The Films of 2017


I would say I’m sorry for what’s about to happen, but I’m not.  Look, I greatly appreciate anyone who actually reads what’s below this, but as I was killing myself writing this I had an epiphany: you guys just have to read this!  I’m the one who for whatever reason felt that I owed it to anyone who cares to watch 73 movies that released in 2017 and to write mini-reviews about them all.  But still, anyone who does read all of this has my love forever.  I now present to you my reviews for the movies of 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

JANUARY 

UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS

The main reason to watch any of the Underworld series for me has always been because Kate Beckinsale is hot.  That hotness remains in the 5th installment.  The next reason would be because they shoot guns good.  That is also delivered upon.  So if you are like me and those two reasons are typically sufficient to call for a rental of this movie, you will be safe.  If not, then there’s nothing special about this movie to make you change your mind about the series.  It’s fine, but that’s about the best praise I can muster.

MONSTER TRUCKS

Someone definitely thought of this movie and fell in love with themselves.  The concept for the movie is like a discarded Jerry Seinfeld joke.  “What’s the deal with Monster Trucks?  They’re trucks, but they don’t have monsters in them!”  And then the movie just fell into place.  Strangely enough though, I didn’t really hate this movie.  It is a stupid and ridiculous concept with a lot of flaws, but I actually was slightly charmed by it in the end.  As far as problems go, the main character.  This kid has no interest in anything besides cars.  The attractive geeky girl was totally going for him the whole time but he just couldn’t be bothered.  He had a shitty truck to build.  He also calls the kid whose father owns the dealership in town the “luckiest kid in town.”  There’s literally a dude in this town dating Samara Weaving.  Until further studies can be conducted, he’s the luckiest kid.  He could be the luckiest kid himself if he just got his head out of his own tailpipe and realized that Jane Levy is crushing on him pretty hard.  And I’ll take that, even if she spouts out “wisdom” like being thankful to his dad for being so shitty because it made him who he is, and she likes who he is.  But, even with all that, I did feel a little charmed by the movie by the time it finished, and I’m as confused about that as anyone else.

THE BYE BYE MAN

This movie was a whole bag of dicks.  It’s all about a supernatural creature called the Bye Bye Man who makes people kill people by making them hallucinate things that would drive them to such action when you think about him, and you can pass this curse on to someone else by telling them his name.  So what do they do?  They investigate him so that they’re thinking about him constantly.  They type his name into the worst search engine ever that somehow doesn’t bring up any results for “bye bye man,” as if those words wouldn’t bring 50,700,000 results (I just checked), and I’m sure that not all of those are related to this movie.  I mean, people might utter this phrase just saying goodbye to each other.  Also, while trying not to think about it, the main character starts driving to another investigation while playing “Bye Bye Love.”  …Smart.  So obviously, the plot doesn’t make sense.  And to top that off, the acting was really lackluster, the effects were pretty poor, and it wasn’t remotely scary.  So if there is a reason to watch this movie, I didn’t manage to find it in the only viewing I’m willing to give this movie.

SPLIT

I feel like I should come into reviewing this movie by exclaiming, “M. Night Shyamalan is back, baby!” but I feel like that wouldn’t really feel right.  Sure, M. has probably done more garbage at this point to damage the high bar he set for himself with his early movies and this movie is actually really good, but I don’t want to give him all the credit.  And I certainly don’t want to start thinking he’s back so I should definitely rush straight to the theater for all his upcoming After Earth 2’s.  He did a really good job making a super tense and interesting movie here, but I feel like I want to give most of the credit to James McAvoy.  He is incomprehensibly impressive in this movie, playing 23 distinctly different personalities (or at least that’s what they say he had, I didn’t count how many actually made it into the movie).  I give at least 70% of the credit to him for why people should see this movie, but I still think everyone should.  Plus, it sets up a sequel to Unbreakable, which I understand other people enjoyed though I don’t recall being entirely impressed by it.  Still, great movie.

XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE

This movie delivers all that anyone should really expect out of a Vin Diesel movie that allows him to say more than “I am Groot.”  It spends roughly equal time not making sense or offering nothing surprising out of the story but does it’s best to make up for it by having lots of things explode and having people drive motorcycles on the ocean.  Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa do their best to make some of the fights entertaining, but if you’re expecting more than that then you are a silly person.

RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER

Within the first 15 minutes of this movie, I had the thought that it seemed that they weren’t confident enough in their script to let 5 minutes pass without something going “Bang!”  And they were correct.  It’s real dumb and barely even bothers to try to hide that fact.  It basically sets itself up to be the last of the Resident Evil movies (though with the way it ends, it feels questionable that they aren’t leaving it open to continue) and that Milla Jovovich needs to return to where it all started to release an airborne cure for the T-virus and she has 48 hours to do it.  No attempt is ever really made to explain how the artificial intelligence known as the Red Queen knows to the exact second when humanity will perish.  Is Umbrella going to strike and she is privy to that information?  Because they mostly act like it’s the zombies that are going to get them and if that’s the case, how are you able to predict so accurately what exact second they’re going to die?  Zombies don’t work on your schedule.  And it would have to be to the second because of course she saves the day with 30 seconds left, but then they also don’t bother to figure out how this cure that we can visually watch spread fairly slowly is going to manage to cure the world in less than 30 seconds when it clearly isn’t finishing off the zombies around Milla that fast.  But I guess it is pointless to look for logic in this movie.  Things go boom and guns are fired, and you know those guns are so much more gooder because they each have an extra, arbitrary barrel.  Double barreled pistols, triple barreled shotguns, and that one idiot Doc guy who is surrounded by guns but picks a nail gun instead.  This movie is indeed dumb, but exactly the dumb I expected it to be.

 

FEBRUARY

RINGS

It is exactly The Ring again, but worse.  Nothing particularly special in any facet of this movie.  They’re all basically the same: they watch the tape and find out they’re going to die in 7 days so they start to investigate to appease Samara Morgan, who always turns out to be a shit because after they go out of their way to try to do something nice for her, she just continues to be evil anyway and usually kills them.  That happens again.  Pretty basic, not particularly scary because it’s nothing we haven’t really seen before.  No real need to watch it again.

THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE

This movie was a little tough on me because (though I enjoyed the LEGO Movie) I didn’t feel particularly inspired to see this.  But I have a friend that is a huge fan of both LEGO and Batman and if I wanted to be his friend any longer, I was told I would need to see this movie.  After weighing my options, I decided to buy it when it came out on DVD several months later.  You ain’t the boss of me, Randy!  But the biggest problem I had going into this movie is how much hype I had heard going in.  It’s sitting at 91% on Rotten Tomatoes right now and Randy would have me believe that this was a funny Citizen Kane.  Well it was funny and it was well-written, both to an extent not necessarily required for generally a kid’s movie, but I’m sure appreciated by any parents that had to see it, but also not quite to the extent I went into the movie expecting.  It was really good and a lot of fun, but maybe not quite THAT much fun.  Still definitely worth watching though.

FIFTY SHADES DARKER

After having sat through Fifty Shades of Grey, even I was hesitant to start watching Fifty Shades Darker.  List be damned, I can’t take another one!  I eventually talked myself into it.  You’re welcome…  Here is the nice thing I have to say about this movie: it is slightly better written than the first one.  If that sounds like it’s not saying much, that’s because it isn’t.  I can only say that about this movie because the first one was so awful that it wasn’t difficult for this one to surpass it, even if only by a little.  There’s still moments where Ana touches Christian’s beard and says, “This is spikey!”  And where he says that his mother died when he was 4 and was an addict and that Ana should fill in the blanks from there.  The 30 to 40 years of blanks, homie.  And moments where he says that she should come to a party and meet his mom…but should do so with steel balls in her vagina.  And then later say, “Now you know what those silver balls do.”  …You put them in your vagina.  What did you think they’d do?  The characters are also very stupid.  Mostly Ana.  She’s so proud that she tears up a $24,000 check.  Heck, I’d probably let this guy do a little rough trade on me for $24,000.  Then, she’s so against his S&M stuff, but is requesting it again on the second date.  She doesn’t want to be submissive, but gives in really quick to it.  She also says that she was more scared by Christian when he uses his dominant powers to subdue the girl that used to be his submissive.  The one who broke into Ana’s apartment, pointed a gun at her, and fired it in the room to prove she meant business.  …She was more scared of him.  Also poorly-written was her boss, who was written by someone that had just had to go through sexual harassment training and just wrote down the opposite.  Even people prone to sexual harass aren’t so blatant.  And then he gets fired and the bosses say, “We need someone to take over for him…  How about his secretary?”  Also, I have never seen anyone over the age of 10 more impressed by fireworks than these 60+ year old adults at the party at the end.  Okay, I have to move on.  But make no mistake; these movies are awful.

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2

I think if anything hurt the second John Wick movie, it was the fact that it was the second John Wick movie.  I had nothing to expect going into a Keanu Reeves movie with a boring name like John Wick back when the first one came out, but that movie kicked all the ass in such epic fashion that it blew expectations out of the water.  John Wick 2 met expectations that had been restructured based on the quality of the first movie.  It was still very excellent and had tons of great action, but it is slightly hindered by the fact that it wasn’t also surprising in its awesomeness.  Still definitely worth checking out though.

THE GREAT WALL

Unlike John Wick, The Great Wall actually benefited because of my expectations.  Who didn’t think this movie would be a whole bag of dicks when they first saw it?  A great wall movie starring a white man, like the Last Samurai but with monsters.  (I know that China and Japan are different places, by the way)  But it was better than I expected.  Not much better than I expected, and I did expect it to be painfully bad, but it was better than that.  There’s absolutely no real reason to watch this movie that I can recall, but it won’t hurt you very much to do so.

GET OUT

And the hat trick of movies affected by expectations, Get Out was way overhyped.  It had so much steam that, even though I really had no interest in seeing this movie, I saw its 99% on Rotten Tomatoes and combined that with recommendations from the media and my friends and then capped it off with the fact that it was written by the hilarious and talented Jordan Peele and decided I should see it.  When I left, I didn’t hate the movie, but I certainly didn’t see what all the hype was about.  It was good.  My mind wasn’t blown and it didn’t change my life at all, but it was good.  Maybe it’s mostly because I’m not afraid of the racism this movie is talking about.  Not because I’m white, but because I’m racist.  But it also probably didn’t speak to me as much because racism isn’t really something I have to deal with or see that often, and the racism in this movie isn’t always relatable.  The minor racist things, sure, but I don’t hear too many stories of white people trying to brain swap with black folk so I assume it’s not a big issue.

 

MARCH

LOGAN

My favorite comic book movie changes so often that I don’t even know what my list looks like anymore.  One thing I do know for sure is that Logan is at the very least top 3, if not number one.  In the past, one big sticking point I’ve had with Wolverine movies (and even other comic book movies) is that the first thing they like to do to create a problem for the hero to solve is remove everything we like about them by taking their powers away so they can overcome.  They do that here too, but here it works because Wolverine is getting old and dying and that plays such a large part of a story that is not just the hero overcoming a temporary limitation, but getting older and weaker and having the thing that once made him nigh unstoppable now killing him slowly from the inside.  Then you have the dying father figure in Professor X and the new unexpected (but entirely badass) child in X-23.  And yes, you have a lot of gore and blood and violence for a superhero movie, but that could all be gone and this movie would not suffer in the slightest, though it certainly makes you sit up and pay attention right from the opening of the movie.  I cried multiple times in this movie.  MULTIPLE.  TIMES!  IN A COMIC BOOK MOVIE!!  And not just from awesomeness making my eyes explode, but from deeply emotional and poignant moments.  That cross to an X thing?  Are you kidding me!?  You’re dead inside if that doesn’t get you.  Watch this damned movie if you haven’t already!

KONG: SKULL ISLAND

I feel like I heard a lot of people beating up on Kong: Skull Island and I have no idea why.  Sure, it doesn’t really break any new ground, but it’s exactly what I wanted: a giant monkey movie.  Kong is a total badass and smashes a lot of stuff.  Good!  That’s what I came to see!  It looks great and is super fun.  It has a story, but it doesn’t really waste too much time with stuff it doesn’t have to.  Maybe the John C. Reilly stuff wasn’t really pivotal to the plot and could’ve then been removed because he wasn’t a giant ape smashing helicopters or giant lizards, but it was a nice emotional section of the movie with a good pay off at the end I wasn’t expecting.  This is a fun movie.  You should check it out.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Technically speaking this movie had no reason to exist.  It is almost exactly the animated Disney movie but some of the people in this one are real.  And they apparently added a song that was fairly lackluster and I don’t remember anymore.  That being said, Beauty and the Beast is so ingrained in my DNA that I got goosebumps every time I saw the trailer and it started with the light piano music and the picture of the castle.  Before my brain even figured out what it was, my body decided we were going, and let me know by having hairs on my arm stand up.  And then I saw that Emma Watson is in it, a better representation of beauty and brains I cannot fathom.  Also, Luke Evans and Josh Gad were delightful.  So, will you gain anything new seeing this version of the movie?  No.  But it’s a lovely way to see that movie again, but slightly differently.

POWER RANGERS

This is an odd moment when my expectations of a movie helped it adversely.  Power Rangers was not a great movie, but I think my deep seeded love of Power Rangers made me fight every contradictory though that might make me realize that.  Not that I wound up thinking it was great by a long shot, but I found it acceptable.  It’s been too long since there was something Power Rangers related that I’ve seen that at least seemed watchable to me as an adult.  It wasn’t quite the dark, gritty Power Rangers that the online video that seemed to spark this reimagining was, but it was a nice middle ground between that too-dark-for-Power-Rangers video and the campy, probably-wouldn’t-like-it-if-I-saw-it-today Power Rangers of my youth.  Fights could’ve been better, some dumbness could be removed, they could allow Elizabeth Banks to just be the hot she is without all the prosthetic makeup, but it was fine.  I certainly hope they give it another go and try a little harder next time.

LIFE

I feel like space movies probably have an easier time conveying tension in thriller/horror movies because it’s already a claustrophobic environment and you know while watching that there’s barely anything you can do to escape any problems you have to deal with.  Life benefits from that, but also benefits from good direction and good visuals added to some top-notch acting.  The biggest problem that the movie had for me was that I had a hard time taking the murderous little alien creature seriously when people kept referring to it as “Calvin.”  Beyond that, Life was an enjoyable movie, and pretty well worth renting.

CHIPS

CHiPS definitely had some flaws, but I found it to be much funnier than I expected to be.  Granted, a lot of that humor was pretty lowbrow and involved a lot of poop, slapstick, and sex humor, but sometimes that’s good enough.  Or at least I hope it’s enough or my channel is going to be in some trouble.  Either way, CHiPS isn’t the greatest thing ever, but it’s a comedy and I laughed a few times while watching it.  Seems like that counts as “successful” to me.

