G.I. Joe Sequel Another Of 2013′s Worst Movies

Courtesy:  Paramount Studios

Courtesy: Paramount Studios

2013 has been a rough year for the movie industry.  It has been either feast or famine for the big studios.  That is thanks in large part to the glut of sequels churned out by the industry’s major studios.  From the upper echelons all the way down to the general movie-goer, those same studios have been lambasted for their increasing reliance on sequels.  The latest movie in the G.I. Joe franchise justifies those darts even more.  Sure it has lots of flash-bang-boom action sequences and its share of special effects, and an easy to understand storyline, it doesn’t have much else.  Some might consider this a good thing for an action movie.  But the reality is because of this, it turns out to be one more movie that won’t take long to end up in the discount bins at retail outlets now that it is officially out on DVD and Blu-ray.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation isn’t the worst of the year’s movies.  It isn’t the worst of the record thirty-seven sequels that will have hit theaters by the year’s end.  But it isn’t one of the year’s best movies, either.  The question remains then, what is it about this movie that has left it in movie limbo so to speak?  To answer that isn’t easy.  But it isn’t impossible, either.  The best place to begin with the movie is its writing.  The story’s writing is for the most part, relatively simplistic.  It is also very predictable.  Right from the story’s opening minutes, audiences learn that at the end of the franchise’s first flick, Cobra Commander and Destro had both been captured and placed in special suspended animation tanks of sorts.  It is pretty obvious from this point where the story would progress.  It doesn’t get much better.  From here, audiences are introduced to the story’s secondary plot, the evil twin plot headed by the evil Zartan.  Simple math, right?  Yes.  Two plus two equals four.  Yet another world domination plot on the part of Cobra, which at least goes along with the old cartoon series from the 80s and early 90s.

The predictability of the story in G.I. Joe: Retaliation is just one microscopic part of the problem with its writing.  Just when one thinks the writing couldn’t get any worse, writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick make the story even more convoluted by adding in a third storyline involving Snake Eyes’ (one of the few remaining Joes after Cobra’s attack on the Joes) hunt for his arch nemesis, Stormshadow.  Snake Eyes has to nab Stormshadow and bring him back to answer for the murder of his sensei, of which he was accused of committing as a child.  This additional storyline really wasn’t necessary to the overall outcome of the movie.  Wernick and Reese must have known this as they tried to justify it by making sure that only Stormshadow would know the full extent of Cobra’s evil plans this time out.  They could have still had him be a key player without the extra drama.  Had all of this extra fluff been cut, it would have saved a lot of time and maybe even made all of the movie’s over-the-top fight scenes and explosions justified.  But no, they couldn’t leave well enough alone.  Instead, they left it in.  And to make matters even worse, they made the story drag on even more by adding in unnecessary elements of melodrama both on the part of Stormshadow and the remaining Joes.  There is the whole aspect of Stormshadow having to come to terms with Zartan being the real killer and tricking him when he was a child.  And then there is Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson) coming to terms with taking over the Joes after Duke’s (Channing Tatum) death early on.  Let us also not forget Lady Jaye’s own drama involving her father issues, too.  It’s all extra fat that could have been trimmed from the whole thing to make it at least more bearable.

Had the unnecessary elements noted above been removed from the movie’s final script, that removal would have made G.I. Joe: Retaliation more bearable.  Sadly, that didn’t happen.  Even the choice of the movie’s title is problematic.  The very inclusion of the word “retaliation” in the title hurts the movie even more.  It’s an ambiguous subtitle.  That’s because in reality, both Cobra and the remaining Joes are retaliating against one another for everything that had happened in the course of the franchise’s first film.  More than likely, the intent was for the subtitle to be aimed more at the retaliation of G.I. Joe against Cobra for its actions against its forces.  But again, the ambiguity is there; too much of it in fact to make such a subtitle work.  And along with the already poor writing, it reduces the movie’s credibility even more.

