DIVERGENT Movie Reaction

If you’ve been following me for a while, then you know I was very excited, but also very nervous for the Divergent film adaption. I wasn’t a fan of a lot of the promotional stuff, and quite a few of the casting decisions had me nervous (particularly Shailene Woodley as Tris, Theo James as Four, and Ben Lloyd-Hughes as Will; so, you know, no one important).

However, I have now seen the movie twice (first at the Detroit pre-screening a few weeks ago, then again on opening night this weekend), and I LOVE it. It exceeded my low expectations by a long shot, and although it’s definitely not perfect, I also definitely recommend seeing it. The fact that so many people haven’t liked it took me by surprise, so: give it a chance.

Of the seven friends I’ve seen it with, only one didn’t like it (which has to be some sort of record, getting that many people I know to agree about a single movie). Two of those friends knew absolutely nothing about the books, and they both understood and enjoyed the movie just fine, so if you haven’t had a chance to read the trilogy yet: Rest assured. You probably will be okay.

For opening night, my group all went as Dauntless. Check out that rad Tris tattoo Hannah Sharpied on me.

Moving on to more specific thoughts (so if you haven’t seen it yet and don’t want spoilers, you should probably stop reading now): While, like I said, Divergent isn’t perfect, more of it works than doesn’t work. They made quite a few changes to the events of the story, but these generally don’t affect the overall plot or character arcs, and they work better on screen, I think, than staying one hundred percent true to the book would have.

The one change I do have a problem with is how Natalie (Tris’s mom) dies. In the book, she full-out, very obviously sacrifices herself in order to let Tris get away to safety. In the movie, however, she’s simply caught by a stray bullet as BOTH she and Tris run for it. Since it’s less obvious of a sacrifice, I’m a bit worried about how they’ll handle Tris’s character development from here, since she’s basically supposed to become obsessed with her parents’ deaths and figuring out what the definition of sacrifice is to her and all that.

Acting-wise, I thought the majority of the cast did great. Shailene Woodley absolutely blew me away. She’s definitely grown as an actress since I last saw her in something. Theo James also did fantastic (I barely even noticed his accent, which was a nice surprise since it was so noticeable in the trailer cuts). The two of them have fantastic chemistry–looks like that lengthy casting search for Four paid off.

IMG_0244A couple friends and I stalked the Divergent set last May. This is outside the central school all children attend until they’re sixteen in Tris Prior’s dystopian Chicago. Off to the right, here, are a certain two actors you may recognize. 

The supporting cast are generally good (Ben Lloyd-Hughes, it turns out, is a perfect Will). I’ve heard lots of complaints about how a lot of the actors don’t look like how the characters are described in the books, but I’ve always preferred someone who can play the personality properly to someone who looks spot on like the descriptions, so I didn’t mind.

Kate Winslet is appropriately icy and semi-robotic as Jeannine, I’m excited for Ansel Elgort‘s Caleb to get some more screen time in the next two (hopefully not three) installments, and although they get far less screen time than they deserve, Tris’s fellow initiates do well with what they have.

Which brings me to a problem I had with this adaption: the lack of time spent on the initiates. I get that the movie’s already two and a half hours long, but couldn’t we have spent just a few more of those minutes on developing Tris’s friends? Honestly, so little time was spent on Al that what time they did spend on him felt random and awkward. When he commits suicide, it barely even seems to matter, and that sucks. It’s an important issue they glossed right over.

Meanwhile, they cut all the scenes in which Peter (played by the ever charming Miles Teller) is truly awful (stabbing Edward, groping Tris, etc.). Without those, all we had was him taunting Tris in ways that honestly registered as funny–to the point that during the premiere screening, a friend and I kept whispering things to each other like, “Is it bad that I like Peter now?” followed by a, “No, I’m totally Team Peter now, too.” Which, you know, is not good. (Like at the end when they’re all running for the train and Peter is WAY ahead of the rest of them? This should be despicable, not lovable and funny.)