GHOST IN THE SHELL

Ghost in the Shell got beaten up a lot even before it released because of the alleged whitewashing of the main character that was turned into a white lady.  I personally don’t know what the problem is in turning a robot into another robot, but a lot of the internet seemed to take issue with the original protagonist’s sticker having been turned from “Made in Japan” to “Made in America” but I didn’t.  I also didn’t take any issue with how this movie compares to the original anime because, though I own it, I haven’t gotten around to watching it yet.  Going in with nothing to compare it to and no self-righteous, social justice warrior anger, I thought the movie was fine.  Visually pretty cool and with some action and good performance from Scarlet Johansson.  It just didn’t seem particularly special to me, so it was just fine.  Now if ScarJo had been ACTUALLY naked and not just looked ALMOST naked, maybe that would be a different story…

BOSS BABY

Honestly, the only reason this movie even gets to this list is because it was on Netflix.  My tolerance level is so much more forgiving when it’s essentially free to me.  The idea of Boss Baby turned me off when I first heard about it, but I decided to give it a shot anyway.  I was surprised to find that I wound up finding the movie fairly charming.  The idea of the movie involving a boss baby showing up to try to stop a plot to make the world find puppies cuter than babies is certainly a wacky concept, and being able to accept the movie does take a while, but eventually I found that they were able to make it work.  Baldwin mostly carries the film, but additions of Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel, and Lisa Kudrow in smaller parts do well to spice up the movie, and they’re able to pull off some cute, and even sometimes funny, moments.  Problematically, I don’t really know who this movie is for.  Parents and adults might be able to find the movie cute as I did, but it doesn’t really seem like concepts that children would be too intrigued by.  I guess they have enough slapstick and fart humor for kids, but it’s otherwise a kind of middle ground where there are much better movies for both kids and parents so Boss Baby can’t quite match the draw of its competition.

 

APRIL

SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE

Some of the movies on my list (and you can probably guess which ones) I watched specifically hoping to get movies for my worst of list.  Sadly, Smurfs: The Lost Village let me down on that front.  Not that it was good; it just wasn’t bad enough to need to be there.  It was exactly what it should’ve been: a kid’s movie.  Not particularly smart, clever, or funny, but it’s colorful and cute and things fall down, which is all kids really need to enjoy a movie.  It also had some things in it that would be enjoyable to parents and might even get a laugh or two.  Can’t really ask for more than that.  At least not out of a kid’s movie not made by Pixar.

COLOSSAL

I have no recollection of how I heard about Colossal, but I did, so why don’t you get off my back?  It’s a very interesting and unique concept where a giant monster appears in Seoul and starts destroying stuff and it turns out this monster only appears when Anne Hathaway enters a specific playground in her hometown, and then it exactly mimics her movements.  Along the way, you’ll also get a fair serving of emotional resonance and comedy, with some great performances by Hathaway and Sudeikis, though I would say I prefer my Jason Sudeikis much more likeable than he is in this movie.  Very enjoyable and interesting movie, and I definitely recommend you take a gander.

THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS

…It’s another Fast and Furious movie…  The end…

Okay, I’ll say more than that.  This definitely is another Fast and Furious movie.  It’s big, dumb, and flashy.  You’ll find that out in the first five minutes when Dom gets into a race to stop a guy from taking his friend’s car and, in the course of said race, sets his friend’s car on fire and throws it into the ocean.  And then a few minutes later, he tells Charlize Theron what’s wrong with her car just by the sound of it…when it’s off and she’s under the hood looking at it and not trying to start it at the moment…  But, on the other hand, there’s nothing in the world I can think of sexier than Charlize Theron wearing a Metallica shirt, even with that ridiculous, sort-of-cornrows hair she had at the time.  Also, the fights with the Rock and the Statham are plain awesome.  I assume people that care about cars and car chases will also enjoy those scenes.

THE LOST CITY OF Z

Spider-Man, King Arthur, and Edward Cullen all in the same movie?!  What could go wrong!?  Well nothing really, but it probably won’t impress much either.  Lost City of Z is kind of a boring, walking around in the jungle drama movie.  Then going back to England and yelling in court about wanting to go back.  Then going back and walking around the jungle some more.  And they find some stuff the end.  There’s nothing really wrong with it, but also nothing particularly right with it.  It just is.  Watch it if you want.

THE CIRCLE

I wasn’t expecting much from this movie, and I got it.  The Circle is a perfectly acceptable movie with an impressive cast and vaguely interesting premise exploring the pros and cons of a connected world without privacy, but it never really seems like it picks a side in its own debate.  Bad stuff happens because of this technology (such as Emma Watson’s friend Mercer dying because people were trying to hunt him down to test the technology), but the movie also seems like it blames the technology when it was really Mercer’s stupidity.  I grant that it would be super annoying to have a bunch of people show up at your house trying to get a picture of you, but they weren’t trying to break in or something!  No reason to run out the door and drive off like an idiot and not pay attention to the road and drive yourself off a cliff.  That’s on you, homie!  You could also just answer the door and say, “Hey, you found me.  Congratulations.  Now kindly fuck off.”  But they also make interesting points about how people would probably behave better if they were always being watched, but then try to act like it’s also a bad thing and maybe side with it being a bad thing, but I don’t know.  Maybe I just got bored and stopped paying attention.  Kind of like I would in the movie if I found out Emma Watson’s character had a livestream of her entire life for people to watch.  I’d maybe give it a day and then realize I’d never see her naked and realize what a waste of time it was.

 

MAY

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2

No one is really curious about whether or not I liked this movie.  Of course I did.  I think the real question comes from which I liked better between Guardians of the Galaxy 1 or 2.  My answer to that is: …I don’t know.  It’s a difficult comparison.  The first movie was tons of fun and its quality may even have been amplified by the surprise of loving a movie about these characters I barely knew.  This one didn’t have as much surprise, but it supplanted it some real emotional moments surrounded Star-Lord and his father, and Star-Lord and his father figure.  When a comic book movie can get you to cry, that movie is more than just a comic book movie.  It’s just an amazing movie.

KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD

I don’t really know what this movie was going for, but I’m assuming it missed the mark a little.  I come into a movie like this predisposed to enjoy it because I enjoy Arthurian legend, but it turns out they were looking to vaguely base this movie off of Arthurian legend, but feel more like A Knight’s Tale with anachronistic MMA movies in a medieval battle and quick, annoying editing cuts.  And also some chick like Ursula from the Little Mermaid and her little octodaughters whispering all the time, making me try to pay more attention to a movie I wasn’t interested in to hear what they were saying.  And then also have a mage lady that speaks as though she finds it extremely difficult to do so.  There are some decent parts to this movie, but mostly I found it annoying and off-putting.

SNATCHED

I can’t say I expected too much from this movie going in.  I enjoy Amy Schumer a great deal, but have no particular affection for Goldie Hawn, and nothing in the trailers really drew me in.  But a cheap rental from a RedBox will make me a lot more willing, so I rented it.  It was okay.  The people involved would probably lead you to expect more than the movie is able to deliver though.  People like Schumer, Ike Barinholtz, Wanda Sykes, Christopher Meloni, and Randall Park made me think this movie had a lot more in store for me in the comedy department, but ultimately I found Joan Cusack’s character to be the funniest.  Not really a necessary watch, but you could do worse.

ALIEN: COVENANT

In comparison to Prometheus, at least Alien: Covenant feels like it took a big step towards actually being an Alien movie.  And not just by including it in the title.  And having a Xenomorph in it.  Unfortunately, a lot of those moments felt more like rehashed moments from other Alien movies, which is technically fine, but you’re not elevating this movie to the level of its predecessors that way.  It maybe progresses the lore of the Alien franchise a little bit, but at this point the timeline is so confusing I have a hard time figuring out which film happens when.  Overall, the movie is fine.  Worth watching, especially if you’re a fan of the franchise, but you’ll survive without it.

BAYWATCH

I can’t imagine too many people were expecting much from Baywatch.  I know I certainly wasn’t.  But after watching it, I feel like critics were overly critical to it.  I even saw some comparing it negatively to the TV show it was based on, acting like it didn’t live up to the high bar that show left for it.  High bar?  The only thing I remember about that show is that it was stupid but there were hot ladies and people running in slow motion!  This movie delivers that, but also has a pretty good amount of funny moments.  Personally, I think The Rock can make anything better with his mere presence, and Zac Efron and Alexandra Daddario also hold up their end.  So it has everything I remember about the TV show (ridiculously hot chicks and slow motion), but also adds hot dudes in The Rock and Efron, and some funny moments.  I would surprisingly say this movie is a perfectly acceptable watch.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES

The Pirates of the Caribbean movies can vary pretty drastically.  The first two were good, the third one was made solid by some epic sea battles, the fourth one was garbage, and then the fifth one comes out and is actually pretty good.  It still has some epic moments, some pretty funny moments, a solid emotional story between Kaya Scodelario and Geoffrey Rush, and some good performances, especially by Javier Bardem.  I didn’t have much negative to say after seeing it besides maybe that they spent a little too much time with the new, almost lead character in this movie played by Brenton Thwaites.  When seeing the Pirates movies, I’m mostly interested in Capt. Jack and Barbossa, sometimes a little of Will Turner and Elizabeth Turner, but it was okay.  If this is indeed the way they intend to go out with these movies, it feels like a perfectly acceptable bow on a solid franchise.  If they’re doing more, this movie certainly didn’t talk me out of going to them.

 

JUNE

WONDER WOMAN

Marvel movies tend to be in a rough place because so many of them are so good that each new movie they release is inevitably going to be compared to the other movies in the universe that we expect so much from.  Wonder Woman has the benefit of being the only good DC movie since Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies.  I would say Wonder Woman isn’t perfect, but the first two acts of the movie are about as close as you can get.  Gal Gadot is wonderful, strong, and charismatic.  I would slap down anyone that criticized her before the movie released, saying the woman who served 2 years in the Israel Defense Force was too skinny and pretty to be a convincing Wonder Woman, and after seeing what she could do I would get especially violent with anyone who said that.  If this movie was just the No Man’s Land scene, it could’ve been the greatest comic book movie of all time, exemplifying exactly what I think Wonder Woman is.  Unfortunately, the movie loses a little of its steam in Act 3 because they still feel the need to end with a big CG supervillain instead of just being about how shitty man is, but it’s not so bad that this isn’t still an excellent movie.

THE MUMMY

I’m a little confused about The Mummy, and not just from wondering how exactly it’s beneficial to the mummy to have 2 sets of pupils.  I know I saw it, and I’m pretty sure I even bought it on Blu-Ray, but everyone on the internet seems to hate it.  I don’t recall hating it.  Granted, I don’t recall much about it at all, and maybe that’s the main problem with it.  It’s entirely forgettable.  I was interested in this movie because it was supposed to be setting up a cinematic universe for the Universal monsters, but I suppose that’s off the table now.  I don’t really know why.  DC keeps making movies for their universe even though no one has liked them, and eventually they made it to Wonder Woman.  Maybe the Dark Universe could too.  So I didn’t hate this movie, but I don’t remember anything about it, so I’m assuming it’s not special at all.

IT COMES AT NIGHT

I, probably like many of you, did not know about It Comes at Night.  I saw it on the list of movies released this year and assumed it must’ve been bad or I’d have heard about it, but then noticed that it actually got pretty good critical reception, so decided to check it out.  It’s certainly an interesting movie, very claustrophobic and builds a lot of tension, and all of the actors involved in the movie do a very good job.  It’s kind of a zombie apocalypse/disease outbreak movie, but you don’t really deal with the infected too much and rarely see any of them.  It’s more about the people in the house meeting and taking in new people and the trust that quickly fails and how they deal with that.  Certainly an interesting movie, but what kind of lost me was that it really didn’t seem to have an ending.  A character gets sick and then it ends.  No resolution of conflict really.  So it’s certainly a decent watch, but don’t expect them to have decided how to close their movie out.

ROUGH NIGHT

The only note I took about Rough Night was summed up in two words: “Somewhat funny.”  I’ll try to expand on that a little, but you can probably move on with the totality of this review already laid out for you.  There were some talented and funny people in this movie and a couple of funny moments, but it wasn’t typically laugh out loud funny.  It probably got a couple smiles out of me and maybe a chuckle or two.  The premise of the movie is pretty basic, and you’ll probably be able to get a good idea of how it’s all going to work out around midway through the movie, but along the way you may smile and may chuckle once or twice.  So, basically, “somewhat funny.”

47 METERS DOWN

I found myself nitpicking this movie pretty early on.  First off, the setup for the movie is pretty dumb.  Mandy Moore goes on vacation because her boyfriend left her because she was boring, so she goes on a trip to show him how fun she can be when he’s in another country and unable to see how fun she is.  Then, they decide to get in a cage to see some sharks close up, and they sell it by saying, “It’s like going to the zoo but you’re in the cage!”  …Who’s ever gone to a zoo and said they wish they were in the cages?  Especially with the dangerous animals.  Except all the little kids that want to play with the gorillas, polar bears, and tigers, I guess.  Maybe it’d be better to describe it as an underwater safari.  Also, the boat is called the “Sea Esta,” which is just an awful joke.  But the movie picks up a little when they get into the cages and it gets pretty tense and looks pretty good and the actors all do a pretty good job of it.  Not a movie that requires viewing, but not terrible either.

TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT

Yup!  They’re still making Transformers movies.  And they’re still roughly as good as any of the other ones.  The story is dumb, but they look pretty and you can see metal things smashing into metal things and things blowing up.  This Transformers movie was sold to me with all the trailers relying heavily on the fact that, for some reason, the heroic leader of the Autobots Optimus Prime goes rogue and fights the other Autobots.  That does happen in this movie, but the trailers lead me to believe it was almost the entire movie, and not that they used the entire movie to occasionally cut back to Optimus being turned and then have him show up and fight them for 5 minutes and then turn good again.  So the fifth installment of Transformers is stupid, but shiny.  You can go and jingle some keys in front of your face for roughly the same effect, but it’s not the worst way to spend 2 hours if you shut your brain off.

