Monthly Rewind for May

Hello, everybody!

The fifth edition of Monthly Rewind is here, and we’re doing May!

I mentioned in the last post that I’m going to change how I did these going forward, and that’s going to happen here. I originally did all the movies I watched that month and gave my reactions to all those movies, good or bad. The new change is that I’ll still be doing that, but this time with only the movies that really left an impression or stood out. I’m not saying I won’t mention the bad movies, but for the most part, it’s going to be the ones that stood out.

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

Iron Man 2

MacGruber

Thoughts: Let’s start off with Marvel’s third outing, Iron Man 2. The sequel that a lot of fans ended up not liking for various reasons, and honestly, I was one of them. The sequel does have its faults, but Marvel was still finding its footing. Plus, the sequel did end up giving us a lot of cool moments like Iron Man and War Machine back-to-back fighting off the robots, Black Widow and Whiplash’s introduction at the speedway.

Next is the comedy MacGruber, the feature-length film based off Will Forte’s SNL skit of the same name. I wasn’t a huge watcher of SNL, so I didn’t know about the skit, just that the movie looked like a dumb fun action comedy. So I went with that and actually enjoyed myself watching the overly ridiculously comedy that was happening in front of me. Even the celery.

 

 

2011

Thor

Thoughts: May 2011 was pretty light on movies, but I ended up picking Thor for a few reasons. I know some see Thor as the outliner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – some even seeing it at the “worst” one – but again, Thor was part of the Phase One movies, where Marvel was still figuring everything out. It wasn’t also done in a different style as it felt more like a Shakespearian film with Kenneth Branagh directing, and an unknown actor, aka Tom Hiddleston, stealing the show. While even I don’t see Thor as one of the best movies in the MCU, it is in my eyes, one of the more ambitious films, in terms of approach.

 

 

2012

Sleepless Night

Moonrise Kingdom

The Avengers

Thoughts: Okay, let’s get started with the Wes Anderson film, Moonrise Kingdom, the first live-action Anderson film I remember watching all the way through (The Royal Tenenbaums, being one that I hadn’t watched all the way through). The film followed two young lovers who flee from their homes and the community coming together to find them. It’s about what you expect from an Anderson film, with our young lead Jared Gilman says “sons of bitches” at one point, which just broke me.

Next is the French action crime thriller Sleepless Night – which was remade titled Sleepless with Jamie Foxx, which was NOT good – which I first saw at Actionfest, and instantly loved it. The film follows a cop with a connection to the criminal underworld, whose cover is blown when his partner gets caught skimming a recent product. When the drug lord finds out, they end up taking the cop’s son, and the cop goes in to try to save his son on his own in one night. It’s not your traditional action movie, although there is a great kitchen brawl, but I really enjoyed the movie for what it was.

Finally, The Avengers, Marvel’s first big team-up movie brought all the comic book nerds, and non-nerds, together to experience a massive milestone in comic book movie history. It’s not perfect, even I can admit that, but you got to admit it was something.

 

 

2013

Iron Man 3

After Earth

Fast & Furious 6

Thoughts: Oh 2013, what was going on? Okay, let’s start off with Iron Man 3, once again, an Iron Man sequel that left many fans divided. Marvel took the chance and hired Shane Black to write and direct, and decided to bring one of Iron Man’s biggest villains into the cinematic universe in The Mandarin, played Sir Ben Kingsley, in what was more a sadistic terrorist than somewhat supernatural villain, plus the mishandling of the Extremists storyline. I don’t know, it’s not the best Iron Man movie, but I think the movie does get a little too much hate.

Now let’s get to a movie that deserves the hate it gets, After Earth. “Directed” by M. Night Shyamalan (it was said that Will Smith “really” directed the movie, but Shyamalan took all the heat for how the movie turned out) and starring Smith and his son Jaden as father and son in the future who get stranded on the former Earth, after their ship crashes. Jaden’s character then as to go and search for help for his father, who was injured during the crash. This movie was NOT good, in any way. Jaden just didn’t have the “it factor,” especially to lead a movie like this, and apparently the movie went through so many changes after it was filmed, that a longer cut existed with people cut from the movie, and more of the back-story of things included. Even then, I don’t think the movie would have been anyway.

Finally, Fast & Furious 6, the last movie in the franchise directed by Justin Lin (who started with Tokyo Drift, and directed the eventually-released F9), which had the crew, teaming up with Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs against a deadly crew, with the returning, and now amnesic returning Michelle Rodriguez’ Letty. This was one that I knew had a bigger impact with me, cause of the theater crowd – although I do still enjoy watching it at home too – because EVERYONE was into it. It’s a tad melodramatic with the Letty and Dom stuff, but that’s one of the things the films had done at that point, so whatever.

