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?

Favorite/Standout Action Sequences, Genres, and Special Effects

This is a continuation of my Favorite/Standouts of the Year, this time focusing more on the genre side of things and my favorite/standout fights and action sequences and special effects.

 

Fight/Action Sequence

Ant-Man: Ant-Man vs. Falcon & Ant-Man vs. Yellowjacket (Cassie’s Bedroom)

A nice early preview of what we could see in Captain America: Civil War, and it was great to watch. It was actually a rather nice to surprise to see the scene play out and it was a ton of fun. Ant-Man was a great movie, but having this scene in there, was pretty damn cool. As for the Cassie bedroom fight, let’s face it: That was one of the funniest, goofy and action-packed scenes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

 

Avengers: Age of Ultron: Hulkbuster vs. Hulk & Hydra Base Siege

This was teased for a while, and every fan knew it was coming eventually. So when it finally happened, it was like it was ripped out of the comic books. The two literally tried to beat the crap out of each and in true Marvel fashion, there was some inject humor.  As for the base siege which opens the movie, it is arguably, one of the best openings and action scenes that Marvel has done – with the expectation of Captain America: The Winter Soldier – and it involves all of our heroes. The scene has it all; humor, great moments, and in that great shot of all the Avengers leaping into battle.

 

Creed: Adonis Johnson-Creed vs. Leo ‘The Lion’ Sporino

There was something about how the scene was structured and filmed by director Ryan Coogler that made this boxing match in Creed more of a standout than the final match. The way Coogler shot and framed the scene really made you feel that you were part of the match, and you saw the viewpoint of each character which made it even more special.

 

Jupiter Ascending: Chicago Chase

While Jupiter Ascending wasn’t all that great of a movie, it at least gave us one good thing: A great action sequence right here in Chicago.

 

Kingsman: The Secret Service: Harry Hart/Galahad vs. Church Congregation

This may be not just my favorite fight sequence of the year, but may join my favorite fight sequences list ever. Colin Firth may not be on everyone’s list for playing a badass character, but this definitely had to silence doubters. Of course we have to give credits to the stunt team, director Matthew Vaughn and cinematographer George Richmond for putting together the scene.

 

Furious 7: Deckard vs. Hobbs, Ramsey Rescue & Deckard vs. Dom

First, It’s like a dream match come true: Jason Statham vs. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. And holy hell was it brutal and fun to watch. Second, Ramsey’s (Nathalie Emmanuel) rescue happens a little before the mid-point of the movie and was heavily promoted in the ads. But, nothing comes close to the actual scene which plays out a little more than we thought. Overall, the scene is great. Finally, the whole movie builds up to this fight between Deckard (Jason Statham) and Dom (Vin Diesel) and when they finally meet, you can tell it’s going to come down to the last man standing. It’s not as good as Deckard vs. Hobbs, but the intensity is still there.

 

Jurassic World: Indominus Rex vs. T. Rex and Blue

This was like a kid’s dream come true. Hell, it was probably even mine. I don’t even know what else to say because, well, just look at it!

 

Kung Fu Killer: Hahou Mo vs. Fung Yu-Sau

Kung Fu Killer might have not gotten a wide release, but any chance I can see Donnie Yen on the big screen, I’m going to take it! The movie was filled with great fight sequences –no surprise with Yen involved – but it was the final fight in the movie that I picked because the fight had some high stakes to it and the final build up made the fight really great to watch.

 

Macbeth: Macbeth vs. Macduff

This was a short, brutal and visually fascinating scene to watch. Felt like watching a moving picture at times. I loved the aesthetic that director Justin Kurzel chose to go with for the scene.

 

Mad Max: Fury Road: Imperator Furiosa vs. Max Rockatansky & The Rig Escapes The Biker Gang

It’s almost hard to even choose a favorite action sequence in Mad Max: Fury Road, only because all of them have their awesome moments and the whole movie feels like an extended action sequence. But these two are definitely two that stood out to me. The fight between Furiosa and Max was hard hitting, vicious, knockdown drag out that totally fits into the movie and shows how tough Furiosa really is. The escape scene works on a number reasons, it shows the trust that Max and Furiosa finally get and the amazing score by Junkie XL elevates the scene even more.

