Tag Archives: Chad Likes Movies

Lincoln (2012)

Note: This film was the main topic of discussion on Episode 5 of my podcast, The Cinescope Podcast. Give it a listen for a more in-depth discussion!

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is a film that I had been excited for for quite a long time, though I must admit that the main aspect that attracted me was the promise of a new John Williams score. However, that’s not to say that I wasn’t excited for the film itself; history fascinates me, and the story of Abraham Lincoln, arguably the finest president to ever lead our nation, was one that I was anxious to see adapted for the big screen. And at the hands of Spielberg, one of the best filmmakers of all time, what could go wrong?

The correct answer to that question is “very little.” While Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the United States’ 16th president, is not an exciting film or a film that features extended action scenes, I was fascinated throughout. To see the political process behind all of the goings-on in the House of Representatives was interesting, and the look and feel of the movie, including everything from the costumes to the sets to the screenplay, felt genuine and authentic to the time period. The film focuses on the last few months of Lincoln’s life and on his struggle to get the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the amendment that would abolish slavery in the United States, to pass in the House of Representatives. This issue was one that hit me pretty hard – to imagine people enslaving other people for personal benefit just because of a difference in skin color sickens me, to the point that I actually felt angry at moments in the film. This in itself is a testament to Spielberg’s storytelling skills and to his ability to make the audience truly care about what is happening onscreen.

The film features several fantastic performances from well-known actors. Tommy Lee Jones appears as Thaddeus Stevens, a role in which we see him once again excel at delivering amusing one-liners, but we also see a refreshing depth in character that I, having only seen Jones in two other movies previously, was not expecting. Joseph Gordon-Levitt portrays the president’s oldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln. Though he doesn’t appear in much of the film, his performance is still marked with strong emotion and a powerful sense of purpose. David Straithairn and a handful of other actors also appear and do a fine job.

However, the real stars of this film are Sally Field as the president’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, and Daniel Day-Lewis as the president himself. When the two share the screen together, you feel a combination of sensations pulling you in all directions: you feel the strain that the presidency has put on their marriage, the anguish that they continue to feel over the loss of their son Willie, but, most of all, the love that they have for each other in spite of it all. Day-Lewis conveys all of the complicated emotions felt by the president, whether the emotions deal with his love and dedication to his family, his passion for equality, or the weariness that has taken over him as he struggles to mend the nation at the roughest point in our history.

With such strong performances from the lead actors, a smart script that kept me captivated throughout, and a beautifully respectful musical score by returning Spielberg collaborator John Williams, Lincoln is a film that you don’t want to miss out on. If Daniel Day-Lewis doesn’t walk away from the Academy Awards with the Oscar for Best Actor, I’ll be dumbfounded. The film is sure to be nominated in several other categories as well, but don’t wait for the Academy to tell you…go see it!

-Chad

Rating: 5 (out of 5)

MPAA: PG – 13 – for an intense scene of war violence, some images of carnage and brief strong language

P.S. – Read my review of this film’s score, composed by John Williams, here!

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Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

Wreck-It Ralph is a film that I’ve been looking forward to for months. Disney Animation has been doing things right the past couple of years, and who could resist a film that revolves around a video game character? I certainly couldn’t, so I made sure to go to the midnight premiere…I loved it!

John C. Reilly as the title character is fun and lovable despite his role as a “bad guy,” but, as a character at the support group for video game villains puts it, “just because you are a ‘bad guy’ does not make you bad…guy!” However, this isn’t convincing enough for Ralph, who longs to be treated with the same respect that is given to the hero of his game, Fix-It Felix, so he goes game-hopping in a search for a medal, which he thinks will make him a hero in his own right and afford him the respect he deserves. As expected, his plans go awry when he ends up staying true to his name and wrecking things everywhere he goes, including in a candy-based racing game called “Sugar Rush.” It is here where he meets Vanellope Von Schweetz, a kindred heart who wants nothing more than to be a racer like so many other occupants in her game, but she is excluded in true reindeer fashion, just like Ralph. It is the relationship between Ralph and Vanellope that gives the film its heart.

The world seen in the film is super creative; we see a “Game Central,” which is located in the surge protector that provides power to all of the games in the arcade. The various video game characters travel to Game Central via train through their power cords…how genius is that? The visuals are stunning and colorful, and, believe it or not, are actually enhanced by the 3D.