Christina (Zoë Kravitz) felt really underutilized. In the book she’s a fully-fleshed out, very important character with a life beyond the time she spends with Tris. In the movie, she is merely the easily forgettable sidekick. However, I was okay with the changes to the capture the flag scene, because I don’t think they would’ve had time to follow that whole subplot of the tension between Christina and Tris. If we could have gotten a bit more of her in other places to draw out her depth and unique characteristics, though, that would’ve been great. (And I just loved the changes to the capture the flag scene overall. So much more intense.)

Ferris Wheels are Scary YoMe showing off how brave I am on the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel. (Shailene Woodley and Theo James ACTUALLY climbed this thing for the movie. Truly Dauntless.)

Back to Caleb: I would have loved to have gotten a bit more of him at the beginning in order to give us a better hint that he wanted to defect to Erudite. This came completely out of left field in the movie, and although it’s a surprise in the book too, afterward we DO get Tris’s internal commentary about how she should have seen it coming. Obviously we can’t get that in the movie, so what we SHOULD have gotten were more foreshadowing-type hints leading up to it.

I thought Ray Stevenson‘s Marcus could have been better. He did well as far as tone and emotion and all that goes, but his American accent was terrible. Completely took me out of the scene whenever he spoke. Can we get the guy a vocal coach for Insurgent? Because otherwise he really is good. It’s just that accent.

(By the way, an apology for how much I’m improperly switching tenses in this. Back and forth and back and forth I go between past and present.)

The film does get a little campy sometimes, but I don’t think that’s necessarily bad. It keeps it from getting too dark.

A few of the lines I would’ve loved to have seen make it from the book weren’t there, like when Christina is afraid of moths and Will’s all, “That’s my girl. Tough as cotton balls.” And how the Dauntless are basically obsessed with chocolate cake. And, you know, the fact that Uriah exists (I’m excited for him to finally show up in the second one). The movie works fine without those elements, so it is fine. Just a bit of a personal disappointment for me.

IMG_0062Raised train platform set that Tris and her fellow initiates climb after the Choosing Ceremony. 

On the other hand, the filmmakers also created some of their own lines that I didn’t like, like, at all. And based on the reactions of the other people in my theatre both times, it seems like nobody else liked them either. An especially unfortunate occurrence of this is in the scene when Fourtris kiss for the first time, because in the midst of them doing nothing more than kissing with their arms wrapped around each other while standing (so it’s not like they’re in bed or something), Tris breaks it off to say that she doesn’t want to move too fast. Which is okay–it is okay that she doesn’t want to do more than that when it’s her first time kissing not just Four, but any guy ever. But it’s also not like he’d suddenly reached under her shirt or shifted towards the bed or something. They were just kissing–just like they had been for a while at that point. So it didn’t make sense, and it was awkward, and it made everyone awkwardly laugh, which is not what a line like that should do.

(Meanwhile, don’t get me started on how annoyed I am at all the reviewers interpreting that line to mean that she’s “saving herself,” because seriously–all she’s saying is that she doesn’t want to do more than kiss at that time. Is it really so bad that a sixteen year old girl doesn’t want to have sex on essentially the first date? And even if she is waiting until marriage, THAT IS NOT A NEGATIVE THING ANY MORE THAN NOT AND–Anyway. I’m stopping myself before I go into Rant Mode.)