 

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation: Car and Motorcycle Chase

One of the best parts for me in Rogue Nation was definitely the somewhat promoted action scene that involved a pretty lengthy chase that involved Ethan (Cruise), chasing down Ilsa (Ferguson) and Syndicate henchman. There was also something that McQuarrie didn’t use a real score and instead used the sound of motorcycles and cars instead.

 

Pixels: Pac-Man Chase

Despite what many people think about the film – it’s not perfect even I know that – Pixels had its moments and the full chase scene of the main characters and Pac-Man was a ton of fun to watch.

 

Sicario: Border Shootout

Sicario is one of those rare films that is unapologetic and, arguably, brutally honest about its subject matter. It’s also one of the most tense films I’ve seen in a long while and nothing is probably more tense than being stuck on the border between Mexico and the United States during a drug war. The scene bought out those feelings of not only being trapped, but having your options limited and trying to find the best way to get home.

 

Spectre: Bond vs. Mr. Hinx & Mexico City Opening

I love a great intense and hard hitting fight scene, and that’s exactly what we got in this fight between Daniel Craig’s James Bond and Dave Bautista’s Mr. Hinx. The henchman role felt tailor-made for Bautista especially seeing that fight scene. As for the opening scene that takes place in Mexico City during a Day of the Dead celebration, it is one of the best openings I’ve ever seen and one of the best one-continuous-take scenes I’ve ever seen.

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Kylo Ren vs. Finn and Rey & Finn

It wouldn’t be a Star Wars movie without a lightsaber duel to end it. The Force Awakens is no different. The separate duels between Finn and Rey have different meanings. Both are done out of survival and revenge, but both of them have different meanings to each character. Finn is doing it because he’s finally fulfilling the hero role, and Rey is reaching her true potential.

 

Tomorrowland: Athena vs. Hugo and Ursula

Tomorrowland may have highlighted the house escape of Clooney and Robertson’s characters, but the highlight action sequence for me was Athena showing off what she can do for the first time. It was also a lot of fun to watch the scene in the surrounding it was in.

 

 

Honorable Mention

American Ultra: Mike vs. Laugher

Avengers: Age of Ultron: Sokovia Battle

Creed: Adonis Johnson-Creed vs. ‘Pretty’ Rick Conlan

Kingsman: The Secret Service: Harry Hart/Galahad vs. Thugs (Bar)

Run All Night: Jimmy vs. Price

Sicario: Alejandro Goes Solo

Ted 2: Comic Con Fight

Terminator Genisys: Guardian vs. T-800

The Man from U.N.C.L.E: Napoleon and Illya Chase Alexander & Napoleon and Gaby Escape Illya

Tomorrowland: Casey and Frank Home Escape

 

 

GENRES

Action

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Even with some of it, arguably most of it, being CGI, some of the action sequences were top notch and the beginning base siege was a ton of fun to watch.

 

Furious 7

The Fast & Furious franchise is priding itself on upping the ante on their action and Furious 7 did just that. Although, it hard to get any bigger than bringing down a big ass plane and then shooting a car out of it, but hey, the next big thing would probably be a car jumping from building to building and cars skydiving out of a jumbo plane.

 

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Probably one of the biggest surprises of the year, Kingsman: The Secret Service not just delivered on doing a great spy film, but also a action great film. Because let’s face it, that church scene was damn awesome.

 

Mad Max: Fury Road

I’d have to say hands down, Mad Max: Fury Road is the best action film of the year. The whole film is one long chase scene that almost never lets up and when it does it always comes back in full force. If I just wanted to pick one movie to be the best action film of the year, it goes to Fury Road. 

 

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Yet another film that is priding itself on upping the ante with every installment, Rogue Nation literally gives it to us right at the beginning with Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt hanging off a plane as it goes up in the air. You can’t get crazier than that right? RIGHT?

