Release date:July 8, 2016
Starring:Viggo Mortensen, Frank Langella, George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso, Nicholas Hamilton, Shree Crooks, Charlie Shotwell , Ann Dowd, Erin Moriarty, Missi Pyle, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Zahn
The film starts strong and finishes the same way. From the opening scenes to the very last one, this film has something to say! During the course of this film we are shown an amazingly cohesive unit. We are introduced to a father solely dedicated to the nurturing of his family. In fact, in the very beginning of this film we see something that I believe is definitely lacking in our modern society; The Rite of Passage. We see the family out for the hunt come out looking for food for the evening meal. It is the son, however, who makes the kill, and we are voyuered into this moment of the father honoring the son and welcoming him into manhood.
Ben, played by Viggo Mortenson, it’s shown to be a very loving and devoted father/husband throughout this movie, giving instruction a well as cultivating strong minds and strong bodies. He achieves by living almost completely off the grid. They light their world with fire, they feed their minds with books, they strengthen their bodies with exercise and feed their character by responsibility and accountability.
Now before you think this is some story about Utopia, let me dispel that right now. One of the foundations of this story is that Ben’s wife revealed, early on, to be quite ill, and is in the city receiving treatments for her ailment which is an ongoing challenge for everything in this family.
In the beginning it is not revealed what the story is with the wife, but it doesn’t take very long for it to be shown forth. There’s a good amount of time spent in developing how much Ben loves his wife. Even to the point of fighting/arguing with his father-in-law over certain particulars. There’s a lot of development in the beginning of the film, which I appreciated. Different personalities different strengths different weaknesses are all shown in each of the children as well as Ben. Rather early in the film it is revealed that Ben’s wife dies. Ben now has the daunting task informing his children about her death. The beauty of this scene is that he allows them to freely express themselves, to express their grief. Some huddle together, others express their grief by being alone, and still others lash out violently, but the fantastic thing about this is that he allows them that moment, that very necessary moment.
We see early on that there is no great love from his father in law, as his father in law blames Ben for all the tribulations that his daughter had gone through. Ben, however, is quick to point out that ALL of the decisions they made were made together. She wanted to be with him, she wanted to live off the grid, she also wanted to raise their family away from rotten schools, cheap capitalism, and wanted to try to make it so that they would actually learn something.
Ben gets forbidden from attending his wife’s funeral by his father-in-law, and even though he is very upset over this mandate, initially opting not to attend, he decides, with some coercion from his children, to go ahead and attend anyway. Now this is where the real fun begins!
They come down off of their mountain fortress and descend into “the pit”, or civilization, if you will. Here the children are introduced to things like shopping malls, restaurant food and rampant materialism. This situation brings about its own set of troubles in that the children have never been exposed to this kind of environment and so it raises questions, desires, things of that nature which Ben has to address. This is awkward for him because it’s brand-new for his children, and even though he had some experience with this it’s been a very long time since he’s had to deal with it. The situation is handled…awkwardly, but not terribly.
In that same humor vein they make a stop at his sister’s house where she attempts to make the point that his children need more structure and that they need to be in school and things of that nature. There’s also a dramatic contrast between the brutal honesty of Ben with his family and the euphemistic way that his sister explains things to her children. The humor comes into play when the sister’s explaining how going to public school is so fantastic and then Ben calls her children down from upstairs and ask them about the Bill of Rights. Her children bumble through a ridiculous attempt at explaining what they think it is, by saying something along the lines of “isn’t that the bill that gives you the right to buy stuff?”, while his own eight-year-old is not only to recite the Bill of Rights, but is also able to explain it in her own words, which of course puts his sister’s children and herself to shame. I think I especially like this scene because it was a testimony of how things are in many public schools today. There’s a level of apathy towards history and general education which I believe will hurt our future if it does not change.
Anyway, back to the movie. Eventually they arrive at the funeral and this is where things get very interesting. The family arrives, in what could be considered, by some, to be rather garish clothing. There are many bright colors and clothes that are from an entirely different era. Around them, of course, we see the traditional garb of a funeral and so naturally they stand out. It is in scenes like this where we see Frank Langella, who plays the father in law Jack, bring some amazing and subtle weight to this character. In later scenes we see more of the root of Jack’s frustration, and why he blames Ben for his daughter’s death. Ben, however, makes it abundantly clearto him, yet again, that he and his wife made all of their decisions together. It is in this chapter of the scenes that follow where we see a new element get brought to light and that is that Jack wants to take the children from Ben. For Ben this is a thermonuclear Shockwave that nearly cracks his foundation. Naturally, he fights for his family, but this is one of the heavier parts of the movie. There’s a lot of desperation shown forth on the part of Ben and that has its own consequences. It is in the scenes after this where Ben has to make sure the most difficult choices of his life and that makes this section of the film challenging to watch, being a father myself.
