How to Train Your Dragon

How to Train Your Dragon

I haven’t particularly cared much for DreamWorks Animation films over time since I grew up with Disney and am a fanatic for the princess stereotypes. The Road to El Dorado, all the Shrek films, Madagascar, and Over the Hedge all had great sarcastic dialogue which made me watch the movies several times. The dialogue How to Train Your Dragon was no exception either. In fact, the sarcasm was the best part about the film if not for Toothless.

DreamWorks Animation is usually very dull in plot, but they always deliver their punch lines—I guess this is good for children. Hiccup, the main character in How to Train Your Dragon, is the underdog who tries to prove that he’s worth something in his Viking world of Berk. His father and Chief, Stoick (voiced by Gerard Butler), expects his puny son to follow in his footsteps and become a great dragon slayer. This pretty much sums up the complexity of the plot for the film.

If it wasn’t for the cute Night Fury dragon named Toothless, I don’t think I could endure watching the entire film. When I first saw Hiccup fly with Toothless, I got a déjà vu of the banshees in Avatar. Part of every young Na’vi training is to train a banshee, and now that Berk accepts dragons as pets, it will be customary for every young Viking to train their dragon.


Burton’s Alice in Wonderland


The character of Alice, played by Aussie actress Mia Wasikowska, is very strong. She may deny the world that she falls into because she thinks that she’s dreaming the entire time, which most would assume she is rather dim, but she accepts things as they are and doesn’t back down when the times comes to battle the Jabberwocky.

I love the blue and white color schemes for most of the movie, including Alice’s outfits.  This was something that the Disney movie never touched on:  how Alice maintained her outfits while changing size.  With Alice being older, I think this film is easier for the teen generation to sympathize with rather than having her be 8 or 9 years old.  The audience also views her as being able to choose for herself what kind of life she wants while being on the edge of adulthood and no longer a child.

I love that Burton chose to create his own story for the film instead of re-creating the cartoon into a modern version.  We’ve seen the 1999 made-for-tv movie Alice in Wonderland before and it was quite a bore.  There was nothing new to expect and this is why Burton’s film is unique.  Also, evening naming the world Underland, instead of the usual sets the mood for what Alice is to expect.

Johnny Depp’s role as the Mad Hatter was interesting and I’m glad Burton went into more detail about his previous life of making hats, sort of an explanation for who he is as a character.  His futterwacking, the dance he performs at the end, was very entertaining.

I don’t particularly like Anne Hathaway as an actress, mostly for the roles she’s played, but I love her as the White Witch.  She’s quirky and I’m glad she took on the character.  Also, being the younger, more loved sister of the Red Queen, played by Burton’s wife Helena Bonham Carter, could also make you a little mad too.  And who doesn’t love the lipstick hearts on the Queen’s lips?

Because this film is different from the previous versions we’ve all seen or heard before, Burton’s can only be categorized as being influenced by the infamous story and not an adaptation.

The Talented Mr. Ripley

The Talented Mr. Ripley

Tom Ripley’s many immoral acts, namely, murder, forgery, and deceit could be perceived as insane. Tom’s irrational mind allows for him to achieve his primary goal: Dickie Greenleaf. His shrewdness however, is not powerful enough to allow him to function as solely Dickie Greenleaf—he can only function as a combination of Dickie’s outer-self, with his own inner-self.

To understand Tom Ripley, it is of most importance to analyze the root of his irrationality. He appears intimidated by those who possess more than he. Tom has a desire to leave his current life in order to be better accepted by society. When Mr. Greenleaf proposes for Tom to take a free trip to Italy, Tom sees it as a window of opportunity, and he gladly accepts his offer. Dickie Greenleaf and Italy become his escape from loneliness and destitution.

Once Tom arrives to Italy and is introduced to Dickie Greenleaf’s rich style of living, he realizes the need to become part of it. The only way he sees himself achieving higher status is by physically and mentally becoming Dickie Greenleaf. Elements of Tom’s irrationality are first seen when Tom helps himself to Dickie’s wardrobe. This is Tom’s first effort in changing his physical appearance to match Dickie’s. He feels a need to not only function as Dickie, but to become him. He spends hours trying to understand Dickie’s thought processes. This is evident in Tom’s disbelief in Dickie’s interest in Marge upon seeing the two of them embracing.  Tom doesn’t understand intimacy and the need for Marge in Dickie’s life. He wants all of Dickie’s attention to himself, and feels threatened by his relationship with Marge.

His jealousy of Dickie eventually escalates to a level of hatred. He feels an utter need to become Dickie as each day passes. As Dickie and Tom enjoy taking trips, Tom finds a man who offers him a ride. When Tom introduces Dickie to Carlo, Dickie regards him with very little respect. Upon observing Dickie’s reaction to this innocent man, Tom suddenly sees himself in Carlo. He imagines Dickie thinking the same way of himself and irrational, yet justified thoughts of hate overwhelm him. At this point in the movie he realizes the absolute need to kill Dickie.

