Monthly Rewind – January Movie Releases 2010-2018

Hello, everybody!

I’m starting a new feature here on Movies with Chris called Monthly Rewind! Given that the decade just ended, I figured I do something a little different than a “Best of” or “Favorite of” the Decade list. Instead of naming all of my noteworthy movies, I thought I would look at the movies I’ve seen in the last ten years in those given months and give my thoughts on them all these years later, or just how they have held up.

It’s something new, and potentially, a lot of fun. So join me won’t you? Let’s get started and take a look at January’s past. The only year we won’t do is 2019, given that we just went through all of it. Again, these are movies that I have seen.

If you know something came out during that month, or year, and it’s not on here. It’s a good chance that I haven’t seen it – yes, even after all these years – or I just completely missed it while putting the list together. It’s a lot of movies after all.

Alright, let’s get started with 2010!

 

2010

Daybreakers

The Book of Eli

Legion

Edge of Darkness

Thoughts: It’s rather weird bunch of movies here. The four of these don’t have a lot of staying power with me, and presumably with audiences. Daybreakers, a world where almost everyone is a vampire, still has its fans and it is still an underrated vampire movie starring Ethan Hawke.

The Book of Eli probably still holds some weight because of the twist at the end, plus some of the visuals by directors The Hugh Brothers. And of course seeing Denzel Washington kick some ass.

Legion I think has been forgotten about, even though it got a short-lived sequel TV series on SyFy. At least some of the visuals still work and stick around like Doug Jones’ Ice Cream Man.

Finally, Edge of Darkness, one of the last movies Mel Gibson led, before his public meltdown (also, his first since Signs in 2002), which I don’t think anyone really remembers. I know I barely remember it.

 

2011

The Green Hornet

A Somewhat Gentle Man

Ong-bak 3

The Housemaid

The Mechanic

Ip Man 2

Thoughts: This month actually had two movies I had seen at the Chicago International Film Festival – A Somewhat Gentle Man and The Housemaid. The problem is I can’t remember if it was the year before, or if they played during the festival this year (both got limited releases in theaters this month). As for the other movies;

The Green Hornet was a really bad misfire, even by today’s standards. Of course, the only big highlight anyone remembers about this is Jay Chou’s Kato, and Kato Vision. Since honestly, it probably the only thing people should remember.

Ong-bak 3 is still, to this day, a mess. Tony Jaa had made the biggest name for himself with the first Ong-Bak, and later Tom yum Goong aka The Protector, but it was when Jaa took it upon himself to try and direct and completely different story under the Ong-bak name, and it just didn’t work. It also didn’t help that the movie suffered because Jaa basically suffered a panic attack trying to direct this and part 2, which were suppose to be one movie.

The Mechanic, a remake of the 1972 film, this was at the time when Jason Statham was in those small, independent feel action movies that were mostly forgettable. The Mechanic stills fits that mold, but I think the more surprising thing is that the movie got a sequel, that we’ll talk about later.

Ip Man 2, I mean come on. The Ip Man movies are all known for the impressive fight sequences with Donnie Yen playing the titular character so well.

 

 

2012

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Contraband

Underworld: Awakening

Haywire

The Artist

The Grey

Thoughts: This was a weird January, for me. I remember thinking back then, that this a good January in a while. First, we had two highly divisive films in the spy thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Artist. One was a very slow-burn spy film that many said was too dragged out, while the other went back to the old ways of Hollywood with a black-and-white, silent film, that has sadly been thrown to the wayside.

Contraband was a remake of the Icelandic film, which ironically, its lead star Baltasar Kormakur directed this. It’s probably one of more forgettable Mark Wahlberg-led movies, but also because he had Giovanni Ribisi playing the lead villain as a tough guy gangster. No disrespect to Ribisi, but come on.

Underworld: Awakening, the forth movie in the series, I’m sure it was meant as a way to bring back the franchise after its last film – which was technically a prequel to the first movie – but instead we got, probably, the most forgettable Underworld movie which didn’t do anything new for the series, other than give Kate Beckinsale’s Selene a daughter, who doesn’t even factor into the next movie (and they even recast), and introduce Theo James’ David, who is the most boring character in the series.

Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire was, to me, the start of Hollywood’s more brutal, gritty realistic take on fight scenes. It helped that Soderbergh cast MMA star Gina Carano as the lead, which got her more mainstream attention. The movie itself, slugs on a tad, with an ending that I remember kind of just happens.

Finally, Joe Carnahan’s The Grey, arguably, one of the only real movies that came out in January to have really a true amount of staying power. Anytime someone brings up The Grey it one of two things. One, how great it is or two, we never see Liam Neeson actually fight the Alpha wolf.

 

 

2013

Gangster Squad

Zero Dark Thirty

The Last Stand

Mama

Broken City

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

Parker

Movie 43

John Dies at the End

Thoughts: I didn’t remember all these movies dropping in January, but here we are. I did manage to see Zero Dark Thirty in its limited release in December, but the wide release was this month.

Oh Gangster Squad, so much potential, and yet, such a disappointment at the end. Tragedy for the release date shift and reshoots aside, it’s hard to see how they wasted such a great cast and story, even to this day. Plus, the movie takes the Hollywood action route instead of the true takedown of Mickey Cohen.

John Dies at the End was one of those genre film festival favorites, which admittedly I watched much later, and I’ll admit, I wasn’t the biggest fan of it. But I can see why it was, and still has, a midnight movie fan base.

Parker, for me, is the most forgettable Jason Statham one-word title films, which had him playing a thief that gets double-crossed and left for dead, only to take a new identity and work with Jennifer Lopez’ character – a real estate agent who wants more of life – who happens to have a connection to Statham’s old crew.

Broken City starred Mark Wahlberg as an ex-cop trying to take down the mayor of his city played by Russell Crowe. I honestly don’t remember anything about this movie. I had to look up what the movie was about to even write that short synopsis.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters was my guilty pleasure of 2013, and it still kind of is. It knows exactly what it is and doesn’t try to be something different. Plus, you get to stare at Gemma Arterton for an hour-and-a-half.

Mama, the film that brought up It and It Chapter Two director Andy Muschietti, and based off his own creepy short film. I think Mama gets some undeserved bashing – it’s not perfect or even all that great – but it’s definitely worthwhile, even though it does have a couple cheap pop scares.

The Last Stand, which I saw again recently, was highly more enjoyable than I remembered. It has the right amount of seriousness, humor, and quirkiness to Arnold Schwarzenegger getting older.

Then there’s Movie 43….ugh

 

 

2014

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Her

Inside Llewyn Davis

Lone Survivor

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Ride Along

I, Frankenstein

Thoughts: Her, Lone Survivor and Inside Llewyn Davis are the wide releases, and I’d say that Her probably has the most staying power over the other two mainly because of relevant it is still till this day. Inside Llewyn Davis does have a loyal fanbase, but I think it’s one of those movies that you don’t pop in regularly.

Ride Along was, arguably, the start of Kevin Hart’s film career stardom. Starring with Ice Cube as future brother-in-laws with Cube playing the hardened, no-nonsense cop, and Hart, a security guard, trying to prove himself. It was funny for the time and the chemistry between Hart and Cube worked, and still works.

I, Frankenstein was one of those movies I was weirdly looking forward to, even though I knew it was going to be bad. Then I watched it, and yeah. It’s not very good. Aaron Eckhart playing Frankenstein’s monster – named Adam – stuck in a war between Gargoyle angels and demons is a bit sloppy and overall things we’ve seen before.

Kenneth Branagh’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit starring Chris Pine was an okay movie then, and an okay movie now. Pine does fine with what he’s given against Branagh’s thick fake Russian accent.

Finally, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, the only real spinoff of the horror franchise (there was a foreign spinoff that isn’t “canon”), it’s also considered a “cousin” film as it follows a Hispanic group of friends dealing with a demonic entity that does end up being connected to the main series. It’s not best Paranormal Activity movie, but definitely one of the better, and underappreciated, movies.

