0081 – Annabelle: Creation review


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The Films of 2015


0069 Snapshot 3

Another year has passed and I still feel compelled to talk about movies that I’ve seen.  If you don’t want to read and you just want to hear the 13 best and worst movies I saw, I’d be happy to tell you all about them in THIS video.  But that’s only 13 of the 39 I saw.  If that’s not enough for you, here’s the complete list of movies I watched in 2015, and what I thought.

 

JANUARY

EX MACHINA

This was a very interesting movie that was well-executed on all fronts.  It’s an extremely small movie with really big ideas in regards to all the interesting questions that arise from artificial intelligence … especially if that AI is hot.  This ain’t Hayley Joel Osment.  It’s hot ass (and if I recall correctly, temporarily naked) Alicia Vikander.  The movie was essentially 3 people talking, but one of them was a robot, and still it keeps your attention and is pretty riveting all the way through.  Wasn’t too much of a fan of the ending of it, but I’m sure they didn’t write the whole movie for just me.

 

JUPITER ASCENDING

All I really know about this movie is that I watched it.  What I think I remember is that Mila Kunis was the lost queen of some planet and Channing Tatum was her puppy/human protector.  If not, then I had a really strange and boring dream and I should stop eating pizza before bed.  There wasn’t much going on here by way of story and it didn’t really keep my attention very well, but there is some eye candy for all manner of tastes with Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum … as long as the people that like Tatum would be okay with him being part dog or whatever he was.  But there’s really nothing going on here that needs to be seen.

 

PROJECT ALMANAC

It seems like a lot of other critics have really had an ass full of the found footage genre recently, but I’m not quite there yet.  Granted, the novelty of it has worn off a bit, but I still find it an easy way to engage your audience.  So I didn’t really have the same issues with Project Almanac as I’ve seen from other critics.  It was an unsurprising movie, but it was enjoyable and engaging enough.  Some credit needs be given to a movie just being what it advertises, and that’s what this one does.  Good enough for a watch, but you’ll be able to live without it as well.

 

FEBRUARY

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY

Holy shit!  This movie sucked a big ole bag of dicks.  Actually, no it didn’t.  That would imply that it was sexy in the slightest.  This is a movie that is centered around what a huge Twilight fan flicks the bean to and it’s still way closer to gross and boring than it ever nears sexy.  Unless you’ve got a real hard on for contract litigation.  There’s a lot of that.  I even have a terrible dialogue fetish and this movie still wasn’t able to turn me on, and it’s got almost exclusively terrible dialogue.  And they apparently left out worse dialogue that was in the book the movie is based on.  So a movie that’s almost exclusively about sex turning out to be the opposite, with terrible dialogue, awful story (if you would call it that), the nudity is pretty much just the same girl over and over again so that you’re bored of seeing her naked by the end of the movie, and worst of all … they’re apparently making 2 more.  And women, this is all your fault.  You should be ashamed.  Knock it off.

 

DRAGON BLADE

This movie came as a last minute request from my friend Tara, who advertised it as a laughably bad movie.  The danger that comes with this is that I love Jackie Chan movies, and I love big martial arts epics as well.  What if I didn’t hate this movie and she lost all respect for me?!  Well that’s not something we have to worry about.  I didn’t HATE this movie, but it was not good either.  I think my scale for bad movies is much different than most peoples.  When it was a big martial arts epic, I was fine with the movie, but it spent an awful lot of time being a friendship building montage between the Asians and the round eyes.  The performances were mostly fine for what they needed to be, but Cusack didn’t seem to be trying to hard and Brody went a little over the top.  And that little kid was terrible and annoying as hell.  The guy that jumped off the cliff while holding the sobbing bastard is a hero.

 

HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2

This is another one the critics were perhaps a bit too hard on.  What did you expect when going in to see a sequel to a movie about 4 friends that get sent back in time by getting drunk in a magical hot tub?!  Well it was that.  It was dumb, it was ridiculous, and it was juvenile.  All as advertised.  It also had some funny moments.  If you liked the first one, you’ll probably like the second one.  And if someone ties you to a chair and forces you to watch it, you probably won’t kill yourself.  It’s thoroughly okay.

 

THE LAZARUS EFFECT

There’s nothing wrong with this movie per se, there’s just not much special to it.  I like the concept of the scientists creating a serum that brings someone back to life, but them bringing something terrible back with them.  I mean, that concept alone should be enough to scare both the religious and the scientific together!  …It probably wouldn’t, but it’s technically possible!  But the movie is decently executed and the acting is solid, but it inevitably winds up as just okay and completely skippable.

 

MARCH

CHAPPIE

I was pretty surprised by this movie.  I’ve not been a fan of Neill Blomkamp’s other movies (at least not to the degree many other people seem to be) but I didn’t mind this one.  Don’t really think I’d care to watch it again, but I don’t mind having watched it once.  I had mixed feelings about Die Antwoord being in this movie, and they’re what scared me off for a while, but they were actually pretty good at the acting part, and the painful part of them being in the movie came from their music being used so often.  The story was pretty good though, and the only other really annoying part was Chappie himself, but he was a small part of the movie and not the main character so that probably didn’t have that much of an effect … oh wait.  It’s still okay.

 

ROAD HARD

I am a fan of Adam Carolla so it my feelings about this movie probably need to be weighed against that fact a little, but I really enjoyed this movie.  It wasn’t exactly what I expected, but it was enjoyable.  It’s funny and it’s sweet, but if there was a problem to be had with it is that it couldn’t possibly surprise me because I’m such a big fan of Carolla’s.  This movie is a dramatized version of Carolla’s life if it hadn’t turned out so well for him with his podcast, movies, and TV shows.  Like if he hadn’t got those things and had just gone on the road as a stand-up comedian after the Man Show, this movie could have been his life.  And a lot of the jokes in the movie, if you listen to every one of his podcasts as I do, might not surprise you.  But it’s a well-executed movie and I found it very enjoyable.  I can’t really say if people will enjoy it if they’re not big fans of his, but you would have the benefit of getting to experience most of the jokes for the first time.  I say watch it.  It’s a solid, funny movie.

 

THE FINAL GIRLS

This was a thoroughly enjoyable movie that reminded me a lot of another movie I loved called Tucker & Dale vs. Evil.  It takes a well-known and somewhat worn out genre (a Friday the 13th-esque slasher film) and turns it on it’s head by making a group of friends Last Action Hero themselves into a slasher film one of the character’s mothers starred in before she died, which also brings a great emotional side to the story I didn’t expect out of a fairly goofy comedy.  There’s some real heart and some real laughs in this movie, and a good amount of Thomas Middleditch, who I’d like to see a lot more of.  Definitely a movie to watch.

 

TRAINWRECK

I don’t know why this movie surprised me with its quality, but it did.  I didn’t see it in theaters and even when it became available to rent, I took my sweet time to get around to it.  But it’s strange because I like Judd Apatow, I like Bill Hader, and I like Amy Schumer, and I still turned my nose up at it.  But turns out that liking the comedy of the 3 main creative people in charge of a movie usually means it will turn out to be something you like, and I did.  A little vulgar in the comedy at times (not for me, but that’s what my mom told me) but really funny and pretty touching in parts.  Schumer did a great job with the comedy and the dramatic stuff, Bill Hader was great, Tilda Swinton transformed so drastically for her part in the movie I had to look up that it was her, Colin Quinn was shockingly fantastic, and John Cena and LeBron James were both surprisingly good.  Great movie.  Go check it out.

 

APRIL

FURIOUS 7

I don’t know why they keep making these movies but, more importantly, I don’t know why I keep watching them.  I suppose the fact that people keep watching them is why they keep making them.  But I suppose the main reason I saw this one was to see how they would handle the tragic situation with Paul Walker, and that’s also what made this movie much more tolerable.  The greater majority of the movie was just wall to wall testosterone and the incredulity I felt over watching Jason Statham be a formidable opponent to The Rock, but the end of the movie was a touching tribute and farewell to Walker.  Granted, the real life situation with the actor informed your feelings about it a lot more than the movie and the script did, but it’s a touching moment you don’t expect out of one of these movies.  Of course, I just saw that they’re making yet another one, so hopefully I’ll be able to make myself sit that one out.

