Feb 16, 2015

Movie Reviews

22 Jump Street – This movie is legitimately hilarious. I remember the first one being a complete shock, in that it was funny at all. I think this one is even better. It plays a very careful but very successful game of being extremely meta, just committed enough to sell the jokes, but never taking itself too seriously. The meta stuff is over the top, constantly making comments that apply more to the movie as a sequel than their mission as a sequel, but it all works. The story is whatever and just a scaffold for the funny. The end credits is actually the best part, I was laughing almost continuously. Pretty cool.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – This movie was much less of a lot of things than I thought. Less action than I thought. Less spy stuff than I thought. Less twists or turns than I thought. It was really pretty straightforward. Good guy. Good guy’s wife. Bad guy who is established immediately. People fight. Movie over. It wasn’t exactly bad, just 100% average.
Maleficent – I wouldn’t have believed it, but I liked this movie! It’s got its faults, quite a few, but on the whole it’s decent. The CGI isn’t great. Angelina Jolie is kinda bad too, mostly just too up her own butt about the part. The 3 fairies are terrible and should have been cut out entirely. But besides that, it’s pretty good! The tree army is just about the coolest thing this side of Middle Earth. Most of the fantasy stuff is original and realized in a creative way. The reversal of the story isn’t necessarily mind blowing, but it’s good. The role of the prince is my favorite thing in the world. Good stuff.
The Fault in Our Stars – The trouble with this movie, is it’s 50% sad and touching, and 50% inane teen romance movie. And it’s mostly sorted chronologically. The first half is pretty meh, and really standard teenie junk, kind of obnoxious really. But the second half, I mean, jeez, they are dying and it’s sad. And they do a good job with that stuff, so it’s pretty effective. Also, I really like the infinity metaphor. It’s corny, I know, but it makes sense to me, so that was good.
Hercules – Um, I don’t know, I kind of forgot about it already. I seemed to remember enjoying all the fighting. It’s a good little switcheroo part way through. I did really like how they handled the mythology aspect of everything. It was very sensible, like I could really see some less grand version of that happening. And to me anything that points out how silly mythology is, is really pointing out how silly religion is. So I enjoy that.
I, Frankenstein – This movie isn’t very good, but it’s not terrible. It feels very much like another Underworld movie. It even has the same bad guy. Instead of vampires vs. werewolves it’s gargoyles vs. demons. The demons are basically just vampires anyway. And the gargoyles are basically angels. But angels are kind of lame and gargoyles haven’t been used since the cartoon, so it’s cool. And then Frankenstein’s monster is there for some reason. The acting is pretty bad, the dialogue, especially on Frankie, is very bad. But the big fights aren’t too bad. I’m not sure that a movie like this can be more than it is, but this was a good basis. Just didn’t work out that way.
How To Train Your Dragon 2 – This movie is fun. I remember thinking the first one was fun, though not as fun as everyone else seemed to think. This one is pretty similar. It’s cute, it has some fun dragon fights, there’s some good jokes. It’s pretty likeable all around.
Step Up: All In – So, get this. There’s these dancers, right? And they are in economic trouble. Now here’s the crazy part. There’s a competition! If they win, all their dreams will come true! Also there’s bad guy dancers, a dance off in a bar, the crew breaks up 30 minutes before the finale and gets back together 5 minutes before, and two really pretty people make out for a while. Oh yeah, and there’s some pretty good dancing at the end.
Sin City 2 – I loved the first one like everyone else. This one is pretty much the same, but it feels too late. It feels like call backs to the original. But the first one was so amazing because it was original. Even with such amazing source material like the comic, there just hadn’t been a movie like this. But now there has, and this is just another one. It’s not bad exactly, it just feels like anyone could have copied the style of the first one and made this movie.
Killing Them Softly – Meh. This is a mob movie, about some fuckups and a hit man etc etc. I guess I kind of get what it’s going for, but in the end it’s kind of boring. It’s not different enough for how slow it is, so I was a bit sleepy.
Oculus – Shockingly, I liked this movie. There’s kind of an evil mirror and a girl is determined to prove it is evil, or stop its evil, or something like that. The evil mirror has evil powers, chief among which is making people think something else is happening than really is. That leads to an unreliable narrator situation, which I generally don’t like. But something about this one worked.
Knights of Badassdom – Ugh, terrible. This is just a stoner movie dressed up in LARPing outfits. It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t fun, it was super dumb.
The Rocketeer – Not sure I had ever seen this one. It’s a silly, fun enough, 90s sort of family action movie. Nothing much to say, pretty likeable.
Jobs – Ppt. Pretty lame rendition of this story. I’m not sure that it accomplishes anything that the old Pirates of Silicon Valley doesn’t (and much less in the non-jobs arena). Ashton Kutcher is a terrible Jobs, he just sounds like Kelso. That dude is doomed with that personality for the rest of his life. Woz gets totally screwed over, which was covered in the tech reviews. I’m not sure that a Jobs movie is necessary, I feel like we all know the story. But if there is one, it’s not this one.