THE BIG SICK

I have been a very big fan of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon for many years and had already heard them tell their story many times by the time I heard that they were turning it into a movie.  When I finally saw this movie, I was expecting I would enjoy it but that knowing how it turned out would probably diminish my enjoyment a little.  I was very wrong.  Even knowing how it turns out, I was in it every minute of the movie, and even super nervous at the end to see how the story would wrap up.  It wrapped up as I expected (and roughly how it had happened in real life), but what I wasn’t expecting was to spend the entire third act of the movie with tears in my eyes.  Kumail Nanjiani killed it in this movie, both in his acting and in the writing of the movie, which was equal parts emotionally riveting and hilarious, and Zoe Kazan (as the stand in for Nanjiani’s real life wife Emily) will make you fall in love with her even faster than Kumail did.  Also props to the comedians Bo Burnham, Aidy Bryant, and Kurt Braunohler, Emily’s parents Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, and pretty much every other person involved in this movie.  This movie is perfect, and I straight up demand you find a way to watch it.

BABY DRIVER

I think the only time I’ve been disappointed with Edgar Wright is in comparing one of his movies to another of his movies.  Sure, Shaun of the Dead was way better than The World’s End, but without that comparison, The World’s End is still a really fun movie.  Baby Driver wasn’t better written than Shaun of the Dead to me, but it excelled in other ways.  The story of Baby Driver is fairly unique and lots of fun, but what was most impressive is the way they used music, editing the movie so that the action matched the beats of the song.  Bullets were fired when snare drums were struck, things happening on screen matched up with lyrics, characters walked past signs and graffiti with the lyrics on them right as they happened in the song.  It was ingenious and, as an editor myself, a task I could never imagine pulling off successfully.  All of this mixed with great performances and appearances (both brief and supporting) from people like Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, and Flea, and you have yet another great movie Edgar Wright can happily put on his resume.

THE HOUSE

I wasn’t too disappointed in The House because I managed to keep my expectations low.  I can definitely see how some people might not have been able to though.  This movie has a fantastic comedic starring and supporting cast including Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Jason Mantzoukas, Nick Kroll, Michaela Watkins, Rob Huebel, Cedric Yarbrough, and Andrea Savage, some people I have loved for their comedic outings in the past.  The problem with The House is that it has all these brilliant people and even has a decent premise for a comedy movie and the movie still only gets to kind of funny.  You could’ve done much more with these ingredients, but the product was still edible.

 

JULY

A GHOST STORY

Generally this sort of artsy fartsy drama movie doesn’t interest me, but something about the trailer intrigued me.  It was probably wondering how they would make this movie not seem silly with the protagonist walking around with a sheet over himself like a cheap Halloween costume.  Well it did not seem silly, but I didn’t find it as emotionally impactful as it seemed to want to be.  It was an interesting exploration of life, love, and loss, but it also spent a lot of time right on the border of boring.  They had 2 good actors heading up the movie, but their performances were really quiet and subdued.  Casey Affleck couldn’t do much by way of performance because he was under a sheet for the whole movie, and the most impressive thing Rooney Mara did was eating an entire pie in one sitting.  Which isn’t a slight on her performance; that’s just plain impressive, but did we need to watch it all?  Also, how are you going to have Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara in a movie but the majority of the dialogue is either delivered in Spanish or by a hipster farmer dude?  Either way, this movie was fine to me, but I imagine some people more interested in such movies may find it very moving.

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

I had often felt that the Spider-Man movies were a bit lacking.  Tobey was a great Peter Parker but not always a good Spider-Man.  Garfield was a pretty good Spider-Man but not a very good Peter.  Now Tom Holland shows up and shows them both how to do it, and even better, does so in well-written movie that remains fun from start to finish.  Along with Holland, Keaton is fantastic.  He’s a villain but with a clear motivation that makes him sympathetic, and the way he figures out Peter is Spider-Man was very well done.  Besides Holland and Keaton, there were also a great deal of wonderful supporting characters, like Robert Downey Jr, Jon Favreau, Donald Glover, Marisa Tomei, Chris Evans, Hannibal Buress, Martin Starr, and especially Zendaya, who nailed a joke in almost every scene she was in.  The only joke she didn’t land is the one where she said people should call her MJ.  I will not be doing that, and I hope future movies don’t attempt to convince me that she’s Mary Jane Watson.  But besides that minor snafu, this was a fantastic movie.

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

The Planet of the Apes movies are the odd series that seem to either improve or remain at the same level of quality as they add movies.  It’s also odd to watch a movie and side with the thing that is at war with the humans, but we are pretty shitty to the monkeys in these.  They seem pretty content in living in the woods, but we still have to go kill the kid of their leader.  Typical us.  Then we just continue to give them more and more reason to kick our asses until they do.  Serkis continues to prove why he’s the man you call when you need top-notch motion capture acting, and the human side of Woody Harrelson also delivers.  What might hold these movies back for me is that, while they’re all of good quality, they’re not particularly fun, though it’s not really what they’re aiming for with a post-apocalyptic movie.  Still a really good movie though.

DUNKIRK

I liked a lot about Dunkirk, but it feels like I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as most people seemed to.  It was very good, extremely well directed, and very interesting as well as being a story I didn’t know about beforehand, but it accomplished these things while being a mostly slow and measured movie that didn’t keep my attention some of the time.  It may be more my problem than the movie’s, but it was still my reaction.  Another part of my issue was that there were a few main characters typically surrounded by a huge amount of people that looked very similar, so besides Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, and Kenneth Branagh, I tended to lose track of whose story I was following.  All that being said, Dunkirk is an inarguably quality movie that just didn’t interest me as much as it did others.  I still recommend it as I feel I’m in the minority on this.

VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS

Visually, I have always been impressed by the films of Luc Besson when he goes to a fantasy realm.  Of course, that may not be saying too much because I’ve only seen 3 of his films that fit that description: The Fifth Element, Lucy, and Valerian.  His movies do tend to be more interesting from a story standpoint when they’re in the real world, like Leon the Professional and Taken.  None of this changes after watching Valerian.  Visually, it’s delightful and imaginative with a few good scenes of interesting and new action.  Beyond that, there’s not much to offer in this movie.  The story is fairly basic, as if they were worried that the imagination of the world visually would be too much if they also had a story more than solve a mystery, save a species.  Both main characters also seem to be trying too hard and coming up short.  People keep telling us how handsome and manly Dane DeHaan’s character is supposed to be, which is good because one wouldn’t reach that conclusion on their own.  Cara Delevigne’s direction seemed to be, “Constantly remind the audience that you are a strong, independent woman.  Listen to Beyoncé before every scene if you have to.”  In the end, the movie is very pretty to look upon, but there’s not much else.  Except maybe for Rihanna.  She was okay, but her intro scene was pretty interesting to watch.  Of course, you can save time by just watching that on YouTube instead of sitting through the whole movie.

ATOMIC BLONDE

Atomic Blonde balances itself entirely on the appeal of having Charlize Theron kick much ass and at one point have sex with a woman.  That’s what the trailers told me I’d be watching and that’s what it delivered.  Beyond that, there is a little style and flair to this movie and a fairly basic spy plot.  It’s sad to me that this movie wasn’t that impressive all around because I would totally like to see this version of Charlize Theron in a movie more like one of the better written Daniel Craig Bond movies.

THE EMOJI MOVIE

Obviously, I sometimes only watch a movie because I also do a bottom 5 list when I do a top 5.  Being a person who does not particularly like or use emojis in his life and also being a somewhat sane person who realizes that a movie written about emojis is starting itself off on the wrong foot, I of course decided this movie would be a solid candidate for one of the worst movies of the year.  I was only wrong in my assumption of how bad it would be.  It wasn’t as bad as I expected.  Still pretty bad, but it’s intended to be a kids movie so the fact that that its favorite joke is just saying poop different ways while a poop emoji is walking around seems vaguely acceptable.  Beyond that, the movie feels like it wants to be Wreck It Ralph and Inside Out while having nothing that made either of those two movies enjoyable.  It also spends a lot of its time making fun of everything wrong with the internet while ignoring the fact that it doesn’t exist without what it’s trying to mock.  I think the saddest thing about this movie is how many people I enjoy and respect were unable to make this movie anything worth existing.  Skip it.

 

AUGUST

THE DARK TOWER

I’m not exactly sure why the Dark Tower got beaten up as much as it did.  It wasn’t fantastic or anything, but it didn’t hurt my feelings either and that’s how the internet seemed to react.  Maybe they had some deep love for the books that this was based on, but I’d never really heard of them and don’t really care how they match up.  All I know is that Stephen King has a thing about little white boys psychically calling for help from older black men.  Based on just the movie, there’s not much to it, but it had they did some cool things with guns and reloading that made it interesting enough.  It’s just shocking that all these gun fights are happening as they did without white doves flying out of everything.  I didn’t really like the main kid in the movie too.  Something about his face, I think.  He kind of looked like a male Alicia Vikander.  On the other hand, I felt like Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey did serviceable jobs.  So maybe I’m alone in this, but I didn’t hate it.

KIDNAP

Kidnap feels like they were trying to make female Taken but instead of ass-whoopery, the main character is trained in stunt car driving.  So Halle Berry’s kid is kidnapped for unknown purposes by two hicks and she decides she needs to take the law into her own hands because the police suck.  Well turns out everyone in this movie sucks except the children and Halle Berry because the whole movie could’ve been stopped by the asshole in the beginning that completely ignores the hysterical woman screaming, “They have my son!” and could’ve helped by just turning his car slightly and blocking the ramp.  The hicks in the movie aren’t just evil abductors of children, but they’re also real stupid.  Halle Berry gets the upper hand on the fat white hick lady, puts on her jacket, and waves out the window at her partner, who somehow can’t see through the windshield or what color her hand is and mistakes Halle Berry for his fat white accomplice.  And the biggest issue is I think any criminal with even a fraction of a brain would’ve gotten rid of the kid 10 minutes or so into the chase.  This mom is NOT giving up and this kid is more trouble than he’s worth.  Either kill him or let him go.  Otherwise she may end up killing you with a minivan.  And that’s not a joke.  She does that.  So obviously, there were problems with the story and the logic in this movie, but it is pretty fast paced and reasonably thrilling, and Halle Berry really puts herself through a workout.  An acceptable movie, but one you can skip too.

ANNABELLE: CREATION

I’ve already done a video review for this movie, and I’ve also mostly forgotten it, so I’ll keep it brief.  If I remember correctly, I enjoyed it.  Pretty creepy without relying too much on gore and jump scares.  Good performances too.  If you want more detail, you should watch the video.  That guy in the video remembers it way better than I do.  Probably had some good jokes too.

THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD

The Hitman’s Bodyguard is far from a ground-breaking action-comedy, but why should someone assume it needs to be.  I certainly don’t.  I expected some good action.  Check.  I expected some funny moments.  Check.  What I didn’t expect is Selma Hayek and Gary Oldman (because I didn’t look into the movie much and didn’t know they were in it), but they’re typically good and were here as well.  What I also didn’t expect is Reynolds and Jackson to have such good chemistry.  They were really fun together.  And the movie, though not mind-blowing, should suffice as an enjoyable experience.

LOGAN LUCKY

I’m no expert on the work of Steven Soderbergh.  I’ve seen a couple of his movies but not very many, and I’ve never found myself entirely impressed with them.  Critics apparently love him though, so that’s good, I guess.  For me personally, I thought Logan Lucky was a perfectly fine little heist movie with a great cast and a few laughs.  It didn’t strike me as much more than that though.

BIRTH OF THE DRAGON

Normally, seeing WWE Studios attached to a movie is what lets me know I don’t need to watch it.  This movie was different.  Not because I saw the trailers and thought it would be amazing, but because it was about Bruce Lee and probably had some decent fights in it, which would hopefully make up for lack of quality.  I wrote that sentence before I started watching the movie, which only proves that I can predict the future.  That’s exactly what happened.  It was a vaguely interesting movie about a fight between Bruce and Wong Jack Man, grandfather of Hugh Jackman.  Well, it’s KIND OF about that fight.  This movie actually takes the interesting (and ill-advised) approach of making that fight (and even those characters) kind of background noise, instead preferring to focus its attention on some fictional white guy student of Bruce’s that falls in love with a waitress he needs to save from the triads.  So that was pretty dumb, but it leads to a pretty good fight at the end.  And that’s all this movie was to me: some bullshit separating some solid fights.  And that’s good enough sometimes.

 

SEPTEMBER

IT

There is a video for this movie you can watch for detailed description and jokes long forgotten.  I made a pretty excellent Photoshop image for it though.  My thoughts of the movie have not changed.  I still thought it was entirely solid as a horror movie.  One thing that has changed since then is that I have a new respect for the occasionally annoying comic relief Richie, played by the best name in Hollywood Finn Wolfhard, because I have since seen Stranger Things, which is amazing.  Certainly better than this movie, but this movie is still good.  Go watch the video.

AMERICAN ASSASSIN

It’s like the Hitman’s Bodyguard, but boring and with no comedy.  A guy’s girlfriend gets killed by terrorists and he just can’t let it go so he spends the rest of his life infiltrating and trying to kill terrorists until the government decides to give him a paycheck for it.  Then Batman trains him and the guy that ruined Gambit shows up trying to do bad things and then they explode a bomb in the ocean.  The end.  Watch Hitman’s Bodyguard instead.  Much more fun.

MOTHER!

I’ve never really been a fan of Darren Aronofsky movies.  Too dark and confusing and full of themselves and up their own ass with how important they think they are.  And then comes mother!, which I apparently have to type like that but hopefully never will again.  I expected I would hate this movie, but I didn’t.  I didn’t like it because it was dark and gross and pretentious, but I would have to give it credit for being somewhat thought-provoking and artistically delivered, though also being filled with characters that were super annoying and did not act like humans.  Ed Harris and Javier Bardem, for instance.  Harris is Bardem’s biggest fan who apparently stalks him and finds where he lives, so you invite him into your house against the wishes of your wife, he gets to spend the night, invites his wife who also spends the night, they break your most cherished possession, get scolded, and then walk into the next room to have sex.  It gets worse from there.  The people were so unrealistic that the movie played more like a black comedy to me as things get more and more ridiculous.  It also becomes pretty clear that this is all a metaphor for God and religion and whatnot.  It keeps itself subtle for the first two thirds of the movie, but closes by going really heavy-handed with their metaphor.  In the end, I didn’t hate it, I didn’t like it, but it was at least interesting.

KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE

I found the first Kingsman movie to be surprisingly fun.  I would say roughly the same about the sequel without the surprise.  I like that both movies really don’t try to take themselves seriously, but do have a solid action movie mixed in with that.  Then they made a sequel and tried (as sequels often do) to give you more of the things they can manage to try to balance the lack of surprise, but surprise can get you a lot of points.  So, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is fine.

THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE

If the Lego Ninjago movie had come out before Lego Batman, I would say they’ve already lost their touch.  The Lego Movie was great.  Lego Batman was slightly less great, but still great in its own right.  Lego Ninjago is cute at best.  It all starts with a scene stolen right out of another Jackie Chan movie called The Forbidden Kingdom where a kid wanders into a Chinese antique store and is regaled with the ancient Chinese legend … of Lego Ninjago … Then they go into the CG stuff which is all about the Green Ranger or whatever whose dad is the bad guy and they fight with their giant, loud, robotic Megazords in true ninja fashion.  The story isn’t really that good, but there are some solid laughs along the way, most of which are delivered by Jackie Chan.  They also have a pretty impressive cast in the movie.  On the bad side, it wasn’t very impressive as a movie, especially when compared to the other Lego movies.  Also, something about the animation just didn’t seem right.  In video game parlance, it seemed like the frame rate was too low.  Of course, as the second Lego movie released this year, they may have just spent more time on the good one and rushed this out for a quick buck.  It’s not terrible, but just watch Lego Batman or The Lego Movie instead.

FLATLINERS

A bunch of doctors decide to temporarily kill themselves because it gives them special brain powers.  How do you think I felt about it?  This movie probably should’ve just been what the trailers made it look like to me: as if briefly killing themselves made their brain work better, but having touched the other side made them able to see dead people, which causes horror movie.  Instead it seemed like their special brain powers had the side-effect of making your guilt seem real and try to kill you unless you got it off your chest.  And it’s not good enough to just tell anyone, you have to get some repercussions for it.  When Marlo tells Ray that she screwed up once and killed someone while on call at the hospital, all that’s going to lead to is the two of you having sex…for some reason…  You have to actually tell the head of the hospital and get fired.  This movie had potential, but fell pretty short of it.

 

OCTOBER

HAPPY DEATH DAY

I realized after watching this movie that I can think of 3 genres that the Groundhog Day formula has fit itself into.  Comedy, obviously.  Then later, Sci-Fi/Action with Edge of Tomorrow, and now even into the Horror genre.  From the trailers, I thought this movie was going to be the worst, but was happy to find that it was actually pretty good.  I’ve already succinctly summed up the concept of the movie by saying Horror Groundhog Day, but they were able to make that work.  I was worried near the end that they were going to go for a really boring revelation of who the killer was, but then they were able to sneak a nice twist in instead.  Jessica Rothe performed her role well, but she certainly wasn’t likeable for most of the movie.  She was a rude little wench until she started getting killed a couple times.  I had a couple questions about her though.  First of all, why does someone who doesn’t want people to know it’s her birthday have a really annoying “It’s your birthday!” ringer on their phone?  And why is your ringer about your birthday?  Do you just change it to that ringtone for that day or is it always that ringtone?  Also, how are you going to start noticeably falling in love with a guy because you find out he DIDN’T date rape you after you woke up in his bed?  That’s supposed to be par, not the sign of a sweet guy.  You shouldn’t be impressed by his self-control.  And then questions in general: what kind of college chooses an ugly creepy football baby as their school mascot?  And how does the killer plan for every eventuality?  She goes under the bridge?  He’s there.  Next time stays in her room.  He’s there too.  Goes to the hospital and guess what?  He went to In N’ Out instead.  …Oh wait no, he’s killing you.  Regardless of those minor questions I had, this movie was surprisingly enjoyable.  Check it out.

THE FOREIGNER

Most of what I say about a Jackie Chan movie can be taken with a grain of salt because I’m going to have automatic affection for them.  I’ve loved Jackie Chan for years and don’t currently recall any movie I’ve seen of his bad enough to change that.  The Foreigner didn’t either.  It was actually fairly good, though admittedly not as good as I hoped it would be.  Jackie Chan’s daughter, Cho Chang, returns from Hogwarts (it really is Katie Leung.  I was so excited) and gets caught in a terrorist bombing.  After grieving, Jackie goes after the bomber to get revenge but essentially becomes a terrorist himself to exclusively Pierce Brosnan to try to get the names of the bombers from him, even though he only seems to have a slim connection and a gut feeling to decide Brosnan might know who did it.  The story was somewhat basic, but did have some characters whose motivations you stay questioning.  The movie did have some action and some fighting, but nowhere near as much as Chan’s movies typically would have, which I found a little disappointing.  Chan’s style of fighting in movies typically doesn’t lend itself to him being a highly trained badass.  He more seems to kick a bunch of people’s asses by accident in his movies, but it ends up working pretty well when it happens in this movie.  I think the thing people might find most impressive in this movie is that Jackie Chan gets to bust out some acting chops to go along with those karate chops, proving himself very competent in a dramatic role too.  I recommend this movie for a watch.

GEOSTORM

I have a particular fondness for epic disaster movies and have been known to watch my entire collection of them about once a year, so obviously I was going to see Geostorm when I heard about it.  One does not go into such a movie expecting a smart movie.  Just spectacle.  That’s all you need.  No one’s even going to watch this movie and find it remotely believable because we all know climate change is fake news.  Not terribly long into the movie though, you realize that it’s actually not really a disaster movie as we come to expect.  A disaster movie is when the Earth itself is trying to kill us.  This movie is more White House Down than 2012.  It’s something like the 3rd guy in line for President hacks the satellite system designed to stop mega-storms and starts using it to cause mega-storms, I guess hoping he’ll kill the President and VP in the process.  I don’t know how that’s going to work out for Ed Harris to cause a geostorm that lays waste to the world, but that’s what he wants.  So it’s dumb, the dialogue is extremely lackluster, and the performances range from mediocre to Gerard Butler looking amazed when he gets onto the space station even though he built it.  By no means required viewing, but decent enough dumb spectacle.

LEATHERFACE

I hate slasher movies.  They’re meant to be horror movies but the best they can ever muster or even bother to attempt is jump scares unless you have some deep-seeded phobia for red-colored corn syrup.  Besides buckets of corn syrup, all this movie has is a vague attempt to be interesting by providing an unnecessary origin story to Leatherface no one was really asking for, and some average performances from Iron Fist Finn Jones and the dude that played young Hodor.  Feel free to skip this movie.

AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING

You know when you watch a horror movie and wonder how these people don’t have at least a general idea how to react, as if they’ve never seen a horror movie before, but you have to guess that maybe in this universe they never had these movies?  What if you were watching an Amityville movie and they didn’t know this house was bad news and then they also reference (and even watch them in this movie) the 30 other Amityville movies?  Well then those people are dumb.  And they are!  With Bella Thorne spouting logic about her bedridden brother, “He’s my twin.  I can feel he’s gone!”  That’s just good science.  Also, she somehow gets blamed-and blames herself-for her brother being bedridden when he got injured trying to fight a guy that spread pictures of her?  That was his choice and she wasn’t even there.  She was just the inspiration for it.  She’s also a Goth chick that apparently decides it’s best to do her homework and walk around her house in her lacy pink panties, not that I’m complaining about seeing it, just that it doesn’t seem to fit the character.  She also sees a window raise up on its own and a ghost girl slam against it, and then immediately after scolds her little sister for startling her because she’s standing in the next room over quietly watching her?  I guess you could say that shitty parenting is the reason she grew up like she did.  Her mom was a real shitbag.  The only person she likes in this movie (or her family) is the bedridden brother and is pretty shitty to everyone else.  This movie is not scary, boring, most of the characters are unlikeable and not particularly well-performed, and it barely bothers to try.  As they say in this movie, “Remakes totally blow.”

 

NOVEMBER

THOR: RAGNAROK

Two easy things to say about Thor: Ragnarok are: 1) By far the best Thor movie to date, and 2) Most likely the most consistently funny Marvel Cinematic Universe movie (Deadpool being in the battle for funniest comic book movie ever may put up a fight though).  Wonderfully and hilariously written, well-directed, great performances, Cate Blanchett was hella hot as … whatever her character’s name was, and an overall fantastic and fun time at the movies.  I would say if there is some minor thing to say negatively about this movie, is that I was one of the people who found it odd that Thor was the way he was in all the other movies and yet in this movie he’s suddenly a really funny dude that doesn’t take these situations seriously.  Previously, he was only really delivering comedy as the butt of the joke with things like not understanding human society, but not actively making jokes himself.  But I accept that unexplained change in character because I was laughing and enjoying myself.  Great movie.

MAYHEM

This movie is essentially a comedic business world interpretation of 28 Days Later.  An infection breaks out in an office building of a disease that causes people to lose their inhibitions and become extremely violent.  Steven Yeun had just been wrongly terminated but had not left the building yet when the building gets quarantined so he makes friends with Samara Weaving and together they work their way up to the top for justice.  Pretty funny, very violent, and drenched in blood.  Steven Yeun and Samara Weaving are great, but at the time I had only seen her in this and Ash vs. the Evil Dead, so I’m pretty sure this gorgeous lady has a fetish for being covered in fake blood.  Not much to say about this movie besides it was pretty enjoyable for a movie I had no expectations for.  A good RedBox pick if you come across it.

JUSTICE LEAGUE

The best I can say about DC at this point is that they at least seem to be starting to figure out what they need to do.  They’re moving in the right direction, just not as fast as I would like them to.  Justice League suffers from coming out the same year as Wonder Woman, when fans looked at themselves and said, “Hey!  I guess they finally found the formula!  No more Suicide Squads and Batman v. Superman’s for these guys!”  The other thing it suffers from is characters.  Aquaman feels all wrong in performance though perfectly acceptable to me in appearance.  All you need to do is grab Momoa and say, “Be Khal Drogo but you can speak English and also talk to fish.”  Cyborg was a little bland and not very fun.  Batman was way too jokey, Wonder Woman didn’t have the same magic she did in her own movie, and the Flash.  Oh boy the Flash!  I’m not even a fan of the Flash and I know he’s all wrong.  Joking around and not being funny, talking about how he doesn’t know how to fight, and the worst affront: he doesn’t know how to run!  Flash, you had one job!  I know it would be a little weird in the audition process to say, “Okay, you have everything we want performance-wise, but can we go ahead and get you up on this treadmill real quick so we can make sure you don’t run like a goof?”  One positive note (besides being better than most DCEU movies by a little bit) is that they nailed them some Superman.  He was finally not a mopey bitch and was all truth, justice, American way, Boy Scout style Superman.  The negative side of that is that I hate Superman for reasons that this movie illustrates brilliantly.  The Justice League can’t beat their awful-looking, CGI baddie-du-jour and then Supes shows up as comic book Jesus and whips him.  All-powerful heroes are not interesting to me, and it makes the rest of the team look weak.  Still, I’d implore DC to not do anything rash like feeling you need to reboot everyone.  Everyone but Ezra Miller was fine, and can do well if you write them better in the future.  Even Ezra could be fine if you write him better and get him a physical trainer to teach him how to run.

COCO

I was not interested in seeing this movie.  Typically, Disney Pixar movies pique my interest, but I hadn’t heard anything about this movie to drive me to it.  Plus, I thought it was all about a dog because I misread their posters.  But, a friend of mine wanted to see it and, let’s face it; I don’t do anything important in my free time and had no excuse not to go.  Added bonus was that this friend is a Mexican and I could not pass up the opportunity to see the movie with a Mexican so I could turn to him every five minutes and ask, “What’s an ‘abuela’?”  And afterwards I could condescendingly explain to him that I understand his plight as a Mexican now that I’ve seen this movie.  Should I talk about the movie itself now?  Okay, it was pretty good.  I found myself really bored for the first half of the movie.  I wasn’t entirely sure what was causing that, but part of me blames the 7 hour Frozen movie I sat through right before this movie.  Eventually, I got on board with the movie and ended feeling that I enjoyed it.  And the end?  Heart-wrenching.  I cried like a bitch, and I’m not ashamed to say it.  Coco is pretty good and the ending is wonderfully touching.  I would also say that technically speaking there’s nothing wrong with the Frozen “short” that came before it, but it was way too long and not very impressive and got Coco started on the wrong foot.  Separately on the DVD release, probably fine.

 

DECEMBER

THE DISASTER ARTIST

Do you want to know how good this movie is?  If the answer’s no, why are you here?  For the yes crowd: this movie is so good that it inspired me to read a book!  I never read books!  …Okay, technically this time I didn’t read a book either, but I did listen to one on Audible.  (I recommend the Disaster Artist book too)  This was such a great movie.  It’s a real study and recounting of the process involved in the making of one of the worst movies of all time: The Room.  James Franco does a perfect Tommy Wiseau, his brother Dave does a good Greg Sestero (though admittedly he looks nothing like him and that beard was pretty unconvincing), and every character supports and delivers on all of the comedy and surprising occasional emotional moments.  And the cast is crazy.  I would say go look it up on Wikipedia or IMDb to see who’s in this, but why waste time with that when I’m just going to tell you to watch this movie instead?  The only caveat I feel I need to add is that I really have no idea what this movie will do to someone who has not seen The Room beforehand.  I have seen The Room (at least as it was presented as riffed by the great people at RiffTrax) and I can no longer access the brain of someone whose brain functions have not been permanently altered by watching that movie.  My assumption is that everyone will love this movie, but the people who watch The Room first will love it so much more.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

Because I was impatient, I saw this movie alone.  A week later, I saw it again because I felt bad that I abandoned my friend Chris the first time.  Another inspiration for seeing it a second time was because I enjoyed myself the first time, but when I got home the internet seemed to be up in arms against this movie, even going so far as to create a petition to force them to remake the movie the way they wanted it to be.  But as I said, I enjoyed myself with this movie so I didn’t sign that petition.  Also, I’m not a moron.  It wasn’t perfect and there were things that didn’t go the way I wanted, but it was still a fun ride and exactly the movie you would make when you’re mostly trying to progress the story a little and get people coming back for the final episode in the trilogy.  Now, if you somehow haven’t seen it yet you can stop here because I’ve told you my thoughts and now I’m getting into spoilers.  The thing I didn’t agree with was that they didn’t really give us anything about Rey’s parentage.  If she indeed comes from nowhere special it seems like a kind of boring and lackluster way to go, but acceptable.  Not every Jedi must be the child of someone special.  I was hoping she would be Luke’s child, but I think the nail’s in that coffin because he definitely didn’t treat her like she was his daughter at any point.  Luke was the next sticking point.  I don’t mind that Luke was uncharacteristically funny.  Nothing wrong with that to me.  Didn’t hurt Thor, won’t hurt Luke.  What I didn’t like is that they killed him, or at least how they killed him.  Obviously we all know that Carrie Fisher is dead and they had the perfect time to let her character pass in an emotional way, but then they pulled it back and she survived.  Since she’s dead in real life, wouldn’t it make more sense to let her die in the movie and replace her with Luke or Laura Dern instead of killing both of them and letting her survive?  Though Dern’s death was epic and emotional and I would hate to lose it.  Maybe they already have all her scenes shot and it will work out.  The next problem is HOW Luke died.  If you were going to kill him in the fight with Kylo anyway, why not just have him go down there in person and actually fight Kylo and then get Obi-Wan’ed at the end?  It takes away his badass points for surviving the barrage of blasts from the assault walkers and kind of makes him look like a bitch for hiding on a different planet instead of actually facing him.  But that’s the way they wanted to go and I didn’t hate them for it.  It’s just not the way I would’ve gone.  Of course, if I want a movie to turn out exactly as I want it, I should probably make a movie instead of just complaining about it on the internet.

JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE

Everyone should do me a favor and feel real stupid right now.  We all saw they were rebooting Jumanji, and a lot of people on the internet pitched a fit about it.  “It’s in a video game now?!  Bullshit!”  …Yeah.  People don’t play board games anymore unless they have a YouTube channel and aren’t allowed to play video games on it.  Personally, I saw they were making this movie and was skeptical.  Then I saw that it had The Rock, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan in it and said, “They may have something here.”  …Fine, I’ll give credit to Kevin Hart too.  I’m not a big fan of his, but he was good in this.  This movie was very funny and charming, and all carried effortlessly on the backs of their main cast, Jack Black in particular.  Jack Black and The Rock got to really show off here by playing characters they don’t typically get cast in.  The Rock is a nerdy high school student who wakes up as The Rock, and Jack Black has an even tougher time playing a self-obsessed high school girl who wakes up in Jack Black’s body.  I feel like Karen Gillan probably knows what it’s like to grow up a vaguely nerdy girl before she became super gorgeous, so she doesn’t get the same props, but watching her get taught how to seduce men by Jack Black and being so awful at it was hilarious, as was almost any moment involving Jack Black in this movie.  When he figures out how to use his new penis?  Priceless.  The only big negative I had to this movie was that the villain didn’t impress me, but the rest of the cast more than made up for it.  Stop being so in love with the original and go enjoy this one.

PITCH PERFECT 3

People might know already that I am a fan of the Pitch Perfect franchise though since it doesn’t seem like it makes sense they might constantly delete it from their brains.  I agree; it doesn’t really make sense that I enjoy these movies, but I do.  For me it’s about the songs (which are typically great), the comedy (which is typically solid, but not mind-blowing), and the cast (who are all great, though it’s also quite a bit about how hot some of them are).  Nothing has really changed for Pitch Perfect 3.  I don’t really care about the story as it’s all supposed to be set up for the other stuff.  The songs are still really good with the Riff-Off being my favorite in this movie (yes, I bought the soundtrack), although I did feel like I wanted more of them and that they took it a little easier on this film and didn’t do as many mash up songs that I like, instead just doing one song at a time beyond the Riff-Off.  There’s still a lot of comedy and very funny moments, some ridiculous and over the top that they somehow made work, like how are the Bellas performing on an exploding boat in the beginning?  They explain it!  And the cast is all still wonderful and are as hot as they ever were, sadly losing one of their hottest in Alexis Knapp, who was out with pregnancy early in the movie.  This movie is not the most spectacular and the other two are probably better, but I still enjoyed myself.  The biggest negative about this movie will be if they actually follow through on what the posters seem to be claiming and they make this the final one.  How is Fast and the Furious and Transformers going to continue ad nauseam till the end of time but there’s no room in this world for Pitch Perfect?!

BRIGHT

A pretty unspectacular movie with all the ingredients of a very spectacular movie.  A concept of a real world cop movie, but also there are Orcs and Elves and magic and shit is a pretty interesting premise.  A cast so impressive that it doesn’t even make sense, especially for a Netflix movie.  They have Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace, and a bunch of other smaller roles but recognizable people.  And watching the movie, it certainly seems more expensive than a Netflix movie should be, with pretty good CG and makeup effects and lots of wanton destruction.  But ultimately they got all the right ingredients and then undercooked the soufflé.  Smith spends most of the movie being bitchy about his partner, who he doesn’t like because he’s an orc and because he didn’t keep him from getting shot in the beginning even though the guy walked out of a building and shot him immediately and Smith himself didn’t even have enough time to try to react so how the hell was he supposed to?  The bad guys are occasionally interesting to watch, but then do stupid things like hiding in the armory as the two cops they’re hunting come in and load up on weapons and bombs and then they decide to attack right after they’re fully loaded for battle.  This movie wasn’t awful though.  It’s surprisingly impressive and ambitious and has an interesting premise and tries to go for a note of social commentary with how blatantly racist everyone seems to be about anyone that’s not your race.  It’s just also not very good.  Netflix actually says that their “best guess” for my opinion of this movie is 4.9 out of 5.  Really, Netflix?  Does this maybe have something to do with the fact that you made this movie, or have I just been drunk every time I’ve rated a movie on your site?  I’ll be generous and give you a 2.5 or 3 instead.

 

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The Films of 2013


I may have gone a little overboard this year.  I saw a lot of movies last year, but I saw 11 more than that this year.  57 out of the 280 movies that Wikipedia listed as a 2013 release.  That’s 20% of the movies that were released last year by my very terrible math.  And I’m not even getting paid to do this stuff!  Nor am I getting paid to break down all of the movies I saw last year in an 8,000 plus word review of all the films of 2013, but I’m doing that anyway.  And since I’m sick of writing words after having done just that, I’m just going to stop right here and see if you have the balls to read my review of the films of 2013.  Good luck and Godspeed.

JANUARY

THE GRANDMASTER

I went to see this movie pretty much at the behest of my Film Criticism teacher.  I hadn’t really entertained the idea of seeing it from just seeing the trailers and I’m not sure why.  I loved all of the Ip Man movies, so why wouldn’t I love this?  Well I saw the movie and that’s when I found out why.  It wasn’t anything like the Ip Man movies.  Fighting was replaced with boringness and talking and artsy fartsy stuff.  This is not to say that this was a bad movie, but it bothered me because of the expectations I went in with.  It’s more of a drama than a martial arts movie.  It’s a good drama, but a shitty martial arts movie.  And that’s just not what I wanted this movie to be.

A HAUNTED HOUSE

You know how Netflix thinks it has a handle on the movies you will like?  This movie proved that it doesn’t.  Well, I guess I can’t say that because I request to watch so many movies that I think will be awful that Netflix probably has a hard time getting a read on me.  Well this movie was a parody of Paranormal Activity.  Much like the greater majority of the Scary Movies, this one wasn’t very funny.  It wasn’t painfully unfunny, but there wasn’t much reason to waste any time on it.

GANGSTER SQUAD

I actually watched this movie 2 days ago.  I never really thought it looked that interesting so I never really felt the need to look into it.  While at work one day recently, I saw parts of it on the TV (although I couldn’t hear any of it) and decided it looked interesting enough to give it a watch.  And it was!  It was … thoroughly okay!  Decent enough action, some great performances, but not a whole lot I found interesting in the story.  Still, it was a decent enough watch.

HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS

I saw this movie in a dollar cinema and overpaid.  It wasn’t a bad movie, but it didn’t really seem to have a purpose.  It was a fun idea, but the fun of that idea wasn’t really realized by the basic script with laughs that typically fell flat.  The action wasn’t fun either, and the performances didn’t do anything spectacular.  It’s not a bad movie, but since you’ll have a hard time finding it cheaper than a dollar, I can’t really recommend it.

MAMA

In my review for this movie, I called it “super passionate about being mediocre.”  I stand by that.  It was a fine movie, but there wasn’t anything spectacular about it.  It looked pretty nifty and the performers all did a great job, but there weren’t any scares to be found in this movie and if there aren’t any scares in a horror movie, there isn’t much of a point.  I still think the movie works well enough to see it as a rental.

THE LAST STAND

I watched this movie a long time ago and never bothered to review it.  I think we all know what it is.  It’s Arnold Schwarzenegger trying to make his come back into the world of poorly written, poorly conceived, mindless action movies with … well … another one.  It is what it is.  You probably don’t need to watch it.

FEBRUARY

THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT 2: GHOSTS OF GEORGIA

My unnatural love for ghost movies drew me to see this one.  If I could have my love for these movies removed, I would.  I thought next to nothing about this movie.  I took one note pointing out the fact that their idea to make this movie scary was to make a ghost walk by every other minute or so and then I watched the rest of the movie.  Not scary, not interesting, not cool, and it didn’t even make sense.  It seems to have nothing to do with the first Haunting in Connecticut movie.  Not even the state it takes place in.  This is in Georgia!  If there is a haunting in Connecticut, it’s not going to be seen here.  The first Haunting in Connecticut movie wasn’t even that good that you would think you needed to ride it’s coattails to fame and fortune.  Just call the movie Ghosts of Georgia and let everyone find out that this is a whole new and different underwhelming horror movie.

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD

So this movie happened.  I watched this movie like 3 weeks ago and I have no memory of it whatsoever.  I’m sure that means it’s great.  John McClane has a son now and he’s trying to save him in Russia and there’s a bad guy and then stuff blows up.  If any of that sounds interesting, rent this movie.  If not, good!

DARK SKIES

This movie was really close to being a good comedy.  …But it was a horror movie.  There were no scares, and what they attempted to scare me with made me laugh, like Keri Russell banging her head on the window.  It still kind of tickles me.  It didn’t really make sense and everyone seemed to get bored before they arrived at the climax of the movie, where the movie seemed to sheepishly back out of the theater, hoping no one would get mad that they could no longer get their money back.  And the performances were only the stereotype characters of any horror movie.  The mom figures out that something strange is going on, but the husband refuses to acknowledge it … even after she just found him standing in the backyard with blood pouring from his nose … as per usual!

MARCH

OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL

WRITTENVIDEO

Oh, this movie.  I feel like I’ve done enough to this movie already after having written a review for it and posted a video review, but I’ve still got one more go around with it, I suppose.  It was watchable, but only just so.  The story was basic, the graphics were pretty, but most of the starring characters were way over the top in their portrayal.  It was like the original Oz movie, but this time we have a lot of other options for movies and have no reason for this one.

THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE

I feel like this movie got beaten up pretty badly.  It was talked about by many people who wouldn’t even watch it as a stupid comedy.  Well take it from someone who actually watched it: …yeah, that’s kind of true.  But it wasn’t painfully bad.  It was cute.  I feel like that is the best I can do for this movie.  It had its funny moments.  I like the cast.  Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi are great, Olivia Wilde is hot, and Jim Carrey kind of carried the movie.  His parts were typically funny, if spread out a little too far.  It’s not a great movie, but it’s not a terrible movie either.

ADMISSION

I kind of watched this movie on a whim.  I guess I was disappointed because I can’t help but have high hopes for a movie starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd.  It wasn’t up to their standards, but Tina Fey didn’t write the thing.  It probably would’ve been better if she had.  It was a decent enough story and was pretty heartwarming, but nowhere near as funny as I wanted it to be.

OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN

This was the serious version of White House Down.  Basically the same idea, but not very fun.  It was better than I expected it to be because it was saved by some decent action and performances that were of a quality that I didn’t expect from this movie, but the story was super simple as they probably realized it was barely necessary for anyone going to see this movie.  It’s an okay way to kill some time.

G.I. JOE: RETALIATION – VIDEO

I was pleased with this movie because it wasn’t as bad as the first one.  They set the bar low and managed to keep themselves from tripping on it as they passed into the second one.  The story was dumb, but you’d be dumb if you’d think I’d have anything else to say about it.  My mind would be blown if there was any good writing to be found here and I would be completely unable to write this review.  But the action was pretty good.  Ninjas fighting on ropes while hanging from a mountain?  You got it!  Blowing up entire towns?  Why not?!  And The Rock leads this movie, and I like that guy.  So it’s dumb, but it’s fun.  So I guess you should watch it.

APRIL

OBLIVION

I actually liked this movie.  It helped that I went into this movie with low to no expectations.  The story didn’t really impress me too much, but it was interesting if a bit slow-moving in parts.  But the look of the movie was pretty nice, and there were some great performances.  It’s a decent enough watch and probably good for a rental.

PAIN & GAIN

I watched this movie and didn’t find it particularly memorable or remarkable.  Perhaps Michael Bay should just stick to straight up action movies that we all find humorous instead of trying to make intentional comedies.  The story of this movie was made slightly more interesting because it was at least mostly real events, but made less interesting because it wasn’t written very well and most of the story was told in annoying voice over instead of just shown to us.  Bay is also a hug fan of filming people from below while spinning the camera around them, and also thinks that The Rock should not be filmed any other way.  But The Rock remains an interesting character, and it was amusing to watch him spiral down in the later part of the movie.  Still, I don’t think there’s anything in this movie worth watching.

MAY

FAST & FURIOUS 6

Paul Walker’s final movie (as far as I know) before his untimely death that spawned the people of the world to spew out the same joke about how his death resembled his most famous movies.  It is my hope that this refrain was finally silenced as everyone making those jokes realized everyone else was making the exact same joke.  His final release before his death was about as underwhelming as those jokes were, but it wasn’t a bad movie.  In the same vein as Fast Five, this movie has a really basic and predictable story and acting work that does not impress, but the action was solid.  Not quite as spectacular as in the previous movie, but good.  I wound up buying this movie, though I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the same.  It’s at least worth a rental.

EPIC

This movie was cute if not very substantial.  It really is just a kid’s movie and didn’t resonate with me in any way.  It was pretty.  That’s about all I’ve got.  If you have kids, then this movie is fine.  Otherwise there shouldn’t be much inspiration to see it.

NOW YOU SEE ME

WRITTENVIDEO

I liked the premise of this movie more than I liked the movie itself.  The idea of people using magic tricks to rob banks and fight was a cool idea, but there wasn’t quite enough magic in the storytelling.  Telling us to look for misdirection made me do just that, and the rest of the story and the mystery they were going for just unfolded.  But the movie was presented very well and the performances were pretty great.  I wouldn’t buy this movie, but I’m not bummed that I watched it.

JUNE

THE BLING RING

I don’t know why I saw this movie.  Oh wait, yes I do.  It was Emma Watson.  When I eventually meet and marry Emma Watson, I feel like it would offend her if I say I haven’t seen all of her movies.  Hopefully she won’t ask me if I liked them all as well because this movie didn’t really work for me.  Most of the movie is pretty people sitting around having inane conversations.  Then those pretty people start robbing places while having the same inane conversations.  The characters in this movie just made me angry with their stupidity, but I guess I can’t really blame the movie because this stuff actually happened.  But I wouldn’t have hung out with the real people and I don’t really want to hang out with the fake versions by watching their movie.  Most of the performances were fine, but there just wasn’t anything in the movie I cared to watch.  Except for Emma Watson.