 

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

I often feel like I shouldn’t even bother writing a review for these kinds of movies because y’all know how I feel about it.  It’s a Marvel movie!  I probably loved it!  It is probably only technically worth talking about if even I thought it was awful.  But that’s not what happened here.  I wouldn’t say I liked this one as much as I liked the first Avengers movie, but this was still really great.  It mostly matches up with the first one.  The story was still what it needed to be to further the plot, the action was fantastic, there was some good humor there as well, and the cast was still great, but with the addition of Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen (who both did fantastic), Paul Bettany doing more than just being a voice (though I would’ve liked more of him, but that’s not how the story worked out), and most importantly, James Spader killing it as Ultron.  The Hulkbuster fight alone makes this movie worth seeing, but there’s still a lot more to this movie that makes it great.

 

PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2

Allow me to save you 94 minutes that I can’t imagine anyone but me was willing to sacrifice for this movie: Paul Blart is fat and dumb.  That’s about the entirety of the joke attempts in this movie.  I don’t believe the purpose of a joke in these movies is to make you cringe.  They probably want you to laugh, but that’s not what happens.  It’s just bad.  I guess it goes against my argument that movies should be judged based on what they advertise, because this movie does live up to what it advertises.  It looks like a bad, dumb comedy, and it totally delivers on that, but since it’s a bad, dumb comedy I’m going to tell you not to see it.  Did you need me to tell you that?

 

PITCH PERFECT 2

When the first Pitch Perfect came out, I turned my nose up at it until I had heard from enough people that it was worth watching.  After seeing it, I really enjoyed it.  And I had roughly the same experience with the second one.  It’s never really the story as that’s pretty basic.  The story’s purpose in this movie is to set up a few good jokes and some great mashup songs, and it succeeds in all of those areas.  After seeing the movie, I went and bought the soundtrack.  And every once and a while since seeing the movie, I’ll go to YouTube and look up the video of the songs because the great music can only be helped by looking at some of those purdy Bellas performing them.

 

MAY

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

I enjoyed Fury Road a lot, but I was perplexed by the amount of adoration I saw for this movie.  Why is it okay for some action movies to throw story away but not others?  The story is just something that fills in the gaps between a big car chase or an over the top action spectacle.  Which is completely fine, but I’m confused how this movie gets away with it but most action movies do not.  There was obviously nothing to the story here, but the performances were all pretty great, though I was a bit bothered by Max taking a backseat in his own movie to Furiosa.  Furiosa was great and Charlize Theron did a great job with her, but it’s not really her movie.  I do like seeing a strong female in an action movie though.  And the action was absurd in all the right ways, and the fact that so many people actually risked their lives for these scenes in a world of CGI made them that much more spectacular.  Definitely a movie that needs to be adored, but I don’t really reach the same level of adoration as most for it, it seems.

 

TOMORROWLAND

I watched this movie with the intention of finding some bad movies for my end of the year review, but was pleasantly surprised by it.  It’s not going to be anywhere near my best movies of the year, but it was definitely a solid watch.  I liked the message of hope that the movie revolves around, I liked the acting from Clooney, Britt Robertson, and Raffey Cassidy, and the visuals and spectacle of the movie were fantastic.  Nothing wrong with this movie and I’d definitely recommend it for a watch, but it falls a little short of greatness.  Landed right on top of goodness though.

 

SPY

This movie got talked up way heavier than I felt that it had earned.  I like Melissa McCarthy well enough in a supporting role or a cameo, but I haven’t totally signed off on her being the star.  This movie was fine.  Nothing special in the story, a few laughs here and there, Melissa McCarthy was Melissa McCarthy as you’ve seen in almost every Melissa McCarthy performance.  To me, she’s kind of Kevin James with a vagina.  CAN be funny, more often is not, does way too many movies, but keeps getting lots of work.  But if you like her, you’ll probably like this movie.  It just wasn’t my cup of tea.

 

INSIDE OUT

What I have often said about Marvel could also be said of Pixar, but with a much more universal blanket to the statement.  They can do no wrong.  And they seem to keep getting better.  I have loved Pixar movies often in the past, and I have even gotten sad during some of them like Up, but I don’t recall any of them ever making me shed a tear.  Inside Out?  Twice.  The story itself was a fairly basic adventure, but the magic comes from the adventure being personified feelings inside the mind of a little girl dealing with her troubles.  The imagination required to turn the emotional landscape into such a complete world was simply brilliant.  The voice cast was perfect and the movie was touching.  You should have already seen this, whether you have kids or not, and you must enjoy it, or I have nothing to say to you.

 

POLTERGEIST

I don’t know why this movie exists.  It wasn’t bad, but it was Poltergeist with different actors and a better camera.  I don’t mind a remake.  Hollywood runs out of ideas from time to time but I still demand to be entertained and distracted from the fact that I’m going to die one day.  But if you’re gonna remake, change it up a little bit so I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen around every turn.  Stuff’s going on in the house!  I wonder if it’s that Indian burial ground we built the house on!  Well no it’s not because that would be offensive in 2015.  Even Native American burial ground would offend some people.  So I guess you did totally change the movie.  I totally recommend you see Poltergeist.  But probably the first one.  Or this one.  They’re the same thing.

 

SAN ANDREAS

Through whatever tumor has developed in my brain, I love a big, stupid disaster movie.  It seems like every year without fail I go on a kick where I watch nothing but 2012, Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day, and any big disaster movie.  I guess some men just want to watch the world burn.  And San Andreas is definitely getting added to that cycle.  It’s big and it’s stupid, but it’s fun and the cast is pretty great.  The movie gets a little preachy at times and the “We rebuild” line at the end of the movie is so corny I thought I might find it in my poop the next morning, but it is pure fun spectacle.  And, as a message to filmmakers going for these kinds of movies, please just have The Rock do the Rock Bottom, or at least the Peoples Elbow, to the fault line.  You know what you are, so just go for dumb in the biggest way possible!

 

JURASSIC WORLD

I had gotten into an argument about this movie when I referred to it as dumb.  It’s certainly an enjoyable movie that at least mostly lives up to its predecessors, so what could be dumb about it?  How about the fact that hundreds of people have died over the 4 times they have attempted this park and yet they’re still going for it.  And not only do they reopen the park, the genetically create the goddamned Superman of Dinosaurs!  It’s bigger than a T-Rex, It has the active camo system straight out of Metal Gear Solid, it can change its heat signature, it’s intelligent, it can talk and plan with Velociraptors, and it can shoot lasers out of its eyes and it has gatling gun tits.  And oddly, very few of those things are fake!  (I bet the tits are fake)  But all that being said, if you can suspend disbelief in yet another way than just thinking dinosaurs can come back to life, then you can suspend the other stupidity and just enjoy the movie.  And the final battle with the Jesosaurus Rex is worth the price of admission on its own.

 

JUNE

INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3

I never go into these kind of horror movies with high hopes, but this one turned out pretty well.  Pretty basic horror movie plot, but it was well acted and creepy enough.  And I like Lin Shaye and am happy they went into prequel territory so they could bring her back after killing her off in one of the other ones.  But there’s not too much to say about this movie.  It’s good.  Your mind won’t be blown, but it’s good for a watch.

 

TERMINATOR GENISYS

I think what’s hurting the Terminator series the most is that they’ll never be able to top Terminator 2.  And also that they are going to continue to try to make it work until a few years after Arnold is dead and buried, trying to find a way he is still in it and old and dead even though he’s a robot.  But this movie reaches “fine” basically because it was exactly what I expected it to be.  Story barely made sense, acting was what it was (but at least Daenerys Targaryen was there), but things blew up with a good degree of frequency.  What more were you expecting and what more could you ask for?

 

ANT-MAN

I was pleasantly surprised by this movie.  Obviously I lean towards happy with Marvel movies, but I have no particular interest in the character of Ant-Man from the comics and so wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this one, especially given the news that Edgar Wright was no longer involved.  But they took this character I wasn’t interested in and put him in a really fun romp of a movie.  Well, they made the character a secondary character and some new, non-Pym Ant-Man the star, but it was still fun.  The script was good and funny though their attempts at feels didn’t quite work on me, and the performances (especially from Paul Rudd and Michael Pena) were fantastic.  Definitely a fun movie and worth a watch.

