Posts Tagged review

Lessons Learned from SPARK: A Burning Man Story

SparkDocumentaries mean different things to different people. For some, the didactic nature of a well-researched documentary can expand horizons and increase understanding of the world we live. For others, the documentary is meant to ignite the powder keg of social reform and change. I view documentaries as a quiet place to escape to when the world feels too big for me, and a means to reshape my focus through the lens of new knowledge.

SPARK: A Burning Man Story is a 2013 documentary by Steve Brown and Jessie Deeter that inspired me in ways I wasn’t quite expecting when I sat down to watch the film. My understanding of Burning Man as an event was limited prior to the film, based mostly on news reports and references on popular television shows. I fully expected to walk away from SPARK with a more thorough understanding of the creative process of the participants and organizers of the events, but I was surprised to take away lessons in balancing passion with practicality. Read the rest of this entry »

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Managing Expectations With Elysium

Warning: This review contains spoilers… lots of ’em.

Elysium

To this day, District 9 remains one of my favorite science fiction films of all time. For an inaugural directorial effort, Neill Blomkamp showcased an impressive vision of humanity’s interaction and subjugation of an alien race. Blomkamp’s futuristic technology was gritty and tarnished, lending to a sense of realism that matched the film’s documentary-style sequences. Like many people, I have been (im)patiently waiting for Blomkamp’s sophomore effort, the Matt Damon helmed Elysium. Perhaps I did not manage my expectations properly, going in to the film, but I ended up walking away from Elysium feeling underwhelmed and extremely disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong, there are several things that Blomkamp got right with Elysium. Blomkamp’s world building prowess is front and center once again in this tale of an Earth divided by class; the poor carve out meager-at-best existences in hovels on the Earth’s surface, while the wealthy and genetically privileged get to take up residence on Elysium, a technological paradise that orbits the planet. The technology of Earth in this film feels very realistic and believable. Nothing is too glossy or overly-stylized, and many of the weapons and gadgets used were admittedly fuckin’ cool without being ridiculous or too over-the-top. I also appreciate that Blomkamp is able to dump us directly into such a world with very little scrolling text or set-up. Context clues and a forward moving plot pull us into the atmosphere of the film in a way that is more show, less tell.

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The Humanity of the Man of Steel

Warning: This review / analysis of Man of Steel is loaded with super-sized spoilers that are more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings with a single bound.

Man of Steel

Lore is a tricky subject for filmmakers to try to tackle, especially when making movies based on well-loved, well-established franchises. This is particularly evident in the science fiction genre, where ‘fandoms’ protect their cult icons from mainstream homogenization that is geared towards the masses. In many ways, there is nothing wrong with this mentality; a watered-down characterization or one that misses the point of the source material not only produces a disappointing story, but also prevents more faithful adaptations from being created.

Zach Snyder’s Man of Steel is an amazing film, one that I consider to be amongst the best superhero films ever created. With breath-taking action sequences, smart casting decisions, a menacing, yet potentially justified villain in General Zod, and intriguing flashbacks which focus on Superman’s origins as young Clark Kent growing up in Smallville, Man of Steel does not fail to deliver an edge-of-your-seat experience. In fact, I was such a fan of this film that at the time of this writing, I can comfortably argue that it is the only 10/10 film of 2013. Even more so, Man of Steel is an interesting study in how a film can remain true to the origins and character traits of a pop culture icon while still attempting to move the character forward. Read the rest of this entry »

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Boldly Go See Star Trek Into Darkness

Warning:  This review contains spoilers for Star Trek Into Darkness. If you don’t want me to violate your prime directive, come back to this review after you’ve seen the film.

Star Trek 2

It isn’t often that I attend midnight releases for films. I hate dealing with crowds, and I’m usually a complete waste of a human being after midnight. Besides, I can see a new release any time during opening weekend, right? But when a group of my friends set up a Facebook invitation for the midnight release of Star Trek Into Darkness, and after dragging my feet for a few days, I finally agreed to buy a ticket and join them.

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The (Not So) Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Warning:  This review contains a few light spoilers of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.  Turn back now if you don’t want to find out that I simply keep the scarves hidden up my sleeve.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Imagine, if you will, you’re in a sold-out theatre.  The lights have dimmed, and a hush has fallen over the crowd.  As a child, you were fascinated by magicians, performers who brought wonder and possibility to each trick.  You never really wanted to know how the tricks were performed; sure, you squealed, ‘How did you do that?’ when a particularly impressive stunt was pulled off, but you knew in your heart of hearts that not knowing would keep the ‘magic’ of magic alive.  Now, as you sit in the audience, you are prepared for that splendor, that wonder once again.  Fog rolls out over the audience as the velvet curtain rises.  The magician takes the stage…

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Survivor: Caramoan Episode Six Review and Analysis

Warning:  This review contains spoilers for episode six of Survivor: Caramoan.  If you haven’t seen the episode yet, you can check it out at CBS.com

Survivor: Caramoan

It has been a magical week here at The Lindus List.  This week, I joined the Movie Bears Podcast in a review of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, and in keeping with the spirit of that film, I’ll be reaching into my hat and pulling out a rabbit… or perhaps, a few turkeys… with this week’s episode of Survivor:  Caramoan.  Episode six may officially be titled ‘Operation Thunder,’ but we’re going to rename it ‘The Reappearing Act.’

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Is Oz Great and Powerful?

Warning:  This review of Oz: The Great and Powerful contains spoilers.  Turn back now if you don’t want to find out that tornados are the fastest way out of Kansas.

Oz the Great and Powerful

The film industry loves to churn out sequels, reboots, and re-imaginings of popular films, novels, cartoon series, and even classic fairy tales.  We’ve all seen this, and we’ve probably all bitched about this to our friends at one point or another.  The biggest reason for this phenomenon is due to fear; the film industry is, by and large, afraid of taking a gamble on a new product, and instead hitches its cart to any proven commodity possible.  We’re a nostalgic society, so when someone ‘messes’ with one of our beloved classics, we bristle.  Not only is this inevitable, I would consider it to be a completely fair reaction.   When you stand on the shoulders of giants, your work may be more accessible to the masses, but your faults are more transparent as well.  That said, sometimes a completely solid film that would be considered excellent on its own merits is disregarded or dismissed simply because fans of the source material are unwilling to give it a fair shake.

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