Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Breach The Devils Contract And Your Ass Is Fucked Night


The Exorcist 27x40 Movie Poster (1974)
 

Tonight's marathon is all about witnessing peoples experiences and dealings with the devil. There is only one pure simple fact that can be said about all of these experiences with him....If you breach his contract, then your ass is toast. Tonight we experience some of the most intense and powerful experiences people have when encountering pure evil, and realizing that in order to truly overcome and defeat it, one has to make the ultimate sacrifice. We have on our menu for this evening:

The Exorcist 1973, Constantine 2005, The Devils Advocate 1997, and End of Days 1999

We begin the evening with one of the scariest films of all time. The Exorcist is one of the last great horror films in cinema and scared the socks off millions of people since it's release in 1973. The Exorcist deals with a young teenage girls mother trying to seek help from two priests to perform an exorcism on her daughter after a strange entity takes possession of her body. The Exorcist is the perfect start for this marathon as it begins the theme of a young girl being possessed by the devil as a form of evil emerging from the darkness. Its essentially a classic tale of good vs evil with the fight to save one girls soul from being totally corrupted. The second film in the lineup is Constantine starring Keanu Reeves and Rachael Weisz. In this supernatural tale, an irreverent supernatural detective named John Constantine is an exorcist whose been to hell and back. His soul has been sentenced to hell and he tries to get on good terms with God by deporting demons yet God wants self sacrifice. Rachael Weisz's character investigates the mysterious suicide of her twin sister and goes out in search of the truth. Together Constantine and Angela battle the demons of the earth. This film is more over the top and sadistic than The Exorcist by showing us the first physical appearance of Satan played by Peter Stormare, It also begins a two part story arc involving Keanu Reeves hunting demons in this film and being manipulated by one in the next film. The third movie in the lineup is The Devils Advocate. The Devils Advocate deals with an exceptional Florida lawyer played by Reeves who always sets out to win every court case he takes. He is offered a job in New York City for a high-end law firm with a high-end boss propelling him to take the biggest opportunity of his life. However, that opportunity doesn't come without a cost which ultimately is to make a deal with the devil. Al Pacino gives what is probably the greatest performance of the devil in film history, and is the only film where Keanu Reeves showed some true acting talent. The final film of the evening is the action packed blockbuster End of Days starring Arnold Schwarzeneggar and Gabriel Byrne. End of Days begins at the end of the century in the year 1999 when Satan visits New York in search of a bride. It's up to an ex cop named Jericho, who becomes assigned to protect the man that's being controlled by the devil and protect the woman whose meant to be the devils wife to bear his child, that'll bring about the end of civilization. Gabriel Byrne gives probably the second best performances as Satan behind Al Pacino, and Arnold Schwarzeneggar gives one of his most humane performances here as a broken down cop whose experience loss at the hands of pure evil but while battling the devil, slowly rediscovers his faith.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Rescuing The Hostages Day








Tonight's marathon is a combination of some intense yet great stories about rescuing hostages from heist and terrorist situations. The situations range from being true events to completely fictional and great works of entertainment. The stakes get bigger with each film from a group of hostages in Iran being taken hostage to a 40 story building and an entire city becoming under siege. Whether you agree with this marathon lineup or not, all the films work brilliantly together to show some of the greatest rescue missions and prevention of heist robberies and terrorism ever put on film. We have on our menu for this evening:

 Argo 2012, Inside Man 2007, Die Hard 1988, The Rock 1996, and The Dark Knight Rises 2012

We begin the lineup with Ben Affleck's 2012 Oscar Winning thriller Argo. Based on true events, a CIA agent played by Ben Affleck, acting under disguise as a Hollywood producer scouting a location for a science fiction film, he launches a dangerous operation to rescue six Americans in Tehran during the U.S hostage crisis in Iran in 1980. Winner of three academy awards including Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Best Film Editing, this film is exciting, suspenseful, well executed, and begins the theme of hostages being taken and rescued beautifully. The next film in the lineup is 2006's Inside Man, starring Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster, and Clive Owen. Denzel Washington plays a police detective, Clive Owen as the bank robber, and Jodie Foster as a high-power broker, who all enter a game of high-stakes negotiations after the criminals bank heist turns into a hostage situation. Inside Man introduces the theme of a heist occurring inside a building and the police trying to negotiate the release of the hostages with the robbers. The third film in the lineup is the 1988 action movie classic Die Hard. This third film in the marathon is the movie that turned both Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman into overnight movie stars. Bruce Willis plays John McClane, a New York city police detective who got invited to a Christmas party by his wife Holly McClane played by Bonnie Bedelia. During the party, the guests are taken hostage by German terrorists in a heist led by Hans Gruber. It is up to John McClane to save the hostages including his wife while being trapped in a 40 floor building at Nakatomi Towers in Los Angeles. Die Hard is perhaps one of the greatest influential action movies of all time, and one of the cinemas most thrilling films. The film takes the theme of rescuing hostages, and preventing a major heist to the next level with rollercoaster action. Michael Bay's The Rock keeps this trend going with Alcatraz island being taken hostage in San Francisco. A mild -mannered chemist played by Nicolas Cage and an ex-con played by Sean Connery are left with the task of leading a counterstrike when a rogue group of military men, led by a renegade general, threaten a nerve gas attack from Alcatraz against San Francisco. Two actors that steal the show in this film are Ed Harris and Michael Biehn in the epic shower standoff scene between the marines and terrorists over whose in control of the situation. The final film of the evening is the biggest film of them all in terms of scope. Christopher Nolan's epic conclusion to his Batman trio with The Dark Knight Rises places Bruce Wayne/Batman fighting to save Gotham city from being taken under siege by a terrorist named Bane. The twist is a nuclear bomb is set to detonate and destroy Gotham city unless the citizens as well as Batman stand up against the army that Bane has created to bring justice to Gotham city. All the themes that run through this marathon such as fighting terrorism, saving hostages, and bringing justice are brought together with this films climax.












