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‘The Twilight Saga: Eclipse’ Review

3 Jul

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner

Director: David Slade

Three movies.  Three directors.  Three monstrous collaborations between Summit Entertainment and author extraordinaire, Stephenie MeyerThe Twilight Saga: Eclipse is the latest chapter in the tortured love story of a young woman and her vampire soul mate.

The third film picks up shortly after the previous film, New Moon, ended.  Bella (Kristen Stewart) has been reunited with Edward (Robert Pattinson) and they are basking in their young love and planning for a life in which they will never again be separated.  Bella is still struggling with the fact that in order to live a life with Edward she had to hurt her best friend, Jacob (Taylor Lautner).

The opening shots of the film are not of Bella or her voice, which had been the case for the previous two films, but of new character Riley (Xavier Samuel).  The beginning sequence provides the viewer with the necessary back story on Riley, who is one of the main villains in this latest Twilight tale.  It details his transformation from human to immortal, which will continue to play out as the film unfolds.

Bella and Edward are enjoying their freedoms and taking advantage of their time together.  Edward reminds Bella that his parents gave her plane tickets for her last birthday to visit her mother and that they are about to expire.  The couple travel to Florida where Bella has a chance to bond with her mother.  It isn’t lost on her that this could be one of the final moments she ever spends with her as a living, breathing human. 

When the two return home to Forks, Bella has a run-in with Jacob.  He meets her at her school to warn her that Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) has been around and that she should be on her guard.  Bella is stunned by this news, because she knows that Edward was fully aware that danger was near and kept it from her.  Putting aside her feelings toward Edward, Bella begins in on Jacob and his lack of communication in their friendship.  Determined to right her wrongs, she leaves with him in hopes of repairing their damaged relationship.

Edward and his family begin a training regime led by Jasper (Jackson Rathbone), in hopes of preparing everyone for Victoria.  On top of her awaited arrival, the Cullens are preparing for something even worse.  They learn that someone other than Victoria has been in Bella’s home and worry that either the Volturi or another vampire clan is on their way to start a battle.

While training and anticipating a potential war, Bella and Edward use some of their alone time to solidify their bond to one another.  Edward asks Bella to marry him and she agrees, but in return he must be the one who changes her to vampire after graduating from high school.  She also decides that she wants to experience one more thing before losing her human life and that is to be intimate with Edward.  He is against even the mere idea of it, because he knows it would be too dangerous.  After a lengthy conversation, he agrees to try, but only after saying “I do.”

The Cullens and the wolf pack come together to battle Victoria and the other vampires.  Edward and Jacob work as one to protect Bella by bringing her to the top of a mountain, away from the upcoming action.  The men have a heated, but personal, conversation of their own as they try to see what it must be like for the other when they both love the same woman.  Bella finds herself in a position she would have been happy to ignore as Jacob learns her secret and threatens to act foolishly in the vampire war.

The triangle comes to a head as Bella gives in for a brief moment to her feelings for Jacob, only to realize that she’s already made her decision.  The battle begins with Victoria on a path of destruction; she only has eyes for Bella and her undoing.  While the Cullens and pack tackle the vampire army, Edward is in the line of fire and will do everything he can to protect the love of his life.

I liked the story, the action and the romance of this film.  I thought the film was more belivable than the last two and it definitely was action packed.  I know that the books are incredibly lengthy, but I felt like screenwriter, Melissa Rosenberg, crammed way to much of the book into the first quarter of the picture.  All of the high school stuff seemed pushed in and wasn’t developed very well. 

Director David Slade definitely put his stamp on this film and I think he did a superb job.  He turned a film that had the potential to just follow suit into a quasi-realistic, action-packed, fast paced vampire love story.  My only complaint is the decision for the close-up camera shots.  When I can see up a character’s nose, on more than one occasion, I think it might be time to zoom out a bit.  I can understand the need for close-ups on certain scenes or shots, but way too many of the Bella/Edward moments were uncomfortable because of the camera proximity.

I had hoped for a bit more in the bedroom scene, where the full proposal takes place.  More explanation as to why Bella wanted to experience intimacy with Edward before becoming immortal would have been entertaining.  The tent scene wasn’t bad, but again, I wanted more emotion.  That is probably my biggest complaint of this film is the way the emotion played out.  When Bella is on the verge of admitting her feelings to Jacob, I wanted tears or something to show what she was feeling.  Stewart has acting chops, so it would have been nice to pull them out then.