Questions for the class:

  • Why did the Abnegation women wear makeup and heels? I will never understand the logic behind this decision.
  • Why did we suddenly forget that Tris has a freaking bullet in her shoulder partway through the climax? I feel like that’s really not something you should forget.
  • What, exactly, was the purpose of doing the fear landscapes the “Dauntless” way, rather than the “Divergent”? Coming out of the movie the first time, I thought I understood that this meant that Divergent face their fears head-on whereas Dauntless find ways to skirt around their fears (so like Tris wanted to be all Divergent and jump off the little bridge thing to conquer the fear of heights, but Tobias instead crawled across the bridge and into the neighboring building, thus avoiding it). But the second time through, I realized that it’s not as clear as that, so now I’m not sure about what they were trying to say there. I would have loved for that to have been clearer, because that was a really fun twist on the fear landscapes.
  • What was up with Tris’s Dauntless clothes? Like I know Shailene is a good-looking human being so you want to show that off, but you also need to remember that she’s playing a character who’s grown up in a faction that didn’t allow tight-fitting or low-cut clothes. She shouldn’t have gone straight from her Abnegation grey to a Dauntless outfit that accentuated her cleavage.

My favorite scene is when they’re at the top of the John Hancock Center and Veronica Roth is the first one out the door and then she and Tris stand next to each other at the edge, looking out over Chicago. Absolutely beautiful moment.

My favorite line is when Peter tells Tris that she won’t shoot him and she goes, “Why does everyone keep saying that?” AND THEN SHE DOES. (YOU SHOW ‘EM, TRIS.)

I enjoyed the music throughout, and it was really cool how much of actual, modern day Chicago they used. Tris’s voice overs are a nice touch, and I enjoy how they chose to make it such a first person narrative (we’re never somewhere Tris isn’t, so it keeps everything tight and focused).

Overall, the pacing could have been a little better, as could have been the character development and script and all that. The cinematography was a little funky and the sets could have been cooler. But most of what they did works, and the movie is fun and holds true to the overall vision and feel of the book. I really, truly, did very much enjoy it. And I want everyone to see it. And I can’t wait to see Insurgent.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Purchase tickets to see Divergent here.

 

 

~Julia

NaNo Day 22: CATCHING FIRE Movie Reaction

I’m warning you ahead of time: THIS IS FULL OF SPOILERS. I’m not going to white it out because if you haven’t read Catching Fire yet and therefore don’t know what the plot’s like, that’s your fault more than mine. But also, if you don’t want to be spoiled about the changes from page to screen, don’t read on, because that’s going to be a focus of this reaction post.

(If you want a faster take on reactions, here’s a link to the video Hannah, our friend Emily, and I made last night right after the movie.)

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Where do I begin.

I. LOVED. THIS. MOVIE.

If something was weak in The Hunger Games, they made sure to make it strong in this one. At first I was sad when they ditched old director Gary Ross for Francis Lawrence, but oh my gosh, Lawrence went above and beyond with Catching Fire. He took the movie in a direction I don’t think Ross would have, and I’m so glad he did. The cinematography was beautiful and he used just enough shaky cam to harken back to The Hunger Games, and THE SPECIAL EFFECTS!

The fake fire actually looked like they tried a little on it this time. The fog was thoroughly and appropriately frightening (and a whole lot scarier than it was in the book–I actually didn’t want to continue watching that scene partway through because it was so freaky, which means that it was also really well done). The monkeys were incredible, and I loved how they portrayed the force fields. A lot more money must have been spent on special effects this time ’round.

The entire cast shines in Catching Fire. I wasn’t even all that annoyed with Liam Hemsworth, who I thought was terrible in the first one. (His accent has improved so much! Still not quite there, but not so awful that I noticed it every time he spoke.) Every once in a while one of the actors did something or said a line in a certain way that didn’t quite work for me, but I mean, that’s always going to happen, so no big deal.

Individually, Jennifer Lawrence is, well, Jennifer Lawrence. There were a couple times when I thought Katniss should have shown how she was confused more, while Jen just sort of stood there and frowned into the distance (all she had to do was furrow her brow a little! come on). Overall, though, she is Jennifer. Lawrence. Fantastic job. She brings so much depth to the character in just the fact that she is so subtle about the majority of her acting (and then sometimes she makes faces like the one in the elevator when Joanna strips naked, and you’re reminded that this is also the girl who regularly talks about bodily functions in interviews, here). I can’t wait to see how she handles Katniss’s emotional journey in the next two films, because girl. can. act.