Monday, December 22, 2014

Musical Night






Tonight's marathon covers one of the more popular genres in film while at the same time being one of the most divisive ones. Tonight is all about exploring some of the more popular films in the musical genre of filmmaking. All four of these movies are critically acclaimed Oscar nominated films that blew peoples minds upon first viewing them. We have on our menu for this evening:

   Chicago 2002, Across The Universe 2007, The Phantom Of The Opera 2004, and Les Miserables 2012

Some of the themes of tonight's marathon that these musicals cover are greed, fame, orphaned children, regret, love, racism, movements in the 1960s, stealing, poverty, determinism vs free will, unfair social and political conditions, and obsessive behavior. Not only does the audience get some great musical set pieces but also get a powerful and ultimately moving experience with some of these characters. We begin the marathon with the Oscar Winning musical from 2002 titled Chicago. The film deals with murderesses Velma Kelly played by Oscar winner Catherine Zeta Jones and Roxie Hart played by Renee Zellweger finding themselves on death row together and fighting for the fame that will keep them from the gallows in 1920's Chicago. Nominated for 13 academy awards and winner of 6, the film earned a win for Catherine Zeta Jones, as well as nominations for Renee Zellweger, Queen Latifah and John C. Reilly. The next film in the lineup is Across The Universe, a visual feast that includes music from the legendary band The Beatles. Nominated for an Oscar in best achievement and costume design, the movie covers the era of music with the Beatles and the Vietnam War, coming together to form a backdrop for the romance between an upper-class American girl and a poor Liverpudlian artist. The third movie in the lineup is Joel Schumacher's 2004 musical The Phantom Of The Opera. In this film, a young soprano played by Emmy Rossum, becomes the obsession of a disfigured musical genius played by Gerard Butler, who lives beneath the Paris Opera House. The music and performances are what drives this one towards being a worthy retelling of the classic story and is a far better effort than Joel Schumacher's prior directorial effort such as Batman and Robin. The final film of the evening is the 2012 musical drama titled Les Miserables. From the Oscar winning director of The Kings Speech, this critically acclaimed retelling takes place in 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after breaking parole, agrees to care for a factory worker's daughter. This decision changes their lives forever. When one thinks of this movie, two great performances come to mind. That of Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway. The latter had such a scene stealing presence that earned her the golden statue. Hathaway was amazing in this movie and her performance reached a core with the audience that no one else in the film was able to touch. The worst singer in this film hands down goes to Russell Crowe, a great actor but not an exceptional singer.

With all four of these movies paired together, one gets a solid pairing of musical films that represents the genre in some of it's greatest forms.






Nightcrawler Review



So I finally got to see Nightcrawler

SPOILER FREE

Let me start off by saying I am a fan of Jake Gyllenhaal. I think he produces a solid trackrecord of films and churns out strong performances in them such as October Sky, Donnie Darko, The Day After Tomorrow, Jarhead, Brokeback Mountain, Zodiac, Rendition, Brothers, Love and Other Drugs, The Source Code, End of Watch, and Prisoners. As you can see, his body of work is very impressive and he's got the acting chops to back it up. I also really like Rene Russo, enjoying her work in Lethal Weapon series, Ransom, The Thomas Crown Affair, and Outbreak. The combination of these two with a solid script equals a quality film in my eyes. Going into Nightcrawler, I expected nothing less than that and in the end I got just that.

The plot for Nightcrawler deals with Lou Bloom, a driven man played by Gyllenhaal whose desperate for work, finds himself in the world of L.A. crime journalism. Here he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story. Aiding him in his efforts is Nina, a TV-news veteran played by Rene Russo. The plot is solid enough to where it allows the movie to be exciting and thought provoking posing some very ethical questions. Examples are what would you do if you were in Gyllenhaals shoes if you had an opportunity to record a story or be apart of one for career advancement. His character is well aware of the power he holds on the news station because he is able to capture footage of crimes no one else can, and uses that to his advantage. Right off the bat, you can tell his character is off and that's further proven when he tries to make passes at his much older boss. The two strongest aspects of this film is are the performances from Gyllenhaal and Russo, and the script. The directing from Dan Gilroy, gives the film a slick atmosphere, allowing for plenty of nightly scenes and dark atmospheres in newsrooms or restaurants. What holds your attention with this film is the synopsis, and the wondering of what Lou is gonna do next. The suspense with his character continuously builds up until the shocking climax. He is such an interesting character that you find yourself wondering what his motives are ultimately. It is the performance of Gyllenhaal that makes this one thrilling and restless. You are captivated by his character and at times on the edge of your seat. Add with that the visual style of the film and a script that allows deep thought provoking questions, and Nightcrawler is one of the more intelligent films of the fall season. Here's hoping that Jake Gyllenhaal receives some Oscar nominated love come this award ceremony.

                                                                                                                                                    8/10

                                                     


Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies Review



So I finally got to watch The Battle Of Five Armies

SPOILER FREE

Before weighing in on The Battle Of Five Armies, I think it's appropriate to revert back to the other two installments of the Hobbit trilogy and Lord of the Rings briefly before discussing the newest film. Let me start by saying I absolutely adore the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. I never got to see those films in theaters during their initial runs which was a huge regret to me until they replayed them in a 2012 marathon upon the release of An Unexpected Journey. What makes them great to me is they take you on a journey with their characters in this truly incredible universe that was not seen before previously if you don't include the original Star Wars trilogy. To me those are the two greatest trilogies in the genre of fantasy. Lord of the Rings is a remarkable filmmaking achievement and one of the rare trilogies that gets better with each installment. My personal favorite film in that trilogy is Return of the King which currently sits in my top 15 movies of all time list. Having said that, I have some strong opinions towards the Hobbit trilogy. On one hand, I enjoyed the new series to a certain extent but also feel that it has certain flaws which hold it back from being as great as Lord of the Rings. I understand that both series are separate and The Hobbit is only 320 pages compared to the three books the original trilogy followed under, but I also feel that's where the problem comes in. How does 320 pages qualify as being its own trilogy? That was an issue on every fans minds going into the newer trilogy. Unlike most people who were disappointed by An Unexpected Journey, I really liked it. It kept the spirit of the original films and felt like another great adventure was starting up again. The soundtrack was also very Lord of the Rings utilizing many familiar musical tones while also creating some great ones of it's own such as Song of Lonely Mountain. The Desolation of Smaug I didn't enjoy as much as Unexpected Journey because it felt that the majority of it was just character and story filler to get to the real event of the film which was the introduction of the dragon Smaug. Smaug is truly amazing to look at visually but the problem lied with waiting two hours to get to the point where he shows up then cut the film right when his character's story arc was about to begin. Looking back now that all three films are linked together, that one doesn't appear to be as terrible now but is still my least favorite of all six. I guess you're all wondering how Battle of Five Armies did huh? Well here it is.....