Drinking Buddies – This is a half scripted, half improv (percentages may be slightly different) about two couples and it’s kind of obvious the two couples should be swapped. So a few things happen, it’s just kind of a timely peak into their lives. It’s okay, the conversations come off pretty natural which I guess was the point. It’s not super memorable or consequential, but it was an okay way to spend some time.
Nymphomaniac Part 2 – There was no reason to watch this, the first half was awful. But I had to see how it went, it’s like stopping a movie halfway through, can’t do it, I have a disease. Anyway, this one is just as bad. Maybe worse because it’s got an equivalent number of virtues (none), but loses its shock “appeal”. Weirdly, a couple of majorish actors show up – WIllem Dafoe, Christian Slater (okay, I’m stretching the word major). I guess they think this movie supposed to be deep? That its some artsy out-there boundary pushing movie? Nope. It’s just dumb. You made a bad choice.
Tai Chi Zero – This movie is super wacky. It’s like Scott Pilgrim and a kung fu movie had a baby. It’s basically a kung fu movie, kind of a western-influence vs. eastern tradition thing. But on top of it is this 4th-wall-breaking hokeyness. The on-screen text, like a guy ritchie movie or like scott pilgrim, talks right to you. Things like (and I don’t know the chinese actors’ names) “Bob Jones, playing the hero Frank Johnson. Bob Jones is a three time world champion of tai chi!” Literally! I mean, literally without the american names. So it’s actually pretty fun, and the fighting is good and fun. Reminds me a lot of Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle. The only problem with the movie is the good guys… aren’t. This village, that is supposed to be imposed upon by the imperial technologists, is full of xenophobic assholes. You treat a guy like shit for his whole life, one of your community, and you are confused when he comes back and doesn’t mind knocking your stupid house down to make a railroad? Fuck those guys, maybe you should learn not to be dicks and people will leave your shitty little village alone. Anyway, besides that, good movie.
Lovelace – This is a movie about Linda Lovelace. It’s kind of average, nothing super bad about it, nothing super amazing. Her story is, of course, sad. I didn’t know any of it, but it’s pretty bad. Not much else to say, kind of a bummer.
The History of Future Folk – Here’s another quirky movie. Very indie. It’s… an alien comes down to earth to do something bad, but then music convinces him earth is pretty cool? That doesn’t sound very good, and it’s not very good. But it’s kind of entertaining in a low budget dorky sort of way.
Jarhead 2 – This movie is very different from how I remember the first one. The first one was certainly a war movie, but it had a surreal drama to it that was really effective. This one is much more just a war movie, but it was actually pretty decent. I kind of expected a lame shooty shooty movie. It’s not incredibly deep, most of the characters are set up in their roles and they do their thing. The end kind of doesn’t make any sense – false dilemmas and forced heroics. But besides the end it’s actually good at its job.
Automata – This is scifi robot movie. It’s basically I, Robot. The robots even have rules. But I actually kind of like it. It doesn’t read any new ground, but I like the look of it, I mostly like how it plays out.
Super – Meh. This is another real life super hero movie, except just kind of sad. Sad guy with a sad life is mostly crazy and tries to do heroic things. He succeeds when he shouldn’t because it’s a movie, but even that is sad. Then there’s the thing with Ellen Page, which is more than a little creepy. It just felt like some icky wish fulfillment by the filmmakers. Maybe that’s weird to say in a movie full of wish fulfillment, but meh.
Carrie – This is the new version. I’m not sure if I ever saw the original, I definitely haven’t read the book. It’s a good story, nice and revengey. Everyone loves to see people get what they deserve. Well, maybe more than they deserve. Even though I don’t know if I saw the original, I imagine this is the exact same with cell phones. Which is fine, good enough story that it’s worth making it for a modern context. Wasn’t totally buying the carrie-rage at the end, seemed a little goofy to me.
13 Sins – This is kind of a … the best comparison is Saw. Which isn’t a favorable comparison. A guy gets a call, he can make money by doing a simple task. Then more money, with more outlandish tasks. Take it as far as you can imagine. Like all of these types of movies it’s ridiculous. Like people with so much power, and money, and control would waste their time playing bullshit games when they could just run the world. Or, assuming they already do run the world, the level of omniscience is still over the top. So the movie eventually gets too gross or too unrealistic and kind of crap. Not surprising, I guess.
Resident Evil: Retribution – Just another RE movie. They are just kind of the same thing over and over. Every movie ends with a cliffhanger, because they know they can crap out another one 2 years later and make their 10 bucks back. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just so samey. There wasn’t any particularly exciting fighting or shooting. Pretty boring.

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