#TBT Movie Reviews – “Untraceable”

*Contains spoilers for the movie. The movie itself was rated R due to “some prolonged sequences of strong gruesome violence, and language” so viewer discretion is advised.*

Untraceable, featuring Diane Lane, Colin Hanks, Billy Burke & Joseph Cross.

To celebrate the premiere of CSI: Cyber, I decided to watch Untraceable. With only a 6.2/10 rating on IMDB and a whooping 4.2/10 from critics (but 3.3/5 from the audience) on Rotten Tomatoes, I had no idea what to expect from the movie.

Diane Lane plays F.B.I. Special Agent Jennifer Shaw. She, along with fellow Special Agent Griffin Dowd (Colin Hanks) work in the Cybercrimes unit, and they hunt down the criminals in the internet world. Both agents team up with Portland Police Department detective Eric Box (Billy Burke) to catch the movie’s main antagonist, Owen Reilly (Joseph Cross).

Our villain’s victim count graduated from cute little kitten to helicopter pilot to newscaster, then (sadly) to F.B.I. agent. Each death is more gruesome than the next. And the most revolting thing? The deaths were streamed live on the his site ‘KillWithMe.com’. It’s a race against the clock to find the killer before he strikes and takes the life of another F.B.I. agent.

Upon finishing the movie, I was definitely surprised by the negative reviews from critics. Ok, I have to admit: they could have cut back on the brutality and gruesomeness of the deaths. I grew up watching CSI and Criminal Minds, but the way the victims died was something I wasn’t prepared for. For the light-hearted who decide to watch this movie, make sure you watch it on an empty stomach. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the suspenseful feeling and the brains of our leading lady.

Classified as a crime thriller, the movie truly is one of a kind. It was released in 2008, and back then, I highly doubt that cybercrime was something that was a big issue. Now, seven years later, cyber criminals are getting increasingly smart and sneaky. “Technology has developed,” said my friend, who watched the movie with me. “Almost everything is online, and it’s not always protected with the highest security. With training, anyone can hack into your computer, steal your information, and wreck havoc in your life.” If the movie was released in 2014/2015, I firmly believe that critics would have rated it higher, because cybercrime is a more prominent issue in our society than back in 2008.

I was just a tad bit disappointed by the ending. I had hoped for some closure towards Griffin’s horrific death. Maybe a funeral scene where Shaw (Lane) and Detective Box (Burke) embrace each other? Oh hush it; they are cute together and I would have liked to see them AT LEAST comfort each other after all she has been through.

The next instalment of CSI, debuting on March 4th, also deals with cybercrime. The show will focus on Oscar-winning actress Patricia Arquette, who plays Special Agent Avery Ryan, and her F.B.I. Cyber Crimes Division team. She, along with her team of FBI analysts and special agents, must catch the criminals that live and prey through the internet. You can catch CSI: Cyber every Wednesday at 10pm/9pm on CBS.

Rachel’s Rating: 4/5 four leaf clovers

Thoughts:
-Agent Marsh and I do the same thing: we both put sticky notes on our desktops. Have you seen mine?! It’s covered in them! My macbook, though, not so much.
-I SHIP (and will always ship) SHAW AND BOX #noregrets

Comment below if YOU have a film that you want me to review for #TBT !

TrulyTuesday/Thursday – Divergent Review

The TrulyTuesday video (or TrulyThursday video in the case) is finally up! Thank you so much for your patience Luminaries! It was quite the adventure putting this one together. Hope you enjoy and stay tuned for more videos in the coming weeks!

Movie Review – “Divergent” Effectively Brings Novel to Life

The wait for the Divergent movie has finally ended as it is now in theaters! I am going to share some of my thoughts about the film in a TrulyLuminary exclusive review!

Divergent has brought a lot of relevant and interesting topics to the young adult realm and the film captures those elements nicely. The intrigue, action, and romance from the book are all portrayed very well and come through on screen. Even though there are some things from the book that did not get put in, the movie still expresses the overall feeling of the novel.

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The younger cast is quite talented and they all held their own against the established adult actors in the film. Shailene Woodley was powerful as Tris and her performance was believable. Newcomer Theo James also did well as Four and gave a smoldering performance that will no doubt leave audiences swooning.

Four was my favorite character in the novels and he is definitely my favorite character in the films. Through his performance, James was able to bring Four’s major (and loveable) character traits from the books onto the screen.