There is so much that went wrong with G.I. Joe: Retaliation.  However, it would be unfair to ignore the only shining rays of hope that this largely forgettable Summer action flick does have.  Those rays of hope lie in the movie’s really cool gadgets and its action sequences.  Again, had the gadgets and action sequences been left with the predictable writing, the movie would not have been half as bad as it turned out to be.  But because that didn’t happen, the action sequences come across as little more than an excuse to try and distract viewers from the poor writing.  This is most clearly evident in the ironic fact that the most exciting of the action sequences was one that itself might not have even been necessary.  It involves Snake Eyes and his protégé, Jinx, facing a horde of ninjas along a sheer cliff face after having recovered Stormshadow in the aforementioned equally unnecessary extra story line.  As impressive as this sequence was, the only way that it (and its companion story line) could be justified is the fact that so many of the cast members from the previous film didn’t return this time out for whatever given reason.  So something was needed (in the minds of the writers) to advance the storyline.  Thus this sequence and its associated story line were inserted.  Had both elements been removed in the end, G.I. Joe: Retaliation still could have survived.  Sure it probably would have still ended up being forgotten in the grand scheme of things.  But it still would have survived and even taken more seriously.  As enchanted as studio heads continue to be with franchises, it would be no surprise if audiences eventually see another sequel or even a franchise reboot already.  When either of these scenarios plays out, one can only hope that whoever writes its script will learn from all of this and will make a movie that will return honor to the name and legacy that is G.I. Joe.

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Honey Boo Boo, Bruce Willis, The Bachelorette Focus Of Us Weekly This Week

Courtesy:  Us Weekly Magazine

Courtesy: Us Weekly Magazine

 

Courtesy:  DKC Public Relations

Courtesy: DKC Public Relations

The latest edition of ABC’s hit reality dating show, The Bachelorette is winding down.  Its finale will air on Monday, August 5th.  As audiences count down to this season’s finale, Us Weekly magazine takes an in-depth look at the upcoming season finale for its cover story.  One of the big revelations from this season’s last episode is that of her final three suitors, contestant Desiree Hartsock will see one of the trio depart the show before the rose ceremony.  Making matters even more interesting for viewers is that the the departed contest in question was the object of Hartsock’s affections.  And in learning of the subject’s departure, Hartsock was left quite broken-hearted.  An insider with The Bachelorette was quoted of saying about this season’s final episode, “Des didn’t see it coming.”  When asked about how she felt about seeing herself in the upcoming finale, Hartsock told Us Weekly, “No one’s excited to see themselves cry.”  The new edition of Us Weekly hits newsstands tomorrow, Friday, July 26th.

Also in this week’s edition Us Weekly, Adam Levine’s fiancé, Behati Prinsloo, dishes on the couple’s engagement and upcoming nuptials.  Prinsloo notes in her interview with Us Weekly that she is still trying to get acclimated to all of the changes.  “It was a surprise,” she said.  “It hasn’t even sunk in yet!  Last night, I forgot I slept with my ring on.  I woke up and went, Oh hello!’”  Levine proposed to Prinsloo only three weeks after the couple had gotten back together. 

In movie news, Us Weekly sits down with actor Garrett Hudlund in this week’s new issue and discusses his choice to not star in the upcoming big screen adaptation of author E.L. James’ novel 50 Shades of Grey.  The magazine has confirmed that Hudlund turned down the lead role of Christian Grey in the interview.  According to a source close to the film, Hudlund turned down the role because “doing a possible trilogy was too big a commitment and producers wouldn’t let him do just one film.”  Fans can check out the new issue of Us Weekly for all of the details on who might take Hudlund’s place in the series’ lead role.

Us Weekly also sat down with veteran actor Bruce Willis for a very candid interview about his image on screen versus who he is away from the cameras.  Willis joked about being a gentleman when asked about his Red 2 co-star Mary-Louise Parker.  “I don’t know if I’m a real gentleman. I would say I’m an OK gentleman.”  Willis proved he was a gentleman as Us Weekly caught him using a prop gun to shoot a blank at a bee that came too close to Parker.  “Yeah, that’s a real thing that happened,” he admitted.  “I shot it in the wing and it spun to the ground. But I did not kill the bee. No bees were injured.”  When he was asked about his role of dad to his four daughters, Willis said, “I love making my kids laugh.  I even try to make my youngest daughter laugh now [Mable, 16 months].  She can’t really run away, even when she doesn’t like my jokes!”

