Kyla’s Movie Review

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THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (PG-13) - Starring Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, Laura Dern, Sam Trammell, Willem Dafoe, and Lotte Verbeek. This is based on the book by John Green. Hazel (Woodley) developed thyroid cancer at a young age and came near death. She has been responding to an experimental treatment that hasn’t worked for many others, but she knows there are no guarantees for the future. Her parents (Dern and Trammell) are loving and supportive but are afraid that Hazel is sinking into depression. At her mother’s insistence, Hazel joins a church support group for teenagers with cancer. There she meets Gus (Elgort), who has already lost a foot and part of his leg to the disease. Gus and Hazel hit it off because they not only share the sense of being on borrowed time, but have developed a sardonic sense of humor about it. We’re introduced to her around the time she first encounters Augustus at a cancer support group meeting. Both of their diseases are in remission but she carries around an oxygen cylinder because her lungs are prone to filling with fluid and she can’t breathe without it. Augustus appears completely healthy, having apparently beaten his affliction after losing a leg to it. The two bond, flirt, send each other witty text messages, and move forward with a romance until Hazel decides they should just be friends. She argues that since she’s likely to die sooner than later, it would only hurt Augustus to become embroiled in a love affair with her. He doesn’t agree and continues to pursue her. The two performances prove to have a lot of chemistry and are a breath of fresh air in this beautiful love story. RATING: B

MALEFICENT (PG) - Starring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, and Sam Riley. Maleficent lives in a fairyland and is a good-hearted spirit who befriends young Stephen, an ambitious boy from the human kingdom next door. When they grow into adulthood, things become more complicated. Maleficient (Jolie) is under attack by the humans but still trusts Stephen (Copley) who has come to warn her. Stephen, however, lets ambition overcome his feelings and maims Maleficent to win the kingdom, no doubt thinking that by sparing her life he’s been good. For Maleficent, though, this is cause for vengeance and when King Stephen’s daughter is born, she places her under a curse: when she turns sixteen she will prick herself on the needle of a spindle falling into an endless sleep, unable to be awakened except by “true love’s kiss.” Having been betrayed by Stephen’s earlier protestations of love, this is Maleficent’s ironic payback. Stephen sends the child off into the forest with three fairies (led by Staunton) who will protect her until she is sixteen plus one day. You may think you know how the rest of the story goes, but since we’re seeing this from Maleficent’s viewpoint, there are twists in store. The result is a fairy tale film that may be the best since “Ever After,” the 1998 retelling of the Cinderella story. Visually stunning–you will believe Jolie can fly–it mixes human and CGI characters. In the end, the film rides on the strength of Jolie’s performance and she is, in a word, magnificent. Jolie commands the screen from the moment she appears. RATING: B+

EDGE OF TOMORROW (PG-13) - Starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Brendan Gleeson, Bill Paxton, and Noah Taylor. Our protagonist is Major William Cage (Cruise), who had to make a choice how he would fight back after a deadly alien attack has taken over continental Europe. The aliens, known as Mimics, have been unstoppable until their defeat at the Battle of Verdun, where Sgt. Rita Vrataski (Blunt) was the hero of the day. Now commanding General Brigham (Gleeson) sees the tide turning and he has a new role for Cage who has essentially been doing PR for the war effort. He’s going to be with the troops when they invade and provide morale boosting reports. Cage is always ready to rally the troops as long as his own neck isn’t on the line–refuses, not quite understanding the chain of command. He wakes up busted to private and thrown into a platoon led by Master Sergeant Farrell (Paxton). He is sent into combat barely trained and, of course, dies. However something has happened to him during an encounter with one of the aliens that causes him to go back to the moment when he becomes a private. This happens again and again, ending each time with his death and a reboot. From here on out you know where the story is going: Cage and his eventual ally Vrataski will keep trying and failing but learning something more that they can use on their next go round. It’s an exciting and entertaining movie because we get caught up with the problem solving, and because Cruise plays against his usual action hero persona. There’s plenty of action and, despite the fact that much of it is repeated, it never becomes repetitive. A man is doomed to live and relieve a single day in his life until he solves the problems the day presents. You enjoyed it when it was a comedy called Groundhog Day and you will enjoy this one too. RATING: B+

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