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Supporting actors in the film also gave very powerful performances and audiences will be excited to see more of them in the next film. For instance, Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller, and Zoe Kravitz all did a great job of really capturing the characters of Caleb Prior, Peter, and Christina respectively.

There was not a single moment where the performances weren’t believable or seemed like they were forced. Every cast member remained true to the character they were portraying.

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The costumes, props, and set designs were very instrumental is creating the futuristic world Divergent is set in. In the novel, faction members all dress differently in order to represent which faction they are from and the costuming made this clear in the film.

Of course, the books are packed with action and the major action sequences are well done in the film. Choreographing those scenes was no doubt a difficult and intricate process and they played on screen quite effectively.

Divergent also was emotionally evocative. There were moments that would make you laugh, moments that would make you feel anxietal and tense, moments that would leave you teary-eyed, and moments that left you feeling empowered.

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However, there were also some elements that could have been done differently. For parts of the film, you had to have read at least the first book to fully understand and appreciate. This is good for the fans who have read the book (or the series), but it makes it confusing for the audience members who have not.

As a woman, and given the progressive modern values on violence against women, the fight scene between Peter (Teller) and Tris (Woodley) made me feel uncomfortable. I recognize that this was a major scene in the novel and an important part of Tris’ initiation process, but nonetheless it was still uncomfortable to visibly see on screen.

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* WARNING – SPOILER AHEAD *

Near the end of the film, Tris shoots Peter to injure him and scare him into guiding them to where Jeanine (Kate Winslet) is running the warrior simulation. In the novel, he remains injured and he needs help when escaping the Dauntless faction. When they are escaping in the film, it seems that he is all of a sudden not injured and runs to catch the train without any difficulty.

Overall, Divergent was an entertaining film that captures the major elements of the story in an effective manner. Through believable performances, set pieces, and action sequences the world of Divergent was set up very nicely. Looking forward to the second film in the series and to see what the new director, Robert Schwentke, brings to the table.

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[3.5/5]

Are you going to be seeing Divergent in theaters? If so, share your thoughts about the film in the comments below!

Exclusive Movie Review – “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey came out a year ago and fans have been eagerly awaiting The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug ever since. Director Peter Jackson and his production teams put together an amazing sequel that will once again leave audiences wanting more.

* Warning – Possible spoilers ahead. *

The film begins in a flashback scene in Bree, a small town just outside of the borders of the Shire. In this scene we see how the journey truly began and we see that it was Gandalf who ultimately persuaded Thorin to go on a quest to reclaim his homeland. Then we are back with Bilbo and the dwarf troop as they continue their journey towards Erebor.

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The troop must enter through the dangerous Mirkwood Forest in order to embark on the last leg of the journey. However, Gandalf cannot go with them and embarks on another quest towards Dol Guldur, where the necromancer is gaining power.

He warns the troop to stay on the path, otherwise the dark powers of the forest will cause you to hallucinate. Of course, when in the Mirkwood Forest, the dwarves end up straying from the path and are captured by large spiders. This means that Bilbo must use his wits and his new ring to get them out of danger.

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Once Bilbo finally frees all of the dwarves from the spiderwebs, the chase begins as they try to fight their way out of the forest. One of those many moments in the film when you think to yourself “How are they going to get out of this?” The answer my friends, is the elves. Legolas and Tauriel come barging in with a troop of fellow elves to battle it out with the spiders.

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Although the elves save the dwarves from the onslaught of arachnids, they capture them and strip them of their weapons and other possessions. This creates a moment between Legolas and Gloin (Glimey’s father) that will no doubt leave fans laughing.

The elves then take them back to Mirkwood living quarters and put them in jail for intruding. As the dwarves are leaving the forest, they realize that Bilbo is nowhere to be found.

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Bilbo uses the ring and follows them to Mirkwood and soon realizes that he must rescue the dwarves (again) and get them out of the Mirkwood jail. He finds a quick and risky solution within some empty barrels. These barrels are going to be sent down the river to Laketown, which is just the place they need to get to before heading up the mountain to Erebor.

So Bilbo waits until the opportune moment, uses the ring to steal the jail keys, frees the dwarves, and shows them his plan. At first, they are all very apprehensive, but Thorin convinces them it is the right thing to do and the only way to get out and continue their quest.

