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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Posts by Zoe Chevat

Review

Love Eternal for the Only Lovers Left Alive

As regular readers are no doubt aware, I tend not to fangirl about things. Sure, I get excited about the odd property and its conversion into piles of cold hard Hollywood cash, but I’m generally not one for jumping up and down and squealing in delight. Nothing against it; it’s just not my style. But imagine my surprise and elation when I first heard about Only Lovers Left Alive, a new Jim Jarmusch art-house ditty about nothing other than a sophisticated set of vampires, starring a host of my favorite contemporary actors, top billed by Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston. Words could not express my anticipation. For months I nibbled on teaser posters and the occasional leaked GIF, judiciously avoiding the trailer until I just couldn’t take it anymore and caved.

I was not disappointed.

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Review

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Delivers Big Ideas, Bigger Explosions

Whether punching out Hitler or hanging up his shield, Captain America has always been a barometer for America’s political atmosphere, a reliable gauge for what’s on the minds of the nation. In his latest adventure, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, he is again, standing as a voice of reason in a high-octane action drama that concerns itself with the all-too-pertinent debate of freedom versus security. Those who found the first Cap adventure distasteful in its hamminess will be pleased to know that CA:TWS contains nothing of the kind, being a grim-faced thrill ride with no time to talk and no room for cheese. The jokes in Winter Soldier are spare and barely land, a testament to the film’s hard edge. But, unlike some of its dark-and-gritty peers in the superhero genre, a touch of darkness serves this sequel well, working for its covert ops setting instead of against it.

Is the price of knowing SPOILERS a price you’re willing to pay?

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Review

It’s A Rotten World, After All: On Divergent and YA Dystopias

A young woman, small and troubled, faces off against a totalitarian dystopia bent on control of the remaining world after the disaster of total war. It may sound achingly familiar, but we haven’t quite been here before. Divergent, based on the popular book series by Veronica Roth, follows the story of Beatrice-turned-Tris (Shailene Woodley), a young woman existing in a world divided by Factions, castes based on different human temperaments rigidly upheld to preserve an everlasting peace. When an aptitude test fails to assign Tris a Faction, even the one her family comes from, Abnegation, she is told she is Divergent, a secret she must keep or lose her life. Choosing to enter the warrior class, Dauntless, instead of remaining with her family, Tris is subjected to a rigorous series of training tests both mental and physical to determine if she is allowed to stay in her chosen Faction or to be cast out as one of the homeless Factionless. But trouble is brewing between the governing Abnegation Faction and the coldly intelligent Erudites , and soon Tris, and those close to her, are drawn into a conflict bigger than themselves.

I have not read Divergent or any of its accompanying sequels, and so entered the theater with fresh eyes, if a skeptical heart. What I found was a troubled film, one held up on weak foundations, and with a poor finishing job to match its underlying structure. No amount of beautiful CG landscaping can hide the flaws in Divergent’s grand design. Here we’ve got a knotty premise coupled with issues of casting, clarity, and what I assume is interpretation of original material. Though the film tries to make something out of what it has to work with, the results are, ultimately, unsatisfying, and speak to the larger picture of its particular genre.

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Review

This! Isn’t! Sparta!: On 300:Rise of an Empire

Do we make movies a certain way because we think it’s what an audience wants to see? Is it right to choose your audience before your film is released, and damn whoever else dares to watch it? These questions were the ones causing the headache that followed my viewing of 300: Rise of an Empire. A sea of machismo and crimson gushing, 300:Rise of an Empire is a high-camp successor to the much lauded 300, the highly fictionalized tale of the three hundred Spartan warriors who stood their ground against an insurmountable force at the Hot Gates. (Still not as good as the Samurai Jack episode featuring the Spartan 300, the bar by which all representations of the Battle of Thermopylae should be judged, robot minotaurs and all.) More of a straightforward war story, 300:RoaE lacks the degree of self-importance its predecessor had. Yet for all its bombast and innovative gore, 300:RoaE is a picture that has no problem excluding part of its potential viewership. It may know exactly what it is, but it never tries to move one inch beyond the expected.

Bloody, messy spoilers beyond the cut.

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Interview

The Mary Sue Interviews Kate Leth, Writer Of Boom’s Adventure Time Vol. 3: Seeing Red

Kate Leth has become one busy woman. Not only has she stepped into the publishing sphere with work for Adventure Time and other Boom! Studios properties, she’s also been producing a set of her popular comic series Kate or Die for ComicsAlliance. That’s not all;  there’s the collaboration with high-profile podcast Welcome to Night Vale and the founding of an international group of female comic-shop workers, appropriately named The Valkyries. But given the success of the charming, highly personal, and indisputably cool Kate or Die, it’s no wonder she’s involved in so many upcoming projects. Now she’s stepped into the role of graphic novel writer and teamed up with artist Zach Sterling to produce a full-blown Adventure Time story all about everyone’s favorite rock n’ roll vampire queen, Marceline, for Boom! Studios. We had a chance to talk with her about the upcoming graphic novel, how she has no time for “hateful garbage,” and more. 