Unfortunately, I felt that Jacob was extremely unlikable in this film.  I know he was the third wheel through most of the film and story, but there wasn’t much rooting value for him even as a character.  I thought Pattinson’s acting improved tremendously in this film and am excited to see what he does in the final two films.  There wasn’t much wolf pack in this film either and I definitely felt that void.  The character of Charlie (Billy Burke) is always a bright spot in these films and his birds and the bees talk with Bella was classic.

I really liked the original Twilight and didn’t care much for New Moon.  I can say that I was happy with the directon of this film and think that Slade is probably a big reason for that.  Getting back to some of the romantic aspects of this story was integral in this film in order to build toward the climax of the final two films.  Hopefully with the book being broken down into two films, it will allow an opportunity to hit on more moments from the book and leave fans with a smile on their face.

 

 

‘She’s Out of My League’ Review

23 Jun

She’s Out of My League

Starring: Jay Baruchel, Alice Eve, T.J. Miller

Director: Jim Field Smith

After watching a plethora of romantic comedies that try to entertain and fail, it was a great experience to watch a movie that probably would’ve bombed, but had the right mix of heart and humor to be a mild success.  She’s Out of My League took a group of lesser known actors and made it work with original storytelling and raunchy laughs.

Kirk (Jay Baruchel) is an average guy who works at an airport as a member of the TSA with three of his friends.  He wants to get back together with his ex, Marnie (Lindsay Sloane), but she is already dating someone and wants no part of a reunion.  Feeling down about his life, Kirk happens to be in the right place at the right time when Molly (Alice Eve) comes through security at the airport.  He gets her away from a fellow co-worker who is saying inappropriate things to her and when she accidentally leaves her cell phone behind, he finds it and sets up a meeting to get it back to her.

Along with a friend, Kirk meets Molly at a party and returns the phone.  She then offers him tickets to a hockey game as a thank you.  When he goes to the game with his friend, Stainer (T.J. Miller), he is surprised to see that Molly and a friend are also there.  Later in the night, Kirk finds out that Molly intended the evening to be a double date.

Kirk and Molly continue hanging out and start to develop an oddly cute relationship.  Kirk’s friends have a problem with his new-found situation though because they feel that the numerical ranking system of the two is out of whack.  They say that Molly is a “hard 10” and Kirk is only a “5.”  They go through a variety of reasons as to why the couple is all wrong for each other and their opinions start messing with Kirk’s head.

Even with the mocking from his friends, Kirk invites Molly to spend time with his absurd family who make fun of him and treat him with no respect.  He even goes as far as to groom himself in preparation for a night alone with his new companion.  The relationship hits a bump when Molly’s ex, Cam (Geoff Stults), tries to squeeze his way back into her life.  Just when Kirk and Molly are about to take their relationship to the next level, an argument threatens to separate the two and Kirk starts to think that maybe his friends weren’t so wrong.

I found this film to be very endearing.  Sure, there are many raunchy moments, but the concept of a nobody winning the heart of every man’s fantasy is kind of exciting.  I think the reason for the heart of this film is Baruchel.  Yes he is awkward and isn’t exactly leading man material in the traditional sense, but he is likable and enjoyable to watch.  He’s had bit parts in a couple of Judd Apatow films (Knocked Up) and was even a leading man in the little seen I’m Reed Fish.  Baruchel is having a great year with this film, How to Train Your Dragon and the upcoming The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

The supporting cast of this film was different and they were definitely the comic relief.  I thought the casting was pretty great though.  His family was made up of Debra Jo Rupp (Mom) and Kyle Bornheimer (Dylan-brother).  His friends were represented by Miller, Mike Vogel (Jack) and Nate Torrence (Devon).  While watching the guys together, it was a little reminiscent of a young Vince Vaughn crew or even another version of the Seth Rogen crew.