And in what has to be one of the most interesting features in this week’s issue of Us Weekly, June Shannon, Honey Boo Boo’s mom, sits down for an interview and shares her thoughts on parenting.  Us Weekly asked Shannon about her thoughts on keeping her kids from smoking and dressing inappropriately.  When asked about keeping her kids from smoking, she said, “It’d be hard because I did it when I was a teenager.”  When asked about her children’s attire, she had this to say.  “The s—t don’t happen in my house.  I don’t want my girls showing off too much.  I don’t allow [spaghetti strap] tank tops or short shorts.”  Here Comes Honey Boo Boo recently aired a special season premiere that allowed audiences to use a scratch and sniff card to smell certain items throughout the episode.  Leading fragrance guru Sean O’Mara discussed the promotion by TLC; specifically the experience of smelling the pork and beans.  O’Mara said of this experience, “This smelled more like roadkill than pork and beans. I would have played up the barbecue sauce.”  He also shared his comments on smelling the butter in the season premiere.  He said of this one, “It was meant to be butter, but smelled like cake frosting. I wouldn’t use it on a baked potato.”

These stories and much more are all in this week’s new issue of Us Weekly magazine.  It will be available Friday, July 26th on newsstands everywhere.  And for even more from Us Weekly readers can “Like” the magazine on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/UsWeekly or check out the Us Weekly official website at http://www.UsMagazine.com

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Die Hard 5 Even More Fun In Its Home Release

Courtesy:  20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

A Good Day to Die Hard was met with less than critical acclaim with it premiered in early 2013.  The fifth movie in the Die Hard franchise, viewers and critics alike largely panned the movie.  Critics and viewers gave reasons that largely centered on the movie’s writing and its general story as the reason for its lack of entertainment value.  The reality is that there was nothing wrong with the story or the writing behind Die Hard 5.  The real reason that it largely failed to garner big numbers is one that people refuse to admit to for whatever reason.  The real reason that it fell short can be summed up in one word.  That one word is relevance. This critic personally noted when Die Hard 5 premiered, that had this installment in the series traded places with its predecessor, it might very well have been released to much bigger response.  That is because relevance brought down both movies.  Die Hard 4 was ahead of its time.  And because director John Moore and company were paying homage to the original movie in the Die Hard series, most audiences and critics could not relate.  Most of those same audiences and critics likely hadn’t seen the original Die Hard, either.  So, that might explain that much.  Those that are more familiar with the series maybe simply couldn’t see the forest for the trees.  That would be the most sensible explanation for that faction of viewers.  Now that Die Hard 5 has been released to DVD and Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, maybe those same audiences and critics will give this movie the second look that it deserves and see it for the valuable addition that it is to the Die Hard series.

Die Hard 5 is a fun trip down movie memory lane.  Audiences that know the series’ history and already have an appreciation for this movie will agree to this.  Those that are new to the series and those that perhaps saw this movie for what it was, will hopefully see this especially in watching the bonus features of the new Die Hard 5 home release.  The best point at which to start in this argument is the making of feature, aptly titled, “Making it Hard to Die.”  This hour-long plus feature goes into massive depth, showing just how much work went into bringing this story to life.  Viewers are taken behind the scenes and behind the cameras in an in-depth discussion of everything from the movie’s special effects and visual effects to the weaponry and even aircraft used this time around.  There’s even a section of this feature that, led by obvious fan boy and director John Moore, discusses the use of actual explosions and stunts versus the full on use of CGI.  It was wonderful to hear Moore note just how important it was to the movie in the grand scheme of the Die Hard franchise to use actual stunts and explosions in balance with the green screen instead of simply going entirely the green screen/CGI route.  Understanding this, audiences will hopefully gain at least some appreciation for this movie and everything that went into its creation.  It is, of course, just one of the bonus features that make the movie even more enjoyable the second time around.  Another factor that will hopefully help add to the movie’s appreciation is the feature on the movie’s big car chase.

