Monday, June 29, 2015

When Religion Goes Into Question

Tonight's marathon deals with the scenario of what if religion comes into question. What if there are scenarios where doubt is casted or the foundation of religion is tested whether in a legal case, committing inappropriate acts, solving mysteries involving kidnapping, murder, and seeking truth that goes against everything we've learned within the last 2000 years. This marathon is positioned to dive into all of these topics while continuously questioning the usage of religion in these scenarios for good or bad. There is no better time to explore this theme than right now. We have on our menu for this evening:

Words that come to mind then thinking about this marathon are thought-provoking, exciting, intense, mysterious, and ultimately eye opening. Each movie takes the theme of religion and challenges it's usage. The first movie of the night is the five time academy award nominated film titled Doubt starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams. This critically acclaimed drama centers around a Catholic school principal played by Meryl Streep questioning a priest's suspicious relationship with a troubled young African American student. Religion comes into question in this film because doubt is casted over whether the priest played by Philip Seymour Hoffman sexually abused the child in question because there is a lack of evidence, only speculation. The faith of Hoffman's character, Meryl Streeps character and Amy Adams is tested with the quest for the truth. Doubt is lifted by powerful performances and a story that keeps you questioning on what is truth and what is not. The second movie of the line up is Ron Howard's controversial film titled The Davinci Code starring Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Jean Reno, Alfred Molina, and Ian Mckellen. Based on the bestselling novel by Dan Brown, the film centers around a murder inside the Louvre with clues inside the Davinci paintings leading to a discovery of a religious mystery that's been protected by a secret society for two thousand years. The secret of Mary Magdeline being the wife of Jesus if proven to be true could shake the foundations of Christianity. The last part led to heavy criticism of the films subject matter and also is what drove it to box office glory grossing 217 million domestically and 758 million worldwide. Although bloated and dull at times, Davinci Code effectively carries out the theme of the marathon by questioning what is truth and what isn't. The third movie of the lineup is The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Starring Laura Linney and Tom Wilkinson, the film centers around a lawyer taking on a negligent homicide case which involves a priest played by Wilkinson who performed an exorcism on a young girl which turned fatal. The conflict of religion arises in this film when the young girl is told to stop taking her medicine by the priest in hopes of her faith in God overcoming the exorcism. Although the film is heavily centered around a courtroom drama, the movie shows the exorcism through flashbacks with the audience seeing the truth behind the case. The fourth film of the marathon is the Nicholas Cage remake of the cult classic The Wicker Man. The remake centers around a sheriff investigating the disappearance of a girl on a small island. While conducting that search, he discovers that the neo-pagan community is more mysterious than what they appear to be. Although The Wicker Man was critically panned upon it's release for being labeled as unintentionally hilarious, the film shows the usage of religion as being cult driven with humans being viewed as sacrificial. The fifth and final movie of the night is Ron Howard's follow up to The Davinci Code titled Angels and Demons. The sequel centers around Hanks reprising his role as Robert Langdon, a Harvard symbologist working to solve a murder, kidnappings of several cardinals, and preventing a terrorist act against the Vatican. The theme of terrorism plays a big role in this films story as the Vatigan is targeted specifically in an effort to hurt the image of religion.

So what are all of these films trying to say once you line them up together in a marathon? The message behind this marathon is that religion can have either a positive or negative influence on society with people's faith's and beliefs being tested. What we presume to be as truth may not be what it seems and sometimes it is good to question things and search for answers.

Our characters for this evening:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Saving Your Own Existence Part lll

Tonight's marathon is the third and final part in the theme of saving your own existence and building up to the release of Terminator Genisys. Picking up where last weeks marathon ended with the second installment of each trilogy such as Back to the Future, Star Wars prequels, Matrix, Terminator, and XMEN, tonight focuses on the third and final installments in each respective trilogy regardless of whether they were satisfying endings or not.We have on our menu for this evening:

Back To The Future lll 1989, Star Wars Episode lll: Revenge Of The Sith 2005, The Matrix Revolutions 2003, Terminator 3 Rise o the Machines 2003, and XMEN The Last Stand 2006 