Josh Hutcherson‘s Peeta was SO MUCH BETTER in this one than in The Hunger Games, primarily because we actually got to SEE him this time. We got Peeta’s sarcasm and self-deprecating humor, and you could really see how much he cares about Katniss. (Also: I don’t know how they did it, but he seemed taller in this one. Or at least not-quite-as-short-in-comparison-with-Katniss.)

Sam Claflin is FANTASTIC as Finnick. I was a little bit scared going in to see how he’d do, but he was great. His accent was wonderful and he very much embodies Finnick’s vibe. I’m worried about how attached we’re all going to get to him in Mockingjay Parts 1 + 2.

Love the rest of the new cast members as well. They did a good job of making you fall in love with these new tributes in a short period of time. Whereas with the last movie you weren’t really supposed to like any of the tributes outside of Katniss, Peeta, and Rue, this time the moviemakers work for you to fall in love with or at least respect all of the others, which makes the entire thing so much more disgusting and heartbreaking. When I went to see The Hunger Games at midnight, there were a few moments when one of the antagonist-type tributes died and everybody cheered and applauded, just like the Capitol citizens. There’s none of that this time. The only cheers and applause in my theater were for when people rebelled against the Capitol. They took the theme of “remember who the real enemy is” to heart while making this. Good for them.

Great performances by the supporting cast, as usual, especially Donald Sutherland (Snow), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Plutarch) Elizabeth Banks (Effie), Stanley Tucci (Caesar), and Woody Harrelson (Haymitch). When Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) gets beaten to death–oh my gosh. I sobbed. That was such a well-paced scene, and exactly how I pictured it in the book, especially with Katniss then being thrust up into the arena right afterward.

Loved getting to see some of the old tributes again. The moment when Katniss goes all PTSD and thinks she’s shot Marvel again is chilling, not to mention seeing the projections of the tributes–seeming so alive up there above their grieving families–during the Victory Tour. It broke my heart. And RUE’S FAMILY. Did anyone else notice how it’s just her mother and younger siblings, because her father rebelled during the last movie and therefore, more than likely, is dead at this point? Just thinking through that made it so much worse. That family has lost so much.

For everything they cut, it was interesting that they added a character for this film–President Snow’s granddaughter, played by Erika Bierman. She was barely in the movie but was very good at being a sort of foil to Snow’s hatred for Katniss; she loves the Girl on Fire for the exact reasons her grandfather hates her. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with her character in Mockingjay. I’m hoping we get some juxtaposition between her and Prim.

Why was Buttercup so different? Like I get that you probably can’t get the same cat again, but at least try to make it LOOK like the same cat, you know? (HG Buttercup is black and white; this one is an orange tabby.) (Also, I was looking for pictures of the cats from both movies to prove that this is a real thing and I’m not just crazy for thinking they changed cats, and this popped up. I understand them wanting to make the cat look the way he’s supposed to in the books, but at the same time–you already messed it up, so why not embrace your mistake rather than trying to backtrack when it’s already too late? Weird.)

Catching Fire overall is very true to the book. Of course they left some things out (primarily: a lot of the stuff from the beginning chapters of the book, the way the mockingjay symbol has spread throughout the Capitol as a fashion symbol, Plutarch Heavensbee’s watch, and the bread in the arena). I think the movie functioned fine without all of it, though, and looking back on it I’m actually sort of glad they left out the mockingjay watch, because in the context of the film it would have been too obvious. In books, you can lay little clues like that and keep them muddled under layers of other storylines going on. In movies, because you can’t have Katniss’s here-and-now thoughts distracting you from the actual meaning behind something, every little thing seems much more deliberate and therefore easier to figure out.

Catching Fire really hits its stride once we reach the reaping. Ahead of that I thought a lot of the pacing was dodgy. Either a scene was too short or too long, half the time. But the pacing from the reaping, out, is perfect.