The discussion on the early chase scene between John, Jack, and his Russian counterparts will instantly conjure thoughts of Steve McQueen’s famed car chase scene in Bullitt.  Just as interesting in this feature is the notation that the sequence was both physically and digitally storyboarded.  This is so impressive in that so many studios have done away with actual physical storyboarding and gone digital.  It is nice to see that hand drawn art still has at least some place in the movie industry today.  All of this is one more step back in time and one more element that creates even more appreciation for this latest installment in the Die Hard franchise.  If this and the extensive making of feature are not enough, then audiences can also check out the “New Face of Evil” feature that focuses on Kamarov and his daughter or the feature, “Two of a Kind” that focuses on the relationship between John and Jack or even “Back in Action”, which focuses on the development of John McClane from the original Die Hard to this point decades later.  All of these bonus features come together with the story to make Die Hard 5 a movie that while it isn’t the best of the series, is still a fun movie.  And hopefully after seeing it, those same people that criticized it before will agree that it’s so fun that it’s worth well more than just one watch.  It’s a movie worth watching any time audiences want a real action movie.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered from the 20th Century Fox store at http://www.foxconnect.com.

Die Hard 5 Better Than Many May Think

Courtesy:  20th Century Fox

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

Action movies are meant to be an escape from the rigors of everyday life.  They are meant as a chance for audiences to turn off their brains if only for a couple of hours and be taken into the world of the fantastic.  Keeping this in mind, one has to wonder if the masses of audiences and critics who panned the latest installment in the Die Hard franchise went in with an open mind or with an agenda and a preconceived notion set in their minds.  While it can be agreed that A Good Day to Die Hard–or as it will henceforth be known, Die Hard 5 or DH5–is not the best of the Die Hard franchise, it also is not the series’ worst. None of the series’ movies is really the worst per se.  Die Hard 4 was a movie ahead of its time.  It came out at a time when cyber terrorism wasn’t necessarily a worldwide problem yet.  So considering this, had Die Hard 4 and 5 switched places, audiences might have been more receptive to both movies, even with the character of Jack McClane (Jai Courtney) still being an issue.

If one goes into Die Hard 5 with an open mind and the ability to suspend one’s disbelief, then one will see just how much it got right.  That’s not to say that it was perfect.  Again, there was the lingering issue of explaining away Jack.  But the script’s writers, Skip Woods and Roderick Thorp do make a valiant attempt to explain away that plot hole.  Anyone who has watched the bonus features in the recently released 25th anniversary Blu-ray set will recall that the previous Die Hard movies were each penned from completely separate literary sources.  More than likely this movie was, too.  So taking that into account, the issue of Jack’s noted absence throughout the previous films can be forgiven.  Now, having gotten past that issue, the only real issue that perhaps got in the way of Die hard 5′s success was its rapid fire pace (no pun intended).  The story starts rather abruptly, and never really slows down.  The constant action and the twists and turns peppered throughout the story might have been enough to leave some viewers dizzied and confused.  That in turn might have been enough to justifiably leave some audiences turned off.  While it is justified, it is the only factor that can be said to be a justified negative to Die Hard 5.

Having gotten the only justified negative out of the way from this movie, one will see just how much writers Skip Wood and Roderick Thorp got right.  As fast paced and dizzying as the story is, those who go into the movie with an open mind and a desire to escape will appreciate the twists and turns peppered throughout its near two hour run time.  There are just enough twists and turns to keep audiences think they know what’s going to happen, only to go in the exact opposite direction.  And while many prematurely called the very premise of John McClane going to Russia unbelievable, let alone him facing a terrorist from the Cold War era USSR.  But again Wood and Thorp did quite the job explaining this away.  Again, a big part of being able to believe this goes back to having seen Die Hard 4.  Had Die Hard 4 and 5 switched places, this plot element might have been easier for audiences to accept.  As soon as audiences understand and accept all of what has been noted, it makes enjoyment of the movie–explosions and all–that much easier.  In turn, it makes the movie as a whole that much greater of an escape.

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Die Hard BD Set A Great Anniversary Gift For Franchise’s Fans

Courtesy:  20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Detective John McClane is coming back to theaters one more time in only a matter of days in a brand new installment in the Die Hard franchise.  In celebration of the upcoming adventure, 20th Century Fox and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment have released a somewhat new collection of McClane’s adventures.  The new Die Hard 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Collection is an excellent addition to the home library of any action film fan that doesn’t yet have the franchise’s films or the previously released eight-disc Ultimate Collection.