I thought the story was just different enough to separate it from others of its kind.  The settings were different (airport, basement, hockey game) and it brought a feeling of originality to it.  So many films use similar settings that you feel like you’ve already watched a film that you’re seeing for the first time.  Eve was pleasant to watch; I can’t say that I’d jump to see her in something else, but she had surprising chemistry with Baruchel.

This film definitely has the potential to do great on DVD; it has that appealing feel of an American Pie film with a Judd Apatow twist to it.   There are definitely laugh out loud moments and it’s just a good buddy comedy with some romance thrown in.

 

‘When in Rome’ Review

22 Jun

When in Rome

Starring: Kristen Bell, Josh Duhamel, Will Arnett

Director: Mark Steven Johnson

Sometimes I wonder what it is exactly that gets a film made and released.  Is it the actor attached to the vehicle or is it the genre of vehicle that is the deciding factor?  When in Rome happens to be one of those movies that probably should’ve gone to where screenplays go to die.

Beth (Kristen Bell) is a dedicated art curator who has always put her career before her relationships.  After learning that her younger sister, Joan (Alexis Dziena), is getting married after having only known her soon-to-be husband for a couple of weeks, Beth begins to question her own love life. 

She reluctantly takes a few days off work to fly to Rome to attend her sister’s wedding.  At the wedding she meets Nick (Josh Duhamel), an attractive man who seems to show some interest in her after she struggles to complete the maid of honor task of breaking a vase that will signify how many years of happiness the couple will have based upon the broken pieces.  Just as she starts to let her guard down, she sees Nick kiss another woman.

Frustrated and kicking herself for being vulnerable, Beth begins drinking and wanders out to the lover’s fountain outside of the wedding.  Cursing the love goddess, Beth picks up five of the coins that others have thrown in as they wished for love.  By picking up the coins, Beth has changed the superstition of the fountain.  The men who threw the coins that she picked up have a vision of her and believe that she is the one they are destined to be with.

After returning from the wedding, Beth comes into contact with four men who have very specific ways of trying to gain her attention and affection.  Al (Danny DeVito) tries to woo her with sausage, Antonio (Will Arnett) wants to see and paint her feet, Lance (Jon Heder) wants to show her his magic skills and Gale (Dax Shepard) wants to look beautiful with her.  They are determined to make Beth love them, unaware that their feelings are more of a curse than real emotion.

While getting back to her normal work routine, Beth receives a call from Nick asking her out.  Their courting is awkward and full of mishaps.  Beth is under the assumption that the fifth coin she took from the fountain belongs to Nick and abruptly ends their relationship.  Following the break up, Beth is determined to return the coins and break the hex that has been put upon her.

I want to say that the basic idea for this story isn’t horrible.  I think the follow through and story development were the real problems.  Bell is a very likable actress, but surrounding her with a list of oddball characters that aren’t developed doesn’t help her chances at having a successful starring vehicle.  All of the characters apart from Bell’s are one-note; they have zero back story and there are no reasons to care about them. 

I actually like Duhamel as an actor; I think he has a charming nature to him, but films like this will not advance his career.  The four suitors are funny actors and have done some great work, but this film was a complete waste of their talents.  The one thing I found amusing in the film was the brief cameo of Heder’s co-star in Napoleon Dynamite, Pedro (Efren Ramirez).  He was in a brief scene with Heder and it was a nod to fans of the film.

The ending credits were so awful.  A song and dance number by the cast was not the best way to end an already terrible film.  I felt sorry and a little embarrassed for the actors who had to take part in the ending.  I’m all for a good romantic comedy, but the romance has to be real – which it wasn’t – and it has to be funny – which it wasn’t.  Rom-com’s don’t need to break the mold, just tell a good story with likable characters.

‘Alice in Wonderland’ Review

12 Jun

Alice in Wonderland

Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway

Director: Tim Burton

Forget about the Alice you knew and loved growing up.  Now, picture a dark and twisted Tim Burton-esque setting with characters you loved as a child.  That is more like what you will see in the latest Alice in Wonderland creation.

As a young girl, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) would tell her dad about her crazy dreams and would ask if she’d gone crazy.  His response would be to lovingly squash those ideas and reiterate that all the best kinds of people have a little crazy in them.  Fast forward 13 years and Alice is on the verge of being married off when she starts seeing animals that no one else is privy to.