WORLD WAR Z

WRITTENVIDEO

People hated this movie a lot because of the changes they made from the book.  I have not and will not read the book, so none of that bothered me.  And that allowed me to enjoy the movie.  The story was interesting all of the way through, even though a few parts were a little slow and a couple of things didn’t make sense to me.  It looked really good and the action created a lot of excitement and suspense.  And all of the performances in the movie were great.  I had no complaints.

WHITE HOUSE DOWN

This was the funny version of Olympus Has Fallen.  Well, it WANTED to be funny.  I don’t know if I’d say it fully arrived at that benchmark.  All you really need to know going into this movie is that it’s a Rolland Emmerich movie.  Like all of his movies that I’ve seen, they’re really stupid, but they lavish in their stupidity.  If you’re going to make stupid movies, overcome that with lots of fun.  Shut off your brain and start clapping at shiny things and pretty colors, because I kinda recommend you rent this movie.

JULY

THE LONE RANGER

This movie was beaten up by critics, but I actually didn’t mind it.  I didn’t think it was good, but I didn’t find it painful as most of them seemed to.  I have no ties with the Lone Ranger mythos so this movie didn’t ruin anything.  I also like the quirky Johnny Depp performances, though it seems most critics do not.  Captain Jack Sparrow was a lot of fun, even if you put a dead bird on his head.  I thought this money had a decent amount of funny moments and some decent enough action.  And only one of those action scenes was ruined with the old Lone Ranger music that completely didn’t fit the scene.  I don’t think this was a good movie, but I’d call it an okay movie.  I recommend renting this movie and reaching your own conclusions about it.  I think the criticism has been a little unjust.

RED 2

I really liked the first RED movie.  I wasn’t expecting it to be as cool and stylized as it was, and the action was great.  Then they came out with this movie.  It tried to be as cool and stylized as the first movie, but it felt more like it was just repeating the first movie with a slightly different and less interesting story.  In the first movie he stepped out of a spinning car.  In this one he steps into a spinning car!  But I’ve seen that already!  Show me something new because your story isn’t that interesting and your cast isn’t trying that hard, even though they’re mostly spectacular actors.  And I’m always down to watch Mary-Louise Parker.  She’s hot, cute and funny.  Speaking of which…

R.I.P.D.

She was in R.I.P.D. also!  And I liked this movie more than I liked RED 2 while still not thinking it was that great of a movie.  This movie also had nothing special in the story or the action, but I think what made the movie work was the chemistry between the actors.  Ryan Reynolds is likeable, Jeff Bridges is basically doing Rooster Cogburn from True Grit (which is always a good thing), and Mary-Louise Parker is Mary-Louise Parker.  This movie is fine for a rental.

THE CONJURING

A horror movie never really needs to win with the story.  There’s a haunting and you can either fix it by finding what it wants and taking care of it or leaving the house.  I guess you can also just die, but that’s no way to end a movie.  What a horror movie really needs to do is create an atmosphere that builds anxiety, gets you on the edge of your seat, and frightens you.  This movie did that fairly well.  It didn’t really frighten, but it did create a nice spooky atmosphere that made this movie acceptable as a horror movie.  It wasn’t quite good enough to need to see in theaters, but now that you can rent it, I can get behind recommending that you do that.

THE WOLVERINE

The real problem with this movie is that it totally should’ve been in my best of for this year, but I just couldn’t do that.  How can you make a movie involving the X-Men or one of their biggest characters that doesn’t get me going?  ME!!  I love the X-Men!  Avengers was my best movie of the entire year last year!  You’re already closer than any other movie before I even see you!  I guess this movie wasn’t really that much closer because X-Men Origins: Wolverine was so bad that I was torn about what I should think as I went into it.  It was better than that piece of shit, but still not great.  The story was okay but the dialog was deflating.  And I guess the story is to blame for the feeling that Wolverine himself was a little diminished because they decided to take away his healing abilities, but they didn’t let it diminish him nearly as much as I expected it to.  But if you’re building a movie around such a great character, you can’t come mediocre.

AUGUST

WE’RE THE MILLERS

I didn’t find myself particularly interested in seeing this movie at first.  I like Jason Sudeikis well enough, but I’ve seen him in some bad movies before so he’s not really a draw.  But one of my friends did recommend this movie, so I decided to give it a shot.  Okay, it was really because Jennifer Aniston looked hot as a stripper.  And she was!  And this movie wasn’t that bad.  It had plenty enough funny moments and it had Jennifer Aniston getting sexy.  That’s good enough for me.

ELYSIUM

I didn’t have any inspiration to see this movie.  I wasn’t that big of a fan of District 9 and didn’t feel inspired to see the movie that followed it up and seemed extremely similar.  But as the end of the year was approaching, a lot of people were telling me that this movie would definitely be making it on their best movies of the year, so I felt the need to at least give it a shot.  I still feel like I was right.  Just like District 9, a lot of people like it but I didn’t get that excited by it.  The story was okay but really just seemed like it broke down to, “Rich people are bad!”  The performances were okay, but I could definitely see what some people were saying about the accents sounding weird, but I thought that Kruger guy’s accent was way weirder than Jodie Fosters.  I guess the thing I noted about this movie that it did well was the gore.  There was a lot of really cool gore in this movie, from people’s faces getting blasted out to guys blowing up, but other than that I wasn’t really into it.  But since so many people seemed to love this movie, I’d still recommend that you watch it.  You might be one of … THEM!

KICK-ASS 2

I was a huge fan of the original Kick-Ass movie, but this one fell a little flat with me.  It didn’t lose me completely, but it had a high bar to measure up to that it just couldn’t.  The action was a little spread out for my tastes, but was good when it happened.  The story wasn’t mind-blowing, but it was good.  And the performances were great as we had seen in the first movie.  So basically what I’m saying for this movie is that there was nothing particularly wrong with it, but the first one was better.  Still at least worth a rental.  If I hadn’t forgotten that it’s out on DVD already, I probably would’ve remembered to buy it already.

JOBS

I confess that my only inspiration to watch this movie was in hopes of having a movie to put in my worst movies of the year list.  Ashton Kutcher is in it!  How could it lose?!  Well it did because it was just mediocre and not horrible.  It’s basically just the life of Steve Jobs, which is somewhat interesting, I suppose.  Probably more so if you’re a big Apple lover.  But I’m writing this on Microsoft Word.  Microsoft Word is running on Windows 8.  Windows 8 is running on a computer I built.  I use only one Apple product.  I don’t really care about Steve Jobs life.  This movie would’ve had to be much better or much worse for me to have paid much attention to it.  I’m not going to recommend it unless you’re some crazy Machead.

THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES

I won’t be going too in depth with this review because my friend Tara specifically requested this movie as a video review.  I usually don’t accept requests for video reviews because a movie needs to have a lot of material for mocking to be worthy of a video review.  Tara seemed aware of that when she suggested this movie.  It’s not bad, but it’s definitely not for me.  It’s another movie that makes me think I need to write some vaguely sci-fi fantasy love story for teens.  Those things are blowing up right now.  Even the worst of them is being turned into a movie in hopes of becoming the next Harry Potter or Twilight.  Well this movie is kind of Twilight.  I didn’t like that movie either.  It’s not a painfully bad movie, but it’s not really worth watching.  What probably will be worth watching is my video review of this movie.  I took a lot of notes on this thing.

SEPTEMBER

HELL BABY

I like a lot of people involved in this movie.  Tom Lennon, Robert Ben Garant, Rob Corddry, Keegan-Michael Key, Riki Lindhome, Michael Ian Black, Kumail Nanjiani, etc.  I like all of these people.  And the female one got full on naked in the movie.  Okay, THAT’S probably the real reason I watched it.  But the movie was pretty good too.  It looked pretty good and the writing was okay, but the cast they got elevated what would otherwise be okay jokes well into funny.  It’s definitely at least worth checking out.

RIDDICK – VIDEO

I haven’t been that big of a fan of the Riddick series, but I decided to see this movie because it was there when I went to the theaters once.  It’s really not far removed from a remake of the first movie that made the character popular.  I would never have been so bold as to go into this movie expecting much out of the story, but if they’re not going to have a fantastic story they at least need some good action.  Even that wasn’t anything special.  They just want to constantly remind us that Riddick is a badass.  The best way to do that is to make a cool movie next time.  Let’s try that one out if we make another.

INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2

I feel like I could cut and paste my review for Kick-Ass 2 into this and have the same effect.  Solid movie, but the first movie was better.  The story was just okay and some of the things didn’t make that much sense to me, but didn’t bother me that much in the long run.  Some of the things they did were cool and innovative and the performances in the movie were pretty strong.  The thing that I can say about this movie and not Kick-Ass 2 is that it didn’t really build tension and didn’t really scare as it should have.  It’s still an okay movie, worthy at least of a rental.

OCTOBER

CARRIE

I was forced to watch this movie as part of my midterm for my Film Criticism class where I had to compare this movie to the original.  But I didn’t like the original that much, so how would a remake do?  The answer is fairly well.  I liked the remake much more than I liked the original, but that’s not saying too much.  I guess I’d call the remake of Carrie, “Okay.”  The story was almost identical and the only performance I’d say that I missed from the original movie was Sissy Spacek.  Chloë Moretz did a good job, but Spacek was probably better.  Piper Laurie was always a little over the top for my taste and Julianne Moore played it much more real.  The main improvement was in the look, which would obviously have been improved over the years.  I liked this movie better than the original, but I still only thought this movie was okay.  At least worth a rental, but not necessarily a purchase that needs to happen.

THOR: THE DARK WORLD

The original Thor didn’t do that much for me, but I’ve also never been that big of a fan of Thor in the first place.  I didn’t really start liking Thor as a character until the Avengers movie.  I also like everyone that was involved in that movie in any capacity.  The sequel was a fairly big improvement from the original.  These kinds of movies always benefit from not having to explain all the setup and background stuff to the audience.  This movie also benefited from having an entertaining and even sometimes humorous script to work with, as well as some solid action and great actors.  I especially liked Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarsgård, who were the ones that brought the most humor to their performances.  Hemsworth, Portman, and Hiddleston also did the great jobs that I would expect from them.  I’d recommend this movie for a purchase.  That’s probably what I’ll be doing.

NOVEMBER

THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE

You may recall that the first Hunger Games movie made it into my list of the worst movies of the year.  Since you’re not finding this part of the review in that section, it can be assumed that this movie went a little better.  And it’s true that this movie was better than the first one.  I still think the names are stupid and I’d prefer Elizabeth Banks as hot instead of all Lady Gaga’ed out, but they weren’t as annoying with their camera choices allowing them to capture the action better.  I’m still not too big of a fan of the story, but I wouldn’t really begrudge anyone for liking this movie as I did for the first movie.  Hopefully it’s a sign of exponential growth for the next movie, but only time will tell.

DECEMBER

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

The biggest problem I’ve had with the Hobbit movies so far is my anger over the fact that there does not seem to be a need for these to be split into three movies.  This time I got angry that I didn’t see Smaug desolate anything, but I was happy that I didn’t have to spend a half hour watching dwarves eat dinner and play with dishes.  Instead, we get into a slightly more interesting section of the story and are treated to some great action and fight scenes thanks to our new elven friends introduced in this movie.  Even if this movie should have been part of only one or two Hobbit movies, it was still an interesting movie to watch.  I’m hoping the third one will be a lot better because we’ll finally get to see Smaug do something interesting, and we’ll find that out later.

ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES

I think the problem with this movie is that it was a sequel.  One problem it encountered was the fact that the first Anchorman is such a classic that it’s going to be hard to live up to that.  The second problem is that, in order to live up to its predecessor, it’s going to try to rehash the jokes we loved in the first one.  People loved the joke about Paul Rudd’s cologne in the first one.  Let’s do that again and try to ramp it up a little bit.  But I’ve already seen that joke!  Too bad!  There were some very funny moments in this movie, but I doubt it will be anywhere near as quoted as the original was.  The cast is still great though.  Carell and Wiig’s relationship is hilarious, and the cameos in the news battle are epic.  I still say this is a movie that is worth seeing, but it’s not as good as the original, and you should go in knowing that.

47 RONIN

We all had expectations for this movie.  It’s like the Last Samurai with Keanu Reeves.  It simply must be terrible.  But it actually isn’t.  It’s certainly not fantastic, but it’s okay.  Much like Last Samurai, actually.  The story wasn’t anything shocking, but I suppose it’s also somewhat based on a real myth, so they probably tried to stick to something around that.  Most of the visuals worked well and some of the action was pretty exciting, and the performances weren’t bad.  I still take issue with any Keanu Reeves performance where he doesn’t use the word, “Whoa,” but I’m sure that’s something he’s actually trying to avoid.  This movie isn’t something you necessarily need to go and see while it’s in theaters, but I’d recommend it for a rental.

THE WORST FILMS OF 2013

HONORABLE MENTIONS

BULLET TO THE HEAD

You could say this movie was mediocre, but only if you were being nice.  In reality, it’s pretty damned boring.  The story was simple and the dialogue was crap, and they didn’t even have the common decency to fix those problems with some great action.  At least not until the very end of the movie, but they had lost me a long time before that.  There’s no good reason to watch this except to make fun of it.

AFTER EARTH – VIDEO

We all know what this is.  It’s a bad movie, yes, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was treated like.  The story is completely lame.  It’s a really long fetch quest.  Spend an entire movie getting to the ass of your ship to light off a rescue beacon.  The look also wanted to be spectacular, but never really impressed.  Will Smith was okay, but I don’t really like him as a jerk.  I like him in comedies.  And the entire movie seemed like it wanted us to care about Jaden Smith.  I still don’t recommend that.  I also don’t recommend this movie.

THE LAST EXORCISM PART II

The thing that made me most angry about this movie is the stupidity of its title.  The Last Exorcism … Part Two.  The second final exorcism.  The last movie was the Last Exorcism and this one is the next one.  I hate you going into this movie.  And then you’re not a very good movie.  There wasn’t anything impressive in the story and none of the movie was particularly scary.  The only thing good in the movie was Ashley Bell.  She’s pretty good.  But there’s still no reason to see the movie.

FIFTH WORST

Machete Kills (2013)MACHETE KILLS

Some people like a good campy movie.  That is my assumption at least because they’ve made two Machete movies and seem to be making a third one.  I thought the Grindhouse movies had their charms, but the first Machete was fairly mediocre and the second one was just crap.  I get the feeling like they wanted their story to be shitty because it was within the camp parameters they were going for, but I don’t have any appreciation for camp.  Maybe if they had some good action or performances it could make it more tolerable, but camp doesn’t allow for that either.  All it allows for is a super basic story, unconvincing violence, less than spectacular action, and cheesy performances.  I see no reason to watch this movie.

