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 Worst, Disappointing, Least-Like Movies of the Year

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

I’ll put up my list of “Best/Favorite” movies of the year later, but with all those best and favorite movies I have, I had to sit through some stinkers. Some of these I knew weren’t going to be any good walking in, but I ended up taking the hit anyway. The list ranges all over the place, so don’t think I’m attacking certain movies because it’s easy. I walk into every movie with a clear mind and soaking up the movie for what it’s worth. Good or bad.

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 they weren’t good enough to make it on my other list. Like all lists, this is my opinion! So if you don’t agree that’s perfectly fine, and probably justified. Finally, there are other movies that could have gone on the list, but these are the ones that truly stuck out. Alright, let’s get this over with.

 

Dishonorable Mentions

Blackhat (Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures/Forward Pass)

Hitman: Agent 47 (20th Century Fox/TSG Entertainment/Infinite Frameworks Studios/Fox International Productions)

Hot Tube Time Machine 2 (Paramount Pictures/MGM)

Taken 3 (20th Century Fox/EuropaCorp/Canal+/TSG Entertainment/M6 Films/Cine+)

The Transporter Refueled (EuropaCorp/Fundamental Films/TF1 Films Productions/Belga Films/Canal+)

 

 

Disappointments/Least-Liked/Worst Movies of the Year

Aloha (Sony Pictures/Fox/Columbia Pictures/Vinyl Films)

Cameron Crowe’s latest film was hit with criticism with “white-washing” and keeping the film from critics to review just a couple days before release (not the only film on this list that did that). However, watching the film you can see why they kept it away from critics. Aloha had a great cast of Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, John Krasinski, and Bill Murray. Sadly, they couldn’t save this. The film tries to have high stakes, but only when it wants to, and it even felt ridiculous at times. Overall, the film was very uneven that at times made the film boring.

aloha

Fantastic Four (Fox/Marvel Entertainment/Marv Films/TSG Entertainment)

This one definitely goes into the disappointing and worst section. 20th Century Fox can’t nail down “Marvel’s First Family,” and it is strike three for them. Of course, it didn’t help that there was so much behind-the-scenes drama between the studio and director Josh Trank, and the troubling reshoots and scenes in the trailer that are nowhere in the film. Despite all that, like I said in my review: The fans lose in this, not Fox or Trank, us because we want to see a good Fantastic Four movie and what we got crap. Started out good, but crap nonetheless.

fantastic-four-poster

Jupiter Ascending (Warner Bros./Village Roadshow Pictures/Dune Entertainment)

I really wanted to like this movie more than I did. There are some great scenes in there, but the film felt way too big for its own good. The Wachowskis seemed like they were doing a lot of world building, but it all felt too condense and rushed with nothing having time to breathe. Dare I say, it probably would have worked better as a mini-series instead of a movie, but that’s just my opinion. The first sign was indeed the release date switch, when they pushed back the release date by a year.

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Maggie (Liongates/Roadside Attractions/Grindstone Entertainment Group/Gold Star Films/Lotus Entertainment/Silver Reel/Gold Star Films/Matt Baer Films)

I wasn’t expecting too much of Maggie, but I walked in open-minded (as always) to watch a different take of the zombie genre. Arnold Schwarzenegger as a father dealing with his daughter, played by Abigail Breslin, being infected with virus that is turning people into zombies was interesting to see. However, Maggie’s slow burn didn’t really do the film any favors as the film felt too slow at times and when something powerful happened it took me a while to actually register it because I had to catch up at times. One thing that made me put the film on the list was the ending. The ending looked like it was going to go down a very powerful route, but instead went out in a whimper, and didn’t take the risk that that film could have really made and where they were potentially hinting at. I will say that Arnold as a father figure was great to see.

maggie

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (Paramount Pictures/Blumhouse Productions)

I was a fan and defender of the Paranormal Activity films up until the third installment, and I enjoyed most of the spinoff The Marked Ones, but the series showed signs of losing it during the fourth installment. It seemed like the series just didn’t care anymore, and while it tried to add new things to the series, it just never kicked off the way they probably thought it would. As for The Ghost Dimension, the last of the series, it just didn’t do it for me. The supposed answers we were promised were rushed and lackluster, and the ending was just weak and not a good end to the series at all. The movie felt like just another installment that was setting up the real final installment. Another case of a good series losing it momentum by the end, and overstaying its welcome.

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Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Happy Madison Productions)

I didn’t walk in really expecting much from this. I’ll admit, I enjoyed the first Paul Blart: Mall Cop. It had its funny and goofy moments, but it knew what it was and didn’t take itself too seriously. Unfortunately, the sequel did take itself a little bit too seriously for its own good. The jokes fell flat the majority of the time, and to be honest it just wasn’t that good. All the charm and goofiness the first film had was stripped away and replaced with unnecessary fat jokes and lame/awful jokes.

