Archive for the ‘movie reviews 2014’ Category

It was really hard compiling a list of Top 10 movies. Not that the movies this year weren’t good, some were really good, great in fact. But there were very few extraordinary ones. Ones that got me excited. Ones I can’t stop talking about. Or thinking about. I was able to put a list together, but let’s be honest there’s a big difference in my excitement level between my top 5, and 6-10. So here it is people, the list you’ve all been waiting for…

Movies thisclose to making the cut:
Big Hero 6, American Sniper and This is Where I Leave You. TIWILY was hilarious with a great cast and a sentimental story line. I loved it. American Sniper was more on the serious side. While Bradley Cooper carried this entire movie, it’s easy to say the movie wouldn’t have been as great or as memorable without his incredible performance. Big Hero 6 was funny, emotional, and touching. It was a really great movie and would have made it into the Top 10 if I hadn’t seen…

10. Selma

9. The Grand Budapest Hotel

8. Unbroken

7. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

6. Still Alice

5. Gone Girl

4. Snowpiercer

3. Guardians of the Galaxy

2. Birdman

And my #1 movie of the year is…..

 

 

1. Whiplash
I don’t understand it when people say this movie was just “good”. This movie was greater than great. It was nearly perfection! This movie pumps me up with just how good it was. The performances are on point, the story line is intense and the drumming is effin’ fantastic. It gives me chills just thinking about it. J.K. Simmons is on top of his game and that cockiness Miles Teller exudes in his roles really worked for this character. And as amazing at the movie was, words cannot express just how much I loved the ending. I could watch it over and over again for the rest of my life. It was THAT good.

 

These are my Top 10 Movies. Do you agree with some of my choices? All my choices? Did I get anything wrong or forget about anything?

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The Maze Runner movie, while vastly different from the book it’s based on, is almost a “really great movie”. Unfortunately due to the lack of character development, a fantastic maze that is severely underused and a messy anticlimactic ending, I can only call this movie “pretty good”.

 

The Maze Runner
Directed By: Wes Ball
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster , Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter, Ki Hong Lee, Aml Ameen, Blake Cooper, Patricia Clarkson

 

>>THE BREAKDOWN<<
*WARNING, this review contains some spoilers*

 

The Visuals:  The Look of the Movie, the Production Design, the Maze, the Grievers
The Good:  The Glade looked handmade, it was simple, rustic, and messy. The walls of the Maze keeping them in were huge and looming and definitely gave you the trapped feeling. The Maze in general was amazing: massive, looming, and intimidating and the way it moved in new and different ways from the book was intriguing.
The Bad:  Unfortunately the Maze, as amazing as it was, was SEVERLY underused. There were so many ways the movie could have explored the intricacies of the Maze, but instead it settled on the cliché, or finding ways to keep the kids in The Glade. For a movie called The Maze Runner, they weren’t really in the Maze at all.
The Ugly:  A big change the movie made from the book was the “Griever’s Hole” *spoiler alert, book and movie* Instead of jumping off a cliff into seemingly nothing, a bunch of doors opened up revealing…well a hole that leads to…a door. BORING. And instead of a huge, bloody, Griever fight upon making their way into the Griever hole. We get a lot of exposition…in the form of a video. SNOOZE ALERT!

The Cast:  The Actors, The Characters, the Performances
The Good:  Dylan O’Brien is a GREAT, leading man. He had great presence and he commanded the screen. As for the rest of the actors, I can never have enough of Thomas Brodie-Sangster (who will always be the kid from Love Actually to me). And Will Poulter is a joy to watch, even if he is playing a bad-ish guy. The cast gelled together. Especially the male Gladers. They’re performances were strong and the main characters were memorable.
The Bad:  Kaya Scoderlario as Teresa. She’s a good actress, I’ll give you that. But in this movie her character was almost unnecessary. The filmmakers took away Teresa and Thomas’ bond, making her just a girl who happened to land in the Maze. Bad form, making a character that’s really important completely unnecessary.
The Ugly:  Beyond Thomas (O’Brien) we were never really given any time to know any of the characters. We knew that Newt, Minho, Chuck, Alby, and Gally were important, but we weren’t really given any backstory. We weren’t given a real chance to get to know them. I know that’s always a danger given movie vs. book (The first Hunger Games Movie had that problem too). But while some of the characters will be given a sequel for us to get to know them, at least let us get to know the secondary characters better so when you inevitably kill them off, we still care about them.

