Search This Blog

Friday, July 31, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron

written & directed by 
[filmography: The Avengers (2012), Serenity (2005), "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1996-2003)]

ENJOYMENT: **½ (out of 4)
Yea, yea -- pretty much what we'd expect. I love these Marvel movies usually, and sure Avengers 2 was fun, but come on! Give us something we haven't seen before! And if Marvel movies already weren't unrealistic enough, Avengers 2 steps into the supernatural -- or maybe it was just plain stupid. 


SPY (2015)
written & directed by 
[filmography: The Heat (2013), Bridesmaids (2011)]

ENJOYMENT: **1/2 (out of 4)

What a bunch of hype: this film got 95% on Rotten Tomatoes! That's the only reason I saw it. And, sure, it was pretty funny and surprisingly original, but Melissa McCarthy is on the verge of being massively played out (if not already). Am I the only one who feels that way?

Furious 7

FURIOUS 7 (2015)
directed by 
[filmography: Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013), The Conjuring (2013), Insidious (2010), Saw (2004)]
written by  (characters)

ENJOYMENT: *** (out of 4)
This film is awesome. Somehow I am able to suspend most of my criticism and just take in and love these films for what they are. I think I enjoyed this one slightly less than the previous film, but who cares? It's fun. (And I'm not alone: Furious 7 is the fourth highest grossing film of all time after AvatarTitanic & Jurassic World! And yes, there will be a Furious 8 in 2017.)

Pitch Perfect 2

directed by 
[directorial debut]
written by 

ENJOYMENT: *** (out of 4)
If you loved the first one, I don't see how you won't also love the sequel. This is even funnier than the first, though it may be missing a bit of the romance.


directed by 
[filmography: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014), Thor (2011)]
written by  

ENJOYMENT: ***½ (out of 4)

A surprisingly good remake of a classic story with beautiful music, sets and costumes. Very powerful and fun film to watch -- at least it was perfect on an airplane!

Kingsman: The Secret Service

directed by Matthew Vaughn
[filmography: X-Men: First Class (2011), Kick Ass (2010), Star Dust (2007), Layer Cake (2004)]

ENJOYMENT: *** (out of 4)

A great action film & extremely memorable. The acting was fantastic, action was original (maybe even The Matrix-original) and it was pretty epic. I would highly recommend this movie.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Jurassic World

directed by 
[filmography: Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)]

written by 

ENJOYMENT: **** (out of 4)
"A perfect throwback to fans of the old films & lots of fun all around"

For fans of Spielberg's Jurassic Park films, we've had nearly two decades to think about what we'd want in a sequel (let's all forget Jurassic Park III). Should the T-rex still be the baddest dinosaur of them all? Should Jeff Goldbloom, Sam Neil and Laura Dern return? Maybe the kids from the first film can return to a newly reopened park as adults with their own kids? There are so many different directions that could be taken with the old cast, perhaps some more interesting than others, but what was refreshing about Jurassic World is that this is a new story. It almost feels like an entirely new franchise. Sure, the old dinosaurs are there -- the giant herbivores, the raptors and the T-rex are bigger and badder than ever -- but Trevorrow and gang decided to add more. In a lot of ways, Jurassic World is the first films on steroids. Some may not like that, they may think it's over the top, but I, for one, loved every minute of it. With the brand new cast, brand new technology and brand new dinosaurs (yet the same amazing theme music), Jurassic World is a reimagining of the entire dinosaur world.  But what I liked most about this film was that it didn't take itself too seriously. There were plenty of jokes, plenty of dingbat characters and lots of scenes that may have been over-the-top. However, I was completely absorbed in this film and didn't want it to end. Chris Pratt is now unequivocally an A-list star, Bryce Dallas Howard is captivating and the new kids in the film were great as well. All in all, this was an exhilarating experience and everyone has to give it a try. To your childhood!

P.S. Jurassic World is already the third highest grossing movie of all time after Avatar and Titanic, making more money than The Avengers, any of the Harry Potter films or Lord of the Rings. Therefore, unsurprisingly, there is more to come -- Jurassic World 2 has a 2018 release date. 