The grand finales for each of these respective series are all here regardless of whether they were good endings or not. This is probably the most divisive marathonon out of all three parts pertaining to these respective trilogies. Not every walked away satisfied with each of these films mainly because they either took directions that people didn't agree with overall or they concluded trilogies that lacked in comparison to their predecessors like Revenge of the Sith. In most cases, these third entries ended up being the least well received entries in their franchises but in retrospect, it's extremely hard to live up to the standards of the first two films before it. The first movie of the evening is Back To The Future lll, the third and final installment in the time travel trilogy starring Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd. The final chapter finds the characters of Doc Brown and Marty McFly in western times with Doc Brown on the verge of being killed by an antagonist named Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen during the western time in 1885. Upon discovering this, Marty McFly decides to travel back in time to rescue his friend. Back To The Future lll although making significantly less than he first two films domestically with 87 million at the box office still earned respectable reviews as the concluding chapter of this fun and adventurous trilogy. The second movie in the lineup is the concluding chapter to the Star Wars prequel trilogy titled Star Wars Episode lll: Revenge of the Sith. Picking up about three years after the events of Attack of the Clones, Anakin Skywalker played by Hayden Christensen finds himself falling closer and closer towards the dark side under the apprenticeship of Chancellor Palpatine played brilliantly by Ian McDiarmid. When he fully becomes the apprentice of the Emperor under the name Darth Vader, Obi Wan Kenobi played by Ewan McGregor is forced with the decision to protect Padme Amidala and her unborn child from the clutches of Vader, as well as facing his once friend now turned enemy. Revenge of the Sith is universally considered by Star Wars fans and moviegoers to be the best film of the prequel trilogy which isn't saying much given the quality of the films before it, but provides a strong bridge between the prequel trilogy and the original films. It also remains the only prequel to get a certified fresh on rottentomatoes with 80 percent and holds a 7.7 on imdb, representing a generally satisfaction with audiences. The third movie in the lineup is the finale to the Matrix trilogy as well as a continuation of the events of The Matrix Reloaded. The Matrix Revolutions brings the trilogy full circle as well as diving many fans of the first film with it's approach towards concluding the events setup by the previous film such as the war against the machines, Neo deciding he has to face Agent Smith and defeat him in order to bring freedom to the people of Zion, and protecting Trinity. Matrix Revolutions was critically panned upon release with 37 percent approval rating on rottentomatoes and a box office of just 139 million domestically representing the worst box office performance of all three movies. Revolutions took criticism for characters and story arcs taking a backseat towards special effects, even though it didn't have scenes that ran as long as The Matrix Reloaded. Now that 12 years have passed, it can safely be said that Matrix Revolutions wasn't that bad although many will choose to leave their experiences of going into The Matrix at the first movie. The fourth film in the lineup is Jonathan Mostow's Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. In this third installment in the popular Terminator franchise, a cyborg named The Terminator or T-800 is sent back through time to protect a drifter named John Connor and his future wife Katherine Brewster from a nuclear attack as well as a new enemy called The Terminatrix, a female cyborg sent back through time to assassinate both targets. Terminator 3 Rise of the Machines is a case of audiences being too hard on it. It never had any chance of reaching the heights of it's predecessors as being a landmark film, but it is far from the disaster that Terminator Salvation turned out to be which temporarily halted the series. Rise of the Machines still left a generally favorable impression upon audiences when it was released garnering a 7.3 out of 10 on imdb and 70 percent on rottentomatoes. The question this marathon asks is are we being too hard on Terminator3?
The fifth and final movie of the evening is Brett Ratner's very divisive entry in the original XMEN trilogy titled XMEN 3.  Picking up right where the events of Bryan Singer's X1 and X2 left off, XMEN 3 places Xaviers team battling an evil and more powerful version of Jean Grey called The Pheonix. While doing so, the humans have supposedly developed a cure for mutants which takes away their powers forcing Magneto and his band of mutants to take action against the human race. XMEN 3 generally remains the most divisive XMEN film that centers around the main team because of it's reckless disregard for killing off important characters such as Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Professor X without much buildup or emotional attachment during the movie. It also takes a backward direction from what the end of X2 was building up to which was to chroncile the entire Pheonix saga of the XMEN storyline and show Wolverine and Cyclops finally teaming up to lead the team, Rogue realizing the full potential of her powers, and the use of sentinals. Although the film was the most successful at the box office with 234 million, it generated the worst reviews with 58 percent on rottentomatoes and put the franchise in a limbo for 8 years until it was properly fixed with Bryan Singer's Days Of The Future Past.

So what are these movies trying to say ultimately? XMEN 3 Says that just because someone is different doesn't mean that they are bad. Terminator 3 Rise of the Machine says that the future is set and that you are what your destiny allows you to be and can't run from that. The Matrix Revolutions says that sometimes you must perform the ultimate sacrifice to save the rest of humanity. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Star Wars Episode lll Revenge of the Sith says that the fear of loss makes people do things they originally wouldn't normally do, and Back To The Future lll says that you must do what you must in order to save a friend, even if it means going back through time for them.

