2014’s live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, directed by Jonathan Liebesman, follows April O’Neil’s father, who was a scientist, and among other pertinent experiments in his lab were a rat and 4 baby turtles into which he injected a powerful mutagen. On the night of the fire that killed him, young April managed to save the tiny test subjects, releasing them into the night. Awaiting the inevitable attack of the Shredder and his Foot Clan, Splinter and the turtles make a home in the underground, the sewers of New York city—mutating and preparing. April, now an unestablished news reporter eager to have the deets about the Foot Clan’s rising presence in the city, finds herself on a unique path to learning the truth about her father’s death and prior experiments. Meanwhile, she is trying to save the city alongside four 6-foot talking teenage turtles with thorough knowledge of Jujitsu, the names of early Renaissance painters, contrasting personalities, and overwhelming love of pizza.
The movie tells of brotherhood and teamwork. As for that central team, there’s Leonardo, the leader, Raphael, the muscle, nerd Donatello, and Michelangelo, the jester. The duly movie keeps their traits true to being young, inexperienced, and sometimes rebellious teenagers. On the other hand, as the main character, April was a bit bland in terms of personality. Otherwise, there’s never a dull moment between defining juvenile humour and compelling action. With these, it pairs an effective score, heroic and riveting, that also features a hype Atlantic Records track, “Shell Shock”, to denote the teenage turtle aspect.
Of course, at first glance, the concept is a bit extravagant—it was adapted from a kids’ comic books series. The bottom line is it couldn’t have managed a better ratio of real and kiddish entertainment. I recommend the movie to ages 12+.
In 2011’s In Time, directed by Andrew Niccol, humans stop ageing at 25 and have an initial one year alive. Time is the currency, and one’s funds are the clock on their forearm, a line of steadily decreasing green digits; and “0000•00•0•00•00•00” means instantaneous death. Although much changed when “the clock” started, the disparity between the rich and poor—or rather the poor and the practically immortal—remains. Will Salas’s working-class lifestyle is relatively benign until Henry Hamilton, a stranger of means who’d had enough of life and a genocidal economy, gifts him his remaining century. Then ensues a mission to dismantle the system built on the wealthy’s notion that “for few to be immortal, many must die.” Having the skills of his deceased father, a notorious “time-fighter,” stolen the daughter of a man worth eons, and the “minutemen” and “timekeeper” pursuing them only adds to the challenge.
The movie is a decent length and plays on the real-world ideology that “time is money,” which makes for a script laced with entertaining double entendres. It does a fair job with the characters. Sylvia, for one, is given a realistic starter personality, allowing for decent character development. This plays a part in executing a slight enemies-to-lovers trope which develops into an even more captivating Bonnie and Clyde dynamic. That being said, Justin Timberlake’s lead called for more charisma and intimidation at certain points. The central relationship needed more authentication, perhaps in the form of little accidental intimacies that distinguish the initial trope and the fate of a certain antagonist. This feels like neglect of an impactful actor and a potentially epiphany-like character development.
Ultimately, the way In Time cleverly merges two fundamentals and is otherwise compelling—the action, romance, and sprinkle of humour—makes it completely worth experiencing. For ages 14+, I definitely recommend it.
Based on true events, Marshall, directed by Reginald Hudlin and released in 2017, follows one of the most high-profile cases the young but diligent Thurgood Marshall faces in his career as a lawyer for the NAACP. The firm advocates for innocent Black people across America. The case is the alleged rape and attempted murder of a respectable white woman at the hands of her black chauffeur. On the case with him is Hebrew-American Sam Friedman. We witness as they piece together the story and fight for the life and dignity of the Black man whose innocence is being questioned—and not without having to withstand certain racial partialities that would accompany such a case in 1940.
If not a testimony of “nothing is black and white,” this movie perfectly demonstrates the justice system as it relates to the endangerment and inequality of Black people and the audacity of dishonest accusers. The main characters being Black and Hebrew men, it’s also able to highlight the implications of race in general and personal setting. Through this, the movie also does the character-building justice. But mechanical aspects are also on point; the script, costume, storytelling, and jazzy, alluring music suit the setting. As if there isn’t already sufficient reason to experience this movie, it stars the late Chadwick Boseman, who of course, gives a particularly memorable performance alongside Josh Gad, who plays Sam.
Marshall is an important and captivating story knitted with injustice, drama, a bit of surprise and an alleviating sprinkle of humour. It also happens to be true to life and history. I strongly recommend it for those ages 15+.
2013’s Pacific Rim, directed by Guillermo del Toro, is set
in an age where colossal dinosaur-like creatures that bleed a radioactivity
neon blue occasionally ascend, one after the other, from a crack in the pacific
ocean and wreak havoc on major cities across the globe. To combat these
monstrosities, the nations collaborate in building monstrosities of their
own—the jaeger—a two-man machine made of metal and brawn. And they get good at
winning. But, the rate of kaiju attacks has increased, and the jaeger program,
the only viable means of intervention, is in jeopardy, being deemed
ineffective. They need funding. But they must prove themselves. So, they need
better pilots. And they need Raleigh Becket, former jaeger pilot, who retired
after a botched kaiju mission 5 years ago whereby he lost his brother/co-pilot.