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Point Break (Warner Bros./Alcon Entertainment/DMG Entertainment/Studio Babelsberg)

Despite my slight optimism for remakes in general, Point Break was a shallow and pointless remake that didn’t do much for me – and probably anyone – and while it had it’s very short and brief moments and a great performance with Edgar Ramirez, Point Break failed on all spectrum’s.

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Seventh Son (Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures)

Seventh Son felt a bit messy. The movie isn’t horrible, but the movie sometimes feels like you’re already familiar with some aspects of the world and it’s a little off-putting at times. One scene in particular threw me off only because they made the scene feel like it was really important, but emotionally it didn’t come out that way because there was no real investment in character involved.

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Terminator Genisys (Paramount Pictures/Skydance Productions)

Terminator Genisys had some potential, Arnold Schwarzenegger came back, after some fans wanted him back, Alan Taylor was directing, and the film was going to add some new things to the timeline that we all know. Then that second trailer came out. You know, the one that gave away what could have been the biggest twist in the series and potentially a great moment to watch onscreen for the first time. Yeah, that one. Knowing that going in really hurt the movie, and despite their being another layer to the twist, it still wasn’t enough to forgive them for spoiling that big plot point in the trailers, TV spots, and posters.

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The Gallows (Warner Bros./New Line Cinema/Blumhouse Productions/Management 360/Tremendum Pictures)

Another addition to the Found Footage horror subgenre was The Gallows, and like some of the films before it: it wasn’t good. Despite some cool and eerie shots in the movie, one of the characters – mainly holding the camera – was annoying to the point that it took me out of the movie. I can handle annoying characters, but holy hell did he reach a whole new level. Moreover, the motivation and reveal of why the events happen ended up making no sense whatsoever and seemed like a last minute thing. The Gallows may be the worst Found Footage movie I’ve seen.

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The Green Inferno (BH Tilt/High Top Releasing/Worldview Entertainment/Dragonfly Entertainment/Sobras International Pictures)

I’m not the biggest Eli Roth fan, but I’ve slightly enjoyed some of his movies in the past, but The Green Inferno was rough to watch, and not in the way it was supposed to be rough to watch. None of the characters were really all that likeable, with the expectation of maybe two, and even the slow burn and waiting for everything to go to hell isn’t worth the wait. Some of the gore is good – that’s what the film is really about anyway – but overall this wasn’t good at all. This is definitely one of the worst films of the year.

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The Lazarus Effect (Lionsgate/Blumhouse Productions/Relativity Studios)

This one had a ton of potential and even had the cast lead by Olivia Wilde and Mark Duplass to back it up. Unfortunately, the potential of the film disappeared once the film became a supernatural slasher-esque film in the last act. The Lazarus Effect had a great premise behind it, but the execution of it lacked power and left the film underwhelming to watch.

lazarus_effect

Tomorrowland (Walt Disney Pictures/A113)

This one hurt. I was actually conflicted to put Tomorrowland on this list and not put it as an “Honorable Mention” on my “Favorite/Best” movies of the year. However, that wouldn’t be extremely fair to the other movies. Tomorrowland had ton of potential, had a great team behind the camera and in front of the camera, but ultimately it was the lack of execution and beating over the head theme (which I loved, but sill) that made this probably one of the biggest disappointments, if not the biggest, of the year.

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So, what were your biggest disappointments, worst, or least-liked films of the year?

‘Taken 3’ Review

taken_three_ver2

Dir: Olivier Megaton

Writer(s): Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen

Cast: Liam Neeson, Forest Whitaker, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Don Harvey, Dylan Bruno, David Warshofsky, Jon Gries, Andrew Howard, Leland Orser, Sam Spruell, and Dougray Scott

Synopsis: Ex-government operative Bryan Mills is accused of a ruthless murder he never committed or witnessed. As he is tracked and pursued, Mills brings out his particular set of skills to find the true killer and clear his name

 

 

 

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

 

 

Believe it or not, Taken 3 doesn’t anybody taken, at least in the way the first two films did. Taken 3 actually has someone close to the Mills family die and has Bryan Mills (Neeson) framed for it. So this should have made the last installment (that we know of) more dramatic, thrilling, and unpredictable. So did we get that? Sort of. Taken 3 has elements that work really well, but with a already limited premise, pretty weak script, and Olivier Megaton’s terrible directing job, the cast does their best to make the movie work and enjoyable.

