Writer @ the movies

Happy new year!

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I spent a lot of time at the movie theater over the holidays. So many interesting, quirky, or intriguing films came out. I’m no film critic, but as a writer, I pay attention to things like character-building, story arcs, suspense, conclusiveness, and screenwriting. So here’s what I thought of the 5 movies I saw in theaters over the holidays, from a writer’s perspective. Feel free to add your opinions in the comments!

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT!

Big Hero 6

I LOVED this movie. Not just liked. LOVED. I already tend to like animated movies, but I know they’re sometimes used an excuse for fluffy endings and one-dimensional characters. Not so with Big Hero 6. This film tackled major issues: grief, adolescence, math/science/engineering, women in the sciences, etc. etc., all without sacrificing fun, humor, storytelling, amazing animation, and some really great lines. This movie proved to me that Disney has assimilated Pixar and is better for it.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

This movie…was the third in a trilogy…that wasn’t supposed to be a trilogy. Okay, so I’m a book person. And Tolkien is one of my literary idols. But I think, even if I hadn’t read The Hobbit, this movie would have felt like a long sequence of impressive but disconnected CG fights. And a moose.

But hey, at least I got some good laughs out of it, right? Even if they weren’t at the parts that were supposed to be funny?

Unbroken

Angelina Jolie’s adaptation of the award-winning book was impressive. Louis Zamperini was a truly amazing person–I had the opportunity to hear him speak when I was fourteen, and his humility, faith, and sense of humor in spite of all his suffering made a lasting impression on me. This movie communicated Zamperini’s hardships and resilience in gritty, heavily charged storytelling that kept me riveted the whole time. The disappointment to me was that I didn’t feel there was enough beginning or ending to this story–it left the excellent middle feeling a bit out of context.

The Theory of Everything

The trailer for this movie was so unusual that I had to go see it. The cinematography was beautiful, and it made me very nostalgic for Cambridge 🙂 The acting was also superb–Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking as his body wastes away with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Felicity Jones plays his wife and caregiver, Jane Hawking. The sequences of caregiving were exquisitely portrayed, in all their pain and grit. Still, I have to say I was disappointed in the movie’s message. It seemed to celebrate only the resilience of Hawking’s indomitable spirit, when I saw the real heroine as his strong and courageous wife.

Into the Woods

This is the movie I didn’t expect to like. I love stage musicals, but after seeing Les Miserables translated to the movie screen, my expectations for Into the Woods were low. Happily, they were exceeded. Not only could everyone in the film both act and sing (!) but I’m a big fan of fairy tales, especially when they’re interwoven with each other. Though the ending was sad, I liked the way the story extended past the traditional “happily ever after.” What happened after Cinderella married her prince? What about after Jack’s beanstalk fell? I thought the movie used those questions as a great opportunity to probe the limitations of fairy tales and simplistic happy endings–all without losing hope in the power of storytelling.

Did you see any of these movies over the holidays? Share your opinions in the comments! 

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