 

 

2015

The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death

[REC] 4: Apocalypse

Taken 3

Predestination

Inherent Vice

Paddington

Blackhat

Foxcatcher

American Sniper

Red Army

A Most Violent Year

Thoughts: Some more wide releases of limited releases a couple weeks prior in Inherent Vice, American Sniper and A Most Violent Year. American Sniper, still to this day, gets flake, mostly deserved, and that fake baby man. Come on, Eastwood! Inherent Vice is still the weird movie where people don’t really know what’s going on and A Most Violent Year is mostly forgotten, even though it has some great performances by Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain. Maybe it will get some more eyes on it as something is in the works to bring it back.

I believe Foxcatcher, was also a limited release gone wide this month. It was the first time we saw Steve Carell in a different light after The Office, and it was the first time I saw Channing Tatum as a real actor. Red Army was a documentary of the Soviet Union’s famed Red Army hockey team, which was very good, even if you aren’t a hockey fan.

The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death, is probably one of the forgettable movies this month, which is reasonable in my mind considering I really don’t remember anything about the movie. The same can be said for the thriller Blackhat, directed by Michael Mann, which starred Chris Hemsworth as a hacker who gets entangled in a dangerous, potentially worldwide threat. The only thing I truly remember about the movie – besides being a very diverse cast – is the sound going out in my theaters for what was probably the most exciting part of the movie, only for it to come back once the scene ended.

Taken 3 was a weird sequel, and honestly I can’t remember too much about this one either, other than the weird “twist” the movie does out of the blue. [REC] 4: Apocalypse, the final [REC] film, had a great set-up of bringing back original star Manuela Velasco as Angela, and trapping the action in a boat in the middle of the ocean, but the execution was kind of lacking, which is a huge bummer considering how great the series started.

Predestination, based on the short story “All You Zombies” by Robert A. Heinlein, not only brought us the great Sarah Snook, but a weird, twisty sci-fi mystery drama about a multitude of different themes that is definitely worth the rewatch or first-time viewing.

Finally, Paddington, I mean what’s left to say about the loveable Paddington, voiced by Ben Whishaw – originally voiced by Colin Firth, but him and director Paul King agreed they needed to go a different route – and his crazy adventures.

 

 

2016

The Forest

The Revenant

Ride Along 2

13 Hours

Carol

The 5th Wave

The Boy

Ip Man 3

Room

Kung Fu Panda 3

Jane Got a Gun

Thoughts: Weirdly, only three wide release here in The Revenant, which is still the bear basically rag dolls Leonardo DiCaprio that got him an Oscar. Carol, which I don’t hear too much about anymore, but Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are fantastic in it, if you haven’t watched it yet, and then there’s Room, which gave us Jacob Tremblay and a fantastic performance by Brie Larson, which fans have turned on because…reasons?

This year might be the “worst” January in the decade to be honest. The Forest and The Boy were the horror films released this month and neither of them really did the job they set out to do. The Forest had the concept of basing it in Japan’s Suicide Forest with Natalie Dormer, while The Boy had Lauren Cohen in what was teased as a “is the doll supernatural or not?” Of course, only one of these is getting a sequel.

The 5th Wave, which was based off a pretty descent YA book, was a complete disappointment for me, personally. Even with the pretty much reliable Chloe Grace Moretz and pre-mega star Maika Monroe, the premise was perfect set-up for them to only make the most bland and boring “action” movie that year.

Speaking of disappointing, the Natalie Portman-led western Jane Got a Gun was most likely a product of behind-the-scenes troubles with original director Lynne Ramsay dropping out literally the first day of filming, and actors swapping in-and-out of lead roles and supporting roles.

Ride Along 2, a couple years after the first movie, brings back Kevin Hart and Ice Cube together moving the action to another city and bringing in Olivia Munn and Benjamin Bratt as the villain. I honestly can’t remember anything about this movie, which seeing how cheap these movies are to make, I’m surprised they didn’t make another one.

Ip Man 3’s main marketing push was having a fight scene between Donnie Yen’s Ip Man versus Mike Tyson’s Frank, and if you saw the movie, you know that the fight only happens once and it isn’t even the end of the movie. The movie itself is a fine action movie, and also introduces Jin Zhang’s Cheung Tin-chi, who got a spinoff movie.

The third and final Kung Fu Panda film came out this month, and brought an end to the movies in a perfect way. Not only did Po find his family and his people, he finally reached the end of his arc of becoming a great fighter.

Finally, 13 Hours, the Michael Bay-directed movie about the U.S. compound in Libya that got attacked, and the security team there defended it. It’s basically the “ill-timed” movie about the attacks in Benghazi. Bay isn’t really that kind of director so the movie was all about the action, and for that, I was thoroughly surprised. The cast is also pretty great with John Krasinski beefing up for the role.

 

 

2017

Hidden Figures

A Monster Calls

Patriots Day

The Founder

Underworld: Blood Wars

Monster Trucks

The Bye Bye Man

Sleepless

Live by Night

xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Split

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Thoughts: Four limited releases turned wide this month in Hidden Figures, A Monster Calls, Patriots Day and The FounderA Monster Calls is the one that sticks with me the most because I didn’t expect the movie to hit me as hard as it did. The Founder, the story of Ray Kroc who turned the family owned burger restaurant into what we know now, saw Michael Keaton be a ruthless, ambitious former salesman that made us loathe him. Hidden Figures and Patriots Day, both based on true stories, with Hidden Figures probably being the one of the two that sticks out to more people.

Ben Affleck-directed Live by Night was considered a huge disappointment by all accounts, and lead to some personal problems for Affleck. Speaking of disappointing, especially one that essentially killed a franchise, Underworld: Blood Wars made Selene into, basically, superhero with no real purpose other than “trying” to do something different, but it was a big heap of NOPE.

On that front, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter did end the long running franchise that was more of the same from what we’ve seen, with a twist I’m sure they thought was smart, but really came off as dumb. Monster Trucks was a weird take on the brand, but you know what, if I was a kid, I would have dug the hell out of this. As an adult, it was still an okay family movie.

Sleepless was actually a remake of a VERY good French film Nuit Blanche, which followed the same basic premise of a cop who goes to a nighclub where his son is being kept after a deal gone wrong. The remake was kind of lifeless despite its descent cast of Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, Scoot McNairy, Dermot Mulroney and David Harbour.

The Bye Bye Man…*sigh*

Honestly, the only thing that got me in for xXx: Return of Xander Cage was that it starred Donnie Yen…that’s it. I mean, yes the movie was as ridiculous as you would think it would be.

Finally, Split came out this month, in what was one of the best surprises of the month and best surprise twist sequels that I can remember. Even before that though, we got an amazing performance by James McAvoy, and it made Anya Taylor-Joy a household name.

 

 

2018

Molly’s Game

The Post

Phantom Thread

I, Tonya

Insidious: The Last Key

Paddington 2

The Commuter

Proud Mary

12 Strong

Den of Thieves

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

Hostiles

Thoughts: Four limited releases this month in Molly’s Game, I Tonya, The Post and Phantom Thread; five if you count Hostiles – which kind of came and went without much fanfare despite a solid performance by Christian Bale. The Post and Molly’s Game have pretty much, at least it feels like, been forgotten. Phantom Thread was Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis’ last team-up as this was Day-Lewis’ last film, and what a way to go out. As for I, Tonya, this arguably made Margot Robbie the true household name that she is now, with her portray as Tonya Harding. Plus it gave us Paul Walter Hauser.

This month also gave us Proud Mary, which I thought was a nice homage to 70s action movies, but it failed to really leave an impression. Insidious: The Last Key was the last Insidious movie we got, which acted as an origin story for Lin Shaye’s Elise and a prequel to the very first movie. It’s not the best entry in the series, but at least Shaye got one more ride of the character.

We also got the ending of the Maze Runner movies with the third entry The Death Cure which admittedly was a little too long for its own good, and lacked a certain punch for me. The same could be said about 12 Strong – the certain punch – the based on a true story war film that starred Chris Hemsworth leading a small group of soldiers to stop an attack from the Taliban after 9/11. The movie was more of a character movie than an action film like it was marketed, but seeing Chris Hemsworth, Michael Pena and Michael Shannon play off each other was a nice please.