 

THE GALLOWS

I liked a lot of things about this movie, but somehow when they came together it didn’t go higher than luke warm.  It did succeed at being kinda creepy, and I liked the idea of the stage play that went wrong and created an angry ghost, but I didn’t get the ghost’s motivations.  So an accident happened and you died.  How does that justify killing people that were only tangentially involved or not involved at all?  That’s bad form!  The found footage thing also seemed more of a hindrance in this movie, and the ending didn’t work for me at all.  So altogether the movie was okay, but not something anyone needs to see.

 

JULY

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION

Who doesn’t like the Mission: Impossible movies?  They’re so big and fun and exciting.  And they’ve all stayed pretty consistent to me.  This one changes nothing.  It’s hard to top Tom Cruise climbing up the side of that huge building in the 4th one, but they gave it their all.  Hanging off the side of a flying airplane is pretty spectacular.  I also love the whole usual cast (especially Simon Pegg) and I like the new addition of Rebecca Ferguson because she was super hot and badass.  And (pretty surprisingly for a big action movie) the story was pretty good here.  I liked the rogue nation aspect and the super spy turned bad guy (even though he looked like Kyle Dunnigan from Reno 911!) and I had no idea how Tom Cruise was going to win in the end of the movie until the movie revealed it, and I thought it was pretty well done and clever.  Check this movie out!

 

PIXELS

I think most of us probably made a decision about this movie pretty quickly after we heard about it.  Adam Sandler, Kevin James.  And I’m out!  Well not if you’re me.  If you’re me, then you push all your chips to the center of the table.  Well that’s misleading, because I obviously wouldn’t go see it in theaters or give it very much money.  I’ll give you my dollar from RedBox.  But this movie was much better than I expected it to be … and that means it was just not terrible.  It wasn’t really funny, but it wasn’t painfully unfunny.  I would say it was cute.  And of course I approve of the message of video game nerds that save the world with their nerdiness.  I’m still in training for that situation to this day.  Have I seen better from Adam Sandler and Kevin James?  Absolutely!  But I’ve also seen much worse.  So I guess that means the movie isn’t that bad, but you still don’t really need to see it.

 

THE VATICAN TAPES

I picked this movie up from RedBox just for shits and giggles.  I do like a ghost/demon horror movie, but the possession movies don’t really do much for me.  Most of them are just one act of slowly seeing the signs of possession and then two acts of dislocating shoulders and peeled back fingernails as the demon tries to do as much damage to its host body for some reason.  That’s essentially what this is.  But then it ends with the Antichrist going out into the world.  So it’s got that going for it.  But the way these play out don’t work out to scary, much like the gore show horror movies, but this one had even less gore.  So it’s a horror movie devoid of scares, but the performances are pretty good.  Not good enough that you need to watch the rest of the movie to see them, but they were still good.

 

AUGUST

FANTASTIC FOUR

First one didn’t work, so let’s try this again!  And yeah, of course we’re gonna tell the same origin story again!  People may have forgotten in the last couple years … how to use Google, where they can find the origin story.  But this movie does the same thing I had a problem with in the first Hulk movie: you take too long to show the title characters!  47 minutes!  Before that, it’s the goddamn Reed Richards show.  And way too long to answer the obvious question: why do I feel like this black guy with a black son and a white daughter hiding something from us?  I suppose it would get to be awkward for him to always introduce Sue as his adopted daughter, but I was a bit curious.  After that, the problem with the movie is that it was boring.  A lot of science, not a lot of fighting.  The new cast was pretty good.  Didn’t much care for Victor von Doom.  His powers were pretty cool (although they didn’t resemble Dr. Dooms very much from what I could tell), but he looked terrible after his transformation.  So, as you can see, there can be a Marvel movie I don’t like and won’t recommend!

 

THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.

Man, Batman v. Superman looks good, don’t it?!  Anyway, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is a movie that is pissing me off more as I have to type the name with all those periods in it.  But the movie itself was pretty good.  I didn’t really want to see it (unlike Batman v. Superman), but I decided to rent it as I was preparing this review and it turned out pretty well.  It was a fun little throwback movie to a time where my parents were just thinking about getting born already.  Pretty simple spy movie story, but it was fun and all three of the main actors (including the Russian, Superman, and Ex Machina lady) were enjoyable.  I’d rather see at least one of them with a big “S” that means “Hope” on his chest and another with nothing on her chest, but that’s neither here nor there.  It’s still an enjoyable watch.  …Like Batman v. Superman…

 

NO ESCAPE

I assume that this movie almost exclusively sought to create tension, and it did that fairly effectively.  What it probably didn’t want to do was make me hate Owen Wilson’s family with a passion.  They were the worst!  Always complaining and second guessing and doing everything they could to throw roadblocks in front of Wilson to keep him from saving them.  One of these little girls throws a bitch fit for a few minutes because they dropped her stuffed animal and didn’t go back for it when they were RUNNING DOWN THE HALL ESCAPING GUNFIRE!  And mom keep suggesting they stay put and wait for … I don’t know, marshmallows to fall out of the sky and save them all.  I assume the writer of this movie hates his/her kids.  After that, it’s also got a little bit of problems with the fact that white people are all good in this and any other color skin is bad, which I assume some people might frown upon.  But, since I’m sure that’s not a message they were intending to conceal in this movie, I’ll let that go.  Instead, I’ll just say that it is a pretty intense movie, but it doesn’t have much more going for it than that.

 

AMERICAN ULTRA

I have never been shy about my hatred of Kristen Stewart.  I find her mostly unbearable, but with an extremely rare chance to be slightly tolerable.  That doesn’t mean I liked this movie, but her presence didn’t really have an effect on my feelings towards the movie, which wound up just being okay.  I like the idea of the movie, though it’s been done before with brainwashed candidates only being less stoned than this one.  It wasn’t really funny (and I wasn’t even really aware that it was supposed to be until reading about it afterwards), so that would mean the movie would depend on its action scenes to impress … and it didn’t.  They weren’t bad, but if I see the best sleeper cell agent ever getting activated, I want that shit to turn into a Jet Li movie.  Jesse Eisenberg can pull off the stoner wussy guy part, and even can pull off the badass facial performance, but there wasn’t anything interesting happening when he got to fighting.  Michael Cera did it in Scott Pilgrim, they should’ve been able to do it here.  Bu the movie isn’t terrible, and John Leguizamo is great in his short scenes, but the movie is skippable.

 

SEPTEMBER

THE MARTIAN

The talking up for this movie scared me off for a while.  It just seemed like it couldn’t possibly live up to what people were saying about it.  And how interesting can a movie be that’s just Matt Damon alone on a planet with no one to talk to?  Well turns out it can live up to it and it can be really interesting.  It’s really grounded (which is a strange thing to say about a movie that happens on Mars, but he WAS on the ground of Mars, sooooo…) and Matt Damon does a fantastic job keeping it emotional, funny, exciting, and interesting all the way through.  I wouldn’t say it was necessarily edge of your seat the whole time like Gravity was because there was enough down time of Matt Damon just trying to do small things like farming to stay alive, but Matt Damon never let it be boring.  Everything was amazing and enjoyable about this movie, and you really need to see it.

 

PAN

I wouldn’t call Pan a “bad” movie, but it sure was odd.  I mean, it’s a Peter Pan sequel but they have the pirates singing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Blitzkrieg Bop” while they work to mine out a rock that is the representation of fairy dust, but that brings it to another problem: why is there a rock representing fairy dust?  This is a Peter Pan movie!  If you take all the magic out of a Peter Pan movie, you just have a movie about pirates, Indians, and an annoying boy.  But there is still some magic to be found in this movie (both in the context of the movie and in the movie itself) and their wasn’t really anything wrong with it.  There just wasn’t very much right with it either.  It was pretty and colorful in parts of the movie (especially once they met the Natives) and the story itself was an interesting enough idea, and the actors were even great.  It just didn’t contain much explanation for why the movie was made or why anyone should see it.

