The What/Why/How of “He Named Me Malala”

he named me malala onesheetSometimes a film is easy to sum up.  Sometimes it sucks so terribly, or shines so brightly, that a quick writeup is all that’s needed.  Onward, to He Named Me Malala!

Nutshell: An interesting look inside the real life of Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai that shows not only her life and work, but takes a powerful look at the ways the Taliban corrupt and destroy their own people and religion.  Grade: A-

What is it: See above.

Why should you see it: He Named Me Malala does an incredible job with outlining Malala Yousafzai’s life, and what led her to her advocacy.  Definitely recommended for people interested in knowing more about this young lady, film lovers intrigued by Davis Guggenheim’s documentary style that melds animation and live action, and folks who want to know more about what’s going on in the world around us.

How did I like it: In a world of documentaries, most go for putting their subjects on a pedestal, or pushing them off.  With He Named Me Malala, Director Davis Guggenheim (Waiting for Superman) shows us the young Malala Yousafzai in all her aspects; daughter, student, teenager, as well as activist.

From her time growing up, looking forward to attending her father’s school, to present day where she juggles her activism with surfing the web just like any teenager.  She blushes when Guggenheim sees her paging through pics of Brad Pitt, Roger Federer, and her favorite cricket players, and doesn’t mind trading good-natured zings with her brothers.  Cut to scenes where she’s surveying schools in poverty stricken areas, and then back to her own school, where she’s no longer the top student she was when attending classes in the Swat district of Pakistan.

I would have liked more discussion on her current activism/outreach; Guggenheim shows her at schools, and traveling around the world but there’s not too much information on exactly what she’s doing beyond speaking.  Perhaps Guggenheim didn’t want Malala to become a shill for Yousafzai’s organization, The Malala Fund.

Guggenheim’s use of animation to serve as historical narrative captures the story of Malala, her father Ziauddin and her mother Toor Pekai, as well as the rise of the Taliban and how they warped Islam.  The animation is gorgeous, and echoes Guggenheim’s An Inconvenient Truth as well as Waiting for Superman.

A powerful film, as well as a peek behind the curtain to see exactly who the 2014 Nobel laureate is.


31 in 31 — Leprechaun: Origins

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oct 1 Leprechaun Origins“Fuck you, lucky charms!”

Story: Four American hikers want to an Irish village where the neighboring locals fear to tread. But the villagers in Creepy Distant Town are really cool, and very welcoming. In fact, the villagers tell our gang about a cool ancient ruin, and even let them stay rent free at a cabin in middle of the woods. Hey, why is our gang locked in?

Scares: A few genuine chills of the “Where’s The Leprechaun” variety. And one seriously well done twist in the middle of the film I didn’t see coming. Plus, the leprechaun is more Descent-esque monster than St. Patrick’s Day abomination. So that’s nice. Read More…

Movie Review: Pan

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Nutshell: Much more of a madcap good time than the source material, even if the plot is scattershot and at times unintelligible.  But if you’re a lover of gorgeous CGI who cares? Bring forth the flying pirate ships and amazing technicolor natives! Grade: B-

Peter Pan had to come from somewhere.  Ever wonder where?  In Pan, director Joe Wright (Atonement, 2005’s Pride & Prejudice) and screenwriter Jason Fuchs (Ice Age: Continental Drift, the upcoming Wonder Woman) unpack Peter’s backstory.  And all apologies to author J.M. Barrie, but Pan is a whole lot more fun than Peter Pan ever was.  Maybe because I’ve always been more Oz than Neverland.  Maybe because this origin story zips through the plot to get from one amazing setup to the next.

Pan is a gloriously over-the-top action adventure romp that zooms through its story, striving to top itself with each subsequent scene.  You’ll probably be too busy absorbing all the flashy to realize the plot is bouncing around like a fairy on acid.  You may not understand most of it, but you won’t be bored. Read More…

31 in 31: “Monster Science” on YouTube

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And now, a break from our usual 31 in 31 reviews.  Behold — monsters!  MONSTERS!

I’m a huge sucker for podcasts.  So of course I’m addicted to How Stuff Works.  But the guys that discuss all the things also get a little spooky; Monster Science is a group of videos that digs into the horrific and shows the science behind it all.  Be it true facts about our favorite monsters, or riffing on a genre favorite to get their science on, it’s a scream.

With titles like “Halloween’s Dormant Killer”, “Tentacles of Cthulhu”, and “Sex and Death: The Science of Jason Voorhees”, there’s sure to be an ep you’re dying to sink your fangs into.  I know I’ll be re-watching ’em this Halloween Month.  So check ’em out…IF YOU DARE. *cue creepy laughter*

#31in31 – V/H/S: Viral (and my first ever negative film rating)

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Oct 7 VHS Viral


Okay, this movie is such unmitigated garbage that I don’t want to spend any more time writing it up to fit the template.

Let’s just do this:

This pathetic anthology “film” has bad acting, horrible direction, and the worst editing I’ve ever seen (and I watched Pot Zombies.) Sloppy, amateurish, and with no sense of rhyme or reason beyond gettin’ those Benjamins, this film is a pure waste of time. Pity, as V/H/S and V/H/S/2 don’t suck.

Score: Zero pumpkins…no. This gets my first ever Negative Pumpkin. It’s that much of a disappointing, obnoxious mess my score for it dips into negative digits.


P.S.: I usually take notes when I watch a film I’m gonna review.  Wanna read my stream of thought while I was watching this turd? G’head…
Read More…

Off the shelf: Oh, Hell Vol. 1

oh hell vol 1 cover

Nutshell: Cool premise, slick art, beautiful colors, and characters you wanna root for.  I’m not fully understanding the mythos yet, but I’m digging the story.  Oh, Hell just jumped into my webcomics queue.

Story: Poor confused Zoel.  Doesn’t know where she fits in, not sure why she screws up, the definitive high school bad girl.  But when her parents find out about The Academy — a school Zoel hasn’t been bounced out of yet — they jump at it.  But this school ain’t Hogwarts; it’s Hell.  And to quote the tagline; “Not only is The Academy actually in Hell…it’s pass/fail.”

Best Lines:

“Power?  What power do we have?  WE’RE 15!”

“If you ever want to find me…just follow the trail of innocents I leave behind.”

Thoughts: Ah, Baltimore Comic-Con.  Cons are the time to find stuff you didn’t know existed.  And I’m glad I found Oh, Hell.  Written by G. Wassil (mythology by Wassil and Connell), I love Dave Hamann’s gorgeous art, and the colors by Birkhofer and Campbell almost lift off the page.  The detail is fantastic, and I’m glad Vol. 1 slipped in a sketch gallery at the end of the book, so I could really take a look at how these images were created.  And y’all know I’m a sucker for well done letters, and Troy Peteri does a bang-up job. Read More…

31 in 31 – Icetastrophe

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Oct 6 icetastrophe“Hey, see that? Is that a shooting star?”

Story: Comet? That thing? That’s nothing. BOOM. Cue explosive ice explosions! Because sure.

Scares: Absolutely zero. TV disaster movie mixed with more than a touch of sapfest.

Splat factor: See above. Unless you count below SyFy level CGI (frozen folks shatter into red ice cubes! Obvious cartoony blood that erupts sorta near redshirts!) – oh wait. This IS a SyFy joint. This ain’t no Sharknado.

Closing scene “shocker”?: only that I wasted almost an hour and a half of my life on this. NOOOOO! Read More…


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