Now for two movies that were surprisingly good in their own way, The Commuter and Den of Thieves. The Commuter could have easily been another Liam Neeson action thriller that most people forgot about – and maybe this one is too – I happen to watch it again recently and thoroughly enjoyed it again. When it comes to Den of  Thieves, this could have easily been a forgettable action crime thriller with everyone chewing up the scenery. And in some part, it really is, but there was something about the wannabe-Heat to it all that I really liked.

Finally, Paddington 2…again, how can you NOT love these movies!

 

And that’s it everyone. Admittedly, this was a lot. So I’ll probably tone down the lists going forward, especially since this is going up at the end of January. But more importantly, I want to know what you guys think about this. Let me know what your favorite movies in January were?

My Best/Favorite Movies of the Year 2014

It’s the end of the year boys and girls, you know what that means? It’s list time!!

 

There were some good movies and films that came out this year, and then there were movies and films that I highly enjoyed that made the list too. The list really ranges all over the place, so you’ll see a wide array of titles. But, of course, this is my list and my opinion so your list might be different and obviously it is okay.

 

The list will have the movies in alphabetical order, just to be fair, and because I really don’t want to go through the trouble anymore of picking a number one because it would be really tough.

 

Movies That I Missed That I Wanted to Watch

Wild

The Theory of Everything

Inherent Vice & American Sniper (although it was only a limited release around here)

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Joe

A Fantastic Fear of Everything

Bad Words

Under the Skin

Cold in July

Life Itself

Wish I Was Here

Magic in the Moonlight

Frank

Starred Up

The Skeleton Twins

Hector and the Search for Happiness

Tusk

Kill the Messenger

The Judge

Laggies

Horns

Rosewater

The Babadook

Stretch

Unbroken

 

(To watch a video form of the list, you can go here: )

 

Just Missed The List:

A Most Wanted Man: I love movies that keep me thinking until the end. A Most Wanted Man had elements of that but it was also of the great performance of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, and Willem Dafoe. It was odd to hear all of them put on German accents but that’s just being nitpicky right?

 

Boyhood: Don’t get me wrong, Richard Linklater’s twelve-year film following a boy from childhood to adulthood was a great experiment to see unfold. The movie had some great things in it but at the end of year, against some of the other movies that I’ve seen; I had to barely leave it off the list.

 

Nightcrawler: While Jake Gyllenhaal gave one of the best performance’s I’ve ever seen him do and his character is so complex in a compelling and frightening way, Nightcrawler was a mixed bag and while there are gaps of great scenes and what seems like unnecessary filler.

 

The Drop: While the film was filled with strong performances all around (Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Matthis Schoenaerts, and the late James Gandolfini in his last finished role), the film compared to the others is just a tad bit under the others.

 

The Rover: David Michod’s not really apocalyptic story has Guy Pearce playing a loner gets his car stolen and is eventually left with one of the thieves’ brother (Robert Pattinson) and goes after them. That’s about it for the movie. After that there really isn’t a plot and you’ll mostly catch things on second watch, but performances by Pearce and surprisingly Pattinson makes the movie watchable the first time around.

 

Whiplash: Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons gave great performances in the drama where a young man tries to become a great jazz drummer and meets his match with a well known instructor that pushes him to his limits. Again, the performances make the film worthwhile and the last performance of the movie is what the film really builds up to, but Whiplash does have some moments and decisions that made me question it.

 

Honorable Mentions

300: Rise of an Empire

Birdman

Edge of Tomorrow

Foxcatcher

Her

John Wick

Lone Survivor

The Book of Life

The Guest

The Purge: Anarchy

This Is Where I Leave You

X-Men: Days of Future Past

 

Best/Favorite Movies of the Year

Begin Again

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I hardly knew anything, if at all, about Begin Again before I saw the trailer and final film. I was completely surprised and floored by how good the film was and the original soundtrack they made for it was fantastic.

 

Big Hero 6

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Disney’s first Marvel animated property came in the form of a group that no one really knew about and they turned it into their own thing. Disney followed their formula and created a movie that tons of fun and full of heart. It also doesn’t hurt that they created a loveable character of Baymax.

 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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I think we all would be lying to ourselves if we thought Captain America: The Winter Soldier was going to be that great. Marvel and the Russo Brothers turned Captain America into a spy thriller with just some comic book elements and made – and dare I say this – the best Marvel film to date.

 

Chef

chef

2014 has been slightly dubbed the year of comedian actors trying to the public take them seriously. Chris Rock did it with Top Five but the best example for me would be Jon Favreau’s Chef. Favreau wrote, directed, and starred in this uplifting dramedy about a chef and father trying to find his passion again and trying to reconnect with his son. Favreau showed that he handle every aspect of filmmaking and you can tell that he has also found his passion for filmmaking doing an independent film.

 

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

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There is something to be said that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes turned out better than Rise of the Planet of the Apes since Rise was a very well done film that probably shouldn’t have been as good as it was. Dawn continued and elevated what made Rise good and expanded on them. Andy Serkis also continues to prove that he is the master of motion capture and can probably out act a real actor, but now has some competition with Toby Kebbell who played Koba and gave Serkis a run for his money. Finally, that siege scene was a work of art and fantastic to watch.

 

Godzilla

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Godzilla didn’t get a lot love, and I’ll even admit there were parts that made it uneven but the whole movie was an adventure and seeing “The King of the Monsters” back on screen was a sight to see.

 

Gone Girl

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Talk about a total mind-twisting film. Gone Girl had me guessing throughout the whole thing and if you knew what was going on, 1) I’d say you read the book or 2) you’re covering it up. Rosamund Pike was fantastic in this and I’m glad more people got to see how good of an actress she is.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy

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Much to everyone’s surprise, Marvel pulled this off. Dubbed “Marvel’s Biggest Risk to Date” Guardians of the Galaxy had it all: humor, action, heart, and a great soundtrack. The whole cast held their own and this showed us that Chris Pratt and Dave Bautista are going to be bonafide movie stars.

 

Interstellar

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I like Christopher Nolan and there are some people that don’t like for whatever reasons they have. Which is fine since that’s the way the world works, but I do know some people out there don’t like him for the hell of it. Anyway, Interstellar probably isn’t the best Nolan film but it’s still a good one and visually it’s Nolan’s best. Even if you didn’t like the premise you have to at least appreciate the acting from Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, David Gyasi and the youngest and probably best actor of the film Mackenzie Foy.

 

Locke

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If you wanted to stare at Tom Hardy for eighty-five minutes as he drives a car, then Locke was the movie for you. Seriously, the whole movie takes places in a car on one night with Hardy talking to various characters over his phone. Hardy is compelling and gives one of his best performances of his career and one of the best his year. I know it doesn’t so like much but believe me, check this out when you get the chance.

 

Snowpiercer

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Most post-apocalyptic movies (good ones anyway) are usually bleak, dark and somewhat morbid. Joon-ho Bong first American film was all of those and with a great cast behind him of Chris Evans, Kang-ho Song, Tilda Swinton, Ah-sung Ko, and Jamie Bell, the film was great from start to finish.

 

The Grand Budapest Hotel

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Wes Anderson is one of those directors not everyone gets, and I’ll admit I was one of them early on. However, I have quickly become a fan of his and his films, and The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of those films. I don’t think I laughed as hard as I did in theaters this year when watching this. It’s a great quirky film with laughs, mystery and romance.

 

The Imitation Game

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Based on the real life and accomplishment of English mathematician Alan Turing who cracked the Enigma code during WWII, The Imitation Game is a great drama with great performances by Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, and Rory Kinnear. But all of them are lead by Benedict Cumberbatch, who gives one of the best performances of the year and completely embodies the character so well that you really want to see him succeed and feel for him at the end.

 

The LEGO Movie

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Another movie that probably shouldn’t have worked, The LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller managed to pull off a great movie based a huge product that literally has no story to it. The LEGO Movie has so many layers to it that every time I watch it I find something new to love. Everything is Awesome!

 

The Raid 2

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I didn’t think it would be possible for Gareth Evans to top what he did in the first The Raid, but wow, was I wrong. The Raid 2 might be one of the best action films of the year, if not the best. I know a lot of people were irked by how slow things moved, but looking at how all the things turned out, all that build up made the ending so satisfying

 

So what is on your list? What do you think of my list?