 

OCTOBER

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION

Yup.  I still like these movies.  I don’t know why and (for the most part) you probably shouldn’t listen to much I have to say about the series unless you also like seeing movies about the ghost of the dead horse this movie series continues to beat.  It answers some of the questions left by the rest of the series and introduces a cool new idea with the camera that can see the ghost world, but that kind of takes away from things.  Alien and Jaws were good because they didn’t show the Xenomorph or the shark for as long as they could.  I guess 26 movies was long enough for the Paranormal Activity people, but nothing you show us will be as scary as what we could imagine.  And it wasn’t.  Toby was mostly a black liquid looking thing.  The movie’s not particularly spooky, but there are enough jump scares that it can get your blood pumping.  This movie is good enough if you’re looking for something like that.

 

SPECTRE

Because I watched both in the same day, I was really able to see the similarities between this and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.  The government wants to shut down this very effective organization because it’s outdated, there’s this uber-bad guy that knows all the hero’s tricks, and they even got Léa Seydoux who was in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol!  And I’m sure none of it was coincidence!  Or maybe it was.  Spectre was fine.  Not the best or the worst James Bond movie, and not even the best or worst Daniel Craig James Bond movie, but pretty decent.  Some good action, nice car, little light on the gadgets, couple of really good looking women.  If you’re looking for more out of a James Bond movie, you don’t know what a James Bond is.

 

NOVEMBER

CREED

These Stallone movie sequels are dangerous and unpredictable.  Even if you just look at the Rocky series.  The first one was amazing and then they go straight downhill to number 5, and then number 6 is pretty good again.  So what can anyone assume when going into Rocky 7?  It’s actually better than 6.  Maybe as good as the first one.  It’s a fantastic picture.  Great story about Apollo Creed’s son coming to grips with his troublesome parentage, with Rocky dealing with his own problems, a little love story with the girl that makes terrible music that Adonis Creed gets involved with.  The performances were also great, especially Michael B. Jordan and Stallone.  Stallone can really turn it on sometimes.  A lot of people forget about that because of … half his IMDb page.  And the fights were also pretty great, but were just a few moments.  The focus of the movie was more the human adventure as it should be.  As the first Rocky was.  Speaking of which, a few moments were either derivative or homage-ey, depending on how you look at it.  Like someone gets sick as inspiration to the fighter like what happened to Mick in Rocky 3.  And the outcome of the movie has similarities to the first movie.  But this never becomes a problem.  Got all teary-eyed in this movie a couple of times, and I think that’s a pretty big compliment.  Go see this.

 

DECEMBER

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

I won’t typically see a movie in theaters multiple times, nor will I usually go see a movie the week of its release in theaters.  I’ll do it for this movie.  I tried to keep my hopes low.  I tried to remind myself how I felt when I got this excited and saw Phantom Menace, but it didn’t work.  After 2 days of hearing rave reviews from my friends and being terrified of spoilers, I broke down and went and saw this movie.  Worth.  It.  I should’ve known too.  I wasn’t a fan of Star Trek until they gave it to J.J. Abrams, so what would happen if they gave the same man my childhood to make a movie out of?  He’d make a movie that took me right back to my childhood and had tears exploding out of my face in a couple different places, both from sadness over something that happened in the movie (people who have seen it know what I’m talking about) and once out of what I can only explain as sheer awesome welling up in my face and leaving no room for liquid in there.  The story was exactly what it should be, the look was brilliant as they did as much with practical effects as they could, the old cast was amazing and the new cast was fantastic.  I’m shifting all my prepubescent love from Carrie Fisher over to Daisy Ridley.  Carrie had her chance and never made a move.  Sorry, love.  I can’t wait forever.  And you shouldn’t wait to see this movie!  What is wrong with you if you haven’t seen it yet?!

 

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The Films of 2014


As I was writing these mini-reviews for the 44 movies of 2014 that I saw, something became extremely evident to me: I have been neglecting my written reviews this year. There were so many movies that I watched this year that I didn’t review at all. Robert has not been reviewing stuff up to his potential. I’m hoping to change that in 2015. I will try to write something about everything I see this year, even if it’s a shorter review because I didn’t have much to say. But we can worry about that later. For now, check out my mini-reviews for all the movies I saw in 2014.

 

JANUARY

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES

There’s scarcely anything special one way or the other about the Paranormal Activity movies. They just kind of are. This one also are, but it at least has the decency to end in a pretty cool way that ties it back together with the first movie. It still takes a little while to get to the good stuff, but it does fairly well once it arrives there.

 

THE LEGEND OF HERCULES

For reasons that are probably fairly obvious, I chose not to see this movie in the theaters. I says to myself, “If I’m only going to see one Hercules movie this year, I’ll go with the one that has the Rock in it instead of the one that has one of the lesser Cullens from the Twilight movies in it.” I apparently chose wrong. That is not to say that this was a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it was better than the other Hercules movie. It actually had some cool action in it that may have been mostly borrowed from 300, but it’s a solid place to borrow from. Don’t expect the story or the actors to impress you at all, but there are at least a few fight scenes in the movie that make it worth renting.

 

DEVIL’S DUE

This movie was Rosemary’s Baby a couple decades and levels of quality removed. It wasn’t bad and it wasn’t ever really boring, but it also never came close to being scary and was entirely predictable. When it comes right down to it, the only reason to watch this movie is because you somehow can’t find a copy of Rosemary’s Baby, but I’m sure that’s got to be streaming on something by now, or at least $5 on DVD.

 

THE RAID 2

I found The Raid 2 to be extremely disappointing. The first movie was some of the best action I had seen in a movie, and it also had the benefit of being a complete surprise to me. I had no expectations for The Raid: Redemption when I went in, allowing its fantastic action scenes an easier time to blow me away. The Raid 2 did not benefit from such surprise, so there’s a chance that is the reason I didn’t wind up caring for it. It might also be the fact that this was a sequel to a non-stop, over the top action movie that had its share of great action scenes, but it had ones that were separated by hours of boring, slow, story scenes. Should I be checking my watch and nodding off during a sequel to The Raid: Redemption? No! I shouldn’t be able to since my hands should be too busy touching myself! But that’s not what happened…

 

I, FRANKENSTEIN

I’m not really sure what to say about this movie. It was definitely bombed by the greater majority of critics, but I don’t remember hating it. I also don’t remember liking it. That’s because I don’t remember any of it. I watched the movie, and I’m pretty sure I stayed in the room and watched the entire thing, but I remember practically nothing. Aaron Eckhart was Frankenstein and he fought some … somethings by using … something. I really can’t remember any of it. I also didn’t write a review for it, which leads me to believe there was nothing to say about this movie one way or another. So if you have 2 hours that you’d like to disappear completely from your timeline like a controlled, short, alcohol bender without a hangover the next day, here’s your movie. You can spend the next couple of months trying to figure out what you did in those two hours you can’t remember as if you were a UFO abductee. You can make a game out of it!

 

NON-STOP

This movie was far better than I expected when I rented it. I knew nothing about it when I first saw it in a RedBox, leading me to believe it would have a little too much in common with one of the many Nicholas Cage movies that release under my radar. Instead, this is a Liam Neeson movie, and it has Julianne Moore in it. Does that make it good? No. But it certainly bumps it up a few notches. Its story was fairly standard and unsurprising, but Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore elevate it to the lofty status of “Okay” from the “Meh” it would be at otherwise.

 

ROBOCOP

The modern era’s penchant for remaking popular old movies has been beaten up pretty thoroughly, but I’ve mostly been on the opposing side to this hatred. For instance, I really liked the new Dredd movie and, though I didn’t think the remake was a great movie, I did like the remake of Total Recall and didn’t hold too much appreciation for the camp appeal of the original. That being said, there was really no reason to remake Robocop. The original Robocop still holds up pretty well, and all the remake has going for it is slightly improved visuals. The remake wasn’t the worst thing ever, but it added nothing. Just watch the original.

 

FEBRUARY

THE LEGO MOVIE

This movie caught me by surprise. When I saw that they were making a movie out of Legos, I probably scoffed, made a jacking off motion with my hands, and walked away. I liked the Lego games, but certainly they couldn’t support an entire movie, could they? Turns out, yes they can. This movie was a great kid’s movie but even people that the law insists should be charged as adults can enjoy it. A movie with a solid message and some pretty good laughs spread throughout, and an excellent cast of voice actors made me realize how you can’t judge a movie by its poster any more than you can judge a book by its cover. …Or so I’ve been told. I’ll still judge books by their covers because I can look at them and see they are books and go, “EW!” and go play a video game.