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Just as the dwarves escape in the barrels, Tauriel and her guards realize that they have escaped the jail. This causes all of the guards to be on high alert and ultimately leads to the dwarves being blocked from leaving. However, an army of orcs have been tracking the dwarves on order of Azog the defiler and they start to attack the elves and the dwarves. From here, an incredible and crazy battle scene down the river begins.

When Bilbo and the dwarves escape the orcs, they take a moment to gather themselves and tend to Kili, who has been injured in the battle. This reprieve is short-lived as they are confronted by Bard the Bowman of Laketown.

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Bard is the one responsible for retrieving the barrels and returning them to Laketown and he was not expecting company. The troop ends up convincing Bard to help them get to Laketown via his boat.

Once they get to Laketown, Bard is worried he could get into trouble so he finds ways to keep them hidden until they can get to his house. From here, Bilbo and the dwarves end up staying with Bard and his three kids.

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Thorin grows restless knowing that Erebor is so close and he is so close to reaching his goal. He goes against Bard’s advice and gathers Bilbo and the rest of the dwarves to steal weapons from the armory. The royal guards of Laketown end up catching them and taking them to the Master of Laketown.

Thorin realizes how greedy the Master of Laketown is and the impoverished conditions the people of Laketown are living in. He uses this to his advantage as he is trying to convince everyone of the meaning behind their journey to Erebor. Thorin promises that restoring Erebor is not only going to benefit the dwarves, but the people of Laketown too.

And so begins the journey up to the mountain…

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I do not want to reveal too much more, but this is definitely not a film to miss! Peter Jackson has once again delivered an absolutely amazing film that will likely thrill audiences around the world.

The production teams always do a spectacular job. The amazingly detailed costumes, set pieces, props, and stunning make up only did more to enhance the journey. The visual effects team also did an amazing job with creating Smaug the dragon and expanding on the design of the orcs. 

The actors that were also in the first film, all did great with enhancing and developing their characters. Actors that were new to the Hobbit franchise such as, Luke Evans, Evangeline Lilly, and Orlando Bloom also did well with introducing and developing their characters.

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Overall, the story was well-paced and action-packed, but there were a few moments where it felt like the story was dragging on a little bit. Plus, some of the visual effects made me feel like I was watching a video game rather then a movie. Nonetheless, The Desolation of Smaug was another triumph under Peter Jackson’s movie belt. The ending of this awaited sequel will absolutely leave you wanting more.

Movie Review – “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” a Blazing Roller Coaster

The wait for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is finally over as it officially hits theaters today! Fans will be absolutely thrilled with the end result and will feel that the long 20 months between Hunger Games and this installment was time well spent. Director Francis Lawrence did an amazing job, picking up on things Gary Ross left out. I have no doubt the rest of the franchise is in excellent hands.

* Warning – Possible spoilers ahead. *

We start off back in District 12 a few months after Katniss and Peeta win the 74th Annual Hunger Games in an act of rebellion. In these opening scenes we start to see how having to participate in this competition has effected Katniss as she is dealing with post traumatic stress. Katniss and Peeta are now living in what is called the Victor’s Village, a housing area set up by the Capitol for the Victors.

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Katniss comes home from a trip out to the woods with Gale to discover that President Snow and some of his guards are wanting to speak with her. She is then left alone to speak with the cunning President and he warns that people of the Districts have started to rebel against the Capitol because of her actions. He also warns that if she does not convince him of her love for Peeta then those she loves will be in danger.

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Katniss and Peeta then leave for the Victory Tour in which they go to each District to publicly speak about the games and the fallen tributes. Throughout their journey on the Victory Tour we start to subtly see the rebellion “catching fire” in the Districts.

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The tour ends in the Capitol where Katniss and Peeta attend the Presidential Ball with guide, Effie Trinket. Here we are introduced to Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s character, head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee.

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We then return to District 12 and because of the events of the Victory Tour, the rebellion across Panem is getting worse. This causes President Snow to take drastic measures and he sends heavier armies of “Peacemakers” to all of the Districts for enforcement. In District 12, the ruthless Commander Thread is put in charge and he does not tolerate rebellion. This leads to a gut-wrenching scene between him, Gale, and Katniss.

The next day, President Snow makes a huge announcement about the 75th Hunger Games. He explains that because the 75th Annual Hunger Games is also the 3rd Quarter Quell there has to be something unique about it. Snow then goes on to announce that the tributes for these games will be reaped from the previous victors. This means that Katniss and Peeta end up back in the Hunger Games.