 

maze-runner-pictures-5

 

The Story: The Story, The Plot, The What The Heck Is This Movie About?
The Good:  The story is a good one. It’s intriguing. It’s different from other dystopian, YA books with its kids killing kids, aliens invading, earth crumbling. It’s about getting out of this place they’ve been dropped into. It’s about finding freedom. The first book of The Maze Runner series is stellar because you don’t know what’s going to happen.
The Bad:  Unfortunately this movie a lot of the more difficult plot lines, that made this story so special and so intriguing. Why do some of the characters hate Thomas so much, even when he first arrives? Why did they try to save Alby but immediately banish Ben? Why wasn’t Teresa in a coma and why weren’t the other Gladers more suspicious of her? A lot of the little things the book do come into play in a big way in the later installments in the series. Did the filmmakers even READ the other books?
The Ugly:  On the bright side, as drastically different from the book (in almost a disastrous way) this movie was, it actually brings me hope for the rest of the sequels. Because The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure as books were a mess. Maybe Hollywood can make it better? This movie needs to take note from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The changes in the movie should be in order to make the story better, not because a storyline was too complicated. And even if that wasn’t the case, you don’t want the audience to come out of a movie thinking that.

 

Overall, while this movie was good. It wasn’t great. And it could have been really great.

 

Rating: 3 Stars

 

 

While Life After Beth had a cool premise, a spectacular cast and some great moments in it, the movie was ultimately a letdown. I really wanted to like this movie, but when you’re left pointing out all the ways the movie could have been better you know there’s a problem.

 

 

Life After Beth
Directed By: Jeff Baena

What I liked:
1) The Premise – A guys girlfriend comes back from the dead only she doesn’t know what happened to her. And slowly but surely she turns into a zombie. This premise is unique. It’s a nice juxtaposition from all the other vampire movies out there. First she metaphorically breaks his heart, and then she literally tries to eat his brains. And how her family deals with it is particularly interesting. They are all just so happy to have her back, they are unwilling to accept what he’s turning into. The plot twists, the reveals, how big things happen were all really clever. Plus the other great thing was…
2) The Cast – Dane DeHaan, Aubrey Plaza, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Cheryl Hines, Paul Reiser, the cast is a phenomenal list of actors/comedians. I just wish…

 

 

What I Didn’t Like

1) I wish the characters were funnier – And more likeable. Dane Dehaan as the boyfriend, Zach, was frankly…annoying! No wonder why Beth was going to break up with him. He was clingy, needy, whiny and well just a lot of work. And he was stupid, like classic horror movie, “damsel-in-distress” kind of stupid. In fact, the smartest character was Beth (Aubrey Plaza) and she was turning into a zombie! The rest of the characters especially the “grown-ups” seemed to be equally as frustratingly idiotic. A movie can be funny without making all of the characters stupid. Which brings me to…
2) The Tone – I felt like Life After Beth didn’t know what kind of movie it wanted to be. Did it want to be a drama? A comedy? A dark comedy? A dramedy? A horror movie? A simple focus or shift in tone would have done wonders for this movie.

 

This movie had a lot of issues and there are a lot of things I wish could have been different about it. That being said, support indie movies! And the zombies were killer…get it? Killer?

 

Rating:  2 out of 5 Stars

 

 

 

 

Snowpiercer is dark and it’s hilarious, it’s subtle and it’s over the top, it’s violent and it’s gentle. It’s all these things without being too much. It’s movie making at its best: creative, smart, thrilling, original, and a movie that makes you excited. Everything about this movie is just right.

Snowpiercer
Directed By: Boon Joon-ho
Starring: Chris Evans, Kang-ho Song, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer, John Hurt, Ed Harris, Alison Pill, Ah-sung Ko

Premise: A failed global experiment dispenses a frozen tundra across Earth killing off most of the planet. The remaining survivors are collected onto a massive train called the Snowpiercer that has been circling the Earth in a perpetual state of motion for the past 17 years. The lower class passengers are relegated to the back of the train forced to eat disgusting food (if they even get to eat at all) while the upper class passengers sit at the front of the train living in luxury. Hoping to change their circumstances, Curtis reluctantly finds himself leader of a strange band of renegades who strive to fight for better living conditions by killing Wilfred, the pusedo-god all the upper citizens worship for being responsible for the train and their survival.