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Review

Review: Before the Storm of War, A Gentle Wind Rises

Hayao Miyazaki’s last film, The Wind Rises, kicks off with a very literal dream of flight. Our hero, the loosely biographied Dr. Jiro Horikoshi, is here a near-sighted, bright teenager who, unable to become a pilot, longs to become an aeronautic engineer. He dreams he is flying a fantasy craft with bird-like wings and a whooshing hydraulic engine, soaring above the farmlands where he has grown up, and waving to townsfolk below.

But his beautiful dream is interrupted by the appearance of a nightmarish ship emblazoned with the Iron Cross, carrying a payload of animal-shaped bombs. This vision, which startles Jiro awake, is a symbol of a world and a life to come, one balanced between incredible feats of ingenuity, and the maladies wrought by history. The Wind Rises shares this polarity. A frequently moving, absolutely stunning piece of animated work, The Wind Rises showcases many of Miyazaki’s visual obsessions, as well as themes that echo throughout his oeuvre. It also contains within its mesmerizing shell a number of questions on the morality of war and technology that, in spit of the great buildup regarding them, remain unanswered.

Mild spoilers beyond the cut.

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Review

Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at her

Falling in love, as the movies are wont to tell us, is difficult enough. Muddy the waters by including an artificial intelligence in your equation, and you’re sure to come upon catastrophe. Or so you’d think. An original movie with an unoriginal premise, her is the story of a man and his machine, and the tangled web of questioning sentience, codependence, and love they weave together. Based on nothing so much as the entire trope of the Magical Girlfriend, her works harder than just about anything I’ve seen to circumvent the problems inherent in its own premise, and it doesn’t quite get there. Sure, Weird Science this ain’t, but her never quite reaches the heights of class that it aspires to. The result is a film that can be deeply troubling, but not for the reasons it intends.

Do not consult your OS. There are SPOILERS within.

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Essay

Wish She Could Be Part of Your World: On Tauriel-hate and Original Material

It’s a poorly-kept secret that we here at TMS are firmly on the side of Tauriel, the original female elf character in The Hobbit franchise whose mere existence created waves of discussion across the Internet. But some do not share in our enthusiasm. In fact, if you took a look around the fan ‘net in the months preceding The Desolation of Smaug’s release, there has been a distinctly anti-Tauriel sentiment in the air. Hiding behind a desire to preserve the sanctity of the source material, many commentators objected to her addition on purist grounds. Other became concerned about her rumored involvement in a love subplot with Legolas and/or Kíli, further indicated by a secondary trailer for the feature in which King Thranduil appears to caution her against pursuing relations with his son. But now we have surer footing from which to look at Tauriel, warrior, love interest, healer, and forum discussion whipping-girl. The actual film containing her appearance has emerged, and with it, a host of questions, concerns, and a fair bit of mud that this reviewer is willing to sling back.

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Review

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Burns Hotter Than Its Predecessor

The consequences of war are far-reaching and come fast in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the sequel to box office juggernaut The Hunger Games. Based on Suzanne Collins’ bestselling novels about a teenage girl’s fight against an oppressive, sadistic government, the thrilling Catching Fire brings out strong themes of inequality, the politics of fear, and the psychological impact of battle on people of all ages. Fully engrossing, and far stronger than its forerunner, Catching Fire keeps the sense of suspense throughout with a few dips, and backs up its plot content with plenty of action to hold audience interest. The two-hour-and-fifteen-minute run time hardly feels like it, when you’re swept away by the despotic world of Francis Lawrence’s Panem.

Do not volunteer. There are SPOILERS behind the cut.

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Review

Lightning, Thunderclouds, Thor 2

These are dark times. Dark and gritty times. Or so it would seem from our choices at the box office, where trends kicked up (but hardly established) by the Nolanverse Batman films continue to cloud every superhero franchise for miles around. This is a land where wonderment is traded for plot expedience, story pacing replaced by gorgeous, if rampant, CGI. Thor: The Dark World is no exception, being as dark as its title suggests. Fun to watch, but ultimately only slightly more substantial than its predecessor, T:TDW suffers from being the middle chapter of its series, if not a smaller piece in the giant puzzle that is the MCU. Its visual clout may be mighty, but its story lacks punch.

Engage at your peril, for through this ethereal portal lie SPOILERS.

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