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Back in the Capitol, we are introduced to the unlucky victors who are once again tributes in the games. We also get to see the new training facility, the new tribute living quarters, and Caesar Flickerman’s new stage.

The night before everyone is headed back into the arena, Caesar interviews each tribute, asking them various questions. However, when it is time for Peeta’s interview, he drops “a bomb” that even has the Capitol citizens ready to rebel. This is when we see a display of the tributes coming together as one and holding hands in front of the crowd. Needless to say, this makes President Snow quite unhappy.

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The next morning, the tributes are getting ready to head into the arena. There is an emotional scene as Katniss, Peeta, Effie, and Haymitch are saying their good-byes. Cinna talks with Katniss as she is preparing to go into the arena and before she heads into the elevator, they too say an emotional good-bye. Then we are in the arena and the games begin…

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I do not want to give too much more away, so get thee to a theater if you want to know what happens next!

Francis Lawrence did an absolutely amazing job as director and fans will definitely be happy with the work and attention to detail that he put into this film. It is a stronger and more faithful adaptation to the novel than The Hunger Games. In the first film, Prim’s cat Buttercup was a tuxedo cat, but he was named Buttercup for his fluffy orange fur. In Catching Fire, Buttercup is a fluffy orange tabby. It is the attention to detail like that that will make fans of the book happy.

The performances from all of the actors involved were excellent and stronger from the previous film. Jennifer Lawrence, of course, is an amazing actress and her performance carried the story. Donald Sutherland and Stanley Tucci are also two very strong actors who are always amazing at what they do. However, I felt that their performances in this film were much stronger than in the first one. Sutherland is even more cunning and sinister as President Snow and Tucci is even more over the top and flamboyant as Caesar Flickerman.

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Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth also brought more to the table as the two love interests. Due to their stronger performances and a stronger romantic storyline, the love triangle between Peeta, Katniss, and Gale was much more believable.

Overall, the movie was fast paced and a complete emotional roller coaster. Francis Lawrence did a great job of including funny moments that would make you laugh, emotional moments that would make you teary-eyed, shocking moments that would make you gasp, romantic moments that would make you swoon, and thrilling moments that would leave you on the edge of your seat.

The production design was stunning in every aspect. From the costumes, hair, and makeup details all the way to the props and set pieces. Just gorgeous!

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There were only two major things that I felt could have been handled differently. First off, the arena section of the movie, although very intense, felt a little short and rushed. Secondly, “the bomb” that Peeta drops while being interviewed by Caesar is never really mentioned or dealt with again. It just seemed strange to me that such a major piece of the storyline got dropped off so easily.

Let me tell you, though, you will not be disappointed in the end result! Just like the ending of the book, the ending of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie will leave you wanting more. Once you have seen the movie, share your thoughts in the comments!

TrulyLuminary Exclusive – “Man of Steel” Review!

I was lucky enough to attend an exclusive screening of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel last night! I am very excited to share my first movie review with you all! Will you be seeing Man of Steel today? Did you go to a midnight screening? Read my thoughts and let me know if you agree in the comments below!

Man of Steel has all the ingredients to become the successful summer blockbuster Warner Brothers has been pushing. The strapping male lead, the strong female lead who later becomes the damsel in distress, the terrifying and evil villain, and tons of action. When thrown together, these ingredients made for an enjoyable viewing experience. However, there were a few things about this film that were not as enjoyable and took away from the overall experience.

As I am not a huge sci-fi or comic book fan, I must admit I did not know a ton about the story of Superman. With a strong and unique narrative pattern, crafted by David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan, the film was very interesting and effective in revealing the story of Superman without an overload of exposition. We begin on the planet Krypton, where Superman (Henry Cavill) or Kal-El is born. The people of Krypton, however, are in grave danger as their world is coming to an end. Kal-El’s father, Jor-El (Russell Crowe) finds a way to protect his son from the destruction of Krypton and plans to send him to Earth where he can live a normal and safe life. Or so he thought.

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This is where the villain, General Zod (Michael Shannon), comes in. Zod does not agree with what Jor-El is doing and is focused on preserving the Kryptonian race. The high council of Krypton realizes that Zod and his followers are dangerous and treacherous people after they murder Jor-El and sentence them to the Phantom Zone. When Krypton is finally destroyed, Zod and his followers end up being released from their sentence and begin to search for a new planet to call home.