Our finales for this evening:

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Altering Of Time And The Universe

Tonight's marathon is a bold one that relies on story arcs that center around science fiction themes such as time travel, finding a cure for death, how events can be altered and changed throughout centuries, fighting to prevent the extinction of your own kind from those hunting you down and being chosen as a leader and savior with a bodyguard sent to protect them in Terminator fashion. It is a bold marathon and one that expands on ideas and principles dealing with science and the universe. For tonight's exciting marathon, we have on the menu:

The Time Machine 2002, Jumper 2008, Jupiter Ascending 2015, The Fountain 2006, Cloud Atlas 2012, 

One factor that binds all of these movies together is the fact that nearly all of these movies were either box office flops or critically polarized and split audiences right down the middle in terms of reception. Not everyone came out of these movies totally blown away or sharing a general consensus. It was either you loved these films or you hated them for the ideas they present to you and what they try to preach with their messages. There's no denying though that each film is a visual feast and brings you into different worlds each time whether the timeline is set in the past or present. The first movie of the evening is The Time Machine starring Guy Pearce. Based on HG Welles book, Guy Pearce plays a 19th century inventor trying to alter events in the future after a tragic accident involving his fiance being killed during a mugging. Pearce creates a time machine in hopes of altering the past and instead finds himself traveling 800,000 years into the future where mankind is split into two dividing races. The Time Machine was not a box office success only making 56 million on a budget of 80 million. The message of the film ultimately says that love and companionship are the reasons for why we exist, not technology. Technology can lead to our destruction and we will ultimately pay the price for our own ambitions. The second movie of the lineup is the box office disappointment titled Jumper starring Hayden Christensen and Samuel Jackson. In this film, Christensen plays a young teenager with teleportation abilities finding himself entangled in the middle of an ancient war battle between his own kind and his annihilators. Jumper made 80 million on a budget of 85 million which classifies it as a box office disappointment, and it's reviews were mixed to negative, generating only a 16 percent on rottentomatoes. The message behind Jumper says that people fear what they don't understand and those with special powers can ultimately provoke other people to destory them out of fear.  The third movie in the lineup is the box office and critical flop titled Jupiter Ascending. Written by the makers of the Matrix trilogy and Cloud Atlas, the Wachowski Brothers create a story centering around a young woman played by Mila Kunis, learning about her destiny as an heiress of intergalatic nobility and is forced with fighting to protect Earth's inhabitants from an ancient and destructive industry. On a budget of 176 million, Jupiter Ascending only made 47 million domestically and received negative reviews from critics. It's message ultimately says that sometimes having a simple life is far better than carrying the burden of being royal. The fourth movie of the marathon is Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain. Nominated for a Golden Globe for best original score, The Fountain centers around a modern-day scientist Tommy played by Hugh Jackman fighting to save the life of his cancer-stricken wife, Izzi played by Rachael Weisz. While doing so he struggles with mortality with his story arc taking place during the past, present, and future time. The Fountain was met with mixed reviews upon it's release in 2006 and turned out to be a box office flop making only 10 million on a budget of 35 million. The message behind The Fountain is the film says that a person's death is really their rebirth. A bold statement would be to say that The Fountain is one of the most underrated films of the 21st century, and underappreciated. The fifth and final movie of the evening is the Wachowski Brothers box office flop yet polarizing film titled Cloud Atlas. Starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and Hugo Weaving, the story centers around the exploration of how individual person's actions impact others in the past, present and future. Those who are killers are morphed into heroes, and simple acts of kindness occur throughout centuries inspiring a revolution. Much like the other films in this lineup, Cloud Atlas was a box office flop making only 27 million on a budget of 102 million. The overall reception of the film leans toward a positive side with a general consensus which says although the film is confusing and difficult to understand at times, there's no doubt that it's sheer impact, thought provoking narrative, and visuals make the film impossible to not be polarized by it.

So what are these films ultimately trying to say when all of them are put together? The message appears to say that changing time or events in the past and present can alter the events of the future but not without a cost. You either embrace your true destiny or chose to abadon it for a more simpler life. When someone dies, it may be the end of one life but really is the beginning of another. It is not technology that propels the universe and society, it's universal love and compassion that drives it to achieve great things.