Die Hard fans get in the new Blu-ray Collection much of what was included in the aforementioned DVD set with a few minute changes.  Those changes show up mainly in the removal of the unrated versions of the movies that were included in the original eight-disc DVD set and a couple of bonus features from Live Free or Die Hard.  But 20th Century Fox and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment have more than made up for that with seven brand new in-depth features included in their very own disc in the set, thus keeping this set as entertaining as the previously released mega set.  Included in this new five-disc set are features that any true movie buff and Die Hard fanatic will appreciate.  It starts with the bonus feature, “Reinventing the Action Genre.”  This feature provides a glimpse into how each one of the Die Hard movies came to life.  It’s interesting to learn from this feature that the series’ first two movies actually came from two totally separate books that were adapted into Die Hard and Die Hard 2: Die Harder.  Even more interesting to learn is that the author of the book which became Die Hard originally didn’t like the idea of his book being turned into the franchise’s base.  And that book in question was actually the sequel to another book that had been turned into a movie starring Frank Sinatra.  When asked about doing a movie adaptation of that book’s sequel, Sinatra turned down the chance, and thus Die Hard was born.  There is plenty more here for audiences to enjoy; so much so that there is neither time nor space to go into it all.  That’s something that audiences will have to discover for themselves.

The very first of the set’s new bonus features alone makes for plenty of extra insight into this landmark franchise.  It includes interviews with cast and crew of each movie, as well as each movie’s writer.  From here, audiences are taken on a journey behind the scenes of the movies’ special effects, the action sequences, the fights, and even McClane’s sidekicks and so much more.  This is just one part of what makes the new Die Hard 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Collection worth the money for any true Die Hard fan.

Also making this new set just as positive as the DVD set is its packaging.  Whereas the previous set was contained in a rather large, bulky box, this set is contained much like that of 20th Century Fox’s 2010 Blu-ray release of the Alien Anthology on Blu-ray and Paramount’s recently released Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures on Blu-ray.  The set’s packaging is something of a book that is far slimmer than the previously released DVD set.  As impressive as the new set’s packaging is, it should be considered for any new box set released as part of the home release of It’s A Good Day To Die Hard later this year.  The discs are placed into sleeves of sorts, rather than regular disc “trays.”  This isn’t an entirely bad thing.  It isn’t without its concerns.  But considering that a new box set is highly likely upon the home release of the franchise’s latest installment, one can only hope that this single con will be turned into a positive in the next box set’s release.

Keeping in mind everything noted about this new Blu-ray box set, there’s no denying that it is well worth the money for any true hardcore fan of the Die Hard franchise.  It’s available now in stores now and can be ordered online direct via the 20th Century Fox store at http://www.foxconnect.com/die-hard-25th-anniversary-collection.html.

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The Expendables 2 Is A Great Escape

Courtesy: Lionsgate

The Expendables 2 is a man movie, hands down.  Yes, it’s another sequel.  But it’s more than just that.  It’s an escape.  It’s exactly what a big budget action blockbuster should be.  Just as was the case with the action movies of the 80’s to which this franchise pays homage, it’s a chance for the intended audiences to turn off their brains and get away from the real world if only for about an hour and a half.

On the surface, The Expendables 2 is just another bang-bang shoot-em-up action flick aimed at one specific audience.  But in watching the bonus feature, “Big Guns, Bigger Heroes:  The 1980’s and the Rise of the Action Film”, audiences see that it’s more than just that.  As the individuals interviewed in this feature note, the action flick of the 1980’s was exactly what audiences needed in comparison to everything going on around them.  Having come off the back end of the political upheaval of the 1970’s, the 1980’s offered its own share of changes.  So the action franchises of the 80’s (and 90’s) and their stars became more than just figures on screen.  They became these larger than life figures who lived up to the reputation of the title, “Hero.”  They were figures to whom their audiences could admire.  Audiences of the 80’s needed heroes, just as today’s audiences need them, too. 