 

Happy New Year!

and here’s to another great year of movies

Favorite Directors, Actors, Supporting Roles, Genre Movies, Action Sequence, & More

This is the first year I’ve done this myself. A couple years ago I started an “Award Show” where I’d get some of you vote and leave it at that. However, that’s taken a bit of a plunge but I’m okay with that because I can now give more of my opinion. Which is why we all start a blog right?

 

So this is my first time doing a Best/Favorite Actors, Actress, Directors, etc. I did end up enjoying a lot people and things in every category so there is going to be a lot of nominations and winners so bare with me. (Everything will be an alphabetical order)

 

 

Directors

Christopher Nolan – Interstellar

David Fincher – Gone Girl

Don Hall & Chris Williams – Big Hero 6

Gareth Evans – The Raid 2

James Gunn – Guardians of the Galaxy

Jon Favreau – Chef

Joe and Anthony Russo – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Joon-ho Bong – Snowpiercer

Matt Reeves – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Phil Lord & Christopher Miller – The Lego Movie

Richard Linklater – Boyhood

 

Honorable Mentions

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Bryan Singer – X-Men: Days of Future Past

Doug Liman – Edge of Tomorrow

Gareth Edwards – Godzilla

Jorge R. Gutierrez – The Book of Life

Mike Flanagan – Oculus

Steven Knight – Locke

Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Ball – The Maze Runner

 

 

 

Actors

Andy Serkis as Caesar – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing – The Imitation Game

Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne – Gone Girl

Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Chris Pratt as Emmet Brickowoski (voice) – The Lego Movie

Chris Pratt as Peter Quill – Guardians of the Galaxy

Dan Stevens as David – The Guest

Frank Grillo as Sergeant – The Purge: Anarchy

Jake Gyllenhaal as Louis Bloom – Nightcrawler

Jon Favreau as Carl Casper – Chef

Ralph Fiennes as Mr. Gustave and Tony Revolori as Zero – The Grand Budapest Hotel

Tom Cruise as Cage – Edge of Tomorrow

Tom Hardy as Ivan Locke – Locke

Scott Adsit (voice) as Baymax – Big Hero 6

 

Honorable Mentions

Chris Evans as Curtis – Snowpiercer

Channing Tatum as Mark Schultz – Foxcatcher

Guy Pearce as Eric – The Rover

Iko Uwais as Rama/Yuda – The Raid 2

Keanu Reeves as John Wick – John Wick

Matthew McConaughey as Cooper – Interstellar

Michael Keaton as Riggan – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Russell Crowe as Noah – Noah

Steve Carell as John du Point – Foxcatcher

Sullivan Stapleton as Themistokles – 300: Rise of an Empire

 

 

Actress

Emily Blunt as Rita – Edge of Tomorrow

Emma Stone as Sam – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Rosamund Pike as Amy Dunne – Gone Girl

Rose Byrne as Kelly Radner – Neighbors

Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

 

Honorable Mentions

Elizabeth Banks as Wyldstyle/Lucy (voice) – The Lego Movie

Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy – The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Imogen Poots as Julia Maddon – Need for Speed

Karen Gillan as Kaylie Russell – Oculus

Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke – The Imitation Game

Maria Valverde as Zipporah – Exodus: Gods and Kings

Zoe Saldana as Gamora – Guardians of the Galaxy

 

 

Supporting Actor

Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Bradley Cooper as Rocket – Guardians of the Galaxy

Bill Irwin (voice) as TARS – Interstellar

Charlie Day (voice) as Benny – The LEGO Movie

Dave Bautista as Drax – Guardians of the Galaxy

Evan Peters as Peter/Quicksilver – X-Men: Days of Future Past

J.K. Simmons as Fletcher – Whiplash

Kang-ho Song as Namgoong Minsoo – Snowpiercer

Michael Rooker as Yondu – Guardians of the Galaxy

Tyler Perry as Tanner Bolt – Gone Girl

Vin Diesel as Groot – Guardians of the Galaxy

Will Arnett as Batman – The Lego Movie

 

Honorable Mentions

Antonio Banderas as Galgo – The Expendables 3

Bill Paxton as Master Sergeant Farell – Edge of Tomorrow

Bryan Cranston as Joe Brody – Godzilla

Emjay Anthony as Percy – Chef

Joel McHale as Butler – Deliver Us from Evil

Ken Watanabe as Dr. Ichiro Serizawa – Godzilla

Mark Strong as Stewart Menzies – The Imitation Game

Neil Patrick Harris as Foy – A Million Ways to Die in the West

Thomas Lennon as Chief of Staff – Transformers: Age of Extinction

Will Poulter as Gally – The Maze Runner

 

 

Supporting Actress

Ah-sung Ko as Yona – Snowpiercer

Alison Brie as Unikitty (voice) – The Lego Movie

Anaalise Basso as Young Kaylie – Oculus

Carrie Coon as Margo Dunne – Gone Girl

Mackenzie Foy as Young Murph – Interstellar

Tilda Swinton as Mason – Snowpiercer

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Amy Adams as Amy – Her

Alison Pill as Teacher – Snowpiercer

Emma Watson as Ila – Noah

Ingrid Bolse Berdal as Atalanta – Hercules

Katee Sackhoff as Marie Russell – Oculus

Mireille Enos as Lizzy Murray – Sabotage

Sally Field as Aunt May – The Amazing Spider-Man 2

 

 

Villain

Cecep Arif Rahman as The Assassin – The Raid 2

Eva Green as Artemisia – 300: Rise of an Empire

Julie Estelle as Hammer Girl – The Raid 2

Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Toby Kebbell as Koba – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Very Tri Yulisman as Baseball Bat Man – The Raid 2

Will Ferrell as Lord Business/President Business – The LEGO Movie

 

Honorable Mentions

Ray Winstone as Tubal-cain – Noah

Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Liam Neeson as Bad Cop/Good Cop – The LEGO Movie

Karen Gillan as Nebula – Guardians of the Galaxy

Marton Csokas as Teddy – The Equalizer

Mimics – Edge of Tomorrow

Sean Harris as Santino – Deliver Us from Evil

 

 

Horror

Oculus

Everyone is saying that The Babadook is the best horror movie of the year, I haven’t seen it, so that honor to me goes to Oculus. Not to say that the honor of best horror movie goes to it by default, there were some things about the movie that I liked and that were good. Director Mike Flanagan did some neat camera tricks that made the experience really cool to watch and did some nice interweaving of the different stories and timelines. Add in the fantastic performance by Annalise Basso as the younger version of Karen Gillan character I had myself a good time watching Oculus.

 

 

Animated

The LEGO Movie

Big Hero 6

 

Honorable Mention

The Book of Life

 

 

Adaptation

Big Hero 6

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Edge of Tomorrow

Gone Girl

Guardians of the Galaxy

Snowpiercer

 

 

Honorable Mentions

300: Rise of an Empire

A Most Wanted Man

Lone Survivor

The November Man

This is Where I Leave You

X-Men: Days of Future Past

 

 

Comedy

Begin Again

Chef

The Grand Budapest Hotel

This is Where I Leave You

 

Honorable Mentions

Let’s Be Cops

Top Five

 

 

Fight/Action Sequence

300: Rise of an Empire: Themistokles vs. Artemisia

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Captain America vs. Georges Batroc

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Falcon’s Flight

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Captain America vs. Strike Team

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Steve Rogers vs. The Winter Soldier (Street Fight)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Caesar vs. Koba (Finale)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: The Siege

John Wick: Nightclub Shootout

The Equalizer: Finale Showdown

The Purge: Anarchy: Sergeant vs. Rich Purgers

The Maze Runner: Thomas and Minho Maze Run

The Raid 2: The Prison Riot

The Raid 2: Hammer Girl vs. Guards

The Raid 2: Car Chase

The Raid 2: Rama vs. Baseball Bat Man & Hammer Girl

The Raid 2: Rama vs. The Assassin

Snowpiercer: The Siege (Tunnel)

X-Men: Days of Future Past: Quicksilver Saves Logan/Erik/Charles

 

Honorable Mentions

A Walk Among the Tombstones: Graveyard Shootout

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Nick Fury’s Chase

Deliver Us from Evil: Butler vs. Santino

Edge of Tomorrow: Beach Takeover

Godzilla: Godzilla vs. M.U.T.O. (Both)

Guardians of the Galaxy: Prison Riot

Lone Survivor: Forest/Canyon Shootout

John Wick: John Wick vs. Kirill

Robocop:  Robocop vs. Vallon and Henchmen

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Splinter vs. Shredder

Transformers: Age of Extinction: Chase off the Yeager Farm

X-Men: Days of Future Past: Sunspot/Blink/Warpath/Colossus/Bishop/Kitty vs. Sentinels

 

 

Action

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Guardians of the Galaxy

John Wick

The Raid 2

 

Honorable Mentions

300: Rise of an Empire

Edge of Tomorrow

The Expendables 3

 

 

Drama

Boyhood

Birdman

Gone Girl

Locke

Whiplash

 

Long list right? I did warn you though. So who and what are on your lists?