In the end, however, we see the family bond together through this, and the end has very nice element of closure. Overall I would highly recommend this movie! It is filled with laughter, challenges, and real life family situations.
Joy Ride Is An Extremely Raunchy And Hilarious Comedy
Joy Ride is an extremely raunchy and hilarious comedy that takes the mantle of ensemble risky
comedies that at times, leave your mouth on the floor. Joy Ride focuses on two best friends
Audrey and Lolo (Ashley Sullivan and Sherry Cola) end up getting roped up into a trip to Asia,
they end up on gals pal cross-continent trek to find Audrey’s long lost birth mother so she
doesn’t lose a huge business deal.
The chemistry in this movie is superb. Every character has their moment to shine and there’s
rarely a scene where you don’t get a belly laugh. I was shocked at how crazy and bold this
movie got, continually pushing the line to get a laugh. The movie does a good job of getting to
the point and getting to the scenes that really make you chuckle. There are some editing choices where the story flies by some stuff, and it feels a little incomplete, but never at the expense of really enjoying being around for the journey.
I thought that this was a sleeper for this year and certainly a movie worth watching with your
friends some weekend. It’s great to throw on if you want a laugh and really just enjoy some
great actors riffing off each other. The focus on culture was a nice touch and really elevated the movie to another level. While I would say if you’re easily offended, this movie is not for you – if you’re looking for a no holds barred comedy, Joy Ride is a trip worth taking.
Who Doesn’t Want To Wear The Ninja Suit Of Snake-Eyes Or Dress Like The Mandalorian?
Hasbro has had their pulse app out for a while now. It allows for access to items to buy, preorder, and a look into future projects and releases. It also allows for a very cool thing most nerds (a group of which I am a proud card-carrying member) have always wanted, the ability to make yourself into an action figure. I’ve contemplated making one for a time but, I finally got my chance to get my hands on one at Comic-Con this year. Now, of course, I had to wait in line as it was a pretty sought-after item. Who doesn’t want to have themselves wear the ninja suit of Snake-Eyes or dressed like a Mandalorian? I was approached by one of the booth staff as I was showing my nephew all the cool ways we could get him his own MIles Morales action figure with his face (as he’s a massive fan) and invited to take a seat and scan our faces into the Hasbro Pulse app with the help of their awesome team and make this dream a reality. My wife was with us, so of course she got in on the fun too. We scanned our faces in and it was very simple and quick. Then we all selected our figures to add our heads to. We all chose Power Rangers(Me as the Black Ranger, my wife chose the pink ranger and the nephew got the red ranger). Then we were told that we needed to wait about 4-6 weeks and we’d have our custom action figure team in our hands. This was a major part of our Comic-Con adventure and definitely, a memory my wife and nephew won’t forget (as it was both of their first Con ever). Thank you to Hasbro for being so generous(also getting me brownie points that home) and I highly suggest checking out Hasbro Pulse and all the cool stuff it has to offer.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter: Double-knock on wood!
Adapted and written largely from the Captain’s Log chapter of Bram Stoker’s magnum opus Dracula, The Last Voyage of the Demeter tells the story of Dracula’s journey by ship from Carpathia to London, and what happened to her crew in the interim.
So here we are in Bulgaria, middle of 1897, and Captain Eliot (Liam Cunningham) of the Russian schooner Demeter is here to take on some strange cargo from some unknown client and transport it to Carfax Abbey in London. In need of some extra hands, the Captain sends out his capable Second Wojchek (David Dastmalchian) to scout for some, and initially the roving black doctor and aspiring philosopher Clemens (Corey Hawkins) is passed over in favor of more work-roughened men. The adorable cabin boy of the Demeter, Toby (Woody Norman), narrowly misses being crushed by the mysterious dragon-marked crates being loaded onto the ship, saved by Clemens himself and switched out with the superstitious sailors running from the Demeter like they had been poisoned by the sign of Dracul. And now, armed with some nine or so crewmen, Doc Clemens, and Captain Eliot himself, the twenty-four strange what looks like coffins adorned with dragon signs brought mostly safely aboard, the Demeter can make for open water and the Hell that awaits them there.
