Category Archives: Movie Magic Monday

Movie Magic Monday: Vlogs Galore

Jackson Pearce is doing a thirty days of vlogs feature on her blog. The topics are everything and anything (no seriously, mythbusters and the proper wearing of wigs all make an appearance). And although it may not be a movie persay, it is most certainly entertaining. Go check her out, especially her post today about book pirates (there’s a puppet!).

She  makes me want to vlog, if only to see what a certified disaster it would be.

Movie Magic Monday: Inception

Hello again, Hollow Tree readers! It’s been quite a while! 😀 How were your last two weeks? I hope you did a lot of movie watching, book reading, and fun creative things. We missed you around here, so please leave us some love in the comments, yes?

Now, onto today’s blog post. I realize that I might be the last person on Earth to see Inception, but I couldn’t let it leave theaters without catching it on the big screen. I’d been excited about it since seeing the first trailer on TV, then even more when seeing some of the billboard promos at the theaters while going to see Eclipse. I knew very little about the premise of the movie except that Leonardo DiCaprio’s character had the ability to go into dreams. That alone fascinated me, as I’ve talked on the blog before about how much I like Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. I didn’t expect the world to be so fully realized and complex. For the movie to boggle my mind. For the characters to charm me.

Going into the first few scenes, I loved how real the world felt. Like our world, only not. A world where people know of others’ ability to steal secrets from their dreams, where people train and protect their minds with soldiers yielding actual guns, where someone could use your own subconscious against you.

It also helps that Leonardo Dicaprio’s character was so tortured. I LOVE tortured heroes. He was broken and empty and needing more than anything to fill a void in his life. He stole and schemed and lived a criminal’s lifestyle, yet he had a heartbreaking vulnerability.

All in all, the movie stayed close to the usual heist plot, with the element of the surreal. The ending, which everyone is still buzzing about, leaves the entire movie open to interpretation, and forces us to question everything we think we’ve learned.  But what I love best is the science of it all. The way dreams are used to expose the very basest part of us, and how our dreams truly reveal who we are and what we’re thinking.

There was just the right amount of humor and intrigue. Each person played a very distinct and useful role which made the completely surreal plot feel meatier, and somehow terrifyingly possible.

I can’t give away too much without giving it all away, but I found this movie to be one of the best I’ve seen, in that it truly boggled my mind and left me feeling awed. I give it a hearty A+.

Movie Magic Monday: The Journey to Narnia Continues…

But if I’m being honest… my eyes are wayyy more set on catching THIS movie:

Here’s hoping for a really good scifi movie! They are few and far between.

Movie Magic Monday: The Disneyfication of Fairy Tales

Yesterday I had the chance to watch Disney’s Cinderella for the first time in… forever. And even knowing what was going to happen, I found myself thoroughly enjoying it. Sure, it’s a classic. We all know and love it for that reason. But watching it after so long was almost like watching it for the first time, or watching it with a new pair of eyes. I smiled and sung along, delighted once again by Gus the big and lovable mouse and disgusted by the idiotic, large footed stepsisters and their devilish cat, Lucifer (I would have skinned him alive).

But the more I watched it, the more I realized how different it feels from another telling of virtually the exact same story, something like Ever After: A Cinderella Story. While one difference between them is obvious, in that one is animated and one is not, the tone and telling of the stories vary vastly. Disney has sugar coated a rather ugly situation and made it palatable to children, meanwhile the more adult version of Cinderella is witty, heartbreaking and action packed.

They both share the central love story, but while  Disney makes it feel like holding hands and adoring glances, Ever After felt more edgy, sexy, and realistically impossible. While I love Disney cartoons, Beauty and the Beast and Little Mermaid being personal favorites, I feel many of their interpretations of classic fairytales fail to capture that darkness that all fairytales tend to have tucked deep inside. Sleeping Beauty might be the only exception, as that one is somehow remarkably dark, for a children’s film.

And really, let’s face it, that’s what they are, films targeted to children. It would be wrong to fill them with some of the sick undercurrents many genuine fairytales contain. Most times, I’m glad for that. There are times when I need the romanticism of it all, the very innocent magic of a Disney film.

But sometimes, I’m in the mood for something that’s true to form which is why I feel YA fiction has taken fairytales and turned them on its head. It’s great to see modern and edgy retellings of fairytales (like Beastly or Ash or A Curse Dark as Gold – RUMPLESTILTSKIN!) that speak to the familiar and yet take us to another place entirely.

So enjoy a classic Disney movie, but when you want the really meaty stuff, turn to a good book.

Movie Magic Monday: Despicable Me

Despicable Me starts with the revelation that the Pyramid of Giza has been stolen.  This is the biggest and baddest heist ever committed, and it’s making all the other supervillains look bad.   Really, nothing else could ever compare.