 

POMPEII

I’ve always had an affection for Greek/Roman mythology, and in my interest in that came some interest in real life events that inspired some mythology, such as the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the ensuing destruction of the town of Pompeii. Add that interest to the cute chick from Sucker Punch and gundamned Jon Snow and how could I not watch this movie? Well I could have known better than to expect anything, because it certainly couldn’t live up to it. It wanted to be Gladiator, but fell short. Then it wanted to be a love story, forgetting of course that I came into this movie looking to see a volcano erupt. Any interaction with people would therefore be a waste of my time. It looked pretty, but it got caught up with other failed attempts at story nonsense that set its own sights on something that would wind up being well out of its reach.

 

MARCH

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE

The best part about this movie was the boobs of Eva Green, and this will not be the only point in this review where I make that claim. Calling this movie 300 seemed like a copout since this movie really didn’t have much to do with the original movie … and this movie didn’t particularly focus on 300 of anything. But, at least from what I know, Greek Warriors < Spartan Warriors, thus 300 Part 2 < 300 Part 1. The action was inferior and the story was inferior and the abs were inferior. But Eva Green’s boobs are better than Lena Headey’s boobs, so it’s got that goin’ for it.

 

NOAH

I don’t remember thinking much about this movie one way or another. The performances were pretty good, particularly from Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connolly, and Emma Watson, but that’s probably all I can really say about this one. It was kind of like the Bible story come to life, but then there were rock monsters and such that I kind of remember from the Bible. Or was that the Neverending Story? Which one was Atreyu in? Well this movie was pretty, well-acted, and pretty well-directed, but I didn’t care much about what was going on at any given time.

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

I probably don’t really need to write much of a review for this movie for my followers to know how I felt about it. I could just say, “Marvel movie,” and give away the fact that I enjoyed it. But that’s not ALWAYS true. I mean, there were two Ghost Rider movies. But it is definitely the case here, although I would still believe that it’s also a good movie. Of course there was great action, but I also think the story worked very well (as it has in so many Marvel movies recently). The repercussions of what go down in this movie ripple through some of the other Marvel movies and even into a Marvel TV show.

 

DIVERGENT

I had a good idea what to expect when I rented this movie. It looked like one of the hundreds of movies that have come out recently that are optioned from subpar books into subpar movies that inexplicably do well even though they’re not particularly good. (Disclaimer: I’m just guessing. I’ve never read this or any other book.) It’s like Twilight and Logan’s Run had a baby, but then they realized that they were related and so the baby came out retarded. It’s about a girl that’s special because the sorting hat machine can’t figure out if she’s Gryffindor or Hufflepuff and so the chick from Titanic will kill her unless La Femme Nikita is there. So she joins the Bad Ass group and tries to be a Bad Ass, but she can’t pull it off even though the movie wants us to think she can. And then the movie only kind of ends because they know already that the people of the world are dumb enough to see this enough times to justify a sequel, even before they’ve released the movie.

 

APRIL

TRANSCENDENCE

This movie sure did try … something. It had some really big ideas but when they came together, they just weren’t that interesting. Johnny Depp’s character gets killed by some technology-hating terrorists but then his wife tries to keep him alive by keeping him alive as artificial intelligence, but without its humanity it goes all SkyNet and tries to fix the problem that is humanity. It was a somewhat pretty movie to see, but beyond that it was a movie that didn’t connect with me. Perhaps I need to upgrade to USB 3.0 for full connectivity.

 

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2

This is another movie that probably benefits greatly from being able to attach a Marvel logo to their movie. I had mostly the same problems as I had with the original: the dialogue is pretty terrible. Conversations are stuttering and awkward and Spider-Man can’t pull off a funny quip to save his life, but the story pulls itself together with the resolution of the Gwen Stacy storyline. The villains were pretty good, but only at certain points in the movie. Jamie Foxx was a little over the top as Max Dillon, but was pretty good as Electro. And Dane DeHaan was pretty good as Harry Osborn, but looked goofy as hell when he became the Green Goblin. Still, I really liked the ending, and the rest of the movie was fun and enjoyable enough to make it there with little complication.

 

MAY

GODZILLA

If it is your decision that you need to see Godzilla rebooted again, my recommendation is to rent this movie and skip to around the last half hour. That’s when the movie finally decides that it’s time to show their titular character and have him drop an ass-whoopin’ on two radioactive bat creatures. Also, if you’re going in expecting to see a giant, asexual iguana and Matthew Broderick, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that it’s actually Godzilla. The problem then becomes that I’m reviewing the entire movie, and if you watch the whole thing you must first sit through an hour and a half of boring set up and family problems involving Walter White and the brother and sister from the next Avengers movie that are married with a kid in this one. So not only does this movie tease the audience way too hard with the reveal of their main character, but this movie is pro-incest.

 

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST

If you were the type to feel like you need to fully understand a movie to enjoy it, you may have trouble with Days of Future Past. The time travel stuff makes for a complicated story that may not stand up to prolonged scrutiny. Of course, if you were that type to demand that their time travel storyline make sense, you probably shouldn’t be seeing a movie about mutants with superpowers. I had a couple minor gripes with the continuity, such as how Wolverine would eventually end up in the Weapon X program after we find out that William Stryker was Mystique, but I don’t let such things ruin my appreciation for the movie unless they’re overwhelming. But it was a joy to see the two different casts of the X-Men movies come together with a pretty solid story, cool action, and of course, the Quicksilver scene. Really fun movie and the scene at the end only whets my appetite for the next one.

 

EDGE OF TOMORROW

This movie turned out better than I expected. It seemed like a pretty standard action movie, and it was, but it was also slightly more interesting. It was Groundhog Day if it were an action movie. I assumed that would make the movie boring and repetitive, but they pulled it off. Obviously it was repetitive, but that’s what they were going for. And the minor changes kept it interesting. That and the hotness of Emily Blunt. Definitely worth a watch.

 

MALEFICENT

I was surprised with how much I enjoyed this movie. I was more than a little worried it would pull a Snow White and the Huntsman, but this movie rested on the shoulders of Angelina Jolie, not Kristen Stewart. I thought Angelina was great in this movie. She really felt like Maleficent but reined it in from going too far with it. And though I loved Maleficent as an evil character, the way they made her sympathetic in this movie really worked for me. I liked the performances, the story, the look. I really enjoyed this movie.

 

A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST

I really don’t know why this movie was beaten up as much as it was. I thought it had plenty enough laughs to justify its existence to me. I guess you could argue that the movie was scattershot, but if you went to see this movie and you like Family Guy, you should be somewhat okay with that. And if you don’t like Family Guy, then why did you see this anyway? You know that’s the same guy, right? As a straightforward comedy, all I required from it is some laughs. And it was only aided by having a great cast to deliver those laughs.

 

JUNE

EARTH TO ECHO

I guess the best I could say about this movie is that I had no complaints about it. It did nothing wrong while simultaneously meaning very little to me. It’s found footage ET with like 4 times the kids helping the alien phone home. But also not nearly as good as ET. The kids were a little annoying, but all kids are to me so I can’t really hold that against the movie. But the movie was pretty, and Echo was pretty adorable. So … I dunno … see it, I guess … or not.

 

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION

They sure are still making these, aren’t they? Well, I’m as much to blame as is the studio system’s lack of imagination because I still see them. It made about as much sense as a movie about robot car creatures that Mark Wahlberg will fight with a sword gun could. Except for the part where the Japanese Samurai stereotype robot turned into an Italian as fuck Bugatti Veyron car. But you didn’t expect this shit to make sense, did you? Things blew up. That’s all you need to know, and that’s all there is anyway. Oh yeah, and a hot, blond, possibly jailbait daughter.

 

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

These monkeytown movies really are turning out much better than they probably need to be. They could just be not much more than a simple monkey vs. human storyline, but they actually infuse some pathos into these movies. The quality of their performers gets the audience attached to the humans and the apes at the same time (except, of course, for Carver and Koba, who are the two epic douchebags in their respective communities), which makes it somewhat hard to decide what side to root for (I went with the monkeys), but the movie gets me interested enough to root in the first place, so you can put that in the win category.