One of my very few disappointments with the movie was that they never watched any of the old Hunger Games, so we never got to see how Haymitch won the Games. I adore that scene in the book, and while the movie works fine without it, it still would have been nice.

One of my favorite lines is Effie explaining the new training center, because in the book that isn’t a thing–the training center and apartment and all that are the same ones throughout the entire trilogy. So I’m glad they chose to explain it instead of just doing it and leaving us to be confused. (And Effie’s line about “An entire room of mahogany” or whatever! What a great throwaway comment to use as an Easter Egg for fans.)

When Katniss hangs the dummy of Seneca Crane and she takes the time to paint on the beard–I practically had to stuff my fist in my mouth to keep from laughing, because nobody else in my theater did at that point, but wow. What a great detail.

The arena is gorgeous, and it’s because of that fact, in part, that it’s so horrible. Watching the trailers I kept thinking that it was such a beautiful location, it would be hard to be scared of it watching the movie. Nope. That place is basically scary as all get out and I was ready to get out the moment we arrived. I’m going to see this in IMAX next week and I don’t know how I’m going to handle it, because it’s going to be terrifying.

I was a little bit annoyed at first that we didn’t get to see an of the reactions back in the districts during the Games the way we got to in The Hunger Games, but at the same time I think NOT being able to see what was going on there was important for how the overall arc of this story played out.

One thing I’m a little, tiny bit iffy on is the fact that we got to see Peeta fight other tributes. He probably fights a bit in the book and I just don’t remember it, but it would have been nice if they’d made more of the point that Peeta is the only decent victor and the only one who probably cares more for others than he does about his own survival, since that’s such an important part to bring back in Mockingjay.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the musical score. They tried to remain very true to the score from the first movie, only the feel of this movie is so different from The Hunger Games, so it didn’t work as effectively as a score should. Not terrible, but it did pull me out of the movie every once in a while.

The only things they left out I was really disappointed about were Cinna’s line about channeling his emotions into his work so that he doesn’t hurt anyone but himself and the fact that they never mentioned the baby again after the initial announcement in the Capitol. There were several instances when Peeta or Joanna or Finnick easily could have just let an off-hand comment slide about Katniss being pregnant, like in the book, but none of them ever did it. If you aren’t going to keep up the charade, what’s the point in starting it to begin with? Both of these things–Cinna’s line and the pregnancy–would have been so easy to include, I don’t know why they didn’t.

Lol at the pictures they chose for the locket. Aren’t those promotional shots from The Hunger Games, made to look old-timey? Effie gets the locket for Peeta, which means that it’s made in the Capitol. The Capitol has uber technology. Let’s think this one through, shall we?

I cried so much throughout this movie. Just every little thing set me off. I don’t know if it’s because I’m really stressed out about stuff right now, so I’m kind of high-strung anyway, or because the movie really is that good. But I cried SO. MUCH. There were more than a few points when just everyone in the theater was sobbing. Bring tissues if you don’t want to snot all over your neighbor.

There’s so much more kissing in this movie than last time! I was really annoyed in The Hunger Games when they were like, “Oh, yeah, we’re going to up the romantic elements!” AND THEN THERE WAS LIKE ONE GOOD KISS PERIOD. Rest assured, this one makes up for that deficit. (It’s hilarious when Katniss kisses Peeta right after Finnick gets his heart restarted because you can see a little bit of slobber action going on. This is great just because the cast talks so much about a take for that scene when there was spit hanging out everywhere and it’s like, “Yup. I can see how that happened.”)

Remind me to write a wildly popular novel set in Hawaii someday, so they’ll make a movie about it and I can hang out on set all day. What lucky ducks, getting to shoot there.

The costumes are magnificent. Some of them aren’t true to the books, but I love the interpretations. The wedding dress is gorgeous despite the fact that it doesn’t resemble the one from the books at all. It’s also interesting how they did the tribute uniforms different this time around–last time, the colors were different depending on district. This time they were all identical. Underlying message from Plutarch Heavensbee?

