7 - Shrek

Film of the Day: Shrek

My earliest memory of a movie theater is seeing Shrek. I don’t remember much about it; but I do remember the expansive, dark room with the giant screen, and the chairs that should not be as comfortable as they are. Some films that I saw in the cinema later do stand out to me more (chiefly a showing of E.T. and Ice Age), but I am absolutely certain that Shrek was first.

While The Incredibles is one of my favorite Pixar films, and therefore one of my favorite animated films, Shrek easily gives it a run for its money. A comedic and touching adventure, Shrek is fit for viewers of all ages, with lessons that anybody can learn from. For every fart joke or belching gag it makes, Shrek offers us a view into the perspective of its titular character and his companion Donkey as they journey to rescue a princess so that Shrek can have his home to himself again. We are shown the challenges both characters face, discriminated against by everyone around them.

Later films in the series lose this unique perspective and the lessons about both society and how we treat others that came with it, and they suffer for it (among a variety of other reasons). For this reason, Shrek ranks as my favorite in the franchise – the concept is still fresh, refreshingly self-contained, the jokes funny, and the characters entertaining.

Rumor has it that a fifth Shrek film might be coming within the next several years – as I always do, I shall hope that it matches this one.

I’ll see you all on Monday!

-Voltex

6 - HarryPotter1

Film of the Day: Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone

Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone (or, depending on where you’re from, Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone) is the first installment in the worldwide sensation that is J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, brought to life on the big screen. The book remains one of my favourites of the series, and while the film does not match up to the visual quality of later films in the series, it remains one of my favourites as well.

While the films (and, to a slightly lesser degree, the books) took on a grittier, more stylistic approach to the wizarding world starting with Prisoner of AzkabanPhilosopher’s Stone is imbued with the delights that the magic taken for granted throughout the rest of the series brings. Both the book and the movie shine brightly with a mystical wonder that, while still present in the second and third entries, dies out by the time we return to Hogwarts for the fourth time. Despite its tragic beginning (where Harry’s parents are murdered) and it’s admittedly disturbing climax (should you think about it too much), Philosopher’s Stone remains a mystical, whimsy adventure where moving pictures, every flavour beans and magic chess pieces are just as important as the golden snitch or a wand.

Well… maybe not the jellybeans.

It is this carefree, delighted approach that the Philosopher’s Stone movie takes with the source material that draws me in. Even as I write this, I feel myself pulled to watch the movie once more. While later films lack staying power and cannot hope to match up, Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone is, for the moment, timeless – and as such, I shall always be ready to pick it up and watch it again.

As far as book adaptions go, it does extremely well.

See you all tomorrow!

-Voltex

5 - CaptainAmerica1

Film of the Day: Captain America: The First Avenger

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (or MCU for short) is today’s Star Wars… or, well, it would be if we weren’t also getting a brand new Star Wars film this year. Ah, well, comparisons. Not all of them are going to work.

I digress.

Although the MCU started with Iron Man back in 2008, and I should logically start from the beginning… I decided not to in this case. Partially because each of the individual series within the MCU can be counted as their own, well, series… and partially because I just really want to talk about how much I loved last year’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier as soon as possible.

While there were some very bad missteps with Iron Man 2 as Marvel was just getting used to the idea of the MCU and how exactly it would work, and much of Thor was just boring in general, Captain America: The First Avenger manages to be both an entertaining and a good film despite its flaws, and is my third favourite out of the Phase One films. Third out of six, but it counts… sort of.

This movie takes place after Captain America has completed his transition into the perfect moral person, but before he has gotten used to also being perfect physically. That said, having a hero that never really questions why they do what they do is a little boring, and due to his physical perfection (as well as the knowledge that he survives), he never truly feels in danger. Where The First Avenger succeeds over its predecessors in the MCU is its connections to the other films; objects such as the tesseract feel important to the plot rather than being thrown in just to have a connection, while a few characters a built towards surprise returns in The Winter Soldier.

Captain America: The First Avenger fails as a standalone film – but it excels as a film with a specific place within a large continuity. It’s too bad that it couldn’t excel at both like it’s sequel does.

I’ll see you all tomorrow!

-Voltex

4 - FellowshipoftheRing

Film of the Day: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

My earliest memory of this movie is from when it had just been released in theaters; my father was on the phone with someone, and I overheard him telling the person on the other end of the line that my mother had gone to see “the longest movie of all time”. It was an exaggeration, of course, but the film is very long.

I did not think much of the Lord of the Rings franchise until I received the trilogy for Christmas in 2009; at the time, I was not very interested. However, when I told my best friend about them he seemed rather interested in watching them; so, for the next three weeks, we got together each Friday to watch one of the films. And it could not have been better. It was a wonderful experience, the likes of which I have not had since, and it started with The Fellowship of the Ring.