We then cut to Superman as Clark Kent and an adult living amongst the human world. This is where his hero’s journey begins and we see the first heroic act of the film. He is a greenhorn on a crab fishing boat and one day while out fishing, the boat receives a distress call from an oil rig nearby. Of course, being Superman he silently slips away and heads to the rescue. This incident, however, could expose him so after he saves the men from the oil rig he then leaves his job as a greenhorn. From there, he heads up to the Northern Territories of Canada.

Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is then introduced as she is investigating some news leads at a US military base. The US Army has found an object buried deep within the ice and is trying to find ways to get it out. But Superman is doing some investigation of his own. He uses his powers to get deep into the ice and discover the object is actually a Kryptonian spaceship. Lane becomes curious about a mysterious man working at the military base and starts doing some investigation into who he is. This is when their relationship begins to form.

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Lois follows him into the spaceship and finds herself in a bit of trouble. Superman then has to jump in and come to the rescue. Lane passes out after Superman uses his powers to try and save her from injuries she has sustained. He then moves her to a safer location and flies away in the ship.

After this incident, she wants to discover more about whom this mystery man is and why he has been very secretive. She finds out that he grew up as Clark Kent and was raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane). Lane also learns that as an adult, he has been moving between the United States and Canada. In his travels, he has held various jobs and covered up his tracks along the way.

Little does Superman know that rebooting the spaceship will cause a lot of trouble for him and his beloved Earth. Zod and his followers receive a signal back on their ship that another spaceship has been rebooted, which then leads them to Earth and Superman’s location. From here, there are some ominous scenes as Zod sends a warning message to Earth, requesting that they turn in Superman. When his request is fulfilled, Zod and his Kryptonian followers make their way back into space with Superman and Lois Lane. However, their safety is in jeopardy so they must find a way to escape. When the Sups and Lane finally do escape, Zod returns to Earth and unleashes his fury, attempting to reclaim Earth and turn it into another Krypton.

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Man of Steel did have downfalls in some areas. I felt that some of the product placement was quite blatant, which took away from the story. I would be engrossed in the scene and then a sign for Sears would become the focus, taking me away from the moment and the world of Superman.  There was also too much action and it felt like there was an action overload. However, the action scenes were beautifully shot and well choreographed.

Overall, Zack Snyder is a talented director who knows how to create visually stunning worlds and work with all of the aspects of film. From beautiful set pieces and costumes, to stunning lighting and cinematography. Hans Zimmer’s score was very well done, as always, and fitting for the film. The casting choices were also well done and Henry Cavill makes a perfect Superman. Personally, I think all of the actors did a great job with the roles and the universe they were given to work with.  Man of Steel was a strong film with a few downfalls, but this project will definitely be launching Henry Cavill into Super-stardom.

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Rating: Three Star review

Movie Exclusive – Final Trailer for Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel”

The final trailer for Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel has officially been released by Warner Brothers! This trailer gives audiences an interesting perspective on the story as Russell Crowe’s character, Jor-El, is a primary focus. Through this trailer, we get a stronger idea of Jor-El’s storyline and how he feels about his son and the invasion being led by General Zod (Michael Shannon).

The trailer also features a lot of great music from Hans Zimmer’s score and allows audiences to get a feel of what his music will be like for this film. Watch the exclusive trailer here and take a look at an official synopsis for Man of Steel below:

In the pantheon of superheroes, Superman is the most recognized and revered character of all time. Clark Kent/Kal-El (Henry Cavill) is a young twentysomething journalist who feels alienated by powers beyond anyone’s imagination. Transported to Earth years ago from Krypton, an advanced alien planet, Clark struggles with the ultimate question – Why am I here? Shaped by the values of his adoptive parents Martha (Diane Lane) and Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner), Clark soon discovers that having super abilities means making very difficult decisions. But when the world needs stability the most, it comes under attack. Will his abilities be used to maintain peace or ultimately used to divide and conquer? Clark must become the hero known as “Superman,” not only to shine as the world’s last beacon of hope but to protect the ones he loves.

This highly anticipated adaptation also stars Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, Antje Traue as the female villain Faora.

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What do you think of this stunning and action-packed new trailer? Are you looking forward to seeing the film when it hits theaters on June 14, 2013? Do you think this film will be a good boost for Henry Cavill’s acting career? TrulyLuminary will be present at an exclusive screening for Man of Steel next week on June 13 so be sure to check back for a review and screening coverage!

Source: YouTube and Collider