Iron Man

The kids are finally old enough for “cool movies,” and as they are pretty into superheroes right now, I thought we would start with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  First up is 2008’s Iron Man.

Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark and this film plots how he decided to become Iron Man, first out of necessity to escape a kidnapping and then to stop his company’s weapons from spreading into enemy hands.  I remember seeing this movie in the theatre when it came out and not knowing anything about Iron Man and loving it.  Robert Downey Jr. is so charismatic and brings so much fun to the character.  I really like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts, Stark’s assistant and maybe love interest.  They have great chemistry and witty banter.

The action is exciting and even though as an adult I know that the superhero generally wins, the kids were legitimately worried that Iron Man would not prevail during the final fight.  They were engaged throughout the whole thing and it was a great choice for family movie night.

La La Land

We finally got around to seeing La La Land and I love this movie!  Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are two people trying to make it in Los Angeles, as a jazz musician and actress respectively.  It is an original musical and the music is fantastic.  The scenes are whimsical  and the colors throughout the movie are stunning.

Emma Stone especially is really expressive and steals the movie.  I really liked her various audition scenes, most of which are hysterical.  I generally enjoy musicals anyway, so the fact that this movie is so well received is a win and hopefully there will be more to come.

Agent of Chaos

I read the new X-Files Origins novel, Agent of Chaos.  This was my favorite show when it was on, so I am admittedly a sucker for anything related to this show.  This book is about a seventeen year-old Fox Mulder in the late 1970s and his two friends as they attempt to solve the mystery of missing children in their town.

It was a quick read and the mystery isn’t anything mind-blowing, but I love the character so much that I didn’t mind another adventure starring him.  There is a companion book about a teenage Dana Scully that I am starting next, so I will be sure and compare the two in my next review.

The Nix

I recently finished The Nix, by Nathan Hill.  I had a hard time putting this one down, even though it was pretty long at 628 pages.  I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to each of the characters.

The book primarily follows Samuel, a low level professor who finds out his estranged mother is at the center of a national scandal after she throws rocks at a conservative politician.  Samuel gets pulled in to researching his mother’s history and why she abandoned him, as well as his past and various friendships.  The book bounces back between time periods and character perspectives and never becomes slow.

This is Nathan Hill’s first book and I would definitely check out his next one too.

The Girl on the Train

We watched The Girl on the Train the other night.  I had read the book and had enjoyed it (not as much as Gone Girl, which it is often compared to) and thought Emily Blunt was an interesting choice for the main character of Rachel.

Rachel is an alcoholic who is spiraling out of control after a divorce, loss of job and begins to watch her former husband, his new wife and family as their attractive neighbors everyday from a train.  One day the neighbor disappears and Rachel must try to put together things she has seen to figure out what happened to her.

The movie is not uplifting and pretty much all of the characters are horrible people.  Emily Blunt’s acting is quite good and she really had to go there playing someone who is so clearly a depressed alcoholic.  The twist at the end is not as satisfying as Gone Girl and ultimately, the book is probably a little better.

Kubo and the Two Strings

For family movie night, we watched Kubo and the Two Strings, an animated movie from last year that the kids have been wanting to see.  It takes place in Japan as a young boy, Kubo, goes on an adventure to find three pieces of armor from his deceased father.  He must face off with his evil grandfather and aunts and learn the true story behind his parents.

The movie is gorgeous and the animation takes Kubo to many beautiful places- the snow, the sea, and the mountains.  The Japanese music he plays on his magical instrument goes perfectly with each scene and enhances the moment.  The kids were appropriately scared at certain parts (there were even a few tears), but the happy ending made everything better.  While the voice actors are clearly American, it was nice to introduce the kids to an Eastern type of animation and story-telling and all of us really enjoyed it.

Airplane Movies

Another set of airplane rides, more movies!  The only good thing about having your flight be delayed for hours (while you are already on the airplane and on the tarmac) are the free movies.  I saw five, if that tells you anything.

Two I had already seen but needed some comfort viewing after the ordeal – Pretty Woman (always a good pick) and Groundhog Day (also good, but I did doze during the middle).

Of the new ones, I first watched Star Trek Beyond.  I had enjoyed the first reboot, and half watched the second film.  This one was tolerable, but I didn’t really care about any of the characters enough to connect with them and care about what happened too much.  Some of the set pieces and action are amazing and it was an okay way to pass some of the time.

Next, I watched Ex Machina.  I had really wanted to see this one, but my husband said he had no interest in a “robot movie.”  I am still thinking about this one.  The story follows a young tech employee, Caleb, who is chosen for a retreat with the mysterious CEO, Nathan, in a remote house.  When Caleb arrives, he learns he is to help test a new product, an AI robot and determine if it can pass as having consciousness.  Caleb, meets with Ava, and finds that not only does she pass all of the tests, but he finds himself becoming more and more attracted to her.  SPOILERS AHEAD – Caleb and Ava plot to help her escape and the climax of the movie ends with Ava killing Nathan and locking Caleb in the house as she leaves, trapping him to die as well.  Crazy stuff, but so good.  Like I said, I am still thinking about that ending.

On the flight home, I watched Love and Friendship, based on a Jane Austen novella and starring Kate Beckinsale.  I am a sucker for anything Jane Austen and while the story isn’t quite as good as her more well-known works, the movie was clever and extremely enjoyable.  Beckinsale plays Lady Susan, a widow and mother who schemes and plots throughout the movie for both herself and for her daughter.  The side characters are great as well, especially Sir James who is completely clueless in all aspects of life.  It was a good fix for Jane Austen fans.