Tom kills Dickie unmercifully, yet the viewer still feels compelled to sympathize with him and not accidentally. The character of Tom Ripley is to be an irrational man, with reason behind each action he takes. Tom is not insane; he is determined to make life better for himself. If he sees murder as the only way of achieving such, then perhaps he is justified. Tom’s second murder, of Freddie Miles is a little more on the irrational side, but again purposeful.  He sees Freddie as a threat to his plan, so he takes action to eliminate the problem. He again does this in a tactful way so that the death of Freddie Miles remains a mystery to the world. The very fact that Tom spends time regretting his actions shows that he is in fact sane. He feels pain and remorse for taking the life of an innocent man, but at the same time, that man isn’t so innocent if he interferes with Tom’s plans of living the lavish life of Dickie Greenleaf.

Tom is the happiest man in the world, believing that he is finally Dickie Greenleaf. Perhaps outwardly he is.  As Dickie he can now act as Dickie. His inner self remains Tom Ripley throughout the movie. The very fact that he thinks of doing things to be perceived as Dickie is a thought only Tom Ripley would have. Greed, jealousy, envy, hatred, all emotions that Tom experiences, are not characteristic of Dickie Greenleaf.  For instance, even as Dickie Greenleaf, Tom still needs to carry with him both passports. The very fact that he has possession of two passports, suggests the essence of his dual-life with Dickie Greenleaf as the skull and Tom Ripley as the brain.

Tom Ripley is a man of his word. He promises himself to live the life of a wealthy man, and he achieves such. His drive and motivation is inspirational. While his tactics appear insane, each step of his plan is thought provoking and can therefore be reduced to irrationality.  He only fails to realize one aspect, that is, to outwardly become another person can be done, but to think as another person, is impossible.


Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo

Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo is a 1958 suspense film. It is also known as one of his masterpieces even though there were mixed reviews after it was released.

The movie is about a retired detective in San Francisco. The detective’s name is Scottie, played by James Stewart. Scottie leaves the force after the death of another cop while chasing a criminal across rooftops. An old friends hires Scottie while being unemployed for services to his wife Madeleine, played by Kim Novak. Scottie’s friend believes that Madeleine has a mental illness in which is possessed by a spirit of someone that is dead.

Scottie is skeptical, but follows her around for a while. After several days for peculiar behavior, she faints and falls into a lake. Scotties retrieves her from the water and brings her to his apartment. He lets her dry off by the fire and the two fall in love at this time and strange things being to happen.

Chuck Klosterman says it best though, “It’s about every man’s inherent obsession with attractive, psychologically damaged women.  But for its first twenty minutes, Vertigo is about something else–it’s about surveillance, and about how not knowing what’s happening increases the phenomenon of attraction.”

Dog Day Afternoon

Dog Day Afternoon

In the movie, Dog Day Afternoon, there were many things that the police and the FBI did wrong.  It seemed as if there was no manual to guide the police officers and the FBI through the hostage situation. Sonny and Sal never really thought about what they would do if they were to get caught.

One of the first mistakes that officer Moretti made was when he called the bank to let Sonny know he was in there.  I think that there never would have been a hostage situation if officer Moretti would have let Sonny and Sal think they were going to get away and grab them when they came out the bank.  I never knew if someone in the bank hit an alarm or if the insurance man let the police know the bank was getting robbed.

From the beginning, it seemed as if there was no clear picture of who was in charge. The police should have closed off the block farther away from the bank than they did. There was not any crowd control.  When Moretti tried to talk to Sonny on the bullhorn, he really could not talk because the crowd was making a lot of noise.  If Sonny and Sal had come out of the bank shooting, many people would have been hurt.

I thought that when someone was robbing a bank, the FBI was the ones who were supposed to be in charge. Moretti never let the FBI agent lead the hostage negotiations until late in the movie.  When the FBI arrived, they should have taken over the hostage situation as soon as possible.

Another thing that I noticed was that the police officers were running around everywhere. Without any command, they were trying to get through the back door and it caused Sonny to fire a shot.  Whenever Sonny walked out of the bank they were pointing their guns at him while Moretti was telling them to get back and put the guns down.

There were never any hostage negotiators at the scene.  Moretti did all of the negotiations and the FBI agent did not negotiate anything.  The FBI agent and Moretti did the number one thing that should not be done during a hostage negotiation; they both met with sonny face to face on numerous occasions to try to negotiate.  You are never supposed to meet with someone when you are negotiating face to face.

The police arrived on the scene never tried to find out how Sonny and Sal got to the bank.  They should have run some of the tags of the cars around the bank.  If they would have known that the car in front of the bank was the car that Sonny and Sal were planning on getting away in, they could have figured out that it was a third person with them.  If they would have found that third person, they would have been able to get much more information on Sonny and Sal.

Whatever Sonny wanted, pizza and sodas, the police gave in.  They should have asked Sonny to give them something.  They even brought his wife the scene to let Sonny talk to him.  I believe that Sonny did not want them to bring his wife down there, but the police tried to go get her to bring to him.  They even brought his mother to the bank not knowing if Sonny really hated her or not.  It was a very good thing that they did not bring his father to the scene.

The officers never thought about trying to find out more about Sal.  They were focusing most of their attention on Sonny.  It seemed to me that Sal was the more dangerous out of the two of them.  They never asked Sal if he would like to talk to anyone, neither did they try to understand Sal.  They should have tried to find out if Sal was married or not.  It seemed as if the FBI agent thought that Sonny did not want to rob the bank, but instead he was influenced by Sal.  The FBI agent made the remark to Sonny that “don’t worry about Sal, we will take care of him.”  The Agent made it look like they just wanted Sal.