I liked it. The film is not without it's issues such as the overuse of CGI, unnecessary humor during the battle sequences in the films third act and just an overall feeling that the trilogy as a whole doesn't compare to the greater one it gets linked too, but in the end its a good movie. Battle of Five Armies is the Return of the King of the newer trilogy giving it an epic and grand feel that feels more Lord of the Rings than Desolation of Smaug did. The plot of the film lies with Bilbo and the Company of the Dwarves being forced to engage in a war against an array of combatants and keeping the Lone Mountain from falling into the hands of a rising darkness. While at the same time, contending with the wrath of the mountains dragon named Smaug.The emotion with the characters is present here such as the friendship with Bilbo and Thorin that ends in tragedy. The film also contains more heart than the previous installment and feels more epic in scope. The opening sequence with Smaug destroying Laketown is phenomenal and one of the great high points of this new trilogy. Benedict Cumberbatch's voicing of Smaug is chilling yet terrific. Martin Freeman's performance as Bilbo Baggins is the most emotional of all three movies, and falls in line with Ian Holm's performance as the older Bilbo perfectly. Ian Mckellen does great as usual as Gandalf, showing us that no one else on Earth could've played this part better. He was born for this role. Richard Armitage as Thorin was at his best here and really captured the corruption the mountain of treasure was having on his characters state of mind. Orlando Bloom shines again as Legolas, though it feels a little weird that he's in this trilogy. His character attributes to some of the more glaring flaws of this film involving the overuse of CGI.

Battle of Five Armies directed by Peter Jackson feels more like LOTR in this film than the last one did. It's gritty, rich, grand, handled with great care and heart, and done in a way where it begins to take the shape and form of the movies that lay before it. Howard Shore's score for Battle of Five Armies marks a considerable improvement over Desolation of Smaug's soundtrack, adding more familiar tunes such as the one involving Bilbo and the Shire. Though one wishes that Shore and Jackson used the Lonely Mountain theme throughout the whole trilogy instead of just one film. To me, that was the theme that represented the entire Hobbit trilogy and became a wasted opportunity not having it in the latter films. It would've gone great here. The film has some touching moments such as the final scenes with Bilbo and Thorin reminding viewers of the friendship Frodo and Sam had in the original trilogy. I do wish that Jackson gave the film a little more of an emotional punch like he did with Return of the King. That's not to say the drama isn't there but it could've been more powerful. The movie's final moments do what Revenge of the Sith did for the Star Wars prequels, which is to bridge together the two trilogies by making sure all the puzzle pieces are in place. However, when one watches the final minutes of Five Armies, one gets the feeling that even thought he trilogy as a whole is a satisfying journey...it just doesn't compare to the greatness of the first films. I understand those who say you can't compare the two trilogies because the stories are different but in all honestly, it's human nature to do so especially if the same characters are used.

In the end, Battle of Five Armies provides a reasonable satisfying conclusion to The Hobbit trilogy, though the debate will always carry on whether these movies really should've been three films. Personally, Jackson would've done just as good or better with two movies. Having three movies is more of the studios doing than his own. If you were one of those people who loved Unexpected Journey but found disappointment with Desolation of Smaug, Battle of Five Armies will win you back as a fan. If you loved the first two going into this one, then you have nothing to worry about. If you are someone who feels the first two films are not on the same calibar as LOTR and feel disappointment, this movie will not bring you back to that level but it's worth seeing because it's a good finish to not just one but two trilogies as a whole. With this film. Peter Jackson bids farewell to a universe that he not only brought to the big screen, but over the course of 13 years has become one of the biggest pop culture phenomenons in movie history.
                                                                                                                                                8/10



Annie 2014 Review



So I finally got to see Annie 2014

SPOILER FREE

Let me start off by saying the original 1982 Annie is a classic. However, I feel that once a certain image of Annie is shown to the world, the world becomes used to that way of seeing her. Going into this film, the filmmakers understood that no matter how great they made the remake of Annie, it would always live in the shadow of it's predecessor. This film has received controversy for changing the ethnicity of the main character to being African American, and bringing the story to modern times. One can say that the world has changed a lot since 1982, and that such a change does not take away from the original source material but reflects more on the world we live in now. I feel that much of the criticism towards this film stems from the fact that people have grown up with a certain image of Annie that they don't want to see changed in anyway shape or form. That's understandable but it's also not a reason to write off this reimagining which suprisingly doesn't suck.

The plot for the 2014 version is nearly identical to the original film. A foster kid named Annie, who lives with her mean foster mom played by Cameron Diaz, ends up seeing her life changed when business tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks played by Jamie Foxx, makes a thinly-veiled campaign move and takes her in. Much to the surprise of himself and Annie, they form a relationship that walks a fine line of that of a father and daughter. The young actress chosen to play the title role of Annie is Quvenzhane Wallis, fresh off her Oscar nominated performance in Beasts Of The Southern Wild. She doesn't try to duplicate the performance of Aileen Quinn in the lead role but makes it her own interpretation, and does it pretty well. She makes the character appear to be likeable and sympathetic, a young child you want to see good fortune come to. Jamie Foxx does a solid performance as Will Stacks, also not trying to duplicate the role of Albert Finney as Daddy' Oliver Warbucks, but creates a likeable performance as a self-centered mayoral candidate whose life gets turned upside down when Annie comes into it, and makes him rethink about some aspects of it. Rose Bryne does a nice job as Grace, the assistant to Stacks who befriends Annie, and takes a strong liking to her while also harboring secretive feelings towards Mr. Stacks. It can be debated that Cameron Diez's performance comes across as being over the top, but I feel she did exactly what the script commanded her to do. Her character may appear to be goofy in nature and silly at times, but her character has a nice twist in this film compared to the direction Miss Hannigan went in the original film. She is not Carol Burnett good but she certainly doesn't suck here and comes off as being entertaining and heartwarming in the films third act. The soundtrack of the film is top notch and the films high point with some fantastic songs being redone such as Tomorrow, or It's The Hard Knocked-Life, and Opportunity.

