Quick Review: Sahara (2017)

This was a cute animated movie about snakes! Being a snake person myself, it was exciting to see a kids’ story with snakes as the main characters and good guys, rather than being the bad guys as they are so often portrayed.

The story is set in the Sahara Desert in Africa, and follows the story of a young cobra named Ajar. Ajar lives in the desert with the other venomous snakes, but is bullied and not accepted. He tries to escape to the local oasis where the green serpents (which maybe were supposed to be modeled after the boomslang? Unclear.) live. Here he runs into Eva, a green serpent who cannot stand life in the oasis anymore, and they try running away together. Eva is captured by an evil snake charmer, though, and so Ajar, his scorpion best friend, and Eva’s brother set out to cross the desert and rescue her.

There is very little accuracy in how the snakes are portrayed (early on, the venomous ones are shown eating a watermelon), but the story is cute and the animation was good. The music got a little strange at times, but was enjoyable.

If you are looking for a fun, not-too-serious movie, then I would recommend this! (It is a Netflix original movie.) If you will be really put off or desperately disappointed that the snakes are not portrayed accurately, then I would probably hold off. Personally, I hold out hope that someday we may get movies not only with snakes as the good guys, but also portrayed as carnivores/with correct movements and anatomy/etc. But, in the meantime, I will take (and support) a cute movie that at least doesn’t portray them as evil or scary.

Movie Review: Wonder Woman (2017)

I went to see this opening night, and was not even a little bit disappointed.

As a brief, spoiler-free review: Visually stunning, with good music, I would recommend it to fans of superhero/action movies. Setting it during World War I rather than World War II worked with some of the themes about human free-will in interesting ways (and contributed to some of the aforesaid stunning visuals). I thought the setup used to frame this (Wonder Woman’s origin story) was well-done. I am not greatly familiar with the DC universe, so this take on some of the Greek mythology struck me as strange, but interesting. Definitely recommended.

More in-depth thoughts (with spoilers) below.

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Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (movie)

I should preface this review by stating that, as a general rule, I very much dislike zombie movies, zombies being the main type of horror-genre monster that actually frighten me. Those that fall more into the humor genre than the horror (such as Shaun of the Dead), have been more tolerable, but I do not usually seek them out.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was an exception to that rule, and I was glad of about 30 seconds into the movie.

(I should probably also preface the following by saying that I have read the original Pride and Prejudice and loved it, but have not seen any film versions of it. I have also not read the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Cut for spoilers.)

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Review: Jurassic World

I must start this review by saying that I did not expect to love this movie. It’s the fourth JP movie, and the second and third gave me no reason to suppose that a fourth one would be anything but a further slide down from the original. So I didn’t expect to love this movie…but I do, and actually just as much as I love the first Jurassic Park movie.

Let me be clear: Jurassic World is not a good dinosaur movie, in the sense of providing any kind of accurate depiction of dinosaurs as we currently understand them. But it is a fantastic Jurassic Park movie, and for that reason it will always be one of my favorites. (Spoilers below.)

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Review: The Judge

The Judge stars Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall. I went to see it back in October in large part because I like RDJ as Iron Man in the Marvel movies, but haven’t really seen him in many other things. I’ve also seen and enjoyed his Sherlock Holmes movies, but that’s about it.

In the broadest outline of its story, that of a prodigal son returning home, The Judge is not unique. In the details of the plot and the execution by the actors, however, I found it to be a very interesting and deeply emotional movie.

Robert Downey Jr. plays Henry (Hank) Palmer, a rich, successful and arrogant Chicago defense attorney. The movie starts with him being pulled away from his superficially perfect life by his mother’s death, bringing him for the first time in decades back to the small, rural Indiana town where he grew up.

There, he is greeted lovingly by his brothers, Glen and Dale, and almost as a stranger by his father, Joseph Palmer, who is the town’s judge. It is this estrangement from his father that has clearly kept Hank away all these years, and although he is happy to see his brothers, it is clear that even the single day of his mother’s funeral is too long to be back in his hometown. He packs up and heads out the next morning, in spite of his brothers’ clear desire for him to stay a bit longer. His father makes no effort to mend the breach, though, going so far as to mock Hank’s failing marriage and upcoming divorce. Although the judge is deeply grief-stricken over his own wife’s death and having a difficult time dealing with it, this is obviously meant to drive his middle son away again.

It nearly succeeds, for Hank is already waiting on the plane that will take him back to Chicago when he receives a call from his brother Glen. They had all noticed damage on their father’s much-loved car that morning, and it was Judge Palmer himself who drove it last, the night before just hours after his wife’s funeral. The damage turns out to have been from a hit-and-run involving another person, not merely property…and the person in question is dead.

In spite of everything, Hank returns, and fights his way through his father’s pride in an effort to both find out what actually happened the night of the funeral and to then defend his father in court. Further complications arise when it turns out that the dead man was one of the few poor judgments that Judge Palmer ever made; years earlier, he had given the man a lenient sentence, and a young woman ended up dead because of it. Was the hit-and-run truly an accident, or was it the town judge taking justice into his own hands? He claims to not remember what happened; is that a lie, or has something truly caused him to forget? What could be happening to him that he is unwilling to tell even his own sons?

I’ll be vague from here on in the interests of not spoiling the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. For me, the story ended up being one about the necessity of honesty and truth. Hank has not been honest with himself about his own life – he is not truly happy with his current position and failing marriage, with his young daughter being one of the only positive things he has. Opening himself to that truth paves the way for him to consider other options, other paths that might make him happier. Judge Palmer struggles with his pride and dignity, keeping back information vital to his own defense, and thereby setting himself up to receive a wrong sentence. He struggles in finding the strength to tell the truth, both in court and to his family. There are old issues and hurts between the three Palmer brothers that have been left unaddressed all the years that Hank was gone. There are other relationships that Hank walked away from so many years ago, that still lack understanding and closure.

As each of the characters begins to accept the truth about what has happened in the past, or is happening now, and as they start to be honest with each other, things start to improve. It is not an easy transition to make, and at times is quite painful. In spite of that all the characters, and especially Hank and his father, slowly come to realize that they are moving in a better direction. The movie ends on a bittersweet, but overall hopeful note, and I definitely enjoyed it.



Just finished watching How To Train Your Dragon 2 for the second time; I really meant to see it more than once in theaters, but at least it’s out on blu-ray now. I really, really love these movies, both the first one and this year’s sequel (and am immensely excited that it’s going to be a trilogy eventually). This isn’t a proper review so much as me rambling about that, so I’ll put the rest under a cut in case of spoilers for anyone who hasn’t seen them yet. (In which case, what is wrong with you, go watch them right now.) Continue reading