Made in Moab

Welp, since I have no reviews to share with you for this week I'll instead recap one of my recent trips and tell you about some of the movies that were also made there. A month ago, I figured it was high time I started doing some more exploring of my home state and visited the much filmed city of Moab with its two national parks (Arches and Canyonlands for those of you who are unfamiliar.) We had a grand ol' time hiking to Delicate Arch, fearing for our lives (okay...it was mostly me doing the fearing) whilst jeeping, and marveling at the beauty of Canyonlands. Coincidentally, it happened to fall on May the Fourth (AKA Star Wars day,) and I definitely reveled in feeling like I was on an alien planet to celebrate (not unlike Tatooine or Geonosis.)

Jeepers creepers. How'd you get them peepers?

Alien planets have the power of shrinking women apparently.

One of my favorite movies that was not only filmed in Moab, but set there as well would have to be 127 Hours. We definitely got into the 127 Hours spirit not only while we were there, but a couple weeks later too when we visited the Homestead Crater (where that cool scene of him in the canyon pool was filmed.) But back to Moab, my sister-in-law Robin led my brother Sean and I to what she dubbed "a hike" but in reality looked like a death wish waiting to happen! A small slit in the wall with logs wedged in between to use as a ladder. Sean didn't get too far and I didn't even attempt it. I'll keep my mortality intact thank you. Or if nothing else my arm ;) Canyonlands was very cool though and breathtaking. Anyone can simply admire the views without a lot of efforts because you can drive right up to it, but there's plenty for the thrill seeker to do as well. Best of both worlds really.

Watch out for giant boulders!

And hidden cave pools

Homestead Crater! (Not in Moab. haha)

We swam where James Franco swam.

Aron Ralston wasn't the only movie character (though perhaps the only real fictionalized one?) to explore Canyonlands. Tom Cruise's most famous character Ethan Hunt visits it as well in my least favorite Mission Impossible movie: Mission Impossible 2. Remember that whole opening sweeping scene? That's right all in Utah, and apparently Tom Cruise insisted on doing the stunt himself. We saw the exact same area, Dead Horse Point and it was simply stunning. When Robin and Sean tried some secret agent wall scaling they definitely seemed a little less successful...

Nice knowing ya!

I wasn't too concerned.

And finally, one of the most beloved characters of all time was seen in Moab (whether or not he was SUPPOSED to be in Moab I don't recall...) Who do you ask? Why none other than a young Indiana Jones can clearly be seen in Arches National Park during Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Not sure what it is about Moab that screams epic movie beginnings, but yeah. Sweeping beginning set in good ol' Utah.

I was blown away by how two National Parks so close in proximity couldn't be more different in aesthetic from one another. Like Canyonlands, Arches too is incredibly gorgeous but in an entirely different way. Naturally, we saw several arches (including the famous landscape arch,) but of course it was the famous Delicate Arch that's the real showstopper. Maybe though it stops the show since you have to go on a hefty hike to see it.  But honestly that's the tip of the iceberg of movies filmed here. If you want to read more check out this article from KSL HERE and this site HERE

The End! Thanks Moab for the memories!


The Fault of Tomorrow

Two movies come out this weekend, and I'm thrilled to say that I thoroughly enjoyed them both! What are the two movies in question? Why The Fault in Our Stars and Edge of Tomorrow of course! Both films gave me a very certain set of expectations based off of prior knowledge, trailers and advertising... so what I actually got from both was quite interesting to say the least! These two films are miles apart and each appeal to both ends of the spectrum and, in my humble opinion, you can't go wrong with either pick this weekend. We'll start with the more typical summer offering (Edge of Tomorrow) and then cover the smaller fare next (The Fault in Our Stars).

So I have to say, I've been making fun of the trailers for Edge of Tomorrow for at least a month now and thinking this would easily be one of the lamest movies of the summer and pretty much a clone of the disappointing Oblivion...but I have to say it was quite the opposite! This is the surprise delight of the summer (akin to Rise of the Planet of the Apes and X-men First Class when they came out...) and a wildly entertaining film. The trailers did not portray at all the movie that this actually is....and I kind of thank them for that so I had zero expectations of it being the quality it is. The biggest surprise? The movie is pretty dang funny. I was honestly shocked by how warmly I, as well as my audience received it. Its cleverness draws you to the characters and makes you excited to follow their every move.

If you're into video games, then this movie was probably made for you. It definitely gives the whole "let's beat this level and make it to the end of the game" kind of vibe in the best possible way. You certainly get caught up in the giant quest of it all. I'm pretty neutral to Tom Cruise; I'm generally no hater...nor am I his biggest fan, but I think he did a great job here (even if he never differentiates from his usual movie persona.) He and Emily Blunt made a surprisingly good team that were very fun to watch figure everything out over and over again. Keep those expectations low and SEE this movie. EMILY RATING: 8.5/10

Unlike The Edge of Tomorrow which I had the lowest of low expectations for, I expected nothing but good things from The Fault in Our Stars, (other than the very valid concern that it had the potential to be A Walk To Remember 2.0/a manipulative romance cancer drama of the year) The trailers were promising that it had more substance, as was knowing that it was based off a hit YA novel. But knowing that YA novel was being adapted by the writers of (500) Days of Summer and The Spectacular Now? It suddenly had LOADS of potential and HAD to be good right??? Thankfully it really really was. I adored this movie. It felt so refreshing and incredibly real in comparison to the typical melodramatic Nicholas Sparks film or whatever being offered nowadays.