Worst/Disappointing/Least-Liked Movies of the Year

It’s the end of the year, so you know what that means? Time to put lists together. Since you probably read the title, you know that this list will contain movies that I thought were disappointing, worst, and movies that I liked the least.

Please take into account that this is my list and reflects my personal opinion. Obviously if you feel different that is completely fine! I won’t really label them considering they are in this post so you can assume I didn’t think highly of them.

 

“Honorable” Mentions:

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones: The Paranormal Activity movies have taken a slump recently. I’ve was a fan of the first three movies but the last two have been lacking in any sort of quality. I had some hope for The Marked Ones because it was billed as a Latino spin-off that was its own story but had major connections to the actual series. While the movie was that, it still left something to be desired and failed to execute on its premise.

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Sex Tape: I didn’t go in thinking Sex Tape was going to be great. I did hope that I would at least laugh a lot. Of course, both of those were slight right. Sex Tape had few good laughs but overall it wasn’t that funny and Cameron Diaz and Jason Segal’s characters weren’t entirely likeable.

sex_tape

 

 

Least-Liked/Disappointing/Worst

As Above, So Below: There is not a lot to like about As Above, So Below, but even the likeable things could not outweigh everything that was wrong with it. The found footage aspect is probably the best use of the gimmick in a while. Also, all found footage movies tend to be horror movies and this was promoted as one, but As Above, So Below doesn’t really feel like a horror movie until it needs to be. This isn’t a bad thing but the shift in tones didn’t help. Another plus – if that’s what you want to call it – is this does have at least a more likeable lead for the most part.

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Brick Mansions: Another remake that had people up in arms, Brick Mansions is a remake from the French movie District B13 that was produced by mega action producer Luc Besson. The American remake was also produced by Besson and even stars original cast member David Belle (also, the co-founder of Parkour) playing essentially the same character. So what went wrong?

Besides Americanizing it (setting in Detroit) the movie doesn’t have the same charm as the original did, which really did hurt it. This was also Paul Walker’s last completed film (as he hadn’t even finished Fast & Furious 7, when this came out) which made the movie a little more special. But unfortunately it wasn’t really that good and was another forgettable movie.

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Robocop: When it was first announced that Robocop was getting the remake treatment, everyone went up in arms, and arguably, rightly so. Paul Verhoeven’s original Robocop was a satire but made complete sense and still holds its own today. The remake didn’t have a lot of things going for it. Of course, one of the things is they changed the suit and his “origin,” but it tried to be its own thing which I did appreciate.

However, there was a standout scene that involved Alex/Robocop (Joel Kinnaman) taking out a full warehouse of baddies in the dark. Even a scene where he finds out there was some people he thought were brothers in blue had betrayed him. But these moments of potential were yanked away by poor decisions and some flat characters and arc that went nowhere. Poor move.

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Sin City: A Dame to Kill For: A sequel that came a little too late. When the first Sin City came out, it was cool, and the special effects made the movie more of an experience. However, times have changed, special effects have changed and even gotten better. So when A Dame to Kill For came out it felt like, as a reviewer put it, “visiting an old friend.” It isn’t that bad of a movie, but after waiting so long, the movie has lost some charm and was kind of boring in some occasions. The only thing to come out of it is seeing Eva Green playing a femme fatale, Joseph Gordon-Levitt chewing up his scenery, and Powers Boothe showing he is the perfect bad guy.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Michael Bay produced this mix of motion capture-CGI and live-action about our favorite heroes-in-a-half-shell. Unfortunately, everything I loved about Ninja Turtles wasn’t there, at least not really. The movie felt more catered to kids, which isn’t a bad thing and at least they are going to get that market, but you really shouldn’t forget about the older crowd. The best thing for me was the heavy marketed mountain slide action sequence, which even seeing it in theaters was just a tad underwhelming and a fight scene between Shredder and Master Splinter. Then there is Megan Fox as April O’Neal. She wasn’t terrible, but she wasn’t good either.

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Now before you think I’m on the bandwagon of hating on ASM2, you’d be wrong. Some of movie was good, Andrew Garfield is a great Peter Parker/Spider-Man and his relationship with Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy is what made the movies more than worthwhile. However, ASM2 suffered from too much world building. Instead of really focusing on this movie and dropping just a few tidbits on future villains or tease things to come, it decide to shove them in front of our faces and forget about their own movie.

amazing_spiderman_two_ver14

 

Transcendence: A great cast in Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Cillian Murphy, Morgan Freeman, even Johnny Depp (although I’m not his biggest fan, sorry) in one movie, so what went wrong? The movie had a great concept but loses steam real fast. It asks interesting/thought provoking questions but at the end of the day, it was kind of forgettable and ended up going nowhere.

transcendence

 

Transformers: Age of Extinction: I haven’t been a fan of the Transformers series since the first one, and even then, that movie was only okay. Even when they filmed Dark of the Moon here in Chicago, I was excited because I got to see my home city get destroyed, but it just turned into blah. So when we all heard that Age of Extinction would be a semi-reboot with new characters, transformers and designs, and a new director, I was somewhat hopeful. Then Michael Bay decided to direct.

Age of Extinction did have one exciting scene. The chase off the Yeager farm through a small town and to a warehouse, but that’s pretty much it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of huge explosion as much as the next person, but this just stopped being fun. The second half of the movie became what the other movies were. And I’m all of mindless fun but AoE really pushed that limit.

Also, they made a kind of big deal about the dinobots finally making an appearance, but we had to sit throughout the whole movie to see them, and they didn’t even act like the dinobots that everyone loves. Plus, only get about ten minutes of screen time. Nice move Michael Bay.

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So what are your movies that would fit this list?

‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ Review

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Dir: Peter Jackson

Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Aidan Turner, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, Dean O’Gorman, Lee Pace, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee and Cate Blanchett

Synopsis: Bilbo and Company are forced to engage in a war against an array of combatants and keep the Lonely Mountain from falling into the hands of a rising darkness.

 

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review. As much as a spoiler free review goes on a movie based on a popular book and a prequel to popular series.*

 

 

Peter Jackson has done it. He has bought the world of Middle-Earth that J.R.R. Tolkein created to life on the big screen. Of course, he added in another whole movie that really seemed unnecessary but, hey what the hell right? The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies should have felt – and for some part does – as a grand finale to another ambitious trilogy that we could have only originally only imagined. The film has great moments but after a while the final film of The Hobbit series is slightly an underwhelming one.

 

Hobbit Smaug

 

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug left things on a cliffhanger with Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) flying toward Lake-town to cause havoc. The Battle of the Five Armies picks up right after that as we see Smaug raining down fire upon the citizens of Lake-town. It’s a great set-piece to start off but judging how short the scene was I really couldn’t see why they decided not to put it in as the finale in the last film. Yes, more money, but even so, I really couldn’t see any reason they couldn’t have squeezed in an extra ten minutes.