Our characters for this evening:

Friday, June 19, 2015

Saving Your Own Existence Part ll

Tonight's marathon is a continuation of where last friday's marathon ended in which the five major trilogies being tackled in this three part marathon are introduced such as Back To The Future, Star Wars Episode 1 The Phantom Menace, XMEN, The Matrix, and The Terminator. Where we ended with those last week, themes such as time travel, changing the future, war, a savior that saves humanity, and a group of mutants fighting for their own survival and acceptance. Tonight's marathon continues the story arcs of each of these trilogies with their respective second installments taking everything to a much bigger scope in terms of action, adventure, friendship, romance, as well as in increase in danger and scope. For tonight's epic marathon, we have on the following menu:

Everything suddenly feels more epic and larger than last week regardless if every movie in this marathon tops the first movie or not. Important plot points and specific characters from each movie are enhanced in each film to make you care about them even more. The first movie of the night is Back To The Future 2 picking up exactly where the first movie left off last week. In this much anticipated and above average sequel to the classic original, the story takes place in the year 2015 where Michael J Fox's character must repeat his trip back to the year 1955 in order to prevent disastrous changes to the future in the year 1985 with the help of Doc Brown played by Christopher Lloyd. While doing so, he can't help but interfere with his first trip. The second movie in the lineup is the second installment in the controversial prequel trilogy to Star Wars titled Attack Of The Clones. In this second episode of the six part saga, the story takes us 10 years after the events of the Phantom Menace where Anakin Skywalker played by Hayden Christensen and Obi Wan Kenobi played by Ewan McGregor, are investigating a plot to assassinate senator Padme Amidala played by Natalie Portman. Anakin is given orders by the Jedi Council to escort Senator Amidala back to Naboo as a personal bodyguard and while doing so shares a forbidden romance with Padme. Obi Wan Kenobi investigates the creation of a clone army authorized by an old Jedi master who was originally thought of as being dead. Generally considered an improvement over The Phantom Menace due to it's darker tone and more emphasis on action with Yoda sharing an unforgettable battle with the late Christopher Lee. While Attack of the Clones has major flaws such as stiff performances and wooden acting, it excels in advancing the story and giving it a darker tone that leads us into Episode lll. The third movie of the marathon is The Matrix Reloaded. The second installment in the popular Matrix trilogy places Neo, Morpheus, and Trinity in a situation where they have 72 hours until 250,000 machines invade and destroy zion. Their only solution is war but Neo must also tackle with fighting to protect Trinity from his visions of her dying in his dreams. The Matrix Reloaded wasn't as well received as the first film but not as critically panned as the third installment in the franchise. This sequel succeeds in enhancing on the relationship between Neo and Trinity, while showing Agent Smith as a more powerful villain along with the twin ghosts. Although the film got less stellar reviews than the first film, The Matrix Reloaded became the third highest grossing R rated movie ever with 281 million domestically. The fourth movie of the marathon is James Cameron's epic sequel to his 1984 classic titled Terminator 2 Judgment Day. Nominated for 6 academy awards, the film centers around two Terminators being sent back through time, one on the side of good and one on the side of evil to protect or kill Sarah Connor's son John Connor, who becomes the leader of the resistance. Arnold Schwarzeneggar stars in his best performance yet as the T-800 sent back through time to protect John Connor instead of being the antagonist like the original portrayed him as. The antagonist of the film is the T-1000, a liquid metal Terminator played by Robert Patrick whose sent back through time to kill John Connor. For many fans of the series, Terminator 2 Judgment Day marks the end of the franchise as the quality of the series went downhill after this film, but T2 remains as the franchises finest hour according to the general consensus. The fifth and final film of the marathon is Bryan Singer's X2 which places the XMEN team uniting with Magneto's crew to fight an old enemy of Wolverine's named Colonel Styker whose bent on destroying all existing mutants on Earth. X2 remains one of the greatest sequels in the superhero genre as well as one of the best sequels ever made. It takes everything that's great about the first movie and expands on it, giving more development to characters like Jean Grey and Iceman, while also making it feel like The Empire Strikes Back of the series.

So what are these movies trying to say ultimately? When all of these movies are put together, the films say that you should continue to fight for what's right and for your own salvation. Love that is forbidden cannot be denied and will ultimately take over everything, and certain situations and events can be reversed. One of the greatest messages that this marathon says is that the future is not set and there is no fate but what we make for ourselves. X2s final message is that a mutants life is just as important as a humans.