I cared about these characters and their struggles held a lot of insights into my own life. There was surprisingly a lot of real value from their words. Basically, the movie resonated with me. Yes some might see it as nothing more than a simple sob fest, but there's a lot more to it than that. The only fault in this movie (other than the unexplained title haha,) was that it ran 20-30 minutes long. It could have used one more trim, but that didn't really take away my enjoyment from it. It was too sweet and charming for me to REALLY be wanting it to be over. So if all the blockbusters are giving you headaches and you're looking for a more quiet film to watch, this is it. EMILY RATING: 8.5/10  


Once Upon a Nightmare

The heck??? Once again, my brain is sincerely and completely puzzled. Strike that. Puzzled isn't the word I want; I am DUMBFOUNDED. Friday night I went to see Hollywood's latest offering known as Maleficent and a cloud of stupidity surrounded me from start to finish. Right from the get-go I could tell the movie was preposterous...yet I figured it couldn't get much worse right? Wrong. My facial expression rarely changed its "duhFREAK" face of disbelief the whole time. Hhhhhhow did this get made the way it did?? And why are so many people eating it up!? I decided to follow that viewing up by later watching the original itself, and my goodness it doesn't even compare. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not one who can't accept multiple versions of things (Jane Austen adaptations come to mind....sorta.) But this was just...nonsensical. Look you can tell Sleeping Beauty again and again all you want, but when you CHOOSE to focus on a character that only appears in a specific version, I feel like you ought to respect that version. So now for the public's well-being, I present you all a list of five reasons not to bother with this alternate retelling, and to stick with the original. SPOILERS BELOW

1. THE FAIRIES - Okay this may seem like an odd choice to have as number one, but this was a huge problem for me. First and foremost, these fairies just LOOK stupid. Secondly, they're bumbling idiots with no personality or purpose whatsoever. In the animated tale, it's Merriweather's quick thinking that allows for the clause in the curse that eventually saves Aurora. Not so here, instead it's simply a jaded Maleficent who adds the clause because she doesn't believe in true love anymore. Yawn. Also, the fairies are the ones who put everyone to sleep once Aurora's curse begins and track down and save Prince Phillip from Maleficent's clutches. Again, this doesn't happen here. Seemingly their only point is to take Aurora in...but then really was that necessary either when they just show that Maleficent was watching over her the entire time? Every time these fairies were onscreen I just cringed. No wonder Aurora didn't mind the idea of not living with them to instead embrace the fairy world. (Even as I type these words I can't even believe how dumb it all sounds.) 

2. WATERED DOWN MALEFICENT - Maleficent has always been one of Disney's coolest villains (if not THE coolest.) I didn't like it, but it made sense that someone might want to explore her story a bit more. But there's a reason we liked her in the first place, and this film completely removes the character we came to love in favor of a bunch of cliches in an attempt to give her "depth." We don't want to feel sorry for her, we want to FEAR her. This movie made her pathetic. And let's just be honest here, this movie was basically a vanity project for Angelina Jolie where she frequently stares into the camera with her green eyes and red lipstick and we're supposed to marvel at her beauty all movie long. Personally I got bored. Anytime she seems remotely interesting is when she's doing the same scenes the old version did and attempting an impression of the iconic villainess.

3. ALL THE MAGIC IS GONE - In the original film it contains moments of magic that are just absolutely charming. From the fairies and their powers in creating the perfect Birthday party for the princess to Aurora's friendship with cheerful woodland creatures. it's a simple world, but it's magical. Instead in Maleficent we get a CGI mess with weird creatures we're supposed to fawn over. Enchanted was able to nail it...why couldn't Maleficent? But it's not just the way things look, it's the way things sound! The animated film had such a great score. From the unforgettable theme of Once Upon a Dream (that at the least could have been played faintly during Aurora and Phillip's meeting ) to the creepy theme that follows Maleficent, the score of the original was pitch perfect. Oh and she never got a magical dress!

Honestly, this would have sufficed and they could have saved A LOT on budget.

4. NO HUMOR - Well I already mentioned my fondness for the fairies. But they weren't the only ones in the original that came with laughs. What about Prince Phillip's horse Samson and his fondness for carrots? Or the minstrel that's constantly stealing wine? Or Prince Phillip's jovial father? There's not even an inkling of comic relief in Maleficent. Oh other than that we're supposed to find it ADORABLY HEARTWARMING that one of the evilest Disney villains, Maleficent can't help but find room in her heart for the growing princess. MEH.

5. THEMES CHANGED IN FAVOR OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS - Here comes the Avatar effect of world consciousness but this time combined with feminism! The story changes in this film all felt so deliberate, stupid and preachy to me.  Once again instead of just dealing with the idea of evils in the world we don't understand, we change it to the cliched "MAN'S GREED LEADS TO EVIL!" Boring. Heaven forbid we see an evil woman depicted without having a good reason. And of course we can't have any men saving the damsel in distress. No. True love only comes from female bonding. I liked that better the first time when I saw it in Frozen. Honestly, why is old fashioned always considered such a bad thing? Just let it be.

So. If you can't tell already. I hated Maleficent. Emily rating: 3/10!