Overall, the remake of Annie manages to capture the spirit and heart of the original film while presenting it for a new generation. Sure it can be over the top childish and goofy at times with tired cliches but it certainly isn't as bad as critics or portions of it's audience made it out to be, and deserves to be seen by lovers of the original film. Its a progressive take on a classical fairy tale story. While it is true there is no comparing the two, that shouldn't be a reason to verbally bash this version of it. This Annie was specifically designed to appeal to a newer generation of children and young adults compared to the one's that saw it in 1982. These are two different generations of people with two different interpretations of the story. As long as the newer version maintains the heart of the original film, which it does, then that should be all that matters ultimately. Annie 2014 is worth watching if one can put aside the modern day change, and embrace it as a fun filled musical for the whole family. And honestly, that's all it was ever mean't to be. It really wasn't that bad.

                                                                                                                                                  7/10




Friday, December 19, 2014

Going On Adventure Night Part IV: Monsters Roam Free Night










Tonight's marathon marks the fourth week of the epic trend of going on an adventure night theme of movies. Ranging from the great fantasy films of the 1980's to the more modern day ones with breakthrough technology, we take a different turn with the theme of going to mysterious worlds and watching some of the greatest monsters who ever lived roam free and cause havoc. These iconic films range anywhere from the era of 1933 to one of this years summer blockbusters. We have on our menu for this evening:

             King Kong 1933, Congo 1995, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 2014, Jurassic Park 1993, and Mighty Joe Young 1998

Now this is a pure monster night of epic proportions. We begin the evening with the 1933 classic King Kong. For it's time, Kong was a breakthrough in technology and great storytelling. The film resonates with audiences today as you can never look at the Empire State Building without thinking about the climax of the film, or Fay Wray's epic scream. The film was so influential to modern day filmmakers it not only inspired Peter Jackson to become a filmmaker, but it also prompted him to do a equally great remake in 2005 that ran over three hours long. The plot for King Kong deals with a film crew going on a journey to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and comes across a colossal giant gorilla who takes a liking to their female blonde star. The difference between this film and the 2005 version is the running times. This movies much faster paced and scarier running only 108 minutes compared to the epic 188 minute running time that Peter Jackson's remake possesses. There is no love story between Kong and Ann in this one compared to the triangle between Naomi Watts and Kong. What better way to open up a great monster theme than playing one of the classic films that started it all. The next movie in the lineup is Congo, based off Michael Crichton's novel. Congo deals with an expedition to the African Congo ending in disaster, forcing a new team to assemble and find out what went wrong. What they find is a forest full of killer gorillas. While not as memorable as King Kong in the realm of film history, the film offers plenty of excitement and fun in it's plot. The next film after Congo that concludes the entire story arc involving killer apes is Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the 2014 blockbuster sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Taking place ten years after the pandemic disease which erupted at the climax of the last film, the apes who have survived it are drawn into battle with a group of human survivors led by legendary actor Gary Oldman. The movie feels like the Empire Strikes Back of the new Planet of the Apes story arc and fits in perfectly with the whole theme of this marathon. It is an exciting, thought provoking, and totally feeling of awe experience that builds up the anticipation for the films that come next. What comes next is foreshadowed in King Kong during the film crews search to find their blonde movie star on skull Island. What they find during their journey is an island full of species that supposedly became extinct 65 million years ago but have somehow survived. The species I'm referring to is dinosaurs. Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park remains the greatest dinosaur film to ever grace the big screen and challenges all filmmakers in the future to create an event spectacle that reaches the heights of that film in terms of pure cinematic magic. The plot for Jurassic Park takes place during a preview tour where the theme park suffers a major power breakdown that allows its cloned dinosaur exhibits to run amok. The film boasts a great all star cast among the likes of Sam Neil, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Samuel Jackson, Wayne Knight, and Richard Attenborough in the roles of the people on the island who experience the magic, the wonder, and ultimately the terror of the dinosaurs coming back to life and roaming free throughout the park. The score by John Williams is one of the greatest ever recorded and dare I say, challenges the current national anthem for a worthy rival. The final film of the evening brings it all back to the scope of King Kong with RKO classic Mighty Joe Young. In this film, a legendary fifteen-foot tall mountain gorilla named Joe is taken to an animal sanctuary in California by a zoologist played by Bill Paxton and a young woman he grew up with played by Charlie Theron. However, a poacher from the past returns to seek vengeance on him. Not only was this a legendary gorilla story that emerged around the time King Kong came out in the 30s and 40s, but it bids the whole story arc of monsters roaming free an emotional farewell.







Monday, December 15, 2014

Overcoming Adversity Part ll-Boxing drama night






Tonight's marathon is a continuation of last weeks intro into the theme of overcoming adversity. Last week we opened up this theme with outstanding human dramas such as A Beautiful Mind, Shawshank Redemption, A Little Princess, and The Pursuit of Happyness. Tonight we continue that trend but take a slightly different approach to it dealing with the theme of boxing. There have been several amazing dramas that have revolved around this theme. For the theme of boxing drama, we have on our line up for this evening:

      Rocky 1976, Cinderella Man 2005, The Fighter 2010, and Rocky Balboa 2006

We begin with the film that started the whole theme of boxing dramas. Sylvester Stallone's 1976 blockbuster Rocky, is a timeless story about a man who starts at the bottom but is given the opportunity of a lifetime and rises to the top. It is also one of the screen's most heartwarming love stories and one of pop culture's most inspirational films. In this story, Stallone plays Rocky Balboa, a small time boxer who gets a rare chance to fight the heavy-weight champion, Apollo Creed played by Carl Weathers. During this bout, Rocky strives to go the distance for his own self-respect. It is a wonderful story about hope and aspiring to make one's dreams come true. The second film in the lineup is Ron Howard's boxing drama titled Cinderella Man. In this film, Russell Crowe plays James Braddock, a washed-up boxer who comes back to become a champion and an inspiration in the 1930s to help provide for his wife played by Renee Zelwegger. As great as this film turned out to be, it was ultimately snubbed of any major Oscar recognition although it secured nominations for best film editing, makeup, and a supporting actor Oscar nomination for Paul Giamatti. The third film in the powerful marathon is The Fighter. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and Amy Adams. This story is centered around the early years of boxer "Irish" Micky Ward and his brother who helped train him before going pro in the mid 1980's. All three of these actors turn in stunning performances and the film packs an emotional punch that echos the previous two films in the lineup. The fourth and final film of tonight's lineup makes everything come full circle and reverts back to its roots. Rocky Balboa is a film that can be classified as all heart and a fitting end to the popular boxing franchise. In this film, Rocky is a retired heavyweight champion now entering his twilight years as a widowed husband. About thirty years after the first fight, Rocky comes out of retirement and dons his gloves for one final fight against the reigning heavyweight champion named Mason 'The Line' Dixon. Stallone reportedly was disatisfied with the outcome of Rocky V, and wanted to give the series a more powerful ending that touches the humanity of the first film. The great thing about Rocky Balboa is that it works so well as a direct sequel to the first film, you don't need any of the other sequels in between because they connect so perfectly together.

