Category: Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas (Movie 2017)

the-man-who-invented-christmas-poster4 Kernels

I cannot count how many versions I’ve watched of A Christmas Carol on film.  This movie puts a whole new magical spin to the story penned by Charles Dickens that might make you sniffle at the end.  At the moment it’s 79% rated by the critics on Rotten Tomatoes with 89% audience score.  You can count me in the accolades as this was a delightful film.

Meet the younger Charles Dickens, who has four children and one on the way (apparently he had 10 altogether). He’s just had two flops, isn’t making any money and bills are due, and the most dreadful thing has happened – writer’s block.  (Been there myself.)  The story is basically his attempt to come up with a new piece in a short period of time, which he publishes himself because his publishers aren’t too keen on the story.  (See, even the literary geniuses can get it wrong.)

As Dickens starts to collect names in his little book that he carries around, he jots down Marley. The city and its residents are his inspiration as he begins to build the story after meeting a man who thinks the world would be better off without the poor.  As bits and pieces of the tale come together so do his characters.  As an author, I absolutely adored the scenes.  When he finally creates Scrooge in his mind, none other than Christopher Plummer shows up and becomes his muse of a sidekick and Dicken’s own personal tormentor throughout the creation of A Christmas Carol.

The film has its lighthearted moments, mostly from the oneliners that Scrooge throws at Dickens. In addition, as he develops characters, more of them come alive and continue to haunt his every move – from Marley to the ghosts of past, present, and future.  However, as Dickens delves into the complex character of Scrooge, he finds himself faced with his own demons regarding his childhood and his father who was sent to debtor’s prison.  Apparently, true to Dicken’s life, he did work in a factory as a child of 12 years of age and suffered the life of poverty while his father, mother, and siblings were doing time.

I found the film a delightful and fanciful filled story.  The Victorian London comes alive in the streets, houses, and costumes.  Dan Stevens is an absolute joy to watch as Dickens, putting his best acting in this eccentric writer haunted by the characters he creates. Christopher Plummer is an absolute gem as Scrooge and even more believable than some of the actors who have played the role in the story itself.

What I enjoyed about this movie the best, is that it has taken a well-known story and spun it with a new twist. It allows us to see how perhaps the creative mind of Dickens worked and the inspirational muse that often drives writers to become a bit wonky, isolated, and neurotic.  Even Dickens, as portrayed in this movie, dwells on his inadequacies and fears of not being able to produce another great work.

If you’re suffering from the Scrooge mentality, this movie may get you in the mood for Christmas.

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One! (Charles Dickens)

Olympus Has Fallen (2013 Movie)

3 Kernels

Stars: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Finley Jacobsen, Dylan McDermott, Rick Yune, Morgan Freeman

My usual reviews, as you know, focus on older movies and television shows.  However, I just came back from eating half a bag of theater popcorn, without butter I might add, and thought I’d give you my two patriotic cents about Olympus Has Fallen.

Frankly, I avoid violent movies like the plague.  After seeing darling Gerard Butler in some not so great flicks these past few years, I thought I would see if he finally had a hit.  Though Gerard was one kick-ass American that literally saves the entire United States of America, I’m cautious to call this movie a blockbuster that will go down in history.

The premise begins with Banning, played by Gerard.  He’s the cool secret service man that talks into his wrist ordering those under him to protect the President of the United States.  He comes across as a serious dude, with a personality that blends well with the first family.  During Christmas at Camp David, a horrific car accident occurs and the President loses his wife.  Banning never forgives himself for not being able to save her, though the President holds no grudges.  However, as a result, he’s relegated to paper pushing with the Treasury as he broods over the past.

The story is somewhat one of redemption.  However, it takes a hostile take over by the Koreans to give Banning the opportunity to turn things around for himself personally.  He eventually becomes the hero of the day, through much kick-ass action, spot on shooting, and merciless killing of the enemy.  If that wasn’t bad enough, one of his comrades is a traitor, and he is faced with the awful realization he must kill him or be killed.

The movie is violent.  Terribly violent.  It could have been bloodier, but it tone down the gore factor overall.  However, as far as the number of rounds shot, picture the movie the Matrix.  Remember the scene in the lobby when the three heroes shoot the walls, pillars, and bad guys?  Multiple that about a thousand times, and I think you’ll have the number of shots fired.  There are also disturbing scenes of civilians and military killed, and also of torture and senseless hostage execution.  One beating scene of a woman is disturbing, but so is the psycho who beats her.

As far as the story goes, it’s action.  What can I say?  Could it really happen?  I thought a few things were quite impossible, such as the initial attack on the White House via air.  At least I hope it’s impossible, because if that’s all we got folks, we’re in trouble. Secret codes were given by the captives after the President ordered them to do so.  He didn’t have the stomach to watch his aides tortured or killed. Whatever happened to dying for your country? Why would the President encourage others to commit treason upon his orders?

:inserts spine chilling shudder over the thought: 

However, those scenes are necessary to set up the future catastrophe that lurks around the corner.

I also felt the timing of this movie was probably not the best, since North Korea has threatened us recently to nuke us off the face of the earth.  I sure hope they don’t rent the DVD and watch it, or it could tick them off, start a war, or give them ideas.  (Just kidding, of course.)

All in all, it was okay.  I found it exhausting, troubling, and patriotic.  Thank goodness we kicked ass and Banning saved us from annihilation.  Even though Gerry looks a bit bruised, cut, bloody, sweaty, and needs a shave, he’s still the man – toned and buffed. Where would we be, ladies, without Gerard Butler to save us?

Doomed.

And dearest Gerard, I would really like to see you in a romantic movie shaved, clean, in a suit, and dashingly handsome.  Pretty please? 

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