 

The “real” beginning of the film would have been a great start, which is the rescue of Gandalf (McKellen), by Galadriel (Blanchett), Elrond (Weaving), and Saruman (Lee). The scene is cool because it gives Blanchett, Weaving and Lee more to do than just sit around a table and talk about the “Darkness that is coming.” Also, the scene is a bit anti-climatic, which can be said for the whole film series in some way. It is a prequel after all, and while I’m good at suspending disbelief, I couldn’t help but have the thought in my mind: “they’re going to be okay!”

 

Hobbit Gand and Gala

 

But this is the problem with prequel series and older fans. We know how the story is going to, so we do have to suspend our disbelief a lot more than fans that maybe don’t know about the original series (I’m looking at you Star Wars prequels!). However, one of the great things that Peter Jackson has done with The Hobbit films is that he has created a series that is some way is new and creates great moments that you forget the previous films. Desolation of Smaug is a great example of that but The Battle of the Five Armies juggles that throughout the whole film. When the film is on full cylinders it’s an amazing experience, but when it starts to slow down and gives the audiences some winks to the future (or is it past, I don’t know) it becomes a little jarring.

 

Hobbit Thorin 2

 

Anyway back to the film. Thorin (Armitage), Bilbo and Company have finally secured their homeland and have gotten the room full of gold. Unfortunately, their celebration is cut short by Thorin, who becomes obsessed on getting the “Arkenstone.” So much that he starts to act like his grandfather before him. The obsession is described by Balin (Stott) to Bilbo as “dragon sickness,” as Thorin starts to turn on his own thinking one of his own people is hiding his birthright. Thorin starts to act brash and when the people of Lake Town come for shelter and some of the gold that was promised to them by Thorin himself in the previous movie, he tells them to leave or else. Things don’t get any better when Thranduil (Pace) comes and wants to claim the mountain as well.

 

Hobbit Thraduil

 

This puts the sides on opposite ends as Bard (Evans) tries to reason with Thorin, but again he’s having none of it. Thranduil sees this as an act of war and the Elvin army is ready to attack when Thorin’s cousin Dain (Billy Connolly) comes to help him. But before any of them can attack each other, the Orc army makes itself known and thus begins the titled Battle of the Five Armies.

 

Hobbit battle

 

Here is where Peter Jackson success and fails. Jackson gave us some great and dare I say mesmerizing battle scenes in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, especially The Return of the King, and while I don’t want to compare the two final films, The Battle of the Five Armies does have title to hold to. Now, I’m all for a good battle scene and while we have to sit through about an hour or so of build up for that actual battle and characters constantly reminding us that a war is coming or about to begin, when the battle actually starts, it is only okay. Again, don’t get me wrong, Jackson is one of the best directors that can put together a grand set-piece like a war (again look at the LotR films) but unlike those previous battles, Jackson relies more heavily on CGI with The Battle of the Five Armies. Of course since casting millions of people, controlling them in just an open space would be a pain in the ass, and there aren’t any huge goblins out there, CG is reasonably the best way to go. However, at the same time it feels like we’re watching an animating film instead of a live-action film, which again sucks because of the great battles Jackson has given us in the past. And yes, I know Jackson used CG in the LotR films, but he was able to hide it more in those films than these.

 

Despite that, it’s certain characters that save (and I used that word very strongly) the film. Martin Freeman’s Bilbo and Richard Armitage’s Thorin Oakenshield character’s come full circle. You can arguably say that The Hobbit movies are as much a Thorin movie as it is a Bilbo movie. Thorin goes from sympathetic and heroic character in the past films to this crazed and troubled character for three-fourths of the movie back to being character we love. Thorin’s arc is touching, heartbreaking and an great experience to watch unfold and Armitage does an amazing job of being able to fill those shoes.

 

Hobbit Biblbo

 

Freeman is also great and while he doesn’t spend so much time on screen the scenes he has are touching and great to watch. Whether it’s a scene of him trying to bring Thorin back to normal or a simple scene of him and Gandalf sitting down not saying a word to each other because at that point there is nothing to say, Freeman has given the character of Bilbo more life than one of could have imagined.

 

The rest of the cast kind of gets thrown at the wayside, which tends to happen when you have such a huge cast. All the actors that play the other Dwarves don’t really have moments to shine expect for Aidan Turner’s Kili who continues and finishes his romance arc with Evangeline Lilly’s Tauriel. Luke Evans has more to do as Bard the Bowman acting as new leader and gets to show off his fighting ability. Lee Pace has about the same amount of screen time he had in last movie as the Elvin king Thranduil but finally gets to show more of his ability to fight. Finally, Orlando Bloom as Legolas is just in the movie for the action as he doesn’t really serve a purpose for the movie other than show how he got on his adventure at the start of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

 

Hobbit Tauriel and Legolas

 

All in all, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is not a bad movie but considering that there was going to be only two movies and the previous Hobbit movies built up to this, it does leave a little bit to be desired and was a bit underwhelming. If anything, The Battle of Five Armies and the other Hobbit movies are all about the adventure and characters, and on that end it succeeds with flying colors. But when it comes to the titular Battle of the Five Armies and a final film of a trilogy, it’s only okay.

 

 

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

3.5 out of 5

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‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ Review

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Dir: Ridley Scott

Cast: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Ben Mendelsohn, Maria Valverde, Sigourney Weaver and Sir Ben Kingsley

Synopsis: The defiant leader Moses rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses, setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review*

*Reviewer Note #2: I know I’ve been gone for a bit. I have been watching movies but I’ve been busy with school which has kept me from writing reviews. Sorry*

 

 

Before I start reviewing the movie I want to talk about the “White Washing” Controversy that is surrounding this movie, and has even caused many people to boycott it. This obviously is not the first time people have been trying to boycott a movie due to ethic casting. The other biblical film that came out this year Noah had some boycotts due to the casting and “changes” to the well-know story. Other occasions are Rooney Mara being cast as Tiger Lilly in the new Peter Pan film Pan, Idris Elba playing Heimdall in Thor and Thor: The Dark World got some people talking even though Marvel went the other way of the ethnic casting. Finally, the one I remember the most was M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender which caused an uproar by all the fans.

 

The thing I want to say about the ethnic casting is for me, it doesn’t matter. I can see both sides of the argument, but at the end of day we should judge a movie by its quality aka if it’s good or bad. Again, I see both sides of the situation and depending on the adaptation I do feel Hollywood should go the way of the “source material.” But, for the most part let the acting justify if the role should have been played by someone else.

 

Now, getting into Exodus: Gods and Kings, the movie doesn’t start with the usual baby Moses getting picked up from the river in a basket. Director Ridley Scott gives us a full grown Moses (Bale) and Ramses (Edgerton) who are generals in Ramses’ father, Pharaoh Seti (Turturro). The two go into battle and something happens that starts to cause a bit of a rift between the two that have been raised as brothers. Years later when Ramses is now Pharaoh, Moses finds out that he is not who he thinks he is by Nun (Kingsley), an elder slave, and is exiled for it when it gets back to Ramses.

 

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Moses finds peace in a small village where he marries Zipporah (Valverde) and has a son. Of course if you know the story, Moses is called upon by God and tells him he must help his people (aka the slaves) and set them free, even if it means going to war with someone he thought of as a brother.

 

We all know the story of Moses and Ramses, so when the story starts to jump around in major gaps of time you don’t feel immediately lost, and even if you don’t know the story you’ll be okay too. But, with the run time being around two and a half hours long, the movie still feels like there is some stuff missing, which is a shame because the supporting cast is completely underused. Even Joel Edgerton who plays, arguably the villain of the movie Ramses is a bit used, which is a shame since he gets second billing and is the other important character of the story.

 

The movie does belong to Christian Bale. It’s not a bad thing either, he does try to humanize Moses to some extent – as does Edgerton with Ramses – but this Moses isn’t the normal Moses we know from the story. Obviously, he’s a general in the beginning of the movie, so this Moses knows how to fight and once he is put on his mission from God, he goes back to what he knows and starts to go on guerilla warfare type missions. This Moses is also not afraid to talk back to God and question him, God in this movie looks to be portrayed by a child that shows up at random times to talk to Moses.

