Disney returns to true form with Frozen, a story inspired by The Snow Queen (1845) by Hans Christian Andersen. Where recent films have felt like something was missing, longing for a new classic to put next to the likes of Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid, the film rediscovers the Disney magic through song. Not unlike an animated stage show, Frozen is told through musical numbers – and a heart-warming story about the power of true love.
Princess Elsa (Idina Menzel) of Arendelle was born with magical powers, which allow her to control ice and snow. After a childhood accident involving her sister Anna (Kristen Bell), Elsa is forced to hide her powers and distance herself from her family. After years of being locked away in her room, the older sister is set to become the Queen – but is worried about her secret being discovered. After an argument about Anna’s impromptu fiancé, a guest named Prince Hans (Santino Fontana), Elsa’s powers are revealed – casting an eternal winter over the kingdom. After fleeing far away into the icy mountains, Anna sets off to rescue her with the help of Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his reindeer Sven. They even meet a magical snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad) who helps them on their journey.
Frozen is beautifully animated in 3D, showing the depth and power of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ technology. The kingdom of Arendelle is full of magnificent color and detail, similar to the vibrant colors of Brave. Even when things become frozen, we are shown a wide array of breathtaking blues and crystallized ice.
Markuz Zusak, an Australia native and author of award-winning books such as I Am the Messenger and The Book Thief, got to see one of his stories come to life on screen for the first time a couple weeks ago.
The Book Thief is a story of the orphaned Liesel Memminger (Sophie Nélisse) who grows up in Nazi Germany after being adopted by the animated Rosa (Emily Watson) and fatherly Hans Hubermann (Geoffrey Rush). Liesel’s younger years are narrated eloquently by a personified version of Death Himself (Roger Allam). Throughout the years, Liesel learns about the unfairness of life and the measures she is willing to take in order to rob life back.
Many fans of the book may have been skeptical upon hearing about a film adaptation, as the arguably best part of the book is the poignant yet beautiful diction, but their fears can be put to rest. Directed by Emmy-award winner Brian Percival, the elements that made the written story so captivating were not left out of the on-screen edition. Through the friendships Liesel makes and the secrets she must keep, the viewers get an outstanding adaptation that leaves them with a feeling of hope. The most lovable character in Liesel’s story is easily the boy with lemon colored hair, Rudy Steiner.
Tired of remakes, rehashes, and sequels? Well, you’ll need to look elsewhere if you want original content. Delivery Man is a remake of a 2011 French-Canadian film by the name of Starbuck. Writer/Director Ken Scott has teamed up with Vince Vaughn to bring his story to American audiences. It’s also noteworthy that the film is also being remade for Bollywood and a French version of the film titled Fonzy was released this year as well. If nothing else, it has studio appeal.
David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn) is a loveable screwup. Sure, he puts his family in danger with his shady debts, and is quite possibly the world’s worst delivery driver, but he makes up for it with his shining charm. David’s case of arrested development comes screeching to a halt when the fertility clinic he donated sperm to years ago in exchange for cash, informs him that due to a mix up, he is the father of 533 children. In addition, these children are now trying to sue for the legal identity of their father. The shocking revelation doesn’t send David into a spiral of self-destruction, instead it gives him the motivation to turn his life around, and prove to his girlfriend he can be a father to their future child. David slowly starts to take an active role in his children’s lives, and his actions cause trouble for his eventual court case. David’s eventual struggle between keeping his identity and allowing his children to know who he is, is the focal point of the film.
As a Hunger Games fan since the first book was released in 2008, you can imagine my excitement upon learning of the film adaptation of the first book. While I’ve always had a philosophy on such adaptations that books will always be better, I still hoped the movie would be just as good, if not better.
Alas, with all of the necessary background information put into the first movie, it left me wishing for more aspects and quotes from the book. I still looked forward to the movie Catching Fire, but this time was more reserved as to not get my hopes up. My efforts were met with satisfaction, and I was impressed. The beginning of the movie set the background starting just where the last movie left off, which was nice to see as not to confuse the viewer. Throughout the film, I could clearly see the incorporation of the smaller aspects of the book as well as point out direct quotes from the book. (At the end I left wishing I had actually brought my copy and followed the quotes, but it would have only distracted me from the beauty of the film.)
Dallas Buyers Club uses a pair of stellar, Academy Award worthy performances to overcome an at times mundane screenplay. Matthew McConaughey stars as Ron Woodroof, a badass bull riding cowboy who like most in 1985, didn’t realize the AIDS epidemic was going to change the world. McConaughey does a fine job showcasing Woodroof’s wild side of boozing, having sex with multiple women, and coke snorting that led to his near self-destruction. I forgot to mention that he is also homophobic, which makes his business-friendship with fellow HIV-positive transsexual Rayon, played by Jared Leto, all the more surprising. Leto picks a fine role to make his return to the big screen. I honestly felt that Leto’s performance was even better than MacConaughey’s.
While much has been said about both actors’ extreme weight loss, which was to say the least, extreme, it was both performances’ that will undoubtedly earn both Oscar nominations. I am convinced that Leto will win for his supporting role; he’s that good in the film. I sat completely in awe of Leto’s character during the entire film. MacConaughey’s character is so rotten at times during the beginning of the film, it was hard to like him, or even feel sorry for him. But, that is where the movie is at its best. “DBC” is not trying to make you feel sorry for the characters that have been given a death sentence of an AIDS diagnosis; it is trying to share their story of survival, and the lengths that they went to get these unproven drugs, that sometimes did more damage than good to their bodies.