We hope you have enjoyed Christmas here on the Shattered Lens! Today is not only Christmas but it’s also the 7-year anniversary of the founding of this website! Thank you to everyone who has every read a post, left a comment, or decided to subscribe! As much fun as it is for us to share our opinions, it’s the readers who make all of this worthwhile!
We know that 2016 has been a difficult year for many of you. It’s been a difficult year for some members our own family as well. However, 2016 is nearly over. And we’re going to do everything we can to make 2017 a good one for everyone!
With all that in mind, thank you for reading and we hope you’ll continue to read in the future!
Y’all are the best!
And now, as Christmas ends, here’s one final gift to you. Here’s a video of a Jedi kitten, courtesy of Zach King, aka FinalCutKing. Zach may not have won the Amazing Race but he certainly knows how to make adorable kittens do amazing things!
Here one final holiday scene that I love. I present to you the ending of the greatest psycho Santa movie ever made, 1980’s Christmas Evil! Needless to say, if you haven’t seen Christmas Evil, the scene below counts as a spoiler.
If you have seen Christmas Evil then you know that, even though it’s about a possibly psychotic gentleman who thinks that he’s Santa Claus, it’s also a surprisingly sweet-natured and sincere little Christmas horror film.
And the ending, to me, is simply holiday perfection. Even the grindhouse can occasionally can get in the Christmas spirit!
For the past week, we’ve been sharing some of our favorite holiday scenes! Myself, I shared two scenes from It’s A Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. However, I just recently realized that we hadn’t shared any scenes from a film that has, particularly in this year, emerged as a holiday favorite!
So, without further ado, enjoy this scene from Die Hard!
It came out in February of this year and it was kind of a big deal for a week. I think everyone was expecting it to be a big hit, just because there’s never much competition in February. Race is a biopic of Jesse Owens, the African-American runner who sets world records and won gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, defeating a legion of Aryan athletes while Adolf Hitler watched from the stands. Not only is that a compelling story but 2016 was also an Olympic year. Eddie The Eagle had already been a success due to the Olympic connection. Add to that, Focus Features promoted the Hell out of this film. In they weeks leading up to its release, I saw commercials for it on a nearly hourly basis. The reviews, when the came, were mixed but generally positive.
I’m not really sure how Race did at the box office. According to Wikipedia, on its opening weekend, it was sixth at the box office. Apparently, the film only had a budget of five million and ultimately made a profit of $20,000,0000. I guess that would make it a success. All I know is that it seems like, for all the hype, Race just kind of came and went.
In fact, I didn’t see Race until about two months ago. It’s one of those films that’s not really great but it’s certainly not bad. It’s pretty much the epitome of being adequate. It was well-made and generally well-acted. Director Stephen Hopkins occasionally struggled to maintain a consistent pace (Race is over 2 hours long and feels longer) but he still did a good job filming the scenes of Owens of running and competing. In the role of Jesse Owens, Stephan James was well-cast. You not only believed him in the dramatic scenes but he was also believable as a record-setting athlete. He had some great scenes with Jason Sudekis, who was surprisingly believable in the role of Jesse’s coach.
With all that in mind, why didn’t Race make more of an impression? I think that, too often, Hopkins allowed the film’s focus to wander away from Jesse and the inner conflict he felt as he won medals for a country where he was treated like a second-class citizen. There were too many random scenes of Jeremy Irons and William Hurt, playing Olympic officials and debating whether or not to boycott Hitler’s Olympics. During the second half of the film, Leni Riefenstahl (Carice van Houten) showed up and we got a few scenes of her trying to film Jesse’s triumph at the Olympics despite the interference of Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbles (Barnaby Metschurat). All of these extra scenes are supposed to set Jesse’s struggle in a historic context but they’re unnecessary and distracting. All the context that the film needs can be found in the fact that Jesse was a black man living in America in the 1930s.
For the most part, Race is uneven but occasionally the film delivers a powerful scene or two. One of the most powerful parts of the film comes when Jesse, after setting world records and being proclaimed as a hero across the world, is informed that he still can’t enter a New York club through the front door. As well, the scenes depicting Jesse’s friendship with German jump Luz Long (David Kross) are poignant. In fact, they’re so poignant that I initially assumed that they were fictionalized for the film but actually, Jesse and Luz Long did become good friends during the 1936 Olympics.
