Review of Hyena Road

Zero Dark Thirty, Black Hawk Down, and Hurt Locker are three excellent movies that focus on the military. When I watched them I didn’t think about the fact that they are American, nor did it bother me. I’ve never thought about the lack of Canadian military in movies and TV because there has been so little for all of my life. But when I went to see Hyena Road yesterday afternoon with my teenagers, I realized that I’d been missing out. Seeing the fictional soldiers in the movie with Canadian flags on their uniforms brought out more national pride in me than our most successful Olympic games. The movie is “based on 1000 true stories” which made the three of us realize how much our fellow Canadians have sacrificed both for our country and for peacekeeping in the world. Paul Gross is a creative genius and in the midst of a somewhat ugly federal election right now, Hyena Road will make you stop and realize how truly great the men and women of our great country are. Seeing Canadian flags draped over coffins is a sight I wish was only in movies, but seeing them in the film reminded me of the times it has been real. The movie will also make you realize how much talent we have here in Canada for putting on an incredible show. I wanted to yell out, “This is Canada! These are our people!” through the whole show. Take a break from turkey and politics this weekend and go see it. 5/5

The Book of Life

If you came to my house, you would see stuffed Marvel characters and a number of super hero posters. Open my Netflix account, and you’ll see romantic comedies and my new favourite show, White Collar. Look at my Pinterest boards and you’ll see a board for Thor, one for Tom Hiddleston, and one for Chris Evans. But without a doubt the best movie of 2014 was The Book of Life, and it comes out on DVD tomorrow.

The Book of Life isn’t just about the power of enduring friendship. It’s not just about the love between parents and children. It’s not just about life and death. And it’s not just about a childhood crush that turns to love. And it’s not just about the pig, Chuy, as cute as he may be! It’s all of those things, put together into a beautiful animated movie.

In The Book of Life, there is the story of two friends that both love the same girl. There is the story of a boy wanting to make his father proud but hating the path chosen for him. There is the love of music. There is the sacrifice of a parent wanting to see their child but letting them go to be with the one they love. There is the pig, who is brilliantly animated to show it getting older. And there is the love story between enemies.

My son begged me to take him to see the movie when it came out in October. I reluctantly agreed, just to hear what Channing Tatum sounded like as an animated character. We both came out beaming, and we agreed we had to see it again. There is so much to enjoy in the animation alone. We saw it again, twice.

The Book of Life isn’t just a kids movie and it’s not a Halloween movie. It happens to take place on November 2nd but it’s an amazing movie for every age. Go get it – rent it, buy it, whatever. You will be glad you did.

Edge of Tomorrow (Live. Die. Repeat)

Edge of Tomorrow (or Live. Die. Repeat) is a big budget sci-fi action feature with some humour thrown in. Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise do superior jobs in their roles as soldiers fighting an alien invasion. There is a lot of fighting and running and explosions that are sure to please the action lover in your family, and Emily Blunt is an awesome female role model. She is beautiful, strong, determined, and confident, and she’s a tough coach!

But the underlying theme of the movie is sacrifice, not mindless action adventure. Tom Cruise is forced to relive the same day over and over again in an effort to destroy the alien ‘mother ship’. Not much of a sacrifice perhaps as he would die anyway, but he has to die over and over again and it appears to be quite painful. He has to put his personal feelings aside; something that is difficult for him to do as he is an arrogant administrator in the beginning of the movie. Luckily for Tom Cruise he gets to have Emily Blunt by his side through most of his journey; but even without her, he continues the fight. There is a point in the movie where Tom Cruise checks out and sits in a bar and sees what happens if he takes that route, and the result is devastating. The film makers were brilliant in putting this short scene in the movie without making it longer or heavier in dialogue or clich├ęs. It reminds us that we all have a choice in how we respond to others and how we spend our time.

Edge of Tomorrow is about sacrifice rather than honour. It is not about medals or pride but about doing what needs to be done. It is not about blindly following orders. It’s about supporting the right person and putting your selfish desires aside. There is a moment in the movie where Emily Blunt says, “thank you for getting me this far,” to Tom Cruise. I’m thinking that line should be part of my prayers each night.