Reviewed by Allison Ko
17, Wilson HS (Hacienda Heights)
Horror movies and I do not mix. I have had bad encounters with many, such as Cabin Fever and the Exorcist, that just the thought of these movies gives me the shivers. Usually after I watch a scary movie, I’m scared that after I use the sink and close my medicine cabinet, there will be a monstrous villain behind me, ready with a grinding chainsaw. I can’t walk down dark hallways without thinking someone or something is going to pop out and I cannot sleep for nights after that. I hate scary movies. Period.
My friends, however, love horror films. They were dying (ha!) to see the new film Orphan, which is about a child adoption gone wrong. (Watching something about a scary orphan girl who is set to kill? No, thanks!) Nevertheless, my friends had already decided to watch the movie, and there was nothing I could do to change their minds. When the day finally came, I nervously purchased my ticket and walked into the theater. With both hands clenched to my seat, I could feel my heart beat in my ears. This was the moment I dreaded: I was going to watch a scary movie.
Orphan starts with a graphic, bloody nightmare that Kate Coleman (Vera Farmiga) has of the miscarriage of her unborn daughter, Jessica. This dream brings back the pain and terror of the incident. Kate and her husband, John (Peter Sarsgaard), decide to adopt a child to help ease the pain of their loss. At a local orphanage, they meet Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), a seemingly innocent Russian girl who is mature, polite, and intelligent—qualities that immediately draw the couple to her. Without much hesitation, they adopt Esther.
The plot thickens as Esther is not as angelic as she portrays herself to be. She threatens the other Coleman children and forces them to take part in her psychotic schemes. Esther had a plan from the beginning, and she knew exactly what she had to do to fulfill it. From murder to arson, Esther does everything she can to get what she wants. There is this one scene where she heartlessly stones a bird to death, which was horrifying. But in the end, the audience learns of Esther’s true identity and the reasons behind her gruesome plan.
This thriller had all the elements of a horror movie—bloody and disturbing scenes, a creepy and conniving orphan, characters whose obliviousness leads to their ultimate doom, a good amount of jumping-out-of-your-seat scares, and a shocking ending—which gave me every justifiable reason to detest it. However, I wanted to know why this young girl was behaving in such murderous ways. What did Esther want from the family? What was her scheming plan? At first I thought the movie was like other scary movies, with a bunch of scary scenes put together but no substance or story line. Yet, Orphan’s clever twist provided something more to this grotesque horror film.
The Ugly Truth
Reviewed by Kevin Ko,
14, Wilson HS (Hacienda Heights)
After my last encounter with a chick flick, The Proposal, I didn’t think I would watch another one ever again. But there I was with my girlfriend watching The Ugly Truth, ready for another cheesy romance movie with cheap jokes.
Abby, played by Katherine Heigl, is a producer for a failing television newscast who isn’t really good with guys, but knows what she wants in a man. One day, her cat steps on the remote and changes the channel to a TV show called “The Ugly Truth.” The host, Mike Chadway, played by Gerard Butler, says love is all sexual and that men only want that from women. Abby, furious at this, still believes that there is a perfect guy out there who wants a woman for who she is.
Abby has to put her feelings aside after Mike is hired by her television station. Mike is a great hit (surprise to me!) and Abby is not only furious, but envious. She consults with Mike to help her get her cute neighbor’s attention and he agrees. The whole movie then consists of Abby working with Mike to get the man of her dreams, using the whole concept of the Ugly Truth: that guys only want women for sex.
I actually enjoyed this movie. I thought it was funny and I knew some of the things in the movie about guys only wanting girls physically are true—at least for some guys I know, but not me. This chick flick went beyond my expectations, so thanks to my girlfriend, who made a good choice when she picked this great movie for us to watch.
500 Days of Summer
Reviewed by Janie Lee
16, Troy HS
My friend took me to see 500 Days of Summer. I was expecting a lot because many of my friends had Facebook statuses that said: “500 Days of Summer was soooo good” or “Someone watch 500 Days of Summer with me again!” The movie met my expectations because it wasn’t a typical love story.
The movie follows the romantic relationship of Tom and Summer. It jumps back and forth between the 500 days of their relationship, from the beginning when they met to their breakup. Tom is an average 20-something who aspired to be an architect but ends up working at a greeting card company. At work, he meets Summer, a very pretty, but otherwise average girl who catches his attention when he learns they have similar taste in music.
Tom falls head over heels for her, but Summer doesn’t believe in relationships. She openly admits to not wanting anything more than a good friendship with Tom. They have a relationship without any labels. Tom’s expectations are much higher than the reality of their relationship. While he yearns for Summer’s love, she doesn’t feel the same way. Tom is so loveable and you will end up feeling sorry for him.