In the middle of an undesirable proposal, Alice runs off and follows the rabbit she keeps seeing.  She falls into a rabbit hole and after a drop that seems to last forever, she hits the ground in a circular room of doors.  All of the doors are locked when she finds a key to a tiny door that she can’t fit through.  While deciding her next move, Alice finds a liquid that instructs her to drink it and a piece of cake that instructs her to eat it.  After following the directions she goes through a few changes that help her get through one of the doors.

Now the interesting things really begin.  Her new surroundings are dark, but colorful and mysterious, but enchanting.  Alice comes into contact with a group of characters who appear to know who she is.  Tweedledee and Tweedledum (Matt Lucas), White Rabbit (Michael Sheen) and Blue Caterpillar (Alan Rickman) are a few of her new companions and it doesn’t take long for them to find themselves in a scary situation.

After escaping an unwelcome guest, Alice is introduced to the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp).  Much like the other beings in this new land, Hatter knows exactly who Alice is and what she is destined to do.  Wonderland is made up of the good and evil as well, White Queen (Anne Hathaway) vs. Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter). 

Alice ends up in the queendom of Red Queen, but Red doesn’t recognize this older Alice.  She is under the assumption that Alice is a giant girl named Um.  Alice is there looking for Hatter after he was captured by Red’s henchmen.  As Alice tries to release her new friends and dethrone Red, she must decide whether she’s strong enough to fight off her enemies.

Even trying to describe the details of this film was difficult, so legitimate opinions are even more so.  I thought artistically the film was well done; Burton has such a visceral mind that anything he thinks of can become reality.  However, the special effects were just a little too much for me.  I realize that Wonderland is a magical world, but I was just overwhelmed with the visuals of the setting and characters.

I can’t say I loved Wasikowska as Alice.  I suppose her somewhat moody portrayal of this iconic character worked for what Burton was trying to create, but overall she seemed too depressing.  Depp is always great in what he does and he was so well disguised in this character that I was able to separate the actor from the character.  His accents changing were a bit confusing for me; I couldn’t remember if Hatter did that in the original takes of this story.

Bonham Carter was amusing, but I found myself more immersed in her male counterpart, Stayne (Crispin Glover).  How great is Glover?  He never needs to speak much in the roles he plays because his presence speaks so much more than dialogue ever could with him.  I’m usually great at picking up the voices of animated characters and I was able to easily pick out the voice of Rickman as the caterpillar.  His voice is so distinctive and I thought he was a great choice for the voice role.

I didn’t hate this film, but it wasn’t my favorite either.  I can appreciate the art that Burton was bringing to life.  However, when the film was over I found myself thinking…”huh?”  The artsy/special effects/fantasy elements in film are usually not my first choices when I’m picking a film to watch, so it’s entirely possible I’m missing the bigger picture here.  Had any other director created this film I probably would have hated it, but if you are familiar with Burton’s work, you know to be prepared for seeing something completely odd and original.

‘Leap Year’ Review

12 Jun

Leap Year

Starring: Amy Adams, Matthew Goode

Director: Anand Tucker

Sometimes you watch a movie and know it is going to be bad.  I do this quite often simply because I like to judge a movie for myself and I have a tendency to like things that are not looked upon in the best light.  Leap Year falls into the bad category and there really is no way of sugar-coating that.

This predictable, outrageously boring film tells the story of Anna and her quest to secure herself a fiance.  Anna (Amy Adams) is an apartment stager and has been dating her cardiologist boyfriend, Jeremy (Adam Scott), for four years.  They are looking for apartments together and after Anna’s friend spies Jeremy going into a jewelry store, she assumes that he is ready to pop the question.

While out for dinner, Anna is surprised to see that the gift Jeremy gives her is not a ring, but a pair of earrings.  He has to abruptly leave dinner to attend to a patient and that leaves Anna time to think.  Jeremy is leaving for Ireland the next day for a medical conference and she decides that she’s going to step up and ask him to marry her. 

Anna makes the decision to travel to Dublin to propose to her boyfriend on leap day, which is a tradition in the Irish culture.  Of course, the trip does not go as smoothly as planned and she is sidetracked.  After an airport closure, Anna ends up in Wales where she must find someone to take her to Dublin.  Having a difficult time finding someone willing to help her, she meets Declan (Matthew Goode).  He runs a bar and after much debating, reluctantly agrees to drive Anna to where she needs to go for a hefty fee.