 

 

4 Things I Liked About Snowpiercer

 

1)  Tilda Swinton Wins The Movie: Snowpiercer is filled with eccentric and diverse performances from its quirky characters.   Kang-ho Song and Ah-sung Ko are funny as the drug addicted father-daughter duo with special skills to help Curtis (Chris Evans) on his mission. Alison Pill is brilliant as the overly perky, obviously brainwashed, definitely disturbed pregnant grade school teacher. But it’s Tilda Swinton’s performance as Mason, the person enforcing all the rules, keeping everyone in line, that definitely wins the movie. She completely immerses herself in this delusional character and is able to bring strange and creepy quirks to the role without going overboard with her performance. She really is just a marvel to watch, buck teeth and all.

2)  The Production Design and Set Dressing was Visually Striking:  Each room of the train was different, but still dynamic. It was set up in the perfect way for a fresh and new adventure to happen within a small, contained space.  While watching this movie my friend actually said, the production designer must have had so much fun making the movie.

3)  The Movie was a Fresh Take on an Old Story: Snowpiercer was a blend of many different genres. It was Tarantino-esque, with Asian movie themes, all taking place in a dystopian world. But somehow, even with these blending of genres, the movie managed to feel fresh and original. The fight things were creative (especially fighting in the dark), and yes, there was brutal violence, but it wasn’t overtly bloody. It wasn’t gratuitous. You know no limbs falling off or blood squirting out. Just the normal amount of gore, you know, when you’re shooting and slicing your way through a passenger train.

4)  Chris Evans was a Great Leading Man: As important as the story, the production design, the directing, and the other actors were, Chris Evans as the lead was just as important. He had this spark in him throughout the entire movie. You could tell he really loved what he was doing. He showed his “superhero” strength in the intense action sequences, and he also showed his vulnerable side in the more emotional scenes. He was believable and he was more than just a pretty face.

Snowpiercer is one of those movies you always remember. There is something in this movie for everyone. It is a movie that brings a sledgehammer to your imagination bubble and cracks it wide open letting all its contents spill out and into your soul. And if you’re a creator after watching this movie, you’re going to want to create. Snowpiercer is a movie for movie lovers. So go watch it already.

Rating: 4 ½ stars (out of 5)

 

 

 

Fall movies are a time when some franchise YA movies release their next movie, when darker indie films emerge, and Oscar hopefuls reign supreme. The following is a compilation of the movies I’m most excited about through the end of the year.

 

13 MOVIES I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS FALL/WINTER 
(in no particular order)

 

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
Release Date: Sept 12
Premise: The story revolves around a crumbling marriage between Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) and Conor (James McAvoy). But they each lived a different version to their own story.
My Thoughts: The hook is exciting, the trailer is exciting, and I am intrigued by seeing two sides to the same story.  I would love to see the both versions of the story in its entirety, but I don’t know if I can sit through a 200 minute movie (that version is released in October). The version released this September should suffice.

Maze Runner
Release Date: September 19
Premise: They make their own food, set their own rules, and live each day not knowing what’s going to happen next. Sounds great right? Unfortunately their make-shift world is surrounded by a Maze that doesn’t seem to have a way out during the day, and traps them in at night. If are trapped inside the Maze after dark they die. Thomas presence seems to change the game, especially when the next person dropped into the Maze is a girl.
My Thoughts: I loved the James Dashner book and I am excited to see this movie come to life. Though adaptations of young adult movies can be sketchy, I love the casting of Dylan O’Brien as Thomas and I hope that director Wes Ball can bring the rest of the movie to life. On the plus side, the trailer makes the movie look gritty, which is how these post-apocalyptic movies should be. Less pretty, more gritty.

 

Gone Girl
Release Date: October 3
Premise: On the outside, Nick and Amy seem like a loving couple, but when Amy disappears and Nick’s life is thrown into the spotlight. Under the scrutiny of the media and the community, Nicks involvement in his wife’s disappearance may not be completely innocent.
My Thoughts: I’m in the process of reading the book right now and with the duel narratives, I hope director David Fincher manages to bring this movie together in a cohesive way. The trailers look perfectly creepy and while I don’t really like Ben Affleck as an actor (love him as a director) this role seems perfect for him. I also love Rosamund Pike.

