5.22.2015

Tomorrowgeist

The weekend brings with it two new releases. One: a new live action adventure from Disney based on one of the lands in their most famous theme park. And two: a remake of a beloved horror film from the 80's. Both are opening to low scores from critics but are these films deserving of these negative reactions? Let me break both down for you.

TOMORROWLAND



I saw this film on Monday, and it took a good while to figure out how exactly I felt about it. I admired its originality and had fun with the ride, yet there was quite a lot of strangeness to it that I wasn't sure all worked in the films favor. When it comes down to it, Tomorrowland is a mixed bag that loses its way toward the end (or perhaps the middle with some bad pacing.) But I can't help but admire that it's marching to the beat of its own drum. Yeah there is a little too much mystery for mystery's sake, but this movie threw my expectations out the window in what this movie actually was...and I gotta respect it for that. Plus it features a Star Wars homage that had me smiling from ear to ear. EMILY RATING: I'm being really kind and saying 7/10.

POLTERGEIST



I'm telling you if it's not a sequel these days, it's a remake. Remakes aren't always the most horrible thing, but when it comes to remaking solid horror films., there really doesn't seem to be much of a point. The best thing a horror film can do is to surprise you, so what is the point of revisiting something we already know the beats to? What's left to surprise in a story we already know? Even worse in this particular case, a story that has since been duplicated a billion times over. Poltergeist was a defining film in the haunted house portion of the horror genre, and films since may not have been straight remakes, but they might as well have been. The remake here is not without its charms....one being Sam Rockwell and the rest of the cast. The film definitely looks good (well apart from some visual effects) and the filmmakers did a decent job of updating the tale for a modern age... But unfortunately, their update managed to erase all the mystique the original had to offer. Instead, things are over-explained so much that it's a little ridiculous. For a horror film, the scares are pretty tame and pale very much to the original. But... I suppose you could do worse. And the little son is simply precious. EMILY RATING: 5.5/10

5.15.2015

Less than Perfect

Oh, the sequel game. Here we are yet again. At this point, while I always hope good movies are successful enough to make a profit and be rewarded, box office phenomenons are a dangerous thing. Why is this? Because nowadays, even the mildest hit has studio execs clamoring for a sequel. Not that I'm even saying the original Pitch Perfect was a really good movie, but it was pleasant enough. So pleasant, that its crowd-pleasability inevitably called for a sequel. So is this unnecessary sequel the rare exception that justifies its existence, or better yet improves on the original? Unfortunately, in this girl's opinion at least, the answer is neither.

This movie is dealing with a lot of problems; somehow it manages to be too much and not enough all at once. So much is crammed into this movie that they have a hard time focusing on any particular aspect for too long. The sequel picks up three years after the first movie ends. After a public embarrassment, the Barden Bellas find themselves once again as the underdogs and Anna Kendrick's Beca comes to a personal crossroads. But that's not all! There's an official new Bella, as well as a couple other new faces to the group that are never really directly addressed and two additional romances (unfortunately at the expense of the first movie's main couple whose story is completely sidelined this time.) With all this new material, the side characters who were already such thinly drawn stereotypes in the first movie get even less to do this time. And the humor that comes at the expense of those stereotypes more often led to groans than chuckles.

Though Pitch Perfect 2 is generally uninspired, it is not without it's redeeming qualities. The edition of Anna Kendrick's side story about working at a recording studio is actually a good one. It's nice step for her character to take from the first installment and it's nice to see her talent get challenged for once. Also just as with the original film, Rebel Wilson gets blessed with all the best dialogue...the new Guatemalan character, on the other hand, gets stuck with the worst. But the best thing about Pitch Perfect 2? They ditched the vomit humor. Then again, they replaced that with a barrage of Fat Amy vagina jokes...so I'm not really sure if it's an improvement or not. Fans of the original need not worry too much though; the beats are similar enough and the characters they love still remain very much themselves, so you'll probably have a fun time. I, on the other hand, found it to be unfortunately mediocre. EMILY RATING: 5.5/10

5.01.2015

Hero Complex

A certain gigantic superhero movie opened today and this girl here made the conscious decision to sit this one out. It's almost a guarantee that I won't like Avengers: Age of Ultron at this point, so why put myself and all the fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe through me watching it only to write a post ranting on it? Instead, I've decided to prove I'm not just a "superhero movie hater" and celebrate my ten favorite (non-MCU affiliated) superhero films of all time. So if you, like me are suffering from MCU fatigue, just watch any of these movies this weekend instead of Avengers: Age of Ultron. On the other hand, if you're a Marvel superfan just go see the movie and try not to be too upset over a handful of people that disagree with your opinion that these are the greatest movies ever. Onto the list.

10. Kick-Ass


It's quite the rarity to find a good Nicolas Cage performance these days! In Kick-Ass, he and Chloe Moretz were a riot. But the movie has a lot more going for it besides that. For one thing, it benefits by setting it in a real and feasible world. This isn't a comic book movie, but rather a movie about a kid inspired by those type of movies and consequently, it turns the genre on its head. The fact that elements of this story could potentially happen in real life is probably the best thing about it! And that's saying a lot since this movie is packed to the brim with excitement and humor.