The theme of adversity continues here but takes a different route than the one presented last night. This one focuses on the underdogs who got special chances by society to prove themselves, and ultimately succeed in the end against all odds. Rocky Balboa drives home the message that it's never too late to make your dreams come true no matter how old you are.






Friday, December 12, 2014

Going On An Adventure Night Part lll-The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly of DRAGONS










Today's marathon is all about seeing the different varieties of dragons ranging from the nicest ones to the most evil. A quick recap of the previous adventure nights are the first week starting the adventure story arc with The Neverending Story, Legend, The Princess Bride, and Labyrinth. The second week was even more epic with the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz, Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe, Pans Labyrinth, Avatar, and Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey. Today the stakes are raised higher with the same adventure theme occurring but this time centers around the evolutions of dragons on both sides of good and evil. We have on our menu for this one:

Sleeping Beauty 1959, Petes Dragon 1977, How To Train Your Dragon 2010, Mulan 1998, Dragonheart 1995, Dungeons and Dragons 2000 Reign of Fire 2002, and Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug 2013

Now is that a kickass dragon lineup or what? I think the dragon quota is met with this spectacular lineup of films. The only way that last weeks marathon could be topped is by going all out with the theme of dragon movies. Starting with Sleeping Beauty, the dragons begin in the background of the story but slowly emerge from the reign of fire to become more prominent in the films. Sleeping Beauty begins with a malevolent fairy placing a curse on a princess which only a prince can break after being snubbed by the royal family. The prince along with the help of three good fairies work together to undo the curse on the princess. The malevolent fairy in this film ends up turning into a dragon during the climax of the film and is even more menacing than her normal bodily presence. The second film in the lineup is Pete's Dragon, with involves an orphan boy and his green/pink magical dragon coming to town with his abusive adoptive parents on pursuit. Outside of the visual presence of Pete himself, the film's score and song Candle On The Water were both nominated for Oscars. After Pete's Dragon is 2010's How To Train Your Dragon, centering around a hapless young Viking that aspires to hunt dragons but doesn't expect to ultimately become friends with a young dragon named Toothless. The end result of this story is the young Viking realizes there may be more to these creatures than he originally anticipated. The next film in the lineup is Mulan, a young maiden who secretly joins Chinas army to save her father from certain death in the army with the help of a small red dragon named Mushu. Eddie Murphy's hilarious performance along with the films memorable score makes it standout as a true Dragon movie classic. After Milan comes Dragonheart, which focuses on the last dragon cooperating with a dragonslaying knight who must corporate to stop an evil king who was given partial immortality. The next film Dungeons and Dragons deals with a tyrant named Profion who attempts to overthrow a peaceful kingdom ruled by a tough empress. Dragons play a pivotal role in the climax of the film with both sides using them in an epic battle between the forces of good and evil. The next film Reign of Fire, deals with a brood of fire-breathing dragons who rise and begin setting fire to everything in an effort to establish dominance over the planet. This action-packed drama stars Christian Bale, Gerald Butler, and Matthew Macconaughey. The final film of the evening has the greatest dragon that ever graced the big screen. His name is Smaug. The second installment in the Hobbit series, The Desolation of Smaug, has Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf the Grey, and the twelve dwarfs continuing their quest to reclaim Erebor, their hometown from the villainous dragon named Smaug. If there is any dragon that lives up to his name as being truly menacing and fearful, it's him. Benedict Cumberbatch's dragon alone makes the entire movie, and worth sitting two hours to lay eyes on such a mystical creature.

   

Monday, December 8, 2014

Overcoming Adversity Part 1






Tonight's marathon is not just any ordinary marathon, its' an emotional experience. We follow the story arcs of several great characters in four great dramas that rank as some of the screens most emotional pieces of work. If one tear is not shed during this marathon nor a feeling of emotion, then you're not human. We have on our menu for this evening:

A Beautiful Mind 2001, The Shawshank redemption 1994, A Little Princess 1994, and The Pursuit of Happyness 2006

One word that can sum up this marathon perfectly is it being powerful. Each one of these films carries with them an emotional power that draws you into their worlds and live with these characters. You feel their moments of pain, fear, hopelessness but also their moments of hope that transcends into pure happiness by the end of their story arcs. There is a reason why this marathon is considered an emotional experience, each film hits you in the gut and cry tears of joy in the end, leaving you blown away by what you just endured during those several hours. Each film ends with a message of hope and happiness for the characters. Really, that is all that is needed after the experiences they all go through. The first film of the night is Ron Howard's 2001 Oscar Winner A Beautiful Mind. Winning the oscar for best picture over Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring, the epic drama deals with a brilliant but asocial mathematician played by Russell Crowe, who accepts secret work in cryptography which leads to his life ultimately turning upside down. Jennifer Connolly won an academy award for playing his fearful but supportive wife who never stops fighting to cope with her husbands demons. A Beautiful Mind is hands down the greatest work of director Ron Howard's career next to Apollo 13. The film is majestic, grand, mesmerizing, tragic, and ultimately a great example of overcoming adversity with it's heartwarming ending. Nothing can prepare the viewer for the film that comes afterwards with Frank Darabont's The Shawshank Redemption. There is a reason this film is number 1 on imdb's top 250 list. This film is so powerful that it still resonates with audiences today and has a sheer power everytime it's viewed, Starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, the two play imprisoned men who share a special bond over a number of years in prison together. Through their friendship, they find solace and redemption through acts of common decency they form. Shawshank is a film that enjoyed its rise to critical fame over the course of twenty years. The film was a box office flop when first released in 1994 and lost the Oscar for best picture to Forrest Gump. It is through the constant playing of the film on television and remarkable afterlife on home video that the movie became the pop cultural phenomenon that is today. It enjoys a comfortable spot as being one of the great modern day classics and is listed in AFIs top 100 best movies of all time list. You would think after Shawshank Redemption, the marathon would be finished as there is no way that film can get topped. Maybe not in quality but in terms of emotionally uplifting story arcs, there's more room for more unforgettable stories. The third film on the list is Alfonso Cuaron's remake A Little Princess. In this film, a young girl named Sarah Crewe is relegated to servitude at a boarding school when her father goes missing during the war and is presumed dead. The Alfonso Cuaron version is a remake of the 1939 classic starring Sherley Timple in the iconic role of Sarah Crewe with same plot theme. The difference between the first two films in the lineup and this one, is it introduces the theme of overcoming adversity with a young person. A child facing this issue makes the viewer sympathize with them more as they appear to be more vulnerable than the rest of the characters in this lineup. The final film of the night ties all the films together and is perhaps the most uplifting film of the evening. Will Smith's The Pursuit of Happyness, is the real life story of Chris Gardner, a struggling salesman who takes custody of his son as hes poised to begin a life-changing professional endeavor. This film has such powerful moments with one specifically taking place in the restroom of a BART station involving Gardner and his son being forced to take refuge in a public restroom. The success of the film brought Smith critical acclaim as a serious actor and a well deserved Oscar nomination for best leading actor.