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens has the right amount of action, and it’s action that’s a ton of fun to watch. The lightsaber duos had me riled up and the X-Wing flights where just great.

 

 

Honorable Mentions

American Ultra

Kung Fu Killer

The Gunman

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

 

 

Horror

It Follows

It Follows was a nice throwback in terms of story and tone. It doesn’t go for the easy gore and nudity tropes, although there those things in the film, it’s actually tied in to the primary story. The film is a slow burn and plays with your paranoia and makes you uneasy while watching. Also, the “monster” is so simple, along with the film that it is pretty cool to experience.

 

Krampus

I had a lot of fun watching Krampus and while it was sluggish at time, there was a lot more to it than I originally thought. What made the film work for me was definitely the fact that they went with practical effects and puppetry for the creatures that visually made them more terrifying.

 

The Final Girls

The Final Girls is a nice balance of comedy, drama, and horror, but the meta-horror elements isn’t even the main basis of the film, but are still great to watch the horror elements, especially considering how they handled it.

 

 

Honorable Mention

Insidious: Chapter 3

 

 

Comedy

Dope

Dope worked as both a drama and comedy coming-of-age film, but the film was one of the best comedic films I’ve experienced this year.

 

Inherent Vice

The film could be also labeled as a crime drama, but there was something more about the humor that makes this film special. The comedy was one of the only real things I understood about the film when I was first watched it. Not because the film has a weird or crappy structure, but because it was so weird.

 

Spy

Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy returned to form with Spy, a nice twist on the spy genre and didn’t rely on fat jokes that some films McCarthy has done in the past. Instead the film lets her actually show off her comedic and acting chops. However, the rest of the cast also steal the show, especially Jason Statham.

 

The Night Before

This could have easily been a forgetful comedy that happens to take place on Christmas Eve, but The Night Before was a little more than that. The film was done to bone a story about three friends – that treat themselves as family – and the bond that real friends go through. The comedy really had its moments and this is coming from a guy that is starting to grow on Seth Rogen.

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Goosebumps

Ted 2

The Final Girls

Trainwreck

 

 

 

Animated

Inside Out

Oh Pixar, how is it that you always find a way of making us tear up, cry and warm our hearts? You did it again with Inside Out. The supposed “I guess they ran out of ideas” film sure had a lot of heart and heartwarming and breaking moments that left me wanting more and satisfied at the same time.

 

The Peanuts Movie

I’m not going to lie, this film probably shouldn’t have worked, but it really did. The Peanuts Movie stayed true to its roots and didn’t try to add anything new or ruin what fans loved from the original. Kudos to them for sticking to their guns and keeping what everyone loves about Charlie Brown and the gang.

 

Honorable Mention

The Good Dinosaur

 

 

 

Drama

American Sniper

Clint Eastwood’s biopic drama about Chris Kyle was meant with some mixed reactions over the fact of “is all or any of this true?” Despite all that, American Sniper worked best when it focused on the characters themselves and what they go through, and Bradley Cooper does a tremendous job of doing that.

 

Brooklyn

Brooklyn is one of those films that everyone will connect to in some way. It’s a coming-of-age story, a love story, and a story about being an outsider in a new environment and wanting nothing but to go back home. It’s a touching story that I loved watching and experiencing.

 

Creed

Creed is every bit as good as the original Rocky, but it’s also its own standalone story about someone wanting to break out on their own and not trying to completely live up to someone’s legacy. The film worked even better with the performances of Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone. Any time they are together the film works better.

 

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

I read the book this was based on and when I saw the film, I couldn’t believe they captured the same spirit, heart and humor but was also able to turn the dial and make it even more stronger. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl isn’t the easiest movie to sit through – it does have Dying Girl in the title after all – but it truly is one of the best films of the year and one of the best dramas and indies of the year.

 

Room

Definitely one of the best dramas of the year, and one of the hardest to sit through Room also gives two of the best performances of the year by Brie Larson and newcomer Jacob Tremblay. The film follows the two as they escape the room they were trapped in for years and Jack (Tremblay) sees the outside world for the first time. It’s one of the most touching and heartbreaking films all at once.

