What I’ve Been Watching: Boyhood



Some ideas for films are so simple and wonderful one wonders why they haven’t been done before. Boyhood is the fictional account of a boy, Mason (Ellar Coltrane), as he grows from boy of six to a man of eighteen. Filmed over a twelve-year period we see how him and his sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, the director’s real-life daughter) change both in the sense of their personalities and physical forms. We also see how their concerns change from moving home and haircuts to romance and recreational drugs.

The story’s scope is not limited to Mason and his sister, however, we also see how his mother (Patricia Arquette) and father (Ethan Hawke) change and do their best to support their children in spite of the difficult circumstances that often arise.

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What I’ve Been Watching: Guardians of the Galaxy


Guardians of the Galaxy could come across as kind of an oddity in terms of Marvel’s films. It doesn’t open with a superhero coming to terms with their new abilities, neither is it based on earth, or is even concerned with earth (constantly referred to as “Terra” in the film). However, like other Marvel films it is an origin story, it’s just it’s concerned with the origin of a team, rather than the origin of a character’s abilities.

The film opens with Peter Quill aka Starlord (Chris Pratt) stealing an orb which everyone in the film wants their hands on. This includes Gamorrah (Zoe Saldana), Rocket the Racoon (Bradley Cooper), and Groot (Vin Diesel). However, their attempts to get if off Starlord land the four of them in jail. They attempt to escape and are helped by Drax (Dave Batista) who joins their newly formed merry crew.

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What I’ve Been Watching: Summer Blockbusters (Dragons, Apes and Mutants)

how-to-train-your-dragon-2-posterThis summer has left me somewhat busier than usual due to finding myself a Mrs Observealot to share my adventures in time and space with. Because of this I’ve not had the time to write up my thoughts and insights into many of the summer’s films I’ve been fortunate enough to catch.

Three of these films are X-Men: Days of Future Past, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and How to Train Your Dragon 2. All are big budget, high quality films, but more importantly thematically they actually have a surprising amount in common.

More so than most other big budget franchises, X-Men, Planet of the Apes, and How to Train Your Dragon are all about two rival groups and the struggle to find peace between them.

For this reason, all three films appealed to me as someone who grew up in Northern Ireland in the midst of such a struggle. Whether the ‘other’ are mutants, apes, or dragons there is a sense in these films that peace is a possible, if difficult, outcome, and the protagonists in all these films are all doing their hardest to bring reconciliation to their worlds.

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What I’ve Been Watching: Godzilla


In 2010, Gareth Edwards released Monsters, an indie film shot with a tiny cast and crew that was a great example of the kind of ambitious sci-fi film one could make for next-to no money. Now with a bigger budget, bigger crew, more famous cast, and possibly the biggest of big monsters comes Godzilla.

It’s a film that starts off promisingly. The action starts in Japan (as every good Godzilla movie should) where we see Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) lose his wife in an accident in the nuclear power station he’s working in. Cranston is told the accident was caused by an earthquake, but he begins to suspect a cover-up and starts to investigate.

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What I’ve Been Watching: Bad Neighbours


Bad Neighbours (or simply Neighbors if you’re of an American persuasion) is the latest Seth Rogen vehicle that in some ways is a spiritual sequel to Knocked Up in the sense that it sees his character coming to terms with the reality he is no longer young enough or irresponsible enough to be invited to the wildest parties.

In the film his character, Mac has a wife, Kelly (Rose Byrne), and a baby daughter Stella. The start of the film sees them having to cope with the realities of being young parents, such as not being able to drop everything to go out with their friends. However, these issues are brought all the more to the fore when a fraternity house moves in next door. Led by Teddy (Zac Effron) and Pete (Dave Franco), things quickly turn sour between the two households as the students want to party, and the family want a decent night’s sleep.

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What I’ve Been Watching: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

amazing spider-man-2 poster

The Amazing Spider-Man came out two years ago and I for one was unimpressed with its failure to tell a new, exciting story with its take on the superhero.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 then seemed like a fresh opportunity to really take the rebooted series in a fresh direction now they’d got the backstory out of the way in the previous film. Unfortunately for director Marc Webb and everyone else involved in the film it’s like they’re completely uninterested in the fact they’re retelling the same stories as Raimi’s original trilogy.

So this time we get to meet Harry Osbourne (Dane DeHaan) who like James Franco’s take on the character starts out as friends with Peter Parker, but by the end of the film the two soon fall out for one reason or another and become mortal enemies.

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What I’ve Been Watching: Captain America: The Winter Solider


In my opinion, Captain America has had the most difficult task in making the transition to the big screen. Primarily because both his character and his name comes from the American Armed Forces, not exactly the most popular of organisations across the world.

The first film wisely took Steve Rogers , aka Captain America back to his Second World War roots. After all few can argue with a man fighting the Nazis. That film ended with Steve Rogers being frozen in the Arctic Sea only to be awoken seventy years later in the present age.

Captain America: The Winter Solider is set after the events of Avengers Assemble and sees Rogers (Chris Evans) having to cope both with life in the present day as a civilian. The film sees Rogers working for S.H.I.E.L.D. and being confronted with the reality that things aren’t just as black and white today as they were during the Second World War. Who are the good guys and the bad guys? Who can he really trust?

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