 

Whiplash
Release Date: October 10
Premise: Miles Teller stars as Andrew Neiman as a drumming prodigy who has been accepted into the country’s most elite music conservatory. Haunted by the failures of his father Andrew is taken under the wing of a passionate teacher at the school. Slowly Andrew’s drive to excel and succeed turns into an obsession as his mentor morphs into a domineering tyrant who will push him to his limits no matter what the cost.
My Thoughts: I’ve already hear great things about this film and I’m a big fan of J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller. Plus it’s just indie enough to be absolutely fantastic.

 

Birdman
Release Date: October 17
Premise: A washed up, former A-list actor who used to play the famous super hero Birdman, decides to write a play in order to reclaim some of his former glory. In the process, he suffers a complete mental breakdown.
My Thoughts: The trailer looks dark and hilarious and it has a great cast.

 

St. Vincent
Release Date: October 24
Premise: A cranky, washed up, alcholoic man unexpectedly bonds with his new neighbors, single mother Maggie and her 12 year old son, Oliver.
My Thoughts: Is it weird that my main reason for wanting to see this is not Bill Murry, the bittersweet and funny trailer, but the fact that for the first time since Gilmore Girls, Melissa McCarthy is playing a role that’s not just a bunch of fat jokes, or her acting crazy, or people laughing at her? (Ok, maybe she did that in Mike and Molly as well, but I didn’t watch that.)

 

Interstellar
Release Date: November 7
Premise: If you’re a movie fanatic, lover, watcher, then most likely you’re going to be watching Christopher Nolan’s new movie. Earth is becoming uninhabitable. Cooper, a widowed father and engineer is tasked with being sent into space, along with a group of scientists, to search for an alternate, habitable planet in order for mankind to survive.
My Thoughts: The trailers for this movie are very existential, in fact, it reminds me a lot of Terrence Malick’s, TheTree of Life. That being said, it’s a great cast, the premise is fantastic, and Christopher Nolan always delivers. I’m excited for this movie, I really am. I just hope it explores the actual plot and isn’t just a lot of existential bullcrap.

 

Hero Big 6
Release Date: November 7
Premise: When a masked villain attacks the city of San Fransokyo, Hiro, a robotics prodigy,  tries to find a way to turn his robot, which is designed to heal into a warrior that can save the city.
My Thoughts: Just watch this trailer, and then tell me you don’t want to see it.

 

Dumb and Dumber To
Release Date: November 14
Premise: To best friends Lloyd and Harry are reunited and set out on a search to find Harry’s long lost daughter. Oh, and someone needs a kidney.
My Thoughts: The first Dumb and Dumber can definitely go on the list as one of the greatest comedies of all time, yeah, I said it. And after waiting so long to do a sequel, a REAL sequel, I am excited to see Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniel’s back together again. I look forward to turning off my brain and having a laugh.

 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
Release Date: November 21
Premise: With Peeta captured by the capitol, and Katniss now relegated to District 13. Haymitch and Plutarch devise a plan to use Katniss status as a beacon of hope and turn her into “The Mockingjay” in hopes the other districts will rebel against the capitol and overthrow Snow and his vicious reign of terror.
My Thoughts: Catching Fire was a big step up from the first installment of The Hunger Games. Keeping true to the book while adapting the movie in ways that made it even better, I have high high hopes for Mockingjay. Quite possibly the darkest and most violent of all the books, I hope that the movie can stick to being dark and gritty, while hopefully changing the depressing ending to the original book.

 

Wild
Release Date: December 5
Premise: After the death of her mother, rebellious, drug addicted, sexually promiscuous, Cheryl Strayed sets out on a solo trek across the America Northwest.
My Thoughts: Reese Witherspoon. The Wild. One ticket please, thanks.

 

Night At The Museum: The Secret Of The Tomb
Release Date: December 19
Premise: Museum security guard, Larry, takes his son with him to London in order to repair the broken stone tablet in London’s British Museum that’s been bring the exhibits to life.
My Thoughts: I was a fan of the first Night At The Museum and now with the death of Robin Williams I somehow want to see this movie even more. It’s just a good holiday movie with a fun premise

 