 

JULY

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

I don’t remember much about his movie because I lost interest in what I was watching pretty early into the movie. It was vaguely spooky in its atmosphere, but lacked imagination or any scares. I suppose their excuse for any plot problems could be their claim that it was based on true events, but that should make the movie much scarier. Perhaps it’s my hesitation to believe in the events, or perhaps it just wasn’t captured well. Either way, it was more boring than scary, so I won’t be recommending it.

 

SEX TAPE

There’s not much to say about this movie. It just was. They story of this movie seemed fairly lazy. They accidently uploaded their sex tape to the cloud, which then got sent to all the iPads that they just gave away to random people (Y’know, as people do) and then they deal with one or two of these iPads before realizing they can remote delete them. The story does have a somewhat sweet message about keeping the fire burning for each other after many years and parenthood, but it’s not really supported by enough laughs to inspire anyone to see it. Of course, Cameron Diaz is pretty sexy in some parts of the movie, so maybe that will tip the scale in favor of a rental.

 

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

The joy of this movie comes from the fairly unknown property on which it’s based. Marvel might never have let a director like James Gunn have the freedom to play with this movie the way he did if it were one of their more known properties such as X-Men or Avengers. But thank God they let him do his thing. The movie was equal parts funny, exciting, and heartfelt, not to mention entirely entertaining throughout. The cast was also incredible. Lee Pace was intimidating as Ronan the Accuser, Chris Pratt was charming as Starlord, Bradley Cooper was hilarious as Rocket, Zoe Saldana was hot as Gamora, Vin Diesel was adorable as Groot, Karen Gillan disappeared into Nebula, but I think the most surprising was Dave Bautista as Drax. Obviously, he would be able to do the action well, but he lands the comedy parts of his performance better than I would’ve expected as well. This movie was a fantastic offering and I can’t wait for the next one.

 

HERCULES

I like the Rock. And I like Hercules stuff. But what I don’t like is coming into a movie about the demigod son of Zeus … turning out to be a fake. The movie is all about a really buff guy that isn’t particularly special, but has a great hype man. Then at the end, someone tells him to believe in himself and he’s a demigod again. I don’t know how it works, and I don’t care. The movie just wasn’t very good. Not even the Rock could salvage it for me. You know a movie’s bad when I think the Kellan Lutz version of a Hercules movie is better.

 

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

There’s not a whole lot that this movie can offer to any type of person. If you’re a fan of the turtles (as I am), you’ll probably find yourself disappointed in their stupid story and with how weird they decided to make the turtles look. And Splinter just looked gross. If you’re a fan of Megan Fox for her hotness, you’ll find yourself disappointed that it’s not really utilized in the movie. And if you’re a fan of Megan Fox for something else, you’re weird and I don’t get you. The movie isn’t the worst thing ever, and probably isn’t even the worst Ninja Turtles movie, but it’s not really worth seeing. At least it had the decency to not be so bad that it ruined my image of the franchise as a whole.

 

AUGUST

THE EXPENDABLES 3

I don’t know what to say here. It’s Expendables … again. It’s stupid and poorly acted, but things explode and old dudes bro out a lot. What more can one say? Watch it or not. You know what it is.

 

THE GIVER

This movie only impressed me because of how terrible it wasn’t. That’s not to say that it was particularly good, but I expected less from this movie. As it was, it was just fairly standard. It was another in what seems to be a trend of movies about the one special kid that is slightly better than the rest of us that needs to save us from something. It’s Divergent or Aeon Flux or Equilibrium or Parts: The Clonus Horror or any number of other movies that are basically the same movie. The story didn’t surprise or impress, but they at least had Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep to give some great performances. And a little Taylor Swift for the kids. But there’s really nothing particular in this movie that says anyone should see it.

 

SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR

The best part about this movie was the boobs of Eva Green. …Why does that sound so familiar…? I know the first one was really popular, but I never really knew why. The look was amazing and the story was decent, but I just didn’t see anything that special about it. Well I was in the minority on that one. What many people seem to agree on is that this movie is much worse than the original. It’s a lot of the same stuff with the same fantastic style, but much less going for it in the story department. It’s probably worth seeing just for the style and the fact that Eva Green’s boobs get taken out in the movie every 5 minutes just to make sure you’re paying attention, but that’s all I really got out of this movie.

 

AS ABOVE SO BELOW

I can’t say I expected much out of this movie. It seemed like The Descent, but in the Catacombs in France. And sure, that’s exactly what it was, but it was still pretty solid as a horror movie offering. It still suffers from the fact that it’s probably one of 8 movies on this list in the found footage genre, but I still find that genre can work. The movie has a promising setup that it doesn’t entirely deliver on, but I don’t expect too much out of horror movies. It created a creepy atmosphere well and relied on some fairly successful jump scares, but I ended up feeling more satisfied by the experience than anything else. It’s worth a rental.

 

SEPTEMBER

TUSK

Oh wow this movie was fucked up, but in a very pleasant way. Well, it wasn’t exactly pleasant, but it sure was interesting. It’s a movie spawned from a podcast where two guys joked about a guy turning another guy into a walrus. In this movie, he does that shit! The movie is equal parts amusing, horrifying, and confusing. The movie defies explanation and, in my opinion, needs to be seen. I can’t promise you’ll like it as I did, but I can promise you that you’ve never seen anything like it. What more is there to say? WalrusYes.

 

OCTOBER

ANNABELLE

I only went to see this movie because many people I know were talking about it. After I left, I had no idea why they had been. It’s not bad, it’s just nothing special. It was a sequel to a movie that I thought was fine, and it was fine itself. It’s a movie about a haunted doll. You can probably fill in the rest of the plot from there and not be far off. I would say that some of the jump scares were clever and well executed, so I would probably recommend this movie for at least a rental.

 

DRACULA UNTOLD

This movie pleasantly surprised me. I expected it to be garbage and to be an easy candidate for one of the worst films of the year, but it wasn’t bad. It’s not particularly good, but it’s enjoyable enough. It’s like a Maleficent-esque retelling of the bad guy story to make them come off as sympathetic, and it’s fairly effective. It also has some pretty good action scenes once Vlad gets the bloodlust. Also, the cast was pretty excellent. I would say that the climactic final fight left something to be desired, such as Vlad not being severely diminished by a bunch of bling before the fight began, but overall the movie wasn’t bad. It’s a solid rental, though also something you can easily live without.

 

BIG HERO 6

I expected that I would like this movie when I went into it, but I did not foresee how much. Anyone that knows me will tell you that I am the manliest man that ever manned. I watch all the sports and when I play them, I get all the sporting points. I fix cars with tools and make the car work good. I scratch myself in public and demean women with words. With all that on the table, you know a movie is effective when someone as ultimately manly as I cried not once but twice during this movie. Well, technically one was in the short film that preceded the movie, and the second time was in the movie proper, but I think it fair to lump them together for this review. This movie contains genuine laughs, some great action, and a few heartfelt moments and a great message to wrap it all up. Disney killed it with this movie. I would put it up against any Pixar movie any day.

 

JOHN WICK

This movie caught me off guard. Let’s face facts: Keanu Reeves can be hit and miss. You could be walking into a Matrix, or you could be walking into a Matrix Revolutions. And when you put him in a movie with a boring name like John Wick, you start to lose my attention. That title is just some dude’s name. Some dude I don’t know or care about. But I went to the theaters to see it because I had nothing better to do, and I could not have been happier that I have no social life. My lack of things to do or people that like me got me to see one stylish, badass movie. It starts in a really heart wrenching way that will affect both the people that care about humans and the people that care about animals more than they care about people (like me). And this opening makes you not only okay with the ass whooping that Keanu is about to unleash, but pray for it. At least it did for me. Add all that with some great style and some sweet action and you’ll find that Keanu still gots it.

 

OUIJA

A friend of mine requested that I review this one while it was still in theaters and I was so grateful because I had not been getting enough sleep at that time and needed a good nap. It was SO boring and exactly zero percent scary. And this movie had a leg up on scaring me because it seems like I’d be so much easier to scare when I was nodding off to Sleepytime Land, but it still couldn’t pull it off. The only thing the movie had going for it was that its cast did a fairly decent job at portraying characters that weren’t well-written, but that doesn’t make for a good horror movie. If someone asks if you want to rent this movie, move the planchette over to “No,” and then over to “Goodbye.” That person is not a real friend.