 

Taken 3 starts off with the villain, Oleg Malankov (Spruell), killing some random accountant to a mystery man because the mystery man owes Malankov money. Of course a beginning like that does two things, makes you wonder how they will connect to the main story/mystery element and shows off how deadly and serious Malankov will be. That is when he shows up, as Malankov disappears until the last half hour and we left to follow his henchmen and Maxim (Howard).  Then we go to the main story of Bryan, like the other movies, being happy and still trying to keep his family connection together. He goes to visit Kim (Grace), who dealing with something of her own, and meets up with his ex-wife Lenore (Janssen) again as they start to rekindle their feelings again.

 

Lenore tells him things aren’t working with her husband Stuart (now played by Dougray Scott replacing Xander Berkeley from the first film), but Bryan being the honorable man doesn’t want things to happen until they are cleared up. This leads Stuart to going to Bryan and telling him he wants to make things work and basically tells him to back off, which Bryan agrees to. Of course the trailer gives this away part away but Lenore is found dead in Bryan’s apartment and is framed to look like he did, which Bryan knows and runs from the police. This brings in Inspector Franck Dotzler (Whitaker) who is in charge to bring Bryan in for questioning.

 

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Like I wrote before, Taken 3 has some good elements working for it. The drama in Taken 3 feels like the first Taken although not as strong and during some of the action sequences it actually feels like they mean something, as opposed to Taken 2. One of the bad things, if not the worse thing next to Megaton’s terrible sense of direction, is the movie feels pretty predictable. It does try to swerve you into another direction but when it comes back to your original predication, you feel kind of dumb letting the movie fool you. That might be nitpicky but considering the movie doesn’t have a ton working for it there is some things to criticize.

 

The movie’s saving grace is Liam Neeson. Neeson is as reliable as ever and considering this is his third and final time playing a man with a particular set of skills. His take of Bryan this time is more determined than before but Neeson is so good at delivering one-liners and acting gruff that it’s probably second nature to him at this point.

 

Taken 3 Liam and Maggie

 

The supporting cast is not that bad, although they aren’t without their clichés. Maggie Grace isn’t a damsel in distress like the first film but has less to do here than she did in Taken 2. Forest Whitaker’s Franck Dotzler character is a by-the-books kind of cop but has his own ways of figuring out a case. Whitaker does fine but some poor character choices in script make the character sometimes laughable.

 

Taken 3 Liam and Forest

 

Speaking of laughable, have I mentioned Oliver Megaton’s direction? I have? Well, let me go back then. I don’t mind shaky cam, if done moderation and doesn’t take away from the action sequences, but Megaton doesn’t follow that idea and instead makes all of the action feel and seem worthless, because he’d rather shake the camera and make the audience feel like they are there instead of letting us enjoy the scene for what it is.

 

All in all, Taken 3 is a mixed bag. While not as good the first Taken, it is better than Taken 2 even though that’s not saying much since the sequel didn’t have a lot going for it. Neeson does his best to carry the movie but all in all, this might be the place to end the Taken series.

 

 

Taken 3

3.5 out of 5

January Movie Releases

Happy New Year!!

 

That’s right ladies and gentlemen, we have a new year in front of us which means one thing: new movies! Now, January is usually referred to as Hollywood’s “Dump” Month. Meaning they will release movies that they don’t think will perform well or are not confident in. Sometimes that is the case, but sometimes a movie will outshine the “trouble” month. January is also filled with expanded releases of movies that came out in December so there is also that to look forward to.

 

(Movie Release Dates are based on Box Office Mojo and IMDB)

 

2nd

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A Most Violent Year (expansion): Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain star as a couple fighting to protect their business and family during the most dangerous year (1981) in New York history. The film looks pretty great and I honestly did not know too much about it until I saw the trailer a while ago.

 

The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death: Set 40 years after the events from the first movie. Angel of Death sets the action during WWII when a group of children are sent to the Eel Marsh house to hide and unleash the evil inside the house. The sequel also continues the trend of horror movies opening up the beginning of the year.

 

[REC] 4: Apocalypse: The last installment of the Spanish horror films, [REC] 4 brings back the star of the first film Angela (Manuela Velasco) who wakes up on an oil tanker to be examined, but the soldiers on board don’t know why she’s on board, and then things start to go wrong. The trailer looks great and the first two film were amazing in my opinion, while the third film left something to be desired.

 

9th

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Expansion/Nationwide Releases:  Inherent Vice & Selma

Taken 3: Taken 3 may seem like they’ve pushed the idea of the first film a bit. Some would argue that the second was that too, but Taken 3 – based on the trailer – has put an interesting spin on it, and even making some callbacks to the first movie. But let’s face it, Liam Nesson kicking ass is worth the price of admission alone. Also, this is the last one so there’s another plus if you need one.