 

I love Ridley Scott, as most people do, and while the war scene at the beginning is great to see, knowing he had a four hour cut of the movie first doesn’t surprise me. But, there is a lot that he cut out that I feel could have added to the story. Like I said, the supporting characters are really underused or not use at all. John Turturro as the Pharaoh has about five minutes of screentime before he passes away, Ben Kinglsey who feels like he would serve a greater purpose is just there, Aaron Paul who is almost unrecognizable really serves no purpose and could have been given an unknown actor if that’s how they were going to treat the character. Finally, Sigourney Weaver surprisingly only has about five lines in the movie and disappears after the first half hour, it nice to see the reunion of Scott and Weaver but it didn’t go anywhere. Maria Valverde might be the only one that gets some good material going but is a bit underwritten.

 

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The relationship between Moses and Ramses is also a bit on and off. One minute you can believe the dynamic between them and the next you can’t. It is a bit distracting and frustrating as Scott is going in a different direction with the story and there are moments where you can clearly see that but Scott and the writers go into a somewhat generic by-the-books way of going with Moses and the film.

 

This isn’t to say Exodus: Gods and Kings isn’t a descent film. The plagues sequence is one of the major, if not the major highlight of the film. Although it comes into well into the middle of the movie so you have to wait around to see that. The CGI also looks pretty impressive with the heavily promoted Red Sea sequence. The other great part about the movie is the score, which is done by Alberto Iglesias, whom I’ve never heard of (even though I saw Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy).

 

All in all, Exodus: Gods and Kings isn’t entirely the same story we all known and the changes really don’t go anywhere or they completely change the dynamic of the story. Bale does a good job of bringing Moses to life and Edgerton has his moments to shine as Ramses. The great supporting cast is underused but is saved a bit by the score and Bale’s performance.

 

 

Exodus: Gods and Kings

3 out of 5

 

December Movie Preview

Well, it’s the last month of the year boys and girls. The month that is filled with some feel good films and potential Oscar winning performances and films. It’s also loaded with limited releases that will expand before the end of the year and on to January (mostly the movies at the end of month). So I’m going to spare putting the (limited) around the films that are going to be released in a limited capacity, because chances are they will get expanded before the month is over. (Release dates are according to Box Office Mojo and IMDB)

 

5th

Pyramid: A rarity in December that a horror movie comes out, especially a “wide release” (only coming out in about 550 theaters). But, Fox is taking the risk and it’s also the only wide release the first week. The movie follows archeologists that find a mysterious pyramid, go in, and find out they are trapped and being hunted. The movie has a As Above, So Below feel but we’ll see what happens.

Wild: The movie follows Reese Witherspoon’s character on a solo hiking adventure trying to find herself after a catastrophe. The movie looks like a great character piece and straightforward drama, and is already picking up some award buzz.

 

12th

Inherent Vice: The new movie by director Paul Thomas Anderson that looks like a change of pace for him. The movie is based on a book by Thomas Pynchon of the same name and follows L.A. detective “Doc” Sportello as he investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend. The cast is impressive with the likes of Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, Jena Malone, Benicio Del Toro, and more.

Top Five: Comedian Chris Rock steps behind the camera about a comedian trying to make it as a serious actor when his reality-TV star fiancé wants them to broadcast their wedding. I didn’t even know about this movie until about a month ago thanks to a movie theater billboard. The movie will have some other comedians in it as well.

Exodus: Gods and Kings: Ridley Scott is back and this time is tackling the bible story of Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramses (Joel Edgerton). The movie looks like a Scott production with massive battles and some crazy good looking CGI.

 

17th

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: With director Peter Jackson already promising a 45-minute battle sequences and a title like The Battle of Five Armies, the last installment of The Hobbit movies looks like it’s going to end on a high note.

 

19th

The Gambler: Directed by Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) stars Mark Wahlberg as a gambler that gets in over his head when he comes across a bigwig named Frank (John Goodman). It also stars Brie Larson, Jessica Lange, and Michael Kenneth Williams. Doesn’t look to bad, and with Wahlberg and Goodman attached you know it going to be at least enjoyable.

Annie: A remake of the famous musical and movie now has Beasts of the Southern Wild actress Quvenzhane Wallis stepping into the title role and Jamie Foxx playing the new Daddy Warbucks. This new iterations hasn’t really sparked my interest, but it does have a pretty good cast.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb: These movies really could have been lost at the wayside, but the last two movies were really enjoyable and have found a crowd. Needless to say, I’ll be ending up watching this.

 

24th

Big Eyes: Directed by Tim Burton, it follows painter Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) and her success in the 1950s and her legal troubles with her husband (played by Christoph Waltz) who claimed credit for her work in the 60s. I actually don’t know how I feel about this although it does have a pretty descent cast that also includes Krysten Ritter, Jason Schwartzman, Danny Huston and Terence Stamp.

Selma: One of the few movies about Martin Luther King Jr., this one has David Oyelowo playing MLK and will star Oprah Winfrey, Tim Roth (as George Wallace) and Tom Wikinson as President Lyndon B. Johnson.

American Sniper: Clint Eastwood directs Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, a Navy S.E.A.L. who has the most confirmed kills in history. The trailer looks moving and Cooper has really held his own with his recent string of dramatic roles.

The Interview: What screams a holiday movie better than a movie about killing the South Korean leader and a movie that was consider an act of war by South Korea? Of course James Franco and Seth Rogen would be behind it.

Into the Woods: Based off the popular musical of the same name, Disney brings an all star cast and even members from the musical to bring some famous fairy tale stories to the big screen.

Unbroken: Angelina Jolie steps back behind the camera to direct this film that chronicles the life of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who was taken prisoner by Japanese forces during WWII. The movie looks like a harrowing, moving, true story of his man, who sadly passed away earlier this year.

 

 

So what movie are you looking forward to this December?

‘Big Hero 6’ Review

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Dir: Don Hall & Chris Williams

Cast: Scott Adsit, Ryan Potter, Daniel Henney, T.J. Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans Jr., Genesis Rodriguez, James Cromwell, Alan Tudyk, and Maya Rudolph

Synopsis: The special bond that develops between plus-sized inflatable robot Baymax, and prodigy Hiro Hamada, who team up with a group of friends to form a band of hig-tech heroes.

 

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review*

 

 

If you were surprised to see that Big Hero 6 was based off a Marvel comic, you are not the only one. While not the most well known group of heroes, Big Hero 6 is the first animated movie that Disney has taken on and it is glorious.

 

Set in the futuristic city of San Fransokyo, the movie follows Hiro Hamada (Potter), a robotic genius that instead of putting his talents to good use and going to school spends his time robot fighting for money. His older and equally as smart brother Tadashi (Henney) finally has enough and takes him to the university his goes to show Hiro the potential he can have and what he can really do. Hiro goes with the idea and enters a competition to get into the school by creating “microbots.” Hiro’s creation could be used for multiple things like transportation and construction.

 

However, tragedy strikes and Hiro is left with Tadashi’s invention, a gentle nursing robot named Baymax (Adsit). The two discover a mysterious figure has gotten his hands on Hiro’s microbots and is using them. In order to stop him, they recruit some of Tadashi’s friends Go Go (Chung), Fred (Miller), Honey Lemon (Rodriguez), and Wasabi (Wayans Jr.) to use their scientific skills to become superheroes.

 

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While the group does eventually become superheroes, they don’t really have powers per say. Their superpower happens to be that they’re really smart and use it to their advantage. One character even says “we’re not superheroes, we’re nerds!” which reminds you that these characters are human (in the movie world anyway) and when they finally go up against the bad guy there is a real danger.

 

The supporting characters are great. Go Go is punky and always let’s you know what’s on her mind, Wasabi is a well-built guy that is overly-precious, Honey Lemon is a goofy and the gentle soul of the group, and finally there is Fred, who is a somewhat of a slacker but has a wild imagination and a heart of gold.

 

But the real focus of this movie is between Hiro and Baymax. Their relationship grows from their first time they meet. Baymax isn’t really like other robots we’ve seen. His sole purpose is to be nurturing and then power down. His exterior is like a giant marshmallow – which is really made of soft vinyl – and even though he looks huge he’s not the strongest robot out there – although he can lift up to a thousand pounds. He’s also hilariously naïve and oblivious, although not entirely, to his surroundings. Baymax knows when there is danger approaching and protects Hiro and the rest of the group. He’s so innocent and lovable you can’t help but love him.