The political and general world climate today openly necessitates the need for the movies in The Expendables franchise and their heroes.  Stallone and company shine just as brightly in this franchise as they did in the respective franchises discussed in the movie’s main bonus feature.  They are just as much the heroes today as they were in the movies discussed in this movie’s main bonus feature.  They are still those larger than life figures.  And there’s no doubt about them being heroes.  Unlike so many of today’s movies, there are no flawed, conflicted, anti-hero types.  The Expendables 2 presents Stallone and company as classic style heroes.  To add to that clarity, audiences are also presented with a cut and dry story here.  Everyone knows right off the bat who the good guys are.  And it doesn’t take long for the script to reveal Jean-Claude Van Damme as the evil psycho bad guy.  His intentions are made clear pretty quickly, too.  Considering that this movie (without credits) runs just shy of the two-hour mark, the quick establishment of the cast and story make the rest of it fast moving and fun.  It’s not meant to be taken seriously, as is evident with all the classic one-liners.  It’s just a chance for audiences to escape the stresses of the outside world for a little while just as the classic action franchises of the 80’s were meant to do.  Keeping that in mind, anyone who wants to get away from it all for a couple hours (bonus features included), then The Expendables 2 is a very good way to do just that.  It will be available next Tuesday, November 20th, just in time to beat the holiday shopping rush.  For those who want to get away from the shopping rush, it can be ordered online direct via the Lionsgate store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com.

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Forget The Franchises, Go See Moonrise Kingdom

Courtesy: American Empirical Pictures/Indian Paintbrush/Focus Features

Moonrise Kingdom is one of the most peculiar yet deepest and most heartfelt movies of 2012.  It is a niche film, meaning it isn’t for everyone.  But it is still a story worth seeing.  Moonrise Kingdom is for all essential purposes, a coming of age story.  The short and simple is that Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) are surrounded by dysfunction, and through simple correspondence, they run off together.  In the process, they learn about themselves and each other.

The coming of age story has been done and then some throughout Hollywood’s history.  But this story has completely set itself apart from all the other movies in that sub-genre.  Somehow, it managed to combine themes of love and overcoming adversity in a way that doesn’t bog down the story.  Both Suzy and Sam want love.  One has parents who don’t give her the love that she needs. The other is an orphan, so all he needs is love.  Top it all off by presenting each in a setting that’s rife with dysfunction, and it makes both Suzy and Sam very sympathetic characters.  That being the case, it makes the pair’s idealistic puppy love forgiveable.  For that matter, it actually makes the pair’s “relationship” more believeable and heartwarming, albeit a little bit seemingly dysfunctional in itself.

The story behind Moonrise Kingdom is deep and heartfelt in the long run.  It’s only one part of what makes this one of the year’s most underrated movies.  The cinematography really added to the film’s enjoyment.  There was something about the shooting style in this movie that made it stand out among the masses.  One example of that shooting style comes as Sam and Suzy are attempting to cross a stream.  The shot for this scene is somewhat grainy and imperfect.  Yet that imperfection makes it a wonderful shot.  It helps the surrounding scenery really stand out.  It’s just one of so many that any student of the film art will appreciate throughout the story.

Acting and cinematography are big parts of what make a movie great.  But another part of what makes a movie great is a soundtrack.  Far too often, movies just toss in a bunch of songs here and there that are in reality little more than background noise.  But in the case of Moonrise Kingdom, the story’s soundtrack is a whole part of the movie in itself.  In listening to the soundtrack alone, one doesn’t really catch the impact that the music has on the movie.  But in watching the movie with the soundtrack, it adds so much emotion from one scene to the next.  That even includes the addition of some classic Hank Williams, Sr. songs.  Composer Benjamin Britten’s “Heroic Weather-Conditions Of the Universe” suite is beautiful in itself.  And added to the story, it makes the scenes in which it is used that much more powerful. 

So much work went into making Moonrise Kingdom.  And it shows from every angle.  The story of what brought Sam and Suzy together makes their relationship at least somewhat understandable.  That story itself has so many layers.  Somehow, they manage to interweave without getting to be too much for the story.  The movie’s scenery, cinematography and soundtrack add layers all their own to what is already an interesting story.  Do they combine to make Moonrise Kingdom one of 2012’s best?  That’s debatable.  However, one thing can be said of Moonrise Kingdom.  And that is that at a time when movie studios are churning out nothing but prequels, sequels, and reboots, this movie has turned out to be one of the year’s most original and heartwarming (and slightly twisted) works.  Whether or not it’s among the year’s best is in the eye of the beholder.  But it is a breath of fresh air in a sea of franchises from studios that are too scared to take a chance on something original.

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