 

16th

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Expansion Release: American Sniper

The Wedding Ringer: Josh Gad plays a shy groom who hires a best-man-for-hire (Kevin Hart) to impress his future in-laws. I honestly had no idea what the movie was about until I saw the trailer and I even though I’m not the biggest Kevin Hart fan (in moderation I can take him) the movie does actually look funny. Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Jorge Garcia, Cloris Leachman, and Olivia Thirlby also star.

 

Escobar: Paradise Lost: Josh Hutcherson plays surfer who falls for a girl in Colombia and meets her uncle who happens to be Pablo Escobar (played by Benicio Del Toro). I heard some mixed things about the movie, so it could be hit-or-miss with everyone once he gets a “bigger” release.

 

Spare Parts: Based on a true story, four Hispanic high schoolers form a robotics club with no experience and a very limited budget, they enter a competition against other robotics clubs and reigning champion MIT. The movie looks like another typical believe in yourself and you can achieve anything with hard work no matter what the odds are, which isn’t a bad thing really, but this might get lost in the shuffle of the other films getting released. The movie stars George Lopez, Marisa Tomei, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Alexa PenaVega.

 

Still Alice: The movie has Julianne Moore playing a renowned linguistics who stars to forget words and is trying to get through it with her family. I haven’t seen a trailer for it yet but some film festival buzz says the movie is great and might get Moore some award nominations. The rest of the cast is filled with Kristen Stewart and Kate Bosworth playing Moore’s kids and Alec Baldwin playing a doctor.

 

Paddington: A live-action adaptation of the popular book series is finally coming out. Paddington Bear will be voiced by Ben Whishaw – although originally Colin Firth voiced him but left the project. The movie looks okay, I remember reading some Paddington Bear books when I was younger but I remember not being a huge fan, maybe they’ll win me over. Nicole Kidman, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, and Peter Capaldi also star.

 

Blackhat: Michael Mann is back and this time is taking on cyber-terrorism. The movie follows Nicolas Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) who helps the American and Chinese governments take down the man responsible. Mann is really hit-or-miss with me but hopefully this is a hit. The movie will span the globe apparently and will go through Chicago to Hong Kong, the cast is very international, which could be really great to see. Viola Davis, Wei Tang, and John Ortiz also star.

 

23rd

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Black Sea: A submarine captain takes a job with a shadowy backer to search the Black Sea for a sub that is rumored to have lost gold. Jude Law will star as the captain in question with the rest of the cast being filled out by Jodie Wittaker, Ben Mendelsohn, and Scoot McNairy.

 

The Boy Next Door: Jennifer Lopez stars as a divorced woman who after sleeping with – wait for it – the boy next door played by Ryan Guzman, he starts to get a bit to obsessed with her. I’ve seen the trailer in theaters about three times now and every time it does nothing for me. The movie also looks painfully generic and has been done before.

 

Strange Magic: Apparently George Lucas produced an animated movie that no one knew about and it is now being released. The movie is inspired by William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and has goblins, fairies and imps meeting for the first time which leads to a clash of cultures. The voice casts includes Evan Rachel Wood, Kristin Chenoweth, Peter Stormare, Alan Cumming, Maya Rudolph, and Alfred Molina.

 

Mortdecai: Johnny Depp plays art dealer Charles Mortdecai who searches for a painting that might be linked to Nazi gold. The movie is based off  books (which I haven’t read) but the movie looks pretty funny and has a descent cast in Olivia Munn, Ewan McGregor, Paul Bettany, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Goldblum, Oliver Platt and Aubrey Plaza.

 

30th

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Black or White: The movie follows a grieving widower who is drawn into a custody battle over his granddaughter, whom he helped raise her entire life. I honestly didn’t know about this movie until I started to make his list. The movie stars Kevin Costner, who might play the widower, I’m not sure, it also stars Jennifer Ehle, Gillian Jacobs, Anthony Mackie, and Octavia Spencer.

 

The Loft: This movie has been sitting on the studio’s shelf for over a year now (if that), so it has me a little worried on what to suspect. The movie follows five friends who share a loft for extramarital affairs begin to question each other after a body is found there. The movie stars Wentworth Miller, James Marsden, Karl Urban, Rhona Mitra, Rachael Taylor, Isabel Lucas, and Eric Stonestreet.

 

Project Almanac: Another movie that has been sitting on the shelf for a year (I think even longer) now finally gets released. The movie is about a group of teens that discover a plan to build a time machine and construct one. Of course things don’t go as planned. The movie is producer by Michael Bay and has the found footage format. I honestly don’t know what to make of it.

 

What movie are you looking forward to?