Each member of the Fellowship feels like a real person with their own needs and desires; each one grows and changes even over the course of this first film in the trilogy. You have the Hobbits – Frodo, Samwise, Merry, and Pippin; the wizard Gandalf; the Dwarf Gimli; Legolas the Elf; and of course, Boromir and Aragorn. From the peaceful daylight of Rivendell to the eerie darkness of Moria they travel, and each step of the way is a delight to behold.

I think it’s an impressive feat that Peter Jackson managed to make Fellowship feel both like the first part of a long, epic journey while at the same time telling a story that stands on its own. The Fellowship of the Ring is among my favourite adaptions, and the trilogy to which it belongs is nothing short of legendary.

I’ll see you all tomorrow.

-Voltex

3 - UsualSuspects

Film of the Day: The Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects was actually shown to me by, of all people, my mother – someone who has never really been one to really keep in touch with film or nerd culture (outside of Star Trek), and even more rarely reveals to me gems such as this.

Pretending that she did not also introduce me to Lord of the Rings.

Regardless – the combination of this film, Reservoir Dogs and Inception has cemented an intense love for the heist film within me, and I do not believe that I could ever get enough. Crime films can always be hit-or-miss, but out of the admittedly few heist films I have seen, I have consistently enjoyed them all; each one ranks among the highest ranks of my favorite films.

The story is told from the perspective of a cripple named Verbal – one member of a group of five who attempted a heist that went horribly wrong, resulting in the deaths of the other four members of the team. He is interrogated by Dave Kujan, a member of the U.S. Customs; together, they unravel the story of how the team was gathered together by the mythical crime lord known as “Keyser Soze”, attempting to pin down the crime lord’s identity in the process.

And that’s all that I feel I can really say about this movie; I don’t want to risk ruining it, as perfectly constructed as it is. Go watch it now – I promise that you’ll enjoy it. Probably.

Until tomorrow.

-Voltex

2-Incredibles

Film of the Day: The Incredibles

The Incredibles did the whole “superhero team up” thing before The Avengers made it cool… on film, at least. Back when Pixar was knocking out hit after hit with new ideas, this movie might not have necessarily had as much of an emotional impact or Finding Nemo, or been as flashy as Cars, but in my opinion, it remains among their best. Taking place in a world where superheros were once a common part of everyday life, by the time we meet the cast the supers have met hard times. The public are unhappy with them and the supers have been forced into hiding; the few that manage to remain active do so as nameless vigilantes.

The heartwarming family dynamic at work throughout the film is very real; and dynamic it is, as the characters all grow and change as the film progresses. The conspiracy that they unravel is at once fascinating and tragic; I think it speaks volumes of the cast and crew of this film that they are able to make the off-screen deaths of characters we never even meet poignant.

Everything in this movie is interlocked and connected with everything else; every scene contains a piece of the puzzle that is slowly completed, and it makes for both an exciting climax and a satisfying ending. Plus, I’ve always been a fan of the pseudo-cliffhanger at the end, pointing towards even bigger and flashier adventures than the one we just saw awaiting the heroes; that said, whatever they do with The Incredibles 2, I hope it can truly match the quality of this one.

The Incredibles, depending on the day, can rank as anywhere from my favorite to just barely rounding out the top three of my favorite Pixar films. It still holds onto the old Pixar magic and it gave us one of the best superhero movies every before superhero movies had started to stake control of the box office – and honestly, I think it might have been better for it.

I’ll see you all on Monday.

-Voltex

1- Matrix

Film of the Day: The Matrix

The Matrix is easily one of my favourite films – within the top five, even. It is in my eyes the perfect action film; a fantastic dystopia. Coming right at the end of the 20th century, this film hit every point with perfect precision. Morpheus is at once alluring and dangerous; Agent Smith, as with all of the best villains in cinema, is both terrifying and addicting.

If I could, I would highlight a single moment, phrase or scene that might define how fantastic this movie is; but to do so would be to do The Matrix a great disservice. Every single frame of this film is valuable; every single breath that the characters take, whether inside the simulated reality or outside of it, feels real. Every note of the soundtrack serves to enhance the atmosphere, and the underlying conspiracy running throughout the film hints at this merely being a piece of a far larger, more sinister game.

This film is one of those that I consider to be as close to perfection as any filmmaker can ever hope to achieve. While the name might have been tarnished by sequels that were far lesser, that could never match up, nothing will ever change the fact that this film is a masterpiece of cinematic work that everyone must see.

If you have not seen it, I suggest you find yourself a copy immediately. And if you have seen it, I suggest you watch it again as soon as possible – because The Matrix is always worth the visit.

A quick note to end this one off; obviously, The Matrix is one of my favourite films. It is for that reason that I chose it as the highlight of this first “Film of the Day” post. This blog shall be uploaded every weekday highlighting a new film, whether it is new or old; the only requirement is that I must enjoy it… or it must be particularly terrible.

So with that in mind, I hope you’ll all check back in tomorrow! I’ll see you then.

-Voltex