If this lineup doesn't reach into a persons soul and pulls their heart strings, then they aren't human. This is round one of overcoming adversity marathon theme of movies.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Going On An Adventure Night-Part ll


Tonight's marathon continues the trend that began last week with the theme of witnessing humble movie characters going on adventures with the stakes being raised a notch higher with tonight's lineup. Picking up right where we left off with the 80's Nostalgia of films ranging from The Neverending Story, Legend, Princess Bride, and Labyrinth, we bring it to the more modern day fantasy films that take advances in technology and storytelling to the next level. Tonight's marathon is a pure example of the word epic, and triumphs over the already strong foundation started last week. We have on our menu for this evening:
 
  The Wizard Of Oz 1939, Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe 2005, Pans Labyrinth 2006, Avatar 2009, and Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 2012
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Our first venture into the second week of going on an adventure night is the 1939 Judy Garland classic, The Wizard of Oz. This film is the perfect introduction for the rest of the movies and establishes the concept of someone traveling into an alternate world that's beyond mindblowing. In this film. a young girl named Dorothy and her dog named Toto are swept away into a magical land at the hands of a tornado, and end up embarking on a quest to see the Wizard of Oz, who is the only person who can help then return back to Kansas. During their quest, they meet friends and enemies ranging from a Lion, a Tin Man, a Scarecrow, a good witch named Glenda, and an evil witch who wants her red slippers and attempts to sabotage their journey. The Wizard of Oz is not only an all time family classic but it starts everything off perfectly with a character going into a new world that's visually stunning. The film Chronicles of Narnia continues this trend with four kids traveling through a wardrobe to the land of Narnia and learning about their destiny to free it with the assistance of a mystical lion voiced by the always great Liam Neeson. This film is the first of a three film trilogy thus far on the classic Narnia books, and what remains the most successful entry in that franchise in terms of box office and critical acclaim. Regardless of how the trilogy ended up quality wise, the first film gives audiences and fans of the book a glimpse into the world it inspired through literature. It is visually stimulating like Wizard of Oz and leaves you in complete awe, while taking you on an emotional journey with the characters. The third film Pans Labyrinth makes the visual world even more incredible with Guillermo Del Toro's artistic vision. In this story, a bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world during 1944 in falangist Spain. James Cameron's Avatar takes the visuals to the highest point of this marathon with the background of Pandora in his film. Boosting some of the greatest special effects technology ever incorporated on film, Avatar deals with a marine named Jake in a wheelchair who is dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission. During so, he becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he's learned to call home. One can say that this story is essentially the same as Dances With The Wolves, Ferngully, Pocahontas, and The Last Samurai, but it's the way each film is told by other filmmakers and their distinct styles of directing which make them great. The final film in the marathon for this lineup brings the adventure theme to a fitting closure for this week with it's own little story arc being set up that spills into next weeks. The film, Hobbit: An unexpected Journey is Peter Jackson's first installment in the Hobbit trilogy that's coming to it's end on Dec 17th with The Battle Of The Five Armies. The storyline feels much like the Wizard of Oz with a reluctant Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins who is summoned by Gandalf the Grey in an offer for the adventure of a lifetime. The two set out to the Lonely Mountain with a group of dwarves in an effort to reclaim their mountain home, and the gold inside it from the evil dragon named Smaug.

With all of these films being combined together, one gets the sense that the adventures have evolved from the one's shown last week, and everything is much more broader and epic in scope.


Hunger Games: The Mockingjay Part 1 Review



Finally got to see Hunger Games: Mockinjay Part 1

SPOILER FREE

At this point in time, I think it's safe to say that audiences are getting tired of the whole formula of studios breaking the final films in a series into two parts, making audiences wait a year in between parts 1 and 2 so they can see how everything ends. The first movies that started this trend where the infamous Matrix sequels in 2003 followed by the Pirates of the Caribbean films, then Harry Potter started the book turned movie trend of doing this technique. Now were stuck with the final installment in the popular Hunger Games series being split into two parts. Studios do this for two reasons, the first being to save costs by filming two films back to back in one filming schedule, and the second is to increase maximum profit by turning three films into four with the finale supposedly being so huge that they have to make two films to please the audience. This can either be a good or bad thing because while the second part of the finale is guaranteed to be the better half and draw in all the audiences that have taken a break on seeing part 1 in theaters, the first half feels like a waste of time or lacks the excitement of the final part. In the case of Mockingjay part 1, the problem lies with the first movie not really having much accomplished by its final frame.