Into The Woods
Release Date: December 25
Premise: Into the Woods weaves the darker sides of the fairy tale stories such as Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Bean Stalk, and Little Red Riding Hood.
My Thoughts: When I first saw the original Broadway production of Into the Woods (on video, not live unfortunately) I thought it was the best thing ever. Bernadette Peters was deliciously evil and sympathetic as an evil witch and the stories of the classic fairytales I loved were twisted, dark, gory, and just plain bizarre. The music was incredible; “Giants in the Sky” is probably my favorite Broadway Musical song ever. Despite the fantastic cast, I’m still skeptical that Disney will…well Disney it up, make it more family friendly. We’ve seen family friendly versions of fairytales, we know them well. Into the Woods offers a different take, but the studio can’t really market a gory, gritty, fairytale movie as a family holiday flick. (Note: If anyone could bring justice to the amazing performance Bernadette Peters gave in her role of the witch, it’s Meryl Streep.)

 

What movies are you looking forward to for the end of this year?

 

 

 

 

Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was even more terrible than I ever imagined it could be. I didn’t realize it was possible, but I feel like all the technological advances did this movie reboot more harm than good. I went into the movie expecting to hate-watch it, and I came out of it with longing to see the movie I grew up with. Give me foam, animatronic, Jim Henson puppeteered Turtles over dark, over stuffed, creepy CGI Turtles with Angelina Jolie lips any day!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Directed By: Jonathan Liebesman
Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Alan Ritchson, Johnny Knoxville, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Pete Polszek, Tony Shalhoub, William Fichtner, Danny Woodburn

 

 

My review for this movie will be in the form of a list. I’m pretty sure you can get the point:

 

Things I Thought While Hate-Watching Teenage Ninja Turtles
**WARNING **
**There are some SPOILERS ahead, but really, I’m doing you a favor**

 

  • Why do the Turtles have lips? (And they kinda look like Shrek…)
  • Splinter looks terrible. He has a nose like a dog and not enough fur.
  • Why is Shredder a Transformer?
  • She’s been in snow, rain, and sewage, how is Megan Fox’s hair so perfectly dry?
  • Why is the Donatello (the smart Turtle) so cliché nerdy? With the gadgets, glasses with tape on it, smart speak etc.
  • Why is there so much exposition? Like, the entire movie is exposition.
  • Why do the characters tell us what’s happening before it happens, while it’s happening, then what happened after it happens? (aka, man, this writing is terrible)
  • Why didn’t April show the pictures of the Turtles to her Editor to make her believe her?
  • Megan Fox cannot carry this entire movie by herself.
  • Megan Fox should have a stronger side-kick then Will Arnett who only provides comic relief lines.
  • Speaking of comedians, this movie had a lot of them, too bad none of them did or said anything funny: Taran Killam, Abby Elliott, Whoopi Goldberg  were all severely underused.
  • The actors did a lot of screaming each other’s names in this movie. Just in case we didn’t know who was who.
  • Contrary to popular believe, people don’t want to sit in movies hearing about how hot the lead character is every other sentence. Megan Fox is hot, we get it. You don’t need to beat us over the head with it. At least there wasn’t an obligatory bikini, wet shirt, or e-fan/windblown shot to emphasize it even more.
  • The Turtles were her pets? Seriously?
  • Thank GOD, there wasn’t a love story.
  • For a movie not being directed by Michael Bay (it was only produced by Bay) Jonathan Liebesman sure used a lot of Michael Bay staples (same shots, noises, actors…)
  • Liebesman missed the perfect moment for the Turtles to say “Cowabunga” and instead when they did say it, it was cut off and well anti-climactic because the Turtles told us it was coming.
  • More pizza!
  • The movie was at its strongest when the Turtles worked together. And by far the greatest sequence was the snow sequence. I have to say the dark looking Turtles look amazing against the white snow. It was a beautiful palette.
  • Why did the entire reporter plot disappear and not circle back at the end?

I watched this movie purely out of curiosity. I knew I wasn’t going to like it. I knew it was going to be terrible. But I’m a movie buff and I had to watch it. While this movie got the dynamics between the Turtle brothers right, it pretty much got everything else wrong. I know Hollywood likes to remake, reboot, reinterpret, and mess with things in the hopes of making them more modern. But modern doesn’t have to mean louder and flashier. Sometimes I think big action filmmakers forget that…

 

Rating: 1 1/2 Stars

 

“Cowabunga!”

