Monday, August 4, 2014

More Reviews

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
I feel that this movie got quite a bit more hate than it deserved.  Not that it is a great movie or anything, but it isn't nearly as bad as many of the reviews implied.  If anything, it is relentlessly average.  The chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone is still a highlight, and the 3-D during the fights is particularly impressive.  However, there is a bit too much going on (we didn't really need three villains, even if one is more of a cameo) and 'just okay' is disappointing when compared to Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 (the latter of which I still consider to be the pinnacle of comic book movies).

Dane DeHaan is proving himself to be a go-to actor for morally ambiguous characters, though this feels like a lesser version of his Chronicle performance.  Jamie Foxx is... there?  Nothing about the character really stood out (other than the nerd makeup, which went overboard to an amazing degree) but he wasn't terrible in any particular way.

The movie is an improvement over The Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man 3 (putting it squarely in the middle of the 5), but not a must-see in any way.  6.0 out of 10.

Knights of Badassdom
Here is a movie I absolutely enjoyed while also realizing (while watching it) that it was not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination.  Very much a guilty pleasure, the movie follows 3 friend at a LARPing event where things go horribly, horribly wrong.

What the movie does have going for it is solid performances (particularly from Peter Dinklage and Danny Pudi), surprising developments as far as character deaths go, and a great sense of camaraderie between the actors that really helps the comedy.

The effects could be better (they are obviously low budget) but I found the practical costume effects charming, especially given how out-and-out terrible some fully CGI'd characters have been in other, more expensive movies.  Again, the movie is not going to be overly impressive on any front, but it has charm to spare.  6.5 out of 10.

Lucy
I cannot remember the last time I walked out of a movie this confused about my feelings for it.  As a star turn, Scarlett Johansson more than proves her worth.  As an action movie, it is fun and builds rather well.  The basic premise of the movie?  Kind of ridiculous.  And the plot holes are aplenty, as are the incredibly inconsistent characters.

The basic premise (thanks to some new drug the titular character is forced to smuggle in her stomach - that starts leaking - Lucy gains the ability to use all of her brain's capacity which turns her into an action hero of sorts) is beyond stupid, and only the seriousness of Morgan Freeman's delivery makes it in any way forgiveable.  Once they get moving with the actual action movie this wants to be, things improve, but scattered throughout are images of the 'greater world' that try to add symbolism to a movie that, frankly, isn't intelligent enough to deserve it.

It's not bad, by any means, but this movie is brainless fluff that will likely be forgotten in a few years time.  5.5 out of 10.

Interior.  Leather Bar.
A short film about the recreation of the lost footage of the 1980 film Cruising, this is not a movie for everyone.  In fact, given the graphic (and I do mean graphic) sex scenes throughout the movie, I'd venture to say that a large majority of people have no business watching this odd little film from Travis Mathews and James Franco.

Now, this movie isn't a recreation of the lost footage from Cruising, but it is about the making of the recreation of the lost footage from Cruising.  If that doesn't confuse you, seeing the movie will explain that sentence plainly.  Meant to challenge our preconceptions of a what a movie is (as well as our thoughts and opinions on the nature of sex in film), this film features talks with agents, someone reading a script that is the action being filmed right in that moment, and lots of discussion of sex in film.

Cinephiles will enjoy this (or, at the very least, get what it is going for), but for most this will be a bit too much.  7.0 out of 10.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Occasionally I review movies....

...just not much lately.  Here's a brief rundown of what I have seen this year, and thoughts.

Captain America:  The Winter Soldier
Loved it.  I will be forever glad Fantastic Four tanked so that Chris Evans got to do this instead of being locked into that shitstorm.  Great expansion on the character and on Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, and the addition of Falcon is welcome.  Also didn't see Robert Redford being the de facto villain of the movie, so points for surprising me on that front.  This movie and Godzilla are battling for my favorite of the year.  9.0 out of 10.

(I realize I gave Godzilla an 8.5, but I said they are battling for my favorite.  I do feel that this is a better made movie.)

Noah
I'm still not entirely sure what to make of this movie, although I did enjoy it quite a bit.  Great visuals, and it expands the Noah section of the Bible into a decent movie, even if I didn't quite believe that he would be willing to murder his grandson (he doesn't, if you care).  Russell Crowe gives a solid performance, though I thought the movie's standout was Logan Lerman.  Also, the vegetarian thing was a bit much.  7.5 out of 10.

The Lego Movie
This movie was way better than it had any right to be as a quick cash-grab.  Hilarious voicework, great use of the Lego 'world' and a quick pace make this a very enjoyable animated feature.  Even the brief live action section fits the movie well, and it is hard to criticize something so guilelessly entertaining.  8.0 out of 10.

Oculus
This movie wanted to be good.  It tried really hard.  However, apparently it was decided that 'just okay' was all they really wanted to shoot for, and we are left with a disappointing collection of ideas surrounding a ridiculous premise that almost works.  I had misgivings about a killer mirror movie, but the script here sets up the MacGuffin quite well and plays around with how malleable memory can be, but ultimately disappoints and fails to explore this plotline as fully as it could.  Not only that, but they failed to shore up other issues in the script that ultimately hurt the movie (How does the main character track down the mirror?  Why would the incarcerate a child for 10 years for killing his father when the father had obviously just murdered their mother and tried to murder them?)  The movie ultimately fails, but it is an interesting failure.  5.0 out of 10.