The duty of showing Clemens around the ship falls to a cheerful Toby, who proudly shows him the living areas, the Captain’s quarters, the very-large cargo hold, the galley and kitchen where the overly-devout Joseph (Jon Jon Briones) cooks the crews meals, the various above decks, even the sails, and the rigging are all at least touched on, and the livestock pens that Toby himself is in charge of, including the handsome good-boy doggy Huckleberry, or just Huck. We the audience get a very clear feeling of what it’s like to actually be aboard the Demeter, just how large she really is, and what living on a ship for months at sea is really like, the reality and practicality and the dangers of it.
Everyone more or less settles in for a hopefully uneventful voyage, taking mess around the common table and exchanging ideas or aspirations for when they arrive in London early thanks to the fair winds, and receive a handsome bonus for their troubles. But that involves being alive and making it to London to spend said bonus and pay, and the coffin crates spilling dark soil from the motherland and disgorging all sorts of other nasty secrets, have some serious plans to the contrary.
First, it’s the livestock, innocent and shrieking in their locked pens as a monster takes great furious bites out of their necks, and of course, the creature just straight up ruins poor doggy Huck. Then there’s the fully grown girl that gets dislodged from an open coffin-crate, covered in bite scars and as pale as death, she eventually starts interacting and talking after several blood transfusions from Doc Clemens, Toby learns her name is Anna (Aisling Franciosi). And then, as the weather turns foul and the winds begin to be a serious problem, the attacks turn toward the remaining humans onboard the Demeter.
Most people these days are familiar with Dracula, that gorgeous cunning vampire Elder who can supposedly transform into a bat or a wolf, seducing women to voluntarily offer up their veins like an unholy sacrament, a being at once beautiful and powerful, but also horrific and murderous if given half a heartbeat to smell your blood. This is not Dracula.
Instead, the creature that hunts the humans occupying the Demeter is an absolute monster, not a single human feature left to it, barely even recognizable as humanoid-shaped, instead boasting not just full-length bat wings but an entire exo-skin of bat membranes that can be used for feeding, a mouth full of needle-like teeth akin to a predator of the deepest darkest parts of the ocean, those yellowed Nosferatu eyes that will not tolerate light in any way, and of course giant pointy bat-ears. This is a thing, a grotesque straight from the depths of Hell, and no amount of glamor magic can make this Dracula (Javier Botet) seem like anything other than what he, is – a parasitic demon who only wants your blood. There is no reasoning with it, no trapping it, not even really any talking to it (kinda hard to talk when your throat has been ripped out), and, like the much more frightening Dracula stories of old, no amount of pure faith behind a symbol does anything other than give false hope.
Coming face to face with an actual abomination does different things to different people. The formerly delightfully foul-mouthed Abrams (Chris Walley) dissolves into a blubbering mess; poor Larsen (Martin Furulund) didn’t even get to see his own death coming; and it turns out Olgaren (Stefan Kapicic) wants to live so badly, he’ll suffer becoming a blank-eyed Renfield if that’s what it takes. All of Cook Joseph’s purported pure faith didn’t stop him from trying to take the coward’s way out and didn’t save him anyway when the sound of unnatural bat wings descended on him. I find that kind of irony delicious. Dear Anna, resigned to her fate to be eternal food for the horror that terrorized her village, nevertheless wants to try and save whoever is left of the Demeter with her own sacrifice, and there aren’t many. Wojchek of course wants to kill Dracula, but for all his logic and solid practical nature, has no experience whatsoever with this sort of thing, and sure doesn’t want to sacrifice the Demeter, the beloved ship he called home that was promised to him by Captain Eliot himself, in order to destroy that demon. Even poor sweet Toby isn’t safe from the creature’s clutches, and what happens to the cabin boy of the Demeter is what finally sends Captain Eliot over the blooming edge. And who could blame him? For this sort of thing to happen during the last voyage of such a proud, solid ship as the Demeter, is some serious bullsh*t.
To leave such a film open for a potential sequel, especially when called the last voyage of something, was a pretty hefty ask, and somehow the filmmakers managed it. I personally think a different version of Van Helsing, the infamous vampire hunter, teaming up with a certain black doctor who nurses a serious grudge against Dracula, could be a kickass sequel. Until then, experience the doomed final journey of the Demeter and her poor crew in all it’s bloodstained glory, in theaters now!