Raleigh and the jaeger program also have the overwhelming responsibility of
safeguarding the world from a race of prehistoric creatures that prove more
organized than they initially thought and continue coming.
This movie is memorable, to say the least—rather sci-fi,
action, and military purpose done right. It carries trumping themes of
responsibility, courage, and sacrifice. It builds important characters by
working past events seamlessly into the setting and incorporates captivating
but subsidiary romance. There isn’t much whelm around Charlie Hunnam’s lead,
Mr. Becket, but other characters certainly make up for it; Idris Elba gives an
irrefutable performance as stoic, authoritative, and to be respected Marshal
Stacker Pentecost. The movie lasts a steadily paced two hours in which there’s
never really a dull moment, and its riveting theme music makes it feel like an
abomination to look away from kaiju-jaeger combat.
“Haven’t you heard, Mr. Becket? The world is coming to an
end. So, where would you rather die, here… or in a Jaeger?”
In 2009’s The Lovely Bones, directed by Peter Jackson,
14-year-old Susie Salmon narrates the story of her murder. For most of the
movie, Susie resides in an identical but desolate dimension between reality and
the heaven explicitly built for her killer’s victims. Here, she struggles to
come to terms with her own death while watching her family grieve her in the
real world. But Susie’s lingering has devastating effects on her family and the
“In Between.” She must move on so that her family can also.
The movie highlights the conflicts brought on by grief as
well as the importance of acceptance. It also ends on somewhat of a good note,
perhaps encouraging that after the darkest of times, it’ll be ok and life goes
on. What’s particularly special about this film—and where it also becomes
controversial—is that it also seeks to answer the question as to the fate of
the young girls who die in this gruesome manner—at the hands of the vile men of
the world. Some argue that the In-Between is too fantastical, and it thereby
invalidates their suffering. However, it seems like a rather benign
manifestation of our hope for those girls, that they might find in some other
life what they were robbed of in this one. For the story overall, it creates a
harmony of comfort and reality. It balances the crippling anxiety and
hopelessness the film is keen on inducing otherwise, especially since there is
a real lack of absolute justice and closure, which almost allows the audience
to relate to Susie’s family.
Heartbreaking or heart-palpitating at moments and contrarily hopeful at others, The Lovely Bones is a beautiful and horrific story, not for the faint of heart, and accordingly more suitable for ages 14+, but somewhat crucial.
The wonderful movie Avatar is a science fiction/action movie
that takes place in a world far away from Earth called Pandora in the year of
Jake Sully, who is a fictional character in the movie
Avatar, is a paralyzed Marine veteran. Even though he might be injured, he
still has a heart of a warrior. Jake is recruited by the U.S. military to
travel light years to Pandora where a rare mineral can be found. That mineral
can solve the Earth’s energy crisis. But little did Jake know, the planet
Pandora was owned by the Na’vis, who are indigenous species. Jake’s mission was
to control and gain access to the Na’vis, who were becoming a big problem in
obtaining the ore(mineral). The US military developed an Avatar very identical
to the Na’vis. This would help the humans communicate better with them. The
United States had a very dangerous plan in mind. They were planning on mining
and depleting Pandora’s resources. While Jake was on his entertaining/dangerous
journey, he meets a very beautiful Na’vi female, who he eventually falls in
love with. Jake Sully faces a hard challenge. He really wants to stay in his
avatar form after falling in love but is not sure what to do.
Overall, I would give this movie a 5/5. It has almost everything I wanted. It had action, romantic scenes and it had many themes which I loved. It contained themes such as conflicts between humans and nature etc. I would recommend this movie to ages 12+.
David Fincher’s 1999 film Fight Club is an adaptation of
Chuck Palahniuk’s novel of the same name. It tells the story of an unnamed
narrator (Edward Norton). The narrator has a very ordinary life. He works a 9-5
job, he goes on frequent business trips, and he has an addiction to the IKEA
furniture catalogue. That is until he meets the enigmatic Tyler Durden (Brad
Pitt). A soap salesman by day and taking on different jobs each night, Tyler is
everything the narrator is not. The two men go on to start a fight club
together, believing that one must reach physical rock bottom in order to
achieve spiritual enlightenment.