 

Sicario

Sicario is one of those rare films that isn’t afraid to go to places that normally other films water down. It is definitely an unapologetic, gritty and raw look on the war on drugs between the U.S and the border of Mexico. The film is only stronger thanks to the performances, especially Benicio Del Toro.

 

Spotlight

This is straightforward filmmaking at its finest, and I say that it the best way possible. Spotlight is filled with great performances and tremendous cast that easily makes it an Oscar favorite and thankfully it’s great even if it wasn’t.

 

Steve Jobs

The story of Steve Jobs – in real life – is definitely a dramatic one. Thankfully, the film brings some of that in, but instead focusing more on the actual man himself. Michael Fassbender brings the right amount of cockiness, ignorance, genius, and humanity to the character that people will love or hate.

 

Straight Outta Compton

While Straight Outta Compton loses a lot of its great steam by the end, the film was a great experience to watch. Seeing the lives and rise of one of the most popular groups in music, especially with the cast they put together makes Straight Outta Compton a huge surprising hit.

 

The Big Short 

Nothing says drama like a true story about the housing and financial crisis in 2005 to 2007. It’s one of those movies that if you really paid attention to everything that happened back then, you appreciate it more. If not, then you’ll feel a little lost, but that’s find of the point.

 

The Martian

The Martian is undoubtedly a drama in terms that it’s about a man stuck on Mars…by himself.  You can’t really get more dramatic than that right?

 

Honorable Mentions

A Most Violent Year

Black Mass

Everest

In the Heart of the Sea

Southpaw

The Gift

The Hateful Eight

(Wild)

 

 

Special Effects

Ant-Man

Marvel’s Ant-Man has had a long road, but it finally got made and damn was it great to watch. The special effects are what really made this special too. The shrinking effect and the swarm of ants was really cool watch onscreen. There was one particular scene that involved Ant-Man running in model of the building that I think was a combination of special effects and physical (I’m not sure), but it sure as hell looked awesome.

 

Chappie

Director Neill Blomkamp has always been known for his visual work and Chappie is no different. The film harkens back to his District 9 effects given the fact the main character is a robot – with the motion capture done by Sharlto Copley – but there was something about Chappie that made him feel real and part of the story.

 

Crimson Peak

Leave it to Guillermo del Toro to show off some creepy special effects. Although Crimson Peak was more a gothic romance rather than a horror film – it was advertised as a horror film – the film still had strong visuals that only del Toro would ever think of pulling off, not only that he actually built the set they were working on.

 

Ex Machina

Chappie wasn’t the only robot of the big screen this year, Alex Garland’s directorial debut featured one of the best performances of the year by Alicia Vikander, and one of the most tension-filled  final acts I’ve seen. It’s also one of those films about A.I that will make you think “yeah, maybe we shouldn’t do that.”

 

Jurassic World

It’s been a while since we’ve seen some great looking dinosaurs on the big screen, and what better way to bring them back than a Jurassic Park movie. While the film decided to go more CGI than the original, there were moments of some good old fashion practical effects that bought the specialness of what made the original film so great.

 

Pixels

Pixels was a surprise for me in a lot of ways. No, it wasn’t the best movie out there, but I sure had a ton of fun watching it and was better than I thought it would be. One of the things I was really surprised at was the special effects and how well they really looked. The Pac-Man chase down New York was amazing to watch on the big screen and the finale was a grand showing of all these old-school video gaming.

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I feel like The Force Awakens can also get credit for having the best practical effects as well because it has a great balance of the two type of effects and makes them work for the film instead of against it.

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Goosebumps

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trails

Tomorrowland

(The Good Dinosaur)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

‘Tomorrowland’ Review

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Dir: Brad Bird

Writer(s): Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird

Cast: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Tim McGraw, Pierce Gagnon, Thomas Robinson, Kathryn Hahn, Keegan-Michael Key, and Hugh Laurie

Synopsis: Bound by a shared destiny, a teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory.