Unlike most other movies, when you usually only see the relationship and breakup, this movie goes through all the stages of a relationship: the meeting, the crush, the relationship, the expectation, the breakup, the denial and the hope that things will work out. Even though it went through all these stages, the movie didn’t seem long at all. The stages of love and time jumping of the story were unique.
I really enjoyed this movie because it isn’t as mainstream as most of the other movies out right now and the ending was not predictable. The soundtrack was unique. There were catchy songs by The Smiths, Feist and Regina Spektor. I recommend this movie to anyone who wants to see a different kind of love story. It may even cause you to change your Facebook status like I did. Mine is currently “500 Days of Summer was amazing!”
Posted: August 12
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Reviewed by Gabe Andreen
16, Pilgrim School
It’s been two years but the latest movie installment of the Harry Potter franchise was worth the wait. The main characters grow up and have romances but also still have to battle Voldemort. I’ve grown up with these characters—Harry Potter was my first and favorite book series; and seeing them again is comforting even if they are wizards and I’m a “Muggle.”
They had to take a lot out from the book, but the important parts were included. In this movie, the sixth in the series, the magical war is spreading into the Muggle world, which would be terrifying in real life. But it started out a little too action-flicky, when Lord Voldemort’s Death Eaters tear down a bridge in London that a crowd of Muggles (non-magical people) are on. It hurt my eyes to watch the Death Eaters’ black cloaks spiral around.
After the opening, though, Harry, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley—the characters I know and love—are finally reunited at Hogwarts, their magical school. Harry is captain of the Quidditch team and Hermione is still a teacher’s pet. There is also comedy in the movie, especially between Hermione and Ron, who clearly have sexual tension but aren’t dating. Ron instead starts dating Lavender, a psycho, after she makes out with him in front of the whole Gryffindor house. And Cormac McLaggen, a hunky Quidditch player, tries to woo Hermione. Harry is pining over Ginny Weasley, who is out of bounds because she is Ron’s sister. I liked that there was some romantic comedy in this movie because it lightened the mood of approaching evil (Voldemort). The characters’ attempts at romance made them more relatable—they were regular teenagers, not wizards.
But it’s not all ice cream parties and flirting in the magical world. Harry’s rival Draco Malfoy has a secret cabinet connected to someone, or something, on the other end. Before leaving for Hogwarts, the best friends suspect something weird is happening with Draco, who is also the son of a Death Eater. Draco becomes dangerous in this movie and is more of a bad guy.
During the year, Dumbledore tutors Harry privately about Tom Riddle, a.k.a. Voldemort when he was a student. Dumbledore’s goal is to help Harry defeat Voldemort.
Draco’s cabinet is meaningful in the ending, which includes wizards dueling at Hogwarts. But despite all the tension, the ending was a little disappointing. The ending that made the Half Blood Prince such a shocking book didn’t work well in the movie, because I already knew and it felt too abrupt. I left the theater wanting to watch the last two movies right away.
I think everyone will like Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, because it has romance, comedy and suspense.
Posted: July 16
Reviewed by Kevin Ko
14, Wilson HS (Hacienda Heights)
My mind told me not to see The Proposal, even though my girlfriend was begging me, but ultimately my heart said yes and the next thing I know, I’m sitting in a movie theater with my girlfriend, watching this latest chick flick.
The movie started out bad. In the first 15 minutes, we find out that Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is the chief editor at a book company. The problem is, she’s from Toronto and her visa wasn’t approved and she has to go back to Canada. She’s desperate to stay in America, though, so she tells her boss that she is getting married to her assistant, Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds). After that, Paxton says the only way he will agree to the marriage is if Tate makes him an editor. Then “the couple” goes to Sitka, Alaska, where his family lives, to tell his family he’s getting married. I guess Alaska works in the plot because it’s a place nobody really would want to go for a romantic getaway. To me, it just added to the cheap comedy that the director was trying to put in the movie. How funny to send Andrew and Margaret to the most random place anyone could think of, Alaska!
The rest of the movie is what you would expect. They don’t feel any attraction toward each other and they have to go through all these “funny” wedding preparations with Margaret trying on the Paxton family wedding dress that is too big in the chest area and with Andrew and Margaret both accidentally ending up naked on top of each other. And of course, while all of this goes on, Andrew and Margaret fall for each other slowly and then voila, the movie ends. How fun! NOT.
This movie was very predictable. I saw the trailer and soon learned that it was all I needed to see. Even the “cute” parts that my girlfriend had raved about were predictable. Right after Margaret left Alaska because she proclaimed Andrew deserved better, Andrew looked all over the house for her and ended up walking into the room they stayed in together. I whispered to my girlfriend, “She’s not going to be in the room and there’s going to be a note from the girl in there saying how wonderful the guy is.” Oh goodie, right again Kevin, right again.