A couple random little things that they changed that don’t really matter, but are worth mentioning: The countdown only goes for ten seconds instead of sixty. Peeta can swim (and, apparently, fight in water). When Mags walks into the fog, Finnick freaks out about it rather than just going along with it more, like he does in the book (I partway like this, partway don’t–it’s nice to see how much he cares for Mags, but at the same time it made me question how much this interpretation of Finnick knows about what’s going on).

Loved the change in how the Peacekeepers take over District Twelve. When they bag the old Head Peacekeeper as he’s welcoming Thread to 12, it was so well-done. Great moment. (I feel like such a terrible person applauding their ability to portray evil in this film, but seriously, WELL DONE.)

When Katniss shoots the arrow into the force field at the end and then Snow goes storming out to find Plutarch and he isn’t in the control room, I threw my fist in the air like, “YES! You two have been talking about moves and counter-moves this entire time, and YOU JUST REALIZED YOU’VE BEEN PLAYED, SUCKAAA.” We never got to appreciate the full effect of Plutarch’s betrayal to the Capitol in the book, so that has to be one of my favorite moments in the movie.

The end with the hovercraft and Gale telling Katniss what happened to 12 is really powerful. It doesn’t pack quite as big of a punch as the ending in the book does, but it’s still fantastic. (And YAY FOR ACTUALLY FOLLOWING THE PROPER ENDING THIS TIME!)

While I’m here, on the topic of splitting Mockingjay into two films: A lot of people are upset about this, and I’ll admit, I am a bit too. I was a lot more, though, when they first announced it. This is because I recently saw an interview in which they talked about this decision–and remember how the Mockingjay book has kind of bad pacing, and the ending is rushed and confusing, and you see very little of what’s actually going on since you’re stuck in Katniss’s head? Yeah. Apparently they’re planning on trying to fix all of that for the movies. Which makes me hope doing two Mockingjay films isn’t entirely just a matter of getting more money out of fans and following the trend Harry Potter started, but also about just giving us a better, fuller experience.

Gahhh, I feel like I’m forgetting half the stuff I want to say, which is sad seeing as this post is getting insanely long. But this movie is SOOO GOOD! Let me leave off by saying: Go see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. It is leaps and bounds better than The Hunger Games and was well-worth the year and a half wait since that one. The script is great, the cast is outstanding, the cinematography won’t make you throw up from dizziness, and it’s just. Wow. So good. It is sad and terrible and wrenching and funny and scary and beautiful and all the things I wanted out of this film.

When I gave The Hunger Games 4 out of 5 stars, I was being nice. This one, without a doubt, deserves its 4.5. I cannot wait to see it (and bawl my eyes out throughout it) again.

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Read my Hunger Games Movie Reaction here.

Find more information on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire here.

Buy tickets to go see the movie here. (Because, you know, you should. YOU REALLY REALLY SHOULD.)

Oh, and here’s a link to Jen and Josh being adorable. In case you weren’t already in love with them.

day 22

 

~Julia

“The Dark Knight Rises” — A Reaction in Pictures *Spoiler Free*

(Update: We’re not going to discuss how a second viewing when not sleep deprived can affect your perception of
The Dark Knight Rises. But I did, and do, really enjoy this movie, despite its many faults. So yeah.)

Q: Why do we fall, Bruce?

A: SO WE CAN MAKE KICKBUTT MOVIES!!!!

I went to see The Dark Knight Rises for the midnight screening last night, and I cannot begin to tell you in words how much I loved it. So, because of the obvious deficiency of my brain (it’s still a little bit numb from the amazingness that was the second half of the movie — the first half was sort of slow), here’s my reaction in pictures instead:

At one point towards the end, I literally jumped up and started crying, because I was just so happy.  My brother can attest to this.