FOURTH WORST

Getaway (2013)GETAWAY

As best I can tell, no one wanted to see this movie.  It’s like the movie Phonebooth if the phone booth had wheels and an annoying ex-Disney star in there with you.  The bad guy had no discernable purpose in the movie and his motivation would qualify as the entirety of the story.  Was he trying to make money or was he trying to make a former race car driver believe in his abilities again?  I can’t remember and I don’t give a shit.  Either option qualifies as either boring and average or stupid.  If you’re interested in car chases, this movie has that in spades.  But if you’re not, then this movie might come across as a series of boring with no other purpose … like it did with me.  For the performances, Ethan Hawke did okay and Jon Voight did as good as you could with a mostly exclusively vocal performance, but it should not shock anyone that Selena Gomez cannot pull off being a badass little thug girl.  Go ahead and skip this movie.

THIRD WORST

The Purge (2013)THE PURGE

What?  Ethan Hawke is back already?!  There’s no way I’d have movies that would share actors again in this list.  But this movie sucked.  I kind of knew it would because that’s all I had heard about it before I decided to watch it.  They were right.  I guess the premise of the movie was cool enough, but it also doesn’t really seem to make that much sense to me.  I would like to think that, given a day where the illegal were legal, that most people wouldn’t take that opportunity to go around killing people.  It’s perhaps a bit naïve way to look at the world, but it’s how I prefer to.  It just makes me feel better.  But even if I wasn’t out looking to kill people, you’d better believe I would kill someone that came into my house trying to kill me and my family, whether there were rules that day or not and whether they were just some random gang of jerk kids or my asshole neighbors.  Neither would survive the night while I was still alive and kickin’.  And if I had anything to say about it, my whole family would survive as well … except for maybe my asshole daughter.  She got on my nerves, regardless of her somewhat hotness.  So basically what I’m saying is this was an interesting premise that frustrated me with its shitty writing and underwhelming everything else.  So I’m not recommending this either.

RUNNER UP

Spring Breakers (2013)SPRING BREAKERS

What?!  Now Selena Gomez is back!  Was the Getaway so bad that I hated every actor in it enough to hate any other movies they were in?  No, they just picked some bad movies this year.  And Selena Gomez is garbage.  Also, I hate Harmony Korine movies.  Other critics love this guy’s movies because of their social commentary or whatever.  I hate them because they seem like pretentious artsy crap.  And that’s what this movie felt like to me.  It was filled with annoying people I don’t want to be around or watch on film.  A bunch of annoying girls that rob people, a bunch of guys whose brains have been fried by drugs, and a rapper who would tattoo an ice cream cone on his face and can’t act.  The story of this movie was super simplistic and the movie was prolonged by having the movie repeat itself constantly.  I imagine this movie was actually half as long as it turned out if they cut out all the moments of repeating themselves, and those moments made the movie feel twice as long as it actually was.  Is there social commentary in this movie?  Probably, but there are less annoying ways to present that message.  As it was, the only thing I enjoyed about this movie was the titties.  They were abundant.  But you can also find that stuff on the internet without an annoying movie to accompany them.

THE WORST MOVIE OF 2013

Movie 43 (2013)MOVIE 43

This movie was aggressively and furiously unfunny, filled with a level of comedy that I assume might amuse people that could consider it a wonderful and productive night to sit around and say “underwear” and “poop” to be met with uproarious laughter.  My mother tells me that this was my pinnacle of comedy … when I was 2.  So if you hate your 2-year-old, this might be the movie to show them.  The movie even seemed aware of how painfully bad their jokes were because it was bookended by scenes of a person pitching this movie to a studio and being turned down because of how painfully unfunny and blatantly offensive their attempts at humor were, so much so that he was only able to get the movie green lit by pulling a gun and a grenade on the studio head.  I think that was based on a true story.  Worse than their attempts at comedy were what they did to people I like and respect.  It opens with Wolverine on a date with Academy Award Winner Kate Winslet and Wolverine … has balls on his neck.  And that’s the entire joke.  They then went on to dilute my affections for people like Halle Berry, Naomi Watts, Elizabeth Banks, Kristen Bell, Patrick Warburton, Anna Faris, John Hodgman, Matt Walsh, Seth MacFarlane, and Stephen Merchant, just to name a few.  If some of those people had any input in the script at all, they could have made a funny movie.  Instead, even their rare funny premises had shit thrown at them (literally) in order to sustain them as a sketch.  The most painful thing this movie caused was that people I know and respect for their sense of humor said that they laughed at one or two points during this movie.  That was the unkindest cut of all.

 

THE BEST FILMS OF 2013

HONORABLE MENTIONS

IRON MAN 3

Iron Man 3 was a good movie, but the nerdiness in me was ultimately disappointed by what it delivered.  I liked the story, but I absolutely hated what they did with the Mandarin.  I was not asking for them to go supernatural with the character and give him a set of magical rings; I was only asking for what I was promised.  You made the Mandarin into a real world style terrorist from what I saw in the trailers, and Ben Kingsley rocked that part of the performance.  But that’s not the way you went, was it?  I was completely deflated at the reveal for the Mandarin and it at least partially ruined the movie for me.  But the story was pretty good and the action was solid, although I didn’t really appreciate how disposable the Iron Man suits were.  Enemies were cutting through them like butter and Tony Stark was jumping into new ones to get destroyed.  I think he builds them a little bit sturdier than that.  But I did like the movie and the performances were expectedly great, I just couldn’t help but be disappointed by parts of it.

PACIFIC RIM

WRITTENVIDEO

I liked this movie a lot, but I couldn’t put it much higher than an honorable mention because the story was nothing special.  It wasn’t a bad story, but there was nothing new or unexpected in it.  But fuck you if you saw this movie expecting more than that.  I saw this movie for monsters and robots punching each other in the face.  And this movie brings that.  It looks great, it actually feels like giant robots and monsters laying waste to each other, and the action is plentiful.  Nothing special in this movie by way of story or acting, but that action makes it worth the ride.

MAN OF STEEL

WRITTENVIDEO

There were things that were not to be liked in this movie, but I thought the movie was pretty well done anyway.  Sure, it doesn’t seem like Superman to engage in combat that would level his two favorite cities, but I don’t like Superman anyway, so I don’t really care that it didn’t seem like Superman.  What did seem like Superman was the story.  It was the same story we’ve seen before in any number of Superman origin stories, and nearly identical to the story of Superman 2, but at least they didn’t use the old staple of the green rock to create drama as they have with every other Superman movie in the past.  But overall, the performances were good and the action was solid, so this was still an enjoyable watch, and probably the best Superman movie I’ve seen.

FIFTH BEST

The World's End (2013)THE WORLD’S END

I recently got into a conversation with a friend of mine who mentioned this movie as a great disappointment.  I reminded him that the only reason he could find this movie disappointing is because it was the third part in a very strong trilogy of movies.  On its own, this movie was really good.  It was a strong story that maybe lost itself in getting a little heavy handed and had a weak ending, but it counteracted that with a good amount of funny and awesome moments.  And the cast is fantastic.  The only real problem with this movie is that Shaun of the Dead is one of the best movies ever in my opinion, and Hot Fuzz is a fantastic movie as well.  Compared to those movies, it doesn’t quite match up.  On its own, it’s a solid movie that’s definitely worth watching.

FOURTH BEST

Evil Dead (2013)EVIL DEAD

I thought this movie was awesome.  Look, I respect the original Evil Dead (even with its camp appeal), but I always liked the following two movies better because they just went for outright comedy instead of camp.  It never really worked as a horror movie for me.  The remake, however, did.  I felt like they improved on the original in every way.  It looked better and that brought better gore.  Neither one of these movies was ever actually able to scare me, but they had some suspense and this one works really well as a slasher flick.  The performances were pretty good in this movie as well and the only thing that left me wanting was the lack of Bruce Campbell.  He wouldn’t really have made sense in this movie, but Bruce is awesome and I’m always going to miss him if you remake one of his movies without him.  But he was the only thing I missed, and I thought this movie was pretty awesome.

THIRD BEST

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS

WRITTENVIDEO

This movie is a total win for me.  I’ve always made public the fact that I chose Star Wars in the Trek/Wars conflict and never really gave Star Trek a chance.  The first Star Trek remake movie was really good, but Into Darkness was so good that it actually made a Star Trek fan out of me.  The story was fantastic, exciting, emotional, and suspenseful, so much so that it inspired me to watch the entire original series, the entire original movie series, and even purchase and get into Next Generation.  That’s a lot of inspiration caused by one movie.  That kind of inspiration can only be caused by some good writing, some fantastic performances, and some great action, and that’s what this movie delivers.  It’s not going to win any non-visual Academy Awards, but fuck those weepy drama movies.  Give me an awesome action movie any day.

RUNNER UP

This Is the End (2013)THIS IS THE END

I regretted having to write a review for this movie.  I pride myself in occasionally being able to add a little bit of comedy to a movie by making jokes in my reviews, but how could I add comedy to one of the best comedies I’ve seen in years.  I don’t think I’ve found a movie as consistently funny as this one since Airplane!  I could scarcely go 5 minutes in this movie without laughing out loud, and the same could be said about the second time I watched the movie after I purchased it.  Using the end of the world as a backdrop for a comedy is an innovative idea, but the writing in that regard was a little simplistic.  Being that it was a comedy, the only writing that actually has merit is the joke writing, and that was fantastic, and was made even better because they got a cast full of some of the best comedic actors around.  This is a fantastic and hilarious movie that you need to check out.

THE BEST MOVIE OF 2013

Gravity (2013)GRAVITY

I had no interest in seeing this movie.  Mainly because it had Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in it.  That isn’t usually my type of movie.  But after my Film Criticism teacher kept talking about this movie week after week, I finally decided that I should give the movie a shot.  And I’m very glad I did.  There wasn’t much in the story of this movie as it was basically just a story of survival, but it was how they told that story that made it so effective and made me like it so much.  I haven’t been able to refer to the suspense a movie creates as “edge of your seat” in quite some time, but I couldn’t think of any other way to refer to this movie.  It barely ever let up on the suspense!  Once it got going, I doubt my back touched the chair I was watching from.  The movie also effectively captured what I imagine it would feel like to be viewing all of this from space.  I felt queasy and disoriented through parts of the movie, just as I imagine I would in zero gravity.  I haven’t seen many Sandra Bullock performances that are regarded as good, but she was fantastic in this movie.  You should definitely see this movie, but the real shame will be if you didn’t go see it in theaters.  I think it would be much more effective in a more immersive setting like that.

Congratulations to any of you that actually read all of those words to get to this point.  Hell, congratulations if you only read the top and bottom 5 to 8ish.  As always, don’t forget to leave me a comment on this review with your thoughts about my choices and your opinions on what are the best and worst movies of the year.  I love to read those.

WATCH REVIEWS HERE!  YouTube  OTHER JOKES HERE!  Twitter  BE A FAN HERE!  Facebook  If you like these reviews so much, spread the word.  Keep me motivated!  Also, if you like them so much, why don’t you marry them?!

Thor: The Dark World (2013)


I Only Ask for One Thing in Return; a Good Seat from Which to Watch Asgard Burn!

Thor: The Dark World (2013)I would like to offer you some backstory to why I saw today’s movie, but it simply doesn’t exist.  It’s a sequel to a movie I’ve seen and vaguely liked.  But more importantly than that, it’s a comic book movie.  That is all that is required for me to find interest in seeing it.  And then the movie came out and I watched it.  What do you want from me?  There’s not always an interesting story leading up to these reviews!  Sometimes I just watch movies!  And this one was Thor: The Dark World, written by Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, and Stephen McFeely, directed by Alan Taylor, and starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christopher Eccleston, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, Rene Russo, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings, Idris Elba, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jaimie Alexander, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, and Tadanobu Asano.

Eons ago, the Asgardians defeated the Dark Elves on the battlefield of Vanaheim –where Disneyland will someday be built – before they got the chance to plunge the universe into darkness with a weapon known as the Aether, but their leader Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) manages to escape with his lieutenant Algrim (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and some of their men.  In present day, the realms come close to aligning again, bringing the return of Malekith when he senses that the Aether was discovered by Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) when it started to use her body as a host.  Her “boyfriend” Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returns to Midgard to take her back to Asgard with him to see if it can be removed.

I didn’t really go into this movie expecting much.  The first Thor movie was okay, but not really anything special.  This one was slightly better.  Not the greatest thing ever and not the worst, but it was an enjoyable enough watch.  The story was your basic “Bad thing’s gonna happen, hero’s gotta stop it” storyline.  And some of the subplots were a little predictable.  If you were the type that kept thinking during the Avengers, “Why did they make Coulson’s part so much bigger?  It’s like they’re trying to get us attached to him for some … Oh …,” then you may think the same thing about a returning character that had one or two lines in the first movie and was suddenly Chatty Cathy.  There’s also a fight near the end of the movie between two characters who – though they are technically enemies – are clearly faking it.  I don’t think anyone watching thought they were actually fighting instead of feigning a fight.  Though the writing can be predictable, there are some well-written funny moments to be had.  The scene where Thor and Loki are walking down and Loki was changing his appearance was pointless, but funny.  I also thought the moment where Loki and Thor are arguing over who’s a better pilot and Thor says, “Out of the two of us, which one can ACTUALLY fly,” was a funny line, but Loki really dropped the ball on that one.  Thor doesn’t fly!  He throws his hammer and gets dragged through the air by it!

Not much to say about the visuals of this movie.  It looks pretty great all the way through.  One thing that stood out to me was the singularity grenades that the enemies used.  Those were pretty awesome, and pretty brutal.

We’ve all probably seen this cast before, either in Avengers or the first Thor movie.  They do that.  But they still do it pretty well.  Chris Hemsworth is all around solid, in both performance and body.  And Natalie Portman is sexy, in both performance and body.  …I don’t think that one makes sense…  Tom Hiddleston is also very good.  I think the stand out performance in this movie for me was Kat Dennings.  She was comic relief in the first movie, but they really gave her a lot of funny to work with in this one, and she made good with it.  She’s one of the few comic relief performances I’ve enjoyed in recent memory.  I was really curious about the Warriors Three, or more specifically the Warriors Two out of Three.  Ray Stevenson came back as Volstagg, but new actors were portraying Fandral and Hogun.  They did fine jobs at it, but what the hell are the other two doing that they can’t be in an epic Marvel movie?  Once Upon a Time?  Worth it!

Thor: The Dark World was a step up from the original Thor.  The story was basic, but entertaining, and even managed a good couple of laughs.  The look was great and the action was solid, and all of the actors did fine jobs, especially Kat Dennings, who was typically hilarious.  This was an enjoyable movie and definitely worth the money to check it out in theaters.  A rental would also work if you would rather wait for it.  Thor: The Dark World gets “Look at you!  Still all muscly and everything!” out of “If we do nothing, they will destroy us.”