 

NOVEMBER

INTERSTELLAR

This movie definitely got talked up to a degree it couldn’t live up to, but it came pretty close. The story was a little hard to follow in parts since it’s been a while since I last attended a Quantum Physics class, but I think I got the gist of it. The cast also knocks it out of the park, but the greatest thing this movie has going for it is the fact that it’s visually epic. Of course, the biggest knock against this movie is the fact that it’s 72 hours long. Or something like that anyway. Still, whatever its ridiculous length, it may have had only a few sparse boring moments where the amount of your life you had dedicated to the movie occurred to you. This movie is worth getting you a few steps closer to the grave for.

 

DUMB AND DUMBER TO

I have been a massive fan of Jim Carrey since he first spoke from his butt, and his subsequent film career has always done more to cement my appreciation of him than to diminish it. Dumb and Dumber was appropriately stupid and outrageously funny. Even with that pedigree, I don’t think I would ever consider myself amongst the chorus that was calling for a sequel 20 years later. The chances were way higher that they would do more harm than good. And that’s what they did with Dumb and Dumber To. There were a few laughs to be found in this movie, but more of their attempts were trying to rehash jokes from the first movie for fan service. But this fan did not feel serviced. He felt more like he had seen those jokes before and could see the rest of them coming from miles away. Standing on its own, this movie may have done fine by me, but it was not standing on its own. It was following one of my favorite comedies of all time with mediocrity, and it was hurting my feelings. I’m sorry, Dumb and Dumber To, but you were a little too dumb for your own good.

 

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1

This movie has three things working against it for me. First is that I grow weary of movies made from books I’m not interested in. Second is that I don’t like how often they split what could probably be one movie into two in order to make more money off of the audience. The third is that I’ve never been too fond of the Hunger Games movies. But this one wasn’t bad. I found it a little hard to follow for a while because they kept referencing prior movies that I was not interested enough in to file away in my memory, but ultimately the story was fine. There’s not too much action, but it’s mostly good. And the performances were great because they had fantastic actors in the movie. So I was good with this movie. I’ll probably see the next one even though I may not remember this one well enough to understand it.

 

DECEMBER

INTO THE WOODS

I really wish I had kinder words for this movie. I like the people in it so much that I was surprised at how much I disliked it, but that is not me saying that it is a bad movie. I liked the story for how it mashed up some popular storybook tales but infused them with meaning about dealing with some real world problems. I didn’t see it at first, but it really brings it together in the ending. The cast was also fantastic, but look at the people they got, far too numerous to list here. My problem with the movie (and I realize this is a problem of my own ignorance and bias) is that it was a musical. I probably should’ve known it was a musical so that I could’ve better prepared myself. It would also have worked in the movie’s favor if I wasn’t predisposed to dislike musicals. But it is not as if I hate them all, and some musicals can overcome my dislike, but I didn’t care for any of the songs in this movie even though they were performed well, and there was far too much of the singing of songs I didn’t like. I wanted this movie to end about an hour earlier than it did. Granted, I would’ve missed the ending that I enjoyed, but I would’ve been able to skip much of the stuff I didn’t.

 

EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS

After having seen Noah, I felt justified in my trepidation about seeing this movie. Would it be another loose interpretation of the Bible with crazy rock monster angel things or would it be something more? Well, I wouldn’t say that it was “something more.” That makes it sound life changing or something, but it was pretty good. It sticks fairly close to my vague memory of the biblical story, and thankfully doesn’t cheat the audience out of the God stuff. Whatever your religious beliefs, the only reason this story is worth telling is if God lays some plagues down on Egypt’s candy asses. I also enjoyed the epic scale found in the look of the movie and in the huge battles. I enjoyed this movie, and I think most people should. Even an atheist can enjoy this movie. Just watch it as mythology. Clash of the Titans was pretty cool, right?

 

THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES

I was very happy after leaving this movie. It’s hard to determine if it was the quality of the movie or just the fact that I could finally mark myself as finished with the 6 movie epic. This was the best of the Hobbit movies. The first was too much walking. The second was not enough Smaug or desolation. This movie was far more desolation of Smaug, and definitely plenty of army battling. The story is as solid as any of the Middle-Earth movies, and it also has the same epic scale, beauty, and spectacle. Though I could see some saying that the action goes on too long once the big fight starts, I was down the whole time. Definitely a great way to tie up the series.

 

Did you notice something missing? Something occurred to me while writing this review and recording the video version of it: this review is a total spoiler for my video review! What reason is there to watch the video if you could just read it here first? Besides the usual need to see my pretty face, that is. So I decided that next year I should drop the video first, but this year I would not be able to finish the video in time. So instead of depriving my lovely readers of anything, I decided that I just wouldn’t do the top and bottom 5 here while still leaving the reviews for the movies I chose in. Tune in next week to see which I thought were the best and the worst. And in the meantime, why not tell me what your best and worst were? Or take a guess as to what you think mine will be. COMMENT BELOW!!

 

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Paranormal Activity (2007) and Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)


I Don’t Know If The House Is Haunted, But I Hope It Is.

I don’t know if I’m happy or sad to see the October Horror-thon come to a conclusion, but we’re nearly there. Today, I decided I’d go see the third of the Paranormal Activity series in theaters, but that review comes tomorrow. Today, I will slam Paranormal Activity 1 & 2 together in one review so we can be up to date with PA before I bring you the third. Paranormal Activity was written and directed by Oren Peli and stars Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Mark Fredrichs, Amber Armstrong, and Ashley Palmer, and Paranormal Activity 2 is directed by Tod Williams and stars mostly the same people, but adds Sprague Grayden, Brian Boland, Molly Ephraim, and Vivis Colombetti. Prepare yourself for spoilers.

Paranormal Activity

Katie Featherston comes home to find that her boyfriend, Micah Sloat, has purchased a brand new camera in order to attempt to capture signs of ghostly activity that Katie claims has haunted her since her youth. After playing around with his camera as any good Technophile would, they retire for the evening and leave the camera running just beyond the foot of their bed, looking down the hallway. Prepare to see a lot of this camera angle. At first, the activity is fairly uneventful, catching mostly the sound of footsteps and lights turning on and off by themselves. Then, it escalates drastically to Katie’s keys being found on the floor! So they hire a psychic named Dr. Mark Fredrichs, who decides that they are not haunted by a ghost, but by a demon. He gives them the phone number of a demonologist named Dr. Johann Averies and advises them to contact him. Katie wants to, but Micah is an idiot. He thinks he can handle this ghost problem with a Ouiji board and a punch to the mouth of that ghost if he steps out of line. The activity slowly escalates night by night. It goes to a door moving by itself, Katie hears voices that rouse her from her sleep, and finally a load roar and a thud from downstairs, prompted by Micah’s taunts. Katie begins to get super creepy by waking up and standing next to the bed staring at the sleeping Micah for hours before walking downstairs. Micah finds her sitting in a swing outside and refusing to come back inside. When he tries to get a blanket for her, she appears in the doorway and goes back to bed. The next morning, she doesn’t remember any of it. Micah goes against the wishes of the Doc and Katie and brings home a Ouiji board and tries to get Katie to use it with him before they go out for the evening. She doesn’t take it well. She storms out and he follows. Shortly after, footsteps can be heard walking downstairs, then the planchette starts to move on it’s own and then the board catches fire. Micah decides to sprinkle talcum powder in the hallway to see the footsteps and that produces 3-toed footprints from the attic into the bedroom. Investigating the attic, Micah discovers a photo of Katie that cannot possibly exist because it should have been lost in a fire from her youth. After a picture of the couple is smashed during the day, they try to call Dr. Averies. He’s not there, so they call Dr. Fredrichs again, but he says he can’t help them. That night, Katie is dragged out of bed and bitten on the back. They decide to go to a hotel, but Katie changes her mind. That night, Katie wakes, creepy-stands next to Micah, then goes downstairs and screams. Micah investigates only to get the shit killed out of him and have himself thrown into the camera by possessed Katie. Micah’s body is discovered by the police, Katie remains at large.