Race is uneven but it’s not bad. Stephan James gives a good performance as Jesse and, if nothing else, the film provides a worthy history lesson.
The 5th Wave, which came out in January of this year (and that really should be all you need to hear), is the epitome of a “Who cares?” type of film.
It’s another YA adaptation, taking place in a dystopian future and featuring way too many characters for its own good. Aliens have invaded the Earth and they’ve attacked in 4 waves. There was the 1st wave, which destroyed all of the electricity. There was the 2nd wave which involved a lot of earthquakes and natural disasters. I imagine California fell off the mainland during the 2nd wave. The 3rd wave involved bird flu. The 3rd wave is important because it killed the mother of our protagonist, teenager Cassie Sullivan (Chloe Grace Moretz). You can’t be a YA protagonist unless you have at least one dead parents. That’s the rules of the genre.
The 5th Wave deals with the … well, the fifth wave. As far as I can tell, the 5th Wave involves turning every human left into a stock character from a YA dystopian novel. Basically, if you’ve sat through Divergent or The Maze Runner or The Giver or countless other YA adaptations, you already know who everyone is in The 5th Wave. Cassie is our heroine, which means that she spends a lot of time wandering around in the forest, killing potential threats, and thinking about how different things were back in high school.
And that’s really all she does.
See, The 5th Wave last nearly two hours and not a damn thing happens in the entire film. That’s because the 5th Wave is all about setting up a sequel. We meet a lot of characters. We get a lot of backstory. Imagine if The Walking Dead did a half-season with 6 shows straight of people talking about doing things but never actually doing any of it. (Oh, wait, they did just do that…) That’s pretty much what sitting through The 5th Wave was like. We learn that there are aliens disguised as humans. We learns that what’s left of the government cannot be trusted and I was totally happy with that plot development because seriously, the government sucks. As we watch Moretz, Ron Livington, Liev Schriber, and Maria Bello struggle to make some of the most cliched dialogue ever sound compelling, we learn that being a talented actor doesn’t mean that you always get to appear in interesting films.
Things drag on and then they end. Why do they end? Because that’s the way YA adaptations works. Nothing can be resolved in just one movie. Instead, everything’s about setting things up for the next installment. At the very least, all YA films have to be a part of a trilogy. And the third part of the trilogy always requires at least two parts to tell the entire story. That’s just the way things works.
And really, I thought that Divergent was the most soulless YA adaptation that I had ever seen. But the 5th Wave makes a strong case that perhaps it deserves the title.
I guess we could wait to see what happens when part two comes out but seriously, who cares?
I’ve been so busy from the holidays that I forgot to share the trailer for next year’s The Lost City of Z. Based on a historical novel, The Lost City of Z features Charlies Hunman as explorer Percy Fawcett and follows him as he and his son (Tom Holland) and an assistant (Robert Pattinson) obsessively search for a missing civilization.
The Lost City of Z was directed by James Gray, who is one of those directors who has always been more popular with critics than audiences. It seems like every year we’re told that Gray’s latest film will be an Oscar contender. Remember The Immigrant? How about We Own The Night? Both of these films were promoted as being surefire Oscar contenders, both of them flopped at the box office, and both of them are now kind of forgotten. Will that happen with The Lost City of Z?
Well, The Lost City of Z is one of those things that sounds like it should be a surefire Oscar contender (and it got very positive reviews when it premiered at the New York Film Festival) but it’s being released in April. Traditionally, it’s thought that films released that early in the year will be forgotten by Oscar time. However, both The Grand Budapest Hotel and Mad Max: Fury Road were released early in the year and both managed to do quite well when the Oscar nominations were announced.
I was doing a search on YouTube for Christmas specials, Christmas songs, and Christmas scenes when I came across The Dean Martin Christmas Show, which originally aired on December 21st, 1967. It’s a Christmas show starring Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and their respective families. Sure, some of the jokes may be corny but c’mon — it’s Frank and Dino!
Now, the video is occasionally a little rough. I assume that this was copied from a VHS tape. But no matter! Not only does this special serve as a time capsule but it also serves as a valuable reminder that Christmas is even better when it features a little Rat Pack swagger!