The trip is filled with setbacks and blunders as their car ends up in a ravine, they miss their train and must pretend to be married in order to stay at a local bed and breakfast.  Throughout the trip, the travel companions argue and have a difficult time finding anything they agree upon.

After a few days of travel, Anna and Declan finally make it to Dublin where Jeremy is happily awaiting his girlfriend.  Just as Declan is about to leave, he realizes he may have more of an interest in Anna than he would have thought.  He is upset to see that Anna’s boyfriend is ready to take the next step with her and he leaves without another word.

I couldn’t stop watching the clock on my DVD player as this film went on.  I couldn’t believe that I’d watched 25 minutes of the film and absolutely nothing had actually occurred.  It honestly took until around the 59th minute for me to actually be interested in something that was taking place.  Sadly, that something only lasted about five or ten minutes.

The location of the film was beautiful and all, but the story didn’t add to the surroundings.  I also have a huge pet peeve when I watch actors in a car scene and the bouncing of the car is unrealistic looking.  I could just picture them having a 2 X 4 under the car and someone cranking it up and down or them being on a dolly that shook the car.  I can’t imagine it’s all that difficult to make the movement of a car look authentic.

I’m a huge fan of Adams and the work she’s done, but I did not find her likable in this film at all.  Combining that and her lack of chemistry with Goode, this film wasn’t exactly a promising romance-adventure film.  I actually thought the two lead actors had more chemistry in the last five minutes of the movie than the preceeding 90.  Had they found a way to harness that, this review and this film could have been much different.

I haven’t seen many of Goode’s projects, but I know that he is much better than this film – as is Adams.  I will say that the worst casting choice of this film was the blink and you’ll miss it character of Anna’s father, played by the incredible John Lithgow.  What an absolute waste of his talent.  In addition, I think that Adams and Scott could be the most boring couple to ever grace the big screen.

There was one scene I enjoyed that put the characters in a bed and breakfast with two other couples.  The scenes were very predictable, but they were really the only signs of life this film had.  I wish I could give more enthusiastic positives about this film, but they just weren’t there.

‘Daybreakers’ Review

7 Jun

Daybreakers

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Claudia Karvan

Director: The Spierig Brothers

The vampire genre has blossomed over the last couple of years and Daybreakers is another take on the world of the undead.  However, this version is a more original concept than those that have been seen lately.

Vampires have taken over the world in the year 2019 and humans are on the verge of becoming extinct.  The problem with that is the vampires cannot survive without human blood and if there are no more humans, then soon there will be no more vampires either. 

Dr. Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) is a hematologist who works for a large company that harvests humans in the hopes of finding a blood substitute.  Although Edward is a vampire, he was made one involuntarily and hopes that if a blood substitute is found then humans won’t be hunted anymore.  His boss, Charles Bromley (Sam Neill), has no intention of making the substitute to cease the hunting of humans.  He wants to be able to reinvigorate his species before they end up killing each other or themselves.

Edward comes across a random group of humans after crashing his car and he chooses to help them before other vampires find them.  After letting them get away he is conflicted when his brother Frankie (Michael Dorman) shows up to his home.  Frankie works for the would-be army, but his job is to be the hunter of the humans and bring them back to the company Edward works for.  The brothers do not see eye to eye and that causes for danger in their future.

Audrey (Claudia Karvan), one of the humans Edward helped escape, shows up to his home and asks for his help.  Before leaving, she leaves him with a piece of paper detailing where he should meet her.  Frankie is waiting for him after Audrey leaves and questions his brother’s motives. 

Edward meets Audrey and she introduces him to someone who she believes he has a commonality with.  He meets a man named Elvis (Willem Dafoe) and he is shocked to see that although Elvis is not the same species as himself, he once was.  Unbeknownst to Edward, Frankie has followed him and begins to attack the threesome.  They manage to escape and Edward is taken back to where the humans have set up their post.

Edward is determined to come up with a cure for his kind and after meeting Elvis his dream may finally become a reality.  Bromley and Frankie are now working together to capture the rest of the humans and bring Edward back so that he can finish his job of creating the perfect blood substitute.