WATCH REVIEWS HERE!  YouTube  OTHER JOKES HERE!  Twitter  BE A FAN HERE!  Facebook  If you like these reviews so much, spread the word.  Keep me motivated!  Also, if you like them so much, why don’t you marry them?!

The Avengers (2012)


Guys, I’m Bringing the Party to You

Today’s movie was a hard movie to put off for as long as I did.  It came out almost a week ago now, but I didn’t have a good moment to go and see the movie with my roommate Richard until today.  It was not an easy couple of days.  I’ve been somewhat excited to see this movie since it was announced, and from the day it came out I’ve been beaten over the head with the fact that I need to see it.  But, when someone called the movie “The Best Comic Book Movie Ever”, I found myself very skeptical.  Had these people not seen the Dark Knight?  Or Watchmen?  Or was there a chance that this movie was that good?  We’ll find out today in my review of The Avengers, written by Joss Whedon and Zak Penn, directed by Joss Whedon, and starring Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Stellan Skarsgard, Cobie Smulders, Gwyneth Paltrow, Harry Dean Stanton, and Paul Bettany.

The fallen Asgardian Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has reached a pact with an alien race known as the Chitauri.  If Loki is able to capture the powerful source of energy known as the Tesseract, they will declare war on Earth for it.  Armed with a fancy spear, he easily breaks into a facility of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division (aka SHIELD) and takes the Tesseract, also brainwashing the physicist Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) and SHIELD agent Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner).  In response, SHIELD director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) activates the Avengers Initiative, compiling Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to face the threat.  SHIELD agent the Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) is sent to retrieve the Hulk/Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) is sent to retrieve Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), and Fury himself goes to retrieve Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans).  Iron Man and Captain America are able to capture Loki, which captures the attention of Loki’s brother, the God of Thunder, Thor (Chris Hemsworth).  Can these very conflicting personalities come together to work as a team?  Can they thwart Loki’s plans?  And, more importantly, how many times will I masturbate during this movie?

This was the worst movie ever … for someone with a heart condition.  HOLY SHIT is this a good movie!  I loved the living bejesus right out of this movie.  But, as much as I loved it, I don’t think I’d be willing to call it the greatest comic book movie of all time.  It’s certainly the greatest of its kind, though.  I would divide comic book movies in much the same way as I would regular movies.  Some are really smart, and some are really fun.  I wouldn’t call the Watchmen or Dark Knight particularly fun, but they’re great movies.  I also wouldn’t call Avengers the smartest movie, but it’s fantastic fun pretty much from the very beginning of the movie.  One thing that should be kept in mind while reading my review is that I do not have the ability to think about this movie as someone who is not a fanboy.  My fanboy boner is drawing all of the blood out of the rest of my observational abilities.  But fellow fanboys will have such the nerd boner throughout this entire movie.  Comic book movies already get +10 love in my mind, but this movie had no use for those excess points.  It’s such sweet, sweet fan service all the way through, thanks to the man at the helm, Joss Whedon.  Being a nerd himself, he would not allow any one of the Avengers to not have their moment in this movie.  Because of his nerdiness, this is the first Marvel movie (that wasn’t just a sequel) that took so much from what happened in the other movies into itself.  Things like the Tesseract that was introduced in Captain America’s movie and some of the Asgardian stuff that was introduced in Thor helped really connect this movie as opposed to leaving it to its own devices.  The introduction of each individual character in the movie was badass and usually preceded by an awesome quip that got me extra excited.  Things like, “Wars are won by soldiers,” and then BOOM!  Captain America punching the shit out of some heavy bags.  They did something like this for almost every Avenger and I loved it every time.  I was also assuming as I went into this movie that I would only be interested in the main Avengers like Thor and the Hulk, leaving me bored with the time I spent with the less spectacularly gifted Avengers like Black Widow and Hawkeye.  When the gigantic battle at the end of the movie was starting, I wondered what good Widow and Hawkeye – and maybe even the Cap – would be in this fight, but every one of them had the opportunity to be awesome in it.  And almost everyone on the Avengers teamed up with the other Avengers.  One of my favorite moments in the movie was something I had seen in some of the Marvel video games: when Iron Man shoots at Captain America’s shield during battles and Cap swings the beam around to hit the enemies around them.

I got to thinking about something early on in the trailers leading up to this movie.  I’m sure there was a time when goose bumps served a purpose like making our hair stand up because of cold in the environment or perhaps even fluffing up our hair when threatened to make us look bigger.  It made me laugh that, over time, these defense mechanisms have become completely useless and goose bumps now only involve showing our excitement over movies.  The trailers that preceded Avengers were for other movies I’m extremely excited for, like the new Spiderman and Dark Knight Rises, and they got my skin prepped for goose bumpage.  The Avengers movie barely ever gave my skin the chance to rest.  The introduction for each character caused goose bumps, each fight caused goose bumps, almost everything said by anyone in the movie, all of these things got my skin all riled up.  Even for some two hours after the movie, my skin wouldn’t knock it off with every time I thought about my favorite moments.  Hell, even writing this review caused me to get goose bumps.  I tell you all of this to let you know that goose bumps are stupid and this movie is awesome.

I briefly skimmed one of the very few negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes to see how someone could possibly not like this movie.  It criticized the movie for being a big mess of CG action.  What did you go into this movie expecting?  Schindler’s List?  It’s a comic book movie!  It’s supposed to be like you’re watching a comic book come to life.  If you saw this same movie without CG, it would be the worst movie ever.  You’d have to bring Lou Ferrigno back to be the Hulk and no one could really do anything awesome.  So, what I’m saying to that guy is: go fuck your own face.  This movie looked epic and fantastic.  Things like SHIELD’s helicarrier looked as massive and realistic as humanly possible.  And, for the first time, the Hulk looked fantastic and real.  Well, as real as a giant green guy can look.  The other movies had the Hulk kind of stand out and not look like it was properly lit, but this movie didn’t have that problem.  Even the practical things were given the weight that made them feel like superpowered individuals were doing them, like when Cap blocked Thor’s hit as they were fighting in the woods, creating a shockwave that cleared a large portion of the surrounding area.

I’ve probably already discussed every character in this movie already in their own respective movies, but that shant stop me from doing it again.  But this time I’m going to discuss them in order of awesomeness.  First up is the only new addition to the Avengers team: Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk.  Though Ruffalo was the only one in this movie to not appear as his character previously, I think he stole the show.  I found him to be a combination of the most humorous and most badass characters in the movie.  When he randomly, and unexpectedly, punches Thor at one point in the movie it was pure comedy enjoyment.  When he lays an epic beatdown on one of the major characters in the movie, flopping them around like a ragdoll and following it up with one of his trademark “Puny …” lines, I nerdgasmed.  When he fights one of the good guys in the movie, I was worried that they wouldn’t give the Hulk his proper amounts of awesomeness in order to make another character that I wasn’t that fond of look better.  But when Captain America unleashes him on the enemies by commanding him to smash, he did just that.  The big question would be whether or not Ruffalo set himself apart as the best version of the character, and I’m not sure I’d be willing to give him that.  I would definitely allow Ruffalo to be called the actor that played the Hulk in the best movie he was in, but I didn’t think that Ruffalo had the appropriate build for Banner.  He did a great job acting as the character, but he was a little more muscular than I’d think of Banner.  I think Edward Norton looked the part much more, and acted the part equally as well.  My next favorite would have to be Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man.  Adding Downey’s own wit and timing to Joss Whedon’s sharp writing is a winning combination.  RDJ is Tony Stark, and I don’t know how there will ever be another.  He got to bust out the hero chops more than any of the Iron Man movies here, and was still really funny.  Another of my favorite moments in the film was when Stark prodded Banner in the lab because he was just like a big child that just wanted to see the big, green smash machine.  Chris Evans as Captain America and Chris Hemsworth as Thor had tons of awesome moments and each had a couple of comedy moments as well that I appreciated.  Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow sets herself up as pretty awesome right in her opening scene, and also takes part in an epic fight with Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye.  I was worried about Hawkeye going into the movie, thinking that a character whose only power is to be really good at firing arrows would not be super interesting.  Though his parts were lighter on the awesome, he still pulled a good bit out with some sweet shots and some cool, no-look shots.

The Avengers might not be what I’d be comfortable calling the best comic book movie ever, but it’s unequivocally the most fun, most action-packed, and most exhilarating comic book movie I’ve ever watched, and I’ve seen almost all of them.  The story is great, the dialogue is smart and funny, and the performances are all fantastic.  But, more importantly, the action scenes are frequent, amazing, and exactly what every fan wants to see.  Being a fanboy myself, I can’t really get into the mindset of someone who doesn’t like comic books.  But I also can’t imagine the type of person who would not think this movie is awesome.  I don’t only recommend you see this movie, I outright demand it.  Go see this movie now.  And, if you can, go see it in IMAX, and even in 3D.  I’m normally a 3D hater, but I hear this movie is worth it.  The Avengers gets “The world has changed” out of “I still believe in heroes.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Thor (2011)


In all my comic book nerdiness I only ever became briefly acquainted with Thor when the character ventured into the realm of the Marvel comic books I did read.  Being that he mainly stuck to his own comic series and to the Avengers, I didn’t see much of him.  I knew only his basic history so when they released the movie version of Thor it was a good opportunity for me to get a crash course on the character without all that tedious reading.  Thor stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard, and Kat Dennings.

Way back in the day, king of the Norse gods of Asgard Odin (Anthony Hopkins) laid an epic beating on the Frost Giants of Jotunheim and took their special refrigerator box, the Casket of Ancient Winters.  Much later a few Frost Giants find their way into Asgard somehow to try to steal their box back, just to get annihilated by the Destroyer armor that guarded it.  Well Odin’s son, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) gets all mad and decides to take his buddies; Sif (the chick), Volstagg (the Gimli-lookin’ dude), Fandral (the Robin Hood-lookin’ dude), and Hogun (the Asian); along with his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) into Jotunheim to whoop up on the Frost Giants to put them back in their place, against Odin’s wishes.  Well they succeed in whooping up on some major ass over there but Volstagg gets frostbite on his arm and Fandral takes an ice spike through the chest (but lives) in the process.  Odin rescues them and this breaks the truce between Asgard and Jotunheim.  Odin and Thor get to arguing and Thor gets banished to Midgard (or as we like to call it, Earth) and Odin whispers sweet nothings into the ear of Thor’s mighty hammer, Mjolnir, so that it won’t be able to be lifted by anyone unworthy of it’s power, Excalibur style.  Thor lands in New Mexico and is promptly hit by the car of 2 scientists, astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her mentor Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard, who obviously doesn’t want to hang out on the Dutchman anymore with his son, William), and their assistant Darcy (Kat Dennings).  While they check to make sure he’s okay, he gets up and starts yelling at the sky to let him back into Asgard, so Darcy hits him with a taser.  After he gets friendly with the scientists – and starts towards getting even more friendly with Natalie – he goes to where Mjolnir landed and whoops up on the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that are now studying it, but finds that he’s not worthy of it’s power yet, and then he’s captured.  I don’t know why he couldn’t have just gone to Home Depot and got a claw hammer instead.  But noooooooooooo, it just has to be Mjolnir.  Back on Asgard, Odin reveals to Loki that Loki was actually a baby Frost Giant that he took and raised as his own to hopefully create a peace between the realms, then he gets all narcoleptic and falls into the Odinsleep (which he does to recharge after a long days work).  Loki is then in charge and gets all corrupt and crazy.  Later Thor has to make everything better.

I kind of dug this movie.  I see most comic book movies as breaking into 3 categories: ones that are all around amazing and story-driven (Watchmen), ones that are big dumb action movies but are cool (the second Hulk movie), and ones that are awful (Ghost Rider).  This movie is between story-driven and big dumb action, though much closer to big dumb action.  It has a good story, but I liked it more for the epic battles.  The main story elements are the relationships with Thor, mainly the Thor/Odin, the Thor/Loki, and the Thor/Portman ones.  By the way, if Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman became a couple, I vote for calling them Thortman.  Thor/Odin is a fairly typical father/son dynamic, or more so a king/prince dynamic where the good king wants his spoiled son to grow up to be a good king.  Thor/Loki is a fairly typical brother dynamic where Loki is jealous of Thor and manipulates him into failing so he can overthrow him.  And Thortman is a typical romantic relationship.

The look of the movie is pretty great.  Most of the sets are apparently practical and not CG, so they look good (unlike a mostly CG Green Lantern).  The scale is probably the most epic a comic book movie has ever been, but then contrasted with the least epic real Earth landscape.  It goes from this uber-grandiose Asgard to a very small town in New Mexico.  The full-on double rainbow bridge was also very pretty.  The fights in this movie are pretty good, the best being the whooping laid on the Frost Giants by Thor and his group.  The worst, for me, was the battle with the Destroyer armor.  Thor, still depowered, tries to sacrifice himself to the Destroyer armor in order to save his friends and Jane, and gets killed by the armor for it.  Then, as everyone probably expects, that is the moment Mjolnir decides he’s worthy and it flies over to him and he becomes Thor again.  This part, though entirely predictable, still gave me goosebumps.  But then the battle with the Destroyer armor is pretty quick and anticlimactic.  Block twice, hammer to the face, the end.  The battle with Loki could have drawn out the tension a little better too.

The acting chops of this cast warmed my heart.  I love seeing a comic book movie, that are typically looked down upon by society as “stupid nerd stuff”, get a cast that can elevate the material.  I mean, this movie has Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman, for crying out loud.  Anthony Hopkins does a great job, and Chris Hemsworth manages to hold up his end in scenes with the man.  Kat Dennings part is pretty much being in the background and cracking wise, and she performs it well.  Natalie Portman seemed to kind of take it easy on this picture.  She wasn’t bad or anything, but she wasn’t bringing the Black Swan hustle to it either.  Of course, that probably would’ve been out of place anyway.  All that ballet in the background of fight scenes between gods might be goofy.  I think Tom Hiddleston stood out the most for me as Loki.  He really pulled off the hidden agenda of Loki well, and acted his ass off when it called for it.  And I had never seen this guy before, so I’m looking forward to him coming up again.  Renne Russo as Thor’s mom was a little weird to me.  She’s a big Hollywood name, right?  But in this movie she’s usually just standing around in the background and has one, maybe two, lines in the whole thing.

I liked this movie.  Whether that’s just my comic book nerdiness talking or my movie lover, I can’t say.  I still say it’s worth a watch.  I give this movie a “Not as dumb as I thought” out of “DOUBLE RAINBOW, ALL THE WAY”.

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others.  It may help me get better.