Enter Gru, eager to prove that he can do better and go farther.  The only problem is, everything seems to go against him.  Even the secret villain-funding bank is unwilling to back up his enormous, degenerate plan, though they do like the idea.  Things get even worse when the tool he needs to complete his dastardly deed, the shrink-ray, is stolen by a newer and younger bad guy.  To get it back, Gru must enlist the (mostly unwilling) help of three little girls selling cookies to his rival.  To gain power over the girls, though, he has to adopt them from their girls’ home.  Soon the three little girls are turning his life and his plans upside down in every way possible, while winning over the hearts of both Gru and his masses of little minions.

This movie was just about the cutest thing I’ve seen in a long, long time.  I knew going in that I’d like it—who wouldn’t after that little girl hugging the unicorn in the commercial?—but I underestimated just how much.  I don’t think there was a moment in this film that I didn’t like, and that’s not something I can say about even some of my absolute favorite cartoon movies.  The littlest girl, Agnes, is so cute and adorable that you want to take her off the screen and give her a hug, and maybe pat her on the head and make her cookies.  She is just that cute.  The two older girls are a little more justifiably cautious about the situation with Gru—but watching the four of them grow closer together is fun.

My favorite thing about the film is probably the minions.  They are so cute, and the filmmakers came up with a lot of unexpected things to do with them, a lot of which are laugh-out-loud funny.  I won’t mention my favorite, because the not knowing that it was coming was what made it so fantastically funny, but you’ll probably know when you see it.  The whole film was about as clever and funny and sweet as I could have asked for, and I would have been happy to watch it again immediately afterwards.


Movie Magic Monday: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

I thought this movie looked pretty ridiculous. When I realized that it was supposed to be a “remake” or maybe homage is more appropriate, to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice—like Mickey losing control of the mops while the wizard is away… (which is adapted from a Goethe poem, by the way) I thought it couldn’t help but be ridiculous.  Live action?  Really?  And then when I saw a long-haired Nicolas Cage as the sorcerer, I figured that it really was just going to be so off-the-wall crazy as to be completely, idiotically insane.

But… I watched it anyway.  And I loved it.  Is it over the top and silly?  Yes.  But it knows that it is, and has a lot of fun with it.  I think Cage especially probably just had a blast playing this character.  There are a few key homage moments, including the mop scene, and a shop display including a classic Mickey Apprentice hat, but this is obviously not trying to be the original 50’s short, simply act as a nod to a classic Disney film.

The story is fresh and original, if not a little sappy and sideways.  My favorite thing about this film is the slightly tilted sense of humor, and the way that they go to places that you are just asking for them, too.  (Just wait for the droids line. You’ll know what I mean when you see it, and you’ll love it as much as I did.)   Meanwhile, there is plenty of opening for a sequel, and considering this is made by National Treasure people, I won’t at all be surprised if a sequel does indeed make its way onto screens.

I give it an A-.  Good clean family fun. 😀

Movie Magic Monday: M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender

Okay, going into this, I have to say two things.  Firstly, I never watched the cartoon.  Avatar: The Last Airbender is basically an American anime, and minus a Miyazaki film here and there, I’m just not much of an anime person.  Secondly, I’ve never watched an M. Night Shyamalan movie all the way through.  I like what I’ve seen of The Sixth Sense, I have to admit, but I know too much about the simple twists he uses, and really scary movies just aren’t my thing.  When I heard Shyamalan was directing this (along with a rumor that he was being considered for Breaking Dawn) I wasn’t really sure what to think.  Maybe that he was expanding his portfolio?  Maybe that he was selling out?  I don’t know.

I went to see this with my fiancé, who did watch the show, and I have to say that both of us enjoyed it a lot.  The basic premise is that in this world there are four separate tribes, each who follow and identify themselves with a separate element: Earth, Air, Water, and Fire.  Every generation, an Avatar is born—a person who can control all four elements.  The Avatar is reborn into each tribe in a circulating pattern.  Because of this, it was known that the next Avatar would be born into the Air nation – and the Fire nation destroyed the entire Air nation because of it.  It so happens that Aang, the Avatar, was not with his nation when the genocide happened, though.  Years later, after the Fire nation has taken power over much of the world, he is discovered by members of the Water nation, and together with some new friends, travels to different tribes to learn about the other elements, and to encourage hope and free will in the minds and hearts of the people.