I can’t say that this concept is completely original because the idea of a largely vampire population versus a dwindling human population is reminiscent of the recent film, Zombieland.  Granted, it’s two different evils (vampires & zombies), but the premise is still kind of similar.  I do like what this film did though.  It was a great combination of the scary and creepy side of a vampire film with some interesting new twists thrown in.

I really liked Hawke in this role; I feel like he gave the film some humanity.  Neill was a good villain and I enjoyed Dafoe as well.  I wasn’t familiar with Karvan prior to this film, but I think she did a respectable job.  My only problem with her was that once her character was introduced and looked at Hawke’s character, it was painfully obvious that they intended for there to be a connection/chemistry between the two.

One of the most distracting things for me in this film were the names of some of the characters.  I have watched and read my fair share of vampire-themed entertainment and the name Edward is synonymous with Twilight and Robert Pattinson.  Elvis is a big part of the True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, where she refers to him as Bubba.  I’m not saying different art forms can’t share names, but two vampire movies made in the same year should not have the same character names – especially when one is becoming the most famous vampire name of a generation.  Of course it won’t mean anything to those who haven’t seen Twilight or read Harris’ books, but as someone who’s done both, it took me out of the movie a bit.

I think the special effects and make-up team did an incredible job creating the decaying vamps.  The visions of the directors, Michael and Peter Spierig, were very specific and I think they pulled it off quite well.  The vampire movement in film and television is at an all-time high, so in order to join the game a director/writer must find a way to bring something different to the table and I think they accomplished that.

 

 

‘The Messenger’ Review

30 May

The Messenger

Starring: Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson

Director: Oren Moverman

This film is a somewhat realistic and horrifying depiction of what life must be like for families whose loved ones are killed while serving on active duty.  Like many war-themed movies that have come before, The Messenger may be difficult to watch if you have family or friends serving our country.

Focused on the Casualty Notification division of the army, this film tells the story of the people responsible for relaying the news to the next of kin that their loved one has died in battle or on assignment.  These “messengers” have a specific duty to the Army as well as to the family of the deceased soldiers.  Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery (Ben Foster) is assigned to the notification role after being injured while overseas.  He learns his new duties by working closely with Captain Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson).  The two men have had very different experiences during their Army careers and must learn from one another as they tackle one of the most difficult jobs a soldier or officer can have.

Tony gives Will a long list of rules for successfully tackling this job.  Some of the guidelines include not having any physical contact with the next of kin, only speaking directly to the next of kin and making sure not to hover around a house prior to making contact.  Throughout his new assignment, Will has a difficult time obeying the rules because he feels that being the bearer of such devastating news should include some human compassion.   As he tries to follow the rules, he crosses a line when he finds himself comforting the widow of one of the deceased soldiers.

This film is very sad and wonderful at the same time.  War time movies don’t seem to be very successful because they tackle a subject that is still so fresh in the minds of many Americans.  This film, while depressing in nature, tells a new side to members of the US Army.  There is an added feature on the DVD extras that is a short documentary about some of the families who have experienced a Casualty Notification Officer and the process the movie details.  The real life stories are more heartbreaking than the film could ever be, but it also shows that much of what is in the movie is a close replication of what actually happens when a soldier dies.

Foster and Harrelson were exquisite in these roles and I admired every emotion they put out there.  Harrelson, who was a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee for this role, gave a strong performance and I was surprised by his moments of weakness as his character.  With each film Harrelson makes, I find it harder to believe that he ever played such a laid back character on Cheers all those years ago.  Foster is brilliant.  As much as I respect Harrelson’s performance, I truly believe that Foster should have gotten the Oscar nomination.  Every single second of his performance is rough and completely believable.  He has this way of being so emotionally available that you almost forget you’re watching an actor.  This film wouldn’t be so gripping without their stellar performances.

While not all aspects are spot-on, this is a movie after all, it allows for a broader audience to see into what many members of America are dealing with on a daily basis.  The DVD extras also make sure to respect the process that this film is all about.  I believe that telling a story like this in a film is important.  Sure, it may not have a mass appeal that a summer blockbuster would, but it tells the tale of the human spirit.