 

 

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

 

 

When Tomorrowland was first announced, and even until now, it was shrouded in mystery. No one knew it the hell the movie was going to be about and that didn’t stop many from throwing in their ideas into the mix. Once the title was revealed, it led to some confusion. Would the movie be about one of the main areas in Disneyland? Or would it build on some connection to it? Well, sort of both, but only loosely.

 

Tomorrowland starts with the story of a young Frank Walker (Robinson), a young and brilliant inventor who goes to 1964 World’s Fair to try and get his invention into a contest for inventors. However, one judge played by Hugh Laurie, is impressed by the invention but when he finds out it doesn’t really work he turns him away. But, Frank’s imagination catches the eye of Athena (Cassidy) and tells him to follow her and judge down a ride, which ends up It’s a Small World. You can probably assume what happens from there.

 

We then fast forward to the present where we are introduced to Casey Newton (Robertson). A young optimist who sees the good in the world and wants to change the future by asking how we can fix it. As seen in the promotion material, Casey ends up in jail after an incident and finds a pin with a ‘T’ on it. When she touches it, she ends up in a grassy plain with a futuristic city in the distance. She starts to question whether it is real and tries to find answers to where she goes when she touches the pin. Eventually, she ends up at the adult Frank’s home, of course the adult Frank is played by George Clooney.

 

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Frank is no longer a happy-go lucky inventor, but rather living in exile and seemingly bitter. He tries to tell Casey to let it go and forget about what she saw, but Casey still wants to go. The two eventually work together by force to get to Tomorrowland, because they are being chased down by robots. What happens next is a big adventure to Tomorrowland, but Casey finds out that she is actually part of a larger plan.

 

For what it’s worth, Tomorrowland is pretty fun. The effects are great, and Tomorrowland itself was highly impressive to dive into. Casey gets to “explore” it at one point and it is something like we’ve never it before. It really does feel like all the smartest people in the world got together and made a world that can thrive off their impressive creations. However, the bad thing is we don’t get to spend a ton of time in Tomorrowland. In fact the movie is more about the adventure to get there and the mystery surrounding it. Which unfortunately is one of the negative things about Tomorrowland.

 

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The film does have so great action sequences, one that involves the escape from Frank’s farm home, which is seen in a lot of the promotional material. But, for me, one of the best is one that happens earlier in the film that involves Casey and Athena. I’ll leave you guessing how Athena shows up in the present until you see the movie. It’s not all that surprising that the action looks great either, after all Brad Bird did direct Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.

 

However, the best thing about Tomorrowland is the cast. Britt Robertson’s Casey is likeable, smart, a bit of a rebel, and easy to invest in as she is thrown into this mysterious world just like us the audience. Clooney seems to be enjoying himself playing a begrudged character that wants nothing to do with the situation, however he sees Casey’s will and imagination and starts to see there could be some hope.

 

But the real standout in the cast is Raffey Cassidy as Athena. She is crucial in bringing together Casey and Frank, and later on in the film as well. But what makes her a standout is how she plays her character and how she plays off Robertson and Clooney. She holds her own against a top actor like Clooney, at the age of thirteen.

 

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There is a storyline, that I won’t spoil or even hint at, but you’ll know it when you see it, that I was surprised that writers Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof went into. It’s a touching and heartfelt storyline I wish they went more into, but what they did with it was enough to serve the purpose of the scene and why the events happened the way they do.

 

Two of the bad things about Tomorrowland for me, is the “villain,” and the heavy-handed theme and message that it is putting forward. I put villain in quotation marks because it is one of the weakest parts of the whole movie and labeling the character a villain is a bit of a stretch. The motivation is interesting and you could arguably go with it because it makes sense in a lot ways, but the way it’s presented was not good at all. Also, it was a waste of the character, especially since it happens so late in the movie.