 

 

2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Godzilla

Chef

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Thoughts: 2014’s back came to give us proper hits! Expect this first one we’re going to talk about, The Amazing Spider-Man 2! After a solid reboot with the first Amazing Spider-Man, Sony had to whiff it by trying to play catch up to the MCU and try to create their own connected universe with Spider-Man. The result was a bloated, messy sequel that got rid of its own saving grace in Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy.

Now, let’s talk about the divisive film, Godzilla. One of the main things that everyone had a problem with was the “lack” of Godzilla in the film. Yeah, okay, but Godzilla would have really lost some of its luster by the end when he’s fighting the MUTOs, at least I think so. Besides, some of the best monster movies are the ones that don’t show the monster too often until the end, where they roam free like crazy. The other one was people thinking Bryan Cranston’s character died too soon in the movie. Again, people forgetting there needs to be stakes in a movie.

Let’s move on to, arguably, another divisive film in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Based off the popular comic story, the movie saw Wolverine’s mind being sent to the past in a desperate effort to stop an event that results in a dark future for both humans and mutants. The film changes A LOT from the comics, but the core is still kind of there. But the big selling point here was taking the cast of the Bryan Singer X-Men films and combining it with the cast of the new X-Men films. The result was a descent blend of the casts and some pretty intense and surprise death scenes.

Finally, the written and directed Jon Favreau film comedy, Chef, which as you can guess, Favreau plays a head chief, who quits his job after an incident and decides to open a food truck to reconnect with his estranged family. I didn’t know what to expect from Chef, but oh man did I love this. It’s a much smaller film that got lost in the crowed summer, but it’s definitely worth the watch. Word of advice, if you do end up watching this, don’t watch it while hungry. Don’t!

 

 

2015

Maggie

Tomorrowland

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Mad Max: Fury Road

Thoughts: Let’s start off with the smaller film that most people probably didn’t watch or get to watch, and that’s the Arnold Schwarzenegger-led, Maggie. The film saw Schwarzenegger as a father to Abigail Breslin’s titular character who gets infected by a virus that is slowly turning her into a zombie. The movie is just okay, being more of a character based-drama than your typical zombie movie, although it really doesn’t give you enough for the ending they went with, which lets the air out of you waiting for an ending, you think it’s building up to.

Next is the, generally disappointing, Tomorrowland. A lot of hype and expectations came with this one, and for good reason. It was directed by Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol), it had a screenplay by Damon Lindelof (which I didn’t really care about since I didn’t watch Lost) and it looked great. Then the movie came out, and it was nothing like people expected. I liked the message it was trying to tell, but the way it was executed was half-baked.

Now let’s talk about Avengers: Age of Ultron, the second Avengers movie, which brought one of the famed villains in Avengers history, which hyped people up even more. What resulted was a very mix bag as a whole. Ultron wasn’t what people expected him to be, the introduction of Wanda, Pietro and Vision, Hawkeye’s secret family and the Hulkbuster suit. But there is also the fact that the movie kind of loses itself for a bit, and just barely recovers.

Finally, one of the best action films of the decade, Mad Max: Fury Road. George Miller returned to Max, now played by Tom Hardy, as he tries to survive The Wasteland with Furiosa (Charlize Theron) as she tries to lead a group of women away from Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). The movie pretty much has it all, top-notch action, beautiful cinematography and a killer score, what more do you want?

 

 

2016

Green Room

The Nice Guys

Captain America: Civil War

Thoughts: Another solid 2016 which will start with the indie thriller Green Room. The film followed a punk rock band that ends up in a skinhead bar, and after making a mistake, must fight their way out. It’s a very confined thriller with a descent chunk of the movie taking place in a room where the band is holding up. The selling point if you need one is Sir Patrick Stewart plays the head of the gang, so yeah.

The next film is the Shane Black written/directed film, The Nice Guys, starring a down on his luck P.I (played by Ryan Reynolds) and a rough around the edges P.I (played by Russell Crowe) who pair together to investigate a missing girl and a mysterious death of a porn star, who might share a connection. Besides the Shane Black-dark humor/wit, the combo of Crowe and Gosling, along with Angourie Rice, who plays Gosling’s daughter, make the perfect trio to keep the film going, and entertaining from start to finish.