This installment of the two part finale is not bad by any means but certainly feels like it's the least good of the first three installments thus far in the Hunger Games series. The darker and more mature atmosphere is a nice touch along with the faster pacing, but there is something genuinely missing from this movie that doesn't really get it's audience engaged in it like the other two did. I think the problem with this film lies in the fact there really isn't much that's happening in the first part of this finale. Let's review the plot of this film briefly: Jennifer Lawrence's character Katniss ends up destroying the games, and goes to District 13 after the 12th district is destroyed. It is there she meets President Coin who convinces her to be a symbol of the rebels rebellion, while at the same time trying to rescue Peeta from the capital. The storyline def has promise for this installment but it lacks action this time around, there isn't much of that in this film. A lot of information is given to the audience through the main characters in the film who sport a strong supporting cast among the likes of the always great Julianne Moore, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman (RIP), Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelsen, and Jeffrey Wright, but there isn't much action to back the moments of informative dialogue up. Perhaps they are saving all of that for the next part in the two part finale as this section feels rather dry at times. What the film ends up doing well is setting up the final act of the story with strong performances building on the emotional intensity of the conflicts presented in the film with a much darker atmosphere than the first two films, political corruption and the need to fight against it, strong acting from everyone involved, but the excitement takes a backseat in this one ultimately.

One has a strong feeling when all is said and done after the final installment is released that this will end up being the least popular film in the series. That is not to denounce it as a worthy installment, but to signify that it is the one film in the series that has no real beginning or closure to it. Will seeing both parts of the finale back to back change people's minds on their perspective of this one? Maybe a few but when the entire series is reexammined, this one is going to be the least appealing because it feels like unnecessary filler to get to the grand finale which comes next November. Much like how Harry Potter Deathly Hollows first part was solid but often quite forgettable when you look at the second part of the final story arc. That ending blew the first half out of the water, which may very well end up being the same case here. Mockingjay Part 1 is a solid entry into the Hunger Games series even though it's not quite on the same level as the previous installments. It sets out what it's primary mission is to build up the final act in the story which seems like it's going to pay off for die hard fans who've waited over two years to see how it's all going to finish. If you go into this expecting it to end on a note like the previous two did then you will be disappointed. If you go into this with the understanding that there isn't much that really happens in this installment but it's laying out the groundwork for things to come, then you should be pretty content with what you find here. Really, that's the only way you can look at this new installment and not be disappointed by it.

                                                                                                                                             7/10

Big Hero 6 Review


Finally got to watch Big Hero 6

SPOILER FREE

With all due respect to Legos The Movie, Big Hero 6 is hands down the best animated film of 2014 and deserves an oscar nomination in the best animated film category. If it lands a best picture nomination by some miracle regardless of the academy's bias towards comic book films, then it will become the first one in that genre to be on that list which signifies a major breakthrough for comic book storytelling. Personally, I don't understand why the Oscars don't appreciate these type of films, they are totally capable of being worthy of a best picture nominee. Big Hero 6 will likely receive a nom in the best animated film category and most likely will win it, but I think if films like Walle, Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story 3 and UP can secure noms on the top 10 best pic list, then Big Hero 6 should be able to as well regardless of it being a comic book film or not. Enough on discussing it's oscar chances and more on the film itself.

Big Hero 6 is quite a unique story and one that has an emotional punch to it. The storyline deals with a special bond that develops between a large inflatable robot named Baymax, and his master Hiro Hamada, who team up with a group of friends forming a band of high-tech heroes. It is a heartwarming story about loss, acceptance, heroism, and befriending a piece of technology. One could say this is the animated version of Terminator 2 on some level with a touch of Real Steel and Bicentennial Man to it. The film is visually stimulating with San Francisco looking quite incredible in the future with a really cool design of the future Golden Gate Bridge. One wishes that the current one went through a redesign like the one shown in the movie.  The animation is top notch with the robot Baymax looking stunning and realistic. The films pace allows it to move at a brisk pace with lots of action, great animation that comes off as brillantly put together, and touching moments where you really get to care about the characters in this film. Each major character has a backstory that's fleshed out making them come off as being sympathetic regardless of what their motives are. The character of Baymax is so appealing look wise and character that one wishes they sold big giant blow up dolls of him in toy stores. The film is not without it's dark moments where certain characters feel the loss of someone but that all serves to advance the story forward injecting moments of emotion into the film. Big Hero 6 has such a huge impact on it's audience because it has a lot of heart in it's plot. The key to a successful animated feature is to bring your audience into an alternate world for 90 minutes and make them feel young again, playing on their imaginations whether adult or child and making them feel something when exiting the theater. All the great Disney and Pixar films have followed this formula and the ones that we remember today succeeded because of those basic fundamentals of filmmaking. Big Hero 6 is no different.

In conclusion, Big Hero 6 is the years best animated film boasting action, excitement, great animated visuals, and an emotional journey about loss, acceptance, and a unique friendship between human and machine. If Legos had the humor, this movie borrows that element while adding the excitement with it. Bravo.

                                                                                                                                                   
9/10


Dumb and Dumber 2 Review



Finally got to see Dumb and Dumber 2

SPOILER FREE

One thing that people must understand before going into this movie is this: If you're not a true fan of the original film and understand the type of humor that this film is throwing at it's target audience, then you will not appreciate this one. There is no middle ground here, you either appreciate the film for what it is or will be left clueless with it. As a whole, the film is nothing to rave about but it isn't as terrible as the critics make it out to be with just a 25 percent on rottentomatoes. Its certainly better than the godawful prequel that came out in 2003, which everyone has seemed to have forgotten about. Even though this film is better than that one, that really isn't saying much as neither touches the first film in terms of quality. Now for the verdict on whether Dumb and Dumber 2 was worth the twenty year wait.

Dumb and Dumber 2 partially succeeds due to the chemistry between the two main leads Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, both who've clearly aged since the events of the first film but comfortably fit right back into the roles that made them iconic figures in the genre of comedy. The plot for Dumb and Dumber 2 has the two leads teaming up twenty years since their first adventure. The characters of Lloyd and Harry have gone on a road trip to find Harry's newly discovered daughter, who ended up being given away at adoption. The plot seems like a logical one given the sentimental aspect of it, but it's execution isn't up to standard with the performances of the two leads. The films greatest flaw is it's script which clearly needed more revisions to really make this second outing more enjoyable than what it turned out to be ultimately. Jim Carrey reportedly turned down the offer to reprise his role numerous times over the last twenty years with his reasoning having to due with the script. Looking at the one for this movie, I can't say I blame him. A sequel to a film like Dumb and Dumber or any other comedy sequel needs to have a script that allows the same joke to be told twice with just as much of a comedic punch as the previous film. Anything short of that response then the comedian has failed, which in this case is the filmmakers of this movie somewhat. One feels an underwhelming feeling while watching this film that more could've done much more with these characters if the storyline was more fleshed out. Personally, I would've liked to see Jim Carrey meet with Mary Swanson again played by Lauren Holly in the first film, in a cameo for the sequel. The problem that this film seems to be having in regards to registering with audiences is the humor possibly being outdated after twenty years. Only real die hard fans of the first movie or Jim Carrey fans from that era are going to appreciate the Farrelly brothers brand of humor that the first film introduced. It doesn't quite work on the same level in this one but that's not to say the film isn't without its funny moments.