 

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Besides the characters, the best thing about Big Hero 6 is the visuals. I know, it’s an animated movie, it’s all visuals! But, Big Hero 6 is pretty ambitious when it comes to world building. San Fransokyo is futuristic and filled with bright neon colors that I wished we spend more time just going around the city.

 

The mircobots are really cool to see and are best used in one of the better action sequences in the movie that involves all our characters racing down empty streets as the villain is basically surfing on them and throwing everything at them. The mircobots are almost a better villain than the person controlling them but the animation is so great it doesn’t matter.

 

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All in all, Big Hero 6 is great on pretty much all levels. It does have some great messages in there and like all Disney animated movies now, it knows how to pull on the heart strings and makes us tear up.

 

 

Big Hero 6

5 out of 5

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‘Interstellar’ Review

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Dir: Christopher Nolan

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Wes Bentley, Jessica Chastain, Mackenzie Foy, David Gyasi, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace, Ellen Burstyn, John Lithgow, Matt Damon, and Michael Caine

Synopsis: A group of explorers make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.

 

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review*

 

 

Christopher Nolan is back behind the director’s chair and he didn’t take the easy. Nolan decided to tackle doing about a movie about wormhole travel and finding a new home for the human race in a different galaxy. It’s really heavy stuff and maybe a bit too much. Interstellar has some great things about but sometimes the movie should have slowed down to allow us to catch up with some of the scientifically information.

 

Let’s try to put Interstellar in simple terms. Cooper (McConaughey) is a former pilot and engineer who now farms corn, which is Earth’s last sustainable crop. All the other crops have been hit with “The Blight”, which has killed every crop around and has caused massive dust storms. During one of the storms, Cooper’s daughter Murph (Foy) gets a message from her supposed “ghost” trying to talk to her, but it ends being something else. The message eventually leads them to a secret base and find out there is a mission to save humanity and find a new home, in a different galaxy. Cooper eventually joins scientist Amelia Brand (Hathaway), Doyle (Bentley), and Romilly (Gyasi) to travel through a wormhole near Saturn and find their new home.

 

Simple right? Wrong. The major obstacle is the theory of relativity. If they spend too much time in one world it could equal years back on Earth. Time is not on their side, so they have to work fast or their will be no one on Earth left to save.

 

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Young Murph (Mackenzie Foy) and Cooper (Matthew McConaughey)

 

As I mentioned, Interstellar is cramped with a lot of stuff. The world that Nolan has made puts us in an undated future where farmers are the most important job in American and the military is basically no more and replaced with cool looking robots. And I can’t even begin to describe all the science material and theory, but I will say the movie does a great job of making sure you know what’s going on and doesn’t lose you when it starts going on its long exposition.

 

It’s also one of those movies that you should go into not really knowing much about, especially with the final act. The film is a tad long but is engaging enough that you stick with it and want to know if the mission will end well and see where they go. It’s really exciting stuff and could leave you asking questions about the possibility of this happening and what would you do.

 

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Amelia (Anne Hathaway) and Cooper (McConaughey)

 

The acting is great here, which is no surprise since Nolan has a way getting performances from his actors. McConaughey, even though he was a pilot and engineer, his Cooper character is kind of like the everyman in this situation, but he does know what he’s talking about on some occasions. Anne Hathaway gets some standout sequences at the middle of the movie while her father character Michael Caine playing Professor Brand is always great but doesn’t do much here.

 

Mackenzie Foy plays young Murph, and does a tremendous job even though most of her screen time is limited to the first half hour/forty-five minutes of the movie, but she leaves her mark. Jessica Chastain plays the older Murph in the last half of the movie and does pretty well with what she’s given. Older Murph ends up as Professor Brand’s assistant and helps him with his work.

 

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Jessica Chastain as (Older) Murphy

 

The rest of cast is hit-or-miss but feel like they are there so that McConaughey and Hathaway can play off of. Wes Bentley and David Gyasi as the other two scientists chew up scenery as they delve into all the material. John Lithgow plays Cooper’s father-in-law and Topher Grace pops up as Chastain’s helper but doesn’t bring much to the role. Bill Irwin and Josh Stewart voice the two robot helpers that bring some surprising humor to the film in TARS and CASE. Finally, Matt Damon shows up right before the final act as one of the scientists and explores that have done through before Cooper’s team. His character adds an element to the film that will probably make question some of the events of the film and what the whole mission is about.

 

The special effects however are something to see. Nolan and the special effects department really bought their A-game to the film. The overall look of the film is great and the wormhole stuff is unique to see. Even the worlds that are created like world of mountain waves that have been promoted in every ad or the ice world that is seen in the trailers as well, everything feels real and makes the viewing even more enjoyable.

 

All in all, Interstellar isn’t perfect and does lose a bit of steam in the third act, which also might even cause some viewers to tune out and lose them completely. However, overall it is a quality film with great performances and special effects. I happen to see the film in IMAX and I honestly think that is the best way to watch it.

 

 

Interstellar

4.5 out of 5

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November Movie Preview

The way this list will work is I’ll give you the full schedule, some buzz and my thoughts. But instead of telling you let me show you. I’ll also mainly be talking about nationwide releases, with a few limited releases. Also some of these limited releases will most likely get wider releases as the release date approaches. (Release dates are according to Box Office Mojo and IMDB)

 

7th

The Theory of Everything (limited): The movie takes a look at the relationship between the famous physicist Stephen Hawking (played by Eddie Redmayne) and his wife played by Felicity Jones. Both Redmayne and Jones are on the rise in Hollywood and what better way to get them more up there than a biopic of one of the most famous men in the planet.

Big Hero 6: Disney’s first real animated movie based off a Marvel property and it looks pretty great. It looks like Disney has created a great world for us to fall into and it looks like Baymax may be another lovable character.

Interstellar: What else can I say about this movie? Directed by Christopher Nolan with a A-list cast like Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck and more.

 

14th

Foxcatcher (limited): The movie is based on a true story of Mark Schultz, an Olympic wrestler (Channing Tatum), whose relationship with his sponsor John du Pont (Steve Carell) an brother Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) leads to unlikely circumstances. The movie is said to possibly get some award buzz, other than that I haven’t really heard a lot on whether it’s good or not.

Rosewater (limited): Written and directed by Jon Stewart from The Daily Show, it tells the story of a real life journalist that was held prisoner by Iran for thinking he was talking to spies from the U.S. Haven’t heard anything from it yet, but I am looking forward to it.

Beyond the Lights: I’ve seen the trailer for this a couple times and both times it has not interested me. The movie is one of the few movies with a majority black cast, which is good because Hollywood is finally realizing that it should target the black community.

Dumb and Dumber To: After years of talking about it, The Farrelly Brothers, Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels came together again for another Harry and Lloyd adventure.

 

21st

V/H/S: Viral (limited): The third part of the V/H/S series takes its focus on kids trying to go viral on the internet. Of course add in some horror and it will lead to be enjoyable watching…hopefully.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1: Arguably the biggest release this month is the first installment of the final Hunger Games movies. It’s going to be interesting to see where they actually split the movie – I have read the book – but more importantly if it will be any good. The other thing about the movie is of course the appearance of Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

 

26th

The Imitation Game: The movie is based on English mathematician Alan Turing that helps crack the Enigma Code during WWII. The movie has a great cast of Benedict Cumberbatch (playing Turing), Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, Mark Strong and Rory Kinnear. But the buzz of the movie is pretty great as well, especially for Cumberbatch.

Penguins of Madagascar: I’ve never seen the Madagascar movies so this one might slip by me as well. But, it also serves as a prequel/origin for the Penguins, which have been said to be a highlight from the previous movies.

Horrible Bosses 2: I really liked the first Horrible Bosses so the fact that the movie got a sequel, I was extremely happy. The movie also brings back the first film’s cast and adds Christoph Waltz and Chris Pine. The trailers also look like they upped the laughs.

 

What movie are you looking forward to this November?