I never thought I’d say it, but my favorite movie of the year, so far, involves a raccoon with a rage problem and a tree that only says 3 words over and over and over again. I went into Guardians of the Galaxy with high, but skeptical expectations and the movie manage to exceed them. It’s a fun and unpredictable fantasy, comic book movie that anyone who’s a nerd at heart would love. Plus it’s frakkin’ hilarious.

Guardians Of The Galaxy
Director: James Gunn
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, David Bautista, Lee Pace, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, John C. Reilly, Glen Close, Djimon Hounsou

Guardians of the Galaxy is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It feels retro, current, and futuristic at the same time. It’s smart, funny, silly, cheesy, action-packed and full of unexplainable depth. The main characters are developed perfectly which is a big feat because I knew nothing about any of the characters beforehand. The movie did a great job about making you care about these new and unknown characters. Star Lord, Gamora, Rocket, Groot and Drax are a group of criminal misfits brought together by happenstance. They’re strange, quirky, and quick to anger, each with a tragic backstory of their own. And it’s their faults that bring them together to prevent their common enemy from destroying the world.

While the plot itself may not be the most original plot (in fact a lot of other reviews compare it to Avengers, saying it lacks originality and has overlapping themes.) the thing people often forget is that these movies are comic book movies. They’re about good vs. evil. Misfits banding together. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. It’s why most people read comic books. It’s relatable but also fantasy driven at the same time. It’s rooted in the impossibly possible. Anything can happen. And it does happen. Can you REALLY call a movie involving a CGI tree and raccoon, lacking originality?

There is a lot going on in Guardians of the Galaxy. Stunning visuals, fantastic and colorful set design, and just the cooky craziness “galaxy itself.” At times it can all be sensation overload. But I loved the blending of time and genres and I loved that the movie had a lot of heart. There were moments that made me laugh out loud and other moments that made me tear up. This movie is definitely pushing Chris Pratt into Action Star/Heartthrob/Chris Pine territory. It’s the ultimate summertime popcorn movie but with a lot of substance. And it’s unlike any other movie (Marvel or not) out there.

 

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

 

 

Random Thoughts (**mini spoilers**)

  • There were so many hilarious and quotable lines in the movie. “Nothing goes over my head. I have great reflexes, I will catch them.
  • I absolutely loved the soundtrack.
  • Interesting articles about Rocket the raccoon. Kirk from Gilmore Girls is amazing!
  • Loved the ending teaser was just that, a teaser. You don’t always need a WOW moment.
  • Got lingering questions? This article probably has the answers.
  • I’d like a Groot of my very own, thank you.

dancing groot

 

 

 

 

Reviews in a Hurry

 

 

Angelina Jolie, MaleficentMaleficent
Directed By: Robert Stromberg
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Sharlto Copley, Elle Famming, Sam Riley, Brenton Thwaites, Juno Temple

Maleficent, by far, is one of the scariest villains in Disney history. As a child, she scared me to death. The dragon, the thorny branches surrounding the castle, the green smoke—she was just creepy and the impact of her evilness is something I always remember even now as an adult.

Now as for Angelina Jolie, I’ve never been a fan of hers. I can’t even tell you the last movie I really liked that she was in. That being said, her performance as Maleficent was the only thing that made this movie watchable. And while the story was well, lame, and the other characters were, well, one-dimensional and boring, Angelina had an over powering presence that was undeniable. She was absolutely mesmerizing as Maleficent, immersing herself into the role completely. She was committed. If only the rest of the movie lived up to her performance.

The movie needed to take more risks, but instead it fell back on the “no one is really bad if you take the time to get to know them” mentality Disney likes to adopt. I’m not saying that message is a bad thing, it’s just you can be evil with a heart and still have a tragic ending. (See Once Upon A Time’s Evil Queen.) Something deeper needed to happen, but instead I felt as if this story negated the entire way I felt about one of my favorite fairy tales Sleeping Beauty, and Maleficent herself.  Rating: D+

 

 

 

A-Million-WaysA Million Ways to Die In The West
Directed By: Seth MacFarlane
Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Liam Neeson, Giovanni Ribisi, Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman

I like Seth MacFarlane, his dirty humor, his charming good looks, his self-deprecating dialogue…I guess I just understand the man. So his movie about a passive, cowardly sheep farmer, desperate to win his woman back after running from a gunfight, was a winner in my book.