Finally, Captain America: Civil War, Marvel’s ambitious retelling of the famed comic book story, obviously changed to fit the MCU characters instead of ALL the characters like in the comics. Civil War broke apart the Avengers and had them pick a side, and then added new players to the board like Black Panther and Spider-Man. I really don’t have a negative thing to say about the movie. I really enjoyed the action scenes, the airport sequence was amazing to watch on a big screen, and the final fight between Iron Man and Captain America is such a heart-breaker.

 

 

2017

Lowriders

Alien: Covenant

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Thoughts: Let’s start off with the movie that slipped most people’s radar, Lowriders. The drama followed a young street artist (Gabriel Chavarria) in East L.A. who is caught between his father’s (played by Demian Bichir) obsession with car culture, his ex-felon brother (Theo Rossi) who is out of prison and his need for self-expression. I really connected to the movie, although not the car culture or ex-felon brother, but someone trying to make his own way in a family that expected one thing from me, while I went another. Plus, the movie’s very good, so there is also that.

Let’s talk about King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, the Guy Ritchie co-written and directed take on the King Arthur legend. I know some people who didn’t like the movie for their reasons, which is fine, and while I’m not the biggest fan of it either, I enjoyed Ritchie take on the character. Adding in some of his own flavors – a street hustler Arthur with his crew – and working with a bigger budget, and a pretty solid score, I did enjoy what I watched.

Finally, Alien: Covenant, oh man. Okay, first and foremost, there are some things I do like about Covenant, not a lot, but some. Overall though, Alien: Covenant is a tad bit messy for its good. Condensing the Alien mythology and the birth of the xenomorphs into one movie was kind of a slap to the face, especially considering that the movie’s final act feels like it was tacked on to have an early xenomorph attack.

 

 

2018

Deadpool 2

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Thoughts: Let’s being our final month with Deadpool 2, the anticipated sequel after the first Deadpool surprised audiences with its meta and fourth-wall breaking humor. The movie itself was just okay to be honest, even with the inclusion of Josh Brolin’s Cable. It was kind of a bummer, but still enjoy the first time through.

Next is the much-talked about Solo: A Star Wars Story. I think at this point we all know the behind-the-scenes troubles and going-ons, so let’s move pass that, at least just a bit. The movie itself is kind of scattered in multiple places, but the better question, and the one that should be asked is, did you enjoy it? The answer to that is, yeah, for the most part. Alden Ehrenreich as a young Han was charming enough, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s L3-37 was a standout amongst the cast.

The other thing about the movie was it does suffer from the prequel effect aka no real danger to the main character, but what Solo also tries to do is set up more adventures. This would be fine, if the production wasn’t such a problem to begin with, plus if the movie ended up doing more better and got better fanfare. Especially considering the ending.

 

And that’s it everyone. Admittedly, this was still a lot movies, but I can’t help that enjoy a lot of movies more than others. But more importantly, I want to know what you guys think about this. Let me know what your favorite movies in February were?

My Disappointments/Worst Movies of the Year

Well, it’s the end of the year and you know what that means. The lists of “Best of” or “Worst of” start to come out.  So of course, I have to put my list out there too!

So for the sack of giving the “bad news” first, I’ll do my “Worst/Disappointments Movies of the Year” list first. I know saying “Worst” is a bit harsh and I know a lot of work goes into making a movie so I don’t want to come off as a snob.  But saying “Least Liked” sounds kind of lame.  So the list will be movies that I thought were bad but also disappointing, so I don’t have to say they were pieces of, well you know.

NOTE: This is MY list and is completely my opinion.  I’m in no way trying to make less of these movies and if you liked these movies, IT’S FINE.  I just didn’t care for them.

“Honorable Mention”

No One Lives: The reason I put “Honorable Mention” the way I did is because I respect what the movie was trying to do, a homage to the old school 70s and 80s horror, but the execution at times didn’t get me.  One of the highlights was a scene where the main character/villain, played by Luke Evans, creatively finds a way to get near the other villains.  However, the reason I put it here in the list is because it was a tad boring at times and didn’t care for the end result.

DISAPPOINTMENTS

After Earth: I tried to give this every chance I could.  I didn’t mind (using that statement loosely) that it was directed by M. Night Shyamalan.  But, watching it was a bit hard and I almost hate saying that.  I didn’t find Jaden Smith an interesting lead and Will Smith could have literally phoned in his performance.  Also, the weird accents really don’t make sense and even though a tag line says “There was a reason we left” is never explained! (I know it’s nitpicky but considering I didn’t like the movie I’m okay with that).

Paranoia: Although I’m not the biggest Liam Hemsworth fan, I was willing to give this movie a shot only because greats like Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford were in it.  But even they couldn’t save this movie. Any form of a thriller was thrown in the last act of the movie and by that point I didn’t care.