There’s also a couple of different endings to this. On the BluRay, you can also watch an ending that is similar, but in this ending – instead of walking in, sniffing Micah’s corpse, and attacking the camera – Katie walks in covered in blood and clutching a butcher knife, seemingly having killed Micah downstairs. Then she slits her throat. This particular ending would put quite the damper on sequels so it didn’t get used. There was also an ending I never saw where Katie kills Micah downstairs and comes upstairs with the butcher knife, sits on the bed, and rocks back and forth. The camera indicates that days begin to pass until Katie’s friend Amber comes over and discovers Micah, screams, and leaves. Later the police come to find Micah. There’s also one I saw on YouTube where the same thing happens but the police come upstairs and find Katie, she snaps out of her daze and waddles towards the police holding her knife and completely confused. Then they shoot her.

Paranormal Activity 2

We backpedal a bit to a couple of months before the events of the first movie. A different couple named Kristi (Sprague Grayden) and Dan Rey (Brian Boland), return home with their newborn son, Hunter. The tape of that joyous occasion is then recorded over with a tape of the couple filming their trashed house after a supposed break in. Every room in the house has been trashed except for Hunter’s room and nothing has been stolen. Dan reacts by having security cameras installed all over the house, thankfully giving us a bit of change to the camera angles. Shortly after, something spooks the family’s beloved maid Martine (Vivis Colombetti), inspiring her to spread sage all over the house to ward off evil spirits. Dan fires her, probably saying “How dare you try to protect my family?!” Later, Kristi’s sister, Katie (yes, that Katie), comes over and Dan and Micah mock Kristi and Katie for believing in ghosts. Dan’s daughter from a previous marriage, Ali (Molly Ephraim), is also quite skeptical, until something happens to her. At home alone with Hunter, Ali’s boyfriend comes over and they decide to bust out a Ouiji. Ali asks the spirit what it wants and it first says “Pussy”. Okay, that was her douche nozzle boyfriend. But then it starts spelling out “H … U … N … T” but then the camera cuts away to Hunter’s room so I have no idea what it was trying to say. Ali doesn’t notice. Later, she naps and a shadow comes over her, waking her up. A knock at the door inspires her to go outside to investigate and she’s locked out of the house, getting her into trouble with her parents. Just as in the first movie, things begin to escalate to creepier and creepier occurrences, coming to a head when the family dog, Abby, is attacked violently off-camera. Dan and Ali take the dog to the vet, leaving Kristi at home alone. She goes to check on Hunter and has her legs swept out from under her by an invisible force and she is dragged downstairs into the basement. She stays there for several hours until she walks calmly out of the basement. The next day, Dan leaves Ali alone with Kristi and Kristi is acting weird, spazzing out whenever Ali goes near Hunter. Ali also discovers scratches and writing on the inside of the basement door. She calls her dad home to show her the surveillance footage of Kristi being dragged downstairs and Dan calls Martine. Dan is an asshole, so he decides he’s perfectly comfortable expelling the demon, even knowing that it will immediately go over to Katie. It works and all is well … until Katie returns to the house after the events of the first movie and kills the family, abducting Hunter never to be seen again.

Wow. That’s a lot of typing to get to this point, but let’s review these bitches. I like both of these movies, as should be expected from my revelation about loving ghost movies. I like so much about these movies beyond the movie themselves, and then I like the movie. For instance, I like the “found footage” idea. Obviously I’m not dense enough to believe this movie was real, just like the Blair Witch, but I do allow myself to believe it for the time while I’m watching the movie. I feel like it gets you more involved in the movie if you allow it to. But don’t be dumb enough to think it was a real movie. Another thing I like about them is that they make so much money and cost relatively little to make. And, even though they cost so little to make, they still do a lot of stuff that is fascinating and cool. Obviously they save a lot of money on casting by having a super small cast of unknowns and only needing one or two locations per movie and that could allow them to do cool stuff in the movie. Things like the demon footprints, the cabinets exploding open, and getting dragged by nothing are the kind of things that I can’t figure out how they pull off without cutting away. They hide their tricks very well and I like that. In PA2, I also like the way they set up things for later in the movie. Small things falling in the kitchen before all the cabinets bust open later in the movie and the dog messing with the basement door because something is down there. It’s things you may not pay any mind to the first time but notice on the second viewing. The story isn’t really what I’d call a story, but that’s not saying they’re bad movies. Most of the interactions seem improvised and so I wouldn’t say there’s much story involved to the movie, but that’s what they were going for. I did, however, think some of their demon information was glossed over or incorrect. Or maybe the people were just supposed to be kind of dumb. Micah decides at one point to burn the picture of Katie to show that demon what’s what. You think that one picture was what allowed him to manifest himself? I did, however, prefer one of the 4 endings that was not determined to be the real one more than this one. The one of her sitting on the bed rocking back and forth would’ve been much better. Then you could’ve made her run or disappear when the police arrived. I think that’s way more unsettling. And one other thing that bothers me every time I watch this: How do they get mad at Ali when she gets locked out? If there was ever any dispute about something in the house after it was completely covered in cameras, it would be as simple as “Let’s check the tapes.” Then you see the shadow, the knock, the door closing on it’s own, and Hunter being lifted up and out of his crib by a ghost and you maybe don’t get your asses killed by the end of the movie.

I’d say you’d have to give the acting a round of applause in these movies. All of the characters in the movies seem very real and make the situations suck you in more. If the lines are improvised, then you can extend that applause for a little longer. Their performances were almost enough to make me believe that this really was found footage, so that’s a compliment to the actors. If I might insult some of the actors though, I didn’t like looking at Katie in this movie. She has the look of someone that borders on looking good but hit the Haagen Daas a little too hard. And the movie scared me by having Micah try to get Katie nude on camera a few times. I’m not looking for that, man. I can expect it from Micah though, because he seemed to be either a douche nozzle or a moron through most of the movie. He did the exact opposite of what Katie requested and then seemed to get all innocent and play dumb when she got mad at him. Really, dude? And for him to be dumb enough to KNOW there is ghostly activity in his house but turn down the help of a professional because he’s so macho he thinks he can handle this shit by himself is retarded. I understand turning down a psychic because you don’t believe in this stuff, but if you’ve seen it many times, take the man’s word for it. You could still be alive. I was happy when Sprague Grayden entered as Kristi because she was actually good looking. As was Molly Ephraim … maybe. Depends on how old she is. I also liked the little kids that played Hunter. I don’t know if it was intentional, but to have the kid staring at something that isn’t there from the moment they bring him into the house is a nice touch. I would’ve liked it if they either made the Mexican maid speak English or subtitled her, though. I am not fixing to learn Spanish to get possible inside scoops on this movie.

So I kind of like both movies here, but let’s compare the two. Most people liked PA a lot, but most people did not like PA2. I’d call it a bit harsh to say I DIDN’T like PA2, but it was definitely the worst of the 3. Even though there are a lot of things that are almost exactly the same between the two movies, I feel as though the second movie gets docked a little bit because it wasn’t the one that started it. Kind of like Bioshock 1 and 2. The second one wasn’t a bad game and had the same feel and atmosphere as the first, but it didn’t start it. It just recreated it. I did like that PA2 gave us more than the one camera angle while simultaneously making the footage we’re watching more believable. I doubt Micah would take that camera every single place he went during the course of the movie and I’m sure Katie wouldn’t have allowed it, but when you make it surveillance cameras you can believe that the footage was caught. I would say both of the movies start pretty slow, but both also build the tension by just shoveling it on top of us over and over until the movie ends. The biggest problem, PA ends in a cool crescendo, PA2 instantly deflated me with the goofiest neck snap delivered by Katie to Dan that I’ve ever seen. It bummed me out so much that it was really goofy and unrealistic. You could’ve done so much better. Either something supernatural or even just having Katie come up behind him and stab him or slit his throat. That neck break took me down quite a bit on my enjoyment of PA2.

I’d say I’ve gone on long enough, eh? Come back tomorrow for my review of the prequel, Paranormal Activity 3. I promise it will be shorter. Both movies are good, but PA is far superior to PA 2. I say watch them both and then you can find out tomorrow if I think you should watch all three. I’ll give Paranormal Activity “What it probably wants is Katie” out of “That’s a thing of beauty.” Paranormal Activity can have “We just can’t let this affect us that much” out of “Who left the front door open?”

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