Filled with video game references out the wazoo and puns galore, Wreck-It Ralph was everything that I wanted it to be. John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman as the two main characters are delightful, and Jane Lynch (Glee) and Jack McBrayer (30 Rock) bring a lot to the table as well. Of course, I would be remiss to not mention the fantastic musical score by Henry Jackman, most recently known for composing the score to X-Men: First Class. Filled with fun video game music references throughout, as well as including plenty of traditional, fun movie music, Jackman’s score only adds wonder to this fantastic world created by Disney. While Wreck-It Ralph certainly caters to a younger audience, adults will find plenty to love about it as well because it also carries a great message: being yourself is something to be proud of, no matter what others may say or think.

-Chad

Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)

MPAA: PG – for some rude humor and mild action/violence

P.S. – The animated short shown before the film, Paperman, was nothing short of amazing. A good way to describe it would be to call it Wall-E with humans and less outer space. Despite the fact that there is no dialogue, we’re treated to one of the best love stories I’ve ever witnessed. It’s about following your heart and about how love is more important than all other things, and the animation is absolutely gorgeous. I would watch Paperman over and over again by itself if I could. Go see Wreck-It Ralph in theaters so that you can see this short as well, and then you can try and hide your tears of joy just like the rest of us did.


Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) – Patrick Doyle

For a long time, I had a sort of self-imposed boycott on Patrick Doyle’s music. Why? Because I despise his score to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Why? Well, you’ll have to wait for a review of that one for the answer to that. The point is, I only purchased Doyle’s score to Rise of the Planet of the Apes because I had to admit to myself that, Goblet of Fire aside, he did a fantastic job with this film’s score.

*mild film spoilers*

The opening track of the album, “The Beginning”, is mysterious and fascinating; Caesar’s theme is heard in its beginning stages as a soft sort of ethereal vocal melody, but it doesn’t stay that way forever. By the end of the film, however, in the track “Caesar’s Home”, we hear the big, in-charge, brassy fanfare that his melody has grown into, showing his growth in terms of intelligence and leadership. This theme is also heard several times in-between these two tracks in just about every form imaginable: aggressive, emotional, haunting, etc.

In fact, there are a few tracks that are highly emotional, conveying what Caesar, with his…err…limited vocabulary, can not, tracks such as in “Who Am I?”, when Caesar questions whether he’s part of the family or just a household pet, and in “Visiting Time”, when Caesar decides that he doesn’t want to be either of those things.

Much of this score manages to be both aggressive and brooding which is fitting of the tone of the film. Throughout the film, we see Caesar’s thirst for justice for his fellow apes grow into discontent and eventually into a revolution against the human oppressors. This tone can be heard in tracks like “‘Caesing’ the Knife”, which features an aggressive sixteenth-note string motif, and in “Cookies”, in which Caesar begins taking command of the other apes in the facility.

Despite the fact that these emotionally violent tracks dominate the album, it is not without its beauty; tracks like the frivolous “Lofty Swing” and the soaring “Off You Go” bring a bit of balance and light to a dark and depressing (though fantastic) film.

My favorite track? The final track, “Caesar’s Home”, is a perfect mix of emotional melodies and the brassy theme for Caesar that I mentioned above. We hear the theme from the sweeping string buildup heard in the earlier track “Off You Go” that represents freedom, and the final French horn fanfare is permeating, managing to send a chill up my spine every single time I hear it.

Overall, Patrick Doyle’s score to Rise of the Planet of the Apes put me on the path to becoming a fan in spite of my reservations. His aggressive, often tribal, music blends in perfectly to a film that depends largely on the music to convey thoughts and emotion; after all, apes can’t talk (…ha), so the score often acts as dialogue and is very successful at it. Definitely worth a listen!

Rating: 5 (out of 5)

  1. “The Beginning” 2:48
  2. “Bright Eyes Escapes” 3:38
  3. “Lofty Swing” 1:36
  4. “Stealing the 112” 1:52
  5. “Muir Woods” 1:20
  6. “Off You Go” 2:17
  7. “Who Am I?” 2:21
  8. “Caesar Protects Charles” 3:58
  9. “The Primate Facility” 2:45
  10. “Dodge Hoses Caesar” 1:40
  11. “Rocket Attacks Caesar” 1:24
  12. “Visiting Time” 2:17
  13. “‘Caesing’ the Knife” 2:04
  14. “Buck is Released” 1:52
  15. “Charles Slips Away” 1:16
  16. “Cookies” 1:15
  17. “Inhaling the Virus” 2:45
  18. “Caesar’s Stand” 4:23
  19. “Gen-Sys Freedom” 4:57
  20. “Zoo Breakout” 2:41
  21. “Golden Gate Bridge” 5:21
  22. “The Apes Attack” 2:10
  23. “Caesar and Buck” 1:58
  24. “Caesar’s Home” 2:40

Total Length: app. 62 min.

iTunes Album Link

-Chad