 

The theme and message of Tomorrowland is dominate and – like I said – heavy handed. Don’t get me wrong, I love the message that the film is putting out there, but it does feel like Bird and Lindelof are beating us over the head a lot of the time saying “hey, remember this is what we’re trying to tell you!” I found it sometimes to be distracting, and almost going against what Frank tells Casey early in the film “can’t you just be amazed.”

 

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All in all, Tomorrowland is a mixed bag, but for the most part Tomorrowland’s message is clear and a message I can get behind, even though it’s heavy-handed. The trio cast of Robertson, Clooney and Cassidy keep the film going, with Cassidy being the highlight of the cast, and keep the film going to where you want to see where everything is going and how it turns out. Tomorrowland isn’t perfect, but you will have fun.

 

 

Tomorrowland

3.5 out of 5

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May Movie Releases

Hello Boys and Girls!

 

It’s the beginning of the Summer Movie Season!

What better way to start off this run of movies than a great month of films. We got a lot of films to get to, so let’s get to it!

 

 

1st

Limited Release: Far from the Madding Crowd

Based on the novel by Thomas Hardy, the film stars Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene, who attracts three different suitors played by Matthias Schoenaerts, Tom Sturridge, and Michael Sheen. The film also stars Jessica Barden, Bardley Hall and Juno Temple.

 

Avengers: Age of Ultron

I mean come on, it’s the sequel  to one of the biggest superhero team-up movies ever! The cast keeps getting bigger and better. I, for one, am excited about watching this (more than once).

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8th

Limited Release: Maggie

Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as a father trying to protect his daughter, played by Abigail Breslin, for as long as he can before she dies of a slow disease that is slowly turning her to a zombie. The trailer shows that Arnold is going to be diving into his dramatic chops, and people that have already seen it are saying it is a great character piece.

 

Hot Pursuit

Reese Witherspoon stars as a by-the-book cop who tries to protect a widow of a drug boss from killers all across Texas. I have to say, for me, this is a weird pairing and the movie doesn’t really seem like anything new to the action/comedy genre.

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15th

Limited Release: Good Kill

Ethan Hawke stars as a man that begins to question the ethics of his job as a drone pilot. The films also stars January Jones, Zoe Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Jake Abel

 

Pitch Perfect 2

The sequel to the surprise hit comes back and it looks like it is going to be better than ever. Not only that, but, producer and star from the first film Elizabeth Banks will take the helm and director the sequel. I didn’t see the first film so I can’t say am going to see this one just yet.

 

Mad Max: Fury Road

George Miller returns to the world of the Mad with his new installment/reboot Mad Max: Fury Road. Tom Hardy plays the new Max and is joined by Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoe Kravitz and original Mad Max star Hugh Keays-Byrne playing a new character. That and the trailers make the new movie look bad-shit crazy.

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22nd

Poltergeist

A remake of the original cult-classic is coming to the big screens again. The remake actually looks like it could be kind of fun, then again, I’m one that doesn’t mind remakes unless they are done right and do their own thing. The film stars Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Jared Harris.

 

Tomorrowland

Brad Bird is bringing a mysterious take to what looks like a coming of age story with sci-fi elements and George Clooney. No I’m just kidding, but seriously we know very little about this new film that brings three people together to help save a world called Tomorrowland. The film also stars Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie, and Kathryn Hahn.

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29th

Aloha

Cameron Crowe directs  this new film that stars Bradley Cooper, a celebrated military contractor who returns to the site of his triumph and re-connects with a lost love, while falling for a hard-charginig Air Force watchdog assigned to him. The women that Cooper’s character is falling for are Emma Stone and Rachel McAdams. The film also stars, John Krasinski, Alec Baldwin, Danny McBride, Jay Baruchel, and Bill Murray.

 

San Andreas

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson vs. Big Earthquake. Okay, maybe he’s not physically fighting the earthquake, but you can’t pass on something like that. Anyway, Johnson does play a rescue-chopper pilot who goes on a dangerous journey to rescue his estranged daughter played by Alexandra Daddario. The film also stars Carla Gugino, Ioan Gruffudd, Kylie Minogue, Colton Haynes and Paul Giamatti.

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