The Last Exorcism Part II:  Changing its style from “found footage” to a tradition, the movie was almost an unnecessary sequel to a movie that wasn’t really that good to begin with.  The Last Exorcism for what it was didn’t bring anything new to the found footage genre and for me the ending was probably the best part (NO, not because of the credits or I got to leave), the main character finally found something and went for it.  The sequel however, only brings back Ashley Bell’s Nel as she continues her struggle to move on.  The ending feels like they set up way too much for a third (which I don’t think has been announced) but at this point I don’t want another.

Worst

Spring Breakers:  I feel like every year there is a movie – that doesn’t get a wide release – that is hyped up enough by everyone that I manage to fall for it and go watch.  Spring Breakers was that movie this year.  I will say I wasn’t familiar with director Harmony Korine’s work (I know Kids is the most popular) but I didn’t like this movie at all! For a movie that’s an hour and half long it felt like two and a half hours.  I thought the beginning of the movie was good but once they actually went on Spring Break it completely lost me.  And yes, I didn’t like James Franco’s character either.

Movie 43: If you told me to give you one movie that was the worst of the year, I would tell you Movie 43.  For a movie was suppose to be a comedy and filled with a all-star cast it failed on all cylinders.  I didn’t even chuckle or smirk once! This movie was not funny and any funny parts that could have been where shown in the trailers/commercials, so once I saw them on the big screen I didn’t find them funny anymore.  I don’t know what the cast was thinking but whatever favors they had to the directors of these shorts was not worth it.

So, what were you’re worst movies or disappointments for the year?  Do you agree with my list or not?

‘After Earth’ Review

after_earth

Dir: M. Night Shyamalan

Cast: Jaden Smith, Will Smith, Sophie Okonedo, and Zoe Kravitz

Synopsis: A crash landing leaves Kitai Raige and his father Cypher stranded on Earth, 1,000 years after events forced humanity’s escape. With Cypher injured, Kitai must embark on a perilous journey to signal for help.

 

*Review Note: This is a non-spoiler review as always.*

 

On the surface After Earth is a sci-fi movie that stars the Smith family powerhouse of Will and his son Jaden. Along with that, the movie is also a coming of age story of sorts with the added effect of a strained father and son relationship.

The story is set 1,000 years after humans have left a now uninhabitable Earth behind and relocated to another planet named Nova Prime. Nova Prime has its own dangers: monstrous aliens that hunt humans. So of course we learn to adapt and get a very brief scene that shows the humans fighting back and pretty much the only scene we get to see Will’s Cypher Rage do anything (more on that in a bit).

Anyway, we follow his son, an aspiring Ranger named Kitai Raige (Jaden) as he tries to impress his father. Kitai however doesn’t exactly have all the qualities it takes to be a Ranger and it disappoints him and knows that it will disappoint his father. However, the two get a chance to have some bonding time as Cypher after coming home briefly has to leave again and takes his son. While traveling something, obliviously, goes wrong the ship is forced and crash lands on the now quarantined planet of Earth.

The only survivors are Kitai and his badly injured father who has to stay on the ship and help guide his son to retrieve a distress beacon from part of their wrecked ship that’s many miles away. Sounds simple right? Well add Earth’s wildlife that has evolved drastically as well as the animals that Kitai has to go through. Still sound simple? Well aboard the ship was a captured alien monster known as an Ursa that has escaped its cage and is know roaming around.

After Earth may have the stigma of being directed by M. Night Shyamalan but Shyamalan actually has been able to craft a movie that, wait for it, is passable. The movie has some pretty good effects going for it but nothing we haven’t really seen before. Probably the best special effect is of the monster Ursa that looks pretty scary once we get a good look at it and maybe the shifting blade.

Although there are some brief roles by Zoe Kravitz and Sophie Okonedo as the female members of the Raige family, this is basically a two-person show, with Jaden Smith really being front and center. Will Smith on the other hand really just sits down for the whole movie and leaves his son to do all the running, jumping and fighting. The dynamic between the two was a bit rough at times. We know Will Smith for being charismatic but his character here restrains his emotions to the point that his performance comes across as wooden or bland, although it makes some sense for this character. Jaden on the other hand has his moments to shine but his facial expression all kind of looked the same. Also, the accents the have in the movie kind of took me out of it. I don’t want to be that person that hates the entire movie because of a small thing and I’m not in this case, I’m just wondering why they made that decision.

All in all, After Earth isn’t the best movie but it surely is passable and hopefully Shyamalan can ride off this and get back to some of his former stride.

After Earth

3 out of 5