In conclusion, Dumb and Dumber 2 is worth watching primarily for the chemistry of the two lead stars but everything outside of that crumbles with the poor script the actors are stuck with. This is one sequel that shouldn't have taken twenty years to make and if Jim Carrey was really abdament about not returning until the script was on par with the first film, then one feels he should've continued to wait. It is not a bad film per say but it feels disappointing that the wait for this was so long and what we ended up getting was a barely passable piece of entertainment. This movie doesn't warrent a full thumbs up but doesn't deserve a complete thumbs down either. It lands somewhere in the middle, and perhaps if they ever intend to do a third one, they will work much harder on trying to find a stronger script that allows Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels to really sink their teeth into.

                                                                                                                                                 6/10

Monday, December 1, 2014

Overcoming Loss and Personal Grief And Turning It Into Strength And Will.






Tonight's marathon is about experiencing loss and personal grief but transforming that grief into something more than just guilt. We follow four main story arcs involving some of the screen's most iconic heroes and witness the events that bring them large amounts of grief, watch them cope with guilt, and then ultimately transforming that guilt into something much more. Whether that grief turns into the will to survive, the will to stand up for what you believe in and fight crime, or the will to save humanity from an alien invasion, it does nothing but make the characters were following in the film much stronger than when we first see them. We have on our menu for this evening:

                    Cliffhanger 1993, Batman Begins 2005, Gravity 2013, and Aliens 1986

This is probably the most appealing way to get the message of overcoming loss and personal grief across, with the only film truly missing is The Lion King. But as Gandalf the Grey would say in Fellowship Of The Ring, "All you need is to figure out what to do with the time that is given to you." That time only allows for four films tonight, so critical decisions had to be made on which films were the most effective. There is probably no better way to begin this marathon theme than with the opening scene of Cliffhanger. In this film, Sylvester Stallone plays Gabe Walker, a mountain climber with a troubled past full of grief. During an attempt to rescue his best friend and his girlfriend, a tragic accident occurs where the girls line becomes loose and leaves her dangling over a cliff for dear life. Gabe does the best he could to save her but ultimately loses her grip when the glove she's wearing slips off. Gabe places guilt on himself for not doing enough to save her, and has to live with the notion that his best friend blames him for her death and Gabe's love Jessie tries to convince him that it wasn't his fault. The trios differences are put aside when a plane transporting three cases of 100 million dollars is intercepted by another plane full of terrorists. Their attempts to slide the money from one plane to another fails when the rope attached to the two planes breaks, forcing their own jet to crash into the snow. Making a phony distress call for help, Stallone and his buddy Hal played by Michael Rooker climb the mountain to rescue them, only to find out what the groups sinister plans are. Gabe Walker is a classic case of a hero who undergoes huge levels of loss and grief, but ends up shedding that grief through his heroic actions in the film when trying to save his best friend and the love of his life. This is one of Stallone's biggest and most iconic films as it led to a career reboot in 1993 following the trainwreck that was Rocky V.

The second film of the lineup is Christopher Nolan's critically acclaimed reboot Batman Begins. The second major character who experiences transformation from grief victim to hero is Bruce Wayne, played by Christian Bale. In Batman Begins, Nolan chooses to go back and show Batman's early roots, explaining how he got to where we see him in The Dark Knight. Bruce Wayne is shown as a young boy who loves his family and has a special relationship with his father. One night while coming out of a theater performance, Wayne witnesses the brutal murder of his parents at the hands of a street criminal, which forever changes his life and fills him with guilt. Bruce thinks he is responsible for his parents death and wants vengeance for what happened. Seeking training from The League Of Shadows, Bruce Wayne turns his grief into a fight towards injustice, while facing his worst fear and using it on his worst enemies. In this case, his worst fear appears to be his fear of Bats. He uses this fear as his alter ego and becomes immersed in his crime fighting stature, who later becomes known as The Dark Knight. Of all three films in The Dark Knight trilogy, Batman Begins is the one film that deals with the issue of experiencing tragedy and the character of Bruce Wayne being reborn through his grief as Batman. By the end of the film, he understands that his parents death was not his fault, and will continue to fight crime to ensure that never happens to anyone else again.

 The third film in the marathon is Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity. The character of Ryan Stone played by Sandra Bullock is a medical engineer, who possesses personal grief in her life prior to the space mission with the tragic loss of her four year old daughter. During their mission, George Clooney's character Matt gets her to realize that what happened to her daughter is in the past, and that she needs to find the will and the strength to overcome her grief and fight for survival. Their mission takes a dramatic turn for the worst after their shuttle is destroyed by debris from a satellite, leaving them adrift in space. Gravity is much more than just an IMAX 3D space experience, it is a great story arc about a woman fighting for survival and overcoming adversity. By the end of the film, she manages to find that will to survive and move forward with far greater strength than she began with at the beginning of the movie.

This is a perfect bridge into the finale of the marathon with James Cameron's Aliens. Aliens places the timeline 57 years after the events of Alien, in which Ellen Ripley awakes upon rescue to discover that everything she ever loved or cared for on Earth is gone. Her daughter on Earth died of old age, her crew on the previous mission has been wiped out by the Xenomorph, who she still lives in fear. No one really believes her story and leaves her having nightmares that someday the alien will make it's way to Earth and wipe everyone out. Ripley's worst fears are put to the test when she is asked to lead a mission with a group of marines back to the planet where the eggs were found to rescue a group of colonists that have fallen captive to the newly discovered creatures. Ripley's transformation in Aliens is the most significant of all four character arcs because she not only has to face her worst fear head on, but gets a second chance of being a mother when she comes across a little girl named Newt, whose parents fell victim to the Xenomorph. Newt is a central figure in Ripley's life because she not only gives Ripley back her humanity, but encourages her to fight for not only their safety, but to wipe out the alien species.

It can almost be said that tonight's marathon represents a rebirth for every main character because they all experience such dramatic transformations during the course of their story arcs, making them almost entirely different people by the end of each film.