The thing about Seth MacFarlane’s work is that no matter how much you hate the guy, you can’t help but admit that the people who work with him look like they’re having A LOT of fun. And this movie is no different. The cast looked like they were genuinely happy to be there, no matter what ridiculous, hilarious, crude things came out of their mouth. And I have to say Charlize Theron should do more comedy because she was surprisingly on her comedic game, while still managing to class up the movie.

Sure the jokes in this movie were hit or miss, but for every three bad jokes there was one joke that made you laugh so hard you couldn’t breathe. For every cringe worthy moment, there was a moment that literally made you think “yes!” A Million Ways to Die in the West isn’t a movie for the faint of heart. If you don’t like MacFarlane’s type of humor you won’t like this movie. But if you’re in the mood for a good time, jokes that will make you laugh, and a cast that looks like they are having a blast doing ridiculous things, then this movie is for you. And this movie was indeed, for me.  Rating: B

 

 

 

X-Men Days of Future Past
Directed By: Bryan Singer
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Hugh Jackman, Peter Dinklage, Shawn Ashmore, Nicholas Hoult, Evan Peters

I am a fan of the original X-Men series. And while the “reboot” movie was excellent and the cast exciting and new, there was a big part of me that longed for the return of the cast. Thus, when I heard Days of Future Past was going to combine the new with the old, or the “past” with the “future”, I was thoroughly excited. The only problem is, after watching the movie, I was more excited and concerned about the future (original) mutants than I was with this pack of newbies.

Wolverine’s present (technically future) consciousness is beamed into his past self in order to help stop the present/future mutants from being wiped out. He goes back in time to convince the younger Xavier that he needs to make changes in order to fix the future. Oh and also Mystique is the key to everything. While I love Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy, the truth is, they aren’t Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. There’s just something about these two that makes me want more. Throw in two key “don’t-want-to-spoil-it” cameos from though-to- be-lost mutants, and all I really want is to see another X-Men movie with the original cast. Enough of this dual timeline crap.
That being said, this movie wasn’t bad, it’s just my focus shifted and I was left unsatisfied. I don’t know how you would make it better. Wait, I do. Continue with both the past and future time lines but as separate movies. More Quicksilver! More Shawn Ashmore! Bring Wolverine to the dark side and have an Avengers vs. X-Men kind of film….I could go on…but I won’t.  Rating: B-

 

 

 

 

 

 

Million Dollar Arm is your typical “from rags to riches” uplifting sports movie. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before: The Blindside, 42, Remember The Titans, Trouble With The Curve, I could go on…But just because we know how a story is going to end, doesn’t mean the journey can’t be enjoyable.

Million Dollar Arm
Directed By: Craig Gillespie
Starring: Jon Hamm, Aasif Mandvi, Bill Paxton, Madhur Mattal, Suraji Sharma, Pitobash, Lake Bell, Alan Arkin

Million-Dollar-Arm

 

5 Things You Need To Know

 

1. The movie is about J.B. Bernstein rather than Dinesh and Rinku, the athletes from India who become drafted in pro-baseball. J.B. Bernstein is an arrogant and ignorant, “Hollywood” sports agent. He’s used to luxury: big houses, flashy cars and expensive dinners. And to make matters worse, he’s desperate. He needs a win. And some people will do anything for a win. But even when he’s at his worst, he’s watchable because of the charismatic, Jon Hamm. Jon Hamm makes him someone to root for. We want him to be redeemed and when it happens it’ll be great.

2. Lake Bell takes on a more serious role as J.B’s “love” interest, Brenda…and I like it. Lake Bell has this funny awkward, rambly thing about her but sometimes she can be too over the top. In this movie, she was majorly toned down. She seemed down to earth, stable, and reasonable with her funny, nerdy personality still intact. This is the Lake Bell I like to see.

3. The movie could have benefited more from showing us more of Dinesh and Rinku’s culture. It touched upon it briefly, but I felt as if those moments were used more as comic relief as opposed to dramatic impact. Here’s this guy who’s pulling these two kids from the only small town life they’ve ever known and dropping them, by themselves into an unknown foreign country. I wish we could have seen more of Dinesh and Rinku’s home life or have seen J.B. be in uncomfortable situations as opposed to him bullying everyone. Yes, the turnaround came, but it almost came too late.

MILLION DOLLAR ARM

4.Pitobash does a hell of an acting job. Amit is by far one of my characters in this film. Pitobash plays him with such humility; you can’t help but love the guy and want him to succeed. And essentially he becomes the heart of the film. He does what J.B. cannot do. J.B. gave the guys the opportunity, Bill Paxton’s, Tom House gave them the skills, and Amit gave them the heart and the courage to go for the dreams. That is the story right there folks.