9. X-Men Days of Future Past 

When it comes to last summer, I'm still having to hear people rave about Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: Winter Soldier. Yet the magnificent and far superior X-Men Days of Future Past is often forgotten. Why is this? This movie makes the balancing character act look like a piece of cake. Characters from movies established a decade apart are blended seamlessly and everyone gets their moment. It has got its humor... but not everyone has to be a comedian. Plus the power these mutants possess is always showcased in a variety of creative and entertaining ways. After several films into this series, somehow Bryan Singer managed to still keep things fresh, and even better he changed the game.

8. Superman 

There's something kind of magical about the superhero film that started it all. Well, unless you want to count Batman: The Movie (1966). Christopher Reeve gives an iconic performance as the man of steel and embodied the world's most recognizable superhero.  This is the perfect example of an origin story, and nearly ever superhero film has been trying to duplicate the formula it created ever since. Now, if only they had given us a more likable Lois Lane. Still, that iconic score coupled with the thrill of seeing our favorite hero soaring across the skies made up for that!

7. Spider-man 

While Superman set the original standard formula, Sam Raimi's Spider-man is responsible for the post 9/11 superhero craze. Every studio wanted to copy the success of this film and sought to find superheroes they could build franchises around. While I am absolutely no hater of The Amazing Spider-man films (yeah I said it), there is something so fun about this particular origin. It has its own distinct flavor which makes it stand out from all the rest.

6. X-Men 2 


This is just an incredibly fun blockbuster and it totally holds up. I remember how much it thrilled me when I saw it in theaters from start to finish back in 2003, and watching it again just barely I found that it's still a delight. The plot is very well crafted and every character manages to be integral. Like X-Men Days of Future Past, X2 manages quite the juggling act with everything it tries to do and pulls it off brilliantly. A superhero is only as good as its villain, and this one has two excellent ones in the form of General Stryker and, of course, the always reliable Magneto. Side characters like Pyro, Nightcrawler, and Lady Deathstrike manage to steal scenes and everyone in this film seems to be having a fun time.

5. Batman Begins 

Christopher Nolan's reboot film in the Batman franchise is fantastic. Tim Burton's films were good, but after Joel Schumacher's movies this character seemed doomed to mediocrity. Batman Begins changed all that and not only wiped the slate clean, but created a new standard for the character and the world he inhabited. But besides being the turning point for the Batman films, it also is a great movie in its own right. Begins is incredibly entertaining and boasts a fantastic cast. Christian Bale, Michael Cane, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson and Liam Neeson all turn in awesome performances. The only false note is the weak performance given by Katie Holmes. This is the origin story that Batman both needs AND deserves.


4. Unbreakable 


Oh, my dear Shyamalan. What talent you used to possess (and hopefully can one day still recover.) Unbreakable is a great example of what this man was able to do in his prime. Like Kick-Ass, this is a more "real world" telling of a superhero story. But unlike that film, this one is not a comical take. Unbreakable combines an unconventional superhero origin story with an incredibly suspenseful thriller. Bruce Willis is solid as always and Samuel Jackson gives one of the best performances of his career. While it does feature one of the most annoying child characters ever in a movie, it still remains a fantastic film and one of the most unique tellings of a superhero story.


3. The Incredibles  


This might just be the most fun of all superhero films! From start to finish it is an absolute ride. All the characters are delightful and the story is clever. It's the only Pixar film to have ever actually deserved a sequel and still we're left waiting. Let's be honest, Big Hero 6 only wishes it could be as cool as The Incredibles. Seeing these characters in action in the climactic finale is a blast, but they're also just as fun to watch simply arguing around a dinner table. This movie is simply great.


2. Spider-man 2 


There's something about this one that I just always loved. Doc Oc made a formidable foe to our beloved Spider-man and the stakes in every area of his life seemed to be higher. The action sequences were a thrill to watch and the storyline was handled just the way I hoped. The ending with MJ was so satisfying to see our hero finally get to be happy (something that doesn't seem to happen a lot for superheroes nowadays!) Seeing him thrive in his career and fail at college lead to the best Spider-man film ever. Too bad we have to regress him back to high school for the third time next reboot.


1. The Dark Knight  


This movie is so unbelievably good. This is not just a good superhero movie (or rather the best superhero movie really...) this is a superb film period. Quite honestly, I'm not sure there will ever be another superhero-based film to ever be this good again. The reason? Heath Ledger's chilling performance. It makes the film absolutely unforgettable and frankly untouchable. The Dark Knight Rises was a fine enough follow-up but couldn't help but feel disappointing after this masterpiece. I feel bad for Jared Leto to have to follow such an act, but smart move on the filmmaker's part to go such a different direction with the character, because recreating what Ledger did would be nearly impossible. As amazing as his performance is, the film isn't made up solely of that. It's this character contrasted with our hero that makes things really interesting. The Dark Knight takes everything great that Batman Begins did and just makes it better. In fact, Christopher Nolan makes a near perfect film here full of action, depth, moral complexities and more. It's almost everything you could ask for in a film of such proportions.

Well, that's my list. Unfortunately, I didn't have room for all the solid Batman, Spider-man or X-men films in existence, but they're still in my heart. Hopefully, I didn't offend too many people today, but if so just jot on over to the theater and watch your precious Avengers yet again to soothe yourself.