Other ratings: IMDB (7.3/10), Rotten Tomatoes (71%)



directed by Judd Apatow
[filmography: This is 40 (2012), Funny People (2009), 
Knocked Up (2007), The 40-Year Old Virgin (2005)]

written by Amy Schumer
[film debut]

starring Brie LarsonTilda Swinton and LeBron James (as LeBron James)

ENJOYMENT: **** (out of 4)
"Hysterical, original and brilliant"

From the first minute of the film to the last, minus a few serious moments sprinkled throughout, I was pretty much dying laughing through the entire film. And I was not alone: the whole theatre was dying laughing. Many people screamed because they were laughing so hard at some parts. After seeing Trainwreck, plus the occasional "Last Comic Standing" and comedy specials on Netflix, I now have zero patience for films that aren't funny or comedies that are completely devoid of thought. There is not a finite amount of funny material and we shouldn't settle for less. Trainwreck should give you some optimism that the comedy genre is still alive and well independent of Melissa McCarthy and Adam Sandler and other cheap comedians. However, Trainwreck is not only extremely funny, but extremely raunchy. I feel pretty safe saying that Amy Schumer's character is the raunchiest female character I have ever seen on the big screen (much raunchier than Samantha Jones in Sex and the City, but a similar type). That being said, do not go see this film with your grandparents or conservative family members or it may be the most uncomfortable two hours of your life. Not only was it hilarious and raunchy, however, it was a touching love story, a film about family and friends, accepting yourself and those around you and still striving to be you better self. This film is an instant comedy classic and Judd Apatow's best. Amy Schumer is absolutely brilliant in every way and so prepare to see her with some nominations come award season. Even LeBron brings it. Seriously, you won't be disappointed.

OSCAR PREDICTIONS: Amy Schumer could get a nomination for Best Original Screenplay. This is as original and as funny as Bridesmaids, and that got a lot of love from the Academy. Amy Schumer will get a Best Actress in a Comedy nomination at the Golden Globes and could very well win.

Other ratings: IMDB (7.1/10), Rotten Tomatoes (85%)

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

directed by 

written by 

starring  (as Greg) (as Earl) (as the Dying Girl, Rachel)

ENJOYMENT: **** (out of 4)
"Second favorite so far this year, and so much more)

So if you know me then you probably know how I feel about Boyhood and that it is one of my favorite movies ever, right? Well, I probably haven't told you I also adore the coming-of-age film genre in general. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Say Anything, Dazed and Confused, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Almost Famous, Stand By Me . . . . Well, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is the new kid on this list and in many ways is a lot of these films rolled up into one. Parts of it are so touching, some are so hilarious, some are so tragic, and others are still amateur, but the film as a whole is a spectacular treat that doesn't come along too often. Some of the things the characters do and say will remind you of your childhood, your high school years and any time you experienced great friendship, mentorship, confusions, loss and profound joy. At the same time, the storytelling was refreshingly original, with a touch of Richard Linklater and a splash of Wes Anderson.The filmmakers and cast didn't hold anything back. Go see it.

Other ratings: IMDB (8.3/10), Rotten Tomatoes (80%)

Mad Max: Fury Road

directed by George Miller 
[filmography: The Mad Max Universe]

written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy [writing debut] & Nick Lathouris [writing debut]

starring  [The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Inception (2010)]  ,  and Hugh Keays-Byrne as Immortan Joe

ENJOYMENT: **** (out of 4)
"Favorite so far this year"

Going in, we were told by some critics that this was the best action film of all time. How would that be possible? When I first saw the previews I wasn't even sure it looked good at all or if I'd even see it, let alone have it be on some list of bests. However, after seeing it ascend to one of the best reviewed movies on Rotten Tomatoes and elsewhere, I had to give a try. Long story short: the new Mad Max is up there with one of the best-looking, most exhilarating and unbelievable action films I've ever seen. There – I agree with many of the critics. Charlize Theron is a force of nature and Tom Hardy is perfect in another strong role after Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. Also, I haven't talked to anyone who's seen it who hasn't mentioned how hot and fun Nicholas Hoult was in the film. The director George Miller, who directed the previous Mad Max films, was given $150 million budget that was undoubtably deemed a gamble by many, and he made something very special. With relatively few special effects, little dialogue and non-stop action, Miller succeeded in making one of the coolest films I've ever seen. Even if this isn't your genre, or you think you wouldn't like it, give it a try. I have yet to meet a single person who hasn't loved it. See it already.

Other ratings: IMDB (8.4/10, #84 on Top 250 of All Time), Rotten Tomatoes (98%)