5. Dinesh and Rinku don’t have much character development. This movie is about J.B. Bernstein, the movie is Jon Hamm’s movie, but with taking this direction, the filmmakers do a great disservice to the triumphs of Dinesh and Rinku. I believe this story is just as much there’s as it is J.B.’s. What they did is just as important of a story as J.B.’s is. They uprooted their entire life, moved to a foreign country with no support system, were treated like crap by the guy they put all their faith in, and were put under immense pressure by being tasked with achieving something nearly impossible. They were scared, they were defeated, they were broken, but we never actually heard those things come from their mouth. They were always told to us by a third party. I wish this movie could have focused more on the tougher subjects.

 

Overall, this movie was an uplifting, compelling, heartfelt story. Though it could have taken bigger risks, we all knew how the story was going to end. It’s definitely a great movie to watch, but to shell out a lot of money to see it is unnecessary. It’ll be just as impactful spending less money and watching it on your couch with a pizza.

 

Rating: B-

 

 

Random Thoughts:

 

 

 

Godzilla is my kind of summer movie: creatively shot, stunning visuals, and heart-pounding action. This was a thrilling, creepy, monster disaster movie and I loved every moment of it.

Godzilla
Directed By: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe, Juliette Binoche, Richard T. Jones, Sally Hawkins

Godzilla

 

I’ve read many reviews saying the movie doesn’t have much character development, well to be honest with you, you don’t see a movie like Godzilla for the character development. You see it for the monsters, and the destruction, and the mayhem. And after growing up in San Francisco, there was something exciting about seeing it destroyed. Is that a weird thing to say?

First of all, Godzilla was beautifully shot. There were so many memorable shots. (My friend tells me a lot of it was reminiscent of Spielberg.) There were two shots in particular that really blew my mind. I saw this movie in 3D and there’s a moment when we first saw Godzilla when the camera panned up with the flares, up Godzilla’s leg, then slowly moved back down and behind some people. For a moment I could have sworn someone was standing up in the theater. It was the first moment we saw Godzilla and it well, blew my mind. Then there’s was another shot, that’s actually shown in the trailer, when the guys jump out of the plane with the red stuff coming from their feet. In that moment, the movie had a striking and powerful color palate. And the shot was both beautiful and terrifying watching these men willingly jump into the flames of the burning city. And that soundtrack? It made the moment all the more dramatic.

Godzilla2

Next, Godzilla was a bad ass. His size alone was terrifying but those slow pans up his body somehow made him see much more monstrous than any other, well, monster that’s tried to destroy a city. While certain shots may have made him look comical (I swear it times he looked like a wolf, bear, and dinosaur had mated…how’s that for a disturbing image?) I found Godzilla looked scarier when he was coming up from the water showing his stegosaurus-like backside. Yes, Godzilla looked better from his backside. There’s a sentence I never knew I always wanted to write.

While Elizabeth Olsen was purely there just because most movies think the audience needs a romantic story line of some sort to keep us interested, I felt the most interesting characters were Joe (Bryan Cranston) and his estranged son Ford (a yummy looking Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Maybe it’s because Bryan Cranston’s delivery is genius, but I wish we could have spent more time with his character. His literally gave me chills. And watching a man (Taylor-Johnson) who just returned home from the military only to be caught up in a horrifying disaster at home was much more interesting than a watching father desperate to get back to his son and wife despite the city being ravaged by terrible, terrible things. Maybe that was the problem, the movie veered into cliché territory as opposed to sticking to the more complicated one. And that’s probably what people didn’t like about the story.

godzilla_10

So there’s room for improvement, and maybe they will touch upon this in the recently announced sequel…but as for THIS Godzilla, it’s a movie I want to see over and over again. If you’re a lover of movies, a lover of great filmmaking, a lover of Spielberg, a lover of dinosaurs, a lover of mass destruction, and a lover of Bryan Cranston, then this movie is definitely for you. So turn off your brain, grab the hand of the person sitting next to you, and enjoy the ride.

Rating: B+

 

Random Thought: Anyone notice that despite this movie taking place in Japan and San Francisco there was a serious lack of Asian representation in this movie? I mean what gives?