It seems as though I’ve fallen victim for making my girlfriend happy again. I mean don’t get me wrong, I love making her happy. It makes me happy! But I hope next time making her happy doesn’t include a chick flick.
Posted: July 10
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Reviewed by Destiny Jackson
16, Mayfair HS
I wish I could say the second Transformers movie was as good as the first. But it was long, way too action-packed and completely ridiculous.
At the beginning of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, you learn that sometime between the first and second movie, the US Army has formed an alliance with Optimus Prime and other Autobots. While on a mission in Shanghai to kill Decepticons, they learn about The Fallen, a king of the Decepticons who is coming to take over Earth. Meanwhile Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is off to college and leaving behind his girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) and Bumblebee, because apparently freshmen can’t have cars.
The thing that blew my mind 20 minutes into this movie was the language and the long drawn-out action sequences. If I would have known the movie was two hours and 30 minutes (and most of that time spent on horrible action sequences), I would have left and waited for it On Demand. I was bombarded with cussing, not that I mind a couple of cuss words here and there. But if you’ve seen the first Transformers, this one is completely different, with displays of profanity and sexual innuendo coming from the robots themselves! I mean Optimus Prime saying “punk a–?!” Really?! They might as well name this movie Transformers 2: Autobots Gone Wild. I would warn a teen taking their little brother or sister to see it, since they probably won’t understand the sexual jokes.
While at college Sam thinks he’s safe but little does he know The Fallen (which the movie is named after) instructs Decepticons Megatron and Starscream to capture Sam to discover the location of something called The Matrix, which holds the power to take the Earth’s sun energy, so they can destroy life on Earth to save their own planet. Maybe it’s just me, maybe I don’t have enough testosterone to keep up, or maybe it was the fact that me and my friends were making fun of the ridiculous things in the movie, like, How do all these people get in car accidents and still walk away without a scratch? And how on earth do Mikaela’s pants stay white as she’s running through all these sand dunes and explosions? But it still confuses me.
After long scenes and chaotic robot fights, Sam, Mikaela and Sam’s roommate are running around in the deserts of Egypt looking for The Matrix with the help of other Transformer robots. The good thing about the second Transformers is the movie introduced new robots. My favorites are Skids and Mudflap, also known as the “Twins.” They were the only thing that kept me watching the movie. The robots were two stereotypical black characters that always started a fight with each other, and had some pretty funny things to say. In one scene Mudflap hits Skids in the face. And Skids is like “Ouch, that hurt” and Mudflap responds, “Yeah it’s an a** whoopin’, it’s supposed to hurt.”
Well, I’ve warned you dear reader. If you’d still like to see this movie, bring friends, bring loads of snacks and enjoy if you can. I certainly hope they don’t make another sequel.
Posted July 3
Reviewed by Patricia Chavarria
18, Cesar Chavez HS (Compton)
Pixar’s latest movie, Up, about 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen who goes on an adventure by attaching thousands of balloons to his house and floating away to South America, is amazing.
The movie starts with Carl as a little kid watching a movie about his favorite hero Charles Muntz (a great adventurer). Carl wants to be like Muntz. Carl then meets a girl named Ellie who also happens to be a huge fan of Muntz. Then we see a brief montage of them getting married, buying a house, growing old together and then later we even see Ellie die. This had me and lots of the people in the theater crying. This sequence also contained a scene in which we learn that Ellie learns she can’t have kids. I’m pretty sure many of the kids who were watching the movie didn’t understand that part. Although it was a very unhappy scene, I thought that it did belong because it gives the movie a sense of reality, which brings teens and adults in as well.
As Carl’s life goes on without his soul mate, he realizes that he never kept his promise to Ellie of going to Paradise Falls. So, he decides that he will move his house to Paradise Falls by using thousands of helium-filled balloons (he was a balloon salesman before retiring) to carry it there. While he is in the sky flying he notices an 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer named Russell tagging along for the trip. As they try to make it to Paradise Falls they go through an adventure filled with dogs that wear collars which allows them to have their thoughts spoken out loud and a big funny rare bird that loves chocolate, and the animation was excellent. Since seeing the movie, when I look up to the sky sometimes I feel like I can almost see Carl.
I really like this movie because it is so emotional. Carl and Ellie’s love for each other reminds me of my grandparents. My grandma and grandpa have been together for so long and they always seem happy just like Ellie and Carl. Another powerful part is when Russell says that he wishes his father could be the one standing next to him when he receives his “assistance to the elderly” badge. Sadly though, Russell knows his father won’t be there because his father isn’t in his life.
And the ending was awesome, especially the message—just being together is an adventure.
Posted June 6