I would consider Fight Club to be one of my favourite movies. I think that the film has a lot of interesting things to say about themes such as masculinity, obsession, consumerism, and identity. I’ve seen Fight Club three times, and on each watch, I notice something new and have a slightly different takeaway. The film is very sharp and quickly paced. The two hours and twenty minutes go by quite quickly. The three main characters are all very interesting, and I think the film serves as a very compelling character study of the narrator. The iconic ending is excellent, in my opinion, and you will walk away from the film somewhat haunted. I would definitely recommend Fight Club. While it may not be for everyone, I think that most people can get something very valuable out of the film. People tend to consider this film to be an overly nihilistic celebration of violence, but I think it’s essentially the opposite. I would recommend going into the movie with a clear mind, and you may find yourself loving it.
This movie, released in 1999 and directed by Robert Iscove,
is considered a Teen Fiction classic. It’s set in California and follows Zach
Siler. Torrance High‘s star student and athlete who accepts a bet with one of
his jock friends. It entails turning one of their school’s most undesirable
girls into the prom queen. Enter Laney Boggs, a clumsy, unpopular,
glasses-wearing art student.
The starter plot is rather straightforward. However, the
movie prompts quite a few themes that feel almost scattered. Along with the
movie being reasonably fast-paced, it becomes a bit hard to pinpoint the real
message or focus of the story. Is it the inciting incident, the resulting
unintentional teen romance, the social hierarchy, or the characters’ coming of
age? It doesn’t prioritize or invest enough into any of these areas after
promoting a mirage of conflicts concerning each.
Overall, by not trying to mean so much, it had the potential to mean more or could’ve, at least, made more sense. However, this may very well be a subconscious comparison with other movies with similar settings. Why might this movie have the renown that it does? Perhaps, ditching my Mean Girls conditioning, it’s not one to be analyzed in the first place. After all, it is a relatively short circa 2000 teen fiction cliché. So, almost naturally, other aspects of the film, such as the soundtrack “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer and the flippancy of movies of the era are what count because She’s All That is not at all incapable of being enjoyed. I recommend this movie for those ages 14+
Though 2014’s Belle,
directed by Amma Asante, is based on true events and adapted from a 2014 book
of a similar name, I can neither evaluate its historical accuracy nor compare
it to the preceding book. I can merely comment—or rather rave—on its delivery
in this medium. It follows the early years of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the
illegitimate, mixed-race daughter of the late Royal Navy Admiral Captain Sir
John Lindsay, a good man and the second son of Britain’s Lord Chief Justice. At
this point in history, someone of Dido’s complexion might not be kept a house
slave on a plantation, much less in the fine linens and high standing in the
household of an aristocratic British superior. Hers is a fascinating story in
which she navigates the implications of her extraordinary circumstances—a maze
of racism, gender inequality and sexual harassment, classism and love, and how
they all affect every significant relationship in her life.
We spectate as a fresh acquaintanceship, initially of
evident animosity, what becomes a gentle romance. One forbidden if not doomed
by various social constraints—not at all rushed despite the movie not being
agonizingly long. As a matter of fact, in those respects, Belle might just
rival the 2005 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.
Simultaneously, but not at all shoved to the back burner, we witness some of
the world’s first steps towards societies truly concerned about human rights
with respect to race.
The story is propelled by an amazing script and actors who give unquestionable performances. To name a few, Elizabeth Belle, Sam Reid playing an intelligent and determined man yet sensitive inamorato, and Tom Felton playing yet another crude character. Needless to say, Belle is a painfully underrated long-time personal favourite, suitable for those ages 14+.
This 2011 movie, directed by Shawn Levy, is set in the year
2020—which might suggest that we, in the real world, are a bit behind—an age in
which not much has changed except that rather monstrous and mechanical robots
have replaced human boxers in the fighting ring. Boxing is now a sport of
“metal smashing metal and steel smashing steel.” Retired boxer Charlie Kenton
is an absentee father and underground fighter-bot handler whose playing fast
and loose has landed him deep in debt. After practically selling his son to the
aunt by his late mother, the boy must spend the summer with Charlie as per the
custody deal. Max, a stubborn, mouthy, and profit-oriented 11-year-old with
slightly less crook-like tendencies, takes after his father with
whom—humorously for us—he butts heads. Amid Charlie’s downward spiral, the two
resort to searching a scrapyard for fighter-bot parts, and frightening events
precede a discovery, a machine not too powerful but built to take hits. This
meagre sparring bot—Atom—incredibly takes them from the junkyard to the
It’s a fulfilling combination of an engaging contest and
Charlie’s character development from crook to father. Still, it isn’t
agonizingly happy or unrealistic. It offers a side dish of romance, homage to
Charlie’s boxing years, and a semblance of a personality in a robot who can’t
talk, think or feel.
Real Steel keeps us guessing in terms of Charlie’s fatherly efforts and responsibilities after the movie and the deets or emotional implications of the mother’s death. To add to the positives, the soundtrack, consisting of mostly rap, hip-hop, and rock hype music by Eminen, among other artists of the late 90s and 2010s, propels it. Furthermore, Hugh Jackson and young Dakota Goyo have amazing on-screen chemistry playing father and son. For ages 13+, I most definitely recommend it.