This movie made me smile like a five year old on Christmas for so much of it, it was crazy… Because although it was definitely predictable, and there weren’t any real surprises to the plot for me, it was one of the few movies that made me happy that I predicted it; it was like Christopher Nolan was in my head, putting exactly what I wanted on screen.

Now, I don’t want to put any spoilers on here, since I know a lot of people haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises yet, but let me just say: It is amazing. Undoubtedly one of the best films of the year, and I can’t wait to see it again. Every part of the production was flawless, from the acting to the script to all the tech stuff. (Update: Okay, so not “flawless,” because there are actually definitely a lot of contrived sequences that I didn’t notice in my sleep deprived state, but ya know. Still pretty good.) (Update: Okay so there’s a lot of this movie that pretty much sucks, but I mean, still enjoyable.) It looked and felt beautiful. The beginning was definitely slower than I would have liked, but it would have been difficult to cut it down at all, because everything in it was necessary in order to make the second half the fantastic conclusion that it was.

4.3 out of 5 stars, and worth all the hype. An indescribably awesome ending to an awesome trilogy. 🙂

~Julia

My prayers and condolences go out to those affected by the shooting in Colorado.

I am so sorry.

Movie Reaction: People Like Us

So I wasn’t sure what I was going to do my blog post about this weekend. Drama camp ending? Grad party season ending? Theatre rehearsals not ending (and kicking my butt)?

What about the fact that I should never wear a smokey eye?

(I look like a racoooooooon!)

What about the fact that I never told you guys how I forced my parents into buying me a nasty gas station doughnut at 11:30 at night on National Doughnut Day a while back?

(Note to self: Never buy a gas station doughnut. Ever again.)

What about the fact that — Okay, I’m running out of goofy pictures I haven’t already shown you. (Oh, and heads up: I completely failed Camp NaNoWriMo, clocking in at only 22,766 words… all of which I wrote during the first week. Hurray?)

… So, all weekend I’ve been wondering and worried and unsure about what I should do this blog post about. There were a lot of different topics, but none of them really seemed post-worthy. (I mean, come on: How long can you discuss the weird looks you get from going out to California Pizza Kitchen in the middle of the afternoon with a deep purple smokey eye and vampiricly white skin?)

But, then, I went to see a movie last night with a couple of my friends. And it was called People Like Us. And it was one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. I actually found myself looking for things to critique about it, because usually there’s some really obvious flaw in ever movie that annoys me to no end throughout the entire thing, because I’m a total movie (and book) snob… and I couldn’t find anything on first glance (although, looking back, there are definitely some contrived plot points that take it a notch below perfect).

Watch the trailer:

This movie combines everything I love about big budget films with all the lovely elements of independent films: There are long conversations that teach you about humanity, and artsy camera angles, and great acting — but there are also amazing shooting locations, the image quality is gorgeous (so that was definitely not a cheap camera they were using)…  Overall, it was just a whole lot of awesome, all rolled into one.

I loved the score, and I loved the script. The movie made me laugh, and it made me cry, and it made me contemplate what it truly means to be family… And, in the end, People Like Us felt just like what its title promises: like it was about People Like Us. Real people. Not just a bunch of fabricated characters on the screen, actors reciting lines. (Speaking of the actors — it starred Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks, who you can also see as Captain Kirk in the 2009 Star Trek movie and Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games, respectively, if you’re wondering who those two are. Which you shouldn’t be. Because they are both BRILLIANT actors.)

This film is gorgeous in every way, and I definitely suggest going to see it. It’s the sort of movie that you can chew on and talk about for hours afterward, and I haven’t been so pleased with a non-action-packed movie as I am with this one in years. (Like, probably not since Marley and Me — and you know I enjoyed it if I’m comparing it to Marley and Me.)

I’d give People Like Us 9 out of 10 stars.

(Now off to see The Amazing Spider-Man at midnight this Monday!)

~Julia