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April Showers (2009)
Fantastic... but not without its flaws
Involves very minor spoilers.
To start off I have to say that I waited for about a year and a half for this film to be released in Australia, so when I came across it accidentally at the video store I work at I almost had a heart attack. I immediately hired it. I was not disappointed.
The first 30-45 minutes set during the actual shooting was completely engaging and tense, it was brutal and totally heart-wrenching. The students actions in the school are varied, there are those who act heroically and some who don't, just like what I imagine it would be like in the real situation.
The film slows down a bit in the second half when we follow the survivors trying to deal with their own issues and tragedies, especially those of Kelly Blatz's Sean (Blatz puts forward an amazing performance) dealing with the death of his friend, April and Daryl Sabara's Jason who tries to deal with being labeled a hero. This part of the film doesn't have as much punch and emotional impact as the first part, but it deals with the characters realistically and sensitively.
I do have some small issues, though. Firstly, April isn't given enough back story, I never really felt like I knew her well enough for her death to make a huge emotional impact. It all came from Sean's reactions. Her relationship with Sean isn't developed enough, either, there are only two or three short scenes with them together so we never really know who she is. I also felt that there were so many others characters that needed a voice. There are some students that have beautifully tragic stories, but are pulled out of the film so quickly (eg. The boy who stays behind to help his teacher, Sean's friend who finds a girl he knows, dead or close to, in the developments). I won't go into the other issues I have with it, you can figure out your own, but these are the main problems I found.
Overall it was a gorgeous, moving film that could never have been made with such meticulous attention to character and detail without a director who had actually lived the experience. Robinson knows what he is writing and he never exploits his characters or uses too many clichés. I highly recommend 'April Showers', but only if you enjoy films that have you close to tears.
A truly Sammy-centric episode.
Okay, first off to really appreciate this episode you need to be a huge 'Supernatural' fan, or more specifically a Sam Winchester fan as nearly the entire episode centers around him. This is actually my favorite Supernatural episode of season 2, and it has to be because of the wonderful performances put forward by the actors and actresses, not only Jared and Jensen's, but those of Katherine Isabelle as Ava, Gabriel Tigerman as Andy and Fredric Lehne as Yellow-eyes. I remember i was busy the night that it aired and had to tape it. I got home at about midnight that night, but insisted that i watch it before i was able to sleep. I ended up watching this amazing episode on this crappy tape with bad reception about 6 times. Each time i watched it i became enthralled with a different aspects of the ending.
Comments like 'No goodbyes for Dean' and 'Sam dies in his brother's arms' are just small, seemingly insignificant comments that mean so much. For Supernatural fans having Sam die in such a sudden, almost unexpected way was effectively executed and felt almost as if someone close to them had passed (i knew some people who, the next day, wore black arm bands in respect). The performances, from Jensen especially, are amazing. As an audience we are pulled into this situation. These are brothers. One is dying. What would you say if you knew this could be the last time that you spoke to the person you love the most? The relationship between the brothers has become so deep that it is a real shock to the system when anything this horrible happens to one, or really both of them.
I urge you to watch this, or if you already have, to watch it again more closely. The way in which Dean lovingly strokes Sam's lifeless face, Dean's anguish as his brother slips away and Sam's empty eyes would make even the most cynical person believe that this episode is a true masterpiece.
The only quarrel i had was the fact that i knew the ending before it happened, thanks to an all too detailed description in TV week the week before. Thanks for nothing you guys.