-home-mom again!

Abort! Abort!

Or don’t. This is one of those issues that people just can’t butt out of, usually because of their “Christian duty.” Women have reasons behind getting an abortion. It’s a huge decision that nay-sayers automatically say wouldn’t be an issue because they choose life. But they can’t understand what it’s really like to make that decision until they themselves are forced to make it. I hold one opinion, but having never had that experience, I could very well change my mind.

I hope most of us would agree that abortions for medical reasons are acceptable. Unless you’re a crazy fanatic, I think anyone would choose their own life over something that can be created again. Think about it! There’s always a second chance, be it another pregnancy or adoption. Fetuses can be replaced! Babies not so much, but fetuses yes. So please, don’t throw away your life, for medical or personal reasons. If you’re not ready and you think this is the right decision, don’t let someone else’s religious beliefs get in your way. Unless those beliefs are yours too, then you have some serious thinking to do. You made a mistake, I’m sure you understand this by now. So the question is: do you want to raise this mistake and mess up your life as is? It will get better. However, raising a kid is a huge responsibility that not everyone is ready for, especially if not planned. It’s okay to say that this unexpected pregnancy is too much to handle and abort the mission.

On the other side of the spectrum, though, you totally just created this little blob of cells that will eventually become a real person! Do you feel the rush of power yet? Any factor in the creation of life is pretty awesome, no matter what theory you follow. This awesomeness should be embraced and loved and not given up so quickly. There are so many rewards to being a parent that it’s definitely worth the “joys” of pregnancy. Yes, every fetus deserves the right to develop further. This is perhaps not a constitutional right, per say, but still a universal right. You may regret the happening, but you will definitely not regret the end result. If you’re still on friendly terms with him, kiss and thank the guy who knocked you up! If he’s a good enough guy, and he’s willing, don’t get rid of him. This is a learning lesson for the both of you.

There are a few arguments I could pull for both sides. Adoption is always an option if you can bear to pop out the mass of goo then hand it off. Many couples would love to have your newborn. Or it can join the sea other unwanted kids the nation forgets about, left to make the rounds in foster homes. What if you can’t afford the responsibility? Well, that comparably cheap trip to the clinic can save you tens of thousands of dollars along the road. Or you can avoid the clinic and be given money from the government to help pay for your “wonderful mistake.” The old “my parents would kill me” line doesn’t really work, unless you parents really would. At worst, they’ll disown you and kick you out, in which case it’s time to grow up anyways. At best, they’ll not talk to you for a while then welcome you back to their good graces and loving support.

If you’re still not sure where your feelings fall, just say you support both or neither. I mean, you’re playing “God” either way. Women have the right to choose!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What's in a Date?

Things have definitely changed in the ways of the dating scene since our parents’ and grandparents’ times. More than just a few rules have changed over the past few decades, some for the better and some perhaps for the worse.

Ask anyone and money will be their top answer of what’s changed the most. And it has! ‘Back in the day,’ men were the workers who brought home the bacon so they were expected to pay for dates. Ladies, we’ve lost that perk! In this day and age when both parties work for a living, this line of payment may become blurry. I say ‘may’ because some people haven’t caught on yet. If you both are making the money, then you both need to be paying. Either split it evenly or by order or switch events. If your bacon isn’t equal, or comparable in any way, don’t sweat! You can cover the movie tickets while he gets the sit-down dinner. Just keep in mind the ratio of your wages to his, or vice versa, which allows for the person making more to pay for more and still come out even with the person who makes/pays less, as a way to justify doing that. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with making more money than your man! Just be fair and even and talk about your options. Communication!

So where do you go for a date nowadays? Dinner and a movie is a classic option. Or just dinner or just a movie. How about a stroll through the mall or on the lakefront or down in the Quarters. With or without friends or another couple. The challenge is to find something unique. Rent a horse buggy in the Quarters. Go sailing (a personal favorite now)! Try the arcade or amusement park. Local festivals are a great free and fun idea. Think outside the box a bit. First impressions are important but pleasant memories last longer.

Let’s talk about clothing, ladies. And you gents too. Be it your first date, your tenth, or your 100th, there is absolutely no reason to be dressed at extremes. Leave your hoochie skirts and holey t-shirts at home, unless you’re going to a costume party. Think about your outfit for at least 30 minutes but no more than an hour. Always dress appropriately; don’t wear heels to the mall or tennis to a nice restaurant. Jeans and a nice shirt, collared, silky or otherwise not ordinary shirt, is a great combo for most any date. If you’re going on a surprise date, ask the guy to give you a hint or suggestion so that you can dress correctly. Fashion is just as important for you fellas too! Same rules apply: no ragged t-shirts or torn pants. Brush your hair, shave, dig out your clean tennis or sandals if the occasion allows. Ladies like for their guys to look as nice as they do. Oh, and we love a guy in a tie! (hint hint)

Both of these being valid points, I think propriety wins out as the most changed aspect of dating. Many of us may be familiar with the ‘Royal Jerks Society’ rule of ‘put out or get out.’ If the guy you’re with believes in this rule, darlin’, get out. Giving up any piece of you is not worth a potential one night stand. Even if you think there’ll be anything more, think about it just as carefully. If there really is going to be more, then putting out on the first date can potentially harm your fledgling relationship. If he’s worth a few more dates then he’s worth going a bit slow. Try just a simple kiss after the first date and see how that works. Who knows what a simple kiss can lead to if you’re ready? But if you’ve already decided that you're going to put out, just be sure it’s because you want it and not him. That whole regret thing really sucks.

There we go: four problems with dating in the modern world. 1) Always share costs if possible. 2) Find a unique, or close enough, place for a date. 3) Remember to dress appropriately. 4) You don’t have to put out on the first date. Remember these four things and dating should get a bit better for ya!