The film doesn’t make a lot of sense cinematically if you’re not familiar with the show – or at least with anime in general.  There are several moments where the focus is very close on the face, and everything behind is blurry, etc, but that’s just a stylistic thing.  It didn’t bother me, though I’ve heard it has bothered others.  My fiancé was delighted with the movie visually, and from what little bits I’ve seen of the cartoon, I thought it was beautifully done.  Shyamalan definitely paid a lot of respect to the original work.  The creatures in the film were beautifully represented, and the powers were fun to watch.

My one criticism actually comes from my sister (who was also a fan of the original) in that it wasn’t half so fun as the cartoon.  Then again, anime-like hysterics probably wouldn’t translate all that well to a live-action film, either.  The film was beautiful, really.   It was a little bit slow, though.  To be fair, I’d had almost no sleep the week before, but I did almost fall asleep towards the end of the movie.  Still, I enjoyed the film a lot.  And it was fun to see Jackson Rathbone in a non-Twilight role.

All in all, I really enjoyed the movie.  I give it a B-. 🙂

Movie Magic Monday: Chicken and Biscuits

Whether or not you listen to country music (and I don’t, usually), it’s easy to appreciate the brilliant parody of Twilight and New Moon by singer Colt Ford. The video is right on the money. I mean, it’s not enough that song is “I can’t get enough of your kisses, like chicken and biscuits” (I kid you not), the video takes to that next absurd level. Check it out!

Movie Magic Monday: Shane Acker’s 9

Okay, I have to admit, when I first saw advertisements for this movie, all I could think of was Oddworld.  You can thank my having grown up with video-game-playing brothers for this (in fact, the mention impressed my fiancé, who I watched this with).  The little creatures had a similar look, and both involve one of these odd little critters leading an insurrection in a dystopian world.  The two really weren’t as similar as I was thinking, though… and it was an interesting, if not somewhat confusing little movie.  Of course, it was made in conjunction with Tim Burton, so you had to know it was going to be weird going in.

What I have to say first off, though, was that the graphics were amazing.  It was the main reason I wanted to see the film, and I wasn’t disappointed for a minute.  The world, even in it’s dark and dusky, had it’s own kind of beauty to it.  The characters were fascinating, too.  My favorite was probably the twins, who were just cute to watch.  The movie is dark in general, there’s a lot of sadness and loss involved in it, but ultimately it has a good, satisfying, if again a little confusing ending.  It’s more of a “there’s hope for the future after all,” kind of ending than a secure resolution, but that’s really all you want by the end.  It was a little scary, though, so I don’t know that I’d let little kids watch it, at least.  If you’re into cautionary tales about technology gone wrong (and then right, and then wrong, and then right) then this is definitely an interesting movie to watch.  It’s short, too, which I didn’t realize going in. I don’t know if it’s something I’d want to watch over and over again, though I would like to see it one more time, maybe, for clarity.

I’m going to give 9 a B+A++ for graphics, though.

Monday Madness: The Wheres and Whys of Hollow Tree

You’re probably all wondering where in the world Lisa and I have been in the last week. We apologize for not giving you all a heads up before our disappearance. It seems both of us fell into real life with little warning.

I went on vacation with my family to the Poconos for a week, fully expecting wifi availability to post, blog, share pictures, and talk about my reading progress. I was sadly mistaken to find you had to pay per 24 hour for the wifi access, and the closest free wifi was more than 20 minutes away by car. Internet Fail.

And while my trusty phone is usually my backup plan in these sort of scenarios, I was left with zero coverage up in the mountains, except in a few spotty areas that changed by the day. Phone Service Fail.

But the week wasn’t a total bust. I did some reading for work, and managed to start and really enjoy a book called Darkborn by Alison Sinclair. I absolutely expected it to have vampiric undertones which would disappoint me, but instead, the plot proved original and fascinating. And though I’m not done, I’m already engrossed in the budding mystery and the interesting political intrigue of two societies living side by side, one that cannot live in daylight, and one that cannot live by night. Really cool stuff. Will absolutely review when I finish it, though I don’t think its considered YA.

Ms Lisa has been busy with a very exciting personal milestone, planning her wedding! *now is when you all gush and congratulate her awesomeness* She’s so creative that I have a very good feeling this is one of those weddings you’d hear about on TLC or something. Beautiful, classy, and original with lots of handmade touches. So as you can all imagine, that kind of stuff takes time and preparation.

Due to all of this, we took an accidental hiatus. But it was July 4th week and you were all probably too full on hot dogs and hamburgers to really notice, right? Right?! 🙂 Sorry guys. We promise to try and give you fair warning next time we think we might disappear, even if only for a day or two.

In the meantime, can I squee excitedly about the sequel to Darkborn which Goodreads was good enough to tell me existed?! I love finding new books to be excited about.

Now onto our regularly scheduled programming….

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